Dutch prosecutors recently acquired the possibility of by-passing courts for minor offences if they can come to an agreement with suspects about a fine.
Placing the public prosecutor on the seat of the judge: what could possibly be go wrong?
Two weeks ago at the Lowlands festival, the prosecutor wasn’t too eager to explain to suspects what exactly the consequences of their choices were, Vice reports. The 119 visitors out of 50,000 who had been charged with possession of recreational substances were not always told that agreeing to the so-called ‘strafbeschikking’ (‘declaration of punishment’) would get them a criminal record, nor what the consequences of a criminal record would be.
Vice asked lawyers Juriaan de Vries and Christian Flokstra what festival goers should do if a public prosecutor offers them an agreement. “Always ask for a lawyer!”
And of course that is a problem if your options are to pay a small fine on the spot (now with free criminal record!) or to go to jail for a night while a lawyers are being fetched from their weekend fishing trips and miss out on the festival. It seems the prosecutor knew exactly what they were doing. In the Netherlands a criminal record can prevent you from getting a job, effectively shutting off certain career paths.
The public prosecutor’s office responded (PDF) by saying they didn’t understand what all the hubbub was about—in their view the suspects retained plenty of rights and had even had some of those rights explained to them.
Tags: crime, drugs, Lowlands
A 40-year-old man from Knegsel, Noord-Brabant is going to jail for five years for having built an underground drug lab. After spotting a manhole on his property, the police found a fully equipped drug lab with traces of MDMA and speed. Guns were also found on his property, and since the man had a prior conviction for growing weed and possession of weapons, he was given five years.
During the hearing, the man claimed that his drug lab was a ‘bomb shelter’ and a surprise gift for his girlfriend. He also claimed that he had found all the equipment in the woods and brought it home. The drugs found in his lab were from men who told him to hold it or they would kill him. And if you think the man’s lies couldn’t get any more pathetic, he also claimed that the entire operation was to develop a new medicine against Parkinson’s disease.
(Link: www.crimesite.nl, Photo: DEA)
Tags: drugs, MDMA, Noord-Brabant, xtc
On 14 August Egbertje Leutscher-De Vries, the oldest inhabitant of the Netherlands, passed away at age 111. Born on 22 October 1902 in Uffelte, Drenthe, she claimed her secret to a long life was eating a boiled egg every day for breakfast, a detail she told the media on her birthday last year upon receiving a telegram from King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. She has also donated her brain to science.
(Link: www.elsevier.nl, photo freegeorge.us)
Tags: age, longevity
A 97-year-old man from Groesbeek, a village well known for its WWII cemetary, received two medals 70 years after WWII in the mail.
Arnold Nijenhuis wasn’t one to talk about the war, but recently started talking about it, telling stories. In one of his stories, his son Vincent understood that his father was put forth for a medal, but never received it. Vincent found a document in a pile of old papers to claim the medal and sent it in asking the Ministry of Defense to finally honour his father.
Almost like subscribing to a magazine, Arnold Nijenhuis was sent not one, but two medals, roughly translated as the War Memorial Cross as well as the Decoration for Order and Peace, again, in the mail.
(Link: www.gelderlander.nl, Photo of Ereteken voor Orde en Vrede 1947 by Robert Prummel, some rights reserved)
Tags: Groesbeek, medals, WWII
Much to the delight of the Dutch, Queen Máxima has made Vanity Fair’s list of international best dressed for 2014, along with fellow royal Crown Princess Mary of Denmark who have a lot in common. Both women were ‘commoners’, have non-European origins, are nearly the same age and both have a lot of children. The list also features Kate, Duchess of Cambridge who has also made the Hall of Fame list for appearing numerous times.
A television show in 2012 claimed Belgians had called Argentinian-Dutch Queen Máxima “photogenic but phony”, usually not having much to say about their own Belgian Queen Mathilde besides that she is ‘professional and actually born of Belgian nobel ancestry’, as opposed to being a ‘commoner’. Both Máxima and Mathilde are surely friendly to each other, Mathilde being the godmother of Máxima’s second daughter Princess Alexia and all.
Máxima caught the attention of VF by wearing a green vintage dress worn by her mother-in-law Princess Beatrix then Queen Beatrix. Yes, Máxima also wears Dutch fashion by designers like Jan Taminiau, but sadly that is not what got people’s attention.
(Link: www.fashionaddict.nl, photo from 2006 by the Netherlands Government Information Service, used with permission)
Tags: Fashion, Jan Taminiau, Queen Máxima
Currently more than ten percent of the bus drivers in the Netherlands work without pay, Volkskrant reports.
Volunteer drivers are used on unprofitable routes, or so the companies that employ them claim. On the other hand Labour union FNV Bondgenoten claims that the amateur drivers are putting paid bus drivers out of work.
Egmond Online writes that line 408 from Egmond-Binnen to Egmond aan de Zee currently employs over 40 volunteers. Els Geugies, chairwoman of Vereniging Dorpsbelangen Egmond-Binnen (Village Association Egmond-Binnen), says that volunteers don’t just drive: “We also need to make schedules, fill up on fuel and clean the bus inside and out.”
Last month the city of Rijsen started using people who are on welfare as cab drivers. Hermien ten Bolscher of cab company Taxi Gerritsen told RTV Oost there weren’t happy with the cheap competition: “As it happens we were also unemployed when we started [four years ago]. We have had to make some big investments in cars, licenses and other things. It is wrong that we now have to compete with cab companies that get subsidized.”
It’s not clear from the article whether the unemployed cab drivers are forced to work for free. None of the articles mention if the amateur drivers have received training.
(Photo by Michael 1988, some rights reserved)
Tags: buses, cabs, neoliberalism, public transport, right to work, taxis, unemployment, volunteering, volunteers, welfare, work
After celebrating 25 years of entertaining the Netherlands with five-letter, six-letter and seven-letter word games, Dutch television staple Lingo will be pulled off the air at the end of September.
“According to broadcaster Nos, Lingo’s supporters include Ed Nijpels, a former VVD MP, and the chairman of AvroTros, who is planning to ask the programme director to reconsider.” Media Director Remco van Leen is considering moving the show from Ned 2 to Ned 1 in the 17:30 slot, but this would probably not increase the amount of viewers.
Many immigrants and expats have learnt some Dutch by watching Lingo and even by playing the CD-ROM video game that must be floating around the Internet somewhere. A last ditch attempt at getting more viewers in 2013 including inviting nudists to audition and doing a naked version of it. And then they’re always the Lingo moment that went viral with an unexpected dirty word on prime time television. Notice how calm the Dutch react to this contrary to other cultures that would surely panic.
(Links: www.dutchnews.nl, www.tros.nl, Photo: screenshot of Lingo by Tros.nl)
Tags: Lingo, television
KoreanDefense writes: “The rebels in eastern Ukraine seemed to have lost the anti-aircraft system they’re using to shoot down planes, so, let’s help them locate it.”
The author uses Twitter, Google Maps and Google Translate to help Russian terrorists, the ones that allegedly shot down civilian flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, locate their missing Buk rocket launcher. A more serious investigation appeared in The Guardian a week ago.
Dutch weblog Nine to Five has been doing its own research into Buk rocket launchers. It appears that Rostec, the company that manufactures these missile systems, is officially headquartered in Amsterdam in a building owned by Renault-Nissan. Rostec and Renault-Nissan work tobether in the car manufacturing business. The reason such a large Russian company has its office in the Netherlands is likely because we are a tax haven.
On Saturday I biked to the Rostec office expecting to find I don’t know what, anything really. A lone protester perhaps or a sign that this is where evil lives. I guess the most dramatic thing about the arms trade is its entirely uninteresting face of respectability. On one end of the planet you have hundreds of innocent people being torn apart in a ball of fire while back home you have marble slabs, sleek halls and a parking lot for visitors that is always empty.
(Link: Martin Wisse, top illustration: KoreanDefense)
Tags: arms trade, rocket launchers, Russia, tax evasion, terrorism, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, war crimes
In February Amsterdam’s new
‘hit the return key’ logo upset quite a few taxpayers, and now it’s The Hague’s turn to weather the outrage about their new logo as it is already dangling in failure.
The new logo was unveiled last month, cost 250,000 euro and pissed off taxpayers. The city says it will repair the logo soon enough. In the meantime maybe we should take bets on the ‘e’ falling off.
(Linsk: www.omroepwest.nl, www.rtlnieuws.nl, Image: Twitter @ShakeAtOrion)
Tags: logo, The Hague
Article 13 of the Dutch constitution declares a secrecy of correspondence, meaning the government and others are not allowed to snoop on your mail.
However, there is an unfortunate loophole: the law specifically talks about paper mail. E-mail was never included and therefore exists in a legal limbo.
According to Internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet, the council of ministers of the Netherlands has now proposed a change in the constitution that will not actually name e-mail, but which will make the phrasing of Article 13 more generic. A change in the constitution requires two consecutive parliaments to vote for that change, the idea being that the change can be made an issue in the elections.
Not that it matters much, as the Dutch constitution, which is now 200 years old, is more of a guideline than law. Judges are not allowed to ignore laws based on their constitutionality. The constitution may be said to have a normative function, for example, it could show courts how to interpret a vague law, but a 2009 study by the national government claims that this normative function is eroding (PDF). Instead a societal function is emerging, as the constitution aims to hold up a mirror to the citizens of the kingdom and to show us what our shared values are.
See also: an English translation of Article 13.
(Photo of the constitution of 1814 by Grondwetfestival.nl, used with permission)
Tags: constitution, e-mail, laws, privacy