Last Tuesday the Netherlands unveiled a multi-billion-euro, multi-decade plan to counter the biggest environmental threat to the nation: surging seawater caused by global climate change.
For centuries, the Dutch have battled the waters of the North Sea that have at times flooded large swathes of the country, particularly in its southwestern Zeeland province. After a disastrous flood in 1953 which left almost 2,000 people dead in Zeeland, the Dutch built a system of dams, storm surge barriers, dykes and other water-management projects, known collectively as the Delta Works, to keep the sea out.
But a growing population, growing industry and climate change have necessitated a ‘new Delta plan,’ Schultz van Haegen said as she unveiled the details in The Hague. A study by the Dutch National Environmental and Living Institute, released last week, showed one in three dykes or dams did not comply with current safety standards.
Wikipedia tells us that the Delta Works have been declared one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by American Society of Civil Engineers.
See also Dutch dike protects national archives in Washington.
(Link: phys.org, Photo of Delta Works by Coanri/Rita, some rights reserved)
Tags: dams, Delta Works, dykes, water management, Zeeland
As young as eight years old, a report says Dutch children have taken a particular liking to swearing at each other using words like ‘homo’ (‘faggot’), ‘hoer’ (‘whore’), ‘marokkaan’ (‘Moroccan’) and ‘Jood’ (‘Jew’). Kids call each other names based on sexuality, ethnicity and religion instead of things like appearance or ‘bad’ clothing.
Teachers from around the country feel that the news has a very big effect on children, especially when they use the word ‘Jew’. Long story short, the Netherlands doesn’t have many Jews and has many more Muslims, hence the use of that word. I wonder if children of all backgrounds use ‘Moroccan’ or just white kids, and I wonder what extra meaning it has when they use it because it seems a lot of people are clueless as to why it would be a swear word, unless you put a nasty adjective in front of it.
As for ‘Jew’, the fact that Ajax football players are called that by supporters of opposing teams (‘Jews’ as a social-historical swear word for residents of Amsterdam, back when there were more Jews) reinforces it as a easy to reach insult.
Back in July the parents of a nine-year-old boy heard their son yell ‘homo’ ‘faggot’ at someone and made him literally pay for it.
(Links: www.dutchnews.nl, www.telegraaf.nl)
Tags: homo, Jew, swear words, swearing
There’s already Sinterklaas treats in the shops, we’ve spent the summer in controversy with ‘Zwarte Piet’ and now in Ede, Gelderland, there’s a run on toys featuring the soon to be phased out black festive helper.
Online webshop Lobbes.nl based in Ede has sold all its Fisher Price Sinterklaas sets in one day. We’re not talking millions of sets, but the run on the toys did not go unnoticed. Fisher Price has announced that it will stop producing its traditional sets following complaints related to the figure of Zwarte Piet deemed racist by the courts.
What I’m thinking is in the years to come when the Dutch will be getting used to the phasing out of Zwarte Piet, anyone who has Zwarte Piet toys or decorations will make some extra cash. For all we know, they’ll import stuff from China if they’re not already doing that. And one day, a bit like gollywogs they’ll be seen more ironically that as actual festive figures.
(Link: www.gelderlander.nl, Photo by Aloxe, some rights reserved)
Tags: Sinterklaas, toys, Zwarte Piet
Travelling after you’ve graduated is definitely a classic, but travelling around the Netherlands by train is probably not what most Dutch graduates have in mind.
Teun here took a year off to make selfies at every train station in the country, which is 400 train stations and you can watch the video of the results. Yes, it’s clearly used by Dutch Rail as a promo for student discounts with the train, but it’s still pretty cool.
For anyone who has never been to the Netherlands, there’s a nice pan of Amsterdam Central station at 1:06, followed by the very modern and quite new Rotterdam Central Station.
For the movie buffs, try and spot Haarlem Central Station, one of the oldest in the country, which was featured in a scene of Ocean’s Twelve with George Clooney on the phone.
(Link: www.froot.nl, Photo by Flickr user UggBoy hearts UggGirl, some rights reserved)
Tags: Dutch Rail, selfie, travel
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 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