Two bodies washed ashore in two countries, three months apart, seemingly unrelated. However, a Dutch detective specialised in persons missing at sea, John Welzenbagh, noticed a curious similarity when Interpol’s “black notice” came in.
Both bodies were clad in the same wet suit, same brand, same type. Through an a RFID tag embedded in the suit of the victim that had washed ashore on the Dutch island of Texel, detective John Welzenbagh had traced the wetsuit back to a sports store in Calais, on the French side of the English Channel, but the items on the bill that was retrieved for that purchase didn’t match any type of diving expedition Welzenbagh — himself an accomplished diver — could think of.
That is where the trail died, until Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet decided to pick up the scent this year. They found out who the victims were and what brought them together in Calais on a fateful October day.
(Link: Metafilter; photo of a Texel beach by Ralph Schulze, some rights reserved)
Tags: beaches, Calais, detecting, detectives, divers, diving gear, English Channel, France, norway, refugees, Syria, wetsuits
Mermaids have always been popular whether you believe the happy ever after Ariel version or, like me, your parents read you the original Hans Christian Andersen tale featuring daggers, blood and pain. You can also read the difference between mermaids and sirens as the two are often conflated.
Parents Leo and Denise Bergsen were looking for a mermaid tail for their daughter who wanted one and couldn’t find one anywhere in the country. They decided set up a shop called Dutch Tails in Spijkenisse, South Holland that caters to the mermaid inclined, including professional mermaids. They make and sell mermaid outfits and also sell ‘monovins’ and fun swim stuff.
The couple say that very few boys have asked for a mermaid tail and that besides the hordes of little girls ages 6 to 12 who want one, more and more teenagers and adults are asking as well. “Blue is the most popular colour, then pink and purple. Orange not so much.”
(Link: www.z24, Photo of mermaid by Jolante van Hemert, some rights reserved)
Tags: costumes, mermaid
Yesterday a Dutch wedding tradition was updated: the custom of ondertrouw, which is said to be the equivalent of getting a marriage licence. In the Netherlands, a couple has to go to town hall to announce their intention of getting married, a pre-marriage legal requirement in Belgium as well.
As of September 1, couples can announce their intent to marry by filling out a form online in their municipality free of charge, saving some 10 to 20 euro. I would imagine it saves time and frees up one’s diary around a busy planning period as well.
The new electronic document is still needed two weeks before the actual wedding to have the right to marry, giving bureaucrats time to check the partners’ personal details. And just like before, this ‘permission to marry’ expires after one year.
(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, photo of wedding figurines by ValentinaST, some rights reserved)
Tags: customs, marriage, weddings
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which protects consumer interests, is encouraging people to complain about unsatisfactory products and has decided to let people lodge complaints anonymously from August 20 to September 10.
The idea behind the anonymity is to get people who have been duped buying ‘embarrassing’ products such as sex toys and dating site subscriptions to come forward, something many people don’t do because they have to mention their personal details.
The ACM site mentions a person who paid 50 euro for a ‘pamper yourself’ package that only contained a thong and a candle. A woman bought a ‘remote egg’ sex toy that didn’t work remotely. And then there’s the elderly who get pushed by salespeople at the door to sign something, which they later find shameful, and people having won something but have to pay postage or taxes to get their ‘prize’.
(Link: www.consuwijzer.nl, Photo of cracked egg by John Liu, some rights reserved)
Tags: complaints, sex
For two weeks now Amsterdam Central Station has has a beach with sand left over from the World Cup Beach Volleyball that took place on Dam Square in front of the Palace down the street.
The beach features activities for children, and today it’s about beer pong or as the Dutch put it #kiddybeerpong. The activity has elicited responses that include WTF, kids shouldn’t be encouraged to drink beer and it looks like it’s being promoted by a beer company although it’s not.
The organisers assure us that they will use 0% beer, which is still very questionable and that we should get over the beer part and see it as a game and an excuse to discuss drinking alcohol, the latter sounding like someone who doesn’t have young children.
I wouldn’t want a child chugging any kind of soft drink, juice or fake beer in the sun for a game that is meant to get practice for drinking alcohol in college. If you take away the drinking, I could be OK with it, but I feel this is in bad taste.
(Link: www.at5.nl, Photo of the sea at Katwijk by Michael Brys, some rights reserved)
Tags: beach, beer, beer pong, children
Two-thirds of the employees at Frisian TV station ‘Omrop Fryslân’, who claim to be the ‘guardians of the Frisian language’, have failed their own written Frisian test. Not only are most employees incapable of writing proper Frisian, but the station also receives millions of euro annually to be able to promote the Frisian language.
The many haters who think Frisian is a relic – and there are a lot of them – now have more ammunition to continue to shoot down Frisian culture. On the other hand, spoken Frisian has many differences depending where someone is from, which could account for a small percentage of failures: people who can speak it, but not write it. Then again, maybe they shouldn’t be working in the Frisian media.
(Link: www.waldnet.nl, Photo by Rupert Ganzer, some rights reserved)
The manager of a drugstore in Etten-Leur, Noord-Brabant was caught selling a pallet of baby formula out the back of the shop before the product hit the shelves. However, this apparently happens often around the country, as managers receive their bonuses based on their turnover rather than their margins. If they are always able to sell their pallets of formula in one go, it’s no surprise some of them will move product this way. Almost everyone in the Netherlands has noticed that baby formula can only be bought one or two tins at a time due to a constant shortage.
The media tends to blame the Chinese who buy up baby formula, but that’s only half the picture. The shortage is not caused by individual Chinese buying up units or even a pallet out the back, but mainly by Dutch producers of formula who can sell it at three times the Dutch price on Chinese websites where only a select handful of foreign companies are allowed to do business. According to the Telegraaf in 2013, Chinese resellers can make millions selling Dutch baby formula to the Chinese whether it comes directly from Dutch companies or Chinese selling it themselves. I’ve read that ambitious traders who buy pallets get the product into China through Hong Kong, even a few tins at a time if need be.
Sure, the Chinese can buy domestic formula, but since the scandals of 2008, expecting parents would rather buy quality foreign products, and big European companies know this all too well.
(Link: nieuws.nl, Photo of a poster protesting Nutricia by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)
Tags: baby formula, Chinese, milk powder, Noord-Brabant
A new law allows Dutch citizens to call for a non-binding referendum in the Netherlands, the Dutch Pirate Party writes.
Shock blog Geen Stijl is trying to become the first organisation to scale the considerable thresholds the Dutch state imposes on such a referendum by getting the country to veto Ukraine’s entry to the European Union. The blog has four weeks to collect 10,000 signatures from people who support the collection of further signatures. If it succeeds, it has another six weeks to collect 300,000 signatures. Currently, signatures can only be collected in writing.
Once those two hurdles have been passed, the Yes and No campaigns may receive up to two million euro in subsidies for their campaigns. Geen Stijl claims it is unwise to let a country that is currently at war join the European Union.
The Pirate Party stresses that it doesn’t have an opinion either for or against the issue of Ukraine joining the EU, but applauds the addition of the referendum to the “rickety and unsatisfactory democratic toolkit we have now”.
The party for rich pensioners, 50Plus, was hoping to sabotage a new pension law from entering effect through a referendum last January, but the law that makes referendums legal only came into effect on 1 July. Observers believe that even though referendums under the new law are non-binding, parliament will respect them.
In 2005 the Netherlands used a special one-off referendum to let citizens rubber stamp something the European Union claimed to be a constitution. Dutch voters from both the pro- and anti-EU camps used the opportunity to vote against the document.
(Photo by Photo RNW.org, some rights reserved)
Tags: politics, referendums, voting
Three children reported a man to the police that they believed might be the escaped Mexican criminal Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán.
The three had spotted a man with a moustache sitting in a van on a parking lot on the Paul Kruger road in Ermelo, the Netherlands, last Tuesday. Drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, nicknamed El Chapo (Spanish for Shorty), escaped a Mexican maximum security prison earlier this month.
One of the children, 10-year-old Peter, had seen a photo of Guzmán in the newspaper and thought he recognised the trademark moustache the criminal sported at some point in his life.
After they had written down the license plate number of the van, the children biked to Peter’s house to call the police. Peter’s mother told Omroep Gelderland: “They were convinced it was him, he had the exact same moustache. They even knew he had smoked weed and that that is a drug. [...] They hadn’t even realised the price on his head”
The police called back later to say they had looked into the matter, but hadn’t located El Chapo. They don’t believe it was him. Mexico has offered a reward of about 3.5 million euro for information leading to the capture of Mr. Guzmán. The US State Departement would also like a word with Mr. Guzmán and have offered a reward of up to 5 million USD for information leading to his arrest.
(Photo: US Department of State)
Tags: children, criminals, Mexico, rewards
Transgender woman Rhianna Gralike, 56, has been wrongfully dismissed from her job as treasurer of a Catholic parish in Flevoland for nothing else than being a transgender woman. A few months ago she was called into the pastor’s office and was told that “being transgender goes against the Church”, a ‘message’ he was asked to pass on from the archbishop. Gralike plans to fight her dismissal even if she has to go to Rome to do so, which I hope is not necessary, considering there are laws in the Netherlands that supersedes any religion-based gut-feeling of an excuse to fire someone for their gender.
The Parish council is on Gralike’s side, saying the dismissal doesn’t match changes in society (an odd way of putting it), and her lawyer says the Church has no grounds to fire her whatsoever. The archbishop refuses to discuss the matter with Gralike, and so we’ll keep you posted.
(Link: www.welingelichtekringen.nl, Photo by Johan Wieland, some rights reserved)
Tags: Catholic church, church, transgender