For years in Scheveningen Rocco Gasperoni of the ‘Ndrangheta’ or Calabrian mafia was happily making the best pizzas the neighbourhood had even eaten until his arrest about a week ago.
And his story reads like a movie. His criminal activities date back to 1997 where he was arrested in Spain, then sentenced to 14 years of hard time for smuggling drugs between Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. He was eventually placed in house arrest and managed to flee to the Netherlands.
The Italian government tried to have Gasperoni extradited, but apparently messed up the paperwork and he was free again. Then he opened up a few shops, but the pizza shop is the one that made him popular, although neighbours claimed that shady characters would visit the joint and sit in dark corners. And then the Italians tried to extradite Gasperoni again, but since he had been in the Netherlands for so long, it didn’t stick and more pizzas were made.
As of a week ago Gasperoni will be doing 12 years of a 14-year sentence in a Dutch prison. Dutch authorities blame the differences between Italian and Dutch laws for why it took so much time to put him away.
(Links: www.ad.nl, 20min.ch, Photo of Pizza pie by Adam Kuban, some rights reserved)
Tags: crime, Italy, mafia, pizza, Scheveningen
Last week, the Dutch government announced it was going to hand out 15 million iodine pills to protect people living near worrisome ageing Belgian and German nuclear reactors. The seven Belgian reactors in Doel and Tihange were built in the late 1960s to late 1970s, with closures planned for 2022 to 2025, while Germany’s Emsland plant, built in 1982, is scheduled to shut down in 2022. As a contrast, the Netherlands only has one operational nuclear power plant in Borssele, Zeeland, built in 1974, with no plans to close, except rumours of ‘possibly before 2033’.
First Belgium announced its plan to distribute iodine pills to its population of 11 million people in 2017 in case of a nuclear accident after which Dutch health minister Edith Schippers announced that her government would distribute its share of pills to the Dutch. Once tablets are distributed to children and pregnant women, the rest of the 15 million could be made available to everyone caught up in a potential accident, including tourists, visitors and workers, Schippers explained. Iodine pills help reduce radiation build-up in the thyroid, and tablets are available to everyone aged 40 and under within 20 kilometres of a plant.
“Belgium’s creaking nuclear plants have been causing safety concerns for some time after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident.” And if that wasn’t enough cause for concern, investigators last year found surveillance footage of a Belgian nuclear official in the apartment of a suspect linked to the Brussels and Paris attacks.
(Link: phys.org, Photo by Tom Varco, published under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)
Tags: Belgium, Germany, nuclear power
Testing waste water for drugs has again put Amsterdam at the top of the list of European drug capitals: it scored top marks for MDMA, the main ingredient of XTC, and cannabis. While London nabbed first place for cocaine with 737,3 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, Amsterdam is not far behind with 716,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. Amsterdam usually makes this list no matter what’s in the water, and that also seems to go for Utrecht and Eindhoven.
Number two for cannabis is Barcelona with 165,7 milligrams per 1000 residents per day, but apparently it doesn’t even come close to Amsterdam that has 469,4 milligrams per 1000 residents per day. The top 5 in cannabis also includes Utrecht and Eindhoven respectively fourth and fifth, with Antwerp in third place.
Scandinavian cities are still more into speed, but the top city in Europe for speed is Antwerp. In the Netherlands, Amsterdam is the speed capital, while Eindhoven is second in Europe after Antwerp.
(Link: www.binnenlandsbestuur.nl, nos.nl, Photo: DEA)
Tags: Amsterdam, cannabis, drugs, Eindhoven, Utrecht, water
The Dutch government currently considers certain types of exercise like yoga and meditation ‘luxuries’, and a petition was started to have the VAT on these activities lowered from 21% to 6% in order to make them more accessible.
Many mental activities and types of exercise lower stress and have other proven health benefits. They’ve also been known to lower health costs and lead to more work productivity. If that’s a good thing, then why not make these activities a bit cheaper and in doing so, less posh. Good health should be for everyone, just like in our New Year’s wishes.
The petition needs 25,000 signatures to go to Parliament, so if you want to help, sign the petition. The site seems a bit busy, but that’s surely a good thing.
(Link: nieuws.nl, Photo of Getting fit by Fit Approach. Used under the terms of GNU FDL)
Tags: exercise, meditation, yoga
Mover Donny Zwennes from The Hague offers a very special moving service to the elderly with dementia: he makes sure their new surroundings are exactly the same as they were in their home. Some of his clients have no idea that they’ve moved, and that’s exactly what Zwennes wants to offer. He calls it ‘duplicating’.
Zwennes takes pictures and notes all the things that need to be moved and where they were. Once he gets to the nursing home, he ignores the best place to put people’s belongings and puts things back exactly as they were, which is excellent for dementia sufferers. He also listens to their stories about that one lamp and that painting above the bed, allowing him to know what objects clients are most attached to.
According to the AD newspaper, the country’s first Alzheimer’s café was opened in The Hague, a place where Zwennes’ father handled the sound installation. It is also where he learnt about the specific problems of dementia sufferers and their families. Zwennes quickly realised that moving the elderly with dementia was a specific problem as well as a niche market. To this day, he’s the only mover in the country that offers such a personalised service.
(Link: www.ad.nl, Photo by Frank Mayne, some rights reserved)
Tags: Alzheimer's, dementia, elderly, The Hague
Girls’ brains develop faster than those of boys, and as a result boys aren’t always ready when it is crunch time in college, a literature review by researchers of Maastricht University and the University of Amsterdam concludes.
In 2009 Dutch institutions of higher education were given the right to ‘fire’ students with low grades (iudicium abeundi). The researchers fear that this measure unfairly disadvantages male adolescent students because their studying skills are less developed than those of female students of the same age. The study finds the non-cognitive brain functions favoured in today’s education, such as motivation, initiative and a talent for introspection, develop earlier in girls.
The study also finds large differences in non-cognitive skills within each gender, which is why the researchers recommend that interventions be aimed at both boys and girls. What these interventions could look like is too early to tell, the study reports.
The study entitled The Boys Against the Girls was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and was released earlier this month.
(Link: ANS, photo of a lightbulb by Emil Kabanov, some rights reserved)
Tags: brain, brain functions, brains, education, skills, students, studying, universities
Dutch online lingerie shop Pabo.nl, also Europe’s biggest, conducted its own survey into who has the biggest boobs and the longest dongs per province, something to briefly take your mind off the fact that the Netherlands is not playing in the European Football Champs this summer.
Women in Zeeland have lots of cup A fans, but Utrecht takes the win for the smallest boobs overall. However, Zeeland has about 10% of women ordering cup F, which no other province has. The cup B fans come from Flevoland, the C cups are for Utrecht, D cups Overijssel, and most of the bigger sizes go to Groningen in the lead for Cup E.
If you believe in condoms sales as a size indicator, North Holland and Friesland buy the biggest condoms. Friesland stands out as a province that buys twice as many flavoured condoms as the rest of the country. I wonder if they’re orange flavoured.
(Link: www.bndestem.nl, photo: ecollo.com)
Tags: bra size, bras, condoms, Flevoland, football, Friesland, Groningen, men, North Holland, Overijssel, Utrecht, women, Zeeland
Dutchman Frederik van den Broek who died last month of cancer was key in helping neurologists build MindApp, being dubbed as the world’s most advanced mobile-based app for cancer patients.
Available for Android and iPhone, MindApp will help users track and update appointments, manage their doctors and the quantities of pills they need to take, and much more.
Van den Broek said that he had received a printout from the hospital of all the appointments, medicine and information, but then lost the printout within an hour. “These things happen when you’ve lost a large part of your brain and your short-term memory has gone to pieces,” he explained.
According to neurologist Jaap Reijneveld of the Free University Medical Centre (VUMC) in Amsterdam involved in building the app, patients have a massively complicated treatment schedule, and this app will help them remember things and give constant feedback to doctors on the patient’s condition.
Find out more about what Van den Broek started MindApp in this video.
Tags: Amsterdam, app, cancer
Hans van Wijland, an elderly man from Enschede has an interesting yet odd hobby that is getting some summer press: he collects dentures. In his living room window he has a collection of some 117 dentures on display that makes some neighbours laugh and others disgusted. Knowing this full well, he once placed the dentures on a Christmas tree using lights.
Like many collectors, he didn’t just stop at dentures, he’s now branching out into used hearing aids, prosthetic legs and ocular prosthetics. He finds all his fake teeth at flea markets and cleans them thoroughly.
(Link: www.waarmaarraar.nl, Photo: Hans van Wijland’s Facebook page)
Tags: collecting, dentures, Enschede, teeth
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