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
We’ve mentioned Holly Moors before as a blogger from the North, but he is also an artist.
Recently Moors has been scanning a couple of his experiments from the 1980s in which he filled old Davo booklets (aimed at postage stamp collectors) with rubber stamp prints. For the first booklet he used pre-existing stamps, for the second he carved a rubber stamp from a HEMA eraser.
This is art that doesn’t easily fit on a wall in a museum, so a gallery on a weblog is a good place to study it. After you’ve clicked a link, clicking one of the thumbnail images will open the gallery. Moors chose Davo booklets, because he felt they “invited repetitive stamping”.
Tags: Davo, Hema, Holly Moors, printing, rubber stamps, stamping, stamps
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
Engineering students from the Delft University of Technology have done it again, winning this year’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Formula Student competition for the second time in a row.
The Formula Student competition requires engineering students to design, build and race a single seat racing car in just one year. Cars are assess on their acceleration, endurance, fuel economy, design and business cases.
Thousands of the world’s best young engineers were at Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England on 8-12 July. There were 135 teams in total, with 49 from the UK and teams from as far as Australia, Turkey and Ukraine. Team Delft claimed the prize at Silverstone this weekend with a total score of 909.3 out of a total score of 1,000 points. Germany’s UAS Zwickau claimed second place with 792.5 points, University of Stuttgart came third with 750.8 and the University of Bath was the top UK team, coming fourth with 748.4 points.
(Link: phys.org, Photo of the unrelated Forze IV hydrogen-based formula race car by Richard van het Hof)
Tags: Delft University of Technology, electric car, England
The Amsterdam chapter of the Awesome Foundation that awards people money every month to realize ‘awesome initiatives that solve problems or bring joy to the world’ has given art collective Indebt Studios 1000 euro to plant marijuana seeds around town.
The group bought some 40 kilos of cannabis seeds and planted them in all kinds of green spaces in Amsterdam, from flower pots to community gardens, including the ones at the Rijksmuseum.
Why plant 40 kilos of weed? It’s an artistic statement against the increased stamping up of Amsterdam’s wild side, like trying to shut down prostitutes, coffee shops and all the things that make Amsterdam what it is in the first place. “Yoghurt bars are not going to make up for the loss, and that’s sad,” one of the guys said. Big cities like New York and London are losing or have lost their edge, and yes it would be sad if Amsterdam lost its grit, too.
Tags: Amsterdam, cannabis, plants, Rijksmuseum, weed
Need some cash? As of today if you find a proper security leak in the online systems of the city of Apeldoorn, Gelderland they’ll give you 300 euro for it. However, there are some rules to follow to get your hands on the cash.
– You can’t expose or mess around with employee data
– You can’t damage the system and make it inaccessible
– You can’t post any information you find online
If you’re up for the challenge, hit up Apeldoorn with your security leak by mailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m guessing preferably in Dutch. You’ll be asked to encrypt your findings and if all goes well, 300 euro and more could be yours. Let the hacking begin!
Tags: Apeldoorn, hackers, hacking
According to Maartje de Graaf who recently earned her PhD from the University of Twente, a ‘social robot’ with an overly human appearance creates an unrealistic sense of expectation for most Dutch people. They feel that a robot should not resemble a human being and that the distinction between human and robot needs to remain clear, unlike Japanese humanoid robots that attempt to resemble humans.
De Graaf’s research reveals that people quickly treat robots as human objects after working or living with them for only a short while. “Although most people would reasonably agree that robots are programmed machines that only simulate social behavior, the same people seem to ‘forget’ this while interacting with these machines, treating the robot as a social other fellow human being and even care for it as they would one of their own family members.”
De Graaf soon plans to investigate whether and how the relationships some users are willing to establish with social robots can contribute to the psychological well-being of those users, often with the elderly mentioned as a target group.
(Link: phys.org, screenshot from the video. Video: YouTube / Smart Homes)
Tags: behaviour, robots
A bizarre loophole that allowed religious schools to ban gay teachers was closed in the Netherlands on 1 July.
The law on equal treatment already forbade firing or refusing to hire teachers strictly because they are gay. An exception however existed for added circumstances, leading to the strange situation that a teacher could not be fired just for being gay, but could be fired for being gay and kissing somebody of their own gender.
In Dutch this exception was called the ‘enkelefeitconstructie’ (the ‘single fact construct’). The strange exception had remained in the 1994 law in order to keep Christian party CDA happy, but in 2014 almost all CDA MPs voted to remove it. According to the government, the exception has always been a dead letter, as no judge has ever allowed it to stand in a court of law.
Churches’ freedom to found religious, state-funded schools is considered part of the freedom of religion in the Netherlands and is enshrined in Article 23 of the constitution. Teachers can still be fired from religious schools for belonging to the wrong church, as three teachers from the Reformed Wartburg College found out last June after they were rebaptised by a different Protestant sect, AD writes.
See also: Church unlawfully fires woman for being transgender
Tags: Christianity, constitution, education, homosexuality, human rights, law, teachers
A very small watercolour painting by ninteenth century Dutch painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag was recently discovered at the national archive in The Hague. An employee looking for a work to exhibit on the occasion of the artist’s date of death on 10 July found the 5 centimetre by 3 centimetre painting. On the back of the watercolour Mesdag wrote a poem for his then fiancee and later wife Sina van Houten, also a painter. The words of the poem read: “Thoughts are not subject to laws; therefore; think of the maker of this; as often as thou will take up this sheet. Gron[ingen], July 1854, H W Mesdag.”
Experts say it is one of the first ever Mesdags and the first with boats on it. And because the poem is signed, they know it’s the real deal. Born in Groningen, studied in Brussels and eventually moved to The Hague, Mesdag’s best know work is the Panorama Mesdag, a cylindrical painting (‘cyclorama’) more than 14 metres high and about 40 metres in diameter (120 metres in circumference) that he completed with his wife and some assistants.
(Links and photo: dearkitty1, nos.nl)
Tags: Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Panorama, The Hague
On 10 July the Dutch Vegetarians’ Union will attempt a world record: getting 1900 people to eat together at a very long table and score the longest vegetarian dinner table record. Last year the world record was set at 1750, and the year before that Mechelen, Belgium had the honours with 1000 participants.
The big banquet will be held at the Museumplein in Amsterdam, a big park surrounded by the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and the Van Gogh Museum where large events often take place. Some 20,000 volunteers will be dishing out kilos and kilos of vegetables and tortilla wraps for the dinner party and everybody who wants to eat is invited. The union wants to point out that ‘meat production is the second major polluter of the environment after heavy industry’ and that ‘food can taste great without meat’.
Key words? Free food.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo: veggieunwrapped.com)
Tags: Amsterdam, vegetarianism, vegetarians