March 3, 2016

Serial letter writer sentenced to jail

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 5:35 pm

In 2013 a court told Mustafa Karasahin to limit his unrelenting letter writing to Dordrecht city hall to 10 letters a month, which he didn’t do. After fining and even detaining him twice, the message ironically didn’t get through and now he’s finally being thrown in jail for two years with eight months probation for writing harassing letters.

Karasahin got into it with the city for illegally renting out rooms and was marked as a slum lord, not winning him any sympathy once he finally went bankrupt. And since he’s broke, he won’t have to pay any compensation for damages. According to the court, his flow of letters between 2013 and 2015 cost the city a whopping 1.24 million euro, not counting another estimated 250,000 to 300,000 euro for 2016.

Enjoy your new small room, dude, and don’t write.


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January 29, 2015

Dordrecht detains unrelenting serial letter writer

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 10:10 am

Despite a court order to minimise his letter writing, Mustafa Karasahin of Dordrecht, aka the serial letter writer, has started ‘harassing’ city hall again with a barrage of letters. The city of Dordrecht has to make its position clearer and has placed Karasahin in a detention centre. Fining the man hasn’t worked, so detaining him was the next step.

Dealing with his letters has cost the city of Dordrecht nearly half a million euro. Back in 2013, the court had limited him to 10 letters a month (although the source below says two). Either way, 16 letters as of late was over the limit.

According to the city and experts, the law governing access to information requests needs to be modified to address this kind of abuse and doing so is taking a long time. In the mean time, the serial writer has given no signs of letting up once he’s free again. Karasahin owns some 40 buildings and rents room illegally to migrant workers. He is considered a slum lord.


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January 10, 2014

Amsterdam district bans disposable plastic bags

Filed under: Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 2:17 pm

plastic-bag-kate-ter-haarThe vendors of the market on Plein ’40-’45 in Amsterdam (district of Nieuw-West) have stopped handing out free plastic bags in an effort to stem litter.

Shoppers are requested to bring their own bag. The district says on its website:

Thousands of bags a day were handed out at the market. Most of these bags ended up in the garbage having been used only once and many bags blew away and littered the neighbourhood.

In 2011 the market in Dordrecht started an awareness campaign with the same goal. Vendors were asked to display signs asking shoppers to bring their own bags. According to the campaign website, one vendor, a baker called Kanters, has seen the amount of plastic bags he handed out for free drop by as much as 90%. He has since started charging 10 cent a bag from the remaining die-hards among his customers.

(Photo by Kate ter Haar, some rights reserved)

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March 30, 2013

Court limits serial letter writer to 10 letters a month

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:36 am

Mustafa Karasahin of Dordrecht was told by the court last week that he had to limit the amount of letters he sends to the city of Dordrecht to ten a month for the next two years.

Called a slumlord by Binnenlands Bestuur (huisjesmelker, literally ‘house milker’), Karasahin apparently sent the city of Dordrecht 2,247 letters over the past years. The city estimated that it would have to spend 400,000 euro a year to reply to Karashin’s letters, complaints and freedom of information requests if he kept at it. It had to employ four civil servants just to deal with Karasahin’s past missives, according to Radio Rijnmond.

The judge ruled in favour of the city because Karashin indicated his letter writing campaign was intended as a form of harassment.

Deputy Mayor Piet Sleeking of Dordrecht sees the court’s decision as a good starting point for further reducing civil liberties. Maybe parliament should get involved, he feels, and think about “when using a right becomes abusing a right”.

Karasahin owns 40 buildings which he apparently lets to migrant workers. He has started letting others write his letters for him.

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January 31, 2013

First modern era baby hatch to open in Dordrecht

Filed under: Dutch first,Health by Orangemaster @ 10:50 am

Planned for this year Dordrecht will have the very first modern day baby hatch where unwanted babies can be safely left for them to become foundlings. Modern day because it has been a practice since the Middle Ages and, depending on one’s beliefs, there’s also the Bible telling us about Moses who was adopted as a foundling by the Egyptian royal family.

The Netherlands currently does not have a place for mothers who do not want to keep their children, and the baby hatch in Dordrecht plans to fill that void. Since Belgium allowed baby hatches in 2000, three babies have been ‘dropped off’. During the same time span some 278 babies in Germany have been ‘deposited’. At the moment, Dutch law forbids abandoning babies for them to be adopted as foundlings.

On the one hand, more help could be given to these women for them to keep their infants, on the other hand, sometimes it is the father, step-father, other family members or even pimps that give away the baby for them. There must be a plethora of reasons why someone would give up a child, but considering the process is anonymous, actually finding out what those are is difficult, making way for much speculation and easily blaming the mothers for everything.

Although the UN claims opening baby hatches goes against the rights of children, even the Vatican has a baby hatch or ‘baby box’ as they are sometimes called.

(Links:,, Illustration by Leonardo da Vinci)

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December 31, 2010

Dutch music retrospective 2010

Filed under: Music by Orangemaster @ 12:26 pm

I’d like to finish 2010 on a postive note literally and figuratively with some Dutch artists who caught my ear this year for all sorts of reasons.

Jungle by Night – E.T.. A young Amsterdam playing brassy Afrobeat music that are surely going to have a successful 2011.

AIFF – Life ft. Linda Bloemhard (of The Jazzinvaders). I always enjoy DJing AIFF, a Dordrecht-based Afrobeat group that rarely performs, here with Linda Bloemhard of Dutch jazz-funk band The Jazzinvaders. Please perform more in 2011!

The Madd – Je suis parti. A Rotterdam band that had decided to spilt up and do other things (I love their two French songs), 2011 will have new beginnings for them.

Caro Emerald – The Other Woman. Yes, she’s a commercial success, but rightly so. Caro does not tire and we all look forward to what 2011 will bring for her. There are rumours of her possibly singing in French, you heard it from me first. (The song kicks in at 0:35.)

Happy New Year!

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October 13, 2010

Carbon neutral condom to hit Dutch market

Filed under: Dutch first,Nature,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:35 am

Online shop Biocosmetica in Dordrecht announced this week that it will be selling a condom (The ‘Lovepack’) that is carbon neutral, made of rubber from sustainable forests. As well, the rubber planters will be paid fairly for their goods, making them fair trade items as well.

That should give some people a clear conscience, although condoms are bad for the environment no matter how you make them.

(Link: spitsnieuws, Photo of Rubber plant by Dinesh Valke, some rights reserved)

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August 18, 2010

Russian goes free thanks to Google translation error

Filed under: Online,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:24 am

A Russian trucker in Dordrecht involved in a bar brawl was released because the summons he received was poorly translated from Dutch into Russian using Google translate. When the trucker was being questioned at the police station, he had a Russian interpreter and claimed to have understood what he had to do, although he never signed the summons.

The Russian interpreter showed up in court, but not the trucker. She was asked to then translate what was written in the summons. Instead of (here I am translating this from Dutch) ‘you are to appear in court on 3 August 2010’, it went more like ‘you have to avoid being in court on 3 August 2010’. In Dutch, ‘vóórkomen’, with the stress on the first syllable, means ‘to appear’, while ‘voorkómen’ means ‘to prevent’.

With Google translate, the Dutch infinitive verb ‘voorkomen’ (no way to indicate which of the two identically spelled verbs you want translated) still today produced the infinitive verb ‘to prevent’ ‘предотвращать’ (imperfective aspect) and not even a hint of the perfective aspect of the same verb, ‘предотвратить’. In any decent dictionary both aspects are given so people can use the right one.

In Russian, if you pronouce the perfective verb ‘to write’ ‘написать’ with the wrong stress, you’re pissing instead of writing, so yes, stress matters.


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July 11, 2009

Calvin’s 500th birthday luxuries sell briskly

Filed under: History,Religion by Branko Collin @ 11:27 am

The granddaddy of the War on Fun must surely be Jean Cauvin (1509 – 1564), the French protestant priest who is seen around these parts as more influential than Luther himself. The man was a big believer in hard work and no (earthly) reward, so it is perhaps odd that the trinkets that are being sold in honour of his 500th anniversary are selling like hot cakes.

Brabants Dagblad reports (Dutch) that a small lake of Calvijn jenever has already been sold (500+ bottles), and that the 25,000 print run of the Calvijn glossy has completely sold out. The exhibition about his life in Dordrecht has so far attracted more than 60,000 visitors. It is unknown if all these people gorged themselves on nectar and ambrosia right after, but there are ten restaurants in Dordrecht that offer special Calvin meals. Perhaps just a pea on a plate, who knows?

Novelist Maarten ‘t Hart points out delicately in NRC Handelsblad (Dutch) that some of the rules of sobriety of Calvin derive from Roman stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger, who did not like music and dancing (“[there is] a time to dance”, Ecc. 3:4) and other exuberances, such as wearing anything other than dark clothes (“Let thy garments be always white”, Ecc. 9:8).

Meanwhile, in the same paper (Dutch) liberal politician Boris van der Ham points out that the celebration of 500 years sobriety is also the celebration of 400 years resistance against the Calvinist philosophy. The States of Holland had a session in 1608 in which theologian Arminius pleaded for the free will of people: “And so I think that man tries to think well, want well and act well.” But Van der Ham also points out that the Dutch reputation as being straight-shooters to the point of being rude is firmly rooted in Calvinism. “In other countries ‘sins’ were often allowed in a don’t-ask,-don’t-tell way, here the curtains were drawn wide open. […] If other countries sometimes look with bewilderment at our freedoms, it’s not because of the freedoms themselves, but because we are so open and honest about them, in what is essentially a Calvinist way.”

(Photo: Calvijn Dordrecht.)

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November 27, 2008

Burglars pay child damages for sleepless nights

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:21 pm

Two burglars from Dordrecht have to pay a child 93 euro in damages, a local court decided. After the burglars broke into the child’s home, the child was afraid to sleep in its own bed for fear of the criminals returning, Algemeen Dagblad reports. After the two men were arrested, the parents asked for the symbolic amount in damages.

(Link: Z24 (Dutch))

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