May 25, 2011

Calling James Sharpe a ‘porn baron’ is a bad, bad thing, judge says

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 11:25 pm

Former parliamentarian James Sharpe of the right-wing extremist Freedom Party (PVV) won an injunction against free newspaper Spits last week.

Spits is no longer allowed to call James Sharpe a ‘porn baron’. The epithet is ‘biased and unnecessarily hurtful’, internet lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet alleges.

One imagines the porn industry will be elated to see itself officially disassociated from Sharpe by a court of law.

Sharpe, son of a black immigrant and married to a Romanian woman, won a seat in parliament on a platform of hatred against immigrants, but resigned his seat when it became clear that he had lied about his Hungarian porn empire having a run-in with the law. This was during a time when Freedom Party front man (and single member) Geert Wilders still tried to get rid of representatives with a shady past—until he realised that this way he would soon be running out of viable candidates.

(Image: the Freedom Party logo. Any association with the logo of the Dutch Nazi party is, I am sure, as coincidental as flying the Dutch Nazi party flag.)

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October 17, 2010

Dual purpose bin for newspapers and other waste

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 12:58 pm

Free newspapers have been a successful part of the Dutch landscape for a while now, and sometimes a bit too much so. The railway stations and trains especially are littered with discarded copies. Sometimes that can be useful (if you do not have the time to grab a copy from an official dispenser), at other times finding a place to sit among a sea of paper can be a nuisance.

I spotted this dual purpose disposal bin at Bijlmer station last week. One slot says ‘afval’ (garbage), the other says ‘kranten’ (newspapers).

According to Uli Schnier of Stichting Nederland Schoon (the Netherlands Clean Foundation), two-thirds of all the waste at railway stations consists of paper, reported in March 2009. The large majority of that paper stems from copies of the free newspapers. Each copy is read by three different people on average.

Rail authority Prorail has experimented with blue waste paper bins in the past year (see the photos at the OVnieuws article), but you will forgive me if I had never noticed them before, because they look just like the bins for regular garbage. These new ‘exclamation marks’, also by Prorail, certainly make their point better.

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October 10, 2010

Parool newspaper doesn’t want to pay for its daily strip

Filed under: Comics by Branko Collin @ 11:25 am

A row in Dutch comics land! About a month ago newspaper Parool called for fresh cartoonists and then told them that it would not pay them for their work.

Comics artist Sandra de Haan did not like this one bit and started a Facebook page called “Stripmakers zouden geen gratis strips aan kranten moeten leveren” (Comics makers should not let newspapers publish them for free), and fellow Zone 5300 editor Michael Minneboo wrote about the whole brouhaha.

Turns out that Parool was looking for amateur comics artists who could use a leg up in the big bad world of publishing. Editor-in-chief Barbara van Beukering admitted the mistake to Minneboo: “The text in our call [for comics] could definitely be called misleading, for which I apologize.”

Parool has since then changed the wording of its advertisement.

You would think that with the funk that both the newspaper industry and the European comics industry are in, the two groups would treat each other with a bit more understanding.

At the least the affair led to another Brom & Vlieg episode which can be read—absolutely free of charge —at Sandra’s website.

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September 13, 2010

Child therapy increased by 50% in two years

Filed under: Health by Branko Collin @ 9:06 am

The amount of children under the age of 18 in psychotherapy has increased by 50% in two years, Volkskrant reports. The paper writes that “insurers such as CZ and Achmea” have noticed the trend.

Volkskrant further quotes an unknown quantity of unnamed sellers of therapy, the child therapists, as saying that children haven’t gotten any crazier in the past two years—it’s the parents who have gotten over their reluctance to seek help for their kids.

You’d better read the article yourself (Dutch) to see if you can discover anything resembling reporting in it.

See also: Dutch children could not be any happier

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May 29, 2010

Million digitized newspaper pages available at

Filed under: Dutch first,General by Branko Collin @ 1:34 pm

newspaper_ad_2000_04_01_sportsLast Thursday, the Dutch national library opened its repository of digitized Dutch newspapers from the period 1618 to 1995.

So far the library has digitized 1 million pages from 70 papers, which can be viewed at It plans on scanning 7 million more in the next two years in order to cover 5% of all newspapers ever printed in the Netherlands.

For the occasion, the oldest copy of a Dutch newspaper in existance, Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt &c, is on display at the library, on loan from the Royal Library of Sweden. The name, meaning “‘currents’ from Italy, Germany, etc.” stuck around, and now courantkrant in its modern spelling—is the word for newspaper in Dutch.

The Dutch national library is not the first with an online newspaper archive, and there are some genuinely cool archives out there such as the Australian one that lets you proofread OCRed texts (much like Wikipedia). The range of the Dutch archive is actually impressive.

(Links: Webwereld, Trouw.)

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July 9, 2009

After 195 years, Staatsblad and Staatscourant disappear

Filed under: General,History by Branko Collin @ 11:37 am

No law or decree has ever been valid in this kingdom until after publication in the Staatsblad (laws) or Staatscourant (other government decisions with the force of law). That is, until July 1st of this year, when the paper editions of Staatsblad and Staatscourant were abandoned and a law came into force that allowed electronic publication of laws and decrees.

The Staatscourant was founded by the first Dutch King, Willem I, in 1814. Volkskrant reports that the king wasn’t shy of using this formal publication for political purposes, especially since it could compete cheaply with commercial newspapers.

With the official publications now taken care of by a website,, Staatscourant and Staatsblad publisher SDU will continue with a printed weekly called SC that will focus on commentary on laws.

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June 4, 2008

England to support the Dutch at the EC

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 10:26 am

This weekend, the second most important sporting event in the world, the European Football Championship, will start in Switzerland and Austria. For the first time in more than 20 years, no team from the British isles have qualified, and as a result, the English press have gotten antsy for another team to get behind. Readers and writers of both the Daily Mail and The Guardian, two newspapers otherwise far apart, have picked the Netherlands as the team to support. The former selected 10 reasons why they would support ‘Oranje’, with “they like darts too” topping the list. The Guardian let its readers decide in what looks like a completely above-board and impartial Internet poll.

Via De Telegravin (Dutch). Souce image: The Guardian. The question was: “Who should we back in Euro 2008?”

Update 20:15: Arnoud Engelfriet spoils, er, spills the beans. Apparently the Guardian’s voting process was helped along by what the newspaper called “a triumphant piece of hacking” by the Geen Stijl-blog.

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October 13, 2007

Free newspaper delivered to the office

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 4:14 am

There are three free newspapers in the Netherlands: a Dutch edition of Metro, Spits (by the publishers of the Telegraaf), and De Pers. In the fight for market share the latter has now come up with a new scheme: free delivery to the workplace. Any office that has more than 50 employees can request free delivery of a free newspaper. And of course for De Pers this is a nice opportunity to figure out where the companies are that can afford to advertise.

Via Dagelinks.

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