Customs officials arrested in Rotterdam cocaine smuggling probe

Customs officials arrested in Rotterdam cocaine smuggling probe

Two Dutch customs officials have been arrested in connection with cocaine smuggling via Rotterdam port, police said on Saturday. A 54-year-old man was arrested on Friday after the discovery of 400 kilos of cocaine, hidden in a shipping container from Brazil. However, he is also believed to have been involved in a 3,000 kilo shipment seized last November, police said. That was the second biggest cocaine find ever made in Rotterdam. A 46-year-old woman has also been arrested on charges of money laundering but is not thought to have been directly involved in smuggling, the police statement said. [banner] Both suspects’ homes were searched, as was property owned by members of the man’s family. They too are suspected of money laundering, police said. Both suspects worked for the customs office for some time, broadcaster Nos reported. The drugs found on Friday, said to have a street value of €14m, have been destroyed.  More >

Dutch university signs US cycling expert

Top Dutch referee dismisses match-fixing charges Radboud University in Nijmegen has appointed its first ever cycling professor – and the job is being filled by an American transport expert from the University of Colorado. Visiting professor Keven Krizek will research why the Dutch are so keen on cycling and what the future of cycling is likely to be.  He will also work together with Nijmegen civil servants in solving a number of thorny bike-related issues, broadcaster Nos reports. These include how to deal with electric bikes, for example. After all, they attract both youngsters and the elderly but the traffic infrastructure is not set up to deal with them, Krizek points out. [banner] So why has an American been given the job? ‘You are unique but you don’t realise it,’ he told Nos. ‘I come from another place and have a fresh perspective. More than that, I have been a professor of cycling for 20 years, so I do know a lot about the subject.’ Two things surprise Krizek about Dutch cycling culture, he says. The first is all the unused bikes parked outside railway stations. These, he says, should be removed far more quickly than they are at present. Secondly, it is noteworthy that cyclists get priority so often. ‘That does not happen in America because we don’t have cycle lanes,’ Krizek says. ‘But in the Netherlands, car drivers all cycle as well, so they are more understanding.’  More >

'Meteorologisch' is hardest word to say

Meteorologisch (meteorological) is the most difficult Dutch word to pronounce, according to Dutch language experts. The Onze Taal language organisation used its Facebook page to draw up a list of the 10 most difficult Dutch words and encourage people to vote. In total, 2,880 people had their say on the Onze Taal website. Meteorologisch, with 35% of the vote, was a narrow winner over defibrilleren, which took 32%. In third place was the desert bavarois, with just 11%. Top 10 1 meteorologisch 2 defibrilleren 3 bavarois 4 uil (owl) 5 aluminium 6 munitie 7 cholesterol 8 identiteit 9 nieuws 10 industrieel [banner]  More >

Dutch farm grow barley for Scottish whisky

Dutch farmers grow barley for the Scottish whisky industry Some 30 Dutch farmers in the northern provinces of Groningen and Friesland have turned over some of their land to grow barley for the Scottish whisky industry, broadcaster Nos reports. The worldwide growth in whisky consumption has forced Scottish distilleries to look for alternative sources of barley and the clay soil in the north of the country is ideal for growing the crop. Now a group of farmers in the Netherlands have agreed to grow barley for the Scots - under the supervision of Agrifirm, a cooperative which specialises in growing grain. Some 30 farmers have signed up for the project. Malting barley for whisky generates 10% more in income than barley for the beer industry. [banner] Ate Bijlsma, a farmer in the Frisian village of Firdgum, says he welcomes the challenge. 'We have to be innovative,' he told Nos. 'At the moment, there is no added value in it for us, but perhaps there will be, if the Scots are enthusiastic about our growing methods and our product.' In total, the Dutch farmers have sown 300 hectares of barley for the whisky industry and the first crop will be ready to harvest in August. 'Then it really will look like fields of gold here,' Bijlsma said.  More >

'Dutch elite has been silenced': Geert Mak

The Dutch cultural vanguard has been silenced by Wilders: Geert Mak Historian, journalist and author Geert Mak (1946) is this year’s recipient of the Gouden Veer (Golden Quill). The prize is awarded to writers whose work is not only of cultural value but also shows a great measure of social involvement. Mak, whose work includes the best-selling My father’s century and his political travelogue In Europe, has long been a unique voice in the Netherlands, integrating the personal into an historical narrative. In an interview with public broadcaster Nos on Friday, Mak said today’s pens are not necessarily less sharp than in the past. ‘People can still get pretty agitated by the written word, although other media have come to the fore. Television is incredibly powerful, not to mention the internet and the white noise that is Twitter.’ [banner] Mak’s main beef is not with opinion makers, such as Bas Heijne (NRC), Bert Wagendorp (Volkskrant) and Rob Hoogland (Telegraaf), whose pens have not been blunted by ‘a lack of courage’, but with the elite. Sneers The political and cultural vanguard of this country ‘has been silenced by Pim Fortuyn and later by Geert Wilders with their sneers about the elite’s blindness to the needs of the people', Mak told Nos. 'The elite, about which there is nothing shameful and which includes my own elite of people who write, has become fearful of the barrage of publicity that is unleashed. The elite has lost its courage. I say to the elite, and that goes double for the group around the Gouden Ganzenveer, that quality and a career are not the only things to think about. You also have to show courage; the courage to oppose and at the same time empathise with what is happening in society,’ he said. According to Mak the public broadcaster itself could do with a little courage. ‘Public television is feeding people pink slush most of the time. It’s insulting. There are plenty of people who would be interested in a documentary about the euro crisis because that is something that concerns them deeply and something they talk about at every birthday party.’  More >