Dutch air force sergeant may have gone to Syria to join IS

Intel invests €45m in Delft University quantum computer centre

The Dutch defence ministry said on Thursday it has reason to believe that an air force sergeant has gone to Syria to join IS forces. The 26-year-old man has been suspended and his access to information systems and military buildings has been blocked while an investigation is carried out, broadcaster Nos quotes the ministry as saying. 'The defence ministry is researching any damage or risks associated with his job and is taking steps where necessary,' the statement said. [banner] The ministry spokesman also said the parliamentary committee which deals with confidential security issues had been briefed, but declined to give further details. Shocking Earlier this week, PVV leader Geert Wilders said he had been given 'shocking' information as a member of the committee and threatened to make it public. However, Nos says its sources indicated Wilders was not referring to the possible defection. This is the first time a serving member of the Dutch armed forces is thought to have gone to Syria or Iraq to join a jihadi movement. 'It goes without saying this is totally unacceptable and a criminal offence,' defence minister Jeanine Hennis said. Sources also told the broadcaster the sergeant is not part of the Dutch military mission in Jordan which is taking part in the bombardment of Iraq. He is thought to have been based in the Netherlands and left for Syria from there.  More >

Celebs call for 'humane' refugee solution

Dutch celebrities call for ‘humane solution’ to refugee crisis More than 100 Dutch celebrities, politicians and business leaders have taken out a full page advert in Thursday’s Telegraaf calling for a ‘humane solution’ to the ongoing refugee crisis. Actress Carice van Houten, television presenter Wendy van Dijk, musical star Chantal Jansen, Rijksmuseum head Wim Pijpes and KPMG boss Jan Hommen are among the signatories to the statement which calls on politicians and the community to work together to solve the problem. ‘Do you hear the call?’ the advert asks. The refugee crisis has taken on ‘unimaginable dimensions’, the statement continues. Politicians and large parts of the community are reacting to the crisis using an old-fashioned approach ‘while the situation requires a total change,’ the celebrities say. [banner] There is a risk that we will reduce our responsibility to doing as little as possible, the statement says. ‘But we have to ask ourselves if we will end up being the society which we would like to be… Let us work together with wisdom and compassion to come up with a humane solution. You can call on us.’ Housing Meanwhile, the head of the Dutch refugee settlement agency on Thursday urged local councils to do more to find housing to cope with the influx of new refugees. 'We are currently taking care of almost 30,000 people,' Gerard Bakker told news agency ANP. 'But 1,800 people are arriving every week and we urgently need to open new centres.' So far 70 locations have been set up where refugees can live and Bakker said talks are under way with a further 120 local councils. 'I can understand that some communities feel overwhelmed by the new arrivals,' Bakker said, adding that there is always security on site and that officials are willing to solve problems together with locals. 'No petrol bombs are being thrown through the windows here, as has happened in Germany,' he said. 'And I am proud of that.'  More >

Integration course success rate collapses

Intel invests €45m in Delft University quantum computer centre The number of people taking Dutch integration courses and compulsory language tests has fallen sharply since the end of 2012 when the government stopped all funding and left the issue up to the market, television current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Wednesday night. New arrivals now have to organise their own integration schemes and pay for lessons themselves, although they can borrow money from the student loan service Duo. Most non-EU nationals are required to go through the process although there are some exceptions. Government figures show that of the 10,641 people who were required by law to 'integrate' in 2013, just 17% had completed the programme by this July. Candidates have three years to pass the five necessary exams. Those who don't can be fined. [banner] The Social Affairs ministry says it is too soon to conclude the new system is not working well because 83% of the 2013 starters still have a year to go to complete the process. The figures also show the pass rate has fallen from 77% in 2011 to 53% this year. Dutch Refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk points out that until recently the website explaining what newcomers have to do was only available in Dutch. The site has now been partly translated into stilted English. In addition, many refugees are not aware of what is expected of them, the organisation says. 'This is hardly surprising given the bureaucratic nightmare you have to find your way through,' Vluchtelingenwerk director Dorine Manson told the programme. 'It is even difficult for our staff to understand.' Amsterdam city council has gone against the official government line and set up its own programme. 'This is a vulnerable group... they are in a new country, sometimes they have been through traumas, they don't speak the language and they have no network,' alderman Simone Kukenheim said. 'A website is not enough.'  More >

Intel invests €45m in Delft quantum centre

Intel invests €45m in Delft University quantum computer centre US chip maker Intel is investing almost €45m on a joint project with Delft University of Technology and the TNO research group to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. The 10 year agreement will see Intel providing ‘significant’ engineering resources for Delft’s quantum research institute QuTech as well as on and off site support. Experts predict that quantum computing – a much faster computing method using quantum bits rather than binary digits - could be available and ready for use in the next 12 years. [banner] ‘A fully functioning quantum computer is at least a dozen years away, but the practical and theoretical research efforts we're announcing today mark an important milestone in the journey to bring it closer to reality,’ said Mike Mayberry, Intel vice president and managing director of Intel Labs, in a statement. Microsoft and Google are also working to develop quantum computers.  More >

Escher museum buys unknown work

Escher museum buys rare unknown work The Escher museum in The Hague has uncovered a hitherto unknown work by the  artist, which had been in his family since it was produced. The work features the Italian hilltop village of Montecelio and was drawn in 1924 when Escher was spending time in Rome. The museum says the work is unique because it does not have an edition number. 'Unknown and important work by Escher rarely turns up,' curator Micky Piller told RTL news. [banner] Before Escher started on a print he always made a large number of preliminary drawings, the museum said. 'But the careful composition and detail of this work make it clear it is not a study. Though Escher made no prints in 1924 due to the preparations for his wedding with Jetta Umiker, he apparently found time to create this complex work.' Escher had given the work to one of his half brothers and his grandchildren decided to sell it.  More >