Zwarte Piet supporters close motorway to stop demo as Sinterklaas arrives

Zwarte Piet supporters close motorway to stop demo as Sinterklaas arrives

A group of pro-Zwarte Piet campaigners blocked the A7 motorway for a time on Saturday morning, halting two buses taking anti-Zwarte Piet campaigners to the Frisian town of Dokkum ahead of the ‘arrival’ of Sinterklaas. The buses containing anti-racism campaigners were heading for Dokkum to take part in a legal demonstration at a pre-arranged location. However, as the buses neared the town of Joure, several vehicles driven by people from the pro-Piet camp pulled up in front, forcing the drivers to stop. Campaigner Jerry Afriyie told RTL news a motorbike suddenly appeared in front of the bus, causing it to brake sharply. ‘It was too insane for words,’ he said. ‘They are stopping us from exercising our democratic right to demonstrate.’ The police claim it took 20 to 25 minutes to clear the road but said there were no arrests. Other reports suggest the blockade could have lasted up to an hour. The buses carrying supporters of the Kick Out Zwarte Piet movement continued their journey to Dokkum under riot police escort. NRC journalist Kasper van Laarhoven, who was travelling in one of the buses, said after 20 minutes the demonstrators realised that they were not heading for Dokkum after all. The driver pulled up on the hard shoulder and a police officer entered the bus, telling the occupants that the demonstration had been banned after all and that they were being escorted back to Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Mayor 'There were indications that there could be more blockades and that pro Zwarte Piet activists were already in the town,' mayor Marga Waanders told a press conference later Saturday afternoon. Asked if the decision to ban the demonstration meant that Piet supporters had had their way, the mayor said: ‘Safety is paramount - the safety of both the anti and pro camps. I am happy that the blockade only led to minor damage to cars and that no-one was hurt.’ The boat carrying Sinterklaas arrived in Dokkum around 12.30 and the welcome ceremony took place without incident. Most of the pieten on board the boat were traditional versions of the Sint’s helper, played by white people in blackface make-up. There were also several pieten with sooty faces. According to research by the AD, most local councils are planning to stick to the traditional black or brown-faced pieten and just 17 will include pieten with sooty faces in their parades. Zwarte Piet is traditionally played by a white person in blackface makeup but over the years protests against the racist stereotype have been growing, culminating in demonstrations and scores of arrests. Dutch celebrities, including actors who have played Zwarte Piet, have also called for change. Chimneys Now in some towns and cities, the blackface pieten are being replaced by other versions, including pieten with different coloured makeup and sooty smudges to show they have been down chimneys to deliver gifts. Amsterdam has said it will move further away from the stereotyped blackface make-up and page attire at its official Sinterklaas parade on November 19. In the capital, Sint Nicholas will be accompanied by almost 400 pieten with long, wavy brown hair and costumes based on the clothes of 16th century Spanish noblemen. Their outfits will also sport the three Andreas crosses to denote Amsterdam. Aan de kade in Dokkum krijgen kinderen weinig mee van alle discussie. Ze staan in de stromende regen de Sint al zingend op te wachten. — Jildou van Opzeeland (@Jilnow) November 18, 2017   More >

Loosdrecht road racer jailed for 4 years

Zwarte Piet supporters close motorway to stop demo as Sinterklaas arrives A father and son who took part in an impromptu road race through a Dutch village which left a 19-year-old woman dead have been found guilty of causing her death by reckless driving by judges in Utrecht. 54-year-old Walter van W, who drove his Porsche into the car driven by Fleur Balkestein, was jailed for four years to be followed by a five year driving ban. His son Casper, 33, was banned from driving for one year and given 100 hours of community service. The court was told that the father and son had driven at speeds of up to 160 kph along a narrow dyke road in what appeared to be a race. An investigation by the Netherlands Forensic Institute showed the two had driven of speeds of at least 167 kph in area where 50 kph is the maximum. ‘They drove absurdly fast,’ the public prosecution told the court during the trial. Van W’s car smashed into the car driven by the young woman as she turned out of a driveway onto the road in Loosdrecht. She died of her injuries in hospital two weeks after the crash took place. Walter van W was also found to have twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. The two had been out to dinner together earlier in the evening. 'Father and son took a risk and as a result, Fleur is dead,' the court said in its verdict.   More >

A'dam hotel room priced like corner house

Zwarte Piet supporters close motorway to stop demo as Sinterklaas arrives The prices being paid for hotel premises in Amsterdam have exploded in the past year, with costs per room soaring by 150%, the Financieele Dagblad said on Friday. Investors are paying an average of €427,000 for a room in the Dutch capital, slightly more than the price of an entire corner house. The Chinese conglomerate Anbang recently spent €350m on the 557-room Amsterdam DoubleTree Hilton. Prices for hotels are rising elsewhere in the country as well. The average room price is now 70% higher, at €225,000, according to the latest figures provided by property adviser Colliers. Due to the sharp rise in the number of tourists, hotel rooms are full more frequently and hoteliers can ask more for an overnight stay. In the Amsterdam/Schiphol area, the average room price rose by more than 5% to €131, according to consultancy Horwath HTL. 'Tremendous,' said Dirk Bakker, CEO of Colliers Nederland, referring to the prices investors are paying in Amsterdam. The prices now are close to those in London. Until recently, investors regarded hotels as a relatively risky property segment with justified high returns. But risks regarding hotel investments have fallen as tourism grows, Bakker said. 'People are willingly paying more money for experience instead of goods.' The increase in the number of hotel rooms cannot keep up with the rise in tourism. The number of tourists in Amsterdam went up by more than 6% this year while the increase in the growth of the number of rooms fell back. The city declared a halt to construction of central hotels this year in an effort to divert tourists elsewhere.  More >

Advertising code for YouTube vloggers

Zwarte Piet supporters close motorway to stop demo as Sinterklaas arrives A group of Dutch YouTube vloggers will now report clearly when content is advertised, as part of a voluntary code they launched on Friday. De Social Code – developed ‘for and by YouTubers’ – has four simple guidelines on making it clear when videos are sponsored, involve product placement or free samples, or are entirely independent content. Last year the Dutch Media Authority announced that it wanted to ban illicit advertising in vlogs, especially when aimed at children, reported RTL broadcaster at the time. Laws regulating online content in the same way as television and radio are being developed, according to the vloggers who developed the new code in coordination with the Dutch Media Authority. People who have signed up already include Teske de Schepper (Teske), Dylan Haegens, Djamila (Meisje Djamila), Rutger Vink (Furtjuh) and Christiaan Heinen (Prankster), according to ANP. 'These YouTubers are demonstrating through this form of self-regulation that they feel a sense of responsibility to their viewers', Dutch Media Authority chairman Madeleine de Cock Buning told ANP.  More >

Fruit, veg shortfall in children's diets

Zwarte Piet supporters close motorway to stop demo as Sinterklaas arrives Although Dutch children are eating more fruit and vegetables than they used to five years ago, many still don't eat the recommended amount, according to a new report by the food advisory centre Voedingscentrum, CBS and the public health institute RIVM. The research, which is carried out every year, shows that the under fours eat more fruit and veg than older children, particularly those aged nine to 12. Almost two in five children eat enough fruit while just over two in five eat enough vegetables to meet official targets. Just over half eat the recommended amount of fish. The most recent Voedingscentrum guidelines state that the under fours should eat 150 grammes of fruit a day, 50 to 100 grammes of vegetables and fish once a week. Children aged four to 9 should eat double the amount of vegetables. The report also found that children from families with well-educated parents are more likely to eat a healthy diet than those from low-skilled households. The recommendations  More >