Tuesday 31 October 2006
Crown prince upsets Kiwis
Crown prince Willem-Alexander has upset New Zealanders by telling reporters it was ‘none of their business’ what he and princess Maxima thought of the country. The couple are there on a five-day visit. Radio New Zealand captured the snub on tape.
Jordanian king calls for understanding
Jordan’s King Abdullah II, in the Netherlands on a three-day state visit, has urged both Muslims and non-Muslims to try to understand each other better. In a speech at Amsterdam’s town hall, the king – a direct descendant of the prophet Mohammed – said it was ‘a critical time for the great civilisations of Europe and the Middle East’.
Video was not goodbye, says terror suspect
A video showing terrorist suspect Samir Azzouz dressed as a suicide bomber and saying goodbye to friends and family was not a real farewell message, Azzouz said in court this morning, according to media reports.
Benefit claims set to drop sharply next year
An estimated 196,000 people will be claiming unemployment benefit (WW) next year, according to job centre figures sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. Earlier estimates had put the figure at 268,000. The number of disability claims is also set to drop by 54,000 to 857,000, the figures show.
Tom Tom founders sell shares
Two of the founders of car navigation system makers, Tom Tom, and three of the company's board members are to sell a total of 14 million shares valued at €490 mln at Monday's closing prices, Het Financieele Dagblad reports.
KPN increases market share
Former state-owned telecoms firm KPN booked net profits of €349 mln in the third quarter of this year, up from the €334 mln booked one year ago.
Firms nof fazed by takeover threats
The majority of Dutch business persons do not believe domestic firms should be protected from foreign takeovers, according to research carried out by Intomart for BNR Nieuwsradio. Concerns that foreign venture capitalists were buying up Dutch companies were unjustified, despite worries by politicians, the survey respondents said. But they called on Dutch firms to show more daring and initiative in doing business.
Chaos at citizens’ registry office
Over 100,000 Amsterdammers – 15% of the population – do not live at the address where they are officially registered, according to an investigation by current affairs TV show, Network.
Sex industry in decline
The number of brothels in the Netherlands has fallen from 800 to less than 500 since licences were introduced in 2000, says prostitutes' lobby group Rode Draad. The organisation also says the number of red-light windows has fallen from 2,100 to 1,650.
Supermarket backtracks on halal meat
Supermarket chain Albert Heijn is to stop selling halal meat from animals which were not stunned before being killed after receiving thousands of protests. The halal meat was introduced two weeks ago. The supermarket group will continue to sell meat from animals which were stunned but whose meat is still considered halal.
Winter holiday bookings up
Bookings for ski holidays are up 9% so far this year compared to 2005, says travel agency organisation ANVR. Bookings for winter holidays in the sun are up by 3%.
Baby body found in rubbish
Refuse workers in Utrecht have discovered the body of a baby girl on a conveyor belt used for sorting rubbish. The body will undergo a post mortem examination today in an effort to find out how she died and where she came from.
Aid minister criticises Madonna adoption
Madonna adopted a baby Malawian boy as if she was buying a canary, Dutch aid minister Agnes van Ardenne says in today's Volkskrant. The minister said she would rather have seen Madonna in Darfur or Congo, where women and girls are raped on a daily basis. 'Then, you are a hero,' she told the paper.
Another psychiatric prisoner escapes
Another man has disappeared while on leave from psychiatric prison (tbs), the justice ministry confirmed today but declined to name him or give details about his convictions. One source told De Volkskrant he had been convicted of murder. It is the latest in a string of escapes from psychiatric prison.
Monday 30 October 2006
Postbank quits post offices
The Financieele Dagblad reports that the ING-owned Postbank is in the process of withdrawing its services from the TNT post office network. In Nijmegen this week a post office is to be replaced by two separate shops - one offering Postbank banking services and the other stamps and postal services.
PM turns on Labour leader in radio debate
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende used Sunday’s pre-election radio debate – featuring seven party leaders – to call Labour (PvdA) leader Wouter Bos ‘dishonest’, thereby setting the tone for the election campaign.
Faster permits for foreign students
The Netherlands is to introduce a fast-track residency permit system for students from outside of the EU, following claims that the amount of red tape is putting students off from coming to the country. Under the new system, applying for a student permit will take a maximum of three months.
Hospitals up baby ward security
Three Amsterdam hospitals have increased security at their baby units after three babies were found to have unexplained broken bones. In the third incident, a six-month-old baby who had been at the AMC teaching hospital since birth, was discovered to have three broken ribs during a routine X-ray examination.
Voting computers banned in 35 districts
The government has banned the use of voting computers in 35 constituencies, including Amsterdam, in the November 22 general election because of security worries.
Holland leads Europe on part-time jobs
Almost half of the Dutch working population work less than 35 hours a week – the highest percentage in Europe, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS.
Adoption from abroad dominates
Two-thirds of the 60,000 children adopted in the Netherlands since adoption laws were introduced in 1955 came from abroad, CBS figures show. In the 1970s, children were likely to come from India, Indonesia and Columbia, but China is now the most popular source.
MEP marries Turkish tv journalist
MEP Joost Lagendijk (GreenLeft) has married popular Turkish television journalist, Nevin Sungur, in a weekend ceremony that attracted substantial press coverage in Turkey. Langewijk is also chairperson of a European Parliamentary committee looking into Turkey's application to join the EU.
Crackdown on drunken teens
Police in Deventer are to crack down on teenage drinkers by fining them for being drunk in public, unless they agree to go on a course together with their parents about the risks of heavy drinking, Trouw reported this weekend. While drunken under-16s were a public nuisance, the long-term health risks associated with drinking too much were a more urgent problem, a
police spokesman told the paper.
Five-month old baby not to be deported
The Immigration service IND made a mistake when it ordered a five-month-old baby to leave the country because her father had not officially recognised the child as his within the official time limit, an IND official told Radio 1 News today. The baby's Tanzanian mother has a residency permit until 2011. Because her father did not register the baby as his before the birth, the child has Tanzanian nationality and needs an application for residency.
Concern at developing crofty bomb craze
Police in various parts of the country have arrested and fined a number of people for making so-called 'crofty bombs'. These are based on mixing warm water and drain cleaner in a plastic bottle. Three men were arrested in Tilburg for throwing a bomb at a woman riding her bike. In Hengelo, a 13-year-old boy was fined for setting one off in a skate park.
ABN Amro to cut 500 HQ jobs
The Netherlands' biggest bank, ABN Amro, is to cut at least 500 head-office jobs in order to reduce costs. ABN Amro made the announcement this morning, along with the presentation of its latest figures.
Friday 27 October 2006
Foreign deals help NL meet CO2 target
The Netherlands is set to reach its Kyoto agreement target for cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 - thanks largely to its investment in projects outside Europe.
Randstad sales up 21% in Q3
Temporary employment agency Randstad saw the rate of organic growth slow further in the third quarter of this year to 18%.
Green light for Ahold takeovers
Competition authority NMa has given supermarket group Ahold and its subsidiary Schuitema the green light to take over 29 Konmar superstores from rival Laurus.
CDA wants lower redundancy payouts
The Christian Democrat's election manifesto includes provisions to slash redundancy payments to the equivalent of 6.2 months of salary, the Financieele Dagblad reports today.
Zwartboek film staff reach settlement
Film staff who applied to have the makers of the new Paul Verhoeven film Zwartboek declared bankrupt have reached an out of court settlement.
Public urged to ‘have a go’
People should be encouraged to take action if they witness violent incidents, rather than simply phoning the police, says safety expert Pieter van Vollenhoven.
Clocks go back Saturday night
Winter is upon us. Central European Time will shift this weekend as the clocks go back one hour between 2am and 3am on the night of Saturday to Sunday. The clocks will go forward again on the last weekend in March.
Ministers lay flowers at Schiphol fire site
Integration minister Rita Verdonk and justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin this morning laid flowers in memory of the 11 people who died in last year’s fire at Schiphol deportation centre.
Numico loses formula milk appeal
Baby food maker Numico has lost its appeal against drugstore chain Kruidvat. Numico claims Kruidvat has infringed a patent on formula baby milk.
Flower auction merger means monopoly
A merger between the world's two biggest flower auctions - Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer and FloraHolland - would create an 'absolute monopoly', flower traders told the Financieele Dagblad today.
Bol.com voted best online shop
Bol.com has been voted the best online shop in the Netherlands in the annual competition organised by Elsevier Retail.
KLM says hand baggage chaos unavoidable
Dutch flag carrier KLM says chaos will be unavoidable when new EU rules on hand baggage come into effect in two weeks time, reports the AD.
Mosques acting as banks says report
Dutch mosques are being increasingly used to channel money between the Netherlands and Morocco, according to a report quoted in the Financieele Dagblad.
Thursday 26 October 2006
'Cuts in bureaucracy mean cuts in services'
The analysis of party manifestos’ strengths and weaknesses by the government’s bureau for economic policy analysis (CPB) is a traditional part of the Dutch general election campaign.
Tom Tom books positive Q3
Navigation system maker Tom Tom said today it had sold 1.2 million devices in the third quarter, more than analysts had expected.
De Mol shareholder in Belgian cable firm
Media tycoon John de Mol, owner of tv station Talpa, is now the third-biggest shareholder in Belgian cable and telephone company Telenet, Belgian paper De Tijd reports. Holland’s prince Friso is on the board of Telenet which has over one million customers.
World's biggest flower auction set to merge
The two biggest flower auctions in the world, Flora Holland and Bloemenveiling Aalsmeer (both Dutch), are set to merge, according to the Financieele Dagblad which quotes company sources.
The biggest taboo in the Netherlands is having sexual feelings for one's own child, according to a TNS-Nipo survey of 1,200 people.
Consumers spent 1.5% more in July this year than in the same month in 2005, says the national statistics office CBS.
Some 75% of people in a regular job recieved a bonus on top of their ordinary salary last year, according to research by the Hay Group.
Airport jail boss knew of fire risk
The director of the deportation centre at Schiphol airport knew in 2004 that a large number of people would die if fire broke out, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told MPs yesterday.
Child death register
Pathologists are to set up a central register to cover all childhood deaths in an effort to find out how many children in Holland die of unnatural causes
A group of pig farmers is interested in setting up a massive pig factory - which could house up to 300,000 pigs on several levels - in the eastern dock district of Amsterdam, the Parool reports.
Experts condemn special jail for terrorists
The creation of a special high security jail for terrorism suspects and convicted terrorists is a bad idea which will only encourage them to be seen as heroes, according to government experts in today’s Volkskrant.
No control on spending
The national audit office has criticised the lack of parliamentary control on spending by institutions such as bourse watchdog AFM and the land registry office (Kadaster).
Holland drops in globalisation index
The Netherlands has dropped from fifth to seventh place in the Globalisation index compiled by consultants AT Kearney. Top of the list are Singapore, Switzerland and the US.
Wednesday 25 October 2006
More workers from new EU countries in NL
The number of workers from Poland and other new EU member states has risen by 30% this year as the result of less strict entry criteria, according to figures from the Centre for Work and Income (CWI) published in today’s Volkskrant.
Schiphol fire: minister admits shortcomings
There were shortcomings in the government’s role in the fire at Schiphol deportation centre last year, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told MPs this afternoon. During the second day of debate on the highly critical official report into the fire in which 11 people died, the minister said the cabinet took the report’s conclusions seriously.
Gas drilling Wadden Sea can start in 2007
Dutch natural gas company NAM can go ahead with drilling for gas in the Wadden Sea from January next year. Yesterday the Council of State rejected a call by the Bird Protection Society to prevent drilling in the area. The Society said it will take its case further. Bird lovers believe the Wadden Sea is a vital link on the east Atlantic migratory route.
Stork earnings better than forecast
Industrial group Stork, under siege from corporate raiders who want to split the company up, booked higher than expected net profit in the third quarter of 2006. Net profit reached €25 mln, compared with €18 mln in the year-earlier period.
Verkade in venture capitalist hands
Dutch chocolate and biscuit maker Verkade has come into the hands of UK venture capitalists. Parent company United Biscuits is being acquired by Blackstone and PAI Partners for €2.4 bn. Zaandam-based Verkade has a workforce of 500.
One in four firms is takeover prospect
One in four Dutch bourse-listed companies is an interesting takeover target for venture capital groups, according to a report by consultancy firm Berenschot. Berenschot analysed 75 of the most important companies in the country. IT group Getronics was the most attractive target, Berenschot said.
TNT has best financial website
Post group TNT has the best financial website of all the companies listed on the Dutch stock exchange for the third year running, according to the annual Henri Sijthoff Prize rankings organised by Financieele Dagblad.
Viktor & Rolf wedding dress on show
Trouw reports that the wedding dress designed by Dutch fashion duo Viktor & Rolf for high street fashion chain Hennes and Mauritz is already on show in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. The collection goes on sale on November 9 but the wedding dress (€298) will only be available at selected stores.
Seal number on the increase
The number of seals in the Wadden Sea is back to 2002 levels, when almost half the population was killed by a mysterious virus. Marine wildlife monitor Imares says it has counted 4,065 common and 1,768 grey seals this year. Grey seals from the Wadden Sea have been spotted off the Orkney Islands.
Chinese football twins head for PSV
Twin brothers Xiang and Ji Sun from Shanghai club Shenhua will join Eindhoven’s football team PSV for a trial period from next week in the hope of signing a permanent contract, the Telegraaf reports. The popular duo is being followed by a tv crew which is recording their experiences.
House prices effectively unchanged
House buyers today are on average spending the same proportion of their income on buying a new home as they did in 1985, according to the government’s planning think tank RPB. In Amsterdam, however, house prices have risen so sharply that first-time buyers find it impossible to get a foot on the housing ladder, the RPB says.
Piranha suspects protest at jail conditions
Six people currently appearing in court on terrorism charges (the so-called Piranha case) are threatening to go on hunger strike in protest at conditions at the high security jail where they are being held. ‘Conditions are better in an animal asylum or zoo,’ the suspects said in a letter published in today’s Volkskrant.
Freelancing is popular
One in seven workers would like to quit their jobs and go freelance and one in 10 plan to actually do so within a year, according to labour market research by the Intelligence Group. Highly-educated and experienced people, particularily those in IT, are most likely to start working for themselves.
Tuesday 24 October 2006
Film maker joined battle with Taliban
A formal investigation has begun into how and why documentary film maker Vik Franke grabbed a gun and fired at Taliban fighters while on patrol with Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan.
Philips signs Accor hotel tv deal
Philips has signed a deal with French hotel chain Accor to deliver special flat screen televisions to its hotel rooms worldwide. Accor is one of the largest hotel chains in the world, with a portfolio that includes Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, RedRoof, Formule 1 and Etap.
Shareholders to vote by internet
Companies will be able stop expensive proxy voting procedures at AGMs from next year, and allow absentee shareholders to follow proceedings and vote by internet, the justice ministry said today. The ministry says firms will save a total €70 mln by encouraging electronic voting. The move is in line with official measures to improve corporate governance.
Mother jailed in baby murder case
A 30-year-old woman from Beverwijk has been sentenced to three years in jail and psychiatric prison for the manslaughter of four of her new-born babies.The judges ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict her of murder. Her husband, who said he had not been aware his wife was pregnant, was found not guilty.
Prisoners need shaming, says MP Wilders
Convicted criminals should be dressed in prison overalls and set to work in public, says independent far right MP Geert Wilders in today’s AD.
Economic confidence reaches 10-year high
Economic confidence among Dutch manufacturers has reached its highest level since 1985, national statistics office CBS said today. Producer confidence has been rising steadily since summer 2005 when the CBS first launched the index.
Feyenoord told to freshen up
Rotterdam football club Feyenoord, languishing in ninth position in the premiere league, will resume training tomorrow after a two-day break. Players were sent home on Sunday by an angry Erwin Koeman (foto) following the team's 0-4 defeat to Amsterdam's Ajax.
Tax break urged for older workers
People who keep working past the age of 65 should be given a big reduction in income tax and be allowed to keep their state pension, according to a government working party. The group’s chairman Ed Nijpels told the Telegraaf today that a top tax rate of 18% would encourage more people to stay in work.
Women set to live to 84.5 in 2050
Dutch men will live six years longer than they do now by 2050 and women 3.5 years more, according to new figures from the actuaries’ association. Men will reach 82 years of age on average and women 84.5 years, the actuaries say. The estimates are used to calculate pension and life insurance premiums.
Refusnik soldier faces jail
The public prosecution department has demanded a four-month jail sentence for a 21-year-old soldier who refuses to serve in Afghanistan. Jethro W.claims to be suffering from post traumatic stress from a previous tour in Uruzgan.
EU expansion a mistake says minister
Immigration minister Rita Verdonk told a Liberal (VVD) party meeting last night that she considered the expansion of the EU in 2004 a ‘wrong decision’. ‘I’ve never understood it and I am not happy with it,’ the Volkskrant quoted Verdonk as saying. The decision meant cheap Polish painters are undercutting Dutch companies, she added.
Dutch enjoy most press freedom
The Netherlands enjoys the greatest press freedom in the world, while North Korea has the most controlled press, according to international organisation Reporters without Borders. The US has fallen from 17th to 53rd place.
Sanne is Holland's next top model
One million people watched 19-year-old Sanne from the village of Den Ham take the title Holland's Next Top Model on RTL 5 last night. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Sanne, was notable for her shaky English. Asked how tall she was during a photo shoot in New York, she reportedly answered 'I'm 18'.
Monday 23 October 2006
Pensioners live longer abroad
Pensioners who live abroad tend to live 18 months longer than those who stay in Holland, says social insurance bank SVB. Some 9% of pensioners have left, with Canada, the US, Australia, France and Spain the most popular destinations.
Trafigura faces €10 mln claim
Amstelveen oil trader Trafigura, owner of the toxic waste dumped this summer in Ivory Coast, faces an initial damages claim of €10 mln, the Volkskrant reports this afternoon. Law firm Van der Goen has filed suit on behalf of Ivorian lawyers and wants payment within two weeks.
School leavers urged to be realistic on jobs
Christian Democrat (CDA) and Labour (PvdA) MPs are set to urge the cabinet to take tough action to stem the rise in hard-to-fill job vacancies. In particular, young people should be stimulated to choose trades where there are a high number of jobs on offer, MPs said.
Amsterdam leads rent rises
Housing rents have risen by an average 2.7% this year, but in Amsterdam the increase is 3.4%, says national statistics office CBS. Last year, rents rose by an average 2%, the smallest increase since 1959.
Prince calls for action on dykes
Crown prince Willem-Alexander is backing calls for a sharp increase in the funds set aside to reinforce Dutch dykes, de Volkskrant reports. Christian Democrat and Labour MPs want the cabinet to respond to a report from a commission headed by the prince, which last week called for €1.2 bn to safeguard against floods.
Questions over psychiatric boss pay
MPs have asked health minister Hans Hogervoorst to explain why 10 psychiatric institution bosses are earning over €210,000 a year while the top salary in the sector's code of conduct is around €180,000. The pay of top public sector workers is coming under scrutiny following cabinet calls for moderation.
Socialists criticise The Hague logo party
Socialist councillors in The Hague have criticised the €190,000 budget for a one hour party to launch the city’s new logo, designed by internationally-acclaimed photographer Anton Corbijn. The SP says the cost of the party - at €52 a second or €126 per guest - is ‘financial exhibitionism’.
CDA up in polls
The Christian Demcrats are enjoying their highest rating since 2003, according to the latest online poll by Maurice de Hond. The poll puts the CDA up one at 45 seats, Labour (PvdA) unchanged on 43 and the Liberals (VVD) down two at 25.
Shell wants all of Shell Canada
Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has bid 40 Canadian dollars per share for the 22% of Shell Canada it does not already own. The bid is worth €5.4 bn. Shell Canada holds a 60% stake in the Athabasca oil-sand project, which the company believes will eventually produce 500,000 barrels of oil daily.
Royal couple arrive down under
Crown prince Willem-Alexander and princess Maxima have arrived in Australia at the start of a two week visit, celebrating 400 years of history between the two countries. The couple have over 40 formal engagements planned for their stay. Some 270,000 Australians are of Dutch origin.
UN envoy Jan Pronk ordered out of Sudan
Jan Pronk, the United Nation’s special envoy to Sudan, is expected to leave the country shortly after being ordered out by the Sudanese authorities. Pronk, a former Dutch environment and aid minister with a reputation for being forthright, wrote in his online diary (blog) that Sudan’s army had suffered heavy defeats and morale was low.
'ABN Amro risks its image in Russia'
ABN Amro runs the risk of damaging its reputation in Russia by becoming too closely identified with the Kremlin, the Financieele Dagblad reports today. The paper quotes Robert Amsterdam, lawyer to jailed oligarch Michaïl Chodorkovski.
Big energy firms set to merge
Holland’s two biggest energy concerns Essent and Nuon (both owned by local governments) are on the verge of announcing a merger according to press reports today.
Friday 20 October 2006
Top civil servant strikes back on red tape
A top civil servant says calls for fewer civil servants and less bureaucracy from political parties across the spectrum are both unfair and unwise. ‘It’s like saying the work you do is not good enough,’ says health ministry chief Roel Bekker, in today’s Financieele Dagblad.
Operating theatres are dangerous
Medical specialists claim they are being forced to work in antiquated and badly maintained operating theatres, with potential fatal consequences for patients. The Dutch association of anaesthetists issued the warning after a patient burned to death on an operating table in a hospital in Almelo.
Keep postboxes in place, TNT told
MPs have urged economic affairs minister Joop Wijn to stop TNT Post removing postboxes. The company is currently replacing all 21,000 red postboxes with orange ones, but has said those which are less than a quarter full at the end of the day will not be replaced.
SP leader kept heart attack secret
Socialist party leader Jan Marijnissen had a heart attack six months ago, he admits in today’s Parool. ‘It began at six in the morning and by 11 I had been operated on,’ he told the paper. Marijnissen said he had no lasting effects but did feel better that the attack was now out in the open.
Terror trial ends first week
The trial of six suspected terrorists in what has become known as the Piranha case, ended its first week today, with defence lawyers complaining that a key witness, sitting in a secure cabin with wig and make-up, was impossible to understand.
Nurse Lucy murder trial re-examined
The public prosecution department is to re-examine the trial of nurse Lucy B who is serving life for murdering seven patients between 1097 and 2001, reports the Volkskrant. All were either very old or sick, and died for ‘medically-unexplained’ reasons. The court concluded two had been poisoned - which formed the basis of the convictions.
Council conflicts of interest
Virtually every local council in Holland has civil servants, councillors and aldermen who are involved in organisations subsidised or financed by the council. Research by consultancy Deloitte found that for each council there were on average 15 organisations in which local council employees were involved in some capacity and which could result in a conflict of interests
Free book bonanza to boost reading
Dutch libraries are to give away 575,000 copies of a 1973 best-seller as part of a campaign to get more people to read and talk about books.
Tom Tom takes on Garmin
Dutch sat nav darling Tom Tom has taken American rival Garmin to court in the Hague, demanding it scrap two products which it claims are too similar to its own GO series. The two are already embroiled in a string of patent lawsuits in the US.
Corus accepts bid from India’s Tata
Anglo-Dutch steel group Corus said this morning that it would support the 455 pence a share bid from Indian conglomerate Tata. The bid values Corus, formed in 1999 when Holland’s Hoogovens was effectively taken over by British Steel, at £4.3 bn.
More Dutch soldiers head for Afghanistan
The Netherlands is set to send an extra 100 troops to the Afghan province of Urguzan where some 1,600 soldiers are already serving, the cabinet decided today. The extra manpower, described as a ‘limited increase’ in cabinet circles, will be used to protect troops working on reconstruction projects in the southern part of the country.
Thursday 19 October 2006
Debt on the rise
Wage restraint and rising prices have pushed Dutch family debt higher, says credit institute NVVK. Average debt is €22,000 this year, compared with €16,000 in 2004. The number of requests for debt rescheduling is also expected to be higher this year than the 43,000 seen in 2005.
Less free time
Thirty years ago we had three hours more free time a week, says a new survey by the social policy think tank SCP. In particular, people aged 35 to 49 are busier, despite technological innovations such as the microwave, the Telegraaf reports.
Minister criticises 'all white' sports clubs
Sports clubs which have largely white or ethnic minority members could find themselves without local authority subsidies, immigration minister Rita Verdonk says in today’s Parool. ‘It is important that young people get to meet each other. Clubs with a white or black membership hinder integration,’ the minister said.
Balkenende and Blair join forces on climate
The Dutch and British prime ministers have joined forces to call for an international debate on climate change, news agency ANP reports this afternoon.
Too many homes in new Green Heart plans
The government is planning to build too many new homes in the rural central part of the country known as the Green Heart, says environmental group Milieudefensie.
Trafigura admits Probo Koala processing
Amstelveen-based oil trader Trafigura, owner of the toxic waste dumped in Ivory Coast because it was too expensive to process in Amsterdam, has admitted the ship Probo Koala was used as an off-shore factory, the Volkskrant reports today.
PCM and Boekhoorn in freesheet alliance
Daily paper group PCM is to join forces with millionaire investor Marcel Boekhoorn to launch a free quality tabloid newspaper. The aim is to rival Spits and Metro and attract younger readers who are used to getting their news for free.
Musical chairs in top food retail jobs
Supermarket group Laurus is to appoint Jan Brouwer, who left rival company Schuitema earlier this year, as its new chairman. The appointment ends a string of rumours about who was to take up the reigns at Laurus (Super de Boer) which is struggling to retain market share.
Unemployment up again
Unemployment rose for the first time in a year in the period July-September, says statistics office CBS. The number of jobless stood at 417,000, up 14,000 from June-August. The number of jobless was still almost 17,000 lower than the year-earlier figure, says the CBS.
Scrap €500 note says fraud boss
Europe should scrap the €500 euro note, says Dutch fraud boss Jos van Leijen in today’s Financieele Dagblad. The move would make it harder for criminals to transport and launder their ill-gotten gains.
Wednesday 18 October 2006
Crackdown on human trafficking a priority
The public prosecution department (OM) is to make counteracting trafficking in humans a top priority over the next four years, the Volkskrant reports today.
PM calls for intellectual debate
There is an ‘almost worrying silence’ from intellectuals, artists and writers when it comes to debating the problems in Dutch society, writes prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Balkenende makes the comment in a letter to writer Harry Mulisch, published in a collection of letters today.
Rich and poor to grow further apart
There is a danger of a widening gap between rich and poor in the Netherlands’ biggest cities, a home affairs ministry report claims today. The report ‘Tomorrow’s Cities, Today’s Choices’ says that urban areas are a potential powder keg, with richer neighbourhoods getting richer and poor areas becoming increasingly marginalised.
Internet surveillance on the up
Dutch police have been steadily increasing their surveillance of internet users suspected of crimes, according to ISP group NBIP. In 2003 there were six police internet taps, rising to 15 last year and 31 so far in 2006.
Fewer family members move to Holland
The number of people applying to join family in the Netherlands is set to reach 22,500 this year, down from around 30.000 last year, according to justice ministry figures. Non-western immigrants now have to meet tough new conditions, including a language test, before being allowed in.
KPN to start football transmissions
KPN is to begin broadcasting live football this weekend, through a tie-up with rights-owner Versatel. Consumers will pay €6 a month for either an ether-based or digital service.
Investors want more for Corus
Investors are hoping for a higher bid for Anglo Dutch steel group Corus, the Financieele Dagblad reports today. The paper says investors are counting on either Tata or another takeover-hungry company will come up with more than the 455 pence preliminary bid made by India’s Tata yesterday.
Gay Iranians can stay in the Netherlands
Immigration minister Rita Verdonk has agreed that homosexual Iranians should be given a residency permit to stay in the Netherlands because of the risk to their safety in their home country.
Piranha court case to continue
The defendents in the Piranha terrorism trial have been given back their legal documents, trial lawyers confirmed today. The judges had threatened to halt the proceedings because the six had not been given access to defence documents since being moved to a high security prison. The case will resume next week.
State to appeal medical cannabis ruling
The public prosecution department is to appeal against a lower court decision not to charge multiple sclerosis patient Wim Moorlag with breaking drugs laws, news agency ANP reports. Moorlag had been growing cannabis to relieve his symptoms.
Akzo shares hit on drug delays
Shares in chemicals group Akzo were hit hard on Wednesday morning on concerns that the launch of the company's new treatment for schizophrenia and manic depression could be delayed.
Prison fire safety to be checked
The cabinet has agreed to a major investigation into fire safety at all Holland's prisons, the Telegraaf reports today. The probe follows the fire at Schiphol airport's detention centre, in which 11 people died. The prison service was heavily criticised for its role in the blaze.
Verdonk demands apology from Aboutaleb
Immigration minister Rita Verdonk is demanding an apology from Amsterdam city executive Ahmed Aboutaleb, following his accusation that Verdonk made political capital from the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh. Verdonk called his accusation a ‘scandalous twisting of the facts’. Verdonk has also pulled out of a debate with Aboutaleb scheduled for Sunday.
Gay Iranians can stay here after all
Immigration minister Rita Verdonk has agreed that homosexual Iranians should be given a residency permit to stay in the Netherlands because of the risk to their safety in their home country.
Support for DNA testing
Some 83% of the population think people who are suspected of a crime should be forced to give a DNA sample, according to research by tv programme Netwerk. And 85% of those polled backed more camera surveillance in town centres.
Tuesday 17 October 2006
Tata closer to buying Corus
Dutch-Anglo steel group Corus has received a preliminary offer from Indian steel giant Tata which values the company at €6.1 bn. Corus told news agencies it was not certain that Tata would actually make an official bid.
Wegener agrees direct marketing sale
Publishing group Wegener is to make a book loss on the sale of its direct marketing activities. Wegener has agreed to sell the unit for €30 mln which is less than its current book value. Greenfield Capital Partners and local management are buying Wegener Direct Marketing in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Scandinavia, while the UK activities have been sold to DLG Holdings.
Ajax in talks to take over Arena stadium
The Financieele Dagblad reports this morning that Ajax is talking to Amsterdam city council about taking over the Arena stadium where the club is based. Stadium director Henk Markerink told the paper he had had several meetings with both parties.
Try anonymous job applications, says SER
Dutch employers should experiment with anonymous job applications to see if that leads to a more diverse workforce, says Alexander Rinnooy Kan, chairman of the government’s socio-economic policy think-tank SER.
Potato harvest worst in eight years
This year’s potato harvest is set to be the worst since 1998, says national statistics office CBS. Estimates indicate the total harvest is set to fall 5% from last year to 4.3 billion kilos, of which 3.9 billion kilos will be usable. The onion harvest is also set to be down 16% on last year, the CBS said.
Websites trade in illegal animal parts
Research by the International Fund for Animal Welfare shows that Dutch websites are offering illegal animal products for sale, including ivory, lynx skins and a tiger head. The group monitored sites such as Marktplaats for one month and found 600 illegal trades.
Councillors in The Hague have accused holiday park organisation Centerparcs of encouraging children to skip school by offering special discounts to families during term time, reports the Telegraaf. The special prices for children aged six to 12 do not apply during school holidays.
Benelux may bid for 2018 World Cup
Belgium wants to put in a joint bid with the Netherlands and Luxembourg to host the 2018 football World Cup, the Volkskrant reports today. But Dutch football supremo Harry Been has tempered expectations, saying the issue first had to be discussed with the government.
Labour calls for discrimination fines
The Labour party (PvdA) has called for fines of €8,000 to be imposed on employers who discriminate against potential workers on the grounds of race, age or sex. In addtion, companies should have to report what steps they have taken to broaden their workforce in their annual reports, the party says.
50 windows on 3,000 years of history
Historians have come up with a checklist of 50 icons or windows to illustrate 3,000 years of Dutch history. Ranging from the megalithic tombs in Drenthe (hunebeds) to the euro, the aim of the Canon van Nederland is to outline what important elements in the development of the Netherlands could be taught at both a primary and secondary level.
Court threatens to halt Piranha trial
Judges have threatened to halt proceedings in the Piranha terrorism trial unless the five defendents are given proper access to legal documents. Defence lawyers argued that because the five have been held in a high security jail for a month, they have been unable prepare for their trial.
Monday 16 October 2006
Marathon win for first-timer
The 22-year-old Kenyan Solomon Bushendich won the Amsterdam marathon yesterday in a time of 2.08.52. It was the first time Bushendich, who beat fellow Kenyan Bernard Narmassai in a sprint finish, has taken part in the 42 kilometre road race.
More young Turks turning to radical Islam
Young Dutchmen of Turkish origin are becoming increasingly radical and getting more involved in militant Muslim groups, according to a report from the national anti-terrorism coordinator NCTb.
Ajax books loss as transfer income falls
The Netherlands’ only bourse-listed football club - Amsterdam’s Ajax - booked a loss of €6.6 mln in its 2005-2006 financial year, as income from transfers fell and salary costs rose. Ajax said in July it expected disappointing results this year.
Achmea to slash workforce by one third
Health insurance group Achmea is to cut its 3,600 workforce by one third, the NRC reported on Saturday. Healthcare chief Jeroen van Breda Vriesman told the the paper that a reorgansation was inevitable following the introduction of the new health insurance system.
Semi-conductor sale boosts Philips
The divestment of its semi-conductor activities boosted earnings at electronics group Philips from €1.4 bn a year ago to €4.2 bn in the third quarter of this year, Philips said this morning. Turnover was up 1% at €6.3 bn but fell 5% in the group’s biggest division, consumer electronics. Sales of household equipment and lighting were up 18% and 16% respectively.
Heavy security as new terrorism trial starts
The trial of five men and one woman in what has become known as the Piranha terrorism case began in the heavily-guarded Osdorp court building in Amsterdam this morning. The six, including twice-freed suspect Samir Azzouzz, are charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, illegal weapons possession and planning terrorist attacks.
Union membership down again
Some 33,000 people have given up their union membership so far this year, well over the 22,000 total in 2005, says national statistics office CBS. Some 1.9 million workers are members of a trade union with the FNV (1.2 million) the biggest federation.
Marijuana supply chain investigated
Criminal gangs are far more often behind the small scale growing of marijuana than previously thought, say public prosecutors in Rotterdam following the arrest of a gang which supplied seedlings, personnel and electricians to home growers throughout Rijnmond . Fifteen illegal Bulgarians were also discovered working for slave wages.
Deportation to US approved
The Netherlands is to deport terror suspect Wesam al D to the US. Al D is suspected of involvement in attacks on US soldiers in Iraq in 2003. His lawyer Victor Koppe is to appeal on the grounds that Al D will not get a fair trial.
Asbestos ship back in Holland
The asbstos-laden ship Otopan arrived back in IJmuiden this morning after being turned away from Turkey. Turkey refused to accept the ship for demolition because it actually contained 54 tonnes of asbsestos. The official export document put the amount at 1,000 kgs. The Otopan, which had been anchored in Amsterdam since 1999, has been at sea for 10 weeks.
Ahold and Delhaize put talks on hold
Supermarket group Ahold and Belgium’s Delhaize have put their ongoing merger talks on hold, reports Belgian newspaper De Tijd. The paper quotes sources as saying it did not really click between the two companies. Ahold or Delhaize have consistently declined to comment.
Friday 13 October 2006
Daan and Sophie most popular names
Daan and Sophie top the list of most popular names, says national insurance bank SVB. There were 694 Daans and 570 Sophies born between July and September. Sem, Thomas, Milan and Tim were the next most popular boys names; Sanne, Lisa, Anne and Julia headed the girls list.
Stork split-up vote not binding, says board
Shareholders in Dutch engineering company Stork yesterday voted at an extraordinary general meeting in favour of a plan by two major investors to break up the company. However, Stork management says it does not consider the vote binding because shareholders representing only around 52% of the outstanding shares took part in the vote.
MPs furious as tv quiz Lingo switched off
Plans to dump the popular television word quiz Lingo because too many old people watch it have led outraged MPs to ask questions in parliament, Dutch news websites reported today. The show is watched by over 800,000 people every day and has been a television fixture since January 1989.
Minister praises Nobel Prize award
Dutch aid minister Agnes van Ardenne said the thought it was ‘wonderful’ that Muhammad Yunus, inventor of micro-credit, had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The award was particularly notable because for the first time the link had been made between combating poverty and peace, she said.
DJ warned not to misuse PM
The state information service RVD has told a radio DJ that he faces legal action unless he stops misusing sound-bites from prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende and crown prince Willem-Alexander. The RVD says radio 3FM DJ Giel Beelen is damaging their integrity by producing fake interviews.
Hope for embassy children
Two children aged 13 and 11 who have been living in the Dutch embassy in Syria since June after running away from their Syrian father could be back in the Netherlands soon. Their mother Janneke Schoonhoven from Pekela said embassy officials had given her the good news.
Disappointing launch for Wavin
Plastic pipe maker Wavin yesterday raised considerably less than hoped from its Amsterdam IPO, due to an almost total boycot by Dutch institutional investors, the Financieele Dagblad reports.
Legal boost for Begaclaim
The long-running legal battle over a bourse-listed claim for damages set up by business tycoon Joep van de Nieuwenhuyzen took a step nearer completion today as the appeal court ruled there should be a partial retrial.
Latest terror court case starts on Monday
Samir Azzouzz, twice found not guilty of terrorism offences, will appear in court again on Monday on charges relating to the Piranha investigation. Azzouzz and three other men have been charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, illegal possession of firearms and preparing to carry out terrorist attacks.
Investigation into murdered girl
Education, health and social service officials in Rotterdam are to investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder of a 12-year-old girl, whose dismembered body was found this summer. A reconstruction of the girl’s skull led to her being identified. Her father has been arrested. No-one had reported the girl as missing.
Anger over pension for jailed killer
The ex-wife of jailed serial killer Willem van Eijk has begun a campaign to have his state pension (AOW) stopped. Van Eijk recently turned 65, entitling him to the basic €886 pension.
Thursday 12 October 2006
Holland in good shape to get old
Despite fears that the Netherlands is facing a serious problem with an aging population and low birthrate, the country is well-prepared compared with other EU countries, the Telegraaf reports.
Big city life improves, despite gov’t efforts
The quality of life in Holland’s four big cities has improved over the past 12 years, but this is largely despite government efforts to improve urban living, according to reports by two cabinet advisory bodies.
Record numbers contest election
A record number of 26 parties are taking part in the November 22 general election, the election council said today. The last election was contested by 19. Some 70 parties had originally registered to enter the political fray but most failed to get the necessary 570 signatures.
Police crime figures
Last year 191 police officers were found guilty of a criminal offence, and 122 of them were sacked, according to new police figures. In 59 cases officers were convicted of violent offences, while 15 were found guilty of abusing their position as police officers and 14 of sexual offences.
Philips turns off mobile phones
Philips is to sell its remaining mobile phone activities to Chinese firm China Electronics Corporation (CEC). The deal covers marketing and sales operations, plus a small development unit. The Telegraaf points out that Philips’ mobile phone activities generate turnover of some €400 mln a year, while market leader Nokia booked sales of €20.8 bn last year.
Amsterdam cable contract signed
Builder Bam and cable firm Draka are to build the new Amsterdam glass fibre communications network, it was announced today. The €30 mln project is the brainchild of consortium made up of five housing corporations, private investors and the city council.
Pension funds up investment returns
Dutch civil service pension fund ABP, one of the biggest pension funds in the world, booked a return on investment of 3.9% in the third quarter of this year, compared with a loss of 1.5% in the previous quarter.
October unseasonally warm
The first 11 days of October have had above average temperatures, reaching 22.8 Celsius in Limburg yesterday, says weather bureau KNMI. So far this year there have been 109 official warm days – on which the temperature is over 20 Celsius. The average is 77.
Antilles islands get own councils
The three Antillian islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are to get their own mayors and local councils in a shake-up of official status for the former colonies. Talks are continuing on giving greater autonomy to the biggest islands: Sint Maarten and Curaçao.
Nigerian girls trafficked
Police in Friesland have discovered eight Nigerian girls aged 14 to 16 who had disappeared earlier from asylum seekers centres. Two people have been arrested. The girls were found at addresses in Leeuwarden, Vlaardingen, Lelystad and Zeeland and were most probably destined for prostitution, police said. Over 100 under-aged refugees (amas) have disappeared this year.
Fake bills do get paid
Dutch companies pay some €400 mln-worth of fake bills every year, says fraud monitor Steunpunt Acquisitiefraude.
Building fraud official acquitted
The main civil servant suspect in an investigation into corruption and fraud in the building sector has had his 240-hour community service conviction quashed on appeal. The appeal court ruled there was not enough proof the man had been treated to free golf holidays brothel visits by building companies looking for council business.
New twist in Probo Koala investigation
Oil trader Trafigura, the Amstelveen-based owner of the chemical waste on the tanker Probo Koala, has admitted the ship was used to blend different benzines while at sea, after previously maintaining it was only used for transport and storage.
Wednesday 11 October 2006
USB sticks in vending machines
Tech website webworld.nl reports that Philips is experimenting with selling mp3 headphones and USB sticks costing a maximum €30 in vending machines. The trials will take place at 50 places nationwide, including colleges, hospitals, railway stations and office complexes.
First health premium rise announced
Health insurance company DSW is to increase its basic premium next year by €87 to €1,137 a year, less than the maximum forecast by the government and below industry estimates. DSW, which has 330,000 policy holders, is the first insurer to announce its new charges.
TNT considers last logistics sale
Post and delivery group TNT is considering selling its remaining logistics operation, Freight Management, the Financieele Dagblad reports today. However, chairman Peter Bakker said divestment was just one option. The company earlier announced plans to sell its logistics division.
Too many people are well educated
The Netherlands does not have a shortage of university graduates but a surplus, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group. Two years ago the surplus totalled 80,000 graduates who were working below their academic level, the BCG calculates.
JSF project a ‘blank cheque’ says Labour
Giving the go ahead for Dutch participation in the US-led Joint Strike Fighter project would be like signing a ‘black cheque,’ according to Labour (PvdA) MP Luuk Blom.
Microsoft conflict of interest fears
Three Dutch MEPs have asked the European Commission to explain why a top civil servant who advised competition commissioner Neelie Kroes on the Microsoft case has been given a year's sabbatical to work for a consultancy that advises the IT giant. The MEPs want to know what steps the EC is taking to prevent his return.
Cabinet tax claim false, ministry figures show
The cabinet’s claim that it has reduced the tax burden for companies and families is wrong. In fact, the opposite is true, says the Nederlands Dagblad on its front page today.
Bankruptcy rate declines
The number of corporate bankruptcies in the Netherlands fell 7% in the first nine months of this year, the first drop since 1999, says financial research group Graydon. The number of companies asking for credit relief was up 2%, of which 25% were one-person firms.
SER warns on migrant pensions
The government’s sociao-economic advisory body SER has called on the cabinet to take action to ensure tens of thousands of immigrants do not end up in poverty when they retire.
TBC patients face tighter checks
Tougher checks are to be introduced before releasing convicted criminals who are serving time in psychiatric prisons (TBS). There have been several recent instances of TBS patients commiting violent crimes, such as the rape and murder of 15-year-old Melanie Spijbers, after being released.
MPs angry at water dividends
MPs from the three biggest parties have called on water companies to stop paying dividends to their local authority shareholders. They say water is a public resource and should not be used to make profits. Yesterday the Volkskrant reported wide variations in water prices because some boards have raised water charges to pay dividends.
Terror compensation claim 'no go'
The public prosecution department is totally opposed to paying any compensation to the five men who were freed on terrorism charges earlier this year after spending months in jail. The five were ‘passive members’ of the Hofstad network and should get nothing, a spokeman said at yesterday’s claim hearing.
Dutch firm to stop helping Israeli wall
Dordrecht crane hire company Riwal has said it will not to deliver any more equipment for use in building the disputed Israeli wall across the West Bank, the Volkskrant reports. The wall has been declared illegal by the European Court of Justice. Research by action group United Civilians for Peace claims 35 Dutch firms, including Unilever, are actively doing business there.
Frisian trilingual school a sucess
Seven primary schools in Friesland are now officially known as trilingual schools following the successful introduction of formal teaching in English one day a week. Teaching in the Frisian language has been compulsory since 1980.
Tuesday 10 October 2006
Freed terrorist suspects sue for money
Six men found not guilty of being members of the so-called Hofstad terrorist network in March are taking legal action to claim damages for the time they were held in jail. One of the six, Dutch-American Jermaine Walters, has submitted a claim for €195,000.
Social security stabbing victims stable
Two of the three people stabbed in a social security benefit office in Zeist are still seriously ill in intensive care, BNR Nieuwsradio reported this morning. The three were attacked by a man wielding a butcher's knife yesterday afternoon. The motive is not yet clear.
Deportations down, violence up
Some 11,870 people were deported from the Netherlands last year. Of these, over 2,000 had military police escorts, according to an investigation by tv current affairs show Nova. The two-part programme (the first will be broadcast tonight) says that while the number of deportations is going down, the amount of violence involved is on the increase.
Birth on verge
A baby girl was born on the hard-shoulder of Amsterdam's A10 ring road during this morning's rush hour. The couple were on their way to hospital when the baby decided to arrive early
Man jailed for threatening Verdonk
A 56-year-old man who sent threatening emails to immigration minister Rita Verdonk and independent MP Geert Wilders has been given a three month suspended jail sentence and 60 hours community service. Magistrates said the man, who has alcohol and psychiatric problems, was on his last warning.
Drinking water price boosted by dividends
Millions of people in the Netherlands are paying too much for their drinking water because some of the country’s 13 water companies have boosted dividends to their local authority shareholders, according to research by the Volkskrant.
Shareholders lobby warns on Wavin
Shareholders lobby group VEB has warned investors to beware when plastic pipe-maker Wavin is floated on the stock exchange in Amsterdam later this week. The company is in an ‘extremely fragile financial position,’ the VEB said in a press release, refering to the company’s debts of €900 mln.
Stork interested in Canadian aerospace firm
Engineering group Stork is in talks to take over Canadian plane builder Héroux-Devtek, the Financieele Dagblad reports today. Quoting ‘insiders’, the paper says the takeover would boost Stork’s turnover from aerospace activities by one third.
Cuddled to death
Three out of 10 guinea pigs at the Wega city farm in Groningen failed to survive the opening of a new attraction aimed at letting children stroke them. The farm director said the three had been cuddled to death.
Stem cell clinics to be licenced
Private clinics offering stem cell therapy will soon have to be licenced, health minister Hans Hoogervoorst has told MPs. Last week the PMC clinic in Rotterdam was ordered to stop treating patients with stem cells after it emerged that the origins of the cells could not be guaranteed.
Jet fighter project financially risky
The government’s spending watchdog believes the Netherlands is taking a large financial risk by becoming involved with the development of a new fighter jet to replace the F-16, the Volkskrant reports today.
Monday 09 October 2006
CDA takes lead over Labour
The Christian Democrats (CDA) are one seat ahead of Labour (PvdA) in the latest Maurice de Hond poll. It is the first time since April 2003 that the CDA has overtaken Labour in a De Hond poll.
Zwarteboek in the prizes
Paul Verhoeven’s new Dutch language thriller Zwarteboek took three Golden Calf awards at the Dutch Film Gala this weekend. The film, set in occupied Holland, was voted best film, with Verhoeven taking the award for best director and Carice van Houten best actress.
Loan advertising a flop
Television commercials advertising loans irritate 90% of the population and around 66% change channels when such ads are broadcast, according to research by InterBank. And 50% of those polled said they would never take out a loan with a company that advertises on tv.
Kroes criticises lack of European vision
EU competitition commissioner Neelie Kroes is highly critical of Holland’s politicial parties which, she says, fail to give enough attention to Europe in their election manifestos.
C&A to expand in Russia
Dutch department store chain C&A is to expand its operations in Russia. The non-listed firm, owned by the Brenninkmeijer family, opened its first outlet in Moscow in spring 2005 and is now planning to open five more. C&A has more than 1,000 stores in 13 countries across Europe.
Iceland’s Marel has sights on Stork
Icelandic meat processing machine maker Marel has set its sights on the food processing division of engineering group Stork, reports the Financieele Dagblad this morning. Marel has an 8% stake in Stork and is opposed to the company’s three-pronged approach.
House prices highest in Utrecht
The province of Utrecht has the highest average house price in the country, at €232,000, says national statistics office CBS. The cheapest homes are in Groningen, where the average price is €142,000. Houses in Friesland and Zeeland cost an average €160,000.
Pay rises average 1.9%
Wages went up by an average 1.9% between July and September, compared with the same 2005 period, according to national statistics office CBS. In the second quarter, pay levels were up 2% year-on-year.
Wilders may face racial hatred probe
Immigrants' lobby group NCB is considering taking the independent MP Geert Wilders to court for inciting racial hatred following an interview in the Volkskrant at the weekend. In the interview, Wilders said he feared a 'tsunami of Islamisation' and claimed there was a direct link between crime and Islam.
For information about obtaining a full translation of Wilders' interview: email@example.com
Pension premiums set to rise 6%
Workers face hefty pension premium rises from 2008 because of changes in Central Bank (DNB) regulations. The bank says that Holland’s 700 pension funds must base their premium calculations on lower forecasts for long-term return on investments than they currently use.
All 12-year-olds face formal tests
All pupils should take a formal exam to assess their basic language and arithmetic skills before leaving primary school, education minister Maria van der Hoeven told MPs today. Some 5% of children do not take tests in group 8, their last year at primary school. The minister says testing pupils allows the quality of schools to be compared.
Sunday 08 October 2006
Dutch women take hockey world title
The Dutch women's hockey team took the World title on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Australia. The gold is the first for the Dutch women's squad in 16 years.
Friday 06 October 2006
Tight security as crime boss trial continues
The third hearing in the trial of alleged crime boss Willem Holleeder began in the high security court in Amsterdam today. Holleeder, who has already served an 11-year jail sentence for kidnapping Heineken boss Freddie Heineken in 1983, is now facing charges of blackmailing a number of property magnates.
Primary schools face 11-hour opening
Dutch primary schools have been told they must be able to supervise pupils from 7.30 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening from August next year. MPs voted last night in favour of the move which will oblige schools to open earlier and stay open later if one or more parents makes such a request.
Van der Moolen may halve US workforce
Trader Van der Moolen may have to fire about half of its US workforce because of changes in the Wall Street trading system which is reducing its trading floor, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday.
Unrepentant nun tries again
A 75-year-old nun has gone to court demanding to be readmitted to the St Jozef convent in Amersfoort 36 years after being thrown out for disobedience, the Volkskrant reports today. Sister Leontia says the convent did not follow proper procedures to send her away after she told the Mother Superior to do a chore herself.
Inflation falls again
The annual Inflation rate fell to 1.1% in September, down from 1.4% in August, says national statistics office CBS. The European statistics agency Eurostat puts the Dutch inflation rate for September at 1.5%, among the lowest in Europe.
Lucky escape for toddler
A three-year-old boy from Stadskanaal had a lucky escape after almost driving his parents' car into a canal, website Nu.nl reports. The child had apparently taken the keys and put on a CD with children's songs before starting the engine, driving through a fence and across a road before ending up on the water's edge.
Home nursing fraud generates millions
Home nursing agencies are netting up to €100 mln a year by hiring in cheap help while charging insurers much higher bills, according to health insurance company Achmea.
Christmas boxes not always welcome
Some 4.7 million workers are set to get a company Christmas box this year, 700,000 more than last year, according to KPMG research. The average cost of a Christmas box has gone up almost €2 to €33.60 - just under the tax free limit of €35.
Subsidies mismanaged says EC
The EC is threatening to withdraw €900 mln worth of subsidies from the Dutch regions because of systematic mismanagement, news agency ANP reports. The agency says EC inspectors claim financial accounts are not being properly kept and there is a lack of control on expenditure. Italy is also in trouble for mismanagement.
Winter tyres in demand
Dutch garages are reporting a run on winter tyres following the introduction of new traffic rules in Germany requiring cars be fitted with winter tyres in bad weather, reports the Parool.
Free school books
MPs will vote next week on a proposal to make school text books free from 2007. Currently parents pay around €400 a year to hire school books for each child at secondary school.
Thursday 05 October 2006
Dutch way down in university rankings
The highest place held by a Dutch university in the Times newspaper's 100 best university rankings is the Eindhoven University of Technology which comes in at number 67. In total, seven Dutch universities feature in the list, which is lead by Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge.
Questions on tv show parents 'neglect'
Labour MPs have asked the public prosecution service to investigate if the three parents who have left their children to take part in the year-long tv reality show Golden Cage are neglecting their offspring in the eyes of the law. The children involved range in age from 17 to two. The 10 entrants have all paid €10,000 to take part.
Spot benefit checks approved
Local authority inspectors can continue to make home visits to ensure people claiming a single person's social security benefit are not actually part of a couple, a court in the Hague has ruled. Protestors argued the visits were an invasion of privacy.
Free light bulbs for minimum incomes
The 7,700 minimum income households in Breda are being given €50 by the council to spend on energy-saving light bulbs. The council says households could save up to €560 on their electricity bills as a result.
Minimum wage needs defending
MPs yesterday called on the government to make maintaining minimum wage levels top priority when Holland's borders are fully opened to people from eastern Europe. Employers should not be able to get away with paying eastern Europeans less than official rates, MPs said.
New number plates for cars
From Monday, new Dutch cars have had a different style of number plate. Since 1951, number plates have been a 3x2 combination of letters and numbers. The new plates consist of two numbers followed by three letters and one number.
ING may sponsor Formula 1 Renault
Bank insurer ING is considering sponsoring the Renault Formula 1 team, a bank spokesman has confirmed. Formula 1 sponsorship costs millions of euros. Renault was world champion last year but star driver Fernando Alonso is moving to McLaren.
ABN Amro on target with savings
ABN Amro chairman Rijkman Groenink told a conference in London today that the bank was on target with its massive cost cutting programme. This is designed to reduce spending by €900 mln. Savings totalling €200 mln have already been made, Groenink said. More details will be published at the end of the month when the Q3 figures are announced.
Bam not hurt by tunnel cracks
Building firm BAM will not have to adjust its profit forecast for this year despite problems with the high speed train link (HSL) to Brussels, the Telegraaf reports. The cost of repairing frost damage had already been calculated in by the consortium building this stretch of the link near Rotterdam, in which BAM has an 80% share.
Minister attacks MP with two passports
Immigration minister Rita Verdonk has attacked GreenLeft MP Naïma Azough for having two passports. During a debate on nationality on Wednesday night, Verdonk asked Azough why she did not 'set a good example’ and give up her Moroccan passport.
Pastor leaves deportation centre job
A moral dilemma has led to Catholic priest Gerard Loman resigning from his post as spiritual guide to prisoners held in the Zeist deportation centre. Loman told Radio 1 he could no longer cope with the fact that 'people were being incarcerated for the sake of it, even when there was no real chance they could ever be deported'.
Health insurance costs to rise sharply
The average cost of a health insurance policy is set to reach around €1,188 per adult, some €20 above official government estimates and €120 more than last year, says health insurance association ZN. The government’s estimate is too rosy ‘for political reasons,’ ZN director Martin Bontje told reporters.
Handshake not compulsory
Rotterdam city council was wrong to refuse to employ a man who would not shake hands with women, says the Equal Opportunities Commission. The council had not done enough to balance the demands of a discrimination-free workplace with religious obligations, the commission said.
Red Riding Hood back in the woods
The child-sized figure of Red Riding Hood, stolen from the ‘fairytale wood’ at the Efteling amusement park, has turned up in an old people’s home in the nearby town of Kaatsheuvel. The kidnapping was apparently a student prank. Red Riding Hood was previously kidnapped in 1998.
Norms and values campaign success
A campaign to improve standards of behaviour in the Netherlands, launched four years ago, has been a success, claims a leaked report from the prime minister’s department. ‘It has increased awareness of norms and values in society,’ says the report, which was obtained by RTL Nieuws. ‘Behaviour which goes against accepted norms has become an issue.’
Wednesday 04 October 2006
Paedophile party out of election
The pro-paedophile party PNVD will not be taking part in the November general election because it is unlikely to get enough signatures from supporters, party secretary Norbert de Jonge told tv programme Network. Parties need at least 570 signatures to participate.
Organised illegal work on the increase
Between 5,500 and 6,000 unofficial employment agencies are operating in the Netherlands with some 80,000 illegal immigrants on their books, according to research carried out for temporary employment agency association ABU.
Labour to keep middle-incomes sweet
The opposition Labour (PvdA) party has set aside an extra €500 mln in its election manifesto to boost the fortunes of people on average incomes, reports today’s Financieele Dagblad.
Octopus float raises less than hoped
Technology company Octopus raised €20 mln via its Amsterdam IPO, below the €25 mln the company had hoped for. Octopus, which makes medicines, is based in Leiden and has a workforce of 130. Last year it booked a loss of €4 mln on turnover of €7 mln.
Stork may take hedge funds to court
Engineering group Stork, under siege from two hedge funds which want to split the company up, have accused Centaurus and Paulson of breaking bourse rules for not making their campaign known to the financial services authority AFM, the Telegraaf reports.
KLM boss to stand down in May
KLM chairman Leo van Wijk is to leave his job next May, Van Wijk said in an interview with magazine Zakenreis. Unlike Van Wijk, his successor Peter Hartman will not be involved in strategic decision-making but will focus on operations. This means KLM will effectively become a normal division within Air France-KLM. Strategy will be dealt with by Paris where the holding company is based.
War of the slogans
The national tourism agency in Malta has taken over the ‘I Amsterdam’ slogan that the Dutch capital has used to promote the city over the last two years, says the Telegraaf. Malta is running ads on CNN four times a day with the slogan ‘I am Malta’.
Marines in punch-up allegations
The defence ministry has begun an investigation into reports that dozens of Dutch marines were involved in fights with locals in the town of Karasjok in northern Norway after being refused entrance to a discotheque.
Doctors must work harder says minister
Medical specialists will have to work harder and longer if they want to maintain their earning levels in the future, health minister Hans Hoogervoorst said at a conference in Amsterdam. Outlining his vision of the health service in 2020, Hoogervoorst said specialists now work an average of 180 days a year which was a waste of human capital.
Emigrants return to Holland
Half of the Dutch who emigrate to new countries come back to the Netherlands within eight years, says national statistics office CBS.
Growth hormones found in calves
Illegal growth hormones have been found in three calves kept on farms in Gelderland and Noord-Limburg during routine tests, farm ministry officials said today. In total, 25 farms, all with the same owner, have been banned from transporting calves while an investigation is carried out.
Probo Koala cargo was toxic says UN
The chemical waste transported by the ship Probo Koala from Amsterdam to the Ivory Coast was deadly in high concentrations, according to UN experts.
An American in Rotterdam
The short Dutch film American Dreams has been selected for the Hollywood Film Festival later this month, the Telegraaf reports. The film is a reconstruction of the night Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated US president John F. Kennedy, spent in Rotterdam in June 1962.
Surfing at work
Private use of the internet at work has fallen to 3.9 hours a week from 4.4 hours last year, says a new survey by Ernst & Young. On the other hand, the time employees spend on their jobs while at home has gone up slightly to 2.4 hours (from 2.3 hours).
Minister may help big power users
The government may be prepared to offer industrial power users in the Netherlands a state guarantee on loans but the construction would require European Commission approval, reports the Financieele Dagblad on its front page today.
Tuesday 03 October 2006
Dutch women reach hockey semis
The Dutch women's hockey team has reached the semi-final stage of the World Cup in Madrid with a 6-1 win over China. The victory gives Oranje 12 points ahead of its final group match against title holders Germany.
KPN ordered to keep network open
KPN has been told by telecom regulator Opta to keep its existing network open to competitors for five more years, the Financieele Dagblad reports.
Mortgage fraud ring busted
At least 68 people have been arrested after an 18-month police investigation into a multi-million euro mortgage fraud. Police said the fraud involved a bank worker, mortgage brokers and people posing as wealthy house-buyers.
Doctors rarely admit mistakes, says report
Doctors and hospitals very rarely admit they have made mistakes even when a complaint has been ruled as justified, according to an article in today’s Volkskrant based on the latest report on patients’ rights by the health inspectorate.
Poor pensioners worse off
Single pensioners who only have their state pension to live on are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, says household spending watchdog Nibud.
80 km zones to stay on major ring roads
The 80 kilometre speed limits introduced on the ring roads around Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam are to stay in place despite causing more traffic jams, transport minister Carla Peijs announced today.
Iranians best integrated refugees
Of the four biggest groups of refugees in the Netherlands, the Iranians are the most integrated, while people from Somalia have the most difficulty fitting in, says national statistics office CBS. Afghanis are the least likely to commit crimes.
Batavus takes Dutch bikes to US
Batavus, part of bourse-listed bike manufacturer Accell, is to promote its traditional Dutch sit-up-and-beg bicycle in the US to cash in on a growing craze for cycling.
KPN ordered to keep network open longer
KPN has been told by telecom regulator Opta to keep its existing network open to competitors for five more years, the Financieele Dagblad reports. KPN is planning to switch to a new glass fibre network, meaning its 1,300 existing local exchanges would become redundant.
Holleeder to stay behind glass
Alleged crime boss Willem Holleeder has lost his attempts to be allowed to meet his defence team face to face rather than through a glass wall. Holleeder, who is in a high security prison, argued that the glass partition makes it very difficult to prepare his defence on blackmail charges.
Stem cell clinic shut down
A Rotterdam clinic specialising in using stem cells to treat patients has been closed down by health inspectors because of uncertainty over the origin and safety of the stem cells being used.
Swift justice for ambulance attackers
A parliamentary majority has called on the government to speed up legal procedures against people who attack the emergency services, following a string of attacks on ambulance personnel. 'They need to be tackled properly, as football hooligans are,' Labour MP Aleid Wolfsen told the Telegraaf.
Police protection for paedophile party
Marthijn Uittenbogaard, chairman of the paedophile party PNVD, is under police protection following threatening leaflets and the breaking of windows at his home in Leiden, according to the Volkskrant.
Minor parties get tv political debates
Public broadcaster NOS is to allow the leaders of six smaller political parties to take part in a live debate on the evening before the general election on 22 November, reports today’s Volksksrant. Traditionally only the main parties are given this opportunity. The selection of the smaller parties will be made on journalistic grounds, NOS said.
Voting by internet
Dutch nationals living or working abroad will be allowed to vote in the general election on 22 November via the internet as an experiement. The possibility of internet voting was first used by the Netherlands during the European election in 2003.
Monday 02 October 2006
Women's hockey team nears semi-finals
The Dutch women’s hockey squad has won its third match in the pool rounds of the World Cup and is poised for a semi-final place. The 2-0 victory against Spain put the Dutch in top position in Group A.
Van Bommel drops out of soccer squad
Bayern Munich midfielder Mark van Bommel (photo) and Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy have rejected call-ups to play for the national Dutch football squad in the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Albania.
PM turns down Labour leader’s debate call
Prime minister Pieter Balkenende has refused a challenge from his main opponent Labour (PvdA) leader Wouter Bos to take part in a debate in all 12 of the country’s provinces in the run up to elections on 22 November.
KLM firm on traveller detail exchange
KLM and Martinair are to continue supplying details of their passengers to the US authorities despite the failure of the EU and US to reach agreement on the issue. Technically the Dutch airlines are now breaking EU privacy laws and could face legal action.
Autumn weather brings delays
Autumn storms brought long delays for commuters this morning, with a total of 315 kilometres in traffic jams. Train services between Den Helder and Heerhugowaard were disrupted after lightning damaged overhead cables.
More market forces in healthcare?
The Dutch healthcare authority NZa is researching which healthcare specialists should be able to set their own fees. At the moment, only physiotherapists are allowed to charge patients whatever they like. All other charges are fixed by the government.
Amsterdam vetoes Schiphol sale
Amsterdam city council has used its veto to block government plans to privatise 49% of Schiphol airport. Finance minister Gerrit Zalm now plans to go to court to have the council’s position annulled by royal assent.
Minister disappointed at Guantanamo Bay
Foreign affairs minister Ben Bot has repeated his disappointment that the US is still not prepared to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terrorist suspects. ‘We do not accept detention centres set up outside the Geneva Convention. The Netherlands has always been absolutely clear about that,’ he said
Spyker signs deal with Ferrari
Spyker MF1, the Formula 1 team owned by Dutch luxury car maker Spyker, has signed a deal with Ferrari to supply V8 motors and technical support for next year’s Grand Prix season. Spyker took over MF1 last month. One Spyker driver came 16th in Sunday’s China Grand Prix, the other failed to finish.
Laurus to cut 500 jobs to slash costs
Troubled supermarket group Laurus is to cut 500 jobs by reorganising its office structure and shutting down a distribution centre in Waddinxveen. The cuts mean that Laurus will become ‘a lean and mean’ organisation with overheads and logistics which fit the current and future size of the retail network, the company said in a statement.
Ambulance drivers attacked yet again
Trade union officials have called on the government and courts to take tough action against people who attack ambulance drivers after a third serious incident in as many months.
25% of earthquake aid still in bank
A quarter of the money raised by Dutch charities following the earthquake which devastated parts of India and Pakistan last October has still not been spent.
More people live alone
The number of single-person households in the Netherlands has gone up by 400,000 over the past 10 years and now stands at 2.5 million, says national statistics office CBS. One in six men and one in five women live alone, the CBS says.