Podcast: The Vial of Fake News Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Poison Chalice of Fake News Edition – Week 48 In this week's podcast we tackle the biggest, blackest hot potato of our times - when and how will the Zwarte Piet debate end? It's been a week of bitterness and recriminations, with a chaotic end to the Yugoslavia tribunals in The Hague and the Dutch government facing accusations of fitting up an airline pilot who spent eight years in an Argentinian jail before being cleared this week of throwing dissidents out of planes in the 1970s. We also pick our favourites from the shortlist for Dutch Word of the Year and look at Ajax's attempts to export their renowned academy system to China – just as Dutch football clubs plunge in the European pecking order. Top story Genocide general smuggles poison vial into The Hague war crimes tribunal News Police trace woman who abandoned boy at Amsterdam Central Station Government urged to improve screening of gay and Christian asylum seekers Anti-Muslim video retweeted by Donald Trump is fake news Pilot Julio Poch plans to sue...  More >

12 great things to do in December

Cats, kings and the American dream: 12 great things to do in December Not everything on the calendar for December is about Sinterklaas and Santa Claus but inevitably lots of events at this time of year are Christmas-themed.  We've got top notch theatre, ice sculptures, cat karaoke and the American dream in our latest listing. Savour some savoir-faire If you haven't bought a single present yet and are not short of a euro or two why not visit the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam for inspiration. Meesterlijk is a three day extravaganza of 'style, specialisms and savoir-faire'. This is an event all about designer goods and handcrafted stuff. It's also a 'recyclable total concept' which we think might be a good thing. December 1,2,3. Website Slide on the ice Scheveningen is not only the scene of the traditonal new year's plunge (see further down) it also has another icy surprise in store: the Ice EXPO, featuring a multitude of ice sculptures inspired by Scheveningen's glorious past as a watering hole for the Den Haag posh and the not so posh. Next door...  More >

Gender-neutral marketing hits Holland

No more Hema and Shema: Gender-neutral marketing hits the Netherlands This is your last weekend to pack in the pre-Sinterklaas shopping. So will it be pink for the girls and blue for the boys? Gender-neutral marketing has finally arrived in the Netherlands but, as Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports, not everyone is happy. In June 2015, following a particularly depressing visit to toy store Bart Smit - whose signage suggested that my five-year-old daughter had no business looking at toys that had to do with engineering, natural history or science – I poked my head above the Twitter parapet and tweeted my frustration. The backlash was unanticipated: I was a drama queen; a ghastly feminist; I was lying. I concluded that the Netherlands was simply not ready to engage in this particular conversation and left it well alone. Nevertheless, I was bemused. Toys R Us in Sweden went gender-neutral in 2013 and Australia launched the No Gender December campaign in 2014, urging people to ‘Buy gifts not stereotypes’. The UK-based campaign Let Toys Be Toys reported...  More >

British ambassador reassures Brits in NL

‘We want British citizens in NL to continue to live as they do now’ With European leaders due to meet in Brussels next month, the time is right to press on with negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, says  ambassador Peter Wilson says in an open letter to British nationals in the Netherlands. On 14 and 15 December the leaders of the European Union member states will meet in Brussels for the December gathering of the European Council.  The council comes together after months of talks which have generated a huge amount of media reporting and comment.  It is our firm belief that the time to move on to the next phase of negotiations is now. I have met many British nationals across the Netherlands during our open forums, and I know that they are uncertain and worried about the consequences of the UK’s departure from the European Union. I want to be able to offer as much certainty as possible both to British nationals and to businesses here in the Netherlands. For that reason it is essential that we get on with discussing...  More >

Amsterdammers and the EMA

Amsterdammers moan about the arrival of the EMA (but then they would) Macro-economist Mathijs Bouman looks at the reactions of the inhabitants of the Dutch capital to the news that the European Medicines Agency will move to Amsterdam.  And of course, he says, they are moaning about it. It’s party time in Amsterdam. Wouter Bos has pulled it off. Not until the last round, mind you, and thanks to the luck of the Amsterdammers but mostly because of a clever and intensive lobby which made sure the capital was a contender at all. As soon as Brexit happens the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is leaving London for Amsterdam. Some 900 medicine experts will be making the move as well, taking their families - and their highly-valued purchasing power- with them. Grumblings Great news, you might think, but not a day had passed before the first grumblings were heard. According to Amsterdam-based urban sociologist Jan Rath, the agency will only bring more trouble to a city already struggling with housing problems. Houses in Amsterdam are expensive...  More >

Podcast: The Random Boners Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Random Descriptions of Boners Edition – Week 47 We look back on a week of thwarted protests as MPs fail to talk out a bill to scrap a tax break for homeowners and the A7 motorway is gridlocked by the Zwarte Piet debate. Amsterdam emerges as the first big winner in the Great Brexit Clearance Sale (and immediately frets about the effect on house prices), the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague delivers its verdict on the Butcher of Bosnia and a Dutch men's sports team shocks Europe by winning a match. In our discussion we ask which Dutch books you can safely buy your relatives for Christmas. Top story Filibuster attempt fails to scupper bill to abolish homeowners' tax break News Amsterdam to be new home of European Medicines Agency after Brexit Zwarte Piet supporters block motorway to stop protesters heading for Sinterklaas parade The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity Breda and Almere named best city centres in Netherlands (NOS, Dutch) Sport Feyenoord's dismal...  More >

How to get on as a woman in tech

How to get on as a woman in tech? Trust in your individuality Earlier this month, over 1,000 women (and a few men) piled into the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam to take part in the specialist European Women In Tech conference. Esther O'Toole was among the delegates. It was just last week that ING economists forecast the Dutch technology sector will need to recruit a massive120,000 workers over the next 12 years if it is to maintain current growth trends. Between 20% and 25% of companies in the sector say staff shortages are now becoming a problem - a statistic making it even more crucial that ambitious women wake up to the opportunities that the technology sector presents. In Europe as a whole, around a third of science, technology, engineering and maths university graduates are female, although in the Netherlands the figure is nearer 25%.   Nevertheless, the number of women holding high level jobs in the technology world remains noticeably low. Interest The two-day European Women in Tech conference is a young event - this...  More >

‘I’m one of those people who loves rain'

‘I’m one of those people who loves the rain, so I’m in the right place’ In search of an affordable university course in English, Somaye Dehban left her hometown of Tehran to build a new life in Utrecht. Some 13 years later, she is a Dutch-speaking, pancake-loving, echte Nederlander, with a shiny new Dutch passport. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here to study. I have a degree from Iran in Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences, but I was more a Social Sciences and Humanities person and wanted to study in this field in English. The UK was very expensive and America was very difficult with Iranian nationality. I had a friend who did her PhD at Utrecht University … and I came across University College Utrecht [a Liberal Arts and Sciences college which is a faculty of Utrecht University] and I applied and I got in. I came in January, so one of my first impressions was the rain. I’m one of those people who actually loves the rain, so I’m in the right place. How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international...  More >

The Netherlands' role in Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving story: How the Netherlands played a part in the American holiday Before they set sail for the New World and inspired the holiday of Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims spent several years in Leiden. Brandon Hartley takes a look at a fascinating but often overlooked chapter in the histories of both the Netherlands and the United States and traces the footsteps of these pioneering Americans.    Anyone who spent time in a stateside grammar school is no doubt familiar with the simplified history of Thanksgiving; of the brave Pilgrims that sailed on a ship called the Mayflower to what is now the state of Massachusetts and participated in a feast after being aided by a friendly Native American tribe. But what they may not know is that, long before the Pilgrims hightailed it to the New World, they made a detour to Leiden - one that lasted over a decade. Trouble in England Like many holidays, Thanksgiving is the accumulation of various traditions and historical events that have had their rough-edges and complexities erased in order to make them more...  More >

Six classic Dutch winter warmers

Six classic Dutch winter warmers – all involving mashed potatoes and bacon Now winter has muscled in, it is time to eat real Dutch comfort food - and that means lots of mashed potato with either a bacon chop, a sausage or a meat ball. Robin Pascoe recommends six classic stamppot recipes. Despite all my years of living in the Netherlands, there is one classic Dutch dish that I still cannot bring myself to eat - the dreaded spinazie a la creme. Deep-frozen spinach with some sort of cream added in, served with fish fingers and mashed potato was, at one time, a Dutch tea time staple - and may still be if the television ads are anything to go by. The same goes for the ubiquitous ovenschotel (oven dish involving mince and/or pasta), and chicken with apple sauce. There are, however, some classic Dutch winter warmers, all based around the humble potato which have a lot to recommend them. And a generous amount of fried bacon bits (spekjes) are essential in every one. Hutspot Absolutely the best among the Dutch mashed meals, hutspot is probably related...  More >

Podcast: The Dog Ate My Flag Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Dog Ate My Flag Edition – Week 46 In this week's podcast we ask how the government can afford to give away €1.4 billion to foreign shareholders but only has €100 to spend on a flag for the Parliament chamber. Our favourite football manager Dick Advocaat bows out on a high note, a student fights for the right to be employed by Deliveroo and the OECD confirms what we've always suspected about Dutch doctors. Meanwhile, gummy bears caused a commotion in Utrecht while raw herring and manure were tainted with the whiff of corruption. In our discussion we investigate why the MH17 disaster has become a target for peddlers of fake news and conspiracy theories. Top story Government stands firm on dividend tax plan News Deliveroo courier takes company to court over freelance contracts Dutch doctors least likely to prescribe antibiotics Foreign students at Dutch universities double in 10 years Herring test results 'unreliable' (NOS, Dutch) Flag in Parliament cost €100 (Telegraaf, Dutch) Tweede...  More >

Anne Frank remains important symbol

Give everyone the opportunity to learn about Anne Frank Hardly a day has gone by in recent weeks without Anne Frank cropping up in the news. What is going on? asks Ronald Leopold, executive director of the Anne Frank House. Football fans used her photo for an antisemitic provocation of their opponents, American stores were offering an Anne Frank costume for Halloween, the German railway company wanted to name a train after her, and there was an outcry - including threats of legal action - in connection with a new play loosely based on her diary. Seventy years after the publication of her diary the significance of Anne Frank seems only to be increasing. But this significance is not the same for everyone. Anne Frank has traditionally been seen by many as the face and the symbol of the Holocaust, even though objections have been raised against this, often based on good arguments. For example, it is often pointed out that the diary ends where the horrors of the camps begin, that Anne is ‘only’ one of the millions of victims of the...  More >

Health insurance in 2018: key facts

Dutch health insurance in 2018: what you need to know now All the Dutch health insurance companies have now published their premiums for 2018. So now is your chance to change your health plan or shop around for a more suitable or better deal. Here's some key things to think about. Like everyone who lives in the Netherlands, you have between now and January 1 to decide whether or not to switch to a new Dutch health insurance company. So what should you be taking into account? Health insurance premiums Firstly, there is the question of price. Some health insurers have put up their rates by a few euros a month, while a few have even made cuts. The average rise is around €2 a month, well below the €6.50 a month the government had been expecting. Nevertheless, the difference in premiums between the cheapest and most expensive policies is huge, despite the cover being exactly the same! In addition, as time goes on, the chances are that you have top up policies which exceed your budget or cover things you don’t need anymore...  More >

A VAT hike with a health warning?

Perhaps a paediatrician is not best placed to explain the effects of a hike in value-added tax and its impact on food, writes Mathijs Bouman. Who do you see if you have a question about your child’s illness? The paediatrician, of course. And who do you ask about the effect of price on household spending? That same paediatrician, naturally. Why? Because paediatricians know all about supply and demand: if something goes up in price people will buy less of it. That is why paediatrician Koen Joosten of the Erasmus Medical Centre got so worked up about the increase in VAT on food from 6% to 9% the other day. Standing in front of a vegetable stall positively bursting with health-giving but now more expensive foods he stated: ‘This will discourage people from eating fruit and vegetables.’ Joosten has my sympathy, he really does. He has been telling us for years we need to eat more healthily. He’s fighting the good fight and I promise to have an extra helping of broccoli tonight. But...  More >

Podcast: The Tax-Free Shortbread Edition

DutchNews Podcast – The Tax-Free Millionaires’ Shortbread Edition – Week 45 In the week that the Paradise Papers leak exposed some of the the murky dealings of the Dutch revenue service and Mark Rutte faced some awkward questions about his plans to scrap dividend tax, we ask how and why the Netherlands became a Valhalla of tax efficiency. Elsewhere, Dick Advocaat accidentally discloses his own departure as national team manager, a Van Gogh painting is revealed to contain a departed insect, and the deadline looms for health insurers to declare their rates for next year. Top story Ministers under pressure over dividend tax 'blackmail' News Brabant councils sign up for legal cannabis production plan Health insurers declare premiums for 2018 as deadline nears Click here to take part in ICP's international survey of Dutch health insurance Dead grasshopper found in Van Gogh painting (The Guardian) Philosophy school to give lessons on Mein Kampf Sport Netherlands grind out 1-0 win against Scotland Advocaat to step down after Romania...  More >

'The Dutch are emotional at times'

‘The Dutch are sometimes more emotional than they claim they are’ Belgian Peter Vandermeersch has been editor of the NRC newspaper since 2010 and now has no intention of living anywhere else but Amsterdam. He misses long Belgian lunches and still hates karnemelk but is planning to become Dutch so he can vote in the national elections. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I came here in a rather special way because I was elected editor of the NRC in 2010, the best newspaper in the Dutch language. Professionally it was much more exciting to work here - my dream come true. My wife is a lobbyist and she stayed in Brussels. One weekend I go back there and one weekend she comes here. We said we would do this for a year but it has now been seven years. We'll probably change the arrangement when my son completes secondary school. It would be nice to live together again. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc ? Sometimes I say I am a Vlaming who got lost in Holland and sometimes I say I am a Dutchman who was...  More >

Buying a home in the Netherlands: a risk?

To buy or not to buy? Is buying a home in the Netherlands worth the risk? Does it sometimes seem as if all your mates are jumping on the bandwagon and buying a home and you are still stuck in your rented flat with the creaky floors? Sometimes buying a home makes more sense, but not always. Here are a few key things to think about. The housing market, particularly in the big Dutch cities, is rarely out of the news at the moment - soaring prices, lack of choice, changes to the mortgage rules - you might consider yourself lucky in your rental flat, dodgy plumbing and all. After all, the greatest advantages of renting a home are flexibility and the lack of risk. You can come and go whenever you want, you’re not responsible for major maintenance, and you don’t have to worry about what would happen if the value of your property goes down. Of course, this comes with a price – literally. Renting in the Netherlands is not cheap and depending on where you are, you could be worse off financially in a rental property. A three-room flat in Amsterdam’s...  More >

Blog watching: Turning Dutch

Blog watching: 10 things you’ll find out when you move to the Netherlands Amanda van Mulligen is a mother, writer, author, blogger who was born in Britain but lives in the Netherlands. She has three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and blogs about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children. The typical Dutch stereotype consists of cheese eating, clog wearing tall people talking a dialect of German with a backdrop of windmills sailing round on the flatlands. However, there is much more to this small country and the people who live in it than the rest of the world thinks. Here are ten things you don’t necessarily know about the Dutch and their country until you move here. 1. Coffee is an obsession There is a fair bit of cheese here and the Dutch do miss their Edam and Gouda when they leave the shores of the Netherlands but what comes as more of a surprise when you come to live here is the national obsession with coffee. The Dutch drink a lot of coffee. I mean an awful lot of coffee. How’s this for coffee drinking? After the Scandinavian...  More >

Podcast: The Unfortunate Train Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Unfortunate Train Name Edition – Week 44 This week's podcast has a transport theme as a judge calls time on Amsterdam's beer bikes, the Anne Frank Foundation cries foul on Germany's national rail operator and Russia has a hissy fit over air cargo slots at Schiphol. We also tackle the mystery of the cat that travelled 150km to a Belgian town with an appropriate name. In our discussion we analyse the two-day debate in Parliament to welcome the new Dutch government. Top story Government 'will ignore result of Big Brother referendum' News Russia threatens to close airspace in Schiphol row Sint Maarten agrees to Dutch conditions for reconstructing Amsterdam wins long-running war on beer bikes Migrants from Europe and America boost Dutch population Anne Frank Foundation objects to name of German train Max Verstappen triumphs in Mexican Grand Prix Missing cat turns up in Belgian town called Muizen And if you want an expat insight into what goes on in Dutch neighbourhood meetings... 🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨The...  More >

Van Gogh's brush strokes come alive

Vincent van Gogh’s fluid brush strokes already seem to move across the canvas but now a film has brought them to life, animating physical paintings to tell the Dutch artist’s story, writes Senay Boztas. Loving Vincent is the title of the first fully-painted feature film, currently in cinemas, and a making-of exhibition at Het Noordbrabants Museum in ’s-Hertogenbosch until January 28 2018. Both the film and exhibition were beset with challenges, from erasing a Greek fly that got stuck in the paint of one of 65,000 stills to persuading museums this artistic project fits their space, co-directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman told DutchNews.nl. Wind back almost a decade and Kobiela, a passionate painter and Van Gogh fan with an idea for a seven-minute painted film animation, had taken a job at Welchman’s company, BreakThru films in London. Love and marriage ‘She had money from the Polish Film Institute, came to work for my company, we fell in love and got married…and...  More >