Man turns himself in to police for growing marijuana, is found guilty

A man who turned himself into the police for possessing five marijuana plants has been found guilty of illegally cultivating the plant, but has not been punished by judges in The Hague. René Barendse told RTL Nieuws earlier he uses the plant to help him cope with crippling pains for which doctors can find no cause. It is illegal to cultivate marijuana but officials turn a blind eye to the possession of four plants. At the same time, the police are free to seize and destroy plants if they see fit. Barendse said he wanted to establish legal opinion about the situation and so decided to turn himself in. The court ruled that he had not sufficiently proved that the medicinal cannabis oil he is prescribed did not work. In addition, the fact he could not afford medicinal cannabis was not a mitigating circumstance, the judges said. Barendse was found guilty but was not given any punishment because, the court said, the case was about a question of principle.  More >

Farmed duck is off the menu in 2019

Some ducks Supermarkets Albert Heijn, Aldi and Lidl are banning the sale of industrial barn-raised ducks from next year in the wake of a campaign by animal welfare organisation Wakker Dier. Barn ducks are living under dire circumstances, Wakker Dier says, with 13 ducks squeezed into one square meter, without access to water for swimming and fresh air. They are also forced to stand on iron grid floor which causes serious injury to their feet. ‘We had been contemplating a ban but this campaign has perhaps speeded things up, an Albert Heijn spokesperson told broadcaster NOS. ‘For the sake of animal welfare we have decided to sell only free range duck from next year.’ Lidl is also scrapping industrially-produced duck from the menu. ‘We have been working with our supplier towards better circumstances for farmed ducks and we’re aiming for at least free range,’ NOS quotes a spokesperson as saying. The change will take time which is why Lidl has decided not to sell duck at Easter, NOS said. Wakker Dier said that there is no quality label for duck meat because it is not something that is widely consumed. ‘But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make their lives better and increase public awareness,’ a Wakker Dier spokesperson told the broadcaster.  More >

2018 is already the sunniest on record

With 18 days to go before the end of the year, 2018 has already gone down in the record books as the sunniest on record, weather website Weerplaza said on Thursday. On Thursday morning, the number of sunny hours broke the 2,022 barrier, surpassing the previous record of 2,021 hours, 40 minutes, which was set in 2003. It is only the second time more than 2,000 hours of sunshine have been recorded since records began in 1901. In an average year, the sun shines for 1,600 hours. Weerplaza said one reason for the increase in sunshine is improved air quality. Thirty years ago, for example, the average amount of sunshine was no higher than 1,500 hours. 'It was quite normal for there to be weeks of fog in the spring,' a spokesman said. Friday and Saturday will also be sunny but there may be some snow or sleet on Sunday. Light frosts are on the cards for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, Weerplaza said.  More >

Up to 50 soldiers sacked for drugs use

Defence ministry figures obtained by the Telegraaf show between 30 and 50 military personnel are fired each year because of drugs use. The paper says 31 members of the armed forces lost their jobs in 2017. A spokesman for the ministry told the paper the estimated long term average is between 30 and 50 sackings but that exact figures for earlier years are unavailable. The real number of drug users in the army is probably much higher as one in 10 of the population struggle with an addiction of some sort, according to addiction expert Dick Trubendorffer . ‘There is no reason to think it will be any different in the army,' he told the paper. In total the Dutch army, which takes a zero tolerance approach to hard drugs, employs some 40,000 people.  More >

Buddha claim is inadmissable, court says

A group of Chinese villagers who had gone to court in the Netherlands in their battle to prove they are the rightful owners of a golden Buddha have been told by the judge their case is inadmissable. The court said that the committees from the villages of Tangchun and Dong Pu are not legal entities and so cannot take legal proceedings. The court did not rule on the ownership of the Buddha, which which contains the mummified body of a monk. The villagers say the 1.2 metre high Buddha was stolen from them 22 years ago. Oscar van Overeem, said to be the owner of the statue, told the court earlier this year that he no longer owns it and that he does not know the identity of its new owner. Van Overeem told the court he had swapped the Buddha with another collector in a paper-free deal because he was 'fed up' with the legal wrangles surrounding it. News programme Questions about the 1,000 year old Buddha’s ownership arose when it was the star item in a show at the Hungarian natural history museum in Budapest in 2015. Pictures of the Buddha were shown on a Chinese news programme, leading villagers in Yangchun to claim it had been stolen from their temple in 1995. The statue contains the mummified body of a monk, who the villagers claim is local man Zhanggong Zushi. But Van Overeem disputes their claim, saying the Buddha he owned did not have a hole on its left hand or signs of a break on the neck.  More >