Brewing beer at home is very hip in the Netherlands. Over the last years there has been a large increase of so-called micro-breweries. In general these small private breweries make special beers in the cellar, in the back of a cafe or in a public house. Lately some of these Dutch micro beers are exported worldwide in pretty large volumes.
The Technical University Eindhoven is testing the latest 'cooperative driving' system for cars. The cars are connected with each other wirelessly. The new form of driving will cause much less traffic jams, because much more of the space on the highway is used. It is said that in five years especially trucks will drive cooperatively because it is much cheaper. The legislation and rules will have to change seriously.
Since criminal gangs are focusing on the trade in fake food, Europol did its third world wide research after food fraud this year. Especially fake olive oil, biscuits, chocolate bars, stock cubes, honey and grain were seized. But criminals are also messing around with meat and alcohol, which results in serious health risks. After heavy budget cuts the Dutch food authority does not have the personnel to do enough controls. It seems the food mafia has free play at the second largest food producer in the world.
GHB, a former anaesthetic now used as drugs, is called the new heroine. Because it is extremely addictive and the craving is much stronger than with other drugs. GHB it very easy to make. It is just a mix of rim cleaner GBL, plunger (for unblocking drains) and distilled water. Lately the Dutch are testing a new remedy against the heavy GHB addiction. Baclofen, a medicine that is often used against the addiction of alcohol.
The Dutch are crazy about the Passions composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. In around two weeks’ time hundreds of performances of the Matthäus and Johannes Passion will take place throughout the Netherlands. The number of performances increased with 12%, from 169 last year to 189 this year. The busiest passion days are Palm Sunday (April 13) and Good Friday (April 18).
According to a recent IUCN study 24% of European bumblebee species are threatened with extinction, which can have serious implications for the food production. The negative trends need to be reversed by protecting European bumblebee species and habitats, restoring degraded ecosystems and promoting biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices. The rescue can start in the Netherlands, since they are the heaviest pesticide user in Europe, but also the largest insect producer in the world.
Over the last days the Dutch media and social media are full of reactions and analyses about the 'less Moroccans' election speech of Wilders and the early release of the owners of a jewellery store after they killed two Dutch Moroccan youngsters during a robbery. The slumbering dissatisfaction about, and of, young Dutch Moroccans has increased so much that experts fear that there is a serious danger that the situation will explode. Should the Dutch be afraid for an eruption of violence? It is time to step out of the moral swamp and start a debate, otherwise society will keep on feeding right wing populists.
In May and June many of the Dutch cows will be in the fields again. Many farmers think it is better for the cow to be in the stable, especially because over the last years the health, well-being and the life span of cattle became more important for the farmers. Through that the Dutch have the oldest live stock in the world and it seems the cattle can even get a lot older.
Saturday Geert Wilders finally reacted to all the critics he received after his elections speech Wednesday night in The Hague. In his speech Wilders asked his followers if they want more or less Moroccans and the crowd chanted 'less, less, less'. Since that moment a wave of indignation is rolling over the Netherlands. Many PVV politicians and voters have turned their back on the party.
In his elections day speech in a café in The Hague, Geert Wilders repeated his statement about his wish for less Moroccans in the Netherlands. He asked his followers: 'I am actually not allowed to say this but I do not say thing they is not permitted. Do you want more or less Moroccans.’ The crowd repeated en masse 'less, less, less'. After this Wilders stated: 'well than we are going to take care of that.' In the same speech Wilders also asked if his followers want more or less Europe. And again the public chanted, 'less, less, less'.
As expected the coalition parties got a serious blow in the Dutch locale elections yesterday. The large amount of local parties again are the winner taking almost 30% of the seats. For the first time since the end of World War two the social democrat PvdA lost their majority in many of the larger cities, mainly to Democrats 66. In Rotterdam it was Leefbaar Rotterdam, erected by the late Pim Fortuyn, that got a serious majority.
One day before the Dutch local elections all the Dutch party leaders are out on the streets for some last campaigning. Apart from asking to vote for their party, they also ask the people to at least vote. There is a chance that the turnout tomorrow will be less than 50%, which would be a new record low. It is actually quite strange that there is such little interest in the elections while there is a huge decentralisation and cutback project ongoing, moving a lot of the responsibilities for especially care services from national to local level. But with a smaller budget.
In an essay in the Volkskrant cultural historian Rene Cuperus warns that democracy is threatened in the Netherlands and in Europe. The gigantic ongoing decentralisation operation of care tasks in the Netherlands and the far-reaching centralisation of the government of the Eurozone, weaken the last vital democratic bastion: the national political level. The turnout of both the local and the European elections in the Netherlands seem to go under 50%. Is democracy just an after war intermezzo and will the 21 century be the century of authority?
During his campaign in The Hague last week, Geert Wilders summoned bystanders to vote for the PVV if they want 'a city with less expenses and when possible also with a few less Moroccans'. Until now Wilders has always managed to just stay within the juridical limits concerning discrimination, but now he attacked Dutch Moroccans directly. In reactions Wilders is compared with Hitler. The latest polls in The Hague show that the PVV and the social democrats are in a neck-and-neck race for the win this coming Wednesday March 19.
An investigative journalist gives his views on the bad status of the Dutch food inspection in a new book. Over the last years the lower house and the cabinet decided that far less food inspectors were needed. Now the companies that cheat have nothing to fear anymore, 'they almost can do what they want. Dutch inspectors are wearing too many hats: they have to enforce, control, but also give out export certificates.'
During the local elections this year 18% more local parties participate than four years ago. Although traditionally Dutch local parties have quite some influence, the rise of local parties will make the Dutch political system far more complicated. The political landscape will become so disintegrated that it will be difficult to come to agreements. Not very pratical in a period where the Dutch are moving quite some responsibilities from the national level to the local level.
On March 19 local elections will take place. As well as Dutch nationals, an estimated 450,000 foreigners will be able to vote. In Rotterdam the liberal party VVD has to compete with the popular populist party Leefbaar Rotterdam. This is probably why they decided to use the slogan: 'In Rotterdam we speak Dutch'. But in other cities like Maastricht and Amsterdam the VVD campaigns in foreign languages.
Care is one of the prominent issue's in the upcoming local elections on March 19. Since a few years 'Buurtzorg', a new care model is revolutionising home care in the Netherlands. In the direct 'nurse led' care model there is no room for management and luxurious offices. The nurses are responsible for their own financial results. The innovative model is introduced in Sweden and the US, and there is interest from countries like Switzerland, Scotland, Canada, Japan and China.
The Dutch have a new approach to protect the land from the sea. Instead of raising the Hondbossche sea wall dyke with the needed seven metres, dunes and a new strip of beach are created by spraying sand just before the coast. The sand spraying ships started at the beginning of this month, but a local bird watching group lodged a complaint to stop the innovative sea defence project.
Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have issued early-warning notifications about two synthetic drugs that have recently been linked to serious harms in the EU. The first concerns a new psychoactive substance associated with 18 deaths in the UK and eight in Hungary in 2013.
The weekly De Groene Amsterdammer published an interesting article about innovation in the Dutch welfare state. In an age where the Dutch authorities want to push citizens into a so-called ‘participation society’, in some places this almost happens by itself. In Zaanstad, a small town just outside Amsterdam, proud inhabitants of a migrant area do not want their neighbourhood and its population to degenerate. A breeding ground for innovative social initiatives.
Due to the tensions in Ukraine, the nuclear security summit in the Hague at at March 24 and 25 is growing in significance. Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called on Russia “not to violate the Budapest Memorandum” nuclear non-proliferation agreement. The deadline for the application for accreditation for the summit is March 10, 2014.
Ivo Opstelten, minister of Security and Justice wants the minimum age of 21 for prostitution to be specifically laid down in the law. This is apparent from an amendment to the bill 'Regulating prostitution and combating abuses in the sex industry', that was sent to the Lower House today. The registration for prostitutes and the duty to ascertain for clients has been cancelled.
Today the newspaper De Telegraaf published an article about a research that has been carried out amongst migrant voters. It turns out that many migrant voters that traditionally vote for the Social Democrat PvdA now run away from the party. A large group does not know what they will vote yet. It seems that the Democrats 66 will win most of the votes.
According to research advisor Peter Kanne, in an essay in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, there is a large chance that Dutch voters will be even more disappointed after the upcoming elections. 'The transfer of tasks to the municipalities is irresponsible because it happens far too fast and at the same time there is €. 1.5 billion less budget.'
Belgium is dumping "poor" Dutch people. A growing number of Dutch are summoned to leave Belgium because they are burdening the social welfare system. And the Dutch are not the only ones. Belgium is increasingly withdrawing residence permits from European citizens. Last year in total 2.712 lost their Belgian permit.
Finally the gigantic Dutch manure surplus is dealt with. This year new manure legislation is coming into power obliging famers to bring 30% of the manure to manure processing plants. After processing it is exported. It seems a lot of fraud is committed processing manure. The sector needs to succeed to make the new manure processing system work. If not the Dutch livestock needs to be shrunk.