Missile which brought down flight MH17 came from Russian brigade: report

The international team investigating the downing of flight MH17 in July 2014, said on Thursday the Buk missile which shot down the passenger plane originated from a unit of the Russian army from Kursk in Russia. All 298 passengers and crew, which included mainly Dutch citizens, were killed in the disaster, which took place as the plane flew over Eastern Ukraine on its way to Kuala Lumpur. The investigators told a news conference on Thursday they have now concluded the missile came from a Russian army unit after extensive comparative research based on several images of the Buk. ‘The analysis of those produces a number of characteristics and the combination is so special that that can be considered as a fingerprint,’ the interim report on the air disaster said. This means that people within the brigade and close to it will be aware of the operation in which the missile was deployed, the investigators say. They are now calling on insiders and eyewitnesses to come forward. ‘Who formed part of the crew? What were their instructions? Who was responsible for the operational deployment on 17 July 2017?,’ Dutch police chief Wilbert Paulissen said at Thursday’s press conference. ‘We are convinced that many people have this information. They may be members of the 53rd Brigade, but also relatives, friends or acquaintances.' Chief investigator Fred Westerbeke said on Thursday the probe was now in its 'last phase' but said there is 'still work to be done' before charges can be brought. The trial of any suspects arrested in the shooting down of flight MH17 will be held in the Netherlands under an agreement reached with the countries leading the joint probe.  More >

NL rises in one competitiveness ranking

The Netherlands has overtaken Switzerland and moved into fourth place in the latest global competitiveness rankings published by IMD. The top five most competitive economies in the world remain the same as in the previous year, but their order changed in the 2018 rankings. The United States, third last year, returns to the top spot, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The Netherlands’ advance reflects a ‘balanced’ path to competitiveness, ranking in the top 10 in economic performance, government and business efficiency, IMD said. Switzerland declined mainly due to a slowdown in exports and, to a lesser extent, an increase in perceptions about threats of relocation of R&D facilities. The IMD World Competitiveness Center, a research group at IMD business school in Switzerland, has published the rankings every year since 1989. It compiles them using 258 indicators. ‘Hard’ data such as national employment and trade statistics are weighted twice as much as the ‘soft’ data from an executive opinion survey that measures the business perception of issues such as corruption, environmental concerns and quality of life. This year 63 countries were ranked. The Netherlands is also currently ranked 4th on the World Economic Forum‘s list of the 138 most competitive countries, behind Switzerland, the United States and Singapore.  More >

Bullying in primary schools can be tackled

Only four out of 10 popular methods to combat bullying in primary schools work, according to a new report by five universities and mental health monitor Trimbos Institute. Bullying is also more widespread than previously assumed, a survey among 8,000 children showed. Three anti-bullying programmes which involved the whole class were found to be effective (PRIMA, KiVA and Taakspel) while one (Alles Kidzzz) turned out to be the best of the individual approaches. Schools are required by law to teach children about bullying but are free to chose which method to use. The report showed 30% of primary school children experience instances of bullying at school. A smaller group, 1 in 14, is bullied more than once a week. Of this group a third does not tell anyone about the bullying and 97% of these children have been bullied over several years. According to researcher Bram Orobio Castro of Utrecht University, the figures are higher than previously thought. ‘We always knew that the number would probably be a bit higher but we didn’t think bullying would be as widespread as this,’ he told RTL Nieuws. Orobio Castro says children keep quiet out of fear the bullying will get worse or because they think they are to blame. ‘They are ashamed and feel they should solve the problem themselves. They feel that it is part of life and because they don’t tell anyone they develop a damaging mindset that isn’t corrected.’ Schools are obliged by law to monitor children’s well-being annually, and this includes bullying. It is vital, the researchers say, that children tell teachers and other adults if they are being bullied. The four best scoring programmes were shown to bring down instances of bullying within a year and these need to extended and used across the board, the researchers recommend. Mandatory use is not thought to be necessary because bullying does not occur in all schools.  More >

Kraft Heinz opens €90m Amsterdam base

Kraft Heinz, the world’s fifth-largest food and beverages concern, is to open a new €90m innovation centre in Amsterdam’s Zuidas business district next week. The innovation centre will employ 450 people and help develop 'the Kraft Heinz of the future', said Rafa Oliveira, who is in charge of the group’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in an interview in Thursday's Telegraaf. ‘This is a huge step for us,’Oliveira told the paper. ‘We are not going to develop any new products, we are seeking new methods of growth.’ He said Kraft Heinz will be able to invest more in products and marketing through cost savings generated in Amsterdam. The company opted for Amsterdam because of the proximity of Schiphol airport as well as the city’s talented young labour market, he told the Telegraaf. The US-based group also operates an innovation centre in Nijmegen and a ketchup plant in Elst, for a total payroll of 800. Kraft Heinz, which was formed in July 2015 through the merger of two well-established American foods groups, books annual turnover of some €26bn and has more than 200 brand names. Last year, Kraft Heinz made a €134bn bid to acquire Anglo-Dutch Unilever. But swift action on Unilever’s part averted a takeover. Kraft Heinz has a number of very Dutch brand names, including De Ruijter, Venz, Honig en Karvan Cevitam in its portfolio. These stem from the 2001 acquisition by Heinz of Dutch foods group CSM.  More >

Dutchman faces terror charges in Iraq

A Dutch national has been arrested in Iraq on terrorism charges, the foreign affairs ministry has confirmed to website Nu.nl. No details about the man have been made public and it is unclear if he has formally asked for consular assistance. Nevertheless, officials are 'keeping an eye on the situation', the foreign ministry said. Earlier this week a Belgian national was sentenced to death in Iraq after he was found guilty of terrorism. Belgium has asked Iraq to commute the sentence to life in jail.   More >