Minister criticises Erdogan letter as Dutch Turks turn out to vote

Dutch social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees has described efforts by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to encourage Dutch Turks to vote in the parliamentary elections next week as inappropriate. Thousands of Dutch Turks have received a letter signed by Erdogan in which he urges them to vote. It is signed in his role as president and leader of the AK, and is being viewed as a call to vote for the ruling party. Some 250,000  Dutch Turks are able to vote in the elections from today. Polling stations are open until Tuesday in Deventer, The Hague and Amsterdam. Koolmees, who has integration in his portfolio, said the letter is a form of unwanted foreign interference in the Netherlands. It is important that 'Dutch Turks have a future in the Netherlands,' he said. Opponents of Erdogan in the Netherlands told broadcaster NOS the elections are extremely important because the opposition has the chance to make make major gains. 'If you see what has been happening in Turkey over the past 16 years, there is now a real opportunity for change,' one said. 'People are daring to talk again. There is a feeling that change could happen. And I hope it does.' Riots Meanwhile, five men have been given community service sentences for their role in riots outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam in March 2017. A sixth man man caught up in the violence was found not guilty. The trouble took place after the Dutch refused to allow a Turkish minister to attend a meeting at the consulate to promote the referendum giving the Turkish president more powers. A large number of people had gathered in front of the building and police brought in water cannon in an effort to break up the crowds. One of the five, who was handed down the longest sentence of 180 hours community service was found guilty of kicking a police officer in the head.  More >

Father wants compensation for 8yo's death

The father of Sharleyne, an eight-year-old found dead at the base of a tower block three years ago, demanded €100,000 in compensation from the mother in court on Friday. In the third day of a case charging the mother Hélène J with either murder or manslaughter, the court heard – reports NOS broadcaster – that Victor Remouchamps wants compensation for post-traumatic stress and his efforts in bringing the case to court. He had separated from the mother in 2011 but has claimed he warned youth care services before the child’s death that she was in danger and should be removed from the 10th-floor apartment in Hoogeveen. Initially, the public prosecution service had not found enough evidence to prosecute, but Remouchamps believed his eight-year-old had not accidentally fallen or committed suicide and told NOS broadcaster that ‘there were indications that evidence in her bedroom had been staged.’ E-mail He brought a case to the court of appeal, which ordered the Dutch prosecution service to reopen the investigation and two years after the girl’s death, the mother was arrested for murder or manslaughter. In court today, a judge read out an e-mail from Remouchamps sent to emergency services a month before the child’s death reportedly saying that if Sharleyne did not change her attitude towards him, she would not be welcome with him any more, and that she had devastated his life. The father told the court this was a cry for help after he had not been taken seriously by emergency services. Alcohol On Wednesday the court was told that Hélène J had a personality disorder and was a ‘serious alcoholic’. Before her death there had been reports about alcohol abuse, neglect and domestic violence from the mother, and the family had been monitored by social workers. Hélène J said in an emotional appearance in court on Wednesday that she did not know what had happened but could not find her daughter. ‘She was not on the balcony,’ she reportedly said. ‘Then I looked over the balcony and saw her lying there.’ She admitted that she had been drinking that evening. After splitting up in 2011, her parents stayed in the same house for some time, but a DNA test showed that Remouchamps was not the biological father of Sharleyne. She had his surname.  More >

Dutch couple to drive plastic car to SPole

A Dutch couple is planning to drive across Antarctica in a solar-powered vehicle made from recycled plastic, in a bid to encourage people to reuse their waste. Edwin and Leisbeth ter Velde, founders of the Clean2Antarctica project, have announced that in November they will attempt to set a record by driving to the South Pole with clean technology. ‘Our mission is to change the mindset of people,’ said Gerie Smit, spokeswoman for the non-profit foundation. ‘They want to be the first people to drive in a plastic vehicle through Antartica as an awareness raising thing to tell the world: what will you do with your [waste] plastic?' Smit said that they have raised around €1million to take the 40-day trip at minus -30 degrees C, and are now fundraising for a tall ship to carry 120 young people from Amsterdam to see the launch of the mission. The ‘solar voyager’ vehicle has been built with all kinds of plastic waste, with the help of 3D printing, and will be transported by plane with the couple to Union Glacier Camp. Responsibility Edwin ter Velde said in a press release: ‘Plastic itself is not the problem, but how we ourselves use it. It is so easy to use plastic plates and cutlery at a barbecue.... Even bread, cheese, and meat are often packaged in various layers of plastic. The responsibility lies with us, not with government.’ The organisation aims to work with young people to promote a so-called circular economy in which things are designed with reuse and disposal in mind, and everything possible is recycled. They have tested the vehicle, created with the help of Arctic Trucks, in Iceland and created a video of their experience. 'Our mission shows, and hopefully also inspires [people] that when you choose to go for something like zero waste, you can make a huge contribution to sustainability, and give yourself a beautiful gift too,' he says in the video.   More >

Pro Piet highway blockage case in October

Greetings card showing Sinterklaas with Zwarte Piet in silhouette. The trial of 34 people involved in blocking a motorway to prevent anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators reaching the Frisian town of Dokkum will take place in October, judges said at a pre-trial hearing on Friday. The public prosecution department says the Piet supporters put road safety at risk by blocking off the motorway with cars and other vehicles. In addition, they prevented others from making use of their legal right to demonstrate, the department said. The 34 people, aged between 20 and 16, stopped buses carrying some 120 demonstrators by braking in front of them on the highway, forcing all traffic to a halt. The action led to the demonstration being cancelled by the mayor on public order grounds even though the demonstrators had been given a licence to protest during the arrival of Sinterklaas. No-one was arrested during the stand-off.  More >

Sand sculpture takes over The Hague heart

A British man who has lived in Amsterdam for 20 years has won top prize in the first world sand sculpting championship ever held in the Netherlands. The 33 ton sculpture entitled 'The road from Scheveningen', is a pastiche of a famous American installation named the The Flying Steamroller and took some 10 days to create. In total, nine of the best internationally renowned sand artists in the world took over the centre of The Hague and created pieces in line with the theme '200 years of sea, sand and…'. The competition was organised to celebrate 200 years of Scheveningen as a beach resort. The artists used a total of 380 tons of sand (equivalent to some12 truck loads) to create nine large pieces, some of them up to five meters high. 'This time, we presented the works in a special location – the city centre – making it an attraction to the inhabitants and tourists,' said Marcel Elsjan, one of the organisers. 'This year we also collaborated with lighting artists who created spectacular settings for the sculptures and the whole venue.' River sand Sand sculpting is an art form that only uses sand and water, allowing the artists to create sculptures within a reasonably short time. River sand is the best material for sand sculpting due to its angular grains, and mixed with a fraction of silt and clay. The best sand for sculpting in the Netherlands comes from near Nijmegen. 'Scheveningen was the place I first started sand sculpting and now, 20 years later, my ambition is to help bring sand sculpture into a contemporary art forum,' said Baldrick Buckle (46), the new world champion, who originally comes from Leeds, and was awarded his prize on Wednesday. Second place went to Japan sand artist Katsu Chaen and third place to Thomas Koet from the US. The piece by Dutchman Maxim Gazendam was not included in the competition, because the Netherlands is the host nation. The sand sculptures are on show on the Lange Voorhout in The Hague until August 18.  More >

Local council executives get bigger

Local councils in the Netherlands are expanding their executive boards - there are now 10% more alderman than there were after the local elections in 2010, according to research by the AD. Most local councils have now put together new administrations since the March vote and the number of aldermen has gone up to 1,144. The main reason for the increase, the AD says, is that there are more political parties fighting for votes and coalitions are getting bigger. In Rotterdam, for example, six parties have formed a coalition and the number of aldermen has doubled from five to 10. In Barendrecht, where the coalition grew from three to six parties, each party has an alderman, although some will work part-time. Alderman earn from €64,000 to €137,000 a year, depending on the size of the local authority. Pensions and expenses come on top of that, and aldermen who lose their jobs are entitled to a generous form of unemployment benefit for up to three years. In total, the wage bill will rise by tens of millions of euros, the AD said. Research by the NRC, also published on Friday, shows that men still dominate when it comes to the job of alderman. However, Appingedam in Groningen and Gemert-Bakel in Brabant have an exclusively all-women line-up. By contrast, 94 of the 305 local authorities assessed by the paper have only men on the executive board. GroenLinks is the clear leader in terms of female aldermen, with 48 out of 87. The fundamentalist Protestant group SGP, which believes women should keep out of politics, has 27 alderman, all of whom are male.  More >

Google buy more land in the Netherlands

Google's parent company Alphabet has bought 70 hectares of land in Noord-Holland province, which it may use to develop a new data centre, business news agency Bloomberg said on Friday. The company told Bloomberg it is still considering what to do with the site, but that a decision will be made soon. The location of the land was not given but it is thought to be close to Amsterdam. Google already has a major data centre in Eemshaven in the north of Groningen and said earlier this year it would spend €500m to expand its operations there. In May, the Dutch Data Centre Association warned that the shortage of electricity in areas where data centres are concentrated is threatening the industry’s expansion in the Netherlands. The situation is particularly acute around Amsterdam ‘where expanding the electricity grid is no longer possible,’ the association said. The Netherlands needs to develop an emergency plan or the country’s position as a ‘digital leader’ will be under threat, DDA director Stijn Grove said.  More >