First Dutch bananas could help tackle worldwide fungal threat
University grows 60 plants on coco peat and rock wool, avoiding soil-borne disease
A Dutch university has grown the Netherlands' first crop of bananas as part of a research programme that could help protect the fruit from a deadly fungus that threatens production worldwide.
Wageningen University grew 60 banana plants in its greenhouses on coco peat and rock wool, avoiding the threat of a soil-borne fungal disease that could destroy hundreds of thousands of hectares of banana plants around the world, local media reported. The crop will be offered to local hospitals and restaurants. Continue reading...

Gerard Unger obituary
Typeface designer whose work adorns many newspapers, books and road signs
The Dutch typeface designer Gerard Unger, who has died aged 76, did much to improve legibility in newspapers, books and transport systems. His best known typeface, Swift, with sharp serifs (the horizontal feet of letters) was used to typeset the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, alongside his matching sanserif type, Argo. The typeface that you are reading now, Guardian Egyptian, owes something to Swift's example.
The technology of typesetting and publishing has been transformed during the last 50 years. Unger worked throughout this period, grappling with technical innovations to produce legible and beautiful letterforms. Continue reading...

Dutch art panel's ruling against Jewish family criticised as 'step back'
Committee backed museum in battle over Kandinsky painting obtained before Nazis invaded
The decision of a Dutch art committee to back one of the Netherlands' most prestigious museums in its attempt to hold on to a prized painting obtained from a Jewish family in 1940 has sparked an international outcry over the fate of Nazi loot across Europe.
The binding ruling against the descendants of Emanuel Lewenstein has come under heavy criticism after it emerged that the committee had taken into account the need to maintain the "public art stock". Continue reading...

Dutch court rejects man's request to be 20 years younger
Emile Ratelband, 69, argued that his age was causing him to struggle to find work and love
A Dutch court has rejected the request of a self-styled "positivity guru" to shave 20 years off his age, in a case that drew worldwide attention.
Last month Emile Ratelband asked the court in Arnhem to formally change his date of birth to make him 49. He said his official age did not reflect his emotional state and it was causing him to struggle to find work and love. Continue reading...

Unilever boss quits after botched plan to move to Netherlands
Paul Polman to step down after shareholder rebellion thwarted relocation of HQ to Rotterdam
Profile: Scot who joined Trump on The Apprentice
Unilever's chief executive, Paul Polman, is stepping down just months after a shareholder rebellion forced the company to scrap a planned move from London to Rotterdam.
The group, whose brands include Marmite, Dove soap and Magnum ice-cream, ditched its plan to simplify its dual Anglo-Dutch structure in October after an unprecedented protest from UK shareholders, many of whom would have been forced to sell up if the move had gone ahead.
Related: Unilever's Alan Jope: Scot who joined Trump on The Apprentice
Paul Polman - outgoing Unilever boss
Continue reading...

Blue-eyed boy in famous photo is not Vincent van Gogh
Portrait believed for 50 years to be of the artist aged 13 is of his brother Theo, says museum
A photograph believed for more than 50 years to have been a portrait of a 13-year-old Vincent van Gogh is actually one of his brother Theo, aged 15.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on Thursday revealed the results of research into a photograph that has appeared in countless books and catalogues, always billed as the earliest known photograph of Van Gogh. Continue reading...

Dutch rail to pay compensation for transporting Jews to Nazi death camps
State-owned NS paid millions for operating trains that sent 102,000 people to their deaths
The Dutch state-owned rail company has said it will pay compensation to survivors and relatives of those transported by their trains to the Nazi death camps during the second world war after receiving a threat of litigation.
The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) was paid £2.2m in today's money for delivering 102,000 Jews to concentration camps across Europe. In 2005, the company's then chief executive, Aad Veenman, offered "apologies from the bottom of his heart and in all modesty".
Related: Lost music of Nazis' prisoners to be heard at concert in Jerusalem Continue reading...

Bannon's Europe plan: a look at the law in his 13 targeted countries
European electoral laws bar ex-Trump adviser operating in at least nine of his target states

Steve Bannon thought his offer to help nationalist, populist parties competing in the 2019 European elections would be irresistible. "I think we will get them all onboard," he told the Guardian in July, shortly before his Brussels-based initiative, the Movement, was launched.
But research by the Guardian has shown that electoral law prevents the former Donald Trump strategist from providing polling services or other campaign support in most of the countries in which he wants to operate. Bannon's organisation is completely barred or prevented from doing any meaningful work in nine of 13 countries on his target list, according to checks with electoral bodies and relevant ministries. Continue reading...

Pranksters plant 'stolen Picasso' in Romania
Dutch writer who thought she'd found missing painting says she was victim of hoax

It almost sounded too good to be true: a Picasso painting stolen in one of the world's most famous art heists had been found under a tree in a snowy Romanian forest.
On Monday it emerged it was totally too good to be true, part of an elaborate and carefully staged piece of performance art by a radical Belgian theatre company. Continue reading...

Painting handed in to Dutch embassy in Romania could be stolen Picasso
Experts investigate canvas after artwork given to authorities by two Dutch citizens
Investigators are examining a work of art to establish whether it is a Picasso snatched from a Dutch museum in 2012.
The painting, Picasso's Tete d'Arlequin (Harlequin's Head) was stolen six years ago in a haul of seven valuable artworks from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam. Continue reading...

Meet Amsterdam's official pet photographer
Isabella Rozendaal realised there was something missing from Amsterdam's population archive. She tells of her life – and new book – as the city's first official pet portraitist

• See a gallery of Isabella Rozendaal's photographs
In 2016, the photographer Isabella Rozendaal convinced Amsterdam's city archives that a significant portion of the city's inhabitants were being unfairly snubbed. Rozendaal was born in Amsterdam, and, when she is not travelling on assignment, she still lives there. Like other Amsterdammers, she considers the archives an invaluable resource – the public collection of historical documents (drawings, films, maps, photographs) is the largest in the world – but whenever she visited she always sensed something was missing. "Pets are a huge part of Amsterdam's population," Rozendaal says, "but they were totally underrepresented. My plan was to photograph the pets."
Rozendaal began photographing animals in 2006, during her last year of art school. (She studied at the Royal Academy of Art, in The Hague.) To sharpen her documentary skills, she visited a dog show, where she was drawn not just to the animals but to candid moments shared between the pets and their owners. Rozendaal asked a couple of owners if she could visit them later, at home. She wanted to better understand how pet and owner interacted out of the public eye. "I just thought these people were so fascinating," she says. "And I found this wonderful obsession." Continue reading...

'Soft' Brexit agreement not a done deal, warn EU leaders
France, Spain, Denmark and Netherlands say agreement must not give UK unfair advantage
France's finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has welcomed the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement but warned Paris would be vigilant on its final terms, amid mounting concern from EU member states that the UK was being given too soft a deal.
Related: Theresa May's Brexit deal is best we can do, Brussels warns
Related: Provisional UK Brexit deal with EU difficult to secure, says Barnier
Related: Brexit talks: remaining sticking points facing Theresa May
Related: Brexit phrasebook: a guide to the talks' key terms Continue reading...

Can local walking groups help solve urban issues?
Dutch cities are using wijkwandelingen, or neighbourhoods walks, as a hyperlocal way of improving cities, from fixing signs to adding playgrounds
"This street sign is crooked," notes Henny Koot, then stoops down to straighten it.
We are in Spoorwijk, a neighbourhood in The Hague. "Spoorwijk is a very special neighbourhood. It's a green space where children can play safely in the playgrounds, where entrepreneurs from different cultures have set up shop. People care about each other," explains Koot, who chairs a local community organisation. Spoorwijk may be a caring neighbourhood, but it's part of Laak, The Hague's smallest district – as well as one of its poorest and most diverse. The average annual income of its 4,340 residents is €16,300 (£14,225) – about €1,350 (£1,180) a month. In 2017, 67.3% of the inhabitants of Spoorwijk were of non-Dutch background – the majority from Surinam, but also from Turkey and Morocco.
Engaged citizens take care of their neighbourhood and their neighbours
Related: Sun terraces and lawns: Dutch residents transform parking spaces Continue reading...

Black Pete: the scandal we Dutch can't stay silent about any more | Joost de Vries
Is November's Sinterklaas festival a vestige of slavery or benign? It's part of a debate about our culture we simply can't escape
Last month in the city of Leeuwarden, in the north of the Netherlands, 34 people – mostly men – stood trial, charged with one of the oddest crimes in recent history. The crime had been committed a year earlier. Here are the circumstances: in mid-November, as the tradition has it, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, was due to arrive in Dokkum, a nearby town in the region of Friesland. Each year children flock to see the Sint (Saint) come off his boat – it's a highly popular televised event. And each year, more and more activists set out to protest against the tradition.
What they protest against is not Sinterklaas himself – who rides a grey horse called Amerigo and hands out presents on his birthday. No, the problem is Black Pete. Originally Black Pete was to Sint what Luca Brasi was to Don Corleone: his muscle man, his enforcer. In the olden days, if children had behaved badly during the year, Pete would give them "the switch". Or worse, he would stuff them in a sack and take them away. An elderly white man plays Sinterklaas. Pete is played by a white man too, dressed in minstrel clothing with his face painted black.
Pro-Black Pete activists have said getting rid of Black Pete would be tantamount to selling out Dutch national identity
Related: Stark east-west divide in attitudes towards minorities in Europe Continue reading...

The Correspondent: crowdfunded news site prepares to launch English version
With backing from Judd Apatow and Kamau Bell, the reader-centric Dutch organization offers pay-what-you-want model
De Correspondent, the Dutch journalism organization which has gained plaudits for its crowdfunded, reader-centric approach to news, aims to launch an English language site in 2019, its co-founder announced on Wednesday.
Rob Wijnberg, who launched de Correspondent following a crowd-funding drive in the Netherlands in 2013, told the Guardian the English-language version, like the Dutch outlet, would focus on "underlying forces in the world that shape our society" rather than the daily news agenda. Continue reading...

'We've been here since 1747' – Dutch windmill villagers take on tourist hordes
Locals say limits needed to save character of Kinderdijk and its 18th century windmills
The 60 inhabitants of the Dutch village of Kinderdijk have long been vastly outnumbered by the hordes of tourists drawn to the Unesco world heritage site's 18th-century windmills.
Now, amid rumours that the latest business plan for the village involves an increase in visitor numbers from 600,000 to 850,000 and a second dock for passing cruise ships, they say they have had enough.
Related: My Amsterdam is being un-created by mass tourism | Joost de Vries
Related: Wish you weren't here: how the tourist boom – and selfies – are threatening Britain's beauty spots Continue reading...

Doctor to face Dutch prosecution for breach of euthanasia law
Lawyers claim elderly dementia patient did not clearly state she wanted to die
A doctor who slipped a sedative into a 74-year-old woman's coffee before administering a lethal drug as members of her family held her down is to be the first medic to be prosecuted for breaching Dutch euthanasia laws.
A public prosecutor in The Hague said in a statement that the doctor could not have unambiguously come to the conclusion that the patient wanted to die. Continue reading...

Can't get a pension, can't get work: a special dystopia for older women | Gaby Hinsliff
Older women face considerable prejudices at work, and now they are being forced to retire later. Old-held assumptions must be challenged
Emile Ratelband wants to be younger. He wouldn't be the first 69-year-old man to say so but what makes Ratelband unusual, to put it mildly, is that he has just launched a lawsuit in the Netherlands demanding to be legally recognised as only 49. If a trans woman can identify as female and change her official documents accordingly, he argues, why can't he change his registered date of birth and thus get more dates on Tinder? After all, his doctor says he's very fit for his age, and if he could only claim to be under 50 then surely "with this face I will be in a luxurious position" with women.
This makes significantly more sense as a PR stunt, obviously, than as any sort of argument. Age is not a mutable fact or a social construct, and "age dysphoria" is – unlike its gender variant – not even remotely a thing. You're born when you're born and if other people make madly unfair assumptions based on something as arbitrary as a date then it's the assumptions that need changing, not birth records. And unless he's arguing that only as a born-again fortysomething could he finally get women in their 60s to look twice at him, then Ratelband himself seems guilty of some pretty dodgy assumptions about age. Older women, so often spurned on dating apps by vain old goats who stubbornly refuse to "settle" for someone their own age, may not shed too many tears over this one.
Related: This isn't pension equality. This is a clear injustice to older women | Anne Perkins
Related: Dutch man, 69, starts legal fight to identify as 20 years younger Continue reading...

'I suffer under my age': Dutch man seeks to legally change his age – video
Self-styled positivity guru Emile Ratelband said he wants to legally change his age to make himself 20 years younger. The 69-year-old Dutch television personality has asked a court in the Netherlands to approve his request for a new birthday that would make him officially 49 Continue reading...

Dutch man, 69, starts legal fight to identify as 20 years younger
Motivational speaker Emile Ratelband compares bid to alter age to gender change
A 69-year-old Dutch "positivity guru" who says he does not feel his age has started a battle to make himself legally 20 years younger on the grounds that he is being discriminated against on a dating app.
Emile Ratelband told a court in Arnhem in the Netherlands that he did not feel "comfortable" with his date of birth, and compared his wish to alter it to people who identified as transgender. Continue reading...