Amsterdam looks to bar foreign visitors from buying cannabis
Mayor cites survey of tourists in the Wallen and Singel as she looks to clean up overcrowded red-light areas
The mayor of Amsterdam has sought to win political backing for her cleanup of overcrowded red-light areas by revealing that a third of foreign tourists and nearly half of Britons would be less likely to visit the city again if they were barred from buying cannabis in the coffee shops.
Femke Halsema, who is understood to want to reduce the number of outlets selling cannabis, attached the survey results to a letter to councillors announcing her intention to examine how they may reduce the attraction of drug use to tourists. Continue reading...

Giant dams enclosing North Sea could protect millions from rising waters
Dams between Scotland, Norway, France and England ‘a possible solution' to problem
A Dutch government scientist has proposed building two mammoth dams to completely enclose the North Sea and protect an estimated 25 million Europeans from the consequences of rising sea levels as a result of global heating.
Sjoerd Groeskamp, an oceanographer at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, said a 475km dam between north Scotland and west Norway and another 160km one between west France and south-west England was "a possible solution". Continue reading...

Welfare surveillance system violates human rights, Dutch court rules
Government told to halt use of AI to detect fraud in decision hailed by privacy campaigners
A Dutch court has ordered the immediate halt of an automated surveillance system for detecting welfare fraud because it violates human rights, in a judgment likely to resonate well beyond the Netherlands.
The case was seen as an important legal challenge to the controversial but growing use by governments around the world of artificial intelligence (AI) and risk modelling in administering welfare benefits and other core services.

Artificial Intelligence has various definitions, but in general it means a program that uses data to build a model of some aspect of the world. This model is then used to make informed decisions and predictions about future events. The technology is used widely, to provide speech and face recognition, language translation, and personal recommendations on music, film and shopping sites. In the future, it could deliver driverless cars, smart personal assistants, and intelligent energy grids. AI has the potential to make organisations more effective and efficient, but the technology raises serious issues of ethics, governance, privacy and law.
Related: Sentencing: minister rejects European human rights convention warning Continue reading...

Dutch rightwing leader under fire over false account of harassment
Train passengers refuted Thierry Baudet's story of female friends being harassed by Moroccans
Dutch police are investigating whether the rightwing populist leader Thierry Baudet committed a criminal offence when he falsely claimed that two close female friends had been "seriously harassed by four Moroccans on a train".
The founder of the Netherlands' anti-immigration Forum for Democracy (FvD) party, one of several European far-right and nationalist leaders due to speak on Tuesday at a gathering in Rome, tweeted about the incident on Friday evening.

Vanavond zijn twee dierbare vriendinnen ernstig lastig gevallen door 4 Marokkanen in de trein. Aangifte doen natuurlijk volstrekt zinloos. Oh lieve, kinderlijk naïeve Nederlanders! Stem nou toch eindelijk voor verandering. Breek los uit politiek correct gelul! Red dit land! #FVD Continue reading...

Pollutionwatch: where would we be without EU environmental laws?
Netherlands study offers UK good indication how it would have fared without EU rules
For more than four decades the UK contributed to EU-wide environmental lawmaking, but what have these regulations and directives done for us? The nearest data that we have comes from the Netherlands. There, scientists compared two alternative realities for their country: one with no EU laws and a version of today's reality. European-wide laws began with exhaust standards for cars in the 1970s. Acid rain and forest dieback led to industry regulation and limits for total air pollution that each country could produce. The final step was to set minimum standards for the quality of the air that we all breathe.
Without EU laws, particle pollution in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague would have risen steadily to be about 10 times greater than they are today; only slightly better than cities across China, India and Iran. Average life expectancy across the Netherlands would be about six years shorter; that equates to about 66,000 extra Dutch deaths annually and a health cost of €35bn-€77bn (£30bn-£65bn) a year. The UK is further from some of Europe's big pollution centres than the Netherlands, but with a population that is four times greater, we can be sure that the impact of EU laws on annual deaths would be larger. Continue reading...

Louis Emmerij obituary
My friend Louis Emmerij, who has died aged 84, was a leading figure in international development policy and research. "Big Louis" – as he was known – was at the centre of efforts in the Netherlands to address global poverty and inequality.
As director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), based in Geneva, in the 1970s, he led efforts to transform thinking about employment, poverty and redistribution, collaborating with the newly established Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex in a series of major country missions to Colombia, Sri Lanka and Kenya. Continue reading...

Behind TV drama Ares is chilling reality of student fraternities
As the Netherlands-set Netflix series shows, initiation rituals lie at the heart of secret societies
"Have you ever wondered how a country as small as the Netherlands became so rich and powerful?" The question is posed in the first episode of Ares, the first Dutch original series made for Netflix, released earlier this month.
The show draws on the mysterious world of student fraternities, telling the story of undergraduates Rosa and Jacob as they are seduced into the secretive society Ares, a cruel and elitist world where evil deeds are rewarded with power. Continue reading...

Overtourism in Europe's historic cities sparks backlash
Angry protests from residents in popular areas force city hall officials to take action
Across Europe, historic cities are buckling. Mass tourism, encouraged by cash-hungry councils after the 2008 crash and fuelled by the explosion of cheap flights and online room rentals, has become a monster. The backlash, however, has begun.
In the past decade, the number of low-cost airline seats available each year in Europe has risen by more than 10% annually, more than doubling to more than 500m. Continue reading...

Dutch schoolchildren make video appeal amid teacher shortage
Amsterdam primary among many schools in Netherlands suffering from a lack of staff
Parents of children at a primary school in the Netherlands have responded to a national teacher shortage by making a short video of their offspring asking for candidates to come forward and help make their dreams come true.
In the film the children talk about their plans to be a caretaker, pilot, plumber, acrobat or director when they get older. "But that is not possible without a good teacher," the parents write on the website of Wereldboom school in Amsterdam. Continue reading...

#AnneFrank. Parallel Stories review – Helen Mirren hosts a heartfelt tribute
This moving, valuable documentary marking the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation draws on the testimony of many Holocaust survivors
The 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation has been marked by this heartfelt and valuable documentary, presented on camera by Helen Mirren, centring on the Anne Frank story (Mirren is shown in a reconstruction of Anne's secret room in the Amsterdam house, and reading from her diaries) but also bringing in testimony from many current Holocaust survivors, and their families, as well as talking to archivists and historians.
It is a film that is targeted at younger people with what is perhaps an educational mission, and with this in mind there is a connecting-thread motif. It periodically imagines a young woman travelling by rail all over Europe to various historical sites, ending in Amsterdam, posting pictures and thoughts on Instagram, hashtagging key phrases. Continue reading...

Man beat children at Dutch farm to drive out bad spirits, court hears
Gerrit Jan van D. allegedly used punishments including forcing son to live in doghouse
A man isolated six of his children in a remote Dutch farmhouse from birth and beat them to drive out "bad spirits", prosecutors have told a court.
Gerrit Jan van D., 67, subjected his children, who were found on the farm in the village of Ruinerwold in October, to "very serious physical punishment" when he thought they had been made "unclean". Continue reading...

Gloomy Van Gogh self-portrait in Oslo gallery confirmed authentic
Only known painting by Dutch master while he had psychosis is ‘unmistakably' his work
After decades of doubt, a gloomy self-portrait has been authenticated as a genuine work by Vincent van Gogh and the only known work painted while he had psychosis.
Self-Portrait (1889) has been in Norway's national collection since 1910 but its authenticity has been openly questioned since 1970. On Monday, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam announced it was "unmistakably" a work by the artist. Continue reading...

Amsterdam to buy out young people's debt to offer 'new start'
City's municipal credit bank will cancel some debt if young adults engage with training schemes
The city of Amsterdam is taking over the debts of its young adults as part of a drive to liberate people who are struggling to get into work or education.
A growth in borrowing among young Dutch adults – a trend echoed elsewhere in Europe, including the UK – is said to be standing in the way of them joining the marketplace or completing higher education courses. Continue reading...

The future's oranje: Dutch bands embrace their own language
As revellers head to the Noorderslag festival, more artists are finding success with their native tongue – at home and abroad

The major stars in the Dutch music scene have rarely worn their nationality on their sleeves. It is difficult to imagine No Limit by 2 Unlimited or the Vengaboys' enduring eurodance track Boom Boom Boom Boom achieving quite the same success in the artists' native language.
As with Nederpop, a genre of music that enjoyed its moment under the disco-lights in the 1960s and 1970s, the stars seeking international success have generally sung in English or dispensed with words altogether; Dutch was left to the folk singers. Dutch-born Eddie Van Halen, who moved to California with his family as a child, was never likely to insist that his eponymous band sang in his mother tongue. Continue reading...

Amsterdam's Green mayor looks to reform red-light district
As an MP, Femke Halsema helped make prostitution legal in the Netherlands. So why does she now want to overhaul an area where sex workers famously ply their trade?
The local football team, Ajax, had just won the championship, and as is traditional, the mayor of Amsterdam expected some abuse at the victory parade. "It is a Dutch tradition – it is usually just screaming and throwing cans of beer,"said Femke Halsema, the first woman to take the highest office in the Dutch capital.
Halsema, 53, a former leader of the national Green party, though, faced a difference grade of barracking: shouts of "bitch" and "whore", and a wall of middle fingers. "It was a moment when I was confronted by being a woman," she said, laughing. "I think the last mayor wasn't called a bitch."
Related: Boorish sex tourists are ruining Amsterdam. It's time to ship them out | Senay Boztas Continue reading...

German-funded Dutch museum to honour victims of Nazi 'machine'
Amsterdam Holocaust museum will acquaint young people with subject, says German foreign minister
A Holocaust museum is to be built in Amsterdam after Germany offered a €4m (£3.4m) donation in memory of the 104,000 Dutch Jews murdered by the Nazis, amounting to three-quarters of the community, the highest death rate in Europe.
A temporary exhibition, held in a former religious seminary used during the war to smuggle hundreds of Jewish children to safety, will be closed in February to allow for two years of construction.
Related: The gates of hell: Auschwitz 75 years on Continue reading...

Netflix accused of funnelling UK profits through Netherlands
TV streaming giant pushed up to £330m in profits through low-tax state despite generous UK reliefs and rebates
Netflix has been accused of funnelling as much as £330m in profits made from operations outside the US into tax havens, while receiving generous relief for making shows such as The Crown in the UK, which helped cut its bill.
The Taxwatch thinktank has estimated that in 2018 Netflix moved between $327m and $430m (£250m-£330m) in profits from international operations outside the US, including the UK, to low-tax jurisdictions such as the Netherlands.
Related: Hammond targets US tech giants with 'digital services tax' Continue reading...

UK accused of 'behaving like cowboys' over EU database copying
Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in 't Veld says leaked report revealed ‘violations and abuse'
The British government has been accused of "behaving like a bunch of cowboys" after a confidential report revealed it had allowed illegal copying of an EU database.
The issue, discussed publicly for the first time on Thursday, threatens to sour talks on the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU, despite hopes on both sides for close ties in fighting crime and terrorism. Continue reading...

Geert Wilders revives contest for cartoons that mock Muhammad
Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker reveals his plans despite fears the move could spark attacks
Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders has revived his plan to hold a contest for cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad, more than a year after cancelling such an event out of fear for attacks in the Netherlands.
In a tweet late on Saturday, Wilders called on people to send in their Muhammad cartoons. Continue reading...

Dutch detectives turn to power of podcast to solve 1991 murder case
Netherlands detectives were inspired by Making a Murderer and other true-crime shows
Dutch detectives are chasing 15 new leads on a 30-year-old murder case after being inspired by the current popularity of true crime documentaries to broadcast their own three-part podcast on the original ill-fated police investigation.
Neither the identity of a murdered man found wrapped in an electric blanket by a busy motorway in August 1991 nor that of his killer have emerged in the decades since the discovery of the body despite a nationwide probe. Continue reading...