Brussels warns the Netherlands to act on bogus self-employment

The Netherlands needs to reduce the incentives given to both employers and employees to work via temporary and self-employment contracts, the European Commission said on Wednesday. This, the commission said, should go hand in hand with promoting adequate social protection for the self-employed, and tackle bogus self-employment. Brussels made the recommendations as part of its annual report on the Dutch economy. Self-employment has soared in the Netherlands in the past few years. The CBS said last year that roughly 1.8 million people in the Netherlands work as either full or part-time freelancers. Social security The commission points out that government measures to tackle bogus self- employment have been suspended until 2020 and warns that the self-employed are more often under- insured against disability, unemployment and old age. 'This could affect the sustainability of the social security system in the long run,' the report stated. Even though the Dutch labour market performs well overall, there is still untapped potential. 'In particular the high number of part-time working women and the employment situation of people with a migrant background remain an important challenge,' the commission points out.   More >

Police hope AI can help crack cold cases

cover of 2018 cold case calendar Police are turning to digital technology to try to solve some of the 1,500 'cold cases' that remain unsolved in the Netherlands. The national police force is in the process of digitising its entire cold case archive, which runs to around 25 million pages of material. Currently only around 15 per cent of evidence on file is stored digitally. The transfer will enable police to analyse the evidence by computer, speeding up the process from several weeks to around a day. Artificial intelligence will also select which of the inquiries, which include around 1,000 murders, are worth reopening. The new developments are being presented at a technology conference later this week where the public will also be invited to suggest ways that AI can be used in cold cases. Investigations specialist Roel Wolfert told NOS: 'Systems like this will allow us to do much more in future, such as seeing connections between cases. It may be we can apply it to live cases too.' It is not the first inventive method Dutch police have come up with to deal with the backlog of unsolved cases. Last year a 'cold case calendar' was distributed around prisons with details of 52 crimes to encourage inmates to come forward with information. The initiative led to seven investigations being reopened and has been repeated this year.  More >

Plane crash victims were aged 60 and 79

The two people who died when a light aircraft crashed into a field near Rotterdam were a 79-year-old man from Zevenhoven and a 60-year-old man from Leiden, police have confirmed. The accident happened about 15 minutes after the Cessna Reims F172N Skyhawk plane took off from Rotterdam The Hague airport on Tuesday morning. Witnesses said the aircraft was flying low and hit a tree before landing in a field in Bergambacht. Police said on Wednesday that the investigation would take several weeks. Nobody else was on board at the time. Local residents told AD this week that the area was used for 'test flights', where pilots switch off the engine and drift before turning it on again. The aircraft in question was involved in an earlier crash in 2012 in which no one was hurt. Rotterdam-based Sand Air, which owns the plane, declined to comment.  More >

Driver of fatal monster truck loses appeal

An appeal court has upheld the 15-month prison sentence given to the driver of a monster truck that veered out of control during a stunt show, leaving three spectators dead. Mario D. argued that the original punishment was too harsh because the accident was caused by the accelerator pedal getting stuck rather than any fault of his own. But the appeal court for Arnhem and Leeuwarden found that he had not paid enough attention to the safety rules. As well as the three fatalities, 28 people were injured at the event in Haaksbergen in 2014 when D. lost control of the truck after driving over a pile of wrecked cars and failed to turn in time. D. was also banned from driving trucks for five years. The court fined the organisers of the event €25,000 after ruling they had not sufficiently considered the potential risks.   More >

Lack of insects hits house martins

Bird protection organisation Vogelbescherming has named 2018 the Year of the House Martin in an effort to call attention to the dramatic decline of this migratory bird in the Netherlands, public broadcaster NOS reports. Together with bird research group Sovon, Vogelbescherming has mobilised a group of volunteers to find the cause of the dwindling numbers of house martins. Since 1970 some 80% fewer house martins have been spotted in this country and it is thought that since 1920 the decline could be as much as 95%. ‘Their absence tells us something about how healthy our landscape is. Much has changed over the years,’ Sovon researcher Loes van den Bremer told NOS. Van den Bremer says the main cause for the house martin’s decline is the disastrous lack of insects in the Netherlands. ‘People would complain about hundreds flies stuck to the windshield, now that’s a thing of the past,’ Van den Bremer is quoted as saying. The way to bring back the house martin is to change agricultural practice Vogelbescherming says. ‘What is needed are fewer insecticides and more flowers on the edges of fields. Consumers can help by not opting for cheap products but for sustainably produced ones,’ Van den Bremer told NOS. House martins are expected to start flying in from Africa  in the next few weeks. Vogelbescherming says people can help it by making a little mud pool in their garden which the birds can use to build a nest.  More >

Dutch Eurovision spoof angers Israel

The Israeli embassy in the Netherlands has made a complaint about a satirical song in a television show hosted by popular comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries, accusing the broadcaster of anti-semitism, Dutch media said on Tuesday. The song, performed by Martine Sandifort, was a pastiche on Israel's Eurovision Song Contest winner Toy and focused on current events in the Middle East. The accompanying video includes images of the ongoing protests in Gaza. Broadcaster BNN-Vara said in a response that the video is not about the Jewish community but about current Israeli policy, NOS reported. 'The sections about world leaders and dollars have nothing to do with Nazi thought, they are a reference to the current tight links between Israel/Netanyahu and president Trump, in both a political and an economic sense,' the broadcaster said. The Amsterdam-based Israel documentation and information centre CIDI has also criticised the programme on Twitter, describing the song as full of 'hilarious' jokes about Jews and money. Hoi @SanneWallis, we hoorden je parodie op het songfestivalnummer van Israel. Vol met “hilarische” grapjes over Joden en geld enzo. Lachen! We hebben de tekst even nagekeken. Inzoomen om de opmerkingen te zien, het zijn er nogal veel! @BNNVARA — CIDI (@CIDI_nieuws) May 20, 2018 The row made the Israeli media, with newspaper Haaretz describing the new lyrics as a 'harsh attack' on Israel and its treatment of Palestinians. The Times of Israel refers to the fact that BNN-Vara is a public broadcaster in its report on the row, under the headline 'Dutch state TV accused of anti-Semitism in Israeli Eurovision song spoof'. While the parody starts off criticising Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, it 'devolves into anti-Semitic cliches about Jews and money', the paper said.   More >

Eighty Years' War hero to be reburied

A soldier from the Eighty Years' War is to be reburied with full military honours nearly five centuries after he died in the Siege of Breda. A chance discovery led local historian Andre Buwalda to the grave of Schelte van Aysma beneath the village church in Schettens. After the remains were identified, the ministry of defence announced it would hold a ceremonial reburial, with the former colonel transported to his grave on a gun carriage flanked by two trumpeters and four drummers. Schelte van Aysma's remains will be conveyed in a replica of his coffin made with iron melted down from the original. The procession will include 73-year-old Frans Lauta van Aysma, a direct descendant of the battlefield commander. Despite rising to the rank of colonel during the war of liberation from Spain, the aristocratic Van Aysma had been almost entirely forgotten over the centuries since his death in 1637. The only visible memorial was his battle helmet that hung in the village church Interest in his story was revived when Jeroen Punt, curator of the National Military Museum, saw a picture of the helmet online in 2015. He realised it was the only one of its type still in existence and decided to investigate further. The discovery also prompted Andre Buwalda to locate the colonel's gravestone beneath the church floor. The partially collapsed crypt below contained the remains of five bodies, four of which were identified through DNA analysis and genealogical research. They are thought to be Van Aysma, his wife, two of their sons-in-law and a granddaughter. A spokesman for the defence ministry described the reburial ceremony, which takes place on Thursday, as a unique event. 'Usually reburials are for victims of the Second World War,' the spokesman told NOS. 'The fact that this is someone from the Golden Age is unique. Moreover he was a colonel, whereas we more commonly see lower ranks from foot-soldier to lieutenant.'  More >

Social landlord 'discriminated' tenants

A social housing landlord discriminated against potential tenants by turning them down because of their race, sexual orientation, religion or their body odour, an investigation has concluded. Independent agency Integis carried out an investigation into complaints of 'a serious violation of transparent and fair housing allocation' at De Voorzorg, which manages 3,300 homes in Heerlen, Hoensbroek and Brunssum. As well as race and sexuality, potential tenants were rejected because of objections to their former partners, hobbies and use of medication, NOS reported. The corporation has been run by an interim management team since its former director, Jos Kerkhoffs, took sick leave at the start of 2017. The current management began implementing changes a year ago in the wake of a critical report by the social housing regulator. Managers said the working practices described in the latest investigation 'defied imagination' and condemned the 'culture of fear' that prevailed under the previous head of housing. Kerkhoffs denied that any discrimination had taken place and told De Limburger that he did not recognise the conclusions of Integis's report.  More >