News below sea level

This week’s round up of what’s been making news in the Netherlands finds Dutch minister of education, Marja van Bijsterveld, getting pelted with rubber ducky bath toys that were handed out to teachers’ union members ahead of a meeting with the minister.

When the minister tried explaining that a 300 million euros budget cut would actually improve the quality of special needs education, she was pelted by ducks thrown by union members. Minister van Bijsterveld also said last week that preventing segregation in Dutch schools is no longer a government priority. “Black schools”, or those with majorities of non-ethnic Dutch students, are simply a reality now, the minister declared. Previous Dutch governments had implemented measures to ensure better mixes of native and non-native Dutch school kids. Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party opposes such anti-segregation measures. Minister van Bijsterveld said the government’s policy switch had nothing to do with the Freedom Party, a partner in the ruling coalition. 
Former Dutch footballing great Ruud Gullit was in Chechnya to take the reins as manager of Terek Grozny, a football club owned Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who Amnesty International has accused of committing “horrifying crimes” and human rights violations. Bombs rocked the capital during Gullit’s press conference. “I’ve come here to be part of this country’s reconstruction,” Gullit said. “Football brings hope.” And money. Sticking with football, Dutch kids have gone mad for football cards, the free ones grocery stores give out if you spend enough money on groceries. The kids stand outside supermarkets begging exiting shoppers to give them their cards. New figures show record immigration to Holland, with 149,762 people resettling here in 2010. Approximately 65 percent of these immigrants came from Western countries, with Poland, Germany, Bulgaria Romania, Russia, China and Turkey leading the immigrant pack. Holland’s immigration rate is average on the EU scale, roughly equal to immigration rates in Germany, Italy and Denmark. Meanwhile, some 11,000 Dutch people attend a recent Emigration Fair, an event that helps people leave the country. Most Dutch people emigrate to Germany, Belgium, the UK and US.
The Dutch government raised the speed limit on motorways from 120 to 130 km/h.  Former transport minister, Camiel Eurlings, has a new job: senior executive at KLM airlines. Newspaper editorials screamed conflict of interest, as ex-minister Eurlings was previously in charge of the aviation sector. Research at VU Amsterdam University found that smoking cigarettes damages teenagers’ brains, reducing their levels of self-control. Five Somali pirates are on trial in Rotterdam, accused of hijacking a South African yacht eventually freed by the Dutch navy. After it emerged that Eastern European prostitutes were plying their trade from hotel rooms in the Ibis and Van der Valk hotel chains, Dutch police now host prostitute-spotting workshops for hotel receptionists and room cleaners. If a lady doesn’t speak English, puts the ‘the do not disturb’ sign on her door 24/7 and her waste basket’s full of used condoms, she’s probably a prostitute, the police say. And finally, Dutch DJ Afrojack (real name: Nick van de Walls) won a US Grammy Award for remixing Madonna’s Revolver. (DM)

Ruim driehonderd mensen fietsten zich afgelopen maandag in het zweet tijdens een spinning marathon voor het goede doel.In het sportcentrum werd gefietst voor de stichting Alpe d’HuZes, een sponsoractie voor het KWF Kankerfonds. Initiatiefnemer Alwin Wink, medewerker finance & control, fietste zelf ook mee. “Aanleiding voor deze actie is mijn zwager, die leukemie heeft. Het gaat gelukkig boven verwachting goed met hem.” Wink gaat met vijf anderen  in juni de Alpe d’Huez beklimmen. De opbrengst van de marathon was bij het ter perse gaan van deze krant nog niet bekend.

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