Soualiga Newsday Focus

Soualiga Newsday Focus (1797)

Dutch seaweed-based fuel powers car to 80 kph in Danish trial

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Researchers in Denmark have achieved speeds of up to 80 kph using a car powered by Dutch biofuel made from seaweed.

The seaweed fuel was produced by scientists at the TNO research centre in Petten and at Wageningen University and is part of an EU-funded project to develop new fuels using seaweed and algae.

‘We’ve looked to see if seaweed fuel works in the same way as ordinary fuel and what its effect is on the motor,’ researcher Jaap van Hal told local newspaper Noordhollands Dagblad.

‘This means that this fuel could be used for private cars in the future, but seaweed fuel is also interesting for aviation and shipping.’ Seaweed is quick and easy to grow, making it highly suitable for biofuels, as well as food and bioplastics.



The Hague anti-Piet demonstration can go ahead, councillors say

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Campaigners opposed to the use of blackface in the annual Sinterklaas celebrations can go ahead and demonstrate during Saturday’s parade in The Hague, councillors have agreed.

The Hague is the only one of the four big cities to continue to include blackface Piets in its parade, although there are plans to change that next year. Campaign group Kick Out Zwarte Piet had asked councillors for permission to stage a demonstration after the city’s biggest political party called for a ban.

Acting mayor Johan Remkes said he saw no reason to ban the protest. On Friday, pro blackface Piet activists in The Hague attacked a building where KOZP members were meeting, smashing windows and car windscreens.

Five people were arrested, one of whom remains in custody. KOZP spokesman Jerry Afriyie has criticised Remkes for not denouncing the attack. ‘You should have condemned this, and we have not noticed you doing so,’ he said during the council meeting.

‘The mayor wants to know exactly what happened before commenting,’ Remkes said.


The Sinterklaas season kicks off on Saturday when the ‘arrival’ of St Nicholas takes place in Apeldoorn and is shown live on television.

Apeldoorn too will feature only sooty-faced Piets in its parade, although pro-blackface demonstrators have pledged to hold their own protest. This year anti-blackface demonstrators will protest in Alkmaar, Curaçao, Den Bosch, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Groningen, Hoorn, Leeuwarden and Nijmegen as well as The Hague.

‘Not everyone feels safe to demonstrate because of the aggressiveness of the pro-Piets,’ the campaign group said. ‘It is understandable, but that is what the pro-Piets want.

But KOZP has good contacts with local mayors and the police and will also have its own security.’ Last year pro-blackface Piets attacked anti-Piet demonstrators at a number of locations and dozens were arrested.



Dutch school books stereotype men, women and ethnic minorities: research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch schoolbooks are providing children stereotypical images of men, women and people with different ethnic minority backgrounds, according to Leiden researcher Judi Mesman.

Mesman and her team analysed 16 maths and 17 Dutch textbooks used by pupils in their first year of secondary school and found women and people with a minority background are both underrepresented.

‘If you feel that your textbook is about you, this motivates you. It gives you the idea that you too can do it,’ Mesman said. Previous research has shown, for instance, that girls understand chemistry texts better if these are accompanied by pictures of female scientists rather than only pictures of male ones, she said.

The research team discovered just 28% of the characters with a job were women, while men were over-represented as scientists, athletes or as doing some technical. People with an ethnic minority background were more likely to have a low status job such as truck driver.

In total, the researchers identified nearly 13,000 characters in the 33 books. Mesman also found only 9% of the characters had ‘non-Western names’ even though people with ethnic minority roots make up 13.4% of the population.

In terms of pictures, however, non-westerners accounted for 16% of the characters. ‘It would appear that those providing illustrations for the books are more aware of depicting different ethnic backgrounds,’ says Mesman.

‘Perhaps because a picture says more than a name in a text.’ Interpreting the likely impact of the under-representation and stereotypes is difficult, Mesman says, adding that obvious stereotypes were rare.

Hidden messages

‘But children are very sensitive to subtle, hidden messages,’ she said. ‘Our research shows that stereotypes have also crept into textbooks, albeit unconsciously. Now it is up to the publishers to make a conscious decision about how they want to deal with sex and ethnicity in their books.’

‘The publishers cooperated with this study from the outset because they too are keen to hear the results,’ said Stephan de Valk, director of GEU, the branch organisation for providers of learning resources and tests.

‘The publishers will discuss the results with their authors so that the unconscious stereotyping referred to in the reports can be avoided in future.’



Criminals launder €13bn a year in the Netherlands, most crime cash is Dutch

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least €13bn is laundered through the Netherlands on an annual basis, with most of the money coming from Dutch criminal enterprises, according to new research quoted in the Finanancieele Dagblad.

Utrecht University professor Brigitte Unger estimates that half the €16bn generated by crime in the Netherlands is laundered through Dutch institutions, with the rest – some €5bn – coming from abroad.

This, the FD said, shows that the Netherlands is not as popular a place to launder money as some claim. For example, some €340bn a year is laundered through Britain and the US, the paper said.

This represents some 40% of the total amount estimated to be laundered via the 36 OECD countries. Together, the laundered money accounts for some 1.6% of Dutch GDP, Unger said at a closed meeting to discuss her research.

She and her team were given access to highly confidential police, fraud squad, public prosecution and tax information to carry out the research, as well as suspicious transaction information from banks and casinos.

Earlier this year, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported on a money laundering operation which moved billions of euros out of Russia and of which almost €1bn of the money ended up in the Netherlands.

And in September, ABN Amro confirmed the Dutch public prosecution department had launched a criminal investigation into possible money laundering at the bank. ING has also been fined €775m for failing to comply properly with money laundering rules.



Long waiting lists cripple help for anorexia patients, special centres are being set up

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The government is setting up two regional eating disorder expertise centres after being warned that more people will die of anorexia if specialist help is not ramped up.

K-EET, a team of doctors and psychiatrists set up by health minister Hugo de Jonge earlier this year to monitor help for anorexia sufferers, says long waiting lists and a lack of cohesion in services is crippling help for anorexia patients.

Young people who are early sufferers are not helped in time and their situation quickly worsens, K-EET said. Specialist clinics are already overwhelmed, and patients have to wait over 14 weeks on average for help.

‘We have seen that decentralisation away from the services offered locally has made things worse for people with an eating disorder,’ K-EET project leader Monica Scholten told broadcaster NOS.

‘Because local councils no longer have this duty of care, a link in the chain has disappeared and offering proper care has become more difficult.’ The lack of cooperation and knowledge is another problem, Scholten said.

K-EET has drawn up a roadmap for the next three years aimed at bringing together professionals, increase knowledge and improving cooperation across the regions. Two specialist centres will now open in 2020 and more will follow in 2021, the minister said.

Some 200,000 people have anorexia in the Netherlands and around 10% of patients die.



Man arrested for threatening to blow himself up in support of Zwarte Piet

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man has been arrested in The Hague for threatening to blow himself up in support of the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet, who has been phased out of many big city Sinterklaas parades.

The man made the threat on Facebook this weekend, and police received several reports from worried people who had seen the posting. The man, aged 49, was arrested on Monday.

The suspect told police that he was sorry about the message, which he had made in reaction to another post. No explosives were found during a search of his home. Nevertheless, he remains in custody and will appear in court on Thursday for a remand hearing.

Police said in a statement that the man had been arrested for crossing the boundary of what is acceptable, by threatening to commit an act which would lead to innocent people being hurt.



Man who stabbed joggers is jailed on four counts of attempted murder

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man who stabbed several women from a driving car while they were out jogging, or cycling has been found guilty of four counts of attempted murder.

The attacks took place over a three-month period in Noord Holland, leading police to warn women not to go out running or cycling alone in the area where the attacks took place.

René V from Julianadorp was sentenced to six years in jail to be followed by psychiatric prison. The court said it was a miracle that no-one had died. V was also found guilty of attempting to run over one of the women, of threatening several women with rape and stalking.

Two of his victims were stabbed in the arm and two in the chest. One victim spent two days in intensive care after the knife almost touched her heart.

Experts told the court that V was suffering from diminished responsibility, has several personality disorders and that his addiction to amphetamines was also a major issue. He had admitted the attacks shortly after being arrested.



Zwarte Piet protest group accuses police of failing to protect safety

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Protest group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) has accused police of failing to protect its members’ safety after a weekend in which four people were arrested for violently breaking up a meeting.

The group said it was arranging private security for demonstrations in 12 municipalities where traditional Zwarte Pieten, or ‘black Petes’, played by white actors in blackface make-up, are taking part in the Sinterklaas arrival parade.

‘Our experience is that the police and government are not taking the real threats against us seriously,’ KOZP spokeman Mitchell Esajas said. ‘It is becoming increasingly dangerous for us.’

A meeting of activists on Friday evening in The Hague was broken up by vigilantes who smashed windows of the building, attacked it with fireworks and vandalised cars parked outside.

Police arrested five people, one of whom has since been discounted as a suspect. One of the suspects was a 13-year-old boy. ‘It felt as if we were locked in,’ said Esajas. ‘And if they’d got inside, I’m worried that it wouldn’t have just been cars that were damaged.’

‘Inflammatory’ tweets The group has also filed a police complaint against The Hague businessman John van Zweden, who posted tweets on Friday afternoon calling on people to turn up to the protest ‘with tar, feathers and other shit to drive them out of the city.’

The wallpaper magnate, who became a multi-millionaire through his involvement with Welsh football club Swansea City, has since deleted the tweets. KOZP described the messages as ‘inflammatory’, while Van Zweden told NOS: ‘I’m not giving any more reactions on this issue.’

Police declined to respond to KOZP’s comments when contacted by NOS. Around 46 municipalities, including nine of the 10 largest cities, are including sooty-faced Petes in their Sinterklaas parades this year, while the NTR, which broadcasts the children’s TV show Sinterklaasjournaal, has dropped blackface Petes altogether.

The shift away from traditional Petes, which groups such as KOZP argue are a racist caricature, is most concentrated in the coastal cities and surrounding areas. Around one-third of Dutch people live in communities which still use exclusively traditional Petes.

Terrorism expert Teun van Dongen told NRC that the latest incident reflected the radicalisation of the so-called ‘pro-Pete’ movement, as white supremacist groups such as Pegida and football hooligans have adopted the cause in recent years.

‘What we saw on Friday was a move towards extremism,’ he said. ‘It’s fairly unique to have dozens of people joining in.’ Van Dongen said violence was becoming normalised within the pro-Pete movement.

‘You can see it not just in reports on social media, but also in politics. Parties are saying things that can hardly be distinguished from what extreme right-wing groups are calling for.’



Man arrested for threatening family member

PHILIPSBURG - The dispatched center directed the police patrol on Thursday afternoon November 7th, 2019 approximately 03.30 pm, to the Boardwalk for a family dispute.

The police spoke at the scene with family members of the suspect. The police were told by the complainant, that she has a restraining order against the suspect with the initials C.T. and that he threatened her with bodily harm.

The suspect who was still at Walter Plantz Square was arrested and brought over to the police station in Philipsburg. He was handed over to the detective department. The investigation into this situation is still ongoing. (Sint Maarten Police Force)        


Suspect arrested for being in possession of a stolen vehicle

SUCKER GARDEN - The dispatch center received a call concerning a man who was driving in a stolen pick-up truck on Sucker garden road, police said on Friday.

According to the information, the suspect was driving a white Hyundai H-100 pick-up without a number plate. The patrol encountered the vehicle in sucker garden.

The driver was stopped and the pick-up that he was driving controlled. During the control the police noticed that the vehicle was actually stolen.

The driver of the vehicle with the initials J.E.F was immediately arrested and brought to the police station. He was handed over to the personnel of the detective department who are busy with the investigation. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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