Girl, 16, shot dead at Rotterdam school; man, 31, arrested

A 16-year-old girl has been shot dead in the bike sheds at the back of her college in the west of Rotterdam. The girl was a student at the city’s Design College and was killed at around 1pm, police said. A 31-year-old man was arrested several kilometres away. The two were said by fellow students to have been having a relationship. Several pupils witnessed the shooting and are being interviewed by police. ‘They had a relationship but it was not going well,’ one pupil said. ‘She had blocked him on social media and had been hassled by him before. Her girlfriends had reported it to teachers.’ Another witness told the AD he had heard seven or eight shots and seen the victim lying on the ground.  More >

More reports of language school fraud

Social affairs ministry inspectors have found 'serious abuse of public resources and vulnerable students' at 87 of 227 branded language schools which are helping people prepare for integration exams. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees told MPs that language schools find it easy to commit fraud with people who are new to the Netherlands and do not speak the language. 'Every form of fraud involving public resources is unacceptable,' Koolmees said in his briefing. 'And the recent rise in reports of fraud are extremely worrying.' New arrivals to the Netherlands have three years to pass a string of integration exams to be able to stay in the country and are able to borrow up to €10,000 to pay for lessons. However, many people taking the courses are unaware of the conditions attached to the loans and cannot judge if the language school they are attending is up to the job, Koolmees told MPs. In 22 of the cases identified by inspectors there is 'strong to extremely strong' indication of fraud, in 12 a 'very strong' indication and in 55 an 'indication'. The minister does not go into details about what the language schools are said to have done but it would appear to involve advance payments for courses which are not up to scratch or do not take place at all. Public prosecutor The public prosecution department and the inspectors are now deciding what action should be taken, the minister said. Some are likely to face prosecution. Language schools where fraud has been identified will lose the Blik op Werk trade mark - 45 schools have already been removed from the system this year. The ‘Blik op Werk’ trade mark was introduced several years ago in an effort to weed out cowboys. Immigrants can only get a government loan to pay for their integration course if they go to an approved school. E-learning In addition, all forms of e-learning which do not take place at the language school itself will no longer count towards the number of hours of lessons. Student loan organisation DUO has also begun publishing information about the integration process on its website in languages other than Dutch. The organisation will also stop paying for courses in advance. Koolmees earlier announced plans to overhaul the integration system and the system of grants will be abolished. Instead local councils will be given budgets for language tuition to ease the burden on applicants.  More >

Amsterdam bans mopeds from some bike paths

Amsterdam is banning snorfietsen, or low-powered mopeds that have a speed limit of 25 km/h, from most of its cycle paths inside the A10 ring road from next April. The presence of the snorfiets on cycle paths has long been a bone of contention in the capital because their speed, which in most cases exceeds 25 km/h, makes them dangerous to cyclists. The number of snorfietsen has also increased from 11,000 in 2008 to 35,000 this year, according to the Parool. Officials expect that relegating snorfiets users to the road will bring down the number of serious traffic accidents on cycle paths by 261. Last December parliament passed a law which gave local authorities the right to impose helmet use and Amsterdam is the first city to have done so. Helmets will be now compulsory for all scooter users in the Dutch capital from January 1. The ban will come into force from April next year but not all cycle paths will be snorfiets free. The exceptions to the rule are very busy roads, such as the Wibautstraat, De Ruiterkade , Prins Hendrikkade and Stadhouderskade and all bike paths outside the A10 ring road People who ignore the new ‘Snorfietsen niet toegestaan' signs risk a fine of €95.  More >

Population to hit 18 million in 10 years

Some 3.5 million people in the Netherlands are likely to live alone by 2030, a rise of 400,000 on the current total, national statistics agency CBS says in its new population forecasts. In particular, elderly women are likely to be living alone, as women on the whole live longer than men, the CBS said. By 2030, the Netherlands will consist of around 8.5 million households, compared with 7.9 million at present. The population is likely to hit around 18 million in 2029, by which time a quarter of the population will be over the age of 65. The number of over-80s will rise to 1.2 million by then, the CBS says. The current population of the Netherlands is 17.1 million. Nevertheless, the figures need to be used with caution, the CBS says, because immigration figures are uncertain. The population shifts will also have an impact on housing and the shortage of properties suitable for families will grow, if older people continue living in their family home. 'Every year, 100,000 young families need to be housed,' Delft University professor Peter Boelhouwer told NOS radio. Elderly people are often reluctant to move and like living where they do, he said. 'Just 3% really want to move, compared with 9% of people in other age groups,' he said. 'It is a difficult thing to do if you are used to living in a certain place.'  More >

Klaas Dijkhoff is politician of the year

Klaas Dijkhoff, leader of the parliamentary VVD, has been chosen as politician of the year in the annual online vote held by television current affairs show EenVandaag. Dijkhoff hit the headlines this year for suggesting the Netherlands follow Denmark in introducing tougher penalties for people from ‘problem areas’ who commit crimes, coming out in support of nuclear power and for backing a ban on demonstrations during the Sinterklaas processions. 'The panel members say he really knows what the issues in the country are,' EenVandaag said. PVV leader Geert Wilders was second in the poll and GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver third. The poll has caused controversy because all five nominees were men, and four were on the right or far right of the political spectrum. Thierry Baudet, founder of the Forum voor Democracie and prime minister Mark Rutte, also VVD, completed the line up. Just under one third of MPs in the Netherlands are female and their number has dropped sharply in the last 10 years. This is % of women in Dutch parliament (TK). Deplorable! And it doesn't even illustrate almost complete lack of female leaders in factions and parties. The Netherlands is in (mid) 20th century in terms of gender and politics! Graph by @SimonOtjes (follow him for Dutch politics) — Cas Mudde 🤦‍♂️ (@CasMudde) December 17, 2018 EenVandaag panel members voted the government's decision to scrap the tax on dividends as their political moment of 2018.   More >

Dutch plan further curbs to bankers' pay

Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra is planning to take further measures to ensure bankers are not lured into making decisions based on short-term gains and to build up public trust in the financial services sector. The new measures include requiring bankers who are partly paid in shares to keep them for at least five years and to force financial service firms to detail why high earners should be paid as much as they are. The aim of the new rule on shares is to 'limit short-term risks and bring the interests of staff and managers into line with the company's long term interests,' Hoekstra said in a briefing to MPs. The new rules will apply to all members of staff. In his briefing, Hoekstra said that trust in the financial sector is low. 'The recent rows about pay and about negligence in stopping money laundering have once again hurt confidence in the sector,' the minister said, in reference to the recent scandals surrounding ING. Hoekstra also plans to further tighten up the rules covering exemptions to the 20% bonus ceiling. Special role 'The sector has to show that it takes its special role and responsibilities to society seriously,' the minister said. 'Financial institutions must serve their customers and society expertly and decently.' The minister also reiterated plans to allow the salaries for senior bank officials to be clawed back, if the bank has to bailed out by the government. The Council of State is currently assessing if such a move would be legal.  More >

Dutch court hosts Rafinha versus Adidas

Barcelona football player Rafinha is being taken to court by German sportswear giant Adidas for breach of contract, and the case is being heard today in Amsterdam. Adidas want Rafinha to pay €100,000 for every day he refuses to wear the company's boots, in line with a contract dating from 2013. The case is being heard in a Dutch court because the company's international trademarks are based in Amsterdam and this is where the contract is based. The agreement signed between Rafinha and Adidas requires the player to only wear Adidas boots during matches and training, and clothing during official media appearances. The deal expired this June. However, small print allowed Adidas to extend the contract if Rafinha failed to respond to requests for an extension, the Daily Mirror reported. Dutch lawyer and football broker Royce de Vries told broadcaster NOS Rafinha is likely to have a financial reason to go to court. 'There is a big likelihood that another, more lucrative deal, is on its way,' he said. De Vries said he doubted that Rafinha will win. 'His lawyer and his manager should have read the small print,' De Vries said. 'But who knows what the judge will decide.'  More >

Farm incomes hit by dry summer

The long dry summer has led to a sharp drop in income for Dutch farmers, and pig and dairy farmers are also grappling with low prices, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. Farm incomes are on average down 11% on a year ago, the CBS said. The figures are initial forecasts produced by the statistics agency and Wageningen agricultural university. The hot, sunny weather has had an  impact across all types of farming. Onion, potato and sweet corn yields are down and greenhouse growers report lower yields and poorer quality, the CBS said. Although the shortages have prompted a slight rise in prices for arable farmers, this is not enough to offset the lost income. Livestock farmers were hit by higher feed costs and lower prices for their animals. Pork prices were down 12% and dairy farmers had to cut their herds to meet new manure regulations. Organic However, other statistics published by the CBS on Tuesday show that organic dairy farmers are doing well. in 2016, their farm incomes were an average of 13% higher than that of traditional dairy farmers. In 2017, there was a 27% rise in the number of organic dairy farmers as farmers switched to the more lucrative sector. And in the first nine months of this year, organic dairy farm income rose 1%, compared with a 6% drop in the dairy sector as a whole, the CBS said.  More >

'Blokkeerfries' wins word of the year

Blokkeerfries - the name given to Frisians who blocked a motorway to stop anti-Zwarte Piet demonstrators reaching the town of Dokkum in 2017 - has been voted new word of the year. Some 55% of the 28,000 people who took part in this year’s election organised by dictionary maker Van Dale thought blokkeerfries the most emblematic of 2018. The word hit the headlines frequently this year when members of the group were charged with – and found guilty of-  stopping a legal demonstration. The second most popular word was 'yogasnuiver' (yoga sniffer) a nickname coined by a leading policeman for a person who lives a healthy life but indulges in cocaine and party drugs every now and again.   More >

Lower rent rises for housing corp. tenants

Housing corporation tenants living in rent controlled properties will not face rent rises of more than inflation for the next three years, corporation lobby group Aedes and tenants' umbrella organisation Woonbond have agreed. The measure, which still has to be approved by Aedes and Woonbond members, means that social housing rents will rise more slowly than in recent years, when the permitted increase was inflation plus 1%. The agreement also states that tenants who pay a lot of rent when compared to their income will not face an increase at all. In addition, people whose rent rises above the social housing threshold - €710 a month - will get a rent cut if their earnings drop. The new limit on rent rises does not apply to people live in rent-controlled property belonging to private landlords.   More >

Ajax face Real Madrid in Champions League

Ajax's reward for reaching the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in 13 years is a daunting tie against 13-times winners Real Madrid. The Spanish giants are seeking a fourth straight victory in the competition, while the last of Ajax's four wins came in 1995. Real qualified as winners of their group, while Ajax finished second behind Bayern Munich. Defender Daley Blind said the Amsterdammers would go into the tie as underdogs, but added: 'If we play with the same energy, guts and flair as we did against Bayern we'll definitely create chances.' The two sides last met in the group stage of the 2013/14 competition, when Real won both matches 4-1. Only one of their twelve meetings has ended in a draw, with Real holding an overall 7-4 lead. The first leg will be played in the Amsterdam ArenA on February 13, with the return in Madrid on March 5.  More >