Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netherlands. Show all posts

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anniversary of the 'Watersnoodramp" - the Dutch 9/11

"For those who went through the Watersnoodramp [the 1953 flood disaster in The Netherlands] it was the biggest shock of their lives, perhaps an even bigger shock than living through World War II had been. That disaster after all was manmade, with convenient villains and which could be easily remade into a self flattering narrative of a plucky little country standing up to the might of the efficient, ruthless nazi hordes. But to be overwhelmed by nature, by the old enemy, the sea, the enemy we were supposed to have tamed and bound our will, suddenly showing just how fragile our defences really were: that shocked us to the core, that hit us in the national psyche."

Read all about it at Wis[s]e Words - and what happened after the watersnoodramp.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New, helpful technologies. Just amazing, really

Meet Hector, a robot developed by Dutch company Smart Homes (with the help of a lot of partners across Europe). His task is to help dementia sufferers around the home, and as a result help them be able to live at home longer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

On This Day: Sara Teasdale

Poet Sara Trevor Teasdale was born 8 August 1884 in St. Louis, Missouri.

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Sara Teasdale, published in 1920

The poem was written right after "the war to end all wars." An indictment surely on the devastation of nature by humans, who would not be missed by the birds and the trees. Our disrespect towards every living thing continues in this century.

Unfortunately now we make the robins and other creatures pay too with our radiation and chemicals.

My mother's favorite poet. We read this poem at my parents' memorial service when their ashes were deposited in the ground with a cherry tree at the Vos summer house in Zeeland (NL). We read Sea Fever, by John Masefield, too, because my father had sailed ships in his career.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bevrijdingsdag|Liberation Day

Yesterday was Remembrance Day, today is Liberation Day in the Netherlands, with more ceremonies and festivities around the country.

Today is also my birthday (OLVG, A'dam, 5 mei 1948). This morning I drank coffee from a special commemorative mug, a gift I received in 1995 from my cousin Marianne: "50 Jaar Bevrijd! 5 mei 1995". Nothing could be better.

Tonight HM will attend the annual open air concert in Amsterdam which thousands of people enjoy too, sitting in their boats or standing along the Amsterdam canals (as well as it will be broadcasted, of course).

Here is the link to the official site of the 4 & 5 May Committee. It's a shame it's not in English; though there is a small note telling us that a translation is coming, today it is a bit late for that! In 1995 when I was in Arnhem for a liberation concert, there were thousands of Canadians in the country, veterans of Liberation. So it wouldn't have been a bad idea to have a French translation, too.

Herded into Cattle Trucks

During the Occupation, thousands of Amsterdam Jews were herded into cattle trucks. Destination: Westerbork. Final destination: concentration camps. Would you walk the Amsterdam-Westerbork trail?
“The people sheltering me had made a hiding place in a big cupboard. I ran there. My foster mother put a plank with clothes on top. Then I heard men in heavy boots coming up the stairs. I thought I’d get a bayonet through me any second. I was amazed when they left again.”
Edith herself managed to escape the train journey. Over 60 of her relatives, though, and her mother and half-brother were taken to Westerbork and later were killed in Auschwitz or Sobibor. “My mother was taken to Auschwitz on the last train… bitter, very bitter,” she says.

Two Minutes Silence

Last night at the Dam Square, Amsterdam. Dodenherdenking|Remembrance Day ceremonies to remember all n the Kingdom who have died in wars and peacekeeping missions since the beginning of the Second World War. HM Queen Beatrix and TRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima attended the solemn ceremony at Dam Square/Amsterdam. And as I have every year, I observed the silence at 8:00 pm, too. It's quite a moving ceremony in the Dam Square. I can recall it, too, especially when I was younger, visiting relatives.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mark Rutte, the coddling Prime Minister

Mark Rutte is a wimp. As in the Republican Party in the United States, the Netherlands has its racists and bigots in political leadership positions, too.

Prime minister Mark Rutte has refused to comment on a website set up by the anti-immigration PVV to record complaints about central and eastern Europeans in the Netherlands, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

Asked to react to the initiative during a Thursday evening debate on the European Union, Rutte said it is not up to him to comment on positions taken by individual political parties.

New poll up today at "Should the prime minister distance himself from the PVV's anti-Pole website?"

‎"Distance himself..."?? Well, isn't that just nice and dandy. Rutte should denounce Wilders' and the PVV's bigotry from the rooftops of the Binnenhof and the Knight's Hall and not take these people seriously (no decent person would). He should have done it a long time ago. And the media (including should not coddle these idiots, either, but they won't because they are enablers, too.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

02.02.2002 - 02.02.2012 :)

Precisely ten years ago Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Argentinian-born Máxima Zorreguieta were married.

Here is a NOS TV special about W-A & M., watched yesterday by more than 2 million people (Dutch, English, and Máxima sings a song in Spanish at about 45 minutes.)

Get Microsoft Silverlight
Bekijk de video in andere formaten.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finally, the Dutch government apologises for Rawagede massacre

 Radio Netherlands Worldwide
The Dutch ambassador to Indonesia has formally apologised on behalf of the Netherlands’ government for the 1947 massacre in a village on Java island, in an emotional ceremony on the anniversary of the executions.

"In this context and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede on the 9 December 1947," the Netherlands' ambassador to Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, said

He then repeated the apology in the Indonesian language, to the applause of hundreds of people attending the ceremony, some of whom broke down in tears as they listened in front of a marble monument commemorating the dead

The number of victims has always a point of dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians. Dutch officials claim some 150 people were killed, but a support group and the local community allege the death toll was 431.

Men and boys executed
During Indonesia’s fight for independence between 1945 and 1949 - in what became known as the Indonesian National Revolution - Dutch troops swooped into the village of Rawagede and executed its men and boys as their families and neighbours looked on.

In a landmark ruling last September, a civil court in The Hague found the Dutch state responsible for the executions and ruled in favour of eight widows and a survivor of the massacre who lodged the case. Two of the widows have since died, and so has the survivor, Saih Bin Sakam, who passed away in May at the age of 88

The Netherlands agreed to pay 850,000 euros to the community before the court's decision, and will now pay an additional 180,000 euros in compensation to the plaintiffs or their families.

Although the Dutch government in the past expressed "deep regret" over the conduct of some of its troops in pre-independence Indonesia, it had never formally apologised for any excesses, including the massacre at Rawagede.

The Hague court rejected the Dutch argument that no claim could be lodged because of a five-year expiry in the statute of limitations, saying it was "unacceptable".

“We will never forget that day”
Some 60 schoolgirls in white Islamic headscarves opened the ceremony with the Indonesian national anthem. They then presented a spoken word performance describing the pain the community has felt since the killings.

"We will never forget that day in Rawagede," the lead performer screamed. "We will remember forever in an independent Indonesia."

Indonesia's Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa praised the Dutch government for making the apology.

Dutch embassy officials presented the widows with a wooden plaque with a windmill carved on the left and a palm tree on the right, with the words "Finally justice for the people of Rawagede" and the date of the court ruling inscribed on the plague.

See my previous posts about Rawagede.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They did know!

A chilling report from Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The RC church hierarchy knew about the sexual abuse of children in the late 1950s by priests and workers in church run homes and institutions which continued into the 1960s and 70s - and failed to act. The excuse has been that they didn't know anything about it.   New evidence - a letter  in the church archives, written in 1958, reveals that they did know.  And church authorities did act - they took a conscious decision not to do anything to remove the offending priests and workers in the homes.  It was more about protecting the clergy rather than the children!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

OWS Solidarity Rallies Today in Vermont and AMSTERDAM!

It's becoming Occupy World Street, as thousands of rallies started up today around the Earth. RT takes a closer look. At 2 p.m. in Burlington several hundred (looked to me like 200 or so) gathered in City Hall Park. Sara Lee Guthrie (Woody's granddaughter) and her husband Johnny Irion led the crowd in a rendition of "This Land is Your Land." Thanks to Shay Totten for the video. Then they led us up Church Street up the hill to UVM's Waterman Hall. About a hundred or so marched across the UVMM Green to the Fleming Museum - just outside the property boundaries of Fletcher Allen Hospital, in solidarity with the nurses union which is in contract negotiations with the hospital management. In Amsterdam, nearly 2,000 participants were at the Beursplein, next to the Beurs van Berlage, the former home of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. The tram lines on the Damrak (Centraal Station is a major hub for most of the trams into the city centre) were closed. And the action doesn't seem to be ending as many have decided to spend (AT5's link is in Dutch) the night in the Beursplein. Frank Buis of AT5, the Amsterdam community television station has filmed a montage video of today's action.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dutch court fines Trafigura €1m for exporting toxic waste to Africa

The controversial oil trader Trafigura was today fined €1m (£840,000) for illegally exporting tonnes of hazardous waste to west Africa.

A court in the Netherlands also ruled that the London-based firm had concealed the dangerous nature of the waste when it was initially unloaded from a ship in Amsterdam.

It is the first time that Trafigura has been convicted of criminal charges over the environmental scandal in which 30,000 Africans were made ill when the toxic waste was dumped in Ivory Coast.

The fine was half the amount requested by Dutch prosecutors.
The fine is symbolic, just as the one levied on Goldman Sachs is a pittance. Trafigura's fine won't help the vicims in the Ivory Coast.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Four Freedom Awards 2010

The Four Freedoms Medals are presented each year to men and women whose achievements have demonstrated a commitment to those principles which President Roosevelt proclaimed in his historic speech to Congress on January 6, 1941, as essential to democracy: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.
On Saturday, May 29, HM The Queen and TRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima will attend the awards ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk, Middelburg, in the province of Zeeland. FDR's ancestors were from the province. In odd-numbered years the awards are presented in Hyde Park, New York.

The 2010 laureates are listed here.

President Roosevelt's 1941 speech can be read here.

Also this weekend, HM The Queen will attend the Memorial Day ceremony at the American War Cemetery at Margraten on Sunday, May 30th on occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Liberation from Nazi occupation. The ceremony at Margraten always takes place the Sunday before Memorial Day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

UPDATE: Willem-Alexander visits Goes today...

Here's an article about the visit. And the video:

From the front page of the Ruilwinkel, and exchange shop in Goes (Zeeland);nearby is the birthplace of my father and in the same town is Wolphaartsdijk, where my uncle was the village doctor.

Donderdag 27 mei krijgen we hoog bezoek in de Ruilwinkel.
Kroonprins Willem Alexander komt 's morgens naar de ruilwinkel voor een werkbezoek. Het zal een besloten bezoek zijn.
Burgemeester van der Zaag en Gedeputeerde van Waveren zullen ook aanwezig zijn bij dit voor de ruilwinkel toch heel bijzondere moment.

I'll post the group photo, after it's released today.

Yes, in May 2009 the Ruilwinkel was recipient of an "Appeltje van Oranje."

Here are two very, very nice videos by Goes TV (the station films interviews by local youth). The interviews are in Dutch, but clearly the volunteers are proud of their important work and this recognition!

Before they left to travel to The Hague...

The volunteers' reactions after the ceremony give us an idea what happens to an honored group when they go to the ceremony.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Humble Bicycle for Commuting

"Just an ordinary Wednesday morning in April 2010 at around 8.30 am.In Utrecht (Netherlands), a third of all trips are by bicycle. This is one of the busiest junctions in Utrecht a city with a population of 300,000. No less than 18,000 bicycles and 2,500 buses pass here every day. ... (Video is 4 times faster than reality, 8 minutes condensed to 2.)"

And a h/t to Branko Collin of 24oranges
... the participants are weavingin and out in almost perfect harmony. The effect is positively hypnotic.

I am given to understand that what makes this video by Mark Wagenbuur special is that the main form of transportation in it is the humble bicycle. As a result the video has gone viral among treehuggers

Yeah, I can imagine that they are indeed. In the Netherlands bicycling is part of the fabric of life. People ride to work in work clothes; in the USA people bike mainly for recreation and keeping fit.

I recognise this intersection in Utrecht. Notice most of the bikers don't wear helmets.

When I moved to Houston in the mid-1970s, my main mode of transportation to/from work was my bicycle. I didn't buy a car until I was nearly 30 years old! Ha!

Burlington's love affair with cycling began 20 years ago with the opening of its seven-mile lakefront bike path -- and the city is proud of its status as the "healthiest city in the U.S." in recent "best of..." rankings. To promote a paradigm shift in alternative transportation, this past week Burlington and other Vermont towns participated in the Way-to-Go Commuter Challenge, promoting carpooling, telecommuting, bicycling, walking or taking the bus as an alternative to just using an automobile -- also sending a message for legislators and the state government to provide more transporation options.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Winners Queen's Day 2010 Video Competition

This year the Queen visited Zeeland on Queen's Day but it was celebrated in villages and cities all over the country.

'Hoe beleef jij Koninginnedag 2010?' How do you experience Queen's Day 2010? - the theme of the video competition - was an idea of The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima of The Netherlands.

The winning videos can be seen on its YouTube channel.

My three favourites:

In the pouring rain, a young boy started playing his recorder before 9 A.M. He was still playing at Noon!

Queen Beatrix, HRH The Prince of Orange and Princess Máxima receive gifts from admirers in Middelburg.

Chalk drawings done by children show the atmosphere on Koninginnedag in the village of Lonneker, a few miles north of Enschede (Province of Overijsel).

The winners have been invited to Noordeinde Palace and will also get a tour of the Royal Mews.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Great Global Kiss

Yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). There were events around the world to honor the day. The Amsterdam daily Parool has picked a kiss at the Homomonument at the Westermarkt as its photo of the day.

Photo acknowledgment: Elmer van der Marel for Parool, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Middelburg 17 May 1940 — the Forgotten Bombardment

Wis[s]e Words:
On 10 May 1940 the Germans invaded the Netherlands and Belgium on their way to France. As they had tried more or less the same thing in the First World War the French strategy was to meet them halfway, moving into Belgium and the Southern Netherlands to stop them. As you know this wasn’t quite succesful, but some French units (including French Moroccan units) managed to get as far as Breda before retreating westwards into Zeeland. This was the reason why the Dutch surrender on the fifteenth did not include Zeeland, as that was occupied by French troops. The slow withdrawal of the French meant that on the 17th Middelburg was near the frontline, with most inhabitants fortunately evacuated already as a precaution. That day a combination of aerial and artillery bombardment by the Germans broke the last resistance in Zeeland, with the last French soldiers already having disappeared into Belgium.

Twentytwo people died in the bombardment, which could have been much higher had there been no evacuation. The material devastation however was enormous, with most of the historical centre — some parts dating back to around 800 CE — destroyed. Some 253 houses and 320 shops and other business buildings were destroyed, as well as another 18 or so public buildings, including the old abbey and the city hall. The evacuation may have saved lifes, but it also meant there were few people other than the voluntary fire fighters available to extinguish the many small fires that the bombardment started; much of the damage therefore was done by fire rather than explosion. That it was such nice, warm, dry spring weather didn’t help either…

Unlike Rotterdam the bombardment was not intended as a terror bombardment, but a tactical decision to break the remaining resistance in Zeeland. The Germans supposed that Middelburg was were the French units had their headquarters and allegedly also believe there were artillery and anti-aircraft guns in place in the city, which was not the case. These reasons for the bombardment do not excuse the crime of course, but do make the bombardment more understandable than that of Rotterdam.

Friday, May 14, 2010

UPDATED: Abuse of a Dutch boy's privacy

The nine-year-old boy who survived Wednesday's air crash in Tripoli is to be flown back to the Netherlands on Saturday, Ed Kronenburg, who is in charge of the Dutch crash team in Libya said on Friday.


In the meantime, the Libyan authorities have taken steps to improve security around the boy to ensure his privacy.

The Telegraaf newspaper caused disbelief on Friday morning by publishing a short phone conversation made with the boy via a doctor's mobile phone. Deputy prime minister André Rouvoet called the paper 'shameless'.

In a statement, the newspaper stressed the reporter had said nothing about the accident or the fact the boy's parents were killed.
The boy's relatives are en route to Tripoli, according to (Dutch) Volkskrant.


That Telegraaf obtained the phone number of the boy's room and was allowed to interview him is appalling enough. But other papers are also showing photos of the boy in his Tripoli hospital room.

He is featured in the lead photo of this series in Parool. He's already got his own website! (In Dutch media, the full names of alleged criminals are never released, but his full name was given.)

Why did hospital staff allow this breach of privacy? (In the USA there are patient privacy policies in place, e.g. hospitals are prohibited to release names of patients who are members of my parish to the clergy.) Why did the Dutch embassy officials allow this violation of a vulnerable child, a minor? (Were these photos taken before or after his relatives arrived in Tripoli? Were they aware of the interview, did they give permission?)

I see now in today's Parool that the Foreign Affairs ministry has stated the telephone interview was "evil."

Telegraaf has issued a statement that the paper never intended to "abuse the patient."

Friday, May 7, 2010

That Remembrance Day Disruption

I think the idea of a bomb attack crossed everybody's mind in the flash of a second at that moment, and I didn't even hear that "bom, bom". It's also neglected that the one part of the crowd got frightened by the panic of the other part of the crowd. My initial fear was getting trampled and trapped in this "stampede" as well as what was going to happen next...
- a witness to the Remembrance Day disruption
It's not as if people were in a moving crowd initally. They were still, silent, in an almost meditative state on what was happening in front of the monument. Just look at the Remembrance ceremony at about 01:13:32 on this (Silverlight) video.

Then bam! A mass exodus, but to where? I'm sure there are psychological studies of crowds that would confirm what happened was real.

Many people, of course, had the tragic attack at last year's Queen's Day celebrations in Apeldoorn on their minds.

I recall feeling the terror in the mid 1990s, when I was in Amsterdam for Queen's Day. My Dutch friend and I ventured into the center of the city - what was to be our first and last time. We were nearly crushed by a crowd that was moving along the Reguliersbreestraat (between the Munt and Rembrandtplein), packed like sardines. I was never so scared in my life; got separated from my friend and could not see his head (he's taller than I am). In the middle of all of this was a man in a wheelchair, pleading to be taken away. This was just across the street from the famous Tuschinski cinema. It was stifling, I could hardly breathe. I never even thought of a bomb attack. What if... !! I was afraid that I would lose my footing, fall down and get trampled. Fortunately we eventually got out of that narrow strip of street and made it to the Rembrandtplein, which was just as crowded, but had more room. From there we recovered to the quieter Amsterdam-Zuid residential district.