Society

Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

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New Climate Alert: "Low Country" Netherlands Facing Major Sea-Level Rise

The Dutch meteorological institute has released an alarming report in a country that is particularly prone to flooding.

In its native Dutch language, the Netherlands is called Nederland, which means "low countries" and for good reason: approximately one-quarter of the coastal nation is below sea level, and more than half is susceptible to flooding.

This makes, even more, alarming a new report of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) that sea levels off the Dutch coast will rise between 1.2 and 2.0 meters by the end of this century if the planet does not succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported this week.

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

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European Debt? The First Question For Merkel's Successor

Across southern Europe, all eyes are on the German elections, as they hope a change of government might bring about reforms to the EU Stability Pact.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) is the front-runner, according to recent polls, to become Germany's next chancellor. Little wonder then that he's attracting attention not just within the country, but from neighbors across Europe who are watching and listening to his every word.

That was certainly the case this past weekend in Brdo, Slovenia, where the minister met with his European counterparts. And of particular interest for those in attendance is where Scholz stands on the issue of debt-rule reform for the eurozone, a subject that is expected to be hotly debated among EU members in the coming months.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

North Korea Missile Tests, Taliban Rules For Women Students, King’s Hair

👋 Dobrý deň!*

Welcome to Monday, where North Korea tests a new long-range missile, the Taliban will not ban women from university this time (though under several conditions), and a jar of hair has the auction world all shook up. Meanwhile, French daily Les Echos looks at how cosmetic and apparel companies in China (a country usually associated with low quality and fast fashion) have moved upmarket in recent years.

[*Slovak]

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Society
Meike Eijsberg

Foreign Students At Dutch Universities Are “Homeless” - Blame Brexit

Brexit has doubled the cost of studying in the UK for Europeans, which means many more students are heading to Dutch universities, which offer multiple programs in English. That's caused hundreds to arrive at universities in the Netherlands this month without promised housing.

With their sleeping bags in hand, dozens of students occupied the main administration building of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands this week to protest the lack of housing for international students. The situation is dire according to local organisation Shelter Our Students (SOS), as more than 600 international students at Groningen have started their studies this September homeless, Dutch daily NRC reports.

The Netherlands was already an increasingly popular destination for international students as it offers a wide variety of English-taught degrees. But this year, Dutch campuses are particularly overflowing with foreign students for two other reasons: Brexit, which has made UK universities suddenly very expensive for European Union residents looking to study in English; and the end of COVID-19 restrictions is bringing students back to class.

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HET PAROOL
Meike Eijsberg

Dutch Animal Rights Law Could Make Leashing Dogs Illegal

Pushed by a small but influential animal rights party in the Netherlands, the law could also ban keeping birds in cages and force farmers to widen pig pens and grazing areas.

THE HAGUE Rabbits and birds may no longer be kept in a pen or cage, while dog owners may have to forego a leash in the Netherlands from 2023 onwards. This is the result of a proposed new animal protection law that aims to reorient the debate about animal rights, which was approved by the Dutch Senate late last month with virtually no media attention at the time.

The Amsterdam-based Het Parool daily reports that the new law, introduced by the small but influential Party for the Animals, updates previous legislation to require that animals are able to exhibit "natural behavior," and must no longer suffer pain or discomfort when kept in stables, pens or cages. It is primarily aimed at owners of livestock who must ensure that pigs, for example, have enough room to roll around in the mud.

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Geopolitics

Report: Russia Hacked Dutch Police Systems During MH17 Probe

Police in the Netherlands were working at the time of the cyber attack on the investigation into the downing of flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine.

AMSTERDAM — Russian hackers penetrated deep into the Dutch national police's digital system in 2017, during a period that Russian separatists were being investigated for the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight that had departed from the Netherlands, Dutch daily De Volkskrant reports in an exclusive investigation.

The cyber attack, reportedly carried out by hackers belonging to the Russian security service SVR, was particularly troubling, De Volkskrant reports, because the police were working on the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine.

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Sources
Laura Weissmüller

A Dutch Architectural Revolution In Creative Pragmatism

The future of architecture is here: the studio MVRDV in Rotterdam is one of the most daring in the world. An exhibition in Innsbruck shows why.

Canary yellow, pink, sky blue: this exhibition is nothing if not eye-catching. Four brightly colored towers stretch from floor to ceiling. One is made of boxes stacked on top of each other, another has a ladder inside that visitors can climb, the third houses a container of foam bricks at its base, and the fourth, made of scaffolding, boasts green plants balanced on narrow balconies. Welcome to MVRDV's creative playground.

The architecture studio in Rotterdam is possibly one of the most daring when it comes to innovation and experiments. However, Nathalie de Vries insists, "What we do isn't experimental." The architect founded the firm in 1993 with her fellow students Winy Maas and Jacob van Rijs and curated the exhibition with Arno Ritter, director of aut. architektur und tirol, the Tirolean architecture center in Innsbruck.

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Future
Stefan Beutelsbacher

Boyan Slat, A (Nicer) Elon Musk To Save Our Oceans

The project 'The Ocean Cleanup' wants to use its system to rid the oceans from plastic waste. The founder thinks big about the planet and beyond. And he's not a jerk.

SAN FRANCISCO — With the Golden Gate Bridge in front of him, Boyan Slat points to the horizon and says how nice it would be to save the world. The 24-year-old leans against the railing of the tugboat, with San Francisco's skyline on his left, and the former Alcatraz prison on his right, and looks at the glittering waves. Suddenly a small yacht turns up, with three women on deck. "Boyan," they yell in the whistling wind, "Boyan, you are our hero!"

Saturday, at 1 p.m., is a special moment for Boyan Slat. And it might not be special only for him, but for all of us, for humanity. The Dutch-born inventor brings out on the water the System 001, his creation, and watches it floats into the Pacific.

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Sources
Ann-Kathrin Jeske

Dutch YouTubers Get High In The Name Of Science — And Clicks

An online show called Drugslab gives viewers a first-hand account of what it's like to take anything from mushrooms to ecstasy.

AMSTERDAM — Rens Polman feels "so lekker" — Dutch for "pleasant" or "good" — on ecstasy. The young man is one of three people in the Netherlands who tests out illegal drugs on their YouTube channel Drugslab. When he goes on a substance-induced trip, others can see what the drugs do to his body.

Cocaine, mushrooms, ketamine, the YouTubers take whatever viewers request in the comments section of their videos. Some videos have more than a million views. "We test out drugs in the name of science," Polman explains. "We see how pulse and body temperature change. And we test motor skills and ability to think while intoxicated."

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Sources
Lucie Jung

Europol Writes Postcards To 'Most-Wanted' Fugitives

​Europol is adding a whiff of summer holiday fun to its hunt for hardened criminals. On its website, Europol (the Europe Union's police agency) has issued 21 original digital "postcards' addressed to the continent's Most Wanted list, which includes murderers, drug traffickers, and rapists.

Hoping to solicit help from the public, the online 2017 summer campaign that recently launched aims to play off obvious contrasts and personalizes the message.

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Geopolitics
Adrien Jaulmes

A Model Prison For Those Accused Of The Most Heinous Crimes

Behind the high walls of a Dutch penitentiary, a handful of accused war criminals are housed in a one-of-a-kind prison that aims to embody the ideals of justice.

THE HAGUE — For a long time, a dictator's or warlord's career tended to end in exile or violent death. International justice has added another option to closing the reign of a tyrant. For 22 years, dozens accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes have found themselves on the banks of the North Sea, waiting for and living through their trials from behind the walls of a new kind of prison, created inside a Dutch penitentiary.

In the residential Scheveningen district of the Hague, the Haaglanden penitentiary may appear as just another building. Neighboring houses are built along its brick walls, cyclists pass without even looking at the old entrance, a portal with crenelated towers like that of a movie set. Now almost empty, this penitentiary, once the largest in the Netherlands, still shelters certain prisoners. Since 1995, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and, since 2002, those of the International Criminal Court, have been incarcerated in a specially constructed building in the compound.

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Geopolitics

Hawaii To Holland, Populism Bumps In The Road

The headlines this morning provide two bits of far-flung hope for those still shaken by Brexit and Donald Trump: the new version of Trump's travel ban applied to six majority-Muslim countries was blocked by a judge in Hawaii; meanwhile, halfway across the world, Geert Wilders' far-right party suffered surprisingly disappointing results in Dutch parliamentary elections.

But the winds of populism and anti-immigrant fervor are far from quiet. The U.S. ban will likely be back again, under one form or another, with ultimate limits on the power of the judicial branch to stave off popular sentiment. Indeed, Wilders' falling short of the top vote count may just be a bump in the road on the way to eventually taking power.

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Geopolitics
Bertrand Hauger

'Red-Letter Day' — Tensions High As Dutch Elections Kick Off

"GO VOTE (and send us a pic from the voting booth)," reads the front page of the Dutch daily Metro inviting young voters to go to the polls as the country elects a new parliament Wednesday.

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