Meike Eijsberg

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​Hair Salon Rob Peetoom in Rotterdam
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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photo of man speaking in megaphone at protest in Saxony
Coronavirus

Texas In Germany? Saxony Mixes Anti-Vaxxers And Far-Right Politics

When it comes to vaccination rates, there are striking parallels between Germany and the United States. The states with the most opposition to vaccines differ politically from those with the highest vaccination rates. Now the consequences for booster shots are starting to become visible, especially in the United States.

-Analysis-

WASHINGTON — Ok, so Saxony was singled out last week in a New York Times article as an example of the disastrous vaccination situation in parts of Europe. The article talks about the link between anti-vaxxers and the political success of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the eastern German state.

In a sense, Saxony is Germany's Texas. For instance, 59% of U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated, but in strictly Republican Texas, where Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the 2020 election, this figure stands at 54%.

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Europe's Deadly Cocktail Of Bad Policy And Vaccine Hesitancy
Coronavirus

Europe's Deadly Cocktail Of Bad Policy And Vaccine Hesitancy

If you compare vaccination rates in European countries, you immediately notice huge differences. And this is despite the fact that the EU has provided all members with sufficient coverage. There are clear reasons of culture, history and attitudes for the gap.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — The next wave of infection is rolling into Europe. Some countries, including Germany, are already in the middle of it. The differences are considerable: While the situation in some Western European countries, such as Spain, Italy or Portugal, is still relaxed with comparatively low numbers of COVID, the situation in Eastern Europe is quite different.

There, infections have been rising rapidly for the past several weeks. Some countries have even recorded significantly more COVID-19 cases than a year ago, when the second and third waves hit the continent. In Latvia, Bulgaria and Romania, hospitals are now completely overloaded.

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Photo of a Chinese worker holding the blade of a wind turbine being built by cranes in Hami, Xinjiang, China
Green

Why China Will Be The Winner In The Geopolitics Of Climate Change

Energy issues are power issues. That is why the fight against climate change will also lead to geopolitical upheavals — to Europe's detriment. China, one of the biggest climate sinners, is likely to benefit from this because the People's Republic has a strategic ace up its sleeve.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — In 1709, an English metalworker discovered that coal was suitable to replace wood and waste as a fuel for smelting furnaces. However, it took until the end of the century for this to develop into the revolutionary industrial revolution — and another two centuries for coal to overtake wood and waste as the world's leading fuel. And after the first oil discoveries in Pennsylvania in 1859, it took another century for oil to replace coal as the world's most important energy source. Measured against this history, the changes that climate change seeks to force will require dramatic speed.

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COVID-19 Lessons From Singapore, Facing Its First Crisis So Late In The Pandemic
Coronavirus

COVID-19 Lessons From Singapore, Facing Its First Crisis So Late In The Pandemic

Its Zero-COVID strategy has mostly worked, and vaccinations are going well. Now a breakout spread is raising multiple questions for the Asian nation and global financial hub.

-Analysis-

When it came to COVID-19, Singapore had seemed to do everything right. Back in March 2020, the wealthy Asian city-state didn't hesitate to impose a strict lockdown. Indeed, Singapore officials took the risk so seriously, that they opted for a Zero-COVID strategy similar to the one countries like China and New Zealand used to stop the spread at virtually all costs.

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Photo of "​Virtual stars" decorations in a fast-food restaurant in Shanghai
Society

Party Lines: Why China Prefers Virtual Stars For Show Business Fame

Hologram idols are the new stars of the entertainment industry in China, performing in live concerts and in front of audiences of millions. It's not just tech companies that are happy about the boom, the leadership in Beijing is too for more political reasons.

BEIJING — Luo Tianyi celebrated her breakthrough at the Spring Festival Gala. The show is broadcast every year on state television at the beginning of the Chinese New Year. With approximately 700 million viewers, it is not only the TV program with the largest audience worldwide, it is also one of the most influential shows in Chinese culture.

What's special about Luo Tianyi is that she's not human. The singer is a hologram, an avatar. And the first virtual idol to make it into the Spring Festival Gala.

Luo can look back on a glittering career. She was born out of a cooperation between a Chinese and a Japanese company, and in 2012 she was introduced to the public. In the years that followed, she rose to stardom.

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

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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Google Street View screenshot of men standing before the ​Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled
Society

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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Pokemon, Magic As NFTs: How Tech Fuels Trading Cards Market
Future

Pokemon, Magic As NFTs: How Tech Fuels Trading Cards Market

The heroic fantasy universes of the 1990s have become a new focus of investment. One card in the mega-popular Magic series recenty sold for more than $500,000, and with the introduction of blockchain technology, the market looks to expand even more.

Playing cards illustrated by the greatest science fiction and "heroic fantasy" artists of the moment, the blockchain to make them unique digital works, and a series of novels to accompany the story… Welcome to the fairytale universe of Cross the Ages.

Conceived by the young Marseille-based startupper Sami Chlagou, who is already behind a video game distribution and production company, this project aims to turn a generation's passion for trading cards and role-playing games into a business as disruptive and speculative as the cryptocurrency market.

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9/11, Bin Laden's Unlikely Gift To China And Russia
Geopolitics

9/11, Bin Laden's Unlikely Gift To China And Russia

The September 11 attacks both mobilized America and showed its fragility. Twenty years later, the United States is withdrawing from the Middle East. The greatest beneficiary is not the Muslim world, as Bin Laden dreamed, but two powers reborn in the East.

-Analysis-

PARIS — "Men make their own history, but they do not make the history they please." Twenty years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, could Karl Marx's old formula help us understand the upheavals that have occurred in the world during the last two decades?

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

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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Taliban Government, Paris Attacks Trial, Lazy Tax Advisor
In The News

Taliban Government, Paris Attacks Trial, Lazy Tax Advisor

Welcome to Wednesday, where the Taliban unveil their government, crypto is plummeting after El Salvador embraces bitcoin and one lazy Swedish tax advisor gets busted. In Mexico, we meet the nurse who has become the face of pandemic fatigue.


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