Minister welcomes investigation into teen suicide using 'death powder'

Local elections 2018: Eindhoven has lots of information in English

Health minister Hugo de Jonge has welcomed the public prosecution department's decision to investigate the suicide of a 19-year-old woman using a powder bought on the internet. The young woman from Brabant killed herself three weeks ago and the public prosecutor wants to know if a right to die cooperative which claims to distribute the 'suicide powder' was involved in supplying the drug. De Jonge said the death is 'extremely worrying'. The Last Will Cooperative is on the verge of operating irresponsibly and may be committing a criminal offence, he said. The girl's parents told Trouw earlier this week that the powder should not be freely available. 'It makes it very easy for someone to take such a step,' the girl's father said. The cooperative hit the headlines last September with the ‘discovery’ of the deadly powder - a widely-available preservative - which is legally available. The group campaigns for the right of people to end their own lives at the time of their choosing. Membership of the cooperative surged after the announcement, but it  came under fire for allowing people as young as 18 to join and for breaking the law which bans people from helping others to commit suicide.  More >

Winter poised to return this weekend

Local elections 2018: Eindhoven has lots of information in English Although spring officially starts on March 21, winter is set to make a return this weekend, with freezing temperatures and snow, weather forecasters say. On Friday there may be some light snow in the north later in the day, while the overnight temperature is set to plunge to -5 degrees in the east. The strong easterly winds will make it feel even colder. On Saturday the temperature will hover around freezing point during the day but it will feel much more chilly in the wind, which could reach gale force in the Wadden Sea. If the maximum temperature dips below 1.2 degrees at the De Bilt weather station near Hilversum on Saturday will be the coldest March 17 on record. The KNMI says snow is also likely. Sunday will be warmer and the wind will die down, but the temperatures will still be far from spring-like and night frosts will continue well into the week, according to the KNMI. Temperatures will remain below normal into the final week of March, the KNMI said.  More >

Dutch police break up dark web drugs gang

Dutch police break up major dark web drugs gang, four arrested Police in the Netherlands say they have broken up a gang which was trading large volumes of illegal drugs on the dark web all over the world. The three men and one woman were arrested in Amsterdam and Werkendam earlier this week and will appear before remand judges on Friday. Three of those arrested were online processing orders at the time of their arrest. The fourth was producing what the police said were packaging materials using 3D printers when she was picked up. The case is a follow up on the dismantling of a dark web drugs network known as Hansa last year, police said. One of the seller accounts, named Doug Hefferman, was based in the Netherlands and appeared to be responsible for selling cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs. The four people arrested on Tuesday are said to be the operators behind that name and a string of others which moved to a new dark web market place named Dream Market when Hansa was shut down. Disguise They are suspected of sending tens of thousands of packets of drugs all over the world disguised as makeup, print cartridges and computer games. The related administration system includes the addresses of potentially thousands of buyers, the police statement said. Police also confiscated three cars, a considerable amount of drugs, a gun and bitcoin receipts. Doug Hefferman is the main character from the American comedy The King of Queens who is a delivery worker.  More >

Local elections 2018: a Rotterdam battle

Local elections 2018: Eindhoven has lots of information in English As election dramas go, the contest in Rotterdam has been an energetic mix of soap opera, pantomime and farce. The farce came early in the contest when Geert Wilders was forced to sack the lead candidate for his PVV party, Geza Hegedüs, after one day. The PVV's campaign began inauspiciously when two MPs from the multicultural party Denk turned up to heckle the official launch, which took place against the backdrop of a mosque. And it got worse for Wilders when an anti-fascist campaign group unmasked Hegedüs as a supporter of extreme-right student fraternity Erkenbrand. The PVV is hoping to take seats from Leefbaar Rotterdam, the party founded by Wilders's idol Pim Fortuyn, which has responded by hardening its stance on migrants. Among its policies is a new law to protect the 'native Dutch' character of high streets by allowing the council to limit the number of kebab shops, halal butchers and shisha lounges. Coalition Leefbaar has governed the city for the last four years in a coalition with progressive liberals D66 and the Christian Democrats. But a repeat of that combination has been thrown into doubt by Leefbaar's electoral pact with Thierry Baudet's Forum for Democracy (FvD). Baudet has been involved in a war of words with D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and interior minister Kajsa Ollongren since the pair condemned his party's stance on racial issues, and D66 have made it a condition of any future power-sharing deal that Leefbaar disown Baudet's comments. Leefbaar's Robert Simons has dismissed the demand as 'childish'. Left-wing The internecine struggle on the right should have handed the initiative to the city's left-wing parties, had they not blundered into a trap of their own devising last week. The Socialists, GroenLinks and Labour announced a joint programme called the Links Verbond, along with Nida, one of Rotterdam's two Islamic factions, to promote a 'social, sustainable and inclusive Rotterdam'. But when a tweet from Nida surfaced which likened Israel's intervention in Gaza in 2014 to the actions of Islamic State, GroenLinks and Labour pulled out of the agreement after Nida refused to withdraw the remark. 'As far as I am concerned there is no place for Nida in our alliance,’ said GroenLinks leader Judith Bokhove. The polls suggest Leefbaar will remain the largest party, but with its seats cut from 13 to around 9. A cluster of parties including GroenLinks, the SP, D66 and the VVD are vying for second place with five or six of the 45 seats, while the PVV are expected to take three or four. Nida had hoped that the left-wing pact would protect it from a challenge from Denk. With such a wide field and acrimonious campaign, whichever party emerges on top of the pile will have its work cut out to build a working coalition. In Rotterdam voters can also chose the members of the 14 district committees. Current council coalition: Leefbaar Rotterdam, D66, CDA Current council make-up: Leefbaar Rotterdam (13), PvdA (8), D66 (5), SP (5), VVD (3), CDA (3), Nida Rotterdam (2), GroenLinks (2), CU/SGP (1), PvdD (1) plus two splinter parties Total number of voters:  501,230 Number of international voters: 46,087 or 9.2% - four seats on the city council 2018 local election information in English Rotterdam key questions: housing, integration and jobs Voting aids Help with deciding who to vote for (Dutch only)  More >

ECB: new ABN Amro chair should be a banker

Local elections 2018: Eindhoven has lots of information in English Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra has made it clear that as the ultimate regulator, the European Central Bank would have the last say over the nomination of the new supervisory board chairman of ABN Amro bank. The post is being vacated on 1 July by Olga Zoutendijk after objections to her management style. The ECB is insisting that the new head of the supervisory board have wide experience as a banker, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday. Hoekstra has influence over the nomination both because the finance ministry is a member of a major advisory board and is a 56% shareholder in ABN Amro. Complicated Hoekstra told parliament's finance committee on Thursday the search for a new chairman will be 'very complicated'.  For a start, it is practically a given that the job should go to a woman. And during Thursday's debate, MPs said said the candidate should have 'good social antenne'. Jan Patternote of Liberal democrats D66 favours someone who is 'non-political'. Christian Democrat Erik Ronnes fears the banking qualifications will cancel out the required social responsibilities. Both the PvdA and GroenLinks fear that a candidate with the necessary banking background will result in a candidate who also demonstrates the 'undesirable features' of an old-style banker. Pay Almost all say remuneration must be moderate to avoid 'another ING-like situation'. This refers to the recent row about the 50% pay rise for ING CEO Ralph Hamers. Hoekstra told parliament's finance specialists that social aspects of the job are of ultimate importance. He also finds it 'crucial' that the bank does not again nominate a candidate without first-hand knowledge of the Dutch management system'. Her critics, which include former ABN Amro CEO Gerrit Zalm, claim Zoutendijk 'did not know her place'. Zoutendijk operated according to the Anglo-American one-tier management model rather than the Dutch two-tier management scheme, the FD said, Hoekstra said he would do his utmost to see this is not repeated, although he warned about the ECB's insistence on a banking background.  More >