On 8 May 2012 The Netherlands adopted crucial legislation to safeguard an open and secure internet in The Netherlands. It is the first country in Europe to implement net neutrality in the law. In addition, it adopted provisions protecting users against disconnection and wiretapping by providers. Digital rights movement Bits of Freedom calls upon other countries to follow the Dutch example.
In addition, the law includes an anti-wiretapping provision, restricting internetproviders from using invasive wiretapping technologies, such as deep packet inspection (DPI). They may only do so under limited circumstances, or with explicit consent of the user, which the user may withdraw at any time. The use of DPI gained much attention when KPN admitted that it analysed the traffic of its users to gather information on the use of certain apps. The law allows for wiretapping with a warrant.
Moreover, the law includes a provision ensuring that internet providers can only disconnect their users in a very limited set of circumstances. Internet access is very important for functioning in an information society, and providers currently could on the basis of their terms and conditions disconnect their users for numerous reasons. The provision allows for the disconnection in the case of fraud or when a user doesn’t pay his bills.
There are some specific Dutch clauses to the bill. The bill prohibits filtering of internet all together, providers cannot block any website or service whatsoever, no more blocking of Skype or Youtube on mobile phones just because it costs the providers money. But what it does allow is belief based filtering: there are a few providers who provide internet connections for e.g. Christians who’d rather not be confronted with the wicked outside and those are still legal. Which is as it should be.
The important thing is that no provider is now able to block services or websites they don’t like.
One advantage of the collapse of the Dutch government is that the socalled wietpas might just be scrapped, at least nationally. Tomorrow it will be rolled out in the southern provinces, which means foreign socalled drugs tourists will no longer be able to buy dope in a coffee shop in Maastricht or any other southern city. Next year it was supposed to be put in force nation wide, but this still has to be confirmed by parliament and might just be declared “controversial” now that the government has lost its mandate. Which means that it can’t be treated in parliament until after the elections, scheduled for the 12th of September and who knows what will happen after them.
The whole wietpas legislation has been driven by drugs warriors in the CDA and the VVD, though to a somewhat lesser extent there; it’s far from a given that these two parties will return to power, while other parties are less than interested in this subject. If the wietpas quietly disappears into the dustbin of history this will be very good for Amsterdam, as some twentyfive percent of tourists come here especially for the dope…
It still leaves the southern border provinces with it, but I suspect that it will die a quiet death there too if it’s never put into law nationally.
And the government falls again. You’d think the old rightwing parties, VVD and CDA had learned from their experiences with the LPF, but once again an extreme rightwing populist party has brought down a neoliberal government. This at the end of seven weeks of very serious negotiations about the 16 billion euros of spending cuts the three parties were engaged in, spending cuts that are now off the table.
Though unlikely to remain so for long, at least this will give the opportunity for the leftwing parties in parliament to minimise these cuts and steer them in the right direction, e.g. by ending the Dutch participation in the JSF. The collapse of the PVV support for the minority government will also mean the likely end of already agreed upon cuts, e.g. in the social workplaces, as well and just as important, the end of support from the other two parties for the PVV’s idee fixes, like the burqa ban.
Even more importantly, though Wilders and co will still be around after the next elections, this will probably be their high water mark, their moment of greatest power. As I’ve written about time and again, Wilders had to walk the tightrope between populism and power. He knew that if he had gone into a proper coalition government, he ran the risk of ending up like the LPF, splintered between the two old dirty fighters of Dutch politics, while if he had gone into opposition, his base would’ve deserted him because he couldn’t achieved anything that way, as had happened to the SP before. So he ended up with what looked like the best of both worlds, supporting a minority government while not having any governmental responsibility himself, yet he and his party still got into trouble anyway. And the voters have started to leave already, even before this happened.
The final result of this fall is the end to the myth that we need to make tough, harsh decisions right now, as no earlier date than 12 September for elections seems likely to be decided upon, while any drastic measures before that seem unlikely as well. And with that, the idea that we do need to conform to the EU demands for a budget deficit no larger than three percent of GDP seems less likely too.
De Nits were a Dutch pop/art rock band, who had a couple of hits with Nescio, In The Dutch Mountains and J.O.S. Days and who share some of the same melancholy that Nescio specialised in in his stories.
L’il Abner, All Capp’s hillbilly humour/adventure comic strip was of course hugely popular for decades and hugely influencial on American popular culture. One of the things it popularised was Sadiw Hawkins Day, an annual day on which women of l’il Abner’s hillbilly town of Dogpatch got to propose to their men; the rest of the year they had to sit around and wait for their lazy and marriage afearing beaus to propose to them. Even on Sadie Hawkins day they still had to ketch them to actually be able to propose and All Capp managed to milk the pursuit of L’il Abner by his girlfriend Daisy Mae for decades before he eventually married them off.
Sadie Hawkins Day meanwhile had become popular outside the L’il Abner strip as well, merging with an older tradition of February 29th being the only day in the year that women could ask men out to dance, or marriage. That sort of topsy turvy craziness was hilarious back when gender roles were somewhat more strict than in modern times, but Sadie Hawkins day still is celebrated.
As my foster brother found out this morning. He has been living together with his partner for years now, they have two children together and while she would like to get married, he was in no hurry to do so. Which is why a few weeks back she took the matters into her own hands and asked my father for his hand, then surprised him this morning with a true old fashioned marriage proposal, having first collected several witnesses including his daughters and my mother, going down on one knee and popping the big question. He said yes of course; he’d better if he knew what was good for him.
So congratulations to the happy couple and I hope to get the wedding invitation soon.
For nearly 80 years, a cat has roamed free in the lobby of New York City’s famed Algonquin hotel, but now, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has made finding the friendly feline into a bit of a scavenger hunt.
The Algonquin has confined Matilda III, the latest in a line of lobby cats dating back to 1932, primarily to the arrival area and behind the reception desk thanks to a pre-emptive move to prevent crossing the DOH.
Restaurants have been getting tagged with hefty fine and reduced health ratings for minor violations, so the Algonquin made the move to avoid running afoul of the New York City Health Code. In a statement to TODAY.com, a rep for the DOH said: “According to the New York City Health Code, live animals are not allowed in food service establishments (except for edible fish, shellfish, or crustacean) unless a patron needs a service dog.”
I always find it a bit ironic that both the UK and the US, the two most doctrinaire free market countries in the world, also have the worst kind of rigid jobsworth government bureaucracies.
The composer now claims that his work has been used on tens of millions of Dutch DVDs, without him receiving any compensation for it. According to Rietveldt’s financial advisor, the total sum in missed revenue amounts to at least a million euros ($1,300,000).
The existence of excellent copyright laws and royalty collecting agencies in the Netherlands should mean that the composer received help and support with this problems, but this couldn’t be further from what actually happened.
Soon after he discovered the unauthorized distribution of his music Rietveldt alerted the local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra. The composer demanded compensation, but to his frustration he heard very little from Buma/Stemra and he certainly didn’t receive any royalties.
It gets better:
Earlier this year, however, a breakthrough seemed to loom on the horizon when Buma/Stemra board member Jochem Gerrits contacted the composer with an interesting proposal. Gerrits offered to help out the composer in his efforts to get paid for his hard work, but the music boss had a few demands of his own.
In order for the deal to work out the composer had to assign the track in question to the music publishing catalogue of the Gerrits, who owns High Fashion Music. In addition to this, the music boss demanded 33% of all the money set to be recouped as a result of his efforts.
So an anti-piracy group doesn’t ask permission or pay a composer to use his music and the group that should be protecting his rights actually has its boardmembers attempt to extort him…
Did you know American Samoa has a national football team? If, like me, you didn’t, you won’t be surprised to learn that it ranks absolutely last on FIFA’s world rankings and regularly does things like lose 31-0 to Australia. Or did, as with the arrival of new Dutch coach Thomas Rongen, they managed to book their first victory ever, against Tonga:
In October they agreed to loan Thomas Rongen, an Ajax-trained disciple of Total Football who had managed four Major League Soccer teams as well as the US Under-20 side for almost 10 years, for the duration of the tournament. The transformation after Rongen’s arrival was, says Brodie, profound. Within a week of the arrival of the “Palagi” – the Samoan word for white off-islanders which translates literally as “cloud-burster” – the improvements in organisation and discipline were extraordinary. Most significantly, though, was the change in mentality his coaching had brought, so much so that when they defeated Tonga 2-1 on Tuesday and drew 1-1 with Cook Islands on Friday there was no complacency – the players were frustrated at not keeping clean sheets.
Rongen has been with the team for less than a month and found the tactical reorganisation easier than the psychological one. “I am steeped in the Dutch football tradition,” he says. “The teachings of Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff and a technical brand of football is my motivation but what I encountered here was the exact opposite. So I had to adapt. I went from an old-style 4-4-2 to a more modern 4-2-3-1 because since it’s obvious that they give away too many goals, I thought four defenders and two holders would help. It’s easier to teach inexperienced players how to defend than to attack but we’ve made great strides in organisation and communication.
Thomas Rongen is not very well known here, having spent most of his playing career after having been trained at Ajax in the various US/American league. He later became a coach, working e.g. at DC United (did you know Washington DC has a professional soccer team?) and the US national U-21 team. Dutch football coaches in general are very popular for ailing national teams — Guus Hiddink has build his career doing this — and it’s nice to see Rongen do his bit for a national team of a country with a population barely enough for a small town.
Rongen and his coaching is not the only interesting thing about the team though: it must be the only national teams which has an openly transgender person playing:
The other breaker of barriers in the squad is Johnny “Jayiah” Saelua, a fa’afafine, biologically male but identified as a third sex widely accepted in Polynesian culture. She – and she prefers she – is the first transgender player to compete in a World Cup match and has formed a centre-half partnership with the Arizona-based Rawlston Masaniai, who along with other team-mates, calls her “sister”. “There is no discrimination,” she says. “I put aside whether I’m a girl or a boy and just concentrate on playing. I think I add a third dimension to the team, collect my energies and keep the team together, that’s my responsibility as the fa’afafine, the feminine.”
Sepp Blatter has reassured us that racism in football is non-existent, but homophobia is still rampant, with few openly gay players and fewer openly gay players still actively playing, even in supposedly enlightened countries like the Netherlands. And homosexuality is much more accepted (or so it seems) than transgender/genderqueer people still are, so it’s nice to see how matter of fact the American Samoan team is about their team mate’s gender.
According to an article in De Pers, Dutch police intelligence services attempt to recruit minors to serve as informers. In at least some cases, this was even done without their parents knowing. A lawyer quoted in the article spoke of “stasi-like methods”, which sounds about right to me.
In the Netherlands only the socalled CIE or Criminal Intelligence Unit is allowed to use informers, with information gathered through their use not legal to use in criminal prosecutions, though some lawyers do complain that such information does end up in public prosecutor files and is hard to check up on. Rules about the use of minors are non-existent, so the situation seems rife for abuse. Certainly any such approach of a minor should be done with the permission of their parents. Sneaking around behind their backs is just wrong.
A Dutch court has ordered the government to compensate the widows of seven villagers who were summarily executed and a man shot and wounded in a notorious massacre during Indonesia’s bloody battle for independence from colonial rule.
The Hague Civil Court ruled on Wednesday it was “unreasonable” for the government to argue that the widows were not entitled to compensation because the statute of limitations had expired.
According to Indonesian researchers, Dutch troops wiped out almost the entire male population of Rawagede, a village in West Java, two years before the former colony declared independence in 1949.
The only living witnesses are now in their 80s, and illiterate, after having to fend for themselves following the deaths of their husbands.
“There were dead bodies everywhere, many of which we found in the river after the shooting stopped,” said Cawi, a survivor.
The court’s judgement paves the way for a case to establish the level of indemnities to be paid to the relatives.
However, Zegveld said its narrow focus on widows of massacre victims means it is unclear whether it will expose the Dutch state to a flood of compensation claims from other relatives of people killed during the Dutch fight to retain control over the Dutch East Indies, which became Indonesia in 1949.
Authorities in the Netherlands say 150 people died while a victims’ association claims 431 lost their lives during an operation to root out a suspected independence fighter hiding in the village, known today as Balongsari.
Every western colonial power has skeletons like this in its closet and would rather they stay there. Yet I can’t help that the Dutch are particularly good at only remembering the history they want to remember. While World War II, in which the Netherlands was a victim of German and Japanese aggression is now an integral part of the Dutch self image, the dirty colonial wars that took place in Indonesia almost from the moment the Japanese had left have been largely erased from our collective memory. In fact, in some respect WWII offers cover for what we did in Indonesia afterwards. It’s only now, when many of the people directly involved (including the victims) are dead that we’re finally getting some recognition of what we did there. We were outraged at what Bosnian Serbs did in Srebrenica and justifiably so, but this means that we should recognise our own atrocities as well.