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Court ruling on cannabis growers prompts fresh demands for legal supply chain

A court has ruled that two cannabis farmers who supplied coffeeshops in Groningen should not be punished because they effectively ran a legitimate business.

The court said there was a lack of clarity over how coffeeshops should buy in their supplies.The 49-year-old man and his 39-year-old female partner cultivated cannabis on two plantations in Bellingwolde and Bierum. The court heard they used approved biological techniques, paid their electricity bills and even had an arrangment with the tax office.

The prosecution service asked for work orders of 180 and 120 hours to be imposed on the couple, but the court decided they should not be penalised despite finding them guilty. Judges found that the plantations were run responsibly and had no links with the criminal fraternity.

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Changes afoot for the king and Zwarte Piet as Wilders stands his ground

By Nicola Chadwick (@amsternic)

Dutch blogger Nicola Chadwick gives a naturalised expat's view on life and politics in the Netherlands.

Once again Geert Wilders, the leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), is to be tried for discrimination and incitement of hate for the chants of “Fewer, fewer, fewer Moroccans” that rang out on local election night last March. Perhaps they were designed to deflect attention from the fact that the party lost ground in the only two municipalities it contested – The Hague and Almere. Or the fact that it had made no progress in the past four years as it fielded no new candidates in other municipalities. Wilders knew he was overstepping the mark, because before getting the whole audience to chant, he said “I shouldn’t say this because people will file complaints with the police against me…”

At the moment it seems like the world is on fire when you read the news. Unrest in Ukraine, the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria, and the ebola outbreak in Africa. Nevertheless it’s domestic issues that are at the front of people’s minds. I’m surprised Wilders hasn’t been blamed for single-handedly recruiting more Dutch Muslims for IS than anyone else. The polarisation he has caused by constantly reminding Dutch people with a Moroccan background that they somehow do not belong in this country is partly behind the exit of a group of young disenchanted men to war zones in Syria and Iraq.

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Abandoned IT projects cost Dutch government up to €5 billion a year

More than a third of major IT projects in the Netherlands never see the light of day, costing the government up to €5 billion a year, according to a highly critical report by a Parliamentary inquiry.

Liberal MP Ton Elias proposed setting up an independent panel of IT experts to keep major projects on track.A commission headed by Liberal (VVD) MP Ton Elias, called for an independent regulator to be set up so that IT specialists can monitor the progress of large-scale projects.

Projects often failed because those commissioning them lacked the technological knowledge, said Elias. “Things go wrong on every level and at every stage.

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Police staff suspended over inquiry into €500 million squad cars contract

Five police personnel have been suspended from duty as part of a long-running corruption investigation into contracts to buy police cars.

The inquiry focuses primarily on a contract to buy 13,000 police cars.The five include head of facility management, Rob T., as well as three members of the national police services centre and one member of the Amsterdam police division.

The inquriy focuses on contracts to buy 13,000 police cars at a cost of around half a billion euros, as well as other equipment including mobile phones and breathalysers.

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Defence ministry email accounts caught up in world's biggest data hack

Nearly 400 email addresses at the Dutch ministry of defence were compromised as part of a massive worldwide hack operation, the government has revealed.

A total of 1.3 million email addresses and 5600 Dutch-registered websites were compromised.Data was stolen from 1.3 million email accounts and 5600 websites with a .nl domain name in the attack, which was discovered by the US firm Hold Security.

Defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told Parliament that most of the 380 addresses at the defence ministry were not in use and hackers would not have been able to access sensitive information.

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Lack of security for self-employed workers 'bad for Dutch economy'

Plans to make it easier for self-employed workers to insure themselves against sickness and unemployment have been drawn up by the employers’ organisation AWVN.

More than a million people in the Netherlands are listed as zzp (self-employed sole traders)There are concerns that the lack of security that goes with working independently could hold back the Dutch economy. “People who are unsure tend to keep a tight hold on the purse-strings, and that isn’t good for the economy or work opportunities,” AWVN director Harry van de Kraats told De Volkskrant.

Currently 1.2 million people are listed as zzp (self-employed sole traders) and one-third of the working population is not in a steady job. Dutch labour organisations are keen to ensure that the more flexible modern labour market does not compromise social security. Add a comment

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Wilders gears up for another court battle over 'fewer Moroccans' cafe chant

Legal experts say Geert Wilders is almost certain to be prosecuted after he was formally named as a suspect for orchestrating chants of “fewer Moroccans” at a post-election rally.

Geert Wilders was widely criticised for his 'fewer Moroccans' jibe. Now he faces prosecution for inciting hatred.The public prosecution service (Openbare Ministerie) confirmed on Thursday that it would be questioning the Freedom Party leader on suspicion of discrimination and disseminating hatred.

More than 6400 official complaints were filed to police after Wilders told a crowd he wanted “fewer Moroccans where possible” during a walkabout in the run-up to the municipal elections in The Hague on March 19. Later that night he asked an audience at a café if they wanted to see “more or fewer Moroccans”. When the crowd chanted “fewer, fewer” Wilders replied: “We’ll sort that out.”

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Annual remembrance ceremony to put Second World War centre stage once more

The Second World War is to play a more central role in the annual two-day ceremonies of remembrance and liberation held on May 4 and 5.

The National May 4 and 5 Committee also called for Liberation Day to be made a public holiday.The National May 4 and 5 Committee has also called for Liberation Day (bevrijdingsdag) on May 5 to be made a public holiday so the Netherlands can celebrate their freedom from German occupation.

Jacques Wallage, vice-chairman of the committee, told Trouw the national commemoration of war dead on May 4 should focus more on the Second World War, including the experiences of Jews and Dutch people in the colonies.

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Kurdish protesters secure talks on IS after staging late-night sit-in at Parliament building

Dutch Parliament officials have been holding talks with a group of Kurdish demonstrators who occupied the foyer of the Lower House for around four hours hours on Monday night to protest against the rise of IS in Iraq.

Several dozen protesters occupied the foyer of the Lower House as part of a co-ordinated protest against IS.Several dozen Kurds staged a sit-down protest in the lobby as part of a co-ordinated action in several European capitals to urge Western powers to take stronger action against IS. Hundreds more congregated outside as riot police were called in to guard the building in the centre of The Hague.

The group dispersed at around 1.30am after Anouchka van Miltenburg, chairman of the Lower House, promised them an audience with various parties’ foreign affairs specialists.

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Majority of tax office payouts wrongly calculated

Less than half of tax relief payments handled by the Dutch tax office are wrongly calculated, according to an analysis by Statistics Netherlands.

As few as one in five childcare subsidies are correctly calculated by the Dutch tax office.Since 2006 the tax office (belastingdienst) has been responsible for paying income-related benefits, including housing, healthcare and childcare subsidies and the personal child allowance (kindgebonden budget).

Nearly 60 per cent of households in the Netherlands claim one or more payments, at a total annual cost to the state of €10.4 billion.

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