Displaying items by tag: Netherlands

Friday, 03 December 2021 09:51

Netherlands: Advent calendars renamed

A well-known chocolate brand has omitted any reference to Advent from its Christmas calendars, calling them instead ‘Countdown Calendars'. Known to fans simply as Tony’s, the Fairtrade brand was founded in 2005 by three TV journalists who discovered that many chocolate manufacturers bought cocoa from plantations accused of modern slavery and using child labour. Launching their first festive calendar their promotion asked, ‘Are you looking for a way to count down to Christmas that gives you an excuse to chomp on our chocolate for 24 days straight? This is it.’ The company said making no reference to Advent keeps it ‘accessible to all who celebrate the festive season’. Christian Concern expressed unease over the marketing, saying, ‘To remove Advent from Christmas is to miss the meaning of Christmas.’ Others also criticised the ‘woke’ move, asking what is a ‘countdown’ to if not the birth of Jesus Christ.

Published in Europe
Friday, 10 September 2021 04:50

Netherlands: Pre COP26 dialogue on adaptation

On the heels of last month’s warning from the UN climate science panel that extreme weather and rising seas are hitting faster than expected, over 50 ministers, heads of climate organisations and development banks met in Rotterdam this week and called for November’s COP26 climate talks to treat adaptation as ‘urgent’. They want more money and political will to help people adapt to the new reality. In a communique, they said adaptation – which ranges from building higher flood defences to growing more drought-tolerant crops and relocating coastal communities – had not benefited from the same attention, resources or level of action as efforts to cut planet-heating emissions. That has left people worldwide ‘exposed to a climate emergency unfolding faster than predicted’, they said.

Published in Europe

Record rainfall in parts of western Europe has caused major rivers to burst their banks In Germany; at least 33 are dead and dozens missing after record rain left homes and cars washed away. The Rhineland-Palatinate state chief described the flooding as a ‘catastrophe’. At least six have died in Belgium. Liège city urged all residents to leave. The Netherlands is badly hit, with more deaths and many houses damaged in the southern province of Limburg. A number of care homes had to be evacuated. More rain is forecast for these areas.

Published in Europe

Over a thousand festival-goers caught coronavirus after attending a 20,000-person event in Utrecht, leading the city's mayor to apologise, saying it was ‘an error of judgment’. Health authorities say the disease spread over both days of the outdoor music festival, leading to the highest count of infections that could be traced back to a single event. It was a ‘test-for-entry event’, meaning visitors were allowed if they presented a vaccination card, held a negative coronavirus test, or had had Covid-19 recently. Authorities now believe that the time frame (40 hours) for negative tests was too long. Dutch caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte apologised for his government's quick relaxation of safeguards, admitting what they thought was possible was wrong after all. Cases jumped fivefold in one week.

Published in Europe

In the Netherlands, Protestants make up around 16 percent of the population. A small group of traditional Calvinists are opposed to vaccination and social distancing. Most of these believers, who live in a region known as the ‘Bible Belt’, were never vaccinated as children and are opposed to the idea of injecting sickness into a healthy body. Despite surging case numbers, they continue to attend Sunday services without face masks. But amid some of the country's highest Covid-19 infection rates, some of them are starting to shift their mindset.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 25 February 2021 21:18

Germany / Belgium: cocaine 'worth billions' seized

Customs authorities in Germany and Belgium have seized a record amount of cocaine - over 23 tonnes - destined for the Netherlands. German officials said the cocaine had a street value of billions of euros. In 2019 the chairman of the Netherlands police union said, ‘We definitely have the characteristics of a narco-state. We're not Mexico. We don't have 14,400 murders. But if you look at the infrastructure, the big money earned by organised crime, the parallel economy, yes, we have a narco-state’. A 28-year-old man suspected of involvement in the cocaine trafficking was arrested on 24 February in the Netherlands. In 2020, 102 tonnes of cocaine heading for Europe was intercepted. Pray for the capture of powerful drug-trafficking gangs from Brazil and Paraguay who are running many of the smuggling operations to ports in Europe.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 28 January 2021 20:41

Netherlands: Covid lockdown riots

On 23 January, riots began in many Dutch towns and cities against a night-time curfew to slow the spread of Covid. Protesters burned down a Covid testing station, burned vehicles, threw knives at police, looted businesses, threw fireworks, dynamite, gasoline, and bricks. The police detained hundreds. By 27 January conspiracy theorists and far-right sympathisers were sending invitations to join the protests, using every type of social media. The invitations were alarming and very aggressive. The country had begun tough lockdown measures in October, and by December schools and non-essential shops were shut down. The decision to restrict people further came in the middle of a political crisis after prime minister Mark Rutte resigned over a corruption scandal involving child tax benefits. His cabinet will continue to govern until the 17 March elections, which have now taken on a greater significance.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 09 July 2020 21:11

Netherlands: torture chambers found

Six men were arrested in the Netherlands following the discovery of seven shipping containers converted into cells and torture chambers after French police cracked encrypted phones used by criminals. Dutch police said the containers were found before they were used, and potential victims were now in hiding. Officers found handcuffs attached to the floors and ceilings of the structures, which had also been soundproofed. They also discovered police clothing and bulletproof vests, pruning shears, scalpels, and balaclavas. Police also found another criminal base in Rotterdam. Two of the suspects were also detained for possession of weapons. The arrests are among 800 made across Europe related to gang warfare in drugs and money- laundering activities after EncroChat messages were intercepted and decoded. EncroChat, based in France, had an estimated 60,000 subscribers. See also UK article ‘Criminal chat network cracked’.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 11 June 2020 21:02

Netherlands: minks and coronavirus

Thousands of Dutch minks became infected with coronavirus and were culled. Researchers are now urging other countries such as Denmark and Spain to test their animals, after infected minks passed the virus on to several mink farmers. The Dutch government says the culling is to prevent farms from becoming long-term reservoirs of Coronavirus. The animals were first infected by their handlers in April. In May, the government identified two cases in which humans had been infected by sick animals - the only animal-to-human transmissions known since the global outbreak began in China. The Humane Society is calling for the 24 countries still allowing mink farming to evaluate evidence from the Netherlands.

Published in Europe
Friday, 01 February 2019 09:25

Migrants needing Christ’s compassion

Millions are fleeing tyranny of war, famine, and heartache in the largest movement of people in modern history since WWII. For most, Europe offers the only hope of safety, and many risk the very real threat of death on their journeys. Often these people are seen as a problem, and while our enemy can use people to kill, steal, and destroy, God sees each one as a unique and loved creation. Christian mission agencies working in refugee camps and across Europe want to introduce each refugee to the God who loves them. Meanwhile many European countries are rejecting them, the latest being the Dutch government who refused to accept 47 refugees currently on a ship run by a humanitarian group who rescued them off the Libyan coast over a week ago. Since then it has been sailing through high winds and seven metre-high waves.

Published in Europe
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