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Posts tagged ‘Coastal Land of Holland’

Dutch group says it will soon start cleaning up ocean trash

May 11, 2017

UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch foundation aiming to rid the world’s oceans of plastic waste says it will start cleaning up the huge area of floating junk known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next 12 months, two years earlier than planned.

The Ocean Cleanup aims to use long-distance floating booms that act like coastlines to gather plastic as it drifts on or near the surface of the water while allowing sea life to pass underneath. The plan originally was to anchor the barriers to the sea bed with a system used by oil rigs, but the organization said Thursday it now will use anchors that float beneath the water’s surface, making it much more efficient.

The Ocean Cleanup, founded by Dutch university dropout Boyan Slat, announced that testing of the first system will start off the U.S. West coast by the end of the year and barriers will be shipped to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Hawaii in the first half of 2018, two years ahead of the organization’s earlier schedule. The patch is a huge area of the ocean where swirling currents concentrate the trash.

“At the ocean cleanup we always work with nature. So instead of going after the plastic, we let the plastic come to us, saving time, energy and cost,” Slat, a shaggy-haired 22-year-old, told The Associated Press.

Floating barriers concentrate the plastic garbage at a central point where it can be fished out of the water and shipped back to dry land for recycling. The organization discovered that the barriers are more efficient if they are allowed to slowly drift instead of anchoring them to the sea bed.

Free-floating barriers begin to act like the plastic they aim to snare, so “the cleanup systems will automatically gravitate to those places where most plastic is,” Slat said. “And that now causes the efficiency to be a lot higher because there is just more plastic in front of these systems and therefore we can now clean up 50 percent of the patch in just five years’ time.”

The innovative system is the brainchild of Slat, who decided to dedicate himself to cleaning up the world’s oceans after he went scuba diving in Greece at the age of 16 and saw more plastic bags than fish.

The young entrepreneur’s system is making waves among America’s super-rich philanthropists. Last month, his foundation announced it had raised $21.7 million in donations since November, clearing the way for large-scale trials at sea. Among donors were Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Nancy Wallace, director of the Marine Debris Program at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said much of the garbage in the world’s oceans is found throughout the water column — at different depths. That would likely put some of it out of reach of Slat’s barriers.

However she applauded The Ocean Cleanup for bringing the issue to a broad public. “The more people are aware of it, the more they will be concerned about it,” Wallace said. “My hope is that the next step is to say ‘what can I do to stop it?’ and that’s where prevention comes in.”

The organization’s barriers don’t catch tiny plastic particles floating in the ocean, but Slat says that by scooping up larger garbage like fishing nets, crates and other rubbish, they prevent those items breaking down into smaller particles that can be eaten by fish and other wildlife.

“Of course we will never get every last piece of plastic out of the ocean,” Slat said. “There will always be a size that’s too small to clean up but it’s really about cleaning up the bulk — as much as possible for as little costs as possible.”

Turkey sanctions the Netherlands over ministers’ treatment

March 13, 2017

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey announced a series of political sanctions against the Netherlands on Monday over its refusal to allow two Turkish ministers to campaign there, including halting high-level political discussions between the two countries and closing Turkish air space to Dutch diplomats.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, briefing journalists after the weekly council of ministers meeting, said the sanctions would apply until the Netherlands takes steps “to redress” the actions that Ankara sees as a grave insult.

“There is a crisis and a very deep one. We didn’t create this crisis or bring it to this stage,” Kurtulmus said. “Those who did have to take steps to redress the situation.” Other sanctions bar the Dutch ambassador entry back into Turkey and advise parliament to withdraw from a Dutch-Turkish friendship group

The announcement came hours after Turkey’s foreign ministry formally protested the treatment of a Turkish minister who was prevented from entering a consulate in the Netherlands and escorted out of the country after trying to attend a political rally.

The ministry also objected to what it called a “disproportionate” use of force against demonstrators at a protest afterward. Separately, Turkey’s foreign minister was denied permission to land to address the same rally in Rotterdam.

The argument is over the Netherlands’ refusal to allow Turkish officials to campaign there to drum up support among Turks who are eligible to vote in an April 16 referendum that would greatly expand the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

About 400,000 people with ties to Turkey live in the Netherlands, though it’s not clear how many are eligible to vote. Erdogan said the two cabinet ministers — Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Family Affairs Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, would ask the European human rights court to weigh in on their treatment. He added that he didn’t think the court would rule in Turkey’s favor.

Earlier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backed the Netherlands in its diplomatic fight with Turkey, as NATO’s chief called for alliance members to respect each other and the European Union urged Turkey to calm down.

Turkey had a similar dispute with Germany last week, but the fight with the Netherlands comes as that country prepares for its own election Wednesday pitting Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s right-wing PVV Party against far-right, anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders’ party.

Merkel, speaking at a news conference in Munich on Monday, pledged her “full support and solidarity” to the Dutch, saying the Nazi gibes were “completely unacceptable.” Erdogan responded angrily to Merkel’s support for the Netherlands. “Shame on you!” he exclaimed during an interview with A Haber television on Monday.

He renewed accusations that Germany supported “terrorists” battling Turkey and that it backed the ‘no’ campaign in the Turkish referendum, arguing that Berlin did not want to see a strong Turkey emerge.

“Some of the European Union countries — let’s not put all of them in the same sack — unfortunately cannot stomach Turkey’s rise,” Erdogan said. “Sadly, Germany tops the list. Germany supports terror in a cruel way.”

He went on to advise Turks living in Europe not to vote for parties that he described as “enemies of Turkey.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged all members of the alliance “to show mutual respect, to be calm and have a measured approach.”

The European Union also called on Turkey to “refrain from excessive statements and actions that risk further exacerbating the situation.” EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas added that it was essential to avoid further escalation and find ways to calm the situation.

In the television interview, Erdogan repeated slurs against the Netherlands, saying: “their Vienna Convention is their fascism. Their Nazism. We can say neo-Nazism.” He was referring to a 1961 international treaty on diplomatic relations.

Turkey is a candidate to join the European Union, although the membership negotiations have made little progress over the past decade. The country has become a vital partner in a deal with the EU to curb the passage of migrants and refugees from Turkey into Europe.

Omer Celik, Turkey’s minister in charge of European Union affairs, said Monday that his country should consider reviewing the migration deal to relax controls on people reaching Europe by walking into Greece or Bulgaria.

“In my opinion the issue of the land passages should be reviewed,” the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted him as saying. The Dutch, meanwhile, issued a travel advisory to their citizens to “be alert and avoid gatherings and busy places throughout Turkey.”

Earlier in the day, Turkey summoned the Dutch Embassy’s charge d’affaires, Daan Feddo Huisinga, to the Foreign Ministry, where a senior official handed him two formal protest notes. It’s the third time the Dutch diplomat has been summoned since tensions broke out between the two countries.

The first note protested how the family minister was treated. The second note protested the treatment of Turkish citizens who gathered outside the Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam from Saturday night into Sunday morning, saying “disproportionate force” was used against “people using their right to peaceful gatherings.”

The deputy prime minister said the political sanctions would remain in place until the Dutch government meets conditions that were set out in the diplomatic protest notes, including apologizing and punishing authorities who mistreated Turks

“Until the Netherlands takes steps to compensate for what it did, high-level relations, planned meetings, meetings between ministers or higher level meetings, high-level official talks will be suspended or delayed,” Kurtulmus said.

Associated Press Writers Mike Corder in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this report.

Dutch PM Rutte claims win over ‘wrong kind of populism’

March 16, 2017

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday claimed a dominating parliamentary election victory over anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders, who failed the year’s first litmus test for populism in Europe.

Provisional results with over half the votes counted suggested Rutte’s party won 32 seats in the 150-member legislature, 13 more than Wilders’ party, which took only third place with 19 seats. The surging CDA Christian Democrats claimed 20.

Following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, “the Netherlands said, ‘Whoa!’ to the wrong kind of populism,” said Rutte, who is now poised for a third term as prime minister.

“We want to stick to the course we have — safe and stable and prosperous,” Rutte added. Wilders, who campaigned on radical pledges to close borders to migrants from Muslim nations, close mosques, ban the Quran and take the Netherlands out of the EU, had insisted that whatever the result of the election, the kind of populist politics he and others in Europe represent aren’t going away.

“Rutte has not seen the back of me,” Wilders said after the results had sunk in. His Party for Freedom clinched 24 seats in 2010 before sinking to 15 in 2012, and Wednesday’s total left him with about 12 percent of the electorate, far less than populists in Britain and the United States have scored.

“Those are not the 30 seats we hoped for,” Wilders told reporters early Thursday, adding that he’d “rather have been the biggest party.” Both France and Germany have elections this year in which far-right candidates and parties are hoping to make an impact.

French President Francois Hollande congratulated Rutte on his election success and his “clear victory against extremism.” In Germany, Socialist leader Martin Schulz tweeted. “I am relieved, but we need to continue to fight for an open and Free Europe.”

Rutte, who for much of the campaign appeared to be racing to keep pace with Wilders, may have profited from the hard line he drew in a diplomatic standoff with Turkey over the past week. The fight erupted over the Netherlands’ refusal to let two Turkish government ministers address rallies in Rotterdam about a referendum that could give Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers. It gave Rutte an opportunity to show his statesmanship by refusing to bow to foreign pressure, a stance with widespread backing in the nation.

“I mean this is your electoral campaign dream, right? You can’t script this if it was a movie,” Amsterdam Free University political scientist Andre Krouwel said. “It’s really helped Mark Rutte to take the lead and a big lead over Geert Wilders.”

Under brilliant skies, the Dutch went to vote in huge numbers, with turnout estimated to have reached at 82 percent. In a subplot of the elections, the Green Left party registered a historic victory, turning it into the largest party on the left wing of Dutch politics, together with the Socialist Party.

The provisional results showed the Greens leaping from four seats to 14 in parliament after a strong campaign by charismatic leader Jesse Klaver, who invites comparisons to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It remains to be seen if the 30-year-old Klaver will take his party into the next ruling coalition, which looks likely to be dominated by Rutte’s VVD and other right-leaning parties. The Labor Party of Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem appeared to have been punished by voters in the election, plunging from 38 seats at the last election to just nine, according to the Ipsos exit poll.

Because of the result, it looked unlikely Dijsselbloem would be able to hang on to his post of leading the 19-nation Eurogroup, which manages the currency of the European Union nations that use the euro.

Rutte had framed the election as a choice between continuity and chaos, portraying himself as a safe custodian of the nation’s economic recovery and casting Wilders as a far-right radical who was unprepared to make tough decisions.

Although he drove through unpopular austerity measures over the last four years, the Dutch economic recovery has gathered pace and unemployment has fallen fast under the prime minister. Wilders, meanwhile, attempted to tap into discontent among voters who said they were not benefiting from the economic recovery.

Even if his party had placed first in the election, Wilders stood a remote chance of becoming prime minister in the Netherlands, where a proportional representation system all but guarantees coalition governments.

The main political parties, including Rutte’s, had ruled out forming a coalition government with the Party for Freedom. The left-leaning Dutch Labor Party appeared to be hammered by its supporters for its role over the last four years in pushing through a tough austerity package as junior member in a two-party Cabinet with Rutte’s VVD.

The coalition Rutte’s VVD party had with Labor can no longer be replicated and the prime minister is likely to look to the right for new coalition partners. Rutte has been resolute about not wanting to share power with Wilders, so that tightens the market in which he can acquire the necessary 75-seat threshold.

Weeks, if not months of coalition-building talks may be required before a new government is installed.

Polls open in Dutch election that is barometer of populism

March 15, 2017

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch voters cast ballots Wednesday at polling booths across the nation in parliamentary elections that are being closely watched as a possible indicator of the strength of far-right populism ahead of national votes in France and Germany later this year.

Two-term Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s right-wing VVD party was leading in polls ahead of the Dutch vote, with the anti-Islam Party for Freedom of firebrand lawmaker Geert Wilders a close second. Rutte has framed the election as a choice between continuity and chaos, portraying himself as a safe custodian of the nation’s economic recovery, while casting Wilders as a far-right radical who would not be prepared to take tough decisions.

The chance of Wilders becoming leader in this country where the proportional representation voting system all but guarantees coalition governments is small — all mainstream parties, including Rutte’s VVD, have ruled out working with Wilders.

Wilders’ one-page election manifesto includes pledges to close borders to immigrants from Muslim nations, shuttering mosques and banning the Quran, as well as taking the Netherlands out of the European Union.

The final days of campaigning were overshadowed by a diplomatic crisis between the Dutch and Turkish governments over the refusal of the Netherlands to let two Turkish government ministers address rallies about a constitutional reform referendum next month that could give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more powers. It showed Rutte as refusing to bow to pressure from outside, a stance which has widespread backing in the nation.

“It is my task to keep the nation safe and stable and deal with these kind of people,” said Rutte. The 12.9 million Dutch voters can cast their ballots until 9 p.m. (2000 GMT). They have plenty to choose from; there are 28 parties fielding candidates in the splintered political landscape.

The election in the Netherlands comes ahead of polls in France and Germany later this year, when right-wing nationalists will also be key players. During a final televised debate Tuesday night among leaders from the parties vying for seats and control of the government, Wilders piled on the anti-Islam invective while Rutte played up his leadership experience.

Rutte has driven through unpopular austerity measures over the last four years, but the Dutch economic recovery has gathered pace and unemployment has fallen fast. So the prime minister is urging voters to stick with him.

Wilders, meanwhile, is tapping into discontent among voters who say they are not benefiting from economic recovery. With such a knife-edge vote expected, only one thing appeared certain: Talks to form the next ruling coalition will take a while.

“The longest coalition formation was seven months,” said Amsterdam Free University political analyst Andre Krouwel. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this results leads to a very complicated and long formation process.”

Turkey-Dutch relations take dip after Turkish visit banned

March 11, 2017

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Turkey and the Netherlands sharply escalated a dispute between the two NATO allies on Saturday as the Dutch blocked a campaign visit by the Turkish foreign minister, prompting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call them “fascists.”

The Netherlands withdrew the landing permission for Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu because of objections to his intention to rally in Rotterdam for a Turkish referendum on constitutional reforms to expand presidential powers, which the Dutch see as a step backward from democracy.

“They do not know politics or international diplomacy,” Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul. “These Nazi remnants, they are fascists,” he added, as the crowd booed. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called it “a crazy remark, of course. But I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line.”

Erdogan told a rally in Istanbul: “You can stop our foreign minister’s plane all you want, let’s see how your (diplomatic) planes will come to Turkey from now on.” Cavusoglu also referred to possible sanctions, and Rutte said consultations under such threats were impossible, forcing him to bar the visit.

The government said it withdrew the permission because of “risks to public order and security,” causing Cavusoglu to say: “so is the foreign minister of the Turkish republic a terrorist?” He added that “we will give them the response they deserve.”

Cavusoglu, who was speaking at Istanbul’s airport, didn’t say where his next European destination was. French authorities say he’s scheduled to travel to the northern city of Metz on Sunday. Turkish officials have been campaigning in various European cities before the April 16 referendum.

Around 100 people marched in Istanbul to protest the Dutch decision, with demonstrators placing a black wreath in front of the Dutch Consulate amid a heavy police presence. At dusk in Rotterdam, about 100 pro-Turkish demonstrators had gathered outside the Turkish Consulate with flags in a peaceful protest following the acrimonious words between both governments.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said the Family and Social Policies Minister decided to go to Rotterdam via road from Germany, but police closed off the road in front of the Turkish consul-general’s residency. Dutch authorities couldn’t immediately confirm the information.

The diplomatic row comes at a time when relations between Turkey and the European Union, of which the Netherlands is a member, have been steadily worsening, especially in the wake of Erdogan’s actions since last year’s failed coup. More than 41,000 people have been arrested and 100,000 civil servants fired from their jobs.

Cavusoglu said that “unfortunately Europe and several countries in Europe, the Netherlands being in the first place, they are reminiscent of the Europe of World War II. The same racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, we see all the crimes against humanity in today’s politics.”

The dispute also comes just days before the Netherlands goes to the polls in a March 15 election for the lower house of Parliament. The campaign has been dominated by issues of identity, with anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders set to make strong gains.

After Wilders accused the government of a weak response to Turkish plans to send ministers to the Netherlands to campaign, he insisted it was his pressure which made the difference. “Great! Thanks to heavy PVV- pressure a few days before the Dutch elections our government did NOT allow the Turkish minister to land here!!,” he said in a Twitter message, referring to his Party for Freedom. He later added “I am tell all Turks in the Netherlands that agree with Erdogan: GO to Turkey and NEVER come back!!.”

Earlier Saturday, Cavusoglu said “Wilders is racist, fascist, Nazi, like a Nazi.” Citing comments that Wilders wanted action against Muslims, Cavusoglu said: “What are you going to do? Are you going to kill them, burn them or what?”

The Dutch government said it does not object to meetings in the Netherlands to give information about the Turkish referendum, “but these meetings should not add to tensions in our society and everybody who wants to organize a meeting must adhere to instructions from authorities so that public order and security can be guaranteed.”

It said the Turkish government “does not want to respect the rules in this matter.”

Zeynep Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul.

Could ‘Nexit’ follow Brexit after Dutch elections?

February 19, 2017

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — For a small nation that has grown hugely wealthy thanks to centuries of doing business far and wide, the political mood in the Netherlands has turned surprisingly inward.

As a March 15 parliamentary election looms in the Netherlands — one of the founding members of the European Union — popular lawmaker Geert Wilders is dominating polls with an isolationist manifesto that calls for the Netherlands “to be independent again. So out of the EU.”

After Britons voted last year to divorce from the EU, could a Dutch departure — known here as “Nexit,” after “Brexit” — be close behind? “I see the European Union as an old Roman Empire that is ceasing to exist. It will happen,” Wilders said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Wilders’ Party for Freedom is a serious contender to win the popular vote, with most polls a month out from the election showing it ahead of all other parties. Over the past dozen years, the Dutch have already voted in referenda against EU proposals twice.

Few analysts think “Nexit” would materialize: Despite his popularity, Wilders will struggle to find coalition partners among mainstream parties, which shun him and his strident anti-Islam, anti-EU rhetoric.

Then again, few observers predicted last year that Britain would vote to become the first country to leave the EU, so the worries are real about the possible effects of a Nexit — or a further disintegration of European unity driven by the rise of nationalist populism throughout the continent.

An exit from the EU would likely deal a huge blow to Rotterdam, a cosmopolitan city known for its port, one of the world’s busiest. The city employs 90,000 people, and a further 90,000 are directly linked to its activities elsewhere in the country.

Port of Rotterdam corporate strategist Michiel Nijdam believed a Dutch exit from the EU seemed unlikely, though not impossible. “Because we are so dependent on our trade with other countries that it would clearly hurt us so much that I don’t think it’s likely,” he said. “But you never know what happens if a lot of people think it’s a good idea and you vote on a party that is pro-Nexit.”

Nijdam was speaking in the port’s imposing Norman Foster-designed headquarters, which commands views over the port and the Nieuw Maas river that bisects the city. Cranes at container terminals can be seen to the west, while low-slung barges glide past, heading eastward along rivers and canals into the heart of Europe.

The port made a profit of 222 million euros last year as it dealt with 461 million metric tons of freight. Some 28,000 sea-going vessels and 100,000 inland waterway barges used the port in 2016. “The effects will be the opposite of the effects we had from the opening of Europe,” Nijdam said. “That means that it’s more difficult to organize your logistics through the Netherlands, so it will clearly have an impact on supply chains that will shift their routes from Rotterdam to other ports.

“The Netherlands will be less attractive that’s for sure. For logistics it’s not a good decision to leave the EU.” Wilders disagrees, pointing to a report his party commissioned that showed the Dutch economy would benefit from an exit. The Netherlands would remain a strong trading nation while saving billions in funding to the trade bloc, it claimed.

“The position of Rotterdam will really be the same after we would leave the European Union,” he said. “It will not be that Rotterdam all of a sudden will have moved to Sweden.” Dutch bank Rabobank published four scenarios this month for the future of Europe and its effects. A scenario in which the bloc disintegrates amid a messy divorce from Britain and growing skepticism about Europe among remaining member states doesn’t look pretty for the Netherlands or Rotterdam. The bank even suggested that a huge new extension to Rotterdam’s port could turn into a “nature reserve.”

One Rabobank economist, Elwin de Groot, said Rotterdam’s port underscores how deeply embedded the Netherlands is in the EU and its single market. “We are the spider in the logistic web of Europe,” he said. “So if that is affected by, for example, a Nexit … that could have significant consequences for our economy.”

A new economic hit is the last thing this nation of 17 million needs. After being pummeled by the global economic crisis in 2007 and 2008, it was struck again around 2012 but is now bouncing back strongly. Figures released this month showed that the Netherlands’ economy grew a robust 2.1 percent in 2016.

Rabobank researcher De Groot says a Nexit could slam the brakes on that growth. If the Netherlands were to leave the EU, he said, “suddenly we are confronted with all kinds of trade restrictions. That could have, you know, a very negative impact on the Dutch economy.”

Lithuania receives surplus vehicles from the Netherlands

Vilnius, Lithuania (UPI)

Aug 18, 2016

Lithuania is touting its bilateral military partnership with the Netherlands, which has resulted in the procurement of surplus military vehicles.

Over the past six months, Lithuania has received about 200 combat and medium-lift Mercedes-Benz GD vehicles, trucks and other military vehicles from the Netherlands to supplement and update the Baltic country’s military fleet.

The vehicles were delivered in several phases and more equipment is scheduled for delivery this year and next under the $7.89 million deal.

“This is the second military equipment procurement contract between Lithuania and the Netherlands,” Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defense said. “In 2012-2013 the Lithuanian Armed Forces bought vehicles, communications containers and airport service equipment (to replace outdated and not cost-efficient equipment then used in the Lithuanian Armed Forces) from the Netherlands Armed Forces for a good price.”

Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas and Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lithuania Bert van der Lingen were meeting in the country Thursday to celebrate the successful cooperation between the two countries and future cooperation.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Lithuania_receives_surplus_vehicles_from_the_Netherlands_999.html.

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