Dutch murder rate rises this year, with a boom in gangland killings

Ziggo, XS4All told to block The Pirate Bay ahead of Supreme Court ruling

The number of murders committed in the Netherlands this year has already reached the 2016 total, according to calculations by Elsevier magazine. Thursdays’ suspected gangland killing in Spijkenisse takes the total to 108 so far in 2017, the magazine said. This year in particular there have been a high number of gang-related deaths with 19 people dying so far. Elsevier also notes that nine Polish nationals have died in the Netherlands this year. Elsevier has kept a record of the Dutch murder rate since 1992 and says the total has been going down steadily since then, reaching a record low last year. Some 80% of murders are eventually solved. The CBS has different figures. It says 110 people were murdered in the Netherlands last year, a drop of 10 on 2015 and less than half the number unlawfully killed in 2000.  More >

NS uses music to drive away trouble

Amsterdam central station plays fairground music to keep troublemakers away Railway officials at Amsterdam’s main railway station are broadcasting music from the Efteling amusement park in the main tunnel in an effort to drive away gangs of youths and other undesirables, RTL news said on Friday. The music, used to accompany the waterlily and carnival rides among others, is broadcast from 5.30am to 8am and from 9pm to 1am in the IJ passageway, a spokesman for NS told the broadcaster. The aim is to annoy people who hang around in the tunnel and encourage them to leave, the spokesman said. The music is played on repeat. Other railway stations, including The Hague, use classical music to keep troublemakers away, the Telegraaf said.   More >

Government debt down, household debt rises

--Ziggo, XS4All told to block The Pirate Bay ahead of Supreme Court ruling The national statistics agency CBS released a slew of figures on Friday confirming the continued upward march of the Dutch economy. Government debt in the first half of 2017 fell back by €14bn to €421bn. This equates to 58.7% of GDP, the lowest level since 2010, the CBS said. Debt fell because of a €4bn surplus and the proceeds from the sale of financial interests such as the divestment of its shareholding in insurer ASR for nearly €2bn and another 7% tranche in ABN Amro Bank for €1.5bn. The debt quota - government debt as a percentage of the GDP - was 61.8% at end-2016, still above the European norm of 60%, the CBS added. Household debt The combined debt held by of Dutch households totalled more than €760bn at end-June of this year, about €3bn more than at end-March, the CBS also said on Friday. The increase in household debt arose largely  because of the number of new mortgages was higher than the number of those paid off in the second quarter. Householding spending Money available for household spending rose by 2.1% in the second quarter of 2017, the same level as in the first three months of the year. The CBS said this is because more people are in work. The amount of money available for spending has increased every quarter since the second quarter of 2014. The increase in the first six months of 2017 is at the same 2.3% level as in full year 2016.  More >

Store revamp as Hema is readied for sale

Ziggo, XS4All told to block The Pirate Bay ahead of Supreme Court ruling Dutch high street staple Hema opened a new-style outlet in Tilburg on Thursday where the emphasis has shifted subtly towards food, the Telegraaf reported on Friday. The paper said Hema is targeting healthy eating, with salads, home-made fries, fresh pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and fresh soups, all prepared on the premises while the customer waits. Hema chief Tjeerd Jegen told the paper everything will involve 100% fresh ingredients. British venture capital fund Lion Capital has owned Hema for 10 years and has twice tried to divest it in that period. Lion expects to be rid of Hema next year, but this could occur either through a sale or a stock exchange launch, the Telegraaf said. Jegen has pumped millions of euros ino the Hema store in Tilburg which is meant to serve as a model for future Hemas elsewhere in the Benelux counties. 'We want everyone to come to us for a meal, not just Hema shoppers,' he said. Jegen claims the food will increase traffic to Hema stores. 'In the past people came to Hema to shop. Now we think they'll come in for a good meal and then do their shopping,' he told the paper. Jegen also forecast double-digit sales increases in the stores as a result of the revamp. Food has higher margins than other goods sold by Hema and now accounts for  one-third of all Hema sales.  More >

Ziggo, XS4All told to block The Pirate Bay

Ziggo, XS4All told to block The Pirate Bay ahead of Supreme Court ruling Judges in The Hague on Friday told internet providers XS4All and Ziggo that they must block file sharing site The Pirate Bay, in the latest twist in a court case which stretches back to 2010. Appeal court judges in The Hague said in 2014 that the two firms no longer had to impose a blockade on file sharing website The Pirate Bay after research by scientific institute TNO showed the ban had not led to fewer copyright infringements. This is because former users have moved on to other torrent or proxy sites to download material illegally, TNO said. However, the Brein foundation, which represents film companies and other copyright holders, did not accept the appeal court decision and took the issue to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, referred the case to the European Court of Justice which ruled in June that websites such as The Pirate Bay may indeed infringe European copyright law, clearing the way for a ban in the Netherlands. ‘Making available and managing an online platform for sharing copyright-protected works such as ‘The Pirate Bay’ may constitute an infringement of copyright,’ the European court said. ‘Even if the works in question are placed online by the users of the online sharing platform, the operators of that platform play an essential role in making those works available.’ Today's ruling is the result of injunction brought by the Brein foundation ahead of the Supreme Court's decision, which will be final.  More >