Eight protestors fined for making social media threats about starving animals

Eight people who used social media platforms to protest about the decision not to feed starving animals in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve have been fined up to €600 each for making threats and slander. The eight had ‘directed their aggression at people doing a public job’, the public prosecution department said. Three people were also fined for destroying a lock on a gate, resisting arrest and kicking a police officer. The fines have been levied in a fast-track legal case without the involvement of the courts. A number of other cases still have to be heard and one person refused to settle out of court and will appear before magistrates. Meanwhile, Flevoland’s provincial authority said on Thursday that it will continue to feed the horses, cattle and deer on the reserve until May 5, when natural foodstocks should begin to replenish. ‘The grass is growing quickly and the animals are making less use of the hay, but we will phase out the extra feed gradually,’ the province said. Arrests Over the Easter weekend, five people were arrested during efforts to feed the animals. Although the forestry commission initially refused to supply hay to the reserve, it later changed its mind and began emergency feeding. More than half the 5,200 deer, ponies and cattle living on reserve near Almere have died this winter – most of which were shot by forestry commission staff. Most were shot because they were starving – over population has decimated plant growth and many animals had not been able to put on sufficient fat reserves for winter, the forestry commission says.  More >

Career criminal jailed for ordering murder

A 38-year-old man has been jailed for 18 years for ordering a murder attempt on a leading figure in the Amsterdam underworld in Diemen in 2015. The court ruled that Naoufal 'Noffel' F, a career criminal, had pulled the strings in organising the attempted killing of Peter 'Pjotr' R, who survived the attack. Last year, five men who were involved in the attack on R were jailed for up to 20 years. The victim of the attack managed to drive off after three men in balaclavas fired at his car. He ended up in a nearby canal.   More >

Temperature set to near 30 degrees

The temperature will reach 27 to 29 degrees in inland areas on Thursday and weather records are certain to be broken, weather forecasters say. The hottest April 19 on record dates from 2011, when a temperature of 25.2 degrees was recorded in Eindhoven. But despite the heat, the wind will pick up in coastal areas and it could feel much cooler, Buienrader meteorologist Maurice Middendorp told broadcaster RTL news. It will remain sunny on Friday although clouds will gather later. Saturday will start off grey but temperatures should reach around 24 degrees inland. On Sunday, however, the fine weather will break and thunderstorms are likely. Next week will be changeable, with sunny spells and showers and temperatures of around 15 degrees, in line with seasonal averages. The prospects for Kings Day on April 27 are 'not hopeful', Middendorp said. The KNMI weather bureau too says that the rest of April will be cooler and wet.  More >

'Jihadi children should be brought home'

Dutch children who are stuck in camps in Syria because their parents supported IS should be brought back to the Netherlands, the children's ombudsman says in a new report. The Dutch government should do all it can to arrange their return because otherwise it is failing to uphold children's rights, Margrite Kalverboer said on Thursday. Currently, families who wish to come back to the Netherlands have to report to a Dutch diplomatic mission in either Iraq or Turkey. However, women and children are not allowed to leave the camps, so it is impossible for them to do so, Kalverboer says. Officials say around 145 children with Dutch nationality or who can make a claim on Dutch nationality are living in the conflict zone. 'Different sources suggest these children have gone through a terrible time and been exposed to things no child should have to deal with,' Kalverboer said. 'These children are being damaged in their development. If parents are not protecting their children, the government should step in.'  More >

Dutch unemployment rate falls again

The official Dutch unemployment rate fell again to 3.9% in March, down from 4.1% in February, the national statistics agency CBS said on Thursday. This is the lowest figure in over 10 years, the CBS said. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said the challenge now is 'to ensure that people who are still looking for a job find one that suits them'. In particular, the construction industry and healthcare sector need more properly trained staff, the minister said. The new figures mean that 8.7 million people in the Netherlands have a job of at least 12 hours a week. A further 4.2 million people do not work, most of whom are not looking for a job at present. The CBS also says that the gap between the male and female unemployment rate is shrinking. In March 3.8% of men and 4.1% of women were without a job.  More >

Loot box games break gaming rules

Some popular online games are breaking rules on gambling, the Dutch gaming authority said on Thursday. The makers have been told to adapt the games before June this year or face fines or a ban. The gaming authority looked into ten popular games all of which featured a so-called loot box, a treasure chest with extra objects that players can buy, such a weapons or clothing. In four cases the contents of the loot box depended on luck: the player does not know what he is going to get and to get something extra special he needs to buy lots of loot boxes. The gaming authority says this conflicts with gambling rules. In addition, the contents of the boxes can also be traded for money offline, and this too contravenes the law on gaming. These type of games can also lead to a gambling addiction, the gaming authority says. ‘The computer games have been designed like gambling games, and they give the player the feeling they have almost won,’ gaming authority director Marja Appelman told broadcaster NOS  ‘When you open a loot box there are all sorts of sound effects and that encourages people to keep playing.’ Appelman wants game designers to ban access to loot boxes for children and remove the addictive elements. The other six games do not offer the opportunity to trade the prizes from the loot boxes but come in for criticism as well. The loot boxes are like a virtual fruit machine and young people in particular are susceptible to developing a gambling problem, the authority says. The authority said it had launched its investigation after concerns were raised by gamers, parents and addiction care. It did not name the worst offending games, but NOS said Fifa18, Dota2, PugG and Rocket League were the four singled out for breaking gaming laws. It is estimated that loot boxes bring in some €24m a year for gaming companies and without regulation this will rise to €40m by 2020, NOS writes.   More >