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By On February 04, 2018

When animals are at risk, special Netherlands police force defends them

Legislation known as the Animals Act became law in 2013, guaranteeing animals freedom from thirst, hunger, physical and emotional discomfort and chronic stress. And a special police unit enforces it.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands â€"

Hours before a rare snowstorm hit this city last month, Sgt. Erik Smit got a call from dispatch: A Jack Russell was locked out on a third-story balcony.

Neighbors heard it barking and knew that the owner, who had left for work at 7:30 a.m., would not be back until the end of the day, when the terrace would be covered by several inches of snow.

Smit, a 39-year veteran of the national police force, rang a few doorbells and yelled some questions to curious but uninformed residents. He then radioed for a 22-ton fire truck with a crane and platform.

A half-hour later, at a taxpayer cost of roughly 500 euros ($620), the rescued dog was warming up in an animal ambulance. Smit got back into his squad car and continued his day.

“He’ll have to call me and explain the situation,” he said of the dog’s owner, who would eventually be fined 150 euros for animal neglect.

Smit is one of roughly 250 full-time members of the animal police force in the Netherlands (many more are trained but do not carry out the function exclusively). Of the approximately 3 million calls made to The Hague area police each year, roughly 3,000 involve animals.

Like a Humane Society with guns, handcuffs and badges, members of the animal police force are regular officers with extra training and special equipment. A 911-type emergency line for animals â€" dial 144 from any phone in the Netherlands â€" dispatches the officers and supplies the vast majority of their leads.

The work is a mix of animal protection and human social serv ices, finding practical solutions â€" like monthly visits to a troubled dog and its owner to ensure all is well â€" and judicial procedures like fines.

“Obviously, the first thing I do is to look after the animals, but often when you look further, you see the things aren’t going so well for the owner of the animals,” said Smit, who estimates he sees malicious intent in only about 20 percent of cases.

During a normal working day, he might help rescue a sick seal at the beach, help to leash or confine an aggressive dog or investigate private residences where people collect animals. That included recently rescuing 60 guinea pigs from a home after neighbors complained about the smell.

Well-known in the Netherlands, the animal police force was created when the far-right Party for Freedom briefly supported the mainstream Liberals that led a minority government in 2010. For their support on key votes, the Party for Freedom demanded formation of an 800-person anim al police force. When the party’s support weakened in 2012, some wanted to abandon the idea, but the national police argued for keeping at least a smaller version of it.

Legislation known as the Animals Act became law in 2013, guaranteeing animals freedom from thirst, hunger, physical and emotional discomfort and chronic stress.

“Animals â€" and our entire society â€" need the animal police. There is a direct link between violence against animals and violence against humans,” said Marianne Thieme, head of the progressive Party for the Animals, which holds five of Parliament’s 150 seats.

Still, Thierne and some other animal activists wish the animal police were empowered to do more, including helping the millions of animals raised for food on commercial farms, which are regulated by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.

“The law says that when an animal is in serious problems, you should hel p the animals, but in the factory farming there are about 6 million pigs dying every year without veterinarian support,” said Hans Baaij, director of Dier en Recht, a small nongovernmental organization that aims to use the court system to get the government to precisely define what constitutes animal abuse.

There are successful prosecutions, however.

Recently in Hague district court, for example, a man was convicted of having beaten and kicked his dog, after a 40-minute trial with testimony from neighbors, a court-appointed veterinarian and the defendant. He was sentenced to 56 hours of community service and prohibited from acquiring pets for a year.

“People learn more from community service than a fine,” said Tamara Verdoorn, the prosecutor in charge of animal cases in The Hague district court.

In lesser cases, she can hand out fines and community service without taking the case to a judge. But about 100 times a year the cases go to court, with ma ximum penalties of three years in prison or fines of nearly $25,000, though such sentences are rare.

One of the first officers to be trained in the animal police force, Smit says he has learned most skills through talking with veterinarians, farmers and other experts.

And while his job leads him to some gruesome scenes â€" a week before the snowstorm, a pony in a city farm was fatally beaten â€" many encounters end happily.

During a visit to an apartment in a low-income neighborhood in the town of Delft, southwest of The Hague, Smit was invited to tour what had been a problematic household. Inside, three fish, two lizards, two rabbits, four cats, a chinchilla and a large dog shared a small living room. The owner was proud to show him how clean everything was.

Smit, who visits the place every couple of months, was welcomed, he said, because he had helped the owners put a litter of kittens up for adoption.

Source: Google News Netherlands | Netizen 24 Netherlands

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By On February 04, 2018

Mosque vandalized in Netherlands

By Abdullah Asiran

THE HAGUE, Netherlands

A mosque in the Dutch port city of The Hague was vandalized late Friday, the head of the mosque said Saturday.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the act of vandalism, in which a Turkish flag was crosed with red paint with slogans against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also written on it.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sinasi Koc, the head of Ahi Evran Mosque, which is currently under contysruction and belongs to the Islamic Foundation in Netherlands, condemned the attack.

Koc said the attack was probably related to Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin.

“There are those who do not want our unity and solidarity, and those who want to bring disorder to us. They will not succeed, for Allah is with us,” Koc said.

Since Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to rid Afrin, northwestern Syria of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists, there have been numerous attacks on mosques across Europe by PYD/PKK supporting groups.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

In Rotterdam, supporters of the PYD/PKK terror organization attacked Turkish demonstrators, an Anadolu Agency correspondent at the scene reported.

The supporters, who were holding banners at the market hall, also attacked reporters, not allowing them to capture footage.

Sevreal arrests were made
Europe has experienced a growing number of radical protests and violence from PYD/PKK supporters since the group launched a campaign two weeks ago to protest Turkey’s operation.

Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the new s stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options. Source: Google News Netherlands | Netizen 24 Netherlands

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By On January 14, 2018

Trump's ambassador to Netherlands finally admits 'no-go zone' claims

]]> Europe Europe Trump's ambassador to Netherlands finally admits 'no-go zone' claims

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption'This is the Netherlands. You hav e to answer questions.'

Pete Hoekstra, the new US ambassador to the Netherlands, has admitted claiming in 2015 that Muslim youths had created so-called "no-go" zones in the country and were burning politicians.

Mr Hoekstra, a Republican congressman appointed to the envoy's job by Donald Trump, last month denied making the claims, calling them "fake news", despite being shown video evidence.

Confronted by Dutch journalists at a disastrous first press conference on Wednesday, he refused to answer questions about his comments.

On Friday Mr Hoekstra finally admitted to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he had made the remarks, to a right wing gathering in the US, and said he was "shocked" by them.

"That was a wrong statement. That was just wrong," Mr Hoekstra said, adding that it was "clearly that was an inaccurate statement".

"That one shocked me persona lly ... because while you know there have been other issues in other countries in Europe, you know that has never been the circumstances here," he said.

The interview followed an visit by Mr Hoekstra to the low-income neighbourhood of Schilderswijk in The Hague, where he met youth leaders and local residents, including Muslims, a US embassy official told the AFP news agency.

In a video clip that went viral in December, a Dutch journalist confronted Mr Hoekstra with footage of him speaking in the US in 2015.

"The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos, chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned," Mr Hoekstra said.

Asked about his reaction to the Mr Hoekstra's remarks and his appointment, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he disagreed but wanted to build "viable" ties with the US administration.

"No I don't agree, bu t I'm not going to comment on the comments. But I don't agree," Mr Rutte told reporters. He said the ambassador was "an intelligent man" who "had instructions from Washington to repair the misunderstanding".

The US State Department distanced itself from Mr Hoekstra's comments on Thursday. "The ambassador made mistakes in 2015, made comments that should not have been made," Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said.

"Those comments were not the position of the State Department and you will never hear those words from this podium or in any form," he said.

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Source: Google News Netherlands | Netizen 24 Netherlands

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By On January 08, 2018

Why Hungary and Poland are turning “illiberal”

Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary, speaks at a political party conference in October 2012. Photo credit: European People’s Party

Viktor Orbán, prime minister of Hungary, speaks at a political party conference in October 2012. Photo credit: European People’s Party

Analysis: Western Europe has looked on with mounting bewilderment and exasperation over the past few years at the political trajectory of Hungary, Poland and several other former communist states. Countries that, since 1989, were committed to common European values, including liberal democracy, respect for human rights a nd the rule of law, are now implementing an altogether different political model. The perceived interests of the “nation” are taking centre stage and governments are subject to far fewer checks and balances.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, was once a fiery student leader and champion of liberalism. Now he preaches the virtues of “illiberal democracy”. Orbán routinely portrays himself as the defender of “Christian values” that, in his view, are threatened by globalisation, mass immigration and the supposedly sinister machinations of international business leaders. George Soros, the Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist has become a particular target of baseless attacks.

In Poland, the ruling Law and Justice Party has assumed political control over state-funded radio and television. By July 2016, 164 journalists and news anchors had either resigned or been dismissed. In December 2017, the government’s continuing efforts to curb the indep endence of the judiciary prompted the EU Commission to formally declare that there is “a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland”.

In the same month, the EU launched infringement proceedings against the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary for failing to take appropriate steps to resettle limited numbers of asylum seekers, in accordance with decisions previously taken by member states.

Some months earlier, the European Court of Justice dismissed cases brought by Slovakia and Hungary in which the latter had sought to argue that the EU’s scheme for the mandatory relocation of asylum seekers was unlawful. In characteristically robust language, Hungary’s serially undiplomatic foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, described the judgement as “outrageous and irresponsible”.

A number of ex-communist states, particularly Hungary and Poland, have rejected an ideology founded on individualism, human rights, economic transparency and multicultu ralism. They are turning instead towards an alternative social, political and economic model in which the cultivation of “traditional values” and distinct national identities is of paramount ideological importance. The new model is also frequently characterised by widespread, often systematic corruption and an increasingly authoritarian political culture.

Winners and losers

The reasons for this shift lie both in the communist and pre-communist past. Following the collapse of communist governments in 1989, little thought seems to have been given to the troublesome historical baggage that these societies would have to contend with in effecting a successful transition to liberal democracy. There seems to have been an unspoken assumption that the removal of the communist apparatus of repression would be largely sufficient to allow western values, such as liberal democracy and respect for human rights, to flourish.

Yet, with the exception of the former Czechosl ovakia, there had been little sustained experience of genuine democracy in the region prior to the establishment of communist regimes following World War II. Even before the imposition of communism, Poland, Hungary and Romania, along with most other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, were heirs to a repressive and overwhelmingly authoritarian political culture.

This may go some way towards explaining the relative ease with which Hungary’s Fidesz government, for example, has been able to undermine democratic checks and balances without eliciting more vigorous or sustained opposition from the general public. As the powers of Hungary’s constitutional court were drastically curtailed and public broadcasting increasingly treated as a government mouthpiece, there was little real sense among ordinary voters of anything important having been lost.

Central and Eastern Europe’s predominant historical experience as victims, rather than beneficiaries, of colonialism m ay help to explain the region’s resistance to admitting non-European asylum seekers. As identified by István Bibó in The Misery of the Small States of Eastern Europe, published shortly after World War II, there is an enduring sense among the peoples of the region of having had to fight for independence and even for the preservation of national identities during a succession of alien occupations, whether Ottoman, Hapsburg, Russian or Prussian.

This overwhelmingly traumatic historical experience has been compounded by almost a half century of Soviet domination as well as subjection to Nazi German tyranny during the Second World War. None of this has helped to foster openness to other cultures, let alone a willingness to embrace multiculturalism as experienced in many countries in Western Europe.

Economic factors, particularly the plight of many pensioners and of other economically vulnerable sections of central and eastern European societies, have also contributed t o the current political climate. The establishment of market economies in the region created clear winners and losers in countries such as Poland.

These societies are now far less egalitarian than under communism. While a new class of businessmen, lawyers and media personalities can indulge their taste for expensive foreign holidays and luxurious German automobiles, there is widespread poverty. In particular, residents of many rural areas and of towns and cities that have been ravaged by deindustrialisation are struggling.

As Jacques Rupnik, a former adviser to Czech president Vaclav Havel, recently observed: “the ‘decoupling’ of liberalism and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe has a lot to do with the post-1989 confusion, and indeed collusion, between political and economic liberalism”. Rupnik poses the question: “Does this explain why Central Europe travelled from (economic) neo-liberalism to (political) illiberalism?”

The answer, at least in part, must be “yes”.

Stephen I Pogany, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Warwick.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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