0701-Özcan Akyol – column

Our corona minister Hugo de Jonge is not currently experiencing his best days. Last weekend I read with some surprise in an interview that officials from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport had put pressure on our national pet intensivist Diederik Gommers to agree during an app debate that 1600 IC beds would be arranged. Euphemistically, that did not radiate so well on our minister, who thereby carried away an unsuspecting doctor in his own political urge to survive. We are now all looking at the internal elections at the CDA. De Jonge thought this simply to win – he even wanted to bet a bottle of good wine underneath it – but suddenly all kinds of party leaders turned subtly against him, as did countless people who otherwise would never have interfered with the history of the Christian Democrats.
There were debacles with the appathon for a new application, which had to map out how the corona virus spreads. More recently, the minister promised all health care staff a bonus of 1000 euros, but the distribution of that money was not without criticism. And then it still remains uneasy around the coronas emergency law that should make it easier for the government to exercise control over the population when the virus will revive.
Despite a few adjustments, the Council of State is still not satisfied, especially because the resources that the government wants to deploy are disproportionate. The advisory body finds the temporary law vague. A number of cases are insufficiently specified and violators of the corona measures still receive a criminal record, even if this has no consequences for applying for a VOG (Certificate of Good Conduct).

What I was mainly wondering is whether we need an emergency law at all for something that we hope will disappear completely in the short term. During the first lockdown, the company proved sufficiently that it could comply with the temporary rules of the government. The Council of State writes about this: “At the same time, now that the acute first phase has passed, also because of the continuing importance of sufficient support, the coming period should return as much as possible to more normal living conditions and normal administrative relations.”
If all the above developments show anything, it is that Minister Hugo de Jonge has more ambition than tact. Not a good quality for someone who wants to lead a party.

0700-“Mouth mask quickly established”.

Barely any fines for not wearing face masks in a bus or train. Residents of the region have barely been fined for not wearing a mask in public transport in the past month. According to the transport companies, most people adhere neatly to the rules. Exactly ten fines were issued in the area where the readers of this newspaper live until the end of June, according to figures from the Public Prosecution Service.
Most fines were forgiven in Nijmegen, three in total. In both Doetinchem and Ede, a fine was twice issued to people who sat on the train or bus without a mask. Other fines were issued in Zevenaar, Overbetuwe, West Betuwe and Boxmeer. There is a penalty of 95 euros for not wearing a mask in the train.

Most fines in major cities.
195 fines were issued throughout the Netherlands for not wearing a mask. Most in Rotterdam (47) and Amsterdam (30). According to a spokesman for the joint transport companies, most people in the train wear a mask, as it should be. “There always remains a group that wears it wrong or not, but in general you see that it is quickly established.” Auditors of the transport companies announced at the beginning of the measure, as of June 1, not very strict control. “We are especially de-escalating.”

However, many fines for violating emergency ordinance.
Nationally, up to August 28, more than 15,000 fines were issued for corona violations of the emergency ordinances. Many of these fines were given to people who did not keep one and a half meters away in parks or other places in public space. In Nijmegen, these fines were also most often distributed in the region (578 till 28 June). Nationally, there were only more fines in Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam. Significantly fewer fines were issued in cities such as Utrecht, Almere, Eindhoven and Groningen, all with more inhabitants than Nijmegen. This also applies to Arnheim.

0699-“Crazy club with crazy leader”

More and more farmers are moving away from Farmers Defense Force.

More and more farmers are publicly distancing themselves from the radical action group Farmers Defense Force. The menacing language of foreman Mark van den Oever is a shock to his colleagues. Nevertheless, the group retains its place in the consultations on nitrogen issues. The Agriculture Collective, a collection of thirteen farmers’ organi-zations, has closed the rows. Also Farmers Defense Force is still part of it after the latest slip of the leader Mark van den Oever. Negotiations with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Carola Schouten about a farmers’ agreement are resumed.  But among farmers, support for the radical action group is crumbling. “The expiration date of Farmers Defense Force has passed,” says Dennis Hurkmans, farmer from Nistelrode. He is completely done with the threatening language of Van den Oever, who lashed out on Wednesday at the “meat bosses and dairy bobos” who “betray the sector as Judas”. Earlier, the Farmers Defense Force leader made a Holocaust comparison that went wrong in many people. The apologies that the action group made on Wednesday evening (“wrong words”) are too late for Hurkmans. “We farmers can no longer stand behind the Farmers Defense Force with healthy farmers’ minds. A club with a totally crazy and crazy leader.”

Fear of colleagues
According to Hurkmans, there are more farmers who share his ideas, but not everyone dares to speak out for fear of reactions from colleagues. Annechien ten Have, a farmer’s wife from Beerta in Groningen, does. Although she initially had her doubts. “I was afraid to be pilloried. But in the end I thought it was too important to make this sound heard.” She openly distances herself from Farmers Defense Force, mainly because of that club’s “intimidating” and “threatening” language. “The size is full, I’m really fed up,” she says. “It was not the first time either. Yes, you can be quite bright. Because there is a lot wrong with the way farmers are treated. But you shouldn’t fight evil with evil.” The sector still agrees that farmers are being disproportionately charged for nitrogen emissions by ‘The Hague’. The division of the farmers’ protest is mainly in the tone of FDF. He consciously chooses big words to make an impression. “If you are sewn, you can be angry,” said Van den Oever. On Thursday he kept a low profile and never answered questions.

Incident too much
For the Brabant farmer Hurkmans, the offending “Judas statement” is an incident too much. As far as he is concerned, the role of FDF has been played. ,,They have raised the issues, they earn the credits for that. But they don’t have the capacity to talk to. History has proven that. We have to wait for the next riot.” Linda Janssen also does not rule out a new incident. She is chairman of the Producers Organization for Pig Farming (POV, member of the Agricultural Collective). Janssen states that it is “an illusion to think that you can silence Farmers Defense Force.” “Of course what they say and do radiates to the collective. It is really not nice that you drive to The Hague for nothing because the consultation is canceled, while you have prepared that conversation well and have the idea that the parties are not so far apart.” Still, Janssen remains confident in Farmers Defense Force as a member of the collective. ,,We are there as a collective with one goal, let’s keep that in mind and discuss the content. Apologies have been made, as far as I am concerned we can continue.”

This applies to all parties in the collective who distance themselves from the Judas and Holocaust remarks, but who want to continue with Farmers Defense Force. Janssen compares the Farmers Defense Force with the activists of Greenpeace. You don’t always have them on a string, but because of their unorthodox actions you sometimes achieve what you would otherwise not achieve.

0698-Farmers Defence Force

“What Farmers Defense Force does is not take action, but intimidation”

There is a slaughterhouse in Boxtel (province of North Brabant) where 20,000 pigs are slaughtered every day. A sample in June revealed that 1 in 3 employees there was infected with the corona virus. Still, the virus fire remained open, otherwise farmers could not get rid of their animals. Our meat industry is organized so efficiently that tens of thousands of pigs have to die every day. A debatable decision, because there is still no clarity as to why slaughterhouses are so often affected by the virus – is it the labor migrants, the cooling systems or the dead animals? No wonder that inhabitants of Boxtel are worried. They don’t want Vion to become the next Tönnies. A group of people from Brabant therefore took to the streets a few weeks ago.

When Farmers Defense Force found out, the club took a counter action. A call went out to members: “We are making a very clear statement that everyone, and I mean everyone, is leaving our sector with their counterparts!!!” They did that by taking pictures of the demonstrators’ number plates. Afterwards, Farmers called on the Defense Force to share photos and videos of the “extreme vegans and animal extremists” on Facebook. It was insinuated on social media that the protesters had followed home to find out their addresses. “Then we will soon know who these people are and the net will slowly close around them! From anonymity to full publicity. After that, these people are allowed to answer.” The page has been removed, but has been recreated.

Now let’s call the beast by name: what Farmers Defense Force does is not campaigning but intimidation. “You can think of Farmers Defense Force as a pit bull hanging in your pants. We have been bitten and will not let go until our demands are met”, said a regional Farmers Defense Force action leader in Farm magazine. Since a pit bull is not exactly a peaceful animal, I think this is a scary comparison. But even more frightening is the message that the farmers’ club does not tolerate no. That is downright undemocratic and can only lead to further radicalization. Because what does the Farmers Defense Force do with people who don’t share their opinion? Last Saturday, foreman Mark van den Oever said in the magazine to this newspaper that he would “do everything he could” to reduce Jesse Klaver (leader Green Party) and Tjeerd de Groot – the D66 Member of Parliament who stated that the livestock should be halved. That seemed an implicit threat to me, but afterwards the conversation happily continued talking about Van den Oever’s newborn son. Monday came out that De Groot has filed a report for death threats in Facebook groups of radical farmers’ clubs. It would be good if journalists were less naive towards the Farmers Defense Force.

But more importantly, politicians, and in particular Minister Carola Schouten, must speak out much more firmly against the intimidation of citizens and politicians by angry farmers. I’m afraid I know why she doesn’t: Schouten also has a car with a number plate, an address and a son. And no sense to be “reviewed” in a Facebook group of radical farmers.

0697-Prince’s Day 2020

On Tuesday September 15, 2020 it is Prince’s Day, the festive opening of the new working year of the States General (the Upper and Lower Houses). On this day the King drives to the Binnenhof in The Hague in the Golden Coach and reads the speech from the throne in the Ridderzaal. The speech from the throne contains the most important plans of the government for the coming year.
Later that day, the Minister of Finance hands over the Budget Memorandum and the national budget to the President of the House of Representatives. He does this on behalf of the government. In the Budget Memorandum and the national budget, the government indicates how much money is available for the various plans and where the money for the implementation of the plans comes from.
Prince’s Day is an important day for Dutch politics. It takes place every year on the third Tuesday in September. Article 65 of the Constitution provides that on the third Tuesday of September (…) an explanation of government policy is given by or on behalf of the King in a unified meeting of the States General. Article 105 paragraph 2 of the same Constitution adds that this coincides with the submission of the budget. This is followed by general considerations in the House of Representatives, after which the National Budget is also discussed. (Budget note).

Prince’s Day is accompanied by the necessary rituals. The king makes a tour with the Golden Carriage through The Hague, and the Minister of Finance walks around with a mysterious suitcase that bears the inscription “Third Tuesday In September”. This briefcase contains the “Memorandum of the billions” (Miljoenennota). The content of this is officially kept secret until Prince’s Day, although parts of it usually leak out. All ladies attending the delivery of the throne speech are wearing striking hats, which are later discussed in the media. Traditionally, the Constitution stipulated the day on which Prince’s Day falls. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the session of the States General was initially opened on the first Monday in November, and later on the third Monday in October. When a one-year budget was introduced in 1848, the House wanted more time to deal with this budget. Therefore, Parliament’s parliamentary year was extended by bringing the opening date forward another month, to September. Monday was not an ideal day. It was difficult for a large number of MPs from remote parts of the country to be in The Hague on Monday. To prevent them from having to travel on Sunday (Sunday rest), the constitutional amendment of 1887 replaced Monday by Tuesday. The annual session of the parliament was extended not only by opening it earlier, but also by closing it later. On Monday, the day before Prince’s Day, the Minister of the Interior drove to the Ridderzaal in a court carriage to close the session. Minister De Gaay Fortman just went in his official car, but his successor Hans Wiegel restored the carriage and even put on a nineteenth century uniform, complete with stitch. The constitutional reform in 1983 changed the term of office of the States General from one year to four years. After that, this day was maintained in the Constitution as the day on which the Speech from the Throne is delivered. The name Prinsjesdag for the opening of the session of the States General became fashionable around 1930. Prince’s Day was originally the festively celebrated birthday of the Stadtholder Prince Willem V (8 March). In patriotic time, Prince’s Day was used to hold demonstrations of Orange spirit. On the basis of this, it was probably decided later to call the day of the solemn opening of the States General also Prince’s Day.

Prince’s Day derives much of its splendor from the role of the King and his House. But that role has never been undisputed. As early as 1872, Abraham De Kuyper criticized De Koning’s reading of the Speech from the Throne in De Standaard. In view of the ministerial responsibility introduced in 1848, he believed that one of the ministers should perform this task. But in his reigns he kept the tradition alive. One hundred years after Kuyper, President of the Chamber Vondeling made a proposal to change the scenario: the King would henceforth not be surrounded by the members of his House when he delivered the Speech from the Throne, but by the members of his government. Along the way, the procession successively passes the monument to Queen Wilhemina, the Kneuterdijk Palace, the Hotel des Indes, the Lange Voorhout Palace, the King’s Cabinet on the Korte Vijverberg and the Mauritshuis. The procession enters the Binnenhof through the Grenadierspoort. Here the king and his entourage get out at the Ridderzaal. The Golden Coach was donated to Queen Wilhelmina in 1898 by the people of Amsterdam. In 1903 it was used for the first time with Budget Day.

The Golden Coach is built of Javanese teak and partly covered with gold leaf. The national national coat of arms has been incorporated on both sides of the trestle. The four wheels of the carriage symbolize suns. The cornice of the carriage shows the arms of the then 11 provinces of the Netherlands. In addition, the coat of arms of the city of Amsterdam can also be seen.
The carriage is a sedan on eight springs, pulled by eight horses. Only when the head of state uses the carriage is it drawn by eight horses. At the wedding of Willem-Alexander and Máxima, the carriage was drawn by six horses.

Due to the coron crisis, the royal driving tour and the balcony scene will not take place this year on Prince’s Day. King Willem-Alexander will read the Speech from the Throne (in the Grote Kerk and not in the too small Ridderzaal), but he will not be in the Glass Carriage. There is limited military ceremonial at the Grote Kerk and Noordeinde Palace. There is no public welcome in The Hague on this day.

0696-Bol.com

We have a lot of neighboring students, who shop on-line. However, the parcels are mostly delivered at a time, that the neighbors are still sleeping. So we have often parcels of internet shops here, like from Bol.com.

Imagine you buy a TV via Bol.com. The TV is offered through a partner company, you transfer the money and a device is delivered to your home. But if something turns out wrong and problems arise, where can you go? It happened to Jos van Wakeren. The 79-year-old bought a TV via Bol.com in December. A Samsung, he knew exactly which one he wanted. “Good reviews, beautiful device.” But he was sold out everywhere. “Suddenly I think: Bol.com! Well, that’s where the device is. Just looking at the reviews, they were only good. What can happen to me?” Thought Van Wakeren. When he saw that sales were going through TV Store, a partner company that sells via Bol.com, Van Wakeren didn’t think much of it. “I care, I have what I need.”
When the TV was delivered, everything seemed fine. But it soon became apparent that the device came with an instruction booklet with only Eastern European languages. After a call to Samsung, which told him that the TV was intended for the Eastern European market, he decided to return the TV. That was quite a hassle with such a large TV, but in the end it worked. Then it went wrong: “Suddenly I received an email. The return was not accepted.” Indeed, research had shown that the TV had been on for 22 hours, and TV Store – also known as TV Plaza, TV Online and El-Vidas – will only accept returns if the unit has been viewed for less than 6 hours. If you click through to the additional terms on the Bol.com site you can find that additional terms, but you have to search for them. Van Wakeren called Bol.com, who eventually emailed back that there was nothing to do. It was in the terms. “I almost fell apart,” said the 79-year-old. “I couldn’t sleep at night. Just before Christmas. It was really bad.”
Van Wakeren is not the only one who happened to something similar. In the past few months, the Kieskeurig.nl complaints forum received a few dozen complaints about this seller and whatever the problem, almost everyone says that Bol.com took its hands off it. Edwin Wansleeben, owner of El-Vidas and the affiliated brands, emphasizes that the negative reviews only show one side of the story and says that about 3 to 4 percent of orders are returned. In addition, the company has an excellent satisfaction score on Bol.com. But he does acknowledge that things are going wrong. For example, there are people who are angry because they receive a message after return that the return has not been accepted. For example, because the product is damaged, according to the webshop. The customers say they don’t know anything, but Wansleeben also says that they are faced with an impossible task. The return shipment goes with return labels from Bol.com, so he cannot check whether something has gone wrong or has been damaged during transport, and if something breaks, ‘we cannot accept the return in advance,’ says Wansleeben. According to the seller, the process that follows can still be ‘optimized’. He admits that it does not give the best impression if people immediately receive a message that the return has not been accepted, without further information. Meanwhile, the company is said to have changed that way of working, and the customer is first contacted to explain what is going on. However, he adds, due to the way the return process is organized at Bol.com, the customer and Bol are responsible for the return process. “That is very annoying for the customer.” Last Monday, Wansleeben was still talking to Bol.com, precisely to talk about how these types of problems can be better tackled, says the entrepreneur.
According to Bol.com, the company is trying to help partners to keep customers happy, and to monitor whether sellers are performing well. This includes looking at the number of returns, customer inquiries and timely delivery. And the Wansleeben companies score well in those areas, says Bol. But, according to the largest online store in the Netherlands, they have started a conversation to find out where the problems – which also have not escaped Bol.com – come from. “The problem would be to communicate to customers about the type of item they are purchasing, or the way of communicating to customers at all.” Bol also says ‘to do everything possible’ to resolve the complaints that are going on as well and as quickly as possible.
According to the Consumers’ Association, this should not be all that difficult and Bol.com should simply take its responsibility. “They are the party you order and pay for. They are therefore the ones who have to solve this and they are not allowed to refer you,” said spokesman Gerard Spierenburg. In other words: if you as a customer have a problem with your product ordered via Bol.com, you should be able to obtain your rights from Bol.com and not from a seller you do not know.
The Consumers’ Association also makes mincemeat of the extra rules that Wansleeben sets for returns. You can return a product within 14 days without giving any reason, as long as it is undamaged, according to Spierenburg. “Mister could even leave that TV on non-stop for 14 days and then send it back.”
Meanwhile, the seller says that he personally called all complaining customers on Kieskeurig.nl to find a solution. In at least five cases, his company had indeed made mistakes, he says. Those customers would have been compensated for this.
That does not apply to Mr Van Wakeren. He has not yet got his money back, but he says he will not let it go. Incidentally, he does have the TV that was not to his liking back in his house, because his return just came back.

Careers at bol.com

0695-Postponed memorial service

Pierre’s youngest sister Jeanne Sleijpen was hospitalised just before the corona outbreak in the Netherlands:  on 25 February 2020, with severe kidney- and heart problems. On my birthday, 28 February, Pierre had a very early discussion with his sister’s specialist. As Jeanne was hospitalised in de Zuyderland Medical Center in Heerlen (South Limbourg), about a two hours drive from Nijmegen, these visits took more or less an entire day, as we visited Jeanne’s husband often afterwards. Between the specialist, Pierre as a fomer G.P. , the patient Jeanne and her family, they came on an agreement for kidney dialysis for a maximum of 14 days. Jeanne received the holy sacraments of the dying. Her funeral was under the first strict Covid-19 rules: a maximum of 25 family members, including the clergical staff. Afterwards there was a gathering for a strict number of people, at her youngest son’s house in Bocholtz, on the German border. Normally there is in the Roman Catholic tradition a remembrance service 6 weeks after the death. But under the Covid-19 rules that was not possible. As Jeanne’s birtday is 08 July, the family planned a memorial service for Sunday 12 July. Now the church was -under the corona-rules- rather crowded with over 100 people. After a visit to the cimetary there was a gathering at the Sleijpen family residence. I could keep myself  under control, with lots of Paracetamol and Morphia… When back in Nijmegen, the weather was so nice, that we could have a pre-dinner drink in “my” garden.

0694-Nijmegen: protesting farmers

Dozens of farmers on tractors stopped by the police and sent away from Nijmegen.

Tractoren onder politiebegeleiding op de Graafseweg in Nijmegen.

Thursday 09 July 2020, 09:00pm. Dozens of farmers on tractors drove honking through Nijmegen on Thursday evening. They seemed on their way to the center, but were stopped by police on the Graafsebrug. Then they were escorted out. On the Graafsebrug over the railway, near the city center, the police blocked the farmers’ way. Before that they were honking on the Graafseweg. It is not known whether the farmers wanted to occupy the Keizer Karelplein as before this year. At the time, the Lord Mayor of Nijmegen, Hubert Bruls, did not like an unannounced protest in the square. The police also blocked the access roads to Takenhofplein. That way they could get the farmers out of town quickly. The farmers probably came mainly from villages such as Nederasselt and Schaijk.

Boeren op het Takenhofplein

To the house of “nitrogen fighter” Vollenbroek
A group of farmers also came to Nijmegen last Tuesday. Then they wanted to drive to the home of “nitrogen fighter” Johan Vollenbroek, but they were stopped by the police and taken to a site near the Pathé cinema near Lent. There the farmers discussed with Vollenbroek, who had been picked up at home by the police. Farmers are still allowed to demonstrate with a tractor in this region, while protests with tractors have now prohibited it in other regions.

There are nation wide protesting farmers of the new rebellion organisation “Farmers Defence Force”. In the provinces Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe their manifestations are now forbidden by a court order.  The farmers are still obstructing highways, distribution centers of large firms all over The Netherlands, and last but not least the Governamental Center in The Hague. In the beginning (December 2019) they could count on the support of a large part of the Dutch population; when the Corona outbreak came (first case on 27 February 2020), they continued their activities. And that was not appreciated very much by the Dutch.

Mrs. Carola Schouten (b. 06 October 1977 ‘s-Hertogenbosch, unmarried mother of Thomas Schouten b. 2001), Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, is a daughter of a farmer herself. She does not shy away from discussions with farmers. On Wednesday she had to call off a working visit to farmers in the province of Zeeland, as the police advised her to stop the visit because of intercepted threats.

0693-Royalty

King Willem-Alexander takes part in training mission with F-16.

King Willem-Alexander paid a working visit to Volkel Air Base this afternoon. He was here because of the deployment of F-16 aircraft in both the Netherlands and internationally. He also participated in a regular training mission. The King first attended a briefing in preparation for the training mission. Afterwards he was also at the debriefing. In addition to the evaluation of the training mission, the task and future of the F-16 was also discussed. It is expected to remain operational until 2024.

The air base is currently preparing for the arrival of the successor to the F-16, the F-35A Lightning II (F-35). This new fighter aircraft is expected to arrive at Volkel in 2022. The aircraft is part of the so-called “Fifth Generation Air Force” to respond to the continuous changes in the global security situation.

0692-A special way to lose weight

On the day that I was dismissed from the trauma department, I received a report with medication etc. and a statement of my weight upon dismissal. Only once in my life I surpassed that weight: when making a world cruise of 117 days in 2016. Then I was 95Kg, and that was a shock, because even my tuxedo did not fit well anymore…

However, I am now 28 days in the sousterrain nursery at the Graafseweg. No extended breakfast with ham and eggs, but a convenient Kellog’s full grain, with dried fruit in it. Lunch is mostly a soup, Pierre’s speciality. And a 1 course dinner in the evening.

Although I have no hard physical things to do, an excursion with the walker over the ramp to the ground floor -either to enter the house, because mounting the stairs is strongly forbidden with the injury of the right femur, or to go to the car when we have to go out for visits, funerals or a commemorative mass- takes a lot of energy. Going up I can manage myself, going down Pierre has to hold the walker to prevent that I go to fast and lose my equilibrium.

At the day of dismissal my weight was:

88.8Kg

Today my weight is:

80.4Kg