Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rotterdam port hit by economic slump

The Dutch port of Rotterdam, which employs 70,000 people, is being hit hard by the current economic slump. Containers are piled high in the main ECT shipping terminal, and the areas where new cars are parked are overflowing. Traditionally, the more containers remain in the port, the less actual trade there is.

The transshipment of raw materials for the metal and chemical industries is declining and the growth of container shipments has come to a standstill, Rotterdam mayor Ivo Opstelten said at a port authority meeting on Monday.

Rotterdam, located where the Rhine and Meuse rivers meet the North Sea, is the largest port in Europe. It is strategically important for the storage and transfer of crude oil, containers, ore and scrap metal.
The decline has accelerated since September when US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed.
Port authority president Hans Smits said in October that the harbour continues to perform "at a high level". Shipments through Rotterdam grew by 6.1 percent over the first three quarters of 2008, but fell in October.

Women’s violence in Turkey; a shocking report

It's shocking to read why men in Turkey are abusing women, besides the fact that that 88 percent of the nearly 20 percent of unemployed Turks are women.

And speaking with Ece Temelkuran, a left-wing journalist on the newspaper Milliyet in a hip café in Cihangir, the Soho of Istanbul. “I’m supposed to be the secular elite,” she says. “It is a joke. I can only be myself in five or six districts of this city and on the Aegean or south coasts. The harassment of women who don’t cover up is increasing. I get called a whore as I walk down the street. The confidence of the Islamic movement is shoring up lumpen sexism among Turkish men.”

Some reasons for violence against women:

“The woman’s not wanting to engage in sexual activity, the woman’s gaining weight, her inability to bear children or her not bearing a male child, the food she’s cooked being too salty, burnt, cold or not according to the man’s tastes, not doing a good job ironing his clothing, being late in answering the door when he’s come home and knocked, the woman’s getting ill or not getting better after getting ill, leaving the home without permission, a couple’s child being unsuccessful, the home’s heater not being turned on, a child not looking like its father, the woman’s wanting a divorce, the woman’s interference in the man’s relationship with another woman, the working woman’s not giving her husband her entire salary, the refusal of ‘berdel’ [a type of arranged marriage], the woman’s wanting to work, the man’s being unemployed, family financial difficulty, the man’s soccer team losing a match, being warned by his wife about his alcoholism or gambling addiction, an argument between men about ‘machismo.’”

Herreee the full article.

Dutch mayors call for growing marijuana

The Dutch government should licence the growing and supply of marijuana to the country’s 700 or so coffee shops that sell cannabis, according to a group of around 30 Dutch mayors. This is the conclusion of the ‘cannabis summit’ on Friday at which the mayors discussed the country’s policy on soft drugs.

The mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel, said his city is prepared to run a ‘monitored pilot scheme’ to assess if a system of licenced growers reduces drugs-related crime.
On Sunday health minister Ab Klink said in a television interview that an experiment with licenced cannabis growers in Eindhoven would conflict with the coalition agreement but that he is prepared to look more closely at the plan and discuss it with the rest of the cabinet.

The summit in Almere was organised by the local authorities association and the city of Maastricht to discuss the Netherlands’ current policy of turning a blind eye to the sale of small quantities of marijuana in licenced cafes known as coffee shops.

Closing cafes

It follows a decision by the border towns of Roosendaal and Bergen op Zoom to close all the coffee shops within their boundaries because of the nuisance caused by thousands of foreign tourists who flock to the towns to buy drugs.

Closing down coffee shops is not a solution to drugs tourism and will not change the fact that most marijuana is supplied by criminal gangs, the mayors said. ‘It will only lead to more crime,’ says Maastricht mayor Gerd Leers. ‘And do not believe that it will mean that people smoke less [cannabis].’

Venlo mayor Hubert Bruls called for the introduction of passes so that only Dutch nationals would be allowed to buy drugs in coffee shops: ‘That would get rid of 80 percent or 90 percent of the 6,000 customers a day which Venlo coffee shops attract’.

Coalition divided

The mayors’ plea for legal production has divided the coalition government. The Christian Democrats (CDA) and orthodox Christian ChristenUnie parties are opposed, saying such a move goes against the coalition agreement. But Labour has called for a parliamentary debate on the issue.
Even though the coalition agreement states that there would be no changes to the current policy on soft drugs, the call by the mayors, including those who are members of the CDA, cannot be ignored, Labour member of parliament Lea Bouwmeester said.

Day opening - November 25