Exotic Scottish Cattle

The PVV is at it again. This time their rants about “immigrants” hits a bit closer to home. They’re going after the Scots, well, the Scottish cattle.

PVV turns its attention to Highland cows

Thursday 17 February 2011

The anti-Islam PVV in the province of Gelderland think ‘imported exotic’ animals such as Scottish highland cows should be sent back to where they came from, according to a report on local television station Omroep Gelderland.

Provincial election candidate Olof Wullink believes the animals should go, saying the region needs ‘our own nature’.

The comments were made in a show on Sunday but have now been picked up by the Telegraaf.

‘What we don’t like is the imported exotic animals like Highland cattle and Polish ponies. The horses should go back to Poland, the cattle to Scotland,’ Wullink said. ‘And here we should have our own nature.’

A spokesman for the Dutch nature conservation group Natuurmonumenten told the broadcaster on Thursday that the PVV´s suggestion is ´absurd´. Highland cattle make a good substitute for the original Dutch wild cattle which have since died out, the organisation said.

Political nutbags are everywhere.


(Mid-term) Election Day

Dutch Political Parties [Day 158/365]
I’ve got Arcadia’s song Election Day stuck in my head today. I may not be in the US, but I’m more than aware of the mid-term elections taking place there today. I have no idea how things will go this time; for every person ranting about the Democrats, there seems to be an equal number of people opposed to the Republicans/Tea Party candidates. I’m curious what the voter turnout will end up being, since a lot of people on both sides seem pretty motivated, and a lot of people have been taking advantage of the option to do early voting.

One thing I definitely don’t miss about elections in the US is the deluge of political commercials. They so rarely say what the candidates goals and plans are; they’re just an excuse to attack the opponent. From what I understand, political commercials are technically an option here in the Netherlands, but I’m not sure how much they’re used. Regardless, if/when they’re created, they’re done by the party, rather than individuals, I think. They’re also not aired constantly. In fact, I’ve never actually seen one. That could be because they’re so rare or because I don’t watch a lot of Dutch television channels. Or a bit of both!

As I’ve mentioned before, the campaign season here is fairly short — although the time it takes to finally agree on a government coalition can be quite long — and it’s generally somewhat less obnoxious than US campaigns. It’s certainly not perfect, and we get our fair share of awful candidates, but at least it’s not quite as in-your-face and irritating as I remember things getting in the US before I moved. I don’t miss the constant commercials, the huge campaign signs in every yard, and the campaign phone calls, both robotic and real. I still get quite a few political e-mails on a daily basis as the elections draw near. That’s more than enough for me! There’s a fine line between motivation and irritation, even for a politically concerned person like myself.

But don’t let the ugliness stop you from voting. Do your duty! Go vote! (Preferably Democratic. 😉 )

Gay Pride

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I was up checking Twitter and Facebook and saw some news that suddenly made me not so unhappy to be awake. Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriages in California, was overturned! Wonderful news! As a friend of Ken’s said, “Welcome back to the 21st century, California!”

It seems somehow appropriate that this hateful law should be overturned this week in particular. After all, this is Gay Pride Week here in the Netherlands, with a huge variety of parties, concerts and parades going on all over Amsterdam. The events start today with the opening party cruise, but there are all sorts of parties going on all weekend. The biggest, of course, is the famous canal parade on Saturday.

More than 500,000 people are likely to be at the canal parade this year, and there are 80 boats participating. It’s looking to be one of the biggest and most diverse parades yet and there are some new participants this year that really make it seem like the world is starting to move in the right direction on this topic. For example, this year will see Jewish and transgender boats represented, and I’m particularly interested to see that there will be boats there representing Africa and Europe. Considering the risk to their life that many people of the GLT community face in Africa, it’s good to see people standing up in support of them. I’m particularly thrilled to see the EuroPride boat, featuring members of the EU parliament and the EU anthem being played by an orchestra. After some of the responses I’ve seen from politicians in the US to the idea of equality for people based on their sexual orientation, it’s nice to see a governing body putting more emphasis on promoting this kind of equality.

The theme of the festival/parade this year is Celebrate. With the overturning of Prop 8 and the inclusion of more and more groups, both political and cultural, into the parade, it definitely seems like there’s a lot to celebrate this year.

For the record, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to recognize same-sex marriage. This event took place 1 April 2001. The country hasn’t fallen apart yet, nor is there anarchy in the streets, and straight marriages haven’t disappeared. Since then, numerous countries have followed suite, recognizing either same-sex marriages or civil unions. Hopefully, more will follow suit and in another nine-years, having to fight for the right to marry the person you love will just be a distant memory. At least we’re starting to move in the right direction.


For the full list of events and times (and if you’re going to the parade get there EARLY!!!!), check out the Amsterdam Gay Pride website (in multiple languages) for times and links for purchasing tickets. There are films, sports and so much more going on over the next few days, so you’re bound to find something of interest. If you’re coming in from out of town, even if you live in Utrecht but don’t want to deal with trying to get a train home after a night of partying, you might want to check out VoucherCodesUK, which is currently offering a discount of 10% off hotel bookings at Hotels.com. And because this is a blog about Utrecht, don’t think there isn’t stuff to be experienced here. Nighttours.com has a listing of various events, as well as restaurants and hotels and such that are particularly gay-friendly.

Woordenboek Woensdag: Stemmen

Pushing It
It’s election dag (verkiezingedag) today in the Netherlands, as citizens head to the polls (stemlokaal or stembureau) to cast their vote for one of the 19 parties on the ballot (stem, stembiljet). Noticing a bit of a running theme in the Dutch words? De stem is the noun for vote and stemmen is the verb to vote. Interestingly, stem is also the word for voice. Appropriate, don’t you think, since a vote is a citizen’s way to voice one’s opinion.

Politics (politiek) are a bit different from what I was used to in the US. As I mentioned, there are 19 parties on the ballot this year, compared to the small handful of parties (and really, only 2-3 viable ones) in the US. Here, you vote for a party, rather than an individual, although it’s generally known who the party will choose to serve as Prime Minister if they win the majority. But realistically, it’s not one party in power; it’s a coalition (coalitie) of parties, and that influences how people vote. Parties give hints as to which parties they would form a coalition with, and if you don’t like the possible pairings, that can influence your vote. As it is, we may know the voting outcomes by tomorrow, but finding out the ultimate coalitions could take weeks as they try to come to some sort of agreement between the parties. It’s not uncommon to have four parties making up the ruling coalition.

One last bit of Dutch voting trivia: Here, you can have a friend, family member, or neighbor vote for you if you’re not going to be able to physically go vote on your own. You’d better have a lot of faith in that person, though! How tempting it could be to change the person’s vote if you don’t agree! 😉 The stand-in voter does still have to be a Dutch citizen, however, so I wouldn’t be able to fill in for anyone.

The photo above is from the last election I voted in in the US before moving. No campaign (campagne) posters or materials are allowed past a certain point outside the polling place. Here, I’ve only really seen campaign posters in one or two designated spots. It’s certainly neater and cleaner! And here’s a photo from earlier this year at the municipal elections (gemeenteraadsverkiezingen). It’s a repeat photo, but it shows the use of stemstemdistrict — and has a bonus of a cute dog.

Do Your Duty

Brave Hond [Day 61/365]
Today is election day for the municipal voting. Expats, as well as Dutch citizens are hopefully heading to the polls today to make their voices heard. As an EU citizen, G could vote, so I went with him, even though I can’t vote for another three years. I hated not being able to vote! I looked longingly at the booths while G was in there, lucky bastard! At least I’ll be able to vote when they hold the municipal elections again in four years.
Polling Place
Our polling place is at one of the school buildings just a minute’s walk from home. It’s a university-age school, though, and the voting room was a relatively small room on the ground floor, not the echo-y high-school gymnasiums in which I’m used to voting. We went just before noon and there was no waiting, no long line. It will be interesting to see what the overall turnout is. At least it has been a beautiful day, with the sun shining and the temperature not too cold. No excuse there not to vote, at least!
Election Day
In response to Geert Wilders’ latest bit of idiocy, in which he wants to ban head scarves — we’re talking head scarves, not burquas — many people are planning on wearing head scarves into their polling place today, men, as well as women, as a form of protest against Wilders. If Wilders gets his way, no one will be able to wear a head scarf into a municipal building in Den Haag or Almere (the only two cities where his PVV party is on the ballot). I must admit, I thought about wearing one myself today, out of principle, even though I can’t vote and the PVV is not on our ballot here in Utrecht.

On a happier note, the first photo here is a picture of the dog who was waiting patiently while his owner went inside to vote. Such a good dog!

Rock the Vote (Maybe)

You know how I was talking last week about voting and the upcoming municipal elections here in the Netherlands? Well, here’s a website that makes it pretty easy to figure out if you can vote in those elections. The answer for me is a big ol’ no, but it turns out that G can vote. Of course, we also figured that out last week when he got his voter registration card thingy in the mail.

The municipal elections are every four years, and for me to vote, I’ll have had to be a resident here for five years, so that means I will be able to vote the next time around. Jahoe (yahoo)! If you’re curious about the requirements, here’s a bit more information (in English) about the municipal elections and requirements for voting in them and standing for election.

Party Posters

I figure this photo goes well with the post I made yesterday about how a few politicians were saying that it’s too cold to campaign. Look! There’s snow on the ground! Doesn’t it just look cold and miserable? 😉

This plywood billboard went up a week or so ago at the corner of Lucasbolwerk and Nobelstraat. It’s right there in front of the Stadsschouwburg (city theater) and one of the bus stops. A good a place as any for the display of political posters. It’s certainly neater than all the millions of individual campaign posters stuck all over the place as they are in the US.

As I try to get a better understanding of Dutch politics, I find myself referring back to this listing and general description of the various Dutch political parties currently operating. Amusingly, or perhaps intentionally, the more right-wing parties (CDA, VVD) are on the right hand side of the billboard, while the more left-wing parties (GroenLinks, D66, PvdA) are on the left-hand side.

If I understand correctly, non-Dutch nationals can vote in regional and municipal elections once they’ve lived here for five years. Have any of you who have been here long enough, but not become Dutch citizens, voted?

Delicate Flowers

File this under “bless their hearts“. Politicians are stupid all over the world!

Too cold to campaign, say Labour MPs

Monday 01 February 2010

Junior home affairs minister Ank Bijleveld has rejected a call from two Labour MPs for the forthcoming local elections to be postponed because it is too cold.

According to website nu.nl, MPs Pierre Heijnen and Paul Kalma wrote to the minister, saying it is too cold to campaign.

The local elections traditionally take place in March and the MPs also asked the minister to commission research into the likely effect of a switch to a warmer month.

Labour’s youth wing described the MPs request as stupid. ‘As far as we are concerned, they can go and campaign among Dutch holiday makers in Benidorm,’ said youth wing chairman Mohammed Mohandis. ‘We’ve got the tickets ready and the return flight is March 4.’ The local elections take place on March 3.

The Socialist Party has offered Labour campaigners 500 hats to help them cope with the cold.

Source © DutchNews.nl


Far Traveled
Despite quiz night and dinner with friends, it’s been a fairly low-key week, so not a lot to say. I’ll just cover the highlights here.

  • Tuesday was another Murphy’s Quiz Night at the Potdeksel. Our goal is simply not to come in last, and once again, for the third month in a row, we’ve achieved that goal. This time we tied with another team for second-to-last place. One round had us putting names to the faces of child actors. I believe René said we came top in that round. We could have done even better if I hadn’t changed my guess of Natalie Wood to Judy Garland. G came through for us with Jodie Foster. Nice one!
  • Friday we had Willianne and Edmar over for dinner. It’s always a pleasure to see them and we always have fun. I’m looking forward to doing it all again sometime soon.
  • After dinner and dessert on Friday, we all headed over to the Potdeksel to finish off the evening. I met a woman who was very pro-Obama and sort of cheered me on for the US finally having a good president. I met a guy who was pro-America, and a third person who hates America and says that Americans are liars. I figure two out of three is good odds. It’s certainly nice to at least not have people hate me because of a president I didn’t vote for.
  • I put up our (fake) tree on Friday, with only the lights. Last year I wanted to get all blue lights, but only found one short string of blue lights, along with a longer string of multi-colored lights. Today, we headed out to Gamma (hardware store) to try to find some more blue lights, while also picking up some paint supplies. Unfortunately, their lights selection seemed to be limited mainly to outdoor Christmas lights, or fancy indoor lights only in white. I’ll keep looking, but for now, our tree is multicolored again this year, because I wanted to go ahead and get it decorated. It does look quite pretty, though. Maybe it will help get me in the holiday mood. So far, I’m just not feeling it this year.
  • Finally, the picture at the top is of a set of teddy bear ornaments that I’ve had for years. Andrea, my best friend at the time, gave them to me some time in the very early 1980s. I’ve held onto them, though, and they’ve moved with us from Florida, to North Carolina and now to the Netherlands. It’s nice having a fond memory of something that can be pulled out and pondered every year.

Politics and Presidents

If you’re in the US, you may not know that the Lisbon Treaty was recently — finally — adopted here in Europe, or that we finally have an EU president. The US news may have been focusing too much on Sarah Palin’s media tour. The whole EU thing was probably little more than a quick note in between Tea Baggers and missing children. 😉

The EU president was chosen this week, surprisingly quickly. The Dutch prime minister, Balkenende, was a possibility for a while, but ultimately the position went to a Belgian by the name of Herman Van Rompuy. Debate continues over whether he can be strong enough to hold his own on a world stage or if he’s just going to bend to pressure — from within Europe, as well as outside. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, if you’re curious as to the difference in power between the US and EU presidents, the BBC has drawn up a simple comparison. I’m still trying to understand all the various parties and systems both here in the Netherlands and in the EU, so even I found it kind of helpful.