A sunny Monday, light showers ahead but the drought continues

The rain is set to return this week but only in the form of light showers, the KNMI weather bureau said on Monday. Monday itself will be largely sunny although there may be showers in the south. Cloud will gather overnight and the rest of the week will be overcast, with temperatures around 14 degrees, the KNMI said. Rain is more likely nationwide towards the end of the week. Despite the showers since the end of September, the drought is still widespread in the Netherlands and the water level in the river Rhine has fallen to its lowest ever level - just 6.61 metres above NAP at the Lobith measuring station on the German border. This has led to major problems for inland shipping companies which have been forced to cut the amount of goods carried by barges so they are not so low in the water. Last week, three ships ran aground. NAP stands for Normaal Amsterdams Peil or the normal water level in Amsterdam, which is slightly lower than sea level. NAP is used as a base to measure how high or low water levels are.  More >

Horner praises 'brilliant' Verstappen

Max Verstappen driving a Red Bull Formula 1 car. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner hailed Max Verstappen's 'brilliant' drive at the US Grand Prix as the Dutchman punctured Lewis Hamilton's hopes of sealing his fifth Formula One title. The 21-year-old surged from 18th place on the grid to finish second, shutting out Hamilton in the latter stages as the Briton scrambled in vain to claim the points he needed to become world champion. 'It was classic Max,' said Horner. 'He never gives up. I think he was up to ninth after the first lap. And to contest the race win at the end, with Lewis Hamilton behind him on better tyres, was unbelievable.' Kimi Raikkonen's win in Austin, his first in five years, means he remains 30 points ahead of Verstappen in the contest for third place in the drivers' championship, while his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished fourth. It means Hamilton needs five more points to wrap up the championship title, while Vettel will have to win the last three races to overhaul him. Verstappen said the result was unexpected after his poor performance in qualifying, exacerbated by a penalty which pushed him down the grid. He profited from an unscheduled extra pit stop by Hamilton to change tyres, but then had to hold off the British driver's charge without wearing out his own super-soft tyres. 'I had a good start and after that the team made the right strategic choices by going in before Valtteri Bottas,' said Verstappen. 'In the last few laps I didn't have any tyres left.' The last three rounds of the Grand Prix season are in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.  More >

ING warned three times about executive pay

Banking group ING has been warned by three successive finance ministers about planning massive pay hikes for senior executives, the Telegraaf said on Monday. Jan Kees de Jager, Jeroen Dijsselbloem and Wopke Hoekstra had all told the bank in the past that excessive pay rises could lead to social unrest, the paper says. It bases its claim on confidential finance ministry documents obtained using freedom of information legislation. This March, the bank announced a 50% salary hike for chief executive Ralph Hamers, but this was later toned down after protests from both politicians and the public. A previous pay rise for Hamers also came under ministerial fire, the paper said. Rules Hoekstra said in April he is planning to tighten the rules on bankers’ pay in the wake of the row that blew up over ING’s proposal to raise Hamer's salary. One idea is for bank executives to have to repay part of their salary if the bank is bailed out by the state, so that they take a share of the responsibility. The cabinet is also considering a rule that would force bankers to hold on to any shares they receive for a number of years, to encourage long-term thinking. ING was given a €10bn bailout by the treasury after it ran into trouble during the financial crisis. The loan has since been repaid.  More >

Unmanned petrol stations more common

Tough competition has led to a sharp increase in the number of unmanned petrol stations in the Netherlands, according to industry body Bovag. In 2003 there were 3,661 manned petrol stations in the country and 600 without staff but 15 years later, unmanned petrol stations are in the majority, Bovag said. By the beginning of this year 2,023 petrol stations had a shop and staff but 2,098 had replaced cash registry workers with an automatic payment machine. 'Competition is really tough and entrepreneurs have to choose,' spokesman Tom Huyskens told the AD. 'You either close your shop, install a payment system and focus on price or you go full service and offer sandwiches, coffee, a car wash and the like.' The traditional petrol station shop with sweets, tobacco and engine oil will not survive because the margins are too small to pay a decent wage, Huyskens said.  More >

Former prime minister Wim Kok dies

Former Dutch prime minister and Labour party leader Wim Kok has died in hospital at the age of 80 after a short illness. Kok was prime minister between 1994 and 2002 when he led the two ‘purple’ cabinets – so called because of the combination of the colours of the Labour party, the VVD and Liberal democratic party D66. They were the first Dutch cabinets without the Christian Democrats in over 75 years. Kok first came to prominence in 1982 when as leader of the FNV trade union federation, he signed a historic pact with the VNO employers organisation which became known as the Wassenaar agreement. The Wassenaar agreement involved the unions agreeing to wage moderation in return for shorter working hours and is still seen as an important contributor to economic recovery after years of crisis. In 1986 Kok replaced Joop de Uyl as PvdA leader, and after a number of years in opposition, he served as finance minister in the third Ruud Lubbers cabinet. He became prime minister in 1994. In 2002 he and his entire cabinet resigned following the publication of a report which was highly critical of the Dutch role in the Srebrenica massacre seven years earlier. Since leaving politics that year, Kok had a number of supervisory board roles, including at ING and Shell. Prime minister Mark Rutte said in a reaction to the news of Kok's death that he was 'always someone to look up to'. 'He was both the architect and the driving force behind our polder system (the process of taking decisions by reaching consensus),' Rutte said. 'As finance minister and as prime minister he was above party politics. He was totally trustworthy, had complete integrity and was always focused on finding a solution.'  More >

Seven of world's top 10 best DJs are Dutch

Seven of the best djs in the world are from the Netherlands, including number one Martin Garrix, according to the latest public vote organised by DJ Mag. It is the third year in the row that Garrix has held the top spot and he was the youngest dj ever to win the title when he first took the prize in 2016. Second in the list is the Belgian duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike while Hardwell, the Dutch dj who has now stopped touring and previous two times champion, was third. The annual listing is always presented during the Amsterdam Dance Event, which ends on Sunday. Martin Garrix, who is just 22 and whose real name is Martijn Garritsen, signed his first record deal when he was 16 and broke through internationally in 2013 with his hit Animals. In total, 1.2 million people took part in the poll, most of whom come from the US and UK. The Netherlands is eighth in terms of voter numbers. The rest of the Dutch line-up are Armin van Buuren (5) who has topped the ranking five times, Tiësto, who headed the list three times, new entries Don Diabolo and Oliver Heldens (7 and 9) and Afrojack, who holds on to his eighth place.  More >

Claim: Facebook took fake news election ad

Facebook app on mobile phone A Dutch investigative television programme claims that Facebook accepted its fake news advertisements aimed at sabotaging Dutch elections next year. Researchers from Brandpunt+ say they created a fake Facebook account and various adverts claiming that ballot boxes were closed or that party leaders were involved in nefarious activities, to be shown to certain target groups on the day of provincial elections next March. They claim that Facebook accepted all adverts for publication except for one claiming CDA leader Sybrand Buma was manipulating the housing market for personal gain – deemed to be ‘discriminatory.’ ‘Before the adverts went online, I took them off,’ writes one researcher. ‘Spreading fake news in the name of a public broadcaster didn’t seem a good idea, so they didn’t reach anyone.’ Facebook has reportedly told the researchers it is taking the instance ‘very seriously’ and launching an internal investigation into why the other fake news adverts were sanctioned. The Dutch government announced earlier this week that it is launching a campaign to combat fake news around the local and European elections next year. DutchNews.nl has contacted Facebook to ask for a response to the allegations.  More >