Police call for visa restrictions on Albania in wake of organised crime surge

Green group takes Dutch state to court over air pollution

Police and prosecutors have called for visas to be reimposed for Albanian visitors following a surge in organised crime from the Eastern European country. An internal document obtained by De Telegraaf outlined concerns that Albanian gangsters have tightened their grip on the drugs and human trafficking rackets in Amsterdam in the last 18 months. Albanian citizens were granted visa-free travel throughout the European Union in December 2010, a year after the country applied for EU membership. Police say the number of Albanians implicated in drugs and smuggling inquiries has doubled since last year. They are also said to have moved up the chain of command and to be taking up pivotal roles in the legal economy, such as the catering sector and real estate. Last summer Amsterdam police rounded up around 60 suspected gangsters in a series of raids, but the influx of foreign criminals has since increased, according to the report. Members of Albanian gangs were found living in deluxe apartments rented from private individuals, without being registered with the council. Substantial quantities of high-grade cocaine, cannabis and heroin were also found in the properties, along with automatic weapons, drug packaging equipment and stolen goods.    More >

Far-right protesters 'lock' Muslim school

Green group takes Dutch state to court over air pollution Far-right protesters have hung death's-head images from the doors of an Islamic primary school in Leiden as children returned from the summer holiday. Teachers arriving at the IBS Er-Risèlèh school on Monday found a bicycle lock had been put on the doors of the building and a note referring to terrorist attacks in Europe. 'We need to tackle the problem by the roots,' it said. The school said it had reported the incident to the police. 'We have tried to keep it from our pupils, but they could see that they couldn't get into the bicycle sheds,' a spokeswoman told Omroep West. 'We're deeply shocked by this. You don't know what's going on in people's heads. A lot of our colleagues feel unsafe and we haven't seen any police checking the area.' Pegida Nederland posted pictures on Twitter of the incident, which it described as a 'protest action' carried out by 'people from Leiden'.  More >

Dutch state faces court over air pollution

Green group takes Dutch state to court over air pollution Environmental organisation Milieudefensie is taking the Dutch government to court this week, demanding it takes immediate action to ensure air quality meets official directives. The case will be heard by judges in The Hague on Wednesday. Milieudefensie claims that the government has been damaging citizens’ health for years. ‘Every day we breathe in unhealthy air and that means tens of thousands of people get ill and thousands die as a consequence,’ a spokesman told the Parool. The paper said a recent health board report revealed the air quality in Amsterdam has not improved in recent years and concentrations of nitrogen dioxide have worsened.   More >

Dutch develop blight-resistant potato

Green group takes Dutch state to court over air pollution A Dutch company has developed a breed of potato that is resistant to late blight and could greatly reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday. Small Dutch company Solyunta, originally set up to work on tomato varieties, will unveil its new potato later this week, the Financieele Dagblad said. Phytophthora infestans is a type of fungus that causes around €10bn in damage to potato stocks worldwide every year, despite the intensive use of pesticides. The cost to the almost 9,000 potato growers in the Netherlands are estimated at €150m in relation to a total turnover of €750m, the FD said, quoting figures from Wageningen University. Wageningen professor Richard Visser told the FD he expects Solynta will need a further four or five years before farmers will be able to grow the new potatoes.   More >

Texel museum given remains of dead whale

Green group takes Dutch state to court over air pollution The remains of a dead whale that washed up on the island of Texel are being taken to natural history museum Ecomare for further investigation. The 18-metre-long rorqual was already in an 'advanced state of decay' when it was was discovered on the beach on Sunday morning. Local residents said the strong stench was discernible several kilometres away. Ecomare biologist Pierre Bonnet told Radio 1 Journaal it would take around a year to strip the flesh, study the remains and clean up the skeleton so it can go on public display. Researchers will also try to find out where the whale came from, as the creatures are generally not seen in the North Sea.   More >