Freezing conditions from Siberia to hit the Netherlands next week

Tax office was wrong to use anonymous tip-off to fine illicit savers, says court

Freezing winds from Siberia are set to blow into the Netherlands this weekend, bringing heavy frost and renewed hopes of outdoor skating. Temperatures will start dropping from Wednesday, bringing overnight frost and day temperatures around freezing point. By next week, the temperature could dip to as low as -10 degrees in the east of the country, according to weather website Buienradar. The KNMI weather bureau says there will be frost at night for the next week and an 80% chance that it will continue into March. No rain or snow is on the horizon and there will also be plenty of sunshine, the KNMI said. Raymond Klaassen from weather website Weerplaza told NOS radio that keen skaters may be able to take to the ice early next week. At least five centimetres of ice is needed to skate on shallow lakes and waterways and by next Wednesday, there could be six centimetres of ice in places, he said. People heading for the Alpine ski resorts in the half term holiday are also being warned about the cold - it could hit as low as -20 degrees in the mountains, according to Buienradar.  More >

Dramatic end gives Dutch relay bronze

Dramatic end gives Dutch women short track relay bronze and a new record A dramatic end to the women's short-track 3,000 metre relay event left the Dutch women with the bronze medal and a new Olympic record, despite not making the final. The Dutch women won the B final, for the four teams who had failed to make the main event, but were promoted to bronze medal position after Canada and China were disqualified from their final. The team of Jorien ter Mors, Yara van Kerkhof, Suzanne Schulting and Lara van Ruijven, watching from the sidelines, were taken completely by surprise with their win. Defending champions South Korea won the gold medal while Italy took silver. The medal is only the fourth Dutch short track skating Olympic medal, and the third of these games. Elsewhere there was disappointment for Sjinkie Knegt who was disqualified in the men's 500 metres. Knegt, who had high hopes of several medals before the games, did win silver in the 1,500 metres last week. But he was also disqualified in the 1,000 metres, as was the men's relay team.  More >

ANWB calls for action on safe cycling

In Amsterdam 44% of cyclists don’t feel safe: ANWB calls for action Motoring organisation ANWB says safe cycling should have a key role in the forthcoming local elections because an increasing number of cyclists no longer feel at ease on the roads, the AD said on Tuesday. ANWB director Frits van Bruggen told the AD that road safety is becoming a forgotten issue. 'Local councils are not doing enough,' he said. 'It is time for a wake up call.' ANWB research involving over 22,000 members found that 27% feel unsafe while cycling, a figure that rises to 44% in Amsterdam. In Delft, Maastricht, Utrecht and The Hague, between 34% and 37% of ANWB members do not feel safe on a bike. The organisation on Tuesday will call on candidates in the March 21 local elections to take a stand on cyclists' safety. 'We want to talk to local authorities to solve the problems,' the organisation said. Difficult questions, such as the introduction of more 30 kph zones, should not be ruled out, Van Bruggen said. 'Not every car driver will be happy about that... but it is not about teasing motorists or cyclists,' he said. 'It is about safety.'  More >

'Secret' society allows prying eyes

‘Secret’ society Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Lady goes public with exhibition An exclusive Dutch gentlemen’s society - the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Lady - is celebrating its 700th anniversary and is allowing the outside world a peep into its history for the first time. Although its membership list is not for public perusal, the society now has a website and a museum and ‘will be more visible at public charity events’, it says. The brotherhood is also celebrating its 700th anniversary with an exhibition at the Noordbrabants Museum, called Believing in Friendship, which was opened by king Willem-Alexander, who is a member. On show are some of the objects that make up the rich history of the brotherhood, from the founding act of 1318 to 16th and 17th handwritten choir books, altar pieces, furniture and some Delft Blue brotherhood tableware. The brotherhood, founded by the catholic clergy of Den Bosch in honour of the virgin Mary, was also known as the Brotherhood of the Swan: the monks were given a swan for their table by members of the aristocracy. Menu The title of Brother of the Swan still exists although swans are no longer on the menu, but can now only be applied to members of the royal family who, to this day, are members of the brotherhood. The brotherhood remains a strictly male affair, apart from female monarchs. The society’s mission became, and remains, ‘to care for its age-old material and immaterial cultural heritage, the promotion of Christian solidarity and brotherly ties while taking into account modern-day developments and problems.' Apart from 36 monks, the members list of 120 includes such influential Dutch families as Fentener van Vlissingen, Van Lanschot and De Roy van Zuydewijn. Painter Jeroen Bosch was also a member, as were Charles V and William of Orange.  More >

Court tears up tax evasion tip-off fines

Tax office was wrong to use anonymous tip-off to fine illicit savers, says court The tax office was wrong to fine people for keeping their savings secret based on information bought from an anonymous source, appeal court judges in Den Bosch said on Tuesday. The court said that the tax office should not have used information provided by an unnamed source, who sold officials details about dozens of secret accounts in Luxembourg in 2009. The case was brought by relatives of one of the people given a heavy fine for keeping savings hidden from the tax office. The court said that person who made the anonymous tip off is likely to have obtained the information through criminal means. While that is not illegal in itself, the government should have made a more balanced decision about what to do with the information and explained its actions to the court. In addition, the tax office had failed to establish how the person making the tip off had obtained the information and if he had a criminal past. Nor is the tax office willing to say how much he had been paid for the information, the court said. Judges had earlier ordered the tax office to come clean about the payment but officials have consistently refused to do so.  More >