We did it, kids! This year, at the arrival of Sinterklaas, there were Cheese Petes (it happened in Gouda), black-because-of-soot Petes, and rainbow Petes. Oh, and tons and tons of death threats, I’m-not-a-racist-you’re-politically-correct, and more fun kneejerks. Just like last year.
Greetings, citizens, and what did I say? Scotland voted “No,” and the world did not stop. Read More News in Europe: Still Great Britain
Like most cities in, around, or near water, Amsterdam is best viewed from a boat. Read More Persephone Postcards: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
A botanical garden, a.k.a. Hortus Botanicus, is always on my to-go list for holidays. Read More Persephone Postcards: Leiden, The Netherlands
Citizens of Europe, I despair of you. Well, some of you. The results of the elections for the European Parliament have not been wholly surprising, but the extent of anti-EU feeling across the continent is disheartening. Let’s have a look. Read More News in Europe: Election Fallout Edition
In the Netherlands, they celebrate Sinterklaas on December fifth, and every year there are critics about Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). When the international media picks it up, the Dutch are painted as Most Racist Ever. I hope I can explain the Dutch stance on this subject a little.
While I was supposed to be putting the final touches on a presentation on Sunday, procrastination on Twitter led me to the trending topic “Kamervragen PVV.” The PVV is the Dutch Party for Freedom, which is headed by Geert Wilders. This man and this party, to me, represent everything that is wrong with my country (well, perhaps not everything, but quite a lot). I’m generally of the opinion that engaging them in any way legitimates them, which is the last thing I want to do, but today I just can’t keep quiet.
“Kamervragen” (chamber questions) are instruments with which Parliament can keep tabs on the government and developments in society. Any member of Parliament can ask ministers or the prime minister questions about anything at any time, and these questions need to be answered within a 3-week period. When the PVV asks questions, you can be quite sure they’re absolutely ridiculous. Today’s questions did not disappoint. Read More What Happens When a Queen’s Respect for a Culture Upsets Politicians
EUROPE ““ (CNN) There is a good chance France and other euro area governments will have their credit ratings downgraded in the near future. This downgrade would mark another low point in Europe’s long-running debt crisis, but it may not shock the markets. “The downgrades are likely to come sooner rather than later,” said Ewen Cameron Watt, chief investment strategist for the BlackRock Investment Insititute. “But we believe bond markets have largely factored them in for countries such as France, Italy, and Spain.” Credit rating agencies’ warnings or downgrades were behind six major drops in the stock market this year, notes Christian Schulz, a senior economist at Berenberg Bank. Read More News in Europe for December 20, 2011