Thanks to the Merel motorway (23), hedgehogs can move from garden to garden safely

The number of hedgehogs in the Netherlands has fallen by around 35 percent in the last 25 years, Merel says. “There are few figures about hedgehogs, but we know things are going badly.” The population has been on the rise a little since 2015, thanks to a few good hedgehog years. “But it will take a while before the hedgehog population is up to standard again.”

The reasons? The habitat of the hedgehog has changed. “Our nature reserves have shrunk,” Merel explains. “And the fox and badger, natural enemies of the hedgehog, also live in those areas. If they get less space, the hedgehog also gets less space. It feels like that. That's why the hedgehog has moved to the city.”

Vietnam: seizure of 125 kilograms of rhinoceros horn

A total of 55 pieces of rhinoceros horn were seized at Hanoi airport, authorities said Sunday as the country attempts to curb wildlife trafficking.

Vietnam is a hotbed of consumption and a hub for wildlife smuggling that amounts to billions of dollars.

A carefully hidden cargo in plaster molds aroused police suspicions and led Thursday to the discovery of 125 kilograms of rhinoceros horn at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

Images of the seizure show pieces of rhinoceros horn on a table and police breaking casts. “It took half a day to break them,” an agent told AFP.

The country from which the cargo originates is not known.

Rhino horn is particularly popular and a kilo can reach up to $ 60,000 (54,000 EUR). Transformed into powder, it is sought in Vietnam for alleged aphrodisiac and medicinal virtues.

On the same day, Thursday, police arrested three suspects after the discovery of seven frozen tigers in a car on a parking lot in Hanoi.

Last week, Singapore seized nearly nine tons of ivory and a large stock of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam.

Elephant tusks, pangolins, tigers and rhinoceros horns are sold on the black market in Vietnam or smuggled into China.

Hanoi has long been committed to combating animal smuggling, but conservationists believe that the black market continues because of failed controls.

Trump threatens French wine in retaliation for Gafa tax

Donald Trump stepped on Friday against France and its tax on the US digital giants denouncing “stupidity” of President Emmanuel Macron and threatening to retaliate the French wine, one of the most iconic tricolor export products. “France has just imposed a digital tax on our big US technology companies.If someone had to tax them, it should be their home country, the United States,” tweeted the US president.

Trump calls Macron “stupid”

“We will soon announce a substantial interaction after Macron's stupidity, and I have always said that American wine is better than French wine!” Added the White House host, who does not drink alcohol. “I've always preferred American wines to French wines even though I do not drink wine, I like their appearance, American wines are great,” the Republican billionaire from the Oval Office said Friday.

The White House announced in the evening that MM. Trump and Macron spoke by phone during the day, adding that they had mentioned the French tax on the digital giants, but without specifying whether French wines were on the menu of discussions between the two leaders. The Elysee said on Saturday that Emmanuel Macron insisted during this interview that Gafa taxation was “a subject of common interest” and not only French, “on which we must continue to act with a view to obtaining a broad international agreement “.

The G7 summit in Biarritz (south-eastern France) from 24 to 26 August, will be “an important opportunity to advance” on this issue, added the presidency, stating that the interview also focused on 'Iran. A little earlier, the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire had said that “France will implement (it) its national decisions”.

The French Parliament had definitively adopted on 11 July the introduction of a tax on the digital giants, making France a pioneer country in the taxation of “Gafa” (acronym for Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) and other multinationals accused of tax evasion. The Trump administration had announced the day before that decision that it was launching a survey to measure the effects of such a tax on US companies.

Then, at the G7 in France two weeks ago, Paris and Washington seemed to reduce their litigation, finance ministers then talking about progress towards a global agreement on the taxation of digital. “The universal taxation of digital activities is a challenge that concerns us all.We want to reach an agreement on this subject in the framework of the G7 and the OECD,” said Friday Bruno Le Maire.

“Political tools”

This unilateral decision “demonstrates the lack of commitment of France in the ongoing negotiations with the OECD,” however said Friday from Washington a White House spokesman, Judd Deere. “The Trump administration has always said it will not sit back and tolerate any discrimination against US companies,” he warned in a statement.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) has already launched an investigation into the possible effects of this tax, he said. And, the Trump administration “looks closely at all the other policy tools,” he said. The Gafa tax creates a tax on large companies in the sector not on their profit, often consolidated in countries with very low taxes like Ireland, but on turnover, pending a harmonization of rules at the level of OECD.

Earlier, the White House's chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, called the tax “a very, very big mistake.” “We are not happy that France has gone ahead with this kind of tax on digital,” he said on the CNBC channel.

The Gafa tax imposes these companies up to 3% of the turnover achieved in France including targeted online advertising, the sale of data for advertising purposes and the linking of Internet users by the platforms. This solution is intended to be only temporary pending the outcome of international negotiations.

In June, Donald Trump had already hinted that he could impose additional customs duties on French wine. But he then invoked these additional customs duties to correct a competition deemed “unfair”. “France taxes wine a lot and we tax little French wine,” had then denounced the US president during a long interview on CNBC.

French wine is renowned for being “very good”, had also commented the host of the White House. But American winemakers complain that he enters the US “for nothing”. “It's not fair, we're going to do something about it,” he said.

France reacts, and wants an agreement

France wants to reach an agreement with the United States by the end of August G7 on the taxation of digital giants, said Saturday the Minister of Economy, Bruno Mayor. The minister reacted to Donald Trump's attacks on Friday against the French tax on digital giants recently voted. “We want to work closely with our American friends to universal taxation of digital activities,” said the Mayor at a press point in Bercy. “We wish between now and the end of August – the G7 Biarritz of heads of state – to reach an agreement on this universal taxation of digital activities,” he added.

To this end, the Mayor will meet at 17:00 with his US counterpart, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, to advance to an agreement. He recalled that the goal was to reach agreement at the level of OECD countries by the end of 2020.

The minister also pointed out that the French tax on digital giants, often called the Gafa tax, would not only affect US companies. “There is no desire to specifically target US companies,” said the minister. “American, European or Chinese multinationals have a digital activity, sometimes without physical presence in a territory, and pay little or no tax,” he said. “This situation is not acceptable and it is our collective interest to achieve a fair taxation of digital activities in the world,” he said.

The French digital tax imposes companies up to 3% of turnover in France including targeted online advertising, the sale of data for advertising purposes and the linking of users by the platforms

(With AFP)

New top candidate: Southwest CDU goes with Eisenmann in next state election

After losing government, many years as a junior partner of the Greens and months of internal strife, the new top candidate Susanne Eisenmann to bring the CDU back to the government in Baden-Württemberg.

The Minister of Culture was elected at a party congress in Heilbronn by 95.4 percent of the delegates. “We set off together today,” the 54-year-old called to the delegates and called for unity.

Should the South-West CDU prevail in the state elections in 2021 against the Greens, Eisenmann could be the first woman at the head of the country. Your potential opponent, incumbent Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), has not yet decided whether he will run again.

Eisenmann had previously prevailed in the race for the nomination against the CDU state chairman Thomas Strobl. This had renounced after intense debate on the candidacy and Eisenmann promised his support.

“I am extremely satisfied,” said Eisenmann on Saturday after her election. “I had campaigned for unity and cooperation and the CDU has impressively shown that they see it that way.” In her application speech she had criticized, among other things, the green government partner. The country remains behind its possibility. “Because of powerless policy without a vision of the future, which is today in the State Chancellery influential,” said Eisenmann.

Prime Minister Kretschmann called on the CDU before the party congress not to fall into an early election campaign mode after the nomination of its top candidate. “We've been elected for another year and a half,” he said. “And I can only strongly advise not to start the election campaign now.” Elections would not be decided one and a half years before the elections.

Sascha Binder, secretary-general of the Baden-Wuerttemberg SPD, accused Eisenmann of not having set anything in motion as Minister of Culture. She sacrificed her own convictions to serve the “stock-conservative party wing.”

“Burka ban is a solution for a problem that is not there”

“That burqa creates a wall between people. I want to see your whole face and communicate with you, and with a burqa that is impossible.” That is why Kaouthar Darmoni is in favor of the so-called burqa ban that will take effect next week. The ban applies to public transport, education, healthcare and government buildings.

According to Darmoni, face covering has nothing to do with Islam. “I am a Muslim myself and proud of my faith. And I am also a feminist and emancipated.” According to her, that can go very well together, but covering it completely is not part of it. “That is not respectful, emancipatory or equivalent.”

According to Darmoni, who is researching Islam and feminism, wearing a burqa or nikab is the model of inequality. “A woman wears it so that her beauty is covered and a man does not get excited. Well, let that man learn how to handle his libido. He must respect you.”

Thousands of ghost young people cannot be found by the government

Half of the ghost youth found in Amsterdam again

But how do you prevent young people from 'losing'? The municipality of Amsterdam has found something on that. Youth workers go on an address visit when a young person threatens to be deregistered. They visited more than 300 addresses. In half of those cases, they simply found the young people, which prevented them from deregistering.

The National Ombudsman calls on municipalities to be careful when unsubscribing young people. “See what help is hidden behind the front door. This way you prevent someone from sliding off unnecessarily,” says the spokesperson.

In a written response, the State Secretary for the Interior informed Raymond Knops that he thinks it is undesirable that young people are incorrectly registered as VOWs. “For this reason, municipalities must do a thorough address investigation before they can proceed with deregistration. The Ministry has taken several actions in recent years to help municipalities with this.”

In the Hungarian countryside, an ephemeral camp of eco-solar homes

While the heat wave was sweeping Europe, they worked hard to build the ecological houses of the future with recycled materials, green facades, solar panels: rarely competition of sustainable architecture has flirted so closely with the emergency climate.

The Solar Decathlon is an international university competition, where students compete in architecture, engineering and urbanism. Their challenge is to build in two weeks a prototype of functional habitat, with the sun as the sole source of energy.

The competition takes place every two to three years and it is in the Budapest countryside, in the heat of a month of July that saw the fall of the temperature records in Europe, that the competitors clashed for the edition 2019 which ends Sunday.

A housing prototype built by students from the Lille National School of Architecture and Landscape is exhibited at the Solar Decathlon on July 25, 2019 in Szentendre, Hungary (AFP - ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

A housing prototype built by students from the Lille National School of Architecture and Landscape is exhibited at the Solar Decathlon on July 25, 2019 in Szentendre, Hungary (AFP – ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

“We were able to create in complete freedom, without having a client on the back, which is rare in our profession!” rejoices Gheorghe Ciobanu, a young Romanian architect, tired but happy. The 500 competitors of about twenty years, from 13 countries, competed with imagination to reconcile energy efficiency, comfort, aesthetics, quality … and seduce the jury.

For this 4th edition held in a park of the Technical University of Szentendre, it was “to present a project related to the renovation of an existing habitat,” said Louise Holloway, director of the Dutch Energy Endeavor Foundation, which oversees competition sponsored by private companies and public bodies.

– Sheep wool filters –

The cube-shaped wooden house of the Romanian team, where the shower water is recycled and where the fan filters are made of sheep wool, is thus designed to be installed on a roof of public housing.

“The majority of Romanians live in this type of housing, and to make themselves bigger, they build balconies themselves, which is illegal and dangerous, and a roof can accommodate six of our houses,” says Gheorghe Ciobanu.

A Spanish student shows the prototype built by the University of Seville (AFP - ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

A Spanish student shows the prototype built by the University of Seville (AFP – ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Coming from the north of France, the “Habiter 2030” team has redesigned the terraced house typical of this region, a real energy sieve. “We used a minimum of technology, and a maximum of sustainable and bio-sourced materials,” said Philippe Bouleau, one of the participants.

No plastic in this small building: the structure is wood and mud brick, exterior facades of lime and hemp that isolate and absorb carbon dioxide. “On the interior walls, we put plaster made of clay, water and sand, a good insulation, easy to do yourself,” says the student Camille Huguet.

The solar panels were designed so that the house also heats that of the neighbors, in order to pool expenses. “It's not just an architectural object, it's a social project, the objective is to fight the fuel poverty that affects one in five people in the Hauts-de-France,” Jocelyn Gac summarizes. of some 100 companions in duty who participated in the construction.

– From prototype to order –

The team from the University of Delft (Netherlands) imagined transforming the offices of a Rotterdam tower into an apartment. A set of wood and chipboard partitions that fit into the existing structure like a hermit crab in a shell.

By collecting and recycling water, “this apartment produces more clean water than it consumes”, proudly highlights Okan Turkcan, 24, project leader.

Equally rooted in social reality, the project of the University of Seville: a set of tarpaulin cubes connected by metal beams. This structure is designed to staple on the facade of a building.

“In Seville, some of the public housing units are so dilapidated that the lifts are no longer working, and the older residents who live on the upper floors can not get out.” An elevator could be installed in this structure, which also has the advantage of isolating the HLM from the heat and to offer additional spaces to the inhabitants “explains Rocio Curto, student in architecture.

Some projects will have a life after the contest. “We are going to put our prototype back in Barcelona and it will become a neighborhood house” designed to involve the inhabitants in the energy transition, “says Xavier Ruiz from the Technical University of Del Vallès (Catalonia).

In Lille, the “Habiter 2030” project appealed to local authorities and should lead to the renovation of a series of houses in the northern metropolis.

Pentagon funds used for anti-immigration wall

The US Supreme Court on Friday authorized the presidency to draw $ 2.5 billion from the Pentagon budget for the construction of a wall on the Mexican border, a funding that Congress had refused.

Victory of Donald Trump

The mostly conservative judges blocked the California federal judge's decision to ban the Republican president from spending the money on the grounds that Congress did not expressly authorize the use of funds. “Wow! Great victory on the wall. The US Supreme Court overturned the injunction of a lower court and allowed the continuation of the wall on the southern border,” the US president wrote on Twitter.

In its brief motivations, the court considers that the government “sufficiently demonstrated” that the groups contesting this decision had no interest in acting on this file. “Today's decision to authorize the misappropriation of military funds for the construction of a border wall will isolate and destroy communities, public property and water in California, New Mexico and Arizona,” he said. lamented Gloria Smith, a lawyer with the environmental group Sierra Club, who was among the organizations that filed the motion to block funds.

Central campaign theme

Exasperated by Congress's refusal to release the funds needed to build the wall, Trump had called for a “national emergency” to order the reallocation of $ 6.7 billion already approved for other purposes. Democrats call this wall immoral, ineffective and consider it too expensive. The standoff with Congress had led to a partial “shutdown” of the federal administration for 35 days in December and January, the longest blockage in US history.

The construction of a border wall was a key promise of Donald Trump during his campaign in the 2016 presidential election and remains a central theme for his re-election.

(With Reuters)

After almost 20 years, the US wants to re-enforce capital punishment at the federal level

Actually, the death penalty has been on the decline for years. The number of sentences being executed is decreasing, even in the US, one of the last western countries where people are still being executed. But in this area, President Donald Trump is now turning back time. For example, the US government has decided to re-enforce death sentences at the federal level – after a 15-year break. Executions were already ordered by five prisoners to be executed by the end of the year.

Donald Trump wants faster executions

Donald Trump has long been calling for more frequent use of the death penalty. After a right-wing extremist attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last fall, he said people who commit such crimes would have to “pay the ultimate price and not wait years for years to come.” His tough track is well received by many of his mostly conservative followers – too, or perhaps because he is against the trend.

After Trump Initiative: US federal authorities again allow executions

Only in March had California – the US state with the largest number of prisoners on death row – suspended the death penalty by decree. Shortly before, state executions in Washington state were declared unconstitutional. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the maximum penalty is now no longer in about 20 of the 50 US states.

“That will throw our country back decades”

Unsurprisingly, the human rights and civil rights organizations reacted indignantly to the decision. Amnesty International, for example, states that this is the latest evidence of Trump's contempt for human rights. The death penalty was an ultimately cruel and inhumane punishment. The civil rights organization ACLU warned that the US government should under no circumstances have permission to execute people. “This move will throw our country back decades,” complained the organization.

Usually, the death penalty is imposed in the respective US states. The fact that such judgments are imposed at the federal level is rare and mostly concerns offenses from military criminal law or few other crimes – including terrorism. For example, the Boston Marathon assassin Djochar Zarnayev was sentenced under federal law – and must expect the new Derektiv now with his execution.

Three people executed in 31 years

Apart from terrorists like Zarnayev, 61 condemned prisoners are currently on death row. Among them is Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine African Americans during a Bible lesson in 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. The death row candidate, whose execution is scheduled for early December, is also a right-wing radical. He had murdered a family in 1996, including a then-eight-year-old girl. The most recent delinquent was the former soldier Louis Jones, who had raped and murdered a soldier eight years earlier. He died in 2003 by lethal injection. In total, three people have been executed by federal agencies over the past 31 years.

Swell: DPA, AFP, “New York Times”, “Time”

Brabant attracts more and more Van Gogh tourists (and they don't come for his work)

The Vietnamese tourist skilfully parks her public transport bicycle in front of the parsonage in Nuenen in Brabant. Take a quick photo of the place where Vincent van Gogh once lived and worked. Diagonally across the street, in the old town hall renamed 'Vincentre', a Japanese tourist pulls out her selfie stick. She focuses on the enormous reproduction of The potato eaters. The painting was painted by Van Gogh a little further down here in 1885.

The parsonage, the town hall and the location of the potato eaters: these are three of the 39 official Van Gogh Monuments in total. Heritage designated and safeguarded by the province. “Vincent van Gogh is one of the sons of Brabant, an icon for us,” says deputy Martijn van Gruijthuijsen (VVD). “It is characteristic of how Brabant was and at the same time also how Brabant wants to be in the future: creative and innovative. We are proud of that and that story can be told.”

In the footsteps of Van Gogh

Van Gogh is big business. Not only in busy museums such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum. But also in Brabant, where he was born on March 30, 1853. Van Gogh was born and raised there, so Brabant is rich in traces of one of the most famous artists in the world.

More and more tourists are coming to Brabant to follow in Van Gogh's footsteps. According to Deputy Van Gruijthuijsen, the province attracts around 125,000 Van Gogh tourists every year. He expects that this number will quadruple within a few years to more than half a million visitors.

Zundert, Tilburg, Etten-Leur, Zevenbergen, Helvoirt – there is always a church, watermill or school where Van Gogh walked, drew or painted. As a tourist, you will be busy if you want to visit all 39 official Van Gogh Monuments. But there are also Van Gogh Cycle Routes and there is the 'Vincentre' museum, the epicenter of the Van Gogh worship in Nuenen. You won't see a real Van Gogh hanging there. However, many images, documents and video installations. But for Van Gogh fans it is already quite a lot that they are in a place that the artist himself once entered.