top of page

The News That Shaped the Month – September 2016

UvA Recap – by Artur Rymer

The summer is officially over but this doesn’t mean that renovations at Roeterseiland Campus are as well. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the devilish construction that has sprung up next to Buildings D and E. The reactions to the new scaffolding-bridge include disbelief, amusement, lack of confidence in its ability to withstand autumn wind in the Netherlands and several short, yet forceful profanities. A new bridge that will connect both sides of the canal is responsible for the works in the area. These are to end in the beginning of October, with the bridge being assembled on the 8th. Until then, I advise extreme caution when wearing stilettos.

University of Amsterdam (UvA) and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) have been working together since 1998 and as of 2003 have a joint Executive Board. This might end soon, as the Executive Board has decided that by the 1st of January 2017 a decision about the future collaboration between the two schools has to be made. This comes after two consultant firms have evaluated the partnership, with the conclusion that, although education and research benefit from it, the joint administration does not bring the expected improvements. We still have to wait a bit for the outcome, however, splitting two universities with almost 80.000 students after almost 20 years of cooperation can prove challenging. Economics Recap – by Michel Mijlof One of the most important events about economics in the Netherlands happened on Tuesday, the 20th of September 2016. Traditionally, on the third Tuesday of September, the Dutch parliament is showing their plans for the upcoming years. Economic plans are one of the major issues on this day, called ‘Prinsjesdag’.  All the plans are read out loud by the King of the Netherlands, which is called the ‘Troonrede’. This year, the plans are relatively positive compared with previous years. The Dutch economy has recovered from the last crisis and is even slightly growing. For example, the consuming power will be higher next year. Furthermore, in other countries, the economic recovery is still on a low level due to Brexit and, of course, the historically low interest rates. For instance, the Federal Reserve keeps their interest rates for the September also unchanged at a percentage of 0,25 to 0,5. The same thing holds for the Bank of England who is keeping their interest rate unchanged at the level of 0,25 percent. The inflation rate in the European Union is also very low with an average of 0,2 percent. However, there are a lot of differences within the EU. For example, there was a deflation of 0,8 percent in Slovakia whereas Belgium had an inflation of 2 percent.  For the Netherlands it was 0,1 percent. Business Recap – by Magdalena Wiśniewska Twitter shares jumped by over 20% after reporting the takeover approaches. Potential buyers are Google and Co-founder Ev Williams claims that company should consider its options while still in a strong position. Snapchat parent company, just renamed to Snap Inc., is planning on selling hardware, starting this fall with camera-equipped sunglasses. Facebook shares fell 1.6% dragging the S&P 500 down, as the social media company overestimated viewing time for video ads. Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to disagree over output limits of oil, leading to decline in S&P energy index, while U.S. Federal Reserve decided not to raise interest rates in the near term causing unobvious fluctuations in other indices. A survey run by the Federation of Small Businesses in Great Britain suggests a huge fall in confidence index after Brexit vote. The FSB chairman states that business confidence-weakening result of Brexit made the index fall into the negative territory, with more pessimistic than optimistic business owners in the pool. Harry Potter’s Muggle Home for Sale – by Magdalena Wiśniewska The House that was used as a setting for Harry Potter’s childhood shootings in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is now on sale. The house supposedly located at 4 Private Drive in the village of Little Whinging in Surrey in reality exists on Picket Post Close in the Bracknell suburb of Martins Heron. Recently renovated, the three-bedroom building is priced for $619,486. Harry Potter fans will be now able to check how life was like for the young wizard – if they wish, they will be able to set up their bedroom in the cupboard under the stairs, which actually exists in the reality. Bayer-Monsanto Merger – by Hải Đăng Vũ There goes the saying, “Cash is king”. Bayer has successfully agreed to terms with its acquisition of Monsanto for a record-breaking $66 million deal of this year, all of the purchases in cash. This takeover move from Bayer will potentially increase its market share in the market up to more than 20 percent in the agrochemical industry. Along with their biggest counterparts, namely DOW Chemicals, DuPont, Syngenta, these companies constitute relatively more than half of the global demand for the industry. Bayer’s primary attempt on this deal is to diversify its portfolio, especially in the corn market, in which Monsanto currently owns more than a third of United States’ domestic usage. However, there is considerable concern over the overlapping production lines that both conglomerates combined are holding the majority of, including seeds and pesticides. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that this deal is deemed controversial by many of the antitrust regulators, as this consolidation (seemingly monopolization) of these products would substantially damage consumers’ rights. Responding to the allegations, Bayer is committed to compensate $2 billion if the deal is not approved per legal process.

The global acquisition record transaction belongs to Vodafone for its successful possession of Mannesmann in 1999, topping at inflation-adjusted $287 million. Liberty Media’s Formula 1 Takeover – by Nando Slijkerman For all the car lovers, Formula 1 is a known concept. This month, racing giant Formula 1 has been taken over by Liberty Media for 7 billion euros from private equity investor CVC.

The 85-year-old Bernie Ecclestone, who was the founder of the Formula 1 races, is also selling his five percent share of the racing company. Ecclestone will still be the managing director of Formula 1 for three years. Liberty will first buy nineteen percent share. The remaining part will be bought when the competition authorities and the FIA agree.

Liberty Media sees a lot of opportunities in the race events. Stakeholders expect that Liberty Media will make changes within the daily operations of Formula 1. Except for the Netherlands, where upcoming racing talent Max Verstappen causes a growing interest in the races, Formula 1 is has not been in the pole position in the US for a long time anymore. Big competitors like NASCAR and the Indy 500 are making it a difficult race for Formula 1. People from the US find these more spectacular and also the races take place on more convenient part of the day. To get Formula 1 more attractive for citizens of the United States, Liberty Media is considering two races a year in the States instead of one.

Liberty is owned by billionaire John Malone, and is currently the biggest television company. They are also the owner of the Dutch Ziggo and Discovery. Politics Recap – by Brunno Fontanetti Americas As the November elections start to approach, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump seem to be in a fierce competition for the leading in the polls conducted in the USA. After Clinton’s health issues were disclosed to the public, a general preoccupation on how it can affect her performance in the Oval Office made some undecided voters to switch their votes to Trump. In the most recent polls conducted by CBN, the candidates appear virtually tied. Let’s just hope for the sake of world peace that Clinton gets her ObamaCare and uses it to be well soon. Brazil couldn’t be out of the political news recap, after all, the political scenario is more exciting then a House of Cards episode. Last month the official impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff was approved by the congress and now her vice-president, Michel Temer, who articulated all the impeachment process with the congress house leader, took office. He already started making some big changes: abolishment of the Ministry of Culture, a big reform in Education and the replacement of all the previous ministers. Side note: it’s the first time since the dictatorship we have only white males as ministers and no Ministry of Culture. Europe In the last few months, the attacks of ISIS in Europe have become more frequent, which has brought quite a lot of consequences upon the continent: besides the police-army power that has been deployed in major cities, more specifically around touristic attractions, a big shift of political support towards the extreme right has been observed. Marine Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and Matteo Salvini in Italy are just few leaders of the extreme right in Europe. Some examples of their proposals are: the Nexit (Netherlands exit – at least he was creative), the abolishment of the use of Burqa in France and stricter laws on immigration in Italy. Why need Donald Trump when you have this amazing trio, right? Asia Going a bit more to the East, I couldn’t finish this recap without talking about the most powerful spoiled kid in the world: Kim Jong Un. Apparently he decided to start playing with his nuclear weapons as a response to the American economic and political sanctions. One of the sanctions was the decision of installing an anti-missile base in South Korea. But let’s be fair: who likes their parents watching you while you are playing with your toys? Moreover, it appears that the switch to the right-wing was not Europe-exclusive. In Japan the conservative party won the congress elections with vast majority. One of their proposals is a change in the constitution in order to make the army more active, which means, that Japan’s army, since World War II allowed only to defend the country, could again take initiative in war scenarios. This could mean either taking more protective measures against North Korea or trying to regain their position as leaders in Asia. Have You Registered as an Organ Donor Yet? – by Leonie Ernst All around the world there has been a shortage of donor organs for years. Every year 150 people in the Netherlands die because of this shortage. D66-politician Pia Dijkstra thought of this as 150 needless deaths. Therefore, she wanted to convince the House of Representatives of the Netherlands to change the current regulation concerning organ donor registration, and the 13th of September she succeeded to do so. The House of Representatives of the Netherlands accepted her legislative proposal, with the smallest majority possible (75 in favour, 74 against, 1 representative was absent),  to change the donor registration system from not being an organ donor unless you register, to automatically being one even if you do not. Dijkstra’s proposal now has to be approved by the Senate before the current system will permanently change into an Active Donor Registration-System. Dijkstra states that in the current system, people do not take organ donation into consideration, because there is no need to make the decision. Because of this, the shortage remains. By implementing this new system, every citizen still has the option to refuse or leave the decision up to someone else, but one who does not decide is automatically a donor. It is important to realize that all choices are reversible. The Senate will decide on the matter on the 27th of September. Bomb Explosions in New York and New Jersey – by Yana Chernysh

On Saturday, the 17th of September, two explosions took place in the US. One being in New Jersey during the day and the other one in New York in the evening. Pipe-bomb-type devices were placed in garbage bins.

The explosion in New Jersey took place on the route of a mass marathon. Luckily no one was near the bomb, when it detonated, because of the technical delay of the marathon. It was cancelled afterwards. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about New York. The garbage bin, where the bomb was placed, was situated in the central street of Chelsea neighborhood, which is full of bars, clubs and restaurants. 29 people were injured during the explosion. Now they are all safe and out of hospitals.   Another bomb was put in the bin on another crowded street of New York as well. However, it was defused by the police. Moreover, several other bombs were found on the marathon route in New Jersey, after the police investigated the area. First, the authorities claimed that these explosions are not connected to each other and there is no reason to be worried. That being said, Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, was charged after having a shootout with the police and afterwards was linked to the explosions in New York and New Jersey. The investigation aimed at finding out whether Ahmad was working alone and what was the motive for this act, is still ongoing. West Bank Story – by Raffaele Di Carlo

Last Wednesday, the President of the United States, Barack Obama, met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office at the White House. The two long-time allies discussed once more the situation of the negotiations between Israel and Palestine, and Obama expressed particular concern about the settlements that keep expanding on the West Bank, home to more than 2.7 million Palestinians. At the start of his presidency, Obama had already voiced his opinion that the Israeli settlement operations were a major obstacle to peace and had to be discontinued as soon as possible if a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was to be reached, however Wednesday’s meeting had a much milder tone. At the end, Obama even offered Netanyahu a $38 billion deal in military aid: where such an impressive budget – which constitutes the largest US contribution ever given to any country – might be allocated is no wonder.

While Obama’s words seem to advocate for the emancipation of the Palestinian people from Israel’s post litteram colonization and a peaceful partition of the “Promised Land” between its factual and “theoretical” owners, his actions seem to move in another direction: a report from Associated Press, with data from Israel’s Bureau of Statistics, shows that 12,288 building operations were initiated as of June 30th since Obama’s election. The reason? It very much depends on whom you ask. Many argue that interrupting the settlement will be a slow, gradual process, and that Obama’s words at least show good intentions. Others suggest that, with his presidency almost over, Obama might be making a move to secure a seat in a certain glass building in New York, and still maintain the status quo as he leaves the White House.

The Uprise of the Vlogging Bully – by Michael van Rhee

Several Dutch cities have recently seen an increase in nuisance caused by young men, sometimes humiliating the police in the process. These are often vloggers with a large following on YouTube, whose success attracts young kids to their cause. The resulting national uproar has sparked a debate about YouTube’s controversial business model, which sees advertisers finance channels with a great amount of subscribers, even if the content on those channels is vulgar. Vulgar or not, YouTube remains cautious when it comes to removing videos — that is, some videos. A renowned expert in recognising and removing pornography (or even just a nipple), it’s clearly a little more careful when that one magical term — freedom of speech — comes into play. For the moment, things seem okay, but we need to seriously think about new regulation, if only to stop policemen from being harassed.


bottom of page