Archive for the ‘Holland’ Category

Dutch prosecutor does not rule out possibility of Ukrainian fighter having shot down MH17

October 27, 2014

A few weeks ago I speculated that the finding of a deployed oxygen mask on one of the victims gave some credence to the theory (favoured by Russia) that it was a Ukrainian fighter which may have shot down the ill-fated MH17 aircraft.

The point apparently is that if the aircraft had been brought down by a Russian ground-to-air BUK missile – fired by the rebels – then the aircraft would have failed catastrophically and there would have been no time for the oxygen masks to deploy. All on board would have died almost instantaneously.

If instead MH17 had been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet – as the Russians suggest – then the air-to-air missile would not have been as immediately catastrophic as the much more powerful BUK missile. Then there may well have been time for some of the oxygen masks to deploy – even if the aircraft was later “finished off” by cannon fire. ….. 

But the bottom line is that if there was time for the oxygen masks to deploy then it is more likely that a Ukrainian jet was responsible rather than a BUK missile.

Now in an interview with Der Spiegel, the Dutch prosecutor does not rule out the possibility that MH17 may have been shot down from the air.

Der Spiegel: In an interview, the Dutch official leading the investigation of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine addresses reports that German intelligence is convinced the plane got shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

Fred Westerbeke, 52, is the chief investigator with the Dutch National Prosecutors’ Office, which is currently looking into the circumstances behind the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17.

SPIEGEL: High-resolution images — those from US spy satellites, for example — could play a decisive role in the investigation. Have the Americans provided you with those images?

Westerbeke: We are not certain whether we already have everything or if there are more — information that is possibly even more specific. In any case, what we do have is insufficient for drawing any conclusions. We remain in contact with the United States in order to receive satellite photos.

SPIEGEL: So you’re saying there hasn’t been any watertight evidence so far?

 Westerbeke: No. If you read the newspapers, though, they suggest it has always been obvious what happened to the airplane and who is responsible. But if we in fact do want to try the perpetrators in court, then we will need evidence and more than a recorded phone call from the Internet or photos from the crash site. That’s why we are considering several scenarios and not just one.

SPIEGEL: Moscow has been spreading its own version for some time now, namely that the passenger jet was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet. Do you believe such a scenario is possible?

Westerbeke: Going by the intelligence available, it is my opinion that a shooting down by a surface to air missile remains the most likely scenario. But we are not closing our eyes to the possibility that things might have happened differently.

What does the deployed oxygen mask on MH17 signify?

October 10, 2014

So the Dutch Foreign Minister made a boo-boo by revealing that one Australian passenger was found to have an oxygen mask around his neck. He has been criticised  for revealing this information which found no mention in the preliminary Dutch report. The crash investigators and NATO (why NATO?) have also been vehement in denying that this changes anything in the preliminary report. The final report is not due till summer 2015.

NYTFrans Timmermans, the foreign minister, mentioned the discovery of the oxygen mask late Wednesday during an appearance on a popular Dutch television talk show, where an interviewer brought up the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298 people.

Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor’s office, expressed dismay about the disclosure on Thursday. He confirmed that forensics experts had found a yellow plastic oxygen mask around the neck of a male victim among the bodies that arrived at Eindhoven Air Base a week after the crash.

Why the fuss? Why would it be significant whether the oxygen masks had deployed or not?

The point apparently is that if the aircraft had been brought down by a Russian ground-to-air BUK missile – fired by the rebels – then the aircraft would have failed catastrophically and there would have been no time for the oxygen masks to deploy. All on board would have died almost instantaneously.

If instead MH17 had been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet – as the Russians suggest – then the air-to-air missile would not have been as immediately catastrophic as the much more powerful BUK missile. Then there may well have been time for some of the oxygen masks to deploy – even if the aircraft was later “finished off” by cannon fire. I am given to understand that the size of the wreckage found is not consistent with just an air-to-air missile but could be consistent with cannon fire subsequent to a missile. More tellingly, some of the many, small and uniform “shrapnel holes” found could have well been due to external cannon fire. The Russians keep asking why the cockpit – ground control conversations have not been released but I have not seen any convincing explanation for that information being withheld.

Analysis: The shrapnel came from outside the plane
Many of the holes are relatively small … … and uniform in size.

Mr. Foster said the contour of the aluminum and the blistering of the paint around many of the holes indicate that small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel entered the aircraft externally. 

MH 17: Shrapnel or external cannon fire? image NYT

It is also possible that that some tampering took place on the ground after the event. This is implied by some of the statements attributed to “officials”. However, it seems improbable that somebody – a pro-Russian rebel is implied – could have looked for and found an intact oxygen mask – especially if they had not been deployed – to drape around one of the victims’ neck.

But the bottom line is that if there was time for the oxygen masks to deploy then it is more likely that a Ukrainian jet was responsible rather than a BUK missile. Such a “politically incorrect” conclusion would not be acceptable for NATO. It is unlikely that any final report will come to any such clear conclusion. I am afraid that the final MH17 Crash Investigation Report will be – and maybe already is – compromised. The final conclusions will be contaminated by political agendas.

But the oxygen mask does make the theory about a Ukrainian jet being responsible a tad more likely.

Whoever was responsible, 298 innocent people were killed.

Another case of data manipulation, another Dutch psychology scandal

April 30, 2014


Jens Förster denies the claims of misconduct and has sent an email defending himself to Retraction Watch.


One would have thought the credentials of social psychology as a science – after Diedrik Staple, Dirk Smeesters and Mark Hauser – could not fall much lower. But data manipulation in social psychology would seem to be a bottomless pit.

Another case of data manipulation by social psychologists has erupted at the University of Amsterdam. This time by Jens Förster professor of social psychology at the University of Amsterdam and his colleague Markus Denzler. 

Retraction Watch: 

The University of Amsterdam has called for the retraction of a 2011 paper by two psychology researchers after a school investigation concluded that the article contained bogus data, the Dutch press are reporting.

The paper, “Sense Creative! The Impact of Global and Local Vision, Hearing, Touching, Tasting and Smelling on Creative and Analytic Thought,” was written by Jens Förster and Markus Denzler  and published in Social Psychological & Personality Science. ….

Professor Jens Förster

Jens Förster is no lightweight apparently. He is supposed to have research interests in the principles of motivation. Throughout my own career the practice of motivation in the workplace has been a special interest and I have read some of his papers. Now I feel let down. I have a theory that one of the primary motivators of social psychologists in academia is a narcissistic urge for media attention. No shortage of ego. And I note that as part of his webpage detailing his academic accomplishments he also feels it necessary to highlight his TV appearances!!!!

Television Appearances (Selection) 

Nachtcafé (SWR), Buten & Binnen (RB), Hermann & Tietjen (NDR), Euroland (SWF), Menschen der Woche (SWF), Die große Show der Naturwunder (ARD), Quarks & Co (WDR), Plasberg persönlich (WDR), Im Palais (RBB), Westart (WDR)

They love being Darlings of the media and the media oblige!

As a commenter on Retraction Watch points out, Förster also doubles as a cabaret artist! Perhaps he sees his academic endeavours also as a form of entertaining the public.

Rolf Degen: I hope that this will not escalate, as this could get ugly for the field of psychology. Jens Förster, a German, is a bigger name than Stapel ever was. He was repeatedly portrayed in the German media, not the least because of his second calling as a singer and a cabaret artist, and he has published an enormous amount of books, studies and review papers, all high quality stuff

This revelation occurs at a bad time for Förster, write the Dutch media. He is supposed to work as “Humboldt professor starting from June 1, and he was awarded five million Euros to do research at a German university the next five years. He is also supposed to cooperate with Jürgen Margraf – who is the President of the “German Society for Psychology” and as such the highest ranking German psychologist.

Wilders is now getting up their noses

March 24, 2014

When populism goes over the top.

Wilders hasn’t said exactly how he is intending to reduce the Moroccans in the Netherlands but it is unlikely to be very pleasant for them.

Photograph: Marcel Antonisse/AFP/Getty Images

Geert Wilders Photograph: Marcel Antonisse/AFP/Getty Images

(Reuters)Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders has lost his top position in opinion polls after making anti-Moroccan comments that unleashed a public backlash and prompted several high-profile resignations from his party. ….. 

Wilders has been hit by a series of resignations after leading a chant against Moroccan immigrants in The Hague on Wednesday. Among those who quit was the head of the PVV in the European Parliament, Laurence Stassen.

The next big test for the party will come at European Parliament elections in May. The PVV slipped five seats from a week ago to 22 and would come in third place behind the Socialist Party and the right-of-center Democrats 66, the poll showed. The PVV won 15 seats in the Dutch parliament in the 2012 election.

Wilders led the chant at a rally after municipal elections. He asked supporters in The Hague: “Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands?”

“Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”, the crowd chanted. Wilders responded: “We’ll take care of that.”

The comments drew widespread condemnation in the Netherlands and abroad. Thousands of people filed complaints of discrimination with Dutch prosecutors, while several PVV members have quit from the national assembly and city councils.

On Saturday, Wilders said he wasn’t sorry, had not violated anti-discrimination laws and would not apologize to anyone.

While Wilders also lost some support among his electorate, 85 percent of people who voted for him said they still backed him as leader of the Party for Freedom.

The fertility rate in the rapidly aging Netherlands is at crisis levels. From around 4.45 per woman in 1900. and 3.2 in 1960, it is now at about 1.68 per woman in 2013. The post-war baby boomers are now entering the ranks of the retired and will be adding to the proportion of the elderly for the next 25 years. Without bolstering the working population by immigration, the care of the elderly at current levels would not be sustainable.

So if Wilders plans to reduce immigration, he better plan to reduce the number of the aged as well.

Netherlands fertility rate (World Bank data)

Netherlands fertility rate (World Bank data)

Demographics of the Nertherlands: The Dutch population is ageing. Furthermore, life expectancy has increased because of developments in medicine, and in addition to this, the Netherlands has seen increasing immigration. Despite these developments combined with the population boom after the Second World War, the low birth rate has caused extremely low population growth: 2005 saw the lowest absolute population growth since 1900. …

According to Eurostat, in 2010 there were 1.8 million foreign-born residents in the Netherlands, corresponding to 11.1% of the total population. Of these, 1.4 million (8.5%) were born outside the EU and 0.428 million (2.6%) were born in another EU Member State.

As the result of immigration, the Netherlands has a sizeable minority of non-indigenous peoples. There is also considerable emigration. In 2005 some 121,000 people left the country, while 94,000 entered it. Out of a total of 101,150 people immigrating to Netherlands in 2006, 66,658 were from Europe, Oceania, the Americas or Japan, and 34,492 were from other (mostly developing) countries. Out of a total of 132,470 emigrants, 94,834 were going to Europe, Oceania, the Americas or Japan and 37,636 to other countries.

Another fraudster unmasked in Dutch academia: Anthropologist Mart Bax

September 23, 2013

After the unmasking of the massive scientific misconduct committed by Dirk Smeesters, Don Poldermans and Diedrik Stapel, the Netherlands can ill afford yet another scandal. But that would be living in hope. Now comes this scandal involving an anthropologist, Mart Bax, which appears to be just as massive a fraud.

It does seem that Dutch Universities are cleansing their academic stables. And by the amount of excrement being found it seems to be quite a task! I don’t think that attitudes and pressures in Dutch scientific research are much different to those in other parts of Europe. Which only suggests that while the Dutch are cleaning house, there is a great deal of muck waiting to be found in other countries.

(The picture in the earlier posting was not of Mart Bax but of the journalist who exposed him. The picture has been removed. My thanks to thinkerandtinker for pointing out my error and my apologies to Mr. Frank van Kolfschooten).

Bax retired as a Professor from the Free University (Vrije Universiteit) of Amsterdam in 2003. But for 15 years – at least – he has been making up data. He has invented places where he has claimed to have carried out research, he has made up titles for himself along with claims of non-existent teaching at prestigious universities. Some 64 papers of his 161 claimed publications do not exist.

  • Of the 161 publications claimed by Bax, 64 are non-existent.
  • The book Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia (1995) mentions a blood feud for which there is no evidence at all. None of the inhabitants of the area are aware of anything like this happening.
  • Shortly after the publication of book mentioned above, Bax acknowledged that he misinterpreted some information, but claimed he did not have the chance to make any rectifications.
  • The commission established he did have the opportunity to rectify these errors at various occasions, yet never did.
  • After the publication of Medjugorje: Religion, Politics, and Violence in Rural Bosnia, Bax referred to the blood feud in three other articles, after he already acknowledged to be aware of the misinterpretation, which the commission labeled as “serious scientific misconduct”.

Retraction Watch: Bax, who studied an Irish town he called Patricksville, a Dutch pilgrimage site he called Neerdonk, and Medjugorje, a Bosnian pilgrimage site, retired from the Free University in 2002. The university began investigating Bax’s work last year after science journalist Frank van Kolfschooten published Ontspoorde Wetenschap (“Derailed science”). In that book, van Kolfschooten raised questions about Bax’s work into an alleged massacre at Medjugorje during the Bosnian War.

 NRC Handelsblad: Again fraud in science is exposed by a university inquiry. Former professor of political anthropology Mart Bax from the Free University has invented research, published nonexistent items put on his list of publications and  committed forgery in university documents. That concludes a commission of inquiry headed by historian Prof. Michiel Baud from the University of Amsterdam.

Volkskrant: The retired professor of political anthropology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Mart Bax has committed at least 15 years of serious scientific misconduct, forgery and plagiarism itself. That is the conclusion of the inquiry led by historian Michiel Baud in a report released today.  ….

The committee also calls it “very likely” that Bax has made up much of his fieldwork in Brabant and the Bosnian pilgrimage site of Medjugorje from his imagination. But the committee can not formally call it science fraud since Bax insists he was misled by informants themselves. Notes have been destroyed and the informants themselves are untraceable or deceased. The Committee therefore holds it as “serious scientific misconduct “,” deception” and “unethical scientific behavior”.

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