Ukrainian embassies receive parcels with animal eyes, also in the Netherlands

Ukrainian embassies and consulates in several European countries, including the Netherlands, received “bloody packages” with animal eyes on Friday. This is reported by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is unclear who sent the packages.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said it suspected “a well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation against Ukrainian embassies and consulates.”

Embassies and consulates in Hungary, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Italy also received the packages, Ukraine said. In addition, the entrance to the apartment of the ambassador in Vatican City would have been destroyed and the embassy in Kazakhstan would have received a threat. The Ukrainian embassy in the United States is said to have received a letter containing a photocopy of an article critical of Ukraine. So far, the reports from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry have not been confirmed.

Last Wednesday, the Ukrainian embassy in the Spanish capital Madrid received a letter bomb, as did a weapons manufacturer in Zaragoza. A day later, an air base outside Madrid, the Spanish Ministry of Defense and the US Embassy in Spain also received a letter bomb. Extra security measures are being taken at all Ukrainian embassies, according to the Ukrainian government.


Hannes Meinkema (1943-2022) saw that the sexual revolution did not liberate women

In the 1970s there were few Dutch female writers who could make a living from their work. Hannes Meinkema (pseudonym of Hannemieke Stamperius), who passed away last week at the age of 79, was one of them. She wrote more than twenty literary novels and short story collections, in addition to detective novels and literary studies. She is best known for her third novel And then there’s coffee (1976), which was received as a feminist cult book. She sold more than 100,000 copies of it.

The difficult relationships between women and men and between mothers and daughters were a core theme in Stamperius’ work. She was born on September 12, 1943 in Tiel, the daughter of an unmarried mother who had been traumatized during the Second World War. She grew up in a composite family of doctors like Hannemieke Nelemans.

Her lack of trust in family relationships was reflected in many of her novels. And then there’s coffee tells about the young Dutch teacher Rosa, who lives in an Amsterdam progressive environment full of joints and free sex. Rosa has to relate to the family she grew up in and to her partners.

The book received critical acclaim and became a bestseller. The Telegraph called the book “the alternative family novel” where since The evenings of Gerard Reve was awaited.

Male pseudonym

Despite the success, the writer initially remained out of sight, so that it was not immediately clear who the author was. Stamperius deliberately chose her pen name Hannes Meinkema (a partial anagram of her name) because it sounded masculine. While she was doing her PhD under her own name on Hendrik Marsman’s ‘Verzen’ (1977, cum laude), she wrote her first books under a pseudonym. She wanted to be judged “on good and bad, on quality, not on sex,” she said at the time.

Feminism, and equality in a broader sense, remained an important theme for Stamperius in her later books. She herself said in an interview Free Netherlands that this was even more apparent in her later book The inner egg (1978), in which she denounced what she believed to be the imposed promiscuity of the 1970s. “Sexual liberation it was called, but I think it wasn’t that liberating at all for many women.”

Meinkema wrote her last novel in 2007. In an interview in Fidelity in 2009 she said she was still “as feminist as hell.” She also made a case for this outside of literature. After adopting a Brazilian girl, she conducted a trial in the 1990s to officially adopt her daughter – something that was not yet allowed as a single person at the time.


Celebrating Christmas with a sex toy in the tree

Hundreds of sex toys have made it to the bedside table over the years, but never before has a vibrator openly had as many fans as the ‘Satisfyer Pro’. In fact, this popular gadget has fan merchandise. There were already stickers, t shirts and earringsnow there are also a Christmas ball, a Christmas card and a Christmas riot.

“This device is a cult phenomenon,” says Doortje Kruisheer (27), of the company ‘Sattie in the tree‘. It was November last year that she walked through the Pijp in Amsterdam with her boyfriend. “There are many shops here with all kinds of Christmas ornaments.” From croquettes and pickles to drills and flamingos. “But why isn’t that a Christmas ball?” asked her friend.

“Yes, why not, I thought. It really lives,” says Kruisheer. Women openly talk about vibrators and give them to each other as gifts. But would they hang an ornament of it on the Christmas tree? The conclusion was yes. Last September, she launched the ‘Sattie Christmas Bauble’. “The first batch was sold out immediately.”

The normalization of sex toys does not go against the trend

This seems to go against the ‘preuts’ about which concerns have been expressed in recent years. But researcher and publicist Linda Duitsland thinks that this prudishness is not too bad. “There are always more and less prudish people,” she says. “We have recently started using the term ‘preuts’ in relation to concerns about it. But the mere fact that we are concerned that we would prudish proves that the opposite is happening.”

German believes that the normalization of sex toys does not go against the trend. “It’s not new either. The women’s magazine VIVA contributed as a stunt in 2002 a new subscription a vibrator gift.” And sexually tinted merchandise has also been around for some time, thanks to men’s magazines Playboy. “Of course there is also something cool about showing your sexuality, that is also the case with this merchandise. Like: I’m very progressive, just look at my Christmas ball.”

Progressiveness on the post

If you want to post your progressiveness, you can go to the card shop Made for Moments for a ‘sexy Christmas card’. The suggestion text for the back: ‘On to even more highlights in 2023’. Manager Ellen (31): „With this card friends can encourage each other, because it is not the easiest time of the year for everyone.”

And Anna van den Driest (22) made some friends happy with homemade gifts, she modeled Satisfyer key chains from polymer clay. She posted a video of the making process on TikTokwhich within a day a hundred thousand views and numerous enthusiastic responses. “So many girls are so happy with this device, they want to show it. It is really celebrated.”

That not everyone is cheering at the vibrator in the public space became apparent last week during a riot around Kruidvat Leiden. A photo with a ‘spicy’ advertisement of a stack of discounted Satisfyers went viral because of a sign that read: “Sinterklaas is not the only one coming this year (Santa Claus too ;)).”

The drugstore chain RTL News know that it was a local action. The head office ordered the advertising text to be removed.


Column | Pinprick

There are things that are hard to do halfway: being pregnant, dying, and making a statement of principle. Endearing to our merchant-pastor mind is the belief that this could be done after all. Ah, that rainbow pin of sports minister Conny Helder (VVD), hidden under a scarf, so as not to offend those stands with Qatari slime dresses. The pinprick was a fitting symbol for our leadership: sparing both vices and despots. Wanting to be friends with everyone. Do half what cannot be done halfway. The result is the big nothing: no gas deal, no ovation for your moral guts.

I don’t understand that half-heartedness. It seems perfectly defensible to me to say: take a moment, dear LGBTIQ+ people, but those ships, with those whoppers of gas bubbles, they now get priority.

The population understands that. She herself is no different. If we really wanted to boycott all rogue states, we would have to start by smashing all Chinese laptops, tablets and flat screens, and then locking our children’s TikToks.

So take your pick: skating in covered ice halls or human rights? Liquid rogue gas or a cold pool? Sports clubs? We do what we can, but some will have to shut off gas, light or even the doors until spring returns. In the meantime, have fun with your own outdoor sports.

You can’t please everyone. If only we understood that. Then we wouldn’t be the last loitering European in line for the most expensive gas deal. Then we would have flown Willem-Alexander there to toast with the emir in a camel tent, after which he returned with a loaded fleet of liquid precious gold.

What matters to me is that we choose, fully, not half. But wait, haven’t we made a democratic decision about Qatar? Anyway. There was a parliamentary majority that thought that no delegation should go.

Bright. No gas whoops. No precious gold. The very last thing you expect is a minister who gets up on Monday evening in the middle of a debate about collapsing sports clubs to catch her flight to Qatar.

The debate continued on Thursday. The outing had done the minister noticeably good. Because I suddenly found her much more outspoken, about the energy support for sports associations. “Compensating one hundred percent, that is not possible.” “Harder choices have to be made.” “Not everyone can be helped.” For example, an emergency fund for swimming pools has been chosen, which is essential for swimming lessons, and not for artificial ice rinks.

Excellent choice. At the most, the argumentation could have been sharper: people, it’s war, and no, then there won’t be any ice cream fun this season as long as it doesn’t freeze; because we prefer to spend billions to prevent thousands of compatriots from dying of cold and money shortages. Or well – because that is possible in our country – half die.

Christian Weijts writes a column here every Friday.


With sleep apnea, the night can be stuffy

“As if my husband is cutting down a forest.” ‘Because of all that snoring I went to lie in another room.’ “Sometimes I wake up and he’s not breathing – terrifying.” Sometimes it is not people with sleep apnea but their partners who are the first to sound the alarm, says Peter van Maanen, ENT specialist and somnologist at the OLVG hospital in Amsterdam. “Not every patient immediately realizes that something is wrong.”

Sleep apnea: It is a medical condition that has been in the news a lot in the past year. The CPAP devices from Philips were almost always the reason. These ensure that apnea patients receive a continuous positive airway pressure are administered, a continuous flow of air that facilitates breathing during sleep. But in 2021, the company publicly announced that some of its sleep apnea devices could release chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic. Philips is now replacing and repairing devices and a lawsuit is pending in which Dutch patients are demanding that the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport provide access to confidential correspondence about the devices.

Read about the lawsuit: Six hundred users of Philips apnea devices are going to court

What is Sleep Apnea? What causes it, how do you recognize it, and are there other ways to manage the symptoms other than CPAP?

“Apnea is the medical term for respiratory arrest,” says Van Maanen, who obtained his PhD on position-dependent sleep apnea. The word comes from Greek and means ‘no air’. “Such a breathing stop is nothing unusual, we all have that sometimes, sometimes several times a night. Especially when people lie on their backs, there is a good chance that their breath will stop for a while, because soft tissue can then close the throat under the influence of gravity, among other things. The muscle tension of the tongue and soft palate decreases during sleep and these tissues can fall backwards.”

Heart rate and muscle tension

When that happens, breathing can stop completely for a while, or there is a greatly reduced airflow. In the latter case, there is a hypopnea. “In both situations, the oxygen concentration in the blood can drop, after which the heart rate and muscle tension in the airways increase, so that breathing can start again. You can wake up to that, but you don’t have to.” The breathing stops are often accompanied by snoring, but not every snorer is immediately apnea patient.

Only when such breath stops at least five times per hour, there is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When talking about sleep apnea, that is often what is referred to. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine uses a method (also used by the OLVG) to measure apneas that looks at the percentage of ‘flow reduction’ in the airways per ten seconds. This is measured with a meter in the nose and electrodes on the body.

In addition to OSA, there is a rarer form, CSA: central sleep apnea. There is no obstruction (and usually no snoring), but there is something wrong with the control from the brain. The brain simply does not provide enough stimuli to breathe. This usually occurs in people with brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, or in people who have had a stroke or chronic heart problems.

As fresh as a daisy

According to figures from the Apnea Association, about 600,000 people in the Netherlands probably have a serious form of sleep apnea (mainly OSA), less than half of whom are being treated. Nevertheless, Van Maanen is reluctant to mention specific numbers. “Precisely because not everyone suffers from it to the same degree. As mentioned, breathing stops are not abnormal, and if you happen to have six per hour but you are as fresh as a fiddle during the day and neither your health nor your relationship suffers, then there is basically no cause for concern. But if you are excessively sleepy during the day or have heart problems, then it is a reason to do something about it.” With more severe forms of OSA and complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness, people can even fall asleep while driving.

There are also apnea patients who have to urinate remarkably often at night

Peter Van Maanen doctor

The fact that people with sleep apnea can be so sleepy during the day is partly because their brain briefly goes into wakefulness with every pause in breathing: even if they are not immediately aware of this, their sleep is interrupted. Van Maanen: “This fragmented sleep at night leads to reduced sleep quality and increased sleep pressure during the day. Some actually startle awake at night, with or without a feeling of being stuffy. And there are also apnea patients who have to urinate remarkably often at night. One theory is that the breathing stops cause an increased secretion of so-called natriuretic peptides in the heart, which in turn leads to an urge to urinate.”

If severe apnea is left untreated, it can entail major health risks, Van Maanen emphasizes. “A high number of breathing stops and oxygen pressure drops increase the risk of heart and cerebral infarctions, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation, among other things. If people also suffer from insomnia, i.e. insomnia, the risk is even higher.”

Less violent forms

The treatment of sleep apnea depends first of all on the variant. OSA can be position dependent and only occur in the supine position, just like the ‘regular’ apneas that people sometimes have. Van Maanen: “We see position dependency more often, especially in people with less severe forms of sleep apnea. During my PhD I researched the effect of a band that is placed around the chest and that vibrates when you lie on your back. The idea is that as a result, you automatically turn onto your side in your sleep.” That is an easy treatment, but patient forums show that the belt does not work for everyone: some people wake up from the vibration or do not react to it, others shift the belt in their sleep in such a way that they can continue to sleep undisturbed on their back. Scientists still know too little about the influence of, for example, a soft or hard mattress on sleep apnea.

“If someone comes by with apnea complaints, I always try to ask about lifestyle. If someone drinks ten glasses of alcohol a day or if someone is seriously overweight, it is my job as a doctor to point out the health risks of this. Lifestyle changes can sometimes go a long way. Traditionally, OSA has been a disease of middle-aged, overweight men. And although we are also seeing more and more women these days, being overweight is still true.” Not only are overweight people more likely to develop OSA, the reverse is also the case: people with OSA are more likely to become obese. “This is because there is a disruption in their endocrine system, as a result of which substances that stimulate appetite and regulate the feeling of hunger are secreted in the blood in different concentrations.”

Surgical procedures or mouthguard

CPAP is still the usual advice for more severe forms of apnea, he emphasizes. “Both with obstructive apnea and with central apnea, although the airflow pressure is usually lower in the latter case.” Only if this does not work, other solutions are considered in the case of OSA – for example, a mouthguard that moves the lower jaw slightly forward, or surgical intervention.

There are also treatments that target specific nerves. For example, an international team of ENT doctors, including Van Maanen’s colleague Nico de Vries, published a study in 2014 in the New England Journal of Medicine nasty so-called tongue nerve stimulation. “You use a pacemaker to provide electrical stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve, a motor cranial nerve whose function is to move the tongue forward. Since 2014, 40,000 people worldwide have had this type of surgery. It is a more expensive treatment for which only patients with severe apnea who have failed CPAP treatment are eligible.”

Finally, there is a new treatment for patients with CSA that revolves around stimulation of the phrenic nerve, or phrenic nerve. This stimulates the diaphragm via a pacemaker to achieve more normal nighttime breathing.

“At the moment it is not yet being carried out in the Netherlands,” says Van Maanen. “But next year we will start with the first tests. We are always learning in the field of sleep apnea treatment.”


Power element has yet to meet expectations

Each chemical element has its own place in the periodic table. Each element also has a special story. Also thorium.


A text printed on a hair using sugar

A sugar film accidentally left behind on the bottom of a beaker led to a new microprinting method. This thick scaly black column is a hair, the word NIST printed on it in gold letters as a demonstration. Researcher Gary Zabow out there published on November 25 in Science works at the US National Institute of Systems and Technology, hence NIST.

Microprinting involves applying patterns to surfaces to give them new properties. Think of chips with complicated patterns of metals printed or etched on them. As more and more ‘smart’ materials emerge, ways to print on other surfaces, including non-flat ones, are also being sought.

Printing directly on such a surface is often not possible. Usually, printing is done on flexible plastic, after which the print is transferred to the intended surface. This does not work optimally on bumpy or round surfaces. There are also liquid techniques, in which the target surface is pushed through a liquid with transfer material, after which the impression remains. The problem with this is that the material does not always flow smoothly.

Zabow was conducting another study in which a sugar mixture in which he had packed magnetic particles was left behind in a beaker, he says in an article on the NIST site. The stuff melted and covered the bottom of the glass. When he tried to rinse the goblet with the sticky sugar coating, it turned out that the magnetic particles had remained on the glass surface and cast a rainbow reflection there. That reflection surprised Zabow, the particles had apparently retained their pattern. He then wondered: can sugar be used for microprinting?

So yes. Zabow developed a kind of liquid stamp using sugar, glucose syrup and honey. Place the micropattern to be transferred into the sugar mixture and let it solidify. Then put the whole thing on the target material and make it liquid again. The combination of sugar and corn syrup has a high viscosity, which allows the micro-pattern to maintain its arrangement even as it flows around a curve or over bumps. Then rinse off the sugar, et voilà!


Hydrogen economy for the kitchen counter

This is the theory

Electrolysis of water is the chemical reaction that should help us kick fossil fuel addiction. You can use it to convert green electrical energy into hydrogen, which can then be used as CO2-free fuel, energy storage medium or as a raw material for the chemical industry.

That is why, after years in the scientific dark corner, electrolysis is suddenly being investigated again in chemical laboratories.

But you can also produce and burn your own hydrogen on the kitchen table.

You need this

  • 9-volt battery
  • wires or thin iron wire
  • baking powder
  • flat tray
  • shot glass or something similar
  • matches

Illustration Stella Smienk

You have to do this yourself


Pour water into a flat container, add plenty of baking powder and stir. The baking soda serves to make the water electrically conductive.

STEP 2 Connect the electrical wires to the positive and negative terminals of the battery and dip the other end into the water. Bubbles form at both ends. The hydrogen is created at the wire connected to the negative pole.

STEP 3 Place the shot glass upside down over the negative pool in such a way that it is initially completely full of water. The hydrogen produced will accumulate as a bubble at the top of the slide.

After half an hour, when a thimble of hydrogen has collected, tilt the shot glass and hold a lit match to it. The escaping hydrogen burns with a – not very impressive – pop.

(Be careful not to make too much hydrogen, and not to make oxyhydrogen by collecting the gases from both electrodes together. This mixture of hydrogen and oxygen explodes – as the name says – with more violence).


No one from the cabinet present during the eighth final between the Netherlands and the US

No one from the cabinet present during the eighth final between the Netherlands and the US

The cabinet will not send a representative to the eighth final between the Netherlands and the United States in Qatar on Saturday. This was announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) on Friday at the start of the Council of Ministers, ANP news agency reports. “If we reach the final, we will come with a serious delegation,” said Hoekstra. Until then, the government intends to take a game-by-game approach to see if, and who, it should represent.

Minister Conny Helder (Long-term Care and Sport, VVD) was present in the stadium during the Dutch team’s 2-0 win against Qatar. She paid a lightning visit of less than 24 hours to Qatar. During those hours, she spoke with, among others, the ministers of Labor and Social Affairs of Qatar. She also wore a modest OneLove pin. A parliamentary majority had previously called on the cabinet to boycott the tournament, due to the large-scale exploitation of migrant workers who worked on World Cup facilities.

Welcome to this blog

The last day of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar will be played this Friday. Again, four games are scheduled. The games are played in groups G and H, which last played on Monday. In group G, only Brazil is already certain of a place in the eighth finals, in group H, Portugal has already qualified.

The duels between Cameroon and Brazil and Serbia and Switzerland kick off at 4 p.m. At 20.00 Portugal will take on South Korea, while Uruguay will go for the last chance against the Ghana of Ajax player Mohammed Kudus.

NRC writes a daily report of the competitions and other important and notable events in this blog.

Read the blog here from Wednesday, November 30


The world was more energy efficient in 2022 than in 2021, but the pace is too slow

Skyrocketing energy prices have ensured that energy was used much more sparingly worldwide this year than a year earlier. This has been calculated by the International Energy Agency (IEA), according to a report published Friday. In 2022, it is expected that 16 percent more money will be invested in insulation, public transport and good infrastructure for electric cars than in 2021. But it is not yet enough to achieve the climate goals for 2050.

Partly thanks to the investments, the global economy was 2 percent more energy-efficient than last year. A total of USD 560 billion in energy-saving investments will be made worldwide this year. In the past two corona years, energy savings compared to the previous year were still 0.5 percent. To reduce emissions to zero on balance by 2050, an average annual improvement of 4 percent is needed this decade, the IEA calculated.

IEA director Fatih Birol mentions the relatively strong improvement in a statement a “possible turning point.” The Turk draws a comparison between the present time and the oil crisis of the 1970s. In 1973, a number of Arab countries decided to raise oil prices sharply and reduce production. Like today’s record high energy prices due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, governments began to see energy-saving investments as a priority.