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On this day September 29, 1954

Eleven countries signed a convention establishing the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), currently the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

Blue founding members

Blue founding members

The acronym CERN originally stood, in French, for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research), which was a provisional council for setting up the laboratory.

The organization was established by the following 11 European governments; Belgium, Denmark, West Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Today the organization has twenty European member states, and is currently the workplace of approximately 2,600 full-time employees, as well as some 7,931 scientists and engineers (representing 580 universities and research facilities and 80 nationalities). Read More…

On this day June 1, 2005

In their first national referendum in over two hundred years, Dutch voters rejected the ratification of the proposed Constitution of the European Union.

The referendum was a consultative referendum that was held on 1 June 2005 to decide if the Netherlands would ratify the proposed Constitution of the European Union.

According to a poll [1] by Maurice de Hond, 30 % of the Constitution’s opponents used the referendum as an opportunity to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the government, instead of confining their deliberations to the contents of the treaty that was put before them.

At the time of the referendum, the Netherlands’ centre-right coalition government, led by Jan Peter Balkenende, was suffering a period of unpopularity as it tried to push through cuts in public spending, and there was widespread disillusion with the country’s political elite. Read More…

On this day May 13, 1619

Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt who played an important role in the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain was executed in The Hague after having been accused of treason.

Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

He was a Calvinist, so he supported William the Silent in his revolt against Spain, and fought in William’s army.

On 20 February 1619, Oldenbarnevelt was arraigned before a special court of twenty-four members, only half of whom were Hollanders, and nearly all his personal enemies.

This ad hoc judicial commission was necessary, because (unlike the individual provinces) the federal government did not have a judicial branch.

Normally the accused would have been brought before the Hof van Holland or the Hoge Raad van Holland en Zeeland (the highest courts in the provinces of Holland and Zeeland), but in this case the alleged crime was against the Generaliteit, or federal government, and this required the States-General to act as highest court in the land. Read More…

Nuclear Security Summit

President Barack Obama open the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to prevent nuclear terrorism.

With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

The New START treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and Iran will hold the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation, 2010, announced on April 4, 2010 and to be held April 17–18, 2010.

The Summit is the largest gathering of heads of state called by a United States president since the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegations from forty-six governments plus the United States are attending, thirty-eight of which are represented by heads of state or government. Read More…

Eurozone growth lowered to zero

According to revised official figures, the economy of the eurozone, the sixteen European countries using the euro, did not grow at all in the final quarter of last year. Eurostat reports that the number was revised from an initial figure of +0.1%.

Eurozone 2010

Meanwhile, the eurozone’s lost more than 2.2% in a year-on year comparison, more than the initial estimate of 2.1%.

According to the numbers, Ireland saw an output drop of 2.3% in the last quarter of 2009, while Greece, the country in the eurozone with the most debt, had its economy contract by 0.8%. Italy was down by 0.3%, Germany saw no gain, but France posted a 0.6% quarterly growth.

The Associated Press reports the stagnation was unexpected by analysts, and will only reinforce expectations that the European Central Bank will keep the key interest rate at one percent for most of 2010.

On this day April 5, 1566

Two-hundred Dutch noblemen, led by Hendrik van Brederode, force themselves into the presence of Margaret of Parma and present the Petition of Compromise, denouncing the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. The Inquisition is suspended and a delegation is sent to Spain to petition Philip II.

On April 5 of that year Brederode accompanied to the palace a body of 300 confederates, for whom he acted as the spokesman, to present to the regent, Margaret of Parma, a petition setting forth their grievances.

It was at a banquet at the Hotel Culemburg on April 8, presided over by Bréderode, that the sobriquet of les Gueux, or “the Beggars,” was first given to the opponents of Spanish rule. Bréderode, the “Grote Geus” or big beggar, was banished from the Netherlands by Alva, and died in exile shortly afterwards at the early age of thirty-six. Read More…

Dutch cabinet collapses in dispute over Afghanistan troops

The Dutch coalition government has collapsed over “irreconcilable differences” between the two largest parties over Afghanistan troop deployments.

Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende

According to prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, the Labour Party, the second largest party in the government after the ruling Christian Democratic party, was resigning from the government, effective immediately.

Balkenende said, “You could see from the last few days that we couldn’t come up with an agreement.” He added, “Where there is no trust, it is difficult to work together. There is no good path to allow this cabinet to go further.”

The split occurred after 16 hours of talks over the future of the Dutch presence in the Afghanistan War, which ended early Saturday. While the Christian Democratic Party supported keeping a reduced military presence in the Uruzgan Province, the Labour Party demanded the immediate return of all Dutch troops in August. Read More…

On this day January 31, 1953

A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and the associated storm combined to create a major natural disaster which affected the coastlines of the Netherlands and England on the night of 31 January 1953.

Zuid-Beveland, 1953

Zuid-Beveland, 1953

Belgium, Denmark and France were also affected by flooding and storm damage. A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm caused a storm tide.

In combination with a tidal surge of the North Sea the water level locally exceeded 5.6 metres above mean sea level. The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding. Read More…