Dutch News in brief, Thursday 22 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.
Appeal Judges explain ruling
Today's front pages are divided between what the papers are calling President Barack Obama's flying start, and the news that the right-wing populist Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, is to be prosecuted after all for his anti-Islamic rhetoric.
The Protestant daily, Trouw, leads with an analysis of why the Court of Appeal has quashed the Public Prosecutor's initial decision not to try Wilders. It says that the judges explain that the law against incitement to hatred has its roots in the 1930s. It was framed to stop political parties indulging in abuse and hate campaigns against groups holding different beliefs (Jews, Christians, capitalists).
Nrc.next says the judges realise that they are giving themselves a wide remit in allowing the courts to decide what is a criminal offence in the context of public debate in the Netherlands. However, they apparently believe the courtroom should act as a forum for that debate. The ruling also said that judges should "stand firm, as part of society" and so take a stand on the issues of the day. They also believe that an effective judicial system should contribute to a successful policy of integration.
Freedom Party's existence threatened
The mass-circulation De Telegraaf prefers to highlight the effects of the decision to prosecute Wilders who leads the right-wing Freedom Party (PVV). Its headline says it all: "PVV's existence under threat". It quotes the firebrand MP: "We just can't afford the hundreds of thousands in legal costs," he complains. The paper points out that his party receives no government subsidy.
It quotes two law professors who say Wilders has been condemned by the appeals ruling before any trial has taken place. "In its summing up, the court says he has indeed offended the Muslim faithful," they point out. The two go on to contend that the judges have already ruled that the MP "acted against the fundamental conditions for a stable democracy".
Top bosses' pay plummets
De Volkskrant's third headline today is "Top executives' bonuses plummet by 82 percent". It says the dramatic drop in board members' earnings in 2008 is thanks to stock market losses reducing the value of bonuses given in options and shares. It bases its information on 803 reports made to Financial Markets Authority.
Top executives don't have much to complain about, however. According to the paper, the average big business director earns one million euros a year, a maximum of a further million in annual bonuses, and up to another two million in shares bonuses. The huge increases in top earnings over recent years have been largely thanks to shares bonuses. These are now set to reduce the tally considerably.
Health insurer targets risk group
The AD reports that the largest health insurer in the Netherlands, Achmea, is to begin a major offensive to make 220,000 of its customers healthier. The hope is that a 16 percent reduction can be made in the number of hospital admissions within this risk group. Achmea director Arné van den Boom explains: "The reduction in expense is good for us and the patients feel better."
The Achmea customers will receive advice and support to help prevent them from becoming ill (again). An epidemiology professor is enthusiastic about the initiative. He believes that "the biggest health gains can be won through preventative measures and improvements in lifestyle".
Sesame Street furious
Finally the AD tells us on page three that the makers of the Dutch version of Sesame Street are livid that the show is being rescheduled again. It is being pushed out of the 5:30 pm slot for a new multi-cultural current affairs programme.
This is the sixth time in just a few years that the popular toddlers' puppet soap has had to change times. Sesame Street's director Ajé Boschhuizen is furious and is calling on parents to rebel. "How can they move us so easily to make way for an experiment?" he asks. "It remains to be seen whether the new programme will be a success at that time, but they are already ruining Sesame Street," he fumes.
Radio Netherlands/Mike Wilcox/Expatica