Dutch News in brief, Wednesday 21 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.
High expectations for President Obama
All the papers carry pictures of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle during yesterday's inauguration ceremony. But the picture in free newspaper De Pers probably best sums up the mammoth expectations of the world on President Obama's shoulders. It prints a rendition of Raphael's The Transfiguration with the first black US president depicted as Jesus, flanked by two prophets, the clouds looming behind him lit up. The headline reads "Black Jesus has come". The Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander told a press conference in Dubai that the inauguration of Barack Obama was "probably more important than the release of Nelson Mandela".
In De Telegraaf, two "poor" students who had the audacity to ask Richard Branson during a Q&A session for a lift in his private jet to Washington DC are pictured with the multimillionaire outside Schiphol Airport. According to de Volkskrant, many prominent Dutch politicians and journalists attended a special gathering at the official residence of the Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, where hot dogs and mini hamburgers were served. The Stars and Stripes was hoisted above the Old Church in the middle of the capital's red light district.
Outside the church, US Consulate General Marjorie Ames said "It's a great day. Yesterday Martin Luther King Day and today the inauguration of the first Afro-American president. This is very symbolic." Three hundred and fifty US expats who watched the ceremony in the Hard Rock Cafe near the famous Leidseplein cheered "Yes we can" just after 6 pm Dutch time.
Amsterdam mayor closes squatter's café
De Volkskrant reports that the Mayor of Amsterdam has ordered the closure of a large squatter's cafe in the capital following a fight involving the café's personnel which left the victim paralysed.
In September 2008, a squatter called "Yoghurt" was beaten up with a lead pipe by the café Vrankrijk's DJ and bouncers when he tried to enter the premises with his dog. He was left seriously injured and bleeding on the street. When police found the man, they were refused entry to the café. The Vrankrijk squatters referred to one of the conditions granted in their licence which allows them to refuse entry to the police. In the four months since the incident there has been plenty of discussion about it on the Internet. Even Yoghurt, for whom a benefit concert has been organised, has joined in defending his assailants. The café has two weeks to appeal the decision.
New wave of hit and run robberies across the Netherlands
Local councils, police and shopkeepers have joined forces to tackle a new wave of impulsive robberies. According to de Volkskrant, hit and run robberies increased by 12 percent last year across the Netherlands. The new trend follows a steady drop in robberies between 2003 and 2007. Sixty percent of the robbers are between 18 and 27 years old, and 12 percent are carried out by children aged between 14 and 17. "It's a hype: badly prepared, impulsive, hit and run" says the national robbery coordinator. If the robbery is successful, others copy it. The impulsive robbers are different to the traditional robbers, who case the joint for a few days and for whom a robbery is a step in their criminal career. This new group decides in the afternoon that it will rob a takeaway in the evening. If it's too busy, they just go on to a petrol station instead.
The extra measures include more police on the beat, advising shopkeepers on how to minimise the likelihood of a robbery, rewards for tips, telephone tip lines and a crackdown in scooter drivers, which is more often than not the getaway vehicle.
Commotion over compensation for mayor of Den Helder
There is commotion in the local council of Den Helder, according to AD, following the the lavish amounts of compensation awarded to the town's new mayor to cover his housing costs. The mayor, Stefan Hulman, had requested an extra 3200 euros per month because he had not managed to sell his home in Rotterdam. Later it emerged that he also owned a holiday home in Spain and that the law only allows 230 euros in compensation per month.
The paper writes that the council's executive had called for the mayor's resignation, but it was the aldermen themselves who allowed the compensation in the first place. Expert in local government Marcel Boogers says "the question is: can the council executive hold their heads high after this?". It's the third major crisis the council has seen in six years. A cooling off period has been announced.
National reading days begin with breakfast
The national reading aloud days have begun with a reading breakfast for toddlers at a number of primary schools and children's day care centres. Trouw reports that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, his deputy Wouter Bos, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and Princess Laurentien are among the prominent Dutch figures who are reading to the toddlers from the 2009 picture book of the year "Anton can do magic" by Ole Könnecke. It's hoped the day will stimulate parents to read to their children. "More than 20 percent of three-year-olds are not read to at home" says Desirée van der Zander from the Reading Foundation.
Radio Netherlands/Nicola Chadwick/Expatica