Dutch news in brief, Friday 1 August 2008

1st August 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

1 August 2008

Climate change in the Netherlands
The National Weather Centre (KNMI) released its latest report on the Dutch climate on Friday and several papers cover the story, as the main conclusion is rather alarming: the Netherlands is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world.

NRC.next's headline gives us the weather report for the coming years: "more sun and more rain".

According to the paper, the facts don't lie, climate change is not something that is going to happen decades from now and one KNMI meteorologist says: "We're already measuring the effects of climate change".

De Telegraaf tries to put a positive spin on it: "the land of Netherwine and Dutch palms" headlined the paper above a photo of a cow under a large parasol.

The paper writes that the warmer climate brings with it a wealth of new possibilities and will allow farmers to plant vineyards and sunflowers.

The downside is of course that more rain is problematic for a country that is largely below sea level. Dutch coastal defences will have to be strengthened and raised to cope with rising sea levels.

AD writes: "The government will have to spend hundreds of millions to build hundreds of meters of dike to protect the country".

Furious at Olympics censorship
De Volkskrant reports that the lower house of parliament is furious that the International Olympic Committee agreed to allow the Chinese government to restrict foreign journalists' access to the internet during the Olympic Games.

On Thursday, the news that the IOC had agreed to allow Beijing to censor the internet was met with outrage in many parts of the world.

Foreign journalists, along with the rest of the Chinese population, will not be able to access sites that Beijing has deemed sensitive.

Amnesty International, the Tibetan government-in-exile and the Falun Gong are just some of the sites that fall under the ban.

One Socialist Party MP has submitted written questions to the cabinet, demanding to know if Prince Willem Alexander, who is a member of the IOC, knew about the agreement and if he voted in favour of it.

"Fury over Olympic internet censorship" headlines De Telegraaf and its coverage of the story. The paper says that the conservative VVD called it, "a disgrace" and that a Labour Party MP said the agreement was, "too stupid for words", adding that the Olympic Games should not have been awarded to China in the first place.

Amsterdam no longer gay capital
NRC.next brings us the sad news that Amsterdam is no longer considered the gay capital of the world although it does retain a vestige of its mythic status as the gay and lesbian paradise.

In the 80s and 90s, Amsterdam was one of the few places in the world where it was okay to be gay but toleration has spread to other parts of the globe and many cities now have a booming gay and lesbian scene.

The paper says Berlin, Barcelona and Cape Town are increasingly popular because they are cheaper than Amsterdam.

There has also been a marked increase in homophobic violence in the Dutch capital and this has also had a negative impact on the pink tourist trade.

The paper interviews Amsterdam city councillor (and lesbian) Carolien Gehrels, who says she's never experienced any anti-homosexual violence herself although, "some of the guests at my wedding were verbally abused by passers-by".

A recent investigation by the Amsterdam tourist board revealed that gay and lesbian tourists are extremely important to the city's economy as they spend almost 30 percent more than heterosexuals.

The annual canal parade takes place on Saturday and the paper writes that more businesses are competing to sponsor boats. Lesbians and gays are trendy and competition for the pink euro is fierce.

Shortage of volunteers
Volunteers have been in the news quite a bit lately and Trouw interviews Marius Ernsting, chair of the Dutch Volunteer Association (NOV), who says that people should be allowed to do voluntary work while on company time as he believes this is the only way to solve the growing shortage of volunteers.

"Time off to do voluntary work should be included in collective labour agreements" says Ernsting, adding, "if that doesn't work, the government needs to pass a law requiring everyone in paid employment to perform at least one or voluntary work per week".

It sounds quite radical but as Trouw points out, the Netherlands has a rapidly ageing population and more and more women, who traditionally do the lion's share of unpaid work, are moving into paid employment.

According to Trouw, 80 percent of the people working as home helps or home carers are volunteers and as the population ages the demand will only increase.

The other sector that will also experience huge problems is the fire service, of the 27,000 fire service personnel in the Netherlands, 22,000 of them are volunteers.

According to Ernsting, if volunteers were paid, it would cost the Netherlands between EUR 18 and 20 billion per year. He says: "the bill is impossible to foot but it does indicate how valuable volunteers are".

Flies invade campsite
Today's silly season story comes from De Telegraaf: the populist paper's front page is graced by a photo of three middle-aged women standing in front of a caravan armed with plastic fly squatters.

They had been enjoying their holiday at a camp on the camping site in Zeeland until a neighbourhood farmer and dumped a load of chicken dung close to the campsite.

Tens of thousands of flies zoomed to the dung but some of the flies stopped off at the campsite.

The problem is so bad that some people have gone home early and the paper tells us "you can't buy a fly swatter in this area for love nor money".

One not-happy camper told the paper: "I've been coming here for years but I've never seen anything like it. Food isn't even safe in the 'fridge".

The farmer's somewhat laconic response was "they're not my flies".

[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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