Dutch news in brief, Friday 12 December 2008

12th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

One in 100 babies dies
Nrc-next reports how recent research shows that one in a hundred babies dies. The research reports that the Netherlands has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe: only France and Latvia are worse off.

"How is this possible in such a prosperous nation?" asked de Volkskrant. The paper quotes one researcher as saying: "We can now no longer claim that we're doing wonderfully well." Another expert agreed: "It's time for us to show greater humility."

It would seem that the causes are complex and not always clear. Trouw speaks to one researcher who emphasised "Much more research needs to be done. Right now we don't have enough grip on the situation to make real improvements."

De Volkskrant mentions a number of factors, from the system of prenatal testing to the relatively high percentage of Dutch women who give birth over the age of 35.

The way in which the statistics are compiled also plays a part, according to Professor of Obstetrics Jan Nijhuis, quoted in the same paper: "Dutch doctors are more inclined to stop treatment if they see an infant has no chance of survival, whereas in other countries they often keep going until the bitter end. By doing that you might stretch a child's life to five weeks, which means it no longer counts as infant mortality. But you have to ask yourself whether it's worthwhile making those kinds of changes in order to be number 1."

Winners and losers in credit crunch
Amid all the tales of economic stagnation and deepening recession, some of today's papers pointed out that it's not all bad news. AD reports that all big holiday bungalow parks in the Netherlands are fully booked this Christmas.

A spokesman of the big holiday bungalow park said: "In a bungalow you can still have a special Christmas with family and friends for a reasonable price."

Trouw reports that while the financial crisis is a disaster for the building sector and the housing market, it's a blessing for the handyman.

"In uncertain times, the choice is simple: no new house for the time being but you can always spruce up the extension or re-tile the bathroom."

The paper speaks to one contented workman who said: "I'm not worried about my future ... my diary's full till next summer."

De Telegraaf reports of the 4,500 guests at Thursday’s night opening of Millionaire Fair 2008 who showed no sign of changing their ways. The paper described the event as "an orgy of luxury" where guests "wolfed down their caviar, unperturbed by a handful of anti-consumerism protestors at the entrance".

The proceedings were kicked of by none other than former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson who sported a suitably spangly item of swimwear.

Poet Hans Verhagen wins PC Hooft prize
Poet Hans Verhagen has been awarded the winner of this year's PC Hooft Prize which is the highest literary honour that can befall a Dutch writer.  The writer is awarded for a writer's entire oeuvre and not for a single work.

Verhagen seems to be taking it all in his stride though: "Oh, these prizes are a lot of nonsense really. I mean I do like it, you know. Mainly for the money, I hasten to add. I mean - EUR 600,000 - that'll keep me in smokes for an evening."

De Volkskrant reports that the poet, whose latest work is entitled Black Holes, fell into something of a black hole himself: "After the Sixties, drink, drugs and marriage to his muse ... kept him away from poetry for a long time."

But Trouw reports the poet is now back and stronger than ever.

"I'm in form. I've found a good tempo. I think the stuff I'm doing now is good, and that's what it's all about. And of course I hope I have written something that will still mean something a few years down the line," says Verhagen.

Christians up in arms about Tour coming on Sunday
It's been a few weeks since Rotterdam celebrated as they win the honour of hosting the start of the 2010 Tour de France.

Since then the route planners have been busy and several of today's papers feature photos of the city's mayor hobnobbing with Tour director Christian Prudhomme and Dutch cycling legend Joop Zoetemelk at the presentation.

But not everyone's delighted by the prospect ... and in particular the timing. Devout Christian villagers of Goedereede and Ouddorp told AD that they are unhappy that the Tour is coming on Sunday.

 "Why does the Tour have to come through here on the Lord's day?" they ask.

One resident said: "Sunday is our day of rest …. This is terrible news."

Even the local mayor, who has been rather proud the Tour is coming his way, seems mainly concerned about keeping spectators out of his village come the big day.

The owner of the local bookshop gets all philosophical: "You can see the Tour as a glorification of mankind. That's fair enough, but only on the other six days of the week."

However, he's keen to point out "It isn't always quiet here on a Sunday. Come on down to the church sometime. You'll hear us sing at the top of our voices."

Knickers to Linda de Mol
TV celebrity Linda de Mol has decided to slip a luxurious item of lingerie into the food parcels handed out to the less fortunate to spice up their festive season.

But according to De Telegraaf, many of the lucky recipients have more pressing things on their mind than fancy underwear.

"Of course it's a nice gesture," concedes one lady "but why doesn't she give us something we could really use - like a nice piece of meat. I haven't had that in months."

There appears to be a practical problem as well. One woman said”: "Couldn't she have made them a bit bigger? How on earth am I supposed to fit into these? My daughter could barely squeeze into this size."

[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]

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