Dutch news in brief, Friday 16 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.
Peaceful Gaza protest in Utrecht
Several papers cover the latest protest against the fighting in the Gaza Strip; last week's protests in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht turned ugly; many protesters were shouting anti-Semitic slogans and threatening passers-by. Trouw writes that in preparation for yesterday's protest in Utrecht, the authorities had mobilised a significant police presence.
In contrast to last week's demonstration, yesterday's protest was peaceful, although Trouw reports that two demonstrators were arrested for chanting anti-Semitic slogans. De Volkskrant says a group of women were intent on holding a serious demonstration and seemed to be responsible for making the men behave themselves.
De Telegraaf writes that Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb told an emergency council debate on last week's ugly demonstration that police are still analysing video footage and protesters who were shouting anti-Semitic and racist chants could face arrest and prosecution.
Collapsing housing market good news for buyers
"It's a buyer’s market" headlines AD above an in-depth look at the collapsing housing market. The paper says now is the ideal time to buy a house as housing prices were almost 2.5 percent lower in the last quarter of 2008 than in the third quarter. According to Ger Hukker, chairman of the Dutch Association of Realtors (NVM) "buyers will have all the bargaining power for at least the next 18 months". Another realty association tells the paper, "potential buyers are seizing their chances; the average sale price is now five percent lower than the asking price".
Hukker says falling prices have led to at least one advantageous knock-on effect, "the crisis has unlocked the housing market and it is easier for first-time buyers to find a place". However, there is a huge downside as well, "it has had a huge impact on the economy, namely 1.1 percent less growth".
AD prints a few handy tips for those attempting to sell their homes: get rid of the ugly furniture and tidy up. Sound advice.
Bill to increase paternity leave
De Volkskrant reports that Green Left MP Ineke van Gent has amended her paternity leave bill in the hope of getting the backing of a majority in the lower house. The original bill had called for increasing paternity leave from two days to 10 but while MPs were sympathetic to the idea behind the bill - fathers would have more time to bond with their newborn child - they refused to back the bill, as the price tag was too hefty. In an effort to meet MPs’ cost-cutting demands, Ms Van Gent, under the motto of "better something than nothing," submitted an amended bill calling for five days of paternity leave.
Social Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner says the measure will cost too much and that new fathers can take vacation days if they want to spend more time with their newborn babies. According to the minister, "five days isn't long enough to create a bond between father and child anyway".
Playing poker with the taxman
De Telegraaf brings bad news for internet gamblers, "taxman grabs poker winnings" headlines the paper, telling its readers that the tax office has managed to uncover the identity of gamblers hiding behind internet aliases and has sent out letters demanding payment. The populist daily says the amount owed to the tax office runs into the "several millions".
Tax lawyer Frans Duynstee has advised his clients not to pay up as the taxman isn't holding very good cards, "the tax office should send the claim to the organisers not to the players".
According to Duynstee, it is remarkable that the letter from the tax office made no mention of the fact that internet gambling is illegal in the Netherlands, "it does rather give the impression that illegal gambling is tolerated".
Economic crisis good for erotic industry
AD brings us the intriguing news that the economic crisis has been something of a stimulus for the erotica industry. Europe's largest erotica company, based in Rotterdam, reported a 12 percent increase in turnover during the last two months of 2008 and says the trend looks set to continue. According to the company, people are staying home due to the recession and sex is much cheaper than dinner and a movie.
Radio Netherlands. Jacqueline Carver/ Expatica