Dutch news in brief, Friday 18 December 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Winter in the Netherlands: beautiful but chaotic
Winter has well and truly arrived in the Netherlands as the country was covered with a thick blanket of snow Thursday morning.
Trouw’s front page featured newborn lambs frolicking in white fields and AD published an exuberant bunch of school kids enjoying their first snowball fight of the season. NRC Handelsblad showed an achingly picturesque village, complete with windmill, nestling amid snow-covered countryside.
However, the media also revealed the downside of this winter wonderland. Trouw led with “New life in the snow, chaos on road and railways” while AD grumbled: “Snow disrupts the entire country”.
As traffic tailbacks reached a whopping total of 675 kilometres and train services ground to a standstill, NRC Handelsblad noted wryly: “Now we know why the fastest-moving thing on a Christmas card is a sleigh.”
de Volkskrant reported trains at Utrecht Central Station were delayed as glum travellers stared blankly at an equally blank arrivals and departures board.
In De Telegraaf’s report, the paper used words such as “Bunglers!” and “What a farce!”. It also quoted a chorus of equally miffed MPs: “Unbelievable! What a bunch of amateurs!”
De Telegraaf’s editorial said: “Passengers have a right to be angry. The rail companies have shown spectacular incompetence. The fact that a little bit of snow can bring the whole network to a standstill is unacceptable in a country that is eager to promote itself as a transport hub.”
De Telegraaf also featured a photo of someone worse off than Thursday’s stranded commuters. A poor motorist in Assen is pictured huddled in a blanket on the roof of his snow-covered car after it slid into the icy canal.
Doom and gloom at climate summit
With the clock ticking down towards the end of the Copenhagen climate summit, the Dutch press saw little cause for optimism in the signs coming from the Danish capital.
“Failure looms for climate summit” warned de Volkskrant. AD reported Europe has launched a major last-gasp offensive to turn the summit around but added that “the chance of success is extremely small”.
NRC Handelsblad led with “Babel comes to Copenhagen” and commented that with less than 48 hours to go “the negotiators are beavering away feverishly but it looks like no one can understand each other.”
The paper quoted one negotiator as saying “China and America are entwined in a deadly dance. It would be a good thing if they could learn some new steps at last.” It also observed that “the hope that Obama will play a deciding role is gradually evaporating”.
de Volkskrant reported the patience of Dutch Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer was wearing thin as she declared ominously “she knows who the saboteurs are”, namely a number of developing countries including China.
NRC Handelsblad looked beyond the superpowers to the concerns of smaller states and cited the Pacific island state of Tuvalu, whose president was in tears as he shared his fears for the future of his country with the summit.
The paper also quoted UN climate chief Yvo de Boer who said: “Nations like these will not agree to a suicide pact.”
On a more cynical note, nrc.next shows cartoon duo Fokke and Sukke lobbying for Amsterdam to host the 2028 climate summit “assuming the city’s not under water by then”.
Festive fun with a twist
A number of the papers looked at what this year’s yuletide has in store. de Volkskrant featured a “new tradition” for school kids in Almelo of taking a breathalyser test upon arriving at the Christmas Ball. This is an attempt by the school board to combat the trend among youngsters of getting tanked up on booze before going out for the evening.
In a separate report, De Telegraaf reported on a campaign being launched by the Mayor of Apeldoorn, Fred de Graaf who wants every town hall in the Netherlands to host a Christmas dinner for lonely senior citizens.
However, his municipality seems to be the only one to open its doors to give the elderly a bit of festive cheer. “We’re making a tradition of it. Why shouldn’t every town hall do the same? After all, we all have a staff restaurant.”
DJs to broadcast round the clock in glass house for charity
“This evening Princess Máxima will lock three DJs up in a glass house in Groningen” reported nrc-next.
This marked the start of another festive tradition in which three presenters from Dutch station Radio 3FM volunteer to be confined to a glass house in a Dutch city centre for six days to raise money for a worthy cause, with no food and broadcasting in shifts round the clock.
The event, Serious Request, is now in its fifth year and has become something of a national institution, raising nearly EUR 16 million since its inception.
A whole host of local fundraising initiatives are already under way. As de Volkskrant reported “Miss the Glass House event in Groningen? Impossible! … In the days to come you can cycle, have breakfast, drink beer, dance, have a massage, take part in a mosquito swatting game and have your photo taken with a Jack Sparrow lookalike … all in the aid of this year’s cause: combating malaria.”
Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica