Dutch news in brief, Friday 6 March 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Rabobank: let the crisis be you friend
"The recession is a useful correction." "Let’s be happy about it." "It's healthy shrinkage." Not the kind of words we're used to hearing from bankers in these times of economic disaster. But then the banker in question is the departing head of the Rabobank, Bert Heemskerk, rubbing his hands in glee as he bows out on a high. While other banks are haemorrhaging money right, left and centre, he had the pleasure yesterday of announcing a profit of 2.8 billion for 2008, the highest in the bank's history.
De Volkskrant likens the Dutch banker "with his pin-stripe suit and breast-pocket handkerchief to Gordon — greed is good — Gekko" the ruthless financier from Oliver Stone's 1980s movie Wall Street. But the paper goes on to note immediately, "appearances can be deceptive."
In presenting the figures, Heemskerk seemed determined to look on the bright side. Referring to the Chinese character for "crisis" he noted "it also means opportunity". De Volkskrant goes on to quote him as saying the crisis has come right on time. "It means the world economy has imploded not exploded." The difference being: after an explosion there's nothing left, but after an implosion, a foundation remains.
Culture clash over Schiphol crash
AD ponders the Turkish response to the initial findings about the cause of last week's Turkish Airlines crash at Schiphol Airport. The preliminary results suggest that there was a technical problem with altitude readings in the cockpit but also that the Turkish pilots failed to respond in time. This prompted the headline "Everyone's guilty except the Dutch" in Turkish daily Hürriyet. Today's AD hits back — albeit not on the front page — with "Turk is always proud but never guilty."
The paper speaks to Lilly Sprangers, director of the Netherlands' Turkey Institute, who tries to explain the differences "Turkey has a culture of shame and the Netherlands a culture of blame. Here in the Netherlands, if you accept the blame, you are free to move on. In Turkey, that's unthinkable. For Turkish people it's very important to find somewhere else to put the blame."
AD notes that "a problem with a Turkish aeroplane in the Netherlands is in danger of rapidly spiralling into a gruesome shouting match."
Dutch MPs scream blue murder over school permit
There aren't many issues these days that have Dutch MPs falling over each other in agreement. But as De Telegraaf reports, the Netherlands' Council of State — the highest authority in the land on administrative law — has managed just that by ruling that a convicted murderer should be granted a "Declaration of Good Conduct" that would allow him to work in a primary school.
The Council ruled that the Dutch authorities had no right to refuse the man a declaration because he met the criterion of not having fallen foul of the law for the past four years, even though he was convicted for killing his wife in 1996. The Council's verdict states matter-of-factly "The circumstance that the crime committed involved loss of life is, in itself, not a special circumstance."
The decision has prompted outrage and derision from MPs across the political spectrum, from the Socialists to the right-wing Freedom Party. Perhaps the conservative VVD's Fred Teeven sums up the indignation best: "If you are emotionally incontinent enough to kill someone, then you are not suited to working with children." Socialist Jan Wit agrees: "Someone with such a past shouldn't be in a classroom, even if they have mended their ways." The MPs are now calling for Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin to amend the law.
Star-studded restaurant bids Michelin farewell
For those of you who thought a Michelin star is the dream of every top chef, think again. Limburg chef Michel Kagenaar tells today's papers "it's all too much fuss." When his restaurant reopens under a new name on 15 March, it will be without its culinary badge of honour.
"It hurts to some extent" the owners admit to De Telegraaf "The star was our pride and joy, something we had worked towards for years." But as they tell AD, success comes at a price. "The expectations are high and it takes a lot of time and energy to meet them — too much for us."
"It can even be something of a stigma" they warn, in nrc-next this time. "A lot of people associate Michelin with expensive, chic and formal." So it's out with the linen and leather chairs and "back to basics" for Michel. "The pleasure had gone out of it. This gives us the chance to start over." Not to mention providing a truckload of free publicity to boot.
24 hours for free
Ever considerate, the folks at nrc-next devote a two-page spread to how to have fun 24-hours a day, without spending a penny.
Things get off to a bad start with the paper admitting "a free breakfast is hard to come by" but for free coffee, there's always the local supermarket. For culture and edification there are free lunchtime classical concerts in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw or a game of chess with life-size pieces in the hall of Rotterdam's central library. To get from one to the other, why not hitchhike?
After wolfing down a free anarchist meal courtesy of Food Not Bombs you're off out for an evening of free-trial salsa lessons, jazz workshops and open-mike shows. For a free night's sleep don't head for the Salvation Army — which cost 10 euros in any case — but pretend to be a potential buyer and take a Swedish mattress for a test drive. If it looks like being an eventful night, there's a firm that will send you ten condoms "in a discreet envelope" without charging you postage. At nrc-next, they really do think of everything.
One slight drawback. Since every entry ends with - "check out www-dot-something-or-other for further information," you might want to get yourself hooked up to a free internet connection before you start.
Radio Netherlands/David Doherty/Expaticva