Dutch news in brief, Friday 7 August 2009

7th August 2009, Comments 1 comment

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Crisis boosts demand for homework help
One side effect of the economic crisis is that parents are much more likely to resort to coaching and homework help when their children’s academic achievements fall short of expectations. AD writes that ‘Parents want to give their children a better chance in uncertain times’.

Huiswerkbegeleiding.nl, a website for homework help services and tuition, reports that demand for coaching has increased by 25 percent compared to the same quarter in 2008.

A spokesperson said, “When unemployment is up and the economy faltering, parents tend to focus more on academic results. They want their child to get a slightly higher level of education. Coaching can make the difference in borderline cases.”

The Netherlands has about 200 commercial homework help institutions and some 500 private tutors offering their services on various websites. An estimated 60,000 to 110,000 secondary school students receive coaching at a homework help institute.

Max Studiepartner, one of the main homework help institutions, said parents and children are coming to them for help sooner and are staying longer.

The institute expects demand will continue to grow as a result of the crisis.

Veterinarians’ home pharmacies under fire
Agriculture Minister Gerda Verburg is considering a ban on the sale of medicines by veterinarians. Trouw reports that the use of antibiotics at dairy farms is shockingly high. Veterinarians are currently allowed to sell drugs from their home, making money from every prescription.

In Scandinavian countries, the use of antibiotics decreased substantially after vets were banned from running pharmacies from their homes. The minister has ordered a study to find out if such a measure would have similar beneficial effects in the Netherlands.

Trouw writes that the study is a new step by the agriculture ministry in the fight against the large quantity of drugs used in factory farming.

Farmers give their animals so many drugs that there is a serious risk of resistance against certain antibiotics, which could adversely affect the effectiveness of these antibiotics in humans. Multi-resistant bacteria found in hospitals often come from abroad but sometimes come from farms.

The Netherlands has the largest density of farm animals of any country in the European Union.

Hell's Angels sue government for damages
Dozens of Hell's Angels are suing the government for damages, demanding a total of EUR 2.2 million in compensation for being held in custody without justification.

De Volkskrant reports that the twelve who appeared in court in Amsterdam had left their biker jackets at home and that some were represented by lawyers.

At the end of 2005, the police arrested dozens of Hell's Angels on charges of belonging to a criminal organisation involved in drug trafficking, illegal possession of firearms and making violent threats. One of the arrestees was a well-known tattoo artist from the town of Leiden, who missed out on thousands of euros in turnover during his three months in custody.

“The fixed expenses of my shop continued. My wife had to sell the car and borrow money to tide us over. I was powerless.”

The case against the Hell's Angels ended in an embarrassing defeat for the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The court ruled that the Public Prosecutor’s Office forfeited its right to prosecute by illegally recording conversations between the suspects and their lawyers.

The government has already paid EUR 25,000 in damages to the Hell's Angels.

Debtors should learn to manage themselves
The Stichting Verantwoord (‘Responsible Foundation’) said debtors should be allowed to continue handling their own financial affairs instead of receiving an allowance from social services.

In the free newspaper Sp!ts, the foundation’s director Jet Creemers said this type of supervision is counterproductive. She expects that debt-restructuring services will soon be flooded with requests for assistance. “The main wave of redundancies is yet to come and in September school-leavers will join the labour market.”

Creemers said aid organisations do not have the capacity to manage the affairs of all their clients, resulting in long waiting lists. Instead, she wants to see debtors taught self-discipline so that they can manage their own money.

“At present, people in debt receive a monthly allowance to live on but they learn nothing from it. Aid workers should act more like advisors.”

However, Chairman Ger Jaarsma of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Volkskrediet (Netherlands Association for Popular Credit) said 80 percent of debtors are unable to balance their own budget.

“People generally only come to us after muddling along for 18 months or so. We provide immediate financial and emotional stability by ensuring that at least the fixed expenses are being paid.”

The association said aid workers work towards restoring the client’s control over their own finances as soon as possible.

Amsterdammers enjoy open air cinema
The front page of today’s edition of de Volkskrant features a photograph of a few hundred moviegoers reclining in deckchairs, enjoying the film Autumn Ball by Estonian film maker Veiko Öunpuu. The scene took place during the opening of the open air film festival Pluk de Nacht (Seize the Night) on the banks of the river IJ in Amsterdam.

The festival will last until 22 August and all showings are free in order to draw larger crowds for ‘vulnerable films’. For those who would rather sit in a cinema, the films will be shown in Studio K in eastern Amsterdam from 15 August.

Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder-Hes / Expatica

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