Dutch news in brief, Friday 9 January 2009

9th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Defence ministry announces offensive against roadside bombs
Trouw reports that the defence ministry has announced it will "step up the fight against roadside bombs" in the Afghan province of Uruzgan.

The ministry has earmarked EUR 80 million for the purchase of advanced electronic equipment, including new armoured vehicles equipped with robotic arms, remote controlled lorries and special software to analyse aerial photographs.

Colonel Joland Dubbeldam, commander of the Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, said the new measures will put the Netherlands on a par with the US, the UK and Canada.

Other NATO countries have reportedly expressed interest in the new Dutch approach.

Facades of older flats may collapse
AD writes that the housing ministry says that facades of tens of thousands of blocks of flats built between the 1950s and 1980s may suddenly collapse due to rusty wall clamps.

The announcement was prompted by the collapse of a brick wall covering the facade of a block of flats in The Hague.

Inspectors from the housing ministry alerted local councils to the danger as early as 2007, but the councils are not obliged to inspect all blocks of flats.

“It is up to the councils to decide whether they feel this is an important issue," said a ministry spokesperson.

About once a year, part of a facade collapses somewhere in the Netherlands. The housing ministry said: "The chances of facades of blocks of flats collapsing increase every year. An additional hazard is posed by the fact that there is no way of telling from the outside that a facade is about to come down. The risk of people being hit by a hail of stones is not imaginary."

Cabinet ends subsidies to Christian organisation over homosexual cure
De Volkskrant reports on the controversial Christian organisation Onze Weg (Our Way) over its alleged attempts to cure homosexuals.

In a letter to parliament, Emancipation Minister Ronald Plasterk (Labour Party) announces the organisation will lose its annual subsidy of EUR 50,000.

In a letter to the minister, Onze Weg writes it does not want to cure homosexuals, because it does not consider homosexuality a disease, but offers a way to "inner change" which can lead to a "reduction" of homosexual feelings. The organisation adds that this is "not necessarily our intended objective".

However, the minister said: "The subsidy was intended to promote social acceptance of homosexuality. It is therefore inappropriate to attempt to reduce a person's sexual persuasion. After all, we don't expect heterosexuals to suppress their feelings either, do we?

Ice-skating fever continues
The continuing cold snap in the Netherlands is still front-page news in most of today's papers, with nearly all of them featuring photographs of Thursday's national marathon ice-skating championship. This was the first time in 12 years the national championship could be organised on natural ice.

De Telegraaf has a photograph of winner Sjoerd Huisman jubilantly raising his arms into the air just after crossing the finish line, while Trouw has a picture of a lead group of six skaters and a cameraman on a motorcycle and sidecar. Due to Thursday's overcast weather, the skaters appear to have been painted onto an off-white canvas.

De Volkskrant publishes a photograph of two homeless people in the eastern city of Arnhem. The two, wrapped in blankets, are eating soup they just received from local Red Cross workers who are actively looking for homeless people who insist on sleeping outdoors.

Despite the fact that most councils have introduced measures to ensure that all homeless people spend their nights indoors during the cold snap, 96 people in the four main cities are still sleeping on the streets.

 [Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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