Dutch news in brief, Monday 10 August 2009

10th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

What epidemic? Fear of swine flu dwindles
Stories about the swine flu epidemic, or rather stories about the coming flu epidemic, appear in several papers this morning. ‘Hysteria Mexicana - not in the Netherlands’ headlines De Volkskrant, above a photo of a man wearing a homemade face mask with fluffy pink pigs sewn onto it.

The paper writes that the chance of getting the swine flu is slightly higher than winning the lottery but no one seems to be particularly worried about it, except hospitals and companies who fear losing money.

NRC.next writes that the flu epidemic could cause a dramatic shift in the Dutch work ethic. The health ministry recently advised employees suffering from swine flu to stay at home and columnist Suzanne van den Eynden writes, ‘is it not remarkable that the health ministry should have to issue advice for what should be normal practice, i.e., do not come to work and infect everybody else with your virus.’

Van den Eynden writes, ‘Many employees are afraid to call in sick and employers look askance at those who dare to take a few days off because of the flu.’ She continues, ‘Most companies encourage people to come to work when they are ill and hand out bonuses to people who have not reported sick for a year.’ She adds, ‘I look forward to the day when people are given bonuses for staying home with the flu.’

Families Congress sparks criticism
This morning's Trouw kicks off with the news that the World Congress of Families, which starts on Monday, has raised a storm of controversy before it has even begun: ‘Family Congress promotes extreme ideas’, headlines the Protestant paper. Critics say the WCF is a fundamentalist organisation and its views are completely out of character with traditional Dutch ideals of tolerance and freedom.

Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Union leader André Rouvoet is scheduled to deliver the opening address but the Catholics for Choice organisation has called on the minister to cancel, because his appearance "implicitly supports the ideas which led to the murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh".

Several other groups are planning protests due to the WCF's opposition to abortion, single mothers, contraceptives, euthanasia and equal rights for women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

Ill-gotten gains earns big money for municipalities
It appears that Dutch municipalities have found a new way to make money in these economically challenging times: ‘Targeting flashy criminals makes millions’, writes Trouw. According to the Protestant paper, Dutch provinces and municipalities are earning hundreds of millions of euros by targeting criminals who openly display their ill-gotten gains.

In 2005, Amsterdam police began a pilot project – codenamed sports car strategy – that targeted criminals' assets. Police seized real estate, expensive automobiles, boats, scooters, jewellery and electronic goods worth millions from criminals who paraded their wealth. The successful project has now been implemented by police departments across the country.

Defence helicopters rescue tourists
Trouw reports that military helicopters are busier than usual rescuing tourists from the Wadden Islands; over the last two weeks, military personnel have transported 15 people to hospitals on the mainland. A defence ministry spokesperson told the paper, "transporting patients to hospitals happens fairly frequently in the summer but 15 patients in a two week period is an awful lot."

The paper does not speculate on the reason for the increase.

Fast food joints should display calories
‘Report calories in hamburgers’ writes AD. The Dutch Consumer Association has called on fast food joints to report the fat content and the number of calories in meals next to their price on menus. Researchers in the US recently reported that calorie and nutritional information printed on paper placemats or flyers have no effect on consumer behaviour.
A Consumer Association spokesperson told the paper, "the government also wants clear information about the fat, sugar, salt and calorie content in food to be available for consumers," adding that many people underestimate the number of calories in a particular food item.

"The association supports the government move but the information should be displayed in a prominent place in order to encourage people to eat healthily."

De Telegraaf reports the same story showing a photo of a consumer enjoying an array of fast food snacks.

Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica

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