Dutch news in brief, Monday 10 November 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.10 November 2008
Coffee shops to go?
"Criminologist: Coffee shops will disappear within two years" is the lead headline in Trouw.
Erasmus University's professor in criminology Henk van de Bunt argues that the Netherlands cannot continue to tolerate the existence of coffee shops and sale of soft drugs because of "international opposition".
He says the policy was only a temporary measure and the decision by towns near the Belgian border to close their coffee shops was "inevitable".
Most papers write about the controversy surrounding a recent proposal by the leader of the Christian Democrat faction in parliament, Pieter van der Geel, to crack down on coffee shops.
De Volkskrant covers the Christian Democrats' annual convention on Saturday, when party leader Van der Geel "received loud applause after saying: 'Forwards to zero coffee shops'".
"With an attack against the acceptance of coffee shops and soft drugs the Christian Democrats have greatly annoyed their Labour coalition partner."
The newspaper Trouw writes that the party leader "needled the Labour Party for a while when he proposed to close all coffee shops and to end the policy of tolerating soft drugs".
However a short time later, the Christian Democratic leader was forced to admit that his party would abide by the governing accord. The coalition partners agreed that during the current cabinet there would be no change to existing policies regarding soft drugs.
A survey conducted by the newspaper AD found that two-thirds of the Dutch population opposes the party leader's proposal. Seventy-five percent do not think that closing coffee shops would lead to a decrease in the consumption of soft drugs. More than two-thirds believe that legalisation would be the best way to fight crime.
De Telegraaf covered the news in its Sunday edition. The paper writes that the chiefs of Dutch police oppose the idea of closing coffee shops. The Christian Democratic mayor of Maastricht, who is "fervently opposed" to shutting them, says: "The mafia in the Untied States was founded thanks to Prohibition."
Van der Sloot bluffs again
Trouw reports on the second undercover investigation by Dutch crime reporter Pieter R de Vries of the activities of Joran ven der Sloot.
In February Van der Sloot "confessed" to disposing of Natalie Holloway's body on the island of Aruba while being secretly filmed. He later said he made it all up.
On Sunday evening he was shown on Dutch television while negotiating the services of Thai prostitutes. This time, too, he says he was bluffing.
Should flat screen TV be reimbursed?
Should people with a minimum income receive a free flat screen television? The issue has sparked fierce debate in the Groningen city council. "Whoever has been living on a minimum income for five years or longer is no longer reimbursed for (up to) EUR 170 when buying a new television, but EUR 450."
Nrc.next writes that MPs for the right-wing Freedom Party asked Deputy Social Affairs Minister Aboutaleb: "How can you justify this ridiculous gift to hard working Dutch citizens, who often have to save for a long time before they can buy a flat screen TV?"
However, the minister has nothing to do with the issue, which is decided by the Groningen city council. Socialist councillor Peter Verschuren says the whole thing is an "absurd hype". "An image is projected that we are playing Santa Claus. The reality is that we have 20,000 households living on a minimum income and an average of 10 households who ask for this kind of television per month. While Minster Bos guarantees EUR 100,000 to everyone who has so much money that he can open a savings account in Iceland."
Maxima to receive first copy of 'dirty war' book
"On 24 November Princess Maxima will accept the first copy of a book about the 1978 World Cup, 'Football in a Dirty War', at Noordeinde Palace. Among those who will be present at the ceremony is Nora Morales de Cortinas, spokeswoman of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
De Volkskrant says it is "remarkable" that the princess is attending the ceremony since it describes how the regime of Jorge Videla, which killed 30,000 opponents in the dirty war, manipulated the press.
Princess Maxima's father Jorge Zorreguieta was a deputy minister when the World Cup was played and was appointed minister a few months later. A study conducted by the Dutch government before the marriage of Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Alexander concluded that Zorreguieta must have known about the offences committed by the regime.
"When the publisher Verkammen sent a letter several week ago requesting that the princess receive the first copy he gave himself 'a chance of half a percent.'" "I wrote that she should see this as a humanitarian gesture, not political." De Volkskrant reports that the princess's secretary answered that Maxima "would not avoid the issue".
The paper writes that it is not know if the government was informed about the politically sensitive gesture. Princess Maxima had an informal meeting with the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires in 2005.
T-shirts to help promote good police image
De Telegraaf interviews Labour MP Attje Kuiken, who during a working visit to New York was "inspired by the fact that Americans are so proud of their police and walk around wearing caps of the FBI and NYPD". "We should do the same...We should be proud of our policemen and women. These are the people who protect us, who devote themselves day and night to saving lives."
The Labour Party also thinks that improving the image of police among young people "will make a contribution to working away the large shortage in personnel. Police and criminal investigation departments currently have 858 vacancies."
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]