Dutch news in brief, Monday 11 August 2008

11th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

11 August 2008

Olympics off to promising start
Most of today's papers feature photographs of the Dutch female swimmers who won the first gold medal for the Netherlands at the Beijing Olympics.

De Telegraaf has, as was to be expected, the biggest picture, with the word GOLD! written over it in huge orange capital letters.

According to the paper, the four swimmers Inge Dekker, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk and Marleen Veldhuis "streaked through the water like a three-stage rocket" to win the 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay in 3 minutes 33.76 seconds.

Queen Beatrix sent a fax to the four swimmers congratulating them on their Olympic victory. An official ceremony honouring the quartet was held at the Holland Heineken House in the Beijing Olympic village on Sunday.

However, there were also some setbacks on the second day of the Olympics. Cyclist Marianne Vos ended in sixth place in the women's road race and judoka Dex Elmont did not make it to the finals of the men 66 kilograms category.

The Dutch football team only barely managed to stay in the race by scoring an equaliser in injury time to make the final score 2-2 in their match against the United States.

War in Georgia
Also featuring on the front pages of most of today's papers are photographs of the war in Georgia.

De Volkskrant has a photograph of an improvised ward in the basement of a hospital in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, while nrc.next features a picture of a burnt out Georgian tank in the same city.

Trouw has a photograph of an injured woman sitting among burning rubble with blood streaming down her face after Russian bombs destroyed her house in the Georgian town of Gori.

In a commentary Trouw writes that "Georgia made a mistake, but Russia is showing its true face".

The paper blames Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili for a reckless attack which was doomed to fail, but argues that Russia had been increasing the number of incidents against Georgian villages and leaders in South Ossetia.

According to the paper, Russia's intentions are clear from the attacks on non-military targets inside Georgia itself. Apparently, Russia wants to seize the opportunity to further destabilise Georgia by dealing a heavy blow to its economic infrastructure.  

Trouw argues that there is little the West can do in the short term, adding that recent events have proved the Baltic nations, the Poles and the Ukrainians right: only full integration in the West, including a NATO membership, will afford protection against Russian interference.

Road hogs to servce sentences at rehabilitation centres
On a much lighter note, AD reports that the Public Prosecutors Office and the probation service have agreed that people sentenced to community service in connection with serious traffic offences will have to serve their sentences at rehabilitation centres in future.

A trial of this system will start in the Arnhem-Utrecht region at the end of the summer, with nationwide introduction to follow in one year.

Director Sjef van Gennip of the national probation service says that: "You need to confront traffic offenders with road casualties. It has an educational effect".

AD writes that 800 people are killed and thousands injured in traffic each year, with a number of the victims ending up in rehabilitation centres for long-term convalescence.

In 2007, nearly 4,500 traffic offenders were sentenced to community service.

At present, most of them serve their sentences at community centres and kiddy farms, but the Public Prosecutors Office and the probation service want these offenders to start doing maintenance work at rehabilitation centres.

Van Gennip says: "So they can see from the consequences of traffic offences. The objective is that the community service should fit the nature of the crime".

Costa del Sol
De Volkskrant writes that phones at the Dutch housing corporation Rochdale were ringing off the hook after last week's newspaper report saying that Rochdale was offering rented houses on the Spanish Costa del Sol to "active senior citizens".

A spokesperson for Rochdale said: "Apparently many of our tenants are active senior citizens".

The housing corporation, one of the Netherlands' largest, has a policy of catering to the needs of target groups. Rochdale also owns housing specifically designed, for example, for drug addicts and also for Hindus.

In July, Housing Minister Ella Vogelaar wrote to the housing corporation asking for clarification on Rochdale's involvement in the Costa Blanca project.

Under Dutch law, housing corporations are barred from taking part in risk-bearing foreign activities, and corporation funds can only be invested in housing projects on Dutch territory.

However, Rochdale says it is aware of the rules but is doing nothing illegal.

Earlier, Rochdale assisted tenants in finding housing in Surinam, a former Dutch colony in South America.

Back then, the ministry had no objections because its purpose was charity - assisting in re-migration - rather than a risk-bearing foreign investment.

Rochdale says it feels confident it will be able to reassure Minister Vogelaar this week that it is not involved in anything illegal.

Smoking church-café fined EUR 300
De Telegraaf writes that a cafe in the town of Alkmaar has the dubious honour of being the first bar to be fined for violating the recently introduced ban on smoking in hotels, bars and restaurants.

Owner Co Bosch of Cafe Lindenboom thought he had found a loophole in the law by declaring his cafe to be the Only Universal Smokers' of God, in which the faithful honour the Lord by smoking in their "House of Worship".

Unfortunately, the authorities thought differently and Bosch was fined EUR 300.

According to De Telegraaf, the sanitation services of many towns are complaining about all the extra work caused by people smoking outside.

Many smokers are apparently ignoring the ashtrays placed outside by cafe owners and just simply throw their cigarette butts on the pavement.

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder-Hes / Expatica]

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