Dutch news in brief, Monday 15 June 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Fresh controversy over fire in PM’s official residence
A fire that broke out in the prime minister's official residence during renovation work in 2004 is back in the news after a commercial broadcaster reported that senior civil servants withdrew a report that may have shed light on the cause of the fire. A painter working in the building, known as the Catshuis, died in the fire. AD writes that the report by TNO Netherlands, a major research institute, contained details about the flammable wall hangings in the Catshuis as well as the use of paint thinner. However, senior civil servants refused to pass the report on to the justice ministry and it disappeared into a safe in the offices of the government prosecutor.
In an interview with the populist tabloid, the painter's widow, Frouke de Lijster, called the government's handling of the investigation "sneaky and underhand," adding that she was shocked by the new information. The justice ministry now says the report should have been released at the time.
Closure of coffee shops reduces drug crime
AD reports that the closure of coffee shops in towns and cities along the Dutch--Belgian border has led to a significant reduction in drug crime in the Netherlands but that "Flanders reaps rotten harvest in the wake of closure of Dutch coffee shops". The paper writes that the municipalities of Terneuzen, Bergen op Zoom and Roosendaal have seen a sharp drop in the number of drug-related crimes after Europe's largest coffee shop (Checkpoint) was closed down but Belgian municipalities are seeing a marked increase in the number of marijuana plantations and drug dealers.
A spokesperson for Terneuzen, site of the mega coffee shop, said "closing down Checkpoint has significantly reduced drug-related problems; the drug tourists are staying in Belgium". The town's mayor told the paper "It was partially due to pressure from our Belgian neighbours that we tightened the regulations governing coffee shops. Checkpoint has been shut down and the consequences are all too apparent across the border."
Frilly collar crime: more women committing fraud
"Increasing number of women committing fraud" is the headline on AD’s front page this morning. The article in the populist tabloid is based on unpublished statistics garnered by Hoffmann Investigations (HI) in 2008. Hoffmann’s detectives investigate around 1000 cases of fraud or other irregularities in the Dutch business world, and the company’s statistics suggest that women have sticky fingers when it comes to counting the cash. According to HI, the number of female swindlers rose to 25 percent in 2008 from just 11 percent in 2007.
Company director Jos Meerkel said "One possible explanation is the simple fact that more women have started working," adding "it is possible that our current difficult economic climate has something to do with the increase".
Dutch government introduces total ban on spam
AD writes that a complete ban on spam (unwanted, unsolicited e-mail advertising) will go into effect in the Netherlands in October 2009. Spamming private e-mail addresses has already been banned and the new law extends the ban to cover spamming businesses.
The economic affairs ministry believes the complete ban will not only reduce irritation but also crime, as spam can be used to gather personal details from the recipient. The telecom watchdog OPTA has been authorised to issue fines of up to EUR 450,000, which will have, "a deterrent effect," according to Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Frank Heemskerk. The minister added, "of course, we're just a small country and we can't stop spam from abroad, but the situation in the Netherlands is under control".
Poetry International celebrates 40th year
The festival season has started in the Netherlands but Trouw devotes most of its arts coverage to the 40th edition of Poetry International, which opened on Saturday evening in Rotterdam. To celebrate the anniversary, PI issued a 15-CD collection of 200 poets reading their own work. Queen Beatrix was at the opening; the Protestant tabloid displays a very static, traditional photograph of the queen being presented with the CDs.
AD also covers the opening of Poetry International. The populist paper looks back on the long, rich history of PI, before such marvels as synchronised translation existed: a Chinese poet reading her work—in Chinese—was interrupted by a voice from the back of the auditorium crying "louder, louder, I can't understand you."
Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica