Dutch news in brief, Monday 15 September 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.15 September 2008
Specialised centre for overweight teenagers
Today's AD reports on measures intended to reduce obesity among teenagers. Klaas Bax, head of paediatric surgery at Rotterdam's Sophia Children’s' Hospital says that the Netherlands needs a specialised centre where overweight teenagers can undergo stomach reductions or have stomach bands fitted.
Dr Bax says paediatricians should not close their eyes to the growing problem of extreme obesity among teenagers, and argues that in extreme cases surgery is the only option.
"You can give lifestyle advice and say that obese children should eat less, but in practice this has no effect."
AD writes that US paediatrician and obesity expert Dr Thomas Inge supports Dr Bax's statements.
In an interview with AD, Dr Inge says: "Extreme obesity is a chronic disease. The teenagers I operate on are not just a little too heavy, but at least 100 kilograms above their normal weight, which leads to all kinds of serious complaints of the heart, liver and joints, and diseases such as diabetes as well as serious sleeping disorders. A stomach reduction will remedy most of these complaints".
Operations on obese children are nothing new in the Netherlands. The news that a paediatrician from the south of the country had fitted 13 children with stomach bands was met with a storm of criticism recently.
The operations, which were said to be in violation of Dutch guidelines and also to be merely tackling the symptoms rather than the actual root cause.
Dr Bax says this is nonsense: “It's our duty to help these teenagers before it is too late.”
However, the Rotterdam paediatrician argues for solid guidelines and extensive research: "Not every hospital should start operating on children. In a centre, you can gain expertise, and paediatricians should be working together with specialists such as cardiologists, psychologists and dieticians."
Women have inadequate pensions
Protestant daily Trouw writes that a recently published report shows women's pensions are still inadequate, and "financial security is still remote".
In the report, experts Arthie Schimmel and Denise Hulst say the financial position of women in the Netherlands is still very weak. A comparison with their male counterparts reveals a shocking state of affairs.
The paper writes that women on average only build up one third of the pension built up by men, with older women substantially worse off than younger ones.
The conclusions from the report will be included in the 2009 emancipation review of the Social and Cultural Planning Office, which will be published in January.
Trouw writes that even though women build up less pension than men, their life expectation is still higher.
Denise Hulst says: "Our life expectation will only keep rising", which means that in their lives, women will live through a long period of relative poverty.
An official at the Social and Cultural Planning Office confirms that women "still have a long way to go to reach economic independence".
Arthie Schimmel says women’s financial independence is moving at a snail’s pace.
"In 2001, 41 percent of women were economically independent. In 2004 the percentage had increased to a meagre 42 percent - one percent in three years. A shocking figure. Particularly in light of the fact that the government wants to boost economic independence for women to 60 percent by 2010. It will never happen."
Government addresses youth policy
Left-of-centre De Volkskrant writes that one of the three coalition government parties, Labour, wants the cabinet to "radically reform youth policy".
Parliamentary party leader Mariëtte Hamer has announced she will propose during this week's budget debates that the four major cities take the lead in addressing the youth issue.
She said Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht would be granted four years to conduct experiments intended to break down the partitions between the various institutions and force through an integrated approach.
Labour said its proposal was not intended as criticism of Christian Union Youth Minister André Rouvout, but rather as support.
De Volkskrant writes that youth issues appear to be taking centre stage in the 2009 budget debates, after Social and Economic Council Chair Hans Kamps warned last week that the number of youths with serious problems keeps growing.
He warned of a growing underclass, which will be unable to keep up with the knowledge economy.
Opposition party GreenLeft has announced it will propose creating a committee to analyse the youth issue, and also propose as well as implement an approach to deal with it.
In its shadow-budget proposals, the party puts aside EUR 1.5 billion for youth policy. But GreenLeft leader Femke Halsema says this was "only a fraction of what is needed".
The largest coalition party, the Christian Democratic CDA says it first wants to launch an investigation into the causes of the growing number of youths with serious problems.
Reversed burden of proof
On a separate issue, CDA party leader Pieter van Geel wants to radically reform current legislation intended to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten wealth.
Van Geel says that the current law has only marginal effect and has proposed a reversed burden of proof, in which criminals would have to prove their wealth was amassed legally.
The CDA says that many criminals shrug their shoulders at the prison sentences imposed on them in cases which sometimes involve hundreds of millions of euros.
Van Geel says: "After all, they know that after a few years in jail, they will be able to drive home in their Maseratis".
The CDA argues that the Public Prosecutors' Office at present does not have adequate means at its disposal to seize the assets of convicted criminals.
"At present, the Public Prosecutors' Office has to prove that each individual euro was earned illegally. A difficult job, while everybody knows those millions was not won in the lottery."
"Let the arms dealers, people traffickers, exploiters, counterfeiters and drug dealers prove how they got their money".
In July, Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (CDA) announced he wanted to amend current legislation to give the Public Prosecutors' Office wider powers to investigate the finances of convicted criminals.
Esther Vergeer wins three gold medals at Paralympics
Most of today's papers feature pictures of Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer, who has won three gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics.
AD writes has a picture of Esther Vergeer in her wheelchair at the Beijing tennis court, holding a bunch of flowers in one hand and triumphantly raising her gold medal into the air with the other.
The paper writes that "Esther Vergeer emulates Anky van Grunsven", by winning three gold medals in a row.
Vergeer also won gold at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney and in 2004 in Athens.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]
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