Dutch news in brief, Monday 16 February 2009

16th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Hallucinogenic truffles replace banned magic mushrooms
Free newspaper De Pers reports on hallucinogenic truffles which have taken the place of the magic mushrooms banned in December 2008.

In reaction to questions in parliament, Health Minister Ab Klink confirmed that the hallucinogenic truffles, called sclerotia, and magic mushroom grow kits are not covered by the ban.

As a result, many of the so-called 'smart shops' now have signs in their windows advertising the hallucinogenic truffles, which are sold under the name philosophers' stones.

A spokesperson for the branch organisation of smart shops says the list of mushrooms included in the health minister's ban "is nonsense”. He said it was copied from some German website which in turn copied it from a natural history museum "in some Italian hamlet".

"The list is full of errors, and 90 percent of the banned mushrooms are not used by people anyway."

A spokesperson for the health minister said the minister did not say his list was carved in stone.

"Some species may be added to the list, just as some species may be removed from it."

De Pers writes that in the meantime, sales are booming, even though the truffles have a lower content of psychoactive substances than magic mushrooms.

However, a smart shop owner said the truffles are just as strong, but have a different effect: "Magic mushrooms are more hallucinogenic, truffles make you turn inward, surf your mind".

Lawyers demand release of kids who threatened schools in Weesp
AD reports that the lawyers representing the two children who made threatening phone calls to primary schools in the town of Weesp are demanding their clients be released.

The two made the phone calls soon after a Belgian man killed two infants and a childminder at a day care centre in Dendermonde.

The lawyers representing the two children were informed on Friday that their clients were to remain in custody for another two weeks.

One of the two lawyers, Sam Bharadsingh, says there are no legal grounds for his client’s continued detention.

"The argument that it's for his own safety is spurious. His parents have not received any threats."

His colleague Lionel Lalji announced he will subpoena the mayor and several teachers.

He says they wrongly created a major commotion.

According to AD, the authorities' heavy-handed reaction to the threatening phone calls is in marked contrast to a recent case in which a 13-year-old boy suspected of being involved in a robbery was released after two days.

He is accused of acting as the lookout in a robbery in which a shopkeeper was shot down.

Dutch emigrants praise German social climate
De Telegraaf reports that most of the growing number of Dutch emigrants moving to Germany is doing so in search of peace and space.

A recent survey by emigration website Overdegrens.eu shows that in addition to low house prices, many of Dutch emigrants are looking for a 'pleasant social environment'.

No less than 23 percent of the emigrants praise the friendly relationship with their neighbours in their new German homes.

Other reasons to settle permanently on the other side of the border included: a good place to raise kids (14 percent), the beautiful German countryside (10 percent) and a permanent sense of being on holiday (7 percent).

Cuts: necessary, impossible and bad for the economy
Today's nrc.next has 85 small photographs of jet fighters on its front page, all lined up in neat rows. The headline reads: "Scrap these and you are a quarter of the way".

The paper writes that the cabinet has to make EUR 20 billion worth of cuts, four times the price of 85 new Saab Gripen fighters.

New, and again worse economic figures, are expected to be released on Tuesday.

According to nrc.next, the cabinet is faced with an impossible task: making these drastic budget cuts in a short period of time is necessary, impossible and bad for the economy.

The cuts are dictated by the coalition agreement, which says that the budget deficit must never exceed 2 percent of GNP.

However, nobody really wants to make these cuts, which would equal the combined budgets of the foreign, defence and development ministries.

Many of the proposed measures, which include limiting unemployment benefits, limiting mortgage tax breaks and raising the retirement age would adversely affect the economy, already in bad shape after a year-and-a-half of financial crisis.

According to nrc.next, the situation really calls for large-scale government investments to revive the economy, but the cabinet is fearful of passing on the costs of such investments to future generations.

In his web log, Finance Minister Wouter Bos said: “It is difficult all right, but it can be done."

In the coming weeks he will have to push the political and the financial envelope to save the entire economy after saving the financial sector. However, nrc.next writes that this time round he will not have unanimous support.

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Scheuder Hes / Expatica]

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