Dutch news in brief, Monday 22 December 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.KLM-Air France is victim of credit card fraud
De Telegraaf reports that KLM-Air France is among a group of airlines that have become the victims of an extensive plane ticket fraud by a Nigerian gang.
According to the paper, families travelling to the Netherlands Antilles bought cheap tickets at Internet cafés and phone card centres. Many tickets were sold to Antilleans who travelling back to Curaçao or Aruba to visit their relatives during the holidays.
An investigation by a specialised detective agency shows that thousands of tickets were bought by a Nigerian gang using stolen credit card data.
KLM-Air France confirms it has become the victim of credit card fraud, but declined comment on the situation for operational reasons
PM says 'character' will help Dutch survive crisis
De Volkskrant reports about the positive words on the economy spoken by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and the Chair of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) at the weekend.
In an essay published on Saturday, the Prime Minister wrote: "In the Netherlands we tend to pedal harder when the wind is against us. It is in our character. It probably has something to do with our history and our seaside location”.
Balkenende argues employers and unions have proven they can agree on reform, and lessons have been learned from earlier crises. He expects 2009 will be a bad year, but "not really all that bad" compared to other European countries and the US.
On Sunday, the SER chair, Alexander Rinnooy Kan, gave his view on the crisis in a current affairs programme. He said the Netherlands is capable of facing the problems with common sense and self-confidence.
According to Kan, recessions have always followed periods of boom. And even though the extent and the nature of the crisis had come as a surprise, he was pleased to see that the social partners in the Netherlands were already discussing the problems and possible solutions.
However, the PM warned that the crisis is not over yet. The housing market may not collapse, but pension funds are evaporating. And although some scenarios predict a recovery for 2010, we should not be fooled into believing we only have to "sit out the crisis for a year or so".
The Netherlands should invest in innovation and education; position itself as a financial centre, and work on a more powerful Europe, said Balkenende. He also said more "morality" should be added into the economy, said Balkenende.
Retail sector disappointed with Christmas shoppers
Dutch consumers have spent less on their Christmas shopping compared to last year, reports AD.
Credit card and bank card transactions totalled EUR 8.6 million, much lower than the predicted EUR 10 million, and is lower than last year's EUR 9 million.
A spokesperson for the retail sector said: "Christmas falls relatively late in the week this year, which has spread out the holiday shopping. It is a bit disappointing."
Many shops and businesses hope consumers will still make up for the disappointing sales figures by last-minute shopping later this week.
Unusual gay crib in Amsterdam
Today's edition of the free paper Sp!ts has a picture of a rather different crib than the ones usually found at churches.
The organisation ProGay has set up a gay crib in the Reguliersdwarsstraat, the centre of Amsterdam's gay scene.
The crib features four actors portraying two Josephs and two Marys, dressed in kinky outfits partly covered by grey swathes of cloth to give their costumes a, well, slightly more biblical feel.
One might, however, ask oneself whether Mary ever wore a blonde wig and tall leather boots, while holding baby Jesus in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.
The gay crib is part of the organisation's Pink Christmas festival which includes a variety of Christmas activities, including culture, shopping and entertainment.
Last respects to soldier killed in Afghanistan
Today's AD features a photograph of Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan paying their last respects to 24-year-old Sergeant Mark Weijdt who was killed by a roadside bomb on Friday.
The photograph shows a group of eight soldiers and a chaplain walking down a road at Camp Holland, a few dozen yards ahead of the jeep carrying the sergeant's body. The soldier leading the group is carrying a portrait of the fallen sergeant. Dozens of soldiers are lining the road on either side, bringing a last salute to their comrade.
The soldiers who served under his command will accompany his body to the Netherlands. The Sergeant is the 18th Dutch soldier to be killed in Afghanistan since mid 2006.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]