Dutch news in brief, Monday 3 August 2009

3rd August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Zero tolerance on drugs while driving
A number of today's papers report government plans to introduce saliva tests to identify motorists who have taken drugs. De Volkskrant quotes police estimates that between 100 and 200 people die on the roads each year as the result of people driving under the influence of drugs.

The paper says the police want a policy of zero tolerance on drugs and driving, with stricter rules than apply to driving and alcohol. The saliva tests are said to show within ten minutes whether or not someone has taken drugs.

However, Trouw quotes a researcher from the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction who complains that the tests are not accurate enough. They are said to show neither the quantity of drugs used nor when they were taken. It is also said that, unlike for alcohol use, a safe limit for drugs use and driving has not yet been identified.

The transport ministry argues that months of nationwide trials have shown the saliva tests to be "effective". A spokesman said the tests would only be used "to make it easier to detect drug use."

"If it showed someone to be stoned or high, a blood test would always follow," he explained. A blood test for drugs is far more accurate and is accepted as evidence in court.

Unions say minister misusing recession
Union bosses have written to De Volkskrant to warn that Employment Minister Piet Hein Donner is using the recession to pursue his own agenda. The minister is set to make it easier, during mass redundancies, for employers to name staff as ‘essential’, ensuring they keep their jobs.

The unions see this as sidelining the Netherlands' strict employment laws, under which, for example, the rule of 'last in/first out' applies. They say the change will allow bosses to decide whom they sack on the basis of the quality and usefulness of their personnel. This, they believe, gives employers too much power and could lead to unfairness.

The unions also object to the minister changing the rules for workers of up to 27 years of age. These young employees can now be given four temporary contracts, instead of three, before they must be offered permanent work. The unions say these small changes together add up to a considerable deterioration of the legal protection afforded to workers.

Identity theft from official websites
‘Government websites leaking like sieves’ is the headline in the AD. The paper covers research showing that hackers can easily access personal details, such as social services identity numbers, on 85 percent of the sites, including that of the tax service. "The government is not obeying the law and is lax in dealing with people's details," said one researcher.

Most of the government sites have unprotected contact forms for applications and complaints, which are simple for hackers to crack. Criminals can apparently obtain details, including CVs and passwords, from sites advertising government vacancies.

The researcher warned that identity theft is big business: "In the US, it's worth more than the drugs trade."

Gay Pride or Straight Pride?
On Saturday, Amsterdam's Gay Pride celebration hit its high point with the annual Canal Parade. Over the weekend, several papers covered various aspects of the event.

This year, the parade was watched by over half a million people and De Telegraaf reports that it was marked by a number of firsts. These included boats carrying top sports personalities, soldiers in uniform and members of the Christian Democrats.

However, some question the relevance of all this to Gay Pride, and whether the event has become simply a parade of photo opportunities and public relations for politicians and big business.

One woman spectator rated the parade as only "all right" and asked the paper "Is this Gay Pride or Straight Pride?”

“I didn't see one pair of men kissing,” she lamented, “but I did see a few hetero couples doing it. I was longing to see a gay boat. Where were all the beautiful men? Where was the show? There were more exciting men watching from the side than on the boats."

Premier League kicks off to a new order
Finally, nrc.next suggests the new football season might well herald a change in the pecking order in the Dutch Premier League. Both Amsterdam's Ajax club and Rotterdam's Feyenoord won their first competition matches. National champions AZ surprised by losing to Heracles and PSV, playing at home in Eindhoven, could only manage a 3–3 draw against VVV-Venlo.

Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica

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