Dutch news in brief, Monday 5 January 2009

5th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Dutch seized by ice fever
Monday's papers are dominated by ice skating as the entire country seems to have gone skating mad.

De Telegraaf reports that hundreds of people are injured while skating and the emergency services had to work overtime to deal with all the accidents, including "broken bones and cuts and bruises".

The populist daily also reports that ambulance and fire crews had a great deal of difficulty reaching the injured due to all the cars parked along the riverbanks.

However, according to Trouw’s report, Alphen aan den Rijn's fire services commandant said people who ignore warnings and go skating on thin ice should be made to pay the costs of the rescue operation.

PM says enquiry into support for Iraq war is senseless

Both AD and Trouw report Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Sunday night interview on Dutch television in which he said that a parliamentary enquiry into Dutch support for the US-led invasion of Iraq is "senseless".

The Protestant daily reports this is the Prime Minister's first public response to a vote in the Senate, which called for clarity on the issue just before Christmas and threatened to demand an enquiry if they were not furnished with satisfactory answers. Trouw quotes the Prime Minister as saying "What more will it add to the information that we already have?"

AD says Balkenende pointed out that the lower house had discussed Dutch support for the Iraq war 16 times, and the 10 attempts to initiate a parliamentary enquiry have all been defeated.

Trouw also covers a radio interview with NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who maintained that he didn't get the top job in exchange for Dutch support for the war.

The NATO head said: "Absolute rubbish. If there was a kernel of truth in the story, then neither the German chancellor nor the French president would have voted in favour of my appointment".
MPs criticise colleague for preaching violence
De Telegraaf reports that Conservative VVD and Christian Union MPs have severely criticised their Socialist Party colleague Harry van Bommel for calling for an Intifada and "preaching violence against Israel".

On Saturday, there was a large demonstration in Amsterdam against Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip and the Socialist Party MP was one of several thousand marchers in the Dutch capital.
One VVD MP told the paper: "Whoever calls for violence against Israeli civilians loses all credibility as a member of parliament". NRC.next reports that during the march, van Bommel was shouting: "Intifada, Intifada, free Palestine" and that the crowd surrounding him was singing: "Hamas, Hamas, all the Jews to the gas".

NRC.next prints Van Bommel's response to the criticism: "I was calling for a peaceful Intifada".

Free museum entry for children under 13
AD reports that museums will be free for children under 13 starting on the 1 September 2009.

The Association of Dutch Museums says the measure, the result of long negotiations with Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk, is expected to result in an extra half a million visitors.

Around 500 museums are taking part in the programme, which is scheduled to run for the next three years and cost a total of EUR 27 million. The chairman of the museum association tells the paper: "This is a golden opportunity because it makes museums so much more accessible".

AD interviews a number of parents who are pleased with the new measure.

"Costs add up really quickly if you take three children to a museum” said one father while a mother of three said: "My kids love museums and free entry for the kids is something to cheer about".

Broadcasting emergency siren over radios huge success
AD reports that a pilot project broadcasting ambulance and fire service sirens on other vehicles' radios and CD players has proven a great success.

A report on the project is scheduled for release Monday and a spokesperson told the paper: "The first experiment has been very successful. It is an excellent way to get other vehicles to make way for the emergency services".

The government has not responded to the report, saying that it wants to study the findings first.

The system, known as Flister, works by broadcasting sirens via radio frequencies. It is designed to alert drivers to the fact that an ambulance or fire engine is approaching, but there is one drawback: anyone living in the vicinity of a hospital will also have their transistor radios at home interrupted by sirens.

Flister's spokesperson said: "It doesn't affect radios hooked up to the cable".

[Radio Netherlands / Expatica / Jacqueline Carver]

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