Dutch news in brief, Thursday 12 February 2009

12th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.

Party for the best idea ever

There’s no getting away from it, today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his most important work On the Origin of Species. In the Netherlands, Darwin Year kicks off in Leiden with an exhibition called Expedition Darwin in the natural history museum, Naturalis.

According to de Volkskrant Darwin deserves a party for what US philosopher Daniel Dennett described as the "best idea ever." Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection made it easier for people to understand why different species evolve. All today's natural science is based on Darwin's theory. But de Volkskrant calls on us to stop talking about "Darwinism" as if it is an ideology, he wasn't a prophet after all.

Trouw focuses on the theories themselves and takes a look into the future. Apparently blond hair will one day be a thing of the past.

Mass redundancies sink ING ship

AD reports on the mass redundancies expected in the banking, insurance and pension sectors. The thousands of job losses announced on Tuesday at the ING bank are just the beginning. Professor of finance at Groningen University Robert van der Meer says "The sector has woken up."

There are 220,000 people currently working in these sectors in the Netherlands. A thousand jobs will be lost at ING in the next 9 months. Another 7,000 will go at ABN Amro and Fortis.

It’s not known which jobs will go, but the collapse of the housing market has left mortgage sales staff "staring at the ceiling" says one union leader.

Meanwhile, politicians are falling out over how to curb the crisis. NRC.next illustrates the point by picturing coalition partners Jan Peter Balkendende and Wouter Bos standing literally at loggerheads on the ING HQ building. The prestigious building, the Ship, is sinking bottom up into a dark stormy sea.

Schiphol staff protest in The Hague

Schiphol staff have taken their protests against the new air passenger tax to The Hague. AD prints a picture of KLM, Martinair and Transavia staff in uniform holding a banner which juxtaposes the government support for the banks and its undermining of Schiphol.

The unlikely collection of protestors are made up of stewardesses, ground staff and pilots. Most of them from KLM, judging by overwhelming number of blue uniforms. The protesters believe the unpopular tax is costing their jobs.

They managed to catch Finance Minister Wouter Bos as he left a meeting, but were disappointed that he did not promise to scrap the measure.

Parental choice limited in Nijmegen

Schools are a popular subject in newspapers today. Trouw reports that the south-eastern city of Nijmegen has decided to limit parental choice of primary schools by introducing a central registration system. The reason the city has taken such drastic action is because parental choice tends to lead to segregation, even in mixed neighbourhoods.

Meanwhile the same paper reports that the Lower House wants reforms in secondary professional education to be slowed down. The competence-oriented reforms, which mean less classical education and teaching more skills relevant to the labour market, are due to be introduced in 2010, but one in four schools are not ready for the changes.

AD focuses on a group which is difficult to get to school in the first place. Roma children hardly ever attend secondary school and their attendance record at primary schools is poor. The town council of Nieuwengein has already spent 5 million euros on getting Roma children back to school, without success.

Now Amsterdam and Nieuwegein have decided to clamp down on the problem. But it’s a difficult issue, as one Roma man puts it "Nieuwegein wants to change 1000 years of Roma tradition. That's not possible."

Limburg aldermen play Saint Nicholas

Two aldermen on the town council of Echt Susteren in the Province of Limburg have found a novel way of boosting their popularity in the lead up to the 2010 local elections. According to Trouw, they have given away thousands of euros to local clubs, in particular ones frequented by prominent party members.

The two aldermen belong to one of the area's many local parties. The whole fiasco has been dubbed the Sinterklaas Affair—after Saint Nicholas of Myra, who is also famous for giving away money.

The two didn't inform their fellow aldermen in the council's coalition, let alone get the hand-outs approved by the council. In spite of condemning the actions of the two as illegal in a letter to Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst, the town mayor plans to support his coalition colleagues in a council meeting this evening. Well, what else could he do?

Radio Netherlands/Nicola Chadwick/Expatica

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