Dutch news in brief, Thursday 16 July 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Plan to freezing human egg cells provokes opposition
All papers report plans by Amsterdam’s AMC hospital to freeze human egg cells so women can have the option of becoming mothers up to the age of 50.
Trouw reports there is serious opposition to the idea as doctors and the public criticise using medical techniques to deal with a growing social problem.
Some women want to put off being mothers either because of career considerations or the lack of a partner.
“The health service is there to cure faults in nature, not to make it possible to go against nature,” said one Christian Democrat MP.
A gynaecologist described the technique as experimental and said that “little is known about the consequences for the children born from such procedures”.
However, she thinks it should be limited to “women who for medical reasons have no other options”.
However, according to NRC Handelsblad, the head of the AMC team said egg cell freezing is no longer experimental.
Nrc.next points out the technique is normal abroad and quotes the Egg Freezing Centre: “So far about a thousand babies have been born around the world from frozen egg cells.”
A professor of biomedical ethics interviewed by Trouw added: “If a woman of 50 is in good condition, she’ll have a long life expectancy,” he argued. “Physically, such a woman should be able to manage pregnancy well.”
Confusion surrounds Dutch PM’s comments on Guantanamo Bay prisoners
De Volkskrant picks up on the apparent confusion surrounding Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s comments to US President Barack Obama that the Netherlands would consider accepting Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
Despite the PM’s comments, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said the matter has not been discussed within the government, while Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wants to be able to consider the dossiers of all prisoners coming to the Netherlands.
In response, an opposition conservative VVD MP concluded the three ministers have differing views on the subject. He also pointed out that other countries have already made firm offers to take ex-inmates of Guantanamo and will have first choice about whom they accept.
Meanwhile, a Christian Democrat MP believes Balkenende said nothing new in Washington: “It’s not a question of ‘OK, we’ll take 20’. This sort of thing should be sorted out through Europe. America is and will remain primarily responsible for the detainees.”
Can journalists be bugged?
De Telegraaf seeks an injunction Thursday to stop the AIVD intelligence service from listening in on telephone calls made by its staff.
Two former AIVD workers are suspected of passing on secret information containing intelligence reports on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and security around the Dalai Lama’s recent visit to the Netherlands to the paper .
The AIVD has apparently been bugging the journalists to get prosecution evidence.
“It’s a serious breach of the protection of journalistic sources,” said the NVJ (Dutch Journalists’ Union).
It is generally agreed that reporters’ sources should be protected except in very serious cases where state security is at stake.
In a twist to the case, media reports Wednesday asserted the former AIVD staff at the centre of the case had tried to sell information to others besides De Telegraaf.
Lorry thefts up 40 percent
The AD shocks us with news that official figures show the theft of lorries and their cargoes was up 40 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.
It appears gangs from eastern Europe are mainly responsible for the heists, which already cost the transport sector EUR 330 million in 2008.
“It’s a big problem,” warned a sector spokesman. “The thieves are becoming more violent. Drivers are sometimes tied up, beaten and even knocked out with some kind of gas.”
Ministers up the ante on swine flu
De Telegraaf reports the Dutch government is taking more precautions against swine flu, which is expected to hit the Netherlands in earnest in the autumn.
Employers are being told staff displaying flu-like symptoms should be immediately sent home (to avoid infecting their colleagues) and that their GPs should be warned.
The paper lists the symptoms of swine flu as a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or above and problems such as sneezing.
A KLM spokeswoman said cabin staff will be informed immediately if a passenger has the flu.
Meanwhile, the paper says a major supermarket chain has ordered its staff to keep to the letter of its hygiene regulations.
Radio Netherlands / Mike Wilcox / Expatica