Dutch news in brief, Thursday 19 February 2009

19th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

Keep up with the latest Dutch news with highlights from today's papers by Radio Netherlands.

Wilders’ anti-EU party to run for EU parliament

De Volkskrant writes about the decision by the leader of the populist Freedom Party (PVV) Geert Wilders to take part in the European parliamentary elections on 4 June. “You may not have noticed, but the campaign for the European parliamentary elections has begun. And you will not believe it, but it can even get exciting.”

The paper writes that the entry of the PVV will liven up the usually staid Brussels atmosphere. De Volkskrant points to PVV MP Hero Brinkman, who recently caused a major uproar by accusing politicians of corruption in the Netherlands Antilles. “Our overseas regions were, until recently, far away, and were silently and with a feeling of guilt paid off with a bag of money. This no longer works, ever since Brinkman started to talk about a corrupt nest of villains.”

De Volkskrant expects the same to happen in Brussels: “Wilders’ European party is not named ‘For the Netherlands’ for nothing. Europe doesn’t interest him. The campaign will be about the billions of wasted euros. The corruption in Bulgaria and Romania. About Turkey, which according to Wilders may not become a member ‘not now, not in a hundred years, not in a thousand years, never.” The paper expects an exciting EU campaign.

The mystery of the moving 450-kilo tombstone

The most remarkable story in today’s newspapers concerns a 450-kilogramme gravestone in a small village in Frisia which has been sliding off a grave all on its own. AD writes that on Boxing Day last year visitors told graveyard caretaker Tjerk Smit that one of the tombstones had been moved and had damaged another stone. With the help of some assistants he pushed the stone back to its rightful place – it had moved more than a metre. However the stone kept moving and after the fourth time the police were called. The caretaker and the family of the deceased assumed the grave was being desecrated. A stonemason suggested the movement may have been caused by an enormous muskrat.

De Telegraaf quotes police spokeswoman Anne van der Meer. “After the fourth time we decided to place a camera (at the site). When the stone moved for a fifth time we looked at the images.” The paper continues: “And what they saw still gives police spokeswoman Anne van der Meer the shakes. ‘It was unbelievable. I was stunned. You see the stone sliding off. It nearly falls off. Eventually it hits another stone. And then the slab can’t move any further … How is it possible? 450 kilogrammes? And it happens really fast, a question of seconds… It shoots away. I have never experienced something like this during my police career and I don’t have an explanation.”

The church verger believes the effect of the heat of the sun on the frozen stones under the slab must have had something to do with it. He says he does not believe in ghosts. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen this profession.” The Frisian police have issued a press release saying that the gravestone moved as the result of a “natural process. Furthmore: “How this happened will be examined in more detail.”

Smoke inspectors disguise themselves as partygoers

Carnival may be a carefree time in the southern parts of the Netherlands, with people dressing up in costumes, drinking and making merry, however the officials of the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority have no intention of letting down their guard.

AD reports the authority’s inspectors will disguise themselves in festive costumes so that they can catch people who violate the smoking ban. The Authority says its inspectors have to adapt to the situation so that they are not recognised. Otherwise pubs will warns each other, “which undermines the inspections."

The authority says it has no intention of being lenient in keeping with the spirit of Carnival, as proposed last month by MP Halbe Zijlstra of the conservative VVD party. Zijlstra is disappointed and says it is unfair to the owners of the pubs. “Try talking to a smoker in a pub that is jam-packed with people dancing and jumping.” He says a temporary lifting of the ban fits in with the Carnival tradition when closing times are extended and people can drink beer on the street. The secretary of the ‘Save the Small Pub and Restaurant Owners’ foundation, Will Maessen says: “It’s beginning to be a battle between the Calvinistic north against the Catholic south.”

Stock market gorilla to compete with market analysts

While economic specialists are breaking their heads thinking of solutions to the economic crisis, the Dutch radio station BNR Nieuwsradio has thought up an original method for investing in the stock market. During the next three months a gorilla named Gyasi will compete against a team of stock market analysts. The six-year-old gorilla will choose one walnut out of ten on offer. Each walnut will represent a company listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

Radio Netherlands/Frank Scimone/Expatica

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