Dutch news in brief, Thursday 24 September 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.
Bizarre story unfolds about “death flights” pilot's arrest
Most papers report on the Dutch-Argentinean pilot who was arrested shortly before take-off in Valencia on Tuesday.
De Telegraaf reports that it was his colleagues who alerted the authorities, as Julio Alberto Poch made no secret about his involvement in the death flights under the Videla regime in the 1970s and 80s.
Far from being remorseful for the deaths of around a 1,000 left-wing opponents of the Argentinean junta, who were drugged and thrown out of airplanes above the Atlantic Ocean, Poch was quoted in Trouw saying, “We should have killed them all.”
De Telegraaf reports the agency launched an investigation as soon as Transavia staff alerted them to the man’s past.
It remains a mystery how Poch was cleared by the Dutch security service and was able to work for Transavia airlines for 22 years.
De Telegraaf reports the reason for his spectacular arrest and cites his Dutch passport made it impossible to extradite him from the Netherlands.
A special unit led the pilot away in handcuffs shortly before take-off. The plane was only scheduled to stop for 40 minutes in Spain. As that was his very last flight before retirement, his wife and son had joined him.
Nrc.next reports the Dutch authorities had agreed not to request his extradition.
Disaster exercise communication proves tower of Babel
Communication, or the lack of it, is the buzzword during a two-day disaster exercise in north Holland province. Besides trying out alternatives to the hopeless C2000 radio system, half of the 500 rescue workers drafted in for Exercise FloodEx were foreigners.
So what is hypothermia in Estonian, asks AD?
“It is quite likely foreigners will be called in to help in the event of a disaster,” said the regional fire brigade commander, “because our own rescue workers will be worried about their own families.”
The exercise simulates a huge flood, but exercise leader Brian Mulder was quoted in Trouw as saying it cannot be compared to the one that inundated Zeeland in 1953.
“Then there were no speedboats or helicopters taking videos. Now there are more technical possibilities to communicate,” said Mulder.
Nevertheless the difficulties are apparent when the start of the whole operation is delayed by two hours. Even calling helicopters was subject to delays and communication problems.
In AD, disaster expert Eelco Dykstra criticised the operation. “We are practising what we already know.”
He would like to see local people involved in such exercises because after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, most people were rescued by volunteers. People also have to realise that they might have to evacuate themselves to Germany or Poland rather than wait for a German or Polish helicopter.
Dutch singer announces bankruptcy
Photos of popular Dutch singer Marco Borsato were splashed across several of the papers today.
In an emotional press conference at Amsterdam’s pop temple Paradiso, Borsato explained how his entertainment agency The Entertainment Group (TEG) had gone bankrupt.
De Volkskrant quotes the singer explaining to his three children why the paparazzi are suddenly turning up to their football training sessions: “Daddy’s got a bit of a problem.”
Borsato told the press that he blindly signed all kinds of documents in which he guaranteed debts with his private fortune. The only reason the banks still believe in him is because of his working capacity, in other words, he can still sing.
The star of the film Silent Army, has promised to hold two concerts without taking any pay to help finance Diana Ross concerts scheduled to be held in Arnhem.
What seemed to be a cash flow problem just a few weeks ago has turned into a financial nightmare.
AD reports that a couple of years ago Borsato was good for EUR 30 million. He tells reporters he put 90 percent of his earnings into TEG, but was too busy to manage the company.
De Telegraaf paints a different picture saying the financial damage to the singer is limited. He reportedly earned millions of euros outside the company and squandered the money.
“Girls of 20 who were taken on were given a BMW. The parking lot outside the company looked like it belonged to the management of ABN Amro bank.”
Long-term effects of child cancer treatment shocking
A large-scale study into the long-term effects of cancer treatment in children has revealed that many of them go on to suffer serious medical problems later in life.
Trouw reports by the age of 25 only one in four child cancer survivors are still healthy. A quarter have five or more health problems. Forty percent have serious conditions, such as amputations, heart problems or infertility.
Professor of child oncology (the study and treatment of tumours) Huib Caron called the results shocking, but said he was pleased with the research: “It is an extra stimulus to improve treatment.”
Researcher Mathilde Cardous-Ubbink looked at the cases of 1,350 children treated between 1966 and 1996. Her conclusion is that health problems still play an important role even after the cancer has gone. Nevertheless she points out her research is by definition outdated.
In the study half the cases in the study received radiation treatment, and consequently suffer from very serious conditions later, but, nowadays only 30 percent of patients are treated this way.
Survival rates for cancer have definitely improved: 40 years ago only 30 percent of children with cancer survived longer than five years. Now 80 percent do.
Professor Caron said he was always “surprised by the resilience of cancer survivors, but we still have a long way to go.”
Weather centre fixes wrong temperature readings
AD reports the reason why Dutch National Weather Centre (KNMI) has been measuring the wrong temperatures for many years.
Its thermometer had been placed too close to a row of trees, making measurements half a degree too warm.
As a result, the centre may have been too quick to officially report “tropical” and “summery” days in the past.
Meteo Consult, the KNMI’s rival, has been complaining for years that temperatures reported by the national weather centre have been too warm.
It was surprised this summer when it noticed there was no longer any difference.
The National Weather Centre did not inform anyone about changing the position of the thermometer at the beginning of the summer.
Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica