Dutch news in brief, Thursday 29 January 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.
Mayor rules on his own decisions
Today's edition of Trouw reports that the oversight bodies and appeals commissions of local councils are rarely as impartial as they should be. The paper writes that people sitting on these commissions are often in some way connected to the council.
A case in point is the town of Alkmaar, where the mayor is the chair of the appeals commission, and so rules on appeals against his own decisions. Public administration professor Michiel de Vries says this is an example of "an extreme conflict of interest." A colleague, local government law professor Hans Engels says the situation is "extremely bizarre. This should not be possible under administrative law."
Dutch citizens have to file an appeal with their local council against council decisions before they can go to court. However, Professor De Vries says this procedure is pointless if there is an apparent conflict of interest.
In some towns the mayor or one of his aldermen chairs the appeal commission, but in most cases the commission is chaired by an independent person assisted by a number of councillors. In just a few towns the appeals commission is made up entirely of independent members, usually lawyers.
Ramsey Nasr new Poet Laureate
De Volkskrant reports that Ramsey Nasr has been elected the new ‘Dichter des Vaderlands’ (Poet of the Fatherland, ed.). He will succeed Driek van Wissen who held the position for four years.
Ramsey Nasr, the son of a Dutch mother and a Palestinian father, was elected by the Dutch public via the Internet, where voters could choose from five candidates. A total of 19,600 people cast their ballots.
Ramsey Nasr is not just a poet, but also a writer, actor and director. For many years, he performed with the Het Zuidelijk Toneel (The Southern Stage, ed.) theatrical company. In his speech of thanks he said he wants to visit schools, theatres, universities and slum districts in an attempt to get society involved in poetry to the largest possible extent.
Institutionalised paedophiles caught with kiddie porn
De Telegraaf reports that paedophiles detained under a hospital order at the Dr van Mesdag Clinic in Groningen have been caught in the possession of child pornography and cannabis.
Staff at the van Mesdag Clinic launched a major search operation following serious rumours about the presence of firearms. However, no guns were found, but staff discovered a number of CD-ROMs containing child pornography
Spokesperson Petra de Maar says a series of measures have been taken since the discoveries were made. "Obviously, when you find this type of material with patients, it tells you something about the progress they've made with their treatment."
Visitors to the clinic caught smuggling contraband to patients will be denied access, but drugs are difficult to eradicate. De Maar adds: 80 percent of our patients are fighting some kind of addiction, such as gambling or drugs".
Charges will be brought against the patients who were found in the possession of child pornography as well as against those who smuggled it in.
Internet football matches seen as threat to TV channels
AD writes that the war over the Internet broadcasting rights to football matches has broken out. Television channels have declared war on web sites offering important matches.
The owner of pay-TV channel Eredivisie Live (Premier League Live, ed.) has filed complaints against 30 web sites which offer direct broadcasts of premier league matches for free.
The Sport1 channel is furious at the gambling company Unibet which offers live broadcasts of Italian matches at the weekend. In a letter to Unibet and the holder of the broadcasting rights, Sport1 director Jeroen Oerlemans is demanding an end to the Internet broadcasts: "We have the exclusive rights, this is unacceptable."
Sport1 has concluded very expensive contracts to acquire complete exclusivity in the Dutch market, and currently has 360,000 paying subscribers.
Unibet says it has paid a substantial amount to the holder of the broadcasting rights on the Internet. "We are paying a lot of money for these rights. Competition for Sport1? Not really, they are on television, we on the Internet."
Alternative Eleven City Tour on Weissensee
Also on the front page of AD a photograph of a long string of ice skaters against a backdrop of a snow-covered Alpine forest, with a few chalets in the foreground.
The paper writes that the marathon skaters appear to cut through the fresh snow during the alternative Eleven City Tour on the Weissensee. However, the fairy-tale surroundings could not conceal that the 200-kilometre tour was particularly challenging due to continuing snowfall and numerous cracks in the ice.
The winner was ice skater and cyclist Caspar Helling from the town of Wageningen.
Radio Netherlands/ Georg Schreuder-Hes/ Expatica