Dutch news in brief, Thursday 8 January 2009
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.Ice-skating fever hits Netherlands
Nearly all of today's newspapers feature photographs of the ice-skating fever that's gripping the country this week, the first one of continued frost in about 12 years.
De Volkskrant has a series of six full-length portraits of young and old ice-skaters posing on the Uitdammer Die, a frozen lake somewhere between the North Holland towns of Uitdam and Holysloot.
Trouw features a photograph of two 11-year-old girls on a lake near Nijmegen. They are in the process of swapping their skates: both are wearing one white and one black and red skate.
For both it was only the second time ever they had skated on natural ice.
One of them said: "Indoor skating is fake, this is much more fun!"
De Telegraaf and AD both have photographs of the chaos that resulted from the overwhelming interest in several non-competitive ice-skating races in the northwest of the country.
The large numbers of participants led to chaos on the roads, also because in several locations skaters had to cross a road to get from one lake to the next. However, a sudden thaw led to several centimetres of water on the ice, causing a rapid deterioration in skating conditions. On Wednesday afternoon, police were busy regulating traffic and persuading skaters to get off the ice before dark.
Support for Israel crumbling in the Netherlands
A survey conducted by AD shows that support in the Netherlands for the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip is crumbling. Twenty-five percent of those interviewed support Israel, while 17 percent side with the Palestinians.
A majority of 51 percent agrees that Israel is using disproportionate means in the fight against the Hamas movement, but 62 percent say that the Palestinians would be better off without Hamas.
Six in 10 of those surveyed refused to take sides, either because they consider the issue too complex, blame both parties for the violence, or reject any form of violence whatsoever. These figures present a clear contrast with the Dutch cabinet's approval - albeit with some reservations - of Israel’s action in Gaza.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is the only European government leader not to criticise the level of violence: "After many rocket attacks by Hamas, the time had come where Israel had to say: We are going to react".
In a letter to parliament, Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen held Hamas responsible for the large number of civilian casualties because of the presence of Hamas fighters in residential areas.
New technique of detecting child-abuse
AD reports that a new technique developed by the AMC, one of Amsterdam’s two teaching hospitals, will allow doctors and investigators to detect cases of child abuse more effectively.
The technique uses a scanner to determine exactly when a bruise occurred and whether this time frame agrees with statements made by parents or guardians.
The AMC scientists said their technique, spectroscopy, can also be used in major crime investigations to quickly determine the age of traces of blood found at crime scenes, which is impossible at present.
The scientists said every family doctor’s practice could be equipped with one of the bruise-scanners within six months. Each year, about 100,000 cases of child abuse are reported in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam introduces stricter parking policy
De Volkskrant writes that Amsterdam city council has decided to run a pilot in two central districts which will favour fuel-efficient vehicles over Hummers and other gas guzzling SUVs when it comes to granting parking permits.
Half of all permits granted each month will be reserved for fuel-efficient cars. Traffic councillor Tjeerd Herrema said: "It's an additional incentive to buy a fuel-efficient car".
However, automobile branch organisations RAI and BOVAG call the measure a big mistake.
A spokesperson said: "The label 'environmentally friendly' refers to fuel-efficiency, i.e. carbon-dioxide emissions, but says nothing about the emission of fine dust or nitrogen dioxide. Favouring fuel-efficient cars in this way has no direct effect on air quality, because carbon dioxide has no direct effect on that."
The pilot is just the latest in a series of measures and proposals intended to ban 'dirty' vehicles from the city centre. So far, none of Herrema's plans has met with much success.
[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]