Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 14 July 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.The downfall of sporting hero Yuri van Gelder
Dutch dailies report on gymnast champion Yuri van Gelder's fall from grace due to cocaine usage.
Once the undisputed 'Lord of the Rings', revelations about his cocaine use have cost Van Gelder his reputation, his national title, his sponsorship deal and his job at the Ministry of Defence.
Trouw's headline reports "Van Gelder knew what he was risking: Everything", AD leads with "Cocaine demolishes Yuri's career", while nrc-next says bitterly of Van Gelder's confessional press conference "The grandeur of a European and world champion was nowhere to be seen ... Yesterday despair took on a human face".
De Telegraaf reports the gymnast took the drug "just for fun" and admitted: "I've lost the plot. I've been incredibly stupid and I'm incredibly sorry". Casting around for a reason behind his downfall, the disgraced athlete speculates in Trouw: "I'm always pushing the boundaries. Even when I'm training I like to take things to the limit, and sometimes I go over the edge."
The Dutch Olympic Committee said it was "surprised and shocked" at the news of the star gymnast's drug issues.
But most papers reckon they have no cause to be, since rumours of Van Gelder's cocaine habit have been circulating for years.
De Telegraaf talks to the gymnast's former trainer Remi Lens who spoke of their acrimonious split in 2006: "Back then I was branded a villain and a liar. I told all the official organisations that there was something going on with Yuri, but no one took me seriously."
Despite facing a ban of between one and two years, Van Gelder is still clinging to his dream of Olympic glory in London 2012.
But as nrc-next notes "He now has to start from scratch ... and maintain his level of performance without an income, without top sports facilities and without taking part in completion".
Obama meets Balkenende
As a small country used to punching above its weight on the world stage, the Netherlands is keenly aware of how it is being perceived by the major players. Trouw and AD look ahead in detail to Tuesday's White House meeting between US President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
Trouw describes the encounter as "A test case for a loyal partner".
The paper notes with pride that Balkenende is "praised to the heavens" on the White House website and that Obama was quick to invite the Dutch over for a chat.
Trouw expresses concern that "Obama is threatening to shove the political hot potato of the Afghanistan mission in Balkenende's direction".
The Dutch government has been busy trying to extricate itself from the role of "lead nation" in Afghanistan in the face of growing opposition in parliament.
But Trouw notes that Obama's decision to send 20,000 extra troops to gain the upper hand in Afghanistan "makes it difficult if not impossible for the Netherlands to refuse an extension of its mission".
AD talks to America expert Maarten van Rossem, who did not hold out much hope that the visit would raise the Dutch profile in the US. "It's a case of little ally visits big ally, nothing more ... Unless Balkenende trips coming in the door or a chair collapses under him, we won't be making the news on CNN."
Estonian trukers go on strike at A12 motorway car park
AD reports on Dutch worries that the Eastern European influence in the haulage sector is leading to "wild west scenes" among truckers. A group of 12 Estonian truckers are on strike at a car park on the A12 motorway and are refusing to budge until their bosses back in Tallinn pay them thousands of euros in back pay.
A spokesman for their employer has responded to the strike by dismissing them as "a bunch of lying, drunken idiots".
"They've been living on rations of pasta and stale bread for days" reveals AD. "They're hungry, broke and unwashed".
The Dutch transport firm that contracted the Estonian company has promised to see to the truckers' basic needs. But with their employers in dire financial straits, the signs are not good.
The truckers remain undaunted "We are warriors! We'll keep on fighting"
But instead of a text message informing them their wages have been paid, the truckers received a message telling them they're all fired.
Should you let your children get bored this summer?
With the summer holiday season now under way, de Volkskrant offers startling advice for parents: "Leave them be!" and "Let them get bored!”
The paper listens to an increasing number of experts who point out that over ambitious parents who are too fixated on their children's development can end up in "a hyped-up hell" of their own making.
It gives the example of a restless and aggressive four-year-old whose troubles melted away when an overdose of educational electronic toys were replaced by some good old-fashioned wooden building blocks. "Give them time to think stuff up for themselves," advised one expert.
"A game that kids come up with on their own lasts longer, is more extensive and has more storylines than a game supplied by their parents."
However, other experts who argue against this school of thought criticise the "leave-them-be" brigade as reactionaries who are too keen to romanticise doing nothing.
"It's often projection by the parents. Because they are so busy themselves, it stands to reason that they idealise the chance to do nothing ... The image of little boys perched at the edge of a pond gazing at frogs for hours is pure nostalgia. When all you've got is a concrete suburb to hang around in, doing nothing is suddenly far less ideal."
Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica