Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 16 June 2009

16th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Experts predict flu epidemic in the autumn
All of the papers report on the outbreak of Mexican flu in three schools and praise the measures taken by the health authorities: "Calm reigns despite dramatic increase in flu cases" trumpets the populist De Telegraaf. The paper proudly writes “our poll reveals schools are not taking emergency measures and are calmly meeting the looming crisis head-on". De Volkskrant's front page headline fearfully predicts "Flu epidemic expected in the autumn", before proudly noting that the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) expects the number of deaths will be "lower than expected." The left-wing broadsheet interviews Jim van Steenbergen, head of the institute's infectious disease control unit.

AD combines fear and pride in its front page headline, writing "Emergency measures to combat flu epidemic ready". The populist tabloid reports that companies and government institutions have ordered "Tamiflu and surgical masks for essential workers" and the country will carry on in an efficient manner in the event of a flu epidemic.

Dutch show off their very own Neanderthal

Several papers print a rather odd photograph of a skull; Trouw uses a larger-than-life version on the front page of its pullout section. The skull has a small black section of bone in it that, on closer reading, turns out to be the only real Neanderthal bit in the skull; the rest being a reconstruction. The piece of bone found in Zeeland among a load of shells measures just five by 13 centimetres.

AD writes "the Netherlands has finally got its own Neanderthal. And not before time: Germany discovered Neanderthal remains 153 years ago and the Belgian discovery was even earlier; in 1829, " adding somewhat sneeringly "but they didn't know what they had."

Trouw devotes several pages and photographs to the find and quotes archaeologist Wil Roebroeks: "it is mainly evidence that our North Sea is a potential archaeological and geological treasure chest." Roebroeks proudly showed off the bit of bone to his mum, who, according to AD, said "Is that all?"

Integration minister slams Wilders
Almost all of today's morning papers proudly report Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan's response to Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders' statement on Danish television that "millions of European Muslims should be deported and stripped of their nationality if they do not adapt to European values." The papers quote the minister extensively but the tone varies: the headline in the left-wing de Volkskrant is a direct quote—"Wilders is talking a lot of rot about European Muslims”—while Trouw declares "Van der Laan challenges Wilders" and the populist papers go with "Van der Laan says Wilders is talking rubbish."

De Volkskrant writes that, according to Minister van der Laan, "either Wilders can't count or he just isn't interested in solving problems but wants to sow anxiety about Islam." AD and Trouw use the same quote and both add "And if someone breaks the law, whether they be Catholic or Protestant or Muslim, they should arrested and tried, in exactly the same manner'.'

Fury over attempt to make Amsterdam bilingual city
"English on the tram rouses fury," headlines De Telegraaf, reporting that an attempt by Amsterdam city Councillor Lodewijk Asscher to make the capital a bilingual city has sown fear in the hearts of Dutch language lovers and protectors of the nation's culture. The Dutch language defence association leapt into action after Councillor Asscher introduced regulations to make announcements on public transport in both Dutch and English.

The association's secretary, Ab Braamkolk, told the paper "Dutch already has so many English elements and this just a step too far." Braamkolk warns that "giving English names to centuries-old historical places will destroy Dutch culture."

Clash over location of new Dutch history museum
The new Dutch history museum has been a source of controversy for some time: in which city will it be, how will Dutch history be presented, who will be the director and, eventually, how to thwart the city of Arnhem after it won the battle for the museum. De Volkskrant reports the latest twist in the story: Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk announced that the museum would be located next to the John Frost bridge in the centre of Arnhem, close to the place where the WWII battle for the city took place—not at the location announced in Arnhem's winning bid.

This has upset MPs, as well as the authorities in the cities that lost out. The feeling is that Arnhem somehow cheated and failed to play fair; AD notes “Minister Plasterk on collision course with MPs over museum location." MPs want Arnhem to build the museum at the original site and plan to challenge the culture chief over it. The controversy continues.   

Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica

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