Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 21 April 2009

21st April 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Maxime Verhagen is Hillary's new best friend
De Volkskrant reports Maxime Verhagen has a new girlfriend – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where the two were seen hanging out in Washington, with Clinton referring to Verhagen as "her new friend" and lavishing all manner of praise on the Netherlands and its role in international affairs.

NRC-next even devotes a full-colour centrefold to the pals, with Clinton holding forth on boycotting the current UN anti-racism conference and Verhagen gazing dreamily at the camera with an inscrutable smile on his face

"A picture to hang above his bed" notes the paper, tongue firmly in cheek.

"Don't tell the wife" chortled Maxime, clearly rather taken with his new status as Hillary's chum.

According to De Telegraaf, the "happy couple" spent much of their time discussing dredgers in the Gulf of Aden.

Senior citizens learn modern-day public transport
Popular broadsheet AD reports on efforts to help senior citizens find their way in the modern-day public transport system.

As old-fashioned ticket desks are rapidly disappearing from Dutch stations, older passengers are faced with no choice but to grapple with their electronic replacements.

This task is not easy for some senior citizens.

"There are still plenty of people scared of anything with a button on it." However, it's very important that they overcome their fears," said a spokesperson for a senior citizens' group.

“If you can't use the public transport system, you can soon lose contact with society."

They have come up with courses to help older people cope with the new developments.

Instructor 72-year-old Jaap keeps telling his pupils: "It isn't complicated. It just looks complicated. As long as you do what the machine asks you to do, you can't go wrong. And if you get confused, there's always the 'cancel' button."

But privately he admitted he didn't find it easy to start with: "When I first bought tickets on the ticket machine my wife exclaimed 'Oh Jaap! These new-fangled tickets are so cheap!' It turns out I'd bought half-price kiddies tickets by mistake."

No Dutch holiday for Chernobyl kids
NRC-next talks to Jeanet Louw, a Dutch woman who played host to a little Belarussian boy Vlad in 2008.

Vlad is one of the children who suffers from health problems as a result of contamination caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986. Vlad was also one of the many thousands of children who have come to the Netherlands to recuperate and build up their strength, but the chances of a repeat visit now look slim.

In October 2008, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko ruled only children suffering from cancer would be allowed to travel to other European countries as two children from Belarus had applied for asylum to stay with their host families; one in Italy and one in the US.

Despite the ruling, Jeanet continues to hope she and her family will see Vlad again soon. "It's amazing how quickly someone feels like one of the family."

She is in no doubt that the visit did him the world of good: "You see these kids perk up almost as soon as they get here."

The Dutch foreign ministry is currently negotiating with the Belarussian authorities about continuing the visits, but things aren't looking promising.

"Lukashenko is the most unpredictable president in all of Europe. A regime like that doesn't operate on the basis of rational considerations," said a politician.

Belarus is Europe's last remaining full-blown dictatorship

Unique life and death bus shelters unveiled in Dordrecht
Trouw muses on the meaning of life as symbolised by two bus shelters unveiled in the southern town of Dordrecht Monday.

The bus shelters, entitled Alpha and Omega one take the form of a five-metre tall egg and a four-metre high skull, is an artistic reflection on life and death.

The massive skull, however, are scaring children in a school across the roads. Some children have reported losing sleep over the bus shelters. Their fear were further heightened by a kiddies' news programme which zoomed in creepily on its deep, dark eye sockets.

While sitting in the back of the skull waiting on the number 166, the Trouw reporter comes to the reassuring conclusion that since the bus drives away from the skull, the whole thing is a symbol for being liberated from death.

Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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