Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 22 December 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Distress over Q Fever
de Volkskrant led with a personal story about a small goat farm. Alongside the article, it printed a photo of a male farmer in tears.
The vet putting down the goats on the farm said: "It really goes against the grain to be killing animals which could be perfectly healthy. The thing is that there's a real risk to people's health."
The farmer in the photo told the paper: "Maybe people will wake up and realise that animal diseases like Q Fever are a sign that there's no harmony between man and animal. The consumer wants cheap food. Farmers are forced to reduce costs, often at the cost of animal welfare."
He wants to reduce the scale of the farm still further. "But then," he explained, "consumer behaviour will have to change as well. As things are now, I won't be able to pay my rent with what I get for the milk from the goats I still have."
NRC.next published a factual report. Monday, the cull of about 40,000 pregnant goats and sheep throughout the Netherlands began.The animals are given two injections by vets: the first puts them to sleep and the second kills them. The Q Fever bacteria can be spread through the air after a goat delivers or miscarriages. So far, six people have died in the Netherlands and thousands have been infected with the disease.
Commuter misery over frozen points
All papers continued to deal with the snow and the travel chaos it is causing. de Volkskrant reported on train travel, explaining that the trouble is frozen railway points. Trains have been left at one point, meaning the next in line are unable to leave.
Although the most important points, all 6500 of them, are heated, 60 percent use gas burners. While these work well with ice, snow can put out the flame. To replace them with electric heaters would, said a rail spokesperson, "involve an extremely large investment and [...] repair work on the whole rail network."
De Telegraaf reported on Dutch Rail's advice for people not to use the train unless it's absolutely necessary. The paper pointed out that the economic damage is running to millions of euros. It said some firms are sending taxis to collect staff, thinking the fare is less than the cost of a lost workday. A spokesman said: "The VNO-NCW employers' association is bewildered that snowfall paralyses the whole of the public transport network.
Citizen shareholders should do their bit
Trouw reported shareholders are being called on to do more to cut back on excessive wages in business. Jos Streppel from the Monitoring Corporate Governance Code Commission said company boards should also be more open with their shareholders.
The report said more detail should be given, for example, about the precise composition of executive salaries. This would allow shareholders to judge whether or not these were justified. "This lack of transparency is typical of Dutch culture," said Streppel. He argued that new legislation has given shareholders more power, but this is not being fully exercised.
Possible scandal by Maastricht mayor
NRC.next reported Tuesday, on a scandal involving Maastricht's Mayor Gerd Leers. He bought a holiday home for EUR 250,000 in a project being developed in Bulgaria. The company in charge of the project is part owned by a Maastricht council officer.
Leers and his colleague both seem to have used their positions to help the project along. Bulgarian politicians in charge of granting permits for a yacht harbour to be constructed as part of the villa project have supposedly been invited to Maastricht town hall.
The Integrity of Dutch Councils Bureau (BING) is investigating possible wrongdoing and will report on the affair early in January. Leers, meanwhile, has decided to sell his holiday villa. His lawyer said the mayor wants "to get rid of the villa as quickly as possible" even if it ends up costing him money. "He'll take the loss," said the lawyer.
Crime in the snow
AD published a few snow crime stories. On its front page, it said groups of youths in Gouda are forcing cyclists to stop by building blockades out of snow. Once stationary, the cyclists are robbed. The police have caught five of the teenagers.
In The Hague, gangs of youths have been building snow roadblocks and robbing motorists caught in the traps.
The paper provided a third story where a father left his five-month-old baby on the back seat of his car. When he returned from checking if trains were running, the vehicle was stolen. The thief realised there was an infant in the car, and dropped it off at a supermarket, where a suspicious staff member took the car's registration number and phoned the police. The thief did not get far in the snow and was picked up shortly afterwards. The father was happily reunited with his baby.
Radio Netherlands/ Mike Wilcox/ Expatica