Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 26 August 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.26 August 2008
Dutch judges go to court over early-retirement policy
Around 40 of the country's highest judges, including a member of the Supreme Court, have decided to trade places for a change and are going to court themselves.
De Volkskrant writes that judges, who normally remain in office until the age of 70, have to retire earlier against their will.
As an unforeseen side-effect of a recent government policy, they will lose a considerable part of the old age pension if they continue to work after they turn 65.
Several years ago, the government abolished opportunities for early retirement before the statutory age of 65. It decided that premiums which had already been withheld for early retirement would be added to one's pension when one retired at the age of 64 years and 11 months. However people who continue to work after this age lose early retirement benefits.
De Volkskrant reports that "A number of judges have already stopped because if they continued to work to 70 it would cost them ten percent of their pension or more."
"The purpose of the arrangement was to encourage people to work longer... The same arrangement might prevent the most experienced judges in the Netherlands from continuing to practise their profession."
Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst agrees the government will have to remove obstructions for all civil servants including judges if it wants people to work longer.
The judges' lawyer, Dirk Jan Rutgers, says the government should make a quick decision before more judges retire.
Tracking the truckers
De Telegraaf writes about reactions to a recent proposal by the Justice Ministry's traffic officer Koos Spee to install cameras in all truck cabins in order to monitor the lorry driver's behaviour.
The owners of a trucking firm, André Pluimers and Henk Bolk of Bolk Transport, say they see nothing wrong with the proposal. "And the guys who break the rules, for instance by watching television, sending text messages or making coffee while they drive, will know that they'll have to behave themselves. As responsible professional drivers. Because this is a real profession and cowboy situations are a thing of the past."
Director Pluimers says that the 80 to 95 percent of drivers who do their work properly have nothing to fear. The paper reports that the proposal led to a storm of protest from drivers.
Singles get lucky on date sites
Today's newspapers have several articles on dating sites. De Telegraaf apparently writes about successful daters because it reports that - according to a survey - 49 percent of singles who date via the internet go out with more than one candidate during the same period.
"Four percent go out with between four to six people at the same time and one percent has eight dates lined up."
"Looking for psychiatric patient for relationship and/or sex" is the heading in nrc.next, which writes about a special site for people who can never find a date, at least not a run of the mill one.
The site vriendstap.nl, which has around 800 members and is specifically for people with a "psychiatric background", was set up in 2004 by psychiatrist Hetty Pronk. She says she wanted to do something about the loneliness she saw among many of her patients. "Most psychiatric patients don't have a job and also no money for a hobby."
Nrc.next writes that Bert ter Voer, who never had any luck at dating sites met Hanneke Mertens via vriendstap.nl in 2007. Within four days, they had written ten mails and a week later they were married.
The paper reports there are several other special dating sites in the Netherlands, one for the emotionally disabled and another for "less than perfect people" who are shy or have cosmetic imperfections.
Rare penis plant blooms for a day
Trouw writes that the Leiden Hortus Botanicus was jammed with hundreds of people on Sunday after it was announced that the amorphophallus titanium, which means shapeless giant penis, was about to flower after ten years.
The Hortus owns the only amorphophallus titanium in the Netherlands. The plant is the world's largest flower and is a native of Sumatra. It is also known as the corpse plant because it smells like rotting flesh. The flower only blooms for one day during its life.
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]