Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 26 May 2009

26th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Man kills girlfriend, ex-wife, two children and himself
Dutch papers report on a family tragedy which has claimed the lives of five people.

De Telegraaf's headline describes it as "a bloodbath born of despair", reporting that a 44-year-old man stabbed his girlfriend, ex-wife, and two teenage children to death before killing himself.
The man sent an e-mail to his colleagues on how his girlfriend cheated on him and sent threatening letters and text messages. "I lost my head. She is no longer alive ... I wanted to kill myself but I couldn't do that to Astrid and the kids ... I decided to take them with me. They'll go to heaven and I'll go to hell."
AD paints a different picture and reports the man kept harassing his girlfriend after a short-lived relationship and that her son was afraid of him. The paper says "there is a great deal of sympathy for the 13-year-old boy who has lost his mother".

De Telegraaf reports on friends’ condolences flooding in for the man's two teenage children via the internet. One said: "So everything you said was true and sometimes we didn't want to believe you at all. I'm sorry."
Wilders is good for the Netherlands
Geert Wilders and his right-wing populist Freedom Party are no strangers to being lambasted in the quality press for bringing out the worst in Dutch voters.

But nrc-next takes a different tack, proclaiming "The Freedom Party is good for the Netherlands".
Their analysis comes courtesy of Professor Mark Bovens who argued Wilders' popularity represents "a healthy correction of a political system which in recent decades has seen a considerable section of the electorate – mainly the lower educated – lose their political representation."
He cites Europe as a particularly divisive issue.

For the better educated, Europe is a blessing, opening up a wealth of opportunity to them and their student kids. For the lower educated, Europe offers few direct advantages, more competition on the job market. Yet main parties have dismissed the concerns of these voters as "xenophobic, racist and outmoded".
Professor Bovens therefore argues the rise of the Freedom Party is not necessarily a bad thing and warns that simply dismissing Wilders & Co is taking the easy way out: "If you portray something as reprehensible, you no longer have to think about what's behind it."

Caterpillars of the apocalypse?
Several papers feature spooky images of trees and even cars shrouded in a ghostly grey mantle. "Modern art?" wonders Trouw. "Ectoplasm?" asks nrc-next fearfully. "Or The Exorcist meets Stephen King?"

But a closer look at its centrefold spread of a red Honda swathed in other-worldly gunk reveals the culprits ... thousands upon thousands of caterpillars. The coating consists of the sticky thread spun by the caterpillar of the ermine moth, on such a scale that it envelops entire rows of trees - and the odd motor vehicle.
It may look spectacular and scary but Trouw points out that it's all part of nature's annual cycle: the caterpillars are protecting themselves from birds while they transform into moths.

It has seldom been seen on such a scale as this year though, and de Volkskrant reveals this is due to the milder winters over the past 20 years.

"It's not dangerous, just icky" reassured a tree specialist quoted in AD. The trees will recover, and even the cars are not much the worse for wear after a couple of runs through the car wash.
Newspaper publishes rectification on economist Jan Pen’s death
De Volkskrant publishes a rectification on its front page today. On Sunday its website announced the death of economist Jan Pen only to find out later that the good man is still alive and well, and that it was a namesake who had died.

The paper is keen to emphasise that its blunder is far from unique but part of a glorious tradition of erroneous obituaries that takes in everyone from Mark Twain and Paul McCartney to Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze.
AD caught up with "the man who's still around to read his own obituary" and got his reaction: "If only they'd checked their facts properly ... It's almost enough to make you laugh except that somebody dying is no laughing matter."
Trouw describes Professor Pen as "the man who got to look at his life from beyond the grave" and find out what people had to say about him: "an intriguing matter that everyone wonders about at least once in their lifetime."

The professor's son said: "He was happy with the piece about him in de Volkskrant" which described him as a "master storyteller and a brilliant macro-economist".  

Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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