Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 29 September 2009

29th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

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

Jip and Janneke publishers not happy with Iranian translation
de Volkskrant reports Dutch children's classics, Jip and Janneke, have been translated into Persian and may be about to delight a generation of Iranian children.

However, this potentially heart-warming tale of cultural exchange is not all sweetness and light. Dutch publisher Querido is furious that the Iranian publisher has used the texts and illustrations from the Dutch books without obtaining the rights first.

The books were translated by Simin Rafati, an Iranian woman living in The Hague. She fell in love with the books while reading them to her children. "I recognised my own childhood in them," she explained to de Volkskrant.

She doesn't see the stories as typically Dutch but as "universal children's experiences ... making mischief with the cat, turning the room upside down ... these are things that all kids get up to."

The translator is criticised by the publisher as being unprofessional and naïve.

"We are amazed. There's no getting around the fact that you first have to sort out the rights before you publish something. This is not the way to go about things," said a spokesperson from the publisher.

In response, Rafiti said the publishers didn’t response after she tried to get in touch. She then decided to leave the legal side of things to the Iranian publishers.

The spat could prove embarrassing for the Dutch embassy in Tehran, which has snapped up 500 copies of the books for promotional purposes.

School's chemical clean-up wreaks havoc
"Pandemonium!" "Panic!" "Chaos!", cry the papers.

The chemistry department at a Leiden secondary school was in chaos after a jar of highly explosive picric acid was discovered.

A teaching assistant was cleaning out its cupboards when it found the leftover jar of picric acid. The emergency service was called in as the school was evacuated and rush hour traffic came to a standstill.

Picric acid is not dangerous when stored in water but is highly explosive when it dries out and crystallises.

Professor Leo Jenneskens of Utrecht University told AD: "It's extremely sensitive to shock. Even screwing off the lid is enough to cause an explosion. 150 grams is enough to blow out the classroom windows."

However, all the chaos turned out to be a false alarm, reports De Telegraaf. The jar had already been discovered and was due to be picked up and disposed of by the authorities along with other chemical waste.

Unfortunately the teaching assistant was not informed of the measures already taken and made a frantic call, causing all hell to break loose.

The paper reports nine out of 10 schools, laboratories, machines and dangerous substances are handled without taking proper safety precautions in 2008, resulting in around 15 injuries a year.

Eastern European immigration report slammed
A number of papers report that the influx of Eastern European workers to the Netherlands has stagnated. Trouw talks to Henk van Houtum of the Nijmegen Centre for Border Research who takes a critical look at the figures.

"They don't say much," was his conclusion. "It's a snapshot. A very normal pattern. It's in the nature of labour migration to fluctuate."

Van Houtum expected the migration of workers in the European Union to wax and wane over the years.

He expressed concern about the political effect that announcing such figures can have. "In the present climate, simply publishing these kinds of figures without any real reason can only lead to unproductive protectionism and undesirable nationalism."

He pointed out that labour migration only represents 2 to 3 percent of all migration but attracts a disproportionate amount of political attention.

"Since the outbreak of the economic crisis, the government only seems to be functioning as a gatekeeper for the national community ... How much are people worth and how much do they bring in? The government is acting like a people broker."

Gordon Brown: dead man walking?
While Dutch papers were dominated Monday by a triumphant Angela Merkel, today's papers dwell on the contrasting fate of another European leader.

nrc-next's front page puts it: "The tragedy of Gordon Brown ... the lamentable end of prime minister Brown and his Labour Party at the annual conference in Brighton."

De Telegraaf reports that Brown is "fighting for his political life" amid rumours that he suffering from illness and depression and in the face of opinion polls which state that 48 percent of Britons think "literally anyone" would make a better prime minister.

As Britain's prime minister gears up to address the Labour Party conference Tuesday, he can at least take comfort from nrc-next's observation that "he needn't fear a dagger in the back", since after two unsuccessful attempts at dethronement "the mutineers are unlikely to strike again anytime soon".

But with one MP dismissing him as "a dead man walking" and his government described as "seemingly rudderless and adrift", the paper is convinced that his downfall is only a matter of time.

Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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