Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 30 June 2009
Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.Minister Koenders sees Gaza's scars for himself
De Volkskrant's front page features a sunny snap of Dutch Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders playing with Palestinian children on the beach at Gaza. The children are taking part in a summer sports day organised by the United Nations, and the minister is quick to acknowledge how much they need some distraction: "They've been through a difficult year and felt a lot of fear."
The paper reports that Koenders is only the third European minister to visit the Gaza Strip since the 22-day war with Israel. "Too few European ministers have come," says John Ging, the senior UN official in the region. "The people taking the decisions should do so based on what they've seen with their own eyes."
But Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen passed up that opportunity on a trip to Israel last week, arguing that going there wouldn't give him a clearer picture of the damage caused by the war. One of the questions put to Koenders by one of the young Palestinians during his visit makes you wonder if that's true: "I still have some bits of the bomb the Israelis blew my home up with. Would you like to see them?"
Eat grasshoppers, save the world
Trouw's front page features a startling close-up of a glamorous young lass about to chow down on a deep-fried grasshopper. It's all part of Farming and Food Minister Gerda Verburg's campaign to promote sustainable food. As she puts it, "The growing consumption of meat, fish and dairy products is putting an ever greater burden on the ecosystem. That's got to change."
However, Trouw and AD can't resist snapping the minister dubiously inspecting a grass sandwich and looking decidedly tight-lipped as she serves up a tray of worms in the ministry's canteen. It's hard to tell whether she's feeling a bit queasy or just worried about dropping the tray.
She's certainly getting no support from celebrity chef Joop Braakhekke. "Serve up insects in my restaurant? Ab-so-lutely no way!" he exclaims in AD. He understands where the minister's coming from, since "insects are bursting with protein and eating more of them could help solve the world's food crisis", but he's not convinced that the Dutch will ever see grasshoppers as a delicacy: "Let's face it, anything will taste good if you deep fry it for long enough."
Death of a banker: suicide or mystery?
A number of today's papers report on the death of banker Huibert Bouwmeester, whose body was found in a wood near Windsor in England. The suspected cause of death is suicide. The 49-year-old financier, a keen hunter, is thought to have been suffering from depression and is believed to have shot himself with one of his own firearms. AD appears to have no doubts about the reason for the tragedy: "Thwarted ambitions at a bank in crisis."
The bank in question is the Dutch bank ABN AMRO, bought in 2007 by a consortium of Santander, Fortis and Royal Bank of Scotland. Huibert Bouwmeester, then perched at the top of the ABN AMRO tree, gambled on the wrong horse by very publicly backing a rival takeover by British bank Barclays. Nrc.next charts his glorious rise to the top and his less than glorious departure last year with "not so much as a press release, and a farewell reception to which not many people showed up."
For free daily De Pers, however, the case is not quite so clear cut. It describes Bouwmeester's death as "surrounded by riddles" and reckons the suicide conclusion is "premature". The paper speaks to a number of people who did not think the banker was particularly depressed and ask, if it was suicide, "why is there talk of several wounds?" and "why was no shotgun found near the body?"
Fortune for Pim's last ciggie
De Telegraaf talks to the proud owner of the last cigarette ever smoked by the late Pim Fortuyn, the popular—some say populist—politician gunned down in 2002 after a spectacular rise to prominence. Pim fan Sandra Rosenboom snapped up the famous fag end for the princely sum of EUR 882.60 at an auction of the murdered politician's possessions.
"I know, I could buy crates of cigarettes for that price but I just had to have it. Pim always used to say 'I think what I say and I say what I think'. And that's exactly the way I am too."
Her precious purchase is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Pim Fortuyn's housekeeper attesting that it really was smoked by the man himself and not any old passer-by.
Sandra is quite resolute when asked whether she makes a habit of buying dead people's things. "No, not at all. I wouldn't give you five cents for anything that belonged to Michael Jackson."
Princess Alexia's first day at school
It doesn't take much to melt the heart of hard-boiled Dutch journalists: the sight of four-year-old Princess Alexia toddling off for her first day at school has them coming over all sentimental. De Telegraaf comes out tops with the headline "Together we're strong" and a front-page photo of plucky wee Alexia hand in hand with her big sister Amalia, as she starts her school career sporting her brand new rucksack. "She didn't shed a single tear," the paper crows proudly.
Another photo shows the young girls meeting Alexia’s new teachers, with parents Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima. The class burst into song to welcome the little princess but her teacher insists that she's not getting special treatment. "We do that for all the new children. Or if it's someone's birthday. It's a song that says every child on Earth twinkles like a star."
Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica