Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 30 September 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.30 September 2008
World financial crisis
The front page of every Dutch newspaper is almost entirely devoted to the world financial crisis. The headlines of AD, de Volkskrant and De Telegraaf read 'Black Monday'. AD adds, "Black Monday is almost an understatement ... for anyone taking a good look at yesterday's events".
Dutch newspapers are concerned that Monday's multi-billion euro government bailout of ailing Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis failed to stop its decline.
NRC-next states, "85,000 euros a second. 51 million euros a minute. 4.5 billion euros a day. That's how much Fortis lost in market value yesterday after the Benelux governments decided to invest 11.2 billion euros"...
The paper adds, "The figures for Fortis are now completely incomprehensible, even for the specialists". President of the Netherlands Bank, Nout Wellink, agrees: "To a certain extent the financial markets have lost their sense of direction."
AD notes that Fortis' new advertising slogan "Here today. Where tomorrow" is now parodied on the Internet as "Here today. Gone tomorrow".
Responsibility for financial crisis
The papers consider responsibility for Fortis’s failure. NRC-next blames the bank itself: "Fortis wanted to be big, very big, too big", adding that its' "recklessness, bluff and arrogance have proved almost fatal".
AD argues, "Fortis didn't do that much wrong, it's the system that's the problem". It continues, "what's happening at the stock exchange nowadays has very little to do with traditional investment".
A financial commentator in Trouw says, "This drama started in the offices of the minister of finance" and feels "he has a lot of explaining to do. While the Prime Minister was blaring on about restoring Dutch national glory, he and his minister let the Netherlands' banking flagship fall into incompetent Belgian hands".
The cartoonist in de Volkskrant shows President Bush about to dump a giant container full of debris on a neat little Dutch garden being tended by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
Problems teaching math in Dutch schools
De Telegraaf reports on a newly published government report that found over 1,000 primary schools in the Netherlands are below standard in teaching arithmetic. The newspaper talks to a maths professor who says, "The actual situation as regards arithmetic is enough to make you weep!"
It seems Dutch children learn math using a method where the sums are presented in the form of a story. Multiplication tables and fractions are no longer taught. The professor claims this is having "a devastating effect on the kids' arithmetical abilities" and warns that all the current teaching methods are "plagued by didactic blunders and a chaotic mix of arithmetical tricks".
Trouw points out that some schools with more needy pupils performed better than others with fewer disadvantaged pupils. According to the Education Inspectorate, this suggests that "the schools themselves can make all the difference."
New approaches to death and dying
Trouw reports on a new glossy magazine called ToBe, all about death. Editor-in-chief Garance Bongers says, "it's about life, mortality and death." Bongers was inspired to start the magazine after popular singer André Hazes died in 2004; a stadium full of fans gathered to pay their last respects in a televised event that attracted 5 million viewers.
The first issue contains features on people who flirt with death, young widows, and a report on what to wear to a funeral.
The paper examines other new developments in dealing with death, as people try to manage the details of their own funerals, and grieving families and terminal patients share their emotions on the Internet. Trouw asks whether this openness leads to superficiality, but also quotes a breast cancer patient’s blog, "This weblog has given me more than I could have ever imagined. The greatest gift is the feeling that I'm doing something worthwhile".
[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]