Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 6 January 2009
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.Homeless people trying to stay warm
Trouw reports that local councils are taking additional measures to provide a shelter for the homeless as temperatures reached a record low.
On Monday evening, the country made preparations for the coldest night in years. As temperatures were expected to drop to minus 15 degree Celsius, it was vital for homeless people to find a warm place to sleep.
In the city of Groningen, the council banned homeless people from sleeping outdoors, and police and municipal health officials went looking for homeless people to make sure they would spent the night at a shelter.
Other councils also introduced special winter measures, including free shelters. However, Trouw quotes one homeless person who questions the enthusiastic stories about additional beds. He said when the homeless are queuing up for a bed at a night shelter "The right of the strongest rules, if you're strong, you're at the head of the queue".
Increasing number of motorists lose their licences
AD reports that a record number of motorists have lost their driver's licences as a result of intensified surveillance, better trained police officers and better equipment.
Figures published by the police and the Public Prosecutor's Office show 5,600 people lost their licence in 2008, a five percent increase compared with 2007.
In most cases, motorists who lose their licence for the first time get it back in 10 days, particularly if they need it for their work.
As an additional measure, the police can force offenders to take a traffic safety course. Offenders will have to fork out EUR 700 to pay for the course. Failure to attend the course means the motorist's licence will be permanently revoked.
Netherlands side with Russia in gas row
Free newspaper De Pers has a front-page story on how Dutch economic interests take priority over all other policy considerations. According to the paper, the country's declared ambition to become the 'natural gas roundabout of north-western Europe' means that "When Putin closes the gas tap, the Netherlands will have no comment, Russia is, and will remain, our friend."
The escalating dispute between Russia and the Ukraine, which has reduced the gas supply to Europe, has not led to any kind of criticism from Europe, including the Netherlands.
De Pers writes that even if Russia were to close the gas tap completely, The Hague would not publicly criticise Moscow.
When the Netherlands' own natural gas supplies run out in about 20 years, The Hague believes the nation's extensive gas infrastructure will allow it to make billions of euros as a distribution hub for Russian natural gas.
Dutch national skating championship on natural ice
Today's De Telegraaf reports of another National Championships on natural ice after more than a decade.
All the big names in marathon ice-skating are taking part in the event, which will be held in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Flevopolder on Thursday. The marathon consists of a 60-kilometre race for women and 100 kilometres for men.
Officials of the national ice-skating union, KNSB, tested and approved the ice on Monday, which means the national championships will be held again for the first time in 12 years.
KNSB marathon coordinator Teun Breedijk said: "Everybody wants to be there. The National Championships are no Eleven-City-Tour, but you can tell that people are longing for ice-skating competitions on natural ice. They have been waiting for too long."
The event will be broadcast live by Dutch public television.
Rotterdam's Moroccan-born new mayor sworn in
Tuesday's edition of de Volkskrant features a photograph of Labour Party politician Ahmed Aboutaleb just moments after he was sworn in on Monday as the new mayor of Rotterdam.
Aboutaleb, who has just served as deputy social affairs minister in the current cabinet, is the first person of Moroccan descent to become mayor of one of the four main Dutch cities. Like most Dutch citizens of Moroccan descent, Aboutaleb has dual nationality.
After the ceremony, local Leefbaar Rotterdam (Liveable Rotterdam) party leader Marco Pastors handed the new mayor a framed, stamped and addressed envelope for him to send his Moroccan passport back to the king of Morocco.
Pastors said: "We feel that you should use your prominent position in the Netherlands to enable Moroccan-born Dutchmen to have their Moroccan passports declared invalid."
Aboutaleb received a standing ovation when he reacted by saying: "I refuse to accept that my loyalty is still being questioned after 32 years in the Netherlands."
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica / Georg Schreuder Hes]