Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 24 September 2008
Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.24 September 2008
Smoking rebellion spreads
AD dedicates the front page as well as a two-page spread to a growing smokers' rebellion. The paper quotes Elly Hazewinkel, who represents the bar and restaurant sector in the town of Westland who says: "I’ve spoken to owners who have suffered a 30 percent drop in turnover."
The paper writes that the proprietors of bars in at least 11 towns are taking up collections to pay for eventual fines. About 1,000 businessmen have joined a pressure group.
In an interview, one pub owner told the AD: "We went along with the rules the first few months. We even bought a water-pistol to threaten clients in a humorous manner if someone tried to light a cigarette. Meanwhile you saw what was happening: customers stayed away, or left a lot sooner, or drank less because they stood outside smoking…Two weeks ago we brought back the ashtrays. We had no other choice."
The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority says nearly 20 percent of pubs are not obeying the smoking ban, which went into effect on 1 July. Not surprising, since the small pubs and restaurants are suffering the most.
Most politicians have little sympathy for the protest. Christian Democratic MP Ciska Joldersma says the owners of smaller businesses "had time to prepare themselves…We can’t make any exceptions." Labour MP Lea Bouwmeester says the protest "is unfair towards pubs which are observing the smoking ban….Everyone must obey the law."
'Green energy' shortage in the Netherlands
De Volkskrant reports that European Parliament’s proposal to only consider energy produced nationally as 'green' could lead to a steep rise in the price of green energy in the Netherlands.
The paper writes that most of the green energy used by Dutch consumers is imported. There are now 2.5 million Dutch households that use green energy. If the European plans are implemented, most energy companies will no longer be able to satisfy the demand for green energy.
The European Parliament says it wants to end the practice of green energy being counted twice. "This would prevent countries such as Norway, Sweden or Austria selling hydropowered electricity across the border as a green product, while at the same time using the production towards fulfilling their own European target for green energy."
Amsterdam to give courses in hospitality
"We can no longer accept rudeness. We must fight for our position." De Telegraaf reports Amsterdam city councillor Lodewijk Asscher as saying.
Speaking about his own experiences at an awards ceremony whose purpose is to improve hospitality in Amsterdam, Asscher said: "It's happened that I've entered a shop in Amsterdam and the personnel demonstrated a clear lack of interest while talking on the phone and chewing gum."
Asscher announced that the city of Amsterdam plans to give all of its employees courses in hospitality.
De Telegraaf reports that applause for an award given to Amsterdam’s municipal transport system, GVB, was rather meagre. It says surveys show that Amsterdam’s public transport is one of the worst in the Netherlands.
Pennies on the road
De Volkskrant writes that watchful Amsterdam residents immediately called the police when they saw two youths sweeping up pennies. Police dispatched to the scene found more than 300,000 pennies, which were part of an art exhibit.
New York artist Stefan Sagmeister had used the 300,000 euro cents to create his lithographical artwork, a sentence made up of pennies. The sentence read: 'Obsessions make my life worse and my work better'.
The group Urban Play, which held the exhibit, said it had informed area residents and police that it was their intention to let people take the pennies after the opening of the exhibit. However, it seems the police officers called to the scene had not been notified.
De Volkskrant reports that “as a precaution", police put the hundreds of kilos of pennies in bags and returned them to the exhibit’s organisers.
Steal this bike strategy
Amsterdam police have thought of a new strategy which is best described by the words 'Steal this Bike'.
De Telegraaf writes that Amsterdam police are using a new entrapment strategy, with the goal of catching notorious bicycle thieves. "The bait will be placed at locations where many bicycles are stolen, and will be closely watched by police officers. Should the thief strike, he will be arrested immediately."
The strategy appears to be influenced by Abbie Hoffman’s hippy survival manual from the early 1970s 'Steal this Book' - which was not available in many bookstores and libraries because too many people followed the author's advice.
[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]