Dutch news in brief, Wednesday 4 February 2009
Read the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands for the latest news in the Netherlands.Supermarkets face ban from selling alcohol
De Telegraaf leads with the news that “Supermarkets which sell beer, wine and mixed drinks to youths under the age of 16 will lose their licences. They will no longer be able to sell alcohol… According to inside sources, the cabinet will soon propose legislation which will make it possible to enforce this drastic measure.” The paper reports that supermarkets will lose their licences if they are caught three times in the space of a year.
“The responsible ministers Guusje ter Horst (Internal Affairs), André Rouvoet (Youth and Family) and Ad Klink (Health) are currently holding consultations about new measures aimed at decreasing alcohol consumption among young people.”
De Telegraaf says concrete decisions are expected within several weeks. Although a recent law requires cashiers to check the age of those who purchase alcohol, until now only a limited number of fines have been handed out. The proposal would give local authorities a powerful tool to crack down on shopkeepers who sell to people under 16.
Obama impressed by Amsterdam broadband network
“Today Amsterdam will announce that a large part of the city has been connected to a modern glass fibre network for internet. United States President Barack Obama will be one of the first to receive the details.”
Trouw reports that President Obama’s advisory team has already received four reports on the progress of Amsterdam’s glass fibre network. The person responsible for the reports is Dutch-Australian Paul Budde, “One of the foreign telecom specialists who has been advising Obama’s team”.
Trouw writes that the reports on Amsterdam’s glass fibre network are in part responsible for President Obama’s decision to invest 7 billion euros in a broadband network for the US. The new network, which has still to be approved by Congress, will not only be quick but also open to all providers.
Budde says, “Thanks to the city council, Amsterdam is constructing an open network. And what do you see? KPN, the former (telecommunications) monopolist, is not only investing in open networks in Amsterdam, but also in the rest of the Netherlands.”
Budde is convinced that the construction of an open network, which can be used by competing firms and not only the former state telecommunications monopolies “is internationally an unbelievably important signal”. He says as soon as Amsterdam releases the details of its plans, he will send a fifth report to Obama’s team. “They can use the Dutch experience as ammunition to convince the senators and congressmen.”
Willem-Alexander and Maxima to rough it in Antarctica
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his wife Princess Maxima will spend a night sleeping in a tent in Antarctica this week. They will even cook their own meal in a primitive manner. “They don’t have much of a choice,” says Michiel van den Broeke, a Dutch researcher who has just returned from Antarctica. “Such a night is mandatory for everyone who visits the Rothera Research Station.” The Arctic researcher told AD that the night outdoors is a security precaution, since everyone who makes a trip in the region must learn to fend for him or herself in case something happens. The tent will be set up a few kilometres from the British research station.
Afterwards the royal couple will receive better accommodation. The next two nights will be spent in a barrack with Science Minister Ronald Plasterk and the chairman of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Jos Engelen.
The royal couple may also witness a “spectacular event”. Scientists believe that the Wilkins Ice Shelf, around half as long as Belgium, is about to crash into the sea. Before arriving in Antarctica Willem-Alexander and Maxima will visit the Patagonia glacier, the world’s third largest, which is melting rapidly as a result of global warming.
During the trip the crown prince will keep a weblog of his experiences. Minster Plasterk told AD that he hopes people will follow the weblog so they can gain an idea of what is going wrong in the Arctic regions. (www.koninklijkhuis.nl).
Controversial cartoonist “can hardly see” in his niqab
The front page of today’s de Volkskrant shows the controversial Dutch cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot speaking to a Danish audience. The cartoonist is incognito – he is wearing a niqab, which covers his entire body, including his face.
On 13 May last year Gregorius Nekschot, a pseudonym, was arrested. Ten police officers stormed into his house and he spent a day and a half in jail. The Public Prosecutor’s Office is still investigating whether his cartoons are insulting and incite hatred against Muslims.
Nekschot says the investigation could endanger his life. If he is prosecuted people will know who he is, including Muslim extremists. “Look what happened to Theo van Gogh.” The cartoonist was invited to Copenhagen by the Free Press Society.
He says his situation is a direct result of the problems caused by the Danish cartoons. The Dutch government then set up an Interdepartmental Workgroup for Problematic Cartoons, which came to the conclusion that Gregorius Nekschot could endanger Dutch exports. He decided to address the Free Speech Society in a niqab in order to make a statement. “I can hardly see a thing. I admire women who can live in this.”
Radio Netherlands/Frank Scimone/ Expatica