Press Review Monday 31 May 2010
With just nine days to go before the Dutch general election on 9 June, it is no surprise that the papers are full of news from the campaign front once again. The other topic battling for the reader's attention is football, and the Netherlands' chances of winning the World Cup.On Sunday, De Telegraaf invited the leaders of the five main parties - Labour, the centre-right Christian Democrat CDA, the conservative VVD, the centre-left D66 and the right-wing Freedom Party PVV - to produce their own version of the populist paper, which appeared as a supplement to this morning's edition. It's not really a newspaper, it's more of a glorified campaign folder; each of the parties were given a page and used it to make promises and praise their past performances. Tellingly, the CDA - led by outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende - got the front page and the largest photograph. De Volkskrant opens with Labour leader Job Cohen's warning that a coalition between the VVD, CDA and PVV will divide the country socially and economically. Mr Cohen's warning came in response to VVD leader Mark Rutte's announcement on Saturday that a right-wing coalition was a serious possibility. Mr Cohen told a Dutch current affairs TV programme, "I am extremely concerned about the possibility of a right-wing cabinet, it will split the country socially and economically. The VVD will make the poor poorer and the rich richer". D66 leader Alexander Pechtold also expressed his concerns, "I don't understand Rutte's reasoning," he tells De Volkskrant, but adds, "I'm glad that he's made his position." In interview with AD, Mr Pechtold calls for a return to the good old days of the Purple Coalition -between Labour, the VVD and D66 - that led the country through a period of economic growth and stability. "A stable centrist party is necessary in order to help the VVD and Labour to form a majority coalition". GreenLeft demands end to lavish farewell parties "Farewell parties for departing politicians needn't be quite so lavish," says GreenLeft MP Ineke van Gent, adding, "you can knock a zero off the price tag for most of them". Ms Van Gent has called on outgoing Interior Minister Ernst Hirsh Ballin to establish guidelines to cut the cost for the parties for departing politicians and civil servants. The GreenLeft MP was responding to an investigation by Nova, a Dutch current affairs TV programme. Nova's investigation discovered that the city of Rotterdam ended up paying more than 200,000 euros for the lavish bash it threw for departing mayor Ivo Opstelten, the party for Mayor Jacques Wallage cost the city of Groningen 130,000 euros and the Ministry of Defence has spent 151,000 euros on a farewell party for retiring armed forces chief Dick Berlijn. The GreenLeft MP added, " I have no problem with a farewell party, and of course it can be a bit more than a beer and a bag of chips, but we are spending taxpayers money here". Orange mania takes hold The Netherlands is turning orange: department stores, supermarkets, clothes shops, bakeries and everything in between is packing every conceivable item in orange plastic or dying it with orange food colouring. De Volkskrant carries a photograph of a street in a Brabant village; Dutch flags are flying, orange bunting criss-crosses the road, orange cows are romping on the rooftops along with windmills and footballs and the houses have all been wrapped in orange plastic, it's a slightly surreal sight. The paper gives a rundown on all of the odd things that "those peculiar folk" are buying in order to show their support for the Dutch football team. The items range from orange wigs, hats, underpants and toilet paper to the vast collection of small furry, squeaking things given away by all the major supermarkets. The item making the most noise - quite literally I'm afraid - is the African trumpet known as vuvuzela. It sounds like an injured elephant and everybody seems to have one. I do hope that someone is marketing orange earplugs. Pinkpop festival success despite rain Several papers cover the 41st edition of Pinkpop, one of the biggest pop festivals in the Netherlands that took place this past weekend in Limburg. De Telegraaf condemns it with faint praise, "very ordinary," writes the paper, adding, "three days of Pinkpop didn't produce anything memorable". AD is slightly more positive; "a lot of quality acts but no surprises at Pinkpop," adding, "although there were no really major stars this year, Pinkpop did manage to produce an interesting and inspirational festival for almost 70,000 people". Man solves snoring with mobile phone "Snoring carpenter develops the ultimate anti-snoring device," writes AD. According to the paper, "snoring king Will Nobel tried everything, but he still snored like a pneumatic drill". Eventually, the now desperate Mr Nobel developed a high-tech variant of the old bra and tennis ball method - this entails putting a tennis ball in a bra and putting it on backwards so the pressure of the tennis ball will wake the sleeper if he turns on to his back. Scientists say that the vast majority of people who snore, between 70 and 80 percent only snore when sleeping on their backs. Mr Nobel had tried the bra and tennis ball method but the ball kept rolling away. However, inspiration came when his mobile phone went off one day: the phone had been set to vibrate and as it buzzed its way across the coffee table; Mr Nobel had a brilliant idea. He removed the vibrating device from the phone and attached it to a ball and a strap. The device starts buzzing "like a couple of demented mosquitoes" when the sleeper rolls onto his back and start snoring. The noise is enough of an irritant to persuade the sleeper to roll over again but not to wake them up, says Mr Nobel. Doctors are enthusiastic about the device, called the Snore Breaker, and are conducting tests to see if it works for others as well.
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