Press Review Thursday 31 January 2008
A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.
Press Review Thursday 31 January 2008
by Mike Wilcox
The front page of De Volkskrant immediately catches your eye this morning. It is almost covered by 70 mini-portraits of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. One from each year of her life: she is 70 today. However, the paper says it's not all celebration.
It suggests her position as part of the government and her (quite considerable) powers under the constitution are under attack as never before. It lists some of her earlier problems, for example, her marriage to a German when the Second World War was a fresh memory. Then, there was her coronation, marred by protests from the homeless, typified by the slogan "No crowning without housing!"
Now, however, the paper believes the monarchy is sailing in uncharted waters. Her pro-European stance, not contentious before the Dutch 'no' in the EU constitution referendum of 2005, is now being criticised. And her most recent televised Christmas address in which she called for "tolerance and respect" for other cultures in society was attacked by a populist right-wing MP as being too political.
However, it's not all black for the House of Orange. The AD, also on the front page, runs the results of a survey of what the Dutch think of their sovereign. She gets a "more than satisfactory" 7.5, scoring particularly high when it comes to her professionalism and how she represents the country. The mass-circulation De Telegraaf is more traditional: "Happy Birthday Your Majesty" reads its headline below which is seen her official 70th-birthday portrait photo.
As well as the royal birthday, Trouw covers a report by the Health and Care Council advising the government to change how the elderly and chronically sick are looked after. At the moment, their care is paid for by the government. The idea is to have this covered by the ordinary health insurance all Dutch residents are obliged to have. It is thought that the commercial insurers will do everything possible to keep patients out of expensive institutions for as long as possible.
De Telegraaf says Deputy Health Minister Jet Bussemaker favours the change. The paper says something must be done as the present system is a mess and costs nearly 25 billion euros a year. The paper also says the council believes many patients will be better off under the new system.
NRC Handelsblad reports that a court in Den Bosch in the south of the Netherlands has ordered that two members of the board of an Islamic primary school be dismissed. The education ministry accuses them of mismanagement, saying money was paid for non-existent posts.
De Volkskrant gives an example of what went on, saying the partners of the chairman and secretary were paid as school cleaners while the work was actually done by volunteers. The ministry has frozen the school's bank accounts and is demanding that 850,000 euros of subsidies be paid back. The school claims that no more than 200,000 euros is owed and that it is now threatened with bankruptcy.
Still on accusations of fraud, De Volkskrant covers the furore among the local council in Almere, a town close to Amsterdam. The mayor and another councillor admit using official cars to pick up prescriptions, take the kids to school and go to restaurants.
A spokesman defends them saying: "What's the use of councillors coming to work with smelly armpits because they've had to get themselves from A to B? We think it's important that they come to work fresh, having read through their documents on the way."
However, the paper says not everyone agrees with this argument and quotes an anonymous letter from council workers. "It's shocking to see what's done with public money, when lower management is constantly being told to make economies," they say.
King of rock and roll
We started with the queen and we're ending with the king, thanks to De Telegraaf. It covers the news that the latest weapon against illegal downloading is the vinyl-CD single. Elvis Presley-fan Michel van Erp explains: "One side has the digital CD and, if you turn it over, you've got the vinyl single. It's as simple as it is ingenious," he says.
And why is Elvis-fan Michel rushing out to get his hands on an old-fashioned record player? Of course, the first vinyl-CD single is a remix of Baby Let's Play House recorded by the king of rock and roll himself 53 years ago.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]
Subject: Dutch news