RNW Dutch Press Review – Thursday 13 March 2008

13th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.

RNW Dutch Press Review – Thursday 13 March 2008 – by Georg Schreuder Hes

Today's Volkskrant has a report on what it calls "Balkenende's aggrieved front-line soldiers": police officers, nurses, teachers and other professionals, who only one year ago were praised in the new cabinet's coalition agreement as being "invaluable and deserving of our full support and trust".

According to the paper, these professionals were seen as the front-line soldiers in Jan Peter Balkenende's close-knit society. However, today, these same professionals are deeply aggrieved and ready for action.

Police officers and other professionals blame the government for a lack of respect and appreciation, which they, of course, would like to see expressed in wage increases. Equally predictably, the government is extremely reluctant to put its money where its mouth is.  

On Thursday, the police unions announced they would cancel plans for further strikes and protests; reportedly because they realised that Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst's current offer was the best they were going to get and further actions would be pointless.

However, the teachers unions are getting ready for action because Education Minister Ronald Plasterk has so far failed to deliver on his promise of increasing teachers' salaries.

Trouw reports that parliament will today discuss a Labour motion to scrap the law on blasphemy.

The law was introduced in 1932 in reaction to an article in the Communist party newspaper which argued that "God means Imperialist war". The then justice minister decided to draft a law to ban what he called: "the outpourings of hell".

Trouw writes that the law has been applied only 12 times between 1932 and 1968, resulting in only a handful of convictions.

A majority in parliament supports the Labour motion to scrap the law, with only the Christian Democrats and the small Christian parties opposed. However, the motion leaves it up to the government to determine when it will actually be scrapped, which means the law may remain on the books for some time to come.

Problem youths join police
De Volkskrant reports that 14 problem youths from two Utrecht slum districts have been recruited by the local police force for surveillance duties.

The youths, who must be at least 16 years old, have been given 15-month internships during which they work 12 hours a week, patrolling their districts and addressing their peers about their conduct.

The project is the result of discussions between problem youths and the police, in which the youths complained that they had great difficulty finding jobs or internships. Police officers on the other hand wanted to make the youths responsible for improving their own district.

The project allows police officers to learn from the interns about "the way things work" among groups of loitering youths and makes it easier for local police officers to get in touch.

Access passes
AD writes that "hacking passes is becoming a sport", threatening the security of hundreds of institutions.

Encryption expert Ronald Prins - co-owner of computer security company Fox-it - says that anyone with a little technical know-how can copy the access passes of nearly all government buildings within a few months.

Mr Prins predicts that now that the chip most commonly used on this type of pass has been hacked, an increasing number of manuals and how-to videos will be posted on the internet.

The successful deciphering of the chip's secret code means that the security of hundreds of companies and government institutions has been compromised.

Parliament will today hold emergency talks with Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst to discuss possible measures.

The hacked chip has been in use for more than 15 years.

Nienke van den Berg, director of ICT company A51, says: "It's outdated technology that almost everybody relies on. When it's compromised, the resulting problem is huge".

Also on the front page of AD, a picture of a lone German shepherd braving Wednesday's storm on the boulevard at the coastal resort of Noordwijk, where gusts of wind of up to 100 kilometres per hour changed the boulevard into a kind of Sahara.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, the storm led to serious delays at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and a number of highways blocked by blown-over trailers.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008] 

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