RNW Press Review 20 February 2008
A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.
RNW PRESS REVIEW 20 FEBRUARY 2008 - By Frank Scimone
De Volkskrant reports that Patrick van der Eem, who befriended Joran van der Sloot and got him to confess on secret camera, is working on a book on "how he solved the Natalee Holloway case" with an American author. Ms Holloway is an American teenager whose disappearance on the island of Aruba in May 2005 received massive coverage in the US media. Mr Van der Eem says that although he deserves the nearly 1.4 million euro reward for solving the case "he isn't planning to claim it". De Volkskrant reports that the book will be written by Elisabeth E Byars and will be published in September. The paper adds that the Public Prosecutor's Office in Aruba wants to call Mr Van der Eem as a witness. According to Justice Officer Hans Mos: "He's told his story to the media and now he has some explaining to do to us." However, Mr Van der Eem says he has no problem in cooperating with the justice ministry.
Go forth and multiply
AD writes about the appeal made by Youth and Family Minister André Rouvoet of the small Christian Union party that the Netherlands start encouraging women to bear more children. In an interview on Monday with the free newspaper De Pers, Minister Rouvoet said the Dutch average of 1.7 children per woman is too low and the Netherlands should provide families with incentives to raise the level to 2.1, which is necessary for a stable population. Though some countries have an active policy to encourage births, the idea has never been popular in the Netherlands. AD writes that in parliament his Christian Democrat and Labour coalition partners and MPs from the conservative VVD party were "incensed" by his remarks. The paper quoted a Christian Democratic MP who sneered: "The wish to have a child is based on love and tenderness and not on obtaining 2.1 children per woman."
Stay out of the bedroom
De Telegraaf devotes an editorial to Minister Rouvoet's statements. The paper writes that the "outdated and patronising ideas of the Christian Union" have been in the limelight since the party entered government. "These sometimes lead to astonishment and irritation outside our country's biblical enclaves." The paper is referring to towns in the Netherlands which are mostly Calvinist. De Telegraaf writes: "Perhaps the Christian Union hasn't noticed that the Dutch people want as little interference from the authorities as possible and would like to lead their lives as they themselves see fit."
Populsku brings the Netherlands in Polish
Nrc.next writes that "Alongside the Polish church, delicatessen and baker there's now a newspaper for the 150,000 Poles in the Netherlands." This week the first issue of Populsku will be distributed via temporary job agencies, Polish shops and bus companies. The free newspaper relies on revenues from advertising and will have a circulation of 50,000. The editor-in-chief of Populsku, Kasia Rosa, told nrc.next that "Poles want to know how Dutch people think." She says her weekly will report on things such as the Natalee Holloway case or the queen's birthday. "Most Poles don't even know that the Netherlands has a royal family." Ms Rosa says she'd previously seen Polish newspapers in England. "When I started to see more and more cars with Polish license plates in the Netherlands I thought to myself: Now's the time."
"No Dutch-bashing for me"
In an article in NRC.Handelsblad, Dutch journalist Louise O Fresco who spent nearly ten years in Italy, criticises Dutch-bashing which she says has become a widespread phenomena in the Netherlands. "'The Netherlands, Amsterdam?!' exclaimed my foreign colleagues and friends when I announced last year that after more than nine years I'd be leaving Rome. 'How wonderful!'" "'What? The Netherlands? Amsterdam?!' exclaimed my Dutch friends and colleagues in unison when I told them I'd be returning. 'Why on earth would you want to live here if you could get a job anywhere in the world?!' They asked me if I didn't notice that the Netherlands had changed beyond recognition: it had deteriorated with its clique of interfering, self-enriching administrators who are led by half-educated politicians who wanted nothing more than to return to the orderly and moralistic 1950s."
Large mayonnaise gutter
They also asked her if she didn't notice that the Dutch politics of consensus had been replaced by curtness and bickering and politicians who lacked feeling for the public good, students who couldn't spell and that Amsterdam had turned into a large mayonnaise gutter? Hadn't she heard of no-go areas in many cities where immigrants made the naïve idealists who strived for their integration look like fools? Her spluttering that Italy wasn't in every respect a paradise didn't make an impression. She writes: "Many Dutch people now ask me with a ring of worry in their voices how I'm doing, as if I'm a patient . . . If I truthfully answer that I miss the sun and the Italian smile but am enjoying what the Netherlands has to offer people look at me as if I'm pulling their leg, or even worse, have defected to the camp of the foreigners who will never understand the Netherlands."
Collective fear of dangers that don't even exist
Ms Fresco writes: "There's an unprecedented nervousness amongst politicians and the average person which is hardly justified by the facts – objectively speaking there is no crisis, neither economically, nor politically, nor as far as our safety is concerned. The Netherlands seems to be suffering from a collective fear of dangers that don't even exist or haven't yet happened." Ms Fresco calls on the Dutch to cast aside their "collective depression" and focus on what they're good in, such as cultural institutions, water management, consensus politics and decentralised management. "The Netherlands", she writes, "that small, overpopulated delta on the rising North Sea, is an ideal laboratory to study the equilibrium between environment and nature, living, working and transport, integration and assimilation. And this could be relevant in setting an example for the rest of the world." Ms Fresco concludes: "The Netherlands?! Yes, the Netherlands! No Dutch-bashing for me!"
With your Zimmerframe/Tom Tom you'll never get lost again
De Telegraaf reports that a student at a technical college in the Netherlands has manufactured a Zimmerframe/Tom Tom to help people with poor memories. It is mostly intended for elderly people suffering from dementia or other illnesses who tend to get lost in places such as old age homes. In recent months the Zimmerframe with a navigation system has been tested at the Betuweland care home in the town of Bemmel. The Zimmerframe has a computer screen with five buttons. To keep it easy: "Each button has a symbol, such as 'toilet' or 'cup of coffee'. After pressing the button with a cup of coffee, arrows appear on the screen which point the way to the restaurant."
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]