RNW Press Review, Friday 23 May 2008

23rd May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

23 May 2008

Youths under 18 may have to take breathalyser
Trouw reports that Interior Minister Guusje Ter Horst wants to be able to force people under 18 to take a breathalyser test if there's reason to suspect they've been drinking.

In a parliamentary debate on the Dutch cabinet's alcohol policy Thursday, Ter Horst said children as young as 12 could be required to take the test.

Trouw writes that "Both parliament and cabinet seem very concerned about the increased use of alcohol by young people.  Nowadays drinking begins at the age of 12."

Under 18? Go home earlier
Youth and Family Minister André Rouvoet, a member of the Christian Union party, sympathises with proposals to close nightclubs at an earlier hour.  

A group of parents has collected thousands of signatures demanding that cafés, pubs and nightclubs stay open no later than 2 am. However, the minister does not think a nationwide law forcing nightclubs to close earlier will be feasible.

Trouw says that in parliament there is little support for the proposal.

However, Minister Rouvoet may succeed in getting local authorities to pass laws requiring youths under the age of 18 to go home earlier. He says "This can be done by changing local ordinances."

Phone,surf data of Dutch citizens to be kept for one year
De Volkskrant writes that according to a law passed by parliament Thursday: "Providers must save the phone, chat, e-mail, surf and mobile phone data of all Dutch citizens for one year. If the authorities think they are on the trail of terrorists or hardened criminals they can request this private information, analyse it and, if necessary, use it as evidence."

De Volkskrant says the requirement to save everyone's communications data was made by the European Parliament several years ago.  

Most European countries have decided to save the data for six to 12 months.  Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin wanted to keep data for 18 months.

The Labour Party, which is a member of the governing coalition, voted against the proposal along with the left-wing opposition parties.

However, the motion passed because the governing Christian Democrat and Christian Union parties voted for the proposal along with the right-wing opposition.

Half a million households have financial difficulties
AD writes that social workers expect the number of households with "problem debts" to increase explosively now that consumers are able to shop on credit on the internet.

"Starting today the electronic chains Modern and Redcoon.nl will be the first web-shops to sell on credit."

The paper says interest is around 14.5 percent a year, though the maximum of 18 percent is often charged.

Debt collectors say they have seen the number of people in serious financial difficulty rise sharply in recent years because of increased opportunities to borrow money.

An organisation which helps people with problematic debts says it assisted nearly 50,000 households in 2007. It estimates that "half a million households have financial problems".

Sleep on park bench and be fined EUR 60
De Telegraaf reports that three donors who are paying EUR 1,000 to a charitable organisation to sleep outdoors like real tramps have been told by the city of Amsterdam that they will be breaking the law and could be subject to a fine of EUR 60.

"I didn't know that," said a shocked spokeswoman for the evangelical organisation which is organising the event after she was confronted with the local ordinance which bans sleeping outdoors. There is a 60-euro fine for violating the ordinance.

"We discussed the matter with the local police officer and he thought it was a good idea. Because the participants might have to count on the help of the police if it gets dangerous. We weren't told that it was forbidden."

However, the organisation is going ahead with tonight's paid homelessness night.
"Also, the evangelical organisation admits that it can use the money. There are three participants, of whom at least one is a friend of the foundation, who are prepared to cough up the money. Moreover there's an entire media circus which is also taking part in the - as it now turns out illegal - day of living like a tramp."

One of the participants, businessman Gerard Geijtenbeek, told De Telegraaf: "What, is it illegal to sleep on the street? I didn't know that. But if tramps sleep on a park bench, then so will I.  If I get a fine, then so be it."

Geijtenbeek says he knows that the police chase away homeless people and he'll wait and see if it happens to him. "Sleeping under the stars doesn't seem to me to be the worst transgression. I only won't have any money on me so I won't be a able to pay (the fine) right away."

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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