RNW Press Review, Friday 4 July 2008

4th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

4 July 2008

Negativity air lurks around Balkenende IV
The lower house of parliament starts its summer recess on Friday and  the cabinet will keep working for another week - and Trouw and De Telegraaf review the political season and predict what the future has in store for the fourth Balkenende cabinet.  

Neither paper is very positive: Trouw's headline reads "new disputes lurking on the horizon" and De Telegraaf goes with "trust in Balkenende IV sinks below zero".

Trouw's political editor writes that problems for Balkenende IV started piling up shortly after the beginning of the political season in September 2007 and the coalition came close to falling in November. A few of the more intractable problems were put on the backburner and creative solutions to a few thorny issues were pushed through in June.

However, Trouw predicts that a new set of problems, some of them actually leftovers from last season, will threaten cabinet unity as soon as the politicians come back from their summer holidays.

De Telegraaf's front page features a photograph of a beaming Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende at the annual barbecue to mark the end of the political season. However, readers of the populist paper don't think he has much to smile about.

Three thousand of them took part in the paper's survey on government and awarded the Balkenende cabinet an F for failure, saying. "This cabinet is light years away from ordinary people".

The most common complaint was "the government doesn't listen to what people want", closely followed by "this is the worst government with the highest taxes ever".

Dutch nationals to renounce Moroccan citizenship
The final day of the political circus is always a busy one and De Volkskrant reports that Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin on Thursday informed the lower house of parliament of his intention to approach the Moroccan government about allowing Dutch nationals of Moroccan origin to renounce Moroccan citizenship.

De Volkskrant writes that the Dutch government has discussed the "sensitive" issue with Rabat on a number of occasions but that it has not led to a fundamental change in Moroccan policy.

De Telegraaf reports that a recent change in Dutch law requires second-generation immigrants to renounce the nationality of their parents and that Minister Hirsch Ballin wants to end multiple nationalities.

Moroccan law does allow people to renounce their citizenship in special cases but in practice, it's almost impossible for Dutch-Moroccans to do so.

There are of course other countries that make it difficult for their nationals to renounce their citizenship but the minister says he has no plans to tackle each country individually. Minister Hirsch Ballin adds: "The large number of Dutch-Moroccans living in the Netherlands justifies the extra attention given to their situation".

An apple a day keeps the government away
The nanny state is wagging its' didactic finger again: "Government launches healthy food offensive,” sneers De Telegraaf on its front page.

The paper reports that the government wants everybody to eat an apple or pear at work, to cut their salt intake, eat fish three times a week and for canteens to serve vitamin-rich foods.

The paper writes that Public Health Minister Ab Klink will present to his dietary and nutrition bill to the council of ministers later Friday and that he is also launching a salt task force to decrease the amount of salt in processed foods.

De Telegraaf writes that poor eating habits account for 10 percent of the annual deaths due to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

New herb cigarette for coffee shop
AD reports on the imminent launch of an herb cigarette that people will be able to light up in Dutch bars, cafés and restaurants. A smoking ban went into effect in the Netherlands on 1 July and the papers have been full of smoking stories ever since.

AD writes that former coffee shop (marijuana café) owner Ad Greaves will be importing a herb cigarette that is not covered by the smoking ban as it is made from mint, papaya, eucalyptus and hazelnut leaves and contains no tobacco. The cigarette, called Greengo, is manufactured in France.

Greaves said: "I had smoked other herb cigarettes and they were all disgusting and then I tried this one and it was good". Test smokers say it tastes like a well-known cigarette. Greaves added: "sales start in six weeks time. They'll cost EUR 7 per pack due to the excise tax but I think there'll be a lot of interest in them".

Disobeying ban on smoking sets off fire alarm
There may be a ban on smoking in the Netherlands but it appears that not everybody is obeying the law. A VVD councilman in the Dutch city of Nijmegen set off the smoke alarm in the council building on Wednesday evening after he lit up a cigar in the VVD offices.

The building was evacuated, the fire engines raced to the scene and but there was no fire, just smoke.

The city's mayor was furious and plans to bill the party for the cost of calling out the fire services. The councillor in question said: "This is really embarrassing".

[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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