RNW Press Review, Monday 16 June 2008

16th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

16 June 2008

Working towards a workable future
Today's de Volkskrant reveals that a government committee has released a report advising that the retirement age be raised from 65 to 67. The Bakker Committee report 'Towards a workable future' contains 43 suggestions meant to help another 400,000 people find work by 2016.

The committee wants to change the system, starting in 2016 when the retirement age will rise by a month each year until it reaches 67 in 2040. Another suggestion is to make not only working people, but also pensioners pay social security taxes.

Expensive oil is good news
In an opinion piece in Trouw, Tilburg University's Professor of Globalisation and Sustainable Development Paul van Seters writes that the recent steep rise in oil prices is good news because it forces the world economy to look for sustainable alternatives to oil.

He argues that recent actions by angry lorry drivers in the Netherlands and other countries are "not only futile, but misplaced". He says that if governments take measures to lower petrol prices "They would at most result in new forms of government support while ignoring the necessity of coming to grips with the hard facts."
Professor Van Seters writes: "Last weekend the Group of Eight's energy ministers met in the Japanese city of Aomori while the price of oil rose to the dizzying level of 140 dollars per barrel... Then something happened in Aomori that had never occurred in the annals of the G8.

“The energy ministers stopped criticising the OPEC, accepted the high price of oil and issued a closing statement in which all the emphasis was placed on using energy more efficiently and developing alternatives for fossil fuels."

He also writes that, around the same time, the OECD's International Energy Agency called for a 'worldwide energy revolution'. "However, this sense of urgency is not shared by everyone."

He points out that just a few weeks ago Dutch Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven wrote: "There is enough oil and gas to meet world needs, now and in the future. In order to exploit oil and gas found in sites which are difficult to reach we need to create efficient markets and a stabile climate for investments."

Van Seters says he disagrees with the minister's arguments that "there is enough oil, the market works, go to sleep". He writes: "There is not enough oil, the market doesn't work and the development of clean technology should receive the highest priority. It's time that Maria van der Hoeven's colleagues in the G8 sit down with her and get her up to date."
Smoking’s out
Today AD's health supplement 'Diagnosis' is devoted entirely to smoking. Quitting smoking would be more like it. Besides stories about the dangers of smoking and the difficulties smokers face in quitting AD has a piece of good news: "Hardly anyone will smoke 20 years from now."

According to Paul van Spiegel, the Director of the Department of Lung Diseases at Amsterdam's Slotervaart Hospital, "Four percent of smokers stop every year and eventually there will hardly be any smokers left."

Van Spiegel points out that the number of young people who smoke is declining sharply "and social pressure is increasing".

There are also legal measures to discourage smoking, cigarettes are getting more expensive all the time and the current cabinet will probably vote to provide refunds to people who take courses on how to stop smoking.

AD reports that "On 1 July, the smoking ban in restaurants will go into effect and cigarettes will become EUR 0.55 more expensive."

Raise minimum age for prostitution to 21
The Christian Democrats want a law banning prostitution under the age of 21. Mass-circulation newspaper De Telegraaf writes that Christian Democratic MPs have called on Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin to raise the minimum age for prostitutes from 18 to 21 as soon as possible. "The governing party believes that the minister is wavering on the issue."

At the end of 2007, parliament passed a motion submitted by Freedom Party MP Fleur Agema demanding that the age limit be raised. However the minister first wants to await the results of a study into whether raising the age limit is advisable. He says it is not clear whether the measure would have the desired effects. He also says it would require far-reaching changes in legislation.

Christian Democratic MP Marleen de Pater responded by saying, "If it's so complicated then the minister should start right away."

Agema, who submitted the motion says: "At the moment hundreds of girls are falling into the hands of 'lover boys' because they were already taken in by them when they were 17. Women of 20 are much less gullible. Raising the minimum age would prevent a lot of misery."
Everything that we desire in the bedroom
The free newspaper Metro reports on a convention held last week at Maastricht University, where the crème de la crème of specialists in robotics met to discuss the latest developments in their field. The paper writes:

"What would the world be like if we had someone who followed our every order and cooked for us, washed our socks and even ironed them, always obeyed and last but not least did not have an opinion. Not to speak about how it would be to have someone who did everything, and I mean everything, that we desire in the bedroom. It may seem to be a pleasant daydream, but new developments in robot technology mean that the above could soon be within our reach."
At the convention Sally Wyatt gave a lecture entitled Me Robot, you Jane. "But I'm not going to talk about wild adventures with robots in bed," she said, disappointing her audience. Her speech was about the feminist outlook on new technologies and the relationship between robots and gender.

Wyatt says "The second generation of feminists would like nothing better than to make men redundant. In their eyes robots would be the perfect replacement for men... we can have robots do everything to please us... Which means we can also use them for sex."

Wyatt says this means there could also be lesbian robots. But, she asks, "Where do we draw the line of what is acceptable in bed?"

[Radio Netherlands / Frank Scimone / Expatica]

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