RNW Press Review - Thursday 28 February 2008

28th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press by Radio Netherlands.

RNW Press Review - Thursday 28 February 2008 - by Jacqueline Carver


There are huge problems at the Dutch tax office and several papers, some of them quite gleefully, cover the issue. "Tax chaos," screams the front page of de Telegraaf while de Volkskrant goes with, "internal revenue should go into receivership". The Dutch internal revenue service has been plagued by numerous problems for a number of years and things went horribly wrong at the end of last week.

There is a glitch in internal revenue's new computer system and it managed to erase some 730,000 electronic tax declarations. Everyone who filled in their tax forms via the computer and sent it in on time will now have to redo it.

The lower house of parliament has called for the revenue service to be put into receivership until the problems are sorted out. AD quotes a Socialist Party MP as saying; "this is the nth disaster in a long line of disasters. I dread to think what is going to happen next week".

Filthy scooters

The front page of de Volkskrant reports what anybody who has sat behind one at the traffic lights already knows, "mopeds produce more pollution than lorries" headlines the paper. An investigation by the Dutch Cyclists Union and the University of Utrecht has discovered that scooters and mopeds produce more ultra-fine particulates per second than lorries and twice as much as the average car. The researchers discovered that a cyclist breathes in huge amounts of ultra-fine particulates whenever a moped passes by.

The Cyclists Union says it is going to ask the environment minister to impose emissions standards on mopeds and scooters. A spokesperson for the organisation says, "the smaller the particulate, the more damage it does. Because ultra-fine particulates penetrate deep into the lungs, they also get into the blood system and can cause infections and other problems".

He continues, "Scooters and mopeds must be banned from using bicycle paths. Cycle paths should not be next to busy roads and we advise cyclists to choose a quiet route".

Women cyclists

De Volkskrant reports that lorry drivers are happy with the alarm systems and blind spot mirrors installed on their vehicles in order to prevent them running over cyclists. In an attempt to cut the number accidents involving cyclists and lorries, government made blind spot mirrors mandatory in 2003. According to de Volkskrant, some trucks also have alarm systems installed that warn pedestrians and cyclists that a vehicle is planning to make a right turn.

The paper interviews the driver of a rubbish collection lorry who says he is extremely happy with the system but that there is a little problem with it, namely that it's illegal. The paper also reports that a woman cyclist was run over in Amsterdam on Wednesday. The truck was about to make a right turn and the driver did not see the cyclist.

De Telegraaf reports that women cyclists are more frequently victims of blind spot accidents than their male counterparts. The paper interviews an Amsterdam police officer who says, "we can't prove it scientifically but that's what our officers on the street say. It's because women cyclists wait until the traffic lights turn green before cycling on. This means they start off at the same time as lorries and get run over. Most men run the red light so they're already gone by the time the lorry turns".
Queer Christians

The Dutch lower house will be discussing the homosexual emancipation bill today and AD has an interview with the chair of the COC, the Dutch lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual rights organisation. Frank van Dalen says he wants to address the evangelical broadcaster's annual youth jamboree, as many traditional and fundamentalist Christians still believe that homosexuality does not occur within their circles.

The paper quotes him as saying "if I'm standing in front of a group of 50,000 young people, then I know that several hundred of them will be questioning their sexual orientation. Many traditional Christians still consider us to be the 'other' but we're not, we're them as well and it's time that they accepted it".

Mr van Dalen says he will only be satisfied when all of the hypocrisy has been removed from Dutch laws and regulations, "Article 1 of the Dutch constitution has to be expanded to include discrimination against homosexuals. Organisations cannot be allowed to discriminate against lesbian and gay people on the grounds that it goes against their beliefs".

Air mice

De Telegraaf has a fairly alarming story on its front page: "mice in Transavia Boeing 737's" headlines the paper above an article on the mice that have been flying around the world courtesy of the Dutch airline. According to the paper, Transavia's managers and directors knew there were mice scurrying about in the wiring of their 737's for several months.

The airline put down poison and set out traps in an attempt to get rid of the rodent plague but de Telegraaf says mice just ran alongside them and were making themselves at home in all areas of the aircraft including the cockpit. The paper also says that 13 mice were found in the food trolleys.

A spokesperson for the transport and waterways inspectorate says, "mice do not belong in an aeroplane due to the dangers they pose. They can chew through wiring and are a health risk".

De Telegraaf managed to get hold of an internal memo from a senior cabin steward to worried personnel that says, "as long as there's enough food on the floor, the mice will not start chewing the cables". Oh well, that's all right then. I'll sit back and enjoy the flight.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008] 

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