RNW Press Review – Tuesday 25 March 2008
A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.
RNW Press Review – Tuesday 25 March 2008 – by Nicola Chadwick
Easter fell early this year and brought a dusting of snow which provided some nice photos for the Dutch papers. De Volkskrant shows a farmer and his son inspecting an orchard, which instead of being covered with blossom is white with frost. AD prints photos of children having a snowball fight; traffic in the snow and people walking their dogs in the park.
Unfortunately, tourists were put off by the freezing temperatures. Only 700,000 tourists visited the Netherlands for the Easter weekend, down 25 percent on last year. Outdoor tourist attractions such as the Keukenhof gardens and the Efteling theme park saw 20 percent less visitors. Whereas cinemas were full and there were long queues to see the latest addition to the Madame Tussaud's collection, a wax image of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.
The Dutch meteorological bureau KNMI says it was the coldest Easter since 1964. Luckily it'll be another 277 years before Easter falls quite so early again.
Many of the sports pages are dedicated to Marleen Veldhuis' world record in the 50 metres women's freestyle at the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven on Monday. She smashed the former world record - held by another Dutch swimmer, Inge de Bruin - by four hundredths of a second. De Volkskrant reports that, coincidently, Ms de Bruin was flower girl at the medals ceremony. The former world champion broke protocol by taking her successor's head in her hands, kissing her and saying, "and now finish it off at the Games". Ms Veldhuis - at 28 years old - is a latecomer to championship-level swimming and only started winning after Inge de Bruin retired from the sport. Taking just one extra breathe and with a stroke frequency of 62 strokes per minute, she left her main rivals standing. The silver medal went to compatriot Hinkelien Schreuder.
AD reports on the success of a law which obliges single parents with young children to apply for work. According to the paper almost 20,000 single parents have entered the workforce since the law was introduced in 2003. That is twice the number in the same period before 2003. Local councils, which are responsible for carrying out the measure, say that as a result this group is no longer isolated, is less disadvantaged and is motivated.
The current social-democrat and Christian government, however, now wants to scrap the law and replace it with an obligation to follow training. The local councils cannot understand why, "Some people do not want to learn, but they are able to work." AD interviews two single mothers who both say they would prefer to go out to work. One says, "Not everybody is able to get themselves out of a situation like this."
Ahead of this evening's debate in Amsterdam entitled "When are you actually old?" Trouw weighs the arguments about old age. Babyboomer Martin Boekholdt argues that the "next generation of old people is healthier and wealthier than its predecessors and could make a great contribution to the economy and society".
A report by the Verwey-Jonker Institute, which researches social issues, states that today's 55 year-olds are physically as fit as 35-year-olds.
Nevertheless, the paper points out that a quarter of men die within ten years of retirement and the number of people with chronic illnesses increases by 20 percent between the ages of 55 and 65. Seventy-eight-year-old Professor Geert Braam says, "Give old people the space to enjoy their lives for as long as possible". He says the Social Support Act of 2007 is designed to introduce health care cuts and force old people to take care of each other before they call in professional help. The professor points out that the whole question of feeling old is relative.
A new Dutch film is promising to be a hit this summer according to AD. In spite of its poor reviews, Zomerhitte (Summer Heat) attracted 60,000 cinemagoers this weekend. It is the film version of a novella by the late Dutch author Jan Wolkers. The film is a debut for director Monique van de Ven, who starred in another film version of one of Jan Wolkers' books, Turkish Delight in 1973.
One of the reasons for its success is thought to be the popularity of debut leading actress Sophie Hildebrand, who is better known for presenting a TV programme on sex and drugs (Spuiten en Slikken). The film's producer Ate de Jong says "And don't forget the huge publicity". The leading actress and director were guests in 12 television shows this weekend.
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]