Dutch news in brief, Friday 27 March 2009

27th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Wilders walkout: what the papers say
Leader of the right-wing Freedom Party Geert Wilders has grabbed the attention of the Dutch dailies again by storming out of Thursday's parliamentary debate in a huff and taking his entire party with him.

When a government spokesman said the room to make changes to the government's plan to tackle the economic crisis was "extremely limited", Wilders declared: "I'm not only angry ... I'm furious. This is a sham debate ... and we're not going to stand for it."

De Telegraaf agrees with Wilders that "the coalition's decision to smother political debate by dictating its terms to parliament was far from elegant", but criticises the Freedom Party's walkout as "foolish ... voicing your own opinion is always better than walking away."

AD also believes that "parliament allowed itself to be taken hostage by the government coalition" and acknowledges that "the Freedom Party's fury is understandable, but is it actually going to help?" It wonders: "Where is the opposition leader capable of getting parliament to bite as well as bark?"

Wilders' anti-establishment rhetoric has him riding high in the polls. Perhaps the front-page cartoon in NRC Handelsblad best sums up the thrust of his tactics. It has Wilders saying: "I'm just nipping outside to pick up some more parliamentary seats."

Multi-millionaire wanted for bank deceit
De Telegraaf reports on Dutch multi-millionaire Louis Reytenbagh who is wanted for swindling a bank out of a quarter of EUR 1 billion. Louis Reytenbagh and his two sons are being taken to court by Credit Suisse for what the bank calls "deceit on an unprecedented scale".

With estimated assets of 590 million, Reytenbagh is listed 42nd on the Quote 500 list of the wealthiest Dutchmen.

In a report by De Telegraaf, an acquaintance said the millionaire “thinks at lightning speed. He only needs one and a half hours' sleep a night. He often naps at his desk, but when he wakes up he knows every word that's been said in the meantime".

The Dutchman, who divides his time between Monaco and Belgium, is believed to have retreated to a luxury villa, Fort Recovery, in the British Virgin Islands with his family.
Homeless addicts get high on philosophy
"Philosophy and homeless people with an addiction: it's not an obvious combination," muses Trouw. But that's exactly what's on offer at a homeless shelter in Rotterdam.

The people behind the philosophy lessons for homeless addicts explained: "These are wise people with a wealth of life experience ... they know what's going on in the world. They read newspapers. They're interested in everything."
Reverend Hans Visser who teaches the classes, which so far has taken in Plato, Epicurus, Locke and Spinoza said:  "The first time I thought, 'what have I got myself into?’ But I'm sometimes amazed by the level of response I get."

One of the most attentive students, an illegal immigrant from Morocco, praised the mix of religions at the sessions: "Christians, Muslims and Jews: we're all just different seats on the same bus to Amsterdam."

People apprehensive of electronic donations to charity
AD reports of skimming scams that hit charities which are going electronic. Good causes such as Stop Aids Now and the Dutch Rheumatism Foundation sent their collectors round with mobile bank machines to make life easier and safer only to realise that a mere nine percent were willing to donate by swiping their bank card through a mobile machine as compared to 68 percent who dropped coins into a collection box.

According to research carried out by AD, trust is the main reason behind the dip. The media reports monthly cases of pin card frauds where their cards have been skimmed and information from their bank cards have been copied so illegal withdrawals can be made.

One interviewee pointed out: "The trend is for banks to scale back on hard cash in favour of electronic payment, while the charities count on people's spare change."

There are two bright spots: one is that people who pay electronically tend to give more. The other is that people are now more willing to pay using mobile machines in places such as pubs. "It could just be a matter of cold feet. People may well get used to mobile machines before long."

Legal woes for Eindhoven's preacher
Proclaiming the Lord’s message comes at a price these days, reports de Volkskrant.

Arnol Knox, a well-known figure in the shopping streets of Eindhoven, has been fined EUR 150 for "unnecessary noise pollution". The ear-splitting volume at which he proclaims the Good News has earned him the nickname of screaming Jesus.

He isn't being silenced completely, though.
One shopkeeper said: "I don't want to get rid of him. He belongs to the city. The trouble is he stays in the same place for eight hours."

The preacher, who received his calling after waking up from a coma after a severe road accident at the age of 16, has now agreed to move on every 20 minutes.

Unfortunately his legal woes don't end there. Next month he's up on environmental charges for feeding breadcrumbs to the local pigeons. The preacher sees it as part of his Christian duty to "feed the hungry". The local shopkeepers cleaning bird droppings from their property see it differently.
Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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