Dutch news in brief, Thursday 6 November 2008

6th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

6 November 2008

If the papers weren't sure whose photo to splash across the front pages yesterday, they had no trouble deciding today. They print pictures of President-elect Barack Obama waving to the crowds, hugging his daughter and celebrating his election victory in Chicago.

The enormity of the task ahead is reflected in the headlines. "Who will pay for Obama's New Deal?" asks Trouw. De Telegraaf points out: "Expectations of Obama sky high". And meanwhile the reactions are in.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende says: "It was good to see the election move millions of people," but he also stresses the challenges ahead and calls for intensive transatlantic cooperation.

Dutch housing minister quizzed on SS Rotterdam budget
Dutch housing minister Ella Vogelaar will be fighting for her political survival Thursday in the Lower House, according to nrc.next. The minister faces 121 questions from MPs after the costs of the renovation of the SS Rotterdam liner rocketed from EUR 6 million to almost EUR 200 million. The Socialist Party has even taken the precaution of requesting time for a motion of no-confidence.

The prestigious housing corporation project to turn the last large passenger ship of the Holland-America line into a hotel, congress and theatre centre was supposed to provide jobs and "bring back the power of imagination to South Rotterdam".

Instead, it is threatening to become Vogelaar's Titanic. The minister is accused of failing to monitor the project and inform the House fully on the situation. The paper doubts whether a majority of MPs will support the motion, but points out it is not the first time the housing minister has come under fire.

New cycle routes planned
New cycle routes are to compete with motorways in an attempt to get motorists out from behind the wheel. According to Trouw, 50 percent of motorists drive less than 7.5 kilometres and 100,000 of them are prepared to cycle distances up to 15 kilometres.

"And it rains less often than you think," says cycle association manager Hugo van der Steen.

The association's project Cycle Congestion Free aims to create five cycle routes to major cities in which roads are prepared with good lighting, red "cycle path" tarmac and priority for cyclists.

Van der Steen has challenged Mobility Taskforce chairman Lodewijk de Waal in a BBC programme "Top Gear" type contest to see who can get from Breukelen to Utrecht by car or by bike in the quickest time. Dutch bicycle manufacturer Sparta has entered its electric bicycle into the contest. Looks like the tortoise is set to win.

Topic of forced marriages less of a taboo
Discussing forced marriages is becoming less of a taboo according to a study by cultural anthropologists from the Free University in Amsterdam. Trouw says more young people with a foreign background are choosing their own partners.

In the study across Turks, Moroccans, Somalis, Hindus, Kurds, Pakistanis and Afghans, most interviewed are against making forced marriages illegal as they believe victims are unlikely to denounce their parents to the police.

Most parents want the best for their children and ethnic minorities prefer their children to have a partner with the same background. There is also a huge grey area between forced marriage, consenting under social pressure and freedom of choice.

The anthropologists see educating families about the high number on girls who run away, high depression and suicide rates and family conflicts as a better way forward.

"Every terrible case is one too many, surely parents see that."

Top 500 richest aren’t so rich anymore
In spite of the recent credit crisis, the magazine Quote 500 has published is annual list of richest people in the Netherlands and threw a party at an illustrious country estate on the Amstel river.

Models dressed in gold act as waitresses for the evening. Guests park their Maseratis, Ferraris, Hummers and Rolls-Royces in the driveway.

But the atmosphere is slightly depressed. The list drawn up on 1 August estimated the total wealth of the top 500 entrepreneurs in the Netherlands at EUR 145 billion, up 6 percent on 2007.

Three months later, the AEX index has halved and banks are less eager to lend many of the guests. "The losers didn't come tonight." calls out Quote editor-in-chief Sjoerd van Stokkum.

[Radio Netherlands / Nicola Chadwick / Expatica]

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