Press Review Tuesday 8 June 2010

8th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The election campaign is almost at an end. "Only one day to go," says AD in excitement. Or is it relief? There was yet another debate between the party leaders last night, ahead of tonight’s final TV showdown. But are the contenders going out with a bang or a whimper? notes that last night's debate - the latest in a long series - was "fierce but had little new to offer ... practice makes perfect but it also makes things repetitive." The paper's cartoon carries a similar message, depicting two of the party leaders shooting each other down in a hail of "blah blah blah" bullets.

De Volkskrant columnist Bert Wagendorp tries to get into the minds of the debate-weary party leaders: "There must come a moment when a politician sees himself for the umpteenth time in the latest snazzy TV debate format, takes in the mindless applause and the presenters gearing up to stoke the fire - and all he wants to do is go home and burst into tears with a real person or a dog for comfort. ... The moment where the unbearable emptiness of the words 'mortgage rebate' stares him in the face."

With the finish line in sight, things are also turning just a little bit nasty. AD reports on an internet film which presents conservative VVD leader Mark Rutte as a "lonely mummy's boy with a taste for homoerotic magazines". Entitled "the strong woman behind Mark Rutte" the professionally made film features an actress playing Mark's mum coming round to clean up his apartment.

AD reports that "prominent members of the Labour camp" are behind the dubious production. The Labour Party has been quick to distance itself from the film but AD sees it as a sign that "dirty campaigning" has now arrived in the Netherlands, something it decries as "a form of Americanisation we should want nothing to do with."

Joran: a fair trial despite media sensation? The papers continue to pick over every aspect of the Joran van der Sloot case. And who can blame them? The grisly drama featuring the Netherlands' favourite alleged psychopathic double murder suspect is surely proof that truth really can be stranger than fiction?

De Telegraaf talks to a poker-playing pal of Joran's who claims that Van der Sloot was on the look out for a "rich chick who was not too smart or independent" to finance his playboy lifestyle. The paper hints that this may be what he thought he’d found in well-to-do murder victim Stephany Flores. It also quotes a Lima police source as saying that drugs have been found in Ms Flores’ blood.

AD reports that Peruvian police are doing their best to "physically and mentally break Joran van der Sloot using intimidating interrogation techniques but the 22-year-old Dutchman is refusing to flinch" and is continuing to deny that he killed Ms Flores. Trouw takes a look at the legal implications of all this sensationalism and points out that “the authorities in Peru are under almost overwhelming pressure from the media to convict Van der Sloot as quickly as possible”. Its editorial argues that it is up to the Netherlands to ensure that he receives a fair trial.

Bizarre twist in long-standing missing persons case Several of today’s papers report on what AD describes as “a bizarre twist” in an 18-year-old missing persons case. Teenager Willeke Dost disappeared in 1992, while living with a foster family after the death of her parents.

Yesterday the police arrested the girl’s foster mother and step brother in connection with her disappearance. Police are now searching the land around the girl’s farmhouse foster home. Despite being a high-profile case featured in television crime programmes, at the time no breakthrough was ever forthcoming. The paper says dedicated sleuthing by a private detective have played a part in this latest development.

In de Volkskrant, the police say that there was no single piece of the puzzle that breathed new life into the case but a new take on all the evidence combined. The police deny making a fundamental error in labelling Willeke’s disappearance as an ordinary missing persons case, but admit with hindsight that they were mistaken to stay on that track. AD talks to a neighbour who says “this wound has been festering for too long: it’s time it was cleared up once and for all”.

Schiphol, we have a problem … All of today’s papers look into the cause of yesterday’s emergency landing at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport by a Royal Air Maroc passenger plane, which was forced to turn back shortly after take off. AD describes how residents of the nearby town of Haarlem “are still trembling in fear” after seeing the plane fly over low with a burning engine. “It looked like it was coming straight towards me,” recounts one terrified local. “I was rooted to the spot.”

At first glance, the cause of the near disaster seems strangely mundane: geese. A number of birds flew into the plane’s engine. But Schiphol is aware of just what a danger the birds can be. informs us that “the number of collisions involving birds nearly doubled last year”.

An airport spokesman tells De Telegraaf “We’ve been warning the authorities about the problem for two years.” He goes on to explain that the airport itself has planted special grass and even uses falcons to discourage the birds “but we can’t stop birds flying over the airport from one meadow to another.”

Trouw notes that there is hope of improvement in the form of a “unique radar system that can spot individual birds and predict their flight patterns”. But the developers say Schiphol executives haven’t exactly welcomed this option in the past: “You could always see that look on their faces, as if to say ‘oh dear, that’s going to cost a lot of money’.” Perhaps Sunday’s near miss will provide a much needed tug at the purse strings.

Dutch squad breathes easy again Today’s coverage of the Dutch team’s World Cup preparations is quite a contrast with yesterday’s doom and gloom surrounding the injury that felled star player Arjen Robben. Or as de Volkskrant puts it “shock and defeatism make way for hope”.

There are plenty of shots of high jinks at the squad’s first training session in South Africa, with smiling Dutch players skipping around and engaging in silly pranks like pulling each others’ shorts down. It would seem that Robben’s injury is not as bad as was feared and his physiotherapist tells De Telegraaf that the player could be fit as a fiddle within a week.

There’s more good news for the Dutch squad in NRC Handelsblad which features a profile of national coach Bert van Marwijk. The paper praises him as “an underrated craftsman” and “a coach who really knows how to improve his players”.

But of course Dutch football wouldn’t be Dutch football if we didn’t have those niggling doubts creeping in again. Trouw gripes that Van Marwijk did not respond to Robben’s injury like a “top coach” should: “it knocked him too far off balance”. And so the seeds of defeatism are sown all over again…


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