RNW Press Review, Friday 30 May 2008

30th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Catch the news in brief from the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

30 May 2008

Row continues over embryos
All of today's papers report on the latest issue dividing the Dutch cabinet. Earlier this week, the deputy public health minister decided to increase the number of inherited genetic disorders that test-tube embryos are tested for. "Row about embryos" screams the front page of De Telegraaf while both AD and Trouw go with the more sober "embryo testing splits cabinet".

At the moment, test-tube embryos are tested for a number of inherited genetic disorders such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and Huntington's disease but Deputy Public Health Minister Jet Bussemaker has decided that test-tube embryos can also be tested for aggressive types of colon and breast cancer. Those with genetic disorders will be destroyed while healthy will be returned to the womb.

The deputy minister made the announcement on a Dutch current affairs television programme and not in a letter to the lower house. According to Bussemaker, as it is simply expanding current policy and not introducing a new one, it was unnecessary to discuss it with the cabinet or inform parliament.

This has not gone down well with some members of the coalition and De Volkskrant reports that one Hague insider says that Christian Union leader André Rouvoet is "extremely pissed-off" while another is quoted as saying, "this is a bomb that needs to be rapidly defused".

Illegal immigrants used in agriculture sector
AD reports that huge numbers of Dutch market garden companies are guilty of massive identity fraud in order to employ illegal aliens.

In 2007, the Dutch Social Intelligence and Investigation Service (SIOD) investigated market garden companies and found 266 cases of fraud worth a whopping EUR 63 million.

The companies buy social security numbers belonging to people who do not work such as housewives, and use the numbers to employ illegal aliens to pick fruit and vegetables and do other agricultural work.

The majority of Dutch nationals refuse to do agricultural work as it is poorly paid, backbreaking and they have to get up very early in the morning.

The director of the SIOD says the methods used by large agri-businesses are increasingly sophisticated including, "advanced alarm systems and other contra-activities".

The SIOD believes the situation among Dutch agri-businesses is gradually improving but that, "the big boys think they're untouchable but their activities undermine Dutch society and we have to keep prosecuting them".

Serious doubts about Afghanistan mission
A large-scale enquiry conducted on behalf of a current affairs programme has revealed that 50 percent of Dutch military personnel do not support The Netherlands' mission to Afghanistan. In an interview with AD, Jean Debie, chair of the largest military union, says the results are "alarming" and "a cause for serious concern".

According to Debie, there is little support for the mission, as they don't know what they are supposed to be doing.

The questionnaire also revealed that 73 percent of military personnel say that Dutch politicians have very little idea about the situation in Afghanistan and 63 percent say they do not feel supported by The Hague.

Highways’ traffic signs to be replaced
All traffic signs hanging on Dutch highways are going to be replaced as they have been redesigned. The arrows are now pointing upwards instead of downwards. De Volkskrant reports that the changes will improve safety and make traffic flow more smoothly.

According to a public works spokesperson, "an arrow pointing down refers to your location at that moment but an arrow pointing up refers to what's coming up. That has all sorts of advantages. I can't make it any simpler."

The paper also writes that upward pointing arrows correspond to the maps given by electronic navigation systems and will be less confusing. Given the abysmal state of the street furniture and signs on Dutch roads and highways one can only hope this will be an improvement.
[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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