RNW Press Review - Monday 3 March 2008

3rd March 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.

RNW Press Review - Monday 3 March 2008 - by Jacqueline Carver

* Censorship

Geert Wilders and his film about the Qu'ran is in all the papers again today, featuring on several front pages as well as occupying numerous column inches elsewhere. De Telegraaf's front page has a photo of a demonstration against Denmark and the Netherlands that was held in Afghanistan on Sunday along with the news that the Balkenende cabinet did investigate whether it was possible to ban the film before it was broadcast or even made.

The populist paper, relying on information from anonymous sources within the council of ministers, writes that although an outright ban was not proposed on Friday, "the idea is still on the table". A glance through the other papers reveals support for the government's calls on Mr Wilders to shelve the film and also support for Mr Wilders' right to make and broadcast it.

AD writes that the cabinet's call for restraint has just stimulated the populist politician to go ahead with his plans. The paper interviews a number of analysts, political strategists and professors of political science. The general consensus is that all the commotion and the media circus has made it impossible for Mr Wilders to back down as he would lose all credibility with his supporters. However, one of the experts says it is possible for Mr Wilders to scrap the film as the furious reactions from some segments of the Islamic world have already proved his contention that Islam is an intolerant ideology.

* Suicide is painless

Trouw reports that almost two thirds of the Dutch are in favour of allowing the sale and distribution of suicide pills, known as Drion's pill in the Netherlands. The suicide pill, which has never been manufactured, was first proposed by former Dutch Supreme Court judge and professor of civil law Huib Drion. He argued that people over the age of 75 who live alone, should be able to choose to end their lives in a humane manner.

A Dutch current affairs television programme conducted an investigation and broadcast the results on Saturday. The researchers discovered that 74 percent of the Dutch approve of "controlled distribution" of Drion's pill but that 59 percent of them also said that they did not intend to get a prescription filled. The programme also found that 63 percent said that people have a right to end their own lives even if they are not suffering, "incurable and unbearable pain".

Trouw quotes a Christian Democrat politician who appeared in the programme as saying, "63 percent is extremely high" and that she is, "not happy about it". The paper writes that even though the majority of the Dutch public believe that the elderly should be allowed to choose the moment of their departure, their beliefs are in direct opposition to Dutch law and the cabinet. The Dutch government has already agreed not to conduct any experiments with Drion's pill.

* Red lights

De Telegraaf has a headline that certainly won't surprise anyone living in the Netherlands: "majority of taxis run red lights". Under a new tariff system introduced in February, taxi drivers are only allowed to charge for the distance driven, not the time it takes to get from a to b. The paper writes that a majority of taxi drivers working in large Dutch cities fiddle the meter and run red lights in order to compensate for loss of earnings. One Amsterdam taxi driver, speaking as he floored it through a red light, says, "I'm doing this more and more often". He continues, "I have to, otherwise I'll lose money".

An investigation by an organisation representing taxi companies said the new tariff system has been disastrous for taxis working during the day, as there are so many traffic jams. The organisation also said the system is unfair as partygoers coming home late at night when there are no traffic jams are subsidising businessmen stuck in traffic on their way to work in the mornings.

The news that taxi drivers routinely run through red lights has shocked some politicians and one Christian Democrat MP says, "that means a taxi could smash into me when I drive through a green light". He adds, "I'm sure the new system wasn't introduced to in order to increase the number of dangerous situations".

* Take-away

AD writes that there has been in explosion in the number of robberies and hold-ups in the Netherlands over the last year. Shops in major Dutch cities are being targeted and supermarkets and fast food chains are the favourites. The paper writes that there were three robberies in Rotterdam this past weekend and more than 100 robberies during the first two months of the year in Amsterdam.

A spokesperson for a famous fast food chain said that he doesn't understand why the robbers are targeting fast food outlets as, "there's almost nothing to steal". A police spokesman says, "what amazes us are the risks that robbers are taking for such miniscule amounts of money."

* Psst... Wanna buy a flamingo?

De Telegraaf reports that a gang of thieves in the province of South Holland is targeting expensive exotic animals and that 66 red-tailed parrots were stolen this past weekend. Over the past two weeks, an array of exotic animals, including parrots, kangaroos and flamingos, worth tens of thousands of euros have been stolen.

The owners are said to be desperate and the police believe there may be a connection between the thefts and that they were carried out by professionals.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008] 

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