RNW Press Review, Tuesday 27 May 2008

27th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

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

27 May 2008

Dutch spend more in due of summer sports events
The habits of the Dutch consumer come in for some serious scrutiny in today's newspapers.

While De Telegraaf's front page describes how the Dutch are spending more than ever in the lead-up to the summer's sports events, Trouw gives extensive coverage to GreenLeft leader Femke Halsema's plea to consume less and become happier in the process.

In a recent column, Halsema argued "we are not just consumers ... things have to change but the question is how you can persuade people to relax more and consume less."

Trouw speaks to economist Bob Goudzwaard, who couldn't agree more: "Consuming takes up a lot of time," he points out "and that means we have less time for each other."

The GreenLeft leader's appeal looks like it may well fall on deaf ears, however. In a full-page article entitled "Christmas all year round", Trouw features a photograph of hordes of Dutch shoppers stocking up on household goods: Beertenders for the men and coffee machines for the women. It's a scene confirmed by De Telegraaf's front page, which describes a veritable spending frenzy ahead of this year's major sports events.

"With the European Championships and the Olympics just around the corner, the big-screen TVs are flying off the shelves," says a spokesman for the retailers. Deep-fat friers are also proving popular. "A few hundred euros extra doesn't seem to bother people. As long as it's bigger and more luxurious."

No environment leader to follow
All this rampant consumerism isn't good for the environment either. NRC Handelsblad has a word with UN Climate Chief Yvo de Boer, who is calling for the West to take the lead on environmental issues. "China and India need our help" is his message as he gears up for July's G8 summit and ultimately the next major international climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009.

"The West is not showing any leadership now that it's needed ... Wealthy nations need to ensure that developing countries can follow their example ... but without leadership, there's nothing to follow. Ask a European minister if he thinks developing countries should be playing a part in climate policy and the answer is 'yes'. But ask what he's doing to make it happen and nine times out of 10, there will be an uneasy silence."

De Boer thinks the Dutch have a definite part to play in all of this. "The Netherlands can knock the financial architecture of international climate policy into shape. ... We have a good track record when it comes to development aid, financial policy and environmental technology. The Netherlands has a powerful story to tell."

Power to the people
De Volkskrant takes a Dutch angle on Barack Obama's campaign to become US president and talks to Professor Samantha Power, Obama's former foreign policy advisor, sacked for calling Hillary Clinton "a monster".

She is nevertheless tipped for a White House job if he gets into office.

The paper warns that "if Obama becomes US president, The Netherlands could come under pressure to continue its participation in the war in Afghanistan."

Professor Power is reported as saying that "if Obama comes to the Dutch government and the Dutch people to ask them to share the burden in Afghanistan, it will be more credible because it comes from someone who never wanted to go to war in Iraq and who wants to close Guantánamo Bay ... that makes it less damaging for a government to be associated with the US."

According to de Volkskrant, Samantha Power has another warning for European leaders if they should find themselves dealing with Obama in future. "He's no messiah, but at his best he can change people's opinions. Even if I was determined to say 'no' to him I found myself coming away having said 'yes'. That may well be something for the Europeans to be concerned about."

Squatter smash windows in Amsterdam
Squatters occupying empty buildings have long been a fact of life in Amsterdam and, in a city with an ongoing housing shortage, there is a good deal of sympathy for their cause.

But reports in today's papers suggest the mood may be changing. "The battle with squatters is becoming tougher" says AD, describing how squatters smashed windows at Amsterdam's City Hall and the Mayor of Amsterdam's official residence in protest at recent police raids.

The raids also uncovered a surprising number of primitive weapons, from gas-powered pistols to knuckledusters.

Ironically Amsterdam's Mayor, Job Cohen, is not among the squatters' most fervent opponents. AD quotes him as saying "I still believe that there is a place for squatters, but that is not the issue here. The movement has to distance itself from this kind of vandalism. If they think smashing my windows is a clever move, they are very much mistaken."

According to the paper, there are tougher times ahead for the squatters. A majority of MPs want to ban squatting altogether and a bill to that effect is currently being drafted.

[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]

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