Dutch news in brief, Monday 28 July 2008

, Comments 1 comment

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

28 July 2008

Dutch minister defies PM’s ban
Today's Trouw reports that Dutch Deputy Health Minister Jet Bussemaker has said it would be a disaster if John McCain were elected US president.

Bussemaker, who made the comment in an interview on Dutch public radio, defied a ban on such statements, introduced by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende earlier this year.

The ban was prompted by remarks made by Deputy Prime Minister and Labour leader Wouter Bos who in February expressed his preference for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.  The prime minister then said that the cabinet had no position on US presidential candidates, and neither did cabinet members.

Bussemaker described the ban as 'nonsensical', adding that "it would be outrageous if you could no longer say which candidate had your personal preference.” She also said she had had more than enough of the whole Bush-era: 
"I think it's high time for change in the US. If you're asking me personally, I'm for Obama.

Conservative MP Hans van Baalen is furious about the deputy minister's remarks. He says that her negative statements about John McCain could seriously damage Dutch interests. He is demanding she apologise and retract her statements.

Earlier, Van Baalen said he supported John McCain, who, according to the conservative MP, "is a war veteran with a proven strong character who also appeals to moderate Democrats". In an interview with NRC Handelsblad, he called former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton "a b***h."

Summer storms hits Netherlands
Trouw has on its front page a photograph of a young mother with a child on her arm looking out over a flooded square in residential district in the centrally located Dutch town of Vleuten.

AD features a picture of jet-black clouds on the horizon in the eastern town of Giethoorn, where an open-air screening of a classic Dutch comedy had to be cancelled because of the storm.

According to AD, the provinces of Zeeland and South Holland were the only ones not affected by a heavy summer storm which was accompanied by heavy rainfall, gusts of wind and lightning.  

The storm led to flooded streets and basements in many parts of the Netherlands. A torrential downpour caused massive gridlock on the A2 motorway and lightning disrupted rail traffic in the southern province of Limburg.

Minister calls for more paternity leave
De Volkskrant reports that Youth and Family Minister André Rouvoet of the smallest coalition government party, the Christian Union says that men with families should be given the opportunity to reduce their working hours on a temporary basis after a child is born.

In an interview with NRC Handelsblad published this weekend, the minister says he wants to include this form of paternity leave in his family policy document which will be published in autumn.

The minister says: "Dutchmen attach great value to spending part of their time on child care, so we should modernise parental leave".

However, Rouvoet's ideas bring him into conflict with the cabinet emancipation policy document released last year. This document, drafted under the supervision of Education Minister Ronald Plasterk of the Labour party, rejects a larger role for men in childcare.

"This cabinet wants to work toward creating possibilities for men and women to better combine care and work, not toward a rearrangement of care tasks between men and women".

According to de Volkskrant, the government does not want to encourage people to work less, on the contrary. A recently formed government taskforce named Part-time Plus is intended to persuade more women to send their children to day-care centres.

More Dutch own up to offshore savings
AD has a story on the increasing number of Dutch people voluntarily reporting their saving accounts in tax havens to the tax authorities.

In the first five months of this year, several hundred people owned up to having foreign savings accounts, an increase of more than one-third compared to last year.

So far, the tax authorities have imposed more than EUR 500 millions worth of tax demands on people with offshore saving accounts. Deputy Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager says he believes there is more than EUR 7 billion worth of savings stashed away in foreign accounts.

In the past few years, the tax authorities tracked down more than EUR 900 million in undeclared real estate, shares and bonds. Half of this amount will go to the treasury as a result of tax demands, retrospective collection of taxes and fines.

The tax authorities' increasing success in tracking down offshore savings and possessions has persuaded thousands of savers to avail themselves of what is known as the 'repentance arrangement'.

Under the terms of the arrangement, savers who report themselves to the tax authorities are exempt from paying a fine, which could amount to 100 percent of the taxes that are due.

100 years of aviation
De Telegraaf has a photograph of the 'Uiver' a Dutch competitor in the 1934 London to Melbourne Air Race. The 90-year-old KLM DC-2 passenger plane took to the skies to mark 100 years of Dutch aviation.

One hundred years ago today, military engineer Hendrik Schukking made the first Dutch flight with a home-built glider patterned on the craft built by the US Wright brothers.

A commemorative stone will be unveiled today at the site of his flight, near the present-day Soesterberg airbase in central Holland.

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

1 Comment To This Article

  • Emmitt posted:

    on 29th July 2008, 21:55:08 - Reply

    Van Baalen CRACKS ME UP! What a sharp wit he is. When I read that he thinks that McCain appeals to moderate democrats, well, I almost tipped over. Very Funny. He is about as appealing to moderate democrats as Hitler was to the Jews. Hilarious!!! When I stopped laughing, it occured to me that maybe Mr. van Baalen should go to the states a little more, and when he gets there maybe talk to someone besides neocons. If he did he may come away with a better understanding of moderate democrats. Also, I do not know how much time Mr. van Baalen has spent in the states, but I do know that after a half a year in the Netherlands, I am not ready to muse about netherlands politics in anything more than general terms. I am a political science major. I love this stuff, and do look forward to learning more about the individuals within the netherlands system. But I will keep mum on the details until I have a clearer understanding. Maybe Mr. van Baalen should do the same --- although I do appreciate a good laugh from time to time.
    Also, I think nightmare may have been a better selection of adjectives to describe Ms. Clinton.