Press Review Tuesday 27 July 2010

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The formation of a new cabinet is proving difficult and the coalition negotiations are progressing very slowly indeed, so there's not much real news in the papers; the summer holidays are in full swing and it's the height of silly season or as it's known here in the Netherlands, cucumber time.

Pre-negotiation coalition talks continue De Volkskrant reports that the pre-negotiation talks between the VVD, CDA and PVV took place yesterday, at a location that "was so secret that it didn't even get leaked to the press". The left-wing paper writes that the leaders of the three parties - the VVD’s Mark Rutte, the Christian Democrats’ Maxime Verhagen and the PVV's Geert Wilders - held several hours of talks by themselves, "without their seconds or negotiation facilitator, Ruud Lubbers".   The paper says the fact that the location was kept secret indicates that "They are taking the talks very seriously indeed".   Trouw's report on the talks is full of speculation and the tone is rather miffed: "the three party leaders held hours of discussions yesterday but refused to reveal a single syllable of the content to the press," notes the paper rather huffily. The Protestant daily continues, "the talks apparently didn't lead to a split and it is highly likely that the negotiations will continue today."   AD wisely realises that there's no story in the talks so focuses its article on the relationship between Maxime Verhagen and Geert Wilders. According to the paper, the first meeting was primarily used as a way to "heal old wounds and massage away distrust between Mr Wilders and Mr Verhagen".  

Locomotive ploughs through shop AD leads with an aerial photograph of the maintenance locomotive that smashed through the buffers at the end of the track on Monday evening and ploughed through a shop in Stavoren, the oldest town in Friesland. AD also has an aerial photo of the spectacular crash and notes dryly, "Thankfully the shop was closed at the time".

Two of the four people on the maintenance train were injured. ProRail, the organisation that maintains the railway infrastructure in the Netherlands, had hired the maintenance train to polish rail tracks smooth in order to reduce noise.   Eyewitnesses tell AD that the train "sped through the buffer and smashed into the shop with an ear-splitting screech".   A police spokesperson tells the paper, "I don't want to think about what could have happened if this had taken place during the day. We've had a very lucky escape".  

Electric bikes big hit with public Trouw reports that electric bicycles are proving very profitable for Accell Group, one of Europe's largest bicycle manufacturers. The company produces numerous bicycles including Sparta, Batavus and Koga Miyata. Sales of electrical bicycles rose by 10 percent last year and Accell chairman Ren Takens, tells the paper "about 10 percent of all bikes sales are electric bikes now and they account for about 25 percent of income generated by bicycles".

The paper says electric bikes are no longer associated with the elderly and infirm. A spokesperson for the Dutch Cyclists' Association says young people have discovered them and are extremely enthusiastic: "lots of younger people are enthusiastic because it means they can cycle to work and not arrive all hot and sweaty".  

Majority not prepared for emergency De Volkskrant reports that an investigation by the Interior Ministry has revealed that almost 60 percent of people in the Netherlands do not have enough supplies to survive for three days if there were an emergency and supplies of water, gas and electricity were cut.

The investigation coincides with the Interior Ministry's What to Do in an Emergency campaign that was launched yesterday. An Interior Ministry spokesperson tells the paper, "most people are aware of the risks that an emergency could bring but just don't take any precautionary measures".   The paper says that most people are reasonably aware of the sort of things that should be in an emergency kit such as water and tins of food but "most people forget that a can opener is an essential item".  

Cicadas arrive in the Netherlands Trouw reports that cicadas have been seen, and heard, in the Netherlands. The insect is common in southern Europe and the tropics and is thought to have hitched a ride to Amsterdam in elm trees imported from southern France.

The paper reports that four of the "singing insects" were discovered in Amsterdam in elm trees that were planted in 2008. It's the first time that cicadas - the name is derived from the Latin word for buzzing - have been reported in the Netherlands. The paper writes reassuringly, "Cicadas are not dangerous and do not bite or sting except on very rare occasions".   Cicadas make a very distinctive sound that many people have heard while on holiday in and around the Mediterranean; it's the sound of sun and relaxation, it's the sound of summer.


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