Help the refugees

If you move around the world by choice, consider helping those forced from their homes by conflict. Donate to the UN Refugee Agency today.

Home Dutch News RNW Press Review – 25 January 2008

RNW Press Review – 25 January 2008

Published on January 25, 2008

RNW Press Review – 25 January 2008 - by David Doherty

The Dutch army found itself battling a new enemy yesterday in the east of the Netherlands. "Soldiers in action against resistant bacteria" is the headline in AD, which features a front-page photo of servicemen and women in full camouflage gear setting up an emergency intensive care facility in a hospital car park in the province of Twente.

Two intensive care patients at the hospital were found to be infected with the rare Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria, which – like the more common hospital bug MSRA – is resistant to most antibiotics. The two are now in isolation and a sign reading "do not enter unless absolutely necessary" has been slapped on the rest of the ward.

The 14 patients currently on the ward will stay put. "We can only start disinfecting when the last patient has been discharged … which could take up to three months depending on their condition," explained a hospital spokesman.

New intensive care patients will go to the military containers in the car park. AD reports that "there is a similar intensive care unit at the Dutch military camp in Afghanistan". "So we’ve got the experience to get everything set up quickly," adds one of the soldiers with a wink.

Starting young
Trouw leads with an appeal to start informing people at an early age about the importance of becoming organ donors. It quotes the professor behind the appeal, Robert Porte, as saying "that’s the way to raise a generation for whom donation is no longer a taboo".

His appeal comes ahead of a health-ministry master plan due in March which aims to tackle the shortage of donors in the Netherlands. "If you ask the Dutch if they are in favour of organ transplants, 80 per cent say yes. But when a family is in mourning … 70 per cent refuse to cooperate."

Last year parliament rejected a move to have all Dutch citizens automatically registered as donors unless they objected. "That means we have to do everything by informing people," explains the professor. "It may not be possible to convince the older generation, so we need to start in schools. Kids need to learn that donating their organs is a perfectly normal thing to do, and that there’s no need to be afraid."

Back to basics
Today’s looks at a newly published report to boost basic language and arithmetic skills among Dutch schoolkids. According to the head of the committee that produced the report: "Never before has it been written down so systematically what pupils should know and be able to do at the end of each phase of their education".

But the paper points out that the goals set by the report are a long way from the current reality: 25 percent of youngsters in the lower levels of Dutch secondary education are not capable of reading their own textbooks, while 25 percent of kids leave primary school with a level two years below the official standard.
The paper talks to teachers who describe some of the problems they encounter.  "You constantly have to check, one-on-one, whether the pupils really understand what you’re saying," says one.

Another says she would like to spend more time teaching language but thinks people overestimate the level of education at a secondary school like hers: "We have to teach pupils how to say that they find something difficult … even discussing a problem can be a challenge for them."

Church cuts
De Volkskrant takes a look at the problems facing the Catholic Church in the Netherlands and the drastic action being taken: "New archbishop sticks the knife in" is the rather alarming headline but the cuts are strictly economic.

The paper warns that a "financial crisis is looming for the Catholic Church in the Netherlands" and nowhere is the problem so evident as Utrecht, where a new archbishop takes over on Saturday. Business-speak such as "mergers, restructuring and reorganisation" is the order of the day at the archbishop’s palace apparently.

The paper warns that job cuts among church employees in Utrecht are inevitable and speaks to the archbishop’s economist who says "if we don’t act now, our deficit will be 2 million by 2012 … we have to teach our parishes to think more in business terms."


Obeying the Pope
Trouw reports that devoutly Catholic Polish migrant workers are pouring into Dutch churches but holds out little hope that their presence will mean a Catholic revival in the Netherlands. "Even during the mass they don’t have much to do with the Dutch Catholics. The Church isn’t really helping integration at all."

It’s not just a problem of language either but how the two sets of believers experience their faith. As one Polish woman put it: "The Dutch Catholics have their own rules. We obey the Pope."


Barbaric treatment
Animal welfare is in the spotlight as well today. De Telegraaf gets all worked up about what it calls the "barbaric treatment of horses" and gives front-page coverage to an appeal by the Dutch Animal Protection Society for an improvement in conditions.

"Suffering among horses accounts for over a quarter of the reports we receive", reveals a spokeswoman, while the paper lists tales of horses with "neglected hooves, being locked away alone or with barely a dry place to sleep."
The cause? "Too many naïve people who buy a horse without the least idea of how much care they need … a horse is not a cat or a guinea pig."


Save the pets
AD reports how animal rights inspectors leapt to the defence of 100 hamsters being put to work by a Dutch artist named Tinkerbell. The artist had the unfortunate animals running around inside brightly coloured plastic balls for her project entitled Save the Pets.

It’s all part of a grand artistic vision, she claims: "I’m trying to show normal behaviour in a different context. Children put their hamsters in balls like these too."
The folk from animal rights are having none of it, however. "Animals shouldn’t be used for artistic installations or exhibitions … We’ve nothing against her statement … but she’s making it at the expense of the hamsters…"

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

Subject: Dutch news