News below sea level

This week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in the Netherlands begins with the news that three Dutch sociologists penned an article calling the Freedom Party (PVV) and its leader, Geert Wilders, extreme right wingers that threaten democracy.

Wilders responded by calling the three prominent sociologists “absolutely crazy”. With Vancouver’s Winter Olympic Games fast approaching, Dutch speed-skating hopes suffered a blow when Marianne Timmer, three-time Olympic champion, broke her ankle during a recent race. But still, she’s better off than five other Dutch speed-skaters – Robert Bovenhuis, Rob Hadders, Christijn Groeneveld, Jorrit Bergsma, Arjan Stroetinga – who became citizens of Kazakhstan in hopes of qualifying for the Olympics as members of the Kazakh team. Unfortunately for them, Dutch law forbids dual nationality and these ‘Kazakh’ skaters must now apply for temporary residence permits to stay in the Netherlands. The Dutch kicked-off a nationwide vaccination program, vaccinating some one million children aged six months to five-years-old against the dreaded A(H1N1) influenza virus. Somewhat surprisingly, of all European Union countries, the Netherlands has one of the highest infant mortality rates, a fact partly blamed on the Dutch tradition of giving birth at home assisted only by midwives. Some Dutch doctors are now calling for new childbirth hospitals to be built throughout the country. Dutch gay Dads will soon have their own children’s book, entitled Arwen and her Daddies. The book, published this month, portrays a family in which the children have two Dads. An English-language version will be published in the United States, where conservatives surely won’t welcome a book in which there is no mother in the family. Conservative Dutch Euro MP Hans van Baalen was booted out of Nicaragua, accused by the ruling socialist Sandinsta party of fomenting unrest. Van Baalen wasn’t amused. “Such behaviour belongs in an East German museum,” he huffed. Dutch girls are improving at crime: in 1995, there were 2,220 criminal cases involving girls, while in 2008 that figure jumped to 6,800 cases. But still, boys are the worst, with 31,000 criminal cases against Dutch boys in 2008. And finally, a new Dutch website, Right to Die-NL, offers information on committing suicide using drugs. Right to Die-NL’s director, Petra de Jong, said such information was sorely needed, so that people don’t have to kill themselves by “gruesome methods”, like “jumping in front of trains… or setting themselves on fire.”

Walter Lockefeer, promovendus Bouwkunde, leeftijd onbekend

“Ik lunch hier altijd en vaak met noodles. Die zien er goed uit. Mijn favoriete lunch is rijst of bami. Ik neem er wel altijd een ei bij, dat hoort bij bami. Als ik mijn lunch uitkies, let ik vooral op hoe het er uitziet. Niet op hoe gezond het is. In de winter kies ik vaak voor iets warms en in de zomer voor iets frissers. Maar nu houd ik echt op met kletsen, anders wordt mijn bami koud.”

Redacteur Redactie

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