News below sea level

This week’s round-up of what’s been making headlines in the Netherlands begins with Budget Day. As expected, hard times ahead: the government plans 1.8

billion euros of budget cuts, hitting all sectors, from civil service salaries to cuts in state-funded children’s daycares. Queen Beatrix also spoke to the nation on Budget Day, calling for “a harmonious society built upon respect, tolerance and courtesy”, which everyone interpreted as a warning about forming a coalition government with Geert Wilders and his anti-foreigner Freedom Party (PVV). Later, a man hurled a candlestick holder at the Queen’s carriage while shouting “Hand grenade! Fascist!” Police said the man blames his mother’s suicide on the Queen’s dead father, Prince Bernhard. 

Meanwhile, despite doom and gloom talk about the Dutch economy, a recent IMF global report on government debt says Holland is in good economic shape. Elsewhere, Holland and Indonesia are arguing about Geert Wilders. The Indonesian president’s planned visit could be cancelled if Wilders’ Freedom Party joins the next Dutch government. Wilders countered by raising the issue of Muslim-dominated Indonesia’s long, violent suppression of its Christian minorities.

Joining France’s ‘Roma’ gypsy drama, Dutch Christian Democrat MP Mijram Sterk said that “those Roma who cause trouble should be sent home”. Some 15,000 Roma currently reside in Holland. Gangs of Moroccan-Dutch teenagers hang out and cause trouble at Utrecht’s Overvecht station, so NS is playing Bach on the station’s speakers, hoping it will drive the teenagers away. Al-Qaeda apparently wants to trade western hostages for Mohammed Bouyeri, the Islamist who in 2004 killed Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh. The Natioanl Coordinator for Counterterrorism’s recent report to parliament concluded that international terrorist groups regard Holland as “hostile to Islam” and “thus an attractive and legitimate target”. 

Dutch Christians are angry about a C1000 supermarket marketing campaign that gives away Avatar ‘Dungan’ tokens to kids. Christians say Dungans are evil ‘demons’ and kids shouldn’t play with. C1000 reminded the Christians that it’s a fantasy world.

The Dutch police launched a campaign to spot, stop and fine people who multi-task while driving their cars. Too many drivers chat on phones, eat, roll cigarettes, check emails, etc, while driving, making the roads unsafe. And the police should know about bad driving: a new report found that police were involved in 20,000 traffic accidents, killing one person and injuring 90 others.

All Dutch police officers are now required to take extra driving lessons. The noble profession of postman is ending: TNT Post will fire 4,800 postal workers, replacing them with low paid, temporary workers and sorting machines. Soft drugs shouldn’t be too strong, says Leeuwarden’s mayor, who hopes to ban sales of marijuana with high THC levels in Dutch coffeeshops. Onno Hoes will become the next mayor of Maastricht. Hoes is the husband of celebrity-gossip TV presenter Albert Verlinde. As a gay man and non-Catholic, this marks two firsts for mayors of predominantly Catholic Maastricht. And finally, the Dutch do love their pets. A recent survey found that 50 percent of single Dutch people sleep with their pets in bed.

Emeritus-hoogleraar prof.dr. Joop Doorman is vorige week maandag overleden. Hij was vanaf 1972 hoogleraar filosofie aan de TU Delft en stond aan de wieg van de invoering van het vak ethiek. Doorman studeerde wiskunde en filosofie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. In 1960 begon hij aan de toenmalige Technische Hogeschool Eindhoven filosofie te doceren aan de onderafdeling der wijsbegeerte en maatschappijwetenschappen. In 1967 werd hij daar lector analytische filosofie. Vijf jaar later stapte hij over naar de TU. Bij zijn afscheid in 1994 werd het vak ethiek verplicht voor alle masterstudenten. Doorman is tachtig jaar geworden.

Editor Redactie

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