There's drama in The Hague, a U-turn in parliament, a sorry sex-offender, corrective head-gear for babies and a flock of sheep on its way to the Netherlands’ northernmost city in the Dutch dailies today.
Reviewed Dutch dailies
Drama in The Hague as coalition hangs on a thread
Trouw writes “Catshuis talks about to explode”, while De Telegraaf and de Volkskrant agree “Wilders has to choose”. AD calls it a “Day of truth for Rutte cabinet”.
The first sign that something might be wrong was a text message to journalists by the Government Information Service that the talks were going through a “difficult phase” after negotiations broke off early on Wednesday. After that leaks in the radio silence have led to loud speculation.
Nrc Handelsblad writes that the problem is not a particular measure, but whether there is a will to continue. Sister paper nrc.next concludes that Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders does not seem to be interested in reaching a financial agreement to keep the cabinet afloat.
The Freedom Party is not willing to make any concessions, reports nrc.next. Now that it no longer holds the key to a majority in parliament the Christian Democrats and VVD appear less willing to give in to Geert Wilders’ demands. Some of them border on the ridiculous – a referendum on whether to keep the euro, even stricter immigration measures, huge cuts to the development aid budget – all things he knows the Christian Democrats and VVD could never agree to. Mr Wilders would not even agree to the amount that needs to be cut apparently.
“The cabinet is hanging by a thread” writes Trouw. But if there are to be new elections, they had better be before the summer, so that the Dutch government can get its finances in order for next year. After sleeping on it, the future of the current government rests on whether Geert Wilders is about to perform one of his “spectacular U-turns” writes nrc.next.
Brinkman’s political U-turn
And talking about political U-turns. Many of the papers are commenting on the 180 degree turnabout by ex-Freedom Party MP Hero Brinkman. Since leaving the strict party fold last week, Mr Brinkman has had a change of heart on many issues. One of them is party transparency writes de Volkskrant.
Not long ago he was criticising Interior Minister Liesbeth Spies’ plans for legislation to make political parties declare where party donations above 4500 euros come from. Yesterday he complimented her bill, while the Freedom Party (PVV) boycotted the parliamentary debate altogether.
As PVV spokesperson he said he was protecting Henk and Ingrid’s anonymity if they should park their lottery winnings in the party fund. He said then he would look for loopholes in the law or even be willing to pay a fine. Now he backs the minister’s bill.
One of the reasons he gave for leaving the Freedom Party was because of donations by foreign lobby groups in exchange for influence. “I don’t want to be financed in a way that I strongly suspect that people have influence on the line of the Freedom Party.” He refuses to say just who these financiers are – but Trouw writes it is generally accepted that he means US lobbyists like the ultra-right wing Pamela Geller and David Horowitz. But Mr Brinkman stopped short of providing openness on the finances of his previous party : “It’ll come out one day.” Will that be soon, I wonder?
Amsterdam crèche abuser tries to say “sorry”
In the Amsterdam sex abuse case, former crèche worker Robert Mikelsons has expressed his regret for the misery he has caused to children and their families. At least he tried, but his words fell on deaf ears as the parents of the children refused to accept his apology according to AD.
It's the first time that Mikelsons, on trial for abusing scores of very young children, has said sorry, reports de Volkskrant. He told the parents “It is not your fault. I did it. It didn’t happen because you didn’t watch out.” Mikelsons says he has been deeply affected by the statements of the parents behind closed doors – statements he initially tried to prevent. The paper writes that his words were said, as always, without emotion.
But his apologies do not count for much when the hearing reveals that he sometimes had sex with children five times a day. When asked why he filmed the children at the request of others, he replied “Every artist needs applause.” Not quite the words of a man with regret.
Corrective helmets for flat-headed babies
And now for a bizarre story about flat-headed babies in nrc.next. Let’s check… no, it’s not April Fool’s Day. Since the 1990s, parents have been advised to lay babies on their backs to prevent cot deaths. As a result there has been an epidemic of flat-headedness. And, well, that’s just plain ugly. Ever heard anyone say: “Oh what a beautiful flat-headed baby!” No. So the solution is obvious: a round helmet for five to 12-month-olds.
According to plastic surgeons, the expensive redression helmets work – well they *would* say that, wouldn’t they? Nevertheless, the minister doesn’t want the helmets, at 1,000 euros a piece, to be covered by basic health insurance. So parents will have to fork out for the corrective headwear themselves in the future.
Apparently, around 3,000 infants per year are prescribed a helmet. Between 15 to 25 percent of babies develop a flat head by the age of three months. However, in most cases, baby’s head is beautifully round again by the time they get to six months. But babies also have a tendency to turn their heads to the same side. And once one side of the head has flattened, it’s more comfy that way. In around seven percent of cases the head stays flat.
Of course, this could all be avoided by simply placing the baby on its tummy – which also stimulates development and is safe as long as someone is around. So come on mums and dads, let’s roll those babies over.
Two men and their dogs (plus a flock of sheep) on their way to Groningen
What a sight that must be, two shepherds and their flock of 250 sheep - and lambs - have started out on a ten-day trek to the northern city of Groningen reports Trouw. Once they've covered the 70 kilometre journey from the neighbouring province of Drenthe, the sheep will graze on roadside grass in the city.
It is the first time the shepherds have set off by foot for the annual graze. They want to draw attention to the use of sheep herds and the ecological benefits of these environmentally-friendly munching mowers. I daresay there will be some grazing done along the way.