Whether you’re greeting an old auntie or trying to make a pass at your aerobics instructor, the simple kiss is the most ubiquitous of all manifestations of affection. But kissing can be a minefield of social gaffs and getting it wrong in the Netherlands where you’re expected to give 3 cheek-kisses to everyone you meet, is a quick way to look like an oddball if you muck up the etiquette. The Dutch in particular it seems, have a fascination with the kiss.
The Netherlands has nearly a million Muslims, mostly Turkish and Moroccan. There’s tension there between them and the native Dutch population. This has held up two huge mosque projects in the country--one in Rotterdam and one in the capital Amsterdam.
The Dutch city of Utrecht used to have a big problem with drug dealers loitering on the streets. The problem got so bad that the city had to get creative and find ways to deal with them. They found an effective, though unorthodox solution: give addicts housing, and allow them to keep taking drugs. It works because members of the community are able to be watched over by caretakers.
One of the Netherlsnds’ most controversial politicians, Geert Wilders, has thrust himself back into the spotlight this week. You may have heard of Mr Wilders, journalists usually put the word “controversial” in front of his name. He’s a parliamentarian known as an Islam-basher and it’s now emerged he is making a film denouncing Islam and arguing for the Koran to be banned. Immediately, parallels are being drawn with the film “Submission”, made by murdered Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh and writer Ayan Hirsi-Ali. That film pushed the issue of Moslem integration in Holland up the political agenda, especially after Van Gogh’s murder by an Islamic extremist.
At the beginning of the twentieth century a dancer called Mata Hari was the star of clubs and soirees in Paris. Her seductive performances and exotic background captivated audiences. But Mata Hari was not what she seemed. Her real name was Margareta Zelle and she was born in the Netherlands not the Far East. During World War One she took on another role: that of spy for the German secret service. But her luck ran out. On October 15th, 1917, Mata Hari was executed after being exposed by French counter intelligence. The name Mata Hari means ”eye of the day" or "sun”. But in which language? And who are the winners of September Quiz?
Not that many people would take note but World Food Day was marked last week. It's an annual reminder that too many people in the world still go hungry, even if progress is being made in some places. But what would happen if all the food in the world was divided evenly? Would there be enough for everyone - and what would everyone actually be eating? To find out, Radio Netherlands' Maurice Laparlière went to a school in Ottoland, a small village in the Dutch country side. He went there to meet a showbiz chef with a mission.
Europe is in the grip of summer holidays, and many visitors to Amsterdam this summer are disappointed to find that two of the Dutch capital's world famous museums are closed for renovation with only a tiny portion of their collections on show. But there are a wealth of other, smaller museums in the city to visit. Louise Dunne from Radio Netherlands Worldwide ventured into Amsterdam's Hash Museum.
Nearly 350,000 people lined the sides of Amsterdam's Prinsengracht Canal last weekend to celebrate Gay Pride. A flotilla of boats sailed along in the sunshine, but it was one special boat that got the most attention. It's the first time a boat dedicated to gay and lesbians under the age of consent has participated in Amsterdam's Gay Pride.The boat was the idea of 14-year-old Danny Hoekzema who wants more recognition for young homosexuals. It attracted fierce criticism from around the world and raised questions about whether young people can really know their sexuality at an early age.
In the Netherlands recent news of Dutch soldiers being killed and wounded in Afghanistan has led the Dutch people to question their role in NATO’s operation there. A year ago Dutch troops were thought to be on a reconstruction mission - but as more of them get killed it's becoming clear there’s lot of hard fighting to be done. But it's not that NATO's stated aim in Afghanistan has changed. It hasn’t. It’s the Dutch public who’ve had a rude awakening to the realities of a new war. So why didn't they realise this was always going to be an offensive operation? Were Dutch voters hoodwinked by politicians into supporting a fighting force dressed in the sheep's clothing of peacekeepers? When deliberating on whether to get involved in the mission, the Dutch government put the emphasis on reconstruction. It was the prospect of helping rebuild Afghanistan which won over a majority of MPs.
As the decision making process becomes ever more complicated for members of the European Union. Some people wonder about what would happen if the Union became so deadlocked - countries chose to leave the community. This programme has been reporting on virtual reality worlds - so it was in that vein that Radio Netherlands decided to play with the alternative scenario of a future Dutch retreat from the EU. How much of a difference would it make if the Netherlands even left the Union? Radio Netherlands Vanessa Mock takes this - fictional - look at that alternative.
A new website which explains sex - in graphic detail - to teenagers in the Netherlands has come in for both hefty criticism and loud applause. Some say it fills a niche between formal sex education at school and the pornography readily available elsewhere on the net. Others think the site is too explicit. Radio Netherlands' reporter Marijke van den Berg talked with the site's creator.
Twelve years ago, Dutch troops were supposed to protect the Muslims in Srebrenica, but the UN-declared safe haven was overrun by Bosnian Serbs in 1995. Some eight thousand Muslim men and boys were killed by their captors after the fall of the town, Now relatives of those who were massacred in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica twelve years ago are suing the Dutch state for compensation.
In the Netherlands, virtual reality is used to train emergency services, either to prepare police officers or fire brigades deal with a crisis situation, or treat officers who suffer from post- traumatic disorder.
Gangster culture is becoming more and more popular around Europe, a leading Dutch MP in the Netherlands is now calling for new rules to tackle gangster culture in youth prisons. He wants uniforms to be re-introduced and says expensive designer clothing and jewellery must be banned. It's being called a bling-bling ban - but the MP in question says he's deadly serious about taking a harder line on young criminals. Radio Netherlands' Andy Clark reports for Network Europe from the Hague.
The Netherlands hit the international headlines on April Fools day five years ago - not because of a spectacular practical joke, but because on April 1 2002 it became the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia. The new law legalised the practice of "mercy killings" within strict boundaries - and there was considerable international criticism of the legislation. Radio Netherlands' Louise Dunne examines how the euthanisia law is working five years on. 5 years since the Dutch legalised euthanasia, what has changed for doctors and patients?
It remains the worst air crash in aviation history. A Dutch KLM Jumbo Jet, loaded with holiday makers, crashed into another 747, a Pan American flight, on the runway in heavy fog. 61 passengers escaped from the Pam Am flight. There were no survivors from the KLM plane. Bad communication between the Dutch pilot and air traffic control was ultimately blamed for the accident. At a moving ceremony, more than 500 next of kin and rescue workers gathered to commemorate the tragedy. Karen Tefuri spoke on behalf of the American victims, giving one of many personal stories. Radio Netherlands went along to listen to them.
Capitalism is a messy business but it seems to lend itself well to confident leadership. And gurus, as everyone in the corporate world knows, are a great way to inspire your employees to communicate better, be more open and happy, and therefore, be more productive. The giant Dutch bank ABN-AMRO has picked up on this idea and has tried to get its 20,000 employees to think more positively about work. They hired an American, mantra-spewing guru, but with a difference. He was an actor. And most of what he said on his month-long tour of the company, was improvised or made up, albeit with some wisdom mixed in. Almost no-one was in on the act. So what was it all for? The Dutch media's now picked up on the story and some are wondering what one of the world's largest banks is up to. Daniel Frankl is the actor in question's real name and he told Network Europe he was impressed that the bank was thinking outside the box.
There's a general election in the Netherlands next week and although there's little chance of it making waves across Europe - it's suddenly livened up Dutch public life. Dreary campaign manifestos have given way to good old-fashioned personality politics and slanging matches. If you don't know who's in the current Dutch government or why you should care, don't worry. Radio Netherlands' Andy Clark tells Network Europe who the major players in Dutch politics are and how they've been insulting each other.
His Christian Democrats are rising in the polls and are now in a dead heat with the opposition Labor Party. Mr Balkenende has ushered the Netherlands through a rocky period since his first election campaign in 2002.... a period that included two political assassinations and the premature collapse of two of his cabinets. And even in the past few weeks, his party was hit by controversy - when it scrapped ethnic-Turkish candidates from the ballot list after they refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. In an exclusive interview for Radio Netherlands, Richard Walker asked the Prime Minister whether the voters will choose his party in November.
It's been almost a year since the French and Dutch voters rejected the European Constitution and plunged the EU in its worst-ever crisis. What followed was a so-called "period of reflection" on the future of Europe.
EU leaders therefore used Tuesday's commemoration of Europe Day to try to reach out to European citizens. In Berlin German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed, more specifically, the question of the failed EU constitution. Deutsche Welle reports.
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