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Dutch report Dutch report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-12 07:25:35
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Dutch Cabinet crisis resolved, central bank president urges haste on new austerity package

The Dutch Cabinet returned to negotiations Thursday on new spending cuts to bring the budget deficit within European guidelines, a day after the government nearly collapsed amid a debate over austerity measures. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his key allies said a deal is now in sight as Central Bank President Klaas Knot urged them to quickly complete their talks, now in their fourth week. “Whatever the political constellation may be, we need a credible package of spending cuts and reforms to win back the confidence of the financial markets,” Knot said. Knot acknowledged the reforms need political support. But “somehow a majority must be found to push these measures through, because the measures are unavoidable,” he said.

The Dutch economy has long been considered one of Europe’s strongest, with relatively low levels of national debt and a top AAA credit rating. But as a large exporter within Europe, with a big banking sector and high levels of personal debt, conditions have been steadily worsening. The talks began after the Dutch economy went into a recession and forecasts showed the 2012 budget deficit will reach 4.6 percent — well above Europe’s 3 percent limit. Dutch politicians had strongly demanded that Greece and others meet that target. Rutte’s conservative minority Cabinet depends on the party of anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders to reach a majority in parliament. Wilders broke off the talks Wednesday to decide whether he is prepared to defend spending cuts that are likely to target health care and retirement benefits. Many of his voters, although social conservatives, are middle class or lower middle class, making them among the most likely to suffer from government spending cuts.

He has also cast himself as a euro-sceptic, voting against bailouts for Greece and demanding the Netherlands leave the shared euro currency — making it difficult for him to appear to be supporting unpopular reforms in order to satisfy the European Union. Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said European national budgets for 2013-2015 must be submitted to the European Union by April 30. He said the Dutch government will comply, including as many details of the budget cuts that are available at that moment, and an outline of other plans not finalized. “Whether this will satisfy the demands of the Stability and Growth pact, and what any consequences (of an unsatisfactory plan) would be, is for the judgment of the European Commission,” he said in a letter to parliament.


Dutch church is accused of castrating young men

A young man in the care of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands was surgically castrated decades ago after complaining about sexual abuse, according to new evidence that only adds to the scandal engulfing the church there.  The case, which dates from the 1950s, has increased pressure for a government-led inquiry into sexual abuse in the Dutch church, amid suspicions that as many as 10 young men may have suffered the same fate. “This case is especially painful because it concerns a victim who was victimized for a second time,” said Peter Nissen, a professor of the history of religion at Radboud University in the Netherlands. “He had the courage to go to the police and was castrated.”

It is unclear, however, whether the reported castration was performed as a punishment for whistle-blowing or what was seen as a treatment for homosexuality. In 2010, about 2,000 people complained of abuse by priests, church institutions or religious orders in the Netherlands after the Roman Catholic Church commissioned an inquiry. It finally concluded that the number of actual victims over several decades could be 10 times higher. That committee, led by Wim Deetman, a former education minister, was presented with evidence of the castration case when it was contacted by a friend of the young man, who was castrated in 1956, two years before his death in a road accident.

Since the case emerged, the Deetman Commission has issued a detailed justification of its actions, contending that it was unable to reach any conclusions on the case from the evidence at its disposal. The victim, Henk Heithuis, lived in Catholic institutions from infancy after being taken into care. When he complained about sexual abuse to the police, Mr. Heithuis, 20 at the time, was transferred to a Catholic psychiatric hospital before being admitted to the St. Joseph Hospital in Veghel, where he was castrated. Cornelius Rogge, a sculptor whose family became friends with Mr. Heithuis, informed the Deetman Commission about the case, contacting an investigative journalist and author, Joep Dohmen, when there was no clear sign of a follow-up.


Imitating the violent practices of the North and Central American gang

School heads and social workers described in a letter to parents how schoolchildren were copying MS-13’s initiation ritual, in which a group of children beat up a would-be gang member for 13 seconds, or force them to steal something. “The children apply these methods as a game and call it MS-13. It can be seen on the internet how in Central American countries these methods are an extremely violent form of group bonding,” according to the letter. MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, is a criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, whose heavily-tattooed members are chiefly Central Americans.

Incidences of bullying, extortion and threats have recently occurred both in and out of school in the Kruiskamp district of Den Bosch, the letter says. “A number of children have said they are scared.” Children aged as young as eight or nine are being recruited, teachers tell the popular men’s magazine Panorama in interviews to appear in this week’s edition.

The local council has not heard of any incidents being reported to the police, a spokesperson said. Parents have been asked to report any violent behaviour among children to schools or neighbourhood police officers. The Kruiskamp district has previously appeared in the news in a negative light when a centre for homeless people was set on fire, a person was killed in a mass street brawl, and a group of boys were reported to be attacking schoolchildren on their bicycles.

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