Friday, October 31, 2008
For the second year in a row, Armin van Buuren has been voted best DJ in the world by a British magazine.
Which Dutch pop musician has a radio show listened to in 40 countries? Which Dutchman was last night voted the best DJ in the world by 345,000 people for the second year in a row. Who gave 140 performances last year, from Rotterdam to Eilat, from Tokyo to Los Angeles?
Armin van Buuren is on a roll. The DJ and producer is on an international victory parade. In March he won two International Dance Music awards, for best European DJ and best radio show. And in January he won the Netherlands' prestigious Popprijs award.
Van Buuren was born on December 25, 1976 in Koudekerk aan de Rijn, a village of just 4,200 people on the river Rhine. His father is a doctor, his mother a freelance journalist.
“It is a musical family,” says brother Eller (27). There was always music at home. When he and Armin were small, their parents and friends would hang out till late at night, listening to music which was just a bit too loud. The two boys would lie in their beds listening.
Van Buuren was a serious child. When he was 10, his mother won a computer and he would spend hours writing programmes for it. His uncle taught him how to experiment with music.
Two years later he went to secondary school in Leiden. There he stood out as a hard worker, says Peter van Rooden, who taught him chemistry for four years.
And Van Buuren was also busy with music. He helped organise school dances and took to the turntables as DJ, buying the latest hits with money he earned delivering newspapers.
“My brother used to cycle to school with his Walkman on,” says Eller. He used to listen to mixes by DJ Ben Liebrand that he had recorded from the radio. It was a revelation.
Van Buuren became a member of Liebrand's fan club and visited his studio and played his hero Blue Fear, a number he had put together using a sampler. Liebrand recognised his talent immediately.
From then on, Van Buuren went to work at Liebrand's studio. He learned a lot, but did not yet see a musical future for himself. In 1994 he started studying for a law degree at Leiden University.
“Armin is not someone to take risks,” says Eller. “If his career in music did not take off, he could always become a lawyer.”
But things did go well for Van Buuren in the music world, particularly as a producer. Blue Fear was a hit in Britain. His colleague and friend Tiësto, another talented Dutch DJ, had just broken through to the big time. He praised the young producer to his manager David Lewis in 1999 who has immediately started pushing Van Buuren into the limelight.
To achieve that, Van Buuren had to improve his turntable skills. “I began by organising a number of residencies for him, such as at Club O in The Hague,” says Lewis.
“That is how I planned his entire career. He has never booked a gig himself. I decide where he plays. I ask how many people will be there, what time he performs and who is on before him,” says Lewis. “The only thing that is important, is what is good for his career.”
Nevertheless, Van Buuren earns an average of 20,000 euros for a performance.
In 2008, the organisation around Van Buuren and his business partners has 22 staff, an elite group of artists, its own events and record labels.
But how long can he stay at the top? “One of my most important jobs is to make sure he keeps both feet on the ground,” says Lewis. “If he has just performed for 15,000 people, I am the one who says 'that was not good'. Luckily, Armin does not tend to arrogance.”
The rapprochement that started with the Turkish president's visit to Yerevan last month to watch a Turkey-Armenia football match has also intensified the efforts of non-political actors in the two countries.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If you read the headline 'Europe Union breaks its silence' then you would expect something spectacular regarding something what's going on in Turkey. Wrong. The EU simple published their annual report about candidate country Turkey.
Here the article and below some excerpts from the report:
Closure case against the AKP: The Constitutional Court did not enact the chief prosecutor's request to dissolve the ruling party and ban 71 of its prominent members, but imposed financial sanctions, thus averting a major political crisis. Now that Turkey has averted a political crisis linked to the Constitutional Court case against the ruling party it needs to resume the process of political reform. The closure case highlighted the importance of amending the rules the political parties so as to ensure transparent financial mechanisms and to bring provisions on the closure of parties in line with European standards. Legislation is also necessary to reinforce the defense of citizens' rights irrespective of personal beliefs or political affiliations and to establish an ombudsman function. Greater dialogue is needed among the country's different political forces in order to build a consensus favorable to reform. Turkey now has a fresh opportunity to advance reforms and establish a climate of dialogue and pluralism.
Problems with judiciary: Concerns remain about the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. There has been no progress on the composition of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors or on establishment of regional court of appeals. Senior members of the judiciary have made political comments in public that go beyond their remit. There is need to improve the quality of investigations of the police and gendarmerie to ensure a fair trial.
Freedom of religion: The adopted law on foundations addresses a number of outstanding property-related issues concerning non-Muslim communities. However a legal framework in line with the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, needs to be established so that all non-Muslim communities and Alevis can function without undue constraints.
Minority rights: Turkey made no progress on alignment with European standards. Some limited progress was made on cultural rights but restrictions continue, in particular on the use of languages other than Turkish in broadcasting in political life and when accessing public services. There are no opportunities to learn these languages in the public or private schooling systems.
Situation in the Southeast: The government's decision to complete the Southeast Anatolia project is a step in the direction of addressing the economic and social difficulties of the region. Further efforts are needed to create the conditions for the predominantly Kurdish population to enjoy full rights and freedoms. Compensation of internally displaced persons has continued. However the government lacks an overall national strategy. The village guard system remains to be phased out. Terrorist attacks by the PKK, which is on the EU list of terrorist organizations, continued and claimed many lives.
Civilian oversight of security forces: Political control over the military was applied in practice in the context of military operations aimed at terrorist targets in northern Iraq. Such operations were authorized by the parliament and decided upon by the government. However full civilian supervisory functions and parliamentary oversight of defense expenditure needs to be ensured. Senior members of the armed forces have continued making statements on issues going beyond their remit.
Torture and ill treatment: The Turkish legal framework includes a comprehensive set of safeguards against torture and ill treatment. However more efforts are needed on the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy. Reports on cases of ill treatment and torture, in particular outside places of detention, are a cause for concern.
Freedom of expression and 301: There has been some progress in the efforts to strengthen the safeguards for freedom of expression in particular through the amendment of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. However Turkey needs to establish an adequate track record on the implementation of the revised article.
Constitution: The governing party gave a group of academics a mandate to revise the 1982 Constitution. However no draft has been presented either to the public or Parliament, and no clear timetable has been set for discussing it. Instead the Parliament amended Article 10 and 42 of the Constitution with the aim of lifting the headscarf ban for university students.
Lack of compromise in politics: As regards the democracy and rule of law, the new president played a positive role by calling for further political reforms. However the lack of dialogue and of a spirit of compromise between the main political parties had a negative impact on the functioning of the political institutions and on the process of political reforms. The work of the newly elected Parliament was affected to a considerable extent by legal cases aimed at dissolution the governing party and one of the opposition parties.
Note: In my opinion not only the Turkish government but all decision-making bodies in Turkey are responsible for the standoff regarding progress towards full EU membership.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Erasmus, whose real name was Gerrit Gerritszoon, was born on October 27 over 640 years ago. One of the most influential books written by Erasmus was Lof der Zotheid (The Praise of Folly) which is well known to scholars around the world.
The Erasmus museum is being opened in advance of 2011, which has been designated Erasmus year.
It is hoped too that the museum will increase knowledge about the writer in his native city. Last year a poll showed that 65 percent of the local population thought that Erasmus is the designer of the city’s imposing Erasmus bridge.
The city has a university and a hospital named after Erasmus, but unlike the Rembrandt house in Amsterdam or the Beethoven house in Bonn in Germany, until now the Rotterdam writer has not had a museum dedicated to his life and influence.
Historians are still quarrelling about where Erasmus was born. Some believe his birthplace was actually the nearby but much smaller city of Gouda. However, there is general agreement that the famous theologian and writer spent his formative years in Rotterdam.
Sometimes I am increasingly cautious by what I write down; people in Turkey, especially 'leaders', decision makers both in the legalisation and in business life are hyper sensitive for being criticised. Not one day goes by in Turkey or I read that someone is insulted and will sue his criticaster. Picture this: 90 Turkish MP's in the EU parliament and I bet you that at least every week one MP is insulted since they simple can not separate personal attacks from simply being critical. This mentality drags Turkey from one side to the other and nothing happens.
Back to the ban; it seems like that lifting the ban is temporary as Emre stated in his post of today. His banner on his site is now also on Internations. When I am 100% convinced that this banning obsession is away, I will take the banner away. But not now. I am still pissed of by so much idiotry.
It is, however, unclear why the order has been lifted and it seems like the ban is lifted until Digitürk provides to the court further evidence with regards to its claims for football streaming piracy. Therefore, I would not be surprised to see the blocking order and the ban reinstated.
A detailed assessment of the Turkish approaches to Internet content regulation will be provided in an 80 page long report entitled Restricted Access: A Critical Assessment of Internet Content Regulation and Censorship in Turkey written by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz and Dr. Kerem Altiparmak. This bi-lingual (English/Turkish) report will be published during November 2008 and will be made available as a PDF file through cyberlaw.org.uk and cyber-rights.org.tr pages.
Didn't expect that at all; was prepared on a ban of at least several months...
They lift the ban because of the National Holiday (Day of the Republic) tomorrow, which starts in fact this afternoon?
I am curious what will happen when the EU opens chapter 'Media'. Will Turkey come with tons of special demands because it's such an 'unique' country? Better keep that chapter closed until Turkey make some real progress regarding media freedom in Turkey.
No 'if's' and no 'but's' please anymore.
'“We currently lack the ability to remove [only the] problematic content of Web sites, but will soon be able to. Our fight against undesired elements on the Internet will be limited to Web site content deemed problematic. Our judges will soon be briefed on the technology,” he said yesterday.
“The fight against elements that aim at degenerating societies and poisoning the youth and children is the fundamental task of each country. Every country has different regulations related to the Internet. Our aim is not to ban Web sites. Such measures will come to an end as soon as our courts are able to ban problematic content instead of entire Web sites,” Yıldırım went on to say.
“Some Web sites, unfortunately, use their global popularity and show reluctance in complying with Turkish laws and regulations. If they say: ‘I am YouTube or Facebook, no one can interfere in my affairs. I am popular with the whole world,’ then we cannot let them do whatever they wish. Every Web site can operate in our country provided it obeys the rules and avoids committing or promoting crime,” Yıldırım remarked.
More than 1,100 Web sites have been blocked in Turkey since November 2007. Web sites are most often banned on grounds of insulting the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, containing vulgarity, enabling gambling or promoting suicide. Many sites have also been banned for crimes covered under the Internet Security Law, but a number of sites are banned for no apparent reason.
Obama's lopsided margin, including most of the major papers that have decided so far, is in stark contrast to John Kerry barely edging George W. Bush in endorsements in 2004 by 213 to 205.
Now included in the tally are major endorsements in the past three days for Obama from the Hartford Courant, St. Petersburg Times, Providence Journal, Anchorage Daily News, Des Moines Register, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Newark's Star-Ledger and Bergen Record in New Jersey, Baltimore Sun, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Albany Times-Union and others. McCain picked up the Cincinnati Enquirer, Arizona Republic, The Oklahoman, Omaha World-Herald, and many smaller papers.
At least 38 papers have now switched to Obama from Bush in 2004, with just four flipping to McCain. The latest majors to flipflop to Obama: the papers in Providence and Fort Worth. In addition, several top papers that went for Bush in 2004 have now chosen not to endorse this year, the latest being the Indianapolis Star in key swing state Indiana.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Do I have to point out her short arms compared to the rest of her body?
There is even a blog devoted to photoshop disasters. Unfortunately for those in Turkey, this blog is also using blogspot.
Did you know that 5% of all the women have the figure to be a model. But with Photoshop even this group is excluded. The images displayed in magazines are 100% unachievable. A very inspiring documentary made about this topic is the Dutch documentary Beperkt Houdbaar by Sunny Bergman. The documentary can be watched from the website but it's all in Dutch. Recommended.
"Apparently some blogs that question Koranic Creationism exist, so a Turkish judge did the only sensible thing: He BANNED THE ENTIRE BLOGGER.COM AND BLOGSPOT.COM DOMAINS, and all the 112 million blogs thereon. Jesus."
The Y-chromosome is particularly suitable to research lineage because it transfers directly from father to son. Descendants of farmers have different DNA variations in parts of their chromosome from those whose ancestors lived in Europe.
De Knijff's research shows that migrating farmers barely settled in the Netherlands at the time. In Germany, by contrast, a much higher percentage of men descend from foreign farmer-colonisers. This means that in the Netherlands, the native population was not 'replaced' by farmers from outside, but the hunters learned farming and cattle breeding themselves.
There are no behavioural or physical differences between the descendants of hunters and farmers, De Knijff says. "Such features come from the general pieces in our DNA which come from both mother and father. Those pieces are mixed together in every new generation."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
That there are idiots in Turkey who ruin, sorry, run different segments of the society is clear for me. But some are really dumbs. Here a story I picked up from a fellow blogger on englishturkey.com:
We had recently talked about how main Turkish Internet Service Provider Turk Telekom banned Wordpress website to the users. This time, Turk Telekom achieved to get the Oscar for Total Dumbness. Recently, Turkish singer, so called actor and director Mahsun Kirmizigul applied to them claiming that his film Beyaz Melek (White Angel) is being distrubuted illegaly on several torrent websites including IMDB ! Can you imagine IMDB as an illegal torrent site. Anyway, the very talented tech. guys of Turk Telekom banned imbd.com instead of imdb.com with the intention of banning IMDB. Imbd : This is just a parked domain name taking advantage of IMDB. We should ask several questions here.
1) Who cares the loser film of that Mahsun Kirmizigul except himself?
2) Don’t they have an idea of what Imdb.com is?
3) Do they have right to cut the access to every website they don’t like?
4) What is next? Google? Yahoo?
5) Millions of people are paying them for Internet service, are they stupid?
6) Your super duper techies aren’t even knowledgable on what the domain name is
Dear Telekom, Let’s learn again the difference on domain names, please: imdb.com and imbd.com are different. OK?
Blogger.com (blogspot) is world largest blogger hosting company.
No reason is given (as usual) for the ban.
Turkey is mentally corrupt; not its citizens and their representatives but judges are ruling this country.
To get around the ban, simple type unblockyoutube.org and scroll down on the page. There you will see a box. Replace youtube.com with your website, and you are back on your blog. But some features will not appear since Java scripts is not supported by this anti-ban web site. For example: I cannot upload images, some widgets can not be viewed, no spellings control etc. But at least I've access.
9. of the top 10 most expensive paintings ever bought on auction.
Portrait de l'Artiste sans Barbe by Vincent van Gogh
Portrait de l'artiste sans barbe ("Self-portrait without beard") is one of many self-portraits by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, that he painted in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France in September 1889. The painting is a oil painting on canvas and is 40 cm x 31 cm (16" x 13").
Van Gogh painted this just after he had shaved himself. This is an uncommon painting since his other self-portraits show him with a beard. It becomes one of the most expensive paintings of all time when it was sold for $65 million on November 19, 1998 at Christie's, New York.
Friday, October 24, 2008
By Esther Rosenberg
“What else could we do?” Roosendaal’s mayor Michel Marijnen (Christian Democrat) asks while fellow mayor Han Polman (liberal D66 party) from neighbouring Bergen op Zoom joins him in his office at the town hall. They have been putting their heads together for the last five years in order to halt the steady stream of drugs tourists to their cities but to no avail.
Neither mayor thinks that more policing is the answer and nor is moving the coffee shops nearer to the border, away from their towns.
And there is morreee
“Next Season on ‘Dancing with the Stars’” will star Sarah Palin and Barack Obama… according to the latest inbox-hopping viral email that is.
The Dancing with Stars image featuring the two most celebritized politicians of the year actually looks pretty darn good.
Sarah Palin looks stunning in her turquoise Dancing with the Stars salsa dress, and Obama is exceptionally handsome in his matching, yet paler hued Caribbean silk shirt.
What a great image, but sadly there is no name on the email to give credit to. Whoever created the “Next Season on ‘Dancing with the Stars’” viral, congratulations with you on your awesome photoshopping!
No. 6. of the Ten most expensive paintings ever bought on auction.:
'Irises' by Vincent van Gogh
Irises is a painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh, painted while he was at the asylum at Saint Paul-de-Mausole in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France in the last year before his death in 1890.
In 1987, it became the most expensive painting ever sold when it was sold for AUS $54,000,000 to Alan Bond, but he did not have enough money to pay for it and it had to be re-sold. It is now owned by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It looks that I’m not the only person who is angered by the moves the current Turkish government makes regarding ‘protecting children and women’. Children are the most vulnerable in our society. The ‘Muslim’ world condemns always the West as pervert, but who are the real perverts? Read Mr. Yusuf Kanli his excellent article. I am pondering my head why not one female TDN columnist wrote about this.
By Mr. Yusuf Kanli:
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
While the country and those interested in Turkish affairs were busy either with the approaching first hearing of the so-called “Ergenekon gang” case, or focused on the allegations that separatist chieftain Abdullah Öcalan was ill-treated at the İmrali prison island, and the consequent unrest in some cities or the vote at the U.N. for Security Council membership of Turkey, some people at the Justice Ministry were busy concocting up some nasty legal arrangements which can be considered to be an effort to legalize pedophilia.
One may ask, of course, whether it is compatible with justice or with the mission of the Justice Ministry to work to legalize pedophilia or to suggest reduced penalties for rape within marriage. It is indeed difficult, but as in the old story about the cat and its scratching habit embedded in its genes, it appears that some obsessive Islamists are suffering from some acute mental problems forcing them to aspire to establish a social order in the country reminiscent of a certain time in history when having sex with an 11-year-old girl could be considered legally, morally and ethically fit.
And there is morreeee
No 2. of the top 10 most expensive paintings ever bought on auction.
'Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Vincent van Gogh'
The painting was sold to Japanese businessman Ryoei Saito for $82.5 million on May 15, 1990 at auction in Christie's, New York. Portrait of Dr. Gachet is painted in June 1890 by Dutch Impressionism master Vincent van Gogh.
Ryoei Saito shocked the world when he announced he wish the van Gogh painting to be cremated with him at his death. Later he explained he was using a figure of speech: threatening to torch the oils was just an expression of intense affection for the masterpieces. Saito died in 1996.
Vincent van Gogh actually painted two versions of Dr Gachet's portrait with a slightly different color scheme. The other version is located at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
A site already known to me for a while, but didn't use much until a couple of days ago, is Last.fm.
There hasn't been one band or dj so far that I couldn't find on this web page. What I really like, is the radio function: you type in one band, it gives you the artist and also a radio function where you can listen to that band, but it also plays a variety of music related to it. So far some really great new stuff and the good thing is: no commercials and good music all day long.
Thumbs up for last.fm
What's left; provincialism, intolerance, ignorance, greed, arrogance and populism. Exactly where Sarah Palin stands for.
A Sarah Palin who 'leads' McCain in his race for the White House...
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
While the major world markets (was, and some still) are in turmoil, the Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan tells that Turkey is the world's 'safe harbor.' He simply says: ” Investment would come, as Turkey's geography and other factors would continue to make the country an appealing destination. Chief among the factors making Turkey attractive, he emphasized, was continuing economic stability driven by a strong policy of fiscal and financial discipline.’ Does social and political instability not count anymore?
The decision by the Dutch Rotterdam city council to appoint Ahmed Aboutaleb as the city's mayor is a historic one. If his nomination is approved by the Dutch cabinet, he will become not only the first mayor of a major Dutch city with dual nationality - he has a Moroccan and Dutch passport - but also the first Muslim.
While serving on the Amsterdam city council Aboutaleb (Labour) became a household name. But since becoming deputy social affairs minister he has been all but forgotten. Directly after his appointment as mayor of Rotterdam, Aboutaleb’s ethnic background, religion and dual nationality were strongly criticised.
Ahmed Aboutaleb, who has often been described as a 'model non-Western immigrant', was born in the town of Beni Sidel in Morocco's Rif mountain region in 1961, the son of an imam. In 1976, Aboutaleb, his mother and siblings moved to the Netherlands to join his father who was already working in the country.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Before Fortis and ING asked for support, the government seemed to be on a tight budget. A couple of millions for education, but no more. And some millions we set apart for health care. But we cannot afford sufficient materials for the soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. But banks show up and tons of money is magically available. It started with Fortis that has been nationalised for 16.8 milliard euros (22.5 billion dollars) and now 10 milliard euros (13.4 billion dollars) for ING.
Of course this is necessary. Millions of people have money with these banks; if these banks would go bankrupt it would be a national crisis. But isn’t the Dutch government heading for bankruptcy? Printing extra money can’t be the extra money input. Maybe the banks are helped with money lend from other countries. But aren't they taking care of themselves right now?
I’m still a student so I haven’t got great expertise regarding this whole financial debacle. So far so good, but I start to worry a bit. When the Dutch government goes down, I’ll be taken down with it. Eventually it will affect the whole society and therefore also students like me, who are depending on a loan provided by the state. So: who knows where I can find this money hanging ripe on a tree, please tell me. Until that moment I keep searching.
The fact that even this proposal is been done is to absurd for words.
Jenny White wrote about this last week.
A country with such a bad human, minority, women, child rights is considering to take some human (yes, women and children are human as well) rights away...what's next?
On 24 November 2007, Co de Jong, who had been suffering from Parkinson's for fifteen years, drank a lethal potion and fell asleep peacefully within five minutes. She wanted to end what she felt was a hopeless and degrading life. Her son Kor de Jong and Gerard S., chairman of pro-euthanasia foundation SVL, were present.
A short time later the police arrived at the nursing home where Co de Jong had been living since 2003. They arrested her son and his wife, his two sisters and Gerard S. “You are treated like a criminal. You have to take off your glasses, the laces out of your shoes,” says De Jong, who spent two days in a police cell. He was astonished when he heard that he might be charged with premeditated murder. “This can't be happening,” he thought.
And there is morreee
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
A beautiful site is this one. Do you want to know what dumpsterdiving is? Just watch the documentary. Take your time and enjoy the wide range of creativity. From short thrillermovies to a tribute to the first love.
Encouraging; more newspapers are endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket, often with the reference, "McCain chose a vice presidential candidate who is so clearly unqualified for high office that the thought of her stepping into the presidency is frightening".
Lets see what happens next week. More mud throwing by the Republicans?
But in reality Joe the Plumber is thé perfect example. Maybe not in the Barbie and Ken land of the president candidates, for them it’s a far-from-their-bed-show. They have millions, no, billions of dollars to spend on their campaign at this very moment. A whole army working for them to make sure that they have the chances to win. But the average citizen like Joe doesn’t have a whole army working for him, nor millions of dollars to spend. He has to survive alone or with his family and from a normal income. An income that doesn’t cover the mortgage anymore. That can’t provide his children with proper food because snacks are cheaper than fruits and vegetables. A salary that puts his live at stake because he can’t afford to spend more than half of his income on basic health insurance. “Oh, and that doesn’t cover your dentist Sir.”
Health insurance is an issue in the campaign of both Barack Obama and John McCain, but it seems more to win votes than a subject that fits in their plastic world. In fact it is surrealistic to realise that forty-seven million American residents have no health insurance at all, that millions of Americans are inadequately insured or facing this problem because they simply can’t afford the contribution anymore.
But it finally hit me today after seeing a probing documentary about free medical help offered by the Remote Area Control (RAM). An organisation that was founded to offer help in third world countries but now offers medical help to many ‘Joe’s’ in the United States. It is still very surreal and will be until the day that a president uses its campaign money to help all the Joe’s in America instead of using it for gaining popularity with woolly promises.
Note: the documentary has a Dutch voice over, but is mainly in English.
Friday, October 17, 2008
And there is morrreee
Karim says he worked with organic shapes to make the space fluid and focused heavily on practicality, with comfortable furniture, effective lighting and quality acoustics.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the design is the new technology which has been incorporated into the space via the cameras placed over the bar. The cameras take imagery of people at the bar, and then an algorithm takes the real images and abstracts them in the hidden monitors behind the oval mirrors. They then become artistic video shows.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Free movers seldom put down roots in Amsterdam
Young Europeans who come to Amsterdam to live and work have trouble fitting in. Initially attracted by the Dutch reputation for tolerance and openness, most leave the city after little more than a year. This is because “free movers” feel excluded from Dutch society, claims Adrian Favell who is sociology professor at the University of California.
By Caroline de Gruyter
Dutch culture is extremely domineering, says British sociologist Adrian Favell who recently published a study on young, middle-class and relatively well-educated people who have taken advantage of the elimination of internal borders in Europe to experience living abroad. “Expats in Amsterdam can only feel at home if they are fully integrated into Dutch society,” says Favell.
Favell is not talking about discrimination. “It’s much more subtle than that. Foreigners have difficulty breaking the social codes and can’t find their way through the Dutch bureaucratic maze. One of the people I interviewed pays 2,000 euros a month rent for his apartment whereas his Dutch neighbour one floor down pays just 250-300 euros.
“And why is that? It’s because his Dutch neighbour has been a member of a housing cooperation for years and he hasn’t. Life in Amsterdam is full of such subtle ways to exclude you and it’s one of the reasons expats tend to leave. The Netherlands has one of the smallest percentages of European residents in Europe.”
Favell, a sociology professor at the University of California, focused his study not on the classic expat but the so-called free movers, whose life is not made easier by employers who arrange housing, schools and language courses. Free movers are typically students and freelancers who move around Europe. Favell himself is a typical example: he has lived in eight countries, including the Netherlands. For the moment, home for him and his Danish wife, whom he met in Italy, is in Denmark. He does not know how long they will stay there. Free movers can up sticks any time, he says.
You say Brussels is a good place for free movers but Amsterdam and London fail the test. Why?
“People who come to either Amsterdam or London have very high expectations. They think foreigners can be themselves there. They start out very enthusiastically but after about a year they realise that if they don’t choose to adopt a Dutch or British identity, they will never belong there.
“In Brussels it’s the other way around. Expectations are low so everything is a bonus: houses are cheap and healthcare is excellent. But the most important thing is that free movers can be themselves there, that is, as de-nationalised as they want. Brussels has no national culture. Everybody is an outcast in a way.”
Why do free movers leave their own country?
“They want to learn about other cultures and languages. They study abroad or go on an exchange trip. Then they often fall in love or get a job and they think: I might as well stay. For people from a lower social class, moving to Europe makes it easier to get ahead. There are no tell-tale signs such as names or accents to keep them down.
“Young women and gays from southern Europe come to escape the social pressures at home. Many of the young French men and women in London come from provincial working class backgrounds. Gays see Amsterdam as an escape. But, again, after a while they find they’re in a country which expects them to conform to its national identity and codes.”
What are these Dutch codes?
“Making appointments weeks in advance, for instance. Or being “weird” which Amsterdammers are very proud of, but which nobody else understands and which, again, acts as an exclusion mechanism. And the informality of Dutch company culture and language. That annoyed most of the people I interviewed. They almost all learnt Dutch but Dutch people seldom bother to include outsiders in the conversation. And in London you don’t really belong if you don’t spend every lunch hour with your colleagues in the pub.”
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Some of our policemen are actually sadistic brutes. Time has come to stop their horrific ways of terrorizing the society. I hope Justice Minister’s apology will be a step toward that.
When the movie Midnight Express made headlines in 1978, many Turks were quite angry. The film presented Turkey's prisons as slices of hell and many people here denounced it as “anti-Turkish propaganda.”
Read more herrreeeee
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In the Mississippi Deltac
children go to bed hungry
as their parents despair.
Living on minimum wage,
just trying to survive
now the factory's shut
and the money's run out.
Forced to rely on charity
and the kindness of strangers.
Trying to hang on,
living hand to mouth:
society's forgotten class.
Struggling to make ends meet
as more government programs cut.
Hard-working, honest people
trying to keep a roof over their heads,
food in their bellies
and their children in school.
Praying nobody gets sick;
health insurance is a luxury
they simply can't afford.
The car went last week;
couldn't keep up the payments
after the mill was mothballed:
a silent brooding sentinel,
waiting for a brighter day.
A day that will never come for their neighbor,
who shot himself in the Wal-Mart parking lot,
unable to face the indignity
of the bailiffs arriving
to auction the family farm,
where four generations worked the land
and earned community respect and recognition.
Unable to weep at the funeral,
his brother put his fist through
the wallof the county clerk's office
raging at the injustice
as news cameras whirred,
recording the drama:
an ordinary life under extraordinary pressure,
no one ever should have to bear.
Helpless and nearly invisible
in a society that rewards achievement,
while shoving aside the needs of the poor.
No longer able to provide basic necessities
in the richest country on earth
where the government once served the people
with responsibility and decency.
In New Orleans
Katrina took their homes and jobs;
two years later
government assistance still thin on the ground
and home is a cot in a cousin's house.
Barbara Bush should see them now.*
On a New Mexico reservation
a group of rusty trailers heat like a furnace
in the desert sun
and the nearest job is a half-tank of gas away.
In Michigan, production is shipped overseas
and entire families are out of work,
out of benefits ,out of time.
Hard to hang onhard to trust
hard to believe
this is America...
*Barbara Bush famously said that those who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina were "doing very well now" in shelters in Houston and other cities.
Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden have plans to assist the 37 million Americans currently living in poverty. Read their Blueprint for Change here.
Former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene said during a recent EU meeting in Brussels: “The war in Georgia and the financial crisis have demonstrated that we need a more united Europe.”
Other European leaders, such as European Commission president José Manuel Barroso and the head of the Socialist party in the European parliament Martin Schultz, have also complained about the lack of a new European treaty.
Government leaders are meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the Lisbon Treaty for the first time since the Irish rejected it in a referendum in June. The most likely outcome is that Irish prime minister Brian Cowen will be given more time to find a solution.
Diplomats are not particularly concerned about the fact that the new treaty might not be implemented on January 1, 2009 as planned. But members of the European parliament are unhappy with the delay.
Germany’s influential Christian Democrat (CDU) member of the European parliament, Elmar Brok, says “diplomats do not talk to the man in the street”. He believes the treaty still has a chance of being ratified before the European parliamentary elections in June next year. But if it isn’t then the elections will focus only on the treaty and not people’s “real problems”.
His colleague Jean-Luc Dehaene also warns the elections could turn into one big referendum on the EU treaty. “Euro-sceptics from across the continent will attempt to form an alliance. Left and right-wing populists will conduct a concerted campaign against the Lisbon Treaty.”
A more politically sensitive issue arising from the lack of a new treaty is the composition of the next European Commission. At present each of the 27 member states has its own commissioner but the current treaty calls for the number of commissioners to be reduced in 2009. However the treaty does not specify how many and which country or countries would lose “their representative”.
Many observers believe that Ireland will probably hold a new referendum towards the end of 2009, which means the new treaty could come into effect on January 1, 2010 - if the Irish vote “yes”. But Dublin has its doubts about the outcome now that Ireland is facing economic downturn as a result of the global financial crisis.
The Irish government needs a good excuse to organise a new referendum. Changes in the treaty would be a reason but it is unlikely that the EU would be willing to go through the whole renegotiation process. On top of this it would also mean that countries that have ratified the treaty would have to go through that process again too.
One option would be for the EU to draft a declaration guaranteeing that the new treaty would not interfere with the Ireland’s neutrality and abortion legislation - these were major stumbling blocks in the Irish “no”.
Another possibility would be to allow every country to keep its own commissioner. The existing Lisbon Treaty also calls for a reduction in the number of commissioners, but not until 2014. However insiders believe that it will be possible to get around this.
Germany’s European member of parliament Elmar Brok does not think the EU can wait until 2010 to implement the new treaty. “The British Conservatives could be back in power by then,” he warns. He predicts the Conservatives would launch a major campaign against the new treaty if it has not been ratified by the time they come to power.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Indonesian village of Rawagede was the scene of a massacre perpetrated by Dutch soldiers in 1947, shortly after the colony declared its independence and troops were sent in to restore order.
The village claims 431 men were shot, while a Dutch government investigation into war crimes in Indonesia puts the figure at 150.
One man who survived the massacre and nine widows of victims still live in the village, which has been renamed Balongsari. Last week, a letter was sent on their behalf to the Dutch government asking for a formal apology and compensation. Their request is still being looked at.
Socialist Party member of parliament Harry van Bommel says he suggested a meeting with survivors twice but that the proposal was voted down by the rest of the delegation.
The delegation, made up of seven members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, is in Indonesia to discuss a range of issues until October 19.
Delegation chairman Henk Jan Ormel, member of parliament for the Christian Democrats, says he feels a meeting with the survivors, or their representatives, would be ‘inappropriate” while legal procedures are still ongoing.
“A visit from an official Dutch delegation could create false expectations”, Ormel said, adding that he did not want Rawagede to become the focus of the visit to Indonesia. “A lot more has happened in this country,” he said.
Van Bommel, who feels the Netherlands should apologise and pay compensation, had wanted a “reconciliatory meeting”. “It would have been the first Dutch high-level visit,” he says. “For the survivors of Rawagede, this is far from over.”
The members of the delegation did not want to meet Batara Hutagalung, founder of the committee which filed the claim for compensation, either. Hutagalung says he finds it “odd” for parliamentarians to come to Indonesia to talk about human rights and not pay any attention to Rawagede.
“It is almost as if they are blind in one eye: they only see the atrocities perpetrated by others,” he said.
Sander Chan said he could no longer function within the party because he did not want to rule out forming a relationship with another man.
The CU’s official standpoint on homosexuality is that officials must always be answerable to the Bible as the word of God, which many in the party take to mean that practising homosexuals should be banned.
The European reaction to the crisis differs from that of the Americans not only financially, but also in the manner in which it is presented to the public.
By René Moerland
The governments of France, Germany and Britain have decided that European leadership and unity are necessary to confront the international financial crisis. The policies must be flexible enough to deal with each country's particular situation and at the same time fit within the framework of a coordinated plan for the entire community.
Following a meeting of leaders from the 15 euro-zone countries plus Britain in Paris on Sunday, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: "No country can face the financial crisis alone, the measures taken by one must not damage the interests of the other."
The European leaders have decided to make up to hundreds of billions of euros available to guarantee the massive temporary loans which banks provide to one another. However governments will charge 'commercial rates' for their guarantees. The idea is that healthy banks will profit from the measures and that failing managers will be forced to leave.
The Paris gathering was the first meeting of euro-zone leaders since the introduction of the European currency. They decided not to wait until all 27 European Union member states meet later this week, believing it would be easier and quicker to reach agreement on efficient action when fewer people were involved in the talks.
British prime minister Gordon Brown, whose country does not want to join the euro-zone, joined his European colleagues in Paris as the 'inspiring force' behind the plan of action.
At the start of the meeting, German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has long opposed a European intervention plan, headed straight to the cameras to proclaim that a united approach would be "an important signal for the markets and the euro-zone".
The main points of the action plan are more or less the same as those agreed in Washington recently by the finance ministers of the G7 and thereafter by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Governments will provide all that is necessary to ensure the continued functioning of the financial markets and to ensure institutions have sufficient funds to provide investment loans to businesses and individuals.
The European reaction to the crisis differs from that of the Americans not only financially, but also in the manner in which it is presented to the public. Unlike the Americans, the European leaders do not want to give tax-payers the impression that they are "doing the bankers a favour", said Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the euro-group, the finance ministers of the euro-zone countries.
Juncker says European governments should be given a 'complete tool kit' so that each country can fight the crisis in its own way and in coordination with the other member states.
Suggestions that the European central bank should provide direct support to companies which are of vital economic importance – along the lines of the US rescue package – were rejected by the ECB’s president Jean-Claude Trichet as impractical because it would violate European regulations.
However the suggestion itself demonstrates that European leaders are looking for new ways to create a more united Europe. Juncker has been Luxembourg's finance minister since 1989 and has dealt with financial crises before the creation of the monetary union.
He says he has never before seen "such a far-reaching coordinated European effort". However he dismisses talk of a genuine European economic administrative system as "only for show" in a period of economic crisis.
Monday, October 13, 2008
As a Dutch man living in Turkey, the visit of my queen here is highly symbolic. First I should drop a note to other Dutch men and women who will be accompanying Her Majesty and thus visiting Turkey soon: Don't fear the taxi drivers. They are my best friends in Istanbul. They don't act like the “Taliban” – the common nickname for the taxi drivers in Amsterdam – instead they treat you with respect. Yesterday I took a cab; it cost me just 4 YTL and before I left the car, the driver told me to wait. Then he suddenly walked around to open my door. Yes, before my queen arrived in Istanbul, I was treated like royalty here.
More herreee and herreee
In its first hour of trading, the blue chip AEX went up 5.6 percent to 272.46 points. MidKap stocks rose 7 percent to 407.89. Stock exchanges in London, Paris and Frankfurt all recovered over 5 percent on Friday's close. European exchanges nose-dived last week in response to the credit and banking crisis.
Financial shares went up most in early trading. Insurance company Aegon rose 9.3 percent, with ING bank gaining 8 percent. Trade in Fortis was suspended last week after the Dutch government nationalised its operations in the Netherlands.
Electronics company Philips gained 1.8 percent. Philips reported an 11 percent increase in net profit in the third quarter before trading began in Amsterdam this morning.
And here some old quotes:
There ought to be limits to freedom. We're aware of this [web] site, and this guy is just a garbage man, that's all he is." -- George Jr., discussing a web site that parodies him
"I'm a uniter not a divider. That means when it comes time to sew up your chest cavity, we use stitches as opposed to opening it up." -- Bush, on David Letterman, March 2, 2000. (the audience booed)
"I didn't -- I swear I didn't -- get into politics to feather my nest or feather my friends' nests." -- Bush Jr., in the Houston Chronicle
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Today, Rashin Soodman the daughter of Hossein Soodman, living in London, fears that her brother, Ramtin, held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city, will face the same 'faith'.
Other examples of persecution of apostates converting to Christianity have been given by the Barnabas Fund from Kuwait, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh.
Bos was speaking in Washington where he was attending a meeting of the world’s richest nations.
Bos said the current situation is similar to the post World War II period, when the IMF was set up to improve prosperity and stimulate development.
And he called on the US to show leadership, despite the fact that the country is only four weeks away from elections.
‘That paralyses America in its leading role… it is the worst possible moment,’ Bos was reported as saying.
The Netherlands is the centre of Nigerian scam operations and Amsterdam is its headquarters. Nigerian fraudsters regard the Netherlands as a safe haven. The police are seen as soft and, moreover, south-east Amsterdam is home to a close-knit African community making it easy to go to ground. It is also conveniently near to Schiphol airport.
At a seminar organised by the Centre of Information and Research on Organised Crime in Amsterdam this week, Yvette Schoenmakers, a police academy criminologist, presented the preliminary results of research on Nigerian criminal networks in the Netherlands. This was carried out in conjunction with the research firm Beke which advises on criminal policy.
The research is based on 34 in-depth interviews with experts, police officers and informants from the Nigerian community in the Netherlands as well as information from the Dutch police intelligence data bank.
Huge fortunes promised
“Congratulations, you have won first prize in the Spanish lottery,” reads a typical email sent out by the thousand to computers worldwide. Or “I am the widow of Nigeria’s ex-president Sani Abacha. Could you help me withdraw 6.6 million dollars from a Swiss bank account?” Another version reads: “I am a Lebanese businessman suffering from cancer. I have assets of 2.3 billion dollars but I am a dying man and I want to give it all to charities. But I am no longer able to do this by myself”.
All these messages promise their recipients huge fortunes. But before they receive anything, they must put up a deposit variously described as “administrative costs”, “transfer fees” or “an investment”. Police have dubbed it the activities the “419 scam”, after the article in Nigerian law that deals with fraud.
According to Schoenmakers, the first Nigerian swindlers started using the Netherlands as a base back in 1990. The police were unaware of what was going on because the scam was not directed at Dutch citizens. Most of the victims were foreigners, often American, some of whom lost thousands or even hundreds of thousands of euros.
But when the number of fraud cases started soaring in 2000 and foreign police forces started complaining, the Dutch police had to act.
It is not known how many Nigerians in the Netherlands are involved in the fraud. Over the last years, the police have arrested 121 people on suspicion of fraud, nearly all Nigerian men and nearly all illegal.
The Nigerians involved in the scams don’t work in organised groups, says Schoenmakers. They have a large social network and they only involve Dutch people occasionally.
False sense of security
Typically, the so-called 419 fraud starts with an email. A respondent is then lured into a false sense of security by means of false documents such as bank statements or a letter from the central bank. The next stage sees the victim either transferring a sum of money or handing it over personally.
He is then invited to Amsterdam for the weekend with all expenses paid by the swindlers. Once here, he is led to what he believes is a branch of the ABN Amro bank where he is welcomed by a trustworthy-looking Dutch receptionist. It is not until it is too late that the victim catches on to what has happened.
How much money is involved in the Dutch-based scam is unknown, says Schoenmakers, although police figures from 2005 suggest that foreign victims may have lost a combined 22 million euros. But the real damage could be at least ten times that, she says.
The victims of the fraud come from all over the world but the biggest group (22 percent) lives in the US with Britain coming second with 6 percent. But peoples from Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran have also been duped. “This is an international problem which needs an international solution,” says Schoenmakers.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
While Sarah Palin supposed to be the Cover Girl of the McCain campaign she suddenly find herself on the frontpages for different reason; an Alaska state investigator's report concluded Friday that she abushed her power.
In the meanwhile she going ahead stirring up the public.
Scary! Covering things?
Verhagen, a Christian Democrat, distanced himself from the Dutch right-wing liberal party VVD and Labour party PvdA. Both parties recently published their draft manifestos for the European elections next June. And both manifestos said that Turkish nationals should be exempt from the basic European right to freedom of movement if the country joins the EU. The parties fear a flood of foreign workers will come to the Netherlands if the borders are opened.
"It is either yes or no,” Verhagen said. "I am not going to fiddle with the criteria. If Turkey meets them, you shouldn't have to make exceptions." The minister did say he could envisage a transitional period.
Verhagen said it was more important that Turkey meets EU criteria on human rights, the reform of the legal system and on freedom of religion. Turkey also has to change its policy on Cyprus to be allowed to join the 27-member organisation.
Turkey first applied for membership of the-then European Economic Community in 1987. Formal talks on its membership of the European Union began in October 2005.
There is morrreee
Still the court case; a shame, a shame.
Below my article written just days after his death.
Turkey’s Image – part 2a, an intermezzo
or Turkish Reputation is at Stake not its honor.
The killing of Hrank Dink shows the fragility of Turkey's image. Certain internal and international nationalistic groups “hijacked” his death while other opportunists misused “his friendship” for their own purposes. The Turkish newspapers were full of condemnation, and the foreign press saw an opportunity to show the difficult lives of independent Turkish journalists and writers, exploring how some even have bodyguards and use police protection…
The common man on the street in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Mersin might curse me for saying that Dink's death has to do with the ugly face of state propaganda, bad education and systematic massive misinformation. So, the tragic death of this fine journalist deserves more than just to offer an opportunity for a fleeting discussion. The doves that were released during his funeral instead of sacrificing another living being can be symbolic: peace for him and relieve the Turkish soul in mourning. And no more sensational news please, just let him rest in peace.
Enough with fatalism:
But ... can you blame the nationalist? Isn't it human nature to take a reactive stance towards anything that sounds, smells and looks different than what we are accustomed to? Yes, but by rejecting “foreign influences” you not only close the borders of your country but you close your heart and soul as well. What can be more tragic than the black burned soul of a youngster…
Turkey, which has been using the propaganda tool for a long time now in place of professional public relations and lobbying, has to finally stand up for its own citizens. It has to stand up not only in dull ceremonies but in everyday life, to protect the ordinary peaceful citizens all over Turkey. Mankind must know by now that nationalists are always using symbols and tragic events to get their points across and chasing rainbows over their country as if the sun only rises and sets in their own nation. What they practice is like voodoo and creates people whose eyes are wide shut and whose perception is triggered by blindness and hate.
Unfortunately, the Turkish rhetoric of fatalism is popular these days. The word inshallah was often used by Turkish people on the street, after Dink's killing, ashamed to give a fair answer. But is inshallah the message to the outside world that Turkey wants to convey? This is a murdered person who didn't believe in fatalism but who showed a pro-active attitude in faith and reconciliation.
Get over the conspiracy theories:
Could fatalism be the reason that the Turkish scene of filmmakers, artists, philosophers, writers, musicians are famous in Turkey but marginalized abroad due to their inferiority complex and bad reputation management? Could this be what keeps the Turkish image fragile? An image that will be fragile as long as Turks consider themselves as victims of imaginary conspiracy theories and until their leaders start to act responsibly towards their European counterparts.
Until it is shown that we have more in common than coffee, that the Siege of Vienna happened more than 20 generations ago and that blood shed then, turned into blood shared now, we can't fight intolerance. Some Europeans tend to have selective memories regarding their friends (Europe and Turkey together is called the Occident) as Turks tend to forget that they are Eurasians and member of the G20.
Again, Turkey's reputation is at stake, not its pride, blood and honor…
The international perception of Turkey is still unfavorable. The Turkish media at large is collectively responsible for this. So are the former governments of the Turkish Republic who failed to anticipate the economical boom of Turkey, which suddenly brought Turkey into the spotlight of the international media. The current government therefore became experienced in damage control!
Turkey' foreign policy should be more effective and have a solid communication strategy by now. It's still losing all kinds of PR wars since it merely neglected their reputation abroad. It must do more these days than pre-active verbal strikes. But, well, inshallah….
*Hans A.H.C. de Wit is an international communication manager based in Istanbul. (firstname.lastname@example.org)