Friday, April 30, 2010

Dutch newspapers about Queensday in the Netherlands

Today is Queen's Day, officially the celebration of the Dutch head of state's birthday. Hence all that orange everywhere, on buildings and on people: Queen Beatrix is head of the House of Orange. It actually takes place on the date of her late mother Queen Juliana's birthday. The festivities in some of the big cities might make you think it was actually in honour of the Dutch equivalent of Bacchus, the god of drinking.

The papers treat the national holiday in different ways this morning. Two of them have big front-page photographs of yesterday's unveiling by the queen of a memorial to the victims of the attack on the royal bus during last year's Queen's Day celebrations in Apeldoorn. None of the royal family were hurt but some of them did witness the horrible sight of the killer's car ploughing through the crowd of well-wishers. Seven people died.
On Queen's Day, people are allowed to set up stall and sell things on the street. This always proves an irresistible temptation for a nation famed for both its merchants and people intent on finding a bargain.
One woman is ready to charge for goes on a home-made cycling machine. The Ciclistas bike team are hoping to raise a whopping 22,500 euros to finance their participation in the Tour for Life in August. The cycle tour is taking place in northern Italy will raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières.
Another woman is getting her bric-a-brac ready to sell outside her house (she's also setting up a bar). She's guarding the space on the street jealously: "It's just for people who live here," she explains.
The Dutch get their children started on trade early in life and there's a picture of two kids getting ready to sell their old toys. It's a serious business: "I've completely untangled her hair," says eight-year-old Eleni, holding her old Barbie doll, "and given her two nice plaits".
One man is setting up an ingenious metal frame connected to an electric current over which you have to guide a large hoop without setting off an alarm. "I haven't worked out how to make money from it yet," he admits. "But, don't you worry, I'll get it sorted."
Also today's Queensday remind the Dutch that the queen is celebrating 30 years on the throne this Queen's Day, and treats us to two full-length official portraits of her majesty on its front page. "The Dutch honour anniversary sovereign" reads the loyal headline.
A survey shows that 69 percent of people are pleased with the way Queen Beatrix fulfils her role. (approval rate overall Royal family is 85%)  However, a growing number think the time is getting close when she should abdicate in favour of her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander.
Some speculates this could take place in 2013, the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It tells us that both the popularity of the queen and that of her son have taken a beating following adverse publicity over the past year. The crown prince's wife, Máxima, however, remains even more popular than ever.
On an inside page, looks to the future and lets us hear from secondary school students in Amersfoort, a town right in the centre of the Netherlands. "Does the queen do anything besides opening things?" asks one 17-year-old. Another thinks that "the sovereign is really quite important as far as relations with other countries goes". However, no one precisely knows how.
They are all perplexed by the idea of ministerial responsibility for the monarch. "It's like my mother having to answer for me if I do something wrong. I mean, they're all adults, aren't they?" asks Charlotte. There appears to be general agreement that it is ridiculous in this day and age to have a hereditary head of state. However, Daan voices doubts about the alternative: "A president is probably more democratic, but wouldn't be better or cheaper".
Estimated as costing just under 40 million euros a year, the Dutch royal family is the second most expensive in Europe. "Far too much money," tuts Charlotte, "especially now, when so many things are being cut." However, another member of the class defends the expense on the grounds that the royals strengthen a feeling of national identity. "They play a ceremonial role," he argues.
One Dutch newspaper warns that the future Willem IV, as Prince Willem-Alexander is expected to become, will have to take care. And not just because of his falling popularity. The young people all agree it will not be long before the monarchy is scrapped. They give the institution "about 30 years".

Day Opening - April 30 - Queensday

Queensday, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
For Osman, see picture on the sidebar, its every day Queensday.))

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trip to Syria (2)

Last week we went on a last-minute trip to Syria! A country which surprised me a lot. Since there are no direct flights yet between Istanbul and Aleppo in Syria, our final destination, we choose to fly to an Turkish airport which is close to the Turkish-Syrian border: Hatay. Unfortunately all the flights were already booked; the border between Turkey and Syria is just open for 3 months so many Turks decided to go on a long weekend to Syria. And we had to take a flight from Istanbul to Adana and from there an 3 hour bus drive to Ankatay in Hatay, where we took a private taxi to cross the border all the way to Idleb in Syria, which is another 2 hours. Since all the hotels in Aleppo werebooked, only the Carlton in Inleb, a place of 9.000 people, had a room for us. I must admit, that I didn’t look forward to a trip which included: a car drive, a flight, a bus, twice a taxi and in the end crossing the border with a private taxi for 2 hours. But it was fun in the end. The service of the Turkish flight company, bus company and taxi drivers are not comparable. Turkey has one of the highest standards of service while travelling and its hospitality management industry is exceptional.

When we arrived in Ankatya, we didn’t know what to expect. They tried to get us in a bus to Syria as soon as possible for 15 TL which is around 8 € (or 10 $) for that two hour trip. But I wanted to go by taxi, which was in the end only 25$ or 18€….for 150 km….and the service of the taxi driver! So, we took that cab with a Kurdish taxi driver who spoke fluent Turkish and Arabic. Imagine: a taxi driver who picks you up, helps you with your luggage, helps you at the border, arrange something to drink and eat and brings you to the door of your hotel where he brings your luggage into the lobby? I remember taking a taxi in Amsterdam for 5 minutes from Central Station to my hotel donw town. 5 minutes and 12€. And I had to take the luggage out the trunk since the taxi driver was to arrogant to help me. Never mind.

Abdullah, the taxi driver was a nice and funny guy. When we paid him, we drove from Antakay to the Syrian border to pick up another passenger! No problem at all. We were comfortable on the back seats. With our refreshments and some bread he bought for us. That he was smoking one cigarette after the other, in his Syrian taxi, on Turkish soil, was okay (more about that later). After one hour we arrived at the border. I had the same feeling as crossing the Mexican/USA in border California, or the border in Cyprus, between the North and the South. Tough, it was  differenet for an open border: hundreds of Turkish trucks waiting to enter Syria, patiently. Abdullah drove us through this mess safely to the Turkish border control were Ö got the notice to pay a fine of 10 $ for leaving Turkey and I got a stamp in my passport that my residency permit of 1 year ended and that I could enter Turkey again the next day with a visa of 15€. But now we had to cross the Syrian border, where I had to buy my visa as an European passport holder. But first we visited the new established Syrian Tax Duty free shop. Probably the cheapest I ever entered in my whole live: 1 Liter of Johnnie Walker Whiskey for 8€ or a package of Davidoff cigarettes for less than 1€. Mobile phone for half of the price and so on. This was fun-shopping!

After we bought what we needed we really got a taste of Syria;’ buying a visa for me’. Europeans must buy their visa at the border for 33$. As we entered a huge Syrian building in no men’s land Abdullah introduced me to the General Manager of this border control post. Kisses on the cheeks and we could proceed, which means: paying your visa. But…since they have to send my visa application to Damascus, I had two options: wait for 1 hour or pay an extra 10$ so they were ‘able’ to fax it directly…call it a favor from their side. And since we were already 10 hours on this trip, we paid. And we could drive through the Syrian customs with all our stuff without a problem all the way to our hotel in Inleb, Syria. And the traffic was relaxed and the nature beautiful! And our hotel was waiting! Carlton in Inleb, 5 stars but not according Arabic standards. But still a lovely hotel. (more later)

Anne Frank Huis celebrates 50 years

The Anne Frank Huis museum celebrated its 50th anniversary yesterday.

Anne Frank's diary, written during the Second World War while the family was hiding from the Nazis in a secret annex, will be on display in the new exhibition space. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into dozens of languages and is still one of the most popular books in the world.

De facto, a virtual Anne Frank house went on line yesterday as part of the anniversary celebration. Virtual visitors won't have to stand in line for hours anymore; with one click of a mouse, they will be able to tour a re-creation of Anne Frank's room in the secret annex.

Day Opening - April 29

Maldives; one cloud per island

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good to know! Hamas preaching about Apes and Pigs

Personally, I think that this man is simple retard. The Muslim world will conguest Rome? How? They cannnot even govern their own people. But good to know that I am a pig according this 'Imam' of Hamas. What Hamas is doing is simple based upon hate for Jews and Christians...

Teenagers 'driving' parents mad

To obtian a drivers license in the Netherlands you have to take lessons from a recognized driving schoool, and believe me, it will cost you several thousand of $$$ to get that license.
Now people start to take their first driving lesson on the coastal town of Zantvoort’s racing circuit. The controversial lessons have been organised by a go-cart firm. It argues that it gives the children an insight into road traffic. But most of the teenagers are more interested in getting behind the wheel and driving fast than listening to the theory lesson.The teenagers are excited as they step into the driving seat. Their nervous parents have been instructed to grab the handbrake in case of an emergency and if that fails to work, to literally pull their offspring’s leg off the accelerator. Whatever the parents do, they’ve been told not to start shouting. The Dutch traffic safety organisation is appalled by the initiative. “At this age children are not ready to drive cars.” Which is perfectly demonstrated by the teenagers themselves as they jerk and stall their vehicles in the paddock.

Day Opening - April 28

Urarto Fortress, Van, Turkey

Monday, April 26, 2010

'It Is a Clash of Civilizations' (Der Spiegel)

In a SPIEGEL interview, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, 51, discusses his country's controversial settlement policies, the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program and the seeming hopelessness of the conflict with the Palestinians.

Even before he became Israel's foreign minister just under a year ago, Avigdor Lieberman had already established a reputation for his abrasive approach. For example, the former club bouncer, who was born in Moldova and emigrated to Israel in 1978, threatened to bomb the Aswan High Dam in Egypt and publicly stated that he wished President Hosni Mubarek would "go to Hell."

The popularity of Lieberman, with his thick Russian accent, is fueled by two sources: the more than 1 million Israeli immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who support a largely hardline course against the Palestinians; and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, where Lieberman himself lives.
When it comes to the settlements in the West Bank, Lieberman pronounce's himself flexible. But he refuses to make any compromises when it comes to preserving the Jewish residential areas that have been constructed in eastern Jerusalem since Israeli victory in the Six-Day War in 1967. Around 200,000 Jews live in this annexed part of the city, and the destruction of Arab homes and new construction projects could soon transform Arab residents into a minority.
Continue reading herrreeee

Day Opening - April 26

The next American Idol

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day Opening - April 25

Palmyra, Syria

Trip to Syria (1)

We are back from our short trip to Idleb and Aleppo, Syria, a country which surprised us both.
Although we were there only for 2 days it left some really good and remarkable memories.
If you a a Christian and interested in ancient history of Christianity, Romans etc. go there, the country has so much to offer. And it's safe, very safe!!
I will write the next days some blog posts about our trip and will put here some pictures we made.
Keep in touch!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Battle of the tongues

Governments all over the world collapse swiftly these days. In the past 8 years The Netherlands has had 4 consecutive governments, led by the same PM, (almost) none of which finished the regular 4 years until the next elections. Italy of course is champion of failing cabinets, with more than 50 turnovers since WW2.

This blog is not about the countries above, it's about the deeply divided Western European country, located centrally in Europe, housing the beating heart of the European Union: Belgium. Actually, this federal state contains three parts, the northern part which is Dutch speaking, called Flanders (Vlaanderen), the southern part, Wallonia, which is French speaking and caught up in the center of the country there's Brussels, surrendered by a periphery of Dutch speaking towns and villages, called Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV). Brussels is French, the suburbs are Dutch.

This week the Belgian national government led by Yves Leterme, fell, after a period of five months. Usually governments are blown up because of economic or political reasons, but in this case it's the language that caused the situation. Although, as they say it is. The underlying reason is that Flanders is feeling drawn back by Wallonia, an economic weak region with higher unemployment rates than in Flanders, where most economic activity is concentrated. This means that a large part of federal money is being pumped in the poorer south. Especially the Flanders nationalist party, led by Filip de Winter, is opposing this and wants to make Flanders an independent state. He quoted earlier this week that Wallonia should suffocate, he doesn't want to invest one Euro in Wallonia anymore...
In the meantime, the BHV region is anxiously protecting it's linguistic advantage of Dutch as the official language. French speaking local municipal officials are forced to speak Dutch only. Committees have been set up to check if this protocol is being followed, protest groups are demanding that the law stays unchanged.

How will Belgium look like 10 years from now? Is the country still struggling for a unstable future? Will Flemish and Walloons have signed peace and are they working on a new combined language ('Walmish', 'Flemoons')? Or has the EU embraced two new member states (with Turkey still in the waiting room)? My crystal ball is blurred, so I can't tell you. Meanwhile I find it an enrichment that Belgian kids are learning (at least) two languages at school. An example for multicultural, multilingual Europe.

Day Opening - April 24

Early Sunday morning, Barcelona

Keep on slogging through

I've been remiss again. I was doing drugs and alcohol and having sex with young priests when I should have been at my post, protecting the world from people like me.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. I'm a closet Republican. I have a poster of Mitch McConnell on the underside of my crapper lid. I make crude jokes about Biraq Obama's picanninnies with much the same verve as I did about former U.S. First Idiot George Fubar Bush's drunken twins, Regan and Cordelia. You heard the one about what they were doing in the bunker in Culpepper, Virginia in the early hours of the morning on September 11, 2001? Really? God, I have to get a better grip on search engine optimization.

The truth is I'm participating in Script Frenzy, which has completely consumed all the time I had set aside on my Tuesdays After Lunch for April. I'm just not as good a typewriter as I was in my late fifties. In fact, I'm turning into a dead thing at an alarming rate. If the current acceleration of decline in my physical health continues, I won't last out this century.

I find this prospect depressing. I really dreamed that I would be able to tread water with the rest of the world's 10 billion idiots as the imaginary effects of Democrat-induced global warning (which business leaders prefer to call climate change to make people blame it on panhandlers and other left-wing agitators), but my doctor recently told me that if I didn't start taking better care of myself, he wouldn't give me another 50 years. What a bummer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day Opening - April 23

The Most Dangerous Kind of Wolf; a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dutch-Turkish ex-minister makes handlines again.

The number two on Labour's election list, former deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak (born in Sivas Turkey) told journalists that civil servants should be allowed to refuse to perform same-sex marriages on religious grounds. In fact her view is in direct opposition to "the progressive stance on refusenik civil servants taken by the party".

One wonders if she would allow a neo-Nazi civil servant to refuse to marry a Jew and a Gentile or if she would condone a refusal by a white nationalist civil servant to marry people of different races. She always had the benefit of the doubt but now she really has to shut up.

Looks like that she already regretted her 'opinion', but the damage is already done: Labor Party was always strict regular but became more and more a party which radical stance against everything Christian or Jew goes hand in hand with a pro-islamitic course. By the end of May the Muslem Brotherhood (banned in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc.) will organize a congres in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Most political parties already protested this 'event', but not Labor!

Day Opening - April 21

Chateau Chambord, Loire Valley, France

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Better of in prison than on welfare...

An unlikely victim of the current global economic crisis: Dutch prisons. “Thousands of detainees are without work… as companies farm out less and less work to custodial institutions.” In order to combat this downward trend “a national marketing organisation is being set up to attract new customers.” It’s a dramatic turnaround. As recently as 2008, the prisons had trouble keeping up with demand.

Dutch prisons have a long working tradition, which takes in everything from making clothes to metal work and carpentry and some institutions even have complete factories and a range of companies from painting firms to print shops. Call centres have also been added to the range of services provided. The detainees are paid 76 cents an hour, roughly equivalent to a social welfare income. The recent downturn poses a problem for prison regimes, as rules dictate that guards cannot simply force prisoners to spend more time in their cells.
You get paid the same as someone on welfare...but you don't pay rent and food...

Day Opening - April 20

Alhambra, Granada, Spain

Monday, April 19, 2010

Minimum age for prostitutes now 21 in the Netherlands

Women working as prostitutes in the Netherlands should be at least 21 years of age, caretaker Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has decided. The minister, a Christian Democrat, has proposed raising the legal prostitution age from the earlier threshold of 18.

His Christian Union colleague, caretaker Youth and Family Minister André Rouvoet had earlier signalled a similar desire for a higher minimum age for prostitutes. In a debate in the Lower House the populist right-wing Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, had asked for such an age rise. MPs said they want better protection for young girls against so-called loverboys, young pimps who win a girl's confidence and then force her into prostitution. (click on link to read the article) It is expected that a majority in the Lower House will accept Minister Hirsch Ballin's proposal.
Brothel owners in The Hague earlier took the initiative to raise the age to 21 in an attempt to eradicate exploitation by pimps and loverboys. The Amsterdam council, too, said it favoured a higher minimum age.
The Dutch caretaker cabinet is working on a set of measures to strengthen prostitution controls. There will be more identity checks to prevent under-21s to prostitute themselves illegally. Those in favour say that older women are more independent and better able to fend off unruly clients or pushy pimps. They would also be harder for traffickers to recruit.
The Dutch ban on brothels was lifted ten years ago. The exploitation of prostitution facilities is no longer illegal, it is seen as a legal source of income.
By being brought within the rule of law, brothel owners have to pay income taxes, and they have to treat prostitutes like regular employees or freelances.
It is estimated there are some 20,000 to 30,000 fulltime prostitutes, half of them foreign, in the Netherlands (population 16.5 million).

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

The Difference

Day Opening - April 19

Spring Love...

Sunday, April 18, 2010


It’s a while ago that I wrote an update but this time some interesting news; some of you wondered why Sandra didn’t write anymore. Good news, last Thursday she gave birth to a healthy daughter. One and a half year after her first born a son! Congratulations Sandra!!

Also, two sites are added to Internations blog rol: one of Blanca, a Spanish woman but born and bred in Sweden where she lived for a while before returning to Spain and Morocco where she spent 4 years until last year when she decided to move back to Spain. Her blog is called Spanish Dreams. Also on the blog roll a blog of a Dutch journalist Jenny Theirlynck called, and interesting blog about Turkey (in Dutch) with sometimes heated discussions. Enjoy both of them.

In a couple of days Ö and I will travel to Syria, for both of us the first time. We will stay there a couple of days and then back to Istanbul to prepare for a 1 week trip to Madrid and Barcelona. We both have been to Spain but not to these cities. So more exiting pleasures. O has here annual meeting/festivities in Madrid so it will be fun. Next year it will be Rio de Janeiro, so we will go to Latin America the first weeks of May 2011 for a couple of weeks, including Buenos Aires! And probably Montevideo/Uruguay as well. Always nice as a company cover all your air tickets and the first week of your stay.
Anyway, the next couple of weeks I will be less on line and for EC droppers...also that will decrease for the time being...

Will Turkic Cyprus or TRNC be a Turkish colony?

Today the Northern part (or Turkish part) of Cyprus called, TRNC (KKTC) will vote for a new president.

The outcome will be extremely  important to the peace talks on the island and Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. But polls indicates that challenger, and hardline nationalist Dervis Eroglu is ahead of the republic of North Cyprus’ incumbent president Mehmet Ali Talat who helds peace talks with the Southern (Greek) part for over a couple of years now.
If Mr Eroglu wins from the more moderate Talat, negotiations with the Greek part of the island could be in jeopardy.
In 1983 the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent republic, which is only recognised by Turkey, while the Southern Part, The Republic of Cyprus is internationally recognized only not by Turkey.
There are ca. 90.000 people originated from the Turkish part living in the TRNC among 160.000 'settlers' of mainland Turkey and around 40.000 Turkish soldiers. Looks like 'colonialism new-style!'
How fair are these elections when settlers (often illegal) can vote in such a crucial election?!
Already in 2003, the PUM, Patriotic Union Movement of Northern Cyprus, stresses at the ECHR, that Turkey should be held responsible for distributing "citizenship" to settlers and draws attention to the Vienna III Agreement, asking the Court to announce that the settlers could not be granted citizenship before a solution in Cyprus is reached.

Day Opening - April 18

Vasco Da Gama Bridge, Lisbon. Portugal (longest bridge in Europe, 17.2 km)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Statement #36

“In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.”
Simone de Beauvoir

Day Opening - April 17

Spring, Varos village, Limnos island, Greece.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Iran release high ranking al-Quade leader...(on a new 'peace mision'?)

Iran releases high ranking and notorious Al-Qaeda leader and intelligence agencies around the world are on high alert.

The Egyptian Saif al-Adl is believed to have been behind the creation of al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the attack on the US navy ship USS Cole. His release “could double or even treble the number of terrorist attacks” says  reliable sources.
In spite of reporting that little is know about terrorist network’s third man, not even his real name or date of birth its easy to reconstruct an extensive, but bloody curriculum vitae. The jihad commander, who has eight aliases, was born in around 1960, became radicalised in the 1980s while being promoted to commander in the Egyptian army. He was arrested in 1987 for setting up the terrorist cell behind the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. He became an explosives expert and is a member of al-Qaeda’s highest organisation its military committee.

The reason for his release is revenge on the United States. Apparently Tehran has been threatening for years to let the ‘jihad jackal’ loose, even though it has always refused to confirm or deny his house arrest. The United States has offered five million dollars for the golden tip leading to his arrest.
And today the press officer of the Iran embassy in Turkey wrote a letter in a Turkish daily about Iran's 'peaceful' ambitions...

Day Opening - April 16

Tuscany, Italy, Rainbow (the hand of God) by Roberto Carli

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Pope is doing it again.

Tuesday’s comments by the Vatican’s second man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone indicating a connection between “homosexuality and paedophilia” has led to furious reactions throughout the world. The cardinal, who made the comments in Santiago in Chile, says there is scientific evidence for his claims.

While the Pope, previous as a cardinal, himself may be guilty of covering up sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests! German magazine Die Zeit revealed last week that he personally appealed to a US bishop to stop a church trial of Father Murphy in 1998 for the sexual abuse of 200 deaf children. In a letter to the bishop he wrote 'that father Murphy had suffered enough and was in poor health'. My ass! No, not mine, his!

Hence, the Dutch gay rights organisation COC calls the cardinal’s claim at least as “absolute nonsense”. It says his words contradict a 2009 report by the US Bishops Conference that concludes that there is no connection between homosexuality and paedophilia. According to a spokesperson even the pope dismissed such a connection in The New York Times two years ago. (Cannot find the link again)
Another Dutch person, the Theology professor at Amsterdam’s Free University, Ruard Ganzevoort, says the comments demonstrate the chasm between the moral thinking of society and the moral thinking of the church. In the church’s eyes both are violations of the rules. And Pastoral psychologist Anke Bisshops says she has no idea which scientific evidence the cardinal is referring to. “It seems to be another Vatican slip up: either the Jews or homosexuals are to blame.”  She points out how inward-looking the Vatican is. In its culture this is not a strange thing to say, confirming how estranged the Roman Catholic church is to the rest of the world.
Inward looking and outward to innocent children!
On the picture above you can see how lively the Pope is.
No death threats from Catholic radical suicide bombers however...

Iceland; A Paradice for (internet) Journalists?

Iceland’s much anticipated “Truth Report” into the causes of the 2008 financial crisis has highlighted not only the “extreme negligence” of senior political and financial figures, but also the lack of openness and transparency about just what the country’s banking sector was getting up to. A new parliamentary initiative seeks to ensure that Icelanders will never be kept ignorant again.

When the Icelandic economy imploded in 2008, the citizens of the vast island with a tiny population were stunned. Most Icelanders had no idea their nation was so financially exposed. Government documents leaked to the public since then show that many in power knew exactly what was going on. Yesterday’s report into the financial crisis has also confirmed that the then head of Iceland’s central bank, along with the then prime minister, withheld information about the true state of the country’s economy.

Paradise for journalists

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, openness has become a catchword in Iceland, along with the belief that everyone has not just a right but also a duty to know what the government is getting up to in their name. One response to this is the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (Immi), a proposal supported by all parties that aims to make Iceland a haven for investigative journalists and whistleblowers everywhere.
The official website of the Immi says “Because of an economic meltdown in the banking sector, a deep sense is among the nation that a fundamental change is needed in order to prevent such events from taking place again”. The proposal tasks the government with adopting laws that provide strong protection for sources and freedom of expression and information both at home and abroad. As some nations are known as tax havens for their secrecy, the Immi suggests Iceland could be the opposite – a journalism paradise known for its openness.

The proposal has a practical as well as an idealistic side, suggesting that attracting internet-based international media and publishers could become a growth industry for Iceland.

Source: RWD

Day Opening - April 14

Old Monastary, Syria (nex weekend we will have a XXL weekend - we spend that weekend in Syria and Lebanon (Beirut)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Advertising dictatorship

Netherlands is one of the worst countries for bombarding television viewers with advertising. And I always believed that Turkey and the USA are much worse  But lets take a snapshot: the average coach potato watches a stunning 380 commercials a week, putting the Netherlands in eighth place!  World wide!
Changing channels doesn’t help either. Both public and commercial channels double the amount of time dedicated to advertising by adding trailers for their own programmes. The Dutch Advertisers’ Association is not pleased with the development as the trailers do not help the efficiency of their commercials.And the patience of television viewers in the Netherlands has reached its limit. Only six percent of people say they like watching TV commercials. Part of the problem is that TV advertising is a relatively cheap medium with huge reach, making it attractive to low-budget advertisers. And you don’t need me to tell you that watching cheaply-made adverts increases the irritation factor. Three years ago when commercial channels introduced advertising pop-ups during programmes one viewer was so incensed that he wrote “We are sliding into an advertising dictatorship.” Then we here in Turkey are already in it, next to some 'other dictatorships'.

Underage prostitutes locked up while their pimps walk - update the Netherlands

The Netherlands locks up underage girls who have been manipulated into prostitution. They are held "for their own protection". Their pimpt often go free.

By Merel Thie and Frederiek Weeda

A white sheet lay spread out on the floor. The girl who lives in this room prefers sleeping under her desk instead of on her bed, her supervisor explained. She was neglected as a child and feels safest tucked away in a corner.
The floor-sleeper is one of 60 girls housed at the Alexandra protective care facility for minors in the Dutch city of Almelo. Of all the girls there, 90 percent were exploited by pimps. Sometimes the girls themselves deny they are victims, but if the authorities harbour strong enough suspicions they are locked up at Alexandra nonetheless.
morreeeee herrrreeee

Day Opening - April 11

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, by Mehmet Akmin

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Secrecy unveiled by the almighty internet

A week ago the world was surprised by a scandal caused by the US military during the war in Iraq. Accompanied by deciphered footage of the US army, recorded from an Apache helicopter, and published by, it showed us the ease at which the army used (and most probably still uses) force against innocent people in combat zones.

After publication of this footage the entire media corps spent time on analyzing and criticizing the role of the US army, especially at missions that aren't globally supported. Let me be clear, this is not a plea in favor of the US army (or whatever army in these situations), but I want to take a better look at the sources that reveal news like this. It strikes me that the serious media is being lead by websites that can proclaim anything in order to put others in a negative spotlight. And yes, it is of course a good thing that the 'good guys' will be corrected where needed, so unnecessary harm will be prevented in the future.

Websites like Wikileaks publish topics on their pages which seem products of journalism, but contain lots of subjectivity, including 'text balloons' and subtitles in the video, pointing out what the persons in the picture were carrying or doing. It enforces the assumption that what happened was utterly wrong, that's for sure. On the other hand, the serious media instantly followed the statements, because the pictures spoke for themselves. Well, I question that. Couldn't the picture have been cut and edited? Couldn't the voices been put in afterward, just to exaggerate the story? During a moment of extreme stress, sometimes wrong decisions are taken, which unfortunately lead to innocent casualties. This event has only been one of the many shootings which took place in Baghdad and in Iraq, but just because it had been a doubtful context it is food for the masses.

I am a fan of people like Michael Moore, but I do not absorb the information unconditionally. It is valuable that there are people and media that stand up against the establishment, but let's not assume that initiatives like Wikileaks tell us the objective truth and nothing but the truth.

Halal or not Halal: how to kill animals on the right way...

Britain’s second biggest fast food chain hoped to woo the Islamic market by opening 86 trial outlets selling halal-only meat – that’s from animals slaughtered under strict religious guidelines.

But KFC’s target diners insist the chickens are not being killed in the right way and say they will stay away.
And furious non-Muslim customers have set up Facebook groups protesting that the trial branches, which also ban pork, have dropped their favourite bacon-topped Big Daddy burger from menus.
Groups with names such as “Against the KFC Halal Trial” and “No Halal at Colne KFC” – referring to a branch in the Lancs town – are rapidly attracting members. For meat to be halal, the animal must be alive when its throat is cut as a verse from the Koran is recited.
KFC insists their methods meet the approval of the Halal Food Society. But Islamic leaders disagree, saying the pre-stunning of animals in the chain’s mechanical process means a third are already dead at the point of slaughter.
And the fact the prayer is played over a speaker means each bird it not blessed individually as it is killed.
They have now threatened to warn the UK’s 2.4million Muslims not to eat KFC meat, and will meet with the fast food giant on Wednesday to question how it is killing chickens sold as halal.
I am happy that we have in the Netherlands the PvdD, Party of Animals.

Day Opening - April 11

Thinking in beauty!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

#Statement 35

There was a time when a male lion was seen as an embodiment of a great and dominant hunter of a pride. This perception reflected the majority of opinions at a certain time. However, various studies conducted in ensuing years told a different story: that female lions were the real hunters of a pride. That is, statistics of female lions hunting for their pride dominated the overall hunting pattern of a pride. These statistics put to rest the specific question of who hunted the most in a pride. In fact, these statistics form the definitive scientific basis of these studies.

Day Opening - April 10

Japanese garden, the UK, yesterday

Friday, April 9, 2010

A funny 'love story' with bad ending

A Dutch newspaper run a story with the heading "Desperate hero loses lover anyway",  which tells the sorry tale of an 18-year-old resident of The Hague who decided to win back his ex-girlfriend by staging a robbery. He planned to prove his worth by leaping to the rescue of the damsel in distress. Initially everything seemed to go according to plan: girl walks home at midnight, knife-wielding masked assailant duly appears and "like a true action hero, the ex boyfriend leaps out, charges after the thug and saves the day after a dramatic tussle as the girl looks on."

If it hadn't been for those pesky CCTV cameras all over the place, we might even have had a happy ending. But police investigating the case found footage of the action hero chatting away to the thug beforehand like the best of pals. When confronted with the evidence, the knight in shining armour was forced to admit it had all been an elaborate ploy to impress the girl of his dreams. The girl later reveals "I thought there was something weird about it all when the robber kept shouting at me to hand over my bag. I didn't even have one with me." hahaha
Perhaps predictably she now wants nothing more to do with her would-be saviour. At least he can count on some support from a Dutch columnist Jerry Goossens who wonders "Couldn't the police have turned a blind eye? It is spring after all, the season of love. A period of collective lunacy for all creatures great and small. In The Hague a young lad’s dream of heroism has turned out to be nothing but an illusion ... oh, love can be cruel."

Day Opening - April 9

Old Greek Monastary, Samsun, Turkey

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sustainable architecture in Istanbul

Seems like sustainable architecture was just the beginning; as architects and designers perfect that arena, I’m sure more structures like One & Ortakoy will pop up. A mixed-use complex, it integrates technology, sustainability and aesthetics.
Located in Istanbul, the One & Ortakoy building was designed by Global Architectural Development. It will include two separate buildings, one for residential purposes and another for commercial.

Day Opening - April 8

Meteroa, the Flying Monasatry, Greece

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dutch elections, politics, terror, immigration and the same nonsense

In a report out today, the Dutch national anti-terrorism ‘supremo’, Erik Akkerboom, warns that Muslim extremists could highlight aspects of the campaign to make the Netherlands look like a country that is generally hostile to Muslims. This could spark strong reactions, especially on the internet. Mr Akkerboom further warns that violence could also come from left-wing radicals or animal rights activists.

With the murder in mind of Pim Fortuyn just days before the 2002 election, the security services will be concentrating on radicalised individuals of every ilk. Nevertheless Mr Akkerboom admits that no concrete threats have been made as yet.

Meanwhile, some focuses on the costs of the election campaign. Apparently, the amount spent on Dutch election campaigns is ‘peanuts’, costing less than 75 eurocents per voter, compared to ten euros in Belgium. And nowhere near the amount spent in the United States. No election-circus in the Netherlands.
That’s just as well, because few voters actually decide which party to vote for on the basis of the campaigns. “It’s the amount of attention they get in the media that counts,” says a communications professor from Amsterdam University.
The important thing is the element of surprise – perhaps a soundbite which gets picked up by the media and sticks. For instance, Christian Democrat leader Jan Peter Balkenende accused Labour leader Wouter Bos of “turning” during a televised debate back in 2006 - the image has stuck until this day. So, in spite of the anti-terrorism coordinator’s warnings, political leaders may be tempted nonetheless to conduct a fierce debate.


Still on the subject of politic, it looks like Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party has finally got what it wanted – figures on the cost of immigration. The preliminary findings of a survey – carried out for the party - into 20,000 non-western immigrants will be released end of April but some information already leaked to the press. Findings which indicate that the flow of these immigrants into the Netherlands costs the country somewhere between six and ten billion euros a year.
But Geert Wilders points out that this is a conservative estimate: “The real costs are much higher.”
As a result the party thinks immigration should be stopped, or at least severely limited, especially as the next government will have to make serious spending cuts. “This won’t hurt citizens, you don’t have to send anyone away,” says Mr Wilders. Also scientists came to the same conclusion, but it would be wisely to use the data with care. And not to stigmate a certain group.
The apparent reasons why this group of immigrants costs more are that they are more likely to receive social welfare benefits and become involved in crime. On the other hand, they are less likely to use childcare facilities or student grants.
The study was commissioned by the Freedom Party itself, after Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan refused to put a price on immigration. But according others, the party should be careful about taking a strong anti-Muslim stance. Following the recent local elections, its demand for a ban on headscarves in public buildings has led to it being left out of coalition talks aimed at creating local executives. The party has since slid down the opinion polls because of its failure to compromise and take political responsibility in the two major municipalities where it fielded candidates.

Day Opening - April 7

Windmill in the Holland (not so typical Dutch)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Arash's World: The Unsung Hero: The Daily Struggles of the Ordinary Person

Arash's World: The Unsung Hero: The Daily Struggles of the Ordinary Person

Johan Cruijff's grandson

If you've ever felt the pressure of having to live up to expectations, spare a thought for young Jessua Andrea, who came to Amsterdam at the Easter weekend to play in FC Barcelona's junior B team. His surname: Angoy-Cruijff. Yep, that's Cruijff as in Johan. Or as legions of Dutch football fans like to call him: "God".
A Dutch newspaper reports that "all eyes were on the 17-year-old" as he took to the pitch "wearing number 14, just like his grandad". There were no divine revelations, however. Jessua could not prevent his team from suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of their Dutch counterparts from Ajax. "I'd really like to have won here, but it wasn't to be" shrugs the teenager philosophically. "But it was special playing here. My grandad shone on this pitch."

The coaches at Barcelona have the thankless task of keeping the pressure off young Jessua. "You can't compare him with Johan Cruijff," they insist. "Every player is different." Only to add tantalisingly "Although I do see a family resemblance..."

Hamas' Children

Day Opening - April 6

Madrid, Spain

Monday, April 5, 2010

Islam Critic Necla Kelek, A Turkish-German writer, An Enthusiastic Defender of Freedom

An really interesting artcile!

The Turkish-German writer Necla Kelek is a vehement defender of democracy. Her criticism of Islam has made many German intellectuals uneasy. But has she been unjustly vilified?

There are also problems among Germans, it's not just the Turks, a young man points out. Necla Kelek is familiar with this objection -- it's one she hears again and again. She grimaces for a moment but then smiles gently and says in a confessional tone, "There are also a lot of things not right in Germany."
The young man is satisfied, and Necla Kelek later admits that certainly not all Muslims pose a problem for democracy in Germany. In fact most of them certainly don't -- but there are still the few who do and they are the ones she has chosen to focus on. It's the problems she is concerned with, she says.

Kelek, 52, a German woman with Turkish roots, is sitting in the cultural center in Achim, a town near Bremen in northern Germany. She has just finished a reading from her new book, "Himmelsreise" ("Journey to Heaven").
The book casts a critical look at Islam and condemns the oppression and lack of freedom within Turkish communities and families in Germany.
More herrreeee

It's raining in Macondo

At least I suspect it is. It's snowing here. It has been snowing or raining for several weeks, although it has not stopped the peas, asparagus, spinach, onions, or lettuce from growing. We have been eating corn salad for several weeks, along with wild greens such as creaseys, dandelions, amaranth, and chives. We even found a bowl of morels on the edge of the straw mulch we put down west of the rhubarb (which has also been tasty in pies, crisps, and adding savor to roasted chicken).

We happen to live in a country where collateral damage happens elsewhere, unless you call 911 to report a domestic disturbance. Then all bets are off. If you are stupid enough to call the local cops or the sheriff's department, you get what you deserve. I have yet to see a single law enforcement official ever indicted for killing an unarmed civilian. But hell, if God had not meant for cops to kill whoever they could, He wouldn't have given them so many goddamn guns.

I can't remember if I am late for Tuesday after lunch last week or early for the next. Seriously now, does it matter? In my life, to this point, nothing has mattered, and if it's left up to me, nothing is going to matter between now and the end of the world. In fact, I think that the end of the world is a continuing source of amusement for people like me, who may number in the hundreds of thousands of meaningless mobile blobs on the landscape, waiting to be accidentally slaughtered in the war without end. Of course, I'd have to move to some targeted country to do my part in adding to the body count, and that's not likely to happen. I like still learning English. I don't have time for those guttural languages.

This being Easter and all, when those who pray that Christ won't come back as a brain eating zombie to gnaw on their fearfully ignorant skulls, I do want to comment on the insane drivel of the Vatican homily given by the Pope's own drooling cocksucker, the Right Rev. Vaginiera Cuntalamessa, who is probably getting at least a significant portion of his vow of poverty paid for by your favorite multinational corporation for arguing that the fact that priests have been enthusiastically buttfucking boys and girls as part of the absolution process for several centuries without fear of prosecution is clear evidence of God's way to Man and for anyone to suggest that the Holy See was wrong in condoning or encouraging such God-sanctioned behavior is the equivalent of the Nazis gassing jews, gypsies, faggots, and other undesirables, such as you...where was I?

Was I going to condemn the lunacy or applaud it? I have no idea. I don't really give a damn who does what to whom for what purpose. Do you?

If so, facto. Pass me the Preparation H.

It is still raining in Macondo. Always has. Always will.

Day Opening - April 5

Tulip fields, the Netherlands

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Turkey's daily's are getting wild over Easter

Yep, it is Easter weekend in Turkey and the Turkish English Daily’s did their utmost best to get some attention. Maybe it was just coincidence but the Hürriyet Daily News opened today with the heading that ''Islam is 'more empowering' for women than Catholicism, a Spanish convert says''. Voila, we forget the role the average woman has to play in Muslem societies, including my Turkey. The author of this article had or a blackout from JC or is simple not able to make a sensitive article during egg-eating Christmas.

More serious it is when a Turkish Islam scholar, in an op-ed explain why the fatwa, which was ordained some 600 years ago in now called Turkey writes that this fatwa cannot be abrogated. The guys also believes that every Muslim has a duty to do whatever it takes to establish and sustain the “peace of Islam.” According to Islam, war is not waged to seize other people’s lands or to force people to accept Islam; instead, war is carried out to ensure justice, peace and freedom in every part of the world…(Islamization?) Pronto!

Good to know that our good friend Mustafa Akyol lightened up my day with his excellent column about the early days of Kemalism. Even the arch conservative Yusuf Kanli sometimes cannot take it anymore: how can we as country be democratic if our parties are not democratic, let alone the society at large! Enfin: below is Mustafa’s article again. The other links? You can destroy them together with the Pope’s appearance in his Vatican of today.

From Mustafa' article where he recites the ideas of some leading figures in Atatürk's government:

“It is my firm opinion… that the lords of this country are the Turks. Those who are not real Turks have only one right in the Turkish fatherland, and that is the right to be servants and slaves.”
For me, a Turk has more value than all the Jews of this world, not to say the whole world,”
It's all herrrreeee

#Statement 34

But you know what they say, science goes only so far and then comes God.
So, be prepared for the unexpected.

Day Opening - April 4

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

GPS system for dementia sufferers...

An initiative that help people to get out and about, features a GPS system that allows dementia sufferers to take a walk by themselves “giving patients more freedom and carers more rest”. It reveals that “many people with dementia have an uncontrollable urge to go walking”. Instead of always having to accompany them, carers can now log in on a computer to see where their charges are. Experts concede that the system is not yet ideal but have every hope that the teething troubles will soon be solved. The latest version is even equipped with a “bring me home button” which activates a kind of “sat nav” to guide the walker back the way they came.
Another iniative is about the Netherlands’ first allotment garden for the disabled. Research shows that allotment gardeners are among the happiest people in the Netherlands. So why shouldn’t the disabled benefit too?” It talks to one of the participants Ton who says “We used to have a garden, which is why this project appealed to me. Being out in the open air – that’s the most important thing for me. And doing a share of the work, even if I can’t do much.” A researcher involved in the project insists “Green spaces are more than just a luxury. They improve people’s health. It’s something the Dutch healthcare sector should make better use of to improve patients’ health.”

Day Opening - April 3

Easter Islands (Chile) by Steve Alvarez

Friday, April 2, 2010

European countries ponder banning the burqa

All over Europe, a debate is raging on prohibiting facial veils. Countries’ responses differ, but the arguments are the same everywhere.

By Marc Leijendekker

“The burqa symbolises the submission of women,” is the claim of one Austrian minister, a social democrat. No, outlawing burqas could lead women to shun the streets, warns Sweden’s prime minister, a liberal conservative. This week, a Belgian parliamentary committee has called for an all-out ban of burqas. Meanwhile, a French court has called such a restriction legally untenable.
The burqa, a garment completely covering the female body and face, is worn in some Islamic traditions. The question whether such clothing should be forbidden in public places has been the subject of debate in many European countries lately. In the continent’s major countries, a majority supports a ban, a survey by the Financial Times (FT) showed last month.
Continue reading herrreee

Day Opening - April 2


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Immigration comes at hefty price in the Netherlands

From Dutch quality newspaper

Immigrants are expensive for Dutch society, but few people want to say it out loud for fear of the consequences, a study by a Dutch scientist has found.

By Dirk Vlasblom

The economic effects of immigration have become a hot-button issue in Dutch politics. The mere mention of the subject is often greeted with suspicion and loathing. But that didn’t stop scholar Jan van de Beek from writing his doctoral thesis on the issue. In his PhD research, which he defended at the University of Amsterdam on Tuesday, he answered two related questions: what kind of economic consequences did mass immigration to the Netherlands between 1960 and 2005 have, and why is it such a taboo to study the economic effects of these immigrants?

Van de Beek has come to conclusions the Netherlands may not like. Since the 1970s, little research has been done into the economic effects of immigration, for fear of playing into the hand of the xenophobic right. As recently as last year, populist politician Geert Wilders asked the Dutch cabinet to calculate the net costs or benefits imposed on society by immigrants. Cabinet refused to do so, which led to uproar amongst several opposition parties. The minister responsible called it “improper” to reduce citizens’ contribution to society “to a profit-loss analysis”.
Continue reading herrreeee

Day Opening - April 1

Amboseli National park, Kenya
by: Oleg Domalega