Thursday, September 30, 2010

Immigrants the new target?

More and more details of the Dutch government programme agreed by the right-wing coalition negotiators are being leaked. The right-wing party leaders apparently wanted to introduce draconian measures to reduce the numbers of immigrants to the Netherlands and limit the rights of those already here.The Dutch De Telegraaf calls a spade a spade: "Complete ban on the Burqa" screams its front-page headline. As well as a general ban on forms of dress that cover the face completely. And police and members of the judiciary (Judges, prosecutors etc.) will be forbidden to wear in Turkey, were 99% of the population is Muslim, you're not even allowed to wear a headscarf attending university...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

“Fury at Dutch gay festival.” in Jakarta

Radical Muslims demonstrated at the ‘Erasmus House’ Dutch cultural institute in Jakarta, which this week is holding a gay film festival.
Protesters demanded the festival should close down within 24 hours. The demonstration was small, but the threat was large... The organisation behind it was the FPI, a radical Islamic group notorious for attacks on cafés and Christian churches. The group led the storming of the Danish embassy in the wake of the cartoon controversy.
The Dutch cultural institute is one of several venues taking part in the festival. Its Japanese and French counterparts promptly closed their doors in response to the protests, but as yet the Erasmus House is still open.
For the Dutch it’s particularly sensitive in the run up to next week’s visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to the Netherlands. Last week the Indonesian ambassador in the Netherlands lashed out at anti-Islam Geert Wilders and his supporters, but was eventually forced to make an apology after Mr Wilders kicked up a fuss. As the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant points out, the FPI anti-gay protest does nothing to ease the tension.

source: RWN

Day Opening - September 29

Trafiic on the Bosphorus, by Brian Underdown; Istanbulblogger.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Best beach in the world

Welcome to the best beach in the world: Sint Maarten.

Day Opening - September 28

Bolivia, salt desert just after the rain

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rise and fall of the Krakers

Common picture in the early 80s, violence at the removal of squatters

Thirty years ago a group of anarchists, mostly students, called krakers (squatters) set the social tone in Dutch society, especially in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. The aim was to occupy empty properties. In 1980, at the coronation of Queen Beatrix, riots took place in the city center. It always has been a controversial subject, because of the lack of houses compared to the demand.

On the 1st of October a law will be active, which forbids squatting. The punishment for breaking the law (or property, so to say) will be one year of detention, or two when resisting clearing the property.

Doing some investigation on the subject, it seriously struck me that about 10% of the world's population is currently squatting. In most of the countries it is illegal, but still, if you think of the building of houses on plots of others, or on public property, it suddenly is more realistic.

So in the next couple of years either the jails will be inhabited by punkers and alternative students or there will remain a form of tolerance?

No, this picture has not been photoshopped!

Meanwhile, oldfashioned peaceful protests returned within Dutch society. Last weekend a group of squatters put up their tents and had a sleepover in front of the National Monument in the center of Amsterdam...

Is this law the end of a period of domestic terrorism or of a cultural legacy?

Day Opening - September 27

Vendor at Sultanahmet, Istanbul. By Brian Underdown.

Art in Istanbul

Last week visitors of two art galleries and the art galleries themselves were attacked here in Istanbul by a mob. It doesn't matter anymore which motives were behind these attacks. That's guessing, nothing more nothing less. But the Current AKP government is pollitically responsible for it, and they have to make some conclusions. And the sad fact is: Istanbul is still Capital of Culture 2010; plain and simple.

Most columnists in Turkey wrote about it, you can read some of them here, here and here. They blame the Islamists, the National Islamists, the nationalists etc. In the end, it were Turks attacking Turks and foreigners. But it doesn’t matter who and what. What matters is that the attackers are still free. And the fact that the French, Dutch and German newspapers published it online before the Turkish did, shows a trend of denial. How much damage is done in terms of PR? A lot. But who cares as long as the current government clouds the masses with all kind of political and economical propaganda?! And the more you talk about it and blame 'the other' the more damage will be created for Turkey as an intolerant country regarding religion, nationality and ethnicity.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ever seen a pink cat

Ever seen a 'pink cat'?
The police in Swindon England started a hunt for an unknown 'idiot' who has painted his/her pink cat and then threw the animal over a fence.
I think the person was tired of his/her cat and to make sure that the cat got the attention needed, painted it pink...

Day Opening - September 26

Sultanahmet - view from the Bosphorus by Brian Underdown - Istanbulblogger.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dutch police are bad, bad drivers

The Dutch police officers are now known for their low standards of driving. In the past two years police were involved in a staggering 20,000 road accidents, resulting in 87 people injured and one killed, according to a compilation of police statistics. The vast majority of the accidents were caused by police.
Fortunately, most of the accidents did not involve other vehicles. In these cases, officers crashed into lamp posts or steered their car into a ditch.
Still, Dutch police Commissioner Jan Stikvoort denies that his men and women are particularly accident prone. "They're no road hogs," he adds. But they could do with a bit more training. And that's exactly what they're going to get. All Dutch police officers will be sent on a special training programme, including extra driving lessons and virtual testing with car simulators. “The training has already started,” Mr Stikvoort says, “and the number of accidents is going down.”
Do you accept a ticket from a officer of the Dutch traffice police in the future?

Day Opening - September 25

Canyon Portitsa, by Kostas Petrakis - Pindos, Greece

Friday, September 24, 2010

Erdogan and Merkel

Erdogan and Merkel at Die Octoberfeste

Day Opening - September 24

Precious moments - Lovers - near the Bosphorus. By Brian Underdown. Istanbulblogger.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

James Bond was based upon a Dutch spy

“The name is Bond, James Bond.” Well that may have been 007’s name, but what was his nationality? According new sources, he wasn’t a Brit at all, but a Dutchman.
Ian Fleming’s famous protagonist was based on resistance fighter Peter Tazelaar, who worked for MI6 in Nazi-occupied Holland. The two had a lot in common: not only did they both carry out dangerous missions, but they were both notorious womanisers.
British historian, Keith Jeffery spent four years researching the archives of Her Majesty’s Secret Service to write an 800-page book on the history of MI6.
Apparently the Goldfinger scene in which Sean Connery as Bond swims to shore after being dropped from a boat wearing a dry suit is based on true life. Mr Tazelaar swam to Scheveningen Beach in November 1941, removed his dry suit and walked into Scheveningen’s exclusive Kurhaus hotel smartly dressed with a sprayed-on air of alcohol about him.
Peter Tazelaar was knighted in the Order of William for his bravery, the highest and oldest Dutch honour. The story of the spy is also told in the Dutch film “Soldier of Orange”. Film buffs will be glad to hear that Ian Fleming’s character Q was also based on a real person.

Day Opening - September 23

Mausoleum of Ataturk, Ankara

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 Reasons Why Medical Tourism In Turkey Is Booming

Medical tourism is on the rise, especially since the recent global financial meltdown. Though economies and individuals are struggling, medical needs remain.

Some of us are not able to afford expensive healthcare procedures in our own countries. Other nationals who enjoy a socialized healthcare system sometimes have to endure long waiting lists, though the need for a procedure is imminent.

These undesirable situations leave many looking for affordable, quick healthcare options, and Turkey has been quickly becoming a hotspot on the medical tourism map. Here's why.

Quick Facts

  • Turkey welcomes about 160,000 to 200,000 medical tourists per year.
  • There are over 30 medical facilities and organizations in Turkey accredited by the Joint Commission International.
  • Turkey is expecting to receive about one million medical tourism patients by 2015.

Reason #1: The Quality

Turkey has applied for European Union induction. This means that standards are being raised in all sectors, especially in healthcare.

The Joint Commission International (JCI) is the global governing body responsible for issuing accreditation and certificates to medical facilities that uphold their high quality standards. Carlo Ramponi, Managing Director of the European branch of the JCI, states that Turkey boasts the largest number of accredited organizations in Europe.

Several Turkish doctors at these institutions have been trained in the US or in the UK, and many hospitals have affiliations with hospitals in other countries. A couple of these well-known partnerships include Acibadem Healthcare Group and Harvard Medical International, and Anadolu Medical Center and John Hopkins Medicine International. Istanbul Memorial Hospital, the first Turkish hospital to be recognized by JCI, enjoys membership of the American Hospital Association.

Reason #2: Location

Turkey enjoys a close proximity to Europe, especially compared to other medical tourism destinations in Latin America or Asia. For example, a flight from London to Istanbul is less than four hours. An English medical tourist heading to Bangkok will sit through an 11-hour flight, if it's direct. From New York, travelers are looking at about 10 hours in the air to Turkey, compared to 20 hours with connections to Bangkok.

Even Turkish Airlines is making it easier for travelers, offering a 25% discount for medical tourists from the US and a 10% to 20% discount for European visitors.

Reason #3: Price

The price of several surgeries and medical procedures in Turkey are on par with the costs found in South East Asia and Latin America, and much lower than those in Western countries.

Health in Turkey, part of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, provides a helpful chart comparing the cost of various medical procedures in 11 different countries. Based on their report, a hip replacement would cost $45,000 in the US or $15,000 in England, compared with under $11,000 in Turkey. A bone marrow transplant is four to eight times more expensive in the US and three to six times more costly in England. Considering cosmetic procedures, the National Center for Policy Analysis lists the price of a rhinoplasty in Turkey at $1,500, compared with $3,500 in the UK or $4,500 in the US.

All things considered, Turkey is certainly a viable option for those looking for inexpensive medical attention without sacrificing quality.

Jasmine Stephenson is a blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer specializing in online nursing schools and sonography schools for Guide to Healthcare Schools.

(Photo courtesy of MedicalTourism Magazine)

The nightmare of every Roma in Europe


Day Opening - September 21

Aksaray, Istanbul. By Brian Underdown,

Monday, September 20, 2010

Arash's World: The Burden of Empirical Science in the Modern World

Arash's World: The Burden of Empirical Science in the Modern World

Israeli mayors not welcome in the Netherlands

Thirty Israeli mayors who were due to visit the Netherlands have been told they are not welcome, because some of them come from controversial Jewish settlements in the occupied territories on the West Bank.
"The visit by mayors of settlements like Har Adar and Kiryat Arba is extremely sensitive," says Ralph Pans managing director of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), which helped organise the trip. Mr Pans says the association did not want to take sides in the Middle East conflict by organising a trip in which mayors from Israeli settlements took part.
He also said it was strange that the Israelis hadn’t informed the association who was coming. It was only later that the VNG learnt from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that six mayors from settlements were in the delegation.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has expressed its disappointment. In a declaration it said it was wrong to allow irrelevant political considerations to stop the trip. According to the ministry this undermines direct dialogue between local governments, reports, the English-language website of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot.

One of the mayors due to visit was Oded Revivi from the Efrat settlement. Mr Revivi says by calling the visit off the Netherlands is trying to draw the borders of Israel, and called this improper interference.
The row does not appear to have damaged the generally good relationship between the Netherlands and Israel. Spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry Yossi Levy says the Netherlands remains “a true friend of Israel”.
In the meantime, the Netherlands host Hamas leaders for years...

Day Opening - September 20

Main street in Tarabya, Istanbul, Turkey. By Brian Underdown.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ahmadinejad on tour and signs agreement with Turkey regarding education

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left Saturday for a three-nation trip which includes the United States where he is to attend next week's UN General Assembly meeting. Ahmadinejad first heads to regional ally Syria, followed by Algeria and New York. Speaking to reporters before departing Tehran, the hardliner said that apart from attending the UN session, he would hold a series of meetings in the United States.
"In New York, I will talk to heads of governments, a group of American people, industrialists, thinkers, politicians and decision-makers, have a dialogue with one of the American universities, and talk to the media," state media quoted him as saying.
Criticising the West for "failing to solve world issues," Ahmadinejad said Iran has "clear and productive principles"(...) on the way the world should be run.
"The Iranian nation has meticulous methods and divine values to offer to the world (...) since materialistic thoughts have reached a complete defeat (...), which is why there is no clear outlook for the sustainable peace and welfare of the world."
Ahmadinejad said Iran's relations with Syria were "solid and strategic with a unified view on all issues," adding the Islamic republic's ties with Algeria were also "very good and expanding."
Ahmadinejad last paid a visit to Syria in February, soon after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underlined Washington's desire to see Syria move away from Iran.
At the time, Ahmadinejad and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad signed a visa-scrapping accord that signalled closer ties between the regional allies.
From Monday to Wednesday, he will attend the UN General Assembly, a forum he has used in past years to blast arch-foe Israel.
And yesterday the Iranian and Turkish governments signed crucial agreements for cooperation in higher education, culture and youth...
Just according planning...

Paus welcomed in the UK

Warm welcome for the Pope in the UK (photo by theWestisTheVeryBest)

Day Opening - September 18

Sultanahmet, Istanbul (HDR photo) by Brian Underdown

Friday, September 17, 2010

Repressive regimes paralyse UNHRC ( Human Rights Council) in Geneva

In a letter to parliament on the effectiveness of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen concludes that countries which violate human rights intentionally prevent the Council from becoming truly effective.

The minister writes that a number of member states of the Council harm UN efforts to safeguard human rights. These member states reject any criticism by invoking national sovereignty. In his letter, Mr Verhagen looks back on the four years after the Human Rights Council took over from the Human Rights Commission.
Minister Verhagen believes there is too much focus on Israel, which draws attention away from other countries. The inquiry into the Gaza war for instance caused quite a commotion and led to extended debates.


The international NGO Freedom House largely agrees with the Dutch foreign minister. The organisation even accuses the Council of covering up some serious human rights violations. Out of the 47 member states, a majority have repressive regimes. These states reportedly vote as a bloc to shield each other from criticism. So far the Council has failed to expose abuse in countries such as Iran, Sudan and Cuba.

Periodic reviews

The minister also mentions a number of issues where the Council has achieved results. He points to violence against women, children’s rights and the right to water and sanitary facilities. According to Mr Verhagen, the periodic reviews that governments are required to take regarding the human rights situation in their own country have proved effective. For that matter, the Netherlands was criticised by the Council regarding a number of issues including discrimination and its asylum policy.
Mr Verhagen is worried about too much emphasis being placed on religious identity and blasphemy. He fears it will come at the expense of attention for individuals.

Day Opening - September 17

Bosphorus bridge; view from Ortakoy, Istanbul. By Brian Underdown

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Istanbul Dispatch: Press Freedom Alla Turca (By Claire Berlinski)

In May, a ship full of civilians — but not full of humanitarian aid — sailed from Turkey to join the Free Gaza flotilla. Having warned the Mavi Marmara that it would not be allowed to breach the blockade, Israeli commandos raided the ship. In the clash, nine Turks were killed. I've lived in Istanbul for five years and I've spoken to hundreds of Turks about these events. A Turkish documentary filmmaker and I have filmed some of these conversations. Something will immediately strike the viewer: the Turkish people have no idea what happened. This is because the most basic facts about and surrounding these events have not been reported in Turkey.

In billing the flotilla as a humanitarian mission, the IHH — the expedition's Islamist sponsor — exploited the Turks' Achilles heel: their generosity. Turks think of themselves as charitable and compassionate, as indeed they are. They genuinely believe, because this is what has been reported here, that the Palestinians are starving. They know almost nothing about the reasons for the blockade. They believe that the ship was on a humanitarian mission and nothing but a humanitarian mission. They are bewildered that anyone would have interfered with such a noble-minded endeavour. They do not know that there were no humanitarian supplies on the Mavi Marmara. They do not know the most rudimentary facts about Hamas. As one man said: "These are elected people. It's not like they took over by force, via a coup."

Almost no one in Turkey understands any language but Turkish. If this obviously thoughtful man was unaware that indeed, Hamas took over precisely by force, via a coup, it is because he had no way to know. The men and women to whom we spoke were astonished when we told them that Israeli officials had invited the ship to disembark at Ashdod and deliver the aid overland. But they were not disbelieving — and importantly, when we told them this, it changed their view. Many spontaneously said that they knew they could not trust what they heard in the news, that the situation confused them and that something about the story just didn't sound right.
continue reading herrreeeee

Day Opening - September 16

Kylios, Black Sea, Istanbul. By Brian Underdown

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day Opening - September 15

Children playing Chess, Besiktas, Istanbul. By Brian Underdown

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ECHR accuse Turkey of serieus negligence

The European Court of Human Rights has Turkey this afternoon accused of serious negligence in the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. In 2007 a Turkish nationalist shot Dink dead when he left his office.
The Turkish authorities took no action 3.5 years ago after they were tipped about the imminent assassination of Dink. Even a hint about the identity of the murderer and his accomplices didn’t make the police move.
Dink caused a stir when he accused the Turkish of massacring Armenians during the First World War. He was threatened by Turkish nationalists who felt that Dink had insulted Turkishness. The Turkish public prosecutor complained to him and Dink was sentenced to six months probation.

Day Opening - September 14

Romance at the Bosphorus, Istanbul, by Brian Underdown

Monday, September 13, 2010

Human Rights Watch Amsterdam

Human Rights Watch, the US-based rights group, is opening an office in Amsterdam. The Dutch voice and influence is badly needed in the world’s problem areas according  the organisation’s director Kenneth Roth. Another more pragmatic reason for Human Rights Watch to have a presence in the Netherlands is that the Netherlands NGO’s are third largest source of donations.
“The Netherlands is a country where human rights are high on the agenda”, Mr Roth said. And the job of the Amsterdam office will be to press home Human Rights Watch’s message with the Dutch media, policy makers and government.
However,  the Netherlands also comes in for sharp criticism from Human Rights Watch. The organisation slams the exam on Dutch society which immigrants to the Netherlands are obliged to take as “discriminatory”, and is concerned that the Dutch have been sending asylum seekers back to Somalia, where they risk being tortured.
It's all about how you interpreted the facts.

Day Opening - September 13

The Whirling Dervishers, by Brian Underdown, Turkey,

Arash's World: You are what you Shop: How Clothes and Books reflect Personal Attitudes

Arash's World: You are what you Shop: How Clothes and Books reflect Personal Attitudes

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day Opening - September 12

A rainy day at Istiklal, Istanbul by Brian Underdown

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Turkse AKP-regering en EU zijn onverenigbaar (Turkey's AKP government and the EU aren't compatible)

The following article 'Turkey's AKP government and the EU are not compatible is published yesterday and today in the mainstream Dutch newspaper 'De Volkskrant'.

By Hans de Wit, Okan Altinparmak and Claire Berlinski

Het referendum over de Turkse grondwet dient uitsluitend de islamitische AKP-regering.
Morgen gaat Turkije naar de stembus om, via een referendum, vóór of tegen wijzigingen in de huidige grondwet te stemmen. Althans, dat is de opzet van de regerende AKP. Iedereen in Turkije wil een nieuwe grondwet om de huidige, door de Turkse generaals in 1982 ingevoerde, te vervangen. Maar bij dit referendum worden vraagtekens geplaatst: er is geen brede maatschappelijke discussie aan voorafgegaan en de Nee-campagne wordt als subversief gezien.


Vreemd is ook dat de voormalige voorzitter van de parlementaire commissie voor Turkije en de EU, Joost Lagendijk, de Turkse en Nederlandse bevolking herhaaldelijk laat weten dat Europa de huidige islamistische regering van Erdogan moet toejuichen vanwege deze hervormingen. Een Turkije met een nieuwe grondwet maakt de weg vrij voor een Turkije in de EU, zegt de nieuwe inwoner van Turkije, Joost Lagendijk.


Waarom schrijven wij ‘de islamistische regering van Erdogan’? Islamisten zijn moslims met een politieke agenda die je eerst vertellen dat zij moslim zijn en niet bijvoorbeeld Turk of Nederlander. Zij denken niet in termen van nationaliteit, maar van religieuze identiteit. Vandaar dat zij de EU ‘christelijk’ noemen. Ook gebruiken zij Al-taqiyya: het geoorloofd liegen, ook tegenover moslims die het niet met hen eens zijn, waaronder de 20 miljoen Alevieten in Turkije. Hoe kan Turkije onder zo’n islamitische regering de EU van dienst zijn?
1960, 1971, 1980 en 1997 zijn de jaren waarin het leger de macht greep, om het communisme en om de radicale islam tegen te gaan. Als gevolg van deze coups werd Europa de speeltuin van diverse conservatieve, nationalistische en religieuze identiteiten uit Turkije. Vanaf de jaren zestig zijn er niet alleen Turkse gastarbeiders naar Nederland gekomen, maar ook veel politieke vluchtelingen: de Koerden, de fascistoïde Grijze Wolven en de volgelingen van oud-premier Erbakan, tot voor kort de leider van de Nationale Visie Beweging (Milli Görüs) die staat voor anti-westerse, anti-democratische ideeën en een antisemitisch sentiment.

More herrreeeeee

Day Opening - September 11

Cehavir shopping mall (largest in Europe) Istanbul, by Brian Underdown, Istanbulblogger

Statement #44

Everybody has the right to be insulted.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wilders or Wilders, what to choose???

The outcome of the latest national election has put the Dutch politics and the society in a difficult position. Especially for those who are able to think. The political and social landscape has never been divided as these days. People who are not a fan of the right-wing political movement called PVV (Freedom Party) of the dillusional, mayonaise-coloured wig carrying member of parliament, Geert Wilders has got all conservative political parties by the balls. The party has gained 24 seats in Dutch parliament, and has become the third largest party. Therefore, the party (actually, the leader of the pack of right extremist, islamophobic fools), is in the luxurious position to control the process of formating a new cabinet. After almost 3 months of investigating possibilities and negotiating about an agreement, the situation has worsened since the Christian Democrats, one of the three potential coalition partners, pulled out the plug a week ago. The game has to start all over again.

I'm worried.

I'm worried, because in the end one way or the other, the populist Freedom Party will step on the smoking remains of the institution called serious politics and will become a disgrace for The Netherlands. In my opinion we now can only choose between two bad options. One is to opt for a left oriented cabinet, which will be able to blow a fresh wind through the country, to set the record straight politically, economically, socially and in many more areas. Therefore the PVV is forced back into the opposition again. The disadvantage of this scenario is that the party will be able to continue its fear spreading, stigmatising ideas about the islamic population, happily encouraging extremism, so it can blame the scapegoat even more... And, if all goes 'well', after four years, the PVV will celebrate a glorious victory at the next elections and the goal to become the voice of the mass will be achieved.
The second bad option is to let the PVV form a coalition with whatever political party on the right side of the political spectrum (the Liberal Party is available for cooperation) and have them govern the country. This can either result in a stable government, which would be not bad... or it will fall apart after a few months, because of a lack of suitable people for the job and those jokers who make it as an excellence will only hunger for power (just like we saw in 2002 with the LPF of the assasinated Pim Fortuyn). After those months, the PVV will have proven that they can not be taken seriously and they will vanish off the political map faster than they set foot in Parliament.
Again this is a choice between two evils.
Personnally I would prefer the second option. In the very near future it would be bad for the country, but on the long run society would be released of this bunch of nut cases, calling themselves politicians, lead by a demagogue.

All options are open, maybe there will be a government formed of left winged parties, but in all cases I am embarrased for the 1.5 million people that put their vote on a non-democratic party, that has only one aim; to attract the attention for spreading fear among those who can't think for themselves.

Too bad those people don't (or plainly can't) read columns like this...

Imam Rauf explains it for the last time...

Day Opening - September 10 - U2 in Istanbul

U2 in concert, Istanbul; by Brian Underdown, Istanbulblogger

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 - Turkey ranks 66

Switzerland tops the overall ranking in The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011 released by the World Economic Forum. The United States falls two places to fourth position, overtaken by Sweden (2nd) and Singapore (3rd). The Nordic countries continue to be well positioned in the ranking, with Sweden, Finland (7th) and Denmark (9th) among the top 10, and with Norway at 14th. Sweden overtakes the US and Singapore this year to be placed 2nd overall. The United Kingdom, after falling in the rankings over recent years, moves back up by one place to 12th position.

The rankings are calculated from both publicly available data and the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum together with its network of Partner Institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the countries covered by the Report.
The Netherlands ranks 8th and Turkey 66nd.
Here moreeeeee

Day Opening - September 9

Happy Bayram!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eternal wisdom

A man walks into a tailor shop. He needs cuffs put on his trousers. Okay says the tailor, come back tomorrow. The man leaves. He comes back the next day. Sorry, says the tailor, the trousers aren't ready yet. But you said... I know says the tailor, but please come back tomorrow. The man comes back the next day. Sorry says the tailor, come back tomorrow. The man gets angry, you said that yesterday. I know, I know says the tailor, but please come back tomorrow. Three more days go by and each time the response. The man is furious. I need these trousers! he yells. If you don't...? I know, I know says the tailor, please come back tomorrow. The man comes back the next day. I've come for my trousers, says the man. The tailor shakes his head, Sorry, he says. The man explodes in rage. This is outrageous! It's only a pair of trousers! It's only a pair of cuffs! It’s been a week! It only took God a week to create the world!!! I know, I know says the tailor, but look at the world

Day Opening - September 8

Metro hal, Maslak, Istanbul, Turkey by Brian Underwood,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Turkish soccer players at war...

The (Turkish) chairman of the Turkish amateur club FC Vatanspor from Brasschaart in the Netherlands wants his own football club to shut down, as six players kicked an opponent in the hospital.
Osman Ozcan is the aggressive behavior of his players so tired that he wants the club shut down. "These guys are completely lost," he complains in the Dutch newspaper ‘Het Nieuwsblad’.
A 35-year-old amateur player from the St. Joseph was last sunday beaten up on the field of FC Vatanspor. "After the final whistle they started the beating," said Clement Vanmensbrugge, secretary of St. Joseph. Six players threw themselves at one of our players, that boy has had to cope with a lot of broken stuff. Saint Joseph's plays will never play Vatanspor anymore, for any money in the world. "

"Not the first time '

The chance that not one team ever will play against Vatanspor, is great, because the president wants to quit the club. "This situation is no longer tenable," he says. "It is not the first time my players kick a riot."
"I do not know what my boys got into, but wherever they come, problems arise. If a Turk they feel easily offended and wronged, I think, every remark is perceived as racism, and they cannot handle themselves. I am very disappointed and sad, but I see no other solution than pulling the plug Vatanspor. A pity, but if those guys want to fight, they should find another sport. Karate or something. "

Day Opening - September 7

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, by Brian Underwood, (picture in HD)

Arash's World: You are what you Shop: How Clothes and Books reflect Personal Attitudes

Arash's World: You are what you Shop: How Clothes and Books reflect Personal Attitudes

Sunday, September 5, 2010

EU billions for Roma “go missing” (17.4 billion €)

Europe has failed to get a grip on the approximate 10 million Roma people who live within the European Union. Brussels is pumping billions into projects to improve the lives of the continent’s largest ethnic minority. In spite of this, the Roma remain a headache dossier form many European member states.

In France, police broke up Roma camps up and down the country this summer. At least 8,100 Roma were put on planes to Romania and Bulgaria, the countries where they have originally come from, with a cheque in their hands. Opponents of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s harsh policies called the operation “deportations”. President Sarkozy, supported by a large part of the population, thinks Romania and Bulgaria should do more to look after their returning citizens.
These two countries are being given a lot of European money to do just this. The European Social Fund invests 17.5 billion euros in 'vulnerable groups' in Europe. The lion’s share, more than 13 billion over a period of six years, is earmarked for use with the Roma. "That is an awful lot," says a Brussels researcher who has investigated the amounts paid out.

Self control

The money which flows to agencies in eastern Europe is extensively checked by the European Commission. But on the subject of how the money is finally spent in, for example, Romania “it is up to the Romanians themselves” says a source within the commission.
"The chance that the money is used for other purposes, is a constant risk," says Romanian MEP Renate Weber.
Her colleague Dennis de Jong of the Dutch Socialist Party goes further, he says a large portion of European money, intended for Roma integration projects in eastern Europa, “goes missing” . He adds that the European Auditor has been warning for some time that it is impossible to vouch for a lot of that money. It is often a question of corruption.

Political correctness

The political correctness with which west European politicians speak about the problems of Roma, doesn't hamper discussions in east European politics. Most East Europeans are incredibly discriminatory towards Roma. Hungarian, Czech and Bulgarian social workers are adament: it is evident that Roma are disadvantaged, but what role do Roma themselves play?
"They are responsible for their own negative image," say many people running Roma projects. Their experience is that the Roma are not particularly motivated to change their predicament.
Meanwhile, planeloads of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indians fly into Romania every day to replace the Romanians who are going to work in west European countries. An absurd situation thinks Ms Weber. The Asians are "cheaper and more disciplined workers. While the Roma reject this imposed discipline."
She thinks there is a lot of discrimination on the Romanian labour market. Ms Weber: "Romanian employers prefer to take on Chinese or Vietnamese workers."
On Monday, integration ministers from six EU member states will meet in Paris to discuss a tough deportation policy. President Sarkozy has only invited countries which already take a hard line. The Netherlands is not one of them.

EU billions for Roma “go missing” is written by Tijn Sadée

Day Opening - September 5

Woman watching the Black sea, Garipce, Istanbul, by Brian Underwoood,

Statement #43

Who are the best teachers?
Your students!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dutch formation of a new cabinet fails...

Ivo Opstelten

Tonight the negotiations for a new Dutch cabinet failed, led by counselor Ivo Opstelten. Earlier yesterday Elio Di Rupo resigned at the Belgian King, because he was not able to create a solid coalition in Belgium.

Elio Di Rupo

My suggestion would be to switch both counselors, just to see if an objective and refreshing point of view would help both countries to be able to start a serious national government.

Besides I'm very disappointed that the Freedom Party of Wilders will join the opposition once again. The risk of this is that Wilders has carte blanche again to shout at the government, so he will get more and more support until the next elections.