Monday, January 31, 2011

Day Opening - January 31

Laughing Buddhas


One call invites

One hundred comrades;

One smile beckons

Ten thousand admirers

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's happening in Tunisia and Egypt?

Thousands turned out today to welcome Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi after more than 20 years in exile, as he eyed a political future for his Ennahda movement after the fall of Tunisia's regime.

"God is great!" Ghannouchi cried out, raising his arms in triumph as he walked into the arrivals hall of Tunis airport, with thousands of cheering supporters crowding around him before driving off to visit his family.
The crowd intoned a religious song in honour of the Prophet Mohammed, as supporters held up olive branches, flowers and copies of the Koran.
"I am so happy to be bringing him back home. I never thought I would see my brother again alive in Tunisia," his sister, Jamila, told AFP.
There were also dozens of people protesting his arrival at the airport, holding up placards that warned against Islamic fundamentalism. But they are in the minority!

The 69-year-old said he was elated as he checked in for his historic flight at London's Gatwick airport, where he posed with a Tunisian flag and embraced relatives before boarding for a country that he has not seen since 1989.
"When I return home today I am returning to the Arab world as a whole," he told reporters, adding that Ennahda (Awakening) now planned to register as a political party and take part in the country's first democratic elections.
The interim government installed in the north African state after the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 has granted unprecedented freedoms and allowed key exiles to return despite bans from the old regime.
Ghannouchi, a former radical preacher who says he now espouses moderate ideals similar to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was persecuted in Tunisia ever since founding his Islamist movement in 1981.
He still officially has a life sentence hanging over his head for plotting against the president, although the new government has drawn up an amnesty law for convicted activists like Ghannouchi that now has to go before parliament.
"There is still confusion regarding the political situation.... The interim government is changing its ministers every day, it's not stable yet and its powers are not clear yet," Ghannouchi told reporters before leaving on today.
In contrast to his preachings from the 1970s in which he condemned the rise of secular ideas in his homeland and the advances in women's rights, Ghannouchi also said that Sharia Islamic law now had "no place in Tunisia". But that's exactly what Khomeiny said on a question of a French journalist in 1979 just before heading to Tehran, what kind of republic Iran will be in one year: 'exactly the same kind of republic as France!

Therefore, people tell different things such as Najwa, a teacher who said she was imprisoned for wearing an Islamic veil, said: "Everything that's said about him are lies... He's a moderate Islamist."
Mohammed Mahfoud, 37, a trade unionist, said: "I have come to pay homage."
But the views on the streets of Tunis were far more critical of Ghannouchi.
"He has not said what he plans to do. He could cause trouble and destabilise the upcoming elections," said Amenallah Darwish, a 29-year-old lawyer.
Naima, who wore a veil, said: "Many people were imprisoned because of him, young people lost their future. No-one is happy about his return. He lived the good life in London while others paid a heavy price."
Some feminist groups are worried that Ghannouchi's return may signal a rise in political Islam that could endanger their hard-won rights.
Hundreds of women rallied in the centre of Tunis on the eve of Ghannouchi's arrival, saying they would defend their rigths against conservatives.
Asked about some of this concern on today, Ghannouchi was dismissive.
"This fear is only based on ignorance," he said, because Ben Ali's regime had "worked to distort all its opponents, described them as terrorists or being against modernity. All of these allegations have no basis in reality."
Ghannouchi fled Tunisia two years after Ben Ali came to power in a bloodless coup in 1987. In elections in 1989, which were heavily falsified, an Islamist-backed coalition still managed to win 17 percent of the vote.
Shortly after that, persecution of leading Islamists began and Ghannouchi went first to Algeria and then to Britain in 1991. Hundreds of Islamist activists who stayed behind were thrown into prison, often on flimsy charges.
İnteresting is to see what's happening today in Egypt. Last night some 34 key members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood escaped from prison and today the Muslim Brotherhood there asked the independent Mohamed El Baradei to 'negotiate' with Mubarak on their behalf. Mohamed El Baradei is seen as close to Iran and can be the 'usefully idiot' for the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power and dictate Egypt. What will happen with the Suez canal and what will happen with Gaza. Will the later be armed by an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood? And what will happen with Israel when all surrounding countries are ruled by religious fanatics? Isllamo-facists?

The Iranian uprising had many of the hallmarks of today's Egypt. The Shah of Iran was the corrupt despot. He had lined his pockets, was ruthless against political opposition, and was perceived by his subjects to be a puppet for the West.
When the young took to the streets 32 years ago they thought they were signing up for a new era where they would be able to determine their own future.
But those idealists were superseded by another group: the clerics. Just as the shah had kept the clerics in check, it is Hosni Mubarak today who keeps the Muslim Brotherhood – the radical side of the Muslim faith – under control. Within months the Iranian revolution unleashed the Islamic Republic.
Faith is never a bad thing and it has a simple appeal. Ordinary people who are tired of poverty and the opulent lifestyles of the old guard can be easily swayed by the wholesome values of religion.
It is a miserable fate in the Muslim world that the choice has to be between self-enriching despots and controlling clerics who covet power over every aspect of life

The unbearable randomness of being

The unbearable randomness of being
-GG

Day Opening - January 30

summer composition...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pedoleaks

Amsterdam a Yuppie Hub

As immigrants keep moving to Dutch cities and natives move out, natives in Amsterdam, especially rich ones, are multiplying, new figures show. And immigrants settling in the capital increasingly come from rich, Western countries.


Magnet

Whereas women of Dutch descent are having more children, those of foreign origin are choosing to have smaller families, Amsterdam's Urban Planning Service found. At the same time, the number of immigrants 'from Morocco, Turkey, Surina and the Dutch Antilles, the countries where most of them used to come from, have been falling steeply.
Though the capital continues to draw newcomers, they now tend to come from the European Union and English-speaking countries. At the same time, Amsterdam is also attracting more and more immigrants from China, Brazil and India. Most of them are highly educated and no longer come from rural areas but from university cities.

Child friendly

The falling birth rate among immigrant women, especially Turkish and Moroccan ones, seems to be the result of their rising employment rates. Increasingly, they also attain higher education levels. Dutch families in Amsterdam, by contrast, now often have three children. The average birth rate in the Netherlands is 1.75 children per woman.
Large young families say they are happy in Amsterdam, which is becoming increasingly child friendly, allowing parents to take their children anywhere on their special carrier cycle. The new IJburg quarter, on the capital´s eastern outskirts, is also proving popular with families.
Demographer Julian Jansen of the Urban Planning Service says he is happy with the developments. “Amsterdam's mission to become a metropolis where highly-educated are eager to live and work has succeeded”, he told the newspaper de Volkskrant. His major concern is that not enough new houses are being built. As the capital´s population ages, and those who retire stay, there won't be enough houses to accommodate all the newcomers. That, in turn, could threaten its labour potential, as people who can't live in Amsterdam are less likely to work there.

Iran hanged the Dutch-Iranian women Zahra Bahrami

Reports from Iran say Iranian-Dutch woman Zahra Bahrami was hanged on Saturday for selling and possessing drugs. The authorities dismissed repeated pleas by the Netherlands which had sought details about her case.
Bahrami's execution is the latest in a slew of hangings carried out by the Islamic republic in January. Her execution takes the total number of people hanged in Iran so far this year to 66, according to media reports.
"A drug trafficker named Zahra Bahrami, daughter of Ali, was hanged early on Saturday morning after she was convicted of selling and possessing drugs," the Tehran prosecutor's office said.
Bahrami, a 46-year-old Iranian-born naturalised Dutch citizen, was reportedly arrested in December 2009 after joining a protest against the government while visiting relatives in the Islamic republic.
The prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that she had been arrested for "security crimes."

But elaborating on her alleged drug smuggling, the office said Bahrami had used her Dutch connections to smuggle narcotics into Iran. But that is of course BS:
"The convict, a member of an international drug gang, smuggled cocaine to Iran using her Dutch connections and had twice shipped and distributed cocaine inside the country," it said.
During a search of her house, authorities found 450 grams of cocaine and 420 grams of opium, the prosecutor's office said, adding that investigations revealed she had sold 150 grams of cocaine in Iran.
"The revolutionary court sentenced her to death for possessing 450 grams of cocaine and participating in the selling of 150 grams of cocaine," it said.
The Netherlands had been seeking details about Bahrami's case and had accused the Iranian authorities of refusing the Dutch embassy access to the prisoner because they did not recognise her dual nationality.


"I cannot confirm (her execution). Iranian media announced the news, we have not yet been approached by the Iranian authorities," Bengt van Loosdrecht, a Dutch foreign ministry spokesman, told AFP on Saturday.

On January 5, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal expressed "extreme concern" about Bahrami, and said that he had "asked the Iranian authorities to provide immediate clarification" about her case.
"We insist on information, the possibility to provide her with consular assistance, and a fair course of justice," Mr Rosenthal said in a statement at the time.
Bahrami's execution brought the total number of people hanged so far this year in the Islamic republic to 66, according to an AFP tally based on media reports.
There has been a spike in hangings this year in Iran, especially of convicted drug smugglers.
The spate of executions has drawn criticism from Catherine Ashton, Europe's chief diplomat and the point person in talks between world powers and Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.
"The European Union is deeply concerned about the use of the death penalty in Iran. Executions are taking place at an alarming rate," she said on Thursday.
Ashton's statement came after Iranian state media on Thursday reported the hanging of 10 drug traffickers.
"In addition, abhorrent practices such as public executions and suspension hanging continue to be used, in contravention of Iran’s international obligations," added Ashton, restating the EU policy of global opposition to capital punishment.
Along with China, Saudi Arabia and the United States, Iran has one of the highest numbers of executions each year, with adultery, murder, drug trafficking and other major crimes all punishable by death.
Saudi Arabia and Iran use the vulgair Sharia to kill its children!

Day Opening - January 29

Girl and her candle, Ladakh, India

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The Turkish Series" will follow you!!!


There is a new fashion in Greece. Almost every T.V. channel has a “Turkish Series”. Yes, you heard it right. Actually, it started about 5 years ago with “Yabanci Damat”. The story had some similarities with what I had. A Greek guy and a Turkish girl gets married. There are thousand things happens around them including problems etc. (this part is not similar)

Every time I was flying to Thessaloniki airport, the passport control officer was making the same stupid joke: “Aaa! You are Nazli!” I could not tell him directly what I thought: “No, God`s sake!” So, I had a fake smile on my face till I got back my passport.

After a couple of years, we got married and I moved to Thessaloniki. Then, silence. No trace of Turkish series. Last year suddenly, “A Thousand and One Night” was on air. There was a huge success in Greece and I became “Sehrazat”. They named me after every lead actresses with a big dark eyes. This year they show 3 series at the same time thus they are confused how to call my name. :)

Simply Turkish series are full of drama. Poor beautiful girl, rich man, pregnancy, mother has a cancer, father dies because his daughter makes a child out of marriage bla bla bla. How about Greek series? Very simple. A beautiful girl with a beautiful guy. They meet up somehow, having an affair. She discovers he has another girl friend. The other girl tries to separate them and always a gay friend who does funny stuff. Ah! By the way, 80% of the episode happens to be in bed, hugging, kissing, having sex.

OK, I need to admit that I am not a T.V. person. I lost that habit while I lived in dormitory during university. 1000 girls in a same building and only “one” T.V. Since then, I prefer to do other things like reading a book, writing short stories (trying to write actually) or just simply horse around.

Well, I am sure you are wondering what is the big deal? Did you read any of Constantine Kavafis` poems? He has some amazing poems and one of them says:

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will roam the same
streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;
in these same houses you will grow gray.

That is how I feel about it. I think “the city, the habits, the T.V. series” are following me!

Have a good day!

Day Opening - January 27

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Arab world and the taste of freedom

Revolution leads to Islamic fundamentalism. This is the argument wielded by authoritarian Arab leaders against proponents of democracy. But the argument has been proven wrong in Tunisia, according to many pundits: so far, radical Muslims have had no significant role in the uprising.

The spectacular overthrow of the dictatorial regime of Zein el-Abedeen Ben Ali in Tunisia has sent shock waves throughout the Arab world and beyond. Nobody imagined that the government of Ben Ali, former political security officer and Tunisia’s president for 23 years, would collapse as suddenly as it did.
The immediate reactions from the ailing authoritarian Arab regimes and their long oppressed people were in stark contrast.
For the frustrated, unemployed, impoverished urban youth of Arab countries, the Jasmine Revolution unleashed a tidal wave of hope and inspired renewed agitation for badly needed change.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in almost all Arab capitals to express support for the Tunisian revolution - or to try and bring down their own dictators. A newly-energised civil society has been given fresh courage to challenge the absolute authority of governments.
For the ageing Arab regimes it was an alarming moment of truth; change is inevitable and sooner or later it will come.

Short-term remedies

Many Arab countries scrabbled to offer short-term remedies. Protesters have been allowed to blow off steam, hasty economic concessions were made and pre-emptive security has been put in place to control the situation. But that control is unlikely to last long.
However, it seems unrealistic to me to expect a domino effect to sweep away the stagnant authoritarian Arab governments in the weeks or months to come. There are formidable local, regional and international obstacles to any such rapid change in the region.

Berlin Wall

What happened in Tunisia can better be compared to the Gdansk Solidarity Strike in Poland, which began a decade-long process that eventually toppled the communist state, rather than the abrupt and dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall.
The most significant aspect of the Tunisian revolution is that Islamists did not play a prominent role in fomenting and leading a popular uprising - and nor are they expected to be particularly influential in the near future. This despite the fact that former president Ben Ali capitalised on scaring the West for 20 years with warnings that the only alternative to his corrupt regime were radical Islamists.
The legacy of 55 years of rigorous secularism leave little room for a sudden lurch to fundamentalist Islam in the widely westernised Tunisia. Its relatively healthy economy (despite the crippling corruption of the Ben Ali Family), well-organised labour movement and small, professional, non-politicised army are also good omens for a smooth transition.

The case may be very different in other key Arab countries like Egypt and Syria. Any upheavals that bring down the despotic regimes in those two countries will make the Muslim Brothers the most likely alternative as the most active and best-organised political grouping. And their vast oil revenues make the conservative semi-Islamic/paternalist regimes in the Gulf States more stable for the time being.

Fear of Islamists

The important lesson to learn from the Tunisian revolution, for both Arabs and the West, is that holding back change for fear of Islamists will only blow wind into the sails of the most radical and fuel chaos and violence.
The fact that new and traditional media played a decisive role in the Jasmine Revolution is compelling evidence that there is a limit to the effectiveness of suppression, isolation and turning away from the rest of the world - and that modernity is not an option we Arabs can simply ignore.

Decades of social, political and cultural stagnation have eroded the legitimacy of both traditional and secular dictatorships in Arab countries beyond repair.
There is a widespread belief in the Middle East that the West is protecting and maintaining dictatorial regimes in the region. Whether that is true or not, it is undoubtedly in the interest of the West to take an active role in working together with Arab countries to sketch a workable route for the inevitable tide of history: the tide of freedom.

Day Opening - January 26

taking a picture...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Press freedom in Europe

Press freedom in the Netherlands is not at risk, according to the annual Press Freedom Index. But Reporters without Borders (RwB), which issues the ranking, is critical about the media's agreement not to publish unofficial photographs of members of the Dutch royal family.
Reporters without Borders spokesman Olivier Basille said that press freedom in many European countries is slowly being eroded:
"The situation is getting worse than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Instead of protecting press freedom, we just have new registrations, new draft laws, in all the European member states today."
The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland top the the Press Freedom Index rankings; the main European culprits are Romania, Italy and Greece.

Hungary

A new media law which came into force in Hungary on 1 January led to heated discussion in Europe. A Hungarian government watchdog is has been given the power to fine journalists who fail to report "objectively" or "with moral responsibility". And that includes foreign journalists.
Dutch Euro MP Sophie in 't Veld is in favour of a Europe-wide press freedom monitor as part of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, but RwB wants nothing of the sort, Mr Basille said:
"They want to talk about press freedom, but what do they want to do? Immediately they want to 'organise' it. It is very simple to protect press freedom. It's not a good idea to organise it at the EU level, with a council, agency or organisation to check press freedom. No, you have the Fundamental Charter; article 19 says freedom of information, and freedom of getting and diffusing information, have to be guaranteed. It's very clear like that, we don't need more."
What should the European Parliament do? "Very simple,"says Mr Basille. Adopt a resolution condemning Hungary's new media laws - which would have already happened, complete with references to dictatorial tendencies, if Syria or Turkey had implemented a similar media law. "But Hungary is an EU member state, which apparently makes things a lot harder."

Note: Turkey ranks 138 out of 178 on Press Freedom

Day Opening - January 25

Orgami/Books - Read!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Iran hangs women!

The Iran government has confirmed that the Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami has been sentenced to death. A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry made an official announcement over the weekend. Insiders say it is unusual for the death penalty to be announced in advance.
Iranian Human rights activist Sadegh Naghaskar told that the death sentence was referred to in an interview with the state news agency Irna. The Dutch Foreign Ministry has confirmed this.

Pressure

Naghaskar is concerned about the fate of the 45-year-old woman who was found guilty of possessing cocaine. "In principle she could be executed any moment now, but it could just as easily be several months." He says she has been transferred to an isolation wing of the prison known as 'Methadone'. This houses a number of political prisoners accused of possessing drugs.
Speaking from Tehran, Bahrami's daughter Banafsheh Najebpour told of her fears about her mother. Her only hope is that the Dutch government is prepared to put pressure on Iran. Officially, an appeal against the conviction still has to be heard.
The prosecution claimed Bahrami was carrying 500 grams of cocaine, while the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was more than a kilogram. Human rights activist Naghaskar regards the charge as ridiculous: "The accusation was only made to make the death penalty more acceptable to the West. In reality she will be hanged for contacting the opposition during last year's demonstrations."

Two people were executed in Iran on Monday: Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei were hanged for filming the demonstrations against President Ahmadinejad last year. Sadegh Naghaskar says 97 people have been hanged in the last three weeks.
Still people in Europe and Turkey (and elsewhere) are defending the Islamo-facist regime in Tehran. Europeans still don't get it that the Islam promoted by Milli Görüs, Fetulah movement, the MHP political party, Hamas, Hizbollah etc. etc. are there to misuse the Western democracies in the end to impose their mediaval views on people who simple don't agree with their opinions!

Day Opening - January 24

the silence of thunder

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Uttarayan- The festival of kites

January 14 and 15 are the days of Uttarayan and Vasi Uttarayan respectively. This festival is huge in Gujarat. I got together with a friend and arranged a big get-together, met old friends after almost five years, in some cases, almost eight!

Sharing with you some photos.

We had to be very careful to not cut kites from our own group by mistake.


Only a few take up "serious" kite-flying. For the rest, it's talk talk talk.



And chill out. And eat eat eat.

This kiddo got pretty bored by the end of the day

:)

That's India for you.

In trance on a busy street in Buenos Aires - beauty of Life!


Two angels...in greek: "δυο μικροι αγγελοι"

dancing the tango on Tis Nefelis, by Haris Alexiou :)

Day Opening - January 28

Villiage of Atwarghah, western Indian state of Gujarat

Quote

What you seed is what you get...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day Opening - January 21

Love Birds

Entrecard

For a couple of weeks now, we are not able to drop on a bunch of sites. They simple don’t open and it doesn’t matter if we use Firefox, IE or Chrome, or that we use a laptop or PC, the sites don’t upload. The only option left is with IE and use the cache of your blog. But that takes time. Sorry for all of you who drop on this blog and don’t receive a drop back, we tried our best. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why the Muslim Brotherhood Matters to You

Claire Berlinski wrote last week some excellent articles about the Muslem Brotherhood. Here is one and on the end (if you click on continue reading you get the full article) you will find a video clip. Especially for women! Just curious what they think about That!
-----------------------------
Why the Muslim Brotherhood Matters to You
By: Claire Berlinski

I've proposed here that I believe Americans' lack of familiarity with the Muslim Brotherhood, its aims and its reach is a national security emergency. Without understanding exactly what the Brotherhood is and which figures and groups are associated with it, American citizens can't properly read between the lines of many significant news stories. They can't recognize what certain events--bland perhaps on the surface--signify, and cannot properly appreciate the ramifications of what are now major debates in US foreign policy, such as whether the Muslim Brotherhood should be "engaged" in Syria, or "brought into the political process" in Egypt.


They don't grasp what it means that groups associated with the Brotherhood in Europe and America have come to define the parameters of the West's debate about its relationship with Islam, that Brotherhood groups advise the White House and the media about "What Muslims think" and what we in turn must think of Muslims, while Muslims of diametrically different views--who are horrified by the Muslim Brotherhood--have been marginalized from this debate to the point that many doubt their very existence.
Continue reading herreee

Day Opening - January 19

Innocence.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dutch skipper; hero on the Adriadic sea

The story of the skipper of Dutch freighter Momentum Scan who responded to a distress signal in the Adriatic Sea at the weekend and found himself in the middle of a life-and-death refugee drama.
Captain Martin Remeeus tells: “We got the shock of our lives. Instead of a handful of fishermen we saw hundreds of people in complete panic aboard a sinking ship.”
He describes the rescue operation by  his mainly Filipino crew as “an act of heroism with a bitter aftertaste”. They managed to save 241 Afghan migrants from rough seas off the Greek island of Corfu but also saw how others did not survive the ordeal “Women and children were disappearing under the waves before my eyes ... it was intensely emotional.”
Reports are saying that “over twenty people drowned or were crushed between the two vessels”. The migrants had been left to their fate by Turkish people smugglers, who made their escape in a motor boat when the situation turned ugly.
Captain Remeeus tells modestly “I think we responded with the kind of professionalism you would expect under the circumstances” and expresses his concern for his crew “They have witnessed terrible scenes, the kind you don’t forget easily.” He hopes most of them will use their upcoming leave to “work through the experience together.”
Turkish people smugglers are mainly active over land managing dropping daily ca. 300 people over the border with Greece.

Day Opening - January 18

Winter in Istanbul by Karli Javaharian

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gay marriages in the Jewish community

On Sunday, the first ever Jewish ceremony confirming a same-sex marriage was held in the synagogue of the Liberale Joodse Gemeente (Liberal Jewish Community) in Amsterdam.
As of this week, Jewish same-sex couples can have their relationships confirmed in one of the community's ten synagogues in a ceremony called Brit Ahava, a covenant of love.
The Amsterdam ceremony was not a global first. In the United States, Jewish same-sex couples have been able to get married for five years. A spokesperson for the synagogue said that there had not been much interest in the community so far, but added that Sunday’s ceremony might help generate more interest.
The Council of Rabbis of the Dutch Union of Progressive Jewry recently ruled that Jewish same-sex couples could henceforth have their relationship confirmed in a Jewish ritual.
Dutch newspapers reports that the decision was preceded by years of debate, but that the nine liberal jewish communities are now uninamous in their support for offering gay couples the possibility of a special ceremony in a synagogue to confirm a relationship.
Rabbi Menno ten Brink of the Amsterdam Liberale Joodse Gemeente emphasises that this ceremony is a ritual, not a Jewish same-sex marriage. He said the ceremony is called a Brit Ahava to distinguish it from a heterosexual marriage and to give it a different meaning under Jewish Halachic law. He described the ceremony for same-sex couples as a first step in the ongoing development within the Jewish community.
I am curious if this kind of marriage is possible in a mosque in the near future...

Day Opening - January 17

My Cypress

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The parents divorced. The children ending up like criminals?

Marriages fail. It happened in days gone by and it still happens today. But now there’s a difference: in the past, people stayed together “for the sake of the children”. That is no longer the case, at least not in the Netherlands. But is this a good thing? The children of divorced parents appear to have a greater chance of ending up as criminals.


The figures

Children of separated or divorced parents are statistically three times as likely to display criminal behaviour as those whose parents stay together. Dutch sociologist Marieke van de Rakt made this discovery while carrying out academic research into the genetics of criminal behaviour.
International research had already shown a correlation between divorce and criminality in children. Dr Van de Rakt has now come up with hard figures that demonstrate that correlation.
“On an annual basis, every child statistically has a one percent chance of committing a crime. If parents divorce, that chance is three times as great – the child then has a three percent chance of committing an offence.”
A cocktail of factors contribute to this development. A divorce affects the whole family. The resulting stress can cause children to be less emotionally stable for a while. It also appears that there is often less supervision of children after a divorce. And because there is usually less money coming in, there is not as much to spend on all sorts of nice things. Children’s health and performance at school can also be adversely affected by a divorce.
Developmental psychologist Steven Pont endorses the idea that a divorce brings with it all sorts of risks. He used to work with children placed in care because of behavioural problems. Almost all of these youngsters were from families where the parents had separated.

Every evening

The divorce rate in the Netherlands continues to rise. Nowadays, an estimated one in three Dutch marriages ends in divorce. Only 50 years ago, divorce was considered scandalous. Now it’s commonplace. Mr Pont often witnesses this:  “Every evening, this evening included, 200 to 250 Dutch kids are told that their parents are going to separate. They’re told: ‘Sit down, darling. We want to tell you something…’ That’s how it will go tonight. That’s how it went last night. That’s how it’ll go again tomorrow.”

Emotional impact

But the emotional impact of a divorce is still as powerful as ever, says Mr Pont. So what should we do? Should we stay together for the sake of the children like in the past, despite all the rows and the stress?
According to Mr Pont, this is not always the right solution. If a relationship turns violent or if a partner is constantly humiliated, it is better to separate. But deep down, children always have a fundamental desire for their parents to stay together.
Steven Pont believes that parents should persevere even if the relationship doesn’t work, at least while their children are still young. His advice is not to get divorced before your youngest child is four years old.
Sociologist Van de Rakt adds that possible damage can be limited by keeping a close eye on children after a divorce and if necessary asking for help. It is of great importance that children get extra care and attention during the period that their parents would like to wallow in their own misery.

Day Opening - January 15

symbiosis

Friday, January 14, 2011

In Pakistan, extremisme became the norm

The voice of moderate Islam in Pakistan is only a faint sound in the distance, it seems. Governor Salman Taseer is the latest casualty among the hundreds of progressive Pakistan civilians who have been killed by extremists in recent years. Their voices were a threat to the monotonous ideology of extremists, such as Pakistan’s own monster of Frankenstein, the Taleban. Others left their homeland after death threats. If they return, they know the same fate awaits them.

In this oppresive atmosphere of fear, extremists are dominant. Tens of thousands of them - spurred on by extremist religious parties - have pledged support to the killer of Mr Taseer.
All the outspoken liberal politician had done was to show his support for an illiterate Christian woman who was sentenced to death late last year for blasphemy. The number of people who lit candles for Mr Taseer, and who rallied against his murder, was much smaller.

Next target

Sherry Reyman, an MP for the Pakistan People’s Party, the country’s largest political party, is said to be the extremists’ next target. She filed a proposal to change the blasphemy laws in Pakistan, as human rights activists say the current law is now mainly used to fight personal feuds. Insulting the prophet is punishable by death, but that penalty has never been carried out.
Ms Rehman says she’s alone in her struggle. ‘Every religious party in this country is against me and I feel completely on my own. Nobody helps me’, she told RNW in a telephone interview.

Outcry

The former journalist is normally apprehensive when it comes to doing interviews. She wouldn’t answer more than just a couple of questions. She sounded tense when we spoke to her. ‘There is a massive outcry against me going on. The government is silent and they’re inciting violence. The clerics in the mosque are calling me non-Muslim and are inciting violence against me. Some civil society groups have lodged a complaint even at the police station but nothing is happening’.
The authorities just remain silent. The ‘Mullah brigades’, the religious extremists, now have a stronghold on the blasphemy law debate, columnist Babar Sattar wrote in Pakistan’s newspaper The News earlier this week: ‘The political parties like to work with the mullah as his voice and support are easy to buy in the political arena. With this bargain, we have given the corrupt, decadent, ignorant and clueless mullah complete monopoly to control the meaning and role of religion in our state and society’, Mr Sattar wrote.

Holy war

Not that this is a recent phenomenon. It’s been happening since the 1980s, when an enormous amount of money from the US and Saudi Arabia was flowing into Pakistan to fight the communists in neighbouring Afghanistan. The money was used to fight a so-called ‘holy war’.
Later, the mullah brigade became a military force often used by Pakistan’s security services when it was needed, it is alleged. Islam was mainly the glue used to keep different ethnic groups together.

Tolerance

If Pakistanis really support tolerance and freedom, they should fiercely demand those rights, Mr Sattar says. ‘Our mainstream political leaders will not lead us into such a change in society. They will only join us if it becomes popular among the people’.
Ms Rehman is an exception. ‘I will send my mother and my daughter abroad. But I’m not planning on leaving shortly’, she says. ‘I have pretty much put my life on the line. I don’t know what else I can do.’

Day Opening - January 14

Los Angelos by Sonia Romero

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Minister Faruk Çelik has a big mouth

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports that the Turkish government has fiercely criticised the new Dutch government's stricter immigration and integration policies. Labour and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik, in charge over 'Turks in foreign countries, said the new policies place immigrants in an isolated position.

The minister mentioned the high costs of obtaining a residence permit, compulsory integration courses and the fact that Turkish language classes are not part of the curriculum offered at Dutch schools. In fact he's saying: to speak good Dutch you have first to learn Turkish (in the Netherlands!!)
Mr Çelik pointed to the successful integration of Turkish immigrants in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. He said the Netherlands and other Western European countries could learn from their example. And I believe that if the Dutch implement rules like those of Australia or the USA, the Dutch will get rid of 50% of their immigrants!! Why? Because the immigration rules in those countries are ten times harder!
But the Turkish minister, who doesn't speak one word English, is quoted as saying that: "The fact that young Dutch people of Turkish descent still believe they are second-rate citizens, that they are not welcome, or that they are being discriminated against shows that the Dutch authorities need to revise their immigration policies." No, no, and no! Because only some Turks are complaining that the Dutch government must change their policies?
Or because his boss, PM Erdogan yesterday again endorsed Hamas? The Dutch must do that as well?
There is a creepy Islamisation process going on in Turkey...

Anyway, this all because a group of Dutch Turks recently wrote a letter about the increasing integration problems among young Turks in the Netherlands. The authors also called on the Turkish government to stop interfering with the religious beliefs of Dutch Turks, but Mr Çelik rejected their appeal. Of course. What a shame!

Day Opening - January 13

Fountain of Place de la Concorde, Paris, By Arnaud Frich

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are scapegoats really necessary???

Yesterday the news of Turkish-Dutch youth feeling neglected and discriminated really struck me. My first impulse was that the Dutch press has found the Turks again to problemize and critisize.
This is just another hype, which is typical for the media. You can compare it with a conjunctural phenomenon that moves between all kinds of minorities, of which the Moroccans were the last subject, fed by mister Wilders' Freedumb Party. But hey, all Turks are Muslims, so why shouldn't we suggest that Turkish youths aren't sensitive for fundamentalism, because they're unable to find a job, so all of them find shelter in the mosque and all turn to extremists...

Well, I dare to call myself a good example of an integrated Dutch citizen, more Dutchified than some self-declared cheeseheads. The fact that I need to explain this or even defend myself is one way or the other pathetic, it illustrates that this well developed nation, which pretends to be highly civilised, has devaluated to a media controlled society, that promotes self fulfilling prophecy.

Back to the core of the case; I wonder if this action of a few so called intellectual Turkish men has been meant to draw some (negative) attention or is it just to kick the butts of a couple of boys and girls who need this message to scare them off? One way or the other, these men should've been aware of the fact that these signals in this era are always referred to Islam, although it's only a minor part of the message. Let me put it this way; if it was only referring to the fact that high educated Turkish young men and women feel that they have a disadvantage in their quest for a job, the news value would have been of a small article on page five in the newspapers. I have had the feeling that my name has been an obstacle in some of my job applications, although I unprovable of course, but I'm convinced that I have been a victim of silent discrimination. I don't mind anymore, I take a positive stand, and too bad for those that didn't select me, my current employer is happy with me!

This is also a signal to all who feel discriminated; focus on the positive effect it can have on your future, you'll make it anyway! As long as you keep your sense, and respect others, even when others try to make you believe something else... Set an example for your peers. Scapegoats of the future, be prepared.

Day Opening - January 11

Catch me if you can

Monday, January 10, 2011

Turks-Dutch youth position in the Netherlands worriesome

The position of Turkish-Dutch youth in Holland is “extremely worrying”, according to a letter written by ten Turkish professionals to the left-of-centre Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant.
The bleak social climate and a lack of leadership in the community is said to be causing the young people to become apathetic and increasingly alienated from Dutch society. This in turn leads to their being drawn more easily into crime and Islamic radicalism.
In their letter, the professionals called on the government, the business world, the educational establishment and Turkish-Dutch organisations to pay more attention to the problem of the community’s young people. “They have to be made to feel that their future belongs in the Netherlands,” they argue.
The Turkish-Dutch community is the country’s largest ethnic minority.
Osman, any comments?

Day Opening - January 10

The farmers wife by Ylasta Kovacek

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pakistan: how deep a nation can sink

More than 20,000 people rallied in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi on Sunday, police said, against proposed amendment to blasphemy laws that were recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death.


The protest follows Tuesday's assassination of the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, by one of his bodyguards, after the politician sought to reform the law that gives the death penalty for 'defamation' of the 'prophet' Mohammad.
Pakistan's most high-profile political killing in three years has bitterly divided the country, horrifying moderates but winning praise from religious scholars and lawyers who festooned the presumed killer in garlands.

Two senior police officers in Karachi said more than 20,000 protesters had joined the rally and more were arriving, while senior police official Irshad Sehar told AFP that more than 30,000 people were taking part.
Banners at the event included some supporting Taseer's presumed killer, police commando Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, who has been praised by religious conservatives for shooting his boss outside an Islamabad coffee shop.
"Mumtaz Qadri is not a murderer, he is a hero," said one banner in the national Urdu language.
"We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the dignity of the Prophet Mohammad," read another.

Activists at the rally, which has been organised by conservative religious groups, called for "Jihad" or holy war.
The protest forced the closure of the city's main road and all markets in the teeming southern metropolis.
Controversy over the law flared when former information minister Sherry Rehman tabled a private member's bill in November, calling to end the death penalty for blasphemy, after a Christian mother-of-five was sentenced to hang.
Rights activists also say the law encourages Islamist extremism in a nation already beseiged by Taliban attacks.
Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Asia Bibi, the Christian mother who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but Bibi's case has exposed the deep faultlines in the conservative country
Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water she was asked to fetch while out working in the fields.
Days later, the women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the 'prophet' Mohammed. Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced on November 8.
Most of those convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts. But ALL 32 people were were convicted are killed by mobs...

Rights activists and pressure groups say it is the first time that a woman had been sentenced to hang in Pakistan for blasphemy.
Only around three percent of Pakistan's population of 167 million are estimated to be non-Muslim.
But when the mobs rules a country, civilization ends...

Day Opening - January 9

puppy love

Friday, January 7, 2011

Light theraphy might help

Did Santa bring you a bad case of the midwinter blues? In that case, light therapy may just be what the doctor ordered against what is officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, Dutch researchers have now proved that light therapy may also benefit patients of over 60 suffering from a serious ‘normal’ depression. This particular demographic gets outside less often and also cannot see as much light as those with younger eyes.


Daylight

Earlier this week, the results of more than five years’ worth of research into the effect of light therapy on depression were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The research team, led by Ritsaert Lieverse, treated 89 patients over 60 who were suffering from a serious depression. Each morning for a period of three weeks, about half of them were exposed to one hour of ‘early morning bright blue’ light using a commercially available special lamp covered with a bright blue-permitting filter. The other half of the group, which served as a control group, was also given an hour of additional light using the same lamp covered in a dim red-permitting filter. Neither the patients nor the staff handing out the lamps were aware of the purpose of the lamps.

Placebo effect

The treatment resulted in a reduction of depressive symptoms in 43 percent of the patients involved. Surprisingly, the researchers also found a reduction of depressive symptoms in 36 percent of the patients in the control group, which they said could be explained by the placebo effect. So in other words a seven-percent net profit, which many people would not consider a remarkable result, but research leader Lieverse said was still ’significant’.
The research team says it is impossible to determine exactly why an extra dose of daylight should lead to a reduction of depressive symptoms. According to Dr Lieverse “It could have something to do with the stress hormone – light therapy helps bring the disrupted stress hormone system back to normal. There was also a clear improvement in the patients’ biorhythm.

It will be quite some time before light therapy finds its way into the regular treatment circuit for elderly depressive patients - or gets covered by health insurance companies. Dr Lieverse warns seriously depressed elderly people against experimenting with light therapy at home. “There is a number of counter-indications, both physical and psychiatric. Light therapy should take place under the guidance of a psychiatrist”. As examples of possible side-effects, the doctor cited eye damage and an increase in suicidal thoughts.

Day Opening - January 7

Salvador de Bahai, Brazil

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some photos of Ahmedabad

It has been a long time since I updated this space. I welcomed 2011 on a hopeful note and was busy the days preceding the new year and days succeeding it.

A cousin came visiting and we had a fabulous time shopping in the walled area of Ahmedabad. Sharing some photos.



The fabric Ahmedabad is so famous for...



Oxodized jewellery. This is a rage during Navratri, our nine-day-long dance festival.

Day Opening - January 6

eclipse this week and view on international space station

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Create your own Wikileaks

The success of WikiLeaks has encouraged many people to start similar projects. Their main motive is to expose wrongdoing, either at the local or national level.
But it’s more complicated than you might think to set up this kind of website. There are three parties involved: the source, the website and the journalist. Each needs the others, but is also independent. Below are a number of tips and suggestions for a DIY WikiLeaks. But be aware of what you’re getting into. It’s like chess: you always have to think a few moves ahead. And never lose sight of your own safety.

What’s the safest way for sources to supply documents?

There are different degrees of risk attached to different types of information. Even a simple letter can be traced back to the location it was posted from. Bear in mind that, if it’s intercepted, a letter might carry fingerprints, and the post office may have security cameras. Digitise the documents and destroy the originals. If the authenticity of the documents comes into question, there are plenty of forensic possibilities with the digital version.

How can sources prevent their IP addresses from being recorded?

An internet cafe is an option, but it’s also a risk. Other users can be pressurised into revealing information about you, or there might be security cameras. It’s not our preferred option. A Tor network (originally an abbreviation of ‘The Onion Router’) is a possible solution. Tor is an encryption system developed to enable anonymous internet traffic. The technique prevents eavesdroppers from seeing that any communication is taking place, let alone with whom. The software is free.
Alternatively you could use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or add Open Proxies abroad.

How do you set up a WikiLeaks site?

The technology is the easy part - what you have to dig a little deeper for are the ideals, willpower and nerve. Plus people who support and believe in the project, and also believe in the possibility of change.

Is it an advantage or a disadvantage if the people involved know each other?

View the team around a whistle-blowing site as a movement made up of different cores. Work goes more smoothly if you have a few familiar people around. But the fewer people who know each other the better. It’s not a social club. Make your friends at the pub.

How safe is it for a WikiLeaks team to communicate using chat channels?

It might be safe. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is secure enough if you work via other servers and bouncers (BNC). But be on your guard for the unexpected. Here too a Tor network is safer.

How can the WikiLeaks team guarantee its sources’ anonymity?

• Servers should never make log files.

• Remove all metadata from files you receive – either automatically or as quickly as possible (metadata may include information on who created the document and where it was sent from, and is not always visible).

• Files should then be encrypted or taken offline as soon as possible, or constantly transferred from one storage location to another.
If you take all of these precautions, even members within the leaks site will be unable to trace the source.

How can the WikiLeaks team ensure its servers are secure?

Some important standard procedures:
• Use an up-to-date operating system on the server

• Use the latest version of crucial software such as Apache

• Work via an SSH and turn off things like FTP and direct admin

• Never ever work from the root account

• Make sure you have a good firewall

• Use multiple server locations
It’s often easier for governments to block a domain name than shut down an entire server. Locate your server in a country where legislation makes it virtually impossible to confiscate it. Host your server yourself or know who’s hosting it.

Solutions:

VPN: Via a VPN (Virtual Private Network) you can create a secure network within an existing one – like the internet. VPN is a solution if you want to send data via an internal network.

A website can be partially secured via an SSL/TLS connection (Secure Sockets Layer and the improved Transport Layer Security). With authentication you can control access to a servers’ secure connection. You can recognise an SSL certificate by the ‘s’ on the end of http(s). Bear in mind that in some countries data encryption is illegal. Check the law where you are.

Where is it safe to locate the servers?

The European Union’s Data Retention Directive requires providers to store data for at least six months. Check how the directive is applied in your country.
There are fewer and fewer places you can safely locate a server. The law is also changing fast. As the number of WikiLeaks projects increases, the danger is that more and more countries will amend their legislation.
France, however, is adopting a tolerant approach towards WikiLeaks.

What should the WikiLeaks team do with the information it receives?

It’s not wise to put leaked information straight online. There’s a risk that it may not be relevant and you could harm people unintentionally. The data could be corrupted by irrelevant information and spam.

Step 1:

Receive the documents. Go through them in a first selection round. If in doubt, let a document go through. You can reject an instruction manual, for example, but you should keep it if it has unusual page numbering. Don’t look at the content too much – don’t be distracted by your own opinion.

Step 2:

Write a three-line summary of each document and add it to the file. Ask sources (via the website) in advance to write a brief explanation. Save the explanation and the summary together.

Step 3:

If you know journalists who are willing and brave enough to publish the information, you can show them the summaries. If not, try to make contact with one or more international organisations, such as human rights groups or trade unions. Don’t send the whole team to see them, choose just a few delegates.

If you really can’t find anyone else to do it, you’ll have to write something yourself and publish it online. However, this is a last resort.

Step 4:

A journalist checks the documents for their authenticity and value according to the generally accepted standards of journalism.

If the team writes the piece themselves, the same standards apply. Check the facts, approach both sides for comment, and write the article on the basis of fact. Your own opinion is irrelevant.

Step 5:

Agree on a date for publication with the journalist. Only release the original documents after publication. Then readers can make up their own minds on the facts and judge their significance.

Once the website is on line, what does the WikiLeaks team need to be prepared for?

Recent weeks have seen repeated DDoS attacks. You can imagine a DDoS as a queue in a store made up of customers who don’t want to buy anything, preventing the real customers from getting to the front. DDoS attacks are hard to combat. Attempts to defend against them simply provoke fresh tactics.

There are a few possible solutions:

• Increase the bandwidth (‘open more tills’)

• Ensure server redundancy and scalability (‘Anycast’)

• Change IP address regularly

How can you tell whether the website is secure enough?


Don't be complacent. Invite people you trust to try and hack or disable the website. Nothing teaches you more than a hacked website. Learn from errors you made and improve the site's reliability and safety.

How does the WikiLeaks team keep itself out of harm’s way?

Never forget the government has experts too. Always think one step ahead. Keep abreast of technical and legal developments.
Be a movement, not an organisation. Then you can carry on if you lose one link in the chain.
Stay in control, but to some degree allow the process to run its course.
Maintain mutual anonymity. Divide tasks. External contacts shouldn’t know programmers and vice versa. Always look out for your own safety.
Succes!!

source: RNW

Day Opening - January 5

Tenderness

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cavernous Resorts: luxury in the caves

Mountaineering may not be your thing, but strike a more than slightly sumptuous balance by booking into the Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel. The five-star resort has 30 rooms renovated from 5th and 6th century ancient chambers in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

Restored and modernized to house an unrivaled resort experience, the Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel has all of the expected amenities of accommodations of its caliber. The interior design is derived from an Ottoman Empire aesthetic of the Middle Ages, incarnated into more contemporary antique replica furnishings.

Day Opening - January 3

fisherman in the Amazone by Andre Baertschi