Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Indonesian village of Rawagede was the scene of a massacre perpetrated by Dutch soldiers in 1947, shortly after the colony declared its independence and troops were sent in to restore order.
The village claims 431 men were shot, while a Dutch government investigation into war crimes in Indonesia puts the figure at 150.
One man who survived the massacre and nine widows of victims still live in the village, which has been renamed Balongsari. Last week, a letter was sent on their behalf to the Dutch government asking for a formal apology and compensation. Their request is still being looked at.
Socialist Party member of parliament Harry van Bommel says he suggested a meeting with survivors twice but that the proposal was voted down by the rest of the delegation.
The delegation, made up of seven members of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, is in Indonesia to discuss a range of issues until October 19.
Delegation chairman Henk Jan Ormel, member of parliament for the Christian Democrats, says he feels a meeting with the survivors, or their representatives, would be ‘inappropriate” while legal procedures are still ongoing.
“A visit from an official Dutch delegation could create false expectations”, Ormel said, adding that he did not want Rawagede to become the focus of the visit to Indonesia. “A lot more has happened in this country,” he said.
Van Bommel, who feels the Netherlands should apologise and pay compensation, had wanted a “reconciliatory meeting”. “It would have been the first Dutch high-level visit,” he says. “For the survivors of Rawagede, this is far from over.”
The members of the delegation did not want to meet Batara Hutagalung, founder of the committee which filed the claim for compensation, either. Hutagalung says he finds it “odd” for parliamentarians to come to Indonesia to talk about human rights and not pay any attention to Rawagede.
“It is almost as if they are blind in one eye: they only see the atrocities perpetrated by others,” he said.
Sander Chan said he could no longer function within the party because he did not want to rule out forming a relationship with another man.
The CU’s official standpoint on homosexuality is that officials must always be answerable to the Bible as the word of God, which many in the party take to mean that practising homosexuals should be banned.
The European reaction to the crisis differs from that of the Americans not only financially, but also in the manner in which it is presented to the public.
By René Moerland
The governments of France, Germany and Britain have decided that European leadership and unity are necessary to confront the international financial crisis. The policies must be flexible enough to deal with each country's particular situation and at the same time fit within the framework of a coordinated plan for the entire community.
Following a meeting of leaders from the 15 euro-zone countries plus Britain in Paris on Sunday, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy said: "No country can face the financial crisis alone, the measures taken by one must not damage the interests of the other."
The European leaders have decided to make up to hundreds of billions of euros available to guarantee the massive temporary loans which banks provide to one another. However governments will charge 'commercial rates' for their guarantees. The idea is that healthy banks will profit from the measures and that failing managers will be forced to leave.
The Paris gathering was the first meeting of euro-zone leaders since the introduction of the European currency. They decided not to wait until all 27 European Union member states meet later this week, believing it would be easier and quicker to reach agreement on efficient action when fewer people were involved in the talks.
British prime minister Gordon Brown, whose country does not want to join the euro-zone, joined his European colleagues in Paris as the 'inspiring force' behind the plan of action.
At the start of the meeting, German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country has long opposed a European intervention plan, headed straight to the cameras to proclaim that a united approach would be "an important signal for the markets and the euro-zone".
The main points of the action plan are more or less the same as those agreed in Washington recently by the finance ministers of the G7 and thereafter by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Governments will provide all that is necessary to ensure the continued functioning of the financial markets and to ensure institutions have sufficient funds to provide investment loans to businesses and individuals.
The European reaction to the crisis differs from that of the Americans not only financially, but also in the manner in which it is presented to the public. Unlike the Americans, the European leaders do not want to give tax-payers the impression that they are "doing the bankers a favour", said Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the euro-group, the finance ministers of the euro-zone countries.
Juncker says European governments should be given a 'complete tool kit' so that each country can fight the crisis in its own way and in coordination with the other member states.
Suggestions that the European central bank should provide direct support to companies which are of vital economic importance – along the lines of the US rescue package – were rejected by the ECB’s president Jean-Claude Trichet as impractical because it would violate European regulations.
However the suggestion itself demonstrates that European leaders are looking for new ways to create a more united Europe. Juncker has been Luxembourg's finance minister since 1989 and has dealt with financial crises before the creation of the monetary union.
He says he has never before seen "such a far-reaching coordinated European effort". However he dismisses talk of a genuine European economic administrative system as "only for show" in a period of economic crisis.
Monday, October 13, 2008
As a Dutch man living in Turkey, the visit of my queen here is highly symbolic. First I should drop a note to other Dutch men and women who will be accompanying Her Majesty and thus visiting Turkey soon: Don't fear the taxi drivers. They are my best friends in Istanbul. They don't act like the “Taliban” – the common nickname for the taxi drivers in Amsterdam – instead they treat you with respect. Yesterday I took a cab; it cost me just 4 YTL and before I left the car, the driver told me to wait. Then he suddenly walked around to open my door. Yes, before my queen arrived in Istanbul, I was treated like royalty here.
More herreee and herreee
In its first hour of trading, the blue chip AEX went up 5.6 percent to 272.46 points. MidKap stocks rose 7 percent to 407.89. Stock exchanges in London, Paris and Frankfurt all recovered over 5 percent on Friday's close. European exchanges nose-dived last week in response to the credit and banking crisis.
Financial shares went up most in early trading. Insurance company Aegon rose 9.3 percent, with ING bank gaining 8 percent. Trade in Fortis was suspended last week after the Dutch government nationalised its operations in the Netherlands.
Electronics company Philips gained 1.8 percent. Philips reported an 11 percent increase in net profit in the third quarter before trading began in Amsterdam this morning.
And here some old quotes:
There ought to be limits to freedom. We're aware of this [web] site, and this guy is just a garbage man, that's all he is." -- George Jr., discussing a web site that parodies him
"I'm a uniter not a divider. That means when it comes time to sew up your chest cavity, we use stitches as opposed to opening it up." -- Bush, on David Letterman, March 2, 2000. (the audience booed)
"I didn't -- I swear I didn't -- get into politics to feather my nest or feather my friends' nests." -- Bush Jr., in the Houston Chronicle
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Today, Rashin Soodman the daughter of Hossein Soodman, living in London, fears that her brother, Ramtin, held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city, will face the same 'faith'.
Other examples of persecution of apostates converting to Christianity have been given by the Barnabas Fund from Kuwait, Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh.
Bos was speaking in Washington where he was attending a meeting of the world’s richest nations.
Bos said the current situation is similar to the post World War II period, when the IMF was set up to improve prosperity and stimulate development.
And he called on the US to show leadership, despite the fact that the country is only four weeks away from elections.
‘That paralyses America in its leading role… it is the worst possible moment,’ Bos was reported as saying.
The Netherlands is the centre of Nigerian scam operations and Amsterdam is its headquarters. Nigerian fraudsters regard the Netherlands as a safe haven. The police are seen as soft and, moreover, south-east Amsterdam is home to a close-knit African community making it easy to go to ground. It is also conveniently near to Schiphol airport.
At a seminar organised by the Centre of Information and Research on Organised Crime in Amsterdam this week, Yvette Schoenmakers, a police academy criminologist, presented the preliminary results of research on Nigerian criminal networks in the Netherlands. This was carried out in conjunction with the research firm Beke which advises on criminal policy.
The research is based on 34 in-depth interviews with experts, police officers and informants from the Nigerian community in the Netherlands as well as information from the Dutch police intelligence data bank.
Huge fortunes promised
“Congratulations, you have won first prize in the Spanish lottery,” reads a typical email sent out by the thousand to computers worldwide. Or “I am the widow of Nigeria’s ex-president Sani Abacha. Could you help me withdraw 6.6 million dollars from a Swiss bank account?” Another version reads: “I am a Lebanese businessman suffering from cancer. I have assets of 2.3 billion dollars but I am a dying man and I want to give it all to charities. But I am no longer able to do this by myself”.
All these messages promise their recipients huge fortunes. But before they receive anything, they must put up a deposit variously described as “administrative costs”, “transfer fees” or “an investment”. Police have dubbed it the activities the “419 scam”, after the article in Nigerian law that deals with fraud.
According to Schoenmakers, the first Nigerian swindlers started using the Netherlands as a base back in 1990. The police were unaware of what was going on because the scam was not directed at Dutch citizens. Most of the victims were foreigners, often American, some of whom lost thousands or even hundreds of thousands of euros.
But when the number of fraud cases started soaring in 2000 and foreign police forces started complaining, the Dutch police had to act.
It is not known how many Nigerians in the Netherlands are involved in the fraud. Over the last years, the police have arrested 121 people on suspicion of fraud, nearly all Nigerian men and nearly all illegal.
The Nigerians involved in the scams don’t work in organised groups, says Schoenmakers. They have a large social network and they only involve Dutch people occasionally.
False sense of security
Typically, the so-called 419 fraud starts with an email. A respondent is then lured into a false sense of security by means of false documents such as bank statements or a letter from the central bank. The next stage sees the victim either transferring a sum of money or handing it over personally.
He is then invited to Amsterdam for the weekend with all expenses paid by the swindlers. Once here, he is led to what he believes is a branch of the ABN Amro bank where he is welcomed by a trustworthy-looking Dutch receptionist. It is not until it is too late that the victim catches on to what has happened.
How much money is involved in the Dutch-based scam is unknown, says Schoenmakers, although police figures from 2005 suggest that foreign victims may have lost a combined 22 million euros. But the real damage could be at least ten times that, she says.
The victims of the fraud come from all over the world but the biggest group (22 percent) lives in the US with Britain coming second with 6 percent. But peoples from Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran have also been duped. “This is an international problem which needs an international solution,” says Schoenmakers.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
While Sarah Palin supposed to be the Cover Girl of the McCain campaign she suddenly find herself on the frontpages for different reason; an Alaska state investigator's report concluded Friday that she abushed her power.
In the meanwhile she going ahead stirring up the public.
Scary! Covering things?
Verhagen, a Christian Democrat, distanced himself from the Dutch right-wing liberal party VVD and Labour party PvdA. Both parties recently published their draft manifestos for the European elections next June. And both manifestos said that Turkish nationals should be exempt from the basic European right to freedom of movement if the country joins the EU. The parties fear a flood of foreign workers will come to the Netherlands if the borders are opened.
"It is either yes or no,” Verhagen said. "I am not going to fiddle with the criteria. If Turkey meets them, you shouldn't have to make exceptions." The minister did say he could envisage a transitional period.
Verhagen said it was more important that Turkey meets EU criteria on human rights, the reform of the legal system and on freedom of religion. Turkey also has to change its policy on Cyprus to be allowed to join the 27-member organisation.
Turkey first applied for membership of the-then European Economic Community in 1987. Formal talks on its membership of the European Union began in October 2005.