Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It makes me smile

Made in Nepal...

The Hague ready for Afghanistan Conference - follow through Twitter

Welcoming Hillary Clinton (picture by the Dutch minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Vergagen - through Twitter)
The Afghanistan Conference will be held today in The Hague, the Netherlands, in the city's World Forum. The air space above the city has been declared a no-go area and around over. Both the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend among 72 Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The ministerial discussion will be co-chaired by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Kai Eide, Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rangin Dadfar Spanta and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Maxime Verhagen.
Five organisations are being allowed to demonstrate at designated locations in the city. They include an anti-NATO coalition, an anti-imperialism platform and a group of Afghan refugees.

Day opening - March 31

In the dining room.
Photo by Belgin Zeytin

Monday, March 30, 2009

Twitter in crisis situations

During the immediate aftermath of the controlled landing of US Airways flight 1549 into New York’s Hudson River, Twitter really came into its own. By 4:16pm ET there were already hundreds of messages posted about the crash. Ten minutes later, links were being shared to photos taken by eyewitnesses, including the definitive image of the crisis taken by a ferry commuter that was posted at 3.47pm, just minutes after the incident. By contrast, there was no dedicated online crisis response channel from US Airways until around 5.00pm. The same happened when a Turkish Airline plane crashed in Amsterdam earlier this year.

Had the company been monitoring Twitter for brand mentions, they could have set up a dedicated feed and been responding to the conversation for at least 45 minutes before their own response site was in place. They could have even prepared for the eventuality by defining keywords and bots to follow/respond with important information well in advance of any crisis hitting.
As the communications environment in which we operate becomes even quicker and the expectations of consumers from those involved increases, Twitter is certainly going to be a key communication channel in times of crisis and there is absolute no reason why companies can’t – and shouldn’t – be incorporating it into their crisis response plans. Voila!

Busy in the antartica...

...and he was not breaking the ice...

Day opening - March 30

Like in the old Turkish movies, the wedding of my cousin...
Photo taken by Belgin Zeytin

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Early election predictions Turkey

Yesterday, I told Ozlem, my wife, that today’s elections for municipalities, which is seen as general elections in Turkey, the leading AKP party will fail to get more than 40% of the votes. My predictions of this morning which I wrote down, but could not publish due to a failed I-net connection, is below:
AKP: 38%
CHP: 16%
MHP: 11%
DSP: 7%
DTP: 11%
SP: 5%
BBP: 3% (sympathy votes)
Other: 8%
Trend watching is an important semi-science within communication management, but often not taken seriously. Early indicators of tonight, I am writing this here down at 08.30pm, looks like that the AKP is not doing well. But the CHP is still a party which can not lead the opposition against the AKP. What would happen if the CHP leader, D. Baykal, was not their party leader anymore?

Women under strict religion; abuse

As gender roles have shifted in society and in many religions, most Christians are re-evaluating their historic positions. Over the last 50 years Christian egalitarians have increasingly argued for equal roles for men and women in marriage, as well as for the ordination of women to the clergy.
Beyond generally accepted social standards which are continually shifting, Christianity sets a moral standard—the attitudes toward and treatment of women by Jesus. There is no recorded instance where Jesus disgraces, belittles, reproaches, or stereotypes a woman. Examples of the manner of Jesus are instructive for inferring his attitudes toward women and show repeatedly how he liberated and affirmed women.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity has become a major focus of this contemporary gender debate. In 1977, George W. Knight III argued in a book about gender roles that the subordination of women to men is theologically analogous to the subordination of the Son to the Father in the Trinity. The current pope strongly condems all violence against women: "disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practice of sexual violence and exploitation which causes such humiliation and trauma," Benedict told an audience of government leaders and foreign diplomats this week in Angola and mentioned that especially in the USA, where many clergy abused women and children in the past, needs more investigations.

In Judaism, the past 30 years, have seen a revolution in how reform Judaism views women as well. Judaism now believes in the equality of men and women. The reform movement rejects the idea that halakha (Jewish law and tradition) is the sole legitimate form of Jewish decision making, and holds that Jews can and must consider their conscience and the ethical principles of Judaism when deciding upon a right course of action.

However, the status of women and for example their testimony in Islam is still disputed. Some jurists have held that certain types of testimony by women will not be accepted. In other cases, the testimony of two women can equal that of one man ( although Quran says 2 women and 2 male are needed but if a male cannot find another male he may carry this testimony out himself). The reason for this disparity has been explained in various manners, including women's lack of intelligence, women's temperament and sphere of interest...and sparing women from the burden of testifying... but more worrysome, the Qur'an has left open its quantity, nature, and other related affairs to be defined by social custom and tradition. See here the current problems. And now I refer to an article about an Imam in Bosnie who raped a your girl. Read it herreeee

Moral: where sexual abuse and voilence against women in religious circles are discussed and condemned, most of the Imams worldwide don't want an open discussion on the matters!

Day opening - March 29

Carrot Love

A friend of mine found these carrots between her groceries...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Banners, flash and other annoying stuff

A lot of money is made via internet. Nothing wrong with that, it makes the existing of good websites possible. But it can be pretty annoying when you've to read a lot from a computer screen and an add is flashing next to the text or it's interrupted because of some new facial cream.

Fortunately Mozilla Firefox created the add-ons for its internet browser. The add-ons are extra tools you can download to extend the possibilities of using the world wide web.

There are two add-ons that are unmissable when you work with internet. The first one blocks most of the adds that are integrated in websites. It's called Adblock Plus. It comes with a package you can choose from and most of the adds are blocked. Flashblock is the second one. It prevents all the flash files on websites from popping up. You've to click on the pictogram to play the flash instead.

Another nice addition, is the dictionairy that can check your spelling in many languages.

Good bye to all the adds, welcome easy readable websites. If you want to check out more add-ons, the recommendations on the Firefox website are worth a look as well. Every country has its own recommendations.

A tip (if you already use Firefox you might know this already, but for those who don't): if you want to see a new web page, but you don't want to leave the current one, press the right mouse button on the link and choose 'open in new tab'. You can open a new blank tab using the command ctrl t or for Mac users command t.

World Blog Surf day - From Turkey

If you had asked me ten years ago that I will live in Turkey one day, married to a Turkish woman and living in Istanbul, I would say: ‘you are crazy’. But now, 2009, I’m living a happy life with my Ozlem in Istanbul. And do I like it? Yes.
Life in Istanbul, Turkey is interesting and I can only describe it with two notes; ‘Everything is possible’ and Turkey has still that ‘Overwhelming service-attitude’.
Turkey has not one face, and for sure not one identity, its unpredictable. Which makes it for expats so interesting.
And yes, I’m still rocking here! In fact, Burak Bekdil wrote yesterday an interesting article about Turkish people, which you can read here...
Turkey is not European, not Asian, not African, not Middle East, Turkey is on its own, its a life-long experience...
For amazing pictures about Istanbul go herrreeeee
Turkey is not like Greece but they have a lot in common as Dayflyer explains; British expats in rural Greece. As this post is part of the world wide chain of expats, go thereeeeee and travel all aroud the world.
This entry is part of Golden Prague’s World Blog Surf Day where 25 expats are writing today about their experiences in their host countries.

Day opening - March 28

Istanbul, Istanbul: 'I love it and I hate it'.
By Belgin Zeytin

Friday, March 27, 2009

Guess who are these two hippiezzzz

The HillieBillies...

A sound from Utrecht

Hello dear readers,

It has been a while since you heard from me and it makes me feel ashamed. I actually love to write on this blog, but my investigation at the moment is quite time consuming. Researching all day from 9 o'clock in the morning till 10:30 in the evening makes me tired. So when I come home I put my computer aside and the first thing that's switched on, is my stereo. For these last few weeks Room Eleven gave me back energy and put me in a mood to swing, shake off all the counting, fighting for information and difficult conversations about things that are technical and bring up more questions than they answer.

The friendly voice of Janne Schra is surrounded with pleasant jazzy influences, cheerful tunes and powerful sounds. The songs cover the wide range from breakable guitar music to the power of a brassband. All played by four skilled musicians: Arriën Molema on the guitar, Tony Roe plays keyboards, Lucas Dols wheels the bass and Maarten Molema is responsible for the rithm since he's the drummer. Janne Schra sings in every song of which many they've written themselves. With funny lyrics and sometimes serious songs she exposes her own capasity as a singer. But the covers are pleasant to listen to as well, since they have a completely different sound than the original ones. Take 'Bitch' for example (originally from Meredith Brooks). They made two versions and it took me a while before I recognised them as being cover songs. Not every song is as pleasant as the jazzy Brooks cover or one of my favourites 'Swimmer'. A song that got banned from my list is 'Looking At My Feet' and 'Hey, Hey, Hey', about holiday missery is one I often skip.

Last weekend Room Eleven played in the Royal Theatre of Carré in Amsterdam; a dream of many artists. Pleasant for the ears and for me it's one of the bands that can cover the label easy listening. A welcoming start of the end of the day.

Update - Important one

Lately I had a nice telephone conversation with Bea, who wrote about several issues here. She left Turkey early 2008 after spending some 20 years in the country. She is now settled down in the Carolina’s and busy with setting up her business. Because of her lack of free time she will not be a co blogger on Internations anymore, but she will write here once and a while. Anyway, thanks Bea. The good news now is: Kıvanç ERGU, who works as a consultant for Eurohorizons, joined the Internations blogger group. In case we will stumble upon some hot EU-Turkey issues, always nice to have someone here who daily work is related with the EU-Turkey accession process. Kivanc is also the first Turk living in Turkey who will join Internations (Seda lives in Greece). Anyway welcome!

Another adjustment will be the ‘look-of-Internations’. Some Canadian designers offered to restyle the template into a professional design where Internations will provide them with some banners and back links. Let’s see how this works, I am always cautious since we get so many offers. This site will be professionalized, without a doubt, but to put it full with ads is not the idea behind this blog-project.

In the meantime, 4 more sites are added to the blog roll of Internations:
Cher, an American living in Prague; GP, a German living as well in Prague, Martin, an Englishman in Bulgaria and a French blog of Mirabella, her blog is bilingual: French/English and she has a photo blog there as well. I recommend all four sites.

I hope today to write something about Social Banking (or Social Finance) as I promised Sam. If not today, for sure tomorrow. But tomorrow I will also write something about Turkey; my life as an expat in Turkey since I participate in World Surf Day (expats from all around the world).

Day opening - March 26

By Belgin Zeytin

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dutch support total smoking ban in all, incl. their own cars

While in Turkey a smoking ban is implemented in taxi's (and not always succesful - some drivers smoke in their cars and let passengers some as well) a survey conducted by the organisers of the Dutch AutoRAI car in Amsterdam show has revealed that almost 60 percent of the Dutch support a ban on smoking in cars. Those surveyed said it was irresponsible and dangerous.

Also a 64 percent majority of the interviewees expressed support for an anti-alcohol lock on cars! It would prevent more people from driving under the influence, they said. The survey also revealed high expectations for alternative fuel for cars. Many people said they believed not just in electric cars, but also in cars powered by water and 'bio' fuels. Confidence in the continued use of petrol ranks fourth. I guess that soon all the cars in the Netherlands have an anti-alcohol lock and smoke detectors in their cars...

Day opening - March 26

Sleeping; whithout a home?
Picture made in downtown Prague
Photography by Belgin Zeytin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A reward for avoiding Rush Hour...

In an experiment aimed at reducing the length of traffic jams around the Dutch central city of Utrecht, 1000 car-driving commuters will next year be eligible for a bonus of up to 1200 euros if they avoid driving during rush hours, which can be for Istanbul - with one of the worst traffic jams in the world - usefull as well!
Reports in the Dutch press say that businesses and local authorities have agreed on the trial, which aims to keep drivers off the major motorways at busy times. Traffic jams are generally held to be harmful to the economy and the environment! Exactly what I noticed when I came over to Turkey in 2002; time consuming and therefore expensive.
The electronic devices in participants' cars in the Netherlands will check how often the driver uses the motorways in the Utrecht area. The lower the use, the higher the bonus will be. The premium will be paid for by the road user's employer, who in turn will be granted a tax reduction and a subsidy, which I think, must be a a priority for the upcoming elections in Turkey. But who cares.
Earlier experiments in the Netherlands, three years ago to discourage driving during the rush hour between the city of The Hague and its satellite town of Zoetermeer yielded a 50-percent reduction, which can be set as an example how Turkish Municipalities can deal with the immense traffic chaos in Istanbul.

Day opening - March 25

"light of love'
Photography by Belgin Zeytin

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Statement #13

Some people believe that there is intelligence on other planets, but I have my doubts if there is intelligence on planet Earth...
Above picture can be described as: Intergalactic humiliation, for the quick offended among us...)

Day opening - March 24

From Istanbul to one of the Islands
Photo by Belgin Zeytin

Monday, March 23, 2009

A blogger died in an Iranian prison

Our friend Hamid Tehrani has told us that Omid Reza Misayafi has died in prison in Iran. Omid was sentenced in December to two and a half years in prison for “insulting” Iranian religious leaders.
“(T)he reason for his death,” says Hamid, “has not been announced but he was in very bad psychological condition.”
Considering torture and other types of mistreatment are par for the course for free speech prisoners in Iranian prisons, Omid’s death may well have been a direct result of Iranian government actions. Considering the government usually places bloggers in prison with the most dangerous criminals, his death may only have been an indirect result. Either way, the men of the government of Iran and its prisons have a lot to answer for.
In the meantime, for what it’s worth, our heartfelt condolences go out to Omid’s family. They’ve killed one of us.

Turkey's 'religious foreign' policy.

The NAVO will decide on its summit of April 3 and 4, who their next secretary-general will be. Most NATO countries with heavy weights such as France, Germany, the UK and the USA support the Danish prime-minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The only country which complains about this possible appointment is Turkey. They accuse Rasmussen of an ‘objectionable’ approach to billions of Muslims and for his remarks in 2003 that Turkey never can be an EU country. What was his ‘sin’? He refused to apologize for the cartoons, which sparked riots and attacks on Danish embassies all over the world and speaking out against a Turkey in the EU, not in the Nato! How can a PM of a country be held resposanble for its independent press? Yes, Turkey doesnt know this phenomen of a truly independent press organ. And the NATO stands for a non-religieus North Atlantic Treaty Organization of democratic states, and the current government must know this.
But the Turkish quasi-democratic and religious government is likely to use its veto, as the only of its 26 members. Will this be seen as a ‘bow to Mecca’ or Turkish right on vetoing, based on religious’ motives? Turkey becomes religious and bigot in its foreign policy.

Day opening - March 23

Dawn over the Marmara sea, Istanbul.
Picture by Belgin Zeytin.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Multiculturalisme in the Netherlands; a fact or a dream?

Five years since the Islamist murder of film maker Theo van Gogh, seven years after the assassination of anti-Islam politician Pim Fortuyn, explosive and complex questions of identity still tear at the heart of Dutch politics. Last year, for example, the Dutch has seen a heated dispute over dual nationality. The right-wing politician Geert Wilders insists that anyone with two passports has divided loyalties and must be banned from public office.
Meanwhile, even Princess Maxima, the Argentinian-born wife of the Dutch crown prince, has entered the fray. She says that after seven years in the country she has failed to discover a Dutch identity.
The Netherlands used to be seen as the most enlightened and enthusiastically multicultural country in Europe. Now the country - like others in Western Europe - is suffering an identity crisis. Multiculturalism itself has become discredited.

Critics say it created conflict by encouraging minorities to separate from mainstream society. The new buzz word is 'integration'. While the relationship between Dutch Muslims and the rest of Dutch society remains uneasy, new 'integrationist' policies emphasise the importance of the Dutch language and the centrality of democracy and liberal values such as women's and gay rights.
So did the old Dutch model fail? Is a new one emerging and should minorities be obliged to adopt Dutch values, as immigrants in the United States become American?

Day opening - March 21

'Spring time'
Photography by Belgin Zeytin.
The next week, every day a new photo of her here!

Friday, March 20, 2009

End "Corrective" Rape of Lesbians in South Africa

A new ActionAid report describes the shocking rise of "corrective" rape in South Africa - in which South African lesbians are being raped in an effort to "cure" them of their sexual orientation. Support groups in Cape Town say they see 10 new cases of "corrective" rape every week. And it's even more widespread around the rest of the country.
For more info and sign the petition, read hereeeee

You want to be a millionaire...

Day Opening - March 20

A very very old cycle.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Saudis and the Palestinians

Military sources disclose that Saudi intelligence services are deep in recruitment for a new radical Islamist terrorist militia in the southern Gaza Strip towns of Deir al Balakh, Khan Younes and Rafah, with Egyptian blessing. More than 1,000 Palestinians have joined up in two weeks, poached from the extreme Hamas fringes and the Salafi sects.

And there is morree

Day Opening - March 19

Entrance to the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Paranoid Society - My book

My book, the Paranoid society, will be published next year. March 2010 is the month scheduled. And it will be in print English only. First feature: 10.000
Will keep you updated.

Always Fun; Finals of Turkish Olympics held in Holland, Norway

Students who will represent the Netherlands and Norway at the 7th International Turkish Olympics being held in İstanbul in June competed in their national finals on Sunday evening.
And there is morreee

Statement #13

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live in gratitude is to touch Heaven.

From: a Grateful Heart

Day Opening - March 18


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Statement #12

Children like to think they are less bigoted than their parents. In fact, they are simple bigoted about different things: fatties, smokers and people who drive Humvees, rather than black or homosexuals...

Day Opening - March 17

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turkish education system teach you how to discriminate

The ongoing tussle in Turkey between the Islamists and the secularists (both are Turks btw) leave no open space for what’s really wrong; the education system which is merely based upon racism, superiority (based upon an inferiority complex in my opinion) and patriarchal thinking. No wonder that ‘stealing from non-Muslim Turks and yabanci’ is completely institutionalized.
Here some examples of textbooks which spread hatred infuriated the killings of foreigners aka non-Muslims, shows anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and more of that stuff which made Hitler so popular in the thirties of the last century in Germany and made Mussolini such a lovely guy in Italy. I don’t know if I have to laugh or cry, but I really feel pity for all those kids who have to read this, since in the end they simple are indoctrinated from the beginning until the final class of their education. No wonder that Turkish educational system ranks among the worst in the OESO countries.

Some excerpts:

“Islam is the religion which attaches most importance to cleanliness.” (Z. Sert (2007) Lise Health Studies, p. 11, Ankara: Ministry of Education Pulications).

“We are Turkish, we are superior to everyone else.” (M. Ulusavaş (2007), Middle School Traffic and First Aid, p. 47. Ankara: Ministry of Education Publications).

“Sink it in the Black Sea and let the anchovies eat it, but…is there any use for anchovies fed on gavur (derogatory term for non-Muslims) meat?” (N. Özdemir (2007) Primary School Music 6-7-8, Teacher’s Guide Book, p. 148, Istanbul: Ministry of Education Publications).

“Countries in the region and developed countries with an interest in the region are uncomfortable with the fact that Turkey is becoming stronger…Turkey’s geopolitical characteristics make it a target for more internal and foreign threats. Turkey is facing and will always be facing internal and external threats.” (N. Yavuz (2007) Primary School Turkish Republic History of Revolution and Kemalism 8, p. 170, Istanbul: Prizma Publications).

And more herreeee

Statement #11

If one person becomes a bit saner, another will become that bit madder; if one group starts to act normally, another will start freaking out!

From 'the Quantity Theory of Insanity'.

Computers will take over

Ray Kurzweil, Bill Gates favorite writer (because he can predict the future of the computer industry) wrote a book: 'singularity'. And in that book you can find this picture: The system goes on-line August 4th, 2013. Skynet becomes self-aware at 2:14, August 29th 2013. Wow!
Computers no longer struggle to make sense of what they see, they can instead outperform humans. Write down in your agenda: Agust 29, before it's too late...

Day Opening - March 16

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Independent for one day.

Ruthenia was once independent...for one day. On March 15th, today exactly seventy years ago, it enjoyed its sole day of independence. Declared in the morning and snuffed out in the evening by an invasion from neighboring Hungary. Ruthenians have had little joy since. Maybe the only famous Ruthenian, Andy Warhol, once said: 'I come from nowhere'...

Guns and Religion

Think twice when you want to attend a mass or sermon in your neighborhood.
I love this picture, made in Pakistan, published on Brianca her blog...

Immigrants families from Morocco and Turkey suspect of fraud

The Dutch social benefits authority SVB is tightening controls on Dutch-Moroccan and Dutch-Turkish families with children who live on their own in their country of origin. Families of children aged between 12 and 17 in the Netherlands can claim nearly 280 euros a quarter in child benefit. (up to 700 YTL every three months) If the child lives independently in another country, the parents may still be entitled to claim benefit. And providing their child is living abroad specifically to study and does not have earnings above a given threshold, the parents can claim double the amount of benefit to make up for their extra maintenance expenses. The regulations apply to EU countries, and also other countries that have signed a cooperation agreement with the Netherlands, which include Morocco and Turkey. Random checks have shown that the claims of 54 percent of Moroccan families with children abroad were suspect, as were those of 31 percent of Turkish families. An SVB spokesperson told press agency Novum that the fraud includes families claiming a child lives independently in Turkey or Morocco, when in fact they live with family. SVB will now intensify its checks on families claiming benefit for children studying in Turkey or Morocco.

Day Opening - March 15

"Nightwatch" by Rembrandt.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Swimming in the Netherlands

In indoor swimming pools is the rule that male swimmers can not wear a T-shirt, or or a swimsuit with pipes over the knee. But the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission has ruled that a council-run swimming pool in the eastern town of Hengelo acted illegally when it banned the wearing of the garment known as a "burkini." The burkini, which leaves only the head, hands and feet of a swimmer uncovered, is worn by Muslim women who adhere to the strictures of their faith regarding dress. The commission said the ban was an unnecessary encroachment on the freedom of religion. Nonsense; this will give 'regular swimmers' an uneasy feeling.

A woman, a day

Jenny already wrote about this yesterday, but it’s worth mentioning here; the independent news site Bianet is tracking the murdering of women in Turkey since March 1 of this year. And guess what? Every day one woman is killed in Turkey, often by relatives. You can see the list here. And if you look after the reasons why they are killed, you only can conclude that there is something deep rooted wrong in the Turkish society. The rapes, harassments, domestic violence etc. are not mentioned.

Day Opening - March 14

"Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1"
by Gustav Klimt.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Amsterdam police foils terror attack on shopping mall

Seven people have been arrested in the Netherlands on suspicion of planning a terror attack on an Ikea furniture store and a number of shops near the Ajax stadium in the capital Amsterdam.

The arrests follow a telephone warning to Amsterdam police late on Wednesday evening, police chief Bernard Welten said on Thursday evening. The caller from Brussels said three people were planning an attack using explosive devices in or near a major department store in the southeast of Amsterdam. The aim was to cause as many casualties as possible, the caller said.

Public prosecutor Herman Bolhaar told the press that the caller was a relative of one of the perpetrators of the train bombings in Madrid, five years ago. The six men and one woman who were arrested are between 19 and 64 years of age; all of them are Dutch citizens of Moroccan origin. All of them are charged with preparing an act of terrorism. After these arrests, police say the threat has been eliminated, but the prosecutor added that more people may be arrested.
In addition to the arrests and a number of house searches in the Dutch capital (picture), police in Belgium carried out house seaches in Brussels.
In the course of Thursday morning, the Ikea store and a number of other shops in the area were evacuated. The shops are on Arena Boulevard, named after Ajax's Arena football stadium which is nearby. The shops and the Heineken Music Hall remained closed all day. It is not clear when they will reopen; the police search for hidden explosives is continuing.

Statement #10

Nationalisation carries risks, but it may still the best way to deal with American banking's undead.

Day opening - March 13

One of the flowers to be sold at the Keukenhof, the Netherlands, today...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Turkey; a polarized society

Projects and amount of money the EU spent yearly in Turkey on civil society activities.

When I lived in the USA, people were pretty divided regarding politics, if you spoke about politics at least. Here in Turkey, people are not only divided but the society at large is enormous polarized. Sometimes it looks like that you don't have a choice in how to be: you are a secular fanatic or a religious conservative bigot as Mustafa today pointed out. If you are not one of them you are automatically the opposite, no gray allowed. The media is attacking each other as well, acting like a political party and be a political factor of importance. In fact, journalists become personal and delicate in their attacks. I find this a worrisome development Therefore; the tendency towards a more "polarized" society must have a central place in the Turkish political debate. Fears that the splitting of the society into "two nations" could drive social conflict to levels that have been unknown in Europe since 1945. The combination of this polarization with other individual factors such as race or religion is an additional factor of concern in my opinion. In sum, there are growing signs of social clustering and polarization and these phenomena seem to favour the raise of social unrest. Even e-groups debates are highly run by emtonions; rational comments and nuances are waved away with a cynical undertone. Or is Turkey finally maturing, I don't think so. And as long as reactive behavior plays a key-role, the blame-the-other factor, and nationalisme and xenophoby are embraced and exploit, I don’t see progress towards integration in the EU, although billions of Euros spent (see chart)
Here the latest from the EU regarding Turkey.
Turkey is still a 'Generals Republic'.

Day Openıng - March 12

Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, Hungary. Art Nouveau

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Photographs unravel Turkey's ethnic tapestry (IHT)

SAMSUN, Turkey: They were suspected to be missionaries. Then fugitives. But when the motley band of Turkish intellectuals finally arrived in this Black Sea city last month, people seemed to understand that they really only wanted to tell stories.

The group - a Kurdish feminist, an Armenian writer, and an academic and a photographer, both Turkish - were presenting a book of photographs of people from Turkey.
The book counted 44 different ethnicities and sects across Turkey, and captured them in pictures dancing, eating, praying, laughing and playing music. If it sounds innocuous, it was not. Turkey, a country that has had four military coups in its 85-year history, has a very specific line on cultural diversity: Anyone who lives in Turkey is a Turk. Period.
Attila Durak, a New York trained photographer, compiled the book, traveling around Turkey for seven consecutive summers, living with families and taking their portraits.
And there is morreee

Day Opening - March 11

Gaudi House.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The life and death of farmer Hans

The life and death of farmer Hans by Freek Staps

The credit crunch has many victims. Some have lost their homes, other their jobs. And some, like Dutch immigrant Jelle Hans Reitsma in California, have even lost their lives.

On the last Friday before Christmas, 41-year-old Roxanne Reitsma woke up with a start. It was only 4.20 a.m. but her husband Jelle Hans was not lying next to her.
In normal times, this wouldn't have worried her. Jelle Hans Reitsma (37) was in the habit of getting up before dawn to inspect his 18,000 cows or to check on the dozens of workers who keep his farm in Corcoran, California, running day and night.

And there is morree

Tibet; 50 years under Chinese rule

After a half century of repressive Chinese occupation, Tibetans all over Tibet are rising up to demand their freedom and human rights.
But China has sent extra security troops yesterday to Tibet to guard 'its international borders'. Today it will be 50 years since the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, fled to India following a failed uprising against Chinese rule. China wants to prevent the anniversary from being used for what it calls "sabotage activities". The 10th of March marks also the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising of 1959, when more than 86,000 Tibetans were slaughtered by Chinese troops. More info herrreee

Day Opening - March 10

Buena Vista Social Club. I love them!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Some notes on arrest warrant issued against Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Formally the arrest warrant issued against Omar Hassan al-Bashir is the next step in the legal process against the Sudanese president, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court prosecutor in July 2008 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. But in reality, the first arrest warrant against a serving head of state, issued on Wednesday by the ICC in The Hague, is a political move.

Within twenty-four hours the concensus on the arrest warrant was shattered. In Sudan, Bashir, who refuses "to kneel to colonialism", immediately ordered overseas aid organisations to leave the country. This threatens an even greater catastrophe than the current one of some 300,000 dead and nearly three million displaced. This leaves Bashir indifferent. There is no way back for him.

There are signs of international polarisation as well. The African Union and Arab League want the UN Security Council to suspend the arrest warrant. The African and Arab worlds already consider the ICC an instrument of a one-sided western legal system. China supports this because the arrest warrant is likely to delay peace in Sudan. China has huge oil interests in the country and takes a more hands-on approach to peace in Africa's largest country than for instance the European Union.

But this does not make it improper to ask whether the arrest warrant could have an adverse effect. There are currently more scenarios that point to a further worsening of the political and humanitarian situation in Sudan and even the whole region. "A gamble with unknown consequences and very high risks," according to the British writer and anthropologist Alex de Waal, director of the non-governmental organisation Justice Africa.

The arrest warrant certainly illustrates the tension between principles and politics. Sometimes a fundamental truth leads to peace, as happened in South Africa after apartheid. In Sudan, the straight and principled path looks impassable. The political consequence could be that trying Bashir is pointless and that the arrest warrant will merely feed resentment against the west.

The opposite argument is also valid. Bashir does not recognise international law, but the arrest warrant does increase the pressure on (and isolation of) Bashir. Accomplices and counterparts elsewhere in the world now know they too can be indicted and run the risk of being accused of crimes against humanity. So the arrest warrant can send a preventative signal.

This does however demand that the case is brought to a conclusion. If this fundamental first case against a serving head of state does not reach a verdict, it will not be beneficial to the status of the ICC as the guardian of universal standards or for the international consensus that the horrific violence in Sudan must come to an end.

And what about Turkish local elections...

Dutch Minister calls for integrity in local government

Dutch Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst believes local officials and politicians should be better instructed in what is acceptable behaviour for public servants. On the Dutch political television programme, Buitenhof, she said too many local politicians had displayed a lack of integrity recently.
She was referring to incidents including the scandal surrounding the mayor of Den Helder, Stefan Hulman. He was found to have been receiving allowances for two homes, and it also transpired that he had submitted a huge number of dubious expenses claims.
Ms ter Horst says this sort of behaviour brings local government into disrepute.
While in Turkey, local corruption is not a scandal but accepted as 'normal',

Day Opening - March 9

Unknown Chinese opera actress.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The arrival

Soft, warm sun rays awake the world from her winter sleep, accompanied by birds who hesitatingly sing their first notes this year. And already the day is over, all of a sudden the windows cry dense tears.

In like a lion and out like a lamb, march ends this Sunday with a promising memory of upcoming spring. How delightful.

Ape, mankind

My favorite philosopher F. Nietzsche asked once; 'what do you really see if you see a monkey?'. 'Something when you look in the mirror or...something you are ashamed of'. He, we all were babies once...

Statement #9

The True Cost of Global Obsession is thousands of lives yearly; miners digging for gold.

Day Opening - March 8

Daria Pavlenko .

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New(s) from the USA: God Hates You

Never been confronted with such a blatant hate group as that of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), headed by Fred Phelps and based in Topeka, Kansas.
On their websites GodHatesFags.com and GodHatesAmerica.com, they express condemnation of LGBT, Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Sweden, Ireland, Canada, The Netherlands, and other groups. Their core opinion, based on its Biblical interpretation, is that nearly every tragedy in the world is God's punishment for homosexuality. You must be a lunatic to think like this.
Today they will demonstrate and try to disrupt (!) the memorial ceremony to be held for the victims of the Turkish Airlines jet that crashed near Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on 25 February killing nine people and injuring 80. The gathering at a hangar will be attended by victims, relatives and a large number of dignitaries. And I really hope that if they disrupt indeed, all will be jailed for a long time. In the USA, this group has been disrupting military funerals with anti-gay protests on the grounds that the soldiers died fighting for a land that tolerates homosexuality. And the plane crash of last week is God's punishment of the Netherlands. Sick!!!