Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
The Netherlands legalised euthanasia for adults in 2001 in cases where the patients are suffering unbearable pain due to illness with no hope of recovery, and ask to die. Several doctors must agree before a lethal cocktail of sedatives and painkillers is administered.
In 2006, that policy was expanded to include newborns with extreme birth defects, who can be killed at the request of their parents.
The commission set up to vet whether guidelines are followed in such cases said doctors did not report any incidences in 2007, the commission's first year of operation.
Studies in the 1990s found that 15-20 such babies were probably euthanized illegally each year in the Netherlands, a country of 16 + million people. Doctors were hardly ever prosecuted because authorities were reluctant to press charges in a country where euthanasia has been widely accepted as ethical.
The panel of medical and ethical experts wrote in a report sent to Parliament that one explanation for the absence of reported infant euthanasia cases may be that foetuses with dire defects are being detected via ultrasound examinations and aborted before the 24th week of pregnancy.
The commission said members plan to visit all neonatal intensive care units in the country this year to encourage more reporting of euthanasia.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The film "Mustafa" depicts the inner life of a lonely chain smoker and a national hero -- and it has unleashed a furore in Turkey. Every day the protagonist smokes three packs of cigarettes, drinks one bottle of Raki and endless cups of Turkish coffee. He is an utter melancholic but he wins a war, creates a republic and revolutionizes a society.
Well-known filmmaker Can Dündar is breaking new ground and taboos by showing the dark side of the nation's father figure, even though it is laced with admiration -- and all this on the 70th anniversary of Atatürk's death.
But for devout Kemalists, the film is a declaration of war. Voices like Deniz Baykal, who heads the opposition party CHP or Israfil Kumbasar, a columnist at the ultranationalistist daily Yeni Cag, are calling for a boycott.
A particularly strong line has been taken by the diehard Atatürk supporters at the powerful Kemalist Thought Association, which sees the film as a front for a foreign conspiracy which aims to weaken the Turkish nation. "The collaborators of imperialism, the supporters of the Sharia and those pretending to be Republicans have been trying to demean Atatürk and destroy his revolution for years.
On Monday, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül showed that the seven-decade anniversary can also be celebrated in another way -- one perhaps more to the liking of the Kemalist Thought Association. At a ceremony at the Turkish embassy in Brussels, he gave a lecture on the difficult formation of the Turkish State and the expulsion of Greeks and Armenians, a fact which Gönül described as a "very important step." At the end of the day, he said, modern Turkey would not be as we know it, "if Greeks still lived on the Aegean and Armenians still lived in different parts of Turkey today."
Turkish politics professor Baskin Oran was well aware how strong Gönül's words sound beyond Turkish borders. "Because the Armenians and Greeks from Anatolia were sent away, industrialization was been delayed by at least 50 years," he said.
His colleague Dogu Ergil went a step further: "If the population of the Ottoman Empire had come to terms with its multiculturalism and many ethnicities, we would have long been part of the European Union. To govern such pluralism, a pluralistic democracy would have emerged."
And there is morrreee
I don't know any European country, with the exception of the totalitarian regime of Belarus, which prosecute:
students expressing their opinion;
a news channel which shows the testimonies of people who are being tortured;
a news channel and a newspaper for publishing a report about the Hrant Dink murder;
while at the same time it took the current government 1 1/2 years to finalize a report about the Dink murder while the newspaper of Dink still receives racist threats.
And director Can Dündar, director of the documentary 'Mustafa' is now facing a criminal complaint, accusing him of insulting the founder of Turkish republic.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Vogelaar’s position has been difficult for some time but the final straw was her decision not to go ahead with plans to set up a separate register listing the names of Antillean youths who are considered to be trouble-makers.
Last week she survived a vote of no-confidence over her handling of financial problems surrounding a 200 million euro investment in a cruise ship by the Rotterdam housing corporation Woonbron.
Officially, Labour says it withdrew support for its minister because of her failure to achieve results. But Vogelaar told a news conference she did not agree with this criticism and does not share the party leadership’s stance on a number of issues, leaving her with no option but to quit.
And she criticised Labour’s position on the question of integration, saying that the party does not have a clear standpoint that is accepted by all its members. The emphasis on "getting tough" is not the answer, she said.
Last year Vogelaar provoked the anger of the right-wing by suggesting that in two hundreds years time, the Netherlands may have a Christian, Jewish and Islamic tradition. More recently, Vogelaar contradicted Labour leader Wouter Bos when he urged politicians not to be afraid of polarisation in the debate over integration.
Commenting on the resignation, Bos said that despite all her efforts, Vogelaar "found herself in a situation where she was unable to give effective leadership and drive through solutions for one of the biggest questions facing Dutch society: how do we ensure that people with different cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds can live together peacefully?"
Amsterdam lawyer Eberhard van der Laan has been named as her successor. Van der Laan (53) was a city councillor for the Labour party in Amsterdam in the 1990s. He is joint founder of the independent Amsterdam law firm Kennedy van der Laan.
Since European governments, like the Dutch government, take 50 to 55 cents of every euro earned, it is more efficient to forgo a day’s earnings to weed the garden or paint the walls than to hire somebody else, who would charge 20 euro per hour or more to do it.
Nothing would be wrong with people spending a nice day working in the garden if western Europe did not have such a large supply of low-skilled workers, mostly first and second generation immigrants. In the Netherlands, 65 percent of the young adults (age 20-34) with Turkish and Moroccan backgrounds have no high school diplomas. Their Dutch language skills are poor or non-existent. According to one government report, 79 percent of (first and second generation) Turkish and Moroccan women are unfit for the Dutch labour market. In New York City, on the other hand, 65 percent of first-generation female immigrants have a paid job.
In the Netherlands, non-western immigrants (age 15-65 years) are three times more likely to live on public assistance than other people in that age group. At the same time, hiring a nanny is too expensive, if one can be found. This discourages highly educated women from pursuing a successful career.
You see more incongruities of this sort in the Netherlands. There are long lines at the checkout because hiring cashiers is too costly. For a simple manicure one has to make an appointment two weeks in advance. And even on a sunny day in early spring, some outdoor cafes in Amsterdam remain closed for lack of personnel.
Paying high social benefits to the out-of-work increases the tax burden on professional incomes, which encourages high-skilled workers to take more time off. The leisure trap, which may seem cosy to some, keeps both the best educated and the least educated out of the workplace. As a result, most Western European immigrants are forced to spend their lives in subsidised isolation. We have seen some of the sobering consequences with the rioting in Paris banlieues and the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.
Heleen Mees (1968) lives and works as a consultant in New York City. She became a columnist NRC Handelsblad (in Dutch) after voicing criticism about the low number of Dutch women pursuing high-powered careers.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Some 66% of young people thinks the balance between rights and responsibilities has tilted in the wrong direction, according to the survey.
Parents spoil their children too much and do not teach them to take others into consideration.
The survey also says that 75% of older generations are not happy with the way children are raised. Happy
Child-centred upbringing has been the trend in the Netherlands since the 1970s as a result of smaller families and growing prosperity and this had led to a generation which is demanding and self-centred.
But Dutch children are also the happiest in the western world, according to a World Health Organisation survey in 2008. The report found they are the most pleased with life, get on well with their parents, have a large social network and like their schools.
A UNICEF report a year earlier also found that Dutch teenagers are the happiest in the developed world.
Although the June 2008 ad is a bit unorthodox (remember, they are trying to sell you a used car!), I think it is wicked funny and I love its sarcastic tone. Kudos to BBDO Athens. The team includes creative director Theodossis Papanikolaou, art director David Kaneen, and a very sharp copy by Daphne Patrikiou.
In order to see how refreshing this ad is, let’s have a look at a very boring used BMW car campaign by Change Communications in Warsaw, Poland. The March 2008 campaign promotes that the cars are, “Barely driven” with the use of seemingly new BMW cars in the ads. One car had a little stone stuck to the wheel, another had a tiny splash of mud, while the third had a little bug stuck near the headlights. Ummm.... so that’s how good these used BMW cars are.
The uninspired campaign is the work of creative directors Jakub Korolczuk, Ryszard Sroka, art director Rafał Ryś, copywriter Maciej Klimek, and photographer Peter Hetzmannseder.
If we combine the copies from both campaigns, we get something like: You’re not the first, but it’s barely driven…
The 0.7 percent target was set in 1970 by the United Nations. But so far, of the 27 EU members, only the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg have met the target.
To keep the pressure on member states to meet the 2015 deadline, ministers have now agreed to state how they plan to increase aid spending when outlining their national budgets.
Tuesday’s meeting was initiated by Dutch foreign aid minister Bert Koenders who says the credibility of the EU is at stake because so many members do not comply with the 0.7 percent norm. "Our partners in developing countries should be able to rely on us to keep our word, even in hard times. Only then can we ask them to do the same," Koenders said after the meeting.
The EU spends a total of 45 billion euros on foreign aid a year. Most of that money is distributed by the individual countries; the EU’s own budget is 6 billion euros.
The confirmation of the 0.7 percent rule comes at a time of increased political debate about Dutch aid policy. The right wing Liberal party VVD has called for 50 percent cuts in Dutch aid spending. Minister Koenders has said the idea is out of the question.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Parliament called for a ban last year after the death of a 17-year-old French tourist who is believed to have eaten so-called magic mushrooms before she jumped off a bridge in Amsterdam.
According to Amsterdam health service figures, ambulances were called out 149 times last year to deal with people who had taken hallucinogenic mushrooms. Most incidents involved young tourists, especially from Italy and Britain, who often come to Amsterdam because of its reputation for easily available drugs.
'Magic' mushrooms are sold at 180 so-called smart shops in the Netherlands. Paul van Oyen of the association which represents these shops, expects half of them will have to close down because of the ban. "There are 40 smart shops in the centre of Amsterdam that cause problems and the entire branch is the victim," Van Oyen said.
In a statement last year the Dutch health ministry said the "unpredictable character of mushrooms" was the deciding factor for the outright ban. "Hallucinogenic mushrooms have been proved to cause dangerous results, sometimes with fatal results," a ministry spokesperson said. Health minister Ab Klink (Christian Democrats) has to implement a ban from next month.
The ban comes at a time of political and social debate on the Dutch policy of tolerating soft drugs such as cannabis and mushrooms. This weekend the parliamentary leader of the Christian Democrats Pieter van Geel called for a complete ban on cafes where marijuana is sold.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
A very common question or questions that you make to yourself at this point is: "From where should I begin? What should I write? Will I be objective and well understood?"... Thinking about all that, sets the whole procedure of writing as a labyrinth with no easy way to find exit.
Well, I know that my country, its people, its heritage, its history, my language are topics of great interest... and I am also aware that in such a blog with quality as "internation musing" is a right place to motivate discussions, to exchange ideas and to reinforce the wish, the common wish to learn "a little bit more".
As for language, only recently I found an excellent website (www.akwn.net) from Spain; its owner and administrator is a Spaniard Professor (Catalonia), that presents world news in ancient Greek (attic dialect) which that is its main objective! As he also notes:
"It is possible that a lot of people who at the beginning feel the desire of studying the language of Pericles give up because of the fear that an original Greek text from an original author inspires, maybe too sudden a collision, and because of the sensation that, out from these texts, it is not going to be useful for anything else. If we remember that for several centuries Greek was the “lingua franca” around all of the eastern Mediterranean (and in the western Mediterranean it was the “lingua docta”), maybe the claim that it be used, within its possibilities, as a present cultivated way of communication, as Latin is, is not too far. If the great figures of Latin literature themselves used to consider Greek as a language worthy of being learned and used, why not do it?"Further more, I believe some of you have had Classic or Byzantine courses at the university or high school (I still remember a Swedish friend of mine that we first met in Tokyo and when she found out I am Greek, she started talking ancient Greek to communicate with me) and maybe it is a very good idea to refresh your knowledge in ancient Greek... or to use the language as a way of conversation with other people who share the same appreciation and love for ancient world as well.
Personally, I do not consider ancient languages like Latin as "dead" languages. I don't like this description and to be honest - speaking about Greek - even for us that Greek is native language and of course modern Greek is much more different and easy from ancient Greek, the knowledge of ancient forms of our language helps a lot to learn much better, easier and correctly the present form that we speak. And that is true! For example, people of my age had the chance to learn at elementary school the old poly tonic system that comes from ancient Greek. People of my age usually don't make mistakes while writing. People like in my brothers age and younger (my brother is 3 years younger than me) finds it very difficult to write correctly because they were never thought why they should write by this way or the other...
Many academics among other, from time to time, are expressing the opinion and suggest to bring back the polytonic system but as things are in the field of our educational system I am not very optimistic that this suggestion could become reality shortly in present or later in the future.
The ruling party’s shift from a reformist line to a more status-quo stance in the handling of critical political issues has recently seen a visible withdrawal of support from liberals and the Islamist media. This drift in political stance has been marked on many occasions by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recently adopted more nationalist language and pro-state and pro-military policies on crucial issues, including the Kurdish issue and the military’s role in politics. He has failed to present himself as a leader who once promised European Union reforms, resulting in attacks from even Islamist pundits and pro-government media. "The ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is undergoing a weary period as a result of the closure case and its lack of a global vision. It cannot achieve the fulfillment of expectations [on domestic issues] and a global vision at the same time," Mehmet Altan, chief columnist for daily Star who is known for his liberal views, told the Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review. The AKPgovernment has raised its nationalist voice prior to upcoming local elections, scheduled to take place early next year, to draw votes, but the real problem has been the government acting in line with the military on most policies and on issues that matter, said Altan."This is a government that does not fight the understanding of the 1982 Constitution made by the military. ’Ankara’ [the army and commanders] is becoming more and more visible in policies, just as they did during the rule of the Motherland Party, or ANAVATAN, the first party to come to the power in 1983, just after the 1980 coup. Ankara should be more globalized," he said.
Among the critics are conservative Yeni Şafak author Fehmi Koru who said Erdoğan had started out as an Obama but has now become a Bush, as well as co-editor-in-chief of liberal daily Taraf, Ahmet Altan, who criticized Erdoğan for leaving aside liberal and reformist policies on EU reforms, the civil constitution and the renewal of the legal system.
"He preferred to be a spokesman for the state more than a spokesman for the public," he wrote in an article.
Amid the ongoing tension, Erdoğan and some crucial figures, including those critical of the AKP government such as Altan, came together over the weekend in a surprising meeting at the house of pro-government daily Sabah caricaturist, Salih Memecan. Academics Eser Karakaş and Deniz Ülke Arıboğan and some journalists were present at the meeting, which came amid mounting criticism over the government’s pursuit of a more pro-military policy especially following the terrorist attack in Aktütün in October.
For Professor Eser Karakaş of Bahçeşehir University such a potential transformation should be read within the context of the upcoming local elections. "I am not sure whether the AKP has shown a reversal. But if so, the AKP has done the wrong thing. I think the mayoral elections in March may be influencing such a change," he said.
Echoing Karakaş’s views, Sabri Sayarı of the Sabancı University said the AKP and the Pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, were looking for more votes in the Southeast in local elections.
Meanwhile, for some Islamist pundits, the AKP has not undergone a radical change on critical political issues, having maintained its line on specific issues from the beginning.
Akif Emre, a columnist with conservative Islamist daily Yeni Şafak, said civilians’ failure to participate in politics pushed Erdoğan to align the government with the military. The AKPwas already in consensus with military policy on some issues, including the Kurdish issue. "The AKP and the military always had a good relationship. It was the same during former Chief of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt’s time," he said.
Ahmet Hakan, who came from an Islamist line and now writes for mainstream daily Hurriyet, said the AKP has never become a reformist party since the time they were elected.
"They initiated one or two promising reforms but these were exaggerated by intellectuals. They could not realize the AKP was the same from the beginning," he said. Liberals and reformists believe parties that come to rule with an idealist discourse can carry out important radical changes, but in the end the party cannot maintain unity within itself, said Hakan. He also thinks the liberals and the government had never faced such a clash of opinion.
"Firstly, the government has changed its political stance on the Kurdish issue and insisted on a more pro-state line. Secondly, the AKP has already displayed a reluctant stance in realizing promised EU reforms," he said. The AKP and the military were in-line on the Kurdish issue but then the AKP drew a different, reformist image on the issue due to EU pressure, he said. "But it has returned to its original," he said.
Meanwhile, Deniz Ülke Arıboğan, Bahçeşehir University rector, said the AKP thought a relationship of the government with the Kurdish people could not be established over the DTP, and the contemporary approach by the current Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ, paved the way for the government to pursue a more democratic policy on the issue. "Criticism of liberals stem from disharmony between theory and practice," she said.
Monday, November 10, 2008
While crisis management these days must be handled well by the ruling government, crisis communication must be performed fine by the media as well. It seems that both crisis communication and crisis management are brand new words in the Turkish society when I read what’s going on regarding the Lighthouse scheme.
Although crisis communication and crisis management both include the word crisis, don’t use it interchangeably! Crisis Management deals with the reality of the crisis. Crisis Communications deals with the perception of the reality.
Now the current blown out of proportion ugly public fight between PM Erdogan and Mr. A. Dogan media group lingers on over the scheme the Lighthouse association caused in Germany, I am also astonished over the fact that nobody talks and cares about the victims of this ploy. I am talking here about innocent people who gave money with good intentions, not about the people who betrayed them.
The public fight.
While Mr. A. Dogan might be right in his conclusion that the current government tries to intimidate the media with bully talk, I question whether some of his media outlets are sincere in their intentions to report what really is going on in Germany. I have my doubts; reality and perception are mixed up again. The only thing I know by now, after six years in Turkey, this fight is no longer an ordinary fight since everything is allowed. In my opinion; Better empathize with the community at large. Turkey is still not a country of milk and honey! But let me explain my point of view.
Obsessed with Germany
For more than 40 years, the fact is that Turkey has been strongly connected in some way or another due to its large Turkish community in Germany. Perception is that both countries are assessing each other subjectively and unfairly. But at the same time, I always sense some kind of misplaced inferiority complex among Turkish people when Germany is in the game. So what happened in Germany when Turks were convicted for fraud? The power struggle extended to Turkey and some groups now want to benefit from it. That’s reality.
When a measure of inadequacy (indictment) was made against those Turkish citizens, some parts of the Turkish press jumped like a jackal upon the instance. And even before a verdict was reached, serious allegations were made against the AK Party in general and the PM in particular.
This is all part of the game, and since these allegations were based upon facts, you should always take this serious. Crisis management stands for openness and transparency, not for non-responsive or inappropriate behavior which always leads to spin. The ruling government currently demonstrates this behavior.
It's the non-action and the resulting spin, and not the actions of the media that cause embarrassment, humiliation, prolonged visibility, and unnecessary litigation.
On the other side, some Turkish tabloids could have taught their government a lesson in communication, de facto it’s their job. Unfortunately, I witnessed a lack of understanding in the Turkish media of how to navigate through the whole process. Intense media speculation forced the government to make public statements before it could properly react; and, some in the Turkish media released self-serving messages and made assumptions about the truth without really knowing the actual truth.
Turkey must know by now that an unstable or crucial time of state of affairs will make a decisive difference for better or worse. Ideally, if the PM had tackled his toughest challenge earlier: prepared for leadership for the glare of the local, national and international spotlight he probably nothing had to worry about.
The Lighthouse association charity case may still cause headaches for some politicians in Turkey, I am still baffled why not a single Turkish journalist came up with a story of one of the victims. The same journalists who were silent when Erbakan National View group, Milli Görüs, literally ripped off millions of savings of thousands of Turkish families through ‘green funds’ in the Netherlands earlier this year. Milli Görüs stands for anti-Westernism, anti-semitism and notorious racism: An Turkish ‘export product’ the previous and current Turkish governments turn a blind eye to. But what about the the victims? No word. Compensation? No word.
What to do.
It's sad to see a Prime Minister - overshadowing the current rapprochements between Armenians and Turks and Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and the global financial crisis - his lack of sensitivity, playing the victim card, and showing a lack of communication skills. No statesman words like: ‘We will relentlessly examine every aspect of this scheme to find out what happened, to fix it, talk about it, and see that it won't happen again." And, no use of trained and professional spokespersons. The one-man show must go on. And still, nothing about the victims of these scandals.
Finally, I know why the Turkish General Staff has emerged with the responsible person for communication within the TSK from General Staff colonel to brigadier general; they know how to deal with pressure and still conduct with good ethics. Something I cannot say about Turkish politics and their allies in the media. Ataturk’s words ‘peace at home, peace in the world’ became really empty these days.
(Hans A.H.C. de Wit is a Dutch International Communication Manager based in Istanbul and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The Dutch finance ministry declined to comment on the claims, which were made by Icelandic members of parliament, because of on-going negotiations on a payback scheme.
About two billion euros from the Netherlands was put into accounts at Icesave's parent company Landsbanki. Of this, 1.6 billion euros came from private citizens. The British government has set aside about one billion euros for the 230,000 British citizens who have lost their savings as a result of the collapse of Icesave.
Iceland's prime minister Geir Haarde on Thursday said that the IMF loan and the finding of a solution to reimburse Icesave clients "are two separate things" and that they should not be linked.
The blockade came to light when members of the Icelandic parliament attending a meeting in Brussels heard that European Union countries on the IMF board would not approve the loan until the issue of reimbursements to Icesave customers was solved.
Christos is pretty busy with some business activities and Seda has after 2 years a job in Thessaloniki.
If added several new widgets to this blog. One of them is the Legal guide for bloggers.
Added Bas, a Dutch student in Istanbul to our blogroll: basbasbas.com
Good and interesting blog.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
If God Was One of Us Lyrics
If God had a name, what would it be
And would you call it to his face
If you were faced with him in all his glory
What would you ask if you had just one question
And yeah yeah God is great yeah yeah God is good
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
If God had a face what would it look like
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in jesus and the saints and all the prophets
And yeah yeah god is great yeah yeah god is good
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
He's trying to make his way home
Back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in rome
And yeah yeah God is great
yeah yeah God is good
yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
What if god was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home
Just trying to make his way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to heaven all alone
Just trying to make his way home
Nobody calling on the phone
Except for the pope maybe in rome
Azad will never forget that day in September 2005. It was the day of his wedding in Stuttgart, but for Azad it was filled with hours of shame. "It's really bad, when you have to force yourself to have sex with a relative," says the 20-year-old Kurd. "It's sick. With my first cousin."
When Azad was 16, his parents informed him that he was to be engaged to a cousin from eastern Anatolia, who was also 16. When he refused, his mother threatened to commit suicide. "You will find me hanging from a rope in the basement," she said. At 17, Azad and the cousin were married in a civil ceremony during a family vacation in Turkey. When he was 18 his bride came to Germany, and ornate wedding invitations were sent out. The wedding ceremony took place in a midrange hotel in southwestern Germany. "It was pure horror," says Azad.
Read more herrreee
Although this is not the first card to sport jewels (the diamond-studded Royale MasterCard for Dubai’s elite already did that), there is no shortage of exclusive, fantastic plastic. Witness the American Express Black Card, GK Power’s high-concept cards, the $5M Holiday Dream Card, and the very exclusive Sotheby’s MasterCard, just to name a few.
Lest your wallet yearns one more, here is the Diamond.
Home to Central Asia’s largest economy, Kazakhstan has a two tier banking system, and it seems they are banking on their immunity from the credit crisis.
MasterCard and Kazkommertsbank, the second largest bank in Kazakhstan, are set to issue a MasterCard credit card adorned with gold and diamonds, with a $50,000 credit limit.
The ‘Diamond,’ sports a picture of a peacock for female cardholders, and a winged horse for men, with both versions displaying a 0.02-carat gem.
The targeted VIP customers will have to ante up an annual fee of $1,000, and the cards will be available November 13. Issues are limited to 30 per month.
“The [financial] crisis is also affecting us but we are talking about rich people, they can afford to have such cards,” says Alla Voyakina, Head of International Payment Systems on the card. “It’s a question of prestige to have such cards in your wallet.”
The Kazakh card also comes with a personal card “manager”, available around the clock.
Friday, November 7, 2008
And another bonus: a story about the fact that the EU and Nato are almost the same. This creepy fairy tail is doing well for so many years in Turkey but which is completely NONSENSE: Canada, Norway, Iceland, the USA etc. etc. etc. Are not in the EU and Sweden and Finland for example are not NATO members. Turkish politicians tried and tries so hard to confuse Europe but while blocking all kind of decision making processes Turkey is alienating itself from its allies: This sort of blocking everything makes Turkey’s friends in NATO nervous and this is not in Turkey’s interest either,” a French diplomat said.
In the mean while, TDN is not my home page anymore, back to Financial times.
She plays the aunt of Soraya M. in the movie, The Stoning of Soraya M.
While stoning is officially prohibited by the fundamentalist regime in Iran, every mullah is free to act as he wants. Muslims cannot stone a human being, but when a woman is accused by her husband - rightly or wrongly - of infidelity, she is no longer considered human. This is the true story of an innocent woman stoned to death in modern Iran. Soraya M.'s husband Ghorban-Ali, was a shiftless, ambitious man, prone to rages and dreams of wealth. He wanted to get out of his marriage. When Soraya began cooking for the widowed husband of a friend, he found his excuse. Abetted by village authorities and aided by Islamic law, he accused his wife of adultery. Soraya M. - rendered mute by the injustice of the accusations, exhausted by her husband's constant abuse and her grinding daily routine - said nothing in her defense, and her silence was taken as guilt. Perhaps, too, she knew that her protests would not be heard.
She was taken away, buried up to her shoulders and neck in the ground, and then stoned to death.
From the Book: the Stoning of Soraya M. by Freidoune Sahebjam.
This movie will hit the theaters soon (don't know in Turkey) and according people who watched a pre-release this film will not appear quietly and disappear without notice; a powerful, dramatic, and disturbing representation of a true story.
Here a short synopsis and here the trailer.
Shohreh Aghdashloo in Talking Movies:
“It is an Islamic law that somehow should be dealt with by the government of Iran,” says Aghdashloo “I don't know about the rest of the world in terms of stoning in other countries, in Iran the government has supposedly suspended it but not banned it. I guess they can't interfere with the rules. I don't know what the problem is but it's still there! It's just been suspended.
“[This film] will definitely have an impact on stoning everywhere, not just in Iran. There are other places; Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Somalia. What I'm hoping for is that it will have an impact on all these places where stoning is going on.”
And the culture relativist Erdogan of the AK parti try to silence all kind of critics and pursue still a 'modern Islamic' culture. And another one comes up with lies.
The 266-page report (in Dutch) looked at the position of what it calls 'non-western' immigrants, largely people from Morocco, Turkey, Suriname and the Antilles in Dutch society. The integration of immigrants is a central part of national and local government policy.
The report shows that despite the improvements, boys with an ethnic minority background are still more likely to go into lower level vocational training, drop out of school early and perform less well in exams than their white peers.
For example, around 80% of boys with a Turkish or Moroccan background go to trade schools, compared with 55% of the native Dutch.
On the jobs market, the unemployment rate among young men from ethnic minorities fell from 27% in 2005 to 15% last year. In the native population, the jobless rate fell by just 3%. However, non-western immigrants are twice as likely to be on a temporary or flexible contract than their white peers, the report shows.
The unemployment rate among highly-educated second generation immigrants is now equal to that among native Dutch people, the CBS said. 'Nevertheless, the position of non-white immigrants remains vulnerable, particularly at times of economic downturn.'
The CBS survey also indicates that young men of Moroccan and Antillean origin are still strongly over-represented in the crime figures. They are three times as likely to have a criminal record than their white counterparts and 89% of them will re-offend within 10 years, the CBS says.
But non-western immigrants are also more likely to be victims of crime - especially young men, according to the CBS figures.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
To an outside observer who knew nothing of the intervening years, Europe’s enthusiastic response to Obama might seem to be a natural progression from Le Monde’s declaration of support for America. We know, however, that a great rift separates those two events.
And there is morreeee
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
A school book for primary school children has angered the populist right-wing PVV party lead by Geert Wilders because it mentions Wilders' film Fitna and Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf in the same sentence.
"Both the film Fitna by Geert Wilders as well as the book Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler are based on one-sided opinions,” the book, produced by the Day of Respect Foundation, says.
The foundation, which aims to promote respect among youngsters, has sent the book to two thousand primary schools in the run-up to the Day of Respect on November 13.
Wilders' anti-Islam film Fitna was launched in March and generated widespread protests in many Muslim countries.
PVV member of parliament Martin Bosma has called for the books to be recalled, saying he objects to "children as young as ten being used for political indoctrination".
The foundation's director Corinne Biermans said it had not been the intention of the book to compare Fitna with Mein Kampf. She said she apologised if people felt offended by the awkward phrasing but that there are no plans to withdraw the book and no schools have complained.
This is the last map how FiveThirtyEight.com predict the outcome of the Presidential elections.
With its sophisticated way of polling, this site showed already early May that Obama would be the Democratic nominee. And until so far, they are pretty accurate.
It gives McCain 1.9% chance to win the elections.
This morning Pollster.com gave 273 EV (safe) for Obama; the Democrats don't even have to win in states like Ohio, Virginia, Florida etc. See here their chart.
Last polling by Zogby, 11 - 4 - 08 (this morning released):
The final tally now stands at 54.1% for Obama compared to 42.7% for McCain.
Only a miracle can help John McCain (and of course: fraud, lawsuits etc.)
By Matthew Mosk
Perhaps the most ill-timed press release of the 2008 campaign arrived shortly after 1:30 p.m. yesterday local time (-8 GMT), sent by the Republican National Committee.
The release forwarded word that the California Republican Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, in part because of a visit Sen. Barack Obama made to his dying grandmother.
"Obama for America violated federal law by converting its campaign funds to Senator Obama's personal use," the release stated. "Senator Obama recently traveled to Hawaii to visit his sick grandmother. This was the right thing for any grandson to do -- at his own expense -- but it was not travel that his campaign may fund."
At issue was whether the trip should have been paid for with campaign funds, based on the law that forbids candidates from using such funds to pay for personal travel. The Obama campaign said the trip had been vetted with lawyers beforehand and was allowable. The Republicans argued that, because Obama did not campaign during the quick journey to Hawaii, it should not have been a campaign expense.
But filing the complaint today now seems to have been ill-advised, if not legally, then certainly politically.
Obama and his sister released a statement this afternoon announcing that their grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died peacefully after a battle with cancer.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Foreign secret service organisations have recruited informants in Holland for years without any action being taken, Dutch justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told parliament last week.
For years foreign security agencies have been recruiting informants in the Netherlands without the Dutch secret service being able to expose them. The case of two police officers from Rotterdam who are suspected of working for the Moroccan secret service is the first to actually result in any action.
Parliament took advantage of the Rotterdam affair and that of the imams to warn Morocco that its diplomatic relationship with the Netherlands could be jeopardised if interference with Moroccans who have Dutch nationality does not stop. “Morocco’s tentacles have found their way deep into Dutch society,” said Christian Democrat spokeswoman Madeleine van Toorenburg.
Dijsselbloem: “The way in which Morocco has decided to go its own way is a continual strain on of the bilateral relationship between the Netherlands and Morocco.”
And there is morrreeee
As we wait the final decision, more passion and hope for change expands on the horizon. The Obama train races for the White House with huge numbers of international journalists, editorial writers, and bloggers of all sorts rooting for the Obama Campaign for Change. Why? Everybody worldwide wants change for America--dramatic change and do it now.
While pundits shared comparisons of great past presidents on television, Parade Magazine published a survey (10/2008) of seven traits that two of the greatest presidents embraced. Obama ranked far above McCain in five of the seven, the highest with a 38 percent difference; one trait tied 50-50, and another with a two percentage point margin, Obama in front.
No doubt about it, this election may be close, but the American public has expressed loud and clear their disappointment about the absurd attacks hurled at Barack Obama by John McCain. You'd think a 26-year seasoned senator and former Prisoner of War would think a little closer about what exactly his words imply about our country, our government, our leaders and our citizens.
Additionally, McCain repeatedly tried to create a racial and religious divide in America, along with terror-mongering all attributed to Obama as evidenced at some of the McCain rallies. Need I mention how some berated his racial identity and religion, not to mention incorrectly, over the course of two years?
Sadly, McCain has tried to persuade the American public that Obama maintains ties with terrorists and promotes socialism. He evidently forgot that presidential candidates go through rigorous security clearances at the Top Secret/Special Background Investigation (TS/SBI) level. All members of their family do as well.
In one of the TV ads, McCain says he's been tested. Exactly what test did he receive to reside as our next president? Was he President Pro Tem when we weren't looking? I don't think so. And did running mate Sarah Palin get tested too? Sounds like years of entrenched politics, Bush supporter, maverick and age stand as qualifications. Maverick was never considered a positive quality, unless of course, your job was on Wall Street or in real estate.
Best of all, McCain must see Obama as a formidable opponent who displays all the characteristics of a charismatic leader. If not, then there would be no need for McCain to dream up ludicrous claims about Obama and questionable connections to the underworld. But wait, there's more. Does McCain expect the American public to believe it all?
Think about it, if America wants different results, then we need to get on board the do something really different overhaul train. Let's unload an antiquated infrastructure; try diplomacy and communication with our foes; reinvent health care for the masses; carve new standards for election campaigns; restore ethical values and respect to government; promote racial, religious, cultural and gender equality, and surrender major funds for education renovation, just to name a few.
America needs a president with lots of energy to mobilize an entire nation, and in the words of Colin Powell, a steady hand of leadership. A president must be fit for constant high stress, educated by the best in the world, seasoned in the trenches of America and harbor an acute awareness of world issues. Our president must be a bridge to both youth and maturity, personify cultural astuteness both at home and abroad, and exude a charisma unlike any before to stand up to the long road ahead.
Barack Obama is the only choice for a new America and the restoration of foreign diplomacy and teamwork.
Meisje met de Parel by Johannes Vermeer
In this movie the story behind this painting is told. The girl on the painting (Griet) is represented by Scarlett Johansson. The movie is based on a fictional book of the same name written by Tracy Chevalier.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Claiming he was insulted and slandered through an article criticizing the internet bannings from the legal perspective, which appeared in bianet.org, Adnan Oktar (Adnan Hodja) announced that he was planning to go to court if the said article was not taken off the site.
The article that Oktar thought insulting him was written by Yaman Akdeniz, a faculty from the Law Department of the University of Leeds, and Kerem Altıparmak, a member of the Human Right Center of the Political Science Department of Ankara University, and published by Bianet on October 20.
Reminding that up until today sixty-one sites have been banned by the court orders taken from Silivri and Gebze courts, both Akdeniz and Altan state that the sites were being banned because of a problem in courts’ method of interpretation.
Is there not a way to shut down this guy, banning him from travelling abroad? Maybe some European and American journalists can dig him and put him were he belongs: under intense scrutiny!
Here the full article.
Fowl with Pearls by Michael Sowa
This painting starts to talk to Autrey Tatou's character Amelie Poulin. The painting talks to and about her toghether with Michael Sowa's painting the filmhound and the Piggy Lamp besides her bed.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
At present immigrants have to pay 270 euros towards the cost of the course but Amsterdam city council believes this is one of the reasons people are not attending.
Some 15,000 people in the Dutch capital were expected to register for the course this year but only 4,000 have done so.
The city council decided on Thursday to make the course free of charge in the hope that that this will encourage a bigger take up which has been low throughout the country.
In the future, non-Western immigrants will not be given a residency permit unless they have completed the course.
La Mariée by Marc Chagal
In the 1999 film Notting hill, Julia Robert's character Anna Scott sees a print of La Mariée in the home of Hugh Grant's character, William Thacker. Anna later gives William what is presumably the original.
Friday, October 31, 2008
For the second year in a row, Armin van Buuren has been voted best DJ in the world by a British magazine.
Which Dutch pop musician has a radio show listened to in 40 countries? Which Dutchman was last night voted the best DJ in the world by 345,000 people for the second year in a row. Who gave 140 performances last year, from Rotterdam to Eilat, from Tokyo to Los Angeles?
Armin van Buuren is on a roll. The DJ and producer is on an international victory parade. In March he won two International Dance Music awards, for best European DJ and best radio show. And in January he won the Netherlands' prestigious Popprijs award.
Van Buuren was born on December 25, 1976 in Koudekerk aan de Rijn, a village of just 4,200 people on the river Rhine. His father is a doctor, his mother a freelance journalist.
“It is a musical family,” says brother Eller (27). There was always music at home. When he and Armin were small, their parents and friends would hang out till late at night, listening to music which was just a bit too loud. The two boys would lie in their beds listening.
Van Buuren was a serious child. When he was 10, his mother won a computer and he would spend hours writing programmes for it. His uncle taught him how to experiment with music.
Two years later he went to secondary school in Leiden. There he stood out as a hard worker, says Peter van Rooden, who taught him chemistry for four years.
And Van Buuren was also busy with music. He helped organise school dances and took to the turntables as DJ, buying the latest hits with money he earned delivering newspapers.
“My brother used to cycle to school with his Walkman on,” says Eller. He used to listen to mixes by DJ Ben Liebrand that he had recorded from the radio. It was a revelation.
Van Buuren became a member of Liebrand's fan club and visited his studio and played his hero Blue Fear, a number he had put together using a sampler. Liebrand recognised his talent immediately.
From then on, Van Buuren went to work at Liebrand's studio. He learned a lot, but did not yet see a musical future for himself. In 1994 he started studying for a law degree at Leiden University.
“Armin is not someone to take risks,” says Eller. “If his career in music did not take off, he could always become a lawyer.”
But things did go well for Van Buuren in the music world, particularly as a producer. Blue Fear was a hit in Britain. His colleague and friend Tiësto, another talented Dutch DJ, had just broken through to the big time. He praised the young producer to his manager David Lewis in 1999 who has immediately started pushing Van Buuren into the limelight.
To achieve that, Van Buuren had to improve his turntable skills. “I began by organising a number of residencies for him, such as at Club O in The Hague,” says Lewis.
“That is how I planned his entire career. He has never booked a gig himself. I decide where he plays. I ask how many people will be there, what time he performs and who is on before him,” says Lewis. “The only thing that is important, is what is good for his career.”
Nevertheless, Van Buuren earns an average of 20,000 euros for a performance.
In 2008, the organisation around Van Buuren and his business partners has 22 staff, an elite group of artists, its own events and record labels.
But how long can he stay at the top? “One of my most important jobs is to make sure he keeps both feet on the ground,” says Lewis. “If he has just performed for 15,000 people, I am the one who says 'that was not good'. Luckily, Armin does not tend to arrogance.”
The rapprochement that started with the Turkish president's visit to Yerevan last month to watch a Turkey-Armenia football match has also intensified the efforts of non-political actors in the two countries.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If you read the headline 'Europe Union breaks its silence' then you would expect something spectacular regarding something what's going on in Turkey. Wrong. The EU simple published their annual report about candidate country Turkey.
Here the article and below some excerpts from the report:
Closure case against the AKP: The Constitutional Court did not enact the chief prosecutor's request to dissolve the ruling party and ban 71 of its prominent members, but imposed financial sanctions, thus averting a major political crisis. Now that Turkey has averted a political crisis linked to the Constitutional Court case against the ruling party it needs to resume the process of political reform. The closure case highlighted the importance of amending the rules the political parties so as to ensure transparent financial mechanisms and to bring provisions on the closure of parties in line with European standards. Legislation is also necessary to reinforce the defense of citizens' rights irrespective of personal beliefs or political affiliations and to establish an ombudsman function. Greater dialogue is needed among the country's different political forces in order to build a consensus favorable to reform. Turkey now has a fresh opportunity to advance reforms and establish a climate of dialogue and pluralism.
Problems with judiciary: Concerns remain about the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. There has been no progress on the composition of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors or on establishment of regional court of appeals. Senior members of the judiciary have made political comments in public that go beyond their remit. There is need to improve the quality of investigations of the police and gendarmerie to ensure a fair trial.
Freedom of religion: The adopted law on foundations addresses a number of outstanding property-related issues concerning non-Muslim communities. However a legal framework in line with the European Court of Human Rights, or ECHR, needs to be established so that all non-Muslim communities and Alevis can function without undue constraints.
Minority rights: Turkey made no progress on alignment with European standards. Some limited progress was made on cultural rights but restrictions continue, in particular on the use of languages other than Turkish in broadcasting in political life and when accessing public services. There are no opportunities to learn these languages in the public or private schooling systems.
Situation in the Southeast: The government's decision to complete the Southeast Anatolia project is a step in the direction of addressing the economic and social difficulties of the region. Further efforts are needed to create the conditions for the predominantly Kurdish population to enjoy full rights and freedoms. Compensation of internally displaced persons has continued. However the government lacks an overall national strategy. The village guard system remains to be phased out. Terrorist attacks by the PKK, which is on the EU list of terrorist organizations, continued and claimed many lives.
Civilian oversight of security forces: Political control over the military was applied in practice in the context of military operations aimed at terrorist targets in northern Iraq. Such operations were authorized by the parliament and decided upon by the government. However full civilian supervisory functions and parliamentary oversight of defense expenditure needs to be ensured. Senior members of the armed forces have continued making statements on issues going beyond their remit.
Torture and ill treatment: The Turkish legal framework includes a comprehensive set of safeguards against torture and ill treatment. However more efforts are needed on the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy. Reports on cases of ill treatment and torture, in particular outside places of detention, are a cause for concern.
Freedom of expression and 301: There has been some progress in the efforts to strengthen the safeguards for freedom of expression in particular through the amendment of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. However Turkey needs to establish an adequate track record on the implementation of the revised article.
Constitution: The governing party gave a group of academics a mandate to revise the 1982 Constitution. However no draft has been presented either to the public or Parliament, and no clear timetable has been set for discussing it. Instead the Parliament amended Article 10 and 42 of the Constitution with the aim of lifting the headscarf ban for university students.
Lack of compromise in politics: As regards the democracy and rule of law, the new president played a positive role by calling for further political reforms. However the lack of dialogue and of a spirit of compromise between the main political parties had a negative impact on the functioning of the political institutions and on the process of political reforms. The work of the newly elected Parliament was affected to a considerable extent by legal cases aimed at dissolution the governing party and one of the opposition parties.
Note: In my opinion not only the Turkish government but all decision-making bodies in Turkey are responsible for the standoff regarding progress towards full EU membership.