Saturday, November 22, 2008
The organisation bases its claim on a survey commissioned by the European Commission.
Holland also tops the list in terms of the damage caused by pollution to health, to agriculture and to nature, says the group.
The Netherlands will spend ‘just over one euro per citizen’ on combating the effects of environmental damage in the coming years, says the group.
But it pointed out that much more should be spent because in such a densely populated country as the Netherlands (484 people per square kilometre) costs can be kept relatively low. “The advantages of investments are 80 times higher than the costs,” says the environmental organisation.
Amsterdam is being forced to close 43 of its 228 cannabis-selling cafes to meet national regulations, Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen announced at the presentation of a memorandum on the city's drugs policy.
The cafes, known as coffee shops, have to be closed down by the end of 2011 because they are less than 250 meters from a secondary school. The city currently has some 228 outlets selling marijuana under licence.
One of those set to vanish from Amsterdam is the famous Bulldog cafe on the city’s Leidseplein which is housed in a former police station and was opened over twenty years ago. It is too close to the city's prestigious Barlaeus high school.
Like the majority of mayors in towns where coffee shops sell cannabis, Cohen is happy with the existing policy on soft drugs but would like to see regulation of the whole cannabis trade. "I want an equal policy for soft drugs and alcohol," Cohen said.
Around 25 percent of tourists coming to Amsterdam visit a cannabis cafe, Cohen said. But these tourists cause much less of a nuisance than foreigners who drink alcohol, according to the mayor.
Cohen says too that the Netherlands should not be afraid of the reaction of other countries to its tolerant policy on soft drugs. Cohen: "Research shows that young people in Amsterdam don't use more soft drugs than their peers in France, which has a repressive drug policy."
And there is morreee
“This is brilliant music! One that's definately in my top-ten list,” he assured me. “No way, you’re going to the Slackers?!” Another friend screamed through the phone just before the concert. “They’re one of the best ska bands I know!” This sounds promising, doesn’t it?
And so it was. Ska usually isn't my kind of music, but this band had a good mixture of mellow and up-tempo ska. The sound was excellent since I could hear all the instruments playing, understand the lyrics and the rambling in between. It’s incredible how someone can talk for three minutes with empty words. But the music fulfilled the expectations raised earlier by my friends. It’s that band where young (a ten-year-old) and old (guess seventy five) come together and enjoy it as being one.
While trumpets, trombone and harmonica were blowing through the hall, I recognised more than just some romtidledom in these cheerful tunes. Some roots-reggae and even Frank Sinatra were present. These guys are good! It made me wonder: where does this music come from? So I asked my friend. “No, ska was before reggae, it’s the reggae that came forth from ska. Not otherwise.” He denied the Sinatra-sound, at first. But five minutes later he turned to me and said that indeed this music had the snappy brass band sound from the fifties. “But it must be from around the same period!”
I couldn’t tell and therefore it's worthy to do some investigation. So, after some internet research (I’m sorry, I study in a huge library and didn’t take some books at hand for this) I’m capable of giving a reasonable answer. Ska and reggae go hand in hand. My good friend was right though about reggae sprouting from ska music. It originates from Jamaica and up until ’66 the beats of ska didn't slow down. Influences from soul music from the US, mystic believes from Rastafarism and an extremely hot summer made the ska beats lower its pace and reggae was created.
And even the brass band was mentioned. European soldiers and sailors brought in this type of music. The Jamaican, with their good ears for music, started to use the musical instruments and rhythms so well known from brass music. So no actual Sinatra influences, but definitely the reverberation.
That's two thumbs up. One for the music and one for the good choice.
For those who are interested in more background, have a look at this site. It’s written with a good flow and to the point. Wikipedia tells a bit more about the construction of the music.
Slackers in action. Thanks to rodrigorichter
Friday, November 21, 2008
There are some cities you feel like you have been there before. There are some cities your feelings are indescribable. And there are other cities you are disappointed.
I know you are wondering about “disappointment” word. I was thinking there how many movies we have seen that
To be continued …
~ Cindy Satire on America
America's crime rates are very low - the States rank second in North America (north of the Mexican border). These rates, exemplary to the rest of the developed world, are thanks to America's level of personal safety, which is guaranteed by every citizen owning one or more guns. Therefore, the safest place in the USA is Texas. Detroit is also the safest city in America.
An alternative theory has been suggested by crazy scientists that had been drinking too much night. The theory states that: By creating laws, you create criminals, so by removing laws, you eliminate criminals. Therefore there is such a great opposition to gun control, as it will make everyone who owns a gun a criminal. However, this theory has been dismissed as being a freedom conspiracy to make the rest of the world look better.
American crime is very different from other nations, in that their are many different organized gangs that control the provincial lands. The Vice Lords, the 18th Street Gang, the Costra Nostra, the Jackson 5 and the Butthole Banditos are among the most powerful. These gangs are fiercely territorial and engage in such illicit activities such as armed robbery, extortion, voting, backyard liposuctions and manufacturing illegal sugarbabies. They control a vast majority of local governments through the sale of LSD and key lime pie.
The current president George W. Bush is expected to be sentenced to 798 years in a high-security prison shortly after his presidency is over.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
On 14 April 1987, Turkey submitted its application for formal membership into the European Community. The European Commission responded in December 1989 by confirming Ankara’s eventual membership but also by deferring the matter to more favorable times, citing Turkey’s economic and political situation
2) Although 'accession negotiations' with Turkey were opened on 3 October 2005, according to the mutually agreed negotiating framework , these negotiations are "an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed". At the same time, analysts tend to point out that there has been no case in EU history where accession negotiations, once started, have not led to an offer of full membership.
But more important is; the term "negotiation" is slightly misleading, since, during the accession process, European law (ie the acquis) is to be adopted rather than negotiated.
3) Turkey often refer to the EU as a 'Christian Club'. This is nonsense; there are more Muslims living in the EU (17 million) than Czechs, and Finnish together. But is has to be said, that in some cases, relations between Europeans and Muslims are tense today. Intolerance of Islam by Europeans and reactionary tendencies of Muslims inflame social tensions.
Various debates have developed, especially over the past few years, focusing on the relation between Islamic values, the freedom of religion, and different western norms and values.
But what does Turkey wants from Europe if according to the latest Pew Global Attitudes Survey, Turkey has become one of the most xenophobic countries in the world. More than 70 per cent of Turkish citizens dislike both Christians and Jews.
When the accession talks were started, outside the immediate framework of the accession negotiations, Ankara promised also do its best to reconfigure European public opinion in its favour...the opposition occured.
China and S. Korea have special rehabs for internet addictions. The Netherlands started a couple of years ago with psychotherapy for people who could not handle their internet addiction.
Most women (and most men too) refer to (other) men as "malaka" (asshole, dick, jackass, wanker and also buddy, pal). It is cheesy, but becoming increasingly common, for women to use "malaka" to address other women. Studies haven't been conclusive but an increment in women's balls has been cited as a possible reason.
The typical Malakas driver throws bottles out of his vehicle's window without caring about a possible accident-inducing trajectory or environmental impact. The most appropriate word that describes this attitude is "Ellinaras" (big Greek jerk). This attitude doesn't necessary involve a vehicle. The "Ellinaras" will throw away anything available but useless to him/her wherever possible. Usually it is within 2-3 metres (6-9 feet for drunk Britons) from a designated area for that purpose (trash can, dump site, ashtray etc). In this context, this is the usual, short conversation between two smokers who cannot see the ashtray or bother to ask for one: "-So where's the ashtray? -Right underneath you jerk, the BIG one".
The Greek driver is always the best there is, whereas all the rest are just "malakes" (pl. of "malakas") and is an expert in fast driving, but only just. This can be verified by the geometric increase in the number of vehicle accidents every year, hence the favourite moto: "Going nowhere (but the tree) fast".
Greeks show a particular interest in social topics of the people they know, or don't, and they're masters in the art of Culture Making). The process is widely known as ξεκατίνιασμα (ksekatiniasma) in honour of the Greek actress Katina Paxinou, who is thought to be the first person ever to have collected and recorded the proper rules of conduct. After Pericles, of course.
There is also the race of "psonia" (bought off-ers). It is complicated but in basic principle it's the young people who believe they are better that everyone else and flaunt it. Similar (or better) to chavs. A psonara (the female) can be spotted on the streets of the rich suburb of Kiffisia with a bird's nest hair style, sipping on a Starbuck's frappuchino whereas a psonio (the male) is harder to spot. He has shoulder-length hair or hair-length shoulders, is gorgeous and knows it, very very loud and will hit on anything that moves. Of course, all Greek people use the term loosely for anyone who is annoying them at that moment. Just for the record, you are a psonio too.
Officially there is equality between the sexes, but women are actually paid less. About 40% of the Greek women are engaged in active employment despite their proper place being at home, taking care of the 'malaka'. Greek women are not liable for obligatory military service and they love it; more time spent in shopping! When divorcing, all belongings are equally split between man and woman as neither of them can come to any compromise.
Today a Greek woman may keep her maiden name when marrying and some do just to spite their husband. Greek women only give birth to half as many children, as they did before World War 2; this is probably a master plan of Zionists and Freemasons to reduce the number of Einsteins that have gained the monopoly in the world mind market and that caused many to argue and stop the exports. Arranged marriages are encouraged by law as is the payment of a dowry, so both actually apply but none will talk about it.
The average life expectancy for Greek women is 917 years. For men it's 80 because they can only stand the women for 80 years.
If you're bored/curious/hungry enough to enter a taverna alone, don't expect to be served in a long amount of time. In Greece it's very unlikely that someone eats alone. One is usually waiting for someone or else why leave the flat in the first place? For the waiter it will be very impolite to ask for the order before all the guests have arrived. Though this has changed in the major tourist places, and especially for tourists (who are ridicoulously easy to be spotted), but you can still find such behavior in villages most notably in the island of Crete and pretty much in most other islands.
In Greece you must adapt to GMT but in this case GMT stands (or often sits) for "Greek Mostly Time". The Greek people have a very different attitude to time. When the bus is scheduled to come 10:30 it will come between 10 and 11, depending on the traffic, how many people the driver has met and felt he should talk with, and many other small things. Or a local might tell you that the bus will arrive AFTER 4 pm! Then he hasn't promised too much. The Greek people don't live by the clock. The Greeks also have a different opinion about when it's morning, afternoon and evening. You say Good Morning until 12. If you have agreed to meet in the 'afternoon', the earliest meant by this will be 6:00 pm! In Greece, the evening meal begins no earlier than 9:00 pm. Also no one will think anything of it if you phone at 10.00pm at night.
However, 'siesta' time, between 3 pm and pm is held to be sacred. During a siesta, though, it is very unpopular (often bordering to dangerous and suicidal) to disturb someone. So it's not an oxymoron to hear loud shouts/screams/curses during siesta. These come from people who value this sacred time and they are addressed at the other 'malakes' who don't and who themselves engage in all sorts of activies which they cannot find another time but this to practice, such as drilling, hammering, furniture rearrangement, high-speed motorcycle drive-by's (no shooting though) etc.
Greeks enjoy the fine art of dance. If you tease them for it, they will promptly curse you out in Greek to show their intellectual superiority, then castrate and decapitate you, just to prove a point.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It’s not the daily routine, it’s the inspiration for writing, it’s inspiration for living. Those two things go hand in hand in my life.
And of course it sounds ridiculous. How can someone be stuck after a beautiful trip through South-East Asia? Well, I don’t know. I simply don’t know. So, that’s what I write about now, not knowing and that’s what you now know as well.
That’s it and that’s all.
To finish it with a bit of colour...
Read the ruling by the European Court of Justice
The ruling sets a limit to the rights of EU students applying for grants in other member states.
In April 2005 the court said that students should be “integrated to a certain degree” in the country in which they want to study and receive a grant.
Various EU states, including the Netherlands, have pressed the court to be more specific and asked for a qualifying period of five years to prevent "grant tourism".
In its ruling on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice confirmed that to be eligible for a student grant, applicants must have resided in the country for five years.
The prior case was brought to court by a German national, Jacqueline Förster, who came to study in the Netherlands in 2000. She received student grants from the Dutch authorities until 2003 when the payments were halted.
She was also asked to repay the sums she had already received. Föster, who has since graduated and now works in the Netherlands, took the issue to court, claiming it was discriminatory.
Students under the age of 30 in the Netherlands are entitled to hundreds of euros a month (depending on whether they live with their parents) for the duration of a four-year course. They also get free public transport.
~ Hulk Hogan Bart Simpson Elisha Cuthbert Bill Bennett
“And then Isnogood gave this land to his favoured people, the Turks; with a little help from a baklava supply for life”
~ Hagrid Courtney Love Bill Bailey Jennifer Aniston on the above
~ Stalin on the above
Given that (the invention not the battle!), everyone should be very careful when addressing any issue for any matter at any time regarding any Greeks. Should trouble arise, the Greeks can at any point in time, even in the past (the future is uncertain), switch off the lights and throw whoever responsible back in the dark ages, the ancient times, the palaiolithic era, the bigger the issue the furthest the time-slot. A perfect example that clearly demonstrates such consequences are the Chinese. They never had a rift with the Greeks and now they're the no.1 power. But of course the Greek hand is always close to the switch, so they're aware and tread careful.
It is well known that the Greeks invented two things, civilization and ouzo. It is rarely mentioned that by now, the first one is on life support in the hospital but the second one is increasing in popularity. Early designers could have become famous for the scale and repose of their civic architecture but they didn't think their ideas were worth Parthenon.
Their national dish is moussaka which has some interesting ingredients, however it is served in your hands, because all their plates are broken on Turkish heads.
Greeks and Turks seem to fight over everything in general, while the most popular topics seem to be football, yoghurt and baklava, a dessert so filled with sugar that it might turn deadly when consumed in large amounts. Because both nations well know they'll get really, really bored if they don't fight with each other on any platform possible, the national sport of both countries have lately been posting stupid videos on SueTube, which mainly consist of curses constructed in really bad grammar. The traditional theme of the videos is generally mothers (from each side) getting gangbanged, and surprisingly, goat fucking. No-one knows how interspecies sex can be that big of an insult, but it apparently is a taboo for the youth of both nations, especially when greeks are pretty much offended by it when they do it more regularly in private.
The councils say Latin is no longer widely understood. But classicists say axing Latin phrases is an attack on the foundations of English.
"Think of the number of words from Latin that are now part of the English language: alias, alibi, exit, terminus," said Peter Jones, an academic and founder of the charity Friends of Classics. "Are they going to cut out those words?"
"The English language is a hybrid animal that has adopted any number of words and phrases from other languages which have become a part of English," he added on November 3. "To deny the hybrid nature of the English language is almost like ethnic cleansing of English."
The council in Bournemouth, a town of 170,000 on England's south coast, has a "plain language" policy that lists 19 Latin words and phrases to be avoided, and suggests replacements. The council recommends "improvised" instead of ad hoc, and says "genuine" could replace bona fide.
Salisbury City Council in southern England also advises staff to avoid ad hoc and et cetera, as well as French phrases like "in lieu" and "fait accompli."
The Plain English Campaign, which has been fighting official jargon for 30 years, supported the moves.
"We are talking about public documents where people need to read, understand and take action that may affect their lives," spokeswoman Marie Clair said. "This is information that everybody needs to know about, regardless of their level of education."
Latin and ancient Greek were once considered the cornerstones of a first-class education. But the languages are no longer widely taught in Britain. Friends of Classics says Latin is taught in only 15 percent of state schools - a modest increase from a few years ago.
But Latin's backers say thousands of common English words have Latin roots, and argue that the replacement phrases can be even more difficult to understand. To some ears "existing condition" is less harmonious than "status quo," and "the other way round" less snappy than "vice versa."
Linguistic controversies are nothing new in Britain, cradle of the English language, where people have strong opinions on what constitutes proper usage.
In recent years, officials have moved to avoid language that gives offense to ethnic minorities, disabled people and other groups.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Although there is a shortage of educated and skilled ICT people, and middle and lower educated people, Social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner has delayed the move – until July 1 2009 at least – because of the financial crisis and pending more action to weed out illegal employment agencies.
But Donner also said he wants action to solve the shortage of farm and bulb field workers, the sector where eastern Europeans traditionally work.
The country’s major cities have been urging Donner for a delay in opening the borders, arguing that they need more time to make sure they can cope with the expected influx of foreign workers. Rotterdam council in particular has complained that eastern Europeans, especially Poles, are forming new ghettos in some parts of the city.
Members of parliament have also been calling for a delay.
There are an estimated 100,000 eastern Europeans working in the Netherlands, mostly from Poland.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Seriously, I don't see it. This weekend I was busy getting trampled on by thousands of shoppers in the Mall, and the week before that, trampled on at IKEA. Meanwhile the TV, especially CNN is forecasting doom and gloom as Europe enters recession and pundits predict a drastic downturn in consumer spending. So as I was being whacked by other peoples shopping bags, all i could think of was, 'Hey, where's the recession everyone is talking about?'
Then I remembered that I was in Greece, and everything I learnt in economics doesn't hold.
Greece's huge black economy, estimated at 40% of the total economy, means that for the time being, people are sheltered from the big hit being felt in other European countries. While this is good news for the consumer, it is bad news for the long term and the Government. Since coming to power the government has made it easier for traditional tax-dodgers to evade tax, while passing on the burden to the one-fifth of the work force that is stuck with the bill. This has left the government in a weak position.
Greetings from Vassili in Athens
~ The Dutch on being considered high all the time.
The Netherlands is a fictional land from Peter Pan located in the far west of Europe, It is a Germanic state no matter how many Dutch themselves wish to believe otherwise.They are also the first country who were moronic enough to vote for Harry Potter as their president. It has been manufacturing wooden shoes and windmills for the world-market ever since the Dutch noticed they had ocean-front property, and realized that they could make money off of it. In fact the Dutch can be considered the most Capitalist race in existance, often buying and selling anything: From weed to their own children. The Dutch themselves are also famous for making the Major Germanic Evolution of switching from Beer as their primary energy source to Marijuana.
Because the Limburgians are exterminating the Dutch and because of the giant immigration numbers almost every citizen of the Netherlands is Muslim.
The Dutch themselves have for some reason or another fallen in love with the color orange, and make it a point to cover anything possible in that color (Traffic lights, Tanks, and foreigners.), you are often not considered dutch at all if you don't have at least 4 things in the color Orange on you at all times. The Dutch being the only Germans not to have embraced Red as the true color of a Reich. The Dutch are also unique out of all Germans in that their main energy source is not the blood of their enemies and beer, but Blood and Marijuana.
The new empire will be called The Netherlandss, with the additional S to distinguish it from the former country. Baelkiineondi made a press statement on September 4 concerning the outline for world domiantion plans, and the structure of the new government. Baelkiineondi stated that all this information is "strictly top secret and classified." He subsequtnly issued another press statement on September 5, which simply says, "Oops."
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.