Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


My hands decorated for a friend's wedding..

You might also like this poem, written when a cousin got married two years back : Mehendi

Day Opening - December 15

port of Chamia, Crete, Greece

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Priceless incident

A visitor who fell ill in the Dutch Rotterdam's Boijmans van Beuningen museum has destroyed part of a ceramic art work. The woman fell over on top of an art piece entitled Coloured Vases, created by artist Hella Jongerius. Twenty of the 300 hand-painted vases broke into pieces and 20 others are badly damaged. The damage is estimated to be 100 million euros. The piece which took a year to make will be replaced. Luckily the artist took the news well; she even laughed "It is a priceless accident."

The pope on condoms


Day Opening - December 14

a crazy cat?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christians in Turkey

Muslims flee their countries of origins, mainly to avoid prosecution; the Muslim Brotherhood is strict forbidden in Syria and other Muslim countries in the Middle East. Christians flee the area as well; being a Christian in a Muslim country is allowed but not general accepted. Turkey, which has the most liberal and safe laws for their religious minorities, can be proud about themselves as a Turkish human right lawyer activist an dear friend wrote down:

The Dirili Protestant Church was attacked in January 2005; a hand grenade was found on the roof of the Greek Patriarchate in February 2005. The Antalya Aziz Pavlus Church was set on fire in April 2005. Christian workers of a clothing store were attacked in August 2005. A land mine exploded on a road after a vehicle carrying a Syriac bishop passed by in August 2005. The leader of the Adana Protestant Church, Kamil Kıroğlu, was brutally beaten in January 2006. Father Andrea Santora was killed in Trabzon in February 2006. Members of the Mersin Catholic Church were threatened with knives in March 2006. The Syriac Church in Diyarbakır was raided and members were threatened in April 2006. The Orthodox community in Bergama was protested and not allowed to perform their service in May 2006. The Protestant church in Ödemiş was attacked with Molotov cocktails in November 2006. Priest Francois Rene Brunissen was stabbed in January 2006. Three Christian missioners were slain in April 2007. Priest Adriano Franchini was stabbed in İzmir in December 2007.
This list does not include death threats that churches and their leaders constantly receive. 

Yes, and this is not including the Jewish community, which saw a declining of almost 30% in their Istanbul community in 2009. But take a look at this, then you know how Christians are threated in Turkey:

Weimar Istanbul

A very interesting article by Claire Berlinski from and about Istanbul. Enjoy!

Weimar Istanbul

Dread and exhilaration in a city on the verge of political catastrophe

The City grew rapidly, dwarfing in size and population any other in the country. The streets stimulated like cocaine; horns honked, crowds surged, nerves jangled. To step outside was to be electrified by the harlequinade of roaring colors, bright lights, rushing traffic. Sybaritic nightclubs thrummed until dawn and well thereafter; strange and perverse sights were to be found on every boulevard, in every alley, at every hour, the aesthetic of contradiction between civilization and barbarity heightened by the ersatz baroque of the old architecture and the shocking ugliness of the new. Transvestites prowled, thieves pickpocketed, and in the fashionable cafés, intellectuals smoked furiously and complained of their anomie.

The Old World had vanished, and with it its agrarian economy, its reassuring class distinctions and social order. An alien and fragile political order had been imposed in its place. Experimental music, art, and cinema flourished; fascinations arose with utopianism, fortune-telling, mysticism, communism.

But there was at once a paranoid mood, a sense of impending doom. Markers of the City’s great imperial past evoked its former glory while proving its decline. The art of the epoch was fueled by the fear of imminent crisis and breakdown. Decadent American culture was hungrily emulated, passionately deplored. Painters produced works genuinely shocking to the eye; writers wrote novels so offensive to bourgeois sensibilities as to provoke threats of murder. A misogynistic terror of women dominated cultural and political debate: Had modernity destroyed their virtue?
Continue reading herrreeee.

Day Opening - December 13

Sunset in the city of Bleik Norway

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Arash's World: Feeding your Feelings with Negative or Positive Thoughts and Thinking

Arash's World: Feeding your Feelings with Negative or Positive Thoughts and Thinking

Internations logo up for grabs

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Some music, anyone?

Day Opening - December 12

does this hurts?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Talent show judges "judged": Barry and Stewart


Some poems and poets I like

Lies about love

We are a liars, because
the truth of yesterday becomes a lie tomorrow,
whereas letters are fixed,
and we live by the letter of truth.
The love I feel for my friend, this year,
is different from the love I felt last year.
If it were not so, it would be a lie.
Yet we reiterate love! love! love!
as if it were a coin with a fixed value
instead of a flower that dies, and opens a different bud.

- D H Lawrence

Ab ke bichhde

Ab ke bicchde to shayad khwabon mein mile
Jaise sookhe hue phool kitabon mein mile...

If we part again, perhaps we will meet in dreams
Like one unexpectedly finds dried flowers in books...

Ahmed Faraz
(Translated GG)

To You

STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?

by Walt Whitman (link 1) in Leaves of Grass (link 2)

Memories of a big fat Indian wedding

Indians go crazy in the month of December. Because December is the the most popular month for weddings for logistics reasons. The nip in the air (in some states much more than that) gives women the vague satisfaction that their makeup won't run down in sweat. Aunties and 20-somethings alike let their hair down and dress up. And how! I have attended and have to attend quite a few weddings of some dear friends and it has been great till now.

My friend was dressed in a gorgeous red saree, the colour that symbolises womanhood and marriage. Dazzling with choice jewellery and wearing the demure, nervous charm of a bride-to-be, she looked all set to step into the responsible duty of holy matrimony.

We Indians are a heady mix of regional diversity and each group has its own fascinating wedding ceremony. In Maharashtrian Hindu cermony, the Mangalashtaks - eight holy hymns to bless for a happy married life - are chanted by a priest when a cloth is held as a partition between the bride and the groom. Once the chants are sung, and a final warning given (Shuba Mangala Saavdhaan) the partition is removed and the wedding garlands exchanged.

There's dancing, crazy dancing, and lots of yummy food. Get yourself invited to a big fat Indian wedding. You won't regret it.

Day Opening - December 11

Diago Temple, Kyoto, autumn

Friday, December 10, 2010



by Naomi Shemer

The mountain air is clear as water

The scent of pines around

Is carried on the breeze of twilight,

And tinkling bells resound.

The trees and stones there softly slumber,

A dream enfolds them all.

So solitary lies the city,

And at its heart -- a wall.

Oh, Jerusalem of gold, and of light and of


I am the lute for all your songs.

Hippies (3)


Like, hippies reproduced constantly, any place, any time, any one, man. For ugly people, it was an amazing time. The courting process was very simple; one only had to say, "come on baby, light my fire" and you were goin'. However, for that extra advantage, hippies often refrained from showering for years at a time, which created a distinct body odor that tended to attract female hippies intent on producing mini hippie babies. Some lady hippies have said (those capable of coherent speech, of course) that the smell somewhat resembles the smell of the inside of a sweaty Volkswagen van, and is therefore impossible to resist. Like, other hippies say that the intoxicating mix of human stench, pot smoke, and a ritualistically applied patchouli oil creates a natural hippie pheromone that's like cosmic moonbeams and sunshine rainbows... you know what I mean, dude, man...? The complete and total free love, man, had several setbacks that ultimately caused the total downfall of hippies in the '80s, AIDS and you. Both diseases slowly but surely killed off thousands of hippies in the '80s, and remains a major cause as to why you are so messed up. Just look at the couple above and their disastrous influence on the world of today...peace, man!

Day Opening - December 10

Sunset lavender, Somerset, the UK

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sex and healthcare....

A light smack on the bottom or some suggestive comments while washing – that happens from time to time. But what happens when it extends to sexual gratification? Nurses in the Netherlands prefer not to talk about it. But some do what’s asked of them by the patient.
“’If you don’t do it, you’re not suited to this job,’ he said. I asked which days he didn’t need it. But he wanted it seven days a week. Right, I just couldn’t work there.”

Helping hand

The 24-year-old nurse, Michelle Bergmans, was hired through a recruitment agency by a man with a muscular disease. He paid the women who came to care for him daily from a specially-allocated home healthcare budget. Michelle was to be one of his carers.
The other nurses demonstrated how they gave the man a “helping hand” during his shower. “Then I was supposed to do it myself the next day”: Michelle was stunned and shocked. She asked the man why he simply didn’t pay a prostitute to relieve him. “That was too expensive for him. What’s more, he’d have to wear a condom, he said.”
Michelle Bergmans refused to work for the man. “Everyone’s free to make his own choice, but I don’t consider it professional.”
She mailed her trade union, NU ’91, which published details on their website. An open discussion with other nurses and with her mentor ensued. She also went to report it at the police, but all they did was to issue the man a warning. In parliament, MPs questioned the health minister.
“We noticed that there was considerable interest in this subject,” explains union chairperson Monique Kempff. “In one case, a nurse on night duty had to insert a catheter into a patient who was unable to urinate himself. The man was watching a porn movie and asked the nurse if she would sexually gratify him,” Ms Kempff read from the reactions on the website. “It doesn’t just happen in hospitals, but also while administering home care to the elderly and the disabled, as well as in psychiatric institutions. And it isn’t just men who ask for it, women do too,” Ms Kempff explains, summarising the reactions.
“The reactions on the site weren’t just about sex, more concerned with establishing boundaries, actually. People want to talk about professional distance. Where do you draw the line in health care?” The union wants a clearer definition of the professional code drawn up. “We even got a lot of support from abroad because we brought this subject into the open,” says Ms Kempff. “Sexual activities are perhaps a desirable part of home care, but they’re not a fundamental part of the package. We’re saying that we’re drawing a line here.”
Ad Poppelaars, a representative for a council for the chronically ill and handicapped, throws the cat in among the canaries.
“Chronically ill patients and the disabled are also people. People with sexual needs. They can’t just go to a café or a club to find a partner. Often the only person they have physical contact with is the nurse. Of course, nurses didn’t join their profession to sexually gratify the sick and the handicapped, that’s not their job. At the same time, we know it happens sometimes. So, don’t point the finger at the nurses who do it, or encourage a prescriptive approach the way the union does,” he pleads.

Sex carers

How then? The union’s chairperson says that, as a nurse, you should try to create a safe environment where the patient feels he can talk about the subject. “Then you can say to the patient: I recognise your need, let me arrange something for you, but I won’t do it myself,” Ms Kempff suggests.
Flekszorg is an organisation set up to provide sexual services for those in care. Dozens of sex carers visit the clients – “heroes” in the eyes of Ad Poppelaars. “But unfortunately, most of the chronically ill and disabled can’t afford their services.” A real solution for the problem doesn’t exist, he claims.
The clear guidelines sought by the union are not yet in sight – the subject is bound to continue to stir up a heated response in the healthcare sector for the foreseeable future.

Obama in Indonesia

Day Opening - December 9

where is my dinner?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Handmade products for sale

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WikiLeaks: Britain blackmailed and faced threats from Libya

Britain faced threats from Libya of dire consequences if the ailing Lockerbie bomber died in a Scottish prison, confidential US cables released by WikiLeaks today showed.

Threats included the cessation of all British commercial activity in Libya and demonstrations against British facilities, as well as suggestions Britons in the country could be put at risk, according to the cables.
And despite London's attempts to publicly distance itself from the decision to release Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi -- which was made by the devolved Scottish government -- the cables show enormous British relief at the move.
Libyan officials warned their British counterparts that "consequences for the U.K.-Libya bilateral relationship would be dire were al-Megrahi to die in Scottish prison," read one dispatch from the US ambassador to Tripoli in January 2009.
And if Washington publicly opposed the release, "the U.S. Embassy and private Americans in Libya could face similar consequences," read the cable from the ambassador, Gene A. Cretz.
Megrahi was the only person ever convicted over the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people, most of them US nationals.
He was released in August, 2009, on compassionate grounds after doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer and gave him just three months to live, sparking outrage in the United States.
More than a year later he remains alive in Tripoli, however, renewing anger in the US.
One cable showed Britain's then justice minister, Jack Straw, told US diplomats that although Megrahi might have up to five years to live, the Scottish government appeared inclined to release him.
"Megrahi could have as long as five years to live," said the correspondence, cited in Britain's Guardian newspaper.
It went on: "The average life expectancy of someone of his age with his condition is 18 months to two years. Doctors are not sure where he is on the time scale."
The British government "believes that the Scottish may be inclined to grant the request, when it comes, based on conversations between [Scottish leader] Alex Salmond and UK justice secretary Jack Straw," said the cable.
The dispatches -- from a trove of some 250,000 US cables given to whistleblower website WikiLeaks and now slowly being released -- also showed the British ambassador in Tripoli "expressed relief" about Megrahi's imminent release.
"They could have cut us off at the knees, just like the Swiss," the ambassador Vincent Fean is cited as saying, in reference to a dispute between Libya and Switzerland prompted by the arrest of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's son.
Alex Salmond claimed Scotland was offered a "parade of treats" by Libya, which were all turned down, according to the cables.
The correspondence also showed that Scotland was unprepared for the fierce reaction from the United States, with Salmond declaring himself "shocked".
"The Scottish Government severely underestimated the both [US government] and UK public reaction to its decision to grant compassionate release," said one cable from Louis Susman, US ambassador to Britain, several days after Megrahi was freed.

Statement #49

''Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don't know how far we can go.''
Bernard Malamud

Day Opening - December 8

Burj Al Arab, Dubay by Night

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vitro fertilisation not for women?

This is an hot issue; everyone in the Netherlands is entitled to in vitro fertilisation. However, in practice, IVF legislation is complicated and discriminates against lesbian couples. The Dutch gay rights organisation COC and the Equal Treatment Commission want the law changed.
Last month, Leiden University's Medical Centre refused to give IVF treatment to a lesbian couple. One of the women told a local radio station: “When we responded that this was pure discrimination, the doctor answered ‘Yes, that’s right, but it is hospital policy. We cannot do anything for you’.''
28-year-old Senaida and her girlfriend 23-year-old Alida were told that they cannot have IVF treatment because they are lesbians. If one of them had gone to the hospital with a sperm donor and pretended to be heterosexual, there would have been no problem, the doctor told them.

Sperm bank

The "Safety and Quality of Bodily Material Law", which came into effect in 2003, differentiates between sperm from a spouse or partner and sperm from a ‘known donor’. In heterosexual couples, the man does not need to have his sperm tested for diseases. But lesbian couples who have to use a sperm donor must have the sperm tested at a sperm bank. This also applies to single women and heterosexual couples when the man is infertile.
The hospital in Leiden does not have a sperm bank, so the women were turned away. The hospital could seek cooperation with a sperm bank, but has not done so. Other hospitals do generally use sperm banks or have their own testing facilities.
Senaida and Alida turned to the Equal Treatment Commission and submitted a complaint. Barbara Bos, legal advisor for the commission, has declined to comment on this case. However, she did comment on a complaint submitted by a lesbian couple in 2009; in that case the commission ruled that the hospital could hardly be criticised for adhering to IVF legislation. It is just that the law is unfavourable to lesbian couples.
“In the earlier case, we established that the legislation makes it more difficult for lesbian couples to get IVF treatment. We think that when the legislation was drawn up, no-one realised what the practical consequences would be.”
Philip Tijsma of COC thinks the women were right to turn to the Equal Treatment Commission. “After all, the doctors told them explicitly that they would not treat them ‘because they are lesbian’.” Mr Tijsma thinks the hospital should put more effort into seeking the services of a sperm bank.

But it is the law itself which discriminates: “It makes it more difficult for lesbian couples to have IVF treatment, because donor sperm has to be tested. This should be changed: get rid of the test.”
Mr Tijsma thinks there is no need to differentiate: “Test tube fertilisation comes at the end of a long process. There is always a relationship of trust with the donor, which means a test is not necessary. If there is something wrong with the sperm, this will come to light anyway.” After all, men in a heterosexual couples can have affairs and become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. So the principle that their sperm does not need to be tested is wrong.”
The Equal Treatment Commission and COC want Health Minister Edith Schippers to change the law so that it does not discriminate. Questions have been asked in parliament, but so far the minister has not responded.
Meanwhile Senaida and Alida are considering getting IVF treatment at a different hospital. But that will not be easy as the waiting lists are long. And since men have not been allowed to donate sperm anonymously, there are fewer donors.
And to be honest, I don't know if its healthy to have two mothers and an unknown father. I really don't know.

Arash's World: Space-Continuum, Time Travel and the Illusion of Free Will

Arash's World: Space-Continuum, Time Travel and the Illusion of Free Will

Day Opening - December 7

the beauty of the moment

Monday, December 6, 2010

No place for Dutch Orthodox Jews in the Netherlands...

Prominent VVD politician Frits Bolkestein believes there is no future for 'active' Jews in the Netherlands. The conservative politician made his remarks in an interview with a Dutch newspaper (others took it over).

In the interview, Mr Bolkestein says that when he talks about active Jews he means those who are recognisable as such, for instance Orthodox Jews. The former EU Commissioner says there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of "the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan and Turkish descent, whose numbers keep growing''. Even teaching the Holocaust at elementary schools became problematic
He feels that this group of Jews should encourage their children to emigrate to either the United States or Israel, because he has little confidence in the effectiveness of the government's proposals for fighting anti-Semitism.
Earlier, Mr Bolkestein made similar statements in Het Verval (The Decline) by Manfred Gerstenberg, a recently published book about Jews in the Netherlands. Frits Bolkestein was political leader of the current coalition party VVD between 1990 en 1998. He later served as European Commissioner from 1999 until 2004.

Day Opening - December 6


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hippies (2)

When hippies use drugs, they are transported to a mystical land full of pretty colors and psychedelicosity. Just look at those purty colors, man. Whoa.

Like, most hippies didn't know they were hippies until some one told them in a song, man. It started when Alan Ginsberg, Maharishi, Bob Dylan, Ira Ram Dass, ABBA, and, like, the sultans of cool, The Doors, all started listening to ancient water bong rhythms AND three different holy gurus rant about the Thardo Bodal - The Tibetan Book of Like, Wow! which was instant enlightenment through sacred LSD ingestion OR smoking the dried skin of Sahara bananas... at the same time! The catch was it all leads to NOthingness - if you can dig that. This message of "Make Love Not War in the Void" was propounded by such psych bands as Jefferson Starship, The Misunderstood, as well as smaller, unknown bands like the Beatles (Transgenders, man. Rebels!). We're talking, like, psychedelic music here. Catch my drift? If you can't SEE your music then you’re not listening to a psychedelic hippie tune. Like, in 1969, scientists from everywhere went near Woodstock to watch a truckload of hippies just totally funk out, man. There were groovy rhythms by hippie bands like The Who that drove thousands of hippies into a mating frenzy... man. I know I had fun.

Like, drugs, dude. DRUGS! Drugs were awesome. Hippies used drugs to attain Nirvana, which is like, totally freakin' awesome! Hippies got all the weed, pot, bongs, and deep fried banana peels from mystical lands of enchantment like Colombia and China. Like, hippies loved the government's "Make America Safe for Drugs" program in 1963-67. The drugs were so popular with hippies because of all the kaleidescope colors that they saw. Like, hippies will do anything to just watch psychedelic colors, man. Anything. 'Cause the colors are so pretty, and.... whoa... Anyway, when hippies light a joint their spirits are sent to the Mystical Land of All Things Trippin'. Hippies love this wonderful place so much, they never want to go, man. It's just so particularly excellent. You wouldn't want to leave either.
To be continued....
Source: ? Laters....

Paedophilia now legal in Malyasia (with the consent of parents)

The public marriage celebration in Malaysia between a 14-year-old girl and a 23-year-old teacher has triggered a call for a fresh debate on child marriage.

Yesterday, schoolgirl Siti Maryam Mahood and Abdul Manan Othman celebrated their marriage at a mosque in the capital Kuala Lumpur, after a religious Sharia court approved the union.
"It has been hard trying to juggle two roles -- as a student and a wife -- but I am taking it in my stride," Siti Maryam was quoted as saying by the New Sunday Times newspaper.
"My husband is a teacher at a primary school and he is a family friend," she said according to the daily which said the girls' parents matchmade the couple and that the Sharia court granted them permission to marry in July.
Ivy Josiah, executive director of leading activist group Women's Aid Organisation, said that laws which allow underage marriage in certain cases must be dumped by Malaysia, a conservative and mainly Muslim country.
"I certainly hope this will spark a fresh round of open debate. There should not be any roadblocks... that it involves culture and religion and hence we cannot talk about it,".
Josiah has previously said that "child marriage amounts to paedophilia". You bet it is!

Muslims below 16 who want to get married must obtain the permission of the religious courts. Those of other religions aged below 17 must have the consent of civil authorities.
"We need to remedy the flaws in the law. There are exceptions in the law. These exceptions should be removed. The government can no longer turn a blind eye," Josiah said.
"The government should set the minimum marriage age of 18 for all races -- boys and girls since the Child Act recognises a child as anyone below 18," she said. "We need to protect the child."
In Malaysia, Muslims make up about 60 per cent of the 28 million population. For certain issues including family law they are subject to Sharia which operates in parallel with the civil legal system.
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the minister for women, family and community development, said in July that underage marriage was "morally and socially unacceptable". Or in other words: disgusting!

Day Opening - December 5

Early bird, by Samuel Waterston

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hippies (#1)

Earth tranny
Like, hippies (homo groovius) are a semisentient subspecies of humanity that first evolved in the 1960s and are now mostly extinct, man. The result of experimental drug testing on just about everything, hippies like, transformed the face of the United States and Great Britain and certain parts of Australia too, man. The hippie race was distinguished by their outtasite vibes, psychedelic drugs, interesting odors, radically long hair, and above all, the tendency to "fight the power." Hippies were extremely active in both politics and sex, and often confused the two. In fact, liberal tendencies and fornication are now thought of as the reason for overpopulation in the world today. But that's cool, man!
Brotha, black hippies are a subspecies of the hippie subspecies, making them a subsubspecies, you dig? Black hippies differ from conventional hippies in that they got style. Black hippies were noticeably blacker, wore more bling, and were more likely to not work for the man every night and day like other white fool hippies. Black hippies were always angrier than other hippies because of their righteous enragement at their lack of rights, man. Most black hippies also belonged to a secret society like the Black Panthers or the Nation of Islam. Fo' shizzle. (to be continued) *source: later

My date with Al Gore

Day Opening - December 4

Fontain, Seattle by Anton Treskunov

Friday, December 3, 2010

Current situation: WikiLeaks

Sweden said it would issue a fresh arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, while US senators unveiled a bill aimed at punishing him and his whistleblowing website.
Freshly released State Department cables confirmed US concerns about President Hamid Karzai and the pervasiveness of corruption in Afghanistan, where some 100,000 US troops are stationed to fight the Taliban.
In one cable, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry said Karzai may be "paranoid" as he often inquired about conspiracy theories in which the United States was said to be working to undermine him or to weaken Afghanistan or Pakistan.
After the Supreme Court in Stockholm refused to hear an appeal by Assange against the initial warrant over allegations of rape and molestation, Swedish police said they would issue a new one as a result of a procedural error.
"It's a procedural fault," Tommy Kangasvieri of the Swedish National Criminal Police told AFP. "The prosecutor Marianne Ny has to write a new one."
While Assange has not been seen in public since WikiLeaks began leaking around 250,000 cables on Sunday, his London-based lawyer Mark Stephens denied he was on the run.
"Scotland Yard know where he is, the security services from a number of countries know where he is," Stephens told AFP.
While the elusive whistleblower laid low, a group of US senators introduced legislation that would make it illegal to publish the names of informants serving the US military and intelligence community.
The legislation, which would amend the US Espionage Act aimed at punishing the disclosure of secret information, could help to stop such leaks from happening again.
But American legal experts have said the path to prosecution is strewn with potential legal complications, including free speech protections under the First Amendment of the US constitution.
Britain's Guardian newspaper Friday published leaked cables sent from the US embassy in London in which US officials discussed former British prime minister Gordon Brown's "abysmal track record" as he lurched "from political disaster to disaster."
The paper also said US and British officials clashed over the use of a Cyprus air base for US spying missions in 2008, with London worried about complicity in potential rights abuses.
The British were particularly concerned about U2 spy plane missions to track militants in Lebanon, Turkey and northern Iraq that provided intelligence to Lebanese and Turkish authorities., according to leaked cables.
The United States came under fire after WikiLeaks documents released on Sunday showed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked American diplomats at the UN to seek intelligence about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other senior UN figures.
The July 31, 2009 cable requested information about the UN leader's stance on Iran and the Middle East and his "management and decision-making style."
According to The Guardian, the CIA drew up the "wish list" of information and passed it on to the State Department, which then distributed tailored requests to its diplomats around the world.
The wish list is created annually by the manager of Humanint (human intelligence), a post created in 2005 by the administration of then-president George W. Bush to aid with intelligence co-ordination, the daily said.
Some of the most eye-catching of the latest revelations centred on Russia with one memo quoting a Spanish prosecutor describing it as a virtual "mafia state" whose political parties operate "hand in hand" with organised crime.
Jose Gonzalez, who has been investigating Russian organised crime in Spain for a decade, also agreed with poisoned dissident Alexander Litvinenko's thesis that Russian intelligence and security services "owned organised crime."
The cables have also quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates as saying "Russian democracy has disappeared" and describing President Dmitry Medvedev as "Robin" to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "Batman."
In an interview with CNN, Putin said Gates was "deeply misled" and warned US officials not to "interfere" in Russia's internal politics.
As the leaks piled on embarrassment for his administration, President Barack Obama named Russell Travers, an anti-terrorism expert, to lead efforts to mitigate the damage and prevent future illegal data disclosures.
Assange's Stockholm-based lawyer Bjoern Hurtig told AFP Thursday he would fight his client's extradition to Sweden in the event of his arrest, while the fugitive's mother expressed fear for her son's safety.
"I'm concerned it's gotten too big and the forces that he's challenging are too big," Christine Assange told the Courier Mail, her local newspaper in Queensland, Australia.

Eating Happy Pigs meat

Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn has announced it’s going to start using happier pigs. Pork from pigs with a one-star “Better Life” pedigree will gradually replace meat from factory farms on the freezer shelves. Albert Heijn is the first supermarket to introduce the measure and it hopes all its supermarkets will sell one-star pork in 2011. The first packet will be presented to Deputy Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker today.

The star system was introduced by the Dutch Animal Protection Foundation in 2007. The foundation was initially criticised because the system rewards farmers for small improvements. A one-star pig has one square metre to live in (compared to 0.8 square metres in factory farms) and male pigs are not castrated.

It might not be a big difference, but the idea of bridging the gap between factory and organic farming seems to be paying off. A spokesperson for the Animal Protection Foundation says “Organic meat is better, but consumers don’t want it.” The decision means a million pigs will be slightly better off. They will also live in groups rather than in individual pens. But if you want to eat a really happy pig, you will still have to go organic. Three-star pigs have three times as much room as factory farm pigs, lie on straw, keep their tails and teeth, and are not castrated. Of course, if you really want to make pigs happy, turn vegetarian.

Day Opening - December 3

Clear, ladies?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What makes the Dutch so Happy?

It is freezing cold in the Netherlands, andmost newspapers print photos on their front pages of oridnary people wrapped up in hats and scarves. Others opts for a full page photo of two people wearing skates on a frozen lake and asks why ice makes the Dutch so happy? The answer is - apparently - it is one of the great levellers of society.

Since 'time began' rich and poor have skated side-by-side through the Dutch landscape, it seems. “It is free space without rules, true freedom,” says Paul Snabel, head of the Netherlands Institute for Social Research.

Day Opening - December 2

Winter in the Netherlands (its both winter in the Netherlands as in Turkey although temperatures in Amsterdam is -6 and Istanbul 20 degrees..))

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turkey, Erdogan and its antisemitism

In fact, I didn’t want to write anything about WikiLeaks. Why? The fact that these cables exist and reveal, if not confirm, the ugliness of diplomacy, makes them news. Nothing more! What few have mentioned, however, is what the leaked documents are not:
-They are not reporting
-They are not journalism
-They are not investigative
-They are not analytical
-They are not, by themselves, important

But what matters is now how governments react on all these allegations: on the languages of different USA civil servants.
Yesterday I was joking with a Turkish friend that Erdogan would sue whoever cross his path on this and that in the end the ‘Jew’ would be blamed for it. Since ‘the Muslim’, from their point of view is simple the ‘Eternal victim'. And always will be. But, heeeee, I was really joking; until late this afternoon. First the PM of Turkey said: ‘’This is the United States’ problem, not ours... Those who have slandered us will be crushed under these claims, will be finished and will disappear’’ Not the words of diplomacy, right.? Or this: ‘’ “My friends are working [to take action] against these diplomats in terms of national and international law. We will continue this process there. Thereafter, they [the diplomats] have to think [about the consequences],” Erdoğan said. “We have discussed these issues with the U.S. administration. They have extended their apologies, but it’s not enough. They have to take all necessary measures against these diplomats’’

The guy simple don’t know that you cannot sue diplomats. You can expel them when they committed serious crimes. That’s all. But it became worse and ugly now since a senior official of the ruling Turkish AKP party declared: ‘’Israel could have engineered the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents on WikiLeaks as a plot to corner Turkey on both domestic and foreign policy’’
Turkey anno 2010: anti-Semite, discriminator, racist, and full of self pity. A shame.

Rape and antisemitism in Sweden

Abbas: Palestinians have other options if talks fail. Intifade?

Abbas on the right, left Hamas leaders.
The Palestinians will explore alternative ways to gain international recognition if US efforts to advance peace talks with Israel fail, president Mahmud Abbas said yesterday.
"We will spare no effort in pursuing this process and we have no choice but the choice of peace, we will continue with the peace process and we hope that US efforts will succeed," Abbas said at a news conference with German President Christian Wulff.
"And even if they don't succeed, we will go to other options within the framework of peace and international legitimacy, to arrive at the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," he said.
The Palestinian leadership has said repeatedly in recent weeks that it is considering a range of alternatives, including seeking United Nations recognition for an independent declaration of statehood, if peace talks do not resume.
Direct talks that began in September stalled shortly after they started when an Israeli moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank expired.
The Palestinians have said they will not return to the talks unless the construction ban is renewed, but Israel has so far refused to reimpose the ban.
The United States has been working on a letter of agreement that would offer Israel a range of incentives in exchange for a new moratorium, but no final paper has been released.
And even if Washington can agree on a formulation with Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister has pledged any new freeze would not halt building in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want included in a new moratorium. Abbas, speaking after meeting with Wulff, challenged Netanyahu to show his commitment to the peace process. "If Benjamin Netanyahu said we don't want peace, he should try us," Abbas said. "We extend our hand to him and we extended our hands to Shimon Peres and the late Yitzhak Rabin."
Abbas rejected the suggestion that an interim agreement setting up temporary borders for a future Palestinian state could advance the peace process. "There is no reason why a solution cannot be implemented over a year or two, but we do not want a temporary Palestinian state," he said.After talking with Wulff, who has been touring Israel and the Palestinian territories since Sunday, Abbas also praised Germany's role in attempting to mediate in negotiations over the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and called for him to be freed. "This man wants to return to his family as quickly as possible," Abbas said, adding that he had called for "his release from the beginning."Unfortunately we don't have an avenue to discuss the subject with Hamas," he added. "I call on them to release their prisoner and we also call on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners."
Shalit has not been seen by outside observers or by Red Cross representatives since his capture in a deadly raid along the Gaza border by Palestinian militants in June 2006.
The last official information on his well-being emerged in October 2009, when Hamas released a videotape of the young soldier calling on Netanyahu to do everything to free him.
The big question remains, and Abbas is deadly silent about that: What will Hamas do with an international recognized Palestinian state?

Day Opening - December 1


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

After Wikileaks: Iran agrees to talks on nuclear plans: EU

Iran agreed Today to a new round of talks in Geneva on December 6 and 7 with world powers on its controversial nuclear programme, an EU foreign affairs spokesman said.
Iran chief negotiator Said Jalili will meet for talks with EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, who will lead the international delegation, the spokesman said. "We've now received a response from the Iranian authorities in which they have said that Dr. Jalili has accepted Catherine Ashton's proposal to meet in Geneva," the spokesman said. "Talks between Catherine Ashton and Dr. Jalili will now take place on Monday and Tuesday next week in Geneva."
Ashton would lead the so-called "3+3" or "5+1" group of nations negotiating with Iran made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain) and Germany.
The talks will be the first between Iran and six world powers since October 2009.
Disagreement over the agenda has held up the talks. The world powers want the talks to focus on Iran's uranium enrichment programme but Tehran wants a wider discussion that includes regional security issues.
The United States, Europe and Israel fear that Iran wants to use nuclear technology to build a bomb, but Tehran insists that its programme is a peaceful drive to produce civilian energy.
And Turkey is out of the picture.

Arash's World: The Important but Difficult Task of Letting Go and Buddhist Non-Attachment

Arash's World: The Important but Difficult Task of Letting Go and Buddhist Non-Attachment

Day Opening - November 30

Escape of an turtle

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is Switzerland the Black sheep of Europe?

Switzerland was slammed as the "black sheep" of Europe today after voters endorsed a far-right push to automatically expel foreign residents convicted of certain crimes. Austrian website headlined an article saying: "Switzerland is now the black sheep -- majority for tougher rules against foreigers." The headline was a reference to the signature poster campaign mounted by the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) in its push for the expulsion, depicting white sheep kicking a black sheep out of the Swiss flag. On Sunday, 52.9 percent voted in favour of automatic expulsions and 47.1 percent were against, with the country's German-speaking majority largely backing the proposal. Only six of the 26 cantons rejected the initiative.
The vote came exactly a year after Switzerland shocked the world by agreeing to ban the construction of new minarets, which was another proposal backed by the SVP.
Switzerland's biggest circulating tabloid Blick headlined the news "Get out" (Raus in German).
Newspapers across Europe criticised the Swiss decision, with Belgian newspaper Le Soir saying that "Switzerland has once against chosen the radical road."
With the vote, "the Swiss have once again slapped the EU in the face," as the expulsion is "absolutely incompatible with the bilateral accord of free movement of people which links Switzerland to EU," said the newspaper.
The vote could "put all bilateral accords in question," it added.
Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung headlined their article "Switzerland violates international law."
"Switzerland sends -- like a year ago with the ban on minarets -- a signal to the world that it doesn't care what others think of it," said the newspaper. "The signal from the Swiss calls for a response... The European Union should not tolerate a country, with which it is tightly linked, to position itself so wantonly apart from this community. "Switzerland has violated one of the seven bilateral accords with the EU. And theoretically, it is also bringing six others into question," added the journal.
"Austria's Die Presse said Switzerland demonstrated a sort of "schizophrenia."" On the one hand, murderers, rapists and foreign drug dealers must be expelled. On the other hand, despots, dictators, mafia or businessmen crooks, whose money have often dodgy origins, are always welcomed with a 'Gruezi.'," it noted, referring to the Swiss German greeting.
Even much of the mainstream broadsheets within Switzerland deplored their compatriots' decision.
Le Temps headlined their editorial "Anguish," criticising the SVP for imposing their agenda "with disregard for universal rights."
Le Matin said the far-right campaign was successful as the party had become a "real war machine, with a perfect propaganda service, incomparable financial means, dedicated politicians and simplistic but terribly efficient messages."
The TagesAnzeiger noted "Switzerland will not make new friends with this 'yes' -- other than with the populist right circles of Europe.
"Up to now that included the Italian Northern League, and Holland's Geert Wilders as examples. Yesterday's decision reminds us that even in the Swiss idyllic utopia, we can find their supporters," it noted.
Italy's main broadsheet Corriere della Sera quoted a Northern League politician Mario Borghesio praising the Swiss decision as "an example of judicial civility."
The question remains: 'how many countries expel foreign criminals from their soil? Fort example thhe USA have a 3-strike-out law! İs that against universal rights?

John Halal

Day Opening - November 29

Happy Dolphins by Elena Shevkoplyas

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Statement #48

"Only if outward and inner freedom are constantly and consciously pursued is there a possibility of spiritual development and perfection and thus of improving man's outward and inner life."

--Albert Einstein

Ten years of legalised Euthanisia in the Netherlands

Today it is ten years since the Netherlands passed a law legalising euthanasia. This made the Netherlands the first country in the world to establish legal guidelines for ending a human life. But why has almost no other country followed the Dutch example?
The Netherlands likes to see itself as an ethical guide that other countries should follow. In 2001, the Mayor of Amsterdam presided over the first same-sex marriage while the world looked on. Since then, over ten countries have legalised same-sex unions.
One year earlier, the Netherlands became the first country to adopt a law on euthanasia. This was another Dutch breakthrough that attracted the attention of the world, but it did not inspire widespread admiration. Only two other countries have ventured to follow in the Netherlands’ footsteps: Belgium in 2002 and Luxembourg in 2009.

“Euthanasia centres on fundamental medical-ethical issues, so other countries cannot simply transplant the Dutch legislation to their own context,” explains Walburg de Jong of the Voluntary Euthanasia Association.
“The Dutch Euthanasia Act was preceded by 30 years of debate in the Netherlands. That discussion was initiated by the general public and filtered through to the world of politics. Interestingly, the process in Belgium two years later was the other way around. There it was the government that wanted to regulate the issue and so the euthanasia law was imposed from the top down.”

Beyond the Benelux countries, legal arrangements for euthanasia exist in Switzerland and in the US states of Oregon, Washington and Montana. There is a difference, however: in those places a doctor is only allowed to provide the medicines that enable someone to end their life. But taking action to end someone’s life, for example by administering and excessive dose of morphine, is still very much illegal.

Cultural shift

Regulating euthanasia by law requires a huge cultural shift. After all, it is the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens, a role that appears to be at odds with helping them end their own life.
From an international perspective, there are only two situations imaginable in which the state gives its assent for the taking of a human life on professional grounds, says Evert van Leeuwen, Professor of Medical Ethics in Nijmegen. “An executioner is allowed to do so when implementing a death sentence and it is permitted during wartime.” This is why doctors in other countries are not permitted to take a life.
“Here in the Netherlands, we tend to take a different view,” Prof Van Leeuwen says. “Here, a doctor gets to choose between his oath and his patient’s wishes. If his patient wants to die, he is allowed to assist them”. Many countries do allow palliative sedation, in which a doctor administers heavy sedatives and stops treatment.

The easygoing Dutch attitude toward a doctor playing an active role in ending a patient’s life appears to be mainly due to well-known Dutch values such as tolerance, transparency and an almost compulsory urge to regulate. Ethicist Van Leeuwen:
''Deeply engrained tolerance means that the wishes of others are taken seriously. Our openness makes it much easier to talk about someone’s wish to die”.
And the Dutch are also pragmatic; they want to structure and regulate anything they can. On top of which, the church - a fierce opponent of euthanasia - in the Netherlands has little say in people’s private lives.

Instead of emulation, Dutch euthanasia policies have over the past ten years mainly met with criticism:
“After euthanasia and infanticide, the next step in the Netherlands will most likely be a suicide pill for people who are tired of life, even though it will probably take a few years before it’s legal.” (Correspondent Greg Burke, Fox News)
“The Nazi laws and Hitler’s ideas have made a comeback in Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate about how sick children are killed.” (Italian minister Carlo Giovanardi)

These spectres are not borne out by the facts: the number of cases of active euthanasia has been steady at 2,500 for years, slightly lower than before the introduction of current euthanasia laws. The criticisms regarding the killing of children refer to a medical protocol drawn up by neonatologists for the termination of life for newborn babies who are suffering unbearable pain without a prospect of improvement. Professor Van Leeuwen says: “You could ask yourself if it was even necessary”.
The topic continues to being hot and controversial.

Day Opening - November 28

A happy baby.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let's sing a new song

To read the poem, hop on to Life Rules

And...Mohammed existed

Some sceptical scholars claim that Muhammad did not exist and that Islam is a fabrication made up in later centuries. But Leiden University’s Petra Sijpesteijn has demonstrated from her work on Arabic papyrus manuscripts that their claim is not true.

What was the origin of Islam and what went on at the dawn of Islamic history? In the past, scholars who wanted to research the subject had to rely on the official Islamic version of events which was only written down about 200 years after Muhammad’s death. Only relatively recently has interest grown in more objective but less accessible sources such as coins, inscriptions and texts written on papyrus.
Petra Sijpesteijn, professor of Arabic language and culture at Leiden University, says that this last source is especially important. “The papyri are in fact the only contemporary source for the first 200 years of Islamic history.”

Papyrus manuscripts have been found in their thousands in the sand and at ancient rubbish tips all over the Middle East but especially in Egypt. Dr Sijpesteijn explains that they are often difficult to read because they are partially destroyed, badly written out or in dialect. “But if you can read them, they offer a unique glimpse of ordinary life at the dawn of Islam.”
The study of Arabic papyri is in its infancy. Only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of available manuscripts have been studied. As far as the work done so far is concerned, the Muslim faithful can set their minds at ease: Dr Sijpesteijn says the texts largely confirm the official Islamic version of events.

Dr Sijpesteijn distances herself from the small group of polemical colleagues, known as the ‘revisionists’, who assert that the Prophet Muhammad probably did not exist. They say the Arabic conquerors were actually a disorganised horde of Bedouins who gained control of half the known world more or less by chance. Islam is said to have been dreamt up 200 years later in Iraq.
“From the papyri, it appears that the Arab conquests were indeed carefully planned and organised and that the Arabs saw themselves as conquerors with a religious mission. They also appear to have held religious views and followed customs which contain important elements of the behaviour and beliefs of later Muslims.

Dr Sijpesteijn says for example that, shortly after Muhammad’s death, there is already mention of a pilgrimage (hajj) and a tax to collect money for the poor (zakat). She has also come across a papyrus text written around 725 which names both the prophet and Islam.
Even so, her discoveries form a potential threat to the image some modern Muslims have of their history. The papyri contradict the belief held by many of today’s Muslims that Muhammad delivered Islam as a sort of ready-made package. “It looks as though Islam in its first centuries developed a form gradually. There was an awful lot of discussion about precisely what it meant to be a Muslim.” And thats still continues!

Day Opening - November 27

Tomorrow can be

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkish-Dutch woman Semra Çelebi: I stopped wearing my headscarf

Turkish woman Semra Çelebi no longer wears her headscarf. She says she doesn't need to in order to be a good Muslim. The decision was not an easy one. Semra recently started a Facebook page called I took off my hijab. (interesting is that women and girls support her but men and boys not, calling her a sinner)
The scarf is still folded up neatly in a cupboard at her parents' house. Semra Çelebi has saved all her old headscarves. They are part of her past but they are not part of her current identity. Semra now lives in Amsterdam, where she feels anonymous and free.

Semra was ten years old when she first started wearing a headscarf. She was following the example of her younger sister, who attended an Islamic primary school. Semra herself went to a Christian school in the Dutch town of Barneveld. Her father, who is from a traditional Turkish family, believes women should wear headscarves. It took a little getting used to for Semra. "I felt ill at ease, because I wasn't sure how my friends would react. I remember them dragging me into the classroom because I wouldn't go in. They just accepted me."


Sometimes she gets negative reactions. One person called her "teatowel". Usually she ignores any comments. Once she was refused a job at a toy company because of the headscarf. They told her "we can't do that to our customers".
Wearing a hijab became more and more a part of her religious identity. After all, God wants women to dress modestly. She defended her decision to wear the headscarf in debates and her quick tongue started to get her noticed.


However, when Semra started studying law at Utrecht University she started to change her mind. She did internships in Sheffield, New York and Brussels, far away from her home town with its strict rules. After reading a number of books on the subject, Semra decided to stop wearing her headscarf.
"It no longer suited the way I saw my religion. I don't need it to be a good Muslim. It was six months before I actually stopped wearing it. It was very difficult. It is not just a piece of cloth. It is part of my identity and I wore it for 16 years. I was afraid of how people would react."


That was three years ago. And Semra still has to defend her identity, but this time as a Muslim woman without a headscarf. Her father does not approve and she gets negative reactions. But she refuses to give in. Recently she started a Facebook page to support women who decide to stop wearing headscarves.
Within three weeks around 100 people had joined the page. Some girls write that they are afraid to stop wearing their headscarves because of the reactions they will get. One father stopped talking to his daughter for months. Semra says her Facebook page is not intended to encourage Muslims to stop wearing their headscarves.
"The important thing is that you make your own choices. That is not always easy. My choice was about wearing a headscarf, but it could about something else. A colleague told me his girlfriend's father ignored him for five years because he and his girlfriend lived together. That was his decision."


Day Opening - November 25

Sleeping beauty - Kangaroo