Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Columbia

Yesterday, Wednesday we flew to Panama City with Copa Airlines Columbia. Fantastic flight and Panama an interesting city, one skyscraper after the other. We stayed in a nice comfortable 5 star hotel but due the time not able to visit the Panama Canal. Today we flew with Copa Airlines Columbia to Bogota. And again a full service flight. Copa Airlines is not a huge airlines but one of the best I ever flew with, and that are many...
Even with and 1 1/2 flight you get food, drinks and water. Do you want a whiskey sir?.)
Anyway, we are in Bogota Columbia. Safe and well and enjoy a very nice hotel in the centre.
Both the people in Panama and Columbia, so far, are incredible helpful and nice. And Columbia changed with 10 years ago. It's safe!

Day Opening - May 5

Brickell, Miami (here I lived from 2000-2002

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From Miami to Panama and to Bogota, Columbia

Today we will fly to Panama and leave 5 beautiful days in Miami behind us. A short stay (1 night) in Panama City to visit the Panama Canal and tomorrow allready on our way to Bogota, Columbia for the last part of our trip. Next posting is from there.

Day Opening - May 4

44

Hair in Avanos

HAIR MUSEUM OF AVANOS

The Hair Museum of Avanos is a bizarre installation crafted by Turkish potter Chez Galip. The way the idea of this museum came to be is truly a unique story. 30 years ago, Chez Galip had a close friend who had to leave the town Avanos, and this made him very upset. To leave him something to remember her by, the woman left Galip with a piece of her hair.
Today the Hair Museum of Avanos features the hair of over 16,000 woman who have visited this one-of-a-kind hair haven. Each piece of hair a woman leaves behind also features an address to identify the piece.
Entrance to the Hair Museum of Avanos is free, and if you happen to be traveling to Turkey, it’s a site you can’t miss.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hamas and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood condem the 'illegal killing of Osama Bin Laden'

The news of the killing of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden has been received with mixed feelings in the Middle East. In many countries where al-Qaeda is active, the news has been received with a sigh of relief, but there were no open signs of rejoicing. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda sympathisers lament the great loss for the Islamic Jihad.

No official comment has been heard yet from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden’s homeland, but a senior sheikh, known to be close to the ruling family, appeared on Al-Arabiya satellite TV condemning bin Laden as ruthless killer who tainted the name of Islam. He encouraged good Muslims to show their satisfaction about his killing.

In Yemen, which has been fighting al-Qaeda for more than a decade, a spokesman for the presidency, who preferred to remain anonymous, welcomed the attack on bin Laden and expressed the hope that his death would bring an end to terrorism.
But, al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, based in Yemen, lamented the loss of the spiritual leader of Jihadists throughout the world. The organisation told AP that it does not trust US President Barack Obama and that it would wait for independent confirmation of the sad news from Mujahidin brothers in Pakistan. The al-Qaeda spokesman in Yemen said a detailed statement would be made later on the plans of the organisation and the future of Jihad.

Omar Baker, the Syrian pro-Jihad Muslim fundamentalist who was expelled to Lebanon from London five years ago, expected young Muslims in Europe to carry out revenge attacks in Europe. He said that “the region has lost a great leader, I am sad that we have lost bin Laden, but also happy that he attained his wish of dying as a martyr.”
There was a high state of alert in the Iraqi capital Baghdad where security and police leaders fear retaliatory attacks and bombings after the killing of bin Laden. Iraq is the third country where al-Qaeda is widely active and responsible for hundreds of bloody attacks on both civilians and military personnel.
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan seized the opportunity to call upon the country’s Islamist Taliban rebels to learn a lesson and stop the violence. He called the killing of Osama an important event for his country.

Israel also expressed its satisfaction at the death of bin Laden. Both president Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu consider it a great victory for democracy and the fight against terrorism worldwide. Meanwhile 
On the internet, fierce battles have been going on since the early morning between friends and foes of bin Laden via websites where al-Qaeda has a considerable influence and following. But many participants also reject bin Laden, arguing that he is an American-made puppet who was killed by the same guys who made him because he wasn’t needed any more. We will have to wait a little longer for responses from other mainstream Islamist movements and political figures in the region.
 

Day Opening - May 2

Port of Miami bridge

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On my way to Miami

I am on my way to Miami, in other words: tomorrow I will fly to Rome and from there to Miami. The first stop in a journey through North and South America.
The 'Turkish' ladies of Alitalia, however f..cked of my trip. As a Dutch I need a visa according to them. Pardon me, I lived and worked there three times and don't need a visa. But what I need is a ESTA number for my trip, which the travel agency had to submit. But they didn't. Costs: and extra 535 USD to travel tomorrow....
Can you imagine? And they even offered me an exit row seat, of course if I pay a certain amount of money...
So I leave his moronic country behind.
I really need some fresh air.

Day Opening - April 28



Today is the 95th birthday of Ferruccio Lamborghini, originally manufacturer of agricultural machines in Italy. He started building sports cars, after being fed up with his malfunctioning Ferrari. The factory is in Sant'Agata Bolognese, nearby its competitor in Modena.
Ferruccio died in 1993, leaving a heritage of legendary sports cars. One of the most known models was the Countach.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day Opening - April 27



Sunset from the garden of the weekend house of my parents, taken this Easter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Amsterdam Red Light district as an example?!

Amsterdam’s red-light district has attracted many foreign visitors to the city over the centuries. While the authorities in the Dutch capital are clamping down on prostitution, other cities around the world are debating whether to create a prostitution zone along Dutch lines. Could Amsterdam’s red-light district become a successful export product?

Amsterdam would appear to have things well under control when it comes to prostitution. Almost all the city’s prostitutes do business in a single area of 250 by 250 metres, enabling the police to keep tabs on anti-social behaviour, street crime and people trafficking. Meanwhile tourists can enjoy a stroll along the old canals and gawp at the ladies on display amid the legendary red lights and neon signs.
Nowhere in the world is prostitution as extensively regulated as it is in the Netherlands. Under Dutch law, it is a legal profession which requires prostitutes to obtain permits and pay taxes on what they earn.
The Netherlands is a world leader in this respect. In most countries, prostitution (or in any case offering sex for money) is illegal and far more difficult to control. It mainly takes place on the streets or in shady clubs, along darkened roads or on the wrong side of the tracks.

Since things in the Dutch capital are more orderly and mainstream, a growing number of cities are looking at the “Amsterdam model” as an example for creating a prostitution zone. There is already interest from Canada, Spain and Taiwan.
The most advanced plans are in Taiwan, where the government has announced that prostitution will only be permitted in specially allocated red-light zones. Women and men who want to work in brothels in these areas can apply for a permit. Prostitution in massage parlours and coffee houses outside these zones will remain illegal. The Taiwanese government says it hopes this approach will help them combat people trafficking and offer better protection to workers in the sex industry.

In Canada, too, the law on prostitution was recently relaxed. In the city of Toronto, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti proposed setting up a red-light district along the same lines as in Amsterdam. At present, prostitution is spread throughout the city. “It would also be a good thing for Toronto’s economy, as a red-light district will attract tourists,” Mr Mammoliti argues.
Ideally he would like to see the district located on Toronto Island, near the city centre. The suggested location has already sparked a good deal of criticism. Nevertheless, in Toronto it seems like the discussion is more about where rather than whether a red-light district should be created.

In Barcelona, things haven’t quite gone that far. The residents of the Raval district recently raised the alarm about the increase in prostitution on their streets. Raval borders on the famous shopping street Las Ramblas and has for some years been the pitch of mostly African prostitutes offering their services at rock bottom prices. Around the historical market hall La Boqueria, customers are pleasured out in the open in the evening and at night.
Local residents have had enough of these public shenanigans and want the sex workers banished from the streets. One solution could be along Dutch lines, with the prostitutes on display in windows.

While enthusiasm for an Amsterdam-style red-light district is on the increase abroad, the Dutch capital is clamping down on prostitution. Executive Councillor Lodewijk Asscher wants to turn the red-light district into Amsterdam’s calling card, a place where human trafficking and anti-social behaviour are a thing of the past. Around 100 of the district’s 500 prostitutes’ windows have already been closed and there are plans to shut down another 120. Instead of displaying scantily clad hookers, the windows now look in on the studios of young fashion designers and even an independent radio station.
Amsterdam’s red-light clean-up operation is controversial. Mariska Majoor of the city’s Prostitution Information Centre is one of those opposed to it. “These plans have been drafted to combat human trafficking, yet nowhere in the world is prostitution as well-regulated as it is here. Everything is transparent and in full view and the prostitutes are easy to approach. Even tourists are surprised by the measures and think they go against the spirit of the city.”

Day opening - April 26

Milos, Greece

Monday, April 25, 2011

The protests in Syria and the media

Syrian activists are fighting for democracy, but the outside world doesn’t get to hear much about it. The regime cracks down hard on any attempt at communication. This weekend  at least 120 people were killed.


Last week Syrian protesters made a dramatic appeal to the Arabic TV channel Al Jazeera to devote more attention to events in the country. But there’s a reason for the lack of reporting. It’s virtually impossible for journalists to work in Syria.

For one thing, the regime does its best to obstruct journalists. And at the same time ordinary people – whether out of loyalty or fear – talk about activists in the same terms as state television uses. At least, that’s if you can manage to talk to any ordinary people. When we, Ozlem and I, last year tried  to talk with a taxi driver in Aleppo, he simple said that everything was milk and honey in Syria. Yes, our of fear!
De facto: ''you are under pretty heavy pressure, because in principle anyone you talk to can get into a lot of trouble. It’s a worry that leaves you paralysed.”

Syria is ruled with an iron fist by President Bashar al-Assad, aided by a feared security apparatus represented at all levels of society. The protests, which started a month ago in the capital Damascus and spread to other cities, are unparalleled in the country.

The state of emergency imposed in 1963 will not officially have been lifted until President Assad has given his formal assent. But still people are taking to the streets to protest against corruption, poor socio-economic conditions and the secret police, in the hope that their call for democracy will be heard, says Dutch ambassador Dolf Hogewoning in Damascus. And their numbers are growing.
“People are seeing an opportunity to make their voices heard, and increasingly they’re getting the impression they can take to the streets without immediately being severely punished, as they would have been until recently. It’s been going on for a month, and for Syria extremely unusual things have been happening. In general you can say people have thrown off some of their fear.”

The courage has a price. Since the start of the uprising at least 300 people have been killed. Many more have been arrested or have disappeared. During protests in Homs at the beginning of this week an unknown number of people were killed when the security forces opened fire on thousands of protesters.
Last Wednesday it was announced that Syrian dissident Mahmoud Issa had been arrested by the political security service for reporting on events in his city for Al Jazeera.
Syrians expect the West to do more than just condemn the violence, says Marjolein Wijninckx of Dutch peace group IKV-Pax Christi.
“You could think about suspending certain cooperation agreements. For example, between the European Union and Syria there’s the European Neighbourhood Policy. Under the terms of this agreement Syria gets 40 million euros a year. And other countries also have agreements they could suspend.”

There’s no comparison between Syrian activism and Egypt’s mass revolution. It’s not clear how much support there is for the protestors – there are no opinion polls in Syria. The majority of the population say nothing and stay at home. But the Syrian president may well enjoy more support than his former Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak did.
The regime appears to be willing to lift the state of emergency. But Mr Hogewoning says he wonders how much freedom this will bring. Protestors will still need a permit, the ambassador says.
“What they give with one hand they can take away with the other.”
It will be interesting to see how Erdogan will act if Syria 'falls' and Iran will follow as the current AKP government has politically invested heavenly in these countries.... 

Day opening - April 25

dots and stripes

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Homosexuality and sports

Around five percent of the population (world wide) is homosexual. But different rules seem to apply to sport. There are very few well known sports personalities willing to openly admit they are gay. It seems the matter is still too sensitive. 

A Dutch magazine has come up with an idea to make talking about homosexuality easier by using well-known sports people. L'HOMO is a special edition of Linda Magazine. It is the third time the gay glossy has been published. Scantily dressed sports personalities feature on the cover. They tell their story about homosexuality in the world of sport.

Under the title Sons of God, seven sportsmen bare their chests for a photo session. They are footballers Evgeniy Levchenko, Demy de Zeeuw, Kenneth Perez, Ronald de Boer, gymnast Jeffrey Wammes, tennis player John van Lottum and racing car driver Mike Verschuur. Only two of them are actually gay.
In the world of sport, heterosexuality is the norm. It’s an image that is seldom challenged, but are gay sportsmen doing themselves a favour? Owner/Editor Linda de Mol doesn’t think so. She believes revealing your sexuality can even be beneficial. Her slogan for the special edition is: 'Even more gold after coming out'.

Racing car driver Mike Verschuur, who had already come out of the closet, agrees.
“Many fellow drivers – not mentioning any names – told me they were gay too. But they dare not say so in public which is a real pity. Because there is nothing to fear. On the contrary, it has only made me stronger. It’s made me a better driver.”
For gymnast Jeffrey Wammes, the special edition was a perfect opportunity to come out. “There was already a lot of speculation about whether or not I fell for boys or girls. To me it has nothing to do with sport or how I perform. But when I was asked to do this, I made it clear straight away how things were and that’s that.”

Meanwhile we are all waiting for the first footballer to come out, in what is an extremely macho world. Ajax player Demy de Zeeuw doesn’t expect it to happen any time soon.
“It’s very difficult in football. That’s partly because of society. You want to change things, but there are some things that stay the same.”

Day Opening - April 24

a dance in the morning...