January 31st, 2008

The disappearance of Natalee Holloway revisited

Peter R. de Vries, ex-copper, TV-crime journalist and royal PIA for the police and justice department, claims he cracked the case. All will be revealed coming Sunday, when his show is aired. So far he has only said Natalee definitely is not alive anymore and that her mom arrived at Amsterdam airport today on his request to be briefed. I will add to this post Sunday or Monday.

Please note that PRdV is a character that usually cleverly presents his shows in a way you think you know the truth and that he proofed it too, but in reality, it is NOT always the case. Still, for the sake of friends and family, I do hope he lives up to his promises, with proof that is.

Earlier on the nest: The disappearance of Natalee Holloway

Added: Oprah will air the same show Monday. PRdV might be there too. If it will be anything other than drugs + sex-on-the-beach + O.D.-ed girl + panicking boys + bad decision making (drugs tend to do that you know) + sucked into lying, I will let you know here.

Added: Yep, as stated above. One thing I did find rather weird though. Her mom was flown to Amsterdam, told the story, tears, etc., then she said “Look what they did to our country…” (huh???), “Look what they did to our family…” (sure), “Look what they did to Natalee” (oh yeah her too, last one in line).

Added: The guy who nailed Joram into his (not legally bound) confession, was denied access to the US last week, based on a 13 year old minor drug offense. He was on US soil for 1.5 hour and was put on a flight back by US immigration.

January 30th, 2008

The war in Afghanistan

Let’s not forget, while the Canadians are now threatening to leave Afghanistan early 2009, that if we are true to “bombing rebuilding this country into our values Democracy”, there is a LOT of after care to do.

KABUL – The Meshrano Jirga (House of honored), or Afghan Senate has agreed with the death sentence of 23-year old journalism student Perwiz Kambakhshthat by a court in the province of Balkh for blasphemy.

(…) In a statement the Meshrano Jirga expressed their criticism about the international pressure revolving this case.

Just to be sure, these are not the Taliban, these are the current leaders.

January 30th, 2008

The local tidbits

A project to have all public transport use one unified R.F.I.D. chip-card is crumbling on completely failing security and obscure (read: non-public) encryption. The one way tickets are not encrypted and can be simply copied using $40 hardware, and the subscription service is using a flawed card which “secrets” were revealed long ago. Also, the retention of travelers data was slashed by governmental privacy watchdogs. The details are truly embarrassing, so I won’t go into that, other than noting EUR 130 mln ($182 mln) tax payers money has already been flooded into the project. Sounds a bit like voting machines?

The 1972 porn flick “Deep throat” will be aired on public television end of February. Lots of controversy, religious politicians appealing the broadcasters, etc. My take on it? Air as much sex on TV as possible. With all respect, what I find objectionable is that it is fine to have probably about 10 murders broadcast every evening in all sort of “Hollywood action movies” and at the same time morally object about sex. I do agree though that “Deep throat” is probably not the smartest choice, even if it is considered a landmark flick in let’s say “it’s kind”: Linda Lovelace has always claimed she was raped and threatened into the role and eventually got $1.200 out of it.

Hillary Clinton uses (used?) “When the lady smiles” track when she walks up the stage. Some backgrounder. The 1984 song is performed by Dutch pop group “Golden earing” (no spelling error), and Bill is said to be a huge fan, using one of their other songs in his campaign. The issue is, in the rather interesting video clip, a nun is raped attacked and a dog eats the removed part of the lead singer’s brain. Nice research. While this is not going down good in the US, I find the clip rather mild and depicting mostly the mental down-spiraling of the main character.

Added 31-01: We (now) only know for sure that the song was played once, at a campaign meeting in Cedar Falls. Maybe it has been played (far) more often, but the Clinton team has not returned calls to reporters.

January 27th, 2008

The concentration camp

Today, exactly 63 years ago, Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau (Concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz) was liberated by the allies. About 1.1 million people were killed there, 90% Jews from Europe. 9 days earlier, the Nazi’s started to evacuate the camp’s 60.000 prisoners and had destroyed the gas chambers. 15.000 of them died during transport.

About 107.000 people of my country were sent to concentration camps on a total of 93 cattle trains, all through the deportation camp Westerbork. Of those 107.000, about 5.200 returned.

January 25th, 2008

The left side of Zen

Love this thoughtful slow paced site-blog. The current entry is called Top 100 Inspirational Quotes

45. If you are a strong man, very good! But do not curse others who are not strong enough for you. …Everyone says, “Woe unto you people!!” Who says, “Woe unto me that I cannot help you?” The people are doing all right to the best of their ability and means and knowledge. Woe unto me that I cannot lift them to where I am!

53. Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.

Also a section called Top 50 Atheism Quote . Stop here if you are in a strong belief system.

1. Religion easily has the best bullshit story of all time. Think about it. Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man…living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.

8. It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. … Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

This guy/gal went straight to my RSS aggregator.

January 25th, 2008

The gull and the cat

I know some cat lovers are drooling around here. I find this pretty funny, from either perspective. You can choose “who wins” and in what way.

The gull and the cat

Na nana nana na.

January 25th, 2008

The fall of Eveline Herfkens

Oh, a wonderful and embarrassing connection. Eveline Herfkens is a PvdA politician, who is now stationed at the UN. Most elements of the story are in Wikipedia, but let me give you a quick rundown. She insists she needs to fly business class, even if that is not allowed for her function. She applied for (and received) a $7.000 a month rental allowance for her upper class Manhattan apartment “to avoid traveling by subway”, a subsidy not allowed by UN rules to insure independence of the home country. She applied for a US permanent residence permit, which is also not allowed. To add insult to injury she defended her behavior by stating “this discussion was Dutch small mindedness”, “she didn’t have time to go through all the minute rules” and “deserves these incentives connected to such a job profile”. For the record, her salary is way over $200.000.

Her own party is fed up with what one member of parliament called “Diva behavior”. I am pretty sure, and I hope, the bell for her last round has sounded. She has damaged the U.N., my country, her party and the taxpayers. Begone!!

Disclaimer: “PvdA”, which is considered here a mildly leftish social democratic party, often gets my vote. I am not a member.

Added: Foreign ministry is investigating a claim to have her hand back the quarter million she received against the rules, at the same time admitting they should never have given her that rental allowance in the first place. Party leader drops support. She is said not to respond to call for comments.

Added Feb 22nd: By Dutch law, she is not to return the $280,000, based on the principle of security of law, meaning in this context like you cannot suddenly withdraw something that was legally supplied; the subsidy was allowed by Dutch law, simply not by UN rules. The UNDP is still investigating if she knew this was against the rules (which she denies), and if so, the decision to not to have her return the loot will be “re-evaluated”. I won’t hold my breath on it.

January 25th, 2008

The justice system of Iran

Here we go again.

Brussels, Jan. 25. The European Union is deeply concerned about the imminent execution of seven Iranians who have been sentenced to death for acts they committed as minors.

(…) It also concerns Europe how the death penalty is carried out in Iran. Convicts are stoned to death or thrown from a high cliff, which goes against the promise of Iran not to violate international human rights.

Or by other means, not that it matters b.t.w.

January 24th, 2008

The UN secretary general

Ban Ki-moon is my friend. After the US refused to re-negotiate the non-proliferation agreement on nuclear material, and is finally coming around *), non-western countries now demand to also include space weapons non-proliferation in the discussion, something the US plainly refuses. So, again, non-proliferation talks and modernization are stalled.

Ban Ki-moon addressed 65 ambassadors and told them the naked truth, stating that while at last everybody seemed convinced about the importance of the matter, “you seem to be unable to even agree on an agenda”. “Not that space weapons race isn’t important, but that should be negotiated without taking other issues hostage”, after which he wished everybody a happy new year and left. Good for him.

*) Sure, nuclear knowledge (and material) isn’t sold like cake these days, and sure, there is no North Korean nuclear crisis, and sure, nuclear state Pakistan is stable as hell. The administration’s attitude seems to be when denial is no longer an option, drop the now hot potato on the UN.

January 24th, 2008

The blackened past

Uh oh. KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), now part of Air France and a tight partner with Northwest Airlines. Has an image problem.

(…) The witness, 17 years old at the time (1949) saw a fierce exchange between KLM CEO Albert Plesman and the famous writer and pilot Adriaan Viruly . The latter protested bitterly according to the witness that he was asked to fly ‘black monks’ to Argentina. It was clear from the exchange those were Nazi war criminals said the witness, who was not publicly identified.

Because Viruly apparently considered to bring the matter in the open Plesman warned the pilot according to the witness with the words: “If you dare to ruin my KLM, I will take steps.”