Friday, July 21, 2006

What must Laura think?

It appears Bush is quite a ‘player’. Not only did he try to ‘chat up’ Blair, but Bush also tried to give Merkel (German Chancellor) a back message. (Pictures from ZDF)

"Here Merkie, I see you're in need of some loving, baby."


"Don't touch me, you freak!"

A shocked Merkel responds with a move she learnt during ‘anti-rape’ education in school.
Now, in international politics a lot of attention is paid to 'ettiquet' and appearances. A move or a word can be scrutinised for its significance in the relationship between two countries.

Symbolically, Merkel--representing Germany--just repelled Bush's 'warm' gestures... They did say she was a strong chancellor! : )

Oh, this is too much!

Just classic!

Must read... world politics CAN be very funny, as Bush and Blair tell us.
BELIEVE IT! It's all true.

From BBC, dialogue between the two heads of state at G8 in Russia
(additions from this Sky News version)
Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?

Blair: I'm just...

Bush: You're leaving?

Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy...[indistinct]

Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.

Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?

Bush: If you want me to.

Blair: Well, it's just that if the discussion arises...

Bush: I just want some movement.

Blair: Yeah.

Bush: Yesterday we didn't see much movement..

Blair: No, no, it may be that it's not, it may be that it's impossible.

Bush: I am prepared to say it.

Blair: But it's just I think that we need to be an opposition...

Bush: Who is introducing the trade?

Blair: Angela [Merkel, the German Chancellor]

Bush: Tell her to call 'em.

Blair: Yes

Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for the sweater - it's awfully thoughtful of you.

Blair: It's a pleasure.

Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.

Blair: Oh absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!


Bush: What about Kofi? [Annan] - he seems all right. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...

Blair: Yeah, no I think the [indistinct] is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed.

Bush: Yeah.

Blair: I don't know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.

Bush: I think Condi [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] is going to go pretty soon.

Blair: But that's, that's, that's all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together.

Bush: Yeah, yeah.

Blair: But at least it gives people...

Bush: It's a process, I agree. I told her your offer to...

Blair: Well... it's only if I mean... you know. If she's got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.

Bush: You see the irony is what they need to do is get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...

Blair: [indistinct]

Bush: [indistinct]

Blair: Dunno... Syria....

Bush: Why?

Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...

Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah

--FROM HERE THERE ARE TWO VERSIONS-----------------------------------------



Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way

Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is struggling.

Blair: He's had it. And that's what the whole thing is about. It's the same with Iraq.



Blair: What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way...

Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet

Blair: He is honey. And that's what the whole thing is about. It's the same with Iraq


Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.

Blair: Yeah

Bush: [indistinct]

Blair: [indistinct]

Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.

Blair: Is this...? [Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's official !

We’re experiencing the second ‘heat wave’ this summer, and it’s not been this hot since 1948! Technically a ‘heat wave’ is five consecutive days of temperatures above 25C, and we’ve been having that. They say it’ll probably reach 35C today and the coming few days!

Sweating even just sitting here… Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Ko Colijn, ‘VN versus FIFA: 0-1’ [UN versus FIFA: 0-1], p26, 24 June 2006, Vrij Nederland

I know the FIFA craze is already over, but this is too good not to share.

I said it before, and this article confirmed my cynical views: people care more about football than what is going (wr)on(g) in the world. And that’s worrying. This delightfully clever article compares the game of football to the game of international politics. And it’s no surprise who wins.

“FIFA has 207 members, the UN must make do with sixteen less. About the rules of football there is never a difference of opinion. Everyone has the same definition of what is football.”

In football, everyone knows what a yellow or red card stands for, and when they are handed out. But not so in the world of international politics:

“In the United Nations red and yellow cards are arbitrary deal out, the one country has a greater goal than another, and sometimes competitions are extended or shortened for the need to achieve an acceptable result. What is acceptable is often decided by the five most powerful players. And if those five cannot agree in their Security Council, then the most powerful country can sometimes decide by itself to take a few penalty kicks and force a result."

FIFA has tried to be fair by selecting its referees and teams from all continents, and we just saw probably the most ‘unbiased’ football tournament in history, even though in the end it was more a European Cup than a World Cup. But in international politics it’s a ‘Winners Cup’:

“The manner by which world politics decides who the most powerful country in the world is simply weak. Whoever was strong and promising in the last (world) war came and received a place as permanent member in the Security Council, with veto right as well.


The European Union says it has a common foreign policy, but France and the United Kingdom possess two seats on the Security Council. Germany and Japan, as one of the top five-economies in the world, also have an eye on such a seat, but find a closed door. Two continents, Latin America and Africa, do not even ‘football’ together in international politics.”

It’s difficult to cheat in football, but in international politics you can easily bend the rules:

“You call the opponent an illegal combatant and can whizz through the Geneva Conventions. You participate in a ‘stabilisation mission’ in Afghanistan and then suddenly it’s not called war any more. You buy weapons abroad and win a war with them. You commit an attack based on two hundred thousand dollars on the Twin Towers and the opponent, with a defence budget a million times as big, stands powerless. You can even hire foreign fighters at military job agencies, who are not called ‘soldiers’ and [therefore] outside the victim statistics when they are killed. In this way you can keep the opponent’s goals away from the news, ‘maintain the null’, something that football really has not yet invented. Football is war, but war is not football.”


1% chance, 100% uncertainty

Ko Colijn, ‘De een procent doctrine’ [The one percent doctrine], p26, 1 July 2006, Vrij Nederland
Based on the new book by Ron Suskind

It’s a shocking but real doctrine much repeated by American officials in the aftermaths of September 11: if it is necessary to detain 100 people just to root out the one terrorist, the end justifies the means. And it is under this policy that atrocities in Guantanamo continue to take place…worse, perhaps, it was under this policy that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were launched. We could not be certain whether these countries were threats to security, nor could we be one hundred percent sure whether Saddam Hussein possessed ‘weapons of mass destruction’. But the one percent chance that this could be the case was all that was needed.

“Forty years the Cold War lasted, and all that time we have, consciously but with fear, lived with the less-than-hundred-percent risk.

Could we als apply with [policy of deterrence] to ‘the terrorist’ as the enemy,
like with the Soviet Union? No, says the Bush administration, and even Koffi
Annan agrees with him. In international politics it is not unusual to lay the
burden of proof on the suspect. In this way, Iran, as a party to the non-proliferation treaty, must declare its nuclear installations with the Atomic
Energy Agency and convince director El Baradei that it has a peaceful atomic
programme. If not, then the country is in violation and can be punished.

And Guantanamo? In the domanin of the law other values naturally apply, and the opinion of [the US] is absurd. Just as much as a hundred football supporters in
Rotterdam can be detained without any suspicion, the US can sweep the world with a net in order to capture one terrorist and allow the unintended catch to rot
without legal assistance. You are one hundred percent not guilty until proven

 Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rembrandt 400

Editorial, ‘Tijdloos populair’ [Timelessly popular], 15 & 16 July 2006, Opinion, p7, NRC Handelsblad

The 400th anniversary of Rembrandt’s was celebrated all over the country with great shows, events and exhibitions bearing his name. It’s a great way to remember a great artist, and it’s a sketch of Dutch culture which binds identity, and frankly brings in lots of money as well. But it’s worth it, because Rembrandt’s works, his heritage and legacy have survived this long, and will undoubtedly continue to last, not just here in the country of his birth, but all over the world.

“Already during his life Rembrandt van Rijn was an internationally known
painted who received big assignments, even from the ‘stadhouder’ (governor) and
his family. He stood on the shoulders of other Dutch painters of the Golden Age,
but distinguished himselfr from them with his broad strokes of the brush and
light effects. Exactly because his art has spoken to people for almost four
centuries long, the popularisation is derived from this. There is no ‘target
group policy’ with Rembrandt, he is suitable for everyone. From the
international interest it appears that he is still as universal as he was. As
many people as possible must become acquainted with the painter, and a website,
a DVD, a quartet game, or even a fridge magnet help [to this effect]. Everywhere
now historically tinted parties are being celebrated and old portraits being

"The many events and souvenirs lead to more museum visits and that is
beneficial. Whoever sees a number of the paintings and sketches in real life, is
impressed with a high benchmark with which other art works can be tested
against. Rembrandt deserves his eternal popularity.”
 Posted by Picasa

Pedophilia: common misconceptions


I’ve already received dozens of extra hits today because of the news about the PNVD
Partij voor Naastenliefde, Vrijheid en Diversiteit (Party for Brotherly love, Freedom and Diversity)
. Because of the ‘demand’, I’ve decided to publish something I wrote sometime ago but was hesitant to publish. It’s supposed to clarify misconceptions about paedophilia.


Like I mentioned before, pedophilia has gotten a bad name because people immediately associate it with ‘sex with children’. When talking about a socially sensitive issue such as pedophilia a clear conception of what it is, and what it means is necessary. Here is a break down of the idea behind modern day (mis)conception(s) of pedophilia by Dr Frans E.J. Gieles. But like many attempts to define a term or concept, we need to be aware of whether the definition is in actual fact an attempt at neatrally framing what it is/is not—the true sense of what it means to define—or tainted with bias—in which case would instead become a moral lecture.

n Pedophilia—a feeling of attraction toward children

n Pedosexuality—an act of sexual contact with children

There’s no need to demonise people because of their sexuality. We need to differentiate between those who have certain feelings, and those who—in the realisation and satisfaction of those feelings—commit certain acts that are contrary to current norms and laws.

Not many people with pedophilic feelings will commit sexual deeds. The overwhelming majority does not do this, and do not want to do this at all. Yes, there is desire, but one in fact would rather not realise it. Be wary that your opinions and details are solely based on convicted people or people in clinics: that gives a very typical and prejudiced picture. Much of the literature is about this, and is therefore prejudiced.

When do pedophilia feelings start appearing exactly?

The crossroad is puberty, the physical and mental ripening. In that period one can be charmed by the childishness [child nature] still remaining, and regret that this is going to disappear […]

Does pedophilia have anything to do with sexuality, or sexual orientation?

One can be more charmed by boys, another by girls. The relationship is, in my experience, about two to one. For others it does not matter that much: it is about their child nature. Another falls in fact for the awakening masculinity or femininity in the child, therefore for the awakening adolescence. This is often the case, but may not be referred to as ‘pedophilia’ :cit is in fact hetero- or homophilia. And take note that a legal age limit is not yet a diagnostic age limit. That [age limit] lies lower.


Perhaps some people will react with shock to a revaltion by someone that s/he is a pedophile. But why the shock? Why the disbelief, or even anger to the disclosure of someone’s pedophiliac tendencies? In the current climate of ‘treatment’, people who are otherwise normal suddenly become severely disturbed when they reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings. One reason is that any kind of research—regardless of its quality or its contribution into understanding pedophilia as a social and very human phenomenon is immediately labeled as an attempt to ‘normalise’, or even advocate pedophilia, thereby opening it to attack and scrutiny. A worrying trend, as Dr Gieles points out, is that people can end up in detention or forced into ‘treatment’ not because of what they have done, but what they may do in the future. Dr Gieles explains very succinctly why society takes such a skewed attitude toward pedophilia:

There is an process of scapegoating and demonisation in full steam. Every form of suspicion, rumour, alarm, police reporting or complaint is, in cases of acquittal as well, answered with threats. In practice one must move house and loose his job. This [phenomenon] is actively being used: employers of people who published these opinions were informed, who went on to dismiss [the employees]. Note: not deeds, just the idea [is sufficient in over-reaction]

UPDATE: 17 July 2006

An example of how bias against paedophiles in particular, and paedophilia in general, can cost jobs: The secretary of the PNVD, who was studying orthopedagogy—a study on the learning and behavioural problems of children—was removed from Radboud University of Nijmegen because of his involvement with the party.

And even more hypocritical is the following attitude:

Actually I also may not have a say on this topic: if you yourself have pedophilia feelings, you are just allowed to say that the weather is nice or cold, but really not much more. Someone with pedophilia feelings can of course not be a scholar: he is of course opinionated. Opponents [of pedophilia] are of course not so. Pregnant women may say nothing about pregnancy, is it not; and married men nothing about marriage: opinionated. Reverends therefore [may] say nothing about God, women nothing about feminism, educators nothing about education, journalists nothing about journalism, researchers nothing about conducting research: all [of them are] opinionated. Is this not the case? Indeed, this cannot be the case—only for ‘pedophiles’ is this of course the case.

What can you do to prevent further misunderstanding and promote greater, more critical and understanding of an issue such as pedophilia?

n Define correctly and inspect whether you have made a definition or a sermon

n Differentiate between feeling and deed

n Differentiate between moral and science

n Look critically to theory and practices

n Look also critically, but with an open mind, to what [was just presented]


Here are two opposing opinions on paedophilia, left by people who commented on my blog:


A friend of mine is a paedophile.
He's not creepy or anything, he just seems like a normal guy, […] He's never raped or abused anyone, and he's a pretty nice bloke.

He got rid of the prejudices I had ( fat bald church priests, or wrinkly men with large glasses on) and pretty much convinced me that paedophelia is indeed a sexual orientation.

Most straight relationships are inequal. The men are almost always stronger than the women. 1 in 4 women will get sexually abused in their lifetime, and you hear far too often of girlfriends losing their virginity to please their partner.
The point I'm trying to make is that coercion can happen at all stages of life, no matter who you are.
Paedophiles coercing young girls is probably about as common as men coercing women to have sex with them. Having sex with a drunk person isn't illegal either! Another point to consider is that younger people are free from social pressures and expectation.

The word frigid often gets thrown around young adults, doesn't it?
As long as paedophiles don't do anything against their 'partner's will, I see personally see nothing wrong with it.



Even if we assume that children are sexually "aware" as I have seen some pedophiles put it, it is taking immoral advantage of their intellectual and emotional immaturity to either initiate or accept sexual contact with them. Age of consent laws may need some revising so as to prevent ridiculous cases where a thirteen year old is charged with pedophilia for having sexual relations with their 12 year old partner, but they must remain in place to prevent the significantly more mature from abusing their positions of authority and trust to exploit children.

UPDATE: 25 July 2006

No ban on the PNVD

The court in Den Haag decided today that the recently established PNVD party is permitted. Sometime ago I wrote about the commotion surrounding the party’s establishment. Among other things, the party wants to lower the age of consent to 12 and permit teens from the age of 16 to be involved in pornography. Soelaas, an organisation that conducts research into paedophilia, began the court action. Together with the group Basis Recht op Veilig Onderwijs (Basic Right to Safe Education), they want to ban the party up to the 2011 elections and to disallow the establishment of the party.

In a court session According to a member of Soelaas (Solace): “Everyone in the Netherlands can establish a political party, but we believe that the [political] programme of the PNVD consists of criminal elements.” Further, the organisation believes that the party is a “danger for social values and virtues which make a democratic society endurable.”

They appeal to the International Treaty for the Rights of the Child, which is ratified by the Netherlands to grant them standing in the case. They argue that from Art3 of the treaty if the general interest of the child is threatened, the legislator, judge and authorities must take an active role in preventing that threat.

The case was dismissed on procedural grounds because the applicants did not have a “ very pressing and urgent own interest” [zeer klemmend en spoedeisend eigen belang] in the ban of the party, according to the judge. It only wanted to express their moral concern and according to the court that was not enough to ban the party.

4.1 of the Judgement:

“The freedom of expression, freedom of association and the freedom of union (under which the freedom to establish a political party) are to be seen as the foundations of a democratic state according to the rule of law [rechtsstaat]. These freedoms give citizens the room, through the means of political parties—for example—to plead for the change of the Constitution, the law or policy, or for the annulment of international treaties.”

It is up to the electorate to give judgement about the pledges of political parties. […] The applicants when asked during the sitting declared that nothing is known to them by which it appears that the PNVD commits a punishable offence or calls for the committing of felonies that according to the applicable legislation is punishable.”

To ban a political party, it has to be proven that the PNVD is a danger to social order and public life.


“[…] The judge can only come to the judgement that there is a conflict with the public order if the fundamentals of our legal system actually threaten to be eroded on a scale that would appear to be paralysing for society.


Expressions that are in conflict with public order are mentioned in parliamentarian history [as] ‘the incitement of hatred and expressions that amounts to prohibited discrimination or a mortifying attempt, as the example given in the literature, to plea for making the killing of a certain group of the population impunable'.”

The organisation Soelaas do not have standing in the case, because it is merely an organisation made up of victims of paedophiles (who have gone beyond loving children to actually committing sexual offences).


“They want to express their indignation. This does not actually mean that there is ground for such action in their name based on this indignation against the defendants.


The action group Basis Recht op Veilig Onderwijs, in which these individual claimants have united themselves, is not a foundation or association with complete legal competence. […]”

Of course many are abhorred by the decision, but personally I stand by it. The judge was fair to not allow his personal judgements about such a (politically and socially) sensitive issue, and concerned himself with the facts alone. And on the basis of the facts, the PNVD does not, or at least has not, pose/-d a threat to society.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Meaningful posters

Saw these posters yesterday in Amsterdam. They were put up by NCDO (Nationale Commissie voor internationale samenwerking en Duurzame Ontwikkeling. Activiteiten: National Commission for International Cooperation and Sustainable Develpment), this development organisation which campaigns to implement the Millennium goals set out by the UN in 2000.

"For the price of this (FIFA) World Cup ticket a child in Ivory Coast can go to school for a year."

"This ball went through more check-ups than a pregnant woman in Ghana."

Wonderful messages. Like I said before, if people spent as much time, effort and money on combating poverty as football, there wouldn't be such great poverty

Like a tourist

Been traveling to some touristic places with my cousin and his wife the past few days. Guess it’s always fun to do and see the Netherlands again, even if I’ve done it all before so many, many times. Besides, it's been over a year since I last saw anything of this sort of 'brings back the memories'.

Please visit my travelog for nice pictures of: