Spend the last couple of days in Budapest and have come to the conclusion that i really do not like the place. Sure there are spectacular exceptions but that is about it. However it seems that the city has a few other hidden gems: yesterday evening my colleague Nikki (who claims that she likes the place) came back with this picture that she had taken at a souvenir stall on castle hill:
Guess the most significant aspect of this display is that there is no George W. Bush version. Maybe that hints at the fact that we will finally be rid of that idiot in the not so distant future…
Seems to be a title of a documentary film about life in Israel and gaza in production right now (no IMDB entry yet). From what i can tell it looks like an attempt to portray everyday life in both Gaza and Israel by following surfers in both territories.
Had a bit of a bad feeling when i was reading that nat was going back to Beirut for some festival and that there would be a general strike in Beirut on the 7th of may. Turns out that my bad feelings were justified. Nat is (or at least was, the last thing i had heard from her was that the germans where bringing her to Damascus) once again stuck in cairo, and mazen is drawing again.
& for some fucked up reason these things always correspond with nice weather in Amsterdam.
Just read a fairly impressive speech on terrorism by US presidential candidate (technically he is a candidate for nomination as a candidate) Barack Obama. The speech it is quite a contrast to what you hear from the current US administration and for large parts actually makes sense even though it contains a fair share of patriotic pathos. For all i know this speech is the first time i have come across a US presidential candidate (who actually has a realistic chance of winning) who seems to realize that there are people outside of the US who hate the US not because they hate freedom but because of the way the US are bullying around the rest of the world:
When you travel to the world’s trouble spots as a United States Senator, much of what you see is from a helicopter […] And it makes you stop and wonder: when those faces look up at an American helicopter, do they feel hope, or do they feel hate?
I guess realizing that the way the US are behaving themselves in the rest of the world is one of the root causes of what is labeled ‘global terrorism’ is one of the core qualifications you would wish any future president of the US to have. Lets hope that he still remembers this should he ever come to sit in one of these new presidential helicopters. Now unfortunately Mr Obama gets a little bit over-excited about his proverbial helicopter ride in the rest of his speech:
[…] That child looking up at the helicopter must see America and feel hope. […] I will speak directly to that child who looks up at that helicopter, and my message will be clear: “You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now.” […] The America I know is the last, best hope for that child looking up at a helicopter. It’s the country that put a man on the moon; that defeated fascism and helped rebuild Europe. […] And we can be what that child looking up at a helicopter needs us to be: the relentless opponent of terror and tyranny, and the light of hope to the world.
Not sure if this is a particularly realistic scenario [especially since mr. Obama also hints at invading pakistan in this speech]. Also, given the demographics of your typical ‘terrorist’ i think he should be more concerned about (young) adults than children, but then politicians seem to be generally unable to formulate unrealistic scenarios without referring to children. Guess this is because they are ‘pure’ or ‘innocent’ or both….
Update [22.08.07]: Shudda adds: ‘Nobody invades Pakistan without India’. Interesting times ahead indeed…
It is incredible how extremely stupid IDF commanders can be (I guess it makes no sense of complaining about their lack of sensibility as that is a trait of character that seems to disqualify anyone from becoming a military commander). Looks like today they managed to stage a repeat of the April 18, 1996 Qana Massacre in which IDF artillery shelling killed 106 lebanese civilians sheltering in an UN compound.
This morning – 10 years, 3 month and 12 days later – the Israeli air force targeted a 4-story apartment complex in the same city killing another 50-or-so civilians seeking shelter from the continuing Israeli air and artillery attacks on South Lebanon:
The facts will come trickling in, preceded by the excuses: the Israeli military will insist the civilians were warned, will insist Hizbullah fired from the village first; Hizbullah will deny firing from houses, will argue the Israeli drones, above the village all day, had recorded the civilians' presence; the remaining, bereaved family members will say, again, how they had nowhere to go, no way to leave, and that the roads out have been unremittingly bombed for the past week.
But none of it will matter. Not to those who make callous, calculated decisions from their comfortable, removed safety, nor to those who sell and deliver the weapons. The innocents suffer, and only the impotent care.
The families will grieve. The children will grow up without their mothers. The memorial at Qana, already displaying the coffins of 106 civilian deaths, will swell by at least 55 more, at least 20 of them children’s sized. And the atrocities, tacitly and repeatedly permitted, will continue. [Sonya Knox on the Siege of Lebanon Blog]
It is hard to understand how the IDF hopes to ‘break support for Hezbollah‘ by these kinds of operations. when we were touring South Lebanon last june the Qana massacre was repeatedly mentioned in order to underline why Hezbollah’s resistance strategy is justified and why Hezbollah enjoys the almost complete support of the Shi’a population in the South: they are the ones who fight against those who have repeatedly taken the liberty to invade Lebanon, commit or support massacres and generally turn the life of ordinary people in South Lebanon into hell.
Of course there is no way that by committing more massacres among innocent civilians and making life more miserable for ordinary Lebanese and Palestinian people Israel will ever gain support or trust from its neighbors or even get rid of the Hezbollah. but at the same time it appears that there is no way that IDF commanders will ever learn this lesson…
After reading the morning news i got up and went running. Choose Da Arabian MC’s ‘Meen Erhabe‘ (‘Who is the Real Terrorist?’) as background track…
During Thursdays Anniek van Hardeveld memorial race i was doing a checkppoint (yes i know i am getting lazy and slow these days…) on the head of java island. The checkpoint was at the memorial for the employees of the N.V. Nederlandse Scheepvaartmaatschapij who had died ‘at sea or wherever on the shore’ while defending the ‘liberty of their country’.
The memorial is a rather simple one made from stone. It has a 3 meter-or-so high stone base on top of which there is a 3 meter high sculpture of a sailor gazing to the west (into the sunset? after his dead comrades? at Amsterdam central station?). The base of the monument is covered by plates of shiny black marble (or something like that). Inscribed in gold on these plates are the names of the employees who died between 1940 and 1945.
Now while waiting for the first racers to arrive i started to read the names and was stuck by the fact that every second of them sounded non-dutch to me (which of course is not strange at al as we are talking about sailors here who have always been a motley crue). Took me a while to figure out that i was in fact looking at the section of the monument that lists non-dutch people. that’s right, when they set up this monument these freedom-lovin’, injustice-hatin’ Dutch people decided not to mix then names of the Dutch people and foreigners who had sailed, fought and died together. Instead they decided to list them in separate sections of the monument, The dutch with first and last names and the others only with what seems to be their last names/nick names:
Now the monument was set up in 1950, and lots of people have argued that it was ok for the Dutch to be a little bit racist back then (like it was ok that the first thing the Dutch did after being liberated was sending troops to indonesia to make sure they could go on repressing the locals some more). Guess the times were indeed a bit different then, but the fact that nobody bothers to change this fuck-up while once a year an official delegation comes along to lay down flowers also tells a fair bit about our times. So this post is dedicated to the memory of:
Looks like computer controlled missiles are all the rage this weekend. first allthetechnology blogs showcase a USB powered airdart launcher that can be controlled from any mac or PC. It is being sold for 20 pounds over at the Marks & Spencer online store …
Powered by your mac or pc, you’ll have hours of flying fun with these USB air darts. Let the mission begin! Control the aim and the firing mechanism of the darts via your computer mouse! 3 darts! Software included!
A new twist has surfaced in the cyber war being waged by Islamic militants.
A message has been posted to several radical Islamist – or jihadi – websites announcing a competition to design a new site for a militant group in Iraq. The prize offered is the chance to fire missiles remote-controlled by computer at a US military base in Iraq. […] The winner will be given the chance, the group says, to fire three long-range missiles at an American army base in Iraq by – in the words of the announcement – “pressing a button on his computer with his own blessed hand, using technology developed by the jihad fighters”.
Note the technical similarities: three missiles to be fired form your office chair with your own blessed hand. Makes me wonder if the jihadies do indeed develop their own technology or if the just go online shopping at M&S.
Update (04-dec-05): Looks like the contest has been announced on the 5th of november. So maybe it is the other way around: M&S nicking their x-mas toy ideas from the jihadies?
Today i am back in Beirut. In the morning we met with the Hezbollah (i was still getting SMS straight from the ‘zionist entity’ while sitting in their press room), but talking to them did not make them any more sympathetic. The guy got himself in rage about Israel and how they had every right to defend themselves against Israeli aggressions, but instead of stopping there he then started to explain us how we (the Germans) were also victims of them as ‘they (Israelis) made us (Germans) responsible for the holocaust which has never happend’. when told that we did not see this this way he referred to ‘a book by an French professor’ that he had read but whose name he had ‘unfortunatly’ forgotten that would prove that the ‘holocaust never happend or at least was much smaller than they say’. yuk! This contributed to the resentment that had been growing in me after yesterdays visit to the south (Hezbollah country) where the mood was really depressing which at least for me was largely the result of the excessive presence of bearded men on all kinds of posters and billboards. (something that at first had appeared as a welcome change of scenery compared to the visual Hariri onslaught in the rest of the country. (between Nabatiye and Sour i did not spot a single Hariri poster). It does however seem that the posters help winning the elections in Beirut Hariri won all 19 seats and in the south Hezbollah and Amal are projected to win almost all 23 seats on stake in Sundays election round.
The unfortunate encounter with political Islam was soon pushed to the background when the news broke that Samir Kassir had been assassinated when a bomb detonated under his car seat just after leaving his apartment in Ashrafiye in east Beirut earlier that morning.
On June 2, 2005 Lebanon’s prominent journalist and historian Samir Kassir was assassinated. Kassir was a dedicated, vehement and eloquent critic of Syria’s presence in Lebanon, its security apparatuses and its Lebanese collaborators. from indymedia beirut
While i had not heard of him before suddenly everybody (ok i guess minus the Hezbollah) who we had met had connections with him ranging from personal friendships to working relations (the ladies from ‘un mémoire pour le avenir whom we had met on Tuesday evening were apparently some of the last persons to meet him on Wednesday). The somehow ironic fact that Samir who – as everybody was telling me – had been a very vocal critic of the Syrian role in Lebanon for quite a while had been assassinated by the Syrians (at least that is what everybody thinks) after they had left the country has had quite a devastating effect to everybody i spoke to during the day. Most people were wondering if ‘this was ever going to end’ end seemed extraordinary disillusioned by what had happend.