Sunday, July 31, 2005

Dood In Ispahan

Category: [Global Politics]

"LONDEN - Londen noemt de mogelijke heropstart van de Iraanse uraniumactiviteiten in de fabriek van Ispahan 'onnodig en nadelig' en zegt dat zo'n beslissing de lopende gesprekken met de Europese Unie zou ondermijnen."

"Iran verklaarde zondag dat het aan de IAEA zou vragen om de uraniumactiviteiten in Ispahan opnieuw op te starten. Bovendien gaf Iran Europa tot zondagmiddag 14.30 uur (onze tijd) de tijd om met voorstellen over de brug te komen. Anders riskeren we een crisis, zo verklaarde een Iraanse onderhandelaar."

©De Standaard

De Tuinman en de Dood
P. N. van Eyck (1887-1954)

Een Perzisch edelman:

Van morgen ijlt mijn tuinman, wit van schrik,
Mijn woning in: 'Heer, Heer, één ogenblik!

Ginds in de rooshof, snoeide ik loot na loot,
Toen ik achter mij keek. Daar stond de Dood

Ik schrok, en haastte mij langs de andere kant,
Maar zag nog juist de dreiging van zijn hand.

Meester, uw paard, en laat mij spoorslags gaan,
Voor de avond nog bereik ik Ispahaan!' -

Van middag (lang reeds was hij heengespoed)
Heb ik in 't cederpark de Dood ontmoet.

'Waarom,' zo vraag ik, want hij wacht en zwijgt,
'Hebt gij van morgen vroeg mijn knecht gedreigd?'

Glimlachend antwoordt hij: 'Geen dreiging was 't,
Waarvoor uw tuinman vlood. Ik was verrast,

Toen 'k 's morgens hier nog stil aan 't werk zag staan,
Die 'k 's avonds halen moest in Ispahaan.'

BBC verhaal (in het Engels).
Iraans opknoop-schandaal misschien hoax? weet er als gewoonlijk alles van.

Lichtdrukmaal: (klikken om te vergroten) de sharia in de praktijk: opknoping van twee jongeren in Iran ©ISNA.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Which picture is most insulting?

Category: [Satire]

Make sure to have a good look at both of them first (click to enlarge). Both pictures are politically sensitive in the Low Countries (at least in Flanders). The left one is called the Macaque, the right one is in the Lion’s Cave (In het Hol van de Leeuw). Just follow your gut feeling, and make sure to click on the poll at your right first. Then read on.

The left picture is a Filipino friend (looks a bit like a Moroccan) and we did the picture with his full consent in the Zoo of Davao's Filipino Eagle Center (thanks, Steve!). In Flanders, this picture might be offensive since the degrading nickname for Moroccan non-Caucasian immigrants is Makak. It’s a term that can be compared with Nigger for African Americans in the US.

The right picture is a poster for the most recent show of stand-up comedian Kees Meerman (the last performances of his show are on July 28, 29 and 30 in 't Fakkeltheater in Antwerp) (©Meersman, permission to use by email). The poster might be insulting to some since the Lion is the Flemish national symbol, and also the symbol of the successful ultra nationalist political party Vlaams Belang. Since the latter one is also ethic-right and stands for ‘moral’ values, the suggestion of an act of sodomy on the Lion might be extra offending. Compare it with a poster of Bin Laden taking the Statue of Liberty from behind and standing on an American flag.

Are both images insulting some? Certainly; at least they might be considered provocative. Are they of good taste? Maybe not, but this is what Free Speech is all about. Could they be displayed in public in Belgium? Well, the Lion actually was, but I'm not so sure about the Macaque.

My point was to illustrate one of the implications of Bart Croughs Two Laws of Liberal Thinking: the West is always wrong, and "oppressed" minority groups should be protected, also and especially from Free Speech.

The poll was closed with 40% for the Macaque and 60% for the Lion on a total of 102 votes.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Two Laws of Bart Croughs

Category: [Lowlands Politics]

Ten years ago (1995), the Dutch publicist Bart Croughs wrote his book "For Women’s, Gay’s, and Allochthones’ sake” ("In de naam van de Vrouw, de Homo en de Allochtoon”, in Dutch). Croughs also writes for the Dutch libertarian weblog Meervrijheid. In English, the term allochthonous is used in geology and in cultural anthropology. In the Low Countries (included Belgium) on the other hand, it became a politically correct term referring to resident non-Caucasian immigrants or to their descendants, mostly Muslims. For the history and the etymology of the term allochthone, read here (par 2.a). (See however the comments for a remark from LVB about the exact translation of allochtoon).

The word has a heavy political newspeak load. For instance, for the politically correct left or progressive intellectuals, media, or politicians (in the US they would be called liberals) - it is racist and immoral to point out that half of inmates in Belgium are allochthones, and even more to suggest that Moroccan male youth is responsible for a disproportional high amount of the street crime in the Low Countries. In reporting such crime, most media now fail to mention the ethnic background of the perpetrators. Repeatedly mentioning such facts is considered to be a scapegoat-mechanism, and it has been judged racist by a higher Ghent (Flanders) appeal court, overriding the free speech principle as guaranteed by the Belgian constitution.

Croughs wrote his book a decade ago, in which he devised his two laws of liberal thinking, - long before 9/11 and Iraq, long before the collapse of the Dutch multicultural society model, and long before the brutal murder on Theo Van Gogh by a Muslim fundamentalist. The book is still highly relevant in explaining where Old Europe’s immigration model went the wrong way.

Law 1

The first law of Croughs is meant to explain the apparent contradiction between the claimed time-independency of our Western values (as they are perceived by the liberals), - and its place-dependency on the other hand. We should be "open” to the values and the culture of allochthones, not impose ours. To believe in the superiority of our own value system in dealing with allochthones and their place in our Western society is considered meddling, paternalistic, imperialistic and even (buzzword) racist. Instead, we should adopt the multicultural, multi-values society, and celebrate diversity.

But when it comes to time shifting, our Western values of respect for human rights suddenly appear to be absolute and eternal. Our colonization of Africa, the slavery period in American history, the tyranny of the Spanish in South America and the Philippines, they all are utterly bad. Suddenly, our contemporary Western values are time-independent. No arguing about values and political constellations at that particular time, the West was simply wrong, also then.

Hence the first law of Croughs, he called the Law of the Abject West. Whatever the West does, in any era or at any place, when confronted with a non-Western culture, it is always wrong. The law explains why only Caucasians can be racist, why the American slavery but not the Arab slavery of Blacks was wrong, why South Africa had to be boycotted but not Mugabe in Zimbabwe, why Muslims are right when they fly into skyscrapers, but we are wrong to defend our oil in Iraq, why the Burundi genocide was just a local clash, and probably the result of past Caucasian colonialism anyways. The West is wrong, always and everywhere. A recent example are statements by the London mayor. Speaking of a LondonStockholm syndrome.

Law 2

The second law of Croughs deals with oppressed minorities. Whenever there is a conflict between a minority and a majority, the liberal always supports the oppressed minority.

Even if they aren’t a minority in the numerical sense, like in the case of women. It’s the oppressed perception that counts. For instance the fact that most great inventors were Caucasian males makes women an oppressed minority in the liberal sense. When Bolkestein, many years back, wanted to promote the case of the poor elderly in Holland’s downtowns, he was ignored The elderly certainly form a minority, but they are autochthones. So they follow the fate of the Abject West. In fact, just applying these two rules explains many apparent contradictions in the liberal thinking.

Synergism of the Laws

Often, the two laws are synergistic. Allochthones are a clear minority in the Low Countries, and what’s more, they have a non-Western aura, so they are always right.

If a Moroccan car thief is caught with a smoking gun (literally), the Caucasian police officer that shoots him (it happened years back in Ghent), is a racist; the thief is a martyr – of course. Another high profile example: a 13-year old boy, part of a Brussels youth gang violently kills a man (Patrick Mombaerts) retrieving money from an ATM machine in Schaarbeek (Brussels suburb) in 1998. The boy gets off (4 years later, and in appeal, see here, in Dutch) with 120 hours of community service; the man is buried in his hometown with not even a single politician present. But the name of the boy was Achmed-something and the man was Patrick, so it figures.

Jews in Holland follow the same fate. They are untouchable. Hence the hilarious Anne Frank worshipping. But Israel is another pairs of shoes. In its conflict with the Palestinians, it is wrong by default, because it is considered a Western island in the Arab Middle East. So law 1 applies.

Collision of the Laws

The story becomes intriguing (at least for the liberals) when the two laws collide. The Rodney King case in LA (USA) was clear: an African American car thief resists arrest and is beaten up by a Caucasian policeman. The incident is taped and of course Law 1 of the Abject West applies. In the subsequent riots and looting by Blacks of Korean small businesses in the area however a conflict of laws arises. Both Koreans and Blacks are an oppressed and non-Western minority. But the liberal media are in disarray because they can’t conceive that the Blacks are just envying the Koreans who built up their own business from nothing in barely one generation, - while the Blacks themselves still hang around in slums selling dope 150 years after the abolishment of slavery.

Another case: clitorectomy of women by Muslims (euphemistically called female circumcision [can we then call a dick head removal a simple haircut too?]). A clear case of women contra Muslims, two oppressed groups, and both non-Western. Croughs was in a way prophetic, 8 years before the Dutch ex-Muslim circumcised Parliamentarian woman Ayaan Hirsi Ali featured in a film by Theo Van Gogh about her genital mutilation required by Islam, and had to hide for death threats afterwards. What happened to Van Gogh himself is history.

Again another funny case that gives liberals nightmares is Gays against Muslims. As is well known, gays are for Islam incarnations of Satan, and gay practices are still illegal or punishable by death in Muslim countries. Egypt scored badly in the headlines a few years back by a mass arrest of visitors to a gay disco on a boat on the Nile. Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi-Arabia, the UAE, Malaysia and India for instance still have rigid anti-sodomy laws and no liberal even cares. Of course they are non-Western and Muslim, so they must be right. The case becomes totally hilarious looking at the fierce liberal opposition to Catholic protest against Spain’s gay marriage law, and their polite modesty on the other hand about the repulsive public hanging of two gay boys in Iran on July 19.

And then there is the scarf. What to choose for? For women’s rights to walk around free without having to wear this annoying symbol of female oppression, or for Muslim rights (or rather, Muslim men’s right to jealousy)? A satire about all this can be read here (in Dutch).

Extension of the Laws to the Ethical Right

Finally, the nightmares of cognitive dissonance are created by the gods, not only to make left-wing fundamentalists suffer. One can wonder what side right-wing libertarian, Islamophobe and homophobe Paul Belien (see attachments of the article) will choose in the
Iranian gay teen hanging case. Speaking of stalemate.


In de naam van de Vrouw, de Homo en de Allochtoon, by Bart Croughs.
The two laws.


(Click to enlarge) the Abject West in action. An Australian retiree bargaining with an indigenous tribal girl at the Bukidnon border bus stop in Central Mindanao, Philippines.
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Friday, July 22, 2005

Belgium's National Day, Brussels Military Parade

Category: [Photoblog] [Brussels]

Let Luxemburg be warned! The Belgians are ready. We have the men, the gear, and most of all, we have the resolve to attack and subdue the Grand Duchesse, which should be ours anyways. We didn’t win any war yet, but by Jingo, we would have if the Americans and the British hadn’t mingled with the Nazis. There is, however, a downside to this parade. Not that the fancy guns were without ammo, King Albert II knows all to well what happened with Sadat in Egypt. The real bad thing is that almost 50% of the 2005 fuel budget was used by this parade. And 100% of the cleaning detergent budget.

The Belgians are unique in many ways. What other country has a 50cm tall peeing boy (Manneken Pis) as its proud National Statue, defying all taboos of indecent exposure and pedophilia, and the size of grandeur? What other country would include fire brigades, police vehicles and ambulances in its parade? Sure, we are ready for War, but not for bloodshed. Our main contribution to World Peace would be writing traffic fines to suicide bombers and perform liposuctions on our over-aged fat-bellied military personnel.

As the Old Warrior (third last gallery picture) of WWII proudly told me, after my question whether he spoke Dutch: I’m Flemish of course, and we are the best!

If the box below is empty, you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer. In that case, or if you want to view the gallery full-screen, click here.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Belgium's National Day, Brussels Bands Parade

Category: [Photoblog] [Brussels]

What’s special about the month of July? The Americans have their Fourth, the French celebrate their Quatorze, and Belgium has its 21-th of July, National Day. VH went to Brussels, and returned home gagnant with a load of pictures and video clips. Memory card space, the final frontier. The photo gallery of the Bands Parade in the Koningsstraat (Royal Street) in front of the Brussels Park is below.

If the box below is empty, you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer. In that case, or if you want to view the gallery full-screen, click here.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Beam me up, Scotty!

Category: [People]

Dead, at age 85, Star Trek’s Enterprise space ship’s chief engineer Montgomery Scott. There have been rumors around that actor James Doohan played the part but real die-hard Star Trekkies know better. Doohan was Scotty, just like Leonard Nimoy was Mr.Spock. Only Nixon could go to China as the old Vulcan proverb goes, and only Scotty with his thick Welsh accent could push his baby the Enterprise to Warp 8.

His Creator beamed him up finally today, so he should be enjoying his 70 Virgins by now. Although his mind was gone already for a while (he died of
Alzheimer's) he might still take them to Warp Infinity. No surprise if he did, he became father at age 80 again. Apparently, he could get himself to Warp 8 too. It could happen to anyone of us.

Aye, Aye, Scotty, take care over there, where no living man has boldly gone before.

Image imdb

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Dane pei me seï Kodakske

Category: [Photoblog] [Brussels]

(in Brussels dialect)
Awel da was braa lank gelij dak nog es in Brussel geweist zèn. De zondag passei weïk was 't van da. En de comble, 't was verdekke vried schuu weir. 'k Hem maï giene sekond gambeteid, enfin vi ne metteko azzekik toch. E promenadeke gemokt van 't Park no de Central en de Galerees, dèn no de Gruute Mèt, en dèn vanaiges een ferme pint gon pakke in The Monk. De va et vient gezee en vuil potrette getrokke. Vuil zwètte en vrumde in 't Ingels, mais moi je me debrouille toujours hein. Je parle d'ailleurs les deux. Alai santei!

(in English)
[Title: That Dude With His Cam]. Last Sunday I spent an interesting afternoon in the Brussels hexagon shooting photos of people and places. The weather was jolly good, and loads of tourists enjoyed the sights in the crowded downtown streets. The walk went from the Brussels Park, over the Coudenberg, the Central Railway station, the St.Hubert shopping galleries and fancy eateries, the Grand Market Square, to wind down in my favorite bar 'The Monk'. Enjoy!

If the box below is empty, you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer. In that case, or if you want to view the gallery full-screen, click here.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloria - 1

Category: [Filipino Politics]

Her name is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA in short, Wikipedia), and she is the 14-th President of the Republic of the Philippines (RP). She had everything going her way. She was born in 1947 as a daughter of 9-th RP President Diosdado Macapagal. (1961-1965). An economist magna cum laude at 21, she went to Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Washington DC where she was a classmate of ex US president Bill Clinton.

After her return to her homeland, she obtained a PhD in Economy from the prestigious University of the Philippines, and she assumed an academic career. She entered politics as a Senator, where she filed over 400 bills and authored or sponsored 55 laws of economic importance during her tenure as senator.

Rich, beautiful and bright, what a contrast with 3 previous RP presidents (1965-2001) (Marcos, Ramos, Estrada) who were dictators, generals, or retired movie-stars, and were all ousted from office by popular revolts or irregularities after massive corruption charges. Aquino (1986-1992) didn’t fit the herd, but she was plagued by military coups and she was defeated by yet another movie star that bribed his way into Office.

The mellow and friendly Pinoy (Philippine People) are mesmerized by show business and romantic drama, by machos, by glitter and glamour, by Karaoke, by singing and dancing, by illegal gambling (Jueteng), and by richness and corruption. And their presidents give them value for money. They aren’t lucky with their presidents, or rather, they tend to elect the wrong ones. Economics and politics are boring: not a single political magazine in the newsstand, but a plethora of showbiz, lifestyle, and automobile mags. It pays off to shed tears in public about the people's poverty, to be tough, and tap into the magic-realistic Filipino soul. And the disposed ex-presidents? They don't fade away but keep meddling under their beloved spotlights like the Monster of Loch Ness.

The year 2005 started well for GMA. On May 10, 2004 she was re-elected after stepping in (2001) for her predecessor Estrada (ERAP) who was impeached for plunder and corruption (how bizarre) and driven from power by the EDSA II people’s revolution. The economy went quite well, with an annual GNP growth flirting with the 5% threshold yearly since her entry in Office, and a rising positive BOP (balance of payments) which kept the Peso strong. A strong Peso is vital to pay the higher oil bills in dollars, since the RP has no oil of its own. Industrial export is strong, and about 50-70% of it is electrical equipment, only 19% is agricultural. A fact not easily suspected in a developing and largely rural nation, where labor employed in agriculture is as high as 41%, and in industry only 16%.

At second sight, the picture isn’t that favorable. The BOP is sustained by the record number of 7 million OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers) (8.5% of the total population) sending 19.1% more money back home to their ailing families, accounting for almost 10% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The picture is also troubled by a strong and rising inflation from 5% to 8% in 2005, that continues to curb real wage growth and is sparked by rising oil prices. Increasing and uncompensated cost of essential living (food, transport) especially hit the poor hard, and there are many of those, with about a quarter of the population below the poverty line. Support for GMA dwindled rapidly in early 2005.

The major economic problem in the begin of 2005 for GMA seemed to be the fiscal crisis with a budget deficit of 3.4% largely balanced by foreign debts. RP Ratings by Moody went down, then up again as GMA managed to pass her 2% VAT increase bill (from 10% to 12%) through the Senate and the Reps. House last April. Passing the bill was a show in itself, with drama, tears, coups, nightly meetings, compromises, but she managed. The continuing soap was all spread out in the newspapers, but it worked. The ratings went up again.

Little do the Makati (fancy diplomats' area in Metro Manila) based analysts know that VAT, personal income and company taxes are hardly collected in the Provinces: the RP's vast hinterland behind the Manila navel gazers. Who visits the exotic Visayas anyways, with its frequent brownouts and no Internet? And frightening Mindanao, the gate to hell, full of rebels and bombs-producing Muslims? But the drama continues, like the nightly procession of corrupt officials' and businessmens' and old money kids, proudly and shamelessly showing off their expensive 4x4's on Remedios St. in Malate.

To be continued.

Photo (click to view): statue of Filipino independence hero dr. Rizal exiting Fort Bonifacio in Intramuros, Manila (May 2005), on its way to his execution in Luneta Park. Ramos' head and GMA on top have been added.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Dies IRA and terrorism

Category: [Global Politics]

Terrorism is another form of warfare. It is the war of the power-- and/or the stateless. Of course terrorism is cruel, but so is traditional warfare. The dead are not deader after a terrorist blast than after a conventional cruise missile hit. One can argue that traditional warfare is fair, that it is only directed towards regular fighters, and that it is regulated and sanctioned by international law, - while terrorism is illegal, it is directed against innocent civilians, and it is unfair. That distinction doesn't hold very well.

War is an act of violence, which denies any law or rule, which transcends the group or the sovereign nation. The so-called international law is a set of multilateral agreements that breaks down when the agreeing parties decide to fight instead of talk. If international law should have a right in its own, as claimed by the internationalists, the US-UK invasion in Iraq is bluntly illegal.

The thin red line between "legitimate" force against standing armies, and "illegitimate" force against innocent civilians is a large gray area. Let's not mention the collateral civilian damage that regular armies inflict all the time. The concept of "total war" has been consecrated in WWII, and since then been applied in many "legal" wars. Let's forget Dresden by the Allies in WWII. When the US in Vietnam couldn't find a suitable army, they defoliated the life hood infrastructure of the civilians and the civilians themselves by carpet bombardments. The Israeli army destroys civilians’ houses as a routine. Was that state terrorism?

Finally in a war - conventional or unconventional - civilians are never innocent, certainly not in democracies. Bush forged an utter lie, the WMD's (a Tonkin-like legend), to drag his country and Blair into Iraq. Yet, Bush was not impeached. He and Mr. Blair have even been re-elected. Every civilian contributes to the economical fabric that sustains war. No civilian is innocent, ever.

If we want to condemn any war (be it conventional or terrorist) as fair or unfair, we have to look at the motives of the war farers, less at their methods, less at their morals. "Terrorism is utterly bad" and "conventional war is good" is only based on a judgment about methods.

What brings us to the IRA. Ireland has been plundered for centuries and been culturally defoliated by the British, in a campaign short of genocide. Irish have been driven out of their lands, there has been a massive "plantation" (organized immigration) by Scottish, Welsh and English settlers who got free ethnically cleansed land in exchange. The Irish struggle has many characteristics of a classical anti-occupation movement. Ireland got its independence long ago, but there is still Northern Ireland where the imported plantated Anglophiles still hold on to their privileges; they refuse to re-unite, and do not fear to use terrorist and discriminatory methods either.

Of course one can argue about tactics, and whether Ireland could already have been reunited without terrorist methods. I rather doubt that. The situation also differs with the one in Wales and Scotland, where there was a democratic support for autonomy - while Northern Island still objects to reunification. The fact stays that IRA claims (as with the Basks in Spain) do have a broader historical and popular legitimacy than for instance the claims of the Madrid bombers or the London Underground blasters. They only represent some lunatic claims of Islamophiliacs in Europe, an area where they do not have historical, religious or cultural roots at all.

If we rightly so feel mad and outraged about the London blasts, it shouldn't have to do with the tactics or the methods used. It should have to do with the historical context and with our perceived legitimacy of the claims of the perpetrators. Which is none. Europe has fought and resisted Islam since the 8-th century. They are free to seek their happiness in their old (Middle East) and new (SE Asia, the 'Stans) territories. Europe is free to keep its identity. If Muslim fundamentalists disagree, they have to leave. But leave morals out of the picture. The largest part of our brain is still primate, and primates defend their group, their territory and their way of life.

Link: this thought was a reply on a comment by Bob Doney in the Brussels Journal.

Photo: (click to view): terrorists in the making. Not really: a family in the isolated valley of Batad (Rice Terraces area, N. Luzon, Philippines) preparing our lunch, january 2004.
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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Links a galore

Wees Gegroet Marxia (heb je hem?)
Vol van granaten,
Fideel zij met u,
Gezegend zijt gij boven alle Vlaams Belangers,
Gezegend zij de vrucht van ons CM-lidgeld,
Heilige Freya, moeder van Billie,
Subsidieer ons,
Arme Delegees (en leden van het comitee voor veiligheid, gezondheid en de verfraaiing van de werkplaatsen)
Nu en in het uur van Poupehan

© Boudewijn Bouckaert
Het integrale schotschrift staat hier en hier.
Zie ook de discussie bij LVB.

Ever wondered what is left from a suicide bomber after the deed? You can see it here.

"Free" can cost a lot more than the regular price (Techdirt).

WhenU spyware/adware company pretends that the real problem isn't about sneaky installs, but that people are afraid they're being spied upon (Techdirt).

Lost in the London Blast news-tsunami: the European Parliament rejects the software patent bill by a massive vote. The European Commission tried to push it thru the Parliament's throat for the second time. In vain; the grassroots nosoftwarepatents lobby beated the large corporations' lobbyists. Wondering if this could have happened before the French-Dutch NON. The EU re-discovers that it is a democracy instead of a plutocraty.

DOF has an original view on the London Blasts: "In a twisted sense, terrorist attacks have taken the place of natural disasters, because just as in the pre-scientific era, an earthquake would have people scrambling to find a cause [...] Once we acknowledge there is no magic bullet to prevent terrorist attacks, it's a lot easier to start treating them as other natural disasters [...] (comment) When planes get hijacked you normally don't go out and try to drain the reservor of potential plane hijackers, but you design security protocols for planes and airports." Overlooking the fact that, except in rare cases, all contemporary terrorism originates from Islamic sects. Tsunamis don't hit everywhere, just near tectonic plates.

Luc Verhelst vindt dat België nog lang niet vol genoeg is. Het is een slogan. Er kan rustig een miljardje bij. "Persoonlijk heb ik absoluut geen probleem met vluchtelingen, en ik geloof niet zo in slogans dat ons land vol loopt, of dat we de draagkracht niet hebben. Als iemand in nood is, politiek en/of economisch, dan moeten wij hem/haar helpen, als rijke Westerlingen". Ik ken de bankrekening van Luc Verhelst niet, misschien is hij inderdaad een rijke Westerling met veel draagkracht. Heel edel, maar kan hij die wij dan a.u.b. vervangen door ik? Van slogans gesproken.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Ne touche pas à mon pote

We don't want to fight
But, by Jingo, if we do,
We've got the ships,
We've got the men,
We've got the money, too.

(source here).

Today, we all are Londoners ©here.)
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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Out of Africa

Apart from the fact that attempts of naive social engineering (Paul Belien about Belgium's social experiment in Congo) has a history of failure everywhere, Africa was the worst region to try it in the first place. Something is very wrong with Africa. It has been a black hole for development aid in the past 50 years, and nothing came out of it. Asia has rebooted itself out of the economic swamp, mostly on its own effort. South-America isn't exactly a paradise, but not an ecomic and human graveyard like Africa either.

Is it the climate? Climate can indeed make people "lazy". SE-Asia with a number of equatorial countries proves that shouldn't be an excuse. Is it the tribal culture? Malaysia is equatorial and tribal and basically animistic, but it is taking the lead in the regional economical development.

When transplanted to a cooler climate and to another culture, Africans keep to be on the base level of social stratifications. Matongo in Brussels and the African Americans in the US illustrate this point continuously. During The Rodney King incidents in LA, African Americans looted Korean businesses because they proved that one can become "rich" in one generation, even when freshly immigrated in a foreign culture.

Is it genetics? Horresco referens, but the Sherlock Holmes adagio might apply. "When you exhausted all other possibilities, Watson, the inconceivable might be the answer".

Europe and the G8 make a serious mistake to orient the bulk of its developmental aid towards Africa. Especially at a time where the imminent implosion of the Rhineland model doesn't leave a lot of investment room any more. And at the same time Europe maintains its agriculture subsidies and import-taxes at an unacceptable high level. Trade is aid. Let Africa prove itself.

Photo (click to enlarge): May 2005, a view from Rizal park in Metro Manila, a developing country with 40% of its people below the poverty line. But with a sound balance of payments.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Walloon-Belgian disinformation abroad

Whenever there is a state visit of the Belgian King to another country or high-ranking officials visit Belgium, a package of fancy looking brochures are handed out. I got the full package as was handed out during the recent Royal visit to China.

A folder titled "Palais Royal", “Koninklijk Paleis", “Koenigspalast", “Royal Palace" contains a set of brochures like “Belgium, a constitutional monarchy": a hagiography of Albert II and his predecessors, “The Belgian Royal family today": with mellow and touching photos of Royal children, families and grandmas, and a shiny booklet with 157 pp titled “The Monarchy in Belgium": fancy Royal facts and posed photos, gracefully omitting the Leopold II genocide in Congo and his escapades to underage prostitutes in Brussels downtown, but that’s the least.

I didn’t read it; I could only note that French was always on top, while two thirds of His Royal Subjects speak Dutch.

His Royal Majesty’s subjects are entitled to have their own government, and they are allowed to include a glossy brochure too. Obviously, since Albert II subjects pay all of his Royal expenses. The title is: “Belgium, a federal state", and it’s issued by the Chancery of the Prime Minister, Rue de la Roi, 1000 Bruxelles,

On page 3 we read (italics and bold are mine, VH):
The power of decision no longer lies exclusively in the hands of a national Government and a national Parliament. Nowadays a collection of partners manages the country. They are equal and exercise their powers autonomously, but in a range of different fields.

Power has been redistributed along two main lines. The first, which has been called for by the Flemish, concerns linguistics, and – more broadly – everything related to culture, giving rise to the Community. This is a concept which refers to all those who belong to a “community" and to the bond which unites them – in this case language, culture and education. […]

The second main line of state reform was inspired by the long-standing economic concerns of the Walloons, who wanted greater economic autonomy. […] This setting up of these institutions has led to a balance in the country. Abroad also interest in this “Belgian model" is growing.

Gasp: “Economic autonomy has been a concern of the Walloons"?
Wallonia is an economic graveyard, and it currently needs a 13 billion Euro per year support from Flanders to even maintain a standard of living somewhat above the level of a developing country. Almost half of its population is state-employed or gets a state allowance. Paid for by the Flemish, the most vital sub state in Belgium. Why should they ask for economic autonomy? They can’t even pay their retirees and their unemployed.
Sure they want autonomy to allow their (successful) weapons industry to export gear to ailing developing countries, and to extend the tobacco companies sponsoring of the F1 event in Francorchamps. But why else?

We can’t blame the Royal Palace to spray around some Royal disinformation about the Belgian fiction. After all, they were asked by a newspaper advertisement to patronize the new-formed artificial orphin Belgian state that was allowed by the then ruling European powers in 1830 after the Vienna Convention and Napoleon’s defeat. The largely Flemish tax money they use to do so is still peanuts compared to the ransom 13 billion Euro money that the Walloons request from Flanders every year.

But we can object to the Chancery of the Prime Minister, a Flemish elected representative (although his party only represents 17% of the votes in Flanders today).

Chancery of the Prime Minister, email:, tel: ++31-(0)2-5140800
(and by the way, all private official emails concerning the recent Royal visit to China were only in French too. Pour les Flamands, la même chose.)

Postscript by LVB: leaflet is correct.
I have followed the state reform operations since 1978. It is true that economic autonomy was mainly a Walloon concern. André Cools (PS) and the Rassemblement Wallon which were heavily involved in the state reform operations in the late seventies and early eighties were proponents of economic autonomy by the regions. The Flemish demanded full cultural autonomy for the communities.

Twenty years later, things may be different, but I would say that the leaflet is historically correct.
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Monday, July 04, 2005

Klein Compendium Belgische Newspeak

Accijns, (zn.,m.) | belasting, geheven op de verkoop van voorwerpen en/of goederen, en waarbij de normale verbruiksbelasting door de Staat immoreel laag en/of onvoldoende solidair wordt geacht.

Afbraak, (zn.,m.) | het in vraag stellen van het automatisch, ethisch en/of evident karakter van de uitangspunten van de solidariteit; ook het aantasten en/of terugschroeven van de solidaire en progressieve verworvenheden.

Anders-globalisme, (zn.,o.) | syn. anti-globalisme, zie onder globalisme

Belastingsverlaging, (zn.,v.) | herschikking door de Staat van de hoegrootheid van, en de verdeling tussen bestaande belastingen, heffingen, taksen en accijnzen met het doel om een globaal hogere fiscale opbrengst te bekomen.

Beleidsruimte, (zn.,v.) | het extra en onverwacht geld dat de Staat ontvangt door een voorafgaande onderschatting van de offers, inspanningen en belastingsverlagingen. Dit geld wordt in principe niet teruggegeven aan de belastingsplichtige, doch aangewend voor "nieuwe initiatieven".

Bewustwording, (zn.,v.) | mentaal proces dat mensen leidt naar een levenshouding van meer solidariteit en verdraagzaamheid en uiteindelijk tot ethisch correct stemmen op progressieve en/of anders-globalistische en/of solidaire partijen.

Biechtstoelprocedure, (zn.,v.) | handelswijze die wordt gevolgd door één of enkele leidende politici wanneer het overleg in een moeilijke onderhandelingsronde tussen verschillende partijen is vastgelopen, - waarbij sleutelfiguren van de deelnemende partijen achtereenvolgens en één voor één afzonderlijk op een intiem etentje in een exclusief restaurant worden uitgenodigd, - waarna uiteindelijk na lang en moeilijk beraad wordt overeengekomen in wèlk ander exclusief restaurant de volgende biechtstoelprocedure zal plaatsvinden. syn. Tijdswinst.

Bruin, (bn.) | (meestal samen met "gedachtengoed") het partijprogramma van het Vlaams Belang. In tegenstelling tot "rood", "groen", "blauw" en "paars" heeft "bruin" een erg pejoratieve bijklank.

Democratie, (zn.,v.) | politiek stelsel waarbij de verhouding tussen de burgers en de Staat wordt geregeld, gekenmerkt door een souvereiniteitsoverdracht van de burgers naar beroepspolitici die vervolgens gedurende jaren ongehinderd doen wat ze op grond van hun professioneel en geïnformeerd inzicht weten goed en wenselijk te zijn voor het volk.

Democratisch, (bn.) | [1] hoedanigheid, uitsluitend gebruikt voor het beschrijven van de verzameling van alle politieke partijen behalve het Vlaams Belang. [2] compl. Anti-democratisch: hoedanigheid uitsluitend gebruikt voor het beschrijven van het Vlaams Belang. [3] Anti-democratische partijen (zn.,v., uitsl. mv.): het Vlaams Belang.

Ecobonus, (zn.,m.) | malus, nieuwe belasting op wegwerpverpakkingen.

Egoïsme, (zn.,v.) | syn. zelfzucht. [1] (alg.) Geestesgesteldheid, instelling, houding, waarbij men zonder schroom uitsluitend opkomt voor eigen belang; toep. op personen of groepen van personen. [2] (pol.) Houding en opvattingen gekenmerkt door het aanvechten van de ethische noodzakelijkheid van solidariteit en de egalitaire herverdeling van inkomens - onbeschaamd het recht opeisen om zèlf te beschikken over te vruchten van zijn inspanningen zonder rekening te houden met anderen die deze inspanningen niet wensen te leveren. [3] (federaal) (uitsl. toep. op Vlaanderen) Aanvechting van het automatisch en ethisch juiste karakter van de Noord-Zuid financiële transfers binnen België.

Extreem, (bn.) | zich bevindend aan de uitersten van het politiek spectrum, politiek onhaalbare en/of immorele en/of kwetsende oplossingen voorstellend. In België alg.: alles rechts van centrum-links; spec.: het Vlaams Belang. Opgelet: de hoedanigheid 'extreem' wordt uitsl. gebruikt voor "extreem-rechts". De term "Extreem-links" is niet gebruikelijk en zelfs te vermijden; in dit geval spreek men van progressief en/of anders-globalistisch en/of solidair.

Globalisme, (zn.,o.) | sociaal-economische denkstroming en politieke rand-ideologie die ijvert voor het slopen van externe tolmuren en handelsbarrières, om op die manier de interne solidariteit en onze sociale verworvenheden te ondermijnen - door het toelaten van goederen en diensten uit landen die deze goedkoper kunnen aanbieden omdat zij hun werknemers uitbuiten, onderverlonen, en/of omdat ze geen voldoend uitgebouwd solidair belastingsstelsel hebben.
compl. Anti-globalisme: de ethisch gemotiveerde denkstroming en ideologie die door het handhaven en het opdrijven van tolmuren en exportsubsidies, door het verzet tegen immigratie, en door het belasten van internationale kapitaalstromen - onze eigen landbouw, werkgelegenheid en productie wil vrijwaren tegen oneerlijke concurrentie uit lage-loon landen zonder interne solidariteit, en tegen externe landbouwproducten aan dumpingprijzen.

Gratis, (bn.) | de hoedanigheid van een voorwerp of dienst die door de Staat kostenloos kan worden aangeboden aan een deel der burgers door bijkomende inspanningen die aan andere burgers worden opgelegd.

Heffing, (zn.,v.) | zie accijns doch geheven op bepaalde diensten of op het uitoefenen van bepaalde activiteiten.

Inspanning, (zn.,v.) | syn. belasting. (vb. "er zullen bijkomende inspanningen worden gevraagd van de bevolking om het Rijnlandmodel te kunnen handhaven")

Inspanningsverbintenis, (zn.,v.) | de verplichting die men op zich neemt om vooraf en met een hoog profiel in de media, achteraf vooral geen resultaat te behalen.

Islam, (zn.,m.) | theocratische ideologie en religieus geïnspireerde denkstroming gekenmerkt door een andere en verbeterde benadering van de man-vrouw gelijkheid, van het gerecht, van de gelijkheid der godsdiensten, van de scheiding tussen Kerk en Staat, en van de vrij meningsuiting.

Jongeren, (zn.,m.,mv.) | lett. jeugd, groepje jongere mensen. spec. Wanneer in een mediabericht over straatschuimerij of amokmakers: Marokkaanse jeugbende, Marokkaanse jongens. Ook: Brusselse jongeren: Marokkaanse jongensdbendes uit de Westelijke Brusselse randgemeenten, Antwerpse jongeren: Marokkaanse jongensbendes uit Borgerhout.

Klimaatsverandering, (zn.,v.) | wetenschappelijk bewezen globale opwarming van de planeet door menselijk toedoen en zonder historisch voorgaande, en die kan worden ongedaan gemaakt door het invoeren van nieuwe belastingen op energie.

Liberalisme, (zn.,o.) | syn. egoïsme [2] (pol.).

Maakbaar, (bn.) | eigenschap van de samenleving, voor zover die via een geheel van richtsnoeren, procedures en opvolgingsmaatregelen in een meer solidaire, progressieve, verdraagzame en multiculturele richting wordt uitgestuurd.

Multiculturele samenleving, (zn.,v.) | een samenleving waar mensen van verschillende ethnische afkomst, culturen en godsdiensten op een klein gebied vreedzaam, open en verdraagzaam met mekaar samenleven, in respect voor ieders eigenheid, en nieuwsgierig naar andermans cultuur dit samenleven als een verrijking ervaren. Dit begrip heeft meer een normerend dan een beschrijvend karakter. uitspr.: Wordt uitgesproken met ietwat ingetogen tremolo.

Normvervaging, (zn.,v.) | de toenemende tendens in de samenleving om zich minder te schikken naar, en het in vraag stellen van de normen (syn. preutsheid) die men zèlf aanhangt. Meestal gebruikt door ethisch rechts. opm.: Wanneer progressieve of solidaire normen worden aangevochten is de correcte term niet normvervaging maar afbraak.

Offers, (zn.,o., | nieuwe belastingen, verhoging van bestaande belastingen.

Open Debatcultuur, (zn.,v.) | een stijl, een geheel van informele regels, een geheel van communicatietechnieken waarbij een politieke partij haar interne ideologische tegenstellingen en interpersoonlijke conflicten ostentatief, kleurrijk en zonder enige terughoudendheid in de media ten toon spreidt, en zichzelf hierbij genadeloos afmaakt.

Onverwijld, (bn.) | syn. onmiddellijk, dadelijk, zonder dralen. spec. Indien gebruikt voor de splitsing van BHV: syn. nooit, met Sint Juttemis.

Overstromingsverzekering, (zn.,v.) | syn. belasting.

Privatisering, (zn.,v.) | creatieve financieel-technische operatie waarbij de Staat een (deel van een) staatsonderneming verkoopt aan particulieren om de lopende begroting in evenwicht te brengen, en waarbij het sociaal passief van die onderneming wordt ingeschreven op de lopende Staatsbegrotingen vanaf tien jaar na datum.

Progressief, (bn.) | syn. vooruitstrevend. Eigenschap van een persoon of een groep voorzover die streeft naar meer maakbaarheid van de samenleving, naar meer solidariteit, democratie en verdraagzaamheid - voorzover die streeft naar een meer gelijke herverderling der inkomens en naar een meer multiculturele maatschappij, - en op persoonlijk vlak van Wereldmuziek houdt.

Racisme, (zn.,o.) | geestesgesteldheid en/of levenshouding die leidt tot opkomen voor de rechten van autochtonen, maar dit uitsl. in West-Europa. Opgelet: het uiten van racistische meningen is verboden bij wet. uitbr.: het geregeld vermelden van criminele feiten door allochtonen wordt - op zichzelf juist - het "zondebokmechanisme" genoemd en is dan ook strafbaar als racisme.

Socialisme, (zn.,o.) | een godsdienst gestoeld op achterhaalde aannames uit de Plantenleer, die stelden dat bomen tot in de hemel groeien.
Solidariteit, (zn.,v.) | [1] de verzameling van belastingen die aan sommige burgers worden opgelegd om de Staat toe te laten voorwerpen en diensten gratis aan andere burgers aan te bieden en/of deze een niet prestatie-verbonden inkomen te verschaffen. [2] De ideologie die stelt dat deze transfers moreel goed en democratisch zijn. [3] Specifieke betekenis Federale Solidariteit: het geheel van fiscaal en niet-fiscaal opgelegde financiële transfers van Vlaanderen naar Wallonië en Brussel. De ideologie die stelt dat deze transfers schromelijk overdreven, normaal en passend zijn, en een ethisch correct karakter bezitten.

Taks, (zn.,m.) | syn. heffing.

Verbeterde aanslagvoet, (zn.,m.) | syn. verhoogde aanslagvoet.

Verdraagzaamheid, (zn.,v.) | geestesgesteldheid en/of levenshouding van progressieve en solidaire burgers die gekenmerkt wordt door een gedreven afkeuring van ondemocratische partijen en van de stigmatisering van allochtone criminelen als "allochtone criminelen", - door het bewonderingswaardig geloof in de multiculturele samenleving, - en door een persoonlijke voorliefde voor Wereldmuziek en Folkmuziek (met uitsluiting van Vlaamse Folk).

Verkeersveiligheid, (zn.,v.) | het geheel van richtsnoeren, procedures en opvolgingsmaatregelen door de Staat met als doel middels flitspalen en repressieve controles meer boetes te kunnen innen en aldus meer beleidsruimte te krijgen, o.m. voor het plaatsen van meer flitspalen.

Verworvenheden, (zn.,v., | het geheel van voorrechten dat men wenst te behouden ten koste van andere, belastingsbetalende burgers, ondanks economische imperatieven of aanduidingen dat dit niet langer wenselijk of haalbaar is.

Verzuring, (zn.,v.) | geestesgesteldheid en/of beweegreden van kankerende en misleide burgers om op ondemocratische en/of extreem-rechtse partijen te stemmen wegens losliggende stoeptegels.

Wenst u dit kort compendium verder aan te vullen met termen en hun definitie? De commentaarsectie staat open. Een politiek-incorrectie jury zal zich zorgvuldig over uw bijdrage beraden, en desgevallend uw definitie in het compendium opnemen. Over de democratische beslissing van de jury kan niet worden gepennetwist.
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Sunday, July 03, 2005


Door het ontstaan van 280.000 nieuwe banen tussen 1997 en 2005 steeg de werkgelegenheidsgraad in België als geheel van 57% in 1997 tot 60,4% in 2005. Deze toename volstond echter niet om het gemiddeld niveau van onze buurlanden (66,7%) of van de EU als geheel (63%) te bereiken. Uitgesplitst naar regio komt er een heel ander beeld te voorschijn. Met 64% in 2004 in Vlaanderen doen we het iets beter dan het Europees gemiddelde. Brussel (55,4%) en Wallonië (55,5%) daarentegen presteren in Europese context heel wat slechter. Aldus het verslag 2005 [PDF] (overzicht hier) van de Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid (HRW), pp 9-10.

De HRW is een achtenswaardige Belgische instelling, met vooral veel Belgische leden: academici van de 3 grote Franstalige universiteiten (Liège, Mons, en Louvain-La-Neuve) en bij toeval eentje uit Gent. Vier Franstalige leden en drie Nederlandstalige, p 3. En dat merk je dan ook.

De HRW doet hartige aanbevelingen aan het beleid van hoe meer werkgelegenheid te scheppen, te verbeteren en te versterken. Op zich getuigt dit woordgebruik al van de premisse van een maakbare economie en een wantrouwen in de Onzichtbare Hand. Het doet wat denken aan de jaren ’70 toen massaal “werk" uit het niets werd geschapen in de toenmalige overheidsbedrijven, de Post, de NMBS, de ministeries. “Werk" schep je natuurlijk niet, het ontstaat in een gezonde vraageconomie wel spontaan. Het zoekgedrag van de werkzoekende bijsturen en coachen zal niet veel helpen als er geen werk is. De Lissabon-strategie van de EU met zijn richtsnoeren is ook wat in hetzelfde bedje ziek.

En die belangrijke regionale verschillen dan? Op p 36-41 wordt even geconstateerd dat de werkloosheid en de uitkeringen relatief lager liggen in Vlaanderen dan in Brussel en Wallonië. Maar wat betreft aanpak en beleid worden die verder onder tafel geveegd, want het gaat toch over België, n’est-ce pas? Dat precies Wallonië veel trekjes heeft van een aanbodseconomie wordt handig vergeten. Dat Vlaanderen wel eens nood zou kunnen hebben aan een ander werkgelegenheidsbeleid dan Wallonië ook.

Herman Van Rompuy pikt hier op in op zijn weblog.

"De HRW stelt zelfs dat de werkloosheidsgraad in Vlaanderen met zijn 4.5 pct. dichtbij het structurele niveau ligt, wat economisten vertalen als het peil dat moeilijk samendrukbaar is. ‘De lage arbeidsreserve ( aantal niet-werkende werkzoekenden ) wijst op de noodzaak een deel van de momenteel inactieve bevolking te mobiliseren teneinde te voorkomen dat de schaarste aan arbeidskrachten de groeivooruitzichten beperkt’. Het is een argument temeer om te werken aan de zgn. eindeloopbaanproblematiek."

Juist, maar het HRW wenst ook meer transregionale arbeidsmigratie. Werkloze Walen moeten dus in Vlaanderen willen werken. Asociaal? De Vlaamse kompels trokken vroeger wel 100-200km van huis om de armoede te ontsnappen en in de Waalse steenkoolmijnen te gaan werken. Zonder faciliteiten. Mais oui, on se sent bien chez nous.. En hun Nederlands is natuurlijk lamentabel. Dus welke patron Flamin wil je?

De hefbomen van het sociaal-economisch beleid moeten in regionale handen komen" schrijft Van Rompuy verder. “[De deelstaten] hebben het beide nodig want de groei van onze economieën is de jongste jaren is te klein om het Rijnlandmodel overeind te houden. De hefbomen hebben betrekking op taboedomeinen vandaag: inkomensbeleid, arbeidsmakt, werkgelegenheid, bedrijfsfiscaliteit en 0&0. Werk aan de winkel bij de communautaire onderhandelingen na de federale verkiezingen van 2007."

Precies, pas binnen twee jaar dus. Wat is er terecht gekomen van de splitsing van BHV, een dossier dat ettelijke keren lichter weegt dan een het opsplitsen van het gehele sociaal-economische beleid? Het ging onverwijld gebeuren na de verkiezingen van 2003-2004 en het is er nog niet. En Van Rompuy’s partij, de CD&V heeft niet echt op het gaspedaal gedrukt. Welke toegevingen gaan de Vlamingen dan weer moeten doen om met hun eigen geld hun eigen boontjes te mogen doppen? Alles in verhouding, de aanhechting van geheel Vlaams-Brabant bij Brussel?

Het schoentje wringt niet alleen bij het werkgelegenheidsbeleid. Ook het Belgisch karakter van het centraal loonoverleg ontkent de verschillende dynamiek tussen Vlaanderen en Wallonië. Een Waalse werknemer is nu eenmaal gemiddeld 5% minder productief dan een Vlaamse, maar krijgt wel hetzelfde loon. Een pervers mechanisme dat arbeidsintensieve investeringen vooral naar Vlaanderen jaagt. De Waalse MR-senator Alain Destexhe zei onlangs nog in een interview in De Standaard

"Allez, de chauffeurs van de TEC [Waalse tegenhanger van De Lijn] staken omdat ze evenveel willen verdienen als hun Vlaamse collega's. Maar de rijkdom van Wallonië en de productiviteit zijn anders. De levensduurte ligt een stuk lager. Een huis kopen of huren in Antwerpen kost een stuk meer dan in Namen. Waarom moeten ze dan evenveel verdienen? Ik zeg niet dat je het sociaal overleg moet regionaliseren, maar het moet bespreekbaar zijn.".

De Waalse paus Di Rupo (PS) blijft echter potdoof. Di Rupo wil gewoon meer geld. Zie dit artikel op de Nova Civitas Weblog.

Om Wallonië economisch uit de put te krijgen, moet er een Marshallplan voor Wallonië komen, vindt PS-voorzitter Elio Di Rupo. Dan valt wel te hopen dat het om een voor de Walen beter plan gaat dan het oorspronkelijke Marshallplan. Want toen dat plan midden 1952 afliep was de Waalse economie er relatief slechter aan toe dan bij de start in 1947." en:

"Als Di Rupo het over een Marshallplan voor Wallonië heeft, moet hij het eigenlijk over een nieuw Marshallplan voor Wallonië hebben. Want het deel van de Amerikaanse Marshallgelden dat na de Tweede Wereldoorlog aan België werd toegewezen, vloeide bijna integraal naar Wallonië. Uit onderzoek van Erik Buyst, hoogleraar economische geschiedenis aan de KULeuven, blijkt dat de Waalse steenkoolmijnen het gros kregen van het voor België bestemde Marshallgeld. Vlaanderen, misschien met uitzondering van een heel klein beetje voor de haven van Antwerpen, viste volledig achter het net."

Ach, die nieuwe communautaire ronde na 2007, die draait wel weer vierkant zoals alle vorige rondes. Quousque tandem abutere, Di Rupo, patientia nostra? “Alle sociaal-economische dossiers in België hebben een communautaire kant", zo weet de Wetstraat. Daarom dat ze ook altijd verzanden of uitlopen op een Egmont-pact. Pacten die er geen zijn omdat ze achteraf toch weer worden aangevochten door de Franstalige federale deloyaliteit.

Laten we de broodnodige sociaal-economische herstructureringen die ons toch sowieso zullen worden opgedrongen door de globalisering ont-communautariseren. Zeg die Belgische Unie van bloed, zweet en tranen gewoon op, het is spaarzamer en goedkoper dan die eeuwige Vlaamse gangen naar Cannossa.

Verslag 2005 [PDF] van de Hoge Raad voor de Werkgelegenheid.
Weblog Herman Van Rompuy.
Métro-Boulot-Dodo op IMDB.
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Friday, July 01, 2005

In Brussels Fields, Where Journals Grow

Two of the conclusions of this week’s bloggers dinner in Ghent were that one-man web logs (like Instapundit) are difficult to maintain, and that serious blogging requires an almost professional devotion. Both combined, it means that group blogs are the way to go. One-man dead tree publications are scarce; in Flanders we only have Mark Grammens. After the hype, web logging is just another low threshold publishing medium. Group blogging is an inevitable trend. City blogs (like Gent Blogt) or thematic blogs (like Edublogs) gain momentum, and the opinion column blogs seem to head the same way.

We had In Flanders Fields already as a selection of entries from existing blogs, and of course Belgiantransfers (which is not a proper blog), and now we will have The Brussels Journal. The Brussels Journal will be an English-Dutch conservative-liberal group blog with a number of writers that earned a considerable amount of credit already in blogging, in journalism, and in politics.

Luc Van Braekel currently maintains Flanders most visited one-man opinion and IT web log. I suspect he is the geek behind the initiative. Paul Belien is an independent journalist and writer (A Throne in Brussels) for conservative and Flemish-independentist media as ‘t Pallieterke, and for The Wall Street Journal. But his site feels pretty old-fashioned on the fast track of geeky web logs. Jos Verhulst is active in the Flemish movement for Direct Democracy that aims to return the political decision process from the political parties back to the citizen. It is not a coincidence that all three combine Flemish independentism with a conservative-liberal and a Eurosceptic view.

The non-Flemish members of The Brussels Journal didn’t contribute entries yet. Eliab Harvey is a British conservative MP that has worked for Major, and is well known for his Euroscepticism. Carlo Stagnaro is a libertarian publicist. He has been recently appointed Director of the Istituto Bruno Leoni, the Italian think tank that promotes extreme free market policy and privatizations. He is also fellow of International Council for Capital Formation, a Brussels-based think tank with strong links with the American Council for Capital Formation, and fellow of International Policy Network.

As for now, Luc Van Braekel and Paul Belien make up the duo that seems to provide the main thrust behind the Journal. Judging from the first drafts, one of the goals is to present an alternative Flemish view on Belgian and European politics in English, a view that is now strongly biased and even dictated by the Belgian press in French. Judging from the background and track record of its members, one can also expect this blog to be conservative, liberal, libertarian, pro-US and Eurosceptic. As such, it looks as if it is going more to be a blogged think tank than a thinker’s blog. A favorable wind blew the URL in our direction, although the blog now is still in its test phase and it is extended with new features and fine-tuned daily.
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