Friday, 19 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
The Obama Senate seat scheme is only one of the allegations lodged against the two-term governor, whose administration has been under investigation for alleged "pay to play" patronage practices for years. The complaint claims Blagojevich tried to extort the owners of the Tribune company to fire editors at the Chicago Tribune, and to withhold $8 million of state funds to a children's hospital in hopes of extracting a $50,000 campaign contribution from one of its executives. Blagojevich, who came into office in 2002 with promises to clean up the state's culture of graft, made no comment Tuesday during a bail hearing where he was released on his own recognizance. But late in the day his lawyer Sheldon Sorosky told reporters that the governor "is very surprised and certainly feels that he did not do anything wrong...a lot of this is just politics." The investigation is led by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, known nationally for heading the Washington, DC probe into who blew the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Friday, 28 November 2008
Ever since I had arrived in Mumay, this hotel is a place I came at least one a week, to meet friends for drinks, to use their excellent business centre or travel agency, to have a bit in their nice ‘Golden Dragon’ restaurant or zip a Long island ice tea in the Harbour Bar, which was India’s first licensed bar in 1903. It’s the hotel where I stayed with my family last Christmas and the place where I first went on a date after I had moved to Mumbai. I attended weddings there (right), business events and birthday party's.
I am afraid Richard is going to be right. I remember I visited the Indonesian Island of Bali shortly after the second bombings in 2005 and the island was completely empty. Not that I think 19 million people will suddenly disappear, but it is expected that American, European and Australian visitors especially the backpackers and expats’ families, will prefer to stay in other parts of India (like Goa or Agra) or even other countries, and they will avoid Mumbai in the near future. His second point I was not too sure about. Last Wednesday and Thursday not only westeners, christians and jews died, but also hindu's, muslims, sikhs and buddhists were among the victims. It would be naive, however, to think no more relgion and state originated riots and killings are going to take place, not to mention the risk of attempts by certain certain political movements, the local right wing party Shiv Sena in particular, to exploit the current situation and try to gain political benefits.
Monday, 24 November 2008
In ‘Body Worlds & The Mirror of Time’ – as it officially is called – authentic human specimens, transformed through plastination, show the form, beauty, function and potential of the human body. Real human bodies, donated by organisations and individuals, are on display and it made me realise that we are not ‘one’, but actually consist of thousands of little organs, body parts, connections and processes. Without oxygen no brain function, without veins no heart beat and without muscles no movement. At any stage of our life cycle, the human body experiences changes and milestones. The changes that take place as the body moves through different experiences in its lifetime: at its most radiant and as it changes, matures and finally wanes. The exhibition shows the complexity and vulnerability of the human body through anatomical studies of the body in distress, disease and optimal health. The effects smoking and disease have on the human body are explained and illustrated. And what happens to your body if you drink away your problems for twenty years? What causes migraine and why do people get fat and what kind of effect do mental issues have on your physical state? All these questions are answered by real bodies, organs and other body parts.
German born Von Hagens, a scientist, is the inventor of plastination – the anatomical specimen preservation method that makes the presentation of aesthetic anatomy possible. Through ‘Plastination’, the post mortal body is transformed into spectacular anatomical figures – plastinates – that allow the public to see the human body as it has never been seen before.
As Gunther von Hagen (who likes to be called ‘the Plastinator’) recently said on BBC news ‘Body Worlds invites the visitor to navigate the inner terrains and outer borders of the human landscape.’ One of the most interesting bodies on display is the basketball player. This plastinate derives from the most muscular body donor plastinated to date. It demonstrates the skin modeling muscles of our body in a dynamic posture. While looking at it I suddenly did not feel so attracted to a fit body anymore.. The intestines have been removed in order to show the large back muscles at the rear of the abdominal cavity. The urinary bladder rests at the bottom of the small pelvis. The skull has been opened to reveal the brain.
Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds is an unique anatomical exhibition around the world, stemming from an established body donation program and using donated bodies. The bodies are currently also on display in Houston, Salt Lake City and Brussels.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
It was naive to think that. It would have been too good to be true. Today a Russian judge announced the trial of the three suspects will now be closed to the public. When the trial opened on Monday the judge had said it would be open, but Judge Yevgeny Zubov reversed his decision on Wednesday, saying jurors had refused to enter the courtroom in the presence of the media. Does that mean jurors decide how transparent a court hearing is and not a law or a lawmaker? Mrs Anna Politkovskaya’s family criticised the judge's decision: "Of course we do not like the closed trial. There is nothing wrong with having journalists there," Ms Politkovskya's son Ilya said. "I am very disappointed. I think this trial should have been open, not only because all trials should be, but because she was a public figure and the public should know the circumstances of her killing," said Karinna Moskalenko, a lawyer for Ms Politkovskaya's family (BBC). Mrs Politkovskaya was the 13th journalist to be killed in a contract-style killing in Russia during Vladimir Putin's period as president, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CNN).
The three men who went on trial on Monday are former policeman Sergey Khadzhikurbanov and two Chechen brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov. It is expected the rest of the trial will be secretive and that there won’t be too many legal and public checks and balances. A court spokesman said ‘he could not specify exactly what charges the men were facing. After a verdict will be reached this will be made public.’ Isn’t that a bit too late? Another man, a former KGB officer, also appeared before the military court. Pavel Ryaguzov is charged with abuse of power and extortion.
Meanwhile, journalists and western diplomats say Rustam Makhmudov - who is believed to have been the actual murderer - and the person or persons who ordered Mr Politkovskaya's killing remain at large. The Moscow based reporter Grigory Pasko asked openly "How can you say the investigation is complete if you have neither the killer nor the person who ordered it in the dock?"
(Sources: BBC Europe News website bbc.co.uk/news, CNN Archive, cnn.com Intern. version, Reuters, Adfero, DirectNews)
Monday, 10 November 2008
Book lovers in France and Germany can not stop talking about Jonathan Littell’s latest book ‘The Kindly Ones’. The novel takes you on a 1000 page journey through Hitler’s Third Reich, from the start till the very end; Hitler coming to power, 1933’s Kristalnacht in Germany, the occupation of Poland, the invasion of Russia and the mass murders in Auschwitz. Critics say the book is ‘scary’ and ‘intimidating’, because the writer manages to create some understanding for the situation the main character is in.
Many readers were not only impressed but also shocked by the Littell’s writing style. "It was crazy to experience that without noticing it, you are slowly dragged into the head of an active, convinced Nazi. He is called Max and you are taken on the journey that is his life. You even start to sympathise with him and understands why he does certain things. At a certain moment you think, no! wait, I do not want to understand this. I do not want to make myself feel like I am justifying the holocaust," says an Amsterdam based journalist, continuing ‘Why did ‘Max’ undertake certain actions, why did he make certain choices: it suddenly seems quite rational and understandable. You get an intense inside look into the mind and thinking of a convinced Nazi, and that is pretty scary.’
‘The Kindly Ones’ was written in French and was published in France in 2006 as ‘Les Bienveillantes’. The English translation will be released on March 3, 2009. Littell (New York, 1967) said he was inspired to write the novel after seeing a photograph of a Soviet partisan being executed by the Nazi's. He traces the original inspiration for the book from seeing Claude Lanzmann's film Shoah , an acclaimed documentary about the Holocaust, in 1989. Jonathan began research for the book in 2002 and visited many of the sites described in the book. He went to Berlin several times, visited the former concentration camp of Auschwitz, went down to Hitler’s summer villa in the Austrian mountains, hiked outside St. Petersburg (the former Stalingrad) where Germans soldiers suffered a slow and painful defeat by the Red Army, in horrible weather conditions. Littell claims that he undertook the creation of his main character, Aue, by imagining what he himself would have done had he been born in pre-war Germany and had become a Nazi.
Les Bienveillantes won the prestigious French book price Prix Concourt in and not much later Littell was awarded the Grand Prix du Roman of the Academie Francaise.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
So yeah, it really happened! Barack Hussein Obama II is MR GLOBAL PRESIDENT! I am so curious what he is going to do and what he is going to stand for. Will he turn out to be a visionary and a global leader or just another practical politician who sells himself to corporate America? Shall we see big mamas and disillusioned hoody’s on the street in a few years chanting 'I gave that motherf..er my first vote ever and he raised taxes and cut spending on health and education! Traitor!'
Thanks Obama! I really did feel the change at my own desk today. 'Yes we can' !
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Feel free to get in touch though. Perhaps you want to receive some writing samples or you would like me to take a look at your work. You can contact me if you want me as a proofreader, writer, editor, PA, translator, researcher or reporter.
Thanks for stopping by !
Saturday, 23 August 2008
This impressive, non-edited picture makes me wonder 'do Ghosts and spirits exist after all'? Or is it just Patrick Swayze in the Return of 'Ghosts'? It certainly looks like Whoopie.
Due to copy rights I could not copy/paste the picture here, but follow the link below to cross over to the other side:
Monday, 11 February 2008
un.nl. Picture: ANP/AFP
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
Iran has stepped up the number of executions in the country since the authorities launched a clampdown on "immoral behaviour" in July, arresting scores of accused drug smugglers, murderers, rapists and other criminals. European governments and Western rights groups have criticised Iran for the executions, usually carried out by hanging. Iran has dismissed the criticism and accused the West of double standards.
One of the most impressive pieces of crime reporting I have ever seen was produced last week in the Netherlands. Dutch SBS journalist Peter R de Vries (peterrdevries.nl) showed the viewers a confession on camera by Joran van der Sloot, the main suspect in the notorious Natalee Holloway missing case. Peter R de Vries used a low profile criminal who is known in the gamble circuit in the east of Holland (where Joran currently lives) to befriend the Holloway-suspect and after weeks and weeks of partying, smoking lots of marihuana and one gamble night after the other de Vries' undercoverman brought up the topic and Joran made his remarkable comments in a car, payed and rent by de Vries and full of camera's and bugs.
Dumped at sea He claims Natalee passed out when he was having sex with her on the beach. He was not sure if she was still alive so he called a friend who came over and together they concluded she was death. Joran's friend used his tourist boat to drop the body somewhere at sea. When his 'friend' asked him 'but she is morta, death, isn't she?' Joran answers 'of course'. Probably most remarkable, and at the same time scary, is Joran's lack of emotions. He literally says on camera 'I decided to continue my life normally, I don't feel guilty for a second'.
Alabama schoolgirl Natalee Holloway disappeared in 2005 at the island of Aruba, in the Carribean. Joran van der Sloot was the last person who had seen her alive and was arrested three times by the police but charges were dropped when judges ruled there was not enough evidence.
See for yourself how Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway, came to the Netherlands and watched the latest developments with De Vries and millions of Dutch viewers (English subtitles)
The news in America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3ZzHHdX87k