On-page link, opens in this window 03/03/20 Peace for our time
On-page link, opens in this window 03/03/15 A quote for times like ours
On-page link, opens in this window 03/03/08 Margarita-gate
On-page link, opens in this window 03/03/05 Elephants
On-page link, opens in this window 03/03/03 Still no gouvernment


"What kind of peace do we seek? Not a 'Pax Americana' enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of a slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children-not merely peace for Americans, but peace for all men and women; not merely peace in our time, but peace for all time." (John F. Kennedy, 1963)
Off-site link, opens in new window John F. Kennedy in his own words


More:There is no law against that.
Roper:There is! God's law!
More:Then God can arrest him.
Roper:Sophistication upon sophistication.
More:No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal.
Roper:Then you set man's law above God's!
More:No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact - I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I'm a forrester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God...
Alice:While you talk, he's gone!
More:And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
Roper:So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
More:Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper:I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
More:Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Robert Bolt - "A man for all seasons".


We're in the fourth week of the Margarita affair, which for the past couple of days has been getting about as much news coverage as Iraq (though that's probably going to change after yesterday's report by Blix to the Security Council).

The whole thing acquired additional momentum when Princess Margarita gave a television interview that was broadcast last Tuesday, in which she accused both the Queen and a highly placed official of taping private conversations with her and / or allowing others to listen in.

On Wednesday, demissionary Prime Minister Balkenende gave out an official statement saying that the Princess's accusations were way out of line, and threathening legal action against her.

A day later it turned out that:

Since then the gouvernment has apologised for erroneously stating that no investigation had taken place. Several questions have been raised by members of Parliament and Prime Minister Balkenende is expected to provide written answers next week.

More Dutch politics and current events:
On-site link, opens in this window Dutch politics in 2003


I can't help feeling that I'm not writing as much about the war with Iraq as I should. It's the elephant in the living room, I guess. (An expression used in psychotherapy: something huge; everyone knows it's there and tries to live their lives around it, and nobody mentions it.)

After the demonstrations (which I didn't participate in, since I disagree with "no war under any circumstances") many people seem to feel that whatever is going to happen is going to happen, without any of us being able to do anything about it. So we discuss the avian flu instead. (Which is serious. Animals dying by the thousands is nasty. Another industry being hit in an economy that isn't doing too well anyway isn't good.)

One thing that I'm happy about is the diversity in the media discussion about Iraq. Though the media seem to have an anti-war bias (as does the population) other voices are being heard, and I think that's a good thing. Also, much is made of the fact that not all Americans support the war, and I don't believe large-scale anti-Americanism is going to happen here.

We've got elections coming up on March 11th. What we'll be electing are the "provinciale staten" (province gouverning boards), something that usually doesn't inspire a huge turnout. The interesting aspect is that the "provinciale staten" elect the First Chamber. Poll results indicate that we may end up with a center-right majority there, which will make life interesting for a center-left gouvernment. (Which we still don't have.)

More Dutch politics and current events:
On-site link, opens in this window Dutch politics in 2003


And, in other news:

The Dutch poultry industry has been brought to a standstill by fowl pest, a highly infectious and fatal viral disease affecting most species of birds. Slaughterhouses have been closed and a transport and export ban has been put in place. Tens of thousands of birds are to be killed to prevent the virus spreading further.
Off-site link, opens in new window RNW: Dutch poultry hit by fowl pest
Off-site link, opens in new window Reuters: Dutch to cull chickens on avian flu outbreak

(Note: the particular form that has hit the Netherlands has a very small chance of being harmful to humans. The strain of avian flu that killed a 9 year old boy in Hong Kong is different from what we have here.)

The Arab-European League, an Antwerp-based organization of Muslim immigrants, is opening a branch in the Netherlands. The official founding ceremony will be in May. The announcement was made at a meeting in Utrecht on Sunday. It was attended by the movementīs leader, the controversial Lebanese-born Abu Jahjah, who'll be touring the country this week for a series of lectures.
Off-site link, opens in new window RNW: Arab-European League opens Dutch branch

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