This is a Eurasian eagle-owl video.
In 1997, after a long absence, immigrating from Germany, Eurasian eagle-owls started nesting in the Netherlands. In 2014, there were over twenty breeding couples.
This is a Eurasian eagle-owl video.
In 1997, after a long absence, immigrating from Germany, Eurasian eagle-owls started nesting in the Netherlands. In 2014, there were over twenty breeding couples.
Which side is Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem on in the issue of European Union-imposed austerity policies, which damaged health and education, left people jobless, homeless and/or without electricity in Greece?
If Mr Dijsselbloem is still on the same side as he was in August 2013, then things look bad.
David Lizoain asks:
Which Side Are You On, Jeroen Dijsselbloem?
18 February 2015
Just over a hundred years have passed since the greatest failure of European social democracy. The workers’ movement was unable to halt the needless slaughter of World War I. First, Jean Jaures was assassinated, silencing his powerful anti-militarist voice. Soon after, the German SPD voted to authorize war credits for the Kaiser. Proletarian internationalism gave way to social patriotism.
Between the collapse of the Second International during the war and the divergent responses to the Russian Revolution, a rift opened up between socialists and communists in Europe that persists until this day.
Representatives of these two political traditions now find themselves at odds in a Eurogroup presided by Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Dutch PvdA. The backdrop is one where events in the Balkans have the capability of triggering a much bigger conflict. And once more a situation has arisen where ultimatums issued by the strong against the weak run the risk of only making the conflagration worse.
The key points of disagreement are not technical but political. The eventual size of Greece’s primary surplus, for instance, is important for economic but also symbolic reasons. The real issue is what sort of Europe will emerge out of the ongoing negotiations.
One possible outcome is a deepening of a Europe split on debtor-creditor lines, organized in a manner that leads to an ever-increasing divergence between the core and the periphery. This is a Europe divided into those who give charity and those who beg for alms, as opposed to a Europe with automatic mechanisms of solidarity. This is a Europe acting as a potent incubator for mutual recriminations and rapid breakdowns in good will.
Merkel, Rajoy, and Passos Coelho all favour this outcome. In spite of their different national circumstances, they are united in their preference for a hard line on account of shared preferences and a shared project. The ties that bind them are ideological.
Many social democrats too are reproducing the debtor-creditor fault line. In the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, with democracy being hollowed out, with inequality on the rise, and with the far right on the march, social democracy is once more unable to act as a cohesive European actor. And the rise of Syriza has exposed its internal contradictions.
The Syriza negotiators are presenting a direct challenge to the powers that be. Their audacity consists of suggesting that the European institutions should be more responsive to the democratic process. They are making the point of principle that national elections should not be entirely irrelevant.
At stake is the credibility of the electoral road to a more progressive Europe – this is the basic premise of social democratic strategy in Europe, not some harebrained crackpot scheme. A negative outcome for Syriza is bad news for anyone who believes that once the votes have been counted the votes should count.
The choices facing the likes of Jeroen Dijsselbloem are therefore stark: they can either work to consolidate a Europe of subjects or defend a Europe of citizens. They can look to enforce the status quo or attempt to change the rules of the game. They can choose to represent the European institutions to their electorate, or to represent their electorate through the European institutions. They can look out for the part or for the whole.
If they fail to rise to the occasion, the historic price to pay will be very high. A bevy of far-right nationalists is waiting in the wings, eager to scapegoat internal and external enemies, and prepared to promise to safeguard sovereignty against an unresponsive and disconnected European elite. The risk is not abstract; they are already comfortably installed in parliaments across the Union, rising in the polls, and ready to take advantage of the situation. If the progressive challenge fails, the fascist challenge is up next. The end of the end of history is well upon us.
At this crucial juncture, while a mutual face-saving solution – probably based on euphemisms – is necessary, a strategic choice is required between either Schäuble and the failed centrist coalition or Varoufakis and the possibility of a different majority in Europe.
A social democracy that cannot credibly threaten to build an alternative majority will have very little leverage in the future. Change will come about by altering the democratic balance of power in Europe or not at all. And only with more European solidarity will a progressive alternative be possible; after all, its tragic absence led to a split a century ago.
About David Lizoain
David Lizoain graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Economics in 2004 and from the LSE with a Masters in Development Studies in 2005. He worked as an economist and in the Cabinet of the President of Catalonia, Spain.
The Trouble with Dijsselbloem. Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s political career shows the rightward shift of European social democracy, by Pepijn Brandon: here.
Greece Does Battle With Creationist Economics: Can Germany Be Brought Into the 21st Century? Here.
CARRY OUT PLEDGES – DEMAND GREEK WORKERS: here.
Thousands of citizens in Athens, Rome, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Lisbon, Vienna, Madrid, London and many other cities in Europe, as well as the United States and Australia, have taken to the streets in solidarity with the Greek people who are living a humanitarian crisis: here.
GREEK government ministers struggled last night to put together a list of initiatives to persuade debt inspectors from the EU-IMF-European Central Bank troika that they should recommend acceptance of their approach: here.
German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, is leading the pack. He is a true believer in neoliberal economics, was one of the architects of the eurozone and is politically embedded in German big business. He is a member of the supervisory board of KfW, the German bank owed €15 billion by the Greeks. Fifteen years ago he had to resign as chair of CDU/CSU parliamentary group for involvement with an election donation of €100,000 from an arms dealer. So Mr Schaeuble speaks from experience when telling the Greeks to clean up their act: here.
This video is about a young black woodpecker, doubting about leaving its nest, though its parents call it.
Eric Wander from the Netherlands made the video.
This video from the USA says about itself:
#MuslimLivesMatter: Loved Ones Honor NC Shooting Victims & Reject Police Dismissal of a Hate Crime
12 February 2015
Thousands gathered on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last night to remember the three Muslim students shot dead by a gunman who had posted anti-religious messages online. The victims were two sisters — 19-year-old Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha and 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha — and Yusor’s husband, 23-year-old Deah Barakat. Suspected gunman Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
… On Wednesday, police said the killings resulted from a dispute over a parking space. But Mohammad Abu-Salha, the father of Razan and Yusor, described the shootings as a hate crime. The killings in Chapel Hill have sparked an international outcry, with the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter spreading across social media. A community Facebook page was set up Wednesday in memory of the three victims, called “Our Three Winners.” We are joined by two guests: Amira Ata, a longtime friend of Yusor, and Omid Safi, director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center.
When recently a gunman murdered three human beings in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, many people wondered why establishment politicians and corporate media did not call this crime terrorism.
This video from Denmark says about itself:
People laid flowers outside the Copenhagen synagogue on Sunday (February 15) where a shooting killed one person and wounded two police officers.
Suddenly, politicians and corporate media re-discovered the word ‘terrorism’. Already before anything was known about who perpetrated this crime, and why (like in the mass murders by Norwegian Islamophobe Breivik, when the Murdoch media and others claimed these massacres were by Muslims, while they did not know anything about Breivik yet). The Prime Minister of Denmark does use the word terrorism now. The New York Times in the USA does. Eg, Dutch daily paper Metro of 16 February 2015 had the word Terror in chocolate letter size in the headline of its main front page story.
Why this rediscovery of the t-word? Because, unlike in North Carolina, the victims were not Muslims, and the perpetrator (probably) was Muslim, or at least had an ‘Islamic sounding name’?
On page two of that Metro issue, columnist Jan Dijkgraaf leaves the distinct impression that this is the case, in a column called What’s next? He claims there is a pattern in ‘Islamic terror'; basing himself on only two murder cases: in Paris, and in Copenhagen. He writes (translated):
So, there is a pattern.
One arranges to get a weapon.
One goes to a capital of a European country.
Dijkgraaf’s second and third sentences clearly fail to prove a ‘pattern of Islamic terrorism’. As both the perpetrators in France and in Denmark did not need to get weapons especially for ‘Islam’ (‘Islam’ as both fanatics like ISIS and Islamophobes see it; not the Islam of most Muslims all over the world). They already had histories of violent crime. Completely a-political, a-religious violent crime.
The New York Times writes about this:
The gunman, identified in Danish news reports as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, appears to have shared some traits with at least two of the militants responsible for the Paris violence — notably a criminal record and an abrupt transition from street crime to Islamic militancy.
The Copenhagen police have not publicly identified the gunman, saying only that he was 22 years old, was born and raised in Denmark, and was known to law enforcement officers because of gang-related activity and several criminal offenses linked to weapons violations and violence.
So, now Dijkgraaf’s third sentence: ‘One goes to a capital of a European country.’
This gives an impression of evil barbarian outsiders traveling from far away lands to European capitals. But Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein did not need to travel to Copenhagen. He was born there. He was raised there. He lived there. He had Danish nationality.
DR2 Deadline (Danish TV) said that Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was not known as a radical Muslim by his friends.
Why this sudden transition from a-political a-religious crime to (probably; not proven 100%) ‘religious’ crime?
We may never know. Danish police say they don’t know. Danish police shot Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein dead. He did not leave behind any message outlining his motives for his murders, as far as I know.
We may guess a bit more about another transition in Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein’s life: from non-criminal to non-religious criminal.
From Danish radio (translated):
By Emma Toft
Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein was born in Denmark in September 1992.
He grew up in the metropolitan area.
He is the child of Palestinian parents. They are now divorced. He has a younger brother. …
He has also completed the Higher Preparatory Examination [which, in theory, means he can be admitted by universities] – the last part of it while in prison with fine results.
According to his own statements, he has tried to be admitted to an IT course in college – without success.
He has repeatedly been convicted and held in prison for, among other things violence and violation of the Arms Act.
A probation psychological consultant said during the trial that he did not suffer from a serious mental illness. He was only suspected of drug use. But Omar El-Hussein himself said he was suffering from anxiety and felt paranoid.
The entire case was appealed to the High Court. Therefore, Omar El-Hussein was released January 30, 2015 – two weeks before the shooting attacks in Copenhagen.
More details have emerged regarding Hussein’s biography, confirming how well-known the gunman was to police. The head of Denmark’s secret service, PET, Jens Madsen, said that El-Hussein may have been “inspired by Islamist propaganda issued by Islamic State and other terror organisations.” Madsen did not offer evidence substantiating this allegation, however: here.
It now appears El-Hussein never received training from ISIS or Al Qaeda forces in the Middle East. His turn to terrorist activity was produced by conditions in Denmark and the depraved militarism of the major powers in the Middle East and Africa, in which the government in Copenhagen has taken full part: here.
Dijkgraaf uses the last paragraph of his column in Metro for claiming that the supposed ‘pattern of Muslim terror’ will show itself next in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He blames liberal opposition politician Alexander Pechtold, party leader of D66, for future murders in Amsterdam as Pechtold rejects Islamophobia. Dijkgraaf depicts Muslims in general as inherently ‘evil’, in order to avoid real causes of terrorism; like racism and ‘austerity’ economic policies. Pechtold is one of few politicians in the Dutch parliament with the courage to denounce the racism of politicians like Geert Wilders. Unfortunately, Pechtold, like Dijkgraaf and Wilders, supports ‘austerity’ economics which aggravate racism.
OVER 30,000 MOURN VICTIMS OF COPENHAGEN TERRORIST ATTACKS Authorities believe Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein acted alone when he killed two in separate shooting attacks in Denmark Saturday. Hussein was in turn killed by police fire. [WaPo]
Oslo Muslims to form ‘peace ring’ around synagogue during Shabbat services: here.
Contrary to the gunman in Copenhagen, police did not kill the North Carolina murderer, but arrested him. So, we may know, and yet get to know, more about him than about his Danish colleague.
The New Yorker magazine in the USA writes about the Chapel Hill murderer:
Far more Americans are killed each year by the shooters in our midst like Craig Stephen Hicks than have ever been killed by all the jihadist terrorist outfits that have ever stalked this earth. That’s the price, or so the rhetoric goes, of our wild freedom. But maybe to understand the Chapel Hill murders better we need to imagine how it would be playing out if it were the other way around—if some gun-toting Muslim, with a habit of posting hate messages about secular humanists, took it upon himself to execute a defenseless family of them in their home.
Oh, why does a vigilante man,
Why does a vigilante man
Carry that sawed-off shotgun in his hand?
Would he shoot his brother and sister down?
The last four lines of this quote are a quote from a song by Woody Guthrie.
This is a music video of that song Vigilante Man – Woody Guthrie. The lyrics are here.
Craig Stephen Hicks calls himself a “patriotic American”. He said he is a member of the National Rifle Association, the right-wing lobby organisation which says there are not enough firearms yet in the USA. He is a ‘gun nut': police found thirteen firearms at Craig Stephen Hicks’ place.
Craig Stephen Hicks and his NRA strongly support the second amendment of the United States constitution. As they see it; not as politicians in 1789 saw it when they passed it. The second amendment links bearing arms to popularly controlled organized ‘well regulated militias’ to prevent in an organized way a tyrannical government in the USA, or an invasion by the British empire, then recently enemies in the American revolutionary war.
So, no ‘right to bear arms’, as interpreted by Hicks and other ‘vigilante men’ for shooting one’s brother or sister, as Woody Guthrie sang. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being African American. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being Muslim (or Sikh, or Hindu, but ‘looking like a Muslim’ to Islamophobes). No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being Jewish. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being from Latin America. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being LGBTQ. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being atheist. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being communist. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for being anarchist. No ‘right to bear arms’ for killing someone for having red hair.
In practice, in the USA today, there is not only the violence of Hicks and similar ‘vigilante men’. There is also, contrary to the wishes of the eighteenth century American revolutionaries, a standing army. The biggest standing army in the world. But that is another long story.
We petition the Obama administration to:Declare the Chapel Hill shooting of 3 innocent Muslim-American students a Terrorist Attack: here.
North Carolina killings reveal double standards when victims are Muslims: here.
Shoot up a crowd while white, you’re a “murderous misfit.” Do it with a “cultural motive,” you’re a terrorist: here.
The Chapel Hill executions were a hate crime committed by a white terrorist of the Fox News generation, writes RAMZY BAROUD: here.
Islamophobic network fuelling hate sentiments in US: Report – See more here.
THE DANGER OF RIGHT-WING SOVEREIGN CITIZEN EXTREMISTS “They’re carrying out sporadic terror attacks on police, have threatened attacks on government buildings and reject government authority. A new intelligence assessment, circulated by the Department of Homeland Security earlier this month and reviewed by CNN, focuses on the domestic terror threat from right-wing sovereign citizen extremists, and comes as the Obama administration holds a White House conference to focus efforts to fight violent extremism.” [CNN]
This is a cartoon of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The political poster of Rutte‘s VVD party on the left side of the cartoon says: ‘Don’t solve problems, take money from poor people. VVD. Care. For your own greed‘.
VVD pro-‘free market’ policies are similar to the Conservative party in Britain (officially, they are a sister party of the Liberal Democrats, junior partners of the Conservatives in the British government); though they lack the Conservatives’ links to the religious Right.
Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
Pressure on VVD leaders about position of MP Verheijen
The pressure on the party leadership about the position of Member of Parliament Mark Verheijen is increasing. Many VVD members wonder why he ‘gets special protection’, NOS heard.
The VVD supporters outside The Hague do not understand why Verheijen may remain as an MP: “Disgraceful that the party covers this up. Some people have been sacked for lesser scandals.” …
Verheijen two days ago was discredited when daily NRC wrote that he had claimed thousands of euros too many as expenses when he was a county executive member in Limburg province. Verheijen says it was a smaller amount [than what NRC wrote]. But he acknowledged: “I’m a politician, not a saint” and promised to repay the money.
VVD parliamentary party leader Zijlstra took his side: “The story is simply inflated.” “Verheijen will pay back everything. I feel the story is very much exaggerated”, Prime Minister Rutte added as VVD party leader.
Limburg people Verheijen and former councilor and senator Jos van Rey know each other well. In 2012, when Van Rey and his business partner Piet van Pol had been discredited, Verheijen went to dine with them, as NRC revealed.
The meal cost 2631 euros, including wine bottles of 127 euros each. Van Pol paid this with his credit card. Verheijen said this week that such amounts do not fit into the austerity required from an official.
Unrest and anger
In the days after the debate flared up within the VVD, including the VVD MPs. Then yesterday the question was asked why Verheijen may stay, while MP Leegte was sacked immediately as spokesperson on gas when he had been calling aloud while in the train.
Political reporter Wilma Borgman: “I notice a lot of unrest and anger in the grassroots of the party. Especially the extent to which Verheijen gets special protection. An important consideration is that the VVD does not want damage in the run up to the provincial elections. I hear that MPs who have to deal with benefits claimants are wondering how to explain this to people on benefits.”
The VVD in May 2013 wrote an integrity code in response to the commotion about Van Rey, who is under criminal investigation for corruption. Verheijen was heard as a witness in the corruption case against Van Rey and Van Pol. He denies himself to be guilty of conflict of interest.
Political reporter Wilma Borgman: “The issue of Van Rey, where also Verheijen is indirectly involved, now plays an important role, it would not surprise me if at this moment there are talks with Verheijen on his position.”
Update: Prime Minister Rutte keeps defending Verheijen. The party branch in Menaldumadeel in Friesland province demands that Verheijen should be sacked. They say Verheijen does not only damage the VVD, but all politics in the Netherlands.
The VVD youth organisation criticises Rutte on the Verheijen scandal: here.
Limburg business Taurus sues Verheijen about corruption: here.
Verheyen organised VVD propaganda rally at flower exhibition’s expense: here.
This is a video of as blackbird singing in a garden in the Netherlands.
Rose Marie Herpers made the video.