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There are two sites that feature my podcasts. People who support them on the Web - find my palavering real fun. I jibe at politicians and others - whenever they deserve it. The podcasts here are separated into those in Macedonian and the few in English. There is "About me" page too and some family pics. I plan to run conversational Macedonian chats, but need experience. This is on an OSX platform produced on a GarageBand and featured by iMac on iWeb. This is yet another, my all-Macedonian language podcasting facility put together and maintained by my friend George Zafirovski, an interface Merlin who builds (quickly) his reputation in London, UK. He is quite professional. So

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ELVIS PRESLEY, DAVID BLUNKET & JAN-PETER BALKENENDE

Misfortune hits Mr. David Blunkett relentlessly. It was disclosed that he had been (for two months) employed by a firm which is an occasional supplier to the state. Prime-minister Tony Blair defendid his trusted friend but could not save him. The chairman of the British Committee on Standards in Public Life (can you imagine that sort of institution here?) Sir Alistair Graham said the norms must be stiffened and added (insult to injury) that he disagreed with Tony Blair that Mr Blunkett had not been guilty of impropriety. This is absolutely crazy: as if a copied version of Ms Verdonk's statement that Schiphol horrendous fire was handled "satisfactorily".

You might know that Mr David Blunkett quit his post as Work and Pensions secretary (that is a junior minister) on Wednesday after breaking the ministerial code of conduct over paid work he took while out of the Cabinet. The BBC weaved a story claiming that "David Blunkett's life and political career has been one of the most colourful and controversial in recent British history". Maybe. In my view much more colorful is the biography of Abraham "Bram" Peper as described by your journalists, but let me not lose the thread. Mr Blunkett's childhood is likened with Oliver Twist's and painted in Dickensian dark hues. He was born blind and sent off (at the age of four) to a local boarding school against the wishes of his parents who were hard working people. Now, David Blankett is not 85 years of age. This did not happen 1920. You will not believe it, but this is 1956 (Little Richard released "Tutti-Frutti" and Elvis Presley "Don't be Cruel") but the council (indeed incredible) did not allow his mom to visit him but once a month. There is more: when he reached 12, his father fell into a container with scalding liquid and suffered a horrible death. He developed into a labourite. By the time he was 33 or 35 (he is born 1951) Blunkett got into government. He was efficient minister of education and the next thing he got was the Home Office. Minister of Interior in 2001, Downing Street material. Then it was disclosed that his staff expedited a visa for a nanny for his mistress. He had to resign. Only five months latter he was brough back into Cabinet as Work and Pensions secretary. Now, this appears to be his political end. His offense was in the fact that he earned, for only two months, salary in a firm which supplied product to institutions paid by the government.

Can you imagine that? He did not say that fire-fighting is "adequate" when fire-engines cannot get close to the detention center because it is fenced all around. It is "adequate" when firemen must look how fire blazes, people shriek and die in pain because nobody dares brake the damned fence erected to keep them in. No water hozes, no pales with water or boxes with sand. Burned alive, adequately.

THIS is the story the Dutch prime-minister Jan-Peter Balkenende should tell to the parliament. And to the land.He does not need to speak about a Committee on Standards in Public Life. That is for the British, not for the Dutch. The latter need not know that other nations have fixed norms what is ethical and moral and what is not.

P.S.
The public was informed that the Police had wiped away the graffiti with slogans against Ms Rita Verdonk, minister for integration or immigration. I find it quite normal. This Blogg is read by 20-30 people. Nobody cares. The graffiti are seen by 20-30 thousand. They are smart, the Police. But I nevertheless believe that Rita Verdonk should resign right away.

DUTCH SOCIALISTS, PEOPLE, CATTLE

Some time ago Mr. Jan van Zanen from the Partij van de Arbijd arrived to a great conclusion and promptly published it on the PvdA website. His concept of what needs to be done for us the people of the XXI century is somewhat condensed and that exactly makes it interesting. See for yourselves: Leden zijn het levenselixer voor politieke partijen. Mensen zijn immers nodig voor draagvlak, opvattingen, idee├źn, centen en bepalen het gezicht. Politieke partijen zijn vervolgens het middel om tot iets te komen - daden bijvoorbeeld - in een parlementaire democratie. Iemand moet het namens ons doen: in de gemeente en in het land. De straten schoon en veilig, het werk bereikbaar en het gras gemaaid. Weet u iets beters? Zo ja, ik hoor het graag. See, the guy invites us to speak up.

Interesting, but it seems that the cattle in a parliamentary democracy get just the same attention. The cows, bulls and calves are provided with a safe (from wolves, coyotes and the like on one side and from braking their expensive feet in potholes, on the other) passage to grazing and milking locations. Nobody makes them walk for miles or standing in a stuck traffic for hours. That's a fact. Now, what happens when people, unlike cattle, ask for transparency of the decision-making processes, when they want to influence more than the frequency of grass-mowing of the greens around their bedrooms? What happens when at least some of the people want strict accountability from those who were elected to spend public moneys?

Forget the gras: it will remain neat throughout march, respond to other questions. Say, on what ground did the PvdA employ in its think-tank Ayan Hirshi Ali, a person who could not have spoken the truth to the immigration officer when she applied (in Somalia or elsewhere in Africa) for a visa (of what kind) to enter Canada or whatever other country? Did she tell her family, the beloved father of her true intentions before she jumped off the flight in Frankfurt?

My point is that no political party can evade the real questions without falling in the gutter of either cattle-level perspectives or kitchen-sink chit-chat. If for nothing else then for its own sake this society needs to address the burning questions of the day. It just happens to be that the justice ministers take the brunt of the public dissatisfaction with brazen evasion of truth or disdain on the part of the political establishment. It is to be expected that the VVD will again pay dearly for the arrogance of some of their front-row members. Especially Rita Verdonk who, I must remind you, needs to momentarily resign. Especially after we are slowly and painfully given more and more thorn beats of what was happening in the detention center (under her and Donner's command) when the 11 met their terrible ends. In my view she epitomizes the shortcomings of all the public figures in this land if not much wider.

HOPEFUL HUMANS SCORCHED ON SCHIPHOL

Parents bring their kids to play plane-spotting at the edge of the huge Schiphol airport. The children enjoy being there too: there is a Macdonalds restaurant with a small playground as an extra attraction. It features a model airplane in which boys and girls crawl and scream. The place looks so peaceful. Only an occasional flare with a big bang scares the birds away. The airport authority, Schiphol is mainly a Dutch state property, does not want the seagulls fill the engines of the landing aircraft and come out, as in cartoons, scorched on the other end of the jets. You see an occasional flame and whiff of smoke around the aircraft tires at touch down.

My six-year old grandson Christian loves the place. His attitude derives more from the meals and the playtime than the sights or the actual air travel. He now recognizes some of the planes, the hangars, the control tower, the terminals. I never told him that the low laying construction out there was the airport detention center. Even if I knew I would have shied away: too difficult to clearly differentiate between detain and arrest, between criminal and offender of the law.

In this peaceful quiet corner of Schiphol, where at least 20,000 people roam daily, five or six minutes into October 27, eleven out of some 200-300 unsuspecting detainees were burned alive. These might have been people like me, grandfathers who wanted to bring a Christmas toy for their grandchildren in some faraway villages. We may never know: their bodies were charred beyond recognition and the Dutch state tries its best to hush up, actually to completely cover-up this tragedy. In my only honest logic is needed to understand what was happening and why these innocent people were scorched under the lights of Europe's fourth largest airport.

This detention center is one of many in the Netherlands. Here the authorities (Ministry of Justice) keep mainly aliens who after disembarking from aircraft landing on Schiphol try to enter this rich country without visa or papers. Instead of placing them back and seeing them off on the return flight with the same aircraft, they are detained. Allegedly, there are others who smuggle dope which they swallowed after having it wrapped in plastic. All of them are locked two in a windowless cell. Logic guides me to conclude that the cement cubicle has only two iron beds with some sort of thin mattress, blanket and hopefully a pillow. Excluding their own bodies and clothes the detainees have nothing else to burn. Furthermore, the things which might be lighted up to burn can only cause a fire which is put out by stomping or peeing over. So, the question the ministers must answer is simple: "What burned so hard as to produce a fire in which eleven hopeless people are scorched beyond recognition, an inferno which the fire brigade could not extinguish"? The horrible deaths of those people is a burning question indeed. This is a tragedy and a huge emotional, moral and legal issue. How will the Dutch society tackle it?

If it does not - the parliament was told that the fire was treated "accordingly" - what are the chances that the world community tells the Dutch "We cannot allow you to let our citizens burn to death while in your custody".

My point is that this Dutch government may not be allowed to get away with this cover-up. The fire-brigade implied it could not approach the burning wing of the detention center because of a fence! Not a wall: a fence of chicken-wire. This may mean that the firemen watched from yards away the flames and listened to the forsaken cries of those burning alive. What stopped them tear the fence down? It is obvious that some ministers, those offering their condolences instead of their resignations, will have to be fired. Whatever was that burned for so long it should not be there. Full stop. The top boss of the security unit must be fired. The administration must have known all the names, cell after cell, of the individuals in custody. How many were in custody three hours after the fire was put of? How many were missing and exactly how many bodies scorched beyond recognition? The report by the commanding officer of the Fire brigade must be made public irrelevant who does it affect. A gentleman by the name of Ben Ale (the head of the Dutch institute for fire-protection, NIBRA) stated that either the flames were raging for full two hours before the firefighters arrived or the cells did not conform to safety rules.

Now, of course that incidents which explode into tragedies happen everywhere. But this tragedy happened under unexplained circumstances. Every single possible trick was used to minimize the awful impact which the full truth might have had on the public. There is absolutely no point withholding any information under any pretext. Feeble excuses are lies or semi-truths. They show full disrespect for the obligation to come out with all the neat facts. The notorious arrogance of the Dutch establishment in general and in situations when it is blatantly clear it is responsible for a huge public mess will eventually trigger an international backlash against Dutch attitudes.