Friday 30 June 2006

Blasting the hostage out of Gaza

Mighty Israel

Writing about Israel is a difficult task, every question you raise about their actions regardless of the objectivity gets you labelled as anti-Semitist on the one hand and an appeaser of terrorism on the other.

Having heard the news about the events in Gaza as Israel tries to obtain the freedom of the 19 year old conscript, whilst blowing up bridges might prevent the movement of the hostage, how does blowing up transformers help in the resolution of this conflict.

Then flying over the summer palace of the Syrian President looks like a military-political command structure run amok.

The unequal matching of the sticks and staves of Palestinians to the high-tech weaponry of the Israelites leaves one at a point of conflicts of faith and fairness.

The faith from the perspective of evangelical or devout Christians commands a stubborn adherence to blessing Israel regardless of what they do and the fairness leaves one in empathy for the Palestinians and their plight in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That faith element precludes America from supporting any resolution against Israel; it is like an unwritten law in the American polity that remains unbroken.

So, if as Israel amasses her tanks and razes down buildings and infrastructure they happen upon their gravely wounded quarry within the ruins of the damage they have caused; culpability would be difficult to apportion.

As might and obstreperousness lords it over wisdom and restraint with outrageous belligerence, man has no chance on this matter as people have advised care and restraint – Did God not say they are a stiff-necked people?

In the light of this and other issues, someone ask, was a soldier really kidnapped and taken hostage? If indeed they did, how did they do it? – the pictures tell a story I cannot better – take a look.

What Really Happened – The Gaza Tunnel Attack

Thursday 29 June 2006

The Dutch government collapses around Mrs Verdonk

Just How?

How can the machinations geared to win the leadership election of a coalition partner in a ruling government through the denying of one citizen her right to citizenship lead to the collapse of a government?

How can the row over the position of a junior minister in the Ministry of Justice bring down a governing coalition in just one day?

How does the unreasonable adherence to rules lead to the situation that we no more have people in rulership?

How can the inordinate desire to safe face override the greater desire to depart for the good of all at large?

A liability that is now liable

Only yesterday, I said that Mrs Verdonk was too much of a liability she had to go, and now rather than go, she has pulled down the government with her, they resign tomorrow, if the Queen accepts the decision.

The D66 Party, a junior member of the governing coalition in the Netherlands insisted yesterday after reviewing the results of the reprieve of Ayaan Hirsi Ali supported the motion of a vote of no confidence in Mrs Verdonk.

Once again the Second Chamber reached détente and did not muster enough votes to make the motion pass.

This is where D66 demanded that for the survival of the government, Mrs Verdonk be sacrificed through her resignation and she would still did not budge – besides, other members of the coalition put their stock behind Mrs Verdonk insisting they stand or fall together.

Whilst immigration arrests the attention of many in Europe it is a second-rank ministerial function in the Netherlands, regardless of the press and controversy it attracts.

She has done it

It is interesting that we feared that if Mrs Verdonk had won the leadership of the Liberal Party she would pull the party out of the governing coalition, well, she has inadvertently done it through her lack of sense of duty and recalcitrance.

This is not person who has the love of the fatherland at heart, rather, it is the unconscionable love of self, she and her supporters should be duly and harshly punished for it.

When the saga of Ayaan Hirsi Ali first arose, a commentator did surmise that Mrs Verdonk might just have ruined the political careers of two women, hers and that of Ms Hirsi Ali – well the ramifications have gone a lot further.

The concern now is, that elections might be called in three months and having been rejected by her party, she might align herself with one of the more right-wing groups or become the flag-bearer of Rita’s bandwagon and go to the people.

The unpredictability of the Dutch in the exercise of their suffrage might just see her emerge as a serious contender, a prospect that would make many weep when the deed is done.

A most welcome collapse anyhow

As for the collapse of this government, whilst the circumstances of the collapse are unfortunate, the collapse itself is very welcome.

Never have the Dutch been so governed by invisible, prickly, faceless, silent and boring people of whom the leader has been compared to a dour and strict Victorian-type gentleman lacking in charm and charisma.

Even more, lacking in leadership, direction, purpose, initiative, innovation or goals; whilst our economy does prosper, it is in autopilot, if they touched anything, things would collapse.

The same leader has now had two of his governments collapse before term because of internal discord that other visionary or lesser leaders might have found simple or maybe legendary solutions to.

Now, they have collapsed, here is to the hope that the Dutch can reclaim their national soul of freedom, tolerance, liberty and fairness – time to go back to the Dutch as we once knew them – we live in interesting times.

Good riddance to Lady Oddjob! Minister of Disintegration (The Government) and Emigration (Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salomon Kalou) – Well Done!


Dutch coalition falls after resignation of D66 ministers

Row brings down Dutch government

The Mrs Verdonk archive

Other issues with the out-going Prime Minister

The Balkenende II government

Recording the bad history of football - II

No fling with the right-wing

As we prepared for the World Cup in Germany we were warned of the seething and simmering assault on civility as right-wing groups supposedly gathered to rain hail and brimstone on those whose did not have the similitude of the Aryan race.

On one occasion, they were to turn out in support of Iran as a sop to the vituperations about the Holocaust that have emanated from the lips of Dr Ahmadinejad.

We can all thankfully say none of this came to be.

Rather, the Germans, in enthusiasm that would rival a Rio Carnival turned out in support of teams that visited their cities and welcomed their guests with such aplomb, we almost said this is too unGerman to contemplate.

One could almost say, with the departure of the African teams and Trinidad & Tobago, all the fun, dancing, clapping and cheering has died down.

Well, probably only Brazil can really raise a party like no other.

Deep Pains of Spain

So, to now hear again that Spanish fans are up to their disgraceful antics of racist chants, monkey calls and despicable overt unfriendliness to players of another race does sadden one beyond consolation.

This is form for the Spaniards and this has not been knocked out because even the Spanish coach has exhibited such base human instincts masquerading as human superiority.

Both Spain and their coach have been sanctioned for these practices, but the sanctions have failed to yield a civilising effect on the proponents and the fans - only more stringent sanctions like expulsion from international competitions or points deducted from league clubs can drum the basics of 21st Century living into these people.

Countries like England and France have rainbow teams sometimes quite representative the broad range of football talent and ethnic diversity in those countries.

Lauding ethnic team members

The performers always get the accolades and their names or usually synonymous with team excellence - it is just not within the limits good conduct to have to suffer racial abuse on the pitch for any reason whatsoever.

It is however surprising to the value and understanding of history escapes these people as Spain was once subjugated by Africans and during the Spanish Civil War many came from other countries (about 40,000) to fight for the liberation of Spain - they should have a greater sense of fairness, accommodation and tolerance than has been displayed - the sociology of this matter I would leave to the professionals.

Out with this-pain

In the end, you cannot but imagine my glee at the fact the monkey chants and all did nothing to keep them in the World Cup and deservedly so - people who accommodate thoughts that debase humanity deserve no global centre stage not even at the World Cup.


Racism fears dog World Cup build-up

Fans praise German welcome

Spanish fans re-ignite racism row

Spain fined for racist chanting

Wednesday 28 June 2006

Verdonk force fed humble pie

Facing a farcical loss of face

The suspense, needless the tension as we waited with bated breath for a result, a verdict, maybe call it a confirmation.

But, it was an about face without the face saving element she was given 6 weeks to conjure up.

Only six weeks ago Ayaan Hirsi Ali was given six weeks to explain why she should remain a Dutch citizen, a situation that lead to her immediate resignation from the Dutch parliament and serious concern amongst the expatriate and immigrant communities.

The Dutch Second Chamber convened an emergency session to debate that decision which was handed down by Mrs Rita Verdonk, the Minister of Immigration and Integration as well as then aspiring to the leadership pf the Liberal party.

The session ran till 3:00AM and Mrs Verdonk was given six weeks to ensure that every legal possibility was explored to ensure that Ms Hirsi Ali retained and remained a Dutch citizen without fail.

We be not fools

Mrs Verdonk milked the whole six weeks of reflection, reconsideration and indecision, during which she also lost the race to lead the Liberal Party - thankfully.

For almost two weeks rumours have been trickling out that this issue would be resolved in Ms Hirsi Ali's favour, however, to pretend that this redress would undo the peripheral damage would be naïve.

It now appears, the face saving formula has included agreeing that Ms Hirsi Ali - using her grandfather's family name, who should have applied with Magan using her father's name was not really untruthful about using either.

Ms Hirsi Ali herself has also offered commentary to exonerate Mrs Verdonk for her faux pas, which has now been rectified by this so-called loophole. This is beginning to bore me.

She lost us the World Cup

This does not get Mrs Verdonk completely out of the hot water because we are still licking our wounds in the aftermath of that record card dealing World Cup match against Portugal.

One of the best football players ever besides Pele in the person of Johann Cruyff has said Mrs Verdonk cannot be completely blameless for our exit in refusing to allow the person of Salomon Kalou to become Dutch and depriving us the football talent that might have made a difference.

In the same vein, she also deprived the Ivory Coast the same football talent in not being decisive about the issue early enough.

Basically, one can argue that Mrs Verdonk is a liability whose brief to promote integration if not patriotic allegiance has only created bad press in the representation of the Dutch to the world at large.

Time to give her a title in appreciation and pension her off.


Dutch ex-MP retains citizenship

After all the fuss, Hirsi Ali to keep Dutch citizenship

Hirsi Ali exonerates Verdonk for passport gaffe

Tuesday 27 June 2006

Singing in the (d)rain

The joy of commuting

I could not help but notice as a user of public transport the creature comforts put up for the pleasure of commuters to keep them from the elements.

This, in particular pertains to bus shelters, which in some cases are designed by renowned Dutch architects who, for those designs might have won awards.

In fact those bus shelters are aesthetically pleasing, you would immediate seek shelter from the elements if you are in the proximity of one - that is if you are seeking shelter for harsh sunrays.

More sweating for seating

First, it is the seats, which are either too short to accommodate more the 3 backsides, but there is usually someone with a backside meant for at least 2 average people.

In some cases the seats are not so much seats but very much like uneven bars in a gymnasium, only that they are closer together so you are to prop or attach yourself to the thing, well, really, your feet do more work trying to keep your stability on the contraption.

I would not say that the Netherlands is in the middle of some arid desert region where temperatures dare to rise above 32C, it if ever happens, but we can altogether get about 3 to 4 weeks of real summer - a conservative and probably truthful assessment.

Rain drain

Beyond summer days of sunshine those shelters might as well be funnels as you wonder if the appropriate tune to hum is "Raindrops keep falling on my head" or "I'm singing in the (d)rain" - depending on if you checked the weather forecast for the day and if you have not been too miserly in acquiring a decent umbrella that does not blow out at the blast of a yawn.

The shelters have been designed to funnel the water unto the seats and the splash of all that makes the shelters unusable.

Sometimes you wish the chauffeur and Bentley came as part of your lifestyle, good design does not guarantee usefulness or functionality, and I would rescind any awards given for those bus shelter designs.

Monday 26 June 2006

Recording the bad history of football

When the judge becomes the news

They say, once a journalist becomes the news, it is time to move on. Almost the same can be said of the situation where the commentary on a football match seems to centre on the referee.

Although, I only saw parts of the Holland - Portugal World Cup knockout round match, I kept abreast of the more crucial events of that encounter.

The job of refereeing is probably a very hard one, one of keeping abreast of things on the field, running about to ensure things are in view, making critical and instant decisions based on the facts as you see them, taking occasional advice from the linesmen and so on.

The final decision remains that of the referee and some of those decisions could turn the match, if not ruin it entirely and take the entertainment out of the beautiful game.

3 strikes and out

Only last week, the hapless Graham Poll was on the verge of reputation damage as he issued 3 yellow cards before sending off an offender in the Australia - Croatia game.

Even for non-football aficionados we probably all know that the production of second yellow card automatically attracts a red card and a send-off. It is the reason why the referee makes notes to keep a tally of booked infringements since memory might as well fail within the chaos of field play.

He basically did not perform to the standard, to which we were all accustomed and an early return from the World Cup would not be remiss of the FIFA authorities.

However the Holland - Portugal match took this to a new dimension; the weather could not have been the most clement, at that temperature people might just be a bit irritable, more careless and less disciplined - it could affect the tenor of the game understandably.

The bad history of football

Having equalled the record of 16 yellow cards of which 4 were second yellow cards leading to 4 red cards another record probably never to be surpassed ever, the game could not have been better marred by seeming incompetence, intemperance and impatience.

What is so amusing about this episode is the mad rush of yellow rage that happened between the 73rd and the 78th minute - six cards in all - one leading to red card.

The 73rd minute had 2 shared between the teams, the 74th minute had one to Holland then the 76th minute another 2 to Portugal and the 78th had a yellow to red card for one of the men booked in the 73rd minute.

Two of the red cards came at the end of regulation time for both halves at the 45th for Portugal and the 90th for Holland.

It is unfortunate that Holland did not make it through this round, but it is definitely an advance on their not appearing in the last World Cup - new sketches would have to start towards South Africa 2010.

Portugal who have been deprived of 2 players meet England next Saturday their referee being the man who shunned the England coach job when our unhelpful press camped outside his door just on the rumour that he had accepted the job. It would be a tough game, but here is hoping England does pull this through.

Rules, rules, rules

Like a Dutch colleague surmised, each card given was given according to the rules - well, you cannot get any more Dutch than that - they like rules.

I would however leave the last word on this matter to the President of FIFA - "I consider that today the referee was not at the same level as the participants, the players. There could have been a yellow card for the referee".

In my book, I already have 2 red cards for that referee - hopefully we would not suffer this propensity for interventionism from other referees as we draw to the close of the World Cup.

Saturday 24 June 2006

They hate our freedoms

We are gathered here to fight

When President Bush addressed the Joint Session of Congress and the American People in the aftermath of the terrorist strike of September the Eleventh 2001, all the civilised world was at one with America in compassion, in sympathy and in agreement.

We all could not afford to live in a world where a threat of this sort could approach suddenly one ordinary morning and wreak so much destruction in life and the symbols of a nation’s might.

This statement then became the rallying call to go after those terrorists, hunt them down and wipe them off the face of the earth.

“Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”[1]

This is what we all hold dear and I list them in order.

+ We are a democracy

+ We have freedoms

+ We have the freedom of religion

+ We have the freedom of speech

+ We have the freedom to vote

+ We have the freedom to assemble

+ We have the freedom to disagree with each other

This all constituted the galvanising force of the War on Terror that has taken troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which are bordering on failed states despite the progress in democratic institutions.

The freedom to lose freedom

However, looking at the world today and the War on Terror we might find that we have become part of that target.

Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the speech that Dick Cheney gave yesterday when he condemned the press fro revealing that the US has been trawling the SWIFT for international transactions that might involve terrorists. [2]

We are given the notion that this activity lead to the capture of Hambali the notorious terrorist involved in the Bali bombings.

That itself is of some value, but if that is the only terrorist transaction that has been successfully pursued to a conclusion since 2001; albeit after the fact - then the War on Terror had already been lost and this transaction spoofing only helps to clear up the carnage - one would wonder what other means the terrorists use to move money globally.

There are many systems of moving money most especially using Western Union or Moneygram where sums running into billions would not even reflect on any spook radar.

Playing into the enemy’s hands

But, that is beside the point, Mr Cheney would have us believe that this operation was within the law of the land and was legitimate having tried without success to prevent this information from being published.

The further assertion that these secret activities of the United States government in prosecuting the war on terror from extraordinary rendition through the NSA eavesdropping to this filching or fishing through global transactions is playing into the enemy’s hands.


I would tell you what is playing into enemy hands – the fact that in a democracy we have the kind of transparency that would make the German Gestapo look like a window box.

The fact that we trumpet this who issue of freedoms and secretly ride rough-shod over these democratically assured freedoms on the premise of protecting the people from some undefined evil.

The fact that our freedom of religion and belief systems is usurped; to galvanise a political base whilst, dividing all others.

The fact that the freedom of speech in revealing clandestine operations of government in the public interest is railed against but the same people are culpable in revealing the identity of secret agents.

The fact that the democratically exercised will of the people of Palestine is ignored. They elected a government less favoured in the eyes of the West, and this has lead to their greater impoverishment.

And though we have the freedom to assemble, we do not have the freedom to disagree with the government without being called names.

Those are the things that play into the enemy’s hands and I am beginning to wonder who really hates our freedoms.


[1] President Declares "Freedom at War with Fear"

[2] Money-tracking leak angers Cheney

Friday 23 June 2006

The new ball order - Football meritocracy

The new ball order

Brazil is a superpower, Ghana has joined the elite, Africa has contenders, Australia has come of age and the USA lags the curve of progress that they are not counted with the few.

These are ideas that can only find fertile ground in the world of football.

When I read the Economist piece on why the World Cup is better than the Olympics, I had until then believed otherwise.

However, there are points to note, the Olympics includes all nations but it is usually dominated by global political powers trying to exert supremacy over their rivals, the gold tally is usually the chase amongst them rather than the participation which is the joy of many.

Small but greater

The Olympics is based in a major city of a country whilst the World Cup is spread all over the country and in some cases co-hosted in 2 countries.

Whilst the crowds of sportsmen and official make up for the Olympics, it is the fans that respond the most to the spectacle of the World Cup even where ones nation is not represented.

The Nigerian in me rues our absence but my support is shared between England where I was born, Holland where I live and Ghana, the currently surviving Africa team that made it through the group stages.

All for 22 seconds?

The culmination of all the events in the Olympics is the 100 metres final for the men and women, all over in less than 22 seconds - the World Cup is entertainment from start to finish over a month with 64 matches of at least 90 minutes each of tension to the final.

Reputations are destroyed, stars are born and the memories linger for up to 40 years - England still celebrates their only World Cup win of 1966 as if it were yesterday.

Many games have been boycotted for all sorts of political reasons, but the World Cup maintains a mystique of competitive zeal that probably only Brazil can afford to stay away having won it 5 times already.

FIFA Security Council - NOT!

For once, the Americans cannot produce a Dream Team, the Russians a Power Team, the English an Imperial Team, The French a Napoleonic Team nor the Chinese a Communist Team that would dominate as they dominate the UN Security Council.

When it comes to football, you can either play on the day or you are out - it appears even with the football elite where our expectations fail, it is sure one global level playing field - you are really expect the best team to win.

On to South Africa 2010- Oh! We are yet to get into the second round of Germany 2006 - the excitement of it all.

Thursday 22 June 2006

A Shuffle unworthy of a black jack table

Lame Ducks Blame Luck

It appears lame duck regimes have a penchant for doing the incredible and anomalous.

Besides getting bogged down in incumbency inertia and bereft of great ideas, the work at hand moves from the general purpose of governance to securing a legacy which should have been duly affirmed long before the duck went lame.

The rehash of ideas, achievements and prospects for a future that is already upon us is enough to bore into stupefaction, if only we could be spared the details.

In the UK, not many were convinced of the radical nature of the reshuffle after the drubbing of the Labour Party in the local elections of May this year.

However, some saw a bit of a spark of wisdom in moving Jack Straw to lead the House of Commons from the post of Foreign Secretary then wondered how Margaret Beckett would handle the rather volatile, if not delicate brief of Foreign Secretary - somehow, she seems to be finding her feet.

Financed for Foreign Outlook

So, the news came that there has been a reshuffle of the Nigerian cabinet, of a government, which has less than a year to run. The striking changes pertained to the Finance Minister who would move to Foreign Affairs and the Foreign Minister moving to Internal Affairs.

The erstwhile Finance Minister - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala - is an economist of world class standing and repute who was once a vice president in the World Bank and as a technocrat has made strides in bringing transparency to our financial environment as well as securing extensive debt relief.

Olu Adeniji who is now the Internal Affairs Minister was also part of the UN programme to repatriate the best minds of the developing world in Diaspora to their indigene countries to help in radical change and development - he is a career diplomat who was until now in charge of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Election 2007 in auction

This reshuffle has had many crying foul play in anticipation of the looting the treasury for the impending 2007 election.

Now, one would really hope that this would not be the case, but the innate propensity of the ruling elite to loot the coffers of Nigeria with impunity could only be curtailed for as long as there is no political position to fight for.

A power tussle is ensuing within the ruling party for a successor to President Olusegun Obasanjo as he failed to cajole, persuade, coerce and importune enough support for the seemingly tacit third term quest.

If the ruling party is to retain power, the problem of not having developed to a point where people can be convinced of good intentions through the honest word of politicians would mean persuasion through looting the treasury which should now be bursting with the proceeds of high oil prices.

Second hand bad hands

The Minister of State in the Finance Ministry has been elevated to the position vacated by her boss, but she would not take over the position of chairman of government's economic management team or have direct dealings with the external financial institutions, which the new Foreign Minister retains.

One can only wonder at the competence of the new Finance Minister if she cannot fully assume the brief for a ministry where she has to date been Minister of State and the malleability of that person in the impending looting of the treasury as many expect.

In view of this reshuffle, I am of the opinion that any talking head can handle the Foreign Affairs brief, however, it is the financial, economic and fiscal issues that need a competent pair of hands and definitely not a safe pair of "forcible" hands.

Shuffle unworthy of a blackjack table

Beyond that, the whole reshuffle looks like a pack of cards not presentable to black jack table as ministers move to new ministries whilst retaining some influence in their old ministry as is the case for the Minister of Solid Minerals who takes over Education and retains her core portfolio with Education being shorn of both its former ministers.

The two things that need the most attention, the education of the masses to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and the management of the economy to provide the infrastructure befitting of a country of Nigeria's stature suffer in the face of an expediency in need of a decent explanation.

We would see as it all unfolds.

Bloodied and slightly bowed, Tony Blair battles on

Obasanjo moves Okonjo-Iweala to Foreign Affairs

Nigeria: Obasanjo Sacks Obaji, Moves Okonjo-Iweala, 4 Others

Gunmen and reformers

Wednesday 21 June 2006

Making an ass of the law

The law of the ass

Not long ago, I had the temerity to take opposing view with a “soon” to be Doctor of Laws on the topic – the law is an ass.

In fact, I presented a number of perspectives that kept me convinced of that view that despite the brilliance of the counter argument, I would not have been entirely convinced as a member of a jury.

That is however beside the point; my concern is when this question exercises much in the delivery of fairness and justice some people go out of their way to make an ass of the law.

Nowhere is this so agitated than when some see some political, populist or stupid advantage to be gained from promulgating laws that leave judges in a quandary.

The ass in the eyes

The political if not populist can be seen in the way George Bush has been advocating the constitutional banning of gay marriage – it would be interesting to see if a penalty would ensue if Americans do decide to have a same-sex marriage and demand certain rights of partnership.

Besides, for those who have legally tied the knot, it would be a travesty to backdate or annul a union that once really had a legal basis.

Some judge would have to sit in hearing arguments of points of law that examine the intricacies of partners and more unspeakable talk unworthy of polite conversation as opposing ends interpret a statute of expediency create to galvanise a political base.

The ass in the mouth

The populist brings us back home in the Netherlands where the cabinet has finally caved in to the proposal which requires all naturalised Dutch citizens to prove their understanding of the norms and values of the Dutch through formal examination.

This is really a poor and sad time to elect to be Dutch for whatever reasons, the events of the past few months and the actions of the populist right-wing Minister of Integration and Immigration provide ample proof of this unfortunate development.

Somehow, some judge would have to sit in hearing cases where a long term naturalised Dutch citizen challenges the effrontery of subjecting their loyalties to such unnecessary and demeaning scrutiny.

A naturalised citizen should not have to go through this humiliation to want to be Dutch, fine in the application process but not after it has been granted – the implication being the natural born Dutch are more aware of these norms and values. Well …

The ass of an ass

In the UK, the tabloids have hijacked the voice of reason for the purpose of having the names and addresses of released paedophiles published for parental awareness. Now in a society where reason, law and order prevail, this should not be a problem.

However, not 5 years ago, the tabloids published names and addresses when lead to vigilante attacks on innocent persons whose names were confused with others.

The UK is just not mature enough for the revelation of such information; what is required is a comprehensive monitoring and tagging process and well and probationary and community support to ensure that convicted paedophiles are properly monitored and children are safe from predators.

Sarah’s Law which is to clone a similar existing US law called Megan’s Law is being pushed for consideration and the tabloids would probably get this done.

The ass with no legs

It appears everywhere you find a US Embassy or Consulate, it is surrounded by an Iron Curtain that restrains people from approaching, exercises a cordon of inconvenience as demands are made for perimeter security. Rather the separator of the freedom to demonstrate from the symbol of freedom – new definition of Iron Curtain – be it physical, legal or extra-judicial.

Now, a legal position is about to be contested as the prosecution service in the Netherlands wants the US Embassy to be protected from protesters who could be asked for their identity cards when in fact there is no just cause. [1]

Asking for the identification cards of demonstrators in front of an embassy in a free and democratic country is really tantamount to stifling free speech and freedom of association.

Rather than the prosecution service seeking a blanket remit concerning the all consulates, they are seeking a special dispensation for the US Embassy.

The dog of an ass

In this day and age, it might be a reasonable request, but it is also an exceptional request that makes one wonder why the embassy of the leader of the free world has become one that needs more protection than those of Bantustans or some other country.

The reasonableness of this is lost in the “me too” mentality that governs the sometime little nation psyche that consumes the self-assuredness of this government such that their participation in events of global significance looks like making up the numbers rather playing our part.

A real ass of the law

There might be benefits in being a friend of the playground bully, but eventually, when the bully is away, whose friend would you be?

So, in appealing a decision that maintained the freedom of speech and association on the premise of the US Embassy being an exception, as ass is being made of the law. Alas!

Sunday 18 June 2006

Looking for football miracles

Having only seen highlights of most matches of the World Cup, I am concerned about the number of red cards that have been shown to players.

Team managers might have to get tactical such that once a yellow card is shown the offender is pulled off the field before the second yellow card takes the player out of the next game.

However, it does appear that the cards do have a cumulative effect over consecutive games; players just have to be careful if not dainty with this strict adjudicating regime.

Reckless tackles indeed have to be punished in some way, but the number of disallowed goals in increasing too.

The tables as they stand read like a heart stopping news story, only groups A and C have been fully decided with Ecuador, Germany, Argentina and Holland.

(Holland? That is supposed to be the Netherlands, Holland only comprises on 2 provinces [Noord Holland & Zuid Holland in the West] out of 12 in the Netherlands except if as a in the World Cup they prefer to be known as Holland).

All other teams with 6 point are through; those with 4 points might end up not going if they lose their next games and if those with a point win their last games and have a greater goal difference.

That means groups E, G and H would present a thrilling finale if not upsets – it is definitely not over till its over.

Togo and Ukraine might just rise from the dead, but 6 teams are definitely returning home at the end of this week.

There is probably an upset left in Ghana to make it to the second round and the god of football giving Angola something to celebrate.

Having watched the BBC World programme about African Football Magic, it is time that really counted for something like the New Zealand Haka before a rugby match.

Come on Ghana! Do the African Haka and do us proud. A rare case of a Nigerian urging Ghana on.

Saturday 17 June 2006

Arise! Sir Easy

Of monarchies, republics and value

I had only a few days ago been commenting on the value systems of republics, monarchies, chieftaincies and so-called hereditary privileges.

Also, it is interesting to note that generally, those left of centre are more inclined to prefer republics whilst those to the right would rather retain the monarchy although that probably would be in countries where a constitutional monarchy exists.

Sometimes, I shed parts of my liberal cloak to reveal conservative inclinations to the monarchy, to their value in terms of historical, traditional and cultural heritage; which for me weigh more than the nominal cost of maintenance and the hereditary aspects of it.

In the United Kingdom where many have fought tooth and nail to eliminate the class system only to find a new hierarchy developed in the under-class of the deprived, the upper class of the wealthy and privileged, the middle class of the taxed to the hilt and the working class of the barely getting along – the problem is not so much the monarchy or the republic but the quality of political leadership and government.

Honour the doers

However, one thing does get celebrated in the United Kingdom, the honours system, though over time it has been abused for political patronage and messed up in the House of Lords where hereditary peers have been replaced by appointed “stooges”.

Every year at the new year and the Queen’s official birthday which is in June rather than April which is the real month of her birth, a list of peerages, knighthoods, damehoods, CBEs, OBEs, MBEs - in decreasing order of significance – is released laudable people for their services to society through their work, professions, charity or vocations.

Some get honoured over time as they are promoted through each honour title and some just get placed in the hierarchy.

Some of the awards of the MBE have been opened up for nominations by the public, of people they believe have contributed significantly to their communities which might not necessarily come to the notice of the government.

Honours and information

People might argue that an honours system is not worthy of a 21st Century democracy, but how then do we acknowledge and reward service beyond the benefits of a salary or some international award like the Nobel Prize?

Beyond that, the list this year contains interesting information like James Goodfellow who is awarded the OBE for the developing the concept of Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) for Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) in the 1960s – a global phenomenon that we use everyday.

In many cases, you might wonder who the person is, what they have done and why they have been acknowledged, but then these things have for all sorts of reasons and the system is usually vetted thoroughly. Whether we agree or not.


This years’ list includes Stelios Haji-Ioannou, an entrepreneur and chairman of the easyGroup group of companies which started off as easyJet and has diversified into every Easy idea you can imagine.

Whilst easyJet brought cheap air travel to the masses, it lowered across the board the quality and level of service we received for short-haul flights in Europe.

There was a time before easyJet, I could expect a meal on a economy flight for the hour flight from London to Amsterdam, now, you get a bread-roll and a bar of chocolate with a drink that not a millilitre more than a gulp down.

Cutting out the frills definitely brings down the cost of travel, it also means you cannot demand quality service and the streets of Amsterdam, Prague and Dublin get filled with lager louts who drink to excess and foul the cities leading to campaigns against those of that ilk.

Not all cheap stuff is good stuff, but if you do have to count the pennies you can fly easyJet, hire an easyCar, stay at an easyHotel, surf the web at easyInternetcafe, do all easy stuff and return with more oranges than an orchard.

The man has done well – Arise! Sir easy.

Tycoons knighted in birthday list

Guide to the honours

Catfish is off the menu

To have left this situation without comment would have left me untrue to the premise of my blogging which is to write about how things affect me and how I am affected by things.

A blogger is within his rights to add and or remove persons and/or comments from his blog and I have no qualms with that.

When I wrote A Blogger without a Corset earlier this week, it was with regards to my blogging experience and certain observations I had made recently.

So, the link to my blog and that of a friend was removed, well, no problem with that, it comes with the territory, however, to find that a comment added to a topic of interest was obliterated whilst leaving the owner’s specific response to my comments therein is an exercise of prerogative that borders on self-absorbed pettiness.

Well, the word petty would come to mind but that would be a complement, small-minded would be like ascribing greatness to a cretin, so I should not deign to suggest anything.

I am affected to the extent that I cannot bear such calculated activity that appears mean but is really not smart.

Anyway, catfish is definitely off the menu, but would be left in the space it occupies in the hope that the body can be redeemed from the rotting head.

It so happens, people can have intelligence seep into their copy every now and then but are immune to exemplary conduct. This once edible catfish has just mutated into Candirú.

The salutary lesson is, of whom little is expected, much less is desired. I rest my case.

Friday 16 June 2006

The Joy of Living

People who gave selflessly

There might be people who no more want to be associated with an event which happened some 20 years ago, but the fact is that time represented a confidence to stand up and be counted amongst the few who really could do something about a situation that affected Africans.

When the pictures of human misery from Ethiopia filled our screens in 1984/85, musicians in the West came together first with Do They Know Its Christmas and later with We Are the World.

United Artistes for Africa

A group of talented Christians with artistic endowment came together in Nigeria, in what became the United Artistes for Africa, which is quite different from a broader group with the same name that came together much later on.

They produced an album and received extensive television coverage sending their clear, deep and strong Christian message to the public raising compassionate response to the plight of the Ethiopians.

As my memory serves me, I remember so many words of the theme song and have been at pains to obtain the full lyric set.

The joy of living
Is giving the best you got

From the bottom of the deepest part
Of your heart

Right in the corner of the street
There are so many
Who have nothing to eat
Situation, so hard to bear
With love and true compassion
We got to show them that we care
That all the world might know
Heaven's salvation untold

{Where memory fails me - missing bits}

Make our love light shine
I know that we are ready
We are ready, to lay it on the line

We are NOT the World

The words of this song were a lot easier to listen to and understand and did not flout common knowledge when it veered into the religious.

This was one of the many fundamental problems and interpretations with We Are the World. For devout Christians, "The World" signifies a system that is antagonistic to anything related to God.

The line - As God as shown us by turning stones to bread - was blasphemy of the highest order that should have brought out activists in their millions, but they would have been condemned to being without feeling on a project that was supposed to feed the hungry.

God never ever turned stones to bread, Jesus was tempted by the devil to turn stones to bread after a 40 day fast and He replied with the much quoted - Man shall not live by bread alone.

For some, it was like the devil had hijacked a project that brought people together in compassionate response to a serious human crisis.

Giving you the best

This is why The Joy of Living had more resonance with the Christians I knew than We are the World, regardless of the stars that featured.

However, there were stars the line-up of United Artistes for Africa, people who exuded talent that made one wonder at God's creation and people who allow the genius in their beings to flow.

Notable were Soji Bewaji and Bayo Akinsiku; they were both artists in training at polytechnic and somehow, even though I was studying Electrical Engineering, I got amongst a crowd of "impressionists", divided between a wave of Rastafarian inclination and deep Christian affirmation.

I happened to make more friends amongst the latter and they especially Bayo brought me into the realisation of new Christian revelation.

Men of honour, men of great talent

Soji, had the voice, which might at one time have been modelled on Michael Jackson, but developed into something more edifying and full of power of ministry.

When he sang in worship you were caught in two places, the awesome wonder of a sonorous voice in praise of the Almighty God and the almost envy of the fact that you could only croak.

However, he has not departed from his vocation as an inspired and gifted artist who no doubt is a whirlwind of ingenious ideas to his clients and people at large.

Bayo, produced artistic work that was just inspired beyond natural discernment, I saw some of his project work and I was blown away, completely, it was out of this world. That he earned distinctions in college would not have come as a surprise, cynics could not but be effusive with praise.

This was a case where the talent was just there, in your face and if you found flaw it would be in your ability to appreciate not in the work at all. It is no wonder that he is lauded as one of Britain's best painters.[1]

Worthy of commemoration

However, these men participated in the Joy of Giving 20 years ago and are still in the business of giving of themselves in talent, inspiration, knowledge and encouragement that lifts others up to want to be givers too.

So, in the Twentieth year anniversary of that grand and inspired project I commend to you the original United Artistes of Africa who sang for Ethiopia -

God bless your grain
With the latter rain

More so, the individuals, the men and women of God who stood up to be counted when there were mouths to be fed.


Pray for Mrs Verdonk

For all the brickbats Mrs Verdonk receives from all ends, the worst would be if Ivory Coast beats the Netherlands in the World Cup fixture this evening.

Having denied Salomon Kalou the opportunity to play for either the Netherlands or his home country Ivory Coast - we can only hope that she doesn't already have a red card from the god of football. Because then, all sympathy will depart her as the waters are separated from the land in the Netherlands.

Pray for Mrs Verdonk

Thursday 15 June 2006

We've lost intelligence

The Satire of Expletives

Over a year ago, I was well and truly entertained watching a film TEAM America: World Police. The language in the film was ripe with expletives and hardly the kind of talk one would find in decent company, but it did not take away from the entertainment value.

Besides, it was one of those meetings with ex-colleagues, which had become a routine of spending the best part of 4 weeks trying to get everyone together to watch something of interest.

The theme songs were beyond the pale covering every serious issue of the day, like Everyone Has AIDS, which would make puritans rail abuse at the slightest opportunity.

Destroying to save

The team comprised mercenary type gung-ho personnel who with the help of technology and artistic flair would enter any situation and resolve the problem leaving behind a calling card of utter destruction like the destruction of the Eiffel Tower in the process of eliminating terrorists.

The mainframe system that handled all their data and control systems was called I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E., it had every data-mining capability hooking into news wires, satellite links and any communication system in the globe.

As the plot thickened, the team's headquarters concealed in Mount Rushmore was attached and almost completely destroyed and the travail that went up on that destruction was phrased in the line - "We've lost I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E! I repeat, we have no I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E"

Inappropriate there, disdainful here

So, when I read that a completely distasteful song appeared on the Internet called Hadji Girl sung to a tune within Team America by a US Marine in Iraq - not only was intelligence lost, the 23 year old boy probably never had any.

As usual, the stiffest condemnation of that insensitive and uncompassionate song comes from the Marines codified in the word "inappropriate".

Inappropriate is probably the highest level of condemnation that can be mustered by the Bush regime against friends like Pat Robertson when he called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez.

Also the comments of the former Education Secretary William Bennett when he surmised about aborting black babies was not appropriate.

The appropriateness of the inappropriate responses to inappropriate outrages is questionable at times when they should appropriately appropriate the situation for the decency and candour; this is a misappropriation of privilege and opportunity.

The Iraqi Joke

The joke - as the marine indicated about his song - that Iraq has become which is a narrative of the blood and guts of a young girl written up by no great a buffoon; a representative of the insensitivity that flows down from the higher echelons of the Bush military machine is no surprise.

Pitifully, the people would won the war to win the peace create greater obstacles to peace than the insurgents can muster, by their inability to consider the consequences of their actions.

If anyone could just tell us where intelligence can be found; because it is not in the heads of the belligerents, we might just begin to make some progress in all the wars we are fighting.

Meanwhile as we sing an inappropriate sung lacking every sense of intelligence to the refrain of Tina Turner's "Burn Baby Burn", we might just find ourselves so sorry for lacking the intelligence to prevent the inappropriate.

Wednesday 14 June 2006

Losing our blogging civility to poor and bad comments

Many cultures and negative comparisons

Sometimes my affinity for Nigeria, Nigerian things and conversation with Nigerians can be dampened and stretched beyond tolerable acquiescence.

Most especially in the world of web logging, the ability to stimulate commentary is lost to commentators who in their quest to be heard and not necessarily be listened to lose the ability to intelligently inform and converse.

Over time, many have made comments of their observations of Nigeria in the light of their experiences, these might reflect as praise, criticism or somewhere in between.

Being someone who lives in a foreign country as I am English, living in the Netherlands and of Nigerian parentage, I find that I always am comparing values, cultures, norms and standards amongst these different societies, anything I voice the negatives in debate I could expect a response which might fall anywhere between complete acceptance or utter rejection.

Magnanimous in listening

However, I hold the greatest respect for those who can take criticism, argue their points with civility and intellect that belies their upbringing and education which might persuade me of a better view.

The unfortunate thing is when people go for the lowest common denominator, taking offence at the criticism, insult or insensitivity descend to the same level of the protagonist and spew the same kind of invective in response.

It helps no one at all, rather, the opportunity to persuade and present your objective perspective in ways that allow you take the higher moral ground is lost without redemption.

Brawlers with keyboards

The baser instinct of the human being appeals more to the primitive than the civilized and where restraint cannot be exercised, it becomes a free-for-all fracas unlikely to be witnessed amongst wild beasts.

Along with that comes others who cannot be healed of the verbal diarrhoea, highly strung, quick-to-comment/slow-to-think, primed for a punch-up with aggression that makes a black mamba’s reflexes pale in comparison – their main goal is to antagonise any voice of reason.

They just cannot be seen to step back and observe, hold their peace and apply even the slightest iota of reason to their comments. They come in as fodder, fouling up the commentary landscape such that voyeurs (readers) are almost titillated beyond sexual ecstasy. The indecency of it all.

Arcahic as it might sound, I am still of the opinion that discretion is always, always, always, always the better part of valour. Sadly, many are impervious to that ability to separate, distinguish, think, meditate, reflect, write, reflect, edit and post.

People of that ilk are better left as Internet acquaintances if they ever get that far.

The privilege to comment

A web logger offers their opinion on any matter that excites their interest from whatever perspective – the allowance of free commentary from anyone without moderation should in the least be seen as a privilege. The abuse of that privilege is uncouth at best and unprintable at worst.

There are many who are still to realise that fact and it makes blogging all the poorer for it.

Tuesday 13 June 2006

Stealthily from Camp David to Camp Al-Nasr

Here Before, There Now

Only this morning I heard Mr George Bush was meeting in Camp David to discuss the war situation in Iraq, then now, he is in Iraq.

I was not aware that the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) programme was so advanced that he only has to say “Beam me up the Green Zone”.

The state of affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan shows how precarious things are that important personalities cannot announce their visits in advance.

For one, I would not be doing dinner in Iraq, seems more people get killed in Iraq each day than cows see the abattoir – if ever I had to eat, it would be strictly vegetarian.

I would assume there would be no Mission Accomplished razzmatazz but landing at Camp Victory (Al-Nasr) does not mean victory is anywhere in sight in Iraq! We wait for the day when State visits can announced and planned ahead of time to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Day Dreaming AGAIN!!!

The new uncompassionate, insensitive and heartless conservative

The heart of conservatism

At the back of my mind I have had a question about that great divide in America between the conservatives and the liberals.

I am beginning to come to that conclusion that if these ideologies were part of conjoined Siamese twins the heart of the union would be in the liberal part and probably the brains in the conservative.

I do not mean this in derogatory terms but it feeds into that scriptural saying which questions the value of owning the world and losing your soul.

The conservatives, cultural or religious are supposedly the link with our history and traditions; the liberals keep us up with developments in society as times change and civilization.

Do we need new Jesus Christians?

In America, it is quite difficult to appreciate the Jesus brand of Christianity in relation to the exhibition of their Christian values.

There might be a case for not supporting abortion but that question was settled in John Kerry’s inspired response where he said it should be a matter between the woman, her doctor and her God.

That seems to manage the case of the personal, the medical and the religious – I would think that is what our freedom and democracy is about. Your privacy, your welfare and your faith. Albeit, it is a liberal perspective of a civilized world.

However, when it comes to the death penalty, it appears the liberals have a greater sense of mercy than the conservative fixation on the punishment, even I question why we still do need the death penalty – we have moved on in Europe on the matter.

No love, no evangelism

Beyond this, the greatest enmity of the church does not seem to be directed at the devil but at the homosexuals, the vitriol and vituperation that comes from the pulpit at those humans who I hope are part of the God-man salvation pact is definitely not going to bring them to church.

What is the need for a moral compass if the direction we take loses every sense of humanity? – mercy, justice, fairness, charity, compassion, forbearance and tolerance have been swallowed in a new man-made religion that pretends to serve a higher God.

Uncompassionate and insensitive

Two events over the last few days bring this into focus, first the suicide of three Guantanamo Bay inmates and a book published by Anne Coulter – a controversial conservative pundit.

My concern with Guantanamo Bay stems from the seeming lack of concern, compassion and sympathy for the conditions of despair that might have lead to the death of those people. To have dismissed these events as publicity stunts and acts of asymmetric warfare had me feeling for the thumping sound of my heart – just in case I was losing mine.

Anne Coulter who has been publishing a few books attacking liberalism has a new installment called Godless: The Church of Liberalism. In it there was a vitriolic and insensitive attack on some 9/11 widows whose activities have helped us gain more insight into the Genesis of the 9/11 disaster.

She wrote and I quote – “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much.”

Conservative Eugenics

The Cruz of all her arguments being liberals are pushing forward the widows, the bereaved, the disabled, the victims to make political points but by reason of their tragedies are excused from attack and criticism – Balderdash!

The undertone I can read is widows should stay home grieving, poor and helpless, the bereaved already have enough on their hands in bereavement, the disabled have no say on matters that the able-bodied can do better and the victims should be in therapy rather than be caught speaking up for the change that would prevent the creation of new victims.

You will have to scroll down to the quotations of this lady to have a measure of who this personality is.

“It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact. In fact, in every presidential election since 1950 — except Goldwater in '64 — the Republican would have won, if only the men had voted.”

“The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that's the Biblical view.”

This is blue conservatism in the deepest shade.

I’ll rather be a Liberal

I can say a lot of good has come out of the activism of people who have had life-changing experiences – in my view Anne Coulter for all her smartness has been a poor standard bearer for an ideology that is finding growing support for selfishness and less application to the humane and kind.

In America, being a Liberal might be the lowest thing to be in political life, but on what the conservatives have done, I’ll rather be a liberal and liberals do go to church.

Conservatism still lives, but the heart is now stone cold.

Monday 12 June 2006

A blogger without a corset

Writing as expression

During recent exchanges with friends, I began to wonder why I do blog. Well, I have views, I have opinions, I have prejudices and I have bigotries, a blog is probably a forum to expose those weaknesses of scripted diarrhoea.

I like to write about a lot of things, I began this foray into opinion writing long ago when I was in secondary school, unfortunately, in one instance, my text was full of errors a that junior took the opportunity to crucify me with the put down that I was not worthy of a school certificate pass in English.

But for long, I have been better at expressing myself verbally than in writing, that seems to be levelling out, English by the way is my mother tongue by reason of it being my first language of expression as opposed to Yoruba, my parents tongue which I only began to speak well just around the age of 10.

In polytechnic I wrote under the pen name of Who Else and posted my diatribe in front of the college restaurant, however, it provided no means of exchange and commentary.

Over time, lots of professional friends advised my to go into technical writing since I seem to have the knack for breaking down technical complexities into everyday analogy, but I never really developed that ability beyond the occasional service on newsgroups.

So, I blog for many reasons and when I started blogging in December 2003 and it felt like a release, because the complaints and frustrations I have had over time could be articulated better with the thinking that attends the opportunity to write.

Temperamental at worst

Besides, I have found that bits of my history and large swathes of my memories have been recalled as I have put together my copy, in fact, I am at times fearful for what I remember and the way I put it all down - I could almost be too expressive.

However, when I analysed my temperament on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter it suddenly appeared I need an army - It might not mean much to have the temperament of a Rational - Fieldmarshal, but then you would not have a name Akin if you were not a warrior of sorts - Akin means warrior-hero in Yoruba (Spoken in Western Nigerian).

From the graphic attached I am a judgemental, thoughtful, intuitive, extrovert - that almost sounds like barrage of insults, but I cannot agree more. Though, I have probably unachieved in that respect too.

The extrovert in me allows me to talk about all those other elements of my temperament.

But then, my blog is also my personal journal; it is about me, myself and I, the things that affect me and those things I am affected by. I suppose the masthead says that much.

This is no horoscope

It is not used to send smoke signals nor is it to be used like a horoscope, though most of what is in there, bears semblance to people living or dead and events that have actually occurred. I am no prophet, mystic or seer, so my blog has nothing for how to live your day from some zodiac chart.

So imagine my amusement when I found out about a site called How Much Is My Blog Worth as if I would try to sell my journal to anyone for anything, I cannot see the point.

Don't list the buggers

However, it appears this site makes calculations based on where you are listed or rather the blog fans you have listed on your blog.

So, where someone has got the world and its wife in their blog roll, you can expect the value to be over $20,000 whilst my lightly annotated blog is worth a smidgen over $2,000. I am not however inclined to pop every blog rag on my blog roll to up the figures.

Conversely, there are bloggers who badger other bloggers to list them in their blog rolls, I would not know what for, apart from some need for validation or worse. It might be these people have not clearly thought out exactly what blogging is all about.

That does not mean people who find my rants interesting should not list me if they are so inclined, but it is patently uncouth to request a listing and I think any request of that sort should be black balled.

If a blogger finds it easier to bookmark interesting blogs on their web browser rather than publicise their blog interests, that should purely be the blogger's prerogative without having to be under duress or undue pressure.

Bereft of endorsements and refreshing

So, it is refreshing to see blogs that have no personal endorsements, just general Internet sites of interest - people should therefore not seek to chisel their tripe into those blogs upsetting the primary premise of the blog owner.

Unfortunately, the blog worth system gives blogs like these have a value of $0.00 regardless of the traffic those blogs entertain in terms commentary and visits - there must be something flawed in the calculations, but who really cares?

This affectation of blog-fashion-victims is like saying, place of picture of me on your mantelpiece because I already have one of yours - Get Real! - This is beginning to annoy me.


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