maandag 26 december 2011


It was very surprising to see that the County Council of Norfolk did what they already announced last year.
Street lights are turned off in parts of the city of Norwich. About 4,000 lights are switched off. It was announced this would be between 12 and 5, giving a saving of £ 35,000. Keeping on a light extra is costing
£ 20 per night. Last night I noticed lights were off from 1 AM till 6 AM. It was a cloudy night, so pitch dark.

There were a lot of protests to prevent that this would happen, but the council has dismissed every complaint.
Predictions that streets will especially be dangerous for women have been rebuffed by statements that lights will be kept on on streets where there is CCTV. So these streets have double protection while others are kept totally in the dark. Should women restrict themselves to these streets? How to get into the neighbourhoods?
The streets in neighbourhoods are in the dark.

What happened to the 24 hour economy in the UK? Everything has to come to a standstill at 12 (or 1 AM)?
The government is going to decide for the people at which hour they should be in bed? What will happen if criminality really will rise, when people will feel less safe on the streets. Turning the lights on again?
I fear that will not happen. I predict more police on the streets, demands on harsher punishment. Should there be a curfew?

After 11 PM there is hardly any bus transportation. All pubs should close at 11 and people should have to rush home by foot when they don't own a car or can't afford a taxi. Going to the theatre will cause problems for these people for the same reason.
The Council doesn't care for people doing shifts that cause them to go home on nightly hours. Better paid jobs and people who own their own business mostly will not have these problems. So this will mainly hamper the lower classes.

It reminds me a bit of what my parents told me about the times when the Germans occupied the Netherlands.
The years 1940 till 1945. There were curfews and police was patrolling the streets and would shoot on sight. Shoot first, ask questions after a hit, was the policy.

I just saw a very significant article: Brasil surpassed the UK on the list of the largest economic countries.
Which will be next?
It's the last day of the year 2011. I just read this article:
The first victim because of this stupid decision!
Does this mean that a life is worth £ 35,000?
It really makes you think!

January 4, 2012
A storm passed England last night. It happened to be the night that the good people of this neighbourhood are supposed to have their bins out. They are always emptied very early in the morning.
This time the wind decided to blow them over and empty them.
Normally this would have been a nuisance, but with the lights out it was really terrible. I could save our bins but the rubbish was already untraceable when I got to these bins and their lids. This morning I saw at the end of the street a garden filled with the rubbish of our bin and some more. The poor neighbour was trying to clear his garden. With some light I'm sure we had been able to prevent this at least a bit and the same goes for other neighbours. We only had a little torch.
There is still a lot of rubbish on the street, not sure where this came from. I'm certain it will not be cleaned by the city.

zondag 4 december 2011

How Governments show they are busy with fighting the crisis

It was not hard to notice in the news that both British and Dutch governments were showing how determined they are finding solutions for the economic crisis.
The Dutch government is allowing the people to speed up on the highways; 130 will be the standard instead of 100 or 120. In the Netherlands on certain highways there was even a limit of 80 because of fighting the air polution. The right wing government of Rutte noticed that the air quality has improved so in their opinion there is no objection anymore to speed up a bit more. In my opinion the pollution will be at the same height as before the speed limitations. And it will be more costly to drive a car because of using more petrol. The only people who will really see a profit are stockholders of oil companies.


Another brilliant idea came from the Dutch minister of Education. People should be more concerned with their children in school. So they should be more busy to control childrens' hair on lice and help with reading in class and so on and so on. She gave herself as an example for the population. She is and was a very busy person so she hired a nanny who also helped out in the schools. People should put their children on the first place and maybe should even work less. The professionals already warned against this: parents should not interfere with the new methods schools are using for educating mathematics and reading. The only result would be that children will get very confused.
And this all is very contradictionary to what the economics in the government want: everybody should work more for less salary and work longer too. And mothers should not stay at home, no more kitchen subsidy for couples! Everybody has to get a job.

                                             Lice mother

Both ideas don't help fighting the crisis at all. Only thing is that it doesn't cost the government a penny.
The common people will pay for it.

                                         David Cameron and George Osborne

In the United Kingdom you see similar things.
Historic is the campaign that has been started about having a keen eye on your older members of the family during the Christmas period. People should report signs of dementia to their GP.
Does David Cameron think that common people are educated in health matters? I would expect GPs to become very busy with reports about people's parents and grandparents being a bit forgetful. If this really would be carried out loads of people over 50 will reported about. It's well known that at about that age memory is working less good. The elderly should be cautious celebrating Christmas with the family...

                                         An elderly person

Another idea is : The Big Society.
It's all about a retreating government sold under the name of restoring old social networks and so giving people a greater feeling of safety and possibillities of getting help from their neighbours and family instead of from the government. More social control will get the streets safer and will get people of drug and alcohol abuse. Volunteers should take control in neighbourhoods and charity should take over from government funds. It's all based on the theories of Phillip Blond. He expressed his thoughts in the book "Red Tory".
This all should be subsidised by the government. The money needed can be found in dismantling certain government agencies and stopping subsidies in companies that work for the government.
My problem with this all is for instance that all depends on the common Brit, the wealthy will have no part in this. I can imagine easily how people get home dead tired from their underpaid job, having a fast meal and then have to go out to do their voluntary duties.

                                         Phillip Blond

We here see the same as in the Dutch case: it's all on the cost and responsibility of the common people.
I do hope in both countries enough reasonable voters and politicians will recognise this and will vote against it or will speak out against it.

zondag 4 september 2011

When you are born being 10 pennies you will never become 20 pennies

In the Netherlands we have an ancient song ("Als je voor een dubbeltje geboren bent, word je nooit een kwartje"). Translated into English it would be something like "When you are born being 10 pennies you will never become 20 pennies". I had to think about this when I read an article about poverty in the Netherlands.
In the article they came to the conclusion that in the Netherlands 15% of the children will stay in poverty when turning into adults.

                                          Homeless in the Netherlands

Children's poverty has a bad influence for the social life of children; there is a chance of isolation. Poor children will never go on a holiday, will not join in schooltrips, will not give their friends in school a treat when they have their birthday, will not have a birthday party and will wear "funny" clothes.
What is even more important: poor children achieve less in school.
For the parents having a job is not a guaranteed solution for ending the poverty. Because of low wages and the high cost of living it's often needed that there are two persons in a household with a steady income.

I wondered what the situation would be in the UK.
I found alarming figures and I understand that Nick Clegg has intentions to fight children's poverty;  at least there is a plan. The future will tell us how much really will be achieved while national cutbacks are still going ahead.

                                            Poor neighboorhood in England

I will try to compare figures against each other.
In the Netherlands 6.2% of the population lives in poverty; in the UK 23%.
In the Netherlands 311,000 children live in poverty, that is 9.1% of the children; in the UK 3.5 million, that is 30% of the children.
The unemployment rate in the Netherlands is 4.1%, in the UK 7.8%.
Of the 27 countries in the European Union only 6 countries do worse in statistics about poverty.
These are: Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Malta. Two countries are on the same level as the UK regarding poverty: Italy and Spain.

                                                        Foodbank in Norwich (UK)

In the Netherlands 15% of the children in poverty will remain in that after becoming adults.
I did not find a calculation of this for the UK, but other graphics and statistics make me believe this is more than 40% in the UK.

                                         Foodbank in Amersfoort (the Netherlands)

                                         Clothingbank in Amersfoort (the Netherlands)

I had thoughts about this, there should be a reason why there is less elasticity in changing from position in society. I can only think about the more awareness about your own class in that society. It's completely the contrary of the old American dream : newspaperboy that fights his way to become a millionaire.
It's really an absence of ambition and hope for a better future.
I do hope the program of Nick Clegg will bring a change in this, but again: I have my doubts.

dinsdag 23 augustus 2011

UK resembles Iran in this case

In the summer when temperatures are getting nice, a common spectacle is a water fight between children. They will attack each other with water pistols, supersoakers and waterbombs (little balloons filled with water).
And it's not surprising that students do the same and even organise elimination competitions.  They act like snipers in a sort of gang war that can take weeks.  A person who is shot wet, is declared "dead" and out of the game.

                                           Water fight in the Netherlands

                                           Water fight in Thailand
It's not surprising either that throwing and shooting water at each other is popular in other countries too. When you go on the internet you can find loads of pictures of water fights.
The water fight can even be found in the Guinness Book of Records: in 2007 there was a water fight of 2,671 people in Spain.

                                             Water fight in Thailand

You can even see water fights in reality shows.  This is a picture of a fight on the final episode of Jersey Shore on July 31 2011.

                                           Water fight in TV programme Jersey Shore

First it strikes you as odd that in Iran dozens of youngsters have been arrested by the morality police because of taking part in a shameful and corrupt event.  Some were forced to go on TV and admit they had been acting against the law.  Because of the water,  niqabs were sliding down and the girls were showing too much hair and sometimes the forms of their body could be vaguely distinguished. The mullahs and ayatollahs probably never were young themselves. I think the youth should be able to have some fun. But we know rules are very strict in Iran.
I read that these water fights are organised on Facebook just like they are in other countries.

                                           Water fight in Tehran, Iran

                                                        Water fight in Tehran, Iran

It really hit me as very amazing to read that in Colchester (U.K.) a young man of 20 has been arrested because of organising a water fight on Facebook. His arrest is based on a law dealing with heavy criminality installed in 2007. A second man was arrested but later released without charges.
It shows the danger of the super soaker for British society!

woensdag 10 augustus 2011

Are the riots and looting in London anything new?

                                           Tottenham riots 2011

Everybody agrees on the fact that the death of Mark Duggan ignited the riots and looting that are taking place in London, Manchester and Birmingham. The man got shot.  First the people are told that the police were firing back when he opened fire and so he got hit.  Later the story changed into he was armed and considered dangerous.
There are two stories about what he was.  His family and friends tell  that he was a true family man, not really innocent but certainly no criminal. The police keep to the story that he was an important gang leader and a crack dealer. I fear we will have to wait a long time before the truth comes out about his life and death.

                                           Mark Duggan

It does show again that the police are not  great communicators.  There have been incidents before and the people don't forget. There was the death of newspaper salesman Ian Tomlinson in 2009 who happened to be in the neighbourhood when there were demonstrations.  He had nothing to do with these,  got hit anyway and died because of it.  Stories the police told were untrue,  there was plenty of filmed material to prove it.  Last year the lawyer Mark Saunders was killed after being surrounded by 59 policemen for hours.
And there was the case a few years ago of the Brasilian Jean-Charles de Menezes who got shot seven times in the head because the police thought he was an islamic terrorist.

                                           Death of Ian Tomlinson

Furthermore the police lost a great deal of respect because of the close connection between the top of the police and the tabloids of Rupert Murdoch. The disappearance of The News of the World will not change this  for the public.

                                             Margaret Thatcher

When we go back in time we see the riots of Brixton in 1981. These were the days of Margaret Thatcher and  her economics. The poor saw that they were getting poorer and the rich were getting richer. There was a lot of dissatisfaction and it caused the uprising of mostly black poor people. This was caused even more because of the police being close to being racists. Thatcher was not a person for showing mercy:  the miners and the Argentinian army (Falklands War) have witnessed this.

                                           David Cameron and George Osborn

David Cameron has a different approach. He wants everybody to share in his Big Society. Till now not everybody sees that there is an equal sharing.  According to Cameron the youngsters in the gangs just need more love.  Till now there have been more words than action, we still wait for the first signs of "Hug a Hoodie".

                                           The Gordon riots by painter Seymour Lucas

Some newspapers claim that there is an organisation behind the riots. The looters are in contact with each other by mobile phone and blackberry. There is no proof of this. I doubt if they need these.
There have been riots and looting since there are people on this world.
The largest riot in history in London happened in 1780: the Gordon riots in which almost 300 people got shot by the police.

                                           Crowning riots in Amsterdam in 1980

And of course it's also not a real British thing, think about the riots in Paris and several other cities in 1968.
And of the riots in the banlieus in France in 2005. Even the Netherlands had their own, for instance the Crowning riots in 1980. The use slogan of the rioters: "Geen woning, geen kroning". No house for us, no crown for you (Beatrix of Orange).

                                                    Eel pulling

                                                           Eel uprising in Amsterdam in 1886

A legendary riot is the Eel uprising in 1886. A policeman hindered a game of eel pulling. The eel pulling game was officially forbidden because it was a bit cruel. A living eel was bound on a rope that was hung over a canal. Little boats would go under it and try to get it off with risking to fall into the water.
The bystanders became angry with the policeman and he got a severe beating. Other policemen came to arrest the people responsible. Things got out of hand, a big riot resulted and 25 people got killed by the police.
According to historians it really was caused by a big gap in wealth between rich and poor. Not having a mobile phone or a blackberry did not stop the rioters.
Nothing new is happening in England.

zaterdag 23 juli 2011

Should Cameron resign?

When I see David Cameron nowadays on tv and read the articles in the newspapers, I am truly amazed. In every other country the prime minister would have the decency to step down even when there is no ultimate proof of guilt. The facts are already quite convincing that a lot of things were not right. There is a stench of dishonesty, sneakiness and corruption above his government.

                                           David Cameron and George Osborne

The list of arrests is still growing.
It all shows very direct links between politics, police and News Corp/ News of the World.
Instead of thorough investigations I fear that the man who threw a foam pie in Rupert Murdochs face will be in the middle of attention.

In my opinion all the dirty facts regarding the former News of the World should be highlighted.
It's quite shocking that such high ranking policemen like Paul Stephenson and John Yates are very much involved. That Rebekah Brooks was a close friend of the Camerons (and of former prime ministers) is significant. What kind of stories did she get that way? What power over politicians did she have?
Andy Coulson being spokesman and advisor of David Cameron is for sure the limit.

                                          Andy Coulson

The foundation of my opinion  for David Cameron to resign can be found in history.
My first thought in this is the resignation of Willy Brandt in 1974. In 1972 he had won the elections in West-Germany in a convincing victory.  But when his personal assistant G√ľnther Guillaume was disclosed as a spy for Eastern Germany he stepped down immediately. He was responsible for hiring this man and so he took his responsibility.

                                                     Willy Brandt

Next case is the Dutch prime minister Wim Kok. He stepped down in 2002 after investigations proved that  the Dutch army was partially to be blamed for the massmurder of 7,000 muslims in Srebrenica by the Serbs in 1995. Not only the prime minister went, but the whole government. I'm sure none of the ministers were there when it happened in 1995, but they accepted  responsibility and stepped down. The Dutch thought this was nothing more than doing the right thing.

                                                               Wim Kok

There is more, maybe surprising, but I see some similarities in the Profumo case and the News of the World scandal. Minister John Profumo had sexual relations with callgirl Christine Keeler. At the same time she had a relationship with a member of the staff of the Russian embassy. Never was proven that he actually shared confidential state business with her, but he stepped down.
The possibility of telling her secret information broke his career.

                                                            John Profumo

David Cameron had more than one person to tell stories to. It made him and his colleagues into vulnerable politicians, some might have been blackmailed already.
So in the case of David Cameron too we can state that there was a possibility of giving secret information to people who should not get it.

We'll see what will happen. I do fear that Johnny Marbles who threw the pie at Rupert Murdoch will be punished and the main characters in the drama will walk away freely.