Artworks to be restored to Goudstikker heirs

Some 200 pieces of art are to be returned to the heirs of the original owners.

It is not known what the heirs are going to do with the paintings. A large number of them can be seen in the current collection of Dutch museums.
Strangly enough the paintings are not returned to the heirs on ‘legal’ grounds but on ‘moral’ grounds. In two earlier occasions the return was denied on legal grounds because the paintings were not sold under pressure and a fair price was given for them. On this third occasion the return on legal grounds was again denied. The state department responsible for art decided nevertheless to give the paintings back.
You can also read the full story here.

Unified Europe?

New drugs legislation accepted in Italy.

On Wednesday the Italians accepted a new law which takes away the difference between harddrugs and softdrugs. From now on you can be put behind bars up to 20 years for the possession of softdrugs. Fines go up €260.000.

Read here (in Dutch).

A program you should try to watch!

If you can receive the BBC 2, I would have recommened you to watch a program by Boris Johnson. The program is called; Boris and the dream of Rome and could be seen on Sunday evening. Could be because the last of the series was broadcasted tonight.

It is about the simmularities between the historical Rome and the European Union we are trying to build these days. The historical Rome unified an area larger than the current European Union and somehow they did it without a big army or many civil servants.
Of course the question he is trying to answer is; what can we learn from the Romans and is the European Union going to succeed or is it going the wrong way? It is fascinating to see how many problems which the Romans had are similar to the ones we have today.

Danish embassy torched in Syria

News headline on the BBC News website ‘Danish embassy torched in Syria‘.


It is a reaction which you could have expected. The bad thing is my first reaction is; Screw them, if they think they can burn down our ambassies and get away with it, I say; I hope they publish the fucking the cartoons everywhere!

New Zealand newspapers have also decided to publish the cartoons because they think their readers have a right to know what all the fuzz is about. South Africa newspapers are being forced by courts not to publish the cartoons.
Now you can see that the issue is political and not religious. If it were religous these kind of outbursts would have happened in November last year when the cartoons were first published.
Now that it is political; publish the cartoons and talk!

Music swappers fined

On the BBC news website.

High Court judges ordered two men to pay the British Phonographic Industry between £1,500 and £5,000 for making thousands of songs available online.

What they did was wrong, but mabe the industry should also look at all the taxes we pay to compensate the music ‘theft’. We pay tax on cassettes, blank CD’s, blank DVD’s, recording equipment, VCR tapes, there was a proposal for a tax on mp3 players, when we walkinto a store with background music, etc. Somehow I get the feeling I’m paying more than once for my music.

Afganisthan and the Dutch politics

Current hot topic in Dutch politics is whether we should send troops to Afghanistan. As you might have read in the newspapers, the USA has requested NATO to take over some of its activities in that region as its resources are stretched.
The Netherlands, as a loyal member of NATO, has been asked whether we could send some 1.100 men to the province of Uruzgan. The Dutch government has more or less said yes, only after getting reassurances from other the NATO partners like the UK and Canada that they would assist if our troops would get into trouble. This is of course a two way agreement. The UK and Canada are also providing troops in that region and want assistance from the Dutch if they get into trouble.
The topic became hot when the Dutch government didn’t say; yes we as a member of NATO we help, but said; yes – maybe, but we first have to ask our parliament. Dutch government is a coalition of three political parties; Liberals, Christian Democrats and some other Democratic fraction. Representatives of that last party immediately said they would block that request if the question came before Parliament. So if Parliament says ‘No’, the only thing the Government can do is go home. A crisis is imminent.
By the way, we are already in Afghanistan.

Jan Marijnissen

This crisis is of course wonderful material for the opposition in Parliament. One of the opposition members, Jan Marijnissen, writes on his blog (link);

On the one hand you would like to free the Afghan people from the Americans. They are not the best PR representatives of the Western world. On the other hand, the Americans were the ones who invaded Afghanistan. The same America who has squandered its respect it had with the Afghan people. America which now has such a high deficit that even they will have to cut cost. The country is not very interesting for George Bush as there are no valuable natural resources in Afghanistan. It would be very convenient if we were going to pay for it. Especially if we were going to pay it with our lives as George cannot afford additional deaths anymore’.

He goes on to say that the Americans should leave and that the EU should support Afghanistan financially and ‘keep an eye on it’ but we should send any troops.

I don’t know where he get’s it from! Just the idea; if you support them financially all problems will go away. Especially as we know how unstable Afghanistan is. Furthermore, after 9-11 the NATO agreed to support the US as it was it was an attack on one of the members of NATO. I agree that was in 2001 and it 2006 now. But we also promised the Afghans to rebuild there country and bring them democracy as it was the best medicine against oppression and terrorism. We said that it would take at least ten years before we would see some results. We are five years further and the country is still not stable enough and far from rebuild. So please, let us send troops, engineers, medical people, teachers, materials and other stuff they need.

Links here; link1, link2, link3.

Iran’s Leader Wants Israel Put in Europe

Quote; “Iran’s hard-line president, who recently called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” sparked another barrage of international criticism Thursday when he said the Jewish state should be moved to Europe and questioned whether the Holocaust took place”.


What a fucking idiot. With a guy like that at power, peace in the middle-east is something you can only dream about.

Mobility fee!

In the Netherlands the topic of the last 10 years has been our Mobility. Traffic jams are part of our lives . The time that work meant being stuck in one place for the whole day has changed, at least for a lot of people. I spend three out of five days in other towns. Working either at a customer location or at another site of the firm I work for. And, a lot of people live in one part of the Netherlands and work in another part because if both partners work, you have to balance the difference.
In the last ten years the dutch government has tried to get us out of the car and train and reduce the pressure on our road network.
The last idea is to tax us for the amount of kilometers we make and make it more expensive if we drive in rushhours. They are willing to spend three to four (3-4) billon € ( € ) for implementing an automated system which checks you and bills you automatic. Maintaining the system is going to cost around 800 million ‘a year. From the government track record for implementing big public systems, you can expect it is going to cost at least 50% more!
Why don’t they just scrap all roadtaxes and put it in the price of petrol. Costs a lot less to implement, and if you drive a lot, you us a lot of fuel, you pay a lot!

Europe wins the power to jail British citizens

From the Times Online (link)

BRUSSELS has been given the power to compel British courts to fine or imprison people for breaking EU laws, even if the Government and Parliament are opposed.

An unprecedented ruling yesterday by the supreme court in Europe gives Brussels the power to introduce harmonised criminal law across the EU, creating for the first time a body of European criminal law that all member states must adopt. The judgment by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was bitterly fought by 11 EU governments, including Britain, and marks a dramatic transfer of power from national capitals to Brussels.

Diplomats said that it was political dynamite in many countries, but the European Commission welcomed the ruling, on a test case about environmental law, as a landmark that sets an important precedent. It gives the Commission the right to decide when breaches of agreed policies are so serious that they should be treated as criminal.

The Commission said that it would use its new powers only in extreme circumstances, but its officials are already talking about introducing EU crimes for overfishing, deliberate polluting, money laundering and price fixing.

EU members have always insisted that the power to set criminal law goes to the heart of national sovereignty and must be decided by national governments and parliaments. The Luxembourg judges ruled, however, that national governments could not exempt EU law from being upheld by criminal sanctions.

José Manuel Barroso, the President of the Commission, said: “This is a watershed decision. It paves the way for more democratic and more efficient lawmaking at EU level.”

A British government official said: “We firmly believed it was inappropriate to harmonise criminal law at EU level. We believe criminal law is a matter for member states co-operating intergovernmentally.” He added that they would consult other countries to consider the options, although the governments have no right of appeal against the court.

Some national government officials said that the issue was so sensitive that EU lawmaking would grind to a halt and member governments would refuse to pass legislation rather than accept harmonisation of criminal law.

One diplomat said: “This stuff is political dynamite in the UK, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe, where they are as keen on their sovereignty as anyone. Imagine how Italians would react if their criminal law was rewritten at EU level. Ironically, it means less will be done at EU level.”

Member states have fiercely guarded their sovereignty over criminal law. The Commission took them to court after they blocked it from introducing harmonised criminal law for pollution. The Court of Justice, which has a record of promoting European integration, ruled in the Commission’s favour, concluding: “The European Community has the power to require the member states to lay down criminal penalties for the purposes of protecting the environment.”

The Court said that although as a general rule criminal law does not fall within EU powers, that “does not prevent the Community legislature . . . from taking measures that relate to the criminal law of member states which it considers necessary”.

The ruling means that the Commission can propose an EU crime that, if passed by the European Parliament and a qualified majority of member states, must be adopted by all member states. This means that Britain could be forced to introduce a crime into its law if enough other members support it. It also gives the Commission the power to compel members to enforce EU criminal law if governments drag their heels or if their courts refuse to sentence people.

Timothy Kirkhope, the Conservative leader in the European Parliament, said: “This appears to be a worrying erosion of British sovereignty. It is a significant transfer of power to the Commission.”

Gerald Barling, QC, a leading European expert at Brick Court Chambers, said: “The ruling is significant. It is the European Commission flexing its muscles.”

The ruling was welcomed by most MEPs, who will now have the powers to pass criminal law and not just civil law. Chris Davies, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Europe, said: “Europe needs an umpire to ensure fair play between member states and to dismiss the cheats. The European Commission is the only body that comes close to fitting that role.”
The Court ruling did not establish whether Brussels had the right to set criminal sanctions but officials made clear that they intended to do so.

I think we have to say ‘NO’ one more time!