Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, October 25, 2002
 
Sniper media roundup

Cool article about Media's Embarrassing Excesses over at the Washington Post, describing some of the stuff the media got wrong in the D.C.-sniper case.
And there's more, about some other media shenanigans...

 
Laughing in my car, then shivering...

This morning while driving to work, I was laughing in my car: state radio news was interviewing Louis Michel, Belgium's Foreign minister and frequent target of rants on this blog. They were asking him questions about the Moscow hostage situation, and what Europe could do to help. Basically, what he was saying amounted to: we could help the Russians with the talking, we have a lot of expertise on that subject. Oh, yes, and we deplore the actions, and frown really hard in the direction of the Chechens who did this.
Blah, blah, blah... What a buffoon! Such a comical display of powerlessness! The reporter even asked him if he thought talking would help, and he actually said he didn't know! She was even subtly mocking the EU as all-talk, no action outfit, and he didn't even try to rebuff her.
But then it hit me: If ever I get into similar trouble abroad, this would be the guy 'handing' the negotiations... shiver! Putin might be a ruthless, shady, ex-KGB type of unpleasant person, but I'll take him every day over such a windbag as Michel when it comes to dealing with terrorists...

Thursday, October 24, 2002
 
Google censorship?

No, not in China or Saudi Arabia, but in Germany and France: Google excludes sites from French, German listings.
Apparently some 'hate' sites are excluded from the search results in those countries, although they can still be found using google.com instead of google.fr or google.de.
I wonder what this will do to their press freedom rating?

 
How stupid can you get?

Do the terrorists holding a Moscow theatre hostage really think Putin is going to give in to their demands? Stop all military action in Chechnya?
I think all this will accomplish will be just the opposite: even more military action. Not doing so would be political suicide for Putin. Only now, the Russians might perhaps be using American weapons and satellite intel, which they suddenly received out of 'friendly concern'. Oh, yeah, and their opposition to the UN resolution on Iraq was all just for a laugh, sure, go ahead, bomb Saddam, if you want...

 
12th place isn't bad

In the first worldwide press freedom index, Belgium scores 12th place, together with Australia. Not bad, considering the U.S. is only 14th.
Also: no Arab country even makes the top 50.
Another interesting observation: they have a separate ranking for the Palestian Authority and for Israel, but they count some press offences on the West-Bank and Gaza on Israel's tally... Isn't that implying these territories are then part of Israel? But why have a count for the P.A. then? If the P.A. is counted separately, the offences of the IDF on the West-Bank and Gaza should be counted there, according to their own methodology (they don't just count government press offences, but also those due to militia's, invaders, occupation,...). They claim to count the amount of press freedom in a certain location, not who is actually responsible for the state of it. So, yes, probably the press freedom on the West-Bank and Gaza isn't that great, but now they look like they just want to make Israel look bad (or worse).

Wednesday, October 23, 2002
 
Killing witnesses

Generally, if you are a murderer trying not to get caught, killing witnesses is a clever thing to do. If you are the government, however, and you're trying to catch the perpetrators of a crime, killing witnesses is a stupid thing to do. Even if they are also involved in the crime, like Timothy McVeigh.
Score another one for the anti-death-penalty case.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002
 
Call the UN!

We demand the immediate halt of testing of Weapons of Mass destruction in Belgium, right this minute!

Monday, October 21, 2002
 
Irish referendum

Everybody seems to miss the real story behind the Irish referendum on the Nice treaty. Instead of yammering on how important it is that the treaty was approved, shouldn't people be wondering why only the Irish voters got a say in it directly?
The Nice treaty, as I understand it, thoroughly reforms the way in which decisions are taken in Europe, abandoning, among other things, the veto power of single nations. This will have profound consequences for the idea of national sovereignity within the EU. And yet, nobody (except for the Irish) seems to bother to ask the people of the EU if they agree with this.
Remember this next time some Euroweenie gives a lecture on democracy...

 
Guns for Nepal erm the Philippines

Hehe, just when the Flemish green party AGALEV thought the guns-for-Nepal debacle was over, Geert Bourgeois, the leader of the NVA opposition party comes out with a report of new FN gun exports to the Philippines. Let's see them squirm out of this one. The squirming of AGALEV is getting quite entertaining: after being forced to accept arms sales to Nepal, instead of resigning from the government they claimed they "would not be bullied out of the coalition".
In my opinion, they know they won't be in the next coalition if things continue this way, so the're clinging to power by any means they see fit. Even if it destroys their credibility.