Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, February 20, 2004
Come to Belgium, Get to Vote! (sort of)

Last night parliament passed a controversial law that gives foreigners in Belgium the right to vote in local elections. Much has been said about this, but if you look at the actual law I don't think there will be much impact.
What does the law say? Foreigners who live in Belgium legally can go to the local city hall and register to vote after declaring they will respect the Belgian law, constitution and human rights. After this they are obliged to vote in local elections, just like any other Belgian. And they can only vote: being candidate is not allowed.
I don't know if there are any sanctions for not respecting "Belgian law, constitution and human rights", but I doubt many foreigners will go to the trouble of registering to vote, except maybe a small group of very motivated ones. For the large majority, registering to vote will mean they can also be fined for not showing up at the voting booth. Why take that risk if you're not motivated or interested enough to go?
But anyway: for all you foreign readers of this site, if you have enough patience *you* can have your say in who is to be mayor of Brussels!

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Light Blogging

I haven't been blogging yesterday and probably won't blog much today either. The reason is I'm on a two day course about project management basics. After six months on the job I'm finally being trained on how to do it ;-)
In other news, while on the train this morning I added some new functions to my RandomTV blog javascript: it now is possible to report offensive or broken content, just like you can on the complete site. So next time you see porn in my sidebar, just hit that 'Offensive content?' link!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Galloway Has Quite Some Gall...

A paragraph caught my eye in story in the Guardian about Iraqi oil money finding its way to (organisations of) politicians opposing the war via intermediate businessmen: Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Iraq oil cash funded MPs' campaigns:
"Mr Galloway said he was unaware that his financial sponsors were getting oil cash from the UN programme. But he accepts that he knew his supporters had links with Saddam's regime, and regarded that as an inevitable price to pay. "
At least he's honest about being a traitor or not minding to be one.

Say It Ain't So: Censorship At The BBC?

Via Samizdata comes this rather revealing report about how the BBC treats criticism of racism: The Libertarian Alliance, London:
"When Yasmin Alibhai-Brown objected that this would remove all controls on racial attacks and on discrimination, Dr Gabb replied:
'Yasmin, are you saying that the white majority in this country is so seething with hatred and discontent that it is only restrained by law from rising up and tearing all the ethnic minorities to pieces?'
Her answer was yes, though she seemed to think better of this answer immediately after. But she did not take the invitation to deny that the white population was only kept in line by criminal laws to restrain them from attacking ethnic minorities. When Dr Gabb asked if she seriously believed he wanted to murder her, his microphone was turned off and he was 'released' from his engagement with 20 minutes of discussion still to run."

More Belgian Army Atrocities

I heard on the news tonight that ex-general Romeo Dallaire, who headed the U.N. peacekeeping force in Rwanda during the genocide, accused Belgium of not stopping the massacres. So I went too Google for his exact words, but instead I found this:The Observer | International | How a UN chief was broken by horror of Rwanda:
"Dallaire had problems with the Belgians under his command: they drank on patrol, trashed hotels, ignored orders from black officers, roughed up local politicians and on one occasion 'buzzed' the Rwandan parliament in a plane. Dallaire accuses some of cowardice for abandoning a convoy. "
Never heard about that in our local media. Ten Belgian paratroopers killed by local thugs, yes, but this? Not a peep.

Update: This morning, they had Dallaire on the radio and he did mention the behaviour of the Belgian troops this time. He also explicitly blamed Belgium and France for not sending reinforcements and stopping the genocide, which, according to Dallaire, could ultimately be blamed on the U.S. because they didn't intervene either.

Monday, February 16, 2004
Affirmative Action

Presumably to offset the historically grown disadvantages of 'white trailer thrash', some college republicans have set up a new scholarship for whites only. The funny thing is, the president of the group, Jason Mattera, is invulnerable to charges of racism:
Mattera, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is himself a recipient of a $5,000 scholarship open only to a minority group.

Funny guys, those college republicans!