vrijdag 24 december 2010

Guest blog: Snitsel on Human Behaviour

December 24th 2010.

Prins Snitsel, our undercabinet reporter, is researching human behaviour since November 26th 2009, the day he was born. Today Snitsel writes on the importance of indoor trees, breaking balls and puppets. This article is also published @nonfiXe blog.
By Snitsel Addison (Prins)

Tomorrow is Christmas day; people have been talking about it for weeks. They carry trees inside the house and decorate them with balls. Looks very funny, a tree with shiny glimmering red and gold balls in it. I wish there were trees growing like this in the woods. What a play!

When I checked one of the balls really close up I saw my distorted eye staring back at me. This frightened me, made me jump uncontrollably backwards in a swirl, much similar to the one I’ve been practising for quite a while now without success, but here today, doing it subconsciously, it turned out to be just the kind of swirl I wanted to be able to perform. I did not reckon that, besides the indoor tree, there was something else new that is usually not there. They had put up a tiny hutlike home – wooden with a straw canopy - with puppets inside. The puppets resembled people, most men in dresses, and a baby. One of the men wore bird wings. He bungled on the straw roof, smelling like the attic and dusty. There were some animals inside the cabin too, a sheep, a camel and a mule. Apparently the puppets were fragile, for, in my swirl, I hit the winged person first and he fell down breaking one of his wings on the head of the camel. That collapsed on its hoofs, fell aside on the crib of the baby and took one of the dressed men in his fall.

The noise scared me even more than the strange small unmoveable people. I turned quickly and by accident touched a golden ball. It fell on the stone floor in high tones and scattered all over the place. One of the pieces pierced my foot. Ouch. Never before I saw a ball as aggressive as this one. While trying to swing the stinging pieces of the ball out of my foot I did not pay attention to the indoor tree. It started to shake like a cocktail on a party before I noticed I had kicked it with my hurting toes. The tree swung to and fro three times and then decided to obey gravity, tumbling a little more to the left, losing balance and with an enormous blow it smacked against the floor amidst the scattered ball and broken puppets.

At that same moment my human ran into the room excited and shouting: Snitsel!! I sought refuge underneath the Chinese cabinet and lay there shaking. Can’t think of anything I did wrong, but boy, is he angry with me. Without giving me one more look, my human started to sweep the broken balls and puppets, erected the tree and shouted at his wife when she entered the room quite bewildered asking what ‘for heavens’ sake’ was happening.

Now I have been studying human behaviour for more than a year – since the day I was born - and I know that whenever they use the words ‘for heavens’ sake’, they mean serious business; then something is really really wrong, and usually the dog did it, or the kid, or something else outside themselves and smaller. So I stayed down under the cabinet and watched them clean up.

The shiny balls were all broken. He asked her: ‘What do we decorate this tree with? The whole family will be here in half an hour and we have a bare tree.’ She sighed (human behaviour when not knowing the solution to an apparent problem) Then she brightened up. ‘Wait. I have an idea.’ She started to run around the house picking up my toys, taking all of them into the kitchen (my favourite place). I heard the tap run. Blushed from activity she re-entered the room; ‘I washed them all. He – she pointed at me and I started to shiver even more fiercely for I know what humans are capable off – likes this tree. Why don’t we make it a doggy Christmas tree and put his stuff into it?’
From beneath the cabinet I watched them decorate the tree with my toys. They hung my favourite, a fluffy rabbit, in the top. No way I can ever reach it without the tree falling (strange, normal trees don’t fall when you piss on them or jump against their timber)

Just after they finished decorating the doorbell rang. A bunch of people and children entered. They laughed and seemed happy. The kids wanted to play with me and while I was having fun I heard my human tell the guests that I ruined their tree, but amidst his peers he laughed about it.

Evening fell, they ate, they drank, they talked until midnight. When the clock stroke twelve, all people in the room stood up from their chairs, toasted with glasses held high and repeated the same words: ‘Merry Christmas’.

Prins Snitsel undercabinet reporter on human behaviour for Doggy Review, in the series ‘On People’, today is guest blogger for nonfiXe. You can reach him through his twitter account: prinssnitsel, leave a comment here or contact nonfiXe.

donderdag 23 december 2010

Blood Euro

HRW lately issued ‘Development without freedom’, report on how the Ethiopian government spends aid money [1]. The 111 pages lead to one conclusion only: $ 3 billion Western aid dollars annually donated are used to suppress the Ethiopian people and to keep the ruling party in power. No freedom of expression, censured press, arbitrarily detentions without charge or trial, suppressive laws that severely limit nongovernmental organisations (NGO’s), flawed elections et cetera.
The donors (i.e. US, UK, the Netherlands, Canada, EU, Worldbank) know how aid is translated in politics, and keep on paying.

Some people manage to escape from the Meles regime, like the members of Youth circus Addis Ababa, aged 14 to 25 year at that time. They came to the Netherlands asking for one thing only: Freedom.
Although they all tell the same stories of abuse and renowned human right organisations write reports that affirm the credibility of their statements, the Dutch Immigration Service was not inclined to believe the youngsters. Now they find themselves in a deadlock, forced on them by one of Ethiopia’s large sponsors, the Dutch government. Waiting for the European Court of Human Rights to decide over their fate. This waiting can take years.

An example of what life was for the youngsters in Ethiopia:
A day before court, one of the boys asks his lawyer if he can speak to the judge in private. There is still something he did not talk about. The advocate gives him little chance. ‘You cannot bring new facts to the court and the judge probably will not give you the opportunity to speak in private. This is a public court.’
He wants to tell what happened to him one day at the office of the circus, not long before they went to the Netherlands. ‘Normally people walk in and out of the room. Not this time. I was completely unprepared. Someone hit me on my head, from behind. I still wear the scars. Then they put a cloth over my mouth. There was something on it that drugged me. I don’t know what happened. When I woke up, I felt this pain in my but. “You will not get pregnant. We used condoms.” They told me.’
While telling this story- it is the first time he confides in somebody - he turns his head away. Then he kneels down on the ground. His head bungles between his knees. He feels ashamed and dirty. He did not even tell his own mother.

So many stories they can tell, but nobody listens. The system is not designed to listen, it is designed to guard procedures, not to protect people.

More on the circus group on nonfiXe, category Afrisinia

1.Ethiopia is the second large sponsored developing country in the world, after Indonesia. The country is ruled by a dictatorial regime and human rights deteriorate while the amount of aid money increases. Aid money, according to Human Right Watch, which is used to strengthen the governments’ grip on the citizens even more. And the donors are aware of this.
Ethiopians who manage to escape their abusive government and ask for asylum abroad, have a hard time to get the refuge they need, if they get it at all. The West turns a blind eye twice; by funding a dictator with billions of dollars and refusing to safe harbour his victims, amongst whom sixteen youngsters craving for freedom. From: The blind eye of the West, part 1, Fundraising Ethiopia, www.nonfixe.nl


dinsdag 7 december 2010

Wikileaks & Freedom of Press

The recent developments on Wikileaks show the uneasiness of global leaders, citizens as well as the press itself, with ‘Freedom of Press’.

Now let’s stay away from the person of Julian Assange, the hunted founder of Wikileaks. Whether he did or did not sexually assault women, we cannot possibly know. We do know however, that no rapist has ever been hunted down so severally by authorities of different nations. Not even woman traffickers are chased after with such a force.
If Asssange did rape these women, he should account for it.

The force international governments use on this single man, proves they have a different, more probing motive to catch him. This motive is self-centred. Governments are genuinely afraid of Assange and his Wikileaks.

Wikileaks exposes the lies politicians use to manipulate the public. Lies that are usually covered under the blanket of the bed, where a great lot of the institutional press sleeps alongside the powerful.

Just how democratic is the democratic West? How free are we really? That is the question raised by Wikileaks.

The Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais, Der Spiegel and the New York Times seem to understand the importance.

So instead of focussing on the person Assange, or get carried away by fear that Al Qaida will bomb ‘vital locations’ (I for one think that every self respecting terrorist already knows where to find these locations), let us discuss Democracy, the accountability and transparency of governments and their officials and defend the Freedom of Press and Speech.

There will be more and different Wikileaks. We need them. To protect our freedom. That is one thing we can thank Julian Assange and his friends for.

Image: detail painting on newspaper, Joost Sicking, 1965