Sunday, April 30, 2006

Guess who said: "Let's, first of all, pray there's no hurricanes. That would be, like, step one"



Do not miss entry from January 11 2005

Washington Post Outlook April 30, 2006

United 93: The Real Picture by John Farmer, a former attorney general of New Jersey, who was a senior counsel to the 9/11 commission

The Northeast Air Defense Sector Sector (NEASD) was not following United 93 on radar; it wasn't even informed that the plane had been hijacked until four minutes after the crash. The authorization to shoot down commercial aircraft was not received until about 30 minutes after the plane went down, and 15 minutes after the military air defenders learned of the crash. The authorization was not passed on to the pilots. Once again, the film depicts the controlling reality more accurately (than Government accounts): People were making judgements based on faulty information amid complete chaos.

Don't replace FEMA with new bureaucracy
The Courier-Journal, IN - Apr 29, 2006

Why does a Senate committee think tearing down one bureaucracy and replacing it with another is going to fix the flaws in disaster response?

Whenever the response to a major natural or manmade disaster is faulty, both Democrats and Republicans suggest setting up yet another layer of bureaucracy.

Take some recent examples. Confusion after planes were crashed into the Twin Towers and Pentagon? Set up a Department of Homeland Security. Bad communication before 9/11? Add a national director of intelligence. Faulty response to Hurricane Katrina? Trash the Federal Emergency Management Agency and start over with a shiny, brand new National Preparedness and Response Authority.

The response to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina could have been better, and reforms need to be made to better prepare for future disasters.

But more than four years after the tragedy of 9/11, we have yet to see any evidence that shuffling the bureaucracy has done any good. In fact, it seems to have complicated matters and led to more confusion.

As a response to 9/11, FEMA was put under the umbrella of Homeland Security, but when Hurricane Katrina struck last August, New Orleans descended into chaos, with people needing food, water and other supplies. Rampant looting and fires left to destroy buildings were reported.

One story of FEMA's incompetence hits home. Two Lafayette firefighters were sent to provide emergency relief shortly after the storm. After two days of training and six days of waiting, they traveled south, where no one was expecting them. We expected the firefighters to be sent to emergencies, where their training and skills would be welcome. Instead, they were given the menial task of passing out informational cards for half a day. We don't blame the firefighters for coming home early in frustration.

FEMA's performance during and after Hurricane Katrina proves that the agency needs work, but creating a new agency from scratch is not the solution. What matters most is that the agency, whatever its name, has competent leaders and staff and a top-notch communications system.

Former FEMA head Michael Brown was in way over his head. If the politicians are truly interested in improving responses to national emergencies, both the president's and the Senate's staff should make sure the nominee to head FEMA has dealt competently with actual disasters.

Perhaps what is just as important is that FEMA has what individuals and families are urged to have: A clear plan of what to do in case of disaster, including whom to call and what to bring to the site.

A national disaster is a matter of when and not if, and no one knows when FEMA will be called upon, just as residents of Greater Lafayette don't know when or if a tornado or flood will affect them. But it is a good idea for a homeowner to have bottled water, nonperishable food, supplies and a list of whom to call on hand.

Changes must be made to how federal officials and employees respond to crises, but tearing down an organization that's already in place might cause problems rather than solve them. Fix the agency that already exists instead of reinventing it yet again.

_The Senate report, portions of which were released last week, offered 86 recommendations, most notably replacing the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a more potent successor. The report made the case for more money local, state and federal responders, without saying how much or the source of the dollars.

"We recognize that our recommendations will not be enacted in the next five weeks, before the next hurricane season begins," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led the Senate inquiry. "But we cannot stay with the same deeply flawed system that has proven that it simply does not work."

"Disaster Response Improvements Lacking"
By LARA JAKES JORDAN The Associated Press Saturday, April 29, 2006; 7:20 PM

WASHINGTON -- Most of the changes in natural disaster preparedness proposed by the White House and Congress since Hurricane Katrina are years away at best, leaving the Gulf Coast and other areas vulnerable to new devastation. Only a few of the 211 suggested improvements from three federal reports will be ready when the hurricane season starts June 1, and limited dollars and political squabbling already are complicating the progress.

"Nature doesn't care about reports," said Kathleen Tierney, director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado. "Nor does it care about the fact there are people still suffering, and we're not ready. "The big question in everybody's mind is whether entities that proved themselves incompetent to handle Hurricane Katrina can become competent by the summer of 2006," Tierney said Friday. "So far, we've seen no evidence of that."

Separate investigations by the House, Senate and White House delved into managing an emergency response to a storm as massive as Katrina, which stretched across 90,000 square miles:
_The House report did not make any recommendations for change. It did conclude that local, state and federal officials lacked any sense of urgency in preparing for catastrophic disasters.
_The White House inquiry focused on flawed federal plans and confusion during the storm, which hit Aug. 29. The report made 125 recommendations, including 11 to be completed by June 1, including plans for evacuating victims, ably tracking supplies and delivering quick information from disaster zones.
_The Senate report, portions of which were released last week, offered 86 recommendations, most notably replacing the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a more potent successor. The report made the case for more money local, state and federal responders, without saying how much or the source of the dollars.

"We recognize that our recommendations will not be enacted in the next five weeks, before the next hurricane season begins," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led the Senate inquiry. "But we cannot stay with the same deeply flawed system that has proven that it simply does not work."

President Bush on Friday rejected the idea of killing FEMA. "The lessons of Katrina are important," Bush said. "We've learned a lot here at the federal level. We're much more ready this time than we were the last time." "Let's, first of all, pray there's no hurricanes," Bush said. "That would be, like, step one."

Miami Airport by Mat Callaghan

28 April 2006

Without doubt the world's worst major airport. Factors causing this include sheer size and number of destinations served. Appallingly confusing layout and little logic applied to gate allocations. Extremely tight security due to the number of destinations deemed 'dodgy' or 'druggy' it serves , meaning the expected rude, surly unpleasant entry to and exit from the USA is even worse here than at other US airports Appallingly poor range of shops, services and restaurants both land and airside (my top tip - find the hotel inside the terminal and use their restaurant - its about the only quiet, non-manic place there. If you have time book a day room and get a shower as well) 5) Set up and organisation for transit passengers, which at Miami is a large number of people. Little information, few staff, massive treks across terminals, little indication about where to check in for connection. Indeed if making a flight such as LHR to MIA then connecting to the Caribbean with American Eagle this sometimes entails a trek across 3 terminals to check in again and then a trek all the way back to find the gate. My only other top tip - if you are on a connection from, say, South America, which arrives early morning and your return to the UK is an overnight there is a place where you can dump all your bags for a fee, and you can then spend a pleasant afternoon on South Beach.

Miami Airport by Sue Lang

24 April 2006

We arrived into Miami airport on 30th March. What a nightmare! We stood in a queue of some that took well over 1.5 hrs to clear passport control. The immigration people seemed to be incapable of saying please and thank you. This is one airport we shall never return to!! When we returned home through this airport, while waiting in the departure lounge we noticed a bag had been left unattended for 20mins or more. This we duly reported twice and nothing happened - after 40 mins our flight was called and still no- one had looked at the bag - some security!!

Miami Airport by Claire O'Donoghue

18 February 2006

Have had the misfortune of flying into miaa couple of times and have now vowed to avoid this airport at all costs. Immigration is a joke long lines that take hours to get thru and if you have a connecting flight the chance of making the connection are remote. The immigration office are the rudest people I have encountered. This applies to other staff I have encountered in this airport. Finding one that speaks English is the first problem. The airport is dirty and tired and the facilities are poor.

Miami Airport by Stephan Holowaty

1 February 2006

ZRH-MIA-ZRH: On departure, Miami is just another one of those totally disorganized and overcrowded US airports. Despite giving my checked-in bags a hand search, I do not expect the searcher to give public comments on what I carry in my luggage. Very unprofessional, slow, disorganized and in parts incompetent TSA staff - they seem to believe that long lines, embarrassing comments and hunting people from one line to the next discourages terrorists. Equipment and staffing quantity obviously don't allow for a professional, fast service. Only one of those guys seemed to know what he was actually doing. Arrival in MIA at first was a pleasant experience, as passing immigration has never been so quick to the US. However, my flight was coming in much after the "normal" arrival times from Europe, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first off the plane. Also, baggage delivery was a breeze. Later on, searching for the rental car booths was really a disaster - signage at the whole airport seems to be very random.

Miami Airport by Wendy Tien

30 November 2005

The signage is useless where it exists, totally failing to provide basic information (such as how to exit the airport or find the car rental). The staff are rude and all the gates seem to be miles from the security checkpoint. The gate areas are freezing and the rest of the airport is like a steam bath. The queue for the security checkpoint takes forever and you have to watch that security video in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Kreyol - over and over again. The only bright spot is that if you are in the mood for Cuban snacks, you can get them - usually somewhat cold and greasy, but at least it's more interesting than most airport food offerings. On one of my trips I was detained at security and ran to the gate, only to be told by the AA gate agent that they needed to search my bags at the gate. After they went through my bag they told me couldn't board because it was too late and the airplane door had closed, even though the flight wasn't scheduled to depart for another 15 minutes. The gate agent then turned to the two passengers standing right next to me and let them board standby - giving away my seat! As there is absolutely nothing to do at the airport, I sat at the gate until the next flight watching DVDs on my laptop. Three hours later, when I queued to board the next flight (at the same gate), the same gate agent had me searched again even though I had not so much as left my seat. If I ever have to do it again, I'm flying to Fort Lauderdale and renting a car.

Miami Airport by Sue Perks

6 November 2005

I have to agree with all the comments about huge distances and almost total lack of signage. I went through MIA twice last month, and never again. It's the only airport I know where you have to check in a good 15 minutes walk from the security checks (depending on your gate). The airlines have those LED signs above the desk - but they use them to advertise their websites instead of telling you whether you are in the right queue - there are uniformed staff to ask, but they blanked me when I politely asked which queue I should join (several times). It's a mess.

Miami Airport by Nick Finning

19 August 2005

Travelling from the UK to Honduras and we had the bad fortune to have a connecting flight out of Miami -we had a two hour wait before our connecting flight so the massive queue at immigration wasnt an issue. However to get to immigration they sent us on a 20min walk down pointlessly long corridors that didnt seem to end - is it so hard to build on the level ?. On our return journey we only had 1 hour to make our flight and there was already a massive line of people at immigration - one of the officers decided it was the perfect time for his break, then they split one of the lines into two. 20 of our group were 30 seconds from missing the flight, and the staff were some of the rudest I have encountered.

Miami Airport by D Visser

2 August 2005

I have been travelling through MIA for yers now and I must say that this is one of the worst airports that I have dealt with. I would think that things would slowly improve with all of the construction works and such, but it just gets worse. Counters are being moved each time I go, making it seem like a hellish version of musical chairs. Immigration and customs are the WORST I have dealt with anywhere. Long, long, long lines and the personnel have huge attitudes and treat you like trash. I get so annoyed with being treated like a criminal, but that we can thank 9/11. TSA is a group of crooks that are walking about with chips on their shoulders. They are supposed to instill a sense of security, but I always wonder what they will now steal out of my bags. But without a doubt is the worst aspect is language. Being Miami the major language is Spanish and you notice it right away at the airport. I speak the language, so no issue for me, but what I do not appreciate is that I am always spoken to first in Spanish regardless of where I go in the terminal. The quality of the English spoken is atrocious and ansolutely not acceptable. When travelling to South Florida my favoured airport is FLL, but unfortunately all the European airlines insist on flying to MIA. It'd really teach MIA a lesson if FLL made it lucrative for the airlines to fly there than to MIA.

Miami Airport by Armen Terjimanian

19 July 2005

I just flew to Miami last week and this places needs help - fast. I understand there is some construction going on but the airport is in dire straits. With increased security, the airport is as crowded as it could be and the narrow passageways around the concourse doesn't help. Check-in counters are too close to the walkways. Signage is a mess--I was hoping to meet up with a friend of mine who was arriving on a flight the same time as mine--but the lack of arrival monitors was attrocious. They have plenty of Departure monitors but what about arrival times? Bad luck if your flight arrives or departs at Concourse C--horrible waiting areas (not enough seats), and one bar/restaurant. This has got to be the worst airport I've been to since Dulles.

Miami Airport by John Morfin

29 June 2005

MIA can only be described as bleak. There is nothing human about it. Snack bars are akin to eating in someone's basement and offer very little and of poor quality. Immigration staff barely acknowledge one's existence and are surly to sullen. Information people are very helpful and pleasant, however. Interior distances are huge as from concourse E to A and if carrying much luggage should not be attempted in case of short connecting times. I was surveyed on my MIA experience with a 4 page questionnaire which I hope means they plan improvements.

Miami Airport by G Erichsen

29 June 2005

My spouse and I this week completed a trip that took us to or through seven airports, and I must say that MIA was the worst of all. I'm not sure I've seen a place with a poorer use (or lack of use) of navigation signs. We arrived on a Delta/Comair flight to spend a night at a nearby hotel before continuing on a journey to Latin America, and there was no way to tell without asking people standing nearby which luggage carousel was the right one. Finding out where we could catch a shuttle to the hotel was similarly difficult. The food selection also was poor, and the walks within the terminal can get quite long. The one positive thing I'll say about the airport is that its in-the- airport hotel proved to be quite convenient for a six-hour overnight layover on the way home. By the way, we had no problems with immigration/customs on the way back into the U.S. The lines moved quickly, and baggage inspection wasn't even cursory.

Miami Airport by Fabrizio Bettoni

15 June 2005

I have been flying in and out of MIA for 31 years, I am 37, and yes It is the worst airport in the USA. The Customs and Inmigration experience here is with no doubt a total nightmare, yes if you are lucky you can get out in less than an hour, but this is not really possible 90% of the times. AA is with no doubt the worst US airline when it comes to customers, they really hate us, even if you are flying business class. The problem is that for international flight we don't have a choice unless you are willing to fly out of FLL and connect elsewhere in the east cost when you are flying to Europe. The TSA and Homeland Security are to blame in part for the disaster area which is MIA, but then again the TSA and Homeland Security are also present in DFW, IAH, IAD, EWR, etc. but there the experience of arriving on an international flight is not of nightmarish proportions as in MIA. When is this going to improve? Probably never, and surely it is getting worse by the day.

Miami Airport by David McCulloch

15 May 2005

What an horrific immigration experience at Miami! My girlfriend and I had to transfer at MIA to get to La Paz, Bolivia, and in both directions experienced unbelievably long lines, incredibly long waits and consistently incompetent and rude service from staff. Why-oh-why doesn't MIA double the number of staff at busy periods and provide some basic customer service training? Surely it doesn't expect every elderly passenger and those with families to wait over 90 minutes just to pass through immigration? And doesn't MIA realize that people might want a little more TLC (and a little less attitude!) than usual when they've just come off a long haul flight? Oddly enough, the suffering isn't limited to non-US nationals. My girlfriend is a Green Card holder and so entered through the 'US Citizens' channel - but even she had a 50 minute wait! I should add that the Homeland Security staff themselves were not rude; they were simply their usual miserable unapologetic dispassionate selves - quite ironic given the posters by each desk which advertises them as the welcoming face of America!

Miami Airport by R Pietersz

4 February 2005

I use the MIA airport often as a hub to South America. I have to say that this is really the worst airport ever! I have been in several airport all over the world and the US. It's that I just Love Miami beach otherwise I would never ever use this airport. If you can avoid please do so. On my way to Miami I stayed a couple of days, it took me almost 4hours to get out of the airport, and there were only a max of 6 people (parties) standing in front of me. I have entered the US many times before but this time I was called to the special custom office behind the lines for no reason at all but still had to wait there for about 45min. When I finally took the taxi to the hotel is was 4 hours later. On my way back to Europe I was only transit but still you had to go through the whole custom hassle, getting out of the airport to enter again. Unbelievable. The lines for checking in (AA) was so long that I stand in it for exacly 2 hours before I could go through the whole hassle of security. There is absolutely no entertainment at the airport, no decent restaurant or nice shops, really nothing to do. Being used to AMS airport MIA is a real disappointment. Avoid if you can.

Miami Airport by Douglas Miller

31 January 2005

A<> model of disorganised clueless indifferent disinterested service. American cattle class check-in was a hideous experience. Walked past the First and Business check-in and the queues there were 20 deep, bet the people paying those $$$ fares didn't enjoy that. Particularly enjoyed the checked baggage security screening, why would they want to tell you what's going on when you can join the hundreds of other people all equally ill informed of procedures.

Miami Airport by Keith Richards

11 January 2005

Some tips when going through immigration, and you are a non US national:- 1. Use the lanes closest to the US nationals lane. They sometimes allow non US people through here if it is quiet. 2. If you are travelling with a toddler, ensure the toddler makes a nuisance of him/herself. For example let your child run past the red line and through immigration control. Regularly. (Of course ensure they don't get deported or even worse shot). Alternatively if your toddler is crying, stand next to an official (or indeed find an official and follow them around if needs be), whilst your partner faces the 2.5 hour queue. Hopefully your displeasure is their displeasure. My own favourite is to get your tired / hungry / confused and screaming toddler and hoist them onto your shoulders, for the whole world to see. This one worked for me last time, and we got through in an almost leisurely 90 minutes. If you are leaving the airport through concourse 'E' at bust times use the screening at concourse 'D' instead. It is a much faster line. In summary a horrible horrible airport experience.

Miami Airport by Paul Moon

26 October 2004

I travel long-haul 3-4 times a year and choosing Miami as a transit airport between Brazil and Canada was my biggest mistake. I flew out of JFK on the way to Brazil but I figured MIA would be better than JFK on the way back. However, Miami proved I was wrong. Immigration took about 2.5 hours due to fingerprinting with each passenger getting screened for good 10-15 minutes while nationals of visa waiver countries barely got any questions. The arrival hall was a total chaos and transportation into the city adds its input to put this airport as one of the world's worst.

Miami Airport by A Biel

12 September 2004

I've noticed how every time someone complains about MIA, it involves American Airlines in some form. Concourse B, C, and D are all AA... perhaps there's an incident here and there with a few other airlines, but almost all involve American gates and American flights. Perhaps it's not MIA but AA that's causing you all the turmoil. I work at MIA, and I travel from MIA all the time and the only times I've had trouble was travelling with AA, and once with IB. Immigrations can be a huge problem, but that's why they're building the new concourse, the relieve immigration which has become way too small to meet the demands of the amount of passengers entering MIA. Perhaps you believe Fort Lauderdale is better, but if Fort Lauderdale had to take on the same amount of flights MIA takes a day, it would be hell on Earth. Next time you have a bad experience at MIA, stop and think - is this MIA, or is this AA?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

AIR PIRACY


I am in the middle of a trip from hell. This is the story of how AA smoothly converted my business-and so called first class ticket into a double economy ticket.

This morning, I arrived at the so called First Class AA check in at 1030 am for an 1141 am flight from S.Jose to Miami. Half an hour later, I was told that I had to catch the next flight because my flight had closed. After much pleading with the counter staff, I was allowed to board the plane instead of having to wait two hours for the next one. With one catch though – I was unceremoniously dumped to economy. Of course AA had overbooked and given my business class seat to someone else. I got an economy seat squeezed between two guys, one of which couldn’t seat still. Not a nice experience.

In Miami, after a one hour circus at the passport control that made tens of passengers miss their connections – do they ever talk to try to harmonize speed of fingerprinting and picture taking with flight schedules? - , my baggage was rejected at 510 pm for a 550 pm flight with the excuse that the flight was closed.

Eventually, an AA attendant gave me the option to catch that flight without my luggage; or catch a later flight at 730 pm supposedly with my luggage. As I did not want to risk loosing the luggage or having it, at best, delivered during the night or the next day, I picked the option of the later flight.

The AA attendant kindly failed to mention that while I would have maintained what is called First Class seat on the initial flight, I was dumped to economy on the later flight. When I realized what was going on, it was too late to catch the initial flight. The attendant was full of options though. When she understood I was about to strangle her, she gave me two new options: either I would catch an even later flight at 930 to get the so called First Class seat back; or I would take my chances with the wait list – to Washington DC of all places. When prompted about what would happen if the wait list option failed, she admitted I would be entitled to a refund. After quickly pondering my options, I thought it would be better to get the refund right away. That’s how I got my second economy leg on AA. There was a final twist – I was assigned 18 A but after the refund I got 20 A instead. I wondered if I had just been dumped to the bathroom seat but thought I would have a chance to confirm it on board.

After this enlightening exchange, I had to take my luggage to be scanned somewhere else. The luggage guy was nice though. The airport looked like a gigantic circus in a surreal country. The bathroom was Under Cosntruction. I was too tired and stressed out to take a picture by then.

Once on board, I saw that there was a hole in place of 18A, so I was glad I had been given 20 A. However, a few minutes later the poor soul assigned 18 A showed up and after a few puzzled minutes decided to orderly retreat to the bathroom seat not to hold the boarding line. When boarding was complete, an attendant showed up with a new seat, but demanded gloves to put the seat in place as remains of the biological disaster that had caused the seat to disappear in the first place were still around. Thanks God the new 18 A holder had an accommodating personality – and really wanted to get to DC on a full plane, so no options left in his case.

We are up in the air now, and I will switch off now because it’s difficult to continue writing in this position, and I think I better pray.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

25 de Abril. Almost forgot about it. How low can I go?


Cravos e protestos nas comemorações de Abril

A Revolução do 25 de Abril foi assinalada por milhares de pessoas que encheram a Avenida da Liberdade, em Lisboa, e que aproveitaram a ocasião para protestar contra algumas medidas do Governo nas áreas laboral e social.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Emily

The wife likes the mother's fancy european haircut.

Congrats on the diploma - I thought I was going to beat you to the PhD - no longer, but maybe I will still beat you to a degree in political science or law.

E.G.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Trash is Art

 
 
 
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Art is Trash

 
 
 
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Artistes Celebrate Success

 
 
 
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Artistes relax after taxing show

 
 
 
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La Docteur avec le jury et le diplome



Note bien

Mme Godinho doit etre addressee comme Professeur Docteur en Sciences Sociales d'apres ayer a 3 heures de l'apres midi.

Pudim Flan, I am on my way to JFK where I arrive at 4 pm on Lufthansa. I hope you can get la Professeur Docteur. Missa ya boys! :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

US vs. CHINA

European News

Belgium

Un jeune homme est décédé mercredi soir à l'hôpital St-Pierre à Bruxelles, quelques heures après avoir été victime d'une agression dans le hall de la gare centrale. Le jeune adolescent, qui devait avoir 16 ou 17 ans, était assis sur un muret alors qu'il attendait, en compagnie d'un ami du même âge, une amie qui devait arriver en train vers 16 heures 30, soit à une heure de grande affluence. Deux autres jeunes, d'un âge apparemment semblable, les ont interpellés. Faisant mine, dans un premier temps, de demander un renseignement, ils ont ensuite plongé sur le lecteur MP3 que le jeune homme écoutait à l'oreille. Les deux amis ont tenté de repousser, semble-t-il sans violence, les deux agresseurs. L'un de ceux-ci a rapidement sorti un couteau avec lequel il a frappé le propriétaire du lecteur dans la région du coeur. La jeune victime a rapidement été transportée vers l'hôpital St-Pierre où elle a été déclarée morte aux alentours de 21 heures.

Murder Shocks Brussels While PM and Cardinal Blame Victims
From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2006-04-19 15:37
Last Wednesday Joe Van Holsbeeck, 17 years of age, was murdered in Brussels Central Station. He was stabbed five times in the heart by North African youths. They demanded that he give them his MP3 player. When Joe refused he was savagely murdered. The atrocity happened during the evening rush hour on a crowded platform. Though there were hundreds of people on the platform, no-one interfered – perhaps because many people do not notice what is happening around them on a crowded, noisy and busy platform where passengers are rushing to catch their trains.
Joe’s murderers escaped and have not yet been traced. The murderers were filmed, however, by security cameras. Today, one week later, the Brussels police released the pictures. The police say they are looking for two youths aged between 16 and 18 years old. Joe’s murder has shocked the Belgians. For an entire week the police, the authorities and most of the media have tried to downplay the fact that the killers are Muslim youths. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Cardinal Godfried Danneels addressed the indignation, but gave it a spin of their own. How was it possible for such an atrocity to take place in a crowd with no-one interfering, they asked. Both Verhofstadt and Danneels said that Joe was a victim of “indifference in Belgian society.” “Where were you last Wednesday at 4 pm?!” the Cardinal asked the congration in Brussels Cathedral during his Easter sermon on Sunday. The Cardinal blamed the murder on the materialism and greed of Western society “where people get killed for an MP3 player.”
Belgian citizens realize, however, that the murder has nothing to do with “indifference in Belgian society,” but everything with a group of North African youths terrorizing Brussels and the “indifference” of the authorities to eradicate this scourge. Last January five Moroccan youths slit the throat of a 16 year old black boy and left him to bleed to death because he refused to buy a cell phone they had stolen. The murderers have not yet been found. Some Belgians doubt whether Joe’s murderers will ever be found, and if so, how long they will have to serve. In 1998 Patrick Mombaerts, a 32 year old electrician, was murdered by a Moroccan youth who was after his money. The murderer spent only seven months in jail because he was a minor at the time of the murder. The Moroccan thugs do not care about life and they are used to slitting throats – a procedure they get to practise on sheep from a very young age.
Cardinal Danneels’ disgraceful response, blaming Joe’s murder on the indifference and the materialism of the Belgians, is symptomatic for the attitude of the Belgian establishment, who invariably blame the crime on the victims rather than the criminals. Jean-Marie Dedecker, a senator for Verhofstadt’s Liberal Party, writes in an op-ed article today that the first thing the police officers who investigated the murder wanted to know was whether Joe had made “racist remarks” whilst refusing to hand over his MP3 player. In Belgium, the senator says,
“you will sooner get punished for riding a bike without lights on than for stealing a bike. [...] Policemen look the other way in order to avoid being accused of racism – because nothing is more detrimental to their career – and also to signal that they hold no social prejudices. They behave in exactly the opposite way when they suspect decent citizens of some misdemeanour.”
Equally harsh for Cardinal Danneels, one of the leftists amongst the “princes of the church,” was journalist Luc van Balberghe on his blog:
The cardinal did not condemn the culprits. He made no reference whatever to the policy makers who allowed things to get so bad. Instead, he launched an attack on the whole of society. A totally unjustified attack: that society is thoroughly fed up with the dominance of murdering, thieving and raping Vikings from North Africa, and is not responsible for it.
“Where were you on Wednesday at [4 o’ clock!]” the cardinal asked, pointing his aged finger in the air. I am not accountable to someone who has contributed absolutely nothing to our society, who has looked on and allowed his own church to disintegrate and thereby surrendered a considerable part of our culture, our rules and values. […]
Where was he himself, that Wednesday at [4 o’ clock]? Would he have pitched his lonely strength against a gang whose number increases exponentially at one whistle and who have no regard for a man’s life? Has he not seen the interviews with Magreb youths on TV? “Terrible? Well, people die every day…,” one of the vermin said on TV. You could see him think: another infidel dog less! […]
“Where was I, on Wednesday at [4 o’ clock]?” Well, here is my answer: it’s none of your business, old faggot! But I ask you the same question: where were you when the laws were passed that allowed the killing of innocent children (abortion) and the slaughtering of the terminally ill (euthanasia)?Meanwhile, yesterday, a Belgian court sentenced Daniel Féret, the leader of the Belgian anti-immigrant party Front National, to 250 hours of public service “helping immigrants to integrate.” Féret, a 61 year old medical doctor and a member of the Brussels regional parliament, was found guilty of publishing racist pamphlets. He will face 10 months in jail if he does not accept the ruling. The Brussels Appeals Court has also barred him from standing for election for the next 10 years. The FN’s webmaster, Georges-Pierre Tonnelier, was fined and also banned from public office.
In 2003 the FN won 5.6% of the vote in Wallonia, the French-speaking southern part of Belgium. A recent poll indicates that it attracts 9.4% of potential Walloon voters today.

Portugal

Tímidas peregrinações após a morte de Francisco Adam 18.04.2006 - 09h17 : Catarina Homem Marques

O sobrolho levantado, o ar malandro e o andar "gingão". É esta a imagem que fica de Dino, personagem da novela Morangos com Açúcar interpretada por Francisco Adam, o actor de 22 anos que morreu na sequência de um acidente de carro às 3h50 da manhã de domingo.
Antes do acidente, Francisco tinha estado a promover a sua personagem numa sessão de autógrafos pela noite dentro, no bar/discoteca Club In Campo, na Herdade da Azerveda, em Coruche. De regresso a Lisboa, no cruzamento entre as estradas nacionais 118 e 119 (em frente ao campo de tiro de Alcochete), o Renault Clio que o actor conduzia despistou-se, passou por cima dos separadores da estrada e foi embater em dois eucaliptos.O óbito de Francisco foi declarado no local, o mesmo local que agora é visitado por fãs e curiosos. Flores e peluches marcam as árvores onde se deu o embate, enquanto no chão se espalham os destroços deste e de outros acidentes. Algumas pessoas vão chegando, observam por um tempo, e vão-se embora. Outras usam os telemóveis e máquinas digitais para levar uma fotografia para casa.Não são novos nem são velhos. São um pouco de tudo. A Andreia, de 9 anos, ia a passar com umas amigas mais velhas e decidiram parar. "Ai, isto dá-me arrepios", exclamou, apesar de pouco depois aparecer aos saltos e a contar que "encontraram ali um boné que deve ser dele".Entre os comentários de um ou outro "entendido" sobre o que aconteceu, alguém encontrou, perto dos eucaliptos, um gorro preto de lã. Podia ser de Francisco, podia ser de um dos dois amigos que seguiam com ele no carro e que sofreram ferimentos, ou podia ser de outra pessoa qualquer. A verdade é que alguém lhe pegou e a Andreia, nervosa, pediu para não mexerem. Mais tarde, discreta, lá levou o gorro como recordação.Mais emocionado estava Francisco de Jesus, 60 anos, enquanto recordava a "figura inconfundível" do jovem. "É uma tristeza muito profunda. É a única novela que vejo", explicou, a chorar, enquanto a mulher, Maria Lúcia, acrescentava: "É um momento de reflexão sobre o cuidado que temos de ter na estrada."Alice chorava também, agarrada às filhas de 10 e 7 anos, que estavam mais calmas do que ela. "Nessa noite elas ouviram a sirene a tocar e já não conseguiram dormir mais. Só no dia seguinte é que soubemos que tinha sido o Dino", disse. Sobre o destino que a personagem deve ter, Stephanie, a menina mais velha, não tem dúvidas: "Deviam pôr uma pessoa de costas num carro, para parecer ele, e depois ter um acidente." Maria Lúcia e Francisco concordam que Dino não pode existir sem Francisco Adam, mas pedem que na novela se arranje "um final feliz".Runa, pequena povoação perto de Torres Vedras, aparece calma entre colinas verdes. Mas o estado de graça aparente é traído pela agitação em torno da igreja onde o corpo de Francisco Adam se encontra em câmara-ardente.Uma árvore frondosa que se estende pela praça, abriga do sol os populares que se mantêm nas imediações. Três raparigas novas passam a chorar, outras levam na mão fotografias do ídolo da terra, enquanto muitas pessoas procuram o recolhimento do interior da igreja. Poderia ser um velório como tantos outros a que a povoação de Runa já terá assistido, não fosse a presença das câmaras e o nervosismo típico da pressão mediática. Passa uma coroa de flores enorme, da agência Elite, onde Francisco estava inscrito já há alguns anos, e pressente-se na agitação dos mais miúdos a chegada dos elementos do elenco de Morangos com Açúcar.José Eduardo Moniz chegou, de rosto impenetrável, por volta das 17h30. Antes, o director da TVI tinha estado reunido com a equipa de actores e produtores da novela juvenil líder de audiências para se inteirar do estado de espírito e para manifestar o seu apoio. Os jovens actores da novela começaram a chegar, em pequenos grupos e claramente comovidos. As primeiras a entrar na igreja foram Joana Duarte (Matilde, a protagonista) e Diana Chaves (Susana, a "paixão" de Dino), mas aos poucos todos se foram juntando a elas. Em Runa não houve multidões nem cenas de histeria colectiva. A julgar pelo que se viveu na Internet ao longo de todo o dia, os fãs de Dino optaram por se despedir do seu ídolo on-line. O funeral está marcado para hoje, às 16h00.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I couldn't resist

Mission Impossible star Cruise vows to eat placenta after birth
By Patrick Mulchrone

TOM Cruise yesterday revealed his latest bizarre mission..to eat his new baby's placenta.

Cruise vowed he would tuck in straight after girlfriend Katie Holmes gives birth, saying he thought it would be "very nutritious".

The Mission Impossible star, 43, said: "I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there." It is the latest in a series of increasingly strange outbursts from Cruise in the run-up to the birth.

He has claimed the baby, due any day, will be delivered in total silence.

The Top Gun star also insisted he "sensed" fiancŽe Katie was pregnant before she told him.

And he has blurted out details of the couple's sex life, saying: "It's spectacular."

The actor, who recently also claimed he has the power to cure drug addicts, has even been carrying out his own medical scans on the foetus after buying himself an ultrasound machine.

Silent birth is one of the rules of the cult of Scientology, which Cruise is devoted to.

The cult - founded by the late sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard - claims that 75 million years ago aliens came to earth and their spirits now infest our bodies.

Cruise told GQ magazine Hubbard had discovered making a noise had a "negative spiritual effect" on someone giving birth. He insisted that 27-year-old Katie would be allowed to scream, adding cryptically: "It is really about respecting the woman. It's not about her screaming.

"And scientifically it is proven. Now there are medical research papers that say when a woman's giving birth everyone should be quiet."

Cruise also revealed he and Katie have been preparing for the birth by holding classes at their Beverly Hills home.

He said: "We've been studying what a woman goes through. What happens to her body. It's just kind of becoming this fun game of learning."

Cruise said his sex life with Batman Begins star Katie had made him realise one-night stands were "horrible".

He added: "Great sex is a by-product for me of a great relationship, where you have communication. It's an extension of that. If you're not in good communication with your partner, it sucks."

Cruise, who has two adopted children with ex-wife Nicole Kidman, will not be the first star to make a meal out of his baby's placenta.

Rod Stewart and girlfriend Penny Lancaster took home their baby's placenta, sprinkled it with tee tree oil and buried it in the garden.

In 1998, Channel 4 chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fried a placenta with shallots and garlic and served it up to 20 guests, including the baby's mum and dad.

TV watchdogs later criticised the show, branding it "disagreeable".

But placenta-eating is considered normal in some cultures. Various recipes include one for placenta lasagne. Some say eating it helps avoid post-natal depression.

I couldn't resist

Mission Impossible star Cruise vows to eat placenta after birth
By Patrick Mulchrone

TOM Cruise yesterday revealed his latest bizarre mission..to eat his new baby's placenta.

Cruise vowed he would tuck in straight after girlfriend Katie Holmes gives birth, saying he thought it would be "very nutritious".

The Mission Impossible star, 43, said: "I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there." It is the latest in a series of increasingly strange outbursts from Cruise in the run-up to the birth.

He has claimed the baby, due any day, will be delivered in total silence.

The Top Gun star also insisted he "sensed" fiancŽe Katie was pregnant before she told him.

And he has blurted out details of the couple's sex life, saying: "It's spectacular."

The actor, who recently also claimed he has the power to cure drug addicts, has even been carrying out his own medical scans on the foetus after buying himself an ultrasound machine.

Silent birth is one of the rules of the cult of Scientology, which Cruise is devoted to.

The cult - founded by the late sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard - claims that 75 million years ago aliens came to earth and their spirits now infest our bodies.

Cruise told GQ magazine Hubbard had discovered making a noise had a "negative spiritual effect" on someone giving birth. He insisted that 27-year-old Katie would be allowed to scream, adding cryptically: "It is really about respecting the woman. It's not about her screaming.

"And scientifically it is proven. Now there are medical research papers that say when a woman's giving birth everyone should be quiet."

Cruise also revealed he and Katie have been preparing for the birth by holding classes at their Beverly Hills home.

He said: "We've been studying what a woman goes through. What happens to her body. It's just kind of becoming this fun game of learning."

Cruise said his sex life with Batman Begins star Katie had made him realise one-night stands were "horrible".

He added: "Great sex is a by-product for me of a great relationship, where you have communication. It's an extension of that. If you're not in good communication with your partner, it sucks."

Cruise, who has two adopted children with ex-wife Nicole Kidman, will not be the first star to make a meal out of his baby's placenta.

Rod Stewart and girlfriend Penny Lancaster took home their baby's placenta, sprinkled it with tee tree oil and buried it in the garden.

In 1998, Channel 4 chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fried a placenta with shallots and garlic and served it up to 20 guests, including the baby's mum and dad.

TV watchdogs later criticised the show, branding it "disagreeable".

But placenta-eating is considered normal in some cultures. Various recipes include one for placenta lasagne. Some say eating it helps avoid post-natal depression.

I couldn't resist

Mission Impossible star Cruise vows to eat placenta after birth
By Patrick Mulchrone

TOM Cruise yesterday revealed his latest bizarre mission..to eat his new baby's placenta.

Cruise vowed he would tuck in straight after girlfriend Katie Holmes gives birth, saying he thought it would be "very nutritious".

The Mission Impossible star, 43, said: "I'm gonna eat the placenta. I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there." It is the latest in a series of increasingly strange outbursts from Cruise in the run-up to the birth.

He has claimed the baby, due any day, will be delivered in total silence.

The Top Gun star also insisted he "sensed" fiancŽe Katie was pregnant before she told him.

And he has blurted out details of the couple's sex life, saying: "It's spectacular."

The actor, who recently also claimed he has the power to cure drug addicts, has even been carrying out his own medical scans on the foetus after buying himself an ultrasound machine.

Silent birth is one of the rules of the cult of Scientology, which Cruise is devoted to.

The cult - founded by the late sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard - claims that 75 million years ago aliens came to earth and their spirits now infest our bodies.

Cruise told GQ magazine Hubbard had discovered making a noise had a "negative spiritual effect" on someone giving birth. He insisted that 27-year-old Katie would be allowed to scream, adding cryptically: "It is really about respecting the woman. It's not about her screaming.

"And scientifically it is proven. Now there are medical research papers that say when a woman's giving birth everyone should be quiet."

Cruise also revealed he and Katie have been preparing for the birth by holding classes at their Beverly Hills home.

He said: "We've been studying what a woman goes through. What happens to her body. It's just kind of becoming this fun game of learning."

Cruise said his sex life with Batman Begins star Katie had made him realise one-night stands were "horrible".

He added: "Great sex is a by-product for me of a great relationship, where you have communication. It's an extension of that. If you're not in good communication with your partner, it sucks."

Cruise, who has two adopted children with ex-wife Nicole Kidman, will not be the first star to make a meal out of his baby's placenta.

Rod Stewart and girlfriend Penny Lancaster took home their baby's placenta, sprinkled it with tee tree oil and buried it in the garden.

In 1998, Channel 4 chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall fried a placenta with shallots and garlic and served it up to 20 guests, including the baby's mum and dad.

TV watchdogs later criticised the show, branding it "disagreeable".

But placenta-eating is considered normal in some cultures. Various recipes include one for placenta lasagne. Some say eating it helps avoid post-natal depression.

Sorry =(

Gabral & Alex

I am depressed this afternoon sitting in my apartment reading cases. I was looking forward to guy time in the city but alas, last minute scheduling keeps me here in Boston.

Gabral - Emily and I are discussing coming down on friday or saturday to see the show and hang with the fam. We'll let you know.

el greco

Gabral - we need this!

Jason Niccum of Longmont, Colorado, said the device, which he bought on eBay for $100, helped him cut his time driving to work.

"I guess in the two years I had it, that thing paid for itself," he told the Daily Times-Call on Wednesday.

Niccum was issued a citation March 29 after police said they found him using a strobe-like device to change traffic signals. Police confiscated the device.

"I'm always running late," police quoted Niccum as saying in an incident report.

The device, called an Opticon, is similar to what firefighters use to change lights when they respond to emergencies. It emits an infrared pulse that receivers on the traffic lights pick up.

Niccum was cited after city traffic engineers who noticed repeated traffic light disruptions at certain intersections spotted a white Ford pickup passing by whenever the patterns were disrupted.

City traffic engineer Joe Olson said engineers plan to update the city's Opticon system this year to block unauthorized light-changing signals.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Alex

I added my cell phone number to skype. I was on there today but did not see you.
If you get on - send a message to my e-mail address in case I am online but don't have skype turned on.

E.G.

Thursday, April 13, 2006






































Oncle Manel is deeply upset with the desecration of Paineis de S. Vincente, which does not even compare with any of the masterpieces above. So he´s dead worried that his thought-provoking thoughts about Portugal plus any references he sends about its economic growth will be equally desecrated. I promised him that any use of his original thinking will be so awfully conservative that he will dearly miss the Penico. Anyway Boys, in sum Portugal´s economic growth depends on the speed with which the Portuguese will be able to expand the golf course. Just check the FT for confirmation.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Pod casts

Greco, Awe&Joy:

When do you guys introduce your dyno ancesters to the Podcast culture?

www.podcastalley.com/

Friday, April 07, 2006

I ain't homeless yet (still a few weeks left)

Yo,
Guys, guys, settle down, hold your horses, I'm not homeless yet...and I am also not sure if I can legaly ask to have the locks changed at Alex's pad, while at joj's.... that's another story altogether.

-g

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Congrats

Alex - nice place. I'm sure Jojo is outrageously happy that Gabral's appropriation of her modernism pad is no longer poses a credible threat. The place is nice and I look forward to my first visit.

Gabral is already making plans of how many people can fit there when he moves in - he's also psyched to finally be free from the gripping envelope of the terracos suburbs.

congrats

Oh! Que alivio!

Gabral ja tens poiso em Lisboa! Parabens!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Promises



They have promised to sell, I have promised to buy...

These promises have been legally written into a contract. Final contract will take place in 90 to 180 days.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Testing

Hello everyone - if you're not using Mozilla Firefox yet - get it.

Also, once you get it, download the extensions - they have many. This one allows one to blog directly from the web without having to log into the blog.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Abrantes Partnership and Volvo parted as friends


Partners: Let me share with you the departure of a red Volvo 740 Turbointercooler Station Wagon. After years of mutual gratification she thought that her relationship with the Abrantes Junior had lost sparkle and that it would be better to move on. Jojo, Alex and even Awe and Joy will miss her dearly but understand her wish to find a caring partner for the later part her life. She appreciated the kinkiness with which Awe and Joy treated her (it reminded her of her earlier years), but it was too much excitement.

She has been spotted in Bowie, with very caring companion who has already bought her a new shiny wax coat...

We wish all the best and hope she will keep in touch.