Belgian politics, a tragic joke.

I am sad. I am angry. What to say? The problem is not that I have nothing to write, the problem is I find it hard to organize my thoughts right now, while all kinds of emotions roll trough me. Mostly sadness and anger.

I was shocked when the Paris attacks took place, I am baffled every time a terrorist bomb goes off somewhere in the world. Let’s not be hypocrite, Arab countries are bombed on a daily basis by so-called ‘believers’, and thus are muslims the biggest victims of those who believe of themselves they represent Allah’s will.

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Brussels after the 22nd March 2016 bombings

But now these bombings came dangerously close. Close to my family, close to my friends, close to the people I love. In that way maybe I am a hypocrite too, for my sadness and anger never were as big as now after the Brussels bombings. It truly shattered my dream of a loving and peaceful society, my belief in an utopia where everybody would living along and help each other. Where the strong would help the weak, the rich would help the poor. Not that I am against a certain measure of inequality, the chance to become prosperous is an incentive for people to work harder and become successful, but there are limits. My libertarian conviction says everybody should be free, but one’s freedom ends when it might infringe the basic rights of another being.

Meanwhile, in Belgium, politicians are falling over each other, a true stampede got started to race from one homage to the victims to the next one. It is so important for them to show they care. But what they effectively did in the past decades belies their true motivation. Where were they when it became clear there would be problems in the future for our community?

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The control of the failing media

The media also have a big responsibility in this. Just like society in general, everything needed to become ‘ready for consumption’. Research journalism is on the brink of death. Better to bring shocking stories without much investigative effort, and bombard the public with little facts. The more shocking the better. But spending money to really investigate and find out crooked facts is too much asked for our media.

Under pressure of the public more and more facts come to the surface. It seems the bombings might have been stopped in time. Mistake upon mistake has been amassed. Missed opportunities to arrest the terrorists, miscommunication, bad management, incompetence, laziness, protection of own interests, etcetera.. By the people that swore they would protect us if we gave them our vote.

It would be too easy to blame the security forces. The are vastly understaffed, and enormously underfunded. Responsible jobs were given to candidates with the most political support, to the ones that would comply without much fuss with funding cuts, to the ones that would execute the will of their political masters without a second thought. Not to the ones with the most competences and best suited for the job.

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Philippe Moureaux, former mayor of Molenbeek

Philippe Moureaux, former mayor of Molenbeek during 20 years (he has been seating in the city council for 40 years) made a string of declarations in the past days and weeks. He declared that the ‘incarceration in prison of Salah Abdeslam (the terrorist from Paris that got caught but who grew up in Molenbeek) was the reason of his radicalization’. He declared  Salah Abdeslam was a harmless ‘amateur’. After the Paris bombings the minister for Security and Internal Affairs Jan Jambon declared he would ‘clean Molenbeek of all extremist elements’. Mr. Moureaux accused Mr. Jambon of being a ‘nazi’. Today Mr. Moureaux gave a press conference where he admitted ‘he might have been too cautious regarding the social mix’ in his former city. It seems to me it is the exact opposite. But these are a politicians’ words, often meaning the exact opposite of what is said.

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Bart Somers, mayor of Mechelen

A school principal was recently suspended because he failed to notify the authorities soon enough about the radicalization of one of his students, notably Bilal Hadfi who blew up himself later on in Paris. The police of the city of Mechelen, a stone’s throw away from Brussels, received information that could have led the security forces to the hiding place of Salah Abdeslam in december 2015. Police officers declared the chief of police withheld that information and did not inform the national authorities. Today on a press conference the chief of police of Mechelen declared that mistakes have been made, but that it was a lower echelon that made the mistake and not him. Whenever in the past there was a city to blame, the mayor of Mechelen, Bart Somers, did not refrain to point out his management of his city should be an example for all Belgian cities. Right now Mr. Somers stays mute, and his political appointee in function as chief of police tries to assure us he has no responsibility for this fuck-up. In contrast nobody in this case will be suspended, the Brussels school principal didn’t do his job, but our politicians did.

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“Belgian infrastructure: Tunnels – Nuclear Plants – Back Doors (loopholes)”

Belgium has become the laughingstock of the world, it is clear from the outside the political system is rotten and corrupt. Politicians have failed to tackle the problems that not only soothsayers could discern in the future, they have made cuts after cuts in our judicial and security force while raising the taxes and their own salaries. Politicians were more busy with appointing their family, relatives and their political supporters, with taxing people, going for the fast and quick gains by imposing tax after tax on the population, and with assuring their financial future by concocting secret tax rulings – against the laws of equal rights – to exempt multinationals and the wealthy from taxes, so they could look forward to a nice job in the board of directors of some big company. Luc Coene, the former director of the Belgian National Bank, recently literally stated that “the average Belgian was not hurt yet by the tax level in Belgium, so there was no taboo on imposing more taxes”. Nice statement in a country that groans under the highest tax level in the whole world. I suppose he sees his own upper class of the wealthy as being ‘average’, and of course there will never be any pain for them at whatever level the lower people are taxed.

If you, politicians, want to make a real homage to the victims of the bombings, step down, disband the parliament, form a temporary government of competent technocrats to bridge the transition, and let the people – assisted by unbiassed intellectuals – write a new constitution and legislation for our country. With no place for corruption, where politicians would be held accountable for their promises and decisions, and where love, peace, freedom and equality would be the basis for the new legislation. And where the new legislation would not merely be the protection of past rights and the legalization of the feudal system for the 1 percent. Meanwhile you will be persecuted for the many decades of your lies, your mistakes, your incompetence, your nepotism, your money-making schemes, in short: because of your failing to protect and serve the people as you pledged to do.

We need a revolution. Bloodless, peaceful, but a complete change.

lemmy terroristsAnd for you terrorist believers in that god you call Allah but where other believers in Him strongly disagree, I have bad news: you lose. And there are no virgins left in heaven, only a hell to burn in eternity.

Love ❤️, yann.

REVOLUTION!!!!

belgische-vlag-achtergronden-met-een-geschilderde-vlag-van-belgieThe Belgian government has been warned by the European Council that Belgium might end up, as first ever country in the European Union, under stricter financial control by the European authorities. Not even Greece nor Portugal have yet fallen under this procedure, so this should rightly be a great honor for Belgium. If the current situation stays unchanged the structural effort to ease the already huge deficit in Belgium would remain at 0.5 pct. in 2015 and 2016, while Europe demands a structural effort of at least 1.2 pct. The total amount of the Belgian State deficit is around 106 pct. of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Right at this moment the Belgian government is in conclave about alleviating the deficit, but it has not yet taken the first hurdle, since it has been quarreling for a full week about the amount needed to be saved by expense cuts and/or tax raises. Some political parties say they only need to find 1.2 billion euro, some claim it is closer to 2.2 billion, and others suggest it might be more.

'Do you mind if I join you, guys?'

The tax burden on Belgian citizens is the highest in the world, higher than in the Scandinavian countries which are known for their high taxes, but unfortunately the benefits for the Belgian population are meagre in comparison to those Scandinavian countries. One could expect higher taxes would yield higher benefits, but one look at the Belgian road system, at the funding of education, at the level of support for the elderly, at the crumbling system of health care, at the mess in the energy supply (Belgians pay way more for energy than the neighboring countries while green energy is sparse) will convince every observer of the bankruptcy of the system. One might ask what is done with all that money taken from its citizens?

More and more Belgians are leaving the country, just like I did, and logically the first ones to leave are those able to leave easily. Those are young graduates, highly educated citizens, retired people, and the ones who can afford it. Exactly those needed most by a country to keep its economy running at full speed. In 2013 the exodus of Belgian nationals exceeded the return of nationals to the country, for the first time in modern history since World War 2. But not the richest ones, not the one percent, they are eager to join Belgium whatever their nationality. They manage to arrange secret deals with politicians and tax authorities, called ‘rulings’, which greatly exempt them from taxes for fear they would flee the country. Just like the biggest companies – often multinationals – have secret rulings with the Belgian tax authorities. It is estimated that the total amount of money not earned by those rulings with the top 80 companies (but there are more with rulings) amounts to 16 billion euros each year. The total tax income generated by all companies in Belgium is no more than 14 billion euros. So more money is exempted than earned in this country.

EU-VC-Geld(It is a misconception to think that the one percent generate labor, and thus income for the masses. The usual logic is that rich people spend more, but in reality this spending is not unlimited. Do people that are 100 times richer than average own one hundred cars? Do they wear one hundred times more trousers than average? Do they eat a hundred times more than the average person? The drama of nowadays is that capital is not generating labor (and thus income for the masses) any more, but capital yields much more capital by not investing it in labor by building new factories or setting up new businesses. Thomas Piketty, a renown French professor (math and economics) who worked at MIT in Massachussets, clearly explains this fenomenon in his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” in which he describes the growing economic inequality in the world. The book was a bestseller, especially amongst politicians. For his work Mr. Piketty was offered the highest French order, the ‘Légion d’Honneur’ in january 2015, but he rejected it because “it is not the government’s role to decide who is honourable”. A nice short video to watch is a TED Talks-presentation by Nick Hanauer, a billionaire himself, about job creation and economic inequality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBx2Y5HhplI)

So now Belgium, as many other Western countries, is on the brink of some pitchfork uprising of the masses. The people cannot take it any more. It is not about creating a communist society, a capitalistic system needs richer people and middel class people to function, but within limits. Added to this is an always present corruption at the highest political levels. Politicians ‘serve’ in one or another government, in Belgium they have a panoply of governments to choose from. Six, to be exact. Six independent governments with each their own powers and administrations, serving a total population 11.2 million people (2013). A bit bigger than New York’s population of 8.5 million in 2014, which is served by ONE city council… And let’s not forget the added opportunity for Belgian politicians to ‘retire’ to a highly paid job as member of the European Parliament.

60The corrupt system is sustained by the omni-present nepotism in Belgian politics. Many parliamentarians are sons, daughters or close family members of former high-level politicians, and often public tenders are given to family members. Political functions are commonly cumulated with representative functions and honorary functions in the private sector, like a seat on the board of directors of a multinational, which demands a once-a-year presence but a rich remuneration, and consequential conflicts of interest. Belgian politicians are equally eager to please foreign powers, for that might be their ticket to a powerful job after the expiration of their political career. The USA is a very rewarding country to please, it might yield a powerful job as secretary-general of NATO. There is also the example of former prime minister Yves Leterme whose removal from Belgian politics looked more like an escape, just to end up as deputy secretary-general of OECD in Paris, to hop over a few years later to the job of secretary-general of International IDEA (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) in Stockholm, Sweden. Not bad for a politician who has almost literally been thrown out by the population!mike-twohy-and-if-nepotism-exists-my-brothers-will-root-it-out-cartoon

A different problem is the current state of affairs concerning immigrants in Belgium. Due to decades of negligence and short-term electoral advantages politicians neglected the influx of illegal immigrants, and forebore to provide the legally present minorities with enough chances to integrate in Belgian society by providing jobs and by encouraging them to integrate. Brussels is rightly looked upon as the terrorist capital of the world. The most wanted terrorist in Europe, Mr. Salah Abdeslam, managed to hide out for Belgian security forces during more than four months hiding less than 300 meters from his parental home, while a part of the neighborhood was aware of his presence. This is the result of an alienated and even hostile generation of descendants of immigrants, mixed up with new extremist elements that managed to take a leisurely stroll inside the European capital under the radar of underpaid and understaffed security forces.

The threat by extremists in Belgium, evidenced by the dual bomb attacks in Brussels today 22nd March 2016, is a welcome distraction for Belgian politicians. The death toll, the sustained threat, the fears instilled by it in the hearts of the citizens, all these elements enable the politicians to hide their corruption and mismanagement in the past decades that led to this now. And to continue to pretend they are there to save us, and our salvation lies in their hands so we must trust them.

2016-01-05-1451989005-1518671-R1_RealRevolutionBut it is time for Belgian citizens to ask serious questions. Where is all our money going? Why is the yield on these outrageous taxes so low in comparison to other countries? Why is the Belgian government – or better: the Belgian governmentS – not able to protect its citizens with a normal degree of respect of privacy and liberty? Why is it deemed normal that families rule Belgian politics? Why is it an established Belgian political culture to ‘promote’ politicians towards high-power or highly remunerated private functions outside their political career? Why is there a dual system of taxes that is kept secret for the public, endorsed by the very people that were nominated by those same people to serve their interests? Why do politicians not have to answer before justice for the serious wrongs they did during their careers when taking decisions with grave impact, especially those where it is clear money was embezzled or the population was mislead on purpose? Why has Brussels become the world capital of terrorism? In spite of the massive amounts of our hard-earned money we have to pay each year to please the Belgian State.

So I might say: it is time for a revolution! Not a bloody revolution, please. But people all over Belgium should go out in the streets, sit down on the sidewalks and refuse to work, all businesses should close, the government should be made to resign, the parliament should be sent home. A new constitution should be written and voted. Not by politicians, and surely not by the 1 percent. That would again be a legal consolidation of the feudal rights of the few against the masses, in the same spirit as all constitutions in Europe were written in the 19th century by the 1 percent at the time to safeguard their privileges while maintaining an air of democracy to appease the population. But a new constitution written by and written for the masses. Where every one has the same rights independent of wealth, where nepotism is excluded, where politicians are held indefinitely accountable for their misleading and mismanagement, where freedom, peace and love for every one that respects our values should be the sole basis whereupon our society should be built.

 

Love ❤️, yann.

anonymous government has failed you

Count the sheep

sheep-hd-wallpapers-of-high-resolution (1)Since a few months I am struggling with a problem. It is more of an ethical problem. I have been providing work and thus income to two local families by employing them for the works around my house. But one day this will end, except for some occasional work in the garden or maintenance.

In the year-and-half I have been living here I got to know the people of my neighbourhood more intimately. The things that preoccupy them, the things that make them happy. But, as almost everywhere in Bulgaria, the biggest obstacle for people is the lack of work and money. Slowly I got more and more involved in the social life of my neighbourhood, and I felt more and more responsible for the well-being of those people who accepted me and helped me out whenever I needed them.

Shepherd-and-SheepSo the thought that one day I will not be able any more to provide work and income for them is a heavy burden that keeps my thoughts busy. Giving them work now and ‘abandoning’ them later on is not an option, but my financial possibilities are not unlimited. Today they were sitting, talking and having coffee on the street, and I joined them. I asked them if the keeping of a herd of sheep would be profitable, and if they could imagine themselves tending sheep in the future. Grass and food for sheep is abundant and free over here, and there is plenty to stock for the winter as not to incur costs to maintain those animals when kept inside from the cold.

They were rather enthusiast. Their grandfather was once a shepherd, and so they learned when young all there is to know about caring for sheep. A sheep costs about 100€ a piece. An ewe produces about 2 liters of milk a day, which can be sold at 50 cents per liter. Every year an ewe breeds two lambs, which can grow up and later on produce more milk and lambs, or can be sold for the meat at around 90€. Besides that every sheep gives wool that also can be sold.

So if I would purchase them some sheep, they would be able to breed them into a bigger herd year by year, slowly increasing their revenues. Eventually they would be able to be self-sustaining and even to repay the debts they have by me buying the sheep.

the shepherd and sheep dogs taking his sheep out to the fieldsFor now I will reflect a bit more on this possible solution, but it seems feasible and rather easy to me, since they are willing to convert themselves into shepherds. That way they would be self-sustained, and my conscience would be appeased by seeing them independent and earning their own money.

Maybe I should start to think about getting some crowd funding by people willing to invest in this project, enabling us to buy more sheep so these people can get more productive faster. That will also enable them to repay their debts earlier. And ensure a safe and worthy future for these open-handed people, despite them being poor.

Love ❤️, yann.

Icarus’ dream

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Flying in the Mexican sunset

Many of you know the mythology of Daedalus and Icarus fleeing their captivity by King Minos on the island of Crete. Daedalus, the father, made wings by covering frames of wood with feathers that were held together by wax. During the flight Icarus became haughty and flew – against the explicit warnings by his father – too close to the sun so the wax started melting, resulting in his death by crashing into the Aegean sea.

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Flying over the cliffs in Portugal

Fortunately this era we have had many technological advancements that enable us to fly freely trough the skies. Without fuselage or enclosed capsule, without engines, but with a maximum of safety and comfort. The paraglider was developed out of the square parachute, with more stable and better gliding qualities. The two have not much in common nowadays, except for the fabric of the wing and the lines connecting the pilot to the wing. The harness, the area and form of the wing, the gliding ratios, and many other things don’t have much in common. Where a parachute is meant to enable someone who jumped from an altitude (from a high obstacle, airplane, helicopter, balloon, etc..) to land safely, a paraglider is meant to enable a person to effectively fly in the air, eventually taking him to higher altitudes if the winds and thermals are favorable.

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Croatia

Paragliding world records have been set where hundreds of kilometers have been crossed, and there are many competitions all over the world where men and women strive to complete a pre-defined course via a set of waypoints in the shortest time. The course cannot be completed without taking time to gain altitude in thermals (air that is rising), just like sailplanes do, so tactics and skill are the main requirements for a would-be champion. World championships are held, where the best pilots from over the world battle against each other in the blue sky.

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Elke flying in the Mexican mountains

But as with all sports, the majority of enthusiasts are just paragliding for recreational purposes. There are rules, like areas to avoid (eg. airports and reserved air spaces) and how to behave when flying with others, but due to the lack of over regulation paragliding is often called ‘the anarchistic sport’. This is also due to the mentality of the people engaged in this sport. Everyone is helpful, champions are easily approachable, and every one abides by the rules of nature and winds.

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Ready for take off – Mexico

The accessibility of paragliding for all people makes that everyone, regardless of age, gender and certain disabilities can learn to fly and enjoy hours in the air. There are pilots who are missing legs and manage to start and fly as well as able-bodied persons, blind people do fly in a tandem with a guide sitting in front of them, and I have known a man of 78 in my former club still flying on a regular basis.

During my wanderings all over the world with my paraglider as luggage I met lots of people. In this regard the most remarkable certainly is Marko Hrgetić. Five times Croatian paragliding champ, vice World Champion, holder of many titles and achievements (but too shy to admit it), he was the guy who really learned me to fly. I did my basics with a Belgian flying school, but unfortunately the focus was on earning as much money as they could from the students by postponing flight independence of the apprentices as long as they could. Fed up with this I found Marko in Croatia.

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The North Sea coast in France

The extraordinary thing about his method is that, once the pupils are proficient enough to handle the basic stages of flight safely, Marko flies together with his students. This way he, for example, can direct them towards a thermal he found to gain altitude, and monitor them from nearby flying in the same conditions his apprentices are moving in. And thus teach them the finer skills of flying and becoming one with the air carrying us trough the sky. All with utter respect for the safety and security of his pupils.

Apart from his flying and teaching skills Marko is a really nice, dependable guy. A bit shy and wary at first, but warm, open and welcoming once he gets to know you. And once friends, always friends, just like friendship is meant to be in life.

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Marko Hrgetić and me during my tandem pilot course (Croatia)

The hoard of beautiful Croatian women did not seem to satisfy Marko’s tastes, so he got himself hijacked by a wonderful Mexican women named Alma who made him her husband, and together they just became the proud parents of a little son. Having noticed that Mexico was abundant with commercial ventures to take tourist in tandem flights, but lacking high-level flight schools, he started a paragliding school with his wife: Escuela de Vuelo Flumen (Flumen is also the name of the paragliding club near Rijeka, Croatia, that Marko set up and of which he still is the president for the members did not accept his resignation ?). So now Marko is helping hundreds of people to fly the Mexican skies, be it locals or tourists coming especially for his high reputation and the favorable flying conditions in this sunny country.

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‘The Flumen Girls’ – Elke sitting on the left, Alma is next to her

If you are travelling to Mexico, or you just want a special and very proficient teacher to learn this amazing sport, contact Marko. If Mexico is too far, you can safely make your first ‘steps’ in paragliding with the Flumen paragliding club in Croatia, where Marko educated himself new instructors by his high standards. I can warmly recommend Ivana, she is a beautiful person and a hell of a woman! ? Also for tandem flights to get a taste of free flight you can always contact them (below).

Love, yann ❤️

Flumen for flying in Mexico

Flumen for flying in Croatia

note from the author: I am not sponsored by Flumen, Marko Hrgetić or anyone else, nor affiliated to them in a commercial way, but I wanted to write about my experience with this amazing and safe sport, and with those wonderful people I got to know well over the years.

To free, or not to free.. the nipple…

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The Free The Nipple campaign T shirt

The much ado about nipples these days is quite disturbing for me. Maybe I was pulled out of my comfort zone. Not by the sight of all those nipples appearing on the internet, in the news and social media, for I have seen female nipples by the thousands, maybe by the hundreds of thousands, in my life, and I never thought anything of it except that they looked nice. To get excited I fortunately need something more than fat and glands with a nipple on top, a physical trait that doesn’t look very dissimilar to the construction men tend to carry themselves on their chests.

But the whole free-the-nipple action took me out of my comfort zone because I had never given any thought about the physical discrimination inflicted on women by society for their somehow larger breasts. I always saw breasts as being a natural part of every human being, them being often swollen a bit more in the case of women, but still, nothing out of the ordinary as I grew up in Africa where people regard breasts as a female trait with a primary function to feed babies. Later as a kid on I played on the European beaches where women went topless, and during my pilot’s career I often found myself relaxing next to half naked flight attendants getting a tan on a Caribbean beach. The sight of breasts never meant that much to me as long as there was no sexual allusion in play.

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Topmodel Cara Delevingne protests against the discrimination

So I am rather ashamed I gave no more thought to the subject. I know, I am a male and I never was confronted with limitations imposed by some groups in society as they tend to do with women. So yes, I can only encourage women to fight for their rights. And yes, I am ashamed that they have to fight for those rights, for it seems to me as a natural thing that the same rules apply to both men and women.

What really caused me a lot of irritation during the biggest part of my life was the sexualization of nudity. When people tend to confuse someone being naked with someone wanting to have sex. Or do they get upset because the sight of nudity causes a sexual urge within themselves? What is offensive about a natural human body? We were born naked, our ancestors long ago roamed the earth naked, and it feels liberating to be naked, even if it is only in our own private space and for our eyes only.

Some folks pretend they are Christian, or Muslim, or whatever, and from this background they condemn nudity. I can only ask them that if their god created us like we are, are his creations then so hideous they have to be permanently hidden by clothes? Would it not be truly grateful toward their god to revere the gift god created in all its splendor?

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Scout Willis walks topless in the streets of NY to protest against Instagram policy

Others say that children should be protected from nudity. Have you ever seen a child reacting against the sight of nudity out of itself? Are there not similarities between the teaching of racism and the teaching of primness to our children? A child will never make a difference between color or race if not told, neither will a kid express any opinion on nudity without influence from parents, friends or society. So prudishness is not a natural given, it is a thought imposed by grown ups and society in general. If people behave like female breasts, penises and vaginas are not okay to display and to be seen, then kids will follow these thoughts and grow up this way. If children see naked people around behaving in a normal, friendly, non-sexual way as is done in nudist camps, then they will think nothing of it and be perfectly at ease with their own nudity.

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From the movie “Free the Nipple”

For this is a real disease of our society. We cannot be who we are, we have to be someone else or we do not really belong. We do have to dress following certain codes called ‘fashion’, women have to paint their faces with make-up, people have to abide by the strict rules of bodyweight and shape, etc.. Even the way a woman trims or shaves her pubic hair, which is usually kept invisible for third parties, is influenced by dictates of the era we’re living in. There is nothing wrong with someone nicely dressed, with beautiful make-up that emphasise beautiful eyes or eye lashes or lips, just as there is nothing wrong with a woman not being made up and not dressed to seduce every passer-by.

Why can’t every one be free? Why can’t someone post a family picture of her/his family on nude vacation on social media? Who are the perverts? Those who are naked in family between like-minded people thinking nothing wrong of it, or the people sexualizing the whole thing and trying to ban this out of fear of getting aroused? Is everyone that is naked having sex or even thinking about it just like the prudish seem to insinuate? Why this whole taboo about penises when half of the world’s population pendulates one? Why this whole cover-up of vaginas knowing at some point we all crawled out of one, having been blessed with the biggest wonder in the universe: birth?

Try me! - Erika
Try me! – Erika ©yannbastiaans

Maybe that is why I never gave much thought about breasts and nipples, I was too busy getting irritated by the narrow-mindedness of society about dicks and pussies. I was already one step ahead, one bridge too far, or better: one bridge further.

Just love yourself, respect and love your body, for it is a wonderful gift from nature (or your god) that should be adored and honored. And there is nothing to be ashamed of, you share the same bodily specifics with at least 3.5 billion people of your gender. Do you still have the illusion you are so physically unique to the point you should be ashamed of it?

Take care, yann ❤️

Belgian Justice corrupt? Noooo! ?

anti-domestic-violence-the-kitchen-small-82253In June 2014 police in the Ghent region (Belgium) received an emergency call from a woman whose face was beaten to pulp by her partner. They arrived in full force with three police vans at their house and took the man in custody. She was brought to a hospital where was determined she had a broken jaw and a broken eye socket. In addition to that she suffered from major hematoma all over her face, and some cuts. It was all a bloody mess, the front of her shirt was torn and red.

His ex wife was called by the police at 7AM, just after they stormed the house, to go fetch her 3 children (aged 13,11 and 10) who were staying with him at that moment since they were co-parenting since their divorce six years earlier. The children were duly impressed, they were woken up by the cries for help from their dad’s newest partner whom he had a relationship with since three years. Her 2 children (aged 10 and 9) were also present in the house during the drama, and it was the banging and yelling of the children at the locked door of the parental bedroom that offered the beaten-up woman a chance to evade her assailant.

19She declared to the police she sat on his bedside that sunny morning, next to him who was pretending to sleep, when she confronted him with mails he sent to other women. In these mails he wrote in rather foul and demeaning language to these women, in accordance with his dominant sexual appetite. Often he added a video in attachment of him vigorously masturbating. She knew he was cheating on her since quite a while, and while she accepted he needed more sexual partners she did not appreciate his lies and deceit around it. But those messages, and the language contained therein, shocked her gravely. When she told him – still feigning being asleep – that she was rather disturbed by the tone of his sexual adventures, he jumped out of bed, hit her, and ran to lock the bedroom door. Thereafter he straddled her and started to strangle her by choking her windpipe with both hands, banging the back of her head on the floor.

The kids woke up by the noise of the struggle taking place in the room next door. They started shouting after their respective parents, and banged shortly afterwards on their bedroom door. Probably this saved the woman, for he eased his grip on her throat right when her vision started to blur and turn black. She was losing consciousness. The rush of oxygen revived her and she managed to pry herself loose. Having lost his grip he started to beat her in the face with both fists, leading to the trauma described above. Meanwhile the cries, shouts and banging of the kids behind the door went in crescendo, and presumably this saved the victim for the second time. He apparently regained some of his senses and she managed to wriggle herself from under him. After having unlocked the door she fled outside, followed by the children who were in shock by the sight of the bloodied face and clothes of the woman. In the garden she managed to call the emergency services.

His initial statement at the police station was that he remembered little of what happened, beside admitting he beat her. A few days later he rejected this first statement and declared he thought at that time she was a burglar sitting on his bed and he wanted to protect himself and the children.

fviolence5That same day, barely a few hours after the drama, his ex wife received again a phone call from the police that she should return her children to him. This in accordance with the divorce agreement. That happened around 10AM. That same afternoon, at 2PM, he held a Birthday party for his second son in his house, where many kids and parents were invited to. Nothing in his attitude nor talk gave away the dramatic events that unfolded in exactly same place just a few hours before. According to his children and witnesses he was joyful and calm. In the few hours before the arrival of the guests he decorated the house and bought cakes and drinks for the Birthday party. When asked why his partner was absent he told his guests convincingly she was away for her work at the United Nations, where she held a job as a legal expert.

Already I can feel some of you being indignated over the fact that he was allowed to go back home after an attempted murder on his partner, and having beaten her up severely, a mere three hours after the facts. Often we read in newspapers, the same goes for Belgium, that people are kept in custody for a long while after having hurt their partner in a quite lesser way. What made him an exception? Especially if you know that this was not the first complaint against him for extreme violence.

During his marriage his ex wife filed complaint against him because he beat her, causing her to fall backwards on the floor, in the presence of their children. Two years after their divorce he beat her again when they met by chance on the street. He was bicycling with his children and she said hi to her children, which he did not accept. She was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a concussion and  hematoma in the face. During one of their divorce procedures the violence was put on the agenda by her lawyer, but the judge dismissed his behavior as having been ‘provoked’.

Woman being kidnapped and abusedBut this was also not the first time his newest girlfriend filed a complaint against him for domestic violence. In 2013 he pushed her into the deep pond in their garden, and pushed her head repeatedly under water, trying to drown her. This he did six consecutive times. She finally managed to get out of the cold water. But justice and the police saw no urgent reasons to react in any way to her allegations and no follow-up in this case was given. He managed to persuade her this was a bad mistake he made due to personal problems, and she unfortunately decided to give their relationship another try.

Today, a mere nine months after she left him because of the last beating, an investigating judge accompanied by police presented themselves at her front door (where she lives alone with her children). Due to a complaint where she is accused of having committed libel against him, the police came to seize her phones and computers. He effectively managed to rob her of any way of continuing her work as an independent counsellor for the United Nations and the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières.. Her crime? She informed a few months ago the CEO of the company he works for as a manager about the beating she received, accompanied by a self-portrait of her bloodied and mutilated face.

kiwanis_logo_575pxAnd she turned up at a meeting of ‘Kiwanis Ghent’, the organisation that pretends to be socially oriented for the sake of the destitute but rather is a decoy for wannabees to socialize with booze and promote their careers trough the ‘old boys network’. The present members were rather shocked to see her face, her swollen and purple lips, cheeks and eyes, and pledged to help her. Her  now ex-boyfriend stood then on the verge of being elected as new president of this Kiwanis chapter. Not longer than a week later Kiwanis Ghent reversed course and declared that their fellow member was in dire need of help, and that they would do everything in their power to support their suffering friend. His ex girlfriend never heard again from these bar knights with their silver mouths.

Again I can feel some of you getting indignated about the turn of events. At least that is the way I feel about this. And then pops the inevitable question into my mind, causing confusion and fear: could it be that the Belgian judicial system, including police, is corrupt? I can hardly believe this, but these events, and I could narrate some more ‘strange’ actions and verdicts by Belgian Justice that happened in our lives. Because the ‘ex wife’ is my wife since six years. And the psychopaths’ second victim became one of our best friends, after having been told by him during their whole relationship we were ‘terrorists’ and evil people she must avoid contact with, effectively shielding her from finding out the truth about his psychopathic character.

anonymousWhy is a man having been taken into custody with blood on his hands (literally) released a few hours after the crime, and how do we have to situate an organized police action led by an investigating judge, in a case of libel forcing themselves into a house to seize private computers in the presence of children? Where is the proportion in these cases? How does a serious physical crime relate to a mere verbal transgression by an individual? Where is the justification for these judicial steps?

The working of the Belgian police and justice was one more reason for me to go in voluntary exile, and thus to deny this corrupt State my tax contribution. That makes for at least three civil servants less getting their wages paid by the money they used to steal from me, as the total taxes in Belgium (including income tax, levies, VAT, etc..) amounted to two thirds of my income .

Be happy ?, yann.

They have no shame

In a Belgian newspaper appeared today an article about poverty among children in Belgium. The data are from 2012, and concludes that in that year, 16,7% of the youth under 18 lived in a family that had an income lower than the poverty threshold.

n-CHILD-POVERTY-large“Despite the global impact of the crisis the poverty levels in Belgium have remained stable, but the poverty risk for youth has slightly increased(..)” states a report from the Ministry of Social Security. “40% of the single-parent families live in poverty, but without child support and other tax benefits that number would amount to 60%”.

“These numbers clearly depict the importance of an efficient battle against social exclusion”, states the Secretary of State for Poverty Reduction and Equal Opportunities.

And me, I just grew silent by those numbers and statements.. And moments later, I felt the indignation grow inside me. How can a Secretary of State talk about ‘an efficient battle’ when so many families are victims of our hunger for profits? How can the Belgian people accept their leaders as competent and trustworthy when they are considering buying F-35 jet fighters for 5 billion euros, while so many people do not even have the right and means for a respectable and fulfilling life? Don’t they have any shame???

child-povertyMaybe the numbers are a bit too elusive for everyone to grasp. Suppose your kids are in a class of 25 pupils. Well, 4 (FOUR!) kids in that class live under the poverty threshold.. Is that in any way acceptable to you, while your kids at home are bickering between each other whose turn it is to put the plates and cutlery on the table for your nicely cooked evening meal? And if your kids go to University, remember that some of their co-students are homeless, for there are no less than 2400 homeless students in your little kingdom.

How can it be that you, the citizens of one of the richest countries in the world, pay the highest taxes in the whole wide world, and the politicians still manage to embezzle your trusted funds to provoke another deficit on the balance sheet, while some rich people (the 1%, remember) and multinationals get secret deals with the Belgian IRS getting exemptions on taxes everybody else has to pay, and while other people – including kids – are living in poverty? How can it be that you are so cowardly to shut up, just do your duty and vote, pay your taxes like obedient children, and just let this happen in your own back yard? While knowing that there are others, ‘the happy few’, who maximize their profits on the weakness of the people and just get richer and richer every day in a “legalized” way. And you even continue to march along when politicians break the news – with their grave and saddened faces – that taxes will be raised again for some more deficits need to be cleared.

your fear is their powerAgain, this horrible observation just confirmed my determination to pay never again taxes to the financial black hole called Belgian State. Every nation deserves its politicians, and I can confirm you deserved right. Go on putting the blame on the blacks or East-Europeans, the Muslims or Jews, the left or right wingers, the small business owners, the workers, or whomever, you are just playing the game the politicians want you to play for their own sake. And for their filled bank accounts.. Meanwhile be happy and don’t give a damn, the banks conduct business as usual and surely they can count on you if things go bad next time as you helped them out the time before? I am just happy in exile ?

Love, yann ❤️

The poorest president in the world..

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José Mujica

The name José Alberto “El Pepe” Mujica Cordano does probably not ring a bell. Still, he was the president of the Republic of Uruguay from March 2010 until March 2015. A sitting president cannot be reelected for a second consecutive term due to the Uruguayan constitution, and so he left the presidency to a democratically elected party member (Tabaré Vasquez).

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José Mujica, President of Uruguay, meeting Eric van Rompuy, President of the European Union.

Many people and media described José Mujica as ‘the poorest president in the world’ or as ‘the world’s humblest president’ due to his austere lifestyle. When instated as president Mujica refused all decorum coming with his new function, and stayed living on the farm he and his wife share in the outskirts of Montevideo, where they cultivate chrysanthemums for sale. He declined all the usual staff that came with the opulent palace, and insisted on driving his own car, an aging VW Beetle. He had not much use for his presidential salary of 12000$/month, and donated 90% of this salary to charities who benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs.

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José Mujica presiding a meeting at the Ministry of Finance (Uruguay)

His road to power was bumpy and not unlike Nelson Mandela, having been shot and arrested many times when he was member of the Tupamaros movement – an armed political group inspired by the Cuban revolution. When the constitutional democracy was restored in Uruguay in 1985, Mujica was freed from prison and got amnesty.

In his first speech as president-elect he told the audience: “it is a mistake to think that power comes from above, when it comes from within the hearts of the masses (…) it has taken me a lifetime to learn this”, wanting other politicians and parties (who lost the elections) to join the efforts to make Uruguay a viable place for everyone.

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Mujica walking with his dogs on his farmland during his presidency

When addressing the United Nations General Assembly in a long discourse about humanity and globalization in september 2013, he spoke about the dangers of the current financial system and the economic fallout of ordinary people. He urged the other states to consider a return to simplicity with an emphasis on lives founded on human relationships, love, friendship, adventure, solidarity and family, instead of lives shackled to the economy and the markets.

His legacy is among others a country with the lowest level of corruption worldwide, the legalization of cannabis, abortion rights for women, and the establishment of gay rights.

If only more ‘leaders’ would think a bit more with their hearts than with their wallet…

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José Mujica

The poor are not those who have too little, they are those who want too much” (José Mujica)

Love, yann ❤️

Anonymous

anonymous government has failed you“We are good people. Just because we stand up against the Government, it doesn’t mean we stand against you. We are your brothers, your sisters, your friends, your colleagues, your classmates and that stranger you passed in the street. We are the 99%. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” (Anonymous)

anonymous i am free