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Negaraku

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To the Government of Malaysia

Dear Sirs,

I would be very obliged if you could stop the killing of innocent people in the Thai province of Yala. It is to quite an extent in your hands to make the border areas a more peaceful place.

And once I have reason to believe that you don’t participate in killing innocent people any more, I will be happy to spend some of my holidays on your side of the border. I won’t even mind paying a bribe every now and then, when the situation demands it.

Negaraku!

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Written by taide

May 27, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Knockout Drops

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My vacation started today, and it is Friday. So off I went to my favourite pharmacy to by some knockout drops. The following is the dialog I had with Ms Richardson, the fourty-something year-old owner of the my favourite pharmacy.

Me: Good morning!
She: Good morning, Mr Taide! And what a beautiful morning it is, isn’t it? Your vacation started today, right?
Me: That’s right! And to celebrate the advent of this beautiful season, I’ve decided to go to the Dropstone discotheque tonight.
She: Oh, the Spring-Feelings-Make-My-Heart-Big-Bang Party?
Me: That’s right. I’m in the mood for an extramarital one-night stand.
She: Enjoy!
Me: That’s why I’m here.
She (whispers, tongue-in-cheek): You don’t need viagra yet, Mr Taide, do you?
Me (hating it when middle-aged pharmacists try to be tongue-in-cheek): Naah, not at all! I’m as powerful as a bull in its prime. But I’d like to buy some knockout drops.

Everyone in the sales room is now staring at us.

She (neither whispering nor tongue-in-cheek any more): Are you MAD?!
Me: Oh, uhm, no. Why should I be mad? Because I’m going to the Dropstone?
She: Because you are an outrageous, filthy, rapist, criminal BASTARD!!!
Me (now slightly annoyed): You are jumping to conclusions. I’m not going to drug anyone but myself.
She (confused): Yourself? But why?
Me: It helps me to deal with the situation. I’m too cheap to pay for sex. On the other hand, I reckon that sex with Dropstone acquaintances is going to be relaxing, but ugly. I’d prefer to awake with a mind-lapse next morning. Besides, if she claims that she didn’t want to have sex with me, I can counter-claim that I didn’t want to have sex with her.
She: We don’t sell knockout drops.
Me: Why didn’t you tell me at once? Could have saved both of us a lot of time. See you.

____________

In the News today

More and more women become victims of sex-related crimes involving so-called knockout drops. The federal pharmacists association demands measures to fight this crime. “This subject must get into public focus, and the international criminal dealing business with pharmaceuticals must be controlled more tightly and be punished more severely,” the association’s president Erika Fink said yesterday.

Margot Käßmann goes to Afghanistan

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Breaking new ground: Margot Käßmann (picture: tanks to JR)

Breaking new ground: Margot Käßmann (picture: tanks to JR)

Bishop Margot Käßmann, the German equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury (The Times), resigned this week after police found her drunk at the wheel of her company car. She now intends to work as a parish priest, writes the Times. However, Taide has obtained information that she has reported to duty in Kunduz, Afghanistan, as a military pastor.

“She’s having a helluva time here,” says Colonel Heinz Krauthammer. “She’s absolutely thrilled about riding a Panzer once in a while. Unfortunately, she’s squashed the only traffic light here in Kunduz which had been carefully built by a girl’s school a month earlier, sponsored by Hornbach, but there isn’t much motor traffic here anyway, except hers.”

Verdener Aller Zeitung reports Three Recoveries

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The Verdener Aller Zeitung, a local paper, reports plans which are currently discussed at the city council. One goal is to make new use of an area close to the Aller River. So far, there is a flat building encased with washed-out concrete which houses a supermarket and which mayor Lutz Brockmann says is ugly, according the papers Tuesday edition. There are no detailed plans yet, but a hotel may be included, too.

This used to be the site of Verden's synagogue (arsoned during Germany's collective "Kristallnacht" in 1938). It became the site of a car dealership after the war.

This used to be the site of Verden's synagogue (burnt down during Germany's "Kristallnacht" in 1938). It became the site of a car dealership after the war.

At the same time, a site at the Johanniswall which once lodged a car dealership shall be refurbished as a combination of retailing, services, and residence. An urban planning office in Hanover did the design, the Verdener Aller Zeitung wrote on Friday. Specialised retailers should take up some 3,000 square metres of the new place. It’s meant to be complementary to the pedestrian’s zone (Große Straße). The former synagogue which was located within the area (East of the Johanniswall and South of Lindhooper Straße) until 1938 is scheduled to be factored in with a remembrance site.

The newly-designed place will reportedly be accessible for cars from the Johanniswall and the Zollstraße.

The urban planning office from Hanover cites expert’s reports which state that no adverse effects on existing supply structures (this probably refers to existing retailers and services in the old town) are to be expected, provided that limits on the lines of business and range of products are abided by.

The smallest sales floors should be 300 to 400 square metres. The first floor will be for retailers, the second floor for flats, and the courtyard should become a car park.

The building plans are reported on the top of a page for local news. Right underneath, the Verdener Aller Zeitung reports that no real mood of [an economic] crisis seems to emerge on Verden’s job market, as the jobless rate had dropped from 6.5 to 6.2 per cent in May. “In Verden, actually a Recovery”, says the headline. This would spell 7,943 people looking for a job. Available apprenticeship positions had dropped only by 4.8 per cent, the paper quotes the employment agency and an agency which is apparently operated by the rural district.

A Problem, and a Recommended Solution

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Every day, it’s the same picture around Verden’s hospital, on the Burgberg and other neighbouring roads: cars seemingly cruising around – if only it was for fun. They are people with business to do, but searching for a place to pull in their cars instead. People who come to the hospital, car-owning students who attend secondary school next door, parents who deliver or collect their kids there (many of them would probably be happy if they could drive up the stairs inside the buildings, too, to deliver and to pick their offspring up right at the school desks). Then there is a seminar for prospective teachers, and then there are more doctors’ practices on the site of the hospital. Some cars also keep roaming around the place to find the hospital itself – its official postal address refers to a drive which has been out of existence for fourty years. Last but not least, there are the actual residents of the Burgberg Road, the Eitzer Road, the Sedan Road, and the Shakespeare Square, and others (all Burgbergers here, to keep things short).

Who, more recently, have become targets of accusations from the rural district’s chief executive Peter Bohlmann (SPD, Social Democrats), and Verden’s mayor Lutz Brockmann (also SPD).

The hospital site is expanding – some new modern departments are in the making. That makes the scope of available parking lots even smaller. A pretty big parking area has therefore been created on the hospital’s site, too. The bone of contention: it’s subject to charges. Consequently, a barrier keeps hopeful car drivers out until they’ve bought their ticket. The city council took a vote in April and decided to open the barrier, to make the space available for free. The district’s chief executive and the city mayor, Bohlmann and Brockmann, then rejected the council’s decision, and Brockmann refused to implement it – according to the Verdener Aller Zeitung of May 13.

“The barrier is going to stay,” says Bohlmann. “We’ve done our homework. The barrier isn’t the problem. The lacking magagement of parking lots is. Corresponding arrangements were announced for April, but aren’t implemented yet. One reason for the lack of results probably is the insubstantial and partisan advice from the residents’ study group.”1) Partisan doesn’t refer to political parties here – Bohlmann apparently alleges that the residents around the hospital – the  Burgbergers – put their particular interests above those of other Verden citizens. Mayor Brockmann seconds him: [By opening the barrier and making parking free of charge,] “the problem won’t be solved, but procrastinated.”2) If the Burgberg residents were ready to agree to a management of parking space in the residential area, there would be less difficulties, says Brockmann, according to the Verdener Aller Zeitung.

Lutz Brockmann: ¡No pasaran! (Archive)

Lutz Brockmann: ¡No pasaran! (Archive)

Brockmann’s problem: the vote by the city council apparently commits the mayor to act in accordance with it (technical term: Ausführungsbeschluss). Both Bohlmann and Brockmann are at odds with groups within their political parties in the city, as both Verden’s CDU (Christian Democrats) councillors, and a substantial share of the SPD council group, voted for opening the barrier. The CDU’s council group chairman, Gebhard Rosenthal, suggests a directive resolution (Weisungsbeschluss) by the city council in order to enforce the Ausführungsbeschluss. This would put the SPD councillors who supported the Ausführungsbeschluss in a difficult position between their view on the technical question on the one hand, and matters of loyalty to the SPD mayor on the other.

Apparently another problem, for Bohlmann and Brockmann alike: an existing contract with the hospital requires a substantial reduction in traffic caused by people searching for parking space. As long as the involuntary cruising – see para 1 -continues, this contract can hardly be regarded as fulfilled.

Possibly not least, the incriminated study group of Burgbergers may not have been pleasant partners for the rural district’s chief executive and the mayor. But one can’t say that they had been lazy. According to a paper distributed by the study group itself on April 20th, they gathered data and presented an analysis of the situation, at the request of Mayor Brockmann. The study group sees a lack of 63 parking slots. And the market council (Marktausschuss) – also according to the study group’s paper – decided unanimously on March 11th to have the City of Verden see to it that the hospital should open the barrier immediately. Howsoever, the mayor didn’t agree.

The hospital and its neighbourhood will be in limbo, at least until the council enforces the opening of the newly-added parking lot free of charge (if it really does pass such a resolution). Or until the State of Lower Saxony, or its courts, have decided the matter (in the event of  Brockmann choosing to ignore the city council, which doesn’t look too unlikely either).

Meantime, I suggest that Bohlmann and Brockmann study this old poem by Bertolt Brecht (in lieu of “the uprising of the 17th of June”, read “the city council’s vote”):

After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had thrown away the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

All for solutions:

Taide

____________________

1) In German, quoted from the Verdener Aller Zeitung of May 13:
“Wir haben unsere Hausaufgaben gemacht. Das Problem ist nicht die Schranke, sondern die fehlende Parkraumbewirtschaftung. Entsprechende Regelungen wurden für den April angekündigt, sind aber bis heute noch nicht umgesetzt. Ein Grund für die Ergebnislosigkeit liegt wahrscheinlich in der substanzlosen und interessengeleiteten Beratung durch den Arbeitskreis der Anwohner.”
2) From the same article and source: “Das Problem wird nicht gelöst, sondern vor sich hergeschoben.”

Written by taide

May 23, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Verden’s Railway Bridge

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It’s new look is hard to describe, but the replacement for the old railway bridge – not to be confused with the new Südbrücke now under reconstruction for car traffic – won’t be 15 metres tall, as threatened by the Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railways) earlier. It will rather look like the one this expert demonstrates with two cups of coffee.

German Railways usually has its way with ticket price increases and obtaining more-than-the-usual information about its employees, but this time, Verden apparently decided that enough harm has been done to its skyline in the recent past. The town’s local government, a nostalgic Lower Saxonian club plus two professors from Dresden and Munich stirred shit. We’ll get something nicer instead.

Try to translate Stahlsegelbrücke in Betonverbundbauweise if you can, or, as recommended before, see this picture.

_____________________

My friend and contributor JR suggested that I should write about some good news for a change. Here it is.

Written by taide

January 31, 2009 at 8:22 am

Bloody Postcards from the Middle East

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The end of the year was an adequate time for Hamas and Israel to end the truce (or whatever that agreement was really about). At a time when people wish each other a peaceful new year, they are reminded that there are places which are not peaceful at all.
It doesn’t look like if either side had kept to the “truce” anyway. Hamas kept firing Qassam rockets into Israel, and Israel kept the borders of the Gaza strip closed for much or most of the time – and whatever bits of a Palestinian “economy” exist are squashed by blockades.
The current Israeli raids on the Gaza strip seem to reflect both the strengths and weaknesses of a government’s accountability to its people. Israel’s government can’t afford to keep the borders to Gaza open despite the rocket fire by Hamas (or its proxies). It has to act to protect its people, or at least to leave the impression that it does protect them. Such an obligation is good in many ways, but not necessarily in this conflict. The current raids make no difference between perpetrators and innocents. They have killed hundreds of Palestinians, and injured many more, according to Knut Dethlefsen, representative for the Friedrich-Ebert foundation in the Palestinian territories. And they are unlikely to finish Hamas off.
Israel’s government doesn’t assume its responsibilities either – the settlements in the West Bank keep growing. But at least Israel’s government can be held accountable by the people at home, and it has to mind their interests.
It could have been helpful if Fatah had put the Palestinian people’s interest before its own during the past decades. It could be very helpful now if the Hamas rulers put their peoples’ interests and well-being first, rather than their Islamist agenda. Hamas appears to be looking at the Palestinian people as a tool, rather than as a people.
Arsonists make weird fire detectors.

Written by taide

January 2, 2009 at 5:41 am