French police and the screening of prostate cancer - the rectal touch

Regular screening of early prostate cancer offers men more treatment options with potentially fewer side effects.

I guess that's why the French police started a new pilot program to tackle this major cause of death among men over 40. The initiative was launched last Friday, at dawn, and widely covered by the media. The first screening procedure (or the "bend over and cough three times" procedure, as they call it in France) was performed on Mr Vittorio de Filippis, former director of the French diary Libération.

(more details: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2008/11/29/journaliste-et-pire-que-la-racaille_1124889_3224.html or http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/29/AR2008112902051_pf.html)


Sarah Palin and Sarkozy

Hi, I'm Jor-El calling from Krypton...


I am African

"J.f. ch. femme pour faire du babysitting, de 10h à 20h, (excepté pers. africaines), non fum., qui ait de l'exp. av. les enfants" (in LuxbaZar).

Just in case you're interested. Place of work: the Kehlsteinhaus, near Berchtesgaden, I guess.


A small correction to my previous post

For my French-speaking readers: at least in the first French translation of Animal Farm (Les Animaux partout !, 1947 > La République des animaux, 1964 > La Ferme des animaux, 1981), Napoleon was renamed César.
In fact, according to The Times, in France it is forbidden to call a pig Napoleon.


Cold War, the sequel

The grand-grandsons of Napoleon’s mutts took over Animal Farm. And they are rich.

Let's face it and stop being naive: the Caucasus is Russia's backyard. The whole region holds an immense economical and geostrategical value for the ex/new/never ceased to be superpower. In the old times, when the vetuste, archaic Soviet Union exported almost nothing, we still could think that the problem was most of all ideological. But not anymore. It's about money.

Were the Americans really expecting that the Russians would let Tbilisi regain total control of the region? No, they weren't. They were just trying to stir things up a little, maybe to test Medvedev's strength, and at the end it's up to Europe to try to calm things down and pick up the pieces (one quarter of our energy depends on it) . And up to the Georgians and the Ossetians to bury their dead. It's "those Washington bullets again". Or Moscow bullets.

(In a country where L'Essentiel is such a success, it was very plesant to find a decent defying article about this subject here. It's the online edition of the Woxx, l'autre hebdomadaire.)


New Renault Mégane

A journalist named Bruno Thomas was jailed in France for publishing some photos of the future Renault Mégane (Auto Plus magazine). In Beijing and Paris, they have their ways with press and Internet freedom. Anyhow, it's too late, now. The damage is done. Industrial espionage. A big German carmaker is said to have started a new design department called FBG Projekt. The Fat Bottom Girls Project.


London's gas guzzlers congestion charge scrapped

London Mayor Boris Johnson scrapped not only the £25 planned congestion charge for gas guzzlers (see post and comments here), but also the exemption for cleaner cars emitting less than 120g/km of CO2. Which means that everyone is going to pay the same £8. Hybrids and electric vehicles will still be congestion charge-exempt. I don't agree with Johnson's arguments, but I'm happy with the ditching of a predictable small "breath-my-particles-before-they-empoison-the-environment" diesels frenzy.


Sarkozy's new video: France 3 off-air footage

This time I'm not posting the video. Off means off.

“One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.”
(Josh Billings)


Referendum in Ireland: "NO" to the Treaty of Lisbon

That's why democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.

The Irish voted "No" against the end of restrictions on abortion, and to keep the country’s traditional neutrality and the low tax rates responsible for the rise of the Celtic Tiger. Not against the Treaty. Now what?


Tramway invading Limpertsberg

According to L'Essentiel, the "syndicat du Limpertsberg" is protesting against the fact that the tramway is going to corrupt their very nice neighbourhood. They were not consulted, and they call it "an invasion".

At the same time, at http://service.vdl.lu/forum/read.php?4,4102,4103#msg-4103 (the City of Luxembourg online forum) someone is asking for a direct bus line between Limpertsberg and Kirchberg. Others demand for more peripheral direct connections (meaning: if you don't live near Centre Hammilius or the Gare, chances are that you'll have to take two different buses to go anywhere).

Me, I've never been to the Limpertsberg village. I'm a city guy and I fell sick in deserted open spaces, full of cows and ticks, but I do believe that if people have chosen to live in the countryside, away from the turbulent city centre, they should be respected.

More posts about the tramway here.


Globalisation: To kill a Chinese

Guilt, moral and distance.

In The Genius of Christianity, published in France in 1802, Chateaubriand formulated one of the most repeated questions of the XIX century: would you agree to the killing of an old, sick Chinese mandarin in distant China, just by wishing it, to inherit his immense fortune?

Today we don't kill the Chinese, nor the Indians, nor the Uzbeks - we eat them. We feed ourselves on human flesh, we dress ourselves on human skin, and our houses are made of human bones.

"Go, buy yourself another pair of jeans", said the fake priest to the fake blind man.

"O conscience ! ne serais-tu qu'un fantôme de l'imagination, ou la peur des châtiments des hommes ? Je m'interroge ; je me fais cette question : « Si tu pouvais par un seul désir tuer un homme à la Chine et hériter de sa fortune en Europe, avec la conviction surnaturelle qu'on n'en saurait jamais rien, consentirais-tu à former ce désir ? » J'ai beau m'exagérer mon indigence ; j'ai beau vouloir atténuer cet homicide en supposant que par mon souhait le Chinois meurt tout à coup sans douleur, qu'il n'a point d'héritier, que même à sa mort ses biens seront perdus pour l'État ; j'ai beau me figurer cet étranger comme accablé de maladies et de chagrins ; j'ai beau me dire que la mort est un bien pour lui, qu'il l'appelle lui-même, qu'il n'a plus qu'un instant à vivre : malgré mes vains subterfuges, j'entends au fond de mon cœur une voix qui crie si fortement contre la seule pensée d'une telle supposition, que je ne puis douter un instant de la réalité de la conscience." - François René de Chateaubriand , in The Genius of Christianity


Tom Waits in Europe (San Sebastian, Barcelona, Milan, Prague, Paris, Edinburgh and Dublin)


"European tour dates are as follows:
July 12 - SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN – Auditorium Kursaal - Ticket Hotline 902 10 12 12. International enquiries +34 933 262 946. Tickets also available online from http://www.telentrada.com/. Tickets on sale Monday 2nd June at 9.00AM.
July 14 & 15 - BARCELONA, SPAIN – Auditorium Forum - Ticket Hotline 902 10 12 12. International enquiries +34 933 262 946. Tickets also available online from http://www.telentrada.com/. Tickets on sale Monday 2nd June at 9.00AM.
July 17, 18 & 19 – MILAN, ITALY – Teatro Degli Arcimboldi - Ticket Hotline – valid only in Italy – 892101. International enquiries +39 0584 46477. Tickets also available online from http://www.ticketone.it/. Tickets on internet presale on Friday 23rd May at 9.00AM and all other outlets from Monday 26th May at 9.00AM.
July 21 & 22 – PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – KCP - Tickets available on http://www.ticketpro.cz/ with ticket@ticketpro.cz handling enquiries from English and German speaking customers. Tickets on sale on Friday 30th May at 9.00AM.
July 24 & 25 – PARIS, FRANCE – Grand Rex - Ticket Hotline is 0890 39 01 00 – accessed from France only – with +33 (0)1 46 91 57 67 for international enquiries. Tickets on sale as an internet presale here on Monday 26th May at 9.00AM, with all other outlets from Wednesday 28th May at 9.00AM.
July 27 & 28 – EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – Playhouse - Ticket Hotline on +44 870 606 3424 and online from http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/. On sale at 9.00AM on Tuesday 27th May.
July 30, 31 and August 1 – DUBLIN, IRELAND – The Ratcellar, Phoenix Park - Ticket Hotline is 0818 719 300 – accessed from Ireland only – with 0870 243 4455 for the UK and +353 1 4 569 569 for international enquiries. Tickets also available online from http://www.ticketmaster.ie/. On sale at 9.00AM on Tuesday 27th May.T"


Human rights in Burma

"As hold-ups continue in the supply of foreign aid to Myanmar, Asian leaders have been urged to pressure the country's military rulers into taking swift action to address a growing humanitarian catastrophe. Amnesty International believes that by deliberately blocking life-sustaining aid, the government of Myanmar may be violating the right of the population to life, food and health."
(in http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/asian-governments-urged-pressure-myanmar-20080513)


Is it the beginning of the end for the London Congestion Charge ?

Boris Johnson, London's new mayor, plans to drop the £25-a-day traffic congestion charge for "urban" SUV (> 225g of CO2 per km), that was due to be introduced in October. Crikey !

"Bring the boys back home !" (with choir)


Labour Day at the "Familistère"

Thanks to TF1, I've spent the last holiday at the Godin "Familistère" (Guise, near St Quentin, Aisne). The "Familistère" or "Social Palace" project was started in 1859 by Jean-Baptiste André Godin, a disciple of Charles Fourier's utopian socialism. Godin, a wealthy industrialist, founder of the famous stove factory that bears his name, transferred his foundries to Guise in 1846 and decided to follow his heart and his dreams of a better society, offering his workers a decent place to live and to raise a family.

"work facilities […] were linked to a communal settlement to form an harmonious society, equipped with all the necessary amenities: residential buildings, a pool, cooperative stores, a garden, a nursery, schools and a theatre (the temple of the Familistère community). This experiment lasted in cooperative form until 1968." (in http://familistere.com/site/english/utopia/prog_utopia.php)

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)


Tempelhof referendum

After this weekend’s failed referendum, forced by Berliners wishing to keep it open, Tempelhof, the Berlin Airlift airport, used during the Cold War to support the Western part of the City, landlocked by the Soviets, will be closed in October. It’s reasonable: it’s too close to the City centre, surrounded by residential areas, and the runways are too short for modern jets. The terminal, one of the biggest buildings in Europe, built from 1936 to 1941 by Ernst Sagebiel (according to Albert Speer’s plan for rebuilding Berlin, or "Germania", the new world’s capital), should be preserved.


Full employment in France

Mr Sarkozy said it loud and clear tonight, on TF1: "Plein emploi". Full employment. Looking for something to illustrate this post, I've found this excellent video, and I've also found out that Mr Fillon had already used those two magic words.

Let's recapitulate: we have a president that was elected because of its liberal program. He was going to put France to work. He and his prime minister. Work more to earn more, they say. At the same time, he also tried to convince us that he was the one who could talk Mr Mittal (above all people...) to keep Gandrange open, and this is not very liberal-like, it sounds more like populism. Cheap populism, which is what you get when you try to marry 400 years of Colbertism with freshly found liberalism in a country accused by sacrosanct Liberal England of wasting half of the European budget on its cows. And now they've also discovered Mr. Maynard Keynes. All in one year or, by the Luxembourgish calendar, between 2 Schueberfouers.


Biofuel: filling your tank with hunger

The UN is calling for action to avoid the "silent tsunami of rising food prices which threatens to push more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger" (http://www.un.org/). Protests against rising costs of basic foods already started in Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Bangladesh, South Africa.... Sub-Saharan Africans continue their decades-old silent protest, dying slowly, quietly, dryly.
I recall now the bad feeling I had last year when I read about Bush's visit to ethanol-driven

Biofuel production is said to be responsible for at least one third of the recent increase in food prices. It was already being called “deforestation fuel”. Now it’s also “hunger fuel”.

But it’s bio. «Quand je dors chez mon copain, on mange tout le temps bio» (Sanseverino, «Cette conne m'ennuie»).


Big political issue

The Vel'ohs are becoming the biggest political issue in Luxembourg City, which demonstrates vehemently the opposition's improficiency. First, someone asked a professional biker to test the bikes and to let us know that they're too heavy and that the brakes are not very good (who cares? they're built to be ridden at a relaxed pace, to cruise along bike paths and enjoy the ride). Now the CSV in questioning the security of payments made with credit cards at the Vel'oh stations.


OLEFA: The next generation school portal: Made in Luxembourg

"OLEFA is a collaborative web platform for schools offering a suite of cool web applications: school website management, library management & online books , collaborative writing tools (wiki), online comics & storytelling and much more...

The school-communities of 27 townships and over 50 schools in Luxembourg currently use OLEFA, 8.948 students and teachers are using the system by now. There are 25.209 collaborative wiki pages. 116.104 books are registered in 81 libraries."

From olefaschool.org. More details also at kirps.com.


Clearflow: Microsoft and traffic jams

Microsoft is launching a new web-based software tool to help drivers avoid traffic jams in 72 cities in the United States. It will be freely available at Live.com.

I wonder if it will also show people how to drive back from Vista to XP.

Sorry guys, I'm not going in that direction.

Peeping Tom in Luxembourg

A man has been arrested this weekend, for using a mini camera hidden in his shoe to look up skirts, at Auchan. WTF?!


Flemish Apartheid

If the recurrent language restrictions in Flanders were being imposed in a non-european country, protesters would already be camping in front of that country's embassies. Where is Europe going? (again?)

(see also easyexpat.blogexpat.com)


Where I Lay My Head (and my bones...) Is Home: Some statistical facts about dual citizenship in Luxembourg

(see the original charts in http://www.statistiques.public.lu/)

The red line at the bottom of the chart represents the number of foreigners that actually died in Luxembourg from 2001 to 2006 (arithmetic mean: 613 per year). Compare it with the blue line at the the top(arithmetic mean: 3133). Luxembourgers/foreigners death percentages: 83,6 / 16,4 %. Luxembourgers/foreigners total population percentages: 61,2 / 38,8 % (arithmetic means per year, again). Now think that some (most? half?) of this foreigners didn't choose to die in Luxembourg (road or work accident, sudden death, whatever...).
Surprised? I'm not.

And I'm also not too keen on the traditional idea of patriotism. In fact, I think most of it is a bunch of nonsense, and "national" traditions just a model for those who are too lazy or too stupid to think for themselves. But I do believe in citizenship, in responsibility, in rights and duties. The kind of citizenship built in Europe after the French Revolution (but not in France, it seems...).

There is no true citizenship without integration. The dual citizenship law in Luxembourg will only serve economical purposes. Luxembourg needs citizens, not "nationals", and those can not be created by law. True integration will come later, when people will be willing to die in Luxembourg. That's why I see no point in the "patriotic debate". It's only a question of money, a question of labour force. The patriotic debate will eventually boost up some clever (sorry for the incoherence) extreme right political formation, and that's it.

I also find the linguistic question to be a joke in a country with three official languages ("triglossie", they call it, in French...). But the language tests can be a good thing. In fact language tests can help improve the Luxembourgish statistics on accidents at work. It's different to be able to understand "José, bring me that cement bucket" (level A2) or "José, bring me that cement bucket without falling off the scaffold" (level B1).


Vel'oh! hoax

Someone at RTL Radio Luxembourg thougth that the Vel'ohs were just asking for an April Fools' Day hoax ... and shot himself in the foot!

The hoax was about swapping an old bicycle for a Vel-oh!'s annual subscription. The City decided to fight back, and play the game:

"La Ville de Luxembourg s'était inspirée de l'action «poisson d'avril» organisée par RTL Radio Lëtzebuerg le 1er avril pour proposer aux intéressés de déposer leurs vieux vélos le 2 avril entre 15h et 16h devant l'Hôtel de Ville, place Guillaume II. En contrepartie la ville a pu offrir 35 abonnements d'un an à vel'oh!

La ville projette d'utiliser tous ou une partie des vieux vélos dans le cadre de l'action «Mei oder manner», ayant pour but d'engager les enfants des écoles primaires à prendre leurs responsabilités et de susciter leur compréhension envers la nature et l'environnement.

Merci à tous ceux qui ont joué le jeu !" (in vdl.lu)


The old "Veräinshaus" in Differdange

I don't understand this country. Is it so difficult to see some cultural and patrimonial value in this XIX century (the entrance gate is older) building in Differdange?

The fabrique d'Église(laymen association in catholic parishes) wants to sell it (one million euros). The Secretary of State for Culture wants to preserve it. According to L'Essentiel, this is another political dispute between central and local governments over the possession of land.

Either way, couldn't they preserve the old building and use it for community purposes? Just the idea of preserving it would serve per se a very strong community purpose - it would help keeping the city's collective memory and it would strengthen the sense of identity of its habitants.

I'm sure they could find another place to build this ... thing:


Tim Buckley / Song To The Siren

YouTube rules...

"Long afloat on shipless oceans
I did all my best to smile
'til your singing eyes and fingers
Drew me loving to your isle
And you sang
Sail to me
Sail to me
Let me enfold you
Here I am
Here I am
Waiting to hold you

Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you hare when I was fox?
Now my foolish boat is leaning
Broken lovelorn on your rocks,
For you sing, touch me not, touch me not, come back tomorrow:
O my heart, o my heart shies from the sorrow

I am puzzled as the oyster
I am troubled as the tide:
Should I stand amid your breakers?
Should I lie with death my bride?
Hear me sing, swim to me, swim to me, let me enfold you:
Here I am, here I am, waiting to hold you"

Herbert James Draper - Ulysses and the Sirens (1909)

'Come here,' they sang, 'renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song- and he who listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the whole world.'

(The Odyssey, by Homer, written 800 B.C.E, translated by Samuel Butler, here)

Tom Waits - European Tour Petition

Update: European dates here!

"To: ANTI Records

I have been a Tom Waits fan for many years now, yet have never been lucky enough to see him in a live setting; I wasnt born at the time he performed in Scotland and couldnt get tickets to see him at his last appearance in the UK in London in 2003. It is with this petition that I hope to appeal for a European tour - however small - to iron-out the inequities wrought by Time and to see one of the most original and electrifying musicians of our era.

C. MacIntyre


The Tom Waits - European Tour Petition to ANTI Records was created by and written by Chris MacIntyre (chris_mac159@hotmail.com). This petition is hosted here at http://www.petitiononline.com/petition.html as a public service."


"Nicolas Sarkozy arrives in the UK but we all love Carla Bruni" (The Telegraph)

"Miss Bruni looked as demure as a convent girl, and as ready to be naughty if the spirit, or the Prince of Wales, moved her.
She wore a long grey coat and a slim grey beret, and managed to make almost everyone else appear overdressed." (The Telegraph)

"it's all about Carla - and that funny little husband of hers" (The Telegraph).

Tata buys Jaguar and Land Rover

Is it the colored man's burden to save the ruined English auto industry (see bellow)?

('Swami Vivekananda (Sanskrit: स्वामी विवेकानन्द, Svāmi Vivekānanda) (January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902), whose pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta (Narendranath Dut-tta), was one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. He was the chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and the founder of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. He is a major figure in the history of the Hindu reform movements.'
- in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Vivekananda.

'Vivekananda's main agenda was Hinduization or Vedantization of the Christian West, a sort of muted counter conversion of the people whose missionaries had been evangelizing and Christianizing the Hindu Orient. "India must conquer the world," the "cyclonic Hindu" announced in the West. (...) "I was born for this, and it was left for me to do!" This indeed was an audacious challenge from a colonial native to the imperial West--a powerful response to the Western "civilizing mission" in the colonial world - a dramatic reversal of the concept of the "white man's burden" into that of the "colored man's burden." '
- in http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-155781996.html)


Vel'oh: Vade retro, satana!

The Wort has just discovered that Luxembourg and the Vel'oh bicycle system will become a lucrative business for JCDecaux, as confirmed by Jean-Sebastien Decaux, the executive director of the company.

I'm outraged. I feel betrayed. We all thought that JC Decaux was a non-profit organization, but no, it's a market economy firm.
I want to scream: "____________" (here you can choose: "¡No Pasarán!" or "Vade retro, satana!")


Bigfoot in Luxembourg

Nice buzz for the movie (check the director's name). But who needed the video confession, at least this side of the Atlantic?


Luxembourg drivers: are they truly polite?

From the Wort: "Luxemburger sind höfliche Autofahrer". I agree that it's not easy to find an agressive driver in Luxembourg. But "polite", "courteous"? "Höflich" can also be translated has "unrude", which is more appropriate in this case. A tree is unrude. A stone wall is unrude. Luxembourgish drivers (or Luxembourg drivers) are not rude, they drive peacefully and respect traffic rules (when they're aware of them...). But this is not being polite: being polite is to adequate your speed near a junction to let someone turn left in front of you, even if you have the right of way. Being polite is to aknowledge the existence of other drivers and don't wait half a minute before moving so that you don't limit the number of cars that make it through before the light turns red again.

Robert A. Heinlein once said that politeness is a sine qua non of civilization. I totally agree with him.


Leonard Cohen in Europe

(Because Of, from the "Dear Heather" album, PV by his daughter, Lorca)

"Leonard Cohen announced his world tour, marking a return to the live arena after 15 years. He is scheduled to open in Toronto on June 6 and 7, the city that gave birth to his career as a recording and literary artist, and then play Europe in the remainder of June, July, August and early September." (in http://www.leonardcohen.com/)

In Europe:
14-Jun-08 Dublin IMMA
15-Jun-08 Dublin IMMA
17-Jun-08 Manchester Opera House
18-Jun-08 Manchester Opera House
19-Jun-08 Manchester Opera House
20-Jun-08 Manchester Opera House
29-Jun-08 Glastonbury Glastonbury Festival
01-Jul-08 Oslo Aliset Stadium
03-Jul-08 Helsingborg Open Air
05-Jul-08 Copenhagen Rosenborg Castle
06-Jul-08 Arhuus Raadhus Parken
08-Jul-08 Montreux Montreux Jazz Festival
09-Jul-08 Lyon Festival
10-Jul-08 Bruges Cactus
12-Jul-08 Amsterdam Westendam
16-Jul-08 Edinburgh Castle
17-Jul-08 London The 02 Arena
19-Jul-08 Lisbon Passeio Maritimo
19-Jul-08 Lisbon Passeio Maritimo de Alges
20-Jul-08 Bennicasim Festival
22-Jul-08 Nice Jazz Festival
24-Jul-08 Nyon Paleo Festival
25-Jul-08 Lorrach Stimmen Der Welt
27-Jul-08 Lucca Summer Festival
29-Jul-08 Athens Lykabettus Theatre

(see also http://aeglive.com/tourdates.php?id=17701&detail_type=event; be aware of
some contradictory information)


Diesel taxes in Europe

"The European Commission says the wide variation in rates of diesel (officially known as gas oil) taxes creates distortions in the road haulage market – and also increases environmental damage by encouraging “fuel tourism” by hauliers (i.e. making special journeys or using longer routes in order to fill up in a country with low taxes). Also, since diesel and petrol have similar impacts, especially from the point of view of CO2 emissions, there is no environmental reason for the two minimum rates to differ. The Commission is therefore proposing to raise the minimum rate on diesel up to the minimum rate on petrol."

"Adopting by 447 votes in favour to 64 against with 39 abstentions a report based on a draft by Olle Schmidt (ALDE, SE), MEPs agreed with this in principle, but said the minimum taxes on diesel should rise more slowly, from the current level of €302/1000 litres to the current petrol level of €359/1000 litres by 2015 rather than 2012. Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania should have until 2016 to reach the target. On the other hand, contrary to the Commission proposal, MEPs said Spain, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal and Greece did not need a transitional period."
(in http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/044-23872-070-03-11-907-20080312IPR23862-10-03-2008-2008-true/default_en.htm)


Pearly Dewdrops Drops: the Cocteau Twins

I swear, I try to resist YouTube. But sometimes I just can't.

Think City, please (or else be Smart, or show your iQ)

"TH!NK city demands very little of you. In fact, not much more than a mobile phone. Just an overnight power top-up, and it’s ready to go in the morning. It can travel up to 200 kilometres (124 miles) in city driving on a fully charged battery, with a top speed of 100km/h. It is fun, clean and simple."

The Th!nk City will go on sale at the end of 2008. It will run for 200 km on one charge and hit 100 km/h. The price will be around 20 000 euros, plus a 200 euros monthly fee for the battery loan scheme (the company will own the batteries, replace them when needed, and even pay you electricity and insurance bills). It's not cheap. In a 5 years (60 months) scenario, it would cost 20 000 + (60 x 200) = 32 000 euros. Now let's say that we would drive 500 km per month, which I think it's more then enough in a city like Luxembourg. That's 6000 km per year, and 30 000 in our 5 years. How much would we spend with a Citroën C1? The cheapest 1.0 costs 8 750 euros, but you can easily buy it for 7500 euros. I'm not sure about this, but I would say that it would be possible to insure it for 600 euros per year, = 3000 euros in 5 years. Plus maintenance (250 euros per year = 1250 for 5 years) and petrol (let's say 1800 euros during the whole fires years). It all adds up to 13 550 euros, almost half what we would spend with the Th!nk.

Verdict: nice Norwegian clean cute car, but you'll have to go to London to see one in the metal. Only the city congestion charge exemption will justify its price. For a city like Luxembourg, buy the Citroën. Or better: take a bus!


The Flemish "Wooncode"

The United Nations are afraid that the Flemish "Wooncode" may lead to racial discrimination: speaking or agreeing to learn Flemish has become a condition to access social housing in Flanders. I think it's the other way around, that it really promotes integration, but that's not the problem. The problem is that language is being used as a weapon against French-speaking Belgians, keeping them on their side of the fence in the area around Brussels. And this is the worst way you can use your mother-tongue. It becomes a vehicle of hate.


Mehdi Kazemi and Pegah Emambakhsh

Mehdi Kazemi, a gay Iranian asylum seeker who the British government plans to send back to Iran on the grounds that if gay Iranians are "discreet about their sexuality", they will not get in trouble, tried to apply for asylum in The Netherlands. But his case cannot be judge there, and he is about to be send back to the UK, where another Iranian, a lesbian woman named Pegah Emambakhsh, was also detained and her asylum demand refused. If returned to Iran, they both face imprisonment and possibly stoning to death.

They're both human, not just names on the news. Their deportation his going to be discussed in the European Parliament this week.

City of Luxembourg: Plan d'aménagement général (PAG)

Some personal (and humble) considerations about the PAG presented the 29th of February (you can find it here):

- it's very positive to finally acknowledge that the saturation of the Hamilius-Gare axis is one of the major problems concerning public transportation in the city; the solution is, of course, to create other bus-train(-tram?) interfaces, namely in Kircheberg, Gasperich and Howald (East, South and West; the Northern entrance to the city poses a different problem, as the highway is still under construction);

- it's good to know that, in a country where one of the most relevant yearly "cultural" activities is the Auto-Festival, someone is planning to reduce accessibilities for cars and promote public and soft transportation (at least it shows some nerve);

- sadly, there are no plans for closing the highway ring around the city: if you're in Strassen and want to go to the airport, it's faster to drive through town, and this is not a good sign;

- a second inner ring (with a speed limit around 70-80 km/h, where possible) would help distributing the traffic coming from the highway; this function is now taken by some of the radiating axes and, what's worst, by the streets surrounding the city centre, which is not good; this would be the right place to build P&Rs and the new bus-train(-tram?) interfaces;

- is it reasonable to expect that the city will continue to grow has in the last 10 years? What will happen if banking laws and TVA are imposed and harmonized through out Europe?

- promote the installation of families in the city is not has easy has to reduce traffic or paint new bicycle lanes: people will have to be convinced that they are allowed to be part of the city, and that they can have a life outside the "oxygen bubbles" provided by the proximity of their countries of origin (for the frontaliers) or by the institutional/social support from their employers (for the European civil servants); for to really establish themselves in real Luxembourg, people need to know that they will be able to send their children to a good school, and to have European quality health care (not just cheap), and that they can go to a supermarket or shop other than Auchan and get a good friendly service even if they can only communicate using the second official language of the country. Of course this has nothing to do with traffic, but the population issue is (well) included in this "Plan d'aménagement général";

- only recently I was aware of the existence of (another) controversy about the demolition of Luxexpo to liberate some space for the tramway. I can only have one opinion about this: implode the damn thing!


We're saved: the Vatican has listed pollution has a new sin

... and also genetic experimentation, drug abuse, abortion, paedophilia, excessive wealth and causing social injustice. Part of this we already knew (the "do as I say, not as I do" part). But... Recycle or go to Hell!?

The Green Pope (further explanation here)

Tata's Nano at Geneva Motor Show

Let's be very politically incorrect: millions of Indians will get one very cute family car, and the world will get more pollution, more CO2 emissions, more demand for fossil fuels. And don't forget that when the catalytic converter fails and it's not replaced, emissions will increase fivefold.


MUPI in Luxembourg (like in "Martine in Luxembourg" or "Noddy in Luxembourg")

We already knew that Santa was living in Luxembourg. After the most recent anti-MUPI fairy tale reactions (small print: "although our main business is banking, we don't want your filthy capitalist advertising in our city"), I've just been informed that Snow White is also moving into town, and she's bringing the Dwarfs with her (not all of them, Grumpy is staying in Liechtenstein; and, by the way, Bambi is still happily living in Switzerland, where he relocated to after the fall of the Weimar Republic).
(previous posts about the free bicycle system and the contract with JC Decaux here and here)


Tom Waits in Europe

Update: European dates here!
According to The Washington Independent, Tom Waits is going on tour this summer, not only across US but also in Europe, I hope...

(I've recently found this rare 1979 clip for "The one that got away" directed by John Lamb - the whole story here)

(Updated: read my post about the European Tour Petition)


Zidane and Materazzi - News get old

"Las noticias envejecen. Consíguelas frescas."

(News get old. Get them fresh.)

For Milenio mexican news agency, by Olabuenaga Chemistri, México City.

From Liechtenstein to Luxembourg

After the recent tax evasion scandal concerning Liechtenstein, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck said that other loopholes should be addressed. Luxembourg, Belgium and Austria included.

"Asked whether Luxembourg was considered a tax-friendly state, Steinbrueck replied: "Not in the sense of a tax haven, but you know that it is hard to get certain information from Luxembourg. That also applies to Austria."
In the second half of 2005 when the new rules came into force, Liechtenstein collected 2.55 million euros ($3.87 million) of tax on investments that come under the scope of the EU rules.This rose to 14.8 million euros for all of 2006, compared with Switzerland's collection of 101.62 million euros in first half 2005 and 341.24 million euros in 2006." (http://www.guardian.co.uk/feedarticle?id=7354323)


9/11 ASH ad

Anti-smoking ad for ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) by DDB New Zealand. Too soon?


UP-Robots: the birth of useful personal robotics

According to Forbes, robots are going to be the next tech bubble. There's nothing really new going around the net these days, just fights over taking control of the next big thing, which is probably going to be old after a couple of months. Facebook is already going down, with lesser new subscriptions every day.

A bubble is something that, by definition, is supposed to burst, sooner or later. The trick is to ride it while it's still full (of air), and to put your money in it while it's still taking shape. Robots are going to happen, sooner or later. They are going to take over a lot more of tasks around our houses, our places of work, our cities, our fields, our factories, even in our nice little battlefields abroad...

Of course this is already happening, what's new is that it's going to happen right before our noses. Technology is getting cheaper, and something is going to hit big time our supermarket shelves and start a new trend, simplifying something that we do everyday. It's not going to be a gadget. Gadgets are expensive for what they do and boring after a short time. This is something that we are going to buy and hold on to for no less then five years, like a TV set or a laundering machine. Everybody is going to have one. It's going to interact with us and with our houses, it's not going to kill our cat or molest our children and it will talk and walk and do something really cleaver.

During the next 2 to 5 years Auchan is going to start selling it.

If you know what it is, put your money in it.

Quote of the day, from the same Forbes' article:
"Will Microsoft merge with Yahoo! in the same way that a shark merges with a surfer?"

(A deleted scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)



New site here: http://www.veloh.lu/.

Envoyé par weblessentiel dans Evènements sur wat.tv

A new comment about the Marcel Kalmann incident

An update to my previous posts (here, here and here):

"Anonymous said...
Belgian newspaper De Standaard has an article about this story today, basically showing that the story is incorrect, and that the city of Bruges has complained to the newspaper Joods Actueel that launched the story for not checking its sources and publishing an incorrect story. Mr Kalmann is said to have gone to the press in Holland before with invented stories

You can read the De Standaard article here. Besides what's written in the above comment, it also says that the discussion concerned the price asked for one coffee (6.5 euros), and that Professor Kalmann is not an American citizen, nor a professor. After complaining to the police about a supposed anti-Semitic discrimination, he then demanded an English written certification of the complaint (at least that's what I read in my BabelFish translation...). Afterwards, he is said to have expressed himself in perfect Dutch. Back in 2001, Mr. Kalmann was involved in a similar "incident" in the Netherlands (I have tried to confirm this one, but never could reach the post reporting it; I tried again today, and it's now available here, where the whole story was covered very seriously).

If any of my Dutch-speaking readers wants to correct "my" translation of the article, or report another perspective of the incident, please feel free to leave a comment or to e-mail me. I will publish it.


More problems with the bicycle contract in Luxembourg City

The free bicycle system - and the contract with JC Decaux - is still fuelling the political debate in Luxembourg City. Some of the MUPIs (Mobilier Urban pour l'information) were removed, and it seems that others will follow, because their location was said to be dangerous for traffic visibility. A written approval from the Ministry of Culture is also missing, according to the opposition. "This fairy tale comes from people who have no clue about public tenders", says the City Council.

The result of all this is obvious: the City will have to loose a lot of money to honor the contract with JC Decaux, and the opposition will have a very good argument for the coming election, although they don't seem to have any solutions or a positive attitude towards pollution or traffic increase (the bicycles are not to supposed to solve any traffic or pollution problems, they're just a very good way to start changing, to say "we care, we are aware of the problem, we are doing something"). This Friday the City Council will present a preliminary study for a Plan d’aménagement général that will deal with a foreseen increase of residents, jobs and number of cars entering the city everyday. First councillor François Bausch (from the Greens, and best known for putting his money where his mouth is: I'm not the only one to see him cruising trough the city in his bicycle almost everyday) said that by 2020 the Council expects to have tripled the offer of public transportation and doubled the numbers of soft mobility (walking, cycling).

More comments (in French) here and here.


Sarkozy's video update

The video was gone... Here it is again. (I guess Le Parisien is trying to get back all the traffic from YouTube)

Nicolas Sarkozy: "Piss off, you prick"

There is an interesting little discussion going on here over the best English translation of Sarkozy's very polite words. It was not my intention to take part in it, but I have to admit that "fuck you" is not the best match for "casse-toi". It's closer to "sod off" or "piss off". About "pauvre con", I keep my original translation: "you prick". Very nice, any how.


Nicolas Sarkozy: Casse toi pauvre con!

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Frech president, at the opening of the annual Salon de l'agriculture, in Paris, this Saturday: "Fuck you, you prick" (or any other possible translation). The guy was refusing to shake his hand. (check the update: Piss off, you prick)

"The right way to make mayonnaise, cheese soufflé and foie gras is to receive protection from the United Nations if the latest ploy from President Sarkozy wins approval from the international body. Mr Sarkozy announced that he wants la cuisine française to be listed by Unesco, the UN agency, as part of the world's cultural heritage. " (TimesOnline)

"France is back in Europe," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy following the adoption of a law that allows him to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Swapping Kosovo for a pair of sneakers

A video of two young women looting during the riots in Belgrade has become a hit on YouTube.

"A persistent amateur cameraman followed the women as they loaded up with chocolates at a corner shop, came out giggling, then went after designer bags, shoes and clothes at Belgrade's swankiest stores in its vandalized main shopping street." (in reuters.com)


Vlaams Belang: simple actions for simple minds

Following a judiciary leak, the independentist flemish party Vlaams Belang has created an internet site with a top-20 recidivist criminals list, stressing the fact that most of them are youngsters of foreign origin. That's a fact, not a hidden secret. And that's a problem. Albert Einstein once said that "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it". Simple minds are dangerous.

The new bus lane in route d'Esch

Some facts about the new most discussed bus lane in route d'Esch:
1. When you have two lanes of traffic and you decide that one of them is going to be used only by buses (and by bicycles, it seems), you can not expect that all the drivers that were previously using that lane will leave their car at home and jump into the next bus. You can expect bigger traffic jams in the only lane now open for private cars.
2. We have a diesel pollution problem (in Luxembourg, high levels of nitrogen dioxide, in Brussels, fine particles: that's the geography of money - new diesel cars with particle filters here, old diesel cars without particle filters in Belgium - both very polluting and bad for your lungs, although "environmental-friendly" and government-supported because of the lower levels of CO2).
3. When you have a pollution problem, you can not expected the average citizen to decide on his own to park his new flashy just-bought-in-the-AutoFestival-diesel-burning bagnole and take the bus or the train, because he wants to show it to all his workmates and neighbours, and taking the bus or the train is soooo working class (and we are not working class, nor immigrants, we are transfrontaliers, and expatriates).
4. You can only rely on the City Council to take the good decision of imposing bus lanes, and forcing a lot of us to use public transportation. That's what they were elected for: to implement their decisions and their political program.

(Feel free to use this banner on your own blog)


More news on the Marcel Kalmann incident

From Deborah Lipstadt’s Blog:

"dan said...
Deborah,I am trying to find Professor K. He is known as Marc Kalmann in Sharpsburg, Georgia, his name is listed in phone books online as Marc not Marcel, but I assume his given name is Marcel. I cannot find what he is a professor of and where he was a professor, since at 64 he is prob retired now. I do want to contact him just to get his side of the story, in a gentle way. Maybe he was not the one who made the story so big, maybe the reporter or editor at Jewish Currents made the story bigger by qyoting the prof out of context and writing the headline they he did. But that story sure had legs on the Internet, with many headlines such as "Man kicked out of Belgian cafe for being Jewish" and "Professor kicked out of cafe for wearing yarmulke" and things like that. Which was NOT the case. He was kicked out for causing a scene, but it does seem one of the waiters targeted the kippa after the argument was dying down and the professor remembered that detail. So there ARE two sides to the story, but the main thing is that he was NOT kicked out for being Jewish or wearing a kippa. but the blogosphere is already saturated with this news. Google "Marcel Kalmann" under the google blogs news area, and you will see. The story got blogged to high heaven. SIGH. and it was not even a true. A lesson learned....PS: I also think the JTA should issue a correction, and I have asked editor Ami Eden to do so. But he does not reply my emails. I guess JTA doesn't care about little details like this. danny"
"Deborah Lipstadt said...
Dan:I admire your wanting to find him and hear what he had to say. Why don't you wait until you do or until JTA or Haaretz do and then reach a decision about what actually happened.As your digging indicates, the story has two sides and seems a bit more complicated than what was originally posted on JTA.However, let's not immediately assume, as you seem to now be doing, that the professor is a charlatan who completely made this up. Let's hear how he responds to the cafe's side of the story.Deborahp.s. I recall that when i was at a wedding in Brussels a few years ago a group of us planned to walk back and forth from the synagogue over Shabbat [it was close to our hotel]. The family, very sober folks, provided security for us. I said: is this really necessary. They said: it may be a bit over the top but there are a lot of people here who would have no compunction about bothering a group of Jews. So it is entirely possible that some antisemitic things were said.Maybe yes.... maybe no.
February 19, 2008 2:55 AM
dan said...
Deborah,I agree, let's wait and see what JTA or Haaretz do in their corrections, if they ever issue one. Point well taken.But when you say: *"However, let's not immediately assume, as you seem to now be doing, that the professor is a charlatan who completely made this up."*Please tell me where in my posts I said he is a charlatan who completely made this up? I never said that and you know that. Why put words in my pen I never wrote?I am surprised at you doing this!All I said is that the story might not have happened the way the good professor said it did. As the letter from the cafe seems to say as well. In others, yes, he was Jewish, he was wearing a kippa under his hat at first before he took his hat off, and yes, he was kicked out of the cafe. But it appears he was not kicked out because he was Jewish or wearing a kippa. It does appear he was ushered out of the cafe because he had caused a scene over money, over the bill, over the ridiculous tourist trap prices which were three times the normal price! So yes, he was angry. I don't blame him. But to say I said he was a charlatan, where did I say that? Please tell me....I also never said he made the story up. When a person is angry and wants to get even, they often remember details that are important to them, such as the waiter telling him after seeing his kippa, "We don't serve Jews here!" Yes, the waiter said that. But Professor K was not kicked out because he was Jewish or wearing a kippa. That is is his paranoi.How am I saying he made it all up. I just said he gave his own reasons for being kicked out, reasons that made sense to him. Sure, that's understandable.Oi.I'm outta here. You deal with this... mesguggah!
February 19, 2008 4:37 AM
dan said...
Daniel Kalmann, the man's brother, has posted this at Deborah's blog. More light:"Let me quickly shed some light on Marc Kalmann, my brother. He was born in 1948 in Amsterdam and not in Auschwitz in 1945. He lives in the Netherlands and is fluent in Dutch. He lived in the USA for 22 years and was sometimes employed as a teacher of languages at community colleges. He liked the title professor and has used it since. He tends to believe his own fantasies. I love him but I am concerned that his fantasies take over his world. And through the magic of the Internet it is taking the world by storm. I wanted to set some part of the record straight. I have no knowledge of what did or did not happen at the restaurant in Bruges."
February 20, 2008 6:40 AM "

MY conclusions:
1. The Panier d'Or in Bruges is a tourist trap.
2. Marcel Kalmann didn't like it.
3. In the heat of the discussion some idiot used the word "jew".
4. The professor made the right use of this part of the incident (again, that's my opinion).
5. The police didn't handle the incident in the best way.
6. The internet is BIG, and news travel and multiply at the speed of light (or DSL).

(read one more update here)


Metro subway in Luxembourg

The ADR (Alternative Democratic Reform Party*) thinks that the best solution for the future of public transportation in Luxembourg would be a metro, not the tramway. The building of a subway tunnel in only three years in Leipzig is cited has an example. Leipzig has 500 000 habitants, five times more than Luxembourg (surrounding comunes included). The city tunnel was built to complete the suburban train system, and it's not a metropolitan subway. A similar project in Luxembourg would mean extending the train lines from the Gare up to Kirchberg, with an additional central station in the Centre-Ville. By the way, Leipzig's suburban tunnel is a seven years project, with the following anounced benefits: "More than 320,000 car km per day will be avoided. This will considerably increase the City’s share in short-distance public transport. Shorter travelling time between medium level centres and the city centre of Leipzig. Better connection and development of the airport, New Fair Ground, the media centre and the city centre. Better connections of the south west region of Saxony to Greater Leipzig and the city centre. Additional axis for high-speed long distance traffic from Berlin via Leipzig, Nuremberg to Munich. Positive influence on employment situation (directly and indirectly) by creating up to 1,500 jobs during the construction phase."
(in http://www.citytunnelleipzig.de/english/english_information.html)

Let's get real?

Leipzig's Central Station is one of the largest terminus train stations in Europe. A few years ago sections of the Station were altered to house a state-of-the-art shopping and service centre.

More posts about the tramway here.


The Marcel Kalmann incident: updated news

I've received new comments about the Marcel Kalmann incident in Bruges. It's only fair to publish them. Check them out in the above link.
(read one more update here)