Belgium’s legacy of colonialism lives on

Brussels May 10 2014
This shifty-eyed cop has every good reason to be suspicious of the camera catching the Brussels constabulary removing a woman & her child from begging in Grand Place, the central square in Brussels, Belgium. Belgium has ratified or acceded to every convention & protocol in international law concerning human rights. On paper the country looks like an international exemplar of justice. But a country doesn’t just walk away from it’s wretched colonial past by signing a few abstract & unenforceable documents. Colonialism requires a thoroughgoing historical & political accounting. Belgium & other countries are unwillling to make that accounting because it will expose their past criminalities & continuing exploitation & treacheries. That’s why finding decent history books on colonialism is so damn hard.

Belgium has been cited repeatedly in the past several years for violating the human rights documents it has ratified. It’s been cited for abuses in the prison system, in particular for prisoners with mental disabilities & refugees, including children refugees; repeatedly for discrimination against Muslims, in the courts & in the public streets; housing discrimination against Travellers; forcible evictions of thousands of Roma; racist practices toward Black citizens. A picture is shaping up here of a country reproducing its colonial relations within its own borders against anyone who isn’t white. Does that explain why Grand Place is called a “white sepulchre” by Marlow, the protagonist in the 1899 novel “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad?

Conrad, the Polish writer, worked for a Belgian colonial enterprise in Africa & well knew the racist depredations of European imperialism in Africa. Regrettably his experiences led him to misanthropic conclusions & his politics grew quite sour. He’s of the same generation as Mark Twain & shares the political problems of Twain, including racism & misanthropy in their senior years. They both lived in the heyday of colonialism & did not look to the colonized peoples as agents of their own emancipation. This is not the place for excuses like “they were products of their own times” since others were cogently analyzing & excoriating imperialism & colonialism.

Chinua Achebe, the great Nigerian writer (most notably of “Things Fall Apart”), delivered a famous critique of “Heart of Darkness” in a 1975 lecture entitled “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.” Achebe was a thoroughgoing analyst of European colonialism & called Conrad a “thoroughgoing racist.” This offended quite a few & stirred up quite a literary & political controversy–in precisely the same way as criticisms of “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.

The pending US intervention into Nigeria requires that historical accounting & puts colonialism, neoliberalism, & racist, xenophobic practices under the glare of exposure. It is important that we listen less to the voices of racist historians & writers & more to the voices of Africa.

No US intervention in Nigeria!

(Photo by Geert Vanden Wijingaert/AP)

Mary Scully

| Marfan syndrome engineer fixes own heart to save his life + 40 others!

Engineer saves his own life and 40 others by inventing device to repair life-threatening heart defect ~ EMMA INNES, MailOnline.

  • Tal Golesworthy has Marfan syndrome – a disorder of the body’s connective tissue that can cause the aorta to split, resulting in sudden death
  • He invented a made-to-measure polyester sleeve to fit around his aorta
  • He persuaded surgeons to try it out on him and it was so successful it has been used to treat 40 other people in London, Oxford and Belgium
  • Mr Golesworthy is now hoping a trial will be carried out to compare it to more conventional therapy

 

A patient who used his engineering skills to repair his own heart defect has helped save the lives of 40 people.

Tal Golesworthy, 57, suffers from Marfan syndrome, a genetic, life-threatening condition that left his aorta – the largest artery – in danger of splitting.

But faced with gruelling surgery and a lifetime on blood-thinning drugs, he designed himself a made-to-measure knitted polyester sleeve to fit around his aorta.

Tal Golesworthy, 57, suffers from Marfan syndrome, a genetic, life-threatening condition that left his main artery, or aorta, in danger of splittingTal Golesworthy, 57, suffers from Marfan syndrome, a genetic, life-threatening condition that left his main artery in danger of splitting. He designed himself a made-to-measure knitted polyester sleeve to fit around the artery

 

He persuaded doctors to use him as a guinea pig – and the ground-breaking procedure was a complete success.

Inspired by its success, Mr Golesworthy and a team of surgeons decided to make the technology available to other patients.

To date, more than 40 patients – the youngest being just 16 – have had their own individually designed surgical sleeve fitted in London, the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, and the Leuven University Hospital in Belgium.

Mr Golesworthy is now calling on surgeons across Europe to start a trial to test his device against more conventional therapy.

Around 12,000 people in Britain suffer from Marfan syndrome, a genetic defect which causes abnormal growth of bones and weakness of connective tissue.

This leaves the neck of the aorta – the main artery in the heart for carrying oxygenated blood – stretched dangerously thin.

He invented a polyester sleeve to fit around his aorta and persuaded surgeons to try it on him. It was so successful that it has now been used to treat 40 other peopleHe invented a polyester sleeve to fit around his aorta and persuaded surgeons to try it on him. It was so successful that it has now been used to treat 40 other people

 

A normal aorta has a diameter of around one-and-a-half inches, but in Marfan syndrome sufferers this can weaken and stretch to a staggering four inches wide.

If the aorta splits, it is often fatal.

Each sleeve is created using scans of the individual patient’s aorta and computer-assisted drawing to produce a bespoke device.

Mr Golesworthy, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, designed the sleeve because he had severe concerns about the old-style surgery that would have left him on anticoagulant drugs for the rest of his life to prevent blood clots.

The conventional surgery involves either repairing or replacing the aorta but has to be carried out before it becomes too weak.

Mr Golesworthy is now calling on surgeons across Europe to start a trial to test his device against more conventional therapyMr Golesworthy is now calling on surgeons across Europe to start a trial to test his device against more conventional therapy

 

He said: ‘I just thought the operation sounded awful. The doctors were being asked to do an engineering job when they weren’t engineers. I decided there had to be a better way.’

Mr Golesworthy, who markets the device through his firm Exstent, became the first recipient of his own brainchild called EARS – external aortic root support – on 24 May 2004 at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital.

Nine years on from his two-hour operation his aorta has not grown in size.

He said: ‘All of a sudden my aorta is now fixed, I began to breathe easy and sleep well and relax in a way that I hadn’t done for years and years before.

 

‘To conceive of the idea of an external support was easy, there are any number of armchair inventors about.

‘To build technical and commercial teams, raise the finance, run the project and volunteer to be the first patient was not so easy, particularly as I was trying to operate as a rational project manager when I knew the outcome of the project could have such a profound impact on my future health.’

More than nine years after having the pioneering operation, Mr Golesworthy said his life has been transformed as he no longer has to take any medications and he can live a 'normal' lifeMore than nine years after having the pioneering operation, Mr Golesworthy said his life has been transformed as he no longer has to take any medications and he can live a ‘normal’ life

But more than nine years after having the pioneering operation, Mr Golesworthy said his life has been transformed.

The research and development engineer in the areas of combustion and air pollution control, added: ‘I take no prescription drugs, in particular I am not dependent on anti-coagulation.

‘I am living a life so “normal” that all the usual banalities have crowded in to irritate, work, money, the health of other family members, etcetera, but I have a freedom and emancipation that only an experience as profound as cardiothoracic surgery (or similar) can bring.

‘Since the operation I have been living a completely normal life, drinking alcohol when I feel like it and not taking anti-coagulant drugs.

Each sleeve is created using scans of the individual patient's aorta and computer-assisted drawing to produce a bespoke deviceEach sleeve is created using scans of the individual patient’s aorta and computer-assisted drawing to produce a bespoke device

‘I don’t have to worry anymore because everything works fine. The stress and worry used to be horrendous but all that has been removed.’

Andrew Ellis, 27, a keen footballer, has benefited from Mr Golesworthy’s inventiveness.

Five years after his surgery he remains fit and healthy and ‘feels like someone without a heart condition’.

‘Tal’s invention has taken away the looming threat of a major operation that was hanging over me for so long,’ he said.

Mr Golesworthy was able to apply his engineering skills to develop the life-saving sleeve with medical advice from Professor John Pepper and Professor Tom Treasure.

 

He lives with wife Teresa, 55, but revealed he does not have any children because Marfan syndrome is genetically transmitted.

Professor Graham Cooper, consultant cardiac surgeon at Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, said it would be a long time before the operation was rolled out.

He said: ‘We have been doing the traditional operation for over 20 years and it is proven to be very safe and effective – we know it stops people from dying.

‘This new operation may have some advantages – it may mean patients have less time in hospital and undergo a less complex procedure – but it will still be a long time before we have the data to compare different approaches.’

WHAT IS MARFAN SYNDROME?

Marfan syndrome is a disorder of the body’s connective tissues.

Children usually inherit the condition from one of their parents – if a person has the syndrome there is a one in two chance of their child having it.

Some people develop it despite not having a parent with the condition.

Some people are only mildly affected while others develop serious symptoms.

Typical characteristics include being tall, having abnormally long fingers, heart defects and eye problems.

A person with the syndrome does not have enough of a protein called fibrillin in their connective tissue.

This means parts of their body can stretch abnormally when put under stress.

The defective fibrilllin gene also causes some bones to grow longer than they should.

There is no cure so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms.

The life expectancy of people with the condition is reduced if their heart or aorta is affected.

Marfan syndrome affects about one in 5,000 people.

Source: NHS Choices

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| Freed hostages claim chemical attack was Syria rebel provocation!

Chemical attack was Syria rebel provocation, former hostages say ~ RT.

Two Europeans who were abducted and held hostage for several months in Syria claim they overheard an exchange between their captors which proves that rebels were behind the recent chemical attack.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES for the latest on Syria

In a number of interviews to European news outlets, the former hostages – Belgian teacher Pierre Piccinin and Italian journalist Domenico Quiric – said they overheard an English-language Skype conversation between their captors and other men which suggested it was rebel forces, not the government, that used chemical weapons on Syria’s civilian population in an August 21 attack near Damascus.

“It is a moral duty to say this. The government of Bashar al-Assad did not use sarin gas or other types of gas in the outskirts of Damascus,” Piccinin said during an interview with Belgium’s RTL radio station.

Piccinin stressed that while being held captive, he and fellow prisoner Quirico were secluded from the outside world and had no idea that chemical weapons were deployed. But the conversation which both men overheard suggested that the use of the weapons was a strategic move by the opposition, aimed at getting the West to intervene.

“In this conversation, they said that the gas attack on two neighborhoods of Damascus was launched by the rebels as a provocation to lead the West to intervene militarily,” Quirico told Italy’s La Stampa.“We were unaware of everything that was going on during our detention in Syria, and therefore also with the gas attack in Damascus.”  

While stating that the rebels most likely exaggerated the accident’s death toll, the Italian journalist stressed that he could not vouch whether “the conversation was based on real facts.”However, he said that one of the three people in the alleged conversation identified himself as a Free Syrian Army general, La Stampa reported.

Based on what both men have learned, Peccinin told RTL that it would be “insane and suicidal for the West to support these people.”

“It pains me to say it because I’ve been a fierce supporter of the Free Syrian Army in its rightful fight for democracy since 2012,” Piccinin added.

 

Belgian national Pierre Piccinin (L) disembark from the airplane on September 9, 2013 at Ciampino military airport in Rome (AFP Photo)Belgian national Pierre Piccinin (L) disembark from the airplane on September 9, 2013 at Ciampino military airport in Rome (AFP Photo)

 

Quirico seems to agree with Peccini’s assessment.

“I am extremely surprised that the United States could think about intervening, knowing very well how the Syrian revolution has become international jihadism – in other words Al-Qaeda,” Quirico said, as quoted by Italy’s Quotidiano Nazionale.

The 62-year-old La Stampa journalist believes that radical Islamic groups operating in Syria to topple Assad “want to create a caliphate and extend it to the entire Middle East and North Africa.”

In a number of news appearances, both Quirico and Piccinin shared stories of how they were subjected to two mock executions, beaten, and starved during their five-month captivity.

“These have been very tough months. We were beaten on a daily basis, we suffered two mock executions,” Quirico told reporters upon his arrival in Rome, AFP reported.

 

Italian journalist Domenico Quirico disembark from the airplane on September 9, 2013 at Ciampino military airport in Rome (AFP Photo)Italian journalist Domenico Quirico disembark from the airplane on September 9, 2013 at Ciampino military airport in Rome (AFP Photo)

 

“There was sometimes real violence…humiliation, bullying, mock executions…Domenico faced two mock executions, with a revolver,” Piccinin told RTL.

Both men were kidnapped in Syria last April by a group of armed men in pickup trucks who were believed to be from Free Syrian Army.

According to Piccinin, the captors soon transferred them over to the Abu Ammar brigade, a rebel group “more bandit than Islamist.”

“We were moved around a lot…it was not always the same group that held us, there were very violent groups, very anti-West and some anti-Christian,” Piccinin said.

Both men tried to escape twice but their attempts were unsuccessful, prompting the rebel group to punish them for their actions.

The Italian government announced on Sunday that both men had been freed after Rome intensified negotiations with the rebels for the release of the prisoners ahead of an anticipated US strike on Syria.

Another 13 journalists are still believed to be missing in Syria, according to Reporters Without Borders.

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false flagA

| Don’t be gullible – it’s April Fools’ Day!

April Fools’ Day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.

In ItalyFrance and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in ItalianFrenchand Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools’ Day postcards.

The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 by Pope Gregory XIII as New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, sometimes questioned for earlier references[1].

Contents

Origins

A ticket to “Washing the Lions” in London

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25,[2] and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28,[3] still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.

In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.[4] Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon.[5] Thus, the passage originally meant 32 days after April, i.e. May 2,[6] the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32”, i.e. April 1.[7] In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday.[8] In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1.[6] In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference.[6] On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.[6]

In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns.[9] In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1.[2][3] Many writers suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates.[2] The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century,[6] and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

A study in the 1950s, by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, found that in the UK and those countries whose traditions derived from there, the joking ceased at midday.[10] But this practice appears to have lapsed in more recent years.

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APR FOOL

External links:

BST 1

| Broken-up Britain? UK epidemic of separated families!

Broken-up Britain? UK epidemic of separated families ~ RT.

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“Timid politicians are becoming numb to Britain’s sky-high family breakdown rates. Behind too many front doors, instability damages adults and children. Yet, as these OECD figures show, broken families are not some inevitable feature of modern society or social progress.”

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(Reuters / Peter Macdiarmid)

(Reuters / Peter Macdiarmid)

Research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that the UK has one of the highest rates of family breakdown in the western world and that only 69% of children live with their mother and father.

The UK came only behind Belgium, Estonia and Latvia for broken homes and well below the average for OECD countries of 84%. The analysis looked at the living arrangements of children between the ages of 0-14 in 30 OECD member countries, it was reported in the UK media.

The worst country for broken families was Latvia with just 64.9% of children living with both parents. Finland had the most children living with both their mother and father at 95.2%. Italy stood at 92%, with Germany at 82%, and the US ahead of Britain on 70.7%.

The statistics also showed that the number of kids in the UK living with just their mother was 27.6%, while children living with their father was just 2.4%.

Christian Guy from the Centre for Social Justice explained that the figures were a depressing wake up call for UK politicians.

“Timid politicians are becoming numb to Britain’s sky-high family breakdown rates. Behind too many front doors, instability damages adults and children. Yet, as these OECD figures show, broken families are not some inevitable feature of modern society or social progress.”

The Marriage Foundation, a pro-marriage campaign group, said that the figures reflected an “appalling epidemic of family breakdown.”

“The latest UK data tells us that 450 out of 1000 children will experience the break-up of their parents before their 16th Birthday, largely as a result of the trend away from marriage, in particular the collapse away from unmarried families,” said Harry Benson, the Marriage Foundation’s communications director.

He continued that the figures should “convince politicians of all colors of their utter failure to deal with the central social problem of our times.”

He said that family breakdowns cost the government £44 billion ($71 billion) a year but yet they have no policy to reduce or prevent the continued rise of families breaking up.

But Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said the government has invested £30 million in relationship support to prevent family breakdown.

“Across government we’re working to improve the support available for families who experience abuse at home by more effectively punishing the perpetrator and doing more to educate young people about domestic violence,” he said.

In May this year the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank run by Iain Duncan Smith, found that the coalition government was failing to deal with the “tragic breakdown of family life.”

It also found that the welfare system penalized couples.  Overall the report gave the collation 4 out of 10 for measures to“reverse family breakdown” and just 2 out of 10 for their approach to the voluntary and community sector.

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Brainless3

family2