Previously I made mention of the helmet laws in Australia, and how I agree with them, given how poorly motorists drive. Today, a health expert is calling for the abolishment of these very laws. There was a protest against the laws last month in Melbourne.
I am not too sure I agree with him, just yet. I rather agree with the vice-president of Bicycle New South Wales, Richard Birdsey who says that road safety, not helmet laws, are the biggest turn-off for potential cyclists. Yes for short distances and a hire scheme helmets can be an issue but unless cyclists are protected by law and better education is given to motorists, compulsory helmets are here to say.
An inconvenience to come to The Hague the other week. It was in the form of a supermodel Naomi Campbell. Neither super nor a model of humanity. She gave evidence at the Special Court for Sierra Leone at the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor who faces 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The accusation is that he financed the civil war with blood diamonds.
She was apparently ‘fashionably late’ and said “this is a terrible inconvenience to me… I’m just wanting to get this over with and get on with my life.”
It is said that ‘where there is no vision, the people perish’. I would argue that where there is no passion, the politicians perish.
There has been much discussion about the lack of any grand vision in the current Australian Federal Election campaign. It is so uninspiring, unmotivating and uninteresting that the only reason people will vote is because voting is compulsory in Australia!
Last month’s Leaders’ Debate (more a discussion) was a farce and in the campaign the media and public have been distracted by trivial matters and no robust examination of policy has taken place. I call it the election we had to have!
Today is the start of the International Year of Youth. Initiated a decade ago by the United Nations, this year’s theme is Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. The “theme reflects the General Assembly’s appreciation of the value of dialogue among youth from different cultures as well as among different generations.”
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon says, “Youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels.”
From late last month, London got its own Cycle Hire Scheme. I wrote about my experiences using the one in Paris previously. Since then I have also used a similar scheme in Stockholm, Trondheim, and seen it in use in Washington DC. I love cycling and the verb is synonyms with The Netherlands.
My previous posts (and here) recount my observations about cycling in The Netherlands. Also, I just found out that 1.3 million cycles were sold during 2009. Which brings the number of bikes in the low lands to over 18 million, more than enough for one per head. I am sure an unknown number are in the various canals!
The other day I heard and saw this piece on the BBC World Service about Blurred Vision. A Toronto-based band whose cover of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, is being interpreted as a protest against Iran’s government. The band is made of up two brothers whose family fled Iran in the 1980s. In an interview with The Independent the brothers, Sepp and Sohl, reveal that they ’prefer to keep their full name secret to protect family members still in Iran’.
Sohl hopes that people in the west change their perceptions of Iran, “from being an Islamic republic bent on acquiring nuclear weapons to a country crying out for change like South Africa once was.” He says “It’s about bridging that gap between east and west. Hopefully this song will help a little with that.”
Today, President Barrack Obama of the United States celebrates his 49th birthday. He shares his birthday with some notable historical figures. From the British Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, to the Swedish diplomat and humanitarian, Raoul Wallenberg.
Who would have thought that the child born on the 4th of August 1961, would overcome the social barriers, of that time, posed by the ‘colour of his skin’, and make the world see the ‘content of his character’ to one day occupy the highest office of his land.
Today the Netherlands began withdrawing its 1950 troops from Afghanistan. The Dutch contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was praised for their effectiveness and for pioneering “techniques which have since been held up as a model for other foreign forces in Afghanistan.” The four year mission cost the lives of 24 Dutch defence personnel, 140 were wounded and cost € 1.4 Billion to the Dutch State.
The Dutch pioneered the 3D Warfare Policy of Defence, Diplomacy and Development. This involved “fighting the Taliban while at the same time building close contacts with local tribal elders and setting up development programmes.”