Since February 2009 , this blog and Huib's 3 other Euroblogs are together at:

- In Europa Zu Hause [DE]
- L'Europe Chez Soi [FR]
- At Home in Europe [EN]
- In Europa Thuis [NL]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

2005.12.07-12: Rice in Europe - on "Legal Alien"

Yesterday, I published on my sister blog A Legal Alien in New York the following opinion on American arrogance and European hypocrisy around the treatment of “unlawful enemy combatants”. You are invited to read it there.

Here is, how it begins:

A Week of Torture

Let me say it outright and at the beginning of this post: In my opinion, coercive techniques are allowed, if not necessary, when dealing with active criminal terrorists. People who are engaged in crimes against civilian populations, who are in the business of concretely preparing and executing them, should be forced to tell all information they dispose of, in order to save lives of innocent people. This exception to a general worldwide treaty on banning torture and inhuman treatment of detainees, should be accepted, put on paper, and surrounded by all possible guarantees, so that it will not be misused and abused. In Europe, this is not a popular point of view. In Europe, we, civilians, are used to dress barriers, legal barriers, against all possible abuse by authorities. That is because we do not trust them. Historically, there is plenty of good reasons for that mistrust. For us, legal limitations on official intrusion into the corporal and psychic integrity, even of offenders, are a landmark of civilisation. […]

And so on….

This is, how it ends:

But, in the end, nothing has changed, after this torturing week. On December 11, The Washington Post commented sadly:

Europeans and Americans who interpreted Ms. Rice's statements last week as an assurance that the CIA will no longer use waterboarding, prolonged shackling or induced hypothermia in its secret prisons were misled. Administration officials tell us there has been no decision to abandon those practices. Similarly, those who have hoped that the McCain amendment would end CIA abuses, as we have, must lower their expectations. The creation of a legal standard, while essential, probably will have to be followed by an effort to compel the administration to respect it, through further legislation or court action.

In short: American services should shut up with their contra productive and offending practices, and the Europeans should abandon their illusion that they could stay out of it, and act.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

And another set of pictures from the REGENERA meeting in The Hague (1-3 December)

Edelweisse Thornley, from Glasgow

Alistair McDonald, a fine expert from Glasgow

Miodrag Nicolic, Kazakh dance expert from The Hague city...

...and two of the dancers, in front of the restaurant library.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Some other pictures from the REGENERA Workgroup in The hague (1-3 December)

Ivan Tosics from Budapest, not a dancer, with, in the background, Rémy Nouveau, principal expert

A Network Working Group (REGENERA in The Hague) 1-3 December 2005

REGENERA Working Group (URBACT): Some pictures taken in The Hague

Stéphane Bienvenue, St. Étienne, network expert

Conxita Vila, Sant Adria de Besós, Cataluña

Surendra Santokhi, efficient organiser of the conference, The Hague City

Our meetings President, hired by the City of The Hague, from Croatia

Alexander Wagner, from Cologne, but very Lyonnese, assistant project manager

Susanna Canestri, Turin.

EUKN Dutch Launch The Hague 2 Dec.

EUKN Dutch Launch, The Hague 2/12/05

[AHIE, 5c02] The European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN) had its European inauguration in Paris, 27th October 2005. Today, the energetic EUKN team, hosted by the national KCGS (Kennis Centrum Grote Steden, Knowledge Centre Greater Cities) in The Hague, organised a consulting conference with participants and potential clients. Researchers (urban and university), local authorities and Dutch urban experts were invited to share their remarks, suggestions and knowledge, with the EUKN team.
Some very interesting suggestions were proffered, like facilitating direct contact between urban practitioners via the internet, collectioning more systematically international comparative studies, and adding “culture/professional artistic interventions” to the categories to be distinguished in the databases.
Maastricht alderman Han Hoogma underlined the benefits cities gain from a direct relation with the European authorities and –funders. A knowledge network as EUKN will help these cities to find independently their way in designing city-wide and region-wide (networked) solutions. Without Europe, the economic recovery of the transborder area Aix-la Chapelle – Maastricht – Hasselt – Liège would not have happened. Room to make their own rules, for instance on security and drugs, is essential for this kind of close intercity cooperation to succeed.
It was interesting to meet a representative of the Dutch consultancy firm RADAR, a specialist in social policies, who announced the launch of their Brussels bureau. The best discovery for me, was a meeting with two young representatives of the young city of Almere (created from scratch on the bottom of the former big lake in Holland’s centre). The 180.000 strong city has inherited much of Amsterdam’s poverty problems. It participates in an European INTERREG network as leading city for the “governance” theme. We hope to continue this contact on different themes and levels.

Huib on Urban Travel: REGENERA in The Hague 2 Dec.

REGENERA in The Hague 2

Today, we visited four projects of life quality (health-related) in some deprived neighbourhoods of the city of The Hague.
  1. Medical Centre Rubenshoek (STIOM) and Pharmacy Transvaal

  2. Kesslerstichting: Project for the Homeless and Parnassia Mental Care/Diversity Policy

  3. Medical Centre Haaglanden (Hospital with diabetes project) (Caribbeans suffer oftener than others from this kind of diseases)

  4. Youth Centre “De Mussen » at “The Mall”, a Christian-inspired home and coaching centre for Antillean youngsters in difficulty

  5. I spent the morning visiting the Schilderswijk “Volksmuseum”, a centre of popular memory of the earliest history of the quarter, when it was settled by people who came to the city from southern and north-east provinces at the end of the 19th century. It was created when the overall renovation of this huge neighbourhood started at the beginning of the eighties. My difference of opinion with the mostly voluntary group who started it, was, and is, that you should not limit neighbourhood immigration history to Dutch immigrants. Southern Europeans who immigrated during the fifties and sixties, as well as the North Africans, Turks and Latin Americans who came after them, share an immigration history with the first inhabitants of the area. This is a strong common ground for local integration and common activities, as has been proven, for instance, in the Paris banlieue city of Châtenay-Malabry. As an urban regeneration expert, I was not too disappointed when I was told, that the centre will have to close its doors shortly because of lack of funds. As a social historian, however, I regret very much, that a fine chunk of popular history is at a grave risk now. In the afternoon, I participated in the EUKN Dutch launch, a conference of Dutch experts that took place in another part of the city. See following post.

It was also disappointing to see, that, since the years that I monitored the city’s regeneration policies as a civil servant, apparently, not much progress has been made in transforming the city services in order to facilitate an integrated approach of territorially accumulating problems. The The Hague diversity- and integration-policies are very sensible and rich, but there is no way, that they could by themselves steer efficiently the necessary emancipation processes in the city’s hot spots.

We will discuss these matters tomorrow in a general evaluation session at the City Library, located at the top of the huge white City hall, designed by Richard Meier.

No time for cable replacement today: photos and final impressions will follow in the coming days.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Huib on Urban Travel, 1 Dec. 05: REGENERA in the Hague

REGENERA in The Hague (Netherlands)
I was invited to the The Hague workshop (1-3 December) of the REGENERA Network under the URBACT programme, in order to facilitate the transmission of experiences, knowledge and failures to the other participants in this workshop from Europe. The Hague is a Dutch city of 450.000 inhabitants and it is known for its practical and efficient approach to problems arising from immigration and interethnic tensions. Problems of poverty and exclusion are concentrated in a limited number of neighbourhoods, such as the ‘Schilderswijk’, that are historically housing the poor and newly arrived. The City Council, under Christian Democrat Wim Deetman as the state-appointed burgomaster (Mayor), is open to creative and unorthodox initiatives to promote emancipatorial processes.
Like every greater Dutch city, The Hague struggles to make meet strict national law with the constraints of daily care. Mr. Surendra and his team of workers from different city services, try to put into practice an integrated approach to local clusters of problems.
Today, and for two other days, researchers, practicians and political people from the other cities that are in the REGENERA network, study the work that is in progress in this Dutch city.
We are here with representatives from Greater Lyon (the leading city of this network, France), from Milan, Turin and Pescara (Italy), St-Etienne (France), Prague (Czechia), Budapest (Hungary), Warsaw (Poland), San Adria de Besos and Santa Coloma de Gramenet (both from Cataluña, Spain), Birmingham, Glasgow and Belfast from the UK.
The experts responsible for a final report of this network are Rémy Nouveau and Alexander Wagner from Greater Lyon and Claude Jacquier, Stéphane Bienvenue, Hans Schlappaa and Elena Maggi, thematic experts. And, on this occasion, your blogger.
Today, we listened to policy explanations by our Dutch hosts. Oral reports were provided by foreign workgroup members on the subjects treated by inter-network URBACT conferences like the one that took place in October in Palermo (immigration), the URBACT annual meeting in Liverpool (14-15 November) and the Birmingham meeting a week later on city problems.
Tonight, we had a social evening in a Chinese-Indian restaurant, managed by people from the former Dutch colony of Surinam (Latin America). Food and dance provided a distracted ambiance, where otherwise very serious men and women from all parts of this old Continent went out of their heads and socialised in a way that provides hope for the future of this awkward collection of national entities.
(As I forgot to take my special cable, photos of these events will be published tomorrow;-).
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