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Free weekly #1: Chinese walls, Erdogan vs social media and two firsts ever

b2ap3_thumbnail_potemkin.JPGThis week’s edition of free weekly is featuring Turkey and social media, NSA, Chinese walls and a Dutch orthodox party.

Apparently Chinese security agents do still believe in Santa Claus, oops sorry, I meant: in the idea of “what I don’t see does not exist”. When the Chinese president visited Amsterdam during the Nuclear Security Summit they placed mobile walls so that Xi would not have to see any demonstrators when he visited the palace at the Dam with his wife. Maybe the expression Chinese walls should be given a new interpretation? But, dear agents – if you really want to make your president believe that there is no opposition you will have to improve your technique! What about a trip to Russia - for some lessons in the meaning of Потёмкинские деревни (Potyomkin villages)?


No week with NSA. Finally also some positive news: there seems to be a change on its way. At least Congress and Obama both announced that there is a common understanding how to curb the current data collection mania of NSA. Unclear is yet how those changes will look like and how much they will actually curb the collection drift. Taking the initial reaction of Obama and the Congress into account the changes will likely clearly fall short of seriously attacking the main issues – but in this case any step can only be an improvement.

Ex-president Carter found already his own way of dealing with spying by the NSA: he uses snail mail again. Well – he is probably right that they by now forgot the old art of opening letters…


b2ap3_thumbnail_erdogan-cartoon.jpgThe price for making the most advances in moving back to autocracy goes this week to Erdogan and Turkey. First twitter was blocked. How could people dare to question Erdogan’s integrity! Now he will – as a true democrat – root this evil out, of course. A few days later a court ruled that the ban has to be lifted – but hey, the Turkish government knows when the law can be used to its advantage: access has not been restored yet as, according to the official reaction, “we have 30 days to implement the ruling or to challenge it”. But, hey – Erdogan is not done yet. To top it later last week YouTube got also banned for spreading negative news about him and his government. Erdogan continues to move Turkey away from the rule of law and closer to autocracy. What will be next? The first reaction after the municipal elections on Sunday does not promise an improvement soon. Sad story.


Last week had also two firsts: a first ever woman and the first ever U.K. queens marriage!

The first ever woman refers to the fact that for the first time in history a woman has been installed as political representative for the SGP. The SGP is an orthodox protestant party and is also the oldest Dutch party still active in politics. Until recently the statute of the party explicitly forbade women to be elected representative of the party. Only after this had been challenged in court and parliament as being discriminatory and after the ministry had threatened to cut funds for the party, the party reluctantly changed its statute. For the recent municipal elections the party could not find a male candidate as leader in Vlissingen, a small town in Zeeland, and the party leaders gave in and nominated a female candidate – and she got elected. Well – bad luck for the party leaders. When they changed the statutes they believed that this would solely be a pro-forma change to comply with the law. This shows that it’s hard to stop progress, it can only be delayed.


The last news for this week comes from the U.K. where the Queen lost the monopoly for a queen’ marriage: since last weekend it’s possible for homosexual couples to get married in the UK. Now it’s just waiting for the first Queen and Queen or King and King of the United Kingdom! wink


Free weekly is a new blog on this site and will for now come out bi-weekly (but ultimately aiming for weekly). As the word “free” can have several meanings so it has here: the format is free and the content will mainly focus on news around freedom, civil rights and on news that caught the author’s attention but did not made it to the headlines. Taking about free: Feel free to send any input!

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