Welcome! 😊

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Hi there, whoever you are, you are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by on my blog. As I quit Facebook a while ago I felt deprived of being able to ventilate my thoughts, so came the idea to start a blog. I roam trough this beautiful life, and enjoy it 😃 Hopefully my writings will inspire you or give you some things to think about, whether you might agree or disagree with me. Feel free to let me know. I try to post regularly on this blog, and the subjects vary as my thoughts and interest vary too. I do hope you will enjoy it, and always welcome if there is something you’d like to talk about.

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SFW version

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There is another version of this blog (NSFW). Due to some people having trouble making a difference between nudity and sex or pornography, I made this ‘clean’ version as you find it here. The contents are exactly the same, just the images might sometimes be different (warning: nipples might be shown in the other version). If you are a person that considers nudity as a normal part of life without a perverted view on it you might prefer to view the original version on http://yannbastiaans.wordpress.com

PLEASE, go to my other blog

Please, go to my other blog. This used to be a mirror of my original site, but due to some rules here where some simple minded people regard the human body as being distasteful, this mirror blog used to be ‘suitable for work’. As of now, I will only publish on my NSFW blog. Sorry for eventual crooked minds, but my images sometimes depict the human forms, without being pornographic. I was not referring to porno-lovers, but to people who think that one of the highest gifts of God – or nature, whatever you like – has to be rejected. 

You can find my original blog here.

We take away your freedom just to protect it

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ANY critical observer agrees that in the past years, especially since 9/11 2001, our individual freedom has greatly disappeared. Under the motto of “we do it to protect your freedom”, more and more laws have been enacted that conflict with the spirit of democracy, or are even undemocratic.

Mark Twain fool peopleThis has always been a wet dream of all secret and security agencies: to be able to follow each individual wherever he goes, and to know at every moment what that individual does, thinks and plans. Not much unlike the 1948 novel by George Orwell, ‘1984′. Secret agencies are known not to strictly follow the laws, sometimes secretly sanctioned by politicians for ‘the good of the country’. It is striking that secret laws are enacted and secret justice courts are instated without the knowledge of the general public nor its representatives, in the name of that same public with the so-called purpose of protecting the freedom of that same public.

Again, this is not a black-and-white story, I will not fall in line with Mr. Bush’s rethoric of “you are either with us or against us”, but the protection of our freedom against the threat of terrorism is a paradox. Politicians are the first to rant about our the freedom of our democracies that will prevail over all, but at the same time they are eager to dismantle that freedom.

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whistleblower Edward Snowden

Are we just fed an illusion of freedom? Are we willing to give away more freedom under the pretext it needs to be taken away just to protect us? Is this not the greatest victory of terrorism over our democracies? Keep in mind that our children, the generation born some 10 to 15 years ago, is the first ever generation that will never have known in real life what ‘privacy’ means. There is no more privacy. Everything you mail, everything you text via your cell phone, whomever you call via your phone, wherever you go, all this is known by the authorities.

Besides that major private companies now know more about you than your partner. Everything you do on internet, everything you buy in shops, everywhere you go thanks to the GPS in your smartphone. Certain shops even know which aisles you stroll in their shop, what products took more of your attention, because they can exactly monitor you by your unique smartphone signal. That way they can send you personalized spam and prompt you to buy these things. Never wondered why, after you visited some website of a window-selling company, you almost immediately get ads for windows in Facebook, on some other sites, in your mail?

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, second from right, is escorted to a waiting security vehicle outside of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Monday, July 15, 2013, after appearing for a hearing at his court martial. Lawyers for Manning, who leaked thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks, urged a judge Monday to dismiss a charge he aided the enemy, saying prosecutors failed to prove Manning intended for the information to fall into enemy hands. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Whistleblower Chelsea/Bradley Manning (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

So the end questions are: how much are you willing to part with freedom? Or do you want to give it completely up to get a feeling of security? Because all experts agree, no measures can ever safeguard us 100% against terrorist attacks. It happened before, and these attacks will happen again. And in the mean time the governments – and multinationals – know everything about you.

I would rather have them install a camera in my bathroom (my body is not much different than the other 3,5 billion men on earth), than to be able to follow my thoughts and passions. But that is just me.

“THE FURTHER A SOCIETY DRIFTS FROM TRUTH THE MORE IT WILL HATE THOSE WHO SPEAK IT” George Orwell (?) (1903-1950)

(Whistleblower = A person who tells the public what the government doesn’t want them to know)

Love ❤️, yann.

anonymous government has failed you

Terror..

These days are no very joyful days. The things that are happening in the world, coming out of Syria and Iraq, are worrying me and, I must admit, keeping me out of my sleep. Because the problem is complex.

5646ddfcc36188e1198b4602Saying IS/ISIL/Daesh does not worry me would be a profound lie. They keep me preoccupied. Where is our world going to? But at the same time, the reactions of our ‘leaders’ also worry me. The emphasis is solely on ‘war’. War generates hate. I do not believe in an all-encompassing solution just by waging war. Nor do I believe that war is avoidable. It is just that fighting and killing in itself will not resolve the problems.

What also worries me is the position of peaceful and righteous Muslims throughout the world. The terrorist acts by IS/ISIL/Daesh are a curse for them, as the latter pretend to do this in the name of Allah. That way, they effectively stir up anti-Islam feelings in the West and create a divide, where only more extremism can grow.

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Bataclan (Paris) – Eagles of Death Metal

Where I live I am surrounded by Muslims. I do feel very safe, thank you. They are generous, peaceful, helpful, compassionate people. They are very poor but even then I regularly get presents from them. Vegetables, prepared food, gifts.. With no other reason than me living and being here even though they know I am an atheist.

But still I am a bit angry at Muslims. They have been quiet for too long. They have allowed that the voice of the extremists, who make up just a tiny figure of their numbers (or – I dare say – are not even real Muslims), is reverberating throughout the world while they kept silent. Or fairly silent. Rarely they sent out a united and strong message to the world that they dissociate themselves from extremist views, that those terrorists are no real believers in Allah. That would lessen the fear for Islam in the West. That would counter the cries of the ever stronger right extremists. That would send a signal to the own Muslim youth that terrorism is not tolerated in Islam.

Poop

An Egyptian feminist artist defecating and menstruating on an IS/ISIL/Daesh flag

Some people argue that Muslims should not defend their religion and explicitly have to differentiate them in the public’s eye from jihadi’s, just like Christians do not have to defend their religion and differentiate themselves from the KKK and so-called Christian extremists. That would be true in an ideal world, but ours isn’t. They have the perception against them, there is a fear of Islam embedded in the West since the cruel crusades ordered by despotic Popes, and now there is the ever growing right extremist lobby just wanting to spread violence and hate like we knew in the forties.

I had many heated discussions with Muslim friends in the past years about their passivity. Sure, they should not be the ones to apologize for the actions of lunatics and misguided extremists who abuse the name of Allah for their own crooked goals. But they should have made clear to the world, already many years ago, including to their own offspring, that their religion has nothing to do with hate and bloodshed. So Muslims of the world: unite!

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Australians Ashley Dyball (left) and Reece Harding (KIA) fighting with YPG

In the past years I have read many stories of Western people, even untrained, joining the ranks of the Kurds and other anti-IS militia to fight the extremists. I have to concede that I always had an admiration for them. Last week I saw a documentary about the parents of Ashley Dyball, an Australian youngster of 23, trying to bring back home their son who went to Syria to join YPG (Kurdish freedom fighters) in their fight against IS/ISIL/Daesh. He blankly refused, as he felt his purpose in life was helping the Kurds. And I have to admit that in the past months, the thought of joining YPG – whatever the consequences as to danger, life or death, and possible judicial persecution when back in the EU – has come up more than once in my thoughts.

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Picasso (1951)

The US know their recent history where they have been defeated both in Afghanistan and Iraq, opposed to what they like to tell to the world. Ex president Mr. Bush jr. is the one that waged a war based on phony and concocted ‘intelligence reports’ of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq just to bolster his ego and show his dad he was not the looser his dad took him for. The result was a power-vacuum created in that region by the valiant Mr. Bush jr. where IS/ISIS/Daesh had no trouble in establishing its base.

European leaders are running around like beheaded chicken, they know something has to be done but without guidance from their American ‘friends’ they are divided and running off in different directions. And the only message they manage to get out to their citizens is one of war, hate and retaliation, without trying to remedy the causes at the same time and thus allowing this situation to eternalize.

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Cartoon after Charlie Hebdo shooting (January 2015)

Meanwhile, I am safe here. I do worry about my family and friends in Belgium and all over the world. Considering Belgians have to pay more than half their salaries in income taxes to the State, plus all other taxes this amounts to 2/3rds of their salaries going to their politicians, I guess they get the politicians they wanted and fully deserve them. And again, all this makes me happy to be out here nice and quietly.

Take care!

Love ❤️, Yann.

Justice for psychopaths?

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Last Monday 7th September 2015, was quite an emotional day for me. The man who has been terrorising my wife and by default our little family for the last 7 years, was put on trial for having given his former girlfriend the same treatment as he gave his then wife years before. His wife left him because of the years of physical and mental abuse, because of the many women with whom he cheated on her, because of the many days and nights she was left alone to raise their three children, because of the lies he had been telling her every single day about the most trivial things, because of his dominant ego that did not allow challenge, because of his unrelenting alcohol abuse, and for many more reasons.

In previous posts I wrote about domestic violence, and about him. It turned out he had been cheating on his former girlfriend with at least 10 women at the same time when she found all the messages he sent them on his mobile phone, including close up videos of him ‘spanking the monkey’. When she confronted him with this in June 2014 he did not react, so she shoved him while he laid in bed. She wanted to provoke a reaction but she never expected him to react the way he did. The medical exam found bruises on her neck where he tried to strangle her, a broken eye orbit, a broken nose, a broken lower jaw, a concussion, several bruises and cuts, etc.. Their 5 kids (3 of him, 2 hers) saw her running with her blood-soaked front out of the bedroom… The kids saved her life by yelling and crying, which gave her the opportunity to escape out of the house.

So yesterday morning we gathered at the entrance of the Ghent courthouse to witness the fall of this violent man. His former girlfriend was of course there, as being his victim. Two colleagues and a friend of her were there too, as was I. My wife could not take the day off from work, but as a former victim she was continuously kept up-to-date by me via cellphone, and she could not concentrate on her work by the stress this event generated and the painful memories coming back to her.

First the counsellor for the victim started his plea. The accused had also filed a complaint against his victim saying she hit him, and she violated his privacy by opening his mail on his phone, trying to counter the charges against him. The victim confirmed she ‘hit’ him by giving him a shove after he refused to answer her questions about his many affairs she just found out. The judges seemed well informed about the case, and listened attentively to the victim’s counselor plea.

Then came the prosecutor. The courtroom went quiet when the prosecutor demanded a jail sentence of 10 months, a fine (I could not clearly understand the amount), and all charges against the victim dropped. My confidence in Belgian justice has always been close to nonexistent after all the years we lived in terror by this guy without justice nor police intervening despite our numerous complaints (they even dropped the case when my wife was hit unconscious on the street in front of their own children two years after their divorce), but the prosecutors stance revived my hopes.

And then it was the turn of the defendant’s counselor to plea. She demanded the court that the charges against her client would be dropped, and that his victim would be convicted because it was she who hit him first, and he couldn’t respond in no other way than hitting her back, thus making it legal self-defense. The counselor admitted that her client was not physically hurt by the ‘hits’ of his then-girlfriend, but abstraction should be made from the incurred consequences. The faces of the judges changed into disbelief. The President of the Court started attacking the defendant’s counselor, asking if she had clearly seen the pictures of his victim, and if she was trying in any way to deny the horrible things her client had done to his victim? The counselor stammered and tried to talk herself out of this but to no avail, the President was clearly irritated and agitated by her plea.

The defendant was given the chance to speak up, and the judges seemed at first rather friendly, asking him if he had anything to add to his counselor’s plea. He started to apologize for what happened to his victim, but explained he had suffered so much in the past year because of his name being dragged trough the mud and his ex-wife giving him a hard time. The President asked him if he really felt sorry, and the accused confirmed. Then the president asked him how this could be reconciled with the fact that he pleaded not guilty and indicted his victim for having committed a crime against him. How could you feel sorry when you tried to invoke legitimate self-defense? Why feel sorry if you say you did nothing wrong? The accused was cornered and could not find the words any more, for every time he declared something the President attacked him on that. It was a rather unfair fight but it raised my spirits.

During the verbal beating by the President all the lies and flaws in the story of the defendant were uncovered, one by one, and in the end no one present in the courtroom could believe any word of that man any more. He tried to explain that his alcohol abuse was the fault of his ex-wife who left him, the same for his sex-addiction. But that he went to a psychiatrist to let himself be helped. Direct questions by the President as to who did the therapy and where and when were answered by evasive responses, just like all questions asked by the judges. It all became too much for him and he asked the court to be allowed to be seated for he felt ’sick’. When asked a direct question about his cheating he tried to get off the hook by stating that he would not answer that question “out of respect” for his ex-girlfriend. And he tried to wriggle himself out a few times by saying that he would give ‘one example’ but that the same happened dozens of times. I thought every time again the President of the Court would explode. He demanded proof but none could be given by the accused, even not a simple proof of the one example the defendant brought up.

This was clearly one of the few times in his life he did not manage to impress a counterpart by his lies, a completely new situation for him I guess. The standard tactic of him had always been to give a little example, mostly a lie, and then to emphasise the same had happened so many times he could give dozens of examples. This sometimes followed by the statement that he would not do that ‘out of respect’ for this or that person, that way closing off any further inquiries into that matter and selling his lies as a credible fact. As long as people did not go to much into detail he managed to keep up the smoke curtain. Whenever people asked too many questions, he just broke off contact, or in the case of women, he just beat them up if he got a chance.

The defendant lost his arrogance, convinced of his righteousness at the start of the court session, and broke up in tears. Completely overwhelmed by frustration of not being able to show the judges his presumed innocence, and completely cornered by his own contradicting words that led the judges not to believe any word from him any more. He sat down repeatedly rubbing his face in his hands. It was quite an emotional sight for me to see this, and tears flowed from my cheeks as all the pains and fears incurred in the past seven years seemed to come out. Of course his tears were not out of remorse, they were tears out of self-pity for the whole world seemed to be against him with nobody understanding nor believing him.

The court concluded the accused always took the time to scrutinize others to lay the blame upon them, but constantly avoided to look at himself and to search for the reasons of his problems in his own behavior. And he clearly did not show any genuine regrets about what happened. The defendant replied in tears he was sorry, but the President pointed out the complaints he filed just two months before against his victim (he did this one year after the facts and after having read the charges against him, so he could counter the charges by trying to blame the other – bad move…) and his demand he would be exonerated while she should be punished.

Just when the President wanted to finish the hearings the prosecutor intervened. Dismayed by the pertinent lies and the complete lack of any sense of guilt by the defendant, she demanded that the jail sentence should be given effectively, and that she would strongly oppose a suspended sentence.

We, friends of the victim, stood up and positioned ourselves in the corridor the defendant would have to use to leave the courtroom, thus forcing him to look into our eyes as he passed us. I have never seen him looking so pale and shocked. The fact that he could be punished for his deeds was unthinkable for him, he always looked at his surroundings as ‘him against the world’, or rather ‘the world against him’, but with him being the best and smartest, superior to all and invincible.

Unsurprisingly no one turned up at court to support him. With so many women thinking he was having a relationship with them, with all his family, friends and colleagues, at least someone should have offered to show up to comfort him. Many of them knew he had to appear in court that day, I made sure they knew… Surely he told them off, with whatever excuse for he absolutely did not want others to hear the truth about him. Especially his relatives and his drinking buddies hiding under the pseudo-philantropic organisation called Kiwanis Gent disappointed me. The Kiwanis declared, when confronted by the last beaten-up victim (she showed up at one of their meetings with her bruises, swollen lips, darkened eyes, her facial cuts) of their candidate-chairman that: “their friend and colleague was in need, and they would do whatever they could to help him”. Never mind the victims thus… But maybe they were too scared to find out the truth about him in court?

The court will present the final sentence on the – for us – historical day of September 21st, 2015.

Last Friday I sent the defendant a mail with a prediction. My prediction was he would be convicted by court, and that he himself would help the court convict him. My prediction came true. His own lies and contradictory declarations served him badly, as did his poor attempt to reverse charges on his victim.

I will make sure the world knows what he has done, and what his punishment is. Even if I do know I might be breaking the law doing this. But when we needed the law to protect us, they were not there, except for seven years later and for another one of his victims. Last time my wife filed complaint against him for stalking (at least once a week he sends text messages in the middle of the night usually starting with something like “I love you even more than before”, and ending up one hour later with: “you bitch, you killed your family!!”) the police told her “to come back in one year if he persisted in his behavior”. But if he expects this to be the last lawsuit against him, I can reassure him this is just the beginning. Our children need protection from this monster. As do his future victims, which could be any living woman on earth.

We will not forgive. We will not forget. Expect us.

Love ❤️, yann.

Das Vierte Reich?

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THE FOURTH EMPIRE

“One empire – one people – one Euro”

I know it is not very politically correct to ventilate these kind of thoughts, but I must admit that I already have these thoughts since many years… I do not resent nor condemn the current generation of Germans as being responsible for the things their country did in the past, even if I do know that even now, these days, many older homes in Germany, especially in the South, have pictures of the Führer hanging on the wall as was told to me by a former girlfriend who is an ambulant nurse for elder people in the German South country.

But since ten years or so I have a fantasy that the ‘old German class’ of Aryans were about to reach their goal without bloodshed by forming and dominating the European Union. I admit it started as a far-fetched fantasy, but these days I get the worrying feeling this fantasy of mine is not just a bad dream but slowly becoming a horrifying reality.

Modified poster of Merkel’s election campaign: “My empire Europe”

What to say about a country that caused so many deaths, that staged two consecutive wars just because they thought it was their birthright to do so, which exterminated so many innocent people, amongst them a great deal of children, just because for them they were of the wrong race, the wrong religion, or just ‘different’, knowing that country never had to pay back its debts by causing so much harm and suffering? Germany never paid a dime in war reparations to the countries and people they harmed for their own misplaced glory.

And now this same country is the country that hammers on the condition that Greece fully has to pay back its debts. For the German leaders this is a sine qua non for Greece to stay member of the Eurozone. Admittedly Greece incurred those debts by mismanagement, by corruption, by a deficient administrative system. So much of the misery is provoked by the former political leaders of Greece.

47770_originalBut the common people of Greece are more innocent for the past policies of their politicians than the hordes of Germans before and during the Second World War who were jumping up and down to raise their right arm in the Hitler-salute as high as they could. The Greek political system did not lead to war, nor did it cause people to be gassed for their race, religion nor ideas. And still the Greek people have to suffer more for the mess their politicians made than the nazis suffered for the holocaust and deaths they caused.

MerkelnazieuroWhere is the logic? Where is the humility of a country with a horrifying past like Germany? Why is Germany so adamant in making the Greek people suffer? What is their hidden agenda? I might sound like getting paranoia, but seen from a distance, this ethical discrepancy does not seem acceptable any more if you look into the recent European history.

I do not believe our leaders are serving us, the common people any more. I do not believe politicians worry about us, the common people any more. I do not believe justice is unbiassed towards us, the common people any more. I do believe we need a peaceful revolution in our countries, where laws should be rewritten to restore equality, where politicians should be accountable for their words and deeds, and where freedom is a basic right that is respected.

angela merkelnAnd Germany? Maybe they should start paying the Greek debt they are so keen to insist on. The debts Greece made with our financial institutions who wanted to cash-in big gains, but were bailed out by our governments by the taxpayers – OUR – money so the banks could get richer.

anonymous government has failed youWe are Anonymous

We are legion

We do not forgive

We do not forget.

Expect us.

Love ❤️, yann.

Thank you Greece!

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819298_1280x720Now the votes have been cast, and the Greek people clearly have rebuffed the austerity measures imposed on them by the troika, the dust of the avalanche caused by this purest form of democracy is slowly settling. European politicians are running around like headless chickens trying to pretend nothing major has happened, and many have changed their discourse 180° opposed to what they declared in the days before the Greek referendum.

“…and when you grow up, Angela, destroy Europe!” – A. Hitler embracing Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany.

Now more and more governments of the European Union say major debt relief should be a possibility for Greece, except for Germany’s conservative powers, led by Angela Merkel. This is very remarkable, knowing that the “Wirtschaftswunder” (economic miracle) of post-war Germany only happened because of the total debt relief given to Germany after the war.

Looking a bit further in the past we can establish that Germany never paid a dime of reparations to any country after their defeat in WW I. In fact, the severe and exorbitant demands of the victorious nations in the Treaty of Versailles were a direct reason for the rise of Hitler and the break out of the second world war.

Angela Merkel personifying Adolf Hitler, the way more and more Europeans see her

So we can conclude Germany never paid back its debts, not a single dime of it, but are now the ones imposing stringent measures on Greece and are the ones refusing any debt relief for Greece. German conservative politicians are the ones that are threatening the unity of the European Union, and are leading this Union into economic recession. Maybe Germany should be the country to leave the EU?

I have always been a strong advocate for the idea of a unified Europe, where borders cease to exist, where people are treated on an equal basis, where the people’s voice is the single strongest power in the Union. But politicians have hijacked this idea for their own greed, advancing the interests of corporations and financial institutions to the detriment of its inhabitants. All they proudly have to show us are realizations in the same order of magnitude as: “look at us, we managed to standardize the cellular phone chargers!”. Now, instead of having a drawer filled with different models of phone chargers, we have a full drawer with the same phone chargers, while the 1% get richer, and the normal people get poorer every day.

Mark Twain fool peopleTo Germany: today is at last payday. To Europe: NO THANK YOU anymore!

Love ❤️, yann

The Confederate flag

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The United States are debating how to deal with the Confederate flag. As often in national debates confusion, deception and lies are the keys to victory, and a nation that does not really know it’s own national history well is a fertile ground for manipulators.

The Confederate flag

I do not understand how a nation accepts, long after the official abolishment of slavery and even segregation, that symbols of this shameful past remain as public glorified reminders. The confederate flag flies above many official Southern buildings, and streets, parks, buildings and places have been named after prominent figures that fought to keep slavery as it was.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), another astute politician – by Mathew B. Brady

On the other hand the Unionists did not start the Civil War for the abolishment of slavery as many like to think. Abraham Lincoln was not in favor of the abolishment of slavery. In fact, during his first Inaugural Address as president of the United States in March 1861 (7 states immediately seceded when he was elected as president, 4 more followed a few months later) he said: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so”.

‘It was only as the war grew more bitter, the casualties mounted, desperation to win heightened, and the criticism of the abolitionists threatened to unravel the tattered coalition behind Lincoln that he began to act against slavery. Racism in the North was as entrenched as slavery in the South. New York blacks could not vote unless they owned $250 in property (a qualification not applied to whites)’ – Howard Zinn in “A People’s History of the United States”

1b-003-ss-10-kdegra_lgI will not go and try to explain at length what started the Civil War, but key issues were the Northern elite wanting economic expansion: free land, free labor, a free market, a high protective tariff for manufacturers, a bank of the United States. The Southern interest of the elite having slaves was opposed to all that, and they saw the election of the Republican Lincoln as a hindrance for their prosperous life in the future. If you want to know more, please read history books from different sources, and do not forget Howard Zinn!

So please dear Americans, learn your history, and do not try to deceive this poor European bastard into thinking the Civil War was all about slavery, where Confederates meant slavery, and Unionists meant abolitionists. It was just opportune for the Northern elite to become abolitionists later on during the Civil War, especially since slaves were rare in the industrialized North and no much harm would be done to their wealth and economy by taking that stance.

Love ❤️, yann

The first Thanksgiving (painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris), invented as Lincoln tried to rally his nation during the Civil War.

p.s.: Thanksgiving is also a kind of disgrace. Official history tells us Thanksgiving is celebrated after the example of the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621, when they celebrated a bountiful harvest (after having landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with the Mayflower) that only succeeded after the help of the Wampanoag-tribe. In reality barely three years later the complete Wampanoag presence around Plymouth was eradicated by settlers looking to expand their lands. 50 years later 40 percent of the total Wampanoag tribe was killed during a war, and the vast majority of survivors sold as slaves. The descendants of the Wampanoag tell us Thanksgiving was a hoax invented by Abraham Lincoln. Do you still feel like celebrating Thanksgiving?

Greece: please vote NO!

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Poster calling people to vote “NO” in the upcoming referendum on July 5th 2015

Whenever we watch, read or hear the news these days it is impossible not to see, read or hear something about Greece, the oldest democracy in the world. I do not want to find an explanation for the current Greek crisis, but there are some things I see, just as everybody can see them. And they are not very positive. Certainly not for the Greek people.

Poverty is at an unimaginable high, youth unemployment is soaring with more than 60% (!), and those taking the hardest hits are the elderly, the young people, the simple families, the workers. That makes me wonder what our politicians are all bickering about, when millions of children, women and men slide down towards total poverty at a hallucinating rate. Whatever your political conviction, if you have a heart you cannot ignore what is happening right now inside the European Union.

Mr. Dijsselbloem – Chairman of the Eurogroup. Yet another socialist politician who realized his real friends are corporations and their money.

Politicians of both sides, the Greek government on one side, the ‘Troïka’ (European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) on the other, are hitting the public with bolder and bolder statements, it looks more like a contest between mountain gorilla’s about the supremacy over the flock. And lots of what is told is just Ballyhoo to get us on their side, never mind the truth. Because the truth still is that millions of Europeans are suffering right now because of our politicians ineptitude to find a human solution for this crisis.

The ECB and EU are fast to point out they already spent billions and billions on the Greek economy. What the public is not aware of is that indeed, the ECB invested millions in the Greek economy, but it never benefited for more than 90% of these vast sums to invest in its economy. It starts to become a tiring and boring story, but the winners are again our banks. How come? Well, in the past the banks bought bonds from the Greek State, and as the Greek rating was low, the interest margins were very high. Now Greece is heading towards a total collapse, the EU and ECB decided to buy back these bonds from the banks who wanted to make nice – but risky – profits in the recent past.

Solidarity soup kitchens are a normal appearance in Greece’s cities nowadays.

In short: our financial institutions wanted to earn good money by buying risky bonds, and when the risks of a collapse of Greece became too high, Europe bought these bonds from the banks (don’t worry, they got a nice deal) with our money, that we paid as taxpayers throughout Europe. So now our banks got out of the danger zone – yes, exactly those we spent billions on in a not-so-distant past because of the junk-bonds in their portfolio – and again our money we worked for was abused to buy these bonds. Stating that the ECB invested all those billions in the Greek economy is thus far from the truth. AND now the Greek people have to pay back these bonds to the ECB, bonds the financial institutions bought in the first place as risk-capital to make nice profits.

It is true, Greece has a long history of corruption, where taxes were often not collected, Greece has a humongous bureaucracy incomparable with any other European country, and there are so many more problems to be addressed without delay. But imposing higher taxes on pensions and increasing the TVA, just as the Troika demands, victimizes those who are in need today and strikes them with poverty. This is not in any way acceptable for me, as an European, and as a human being.

anonymous government has failed youOur politicians should stop their strategic and tactical games, interfering with the democratic process of a country where the people chose the government they wanted, and do what they are paid and chosen for: to help the ones in need, to solve the growing problems and to serve the people of Europe. But I guess this is not figuring on their agenda since they joined politics.

Love ❤️, yann.

p.s.: for those wanting some more detailed info, below is a list of recent quotes of renown economists and political analysts about the Greek crisis.

Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel laureate in economics): “I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences. It is startling that the Troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not learned”.

Martin Guzman (Columbia University): “The disparity between what the Troika thought would happen and what has emerged has been striking — and not because Greece didn’t do what it was supposed to do, but because it did, and the models were very, ver flawed”.

Peter Morici (University of Maryland): “Neither Germany’s finance minister, nor any other European government or competent private institution, has tabled a credible analysis demonstrating how more austerity and labor-market reforms (read more layoffs and wage cuts) will instigate growth and not result in even bigger losses for bondholders down the road. Another round of austerity would only further pummel the Greek economy, and impose economic deprivation that European leaders should be ashamed to engineer.”

Vicky Pryce (chief economic advisor at the Centre for Economics and Business Research): “The rescue that took place in the banking sector was really more of a rescue of northern European financial institutions that had exposed themselves to Greece. The concern about this particular debt is that all it did is it transferred this large burden to the Greeks.”

Paul Krugman (Nobel laureate in economics): “The Troika clearly did a reverse Corleone — they made Tsipras an offer he can’t accept, and presumably did this knowingly. So the ultimatum was, in effect, a move to replace the Greek government. And even if you don’t like Syriza, that has to be disturbing for anyone who believes in European ideals.”

Mark Weisbrot (co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research): “The confrontation between the new Greek government and the European authorities is the first time since the Great Recession that voters have successfully been able to challenge the Troika’s previously unaccountable power. Their policies have been widely unpopular in Europe, but this is the first government that is really forcing them to change. So European authorities continue to take steps to undermine the Greek economy and government, hoping to get rid of the government and get a new one that will do what they want”

Larry Summers (former US Treasury Secretary): “Greece is a failed state in waiting. Greeks have imposed more austerity on themselves than any industrialized country has suffered since the Depression.”

Flag_of_Greece

Aren’t we all sluts?

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Where is my mind? - Sharon

Where is my mind? – Sharon ©yannbastiaans

Most women are sluts.. They are the good ones. Just like most men are sluts, and just like I am – being a sexual active male – a slut. I never understood what was wrong with being a slut? What is a slut? Is it someone who likes to have sex? Is that wrong? Isn’t sexuality a major part of our being, of our existence?

Without sex there would be almost nothing in this world. No trees, no bees, no flowers, no animals, no humans, etc.. Without sex we wouldn’t be here to have this – in my opinion – absurd discussion. I said ‘absurd’, but by no means ‘unnecessary’. The self-crowned moralists of this world have decreed sex as being something bad, something obscene, something taboo, thus negating the only reason they exist.

‘Slut Walk’ – Washington DC 2012

Why did I say sluts are the good ones? Because they are the people that are in harmony with themselves. They accept the fact that a whole part of their being is their sexuality. From nature’s point of view we are just sex. So why are there too many people giggling, or even worse: getting upset when confronted with sex? Every normal and grown-up being in this world has sex, or should have sex. Even needs sex for many reasons. Whether it is sex with your husband our wife, or with your friend, or with some stranger, or with a group of people, irrespectively of gender, color or race.

©Terre des Femmes

When are these double standards about people liking to have sex going to disappear? When a man has a lot of sex he is a hero, a king, a boss, and he can even talk and sing about it. When a woman says she enjoys sex, or even attempts to do 1/10th of what a man does, she is branded a slut. Why is that? Where is the equality?

I do like sex. Not just with anybody, but when the person is right, I love it. And I might engage in sex with several people at the same time, as long as my partner is consenting. Some people like it this way, others like it that way, but isn’t that just the beauty of our world: diversity? And there is nothing wrong with liking it this or that way, it is not going to hurt me if two (or more) adults have sex their way with mutual consent. So I see no reason to judge those people, the only thing I might say is: “it is not the way I like it”. Nothing more.

©Terre des Femmes

There is nothing negative about a human being, be it a woman or a man, having sexual fantasies, or fulfilling those fantasies. As long as it is with respect for the other(s) participating, and with consent, there is no wrong. Women’s liberation still has to go a long way. Discrimination has no place in our time. A woman can look for sexual satisfaction as much as a man can, and it is just natural, a part of our life. So people, get over it, just be happy, mind your own business and let others live their sexuality as they feel like. As free and liberated human beings. And pursue your own sexual satisfaction, for that is your sole responsibility.

©Terre des Femmes

As for me, I brand myself as a ‘slut’, out of solidarity with all the women being looked upon when they dare to admit they like sex. Yes, definitely, I am a big slut, and I wear this name with pride.

Love ❤️, yann.

Looking Back

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The fair in Popovo (BG) at the beginning of June

It is now a bit more than a year since I started living here in Bulgaria, after having left Belgium a bit discouraged. Or maybe also a bit disgusted by that country and its citizens. The acidification of society, the corruption of politics, the almost non-existent justice (except for the rich), the disproportional taxes.. All these factors, and then some, made me decide to leave that country and look for peace and rest in a corner of the European Union. Not that politicians are not corrupt here, but at least I don’t have to spend more than half of my income sponsoring their secret schemes anymore.

But today I started asking myself if this was a good decision I made, if Bulgaria really gave me what I expected from it. And I think I can say I’m still happy with my decision. Of course nothing is black or white, but adding everything together I found what I was looking for. Some things I really do miss, some I really don’t. Maybe the big difference with other people is that I never really grew up in Belgium, nor have I lived long in the same country nor region. I moved over 20 times in my life, and most of the moves were to completely different regions or countries, sometimes separated by hundreds of miles. So I didn’t grow those roots most people seem to have, nor do I have an allegiance to death with any country, despite having served the Belgian armed forces dutifully during seven years of my life.

Waterfall along the eco-trail near Emen (BG)

Bulgaria has been very welcoming for me. In the beginning I was surrounded by wrong people, luring expats into their money-making maffia-practices, but once I managed to get rid of those people I got submerged in the Bulgarian culture. Most credits should be given to Emo, my neighbour who offered his services as builder once I threw out the whole maffia-gang. As we grew closer by working together, we became friends and he became my window on Bulgaria. Of course there is also Yoana, the woman who works on the administrative side for expats who hire her for her outstanding services, and whom I also befriended. Someone like her is invaluable in a country which not only speaks a difficult language, but also writes in a different alphabet.

Since the very first day the language has been the biggest obstacle to surmount, and it still is hampering my efforts to build an extensive social life here. People mastering the English (or French, German, Spanish) language are rare over here, but maybe that is an advantage pushing me to learn the language faster. Now I manage to express my wants, but I’m still a long way of being able to have an intimate conversation about feelings, and that makes me sometimes a bit sad as this is the main (and only I guess) way to really connect with people. After a long search I found someone to teach me Bulgarian (and does speak the English language well), but it is not an easy language to learn.

My neighbor playing guitar.

What provides me the most happiness is the peace and the silence. No cars racing by, no planes flying overhead, no trains thundering by. Just the sounds of people walking on the street, the voices of people sitting on a bench beside the wall at the gate of my property under the shade of a big tree, the animals grazing around between the houses, the occasional cart with horse passing by, and sometimes the Bulgarian or Turkish music from a stereo a few houses away when the people are happy. Of course there is a car passing my house once in a while, but no more than 4 on a busy day, and in the season there is an old Russian biplane with a star engine making a deep growling noise maneuvering over the village to spray the crops in the huge fields, but this sound is rather welcoming as it is rather seldom. Nature over here is uplifting for me, and the notion I can go anywhere, without fences, private properties or prohibited areas and knowing that whomever I shall meet will be friendly and hospitable is heartwarming. On the premise I can make myself understandable of course 😜

Slowly I start to attune to the rhythm of nature, and though I never had green fingers, I start to work in my garden more often, reaping the fruits trees and plants freely offer me. I prune trees and vines as if I was a semi-pro, and harvest the strawberries and cherries that are waiting to be picked this month. These I cook and then dry the jam-like substance in my dehydrator to preserve the abundant quantities for later on in the year. I try to keep on schedule for once the cherries and strawberries are gone the raspberries, apples, pears, plums, apricots, grapes and peaches will grow ripe and then I fear I will have to work day and night to process the vast quantities nature freely offers me.

A very old cemetery.. (BG)

My decision to buy a motorcycle with off-road capabilities was a good one. It enables me to recon the area, and reach places I never would have visited with my car. Just driving around in a car with no specific goal, turning around when something catches my attention, engaging a dirt road trough the fields and woods, is no thing I would have done, but the motorcycle lets me do all that when I drive around at leisure with no specific goal other than enjoying myself and discovering new places. My motorcycle reinforces my feeling of uninhibited freedom this country offers me.

The downside is I did not manage to convince my family and friends to move over here 😊. So I do miss them, and being able to see them from time to time via FaceTime or Skype is reassuring. And of course I travel to Belgium regularly, as the people I do love with all of my heart are living there. Often someone drops by on a visit, and the last weeks my neighbor and his son-in-law were busy rebuilding my guesthouse next to my house. That will eliminate the need to shelter my guests in my trailer, as luxurious as it is, but a house feels more comfortable and cosy. Once ready it will have its own toilet and shower, a little kitchen and a living room. And the two houses are connected via the half-basement which functions as my huge living room, so even on cold or rainy days there is no need to go outside to meet. Due to the thick walls in sandstone and clay the temperatures are reasonable indoors during the hot summers. Down in the half-basement the temperature is always pleasing: warm in winter, fresh during summer. That is why I made it my living room, with a soon-to-be built rocket mass heater for heating the house in the cold winter days.

Storks are omnipresent (BG)

Most of all I miss my partner. She is a courageous and superb woman, often having to handle the problems she encounters by herself due to my frequent absence. Sometimes that makes me feel guilty. And of course lots of people do not understand the symbiosis between us, as we are not living the ‘standard’ life a couple is supposed to live by general standards. But we are happy, and we manage, and there is no ‘standard’ way a couple should behave, it is all about agreement between two people. Some have an open marriage, some have a conservative relationship, some live apart together, some cannot spend a minute without each other.. Whatever works and makes these two people happy, and it is no one else’s business. But I do miss her 😊 And we often travel to see each other. She likes it here, and I try to like it in Belgium.

Church in a little monastery near Veliko Tarnovo (BG)

Little by little I get to know more and more local people, I get invited to parties and celebrations, and so my horizon is expanding and I get immersed in the Bulgarian culture. I have no doubts about staying here, just the evolution of civilization worries me a bit, and I fear it will catch up with the Bulgarian countryside in a few decades. But I might not be in this world any more by then, so there is no reason to worry about that yet. And if it happens and starts to bother me, I just might move on to a further place.

Love ❤️, yann.