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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Leaves against the midnight sky

A series of shots of La Tour Eiffel

Maybe it's touristy, I don't know, but I haven't actually taken any photos of the Eiffel Tower on any of my trips to Paris. My most recent trip, I did indulge. Here are a few of them.

No it's not photoshop. I came across this Australian Flag outside the Australian Embassy in Paris and thought I'd manufacture the theft of a national icon.

Waiting for a train in Bruxelles. Time fades.

Which path do you see most?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Now go Barry!

For those of you who don't know the mighty Clarke and Dawe, they do a satirical sketch on Australian politics every Thursday on an Australian news program called The 7:30 Report. This sketch is about the new industrial relations reforms that the Liberal Party intends to bring in. It's a bit of a long sketch, but I encourage you to stick it out because the final ten seconds or so is gold. Now go Barry!
To watch the sketch click here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Charles Taylor Defence

After an emotional farewell party from the Hague There was only one thing I could do... not leave. That's right, after all the good bye hugs and and "keep in touches" I'm back in the Hague. My Hague, Your Hague. The place where you come as strangers, but leave as friends. (this is the motto of the Hague, a motto I feel may hypthetically have been stolen from a Victoria Bitter ad from the 1970s).

Seriously, put on your terri-toweling hat and state of origin silk shorts with the slit up the side and sing along here. The best cold Hague is My Hague. Your Hague. Den Hague. Matter of fact, I got it now!


I'm working for three months with the Defence team on the case against Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, who is accused of committing a magnitude of crimes against humanity in relation to the confict in Sierra Leone.
It's an amazing case to be involved in. There is a lot of emotion surrounding the need to convict Charles Taylor and a certain amount of assumed guilt. It's challenging to maintain a open mind in the midst of all this apparent truth. With the world's two major international tribunals, the ICTY (Yugoslavia) and ICTR (Rwanda), coming to a close, with the Cambodian tribunal on the verge of disbanding prematurely, and with the ICC not really up and running yet, International Criminal Law is in a precarious position. Furthermore, with what is seen by most as the utter failure of the Milosevic case (by failure, it is meant that a three year trial of what many regarded as one of the world's most flagrant war criminals failed to produce a transparant, fair and conclusive judgement, one which would enable international criminal law to permanently notch itself into the pages of human history as a respected norm) the Charles Taylor case presents what many believe to be a "second chance" for International Criminal Law to set the records straight. It's going to be an interesting 3 months.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Farewell Party

Had a farewell party at Bram and my house, 329a Obrechtstraat. It was a lot of fun. Everyone seemed to be in a good party mood and by the state of the place the following morning, people had fun. Everyone came to say goodbye, even the police. I made a Pavlova. It wasn't very impressive, but it was the best I could do without electric beaters, and let's face it, it tastes the same- there's not too many ways to ruin egg white and sugar mixed ina bowl. Anyway, here are a few select shots from the night, just to keep you interested. I know you only look at the photos anyway. I mean I could write anything right know, like, you're a real tool. You're not even reading. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. (For those easily offended, this is a quote from a movie, wayne's world, and does not in any way represent the opinion of James Pender).

My Swedish mate Daniel (pronounced Dawn-yell).
Bente (Norway) and Jerome (French - Marsaille. I play guitar with him Monday nights)
Acadia from Boston. May we both find a job we like one day.
Megan from Melbourne.
Bram de Man, my Belgian flatmate. Yes, he is taller than me. Bastard.
It's become somewhat of a tradition for Bram and I to re-enact the lift from Dirty Dancing every time Nhu (Vietnam/America) arrives at a party. What can I say. She's so tiny, she's just asking to be lifted above your head.
Megan (america) and Tones (Australia- oi oi oi)
Daniel, Namita and Chelsea (Swede, Yank, Yank).
David, Marie, Namita and Claire (Yank Frenchie, Yanke Frenchie).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Anzac Day in The Hague

The War Cemetary in the Hague. You can see a little Aussie flag in front of the Australian graves. A nice touch I thought.
War Grave of A Sergeant, member of the Royal Australian Air Force, shot down over Holland in 1941.
The Dutch Guard surround the cenetaph. The Australian and New Zealand Ambassadors, as well as officials from many other countries, including Canada, US, Britain, Belgium and France laid wreaths to mark the occasion. I though the most touching wreath was from the Australian Woman's Association. Two old Australian ladies stepped forward to lay the wreaths. I don't know how or why they ended up in the Hague, but it was nice to see them.

It wasn't exactly a dawn service, but it was pretty close to it. 7am saw a group of puffy eyed Australian and New Zealanders pile onto a bus at the Central station in the Hague. As the bus rolled out on the 45 minute journey to the Hague's War Cemetary, those on board turned to each other to exchange pleasantries. I always thought Australia lacked an identity, a real "culture" so to speak, but the more I travel the more I notice the difference when I'm just talking to Australians/New Zealanders with no other nationalities present. There's a easiness to it. A common understanding and an understated optimism. "G'day, I'm Paul. I'm from Perth and I work for Shell. Bloody hell it's early isn't it."

We arrived at the Cemetary. There were lots of forein notables there. Lots of ambassadors, army officials etc. We sang the national anthems of Australia, New Zealand and Holland as well as a traditional mouri song. Then they read the ode and played the last post (at triple speed - not sure it translates into Dutch). It was a very touching service, I guess, made all the more touching by the fact that we, like those soldiers all that time ago, were a long way from home ourselves, and you start to get a feeling of how scared and lonely these guys and girls must have been, to travel half way around the world, to fight in a war they knew very little about. After the ceremony, we headed to the New Zealand Ambassador's residence for brekkie. Sure enough, Anzac biscuits were on the menu. I took about fifteen.

Touch Footy in The Hague

Been meaning to get some photos up of the old touch footy for a few weeks now. We play every wednesday night and Sunday arvos. It's a great way to wind down after a day of war criminals. These photos were taken at about 8:45 at night so as you can see, the sun goes down pretty late, which makes for a nice twilight session.

Un diner sur le trottoir.

A sign of the times in the Hague. As the weather gets better and better people will do anything to remain outdoors for as long as possible to enjoy the sunshine. Bram and I had some people over for dinner and Bram suggested we eat outside. Not having a nice little courtyard out the back, we decided to go out the front. So this was the result. Us, having a romantic dinner with Daniel (Swede) and Aurelie (French - my previous flatmate at the crazy Croatian lady's house) and Bram, eating out in the street. Lots of Dutch people passed us by and although I could tell they were slightly miffed that someone had so flagrantly broken the rules of Dutch social etiquete, I could tell they were also a little jealous that they had not done the same thing themselves.