Ingrid Betancourt
Monday, February 7, 2005, 02:00 - Reflections, The News
Imagine being held hostage for three years somewhere in the jungle of Colombia! Three years of hardly any contact with the outside world, of being watched all the time, of constant relocation.

It is the fate of the now 43 year old Colombian former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt who was kidnapped in February 2002 by guerrilla organization FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).
Her impassioned calls for an end to political corruption and Colombia's vicious civil war had made her a popular public figure, but a dangerous instigator to many within her country's political machine.

Even in captivity she hasn't stopped protesting: she nearly died in the course of one of at least three hunger strikes while in captivity.

On Feb. 23, 2005, the anniversary of Betancourt's kidnapping, a book will come out titled "Searching for Ingrid", written by her husband Juan Carlos Lecompte.

The book delves into a dirty truth about Colombia: more than a thousand human beings are kidnapped here every year and bartered for ransom. But even a king's ransom cannot get Betancourt and some others out.

The rebels call them "exchangeables" and say they will be freed only in a swap for rebels held in Colombian prisons. Some of the exchangeables - including politicians, soldiers and police - have been captives for eight years.


Frogleap
Saturday, February 5, 2005, 21:49 - Games
Here is a small Flash game: move the green frogs from the left to the right and the brown frogs from the right to the left.


Female Brain
Thursday, February 3, 2005, 07:37 - Humor


Male Brain
Wednesday, February 2, 2005, 10:18 - Humor


Time Flies!
Tuesday, February 1, 2005, 07:43 - Reflections
The first month of this year is already gone! Another 2678399 seconds or 44639 minutes or 743 hours down the drain.
Only 334 days or 8015 hours or 480959 minutes or 28857599 seconds remaining till 2006...


Surviving Marc Dutroux
Monday, January 31, 2005, 04:16 - Books


I finished reading I was 12, I took my bike and went to school by Sabine Dardenne, surviving victim of Marc Dutroux.
Marc Dutroux is one of the most notorious killers Europe has ever seen. During a spree of terror in the 1990s, he kidnapped, raped and killed four young girls in Belgium. But two of his victims survived and later testified in his trial.

In this book Sabine describes how she was kidnapped and held prison for 80 days in a small secret compartment in Dutroux’s cellar, subjected to abuse and threats by this monster. One cannot begin to imagine what kind of hell she went through.
She survived only thanks to her exceptional strength of character – refusing to give way to madness, refusing to let herself be destroyed – and thanks to the letters, desperately lucid letters, which she wrote to her mother. Letters that of course were never sent.

When Dutroux kidnaps another girl there are some witnesses and after a few days he is arrested. Both girls are found and safely return to their homes. Preparing the trial took 8 years in which Sabine could build up a sort of normal life in anonymity, trying to forget her 80 days of hell.

When the trial finally took place, all publicity intensifies again and she testified against him and finally had the chance to look the monster in the eyes – Dutroux could only look down to the ground. In the end he was condemned to prison for life.

This book, dignified and restrained, was written so that the victim’s voice can at last be heard. For too long the attention of the media was monopolized by her torturer, while his victim was ignored. Her testimony, free of any fascination with evil or perversity, show how utterly the lives of the victims of pedophiles are devastated, their futures destroyed – even if some, like Sabine, manage to survive and get on with their lives. It is our duty to listen.


I don't understand why it took 8 years before the trial finally took place. It seems like it was a pretty obvious case and he had been convicted for child rape before. I hope Dutroux will never ever be released as he obviously is a real menace to society.

I wish Sabine great strength in putting all this behind her and getting back a normal life, including the anonymity of normal people.

See also this article in Der Spiegel.

"The Gates"
Saturday, January 29, 2005, 21:28 - The News
The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude are at it again. This time they are not wrapping something, but it still will be very impressive: a 37km long trail of orange gates throughout Central Park in New York.
The work of art will be completed on February 12, weather permitting, and will remain for only 16 days.

Making of the Gates.





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