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Comment Some background (Score 1) 513

I live in the Netherlands and have been (casually) following this case, so here's some background that might be relevant:

Some posters here wondered why this guy agreed to give his DNA. There is some evidence that he is mentally ill: in 2009 he was convicted of stealing a neighbor's car and joyriding while under the influence. He claimed not to be in control of his actions at the time, and that he only came to his senses while in the car. A psychiatrist diagnosed this as a dissociative fugue at the time (he was still convicted). A neighbor of his also recently stated that he has mental problems. So it's quite possible that he doesn't even remember the rape and murder. It's also quite possible that it's simply a lame insanity defense.

I think one of the reasons for this DNA-dragnet was that the area is sparsely populated, and the cities/villages there are tight-knit communities. Many people there are blood-related, so the odds of finding a partial match should be good. It may also be the reason that so many people were willing to participate; they wanted to believe that the perp was an outsider (some still think so). My guess is that some social pressure was involved as well. Anyway, I don't see something like this working in the major cities. Very few people would volunteer, and chances of finding a relative of the perp would be much lower.

Also, there were other DNA tests before, these were done to rule out two suspects - asylumseekers from Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. They had been fingered in an anonymous letter, possibly with a racist motive. Analysis of the DNA found on the victim pointed to a caucasian anyway (not uncontroversial).

Submission + - The trillion-euro phone bill that ate France (finchannel.com) 1

DogPhilosopher writes: Solenne San Jose, from Pessac, France, could not believe her eyes when she opened the bill to discover she was being asked to pay 11,721,000,000,000,000 euros to close her account.

Operators at Bouygues Telecom told her they could not amend the computer-generated statement or stop the balance from being debited from her bank account.

Comment Re:This guy is a crybaby. (Score 1) 627

In your opinion, what are the most civilized ones? How do the other western European nations fare?

Ok, these are personal opinions, completely subjective and highly biased of course, and excuse the cliches:

I've been to Germany about a dozen times as well and despite one or two incidents I always enjoyed it. I like Berlin, open and relaxed atmosphere (except on Walpurgis Night). Older people may not understand English, but nobody expects foreigners to speak German. It is very much appreciated if you do, though.

I've lived in the UK (London). Obviously there's a formal culture where people stick to social norms and are polite, on the other hand it's (still) a hierarchical, class-based society, so you get inequality and the class warfare that goes with it (London riots anyone?). But overall a positive experience, you can go to the pub on the corner and have a quiet drink or chat with complete strangers. People there are quite sociable.

I've lived in Belgium (Flanders), and it's doable. The surreal national politics don't affect everyday life at all, but I have to say the mentality tends to be a bit parochial. Also, people learn to accept authority and stick to the rules from an early age, so they're not used to assertive behaviour and may mistake it for arrogance. People don't always speak their mind, so you have to decode non-verbal cues.

I don't mind the Netherlands, but that may be home bias. The mindset is very individualistic though, and something like UK pub culture is almost non-existent, so it may be hard for an outsider to make friends. I have only limited experience with Scandinavia, but I have a positive impression.

Visited Italy half a dozen times and worked there a few months. It really depends on where you go and who you meet, but my impression is that foreigners may get more respect there than the Italians, who compete among themselves for basically everything. Getting through life can be a bit like being in an opera buffa, and may require some moral flexibility (cliche, I know). Especially the politics are surreal, the Italians themselves are very much aware of this and tend to dislike their country. There's a reason so many go abroad (where they only hang out with other italians).

Been to Portugal a dozen times, imho it's a bit like France (arrogant waiters, speeding, nepotism and the other cliches) but even more conservative, not as regulated, and without most of the neurosis/paranoia/aggression. The locals have little contact with foreigners outside the tourist hotspots, it's not the most dynamic or cosmopolitan country. They dislike Germans for some reason, and regard the British as snooty and arrogant.

An assault by McDonalds staff seems unthinkable in any of these places. Maybe in a very dodgy UK restaurant staffed by hooligans, but it would be shut down in the blink of an eye. Paris on the other hand.. years ago, a friend of mine was dragged out of the Virgin Megastore by the hair for sitting on the stairs, for example. French security guards are easily provoked.

Btw, the roughest place I've been to is possibly St Petersburg, but that city is in a league of its own.

Comment Re:This guy is a crybaby. (Score 1) 627

The responses from all the asshole ugly Americans here doesn't surprise me one bit.

Yes, the comments to this and the first post are somewhat lacking in empathy. A disabled person gets humiliated and beaten up by restaurant staff - in front of his family no less- and the responses range from "attention whore", "the elitist jerk had it coming" to "they must have been blacks or arabs". Way to go..

What surprises me is that this happened in France. I guess France isn't as civilized as I thought.

It didn't surprise me in the least. I've been there a dozen times, worked there for a few months, and imho it just isn't a very civilized place. Of course I've met plenty of friendly, polite people, but antisocial behaviour, mysogeny, verbal abuse, threats and even physical violence just seem part of daily life there - and not just in Paris either.

I'll spare you my stories, but this should give you an idea: I know a french woman who came back after a few years abroad, and only now does she realize just how bad it is. She witnessed an assault on a shop owner, an old woman, already in the first week, and that was just the start. I guess people accept such things as normal if they see them every day and have never experienced different ways of life.

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