vendredi, mars 31, 2006

Non Sequitur's :L is for 50

The Original Forward (XXV Non Sequiturs)
Non Sequitur, latin for "it does not follow". A Non Sequitur is a statement that normally jars with the flow of thought in a particular discussion. It can also be present in a monologue or presentation when a particular part of the argument again does not fit in the general theme. In Maltese a Non Sequitur is normally followed by "X'ghandu x'jaqsam?" which can be closely translated as "What does this have to do with what we have just been saying?". Non Sequitur is also a brilliant comic strip by Wiley Miller which features the hero Obviousman.

In J'Accuse the regular Non Sequitur feature is used to place irrelevant titbits of factual information or as a comic pause between posts. As its title implies it is generally a bit of information which does not require any further comment. It is not Blogging for the sake of Blogging. I love a good Non Sequitur as much as any other post which is appreciated by others.

And now… L for 50
And now we have reached 50. The chronicle continues and the Non Sequitur's will never stop. I have considered moving this corner of "j'accuse" to "the laughing fit" but I consider it the cartoon section of my column so it is here to stay.

Here is the updated list of all 50 Non Sequiturs that appeared until now in J'accuse!

50. 31st March 2006
The Jum il-Helsien Non Sequitur
It's all nationalist propaganda

49. 28th February 2006
The Weapons vs Aid Non Sequitur
US v. EU

48. 25th February 2006
The Bananas Non Sequitur
Guess the song II

47. 24th February 2006
The Jaws vs. Star Wars Non Sequitur
Guess the song

46. 12th February 2006
The Carnival & Criminal Law Non Sequitur
Nadur and the code

45. 11th February 2006
The Interesting Facts Non Sequitur
Koala fingerprints?

44. 1st February 2006
The Population density Non Sequitur
Wikipedia Report

43. 27th January 2006
The Bidu Gdid Non Sequitur

42. 27th January 2006
The Dun Karm on Ewro Non Sequitur
Lil Huti Maltin

41. 26th January 2006
The Writer's Block Non Sequitur
Garcia Marquez

40. 12th December 2005
The Love Non Sequitur

39. 6th December 2005
The Issa Daqshekk Non Sequitur
Tony Zarb cannot find fax machine in Bxl

38. 29th November 2005
The Limbo Non Sequitur
Church banishes limbo

37. 23rd November 2005
The Press Review Non Sequitur
Nationalist's awarded EU Contract

36. 16th November 2005
The Handing over Power Non Sequitur
Iraq cartoon

35. 26th October 2005
The Il Novissimo Gobbo Non Sequitur
Juve book launched

34. 19th October 2005
The Xejn sew II Non Sequitur
Juve gloom

33. 18th October 2005
The Xejn Sew Non Sequitur
Valletta City gloom

32. 16th October 2005
The Les Couples Non Sequitur
Savent pourqoi

31. 13th October 2005
The Answering Mr Anonymous Non Sequitur
Stipendously wasted

30. 11th October
The The Far Side Non Sequitur
News but not as we know it

29. 8th October 2005
The Looking down the barrel of a gun Non Sequitur
Racism is schism on the serious tip

28. 4th October 2005
The ANR protest Non Sequitur
The interviews

27. 3rd October 2005
The Valletta embarrass Hibs Non Sequitur
Non ci posso credere

26. 30th September 2005
The Matthew Vella Non Sequitur
And other penises

25. 29th September 2005
The Opportuniste Non Sequitur
Eyes, Ears, Mouth are sealed.

24. 29th September 2005
The Spam Non Sequitur
It's the Spam that fills our lives. The background noise, the chaos we escape from.

23. 11th September 2005
The Valletta Non Sequitur
Sporting factoids, the thrills of weekend afternoons.

22. 7th September 2005
The Microsoft Purchase Non Sequitur
VOIP. Microsoft buying our future.

21. 5th September 2005
The Faulty Sources Scoop Non Sequitur
Attard Previ on TV? Tell me something I don't know.

20. 30th August 2005
The Lux Can Do It Non Sequitur
Anonymous tennis from Luxembourg.

19. 29th August 2005
The Guernica Non Sequitur
Advertising the plight of the human race. Save us from ourselves.

18. 27th August 2005
The Malta Hanina Non Sequitur

17. 12th August 2005
The Derby Draw Non Sequitur
See you next round.

16. 8th August 2005
The Passport Non Sequitur
In a world full of risks your passport is just a stamp and photo album.

15. 3rd August 2005
The State of the Blogosphere Non Sequitur
The other big bang.

14. 2nd August 2005
The Death of the G-String Non-Sequitur
On a not so fashionable note?

13. 28th July 2005
The Parking Non Sequitur
Luxembourg-Malta proportions.

12. 25th July 2005
The Google Matthew Vella Non Sequitur
That joke will always be funny.

11. 24th July 2005
The Malta Censor Non Sequitur
Bathing costumes on the Maltese silver screen.

10. 17th July 2005
The In Paceville Non Sequitur
What is there in Paceville?

9. 11th July 2005
The Elitism Non Sequitur
Lupus in Fabula.

8. 11th July 2005
The Panama Hat Non Sequitur
Ah! Bocca's is white not shitty brown.

7. 9th July 2005
The Xifer Non Sequitur
It's Mark, Jim, but not as we know him.

6. 8th July 2005
The No Roms in Malta Non Sequitur
Minorities conspicuous in their absence.

5. 4th July 2005
The 4th of July Non Sequitur
Oh Say can you see…

4. 1st july 2005
The Arabidopsis Thaliana Non Sequitur
The Human Genome Project… you are not an insect.

3. 29th June 2005
The Luxembourg Weather Non Sequitur
Weather non sequitur… get it?

2. 28th June 2005
The Polish Plumber Non Sequitur
… and Sicilian carpenters.

1. 26th June 2005
The Real Estate Non Sequitur
It's cheaper to buy in France.

Non Sequitur #50

Jum il-Helsien

Freedom Day

Happy Freedom Day
... to all those who still do not get the joke all those who are free to vote MLPN all those who still think that Mintoff kicked out the British army & NATO
... to all those who believe that the non-renewal of a contract merits some heroic medal
... to all those who love the carnival float of a monument
... to all those who will think I am a nationalist bastard just because I think Freedom Day sucks
... to all those who think I am an unpatriotic punk
... to all those who will not go watch the Regatta
... to all those who do not think Republic and Independence day are enough
... to all those who are tempted to start a string of apologetic comments
... to Fausto who will come up with some historic correction
... to diehard Labourites
... to anyone who once formed part of the Brigati Laburisti
... to anyone who once formed part of Dirghajn il-Maltin
... to anyone who thinks Mintoff's thick black glasses and belt are funky
... to the cactus, the oar and the luzzu under a hot sun
... to the government
... to the opposition
... to the bloody rest

"sono troppo stitico per fare lo stronzo"
- Caparezza, Habemus Capa

jeudi, mars 30, 2006

L'Union Européenne

Go Slow Sweet Charabanc

One reason I knew that the European Union would be the right way for the Republic (of Malta of course) was that it would provide the necessary pressure for our lax governments to take decisions that are long overdue. Disappointment began to set in with the derogations that our governments so bravely "obtained" for our people. Hunting is one obvious area which "springs" to mind. We also found ways to deter the free movement of persons by punishing our citizens for planning any holiday other than a trip to Gozo.

Competition law and the free market are deeply intertwined with the law of the European Union in order that the consumer (read citizen) reaps maximum benefit. The liberalisation of markets, when done efficiently can be beneficial to the citizen and can provide that efficiency we lack.

The EU is planning a new directive to liberalise public transport. In order to put transport providers on their toes and hopefully give a better service to consumers, the EU Commission is suggesting a directive that would oblige member states to issue competitive contracts for public transport every eight years. Now. Stop to think for two seconds. What do you think the Malta government's gut reaction to this proposal would be?

"Malta is resisting an EU proposal intended to liberalise the provision of public transport services and has put forward amendments in order to keep the possibility of granting the provision of the bus service directly to the Public Transport Association."


Mr Mugliett said that although the government is in favour of having a contract every eight years between the Malta Transport Authority and the Public Transport Association, regulating the level of public service to be given, the government still wishes to keep the option open of granting such contract by direct order.

Asked to specify why the government is taking this stand instead of opting for a total liberalisation of the service, Mr Mugliett said the government has invested millions of liri over the past years so that bus owners improve their services and buy new buses.

"We invested all these taxes so that the service improves. We still think the Public Transport Association can give a good service and we want to leave the door open for this to happen."
Mr Mugliett said that in the prevailing circumstances, the government is lobbying the EU to be more flexible in its exceptions and is
suggesting an increase in the thresholds of the value of the network to €3 million. If this were to be accepted the government could still issue a contract by direct order to the present operators."

What is so special about this bloody island of ours? How will we get away once again with convincing the EU that our citizens merit being considered as second class citizens? Can Jesmond Mugliett really think that we are so stupid? How does he think that he can convince us that because he has been flushing money down the PTA drain all this time then it is too late to change this habit of putting OUR money to waste while he is chauffeur driven all over the island to spurt out such circum tauri?

For heaven's sake. Are "we the people" so bloody ignorant? I'd love to be able to say that they are taking us for a ride.

... but in fact they aren't.

...their pompous brains and shit-spouting arses are so commingled that they can't even get a bloody decent transport system on an island 316 kilometres squared to work.

Nota bene: The management would like to apologise for the quality of language used in this post. The nature of the news and the absurdity of certain statements have made us see red. Normal operations will be resumed as soon as possible.

mercredi, mars 29, 2006


Every now and then we need a story to brighten up our lives. I do not remember where I heard about this first but I am truly fascinated by this story of a Hippo called Owen that cohabits with a tortoise called Mzee (the wise one). Apparently the Hippo was rescued in Kenya and was placed in a park where he adopted Mzee, a male tortoise, as his adoptive mother. Read the web log here to discover the fascinating symbiosis that has developed.

All together now.... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Photo taken from the Weblog - in foreground the tortoises Mzee (l) and Toto (r) and in background a rather shy Owen.

Ariadne's Indian English

Ariadne Massa interviews Roger Moore in today's Times. At one point she has this to say about the former Bond actor:

"Strangely enough, The Man with the Golden Gun has never liked guns and the image of him holding a weapon is not one he is particularly keen on promoting, especially since he did not wish to come across as a gun-totting hero with the younger generation."

There must be something about Times journalists (present or past) and India. At first I thought Massa's was slip, a typo - you see. "Gun-totting" instead of "gun toting" just involves an extra shake on the "t" doesn't it. But then a quick google to dispel any doubts turns up a surprising result. The "totting" error is in fact quite common in Kerala, India where the correspondents insist on the double-t. Ah well... still... Moore seems to have enjoyed his stay.

mardi, mars 28, 2006

Jerdugh Highbury?

Fingers crossed and all that. The title worked last time round. In the picture Liam Brady - ex-Arsenal player who won as many Italian scudetti in two years at Juventus as AS Roma did in half a century. Sometimes you just know which team to play for!

Go Mobile Indeed

This blog has made it a habit of criticising the governmental policy on travel. The cumulative effect of Airport Charges and Government Departure Taxes amounting to Lm40 has been well documented in J'Accuse as being a disincentive to travel. Today we will discuss another minor (albeit important) punishment inflicted on persons just because they have chosen to travel - roaming charges for mobile phones. Here is what EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding had to say about roaming charges at the EU Summit last week:

"This [roaming charges] is one element of the internal market that does not work because it is punishment for people who go abroad - whether they are businessmen or students".

You will be glad to hear that Malta is not the only offender in this category, however it will not be too surprising that here too we come out tops. Champions. Champion chargers that is. And here is a little table to show you:

Typical range of prices (in British £) charged by mobile operators in the country named when their users make a four-minute call home. In each case the tariff range was taken from a random selection of 4 EU member countries in September 2005:

UK - 2.37 - 5.66
Austria - 1.46 - 6.53
Belgium - 1.62 - 4.95
Cyprus - 2.04 - 8.29
Czech Rep. - 2.47 - 6.01
Denmark - 0.46 - 4.19
Estonia - 8.32 - 2.36
Finland - 0.14 - 4.76
France - 2.95 - 4.13
Germany - 2.16 - 4.10
Greece - 3.28 - 5.56
Hungary - 2.88 - 3.76
Ireland - 1.32 - 6.33
Italy - 2.75 - 5.50
Latvia - 1.54 - 4.98
Lithuania - 2.02 - 7.11
Luxembourg - 3.25 - 6.61
Malta - 3.44 - 9.00
Netherlands - 2.20 - 3.80
Poland - 2.38 - 5.58
Portugal - 2.34 - 4.27
Slovakia - 2.45 - 5.62
Slovenia - 2.19 - 5.78
Spain - 1.93 - 4-95
Sweden 1.38 - 3.58

Unbelievable but true. Malta comes out tops in both cases. The lowest price available in Malta is still higher than the lowest prices in all the other 24 countries. Needless to say the most expensive 4 minute call home when roaming can only be registered on a bill in Malta. Nine English Pounds.

Now let's keep calm. Apparently the whole market is to blame. Apparently prices do not reflect real conditions and Ms Reding suspects that they are inflated. So let us say that all the operators in all the Member States deserve a slap on the hand. But can we be so damned unlucky as to have the most expensive bastards of the lot?

Regulation anyone?

Apologia Pro Blog Meo

People often ask you why you are obsessed with blogs. Why do you take up issues political and criticise as though you had a god given right to do so - and in a paternalistic tone to boot. What makes you tick and type? What makes you transform that indignation at that latest news item into a blog post of criticism or condemnation? What makes you reply to the myriad apologists that inevitably surface when you point your (feeble) barrels at an unheeding bureaucracy that seems to be capable to drive your nation into the mire? What forces of sadistic negativity push you to expose your nation's weakest ills in a public place?

I know. I know that I want to act. I know that this is not enough. I know that this miserable page read by a dedicated few will never break through to the barriers of ignorant decadence that seem to be the only construction work that has succeeded in the island I call home. But the urge to do and not stand there requires that I chronicle the bad and the misguided in the hope that somewhere somehow eyes begin to be opened. Otherwise I cannot point the accusing finger at the oppressive American in Guantanamo, the intolerant Muslim Extremist burners of all, the intransigence of the Vatican, the insensitivity of the West, the atrocities of the Eastern dictatorships, the disgraceful laxitudes in the Sub-Sahara or any other act where stupidity, ignorance and decadent civilisation raises its ugly head. I cannot call shame unto others when my head hangs low with the shameful face that I still cannot bear not to call home.

So this blog will continue to chronicle the ugly, the bad and the obnoxious. To hang the dirty linen and call for change. J'accuse will unfortunately have to report that which the main stream media seems unwilling to show, which the government seems all too willing to cover up and which the opposition can only vaguely splutter about without any concrete proposal of assertive action should it one day be in the driving seat.

Unfortunately, in times like this the will to continue to joke is lost. There are times when merriment makes way for sadness and anger. We must continue to chronicle and criticise. If only to show that it is not such a mad, mad (and surreal - thanks David) world.

Nevertheless, except you share
With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
Whose world is but the trembling of a flare
And heaven but as the highway for a shell,
You shall not hear their mirth:
You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears. You are not worth their merriment.

Last lines of "Apologia Pro Poemate Meo" - Wilfred Owen

La Honte (il-Misthija)

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Da Liberazione (quotidiano comunista italiano) (grazzi Markus):

Ecco la Cayenna dei migranti. E’ a Malta, è peggio della Cayenna
Il centro di detenzione Safi Barracks è una gigantesca gabbia dove i migranti vivono come bestie. Quando i militari maltesi aprono il lucchetto decine di africani ci accolgono urlando «freedom», «liberté». Si avvicinano con occhi ansiosi, è un coro ininterrotto di «aiutateci, qui dentro non possiamo vivere, soffriamo troppo». Sulle grate hanno appeso un lenzuolo: “Dio giudicherà Malta per ciò che fa ai migranti”.

L’odore dei loro corpi - lavati con una sola saponetta al mese in bagni spaventosi - è insopportabile. Nelle camerate dormono in materassi lerci, i più fortunati dispongono di lenzuola ormai gialle di sporcizia; vivono qui da mesi senza sapere perché, senza vedere medici, avvocati, volontari delle ong. Un’ora d’aria al giorno, a volte nemmeno quella «se non fanno i bravi». Senza un libro o un giornale da leggere, né una penna per scrivere; c’è una televisione in fondo al ballatoio, ma non una panca per sedersi a guardare l’unico canale - in maltese. «Diventeremo pazzi». Alcuni, pazzi, lo sono diventati già. Non ce la facevano più a sopportare l’attesa, 18 mesi di carcere perché sei illegale e con l’unica chance di ottenere l’asilo politico, a Malta. Non ce la facevano più: sono usciti di senno, i militari li hanno forzati a firmare un foglio, e poi se li sono portati via. Dove?

Mohammed mostra una bacinella da bucato: all’interno ci sono avanzi di riso in bianco e patate bollite a fette. «Guarda cosa ci danno da mangiare. Ogni giorno gli stessi cibi: macaroni e riso. Carne mai, né verdura, solo qualche mela». Poi ne prende un pugno e lo mette in bocca. «Non abbiamo forchette, né piatti». Solo una gavetta per il Lipton, come chiamano il té.

Un sudanese si tocca il petto, ha l’asma ma gli hanno dato un medicinale scaduto il mese scorso. Si tratta di un campione gratuito, italiano. Durante la visita numerosi migranti ci faranno vedere pasticche, sciroppi e aspirine, tutti scaduti. I malati gravi sono a letto: non riescono a unirsi alla concitazione; uno soffre di gozzo, un altro è diabetico, un altro ancora ha una bolla nell’occhio: «Mi hanno dato una pomata, ma non è passato».

La Convenzione di Ginevra sui rifugiati stabilisce che i malati sono “vulnerabili” e hanno la precedenza. Non dovrebbero stare in carcere. Eppure il governo conservatore di La Valletta assicura, nella voce del tenente colonnello Brian Gatt, un uomo di due metri, che il Safi in realtà è il luogo più decente. Perché negli altri centri di Malta succede di peggio: dietro le sbarre finiscono, per mesi e mesi, anche bambini e donne incinta. E un uomo sta diventando cieco senza che un medico lo venga a visitare.

Nel Tà Kandja proprio nel giorno della visita della commissione Diritti Civili Giustizia e Affari Interni del Parlamento Europeo un gruppo di migranti si è ribellato, nella colluttazione un soldato ha quasi perso un dito. E sempre nel pomeriggio, giusto quando la delegazione di Bruxelles usciva dal palazzo signorile del ministero della Giustizia e Interni, novanta africani sono fuggiti dal centro La Floriana scatenando un caccia all’uomo nelle vie dell’elegante centro storico.

Da mesi i migranti sono in agitazione permanente, si sono auto-organizzati e provocano tumulti, o fanno lo sciopero della fame. Ci vuol poco a capire che dal 2004, quando la commissione per i diritti dell’uomo di Strasburgo scrisse un rapporto severo sulle condizioni dei richiedenti asilo a Malta, le cose non sono cambiate di una virgola. I maltesi, anzi, sono diventati insofferenti. Ai prigionieri che scappano dalle grinfie della polizia gridano: «Bisognerebbe bruciarli in piazza» e «Ringraziate che vi diamo ospitalità». Il razzismo è diventato un problema politico, e un partito alternativo ai conservatori e ai laburisti si sta facendo strada a colpi di slogan xenofobi.

Il governo dell’isola non nasconde la crisi causata dai migranti. Crisi che si è acutizzata dal 2004, anno dell’entrata nell’Unione Europea, trasformando così questa terra nella porta principale tra l’Africa mediterranea e il vecchio continente.

Il ministro della Giustizia e dell’Interno Tonio Borg snocciola dati perché sa che sono un’arma di persuasione: «Malta è il sesto Paese più piccolo del mondo: 400mila abitanti distribuiti ad alta densità in appena 313 km quadrati. Dal 2002 al 2005 sono sbarcati quasi 5.500 clandestini. Vi sembrano pochi? Allora vi faccio notare che l’anno scorso abbiamo accolto 1822 persone, l’equivalente della metà delle nostre nascite annuali. Oppure, per farvi capire meglio, è come se in Italia sbarcassero quasi 300mila persone. Come potete vedere, le proporzioni sono terribili».

Borg continua a spiegare che Malta non è in grado di gestirli, i migranti. «Non siamo un Paese ricco, eppure siamo costretti a destinarvi l’1% del nostro bilancio e il 10% delle forze armate e di polizia». Il corollario non fatica ad arrivare: «L’Unione Europea deve aiutarci, non possiamo fare tutto da soli». Viene da chiedersi se non abbiano fatto nulla per mascherare lo schifo con il proposito di scioccare la delegazione, e spingerla a fare pressione su Bruxelles perché inserisca l’immigrazione nella lista delle tematiche di competenza comunitaria. Oggi in fatto di migranti ogni Stato membro può infatti comportarsi come meglio crede.

La legislazione maltese è durissima: a tutti i migranti illegali riserva il carcere per 18 mesi. Spesso la detenzione si estende fino ai 20 mesi, oppure oltre, senza alcuna giustificazione da parte delle autorità. Dal 2002 Malta ha messo in funzione quattro carceri: Safi Barracks e Lyster Barracks vengono gestite dall’esercito; Ta’ Kandja e Floriana dalla polizia. Nel giorno della visita i quattro centri albergano poco più di mille prigionieri, tra i quali 66 donne e 6 bambini. Un sudanese di Safi ci confida che nella notte precedente i militari hanno liberato sette suoi compagni. «Ci liberano sempre di notte», spiega.

A Malta i migranti non hanno la possibilità, appena sbarcati, di chiedere un permesso di soggiorno per lavorare. Pare che il governo non contempli minimamente la possibilità, «perché la nostra economia non è in grado di assorbirli». A onor del vero, solo una piccola parte dei migranti sogna di rimanere a vivere nell’isola: spesso sono capitati qui per sbaglio, mentre facevano rotta verso l’Italia. E a giudicare dalle scritte ingiuriose sulle pareti (“Vafankolou Malta”), pochi se la sentono di intersecare la propria esistenza con questa terra che li tratta da schiavi.

Così il destino comune è la richiesta di asilo politico. La commissione per i rifugiati maltese, nonostante tutto, è l’ufficio più sguarnito dell’amministrazione: solo 5 impiegati a sbrigare le pratiche di centinaia di richiedenti. Il lavoro procede così lentamente che i prigionieri attendono anche sei o sette mesi prima di sostenere il colloquio con un funzionario. I giorni passano nell’attesa spasmodica. Negli ultimi cinque anni solo 158 persone hanno ottenuto l’asilo politico, a fronte di 3.418 richiedenti. Meno del 5%. Ecco perché si avvicinano, tutti, con due lettere sgualcite in mano: vogliono farci vedere che la ragione del rifiuto molte volte non c’è, non l’hanno scritta. Non spiegano perché questi disperati del Sudan, dell’Eritrea e della Somalia (le tre nazionalità più numerose qui dentro), fuggiti dalla guerra, devono tornarsene a casa. «Sono scappato dalla prigione in Eritrea» racconta uno di loro, «se mi prendono mi decapitano».

A un ragazzo del Darfur hanno scritto che ora la situazione in Sudan è tranquilla e che può andare a vivere in un’altra regione. Nessuno di loro sospetta che, una volta usciti da questa latrina, sono destinati ai cosiddetti centri aperti gestiti dalla Chiesa e dalle ong o da aziende private, perché chi ha ottenuto l’asilo deve trovarsi un lavoro ma a chi non può rimanere il governo non riesce nemmeno a comperare il biglietto di ritorno. E nella maggior parte dei casi - salvo l’Egitto, la Tunisia e la Libia con i quali La Valletta ha stretto accordi - risulta impossibile contattare le autorità e convincerle ad accettare i rimpatriati.

I militari che ci accompagnano si affrettano a dare la loro versione: «Non li torturiamo, non li picchiamo, cerchiamo di trattarli bene». Un ragazzo della Sierra Leone estrae dalla tasca un filo di plastica comunemente usato per stringere i tubi dell’acqua. «Usano questo per ammanettarci, anche quando ci portano all’ospedale». Una ragazza conferma. E’ incinta di quattro mesi, lei e suo marito hanno concepito il bambino in una stanza dove dormono altre cinque persone. Secondo il regolamento dovrebbe uscire da Lyster Barracks, ma come altre donne gravide anche al quinto mese rimane qui.

Il giorno dopo il “Malta Times” scriverà che i membri della delegazione (Stefano Zappalà e Patrick Gaubert dei Popolari Europei; Giusto Catania e Kryacos Triantaphyllides del Gue; Martine Roure dei Socialisti Europei e Romano La Russa di Uen) sono rimasti «scioccati e disgustati». Zappalà (Forza Italia) e Giusto Catania (Rifondazione) si trovano persino d’accordo: Bruxelles non può tollerare questi lager, occorre armonizzare le leggi sull’immigrazione dell’Unione Europea. Anche se l’europarlamentare del Prc rimane convinto che «tutti i cpt vanno chiusi».

Marsali è il leader di Lyster Barracks. In Sierra Leone faceva l’attivista dei diritti umani. Come la maggior parte dei suoi compagni, ha indossato i vestiti migliori per accogliere gli europarlamentari. Parla in un inglese forbito, come un avvocato: «Vogliamo uscire, studiare, imparare un lavoro. Stare qui è psicologicamente difficile, d’estate è pieno di zanzare, l’acqua che beviamo è sporca e siamo esposti alle malattie».

Il governo non vuole scarcerare i malati «perché non vogliamo che infettino i maltesi con l’Aids, la scabbia e la tubercolosi». Le ong, che non ci hanno accompagnato, scrivono nei loro dossier che alcuni migranti si sono tolti la vita. Il tasso dei suicidi è sconosciuto. Sconosciuto è anche il numero dei morti dietro quelle grate di ferro dove ora si arrampicano per salutarci, gioiosi, e battere le mani.
di Laura Eduati (lunedì 27 marzo)

lundi, mars 27, 2006

Immigrants & Refugees (Utopia)

Imagine a day not very far from this one. Imagine that you have packed your suitcase with the absolutely necessary and that you are in line to get onto a plane out of the country. The country that is now called Ave Melita (yes they would probably name it something that stupid) is no longer your home. The government's latest policy is called "Min ma joghgbux jitlaq" and you have taken one of the last places available in this scheme and you are heading to a new life into another country that you will have to call home - away from the sun, sea and Xarabank that you loved so much.

You could not stay. Your conscience did not allow you to stay silent infront of measures like "Malta tal-Maltin (suwed barra)" and the latest one called "Dissoluzzjoni tal-Ordni tal-Gizwiti". You collected your papers from the Centru Nazzjonali tal-Purifikazzjoni, the former Jesuit College in Birkirkara, and sped with haste to the airport with tears in your eyes. Your stomach still has to be emptied on a regular basis as you adjust to the new reality and you see the same empty, desperate look in the fellow passengers of this forced abortion of nationals. You still cannot bring yourself to explain what has happened in your country and why you have to leave it so fast. But you have no time to do so. You have to begin to adjust to the new country.

The new country is not like those Mediterranean pits that were reserved for the boat people. Like them, it knew you were coming. Unlike them it did not reserve a hastily built slum for you to call as home. You live in a former army barrack but your tiny room has running water, electricity and there is even a communications and technology room for all immigrants to keep contact with the world. Morale is low - no one wanted to be here. The authorities try to be accomodating and to relieve the greatest troubles. They create a scheme for economic support. Different jobs in the local market are made available. Unlike the Mediterranean nightmares that you used to read about you are to be allowed to scrape away a little earning in order to be self-sufficient and be able to hope for brighter days.

When you venture out into the street , the locals are understanding. Although your complexion is very much like those of the terrorists who bombed and targeted their nation with violent attacks at train stations and on buses, very few make the quick and illlogical assumption that you could be of the same ilk. You are offered lifts to work. You join the local carpool and although you are not working as the University Professor that you were in Malta, your life as a shoe salesman in this little town allows you to live with dignity even though your career and dreams have been put on hold.

Then one day a local radical paper falls into your hands. Your eyes cannot believe what they see. They seem to have caught up with you. Those bungling buffoons who were in power in Malta seem to have found a foothold even in this welcoming state, here is what they say:

"Surely, there are ways of keeping them busy and alleviating their boredom. For example, they should help, in their own interest, to keep toilets clean. Also, could not some scheme of putting them to work on public cleaning projects, under strict supervision, and for a small allowance, improve things? There are many jobs they could be given - God knows the island needs a massive sprucing up! The scheme could start with a few small groups, and eventually expanded. Naturally it must be ensured that at the end of their day's work, they return to "base"." source

In this new country you had been allowed to find a job through an Immigrant Job Assistance scheme. In Malta they wanted to turn immigrants into Chain Gangs. Desperate beings who had reached the lowest of the turningpoints in their life, who had abandoned their family and the little social sustenance they had in the hope of a new life would be used to spruce up the island under strict supervision.

You discard the paper and turn on the TV in your room - the one you just bought with the money put aside from your first two months' salary.

They will be everywhere. The intolerant, the coocooned as well as the well-meaning bumblers. You remember that massacres in India and Africa under the colonial regime were prompted by well-meaning actions of the Evangelical communities who intended to civilise the misbelieving miscreants. And you begin to notice how some things never change. How difficult it is to achieve genuine tolerance based on brotherly love and not the tolerance that relies on looking down a snobbish nose into the eyes of the tolerated, and humiliated human being?

This just cannot be real.

Note: The extract in quotes is taken from the editorial of the Sunday Times of Malta - 26th March 2006. It refers to the illegal immigrants and refugees who were bundled into housing under atrocious conditions and is a partial reaction to the new uproar created by a visit of European Parliament inspectors who were among the first outsiders to be allowed by the democratic Republic of Malta to inspect the conditions. The visit had prompted escapes from detention by immigrants eager to show their plight to the visiting MEPS (and who cares how they got to know about the visit? Why should they not know about it?). Following the escapes, police in Floriana were seen stopping anyone who is black while passers by called for a all immigrants to be rounded up and burnt in a square.

It is possible that the above summary is as biased as it could get. But even the possibility that it is one tenth of the truth makes me feel ashamed that I am Maltese.

dimanche, mars 26, 2006

Manchurian Candidates

In today's Sunday Times Roamer picks up Fausto's preferred baton of pooh- poohing anything Green. Apart from the statistical questioning of the numerical gains of the AD we also get a direct challenge of Harry's assertion that the election results mus be read bearing in mind that Alternattiva was present only in 5 councils:

"As to that 1.7 per cent of the vote garnered by AD, few people apparently took the time to work out that this figure was diabolically arrived at by averaging the results across the 23 localities when AD had only contested five of those areas. This begs the inevitable question: Why were only five localities contested? The answer seems to be "simply a matter of material resources". And human ones, too, I imagine."

So the criticism aimed at AD is basically: Since unlike other parties you do not find it in yourself to present incompetent bumbling buffoons in your list simply for the sake of number you are wrong. Since you fail to put forward any Tom, Dick and Harry as a valid politician (even at Council level) you are to be criticised.

Meanwile MLPN are allowed to present candidates who have as much political positiveness, administrative acumen and social savoir-faire as a Chimpanzee Tea Party. In our society these Manchurian Candidates are acceptable. Because our vote is so blind that it simply votes by colour. We are content that il-partit has sufficient candidates to have a go at that 50% margin in each locality. All the rest ... is green politics.

Now Harry has no reason to be blowing trumpets of victory or circling Castille three times in the hope that the structure collapses. Definitely. However I do find the criticism based on number of candidates fielded as arrogant as any crowing that Harry might indulge in.

We live in a country were we are lucky if 5% can see through the MLPN screen. Out of that 5% finding sufficient candidates of calibre that would guarantee the promised change from the sorry state of politics we are mired in becomes a gargantuan task. This is not a dartboard selection. This is not a selection for the sake of number. This is a matter of quality that respects the electorate's need and hopes to convince its wants.

Unfortunately though, it can be very tiring and energy consuming ... preaching to the converted.

samedi, mars 25, 2006

Theatre Break

I will be at attending a Theatre Stage all this weekend (but will still have time to watch Roma trounce Juve tonight). So while I struggle to memorise The Porter's speech about drunkenness in Macbeth in the language of Chirac (yes, you have a right to walk out) I will probably not have enough time to continue to overtly manifest my obsession with blogging and to fill this overrated page. :) (smiley dedicated to xifer and the overraters).

Consider this as a break.....


vendredi, mars 24, 2006

The Gaul's Gall

From The Times:

"PRESIDENT CHIRAC stormed out of the first session of a European Union summit dominated by a row over French nationalism because a fellow Frenchman insisted on speaking English.
President Chirac and three of his ministers walked out of the room when Ernest-Antoine Seillière, the leader of the European business lobby UNICE, punctured Gallic pride by insisting on speaking the language of Shakespeare rather than that of Molière.

When M Seillière, who is an English-educated steel baron, started a presentation to all 25 EU leaders, President Chirac interrupted to ask why he was speaking in English. M Seillière explained: “I’m going to speak in English because that is the language of business.”
Without saying another word, President Chirac, who lived in the US as a student and speaks fluent English, walked out, followed by his Foreign, Finance and Europe ministers, leaving the 24 other European leaders stunned. They returned only after M Seilière had finished speaking.

The meeting was furnished with full interpretation services, and anyone in the room could speak or listen in any of the 20 official EU languages. Embarrassed French diplomats tried to explain away the walk-out, saying that their ministers all needed a toilet break at the same time."

Parlez vous franglais?

I know it's only the AD....

...but I like it.

His analysis was long in coming. I find it reassuring - I am still unable to read statistics objectively and I really do need an analysis from ALL sides to be able to draw some kind of conclusion. I will refuse to read numbers and believe that they signify anything without a bit of a push from numbercrunchers like Fausto who I must thank for the clarification regarding an assertion made by TGIL.

Anyways, Harry's reading is very very reassuring. In particular I like the idea that the official overall percentage vote associated with AD takes into consideration the overall number of voters and ignores the fact that only those voting in 5 councils had access to AD candidates. Which means that the 1.7% of voters linked to AD is false. I also like the idea that wherever AD contested both big parties ended up with less than 50% of the vote. A telling truth indeed. If anyone needs reminding, it is this matter - that of breaking the hegemony of the big two - that draws my sympathy to AD. And their overall seriousness of course (barring a few jarring moments when they lose it).

One last thing before I quote some significant bits of 'arry's article. I really had overlooked how close David Darmanin got to being elected in Birkirkara. The failure of so many people to add him to the end of their list should be an eye opener to many individuals. The Big Parties will never ever tell you this but putting a number 2, 3, 4 or even 5 next to an AD candidates name could also help the cause. Stick it in your Baaing heads before it is too late.

Word now goes to Harry of the Greens:

"The publication of the election results show a nationwide result for AD at 1.7 per cent. Few people take the time to make out that it is arrived at by averaging out results across all the 23 separate elections that took place regardless of the fact that we only had candidates in five of these elections. It suits both the other parties to create the impression that that the Greens are much smaller than they really are. The PN in particular feels the need to keep up its assault as a smokescreen covering its rout at the polls.

"The Greens did well in the local council elections. We could have done much better. The big difference between our analysis of the results and that of the other political parties is that we realise that these were local elections. We have never committed the folly of using them as a nationwide poll.

"In every locality where we contested we have brought the other two political parties below the 50 per cent mark. It is ominous for them and they know it. They also know far better than the casual readers of newspapers that we can do far better than that. Nowhere in the localities we contested, not in the ones where we elected our candidates nor in the ones where we did not, did we have a campaign presence to match theirs. They know that if we ever get close to that level in any election, the results will be earthshaking."

Altogether now... sing along.... "I know... it's only the AD... but I like it!"

You can read the rest here.

J'Ose : Symbols and Politics

Graphic guru David Hillmann was asked by il Corriere della Sera to analyse the symbols of some of the parties contesting the next election in Italy. His reply is quite amusing - and probably not qute what the parties were looking for:

Forza Italia - Washing Detergent
Lega Nord - Insurance Company
Alternativa Sociale - Commercial Association
Italia di Valori - Travel Agency
L'Unione - dye/ colouring agent
Socialisti Liberali Radicali - Tattoo Shop
Rifondazione - Russian Football Team
Margherita - Lite Margarine

And in Malta. Well J'accuse would suggest the folowing:

PN: Funeral Undertakers
MLP: Matchsticks and Firestarters
AD: Holiday Brochure

jeudi, mars 23, 2006

(Pr)etty (Pr)efiguration (TGIL)

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You're great. Most of you. At least those who get to read Thank God It's Lorna's column once every two weeks. And do you know why you are great? Because "the final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure continuously without resentment". And endure we do. And resent we don't. Oh no we don't. We just want more, more and more.

Today the Adorer of He Who Must Only Be Alluded To has chosen to launch into the definite (and absolute) explanation of why PN are soooo a minority and MLP are soooo an absolute majority all over the place except in government. But they will be in two years time of course. In the meantime Lorna will continue to bore all and sundry with percentages recounting the greatest majorities since Mintoff and the greatest flops since Borg Olivier. Incidentally, the sad state of affairs in nationalistland is surely demonstrated when even a bungling columnist like the Dame of Literary Elocution manages to take the proverbial urinary sample.

But anyhoo... the first few pagraphs of today's contribution manage to convey a bit of Lornisms which merit the old red annotation treatment.

So for the fans of she who must be prrrrrrosaic here goes:

Only one primely author has the titles of his articles starting in "pr" in Malta. [This is apparently Alfred Sant's main achievement over the last twenty years - that nothwiststanding the fact that the novelty of the PR idea has run dry he still persists in polluting the pages with titles that seem to have been forced out of his pen with the aid of a mental suppository. Meanwhile Lorna introduces us to the word "primely" - of excellence - don't know why but its first three letters remind me of primitive and primate. Must be the obsession she has for Freddie - you can imagine her hunting him down in a primordial pre-coital prance across the templs of Mnajdra until having caught her prey she will proceed to preen his preputio with gusto.] Arbitrarily allowing myself [The woman is so full of herself as to give permission to herself - the schizophrenia abounds] to break such household spell [Lorna Potter. What exactly does she mean by household spell? Has Freddie been bewitched into writing articles that have to begin with PR - on pain of non-election?] , it is in this way that I introduce my article about such author's latest primely precedents... political precedents [such author's primely precedents - you will note that throughout the article she will talk about the prrrwriter's political victories which have no antecedent so technically they are not precedent since whatever they precede has not yet come].

The March 11 local elections have made him [he who writes in prrrrrs], whose political practice has been profusely underestimated [to profusely underestimate - to scatter underestimation all over the place with prurient enthusiasm], the party leader with a number of unprecedented electoral victories in Maltese politics [the fixation with precedent sticks.. once a word gets into that vacuum she calls a brain it has difficulty leaving without having to resonate once or twice around the medulla oblongata - please note that most of the unprecedented victories had not happened since for example 1955 which does not make them so unprecedented]. No matter how fervently political foes attempt to peter out such conquests [beautiful: to peter out such conquests, as in to drip them out slowly un surreptitiously -possibly the use of the word peter was prompted by the fact that it begins with a P and ends in an R, but then possibly not!], Alfred Sant has shown that "the final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure continuously without resentment".

In the wake [some are still mourning] of the last local council results, one can list some of the achievements secured. These were:

The fourth consecutive electoral victory for the MLP since 2004, the first one being the relative 48.42 per cent victory in EP elections.

Beyond the EP relative majority, thus, this is the third absolute majority victory on a local level since 2004. In the 2004 elections, the MLP obtained 50.2 per cent of the vote. In 2005, a 53.2 per cent absolute majority was won, followed, this year, with another absolute majority of 53.95 per cent.

This year's was also the first absolute majority obtained in 23 localities, most of which are (or were always considered to be) PN strongholds, not only since 1993 (when local councils were introduced) but also since the 1950 general election. [how does she calculate this? Can statisticians help on this one? Fausto?]

The extra relevance of the 2006 vote lies in the fact that it is also the highest non-PN percentage ever obtained in local council elections in at least 14 of the said 23 localities since 1993, namely: Birkirkara, Fgura, Lija, Marsascala, Mdina, Msida, Mtarfa, Naxxar, San Gwann, Sliema, Tarxien, Xghajra, Zabbar and Victoria. One has to bear in mind the fact that, between 1993 and 1998, the MLP didn't contest the local elections as a party and, therefore, the pro-MLP was not all too evident. [And here we find a reason for her idol Sant to slap her on the wrists.... dear dear this is not the normal Labour mantra. Did you not know that non-voters are always evidently Labour? Did you forget the precedents of the EP elections and the 1993 local councils themselves? When Sant says we don't play all non-voters automatically become Labourite... PRobably]

Ah Lorna. How prosopopaeic. Your articles are preternaturally prescient and so lacking in the pretentious presumption of nationalist proponents. I worry that your premonitory presages could precipitate a bout of ill luck on the side of the primely primate that you so profoundly adulate. Precaution and premption for some unpremeditated downfall would be precious advice unless you would want to present the picture of a perfect prick at the end of the day when it really counts!

Good day y'all.


PS All those who asked for legal clarification regarding the Philip Sciberras - Mintoff issue are kindly asked to email me at jacques dot zammit at gmail dot com and I will send the necessary clarifications.

mercredi, mars 22, 2006

Hogan Needs You!

Don't you just wish you were Saviour Balzan? I have just read on di-ve that Hogan was ordered by the Court of Appeals (sic) to pay Lm2,000 in damages to Dom Mintoff. The Maltatoday series of stories about Bical bank were considered to be defamatory and as a consequence Hogan will have to cough up 2000 little coins with a birdy on them.

"Presiding judge Philip Sciberras said that the reports aimed at damaging Mintoff's reputation, offending his name and fame, and ridicule his personality in public."

Saviour's Salvo in reply to the Appeal judgement is that Philip Sciberras acted as Mintoff's lawyer prior to being appointed judge. Once again Saviour demonstrates a limited knowledge in the complex workings of the Maltese legal and judicial system. (And once again I invite him to consult a lawyer should he have difficulty understanding the import of the last sentence).

The final cherry on the cake is that Hogan has decided to launch a libel fund "to safeguard the interests of readers, the right of the reader to know and most importantly the freedom of the press. " That's right guys. If you want to inject money into a slandering mean machine just go for it. Send your cheques to Hogan and His Heroes and they will continue in their headless campaign to slander for the sake of slander. They will shoot at the "include the anti-abortion clause in the constitution" gang with one hand and then fire at the "porn bankers in Catholic Malta" in another. One thing's for sure, they have as much of an agenda as the Iraq Invasion Force... with Hogan's band its all about attack, unveil and we'll come up with excuses later. Only they cannot tax the duh!merican public to finance their campaign... hence the libel fund!

Sooooooooo in the interests of democracy, liberty and fruit of the womb j'accuse will of this instant launch its Caveat Lector!* Fund. Readers and sympathisers are free to send monetary donations to j'accuse and in return we promise to continue reporting the reporters and uncovering the covered. It will also be useful just in case somebody decides to institute a net libel case against us.

*Reader Beware!

Damn... she's good!

A few days ago I was on the phone with AT and he asked me whether or not I had heard about a former law school colleague of ours who was very outspoken with PM Gonzi on TV. Apparently she asked him"Kemm se ddum titnejjek bina?" (for how long will you be pulling our leg) when he tried to redesign the Qui-Si-Sana project in five minutes of prime time. Today that former colleague has an article on the Times. And I love it. Being a narcissist, one of the reasons I love it is that I could very well have written the same thing myself... and whenever you read something by someone of like mind it reads all the better.

Here are some lovely clips from Claire Bonello's article in the Times (yes, she also has a regular column on the Maltatoday):

Yet, Dr Gonzi blithely disregards the documents filed at Mepa, puts on that earnest "believe-me-because-I'm-the-Prime-Minister" look and tries to pull off the amazing trick of misinforming us while accusing us of being misinformed in the same breath.

During that post-election press conference where he understandably had to put on a brave face, he told Sliema residents they were misinformed about the Qui-Si-Sana project - that we had been led astray. The obvious implication is that we are brainless sheep trotting off trustingly whenever a political party which is not the PN waves propaganda carrots in front of our noses. Can't the Prime Minister see how badly that kind of attitude goes down with people who have actually seen the plans? Can he possibly be saying that the truth and the facts are the sole domain of the Nationalist Party?

The Prime Minister (and the ministers and party flunkeys who played a part in the misinformation game) should realise that the PN's terrible showing in the local council elections is totally its own fault. The Nationalists who stayed away from the polling booths, the ones who voted for Alternattiva Demokratika or the MLP, are not gormless, misinformed citizens. Most of them realise that the electricity surcharge has to be imposed because of circumstances beyond the government's control. The voters abandoned the PN in droves precisely because of the patronising and insulting attitude shown towards the electorate by the key figures of the party. The media attacks directed towards questioning residents did not help much either. The PN, which once prided itself on being the voice off the underdog, has turned into a rabid pit bull terrier which savages anyone who dares squeak in protest.


During a television programme, Dr (Austin) Sammut surmised that the low voter turnout was due to the fact that it was raining on election day or possibly because voters were so satisfied with the present state of affairs that they did not want to vote for a change. Viewers nearly died laughing at these suppositions.

We can assure him that Nationalist voters stayed away from the polling booth, or voted against the PN, because they do not want to be insulted by sarcastic exponents of the party in government. They don't want to be compared to violent thugs. They want to be listened to, not misinformed. And if the Prime Minister and Dr Sammut can't get their heads around that, then they had better commission another report about why the PN keeps on getting whipped in every election.

Afghanistan after Duh!merica

George W Bush was almost moving in his inability to deliver cogent speech during his address to the people as the War in Iraq entered its fourth year (almost two years after it was won). I am constantly bemused by the fact that this man is utterly incapable to utter one convincing phrase when he is called to do so. His pauses are in the wrong places, his gaze remains one of eternal bafflement that he got over the first word in a string of ten, and the general idea is that he has not read the speech before because (a) he cannot read, (b) the prompter in his ear normally does quite a good job but today there is some kind of interference.

But back to Duhmerica. Or rather let's zoom to Kabul. We move to that other nation that has had the chance to be freed by the knights of liberty in the 21st century. Afghanistan seemed to be moving along quite well. Post-Taleban Kabul was picking up and Hamid Karzai was looking charmingly convincing in his bonnie hat. Only that the constitution drafted for the importation of democracy seems to carry along with it something very duh!merican - the death sentence. Apart from this anomaly in a modern democracy which the US is happy to live with there is the teeeny weeny weird reason for which the death sentence may be pronounced that jars with this idea of an idyllic post-taleban state.

Have you heard of Abdul Rahman? Well you probably heard that name but not when used for this person. In this case Rahman is an Afghan national who, while working with Afghan refugees in a camp in Pakistan, converted to Christianity... 14 years ago. This year, after returning to liberated Afghanistan he has been arrested and threatened with the death penalty for... conversion. Yep. Converting to Christianity is a crime punishable with death in good old democratic Afghanistan. Of course Karzai is not happy, he blames the clerics who infest the courthouses of the Republic. A bit like Clinton blaming a Republican appointed judge for a decision of the Supreme Court. Fact is the law allows them to be there and it allows them to mete out these sentences.

Fact is that the democratic constitution left behind by the liberating forces who are still running after Mullah Omar (one of the reasons they went there in the first place - remember his McQueen like escape on a bike?) was meant to be a proof of the success of the interventions made ever so haphazardly by the democracy of stars and stripes.

And Iraq is half-way there. Good luck to them innit?

Photo: The trial judge holds up the 'incriminating evidence' - Abdul Rahman's bible.

mardi, mars 21, 2006

Guess Who?

Since 20th March has come and gone (remember the google search for "20 march"?) we have decided to play a little game with whoever bothers to read this blog on this day that seems to be full of frivolosities. The game is the internationally reknowned game of Guess Who? The clues are in the words... all you have to guess is who it is... you can ask 20 questions (in comments section - one question per comment). If you don't care... tant pis... neither do I!

T'es tout' nue
Sous ton pull
Y a la rue
Qu'est maboul'
T'as ton cœur
A ton cou
Et l'bonheur
Pas en d'ssous
T'as l'rimmel
Qui fout l'camp
C'est l'dégel
Des amants
Ta prairie
Ça sent bon
Fais-en don
Aux amis
T'es qu'un' fleur
Du printemps
Qui s'fout d'l'heure
Et du temps
T'es qu'un' rose
Que l'on pose
A côté
T'es qu'un brin
De soleil
Dans l'chagrin
Du réveil
T'es qu'un' vamp
Qu'on éteint
Comm' un' lampe
Au matin
Tes baisers
Sont pointus
Comme un accent aigu
Tes p'tits seins
Sont du jour
A la coque
A l'amour
Ta barrière
De frou-frous
Faut s'la faire
Mais c'est doux
Ta violette
Est l'violon
Qu'on violente
Et c'est bon
T'es qu'un' fleur
De pass' temps
Qui s'fout d'l'heure
Et du temps
T'es qu'une étoile
Qu'on entoile
Aux beaux jours
T'es qu'un point
Sur les "i"
Du chagrin
De la vie
Et qu'une chose
De la vie
Qu'on arrose
Qu'on oublie

T'as qu'un' paire
De mirettes
Au poker
Des conquêtes
T'as qu'un' rime
Au bonheur
Faut qu'ça rime
Ou qu'ça pleure
T'as qu'un' source
Au milieu
Du bon dieu
T'as qu'un' porte
En voil' blanc
Que l'on pousse
En chantant
T'es qu'un' pauv'
Petit' fleur
Qu'on guimauv'
Et qui meurt
T'es qu'un' femme
A r'passer
Quand son âme
Est froissée
T'es qu'un' feuille
De l'automne
Qu'on effeuille
T'es qu'un' joie
En allée
Viens chez moi
La r'trouver

* This blog post also includes good wishes to Gary R. May he cure whatever needs to be cured and pass whatever needs to be passed!

Inspire / Aspire

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver
Song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams
Be tossed and blown.
Walk on
walk on
With hope in your hearts
And you'll never walk alone
You'll never walk alone.
Walk on
walk on
. . .

lundi, mars 20, 2006

Par Condicio (Ex Aequo)

Having (twice) lambasted PM Gonzi for his apparent arrogance on Saturday I feel dutibound to reproduce in full the letter of rectification that he sent to the Times. Before I do so may I point out that the exchange between the PM and the Times can lead us to conclude two things:

1. the Times journalist is either very very biased or very very stupid (ok let's say silly).
2. Gonzi is not very very capable of communicating clearly.

Anyhoo... here is what Gonzi really had to say about what he really said:

"I refer to the article People Should Be More Appreciative - Gonzi (The Sunday Times, March 19).

"Both the title and the opening paragraphs of this article portray an incredibly unwarranted and incorrect picture of my address at Saturday's seminar themed We Are Making Success Of Accession. At no point did I lament that people don't appreciate the government's work nor did I ask people to be more appreciative for it.

"Of course, I did emphasise the fact that without membership none of the benefits would have accrued to our country and to our citizens. In this sense, we must all be conscious of the fact that it is thanks to membership that Malta and the Maltese enjoy unprecedented rights and benefits. But this consciousness cannot and should not be understood as asking people to "be more appreciative of the government's work". On the contrary, I have gone on record to repeatedly state that it is the government and its institutions that need to understand better the people's needs and to communicate more effectively its policies and programmes.

"During my speech, I emphasised the achievements of the country and the citizen as a result of EU accession, mentioning the gains but also the challenges. I recognised the difficulties we are facing as a result of the opening of our markets. While pointing out that small entrepreneurs and importers were happy with this and that the consumer had a wider choice, I acknowledged that such market openness has put pressure on our agriculture community and that we need to address these pressures. I mentioned the benefits achieved in the social and employment fields and gave as an example the ETC scheme for the over 40s. I mentioned roads and projects that have now also started in Gozo, the students and workers going abroad to study and exchange visits, and the support we are receiving to address the irregular immigrants issue.

The power of the citizen who can now refer matters to the EU was highlighted and I gave as concrete example the satellite licences issue (mentioning that this cost government Lm500,000 in one year) and the Marsascala plant which must now be brought to EU standards. I also spoke about the opportunities for our local councils that need to exploit better EU membership.
"All of this has been discarded by the report with a title and an underlying message that does not reflect the thrust of my address.

"I take this opportunity to assure Maltese people of my gratitude for their commitment and hard endeavour towards the success of our country."

Which leads J'Accuse to revise its bedside prayer for the weekend:

Our electorate that art in thirteen districts, hallowed be thy name, thy vote come, thy will be mine in Mellieha as it is in Bubaqra, give me this day your wholehearted approval as I give thee my gratitude and forgive me any misdeeds as I forgive you your occasional lapses, lead me not into opposition and protect me from any opponent.

Labour's Lost Valuables

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By far, my favourite politician to hail from the MLP's ranks has to be Lino Spiteri. The Maltese political scene might have been an all too different one had he been in Alfred Sant's place all along. To be fair, sometimes, it is easier to speak and write objectively when you are on the sidelines. We saw this was the case with Johnny Cash yesterday. Today Lino Spiteri's article continues on the same theme. I will paste what Lino has to say in ths post in the hope that some wannabe political guru (a wanguroo?) at Herbert Ganado reads this blog.

Apart from the jabs at the statements by Gonzi and Busuttil that left many an incredulous jaw hanging, Lino has this to say:

"The local council elections result underlay another point transmitted by Dr Gonzi. He asserted that the EU was "a guarantee of the country's success even in terms of the economy". How can anyone prove that? EU membership offers a net balance of advantages. To exploit them, Malta has to achieve the necessary conditions that would still be required had we stayed outside the EU. Technological innovation, competitiveness and investment in means to produce and export goods and services are the requisites. Even if met, there is no certainty that they will be sufficient to yield sustainable success."

And exploiting the EU we do not seem to be doing. Correct me if I am wrong but the biggest bit of news about investment in Malta comes from Dubai. Smartcity sounds like some 16th century philosophers Utopia and I am baffled that there is no catch in the deal. Lest I am misunderstood I will repeat that it sounds beneficial and I am glad the deal is on. I am just slightly concerned that in the same period the US of A - a staunch ally of the UAE insofar as Middle East questions are concerned - deemed it fit to refuse an Emirate investment into four major ports in duh!merica worth billions of dollars. Even the republicans (my oh my) voted against such investment much to the chagrin of Dubya.

But back to the EU tool. Exploiting it? We seem to be making a shabby job of it that's what. Free movement of persons is limited to the pride of walking through the fast lane at airports once you have coughed up enough dough to finance at least seven flights on Ryanair in Europe. The free movement of goods applies until said goods enter our ports then our stevedores set about undoing whatever freedom existed thereanent (yes it exists). The free movement of capital sounds like a good thing if only there were more capital doing the shifting. Should I go on?

What little exploitation is had - such as funds for roads - is so badly marketed that we the people barely understand what they should be so appreciative about.

Beyond that there is another fundamental question. One on which I have been at loggerheads with various PN intelligensia from day one. The people do not owe the PN anything for getting them into Europe. Strange as it may seem the decision was up to the people to make. The PN, as a christian democrat party with European aspirations had a logical, inevitable, DUTY to take up the baton and form the vehicle used by the people for entry. The only points that the PN would win in that round is for reading the obvious where that bungling, "shoot myself in the foot" party better known as Labour transformed itself into a dyslexic analphabetic mumbler. Otherwise, the PN, like AD for what matters, simply transformed themsleves into the tool for the people to use to gain entry.

The people were destined to get in there. They chose PN (and more would have chosen Ad were it not for the former PM's theatrics on the ve of elections) to get them in. There. Since when does performing one's duty transform itself into a service rendered against payment? I'm afraid this concept of "the ungrateful electorate" is as blind as the concept of "the stupid electorate" that Labour hangs on to so dogheadedly. If that does not change, PN will definitevely have shifted into the category of the unelectable before long. Sad thing is that AD seems to be slipping slowly in that direction too.

As one French comedian would put it.... in the 80s and 90s we suspected that the politicians were taking us for a ride. Now... we know for sure.

dimanche, mars 19, 2006

PN Government: My Part in Its Downfall

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"People should be more appreciative" - Lawrence Gonzi (PM)

from today's Sunday Times

"The Maltese should be more appreciative of the government's work and, most of all, its lobby for Malta's EU accession instead of taking things for granted, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said yesterday.

"It is not at all for granted that I, as prime minister of this small country, sit around the same table with leaders of huge European countries. And you should feel proud to walk through the fast queue at airports and not be sidelined like citizens of non-EU states," Dr Gonzi said."

Thank God for the Nationalist Party. All together now...

Hail nationalist full of grace, the euro is with thee, blessed art though among parties and blessed is the leader of thy fold, Gonzus. ...

Our parliamentarian who art in Triq Herbet Ganado, hallowed be thy name, thy Europe come, thy will be one, in Victoria as it is in Bubaqra, give us this day our daily blinder and forgive us our grumblings, as we forgive those who gurmble about us, keep us away fom the green path, and protect us from red monsters.

Life in the Fast Lane
Meanwhile, following the Gonzi intervention at Le Meridien a Nationalist press release called Onesta' u Trasparenza reminded all honest citizens who want to feel proud while walking through the fast lane at the airport to have their Lm40 (100 euro) worth of departure taxes, airport fees, backhands etc to be at the ready if they had not already done so at the time of purchase of their ticket.


On the Other Hand
If proof that life outside the power lanes has sobering effect was ever needed, this time it comes in the form of the Man formerly Known as Johnny Cash. A more realistic way of thinking comes from this, most unexpected source. I never thought that I would say this but today reading Johnny D made sense while reading Lawrence G brought tears to the eyes... and I still can't decide whether to laugh or cry.

Obviously Johnny has the advantage that in his analysis the Nationalist party's losses could be attributed to the reshuffle that sidelined his operations. But that aside it sounds more like the way the PN should be thinking if it is to have any chance of retaining government for the next five years (did I just say that?). Here is what Johnny Cash says:

Electoral reflections

Why has the party been faring so badly at the ballot box in the past two years?

One thing is sure. It is not because Labour is doing so well. Labour has also lost votes this time around when compared to the last local elections of the same localities. It is evident that the major factor in the result was the high number of abstentions, and not any noticeable shift of allegiance.

We can search for the various reasons at a local and national level, which could have disgruntled voters and kept them away from the ballot box. However, we must also see whether there is an underlying current that is disenchanting people. I think there is.

As I wrote in this column some months ago, there is a feeling of despondency in this country. I think that this must be understood and acted on since the people deserve a better deal. We must also look within the party organisation. Is the organisation up to it? Have we depleted our resources to a point where the deficiencies are now becoming critical?

Has the purge that took place shaken the efficiency of the party and rendered it ineffectual? How is this going to be corrected? This will be discussed, I hope, in the General Council, which the party will be holding in Gozo next weekend.

samedi, mars 18, 2006

vendredi, mars 17, 2006

Flammis Acribus (anger)

An anthropologist could spend hours explaining the importance and role of fire to the human race through the ages. Ever since harnessing fire, man has not know how to go without. Fire is one of the eternal paradoxes offered to us by mother nature, it burns and destroys but in doing so it provides warmth and energy. Once man moved beyond his basic needs and developed the spiritual and the mystical to new dimensions fire found a key place in religion and alchemy and later on in science. It's importance is also a great source of inspiration in poetry and metaphorical language. In other words fire is here to stay and has become a regular visitor in the images of our media.

Think of the US invasion(s) of Iraq and you will inevitably remember the burning oil wells left behind by a retreating Iraqi army. Think of 9/11 and the fire and smoke after the planes hit their targets will remain an indelible image in our minds. Fire. The ultimate political protest thought up by the tibetans and Chinese is that of the individuals covering themselves in flammable liquid and putting fire to themselves - almost admirable and noble as a move where it not for the Christian respect for one's own life). This was not effective enough according to some and so we got the walking bombs of terrorist attacks setting fire to others. Others retain that their life is too precious or that their protest is not a matter of life and death and will limit to lighting fires in riotous assembly. Then at the low end of the terrorist scale ( the worms of terror) is the anonymous coward who will set fire to anything else without showing his face or leaving a sign.

In the Arab world they burnt the flags - regularly. From US to Iraly to Denmark, all felt the burning brunt of the symbolic anger when their stars, stripes and tricolors went up in flames. In Iraq they are still flaring up as we speak. In Palestine the fires continue. The French suburbs went up in flames - especially the cars of the commuters who hailed from the same protesting region. Yesterday the Sorbonne situation exploded when the 'experts' from the suburbs joined the fray and decided to set fire to a bookshop. Then in Malta a group of inspired geniuses decided that to shut up a jesuit you have to burn his car - seven of them actually.

The human race is alight. The primeval urge to burn is unfortunately surfacing. An in Malta the troglodytes seem to be of the worst kind. They torched the vehicles anonymously. It was not difficult to assume who would have a motive to do so. It did not take a genius. I spent seven years at St. Alosyius' College and as much as I could be consumed by what I would think to be hatred at the time because of a "yellow door" punishment that would make me miss my very very important league game - it never crossed my mind to inflict any form of retribution on the Sons of Loyola.

No. This was not some angry student.

You always got your own back at SAC, in your own way, within the rules of the system. A prank, a practical joke. But not a burning car.

Burning cars are for subhumans who think in terms of races, colours and throw in a few words in Italian or post-colonial English to feel supreme. They will say that they are not racist or violent but in their minds a genocide will occur at least once a day. They will spit out hatred while claiming to be democratic. They will strut in, in the guise of safety and guardians of civilisation and they will exit through the back door with hands dirtied with blood and charred remains. They will mock those who think in terms of human beings. They claim to be concerned with survival of the fittest while they ignore the fact that we tolerate their intellectual and spiritual weakness on a daily basis.

It is at times like this that I wish I was a stronger believer, like Dante Alighieri was. That I believed that the flames of hell really existed and that they burn eternally. For I too, like Dante, would have a couple of ideas about who would be best suited for the Cerchi piu infernali. Qed tifhem? I might probably end up somewhere there myself, but logic tells me that the enjoyment I would get from finding out that they are there too would void any possibility of my sharing the same circle! (ah Lawyers - bargaining with the Devil).

The World
The World
The World is On Fire
Do we get some water
or shall we let the f*r burn?

Burn m*f*r

If you have read this far I feel that it would be fair to provide you with the following press release by Imperium Europa and Viva Malta, just in case your suspicion (like mine) had fallen on any of their followers:

VALLETTA, Malta (di-ve news)--March 17, 2006 -- 1130CET-- Imperium Europa and Viva Malta have issued a joint statement in which they have distanced themselves from the recent acts attacks against people or organisations that work with irregular immigrants. The two movements said that they do not condone senseless violence or vandalism, adding that their fight is on the spiritual, cultural and political levels. Due to their outspoken stand against irregular immigration, members from the two movements had been linked to the recent attacks. However, in their statement, Imperium Europa and Viva Malta said that they do not need such criminal actions as these are often instrumentalised to tarnish the movements' ideals.

jeudi, mars 16, 2006

Daphne & the Diaphanous

The third meaning you will find under the heading "diaphanous" would normally be "vague or insubstantial dreams of glory". It was inevitable that Daphne would speak about the Local Council landslide in her Thursday column. Today's article is the typical one which will have Labour supporters wishing that she be burned at the stake like some latter-day Joan of Arc while Nationalist supportes who still do not get it will be rejoicing without reason since they will only interpret the article as another stab at Labour.

I love this paragraph from her article:

"You win a national election when you win a national election. The cat’s in the bag when the cat’s in the bag, and not when it’s running around howling for supper. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. The higher you climb, the harder you fall. Hubris leads to nemesis. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he thought he’d already won the election. Shall I go on? Better not. "

She then reaches the conclusion that the blogosphere seems to have concorded upon... she expresses this in a bit more picturesque language but we all get it (geddit?)... No Lorna today but Thank God for Daphne.

"The mistake that the Labour Party makes is in thinking that the change we want is political change. It’s not. It’s cultural. We are as sick of each other as we are of the people who run the country. We have been living in each other’s pockets for far too long. Marriages are breaking down all over the place and people are backbiting each other like there’s no tomorrow because we have become so very nervous, living like 400,000 ferrets tied up in a sack."

When the Gods Come Down to Play IV

Football's pantheon moved to San Siro yesterday for an emotional farewell to a great footballer and rival. Demetrio Albertini leaves football after 14 years at Milan and 1 at Barcelona. His farewell match reads like a Pantheon of footballing greats: Van Basten, Gullit, Desailly, Rijkaard, Weah, Ronaldinho etc etc. There are some moments that can be moving even for the greatest of rivals. Hats off then to Demetrio Albertini. (Besides, one less of them means one more for us!)

aside: Remember that all conquering record breaking side which managed to notch up 11 consecutive wins (and god forbid anyone mentions the words "favourable calendar")? Well their unbeaten run was lost to Del Duca Ascoli while yesterday they were knocked out of Europe by another of the great giants of continental football: Middlesborough FC! Some sides have a pantheon, some try at all costs to invent it... but the beautiful game will always tell who's who!

mercredi, mars 15, 2006

Credit (where it is due)

We tend to complain. Us bloggers. A bit too much. About Labour, PN, the weather, the policies, the taxes and whatsnot. I think sometimes we must give credit where credit is due. Personally I think that the BA decision regarding World Cup broadcasting rights is equitable, on balance. The miscreant in this case was and remains Melita Cable. It's sudden holier than thou attitude of "Melita Cable is not authorised to transmit" came after some Damascene revelation that retransmission of unauthorised images was wrong. In itself this revelation was not bad. That it tried to cash in on this fact with the infamous package by forcing the football addicts of this world to pay for what was previously free without some cushioning action between one extreme and the other is shameful.

The BA decision takes into consideration the realities of the Maltese football fanatic market and its insistence that the quarter-finals upwards be shown to all and sundry this time round is rational even in footballing terms. The fanatic who wants to watch ALL matches of his team (and hopefully not the ONLY matches of his fav team) will cough up the extra dough and begin to adjust hmself to this cruel life that makes you pay for your addictions.

Which reminds me that I have not put up the countdowns for some time. Here goes:

cuban countdown : 27
world cup countdown : 86

mardi, mars 14, 2006

Intello Academy: In context

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The wankellectual exercise of The Context Project kicked off by lanzarote seems to be gathering momentum. Like Postform it risks dying the death of decay and abstinence and insufficient time on everyone's hands. So long as it exists however it must be encouraged. I was planning to keep a wide berth from the project... particularly since my translation skills are limited by my patience. Events at Auchan today while killing time until my new glasses got mounted have forced a turn of spirit. Whether as part of the project or whether through another blog of the j'accuse-murdoch blogging chain I HAVE to translate this book I found.

While perusing the books section of Auchan I came across "Intello Academy" by Corinne Maier, released in January 2006. I read the descriptions incredulously and I discovered that Maier has written a book describing the French form of the "wankellectual". Once again my lethargy has meant that someone else has printed a book on an idea that I had independently formed without outside help. It could have been MY book being published by Michalon. I will console myself by trying my patience and translating Intello Academy into our vernacular on a blog which will soon be set up.

Here is the descriptor from the back sleeve:

"Intello Academy est un livre ironique sur un monde intellectuel en pleine déconfiture qui, ô paradoxe, laisse le champ libre aux intellos. L'intello, c'est la version bas de gamme de l'intellectuel. Comme il n'y a plus beaucoup de penseurs chez nous, ou plus exactement comme ceux qui font du bon travail en langage simple ne sont guère écoutés, cela signifie que la place est libre pour ceux qui aiment frimer avec des mots.

Assembler des phrases toutes faites truffées de mots boursouflés est un privilège qui n'est plus réservé à quelques happy few. Vive la démocratisation des méninges, tout le monde a le droit d'être un intello, devenez-en un vous aussi. Vous rêvez d'impressionner vos amis, votre famille, vos conquêtes et vos patrons, de donner votre avis sur tout et de plastronner dans les soirées ?"

I am tempted to ignore the translation and to write the book about the Wankellectuals before it is too late.

wankellectuals never die... they just go to a trendy bar and regroup*
*The original goes: Mercenaries never die... they just go to hell and regroup