samedi, avril 29, 2006


What if we measured the world by how the people like their coffee? While on the stopover in Cancun Mel drooled over the Starbucks frapuccino available at the airport. I am still amazed at the apparent inability of the French and Benelux to make good coffee. Even metropolitan Brussels sucks (this is just a quip for gybexi to ruffle his feathers again) when it comes to making coffee. In London (still the world's real capital) you have to know where to find the right coffee. Cuban coffee knocks you out a bit like what I imagine that Pratchett's klatchian coffee would. And in Metz, where I am spending the weekend catching up with the life in a consumerist non-communist country they perform the greatest of sins. You order a capuccino and they top a weak coffee with panna. I love Metz, I feel at home in its Place St Jacques and Bar des Deux Zebres. But the coffee.... nope... give me an espresso at Vito's in Luxembourg any day.

* anybody who may be interested in a selection of the clicks I took in Cuba can find them here. Comments welcome.

vendredi, avril 28, 2006

Not So Thatcherite After All

Austin Gatt may revel in the comparisons that are made between his methods and those of the Iron Lady but his performance at the opening of the Amitex Fair would bring him closer to Mintoffian nanny-statism than Thatcherite planning. Gatt is the latest government member to take up the baton of crusader and defender of all things Air Malta. According to the Minister, Air Malta's 1,000 jobs are to be protected at all costs. The right to travel at moderate prices will remain a no-go area for the Maltese taxpayer so long as the government persists in this hard headedness.

Even if we were to ignore the international preferences and developments in the low-cost carrier market and the never ending additions to the existent markets, the Maltese government's excuses still remain anachronistic and hypocritical. The same government that toys with Price Orders (although as a last resort) ignores completely the needs of the consumers and citizens and comes up with feeble answers to the low-cost carrier proposal.

Gatt claims that Ryanair want a subsidy whereas Air Malta make no losses. Ryanair does not ask for a subsidy. It asks for a business agreement with government where Ryanair sets targets which it promises to reach in exchange for preferential fares. Air Malta makes no losses. How? By charging the taxpayer much more than the flight really costs. Gatt will tell you that opting for Ryanair will get you the rubbish tourist. Balderdash. First of all I do not think that Air Malta is bringing in some high end tourists - check out its package offers to get a taste of the travelling elite that Air Malta caters for. Secondly it is a known fact that in today's world the intelligent travel looks to minimise travel costs in order to spend more out of his wallet at the destination.

True, there are carriers which still think like Air Malta. Luxair is an excellent example. But they are few and far between. The thing is that the travel market is more and more oriented towards destinations reached by cheap carriers. The only choice that the Maltese government is making vis-a-vis tourists is to keep Malta out of the loop. Take the Benelux... served by Ryanair in Charleroi (BE), Amsterdam (NE) and Frankfurt Hahn (Lux) - how serious a destination can an Air Malta flight to Malta be (or Lufthansa or SN Brussels Airways for what it matters) when you can choose to fly to Croatia, Puglia, Sardinia, Costa del Sol, Costa Brava - for a fraction of the price? And those flying Air Malta? Well they happen to be those tourists who fall for a 400€ week + flight package to Malta that can be found on offer in most tourist agencies in the Benelux (competing with Djerba, Cyprus and Sicily among others). Not exactly a golfer/elite tourist puller is it?

The formula that the government wants to sell you is the following "low-cost flights = low-cost tourism". It could not be farther from the truth. The two groups are not mutually inclusive and I suspect Austin knows that. Unfortunately he is too busy towing the line and being the spokesperson on this issue for a cabinet that does not know its Ryanair from its Virgin Airlines.

So next time you see that cheap package tourist walk by with a Jet Tours or TUI bag in his hand do not wonder where they keep coming from. Thank Austin Gatt and his army of efficient overpriced workers at Air Malta.

Weapon of Choice

Serendipity can be funny. I had just finishing Claire Bonello's piece about two men beating up another guy in Zurrieq with the aid of a thick gold necklace and then I stumbled on the article about Vince Marshall's pilgrimage against the showing of the Da Vinci Code in Maltese cinemas. At the end of the article Marshall is quoted as saying "Our only weapon will be the Rosary". My twisted mind could not help wandering.

Picture the first day of the release of the DVC in Malta. Picture the queue waiting patiently outside Eden Century Cinemas in Paceville. Cue to the top of the hill were Marshall and the 500 lunatics who signed his petition round the corner near Frendo's house (that's Minister Michael) and move down the road menacingly waving a set of Holy Beads in their hand. Tarantino should be warned and he would send a camera crew down to the scene toot sweet.

To read about the shenanigans performed by the likes of Marshall in this day and age can be funny. But it is also sad. It is also another example of the failure of some citizens to grasp the concept of tolerance. Live and let live. Don't like it? ... don't watch it. Full stop. No nihil obstat is needed.

While in Cuba I had the opportunity to view some pirated cable stations undoubtedly transmitted from the nearby Florida keys. Dumberica at its best. Every advert is preceded by some warning of some kind. One particular ad struck me. It pictures a guy so busy admiring his shiny teeth (chewing gum miracle) while driving that he drives straight to buildings and shops and pillars and stuff. The advert was preceded by a warning that this was done under supervision and should not be copied. Duh!

Marshall wants KRS or the film producers of the Da Vinci Code to put up some form of warning telling us that the film we are about to see is fiction. As against what? Of course it is. As is the story of the garden of Eden but I don't see no warning in the intro to Genesis. See where I am getting at? Live and let live. Dammit. Can it be so effing hard?

jeudi, avril 27, 2006


David insists on calling Luxembourg - Luxembore. I personally enjoy living in a town like this. The Brussels Bustle is not for me. Which is why I probably feel the saudade for the laid back attitude in Cuba much more than ever. It's all in the blood and the rhythm. Some people have enough bubble and fizz to be able to get by anywhere - even in the remotest of places. Others might need to compensate with the jazz and razz of the big cities. When I feel like the latter I go to London. The world capital still rules!

mercredi, avril 26, 2006

The Order of Prices

Back in Luxembourg and I have no idea what day or time it is. In between snatching naps and trying to readjust to European time and merdique weather I took a peek at the Times. What is this that I read? Price Orders? The free market government wants to curb inflation by issuing price orders?

Until what I think was yesterday but what feels physically like two days ago I was in Cuba dealing with the one product per market, one price per government's fancy, one black market per person. The news from Malta is like a bad nightmare in the middle of my dazed dreams. So we join the EU, we try (and try is just the word) to adjust our laws to the needs of a liberalised market and then we set up a semblance of institutions to monitor and encourage this market - foremost among which is the Office of Fair Trading. The result? .... we toy with the idea of price orders - an archaic leftover from the Mintoffian era. Do you remember the nation sitting anxiously during Mintoff's budgets as his tightening of the belt would include an announcement on the new price of tinned sardines?

In Cuba they have this funny notice at almost every shop or kiosk. It announces consumer rights which are very similar to the basic rights in the consumer directive. They include right of replacement for latent defect, right of clear explanation of goods and their use, right to good quality etc etc.... and most of these rights are dependent on the consumer having a receipt for the sale. Which is where the fun starts. Because after bargaining a price, no Cuban trader worth his pesos convertibles will issue a receipt. Commie laws, popular trading. A bit like Malta in a way.

And to think that what our economy really needs is a strong OFT with the right powers to let the economy curb inflation on its own steam.

So as you can gather I am back... sort of. Will be wholly recovered by Thursday. See you then!

Picture: The Comecon - maybe a more apt place for Malta's economy?

samedi, avril 22, 2006

Men de Pojo

Not sure if I got the spelling right (Antoine will surely correct). But that is the general description that comes to mind when one sees the latest deeds of the arsonists. J'accuse has long spoken out firmy against the dickheads on the radical right side. We take a little break from our holiday paradise to condemn once again the actions of the invertebrate, anonymous scum. They will go on. Until everyone stands up and shames them publicly they will go on tarnishing the image of a country they falsely claim to love.

It's time to stand up.

How long shall they burn our cars... while we stand aside and look?

vendredi, avril 21, 2006

Mama look at Bubu!

Don't you just like Harry Belafonte? Anyway. A quick hello from the land where Houellebecq has been dumped for Murakama (probably got the name wrong but its all Jap to me). The report is simple. Sea: Warm to Cool. Wind: Almost none. Stomach: Constantly full. News: Almost none. I have a vague idea that Bush is in trouble, that Berluska is clawing at the last hope of staying in power and that Milan lost to Barca. Otherwise its oblivion *and Harry Belafonte*.

I wonder why nobody don't like me
Or is it a fact that I'm ugly?
I leave my whole house and go
My children don't want me no more
Bad talk inside the house they bring
And when I come they start to sing

Mama look at bubu
They shout
Their mother tell them "Shut up your mouth"
"That is your daddy"
"Oh No! My daddy can't be ugly so!"

Shut your mouth
Go AwayMama look at Bubu deh! (X2)

jeudi, avril 20, 2006

All Inclusive

When you are in a hotel that is not only called Paradise but feels like it. When you have open bar 24 hours a day with the best mojito and daiquiri spinners on the globe. When the buffet bar is stuffed with lobsters, crabs, prawns, beef, pork, fruit, and much much more. When hunger can be satiated at any moment. When you can pluck coconut off a tree and drink them directly. When bananas or platano can be fried in endless amounts of butter and rum. When you are in the land of montecristo and habana and you can smoke them on the edge of a pool under a tent listening to the best of local music. When the beach at the hotel is the size of Ramla bay, only it is made of white sand and the sea is turquoise. When you can jump into any available pedalo and find yourself floating in the middle of the sea looking at a landscape of palm trees. When the night falls and you walk through lanscaped gardens and pools and listen to the chicadas compete with the rhythm of the salsa, merengue and cha cha. When your skin has returned to its natural black colour and you are still paler than most of the locals. When you sip through an amaretto while sitting on a gazebo as the sea laps the moonlit shore gently infront of you. When you are joined in all this by someone you adore. When all this happens....

... you might wonder for one little second.... whether you are a beautiful and unique snowflake. And blogging four times a day becomes less of an option and much much more of a burden.

Hasta Les Paresseux Siempre

PS. Houellebecq really, really, really sucks.

samedi, avril 15, 2006

La Esperancia

There´s always hope. It turns up in the weirdest of places. Yesterday we discussed hope at a paladar - that´s a sort of family run enterprise that is taxed to run a restaurant in their home (divinely and bohemianly decorated - I know it´s not a real word but I am on holiday Arcibald). ¨We" were three Italians, an Argentinan/Hispanic, a French woman, a local and a Gozitan. A weird meeting in the middle of the ambassadorial area of Havana. The Miramar. And hope was just what was on the menu apart from the amazing creole and caribbean food that disproved most of our negative thoughts on the poverty of food in this area. The rhetoric and utopian imagination became more and more fragmented as the pina coladas and mojitos hit the brain. It gets better and better here as you sink deeper into understanding the soul of the nation and its people. Just finished breakfast while watching the national Cuban synchronised swimming team train inthe Hotel pool. Marveloso. Pecklectric need not worry - fifteen minutes of morning Internet a day will not break up my holiday. It helps digest my breakfast. The holiday is fine and started thank you... and the tan is on the way too...

One last thing. Mark... can you please add Hemmingway to all things overrated? Especially the myth about all the places he visited. So effing what!

be seeing you. Internet time over... I´m off to the beach club... you?

vendredi, avril 14, 2006



jeudi, avril 13, 2006

Hemming´s Way

Notes on a Cuban Holiday (to myself and others):

  • Even the caribbean can have its rainy days. Time to visit the Museo de la Revolution. Always remember that some myths can be overrated ' like the Daiquiri at La Floridita, like Plaza de la Rivolucion, like the legendary Cuban Moijito. And like Mintoff.
  • Three days away from Europe and still thirsty for more Europe. Berlusconi will not concede - a preview of a Gonzi/Sant shootout in next elections? Only time will tell. Politics here are close to zero although the 5 star hotel TV has access to South American TVs and Venezuelan and Peruvian politics seem to be particularly intriguing on Telesur. The coolest communication here is Rrrrradio Reloj of Manu Chao fame. I caught it on a tiny transistor and I think that the same guy as in the song Me Gustas Tu still tells the time.
  • A revolution is good for education (multilingual popiulation) and health (excellent doctors) but bad for infrastructure (medicine and buildings). Still not sure who has got the best deal; People seem upbeat... even when asking you for soap in the street. They are proud of their independence and their destiny even if visually all the western eye can see is collapsing buildings of the thirties.
  • Isn´t it ironic that the Capitol building in Cuba is modelled on the White House? As ironic as the idea that the Yanks need the Swiss to keep a little representation in Havana.
  • Anti-Bushism is everywhere. From the posters in the street to the jokes of the tourist guides. Dubya is the brunt of jokes all over the place and that is a great thing about this country. It is the only government that openly tolerates anti-dictator posters all over the place. And the one which equiparates Bush to Hitler is particularly revealing. Photos will appear on jáccuse later.
  • Zemploid should stop worrying about a non-reactive blogosphere. I do not think it is true. In any case it takes us time to digest. We (the political side of the blogosphere) tend to react to coverups of the news. We tend to react to articles hiding the truth. As for the chronicling of the events themselves it is up to the dead tree media. I think the Maltese Blogosphere has never stood back from condemning the Revolting Radical Right and will not do so now that Dr Camilleri has been attacked. For my part I can only react in tiny spurts for now (and so long as the combination of rain and jet lag continue to force me to head to the Internet room). It is evident that I removed the Le ghal Razzizmu Badge a tad bit too early from my site. I think you can still find it on the alternattiva pages should you want to add it to your blog.
  • Finally. Speaking of AD, I am still enjoying the Cassola election in Italy. We can never say enough about the missed opportunity of the Maltese to have Arnie on the sixth seat in Parliament. And now I get wind of another AD councillor. Mike Briguglio says hi on my last post. Mike I will say Hi to Cuba and Hi to you for joining the blogosphere. Looking forward to your contributions. I owe Mike a big thank you for having introduced me (inadvertently) to two interesting sources of info and entertainment - Che Guevara and RATM. There are only so many times you can see a guy wearing a t-shirt before thinking that there might be something interesting behind it all. Mike is now on the blogosphere and you may access his site by clicking on the title of this blog.
  • Now I have a Museum of the History of the Revolution to visit and a Cohiba Esplendido to smoke.

So if you do not mind I will leave you with an Hasta Luego and Hasta La Vista.

Song to find and download: Angelitos Negros by Eartha Kitt

mercredi, avril 12, 2006

Hasta La Victoria

And here I am in Cuba on a relatively promising pc in the Hotel Nacional. Just enough time to write a shortpost and add to whatever seems to have already been said all over the Malteseblogland. WELL DONE ARNOLD. It would seem that what is unelectable in Malta is very electable in Lo Stivale. Great. I know that many commented butFausto stook out. More interested in the fact that the majority of Italians in Malta preferred CDL to UNIONE than in the fact that his favourite green is now in the Italian House while he is still not too good for Malta. Sometimes I wonder if Fausto writes the scripts for NET TV.

Well. You may be asking yourselves why the hell am I posting instead of enjoying this wonderful country. Firstly i felt the impulse to post when I read about Arnie. Secondly, I felt that Fausto's mistrust of Cuban technology must be disproved and third... well... thirdly... it is raining. There is an occasional storm as the "winter" approaches here so I ran to the Internet Cafe at the hotel. Thankfully no queue of over 50 people outside this one unlike the one in central Havana.Now that the sun seems to have come out again I am off for a dip in the pool. There's a drunk Englishman there who seems intent on telling all and sundry why Cuba is suuuuuper. Not exactly Hemmingway or Churchill or Sinatra... but then they tell me that guests at this hotel are not what they used to be. Until I came that is!

Seeing ya!

lundi, avril 10, 2006

Out of Office

J'accuse will be on a break between the 11th and 27th April. The accuser will be in the island of Cuba and will probably be unable to update the site during this sabbatical. J'accuse will be back up and running by the month of May. I wish everyone a good Easter break: keep blogging and keep spreading the infolution. Remember, you are not a unique and beautiful snowflake... and never stop smiling.

Hasta luego.

They Needed Extra Time

Latest update from Maltese football. The almost champions Birkirkara needed extra time to oust Valletta from the FA Trophy. A good result for the citizens who have performed well in this transitional year which seemed doomed at the outset. Incidentally, an oasis of well written English may be found in the Times sports pages thanks to Pierre Cassar. It is true that he has mastered the cliches of the game (probably via a religious reading of Brit dailies) but in this case it serves the reader well for the passion (true or fake) of the match is transported into the dying pages of the Times. Thank you Pierre. Whoever you are.

As for La Vecchia Signora, another boring performance with a point won through the grit of their teeth as a comedy of errors on both sides ensured that entertaining football was redefiined. At the end I was glad though. It would have been sad had Fiorentina not obtained a point and kept themselves in the run for the Champions League (to the detriment of those happy chums at Rometta of course). Somehow I hope that we manage to put this campionato in the bag a day or two before the final day. That way I oculd actually relish a Milan victory on the last day. Yep... Kaka, Dida, Cafu and all!

dimanche, avril 09, 2006


Credo nelle rovesciate di Bonimba, e nei riff di Keith Richards. Credo al doppio suono nel campanello del padrone di casa che vuole l'affitto ogni primo del mese. Credo che ognuno di noi si meriterebbe di avere una madre e un padre che siano decenti con lui almeno finchè non si sta in piedi. Credo che un'Inter come quella di Corso, Mazzola e Suarez non ci sarà mai più, ma non è detto che non ce ne saranno altre belle in maniera diversa. Credo che non sia tutto qua; però, prima di credere in qualcos'altro, bisogna fare i conti con quello che c'è qua: e allora mi sa che crederò primo o poi in qualche dio. Credo che se prima o poi avrò una famiglia sarà dura tirare avanti con trecentomila al mese, però credo anche che se non leccherò il culo come fa il mio caporeparto difficilmente cambieranno le cose. Credo che c'è un buco grosso dentro, ma anche che il rock and roll, qualche amichetta, il calcio, qualche soddisfazione sul lavoro, le stronzate con gli amici, bè, ogni tanto questo buco me lo riempiono. Credo che la voglia di scappare da un paese di ventimila abitanti vuol dire che hai voglia di scappare da te stesso, e credo che da te non ci scappi neanche se sei Eddy Merckx... Credo che non è giusto giudicare la vita degli altri, perchè comunque non puoi sapere proprio un cazzo della vita degli altri. Credo che per credere, certi momenti, ti serve molta energia.

La Honte (j'accuse)

So now the Times has a "special correspondent". His or her job is to write about why the French should shut up and let us mistreat illegal immigrants in peace and look to their own ill-treatments instead. Bravu Cirillu. Le, le... prosit tal-programm.

First congrats should go to the Times. J'accuse has already shown that the Times is not that institution of objective analysis and reliability that its English homonym turns out to be. TGIL's trimensual articles are proof that there is no filter between intray and publication. And now we get Special Correspondents. Let me guess. Anonymous because otherwise the content of their drool will lead to loss of job in government department ddue to violation of ESTA code? Sorry, but anonymity in this case smacks too much of "we could not find anyone to put his name to this drivel".

Secondly, well done to the special correspondent. Even if all he said about France and its treatment of immigrants were true, even if we were to accept the vagueness of arguments that throw in integration and economic protests in the same basket - there is still one problem. What good does that do to Malta and its immigrants?

I mean. Idi Amin was probably a cannibal. Does that allow Gonzi to boil kids for lunch? Berlusconi would only tell him that he is copying the Chinese. Does that make it good? Does it make it any less revolting? I don't give a flying duck about what the French do to their immigrants or what the sans pareils of democracy are perpetrating in Guantanamo bay when it comes to assessing what happens at Safi. This is what I meant in my earlier la Honte posting. The shame of what is happening in Malta does not allow me to raise my head and look elsewhere and see what is happening.

It is natural law and natural rights that tell any reasonable human being that another human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect for his humanity. No amount of finger pointing will justify an activity that treats them any less.

If anything this is a chance for all those Maltese Supremacists out there to prove that they are better than the French or the Duh!mericans or the English or even the idolised Italians. Otherwise why the fuck should I be proud to be Maltese? Because abortion is illegal? Because I share the same passport nationality as Norman Lowell? Because while we are busy entrenching human life in the constitution we are busy making hundreds of human lives as miserable as possible?

Jeez... with a country like that I'd rather be American and vote Bush.

samedi, avril 08, 2006

Non Sequitur #51

"Malta... M come mortacci vostri, A come a li mortacci vostri, L come tutti li mejo mortacci vostri, A come annate a mori` ammazzati voi e li mortacci vostri...Aah, li mortacci loro aho`"

(Ninetto Davoli/Otello Meniconi
in Pasqualino Cammarata Capitano di Fregata,
1973, Mario Amendola)

"Pasqualino Cammarata, figlio di un ammiraglio, è un tipo squinternato. Che farà quando, per l'errore di un computer, gli assegnano il comando di un rimorchiatore? Una farsa scioccherella di gusto discutibile che manca di idee e punta al comico volgarotto e commerciale."
- il Morandini, dizionario del film

"Figlio di un ammiraglio e nipote di un senatore a vita, il comandante Pasqualino Cammarata, è appena tollerato dall'ammiraglio che comanda una caserma di marina, il quale ride delle invenzioni del subalterno; l'istituzione di un corpo speciale di cavalleria marina e l'uso del metodo INSA (istituzione natatoria senza acqua) per le reclute, oltre all'adozione di un computer giapponese (che comanda uno sbarco al porto di Todi anziché di Rodi, o impone la fedeltà al Gatto Atlantico anziché al Patto Atlantico) fa sì che Cammarata (al posto del comandante Sammarata) si imbarchi sul Gabbiano, un rimorchiatore.

Con una ciurma degna del comandante, la navetta si mette in viaggio e, prese a bordo due naufraghe, Dolores e Novella, dirotta su Alicante ove giunge con le macchine in avaria, trainato dal motoscafo Figaro delle due ragazze. L'ammiraglio, avvertito della cosa, corregge l'errore del computer e invia Sammarata a rilevare il comando. Nel frattempo, Cammarata ed i suoi uomini riescono a riempire la città spagnola di pasticci.
Come sempre, alla mancanza di capacità spettacolare, il lavoro cerca di rimediare ricorrendo al discutibile mezzo di abbandonare in volgarità, invenzioni di cattivo gusto, in allusioni indelicate ed espressioni triviali. (Segnalazioni cinematografiche)."


vendredi, avril 07, 2006

Juve Pitch II - Capello Fever

The much inflated bubble of the "uomo di pieris" burst last Wednesday night as an expensively assembled Juve capitulated to a gunner team that is bubbly, interesting and promising, but not the unbeatable squad that the Juve on-show made them out to be. Granted, I will continue to inveigh at the unpracticality of having a pitch the size of Highbury at European football level but that is no excuse for the non-spirit of the bianconeri over the two legs. Juventus' achilles heel is itself.

It is not just logic, or objective analysis that tells me this. You just have to see the facts. Like Brasil at national level, the only team to defeat Juventus is Juventus itself. The way a perfectly calibrated team, oiled to deliver boring perfection Sunday after Sunday suddenly sputters to a whimpering halt whenever the Champions League hymn is played in their ears is mind boggling. Let's face it, in the first leg Juventus would have lost to Rometta, let alone Arsenal. Any provincial team with guts and a whiff of glory would relish defeating La Vecchia Signora, the pride of club football at its polished best. And they do. On a regular basis. Even when Juve reaches the final with a mixture of luck and a good streak, the knees tend to crumble at the final hurdle.

Brasil will crash to an unexpected defeat out of overconfidence. Juventus for a total lack of it. The key to breaking such karmas is a psychological motivator who can instil confidence with his personality and choices. And unfortunately Don Fabio Capello does none of the two. His stakanovistic approach to the game serves league runs perfectly but when it comes to the cups his total lack of grasp of the turnover, misuse (or non-use of subs) and inability to push the players out of their receding selves have proven to be the last unachievable milestone for the all-conquering Don.

Had he not won a league with the provincials of Italy one would question whether he is only capable of victory with expensively assembled machines of football. Now he is being touted as the next England manager. Or the one after the next. Good luck to England. I think they should take him on to qualify for the European Cup but drop him at the knock out phase. For that you need someone like McClaren.

Yes, McClaren. Steve McClaren. He is the boss of Middlesborough. The team that knocked out the invincible Rometta from the UEFA Cup. The team that lost 7-0 to Arsenal in this moment of Gunner Grace. But the same team that overturned a 0-2 deficit against FC Basle to a 4-1 victory yesterday night. And to think that things started badly for Steve's XI. They were one goal down to Basle and virtually out. At that point a Juve team would have capitulated and blamed the weather while Capello would introduce Balzaretti and Birindelli as attacking subs while leaving Olivera to sit it out on the bench. McClaren instead chose to go for an all out attack. He must have whispered sweet words to the Boro team at half time over the usual cuppa. But it worked. Boro are through with dreams of glory (and also in the QF of the FA Cup).

Juve meanwhile will be winning their 29th scudetto unless all goes awry. Which puts things a bit in perspective. The whistles at the Delle Alpi where ungrateful. I do not agree with supporters who twist and turn with every fortune or mishap. That is the stuff of the provincials - who would actually be proud of such antics. Lessons must be learnt. Among them is the need to build a cup team and the moves for Steven Gerrard are definitely in the right direction. Players must be shown that fighting for the ball is what they are paid for and we must find the new pitbulls and soldatini in the likes of the new Davids or Di Livio.

And then we must either let Capello off with a clap and a handshake or get the old Don to change some of his hardy ways. We will draw the final accounts at the end of the season... it is easy for others to gloat over Juve's Champion's league misfortune but then they are trying to minimise their own team's underachievements by looking in other directions.

Finally, the World Cup is coming up and since these pages will soon be turning green and yellow it is good to note that the eight teams that got to the Quarter Finals of this year's Champion's League had one thing in common - they all fielded at least one Brasilian player. The Champion's League may be Europe's best trophy but it will always take that little bit of extra South American magic to go the full mile!

jeudi, avril 06, 2006

Di-ve's new depths

The trial of Joseph Fenech continues as one of Malta's most notorious criminals puts on his best sheep's clothing and attempts to convince the court that his philanthropic efforts in jail against drug abuse were the reasons behind a sound beating that he received. But the funniest thing today must be di-ve's report. I give you the last few lines with my red highlights:

Mr. Fenech said that in division 5, there is always a strong smell of heroin. He alleged that the inmates consumed drugs in a room which had to be used as a gym. Recounting the events that occurred on the day of the incident, Mr.Fenech said that he was about to shave when he noticed five men standing by the gate of the division. The men entered his cell and assaulted him. A Libyan man and David Monsigneur helped him before the prison staff arrived and the five men were moved to division six. After Fenech's testimony, another inmate David Monsigneur took the witness stand. He said that Fenech used to complaint about the terrible state of the showers. He added that he help him to stand up when he was beaten up. However, Mr.Monsigneur failed to identify the assailants. At this point, Joseph Fenech was heard saying that certain inmates "would sell their own mother for a bar of smack".

Just one question: Who's who in the following part of the report?

He added that he help him to stand up when he was beaten up.

All complaints to be addressed to Sample letter attached:

Dear Paul Cachia,
I write you in order so that to explained that the constant continuous massacre of the english grammar is distressive to my thinking and contrary to my savoir faire. I like for them to be written in better more comprehensive diction for the common people to be able to apprehend what is being subjected in your convolutionised sentences that pass for journalism. I admit that the state of journalising in Malta leaves much to be beggared for but I still am impressioned that you manage to elevate the amount of errored phrases to a stratospheric level that would make a Lorna flush.

always yours

J'Ose: Disposable Evidence

While reading Daphne's piece on the Independent today, this particular part of the article got me thinking:

"The reason is that while the police and the government could prevent journalists from going into the sleeping and eating quarters of the detainees (this being Malta, where there is scant respect for the role the press plays in society), they could not similarly prevent the Civil Liberties Committee delegation. It would have looked as though they had something to hide, which is precisely how it looked when they prevented the press from going in. They still tried it on with the delegation, though, telling them not to take photographs so as to respect the privacy of the detainees. Then, as one of them told a news conference afterwards: “The detainees themselves were begging us to take pictures, to show everyone the kind of squalor in which they are being kept.”

It is true that unless some people in Malta get a voyeurist pictographic peek at the appalling conditions of the detention centres they will not be moved to push for change. And the government and military know this. That is why journalists or visiting inspectors are not allowed to take photos : forget all the balderdash about the respect to privacy.

So here is our idea. Not too daring admittedly, but it should be workable. Someone in Malta (I suggest AD but any NGO will do) should set up a fund and collect money for a special cause. What cause? Well it's simple. We will buy presents for the detainees. Very special presents. We will buy them disposable cameras to take photos of their wonderful stay on our hospitable island. The aim? A souvenir of our hospitality. Let's see the army argue "respect of privacy" this time round.

Next step is to use the next part of the fund to print the photos as an added service to the detainees. All in the respect of everyone's privacy since all photos will be taken by the detainees themselves.

And should the Army not allow such cameras to be given or prints to be printed then we know which MEP's to call don't we? The same ones who gave a standing ovation to President Fenech Adami yesterday at Strasbourg.



From today's Times:

"The vast majority of respondents to an online poll by The Times believe that low-cost airlines would make a crucial or significant contribution to tourism (...)

One respondent said Malta has become like a prison because it is very expensive to travel. Another said the Maltese are being deprived from their freedom of movement through the lack of low-cost airlines and high taxes.

If a Maltese person has to fork out Lm55 in taxes along with the price of the ticket, low-cost airlines will have little effect," a respondent said. "We can no longer be held hostage by the national airline," another commented, adding that people do not travel to Malta because low-cost airlines were taking them to other countries."

Thus spake the Republicans, harketh the government?

mercredi, avril 05, 2006

Meridiana - The Low Cost Breakthru?

So, a day after the government announces the fantabulous profits made off the backs of unseasoned travellers like the Maltese people we get the wonderful news that some seasoning may be had via the new Low-Cost Airlines that will shortly be flying to Malta. Yahoo! What seems to be a little breakthrough in the battle for sensible travelling conditions for Maltese citizens turns out to be a little red herring. And here's why:

1. Meridiana flights as per Times advertorial article are advertised as having prices starting from €29. That's practically Lm12. Mind-boggling. Attractive even.

2. Pop over to the site and you see the wonders of choice. Firstly you get to fly to Bologna. Which is not a kick in the face. Not at all. Secondly you can fly on Sundays or Thursdays. Which does give you weekend accessibility (better than, for examply Luxair offers to Malta which force you to take one-week breaks).

3. Then you click for a flight. You choose your trip. And we went for a weekend break Malta-Bologna from the 1st to the 4th of July.

4. The company is true to its word. Both going and coming the cost of the flight is €29. A total of €58 for Meridiana's coffers plus €3 service charge which brings you up to €61 that go to Meridiana for flying you to Italy. Still a good deal for a weekend break.

5. Then you look at the little box called taxes and airport fees. Aha. Let's start with incoming. In order to leave from Bologna airport, the total cost is €47.62. That's around Lm17. Pas mal. Then your glance shifts to the airport fees and taxes box relating to the Malta International Airport. The cost? You guessed it. €100.61. That magical number. Lm40. Almost twice the cost of the plane ticket.

So here is the breakdown:

Ticket cost: €61

Italian airport costs and taxes: €47.62

Maltese airport costs and taxes: €100.61

Magical Total for a Flight advertised as "From €29" - €209.23.

Still yahooing? Just for kicks we went to the Airmalta website. We checked out a flight to Rome on the same days and times (airmalta does not do Bologna of course). The results page included Alitalia options and prices in USD. J'accuse does the conversion for you too!

AirMalta Direct : $383 (including $150 taxes) [€312]

AirMalta Connecting : $529 [€431]

Alitalia Direct: $346 [€281]

Alitalia Connecting: $358 [€291]

What conclusions to draw:

1. Low cost airlines will cost less than AirMalta even when the taxes are factored in.

2. Maltese airport taxes are exorbitantly high (in this case twice that of Bologna airport)

3. Advertising is still deceptive and the OFT will remain dormant.

4. The airport taxes will go to subsidise Airmalta's unsustainability even though this unsustainable enterprise provides no direct benefit to Maltese travellers.

5. Will there be a trademark issue about the name Meridiana?

Finally. My personal concern about cheap flights is less about bringing tourists to Malta than about sending islanders to the continent to get a breath of fresh air. Within this context I am less concerned about increasing the number of tourists to Malta than I am with the possibility of Maltese being afforded the chance to broaden their horizons.

Malta International Airport: Where don't you want to go today?

Depature Tax Profits

Kenneth pointed out this di-ve article yesterday:

Almost Lm580,000 collected in departure taxes in the first two months of 2006
Following a parliamentray question posed by Carmelo Abela, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that during the first two months of 2006 the Government collected a total of Lm579,654 in departure taxes. Lawrence Gonzi said that there were no exemptions from the imposed Lm10 departure tax.

Well. At least your travel money goes for a good cause. At this rate the government will have enough money to support an ailing Air Malta business that flies you anywhere at triple the average prices on the European mainland.

Did I hear you say catch-22?

* Painting: The Rest on the Flight to Egypt, Caravaggio

mardi, avril 04, 2006


"Ho troppa stima dell'intelligenza degli italiani per pensare che ci siano in giro così tanti coglioni che possano votare contro i propri interessi - Scusate il linguaggio rozzo ma efficace".*
- Silvio Berlusconi - meeting with Confcommercio 40 mins ago

Free translation:
"My esteem for the intelligence of the Italians leads me to think that there cannot be so many idiots (literal word used is "balls") who could vote against their own interests (referring to voters of the left) - excuse my rude but efficient language".

Indhil Barrani (foreign interference)

Do you know what Chapter 300 of the Laws of Malta is about? Enacted at the height of Socialist Malta, the Foreign Interference Act it was intended to "regulate the limitations on the political activity of aliens". In 1982, it was imperative for the government of the day to limit interventions by politicians from the country of World Football Champions that might in some way criticise whatever is happening in Malta. As Aliens they had no right to speak about our island internecene squabbles. Tindahlux! (Do not interfere/meddle!)

We have always had this thing about the foreigner. Il-barrani. Our word for foreigner in this case is better translated as "the outsider" - the one beyond the barrier. The alien who comes from across the sea that keeps us so warmly encapsulated and shielded from whatever ills exist beyond our island of utopic perfection. In 1982 we had foreign politicians telling Dom and his band of Merry Socialists that theirs was not such a happy republic after all. Dom, still not in the libelling trade at the time, had shifted his concerns to blocking out this criticism and telling the Italian Gorla's to stick their noses up their own culi.

Fast forward to 2006. We still do not like foreigners much. We still think of them in two distinct categories (a) money bags or (b) vermin. The first category normally comes from the north and will only be scorned at when his tipping habits fall short of the 10%. The second category arrives in boat loads. In both cases we shield them from the inhabitants. The first has glorious non-environment friendly buildings built for his accomodation and consumption, eating away at public land and public property. The second is placed in sub-standard detention at His President's Pleasure and can wait up to eighteen months to find out whether his stay in this extension of hell has been worthwhile all not.

We actually joined the AIDS carrying foreigners with the promises of investment and new roads and wealth dangled infront of us like a carrot. This week we went to their Parliament, which is now also ours and transformed a debate about the poor people in the detention centres into a debate about the small island that is infested with vermin and cannot cope. Our 5 MEPS probably pleaded with Ze Germans to unearth the Pied Piper of Hamelyn who would whisk away the problem for our shores and make it someone else's.

What surprised me is the language of the debate until now. Are we such a sorry country that we can justify leaving people in squallid conditions for years just because nobody was there to hold our hand and show us how to do it right? Are we able to look ourselves in the face and say that this is our Melita of milk and honey when we cannot provide basic living conditions to those in need?

That Europe has a duty to assist Malta with regards to the flood of immigrants that use us as a stepping stone towards the continent is beyond any doubt. But that we act the victims in this sad scene is unpardonable. That we shut our eyes infront of the inhuman treatment that we have afforded to guests is atrocious. It is a sign of a decaying society. Once again I repeat that I am not proud to be Maltese at this point in time. The farce of the MEPs who stress on aid (to Malta) and do not also stress on the need to treat humans humanly is beyond me. Even more of a farce when they trumpet collaboration on the MLPN front to effectively tone down criticism of Malta from the EPP and Socialist front.

In the desert, to the South of our pretentious island, there is a implied rule. Anyone visiting an oasis is to be welcomed as one of the family. The visitor is to be cared for, fed and nurtured before he ventures back out to battle against nature. Nobody is your enemy in the oasis. The same applies to tents. Visitors are afforded the highest status. Read your bible if you doubt this. It is a rule that centres around an instinct. Survival.

Because today you could be the host. Next time... you could be the visitor.

Related Post: Il-Ponta ta' Santa Marija (kinnie&twistees)

lundi, avril 03, 2006


We've all heard about Hogan's disdain at the Mintoff libel award and about Hogan's conspiracy theory that libel awards are there to put Maltatoday out of business. So he started a Libel Fund. A libel fund where you pay money into a bank account at the Bank of Valletta (the number is the title of today's post) and in return any punishment for Salvu's Sullied Salvos will be guaranteed a slush fund of running cash, thus allowing Hogan's indiscriminate name-dropping to continue unhindered along with shoddy "opinionating". A bit like j'accuse with the cash thrown in to boot.

But. And there is always a but, isn't there? A quick look through past opinionating sessions decked out in Salvu's Inimitable Style unearths a few gems which cannot be ignored:

19th February 2006:
In a central interview in our paper this morning Dr Josie Muscat lets known that in his opinion the two political parties are in the hands of a very few number of people. The reference is clear that big party donors are influencing party policy in crucial areas. It is time to bring these party donations out into the open. It is an open secret that big business interests are funding the two major political parties. Running their mega political organisations cannot be met simply from the collection of member’s annual fees and revenues of their commercial organisations. No one believes this and even few are prepared to take the secretary generals of both parties on their word when they say they are auto-financed. They are not and never will be.

The time has come in the name of a strengthened democracy for legislation to be enacted whereby all donations received are to be included in published party accounts and for the state to start financing up to a given established amount, the political parties. This is both acceptable and necessary in the name of our democracy. Political parties are necessary players in any democracy. Their very survival and progress will further strengthen our democracy.

The present situation is unacceptable. Major contractors and other big business exponents are funding the parties and as a result influencing and possibly dictating the policies of the parties. This claim will no doubt be denied by both parties but the evidence is all too clear. A pocketful of people, irrespective of their political allegiance, simply puts them in a politically privileged position. Colour allegiance seems to be of little concern. It is the manifestation of where blue and red meets.Publishing of donors lists is the order of the day in most European countries. All privileged positions of the political parties should be revisited.

Why are the parties excluded from the stringent data protection laws? Why are the parties given a list after the elections informing them which persons on the electoral list did not vote? Why were the parties given a broadcasting license while no more frequencies exist for private entrepreneurs? The privileged position of political parties needs to be revisited. People are far more concerned on how they are financed than on the publication of each other’s confidential documents.

Now that's a big mouthful from the Savonarola of the Persecuted Media. And I could not agree more. Donations should be public and open. Look at what is happening to Blair's government in the UK for an example. But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. A newspaper is a public organ in its own way. If we are going to be having people stuffing Salvo's purse for him to continue shooting from the hip in his favourite fashion then I guess we the readers are also entitled to know whether or not his latest vitriolic attack on the next anointed victim is inspired by a dough dealer who satisfactorily satiated Salvo's libel needs.

Unfortunately there is no sign of transparency from Vjal ir-Rihan, rather, the libel fund page guarantees two things: (a) acknowledgement of the donation (a receipt) and (b) confidentiality. Lovely Saviour.

Now let me see. How should I put it. Practice what you preach? People in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones? Never look a gift horse in the mouth - just list his name publicly!

Bon Anniversaire Melanie!

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

*with thanks and eternal acknowledgement to Bill

for one of the most beautiful poems of love ever!

samedi, avril 01, 2006

the New Reyev

Last week theatre. This week I beg readers to have patience as the blogging rate will surely slow down while I attend my introductory course to classical dancing. Now... where did I put my tights?