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vendredi, juin 30, 2006

Fora and Fauna

The Times of Malta and the Malta Independent both carry stories about forthcoming battles between the EC Commission and the Government of Malta. The Times concentrates on the Commission's intention to take action against Malta for breach of the Bird Directive. The Independent instead focuses on the Commission decision to force Malta to answer for its failure to respect European Union legislation on port state control of shipping.

In the case of the Bird Directive Malta will be called upon to give reasons why the annually renewable derogation regarding Spring Hunting should be kept in place. Insofar as port control legislation is concerned, Malta will have to answer the Commission allegation that Malta allows people without qualification to act as port state inspectors.

Due to the nature of my employment, J'Accuse can only report the commencement of these cases and must refrain from commenting further. What I do find interesting is the commonality in the public statements issued by the two ministries concerned (Environment & Rural Affairs, and Competitiveness & Communications Ministry). In both cases we see a similar declaration that the "we shall fight them in all fora" or the commitment to defend our case "in all legal fora".

I should hope that this plan to present their case before the relevant courts (in this case the ECJ) stops being presented as some epic battle and soon becomes a matter-of-fact issue. There are long days ahead and many, many, many infringement actions to be defended in the future. They are no big deal. It's how Europe works... and defending your country's actions or failures before the court is not such a big mountain as somebody might be trying to portray it.

jeudi, juin 29, 2006

Sir Bob (Bob Geldof KBE)


"Sir" Bob Geldof addressing HSBC & Vodafone business breakfast fund raiser (Malta):

“I run a couple of businesses, and if somebody were to come to me after crossing thousands of miles of desert from Mauritania, looking for a job, I don’t care how many degrees he has or hasn’t got, I’ll give him a job. Anybody who is prepared to go through all that to find work already has a comparative advantage over others.”

“Immigration is a critical problem that will continue to face Europe and rest assured that it won’t go away. Unfortunately, the EU showed it is not serious about immigration as it has left small countries who are at the root of the problem like Malta in the lurch with a pathetic grant of a couple of million euros. That’s just about half an hour’s fuel consumption for a destroyer.”

J'Accusao (Brazil Update)

El Fenomeno vs. El Gordo: His Goods, His Bads and His Uglies
By now everybody knows that Ronaldo is the best all-time scorer in World Cup History. I shall repeat the tedious explanation that this record does not remove Just Fontaine's achievement of 13 goals in one tournament. Ronaldo's achievement is over more than one World Cup. Fifteen goals (till now) over three tournaments (18 games). The man kicked off the 2006 campaign as the heavyweight-anchor-johnnie-walker who seemed unable to run for his life let alone running for the ball. Four matches and three goals later his catharsis seems to be on its way to completion. The observant fan will have noticed that his running has not greatly improved and that Brasil still play with the "10 + Ronaldo" philosophy but his sniper-like efficiency is second to none.

One of Ronaldo's most vocal critics has been Ignacio da Lula, Brasil's socialist President. Lula has something in commonm with another Socialist leader I know: the grapevine reports that he has a tendency to find comfort at the bottom of a bottle of spirit. Today's IHT quote of the day comes straight from Ronaldo with reference to Lula:

"Everybody says that I'm fat and he drinks. Since it's a lie that I'm fat then it must also be a lie that he drinks" - Ronaldo.

The Hospital
Robinho missed the Ghana match through injury. The Ghanians top the list of World Cup yellow cards with around 80 fouls committed in their 4 match run. No wonder that both Kaka' and Emerson are suffering from injuries (Kaka's seems to be the worst) and might have to skip the epic battle against the arrogant Franks.

French Supremacy?
French commentators are among the most incompetent I have ever heard. Their statistical knowledge is less than amateurial, their pre-match preparation non-existent and their commentary repetitive. I was amused while watching Brasil - Ghana on M6 (French channel) at the inherent contradictions of the commentary. On the one hand, the commentator was evidently pro-Ghana since he clearly preferred that Les Bleus face the Africans rather than the South Americans in the next round. On the other hand he could not resist a jibe or two at Brasil. He said that it would be good for Brasil to face France so that they could face a team that is not afraid of them and could also get a lesson in football. Arrogant? Moi?

Frankfurt-am-Main
Or something like that. That is where a delegation of Maltese will be next Saturday. I'll be there too. No ground tickets of course. - luck favours the brave, the resourceful and the corrupt and since I fell under none of these categories I will be watching it in one of the big squares on a big screen but happy in the knowledge that should things go well (fingers crossed) we might have a nice time with the Torcida!

And the Beautiful?

Miss Italia nel Mondo 2006 is a Brasilian babe. Augurs well doesn't it?

mardi, juin 27, 2006

Lousy

My parents went to Malta and all they found was a lousy President



From today's Times of Malta:

"A magistrate yesterday ruled that there were sufficient reasons for the indictment of Norman Lowell, the leader of the far-right group Imperium Europa, who is charged with inciting racial hatred. Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera gave the ruling after the prosecution declared it had no more evidence in the case against Mr Lowell, 59, of Attard, who is pleading not guilty to using abusive and insulting words or gestures to incite racial hatred in Rabat on April 30 and in Qawra on May 8.

He is also charged with inciting racial hatred between December 2003 and March 27, 2006 through an article entitled Coming Cataclysmic Crisis, and insulting and denigrating the President of Malta on May 8. The magistrate heard Superintendent Peter Paul Zammit explain how on examining the article Coming Cataclysmic Crisis, posted on the website of Imperium Europa, he noticed references to German dictator Adolf Hitler as the "hero". Israel was referred to as "the tribe" and defined as a terrorist state while Jews were labelled as "parasites".

The website also contained recordings of two speeches delivered by Mr Lowell at Nigret, limits of Rabat, on April 30 and at Ta' Fra Ben, Qawra, on May 8.

During both speeches Mr Lowell was heard speaking about immigrants and saying, amongst other things, that he would be the one to give the order to shoot and that he would plant a harpoon between their eyes. In the May recording he also spoke about the President by using insulting words such as "lousy".

In light of the language used by Mr Lowell he was arrested and, on May 27, he released a statement in which he confirmed that the two online recordings where of his speeches.
Although he did not confirm who posted the recordings and the article on the website, he mentioned that he had delivered the speeches during a meeting with friends.

Police Inspector George Cremona added that during questioning Mr Lowell was asked whether he was aware that there existed a law against inciting racial hatred.

He replied that he could never accept that type of law unless it was proven in court.

Lawyer Emmy Bezzina represented Mr Lowell."

j'accuse asks:

- Is that all? Is the reference to the shooting of immigrants the only one they found? Have the police been through the recordings on Maltafly? About six speeches had been posted there. I am sure one of them included Lowell's global vision and his "oil for food policy with the arabs".

-Did Lowell really reply "that he could never accept that type of law unless it was proven in court"? I doubt it. He probably meant that the incitement had to be proven in court. Lowell is not so stupid as to allege that the existence of laws need be proven in court.

- No, but seriously. Do we have to get him on the word "lousy"? How insulting is "lousy"? For heaven's sake. I do not want to live in a country where I cannnot call the President, Prime Minister or Leader of Opposition"lousy". Really is that all? Is this a joke? What about his calls for "lampposts"? Do the police need help in identifying the implications of certain remarks by Lowell in his speeches? Do they need assistance to identify violent threats? Did we ever dream his remarks of "there aren't enough lampposts"?

There is room for improvement.

lundi, juin 26, 2006

Journalism Revisited


Maltastar.com tries hard to be an alternative, modern newspaper on the web. I did not hold back in praising its layout and can even understand the various columns thrown in to attract the nonchalant readers' attention (and I am not just referring to superhero Guzé the agony uncle). A multitude of ego-trips can be accessed in the form of different diaries with quaint names like Justyne Caruana's "lawlady" MP from Gozo - a cross between Ally McBeal and Giovanna Debono I guess.

In a commendable move Maltastar.com has opened its columns to anyone (a bit like the Times but more officially). "This newspaper is yours. That's why you can be one of our opinion writer (sic) too" - is the invitation next to pringlefaced man. Anyways, I have not tried sending any of my high-brow material to the journal so I cannot say whether this open-door policy really works or not.

Prostituting the columns of your paper may boost the readership to include the immediate relatives and friends of whichever writer dares emulate the Dame of the Grammatically Incorrect and enter the democratic field of "opinions are like balls" columnists. Maltastar also have another trick up their sleeve. In the true style of Maltese political journalists, first pioneered by the wiseguys at Triq Herbie Ganado, the use of degrading and downgrading photos of adversaries is adopted as an added weapon in the daily propaganda war.

Just look at the above picture that accompanied this report on Maltastar. You'd be excused for thinking that the photographer had a bad case of the runs and took the photo with a rather shaky hand - but no - it is an intentionally blurred photo. It is meant to show you how bad and unfocused Gonzi is. Or should I say Gonzo? The bright spark at maltastar saved the picture as "gonzopm.jpg" so anyone downloading it can sample the spirit of brave journalism that is so far from ridicule and that pervades our sorry state of affairs we like to call Maltese media.

Having said all that I might as well add that it is useless to complain. Maltastar is after all a Labour Party publication. Like all partisan publications we could not expect any standard higher than this.

Keep rockin' and don't forget to send in your articles plus photo (focused) to comment@maltastar.com .

Why Brasil Have to Win


The running joke in France is that Les bleus should have bought a special weekend package to the World Cup. The joke began when most of the people had given up on the random assembly of pensioners that are the hexagon's excuse for a football team. It will probably stop being so funny the day after their Iberian neighbours kick them out with their vibrant group of youngsters.

I might be absolutely wrong of course and the French might storm their way past Spain without any problems. That's football too. What is also football is the metaphor about "booking the flight home". A euphemism that the team is knocked out, its World Cup adventure kaputt and they are seated on their preferred airline on their way to face the flak at home. There is one team however which might have no choice but to stay on. That's Brasil.

And this time I am not referring to their winning streaks but to the inevitability of circumstance. The company that goes by the name of Viacao Aerea Rio-Grandence (or VARIG for short) is bankrupt. Brasil's national airline was meant to be rebought after a bankruptcy auction but the worker's group that won the bid failed to turn up with the money. As a result as of yesterday Varig is cancelling 100s of flights among which are those flights supposed to carry supporters home. So Brasil HAVE to stay on as long as possible, and once they are there they might as well win it.

Meanwhile the second round is flipping all predictions made in the first round on their head. The Beautiful Game showed us some brilliance and some downright ugliness. Argentina scraped through while facing a more vibrant Mexico. Germany continued their fairy tale run but they meet their first real opponents in the quarters when totenhosen meet gauchos. England? Well, if that team that turned up against Ecuador is the best they can give... then my bet is that they will turn their song into a delectable pun and we will all be singing "England's going home" not before long. Portugal and Netherlands regaled us with a new War of the Spanish Succession. This time it was a race to meet the Spanish with a bit of boxing, theatricals and horrendous Russian referees thrown in to boot.

At this point I no longer consider fixtures like Italy vs Australia or Brasil vs Ghana an easy ride and keep my fingers crossed even for the Selecao against the Black Star debutantes. The only 'easy' game seems to be the one for Spain. The French need not worry. They are not far from home anyway.

That's all for now.

dimanche, juin 25, 2006

samedi, juin 24, 2006

Banana

Jew kif kien jghid il-Bugettu... "Jekk ma tafx... ikteb DONKEY".

a demain.

vendredi, juin 23, 2006

Public Holiday Titbits


It's the annual public holiday here in Luxembourg. Last night the town went wild celebrating the Duke's Day (Duke and Duchess in picture). I did not stay out long, having experience the "pleasures" of crowded streets and partying luxembourgers last year. Which means that I woke up at 12 and I have time for a little public holiday roundup. So here it goes:

1. The Cheek, The Absolute Cheek
Both baldu and david have flagged this article in l-orizzont by the Dame of Grammatical Incorrectness. I cannot believe her. I cannot believe her. I cannot believe her. Not only does she grace the pages of the Times of Malta with the greatest linguistic bloopers this side of Apu the corner shop salesman in the Simpsons, no, she has now shifted to berating all those shoddy journalists and editors out there who are destroying the language - be it Italian, English or Maltese.

"Però dan l-ahhar qed jispikkaw ukoll zbalji bl-ilsien Ingliz. Fuq l-istazzjonijiet televizivi kollha malli l-gurnalisti flok ma jintervistaw membri tal-pubbliku Maltin, jintervistaw lnglizi, jew xi turisti bl-Ingliz, tinduna kemm l-espressjonijiet uzati huma dghajfin. Jidher car li l-gurnalisti Maltin ghandhom livell baxx hafna fejn jidhol l-Ingliz. Hafna mill-ftit espressjonijiet li fil-fatt jigu trasmessi huma totalment Maltin fil-hsieb u sahansitra bi zbalji grammatikali."

Sahansitra? Gimme an effing break.

2. European Draw
Even though the great Valletta FC and newly formed Mdina Knights will not be featuring in this year's UEFA Champion's League draw, tension was high among the Maltese community in Luxembourg in the hope that Birkirkara get to play FC Dudelenge (read diddeling). Unfortunately the luck of the draw meant that ir-Rahal get a coolet fixture, having been paired with B36 of the Far Oer (insert umlauts at your pleasure). The draw for the UEFA cup preliminaries is under way as I type. No chance for hoping there since the Wanderers are in the Southern-Mediterranean draw and the closest I can hope for is Roeselare in Belgium. On the other hand a nice game in Sarajevo or Rijeka might provide an excuse for a quick visit via Ryanair. As an aside, the letzeburg teams in this competitions don't have much for any elite games. Both Jeunesse Esch and Etzella Ettelbruck risk facing any of the Scandinavian/Baltic teams qualified for this competition. Bah. Not so interesting either.

3. Ronaldo Rinato
And for those who thought that my enthusiasm for the Selecao had been fading at the speed of Cicinho's sprints... try again. Yesterday Brasil sounded a beautiful wake up samba and notwithstanding the concession of a goal - I loved it. Ronaldo would still not rank highly in the Local Pensioner's Marathon but what he lacks in pace he gains in power and trickery. I loved his fake turn of the head as he passed the ball low to Juninho (Pernambucano) to let fly a bombshell shot saved by the miraculous keeper (later to transform into butterfingers). My man of the match is Cicinho. He ran all over the place. At one point he ran 40 yards to kick an extra ball out of the pitch and return to the field fo play. His only defect is the accuracy of his crosses. He reminds me of the first versions of Roberto Carlos and Cafu - energy, pace and overenthusiastic kicks across the field at the end of a run. There is sufficient time to adjust that. Bring on the Black Stars.

4. Calciopoli
The real court work has begun. Juve risk heavily. As do Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio. We will definitely have a Serie A without Juventus. I am glad. Glad that we can spend this year (or two - possibly) in purgatory while all those vilificators contend a scudetto that is half-baked. half-baked because unfortunately for them a scudetto won next year will always carry the mark of "Scudetto senza la Juve". It's a bit like playing FIFA at the EASY level on playstation. You can do that blindfolded. But then that is the only way some teams can win (or maybe not). I will rout for Palermo and many other teams who have either not ever won a league or have not won one for ages... like Torino. An Inter win will not be painful. They deserve it simply for having nurtured Ronaldo for so long. Obviously I am convinced that Rigetta, the team graced by the latest scandal (miraculously so) will still turn out to be whingers and will invent another conspiracy theory about why there team were, are and will remain... a bunch of losers.

5. Salomone
I read that Salomone of ANR has been charged with incitement to racial hatred. Apparently he was taken by surprise. Meantime Miss Micallef wants stricter tests for the immigrants. She believes we should have some kind of test like in Holland where she claims that they show immigrants videos of "topless women", "gays kissing" etc to check whether they are revolted by "our culture". I wonder whether Miss Micallef is aware that such videos would possibly cause a procession and protest in the streets of Malta in a Da Vinci Code/Baptism of Christ fashion. Which culture then?

jeudi, juin 22, 2006

Frans Baldacchino (il-Budaj)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Frans Baldacchino, il-Budaj has passed away. May he rest in peace. I like to picture him up there teaching the choirs of angels how to sing the Maltese way. Right now I do not have many words to add and will write more later. I will leave you with the words from this "ghana" that Budaj sang at what was probably the last show where I saw him in action in Birgu.

Nahseb illi issa fhimtu
din il-grajja li hawn sehhet
dak il-rahal min nies tbattal
ma fl-ahhar l-imhabba rebhet
l-anglu telaq imma lesta
dak ix-xoghol illi bih tghabba
huwa telaq lejn min baghtu
'ma warajh halla l-imhabba

Bl-imhabba kollox isseddaq
Il-hajja ssir sinfonija
Il-holqien li hawn madwarna
Isir kollu poezija
Ghax l-imhabba kollox tghaqqad
Hija biss li ma tintemmx
Minghajrha f'kull xoghol f'kull arti
Livell tajjeb zgur li m'hemmx

Il-kapulavuri 'siru
bl-imhabba u dedikazzjoni
u fejn hemm il barka taghha
tohrog l-ikbar produzzjoni
imma l-ikbar imhabba fostna
dik li zzommna maghqudin
fejn m'hemmx hi hemm il-mibgheda
hemm il-mewt, gnus imkissrin

Dik l-imhabba lejn kull hlejqa
mhabba mas-sess oppost
u fejn ma ssibhiex isaltan
dak l-ambjent ikun bla gost
jintemmu l-fidi u t-tama
malli l-hajja tkun ghaddiet
l-imhabba eterna tibqa'
fil-belt sbejha tas-swemmiet

l-imhabba eterna tibqa'
fil-belt sbejha tas-smewwiet

mercredi, juin 21, 2006

The Lamppost Movement - Manifesto


The Draft version of the Manifesto is ready. I am reproducing the Introduction in this post. To read the whole manifest - Introduction, Preamble & Declaration please download the Word Document from this site. All suggestions for correction or additions will be considered. Either post a comment here or send an email to jacques dot zammit at gmail dot com.

Extract from the Lamppost Movement Declaration of Principles:

Introduction

At the dawn of the 21st century in an increasingly global society, we hold the concept of one human family as a truth that has now become self-evident. The mapping of the human genome is a recent extraordinary achievement which reaffirms our common humanity.

The future lies in recognising the possibilities and potential in exercising the inventive, creative and moral capacities of the human family with the equal participation of all. Instead of allowing diversity of race and culture to become a limiting factor in human exchange and development, we must refocus our understanding, discern in such diversity the potential for mutual enrichment, and realise that it is the interchange between great traditions of human spirituality that offers the best prospect for the persistence of the human spirit itself.

For too long diversity has been treated as threat rather than a gift – too often that threat has been expressed in racial contempt and conflict, exclusion, discrimination and intolerance.

We believe that our society runs the danger of closing an eye to the threats and menaces of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. We have noted all too often that the ills and wrongs of society are being blamed solely on issues of immigration and that the anger of intolerance is being used as a scapegoat by those who would purportedly provide an "easy solution" to the problems of society.

In order to combat those who abuse of the discontent and those who purportedly hold an "easy solution", we feel that it is necessary to campaign in favour of tolerance and diversity. We believe that a better understanding of the social realities would help in overcoming the current forces that feed of darkness, discontent and ignorance and that a positive campaign will serve this end.

The Movement is intended as a platform and as a symbol. All too often the Lamppost has been mentioned as a threat - a symbol from which to hang all those who disagree and disavow the theories of intolerance. We have chosen to adopt the symbol as a symbol of individual light in the darkness. If every individual, association or organisation who adheres to the idea of the Lamppost Movement it will be another step in the battle against the dark ideas of intolerance.

With this in mind we are adopting this declaration of principles that underlines the basic beliefs of all those who adhere to the Lamppost Movement.

20th June 2006
World Refugee Day

mardi, juin 20, 2006

Mdina Knights FC

I could not let this juicy bit of trivia pass by. Just when you began to think that we had seen it all in football crazy Malta someone goes and sets up a new football team in a hitherto unrepresented town. As you could tell from the accompanying insignia, Mdina - one of Malta's most prestigious towns - now boasts its own football team.

The citadel team seems to have opted for the colours of red and black (at least these are dominant on the kitschy badge they have conjured up). I am still not overly enthusiastic about the wine label style badge. Nor am I too happy with the name of the team. I would have gone on a play of words on the old Universita' at Mdina - the former ruling class of the Maltese. Hence Universitarji Mdina - an original and Maltese name through and through. At least they should change the name to Mdina Kavallieri if this suggestion is too far fetched.

Anyway. Happy birthday. I will definitely adopt the knights as my mascot underdog favourites for the next few seasons.

World Refugee Day


5,776 irregular migrants have reached Malta since 1996
'Refugees are defined as persons who are outside their country and cannot return owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.'
United Nations, 1951
'On only one occasion does the Hebrew Bible command us to love our neighbour, but in 37 places it commands us to love the stranger. Our neighbour is one we love because he is like ourselves. The stranger is one we are taught to love precisely because he is not like ourselves.'
Jonathan Sacks
In countries where people have to flee their homes because of persecution and violence, political solutions must be found, peace and tolerance restored, so that refugees can return home. In my experience, going home is the deepest wish of most refugees.
Angelina Jolie
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people
who never make up their minds to be either good or evil.
Hannah Arendt (refugee)
Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
Albert Einstein (refugee)
We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism.
Rigoberta Menchù Tum (refugee)
* note. The Lamppost Movement Manifesto is still being drafted. I apologise for the delay.

lundi, juin 19, 2006

Caution: Potentially Offensive


This picture is currently illustrating a post called "Enchanté" on Kinnie & Twistees. I originally chose it because it was the coolest image there was when I google-imaged the word "enchanté". No other reason. I later found a comment by Hsejjes asking me to remove the picture because she finds it "offensive". I will add more to this post later on if necessary but for now I would like readers of J'Accuse to tell me... Do you find this picture offensive? Can you also justify your answer?

If I knew how to make a poll (Twanny style) I would but we will have to make do with the comments section. Thank you for your input.

Lost and Found (Hallelujah)


Xitan the wondercat returned home at 09.36am this morning. It is suspected that a distracted neighbour must have spent the night with the devilcat locked in his/her house. Xitan walked into 22 rue de bragance just as I was pouring her favourite Whiskas croquettes into her bowl. The sound of food never fails. Apart from being drenched from her walk in the Luxembourg monsoon rain there seem to be no signs of violence or ordeals. I can confirm that Xitan is in full purring mood and still has the look of mischief all over!

Thanks again.

dimanche, juin 18, 2006

Missing


Last seen at 3am on Sunday morning, Xitan the cat walked out on her usual night rounds and has still not returned to 22, rue de bragance. Time is now 22.36. Frantic searches of the Parc de Merl and surroundings provided no positive results. This blog (and all other related blogs) will be down until further notice.

Thank you for your understanding.

Lamppost Launch Date

I suggest that we choose 30th June (World Refugee Day) as the launching date for the campaign. I reiterate an earlier call for ideas for the Manifesto ( a short bulleted document) of the Lamppost Movement as well as any other campaign related proposals. My aim is to send a press release to the media that wouold appear on 30th June.

samedi, juin 17, 2006

Tarot

Most people associate the Tarot with fortune telling. Until very recently I was one of the "most people category" - tarot meant superstition, weird cards and belief in fate Gakbu Sfigho style. Until I discovered tarot - the game. It,s got seventy eight cards and sounds complicated. I plan to learn how to play it this weekend after having bought my very own set of cards.

Today we crash to the centre of Metz which is immersed in its 19th Annual Book Fair (L'Eté du Livre) and the day seems to be very promising for some traipsing around bookstalls. I've already been to the centre this morning since M had an eight o'clock appointment with her doctor. I love cities that refuse to wake up before nine. I just found one tobacconist open and he only sold one paper - La Republique Lorraine. You cannot get more regional than this paper. International news was hidden away on page 36. Still. The café where I had my three excellent espressos was full of friendly people and the wait for M's appointment to finish turned out to be enjoyable. I could watch Metz wake up gradually just before the assault on the city that wwill inevitably happen by ten a.m..

It's a great diversion from the footie but I will be back infront of the TV in time for Italy - USA. Obviously I will prefer Italy to win... that way the Duh!mericans get to pack their bags and return to the only country where the Miami heat exploits are more important than Ronaldinho's front teeth.

I'm off to the Book Fair. Be seeing ya!

vendredi, juin 16, 2006

Esch-Sur Alzette Città Violenta

From the Station.lu News Network:

Fatal Dog Fight
Two dogs were being walked by their owners yesterday when they fought, with one dying as a result of their wounds.The incident happened around 12:30 in Esch-sur-Alzette, when one dog (a Pitbull Terrier) attacked another (a Chitsu) and killed it.The police were called when the disturbance started, but they arrived too late to intervene.

Myths Unmasked

In this day and age of big brother and assaults on privacy by the media nobody is left unharmed. It is with a sad heart that we read that in issue number two of Marvel Comic's Civil War the unthinkable has occured. Following a new act by congress called the "Super Hero Registration Act" the hero formerly known as Spiderman faces the choice of either coming clean and revealing his identity or stay anonymous but live the life of a criminal.

The result: Spiderman chooses to abide by the law. "My name is Peter Parker and I've been spiderman since I was fifteen years old". Marvel has trumpeted the relevation as "arguably the most shocking event in comic book history." I'd love to see the face of Peter Parker's news editor after the relevation.

source

Scudetto (encore)


The greatest team in Italy continues to produce the very best. Yesterday afternoon Juventus added another scudetto to it's collection - this time the category of Allievi Nazionali was added to that of the Primavera. Once again the losing finalists were eternal rivals Fiorentina.

Ad astra per aspera!!

The Red's Spurious Suppositions

Maltastar, the conspiracy theorist's main rag on the net, is at it again. They have discovered a new tactic. It basically involves finding persons who are associated (or could be associated / linked) to politicians and discovering some misdeed that they (the persons) have committed. The next step is to write an article which practically imputes the deed to the politician even if he was not involved in the matter concerned.

Maltastar fell upon this tactic by chance. The "Michael Fendo Condones Piracy" affair involved pirated cd's being distributed duting a canvassing meeting organised by the Minister on the occasion of the Eurovision. Until now the matter of responsibility has been shifted to Frendo's personal assistant (Simon Castillo) complete with an interview of Castillo's parents who stated how let down they felt by the Minister. Minister Frendo is in the meantime hiding behind the centuries old excuse of ignorance - as in he did not know of the pirated goods being distributed. Much more will be said about this story - it is definitely not a bomb that will sink the Frendo ship but will definitely cause it to limp around the sea for a while like a lost convoy under fire by the Luftwaffe - here Maltastar did manage to make Frendo look like a bit of a liability for the government.

The bright sparks at Maltastar loved it. They could kill the Minister anyway - whether he took responsibility or not. So they are trying it again. Today's headline deals with a certain Roderick John Galea who is being accused of taking bungs from people to help them pass the driving test. The link? Roderick is apparently a Mugliett canvasser. We have moved down the ranks from private secretary Castillo to canvasser Roderick. The article shows that Maltastar was a bit at pains trying to prove the link to Mugliett:

"maltastar.com is in a position to reveal that on 30 January 2006 Roderick Galea drove a mini-van full of Mugliett’s constituents to a coffee morning at ‘The Palms’ in St Julians’. From further investigations carried by maltastar.com, ADT sources told us that Galea took leave of absence from work at the ADT on the day of the event, which was a fund raiser and a political event for the Transport Minister."

Now, it should not be difficult to prove the canvassing qualities of Roderick. But surely this time the Ministerial responsibility is based on a much more spurious link. What next? Maltstar.com is in a position to reveal that a notorious criminal said "Hello" to Minister Ciku Briku on 4th December when he brushed past him in Republic Street. Minister Ciku Briku should resign.

Surely there must be a limit. For all the wrongdoings of this Roderick Galea I do not for one minute believe that Mugliett is liable or responsible. Unless of course it can be proved that his failure to know of the goings-on in the Driving Tests results out of negligence.... that he could have known had he been more careful. In any case it would have nothing at all to do with the fact that Mr Galea was his canvasser.

Frankly Maltastar must get their act together insofar as this kind of schizophrenic reporting is concerned.

Too many red herrings make the reds stupid seem.

jeudi, juin 15, 2006

Everything but the Lorna (TGIL)

In her early appearances on the pages of the Times, Thank-God-It's-Lorna (TGIL) had taken to task both philanthropists (remember the naughty beggars at city gate?) and organisations with selective membership (the Knights who would not accept a Labourite). The grudges and chips are still all there to see in her latest masterpiece entitled "Your money but not you". I will try to give you the basic plot in case you do not have the time to traipse through the whole article with comments that is being reproduced hereunder (yes, TGIL posts are long).

Essentially TGIL's grudge is that philanthropic organisations do not regularly publish their accounts (a valid complaint if it is true). She also believes that membership of such philanthropic organisations can be selective because people are busy making sure (i) that their philanthropic efforts are seen by all and sundry and (ii) that they will not have any unruly competitors in this race to give and therefore will never be outdone in their pharisaic efforts.

Lorna inadvertently exposes an ugly pimple on the face of Maltese society that has long been there for all to see. Everybody is busy shouting about their 'achievements'. It's like the kid who runs to mummy with the potty every time he poops. "I pooped mummy, I pooped". It's happening all the time. Businessmen expect to be congratulated because they pay taxes and social security. Workers almost expect a medal for actually turning up for work. The more intellectual (or wankellectual) it gets the more petty the race for recognition.

But back to Lorna. So Lorna is telling us that she gives hundreds of liri to philanthropic organisations (voters note how generous she is). She also tells us that she joined a philanthropic organisation in order to go to Africa on missionary work. That's Lorna on a quest to go to Africa for a missionary position. It turned out to be a rat race involving hundreds of liri of professional work in order to be the chosen one to go to the heathens in the Black Continent.

But once again Lorna was shunned. The implication is clear. Lorna promises to enlighten us with some "interesting curiosities" about the way philanthropic organisations are run. I will hazard one guess: no labourites are allowed (as was the case in Lorna's quest for Knighthood).

Lorna ends with a touching note: "I will definitively have to change my channels to funding the hunger in Africa from ths year on. The pity is, I do really want to get those people and help them."

*The post beneath this is the full version of the article with comments

Shosholoza (Ladysmith Black Mombasa)
Ku lezontaba
Stimela si qhamuka e south africa
Shosholoza
Stimela si qhamuka e south africa
Wena u ya baleka
Wena u ya baleka
Ku lezontaba
Stimela si qhamuka e south africa
Verse 1:
Shosholoza
Work, work, working in the sun
We will work as one
Shosholoza
Work, work, working in the rain'
Til there's sun again
Verse 2:
Shosholoza
Push, push, pushing on and on
There's much to be done
Shosholoza
Push, push, pushing in the sun
We will push as one
Sithwele kanzima, sithwele kanzima (ooh, aah!)
Sithwele kanzima, sithwele kanzima (ooh, aah!)
Sithwele kanzima, sithwele kanzima (ooh, aah!)
Sithwele kanzima, sithwele kanzima (ooh, aah!)
Sithwele kanzima, sithwele kanzima (ooh, aah!)
Etshe!
Shosholoza

Everything but the Girl (TGIL full)

Your money but not you
Lorna Vassallo

(the Times of Malta, June 15, 2006)

- square brackets and highlights are mine

The Red Cross volunteers' protest outside their quarters has momentarily drawn the public's attention to the credibility of philanthropic institutions in Malta. However, the cry was suddenly hushed up by the media [TGIL is a clear advocate of the main Labourite conspiracy theory] and no outcomes were further reported [note the use of the word "outcomes" - sounds good doesn't it?... think again!].

It has come to my knowledge [It came slowly and surreptitiously notwithstanding the gags provided by the media hushing club] that, at least in the case of a particular organisation, some of the funds collected in aid of victims of natural calamities were retained to pay the wages of a full-time employee.

Philanthropic institutions appeal for our mercy daily on TV and at our doors [I myself (TM) cannot get rid of the damn monk who keeps crawling at my fit begging me to stop beating him whenever I feel like] . They collect record sums of money [poetic license - record as against what? the miserable amount collected by the Ku Klux Klan?] which would later be at their disposal for charitable aims. Political parties have, throughout the years, gone into the same habit of collecting money that should be spent to uphold their political principles and to run the parties [nasty habit indeed... is she condemning it - does Sant know?].

This seems to be working much more than any other technique of collecting money. However, when philanthropic organisations do not publish their accounts at the end of the year [as against the clear accounts published by political parties with clear indication of the source of their monies] , or when they turn away volunteers [enter the grudge], the situation starts getting suspicious. When they exclude people, or when they serve as a showcase for "exhibitionists" they start losing their scope.

Sometimes membership of such organisations leads to success in a political career [Aha! Iz zis vy you vant to choin ze Karitas?]. At other times, the work of members of philanthropic societies or NGOs overlaps too much [what's the limit anyway?] on that carried out by members of political parties or local councils [Yep indeed. I can see very well Seqa's work overlapping with that of Ninu Zamit, George Pullicino, Alfred Sant and Jason Micallef]. And, at the end of the day, you'll realise that some people do manage to don saintly attire and work their way to very terrestrial positions of power and/or of wealth [Saintly vs terrestrial zat iz di qveschin. "From Saintly attire to terrestrial position, my life in reverse by L.Vassallo".]

But all money donors [ note the intriguing coining of the term "money donors" - artistic license deriving the concept from blood donors - surely inspired by the Maltese expression "jixorbulek demmek"] should remember the subtle but very important distinction between their money and themselves [yes. you have a soul, your money is just lent to you for some time by the government]. The idea is one that runs parallel to what could be said during election time - they care much more for your vote than for you [Slowly. Think slowly. This is Lorna thinking - you need to take your time. This convoluted pythagorean metaphor is equating money to votes and you to erm... you].

All organisations and parties have hierarchies. And hierarchies have leaders and followers. This is something dictated by nature as most people prefer to be followers [But not Lorna]. In the same way, any organisation has active or passive members. And a number of other people prefer to stay out of the whole affair. This is how structures in any civilised society are formed. [is it civilised society or a natural state... hmm lapsus]

However, when the freedom of a person to associate himself [the Lorna Conundrum: when writing about persons always assume schizophrenia. "to associate oneself" is a direct logical result that seems reasonable to anyone who begins sentences with the phrase "I myself"] to any organisation, party etc and to be active in it is stifled, especially if this impediment is created by the leaders who should act to enlarge the number of members, then the genuineness of a philanthropic or political society or organisation is put into question. [The Lorna Special: long-winded sentence to hynotise you into agreeing. Read it. Without my brackets. She is trying to tell you that sometimes persons have no interest in letting others into the big mafia of philanthropy].

[Drumroll] I myself [see the Lorna Conundrum] have given and still give hundreds of liri to charitable purposes [Wow. The humility of it all. Does it include Saviour Balzan's Libel Fund?] . And everybody accepts my money [Duh!] . It was only this year that I dared to move closer to this noble cause [presumably the noble cause is not accepting money but doing da missionary thang] and planned to go to Africa on missionary work. After a long time of having attended [The Lorna Split Tense Conjugation] regular meetings and started being [idem] active, I was told I could not go [Where?]. The persons involved said they had prayed for hours to decide upon my case [Aha. Asking God what to do with Lorna... cruel...could he phone a friend?] . It seemed too embarrassing after all the work I had done and the money I had given along the years. Yet, both me and my help were rejected although my money never was! [Hence "Your money but not you"]

What had actually happened was that, due to my contacts, I had gathered quite a group of people working on part of a project that would have helped collect more money. [Presumably on the condition that she gets to go to Soweto]

By the time my participation was refused, I and other people that worked with me [always note the Lorna Conundrum requires her to be presented first] had given services and incurred expenses that a court of law would have quantified at over Lm500, one of the reasons being the fact that everything was done professionally. [A Court of Law would probably have also explained the concept of voluntary work where the underlying causa of the agreement is that you volunteer to work for no pecuniary remuneration].

What came out so clearly was, however, that whoever worked with me on my part of the project was also rejected and the work s/he was offering freely was also rejected. Eventually the whole project was rejected - after being finished [Erm. Rejected or finished?]. In all, there were five more people who worked with me and all were given the cold shoulder when it was too late.

It was obvious that I was becoming too active for somebody's likings. Only some people can enjoy the benefit of being active members. Others will be dumped as soon as they start acquiring some importance. [Somehow I get the feeling that what got Lorna into a twist was not so much the inability to reach the needy with her professional enthusiasm but rather the inability to twist her way to the corridors of philanthopic power].

This case of my refusal as volunteer is still being dealt with in the right way, however it does seem to indicate that something does not allow me to be active in the philanthropic field [The case of her refusal to understand basic grammar is still the subject of intense scientific study]. Coincidentally, I started tracing down the members of the group and found some interesting curiosities. An evident pattern emerged which I will be speaking about eventually. [Don't you just love TGIL. Just when you thought it could not get any worse she comes up with "interesting curiosities" - look out for the insider report on the Dirt in Philanthropy - soon in your stores].

Money is the most exchangeable of goods [Because it is not a good in itself but that's another story]. It can be changed into anything once handed over. Money is usually accepted no matter how unwelcome the source is. [Erm.. there are laws you know. Try the Money Laundering Act for instance].

Voluntary work is another thing. As to volunteers - you have to accept the whole person. And a lot of people leading societies, organisations, funds and political parties would dump you as soon as you start getting closer - either because you're too bad or because you're too good [Or because you are too fond of getting important].

Don't worry, everybody will accept your money but not everybody will except you. The next time you're asked for money, look the one asking for it in the eyes and see whether his charitable purposes are just charitable [the Lornian Lapsus - JUST charitable] or whether there may also be some "exhibitionist" tendencies [Do you mean like the Jesuit stripper?], especially originating from non-religious motivations [Like maybe promoting the use of condoms?].

I will definitely have to change my channels to funding the hunger in Africa from this year on. The pity is, I do really want to get to those people and help them.

ADDENDUM: In a joint press statement the Congress of African Leaders deplored the apparent embargo that exists on philanthropic activity by certain prominent columnists in Malta. The leaders expressed their sorrow that Dame Lorna of the Conundrum could not get to them as fast as possible and, in particular, they expressed their concern that no alternatives could be found for FUNDING THE HUNGER in Africa (sic).

mercredi, juin 14, 2006

A Culture of Anonymousness

Gaffe Incorporated have another stunner. Reporting a Marie Louise Coleiro press conference...

"The MLP spokesperson said that the government statistics do no include those persons who are in appeals procedures with the National Employment Authority and it neither includes all those who are given a reversed decision by the Authority on the ETC ruling.

Furthermore, the statistics do not mention how long these people have to wait without receiving any income, Coleiro said.

She finally accused the government with encouraging a culture of anonymousness, saying that it is taking decisions to removing people off the registry based on anonymous reports and without conducting proper investigations to the detriment of those families who are then deprived for long from receiving the financial aid that rightfully belongs to them because of the long legal procedures involved."

Print it when?

Sant's PR column on today's Times hangs on the usual cliché: Government does not consult and does not plan. I will not go into the merits and demerits of the government as this has been treated elsewhere. I will simply point out that for the n-millionth time Labour will be coughing up the same strategy:

1. Government is directionless, clueless and arrogant.
2. Consultation is needed.
3. Clear plans must be made.

We will follow closely the "draft plan documents" and their outcomes. We will be looking out for concrete planning from the Labour side. We are hoping to see something more than a list of Pn's failures and definitely something concrete as to what MLP plans to do when at the helm. Other than that Sant may shout "Print it small" at PN till kingdom come.

We will be waiting patiently while asking MLP: "Print it when?"

* for the benefit of the internet challenged :) the post title links to the Sant article in the Times. The article will only be reachable for around one month. After that you will have to pay Allied Newspapers in order to read it. I will not do that for you, so read it now.

Not So Beautiful

In the Beautiful Game, Brasil are expected to be a beautiful team. All the time. Yesterday all the pundits who were expecting a show of samba and sparks were disappointed to learn that "You can be beautiful some time but you can't be beautiful all of the time" - to paraphrase another great lover of foot.

Yesterday's peformance against Croatia was a many-faceted one but best described by the BBC host Mark Lawrenson as "perfunctory". After starting with four or five minutes of fireworks, the selecao settled into a slow - European - match with a little jittery defending thrown in. Croatia was never going to be an easy adversary but what was more worrying was Ronaldo's pace: like Roma's league victories it barely existed. His partner in crime - the Emperor - is still unable to shake off the indecisive condition that was nurtured at the San Siro with the eternal underachievers. In other words the stars of Ronaldo and Adriano became your everyday attacking duo.

Ronaldinho juggled and jiggled whenever he could, Kaka ran at anything, Emerson and Ze Roberto did as much harrying as the referee (good one) could permit. The two most enthusiastic persons on the Brasilian side were ironically those who had seen it all before - Cafu and Roberto Carlos. Carlos seems to relish the new lightweight ball and will be trying to score from the goalkeeper's spot kick soon.

The conclusion for the Brasilian fan may not be as drab as the press are putting it. Brasil chose to economise on the sparks and bubbly football. Ronaldinho gave us a taster. Kaka provided a scorcher in the lightweight football tradition - but then he was popping that kind of shot in before anyone thought of putting a balloon instead of the ball. But Brasil were also the lethargic team that failed to settle into a good game manouvre. For long periods they seemed to be content to neutralise Croatia without doing anything positive. It was in those periods that they suffered most and forced Dida to display his manificent saving form (touch wood).

They are in need of a good dose of confidence. Yes confidence. To overcome this "they've already won the world cup and are just here to claim it" syndrome that the international press puts on them. They are in need of remembering how they thought about football before money and fame shot them to the heavens. In short they must all learn to smile and play like Cafu, Kaka and Ronaldinho. Because the smile must definitely be part of the beautiful game.

***
Statbusters
Statistics wise Brasil go on busting records. This was their eighth consecutive victory in World Cup Finals - a record that has no equal. On the other end of the record spectrum are the miserable Bleus who have not found the net in a World Cup match since that dark day in July 1998 when they put three past the verdeoro.

***
Women and Football
Had some guests over to watch the match yesterday (strictly pro-Brasil). A.D. wanted to know the rules of the tournament before the match - who qualifies? how? M.B. had already had an earlier initiation to the rules of offside and free kicks. Anyway, we were there bundled before the screen and some unforgettable quote moments ensued:

- On screen Ronaldinho does a one-two with Robinho. The commentator (BBC) says "Ronaldinho - Robinho- Ronaldinho". Inevitably A.L. steps in and says "Ils ont deux joueurs avec le meme nom? (They have two players with the same name?).

- Kaka. The girls could not stop laughing at his name. Unfair but understandable. They have not been groomed through years of looking out for weird names. I myself (as Lorna would say) found Croatia's "Jerko Leko" quite entertaining.

- Fouls. Aren't you just amazed whenever women decide to give their undivided attention to football at how concerned they become whenever there is a foul - either for the seriousness of it or for the blatant dive that the player just made?

- Offsides. No comment. But we're getting there.

- Beautiful. I think this is the first Brasil team in a long time that has some good looking blokes for the pleasure of the fairer sex. Dida, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Kaka all struck some cords here. But it was Ronaldinho who was voted "Le plus mignon" ... mainly because of his all conquering smile and the way he looks like he is always (always, always) having fun.

Next up the Socceroos...

mardi, juin 13, 2006

Liberalisation and the Fortress Colony


Liberalisation
The words "liberal" and "liberalise" have never been fully received within the Maltese mentality. The Nationalist government overused the terms in a mantric exercise that hoped that overrepetition would turn liberalisation into a good of itself and not a tool to be used in order to achieve the common good. This is one of the main reasons why the Nationalist bluff on liberalisation has never worked. They bandy it around like some Mastro Lindo that will clean all worries. They fail to recognise that it is only the first step towards a better society. They fail to invest the necessary resources into the institutions that would essentially safeguard the liberalised markets from becoming the usual kettle of unruly oligopolists - the inevitable result in our island economy.

Labour. Now Labour have until now been forced to critise liberalisation. Normally it starts with criticism of that monster called "privatisation". It is a sufficiently complicated issue for the general public not to really grasp and for Labour to criticise "effectively" (as in with the support of its core) without going into too much detail. For a party that is led by a Harvard groomed economist the Labour stance on all things "free market" stinks. The main stinker is the fact that even though labour often criticises the manner of liberalisation in a truthful manner, it never proposes liberalisation and privatisation as a solution.

The Unions? Just do not go there. Liberalisation is the Devil riding on the back of a Harley Davidson. The private sector? Oh. It pays the private sector. Phase one does. Liberalise and give me a segment of the market. Phase two? I will make you regret Mintoff's state system by abusing the liberalised market as much as possible while the government is busy snoring and distributing fake cd's during it's parties.

Which brings me to the bus owners. In Europe, across the sea and outside the island box, the EU has just passed a directive that forces the liberalisation of public transport. In short monopolies will not be allowed. The directive also bans government subsidies. We should all be out in the street partying to the CD of Xtruppaw (thanks Owen for the CD and for the t-shirt!).

But are we? Of course not. Duh! here is what Victor Spiteri of the Public Transport Association had to say (source The Times of Malta online)

"This is being used as an excuse to pave the way for liberalisation. The minister is not aware of the trouble ahead, if this comes about," Mr Spiteri warned, while pointing out that the PTA is also holding discussions with its legal representatives in Brussels.

It's trendy to threaten these days. Ah. The directive is not really a directive. It is a trojan horse. It is an EXCUSE to PAVE THE WAY FOR LIBERALISATION. Pratchett would say that we are being dragged kicking and screaming into the century of the fruitbat. Which would be another way of saying that backward Malta is finally being shown the signs of the times.

The directive forcing liberalisation on inefficient public transport systems is why I voted yes for Europe. The pudgy men at PTA dragging their feet and chewing on Maltese taxpayer's subsidies are why I stopped voting for appeasing parties like MLPN. The government is already preparing an emergency meeting ostensibly to minimise the damage for PTA. Yeah Mugliett that's the spirit. If you think I'm joking here is Mugliett's comment:

"When contacted, Mr Mugliett said the government has opposed the rushed liberalisation of public transport ever since the European Commission forwarded its proposal last August."

All we need is a press release by the Nationalist Party saying that it stands behind the government on its liberalisation policies. That would really put the cherry on the cake.

And I managed to talk about liberalisation without once mentioning Ryanair or Gozo Channel. Huh must be getting weak here.

lundi, juin 12, 2006

Who wants illegal immigrants anyway?


Sometimes the Malta Times' editorials are a wonderful exercise in schizophrenic writing. Just when you start thinking that the Editor has got his finger right on the issue you find that peculiar twist right at the end that seems to be an appendage written by a Mr. Hyde - a sort of malicious afterthought that undoes all that is constructive in the preceding parts of the editorial. Let's see what today's Editorial entitled "Why the crowd looks elsewhere" had to offer in this regard.

The basic theme running throughout the piece is that of the fundamental right to expression that would theoretically allow loonies to say their thing on whatever subject they like to rant about. The jab at "tolerating ANR" immediately shows from which side of the fence the editor is writing. It gets better. The Times asks the question many people have already been asking - do you really need to protest against something that is illegal? Is protesting really necessary? It's a bit like rallying against theft. Of course everybody is against theft.

The Editorial implies that you cannot be "against" illegal immigration. It suggests that more efforts should be spent in planning how to curb the current tide and to manage what already has come in. True. The next part is a defence of journalists against the headless attacks on the profession by ANR and its members. Again, full marks for being clear on this issue.

Then. Ah! Then the editor criticises ANR for being ever so contradictory in the messages they send out to the people. It almost sounds like a regret that a potential new movement is being so obstinately rightist in its approach. A regret that a possible niche in local politics is not being properly filled.

And here is my grudge. What niche? The niche of the disgruntled? The niche of the easily conned voters who will gladly find a victim for the expiatory role needed to relieve them of all their suffering? Apparently so:

"ANR and its exponents need to take stock of the situation and put their house in order. They must find out why the public, most of whom would be against illegal immigration, stayed away from their manifestation."

Oh no they don't Mr Editor. We do not need a sly, manipulative movement using the ghost of illegal immigration as motive for gaining a base of support. No matter how you paint the picture for this kind of movement it will essentially be based on one message: All your ills are due to the blacks (as their leaders would have it) who are coming to your island. Get rid of them and all will be solved.

I'm sorry but I do not particularly like the phrase "most of whom would be against illegal immigration". You might think I am nit-picking but it is the core element of what must be combatted. A new program must be based on tolerance and understanding. It is only in that way that we can then answer helping hands like that offered by Lithuania to take some of the burden of the immigrants. By ensuring a human manner of tackling the problem - one that is based on respect and tolerance.

Otherwise we can all be against illegal immigration. Or not??

Non Sequitur #54


from the BBC:

A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention".

Colleen Graffy told the BBC the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

***

First we had "collateral damage" now we have "suicidal PR".

***

Addendum: From today's editorial on The Times (UK).

"Bad Language

In its four and a half years of operation, the US camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has provoked a great deal of strong language on both sides, much of it wholly inappropriate. In describing the suicides of three inmates on Saturday as “an act of warfare waged against us”, the camp commander, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, was repeating the kind of unwise rhetoric that President Bush has recently said he so regretted using in connection with Iraq. It is simply foolish to make such insensitive comments. They may be understood in the US, but they will be deliberately misinterpreted by a world eager to believe the worst of America. Yet, in rushing to brand the men “heroes”, human rights groups have also made a grave error of judgment, wilfully distorting the truth for their own purposes."

dimanche, juin 11, 2006

And the game goes on...

More opening matches. More interesting games. I would never have bet that T&T would have held Sweden to a draw and I am still smarting from all the fake dives by the Argentinians against a plucky Ivory Coast team. The Serbia and Montenegro vs Holland just finished and I am really impressed by the Dutch passing game. They are not unbeatable but they have got a lovely team brought together by mastermind Van Basten and might go quite far.

Away from the footie spotlight it is almost pleasant to note that the final decision on the Maltese Euro coins does not include any baptism of Christ. Not so religious after all. Today's Times tells us that 80% of the Maltese population are dissatisfied with the government. This statistic will be even more significant the day the very same government is voted in for another term by those very disgruntled people.

While pro-environment NGO's rallied in Valletta protesting in favour of better protection of the environment, the Nationalist Party (that's the party running the disgruntling government) issued a press release stating that it (the PN) was a pro-environment party and that it (the PN) backed the actions taken by the government (run by the PN) in favour of the environment. That figures doesn't it?

Then people ask me how I manage to switch off for a whole month and just think about football.

PS. Do go over to Il-Loghba Sabiha if you haven't yet. It's turning out to be an interesting blog.

samedi, juin 10, 2006

Campioni d'Italia

Barring judicial decisions and pronouncements, the winners of the only valid league at top level this year are.... Juventus. Much to the chagrin of all bad-wishers and rivals, the Juventus Primavera team have won what will eventually be registered as the only regular league of the season 2005-2006.

Campioni d'Italia
Campioni d'Italia
Campioni d'Italia

From juventus.it:
La Primavera bianconera è campione d’Italia. E’ festa grande allo stadio di Rimini dove la squadra di Chiarenza si aggiudica la finale contro la Fiorentina grazie ai gol di Criscito (7’) e Paolucci (37’). Splendida prova di tutti i ragazzi usciti tra gli applausi.

L’allenatore bianconero manda in campo un 4-3-1-2 con Scarzanella in porta, in difesa da destra Di Cuonzo, Zammuto, Criscito e Rossi, a centrocampo Marchisio, Venitucci e De Ceglie, Giovinco dietro le punte Paolucci e Volpe.

Spinning at the Speed of Light

The Beautiful Game's best tournament has kicked off. I've seen ze Germans and the Pommies battling out against the valorous opposition provided by the Ticos and the Paraguayans and I must say that some little ideas are forming in my mind. I missed out on the Polish defeat at the hands of Ecuador so what I am about to say does not include that match.

The first thing I must whinge about is the damn ball. It was not enough to have the great shift to the physical to the detriment of style and lovely football. In these days of Joga Bonito and lovely ads filmed in the selecao's dresing room, the real game has now got a new protagonist: the ultralight ball that spins and turns in all directions. Yes, we were regaled with two fantastic goals (Lahm and Frings - 1st and last in the German game) but hey... the moment I saw them I screamed cheat.

You had to sympathise with the keeper in most of these cases. Lahm slipped in on the edge of the box in the best of Del Piero styles and then hooked the ball into the top angle of the post. Replays later showed the ball turning and spinning the way the Supertele balls would spin during our beach football matches at Ghadira on a particularly windy day. Then there was Frings' bombshell. Worthy of any Playstation opening sequence, the camera shot from the back exposed all the 'nassty trickery' (as Gollum would say) that has been sown into the ball. It spun away too easily.

Do note how many players are trying their luck from far out now. Paraguayans today tried from all over the place (as did Lampard and the Boro winger whose name escapes me) - only they have not yet mastered the general idea of shooting in the direction of the post. Beckham has however. And his masterful shot ever curling into the Paraguayan defence was further magicked by Gamarra's mishit.

In short it's football but not as we know it. We've seen Germany and England defeat two teams that, to be honest, were not exactly top opposition. My guess is that unless some patchwork in the back is done Germany will not have much of a future. Ericsson's XI have an altogether different conundrum. Who is going to be playing up there next to lanky robot boy? Will a Brasil, a Holland or an Argentina really be as wasteful as Anibal the Paraguayan coach when it comes to taking advantage of such errors of substitution as Svennis is prone to committing? I doubt it.

As for me. I am still waiting for the selecao. I hope that most of them had the favelas upbringing to get used to funnily magicked balls. In a bout of protest at what I have seen until know I went out and bought a replica 1958 football. It's hard, heavy and will go straight in the direction it is asked to fly. No spinning at the speed of light. No unbearable lightness of curving. Just plain football.

The way the guys in the picture used to play it.

picture: for the heretics among you who have no idea, the picture is of the first Brasilian world Cup winning team - 1958 - that managed to finally washed away the sufferings of the 1950 loss.

vendredi, juin 09, 2006

Three Columns - still tweaking

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J'accuse is changing face again. It pays when you need to go incognito. Jokes apart I have finally got down to tweaking a three column template. Not without errors of course. I am hoping that someone will point out how to salvage the right column from ending up at the bottom of the page. The template worked fine with the Preview in Blogger but lost the right column when I finally loaded the page. Any ideas? The three column version was always on my mind since it reminds me of those old fashioned newspapers I like so much. Like Il Foglio for example.

addendum: The blog looks perfect on Mac. I checked it out both on Firefox and on Safari and the right column stays right where it should be. Is it the same on Explorer and Windows? Can anybody tell me?

Rice, Pasta and the Ethiopians

According to the Times yesterday's ANR protest had a "poor turnout". Around 200 persons marched up Republic Street chanting "Viva Malta Viva Malta hej hej hej". They would have been better placed had they chosen to beef up the dwindling crowds that follow our national team's stuttering performances at ta' Qali. At least their chant would not have gone to waste and might have kindled some much needed enthusiasm for "it-tim li huwa ta' kullhadd".

As it happens they were marching for another cause. Their idea of patriotism involves saveguarding the national identity from foreign invaders. They are worried that it is an invasion not just immigration. Their spokespersons spoke out against the Europe that sends us rice and pasta and that therefore must "think we are Ethiopians". Funny, I would have thought that a nice plate of ross il-forn (oven baked rice) and spaghetti biz-zalza tal-fenek (pasta with rabbit sauce) would have made any patriot's tongue drool. I am sure that it is much more appetising to the Maltese Volk (yes some contributors on their site refer to the Maltese nation as such) than a plate of sauerkraut. What was sour was the agenda. A speech of vitriolic accusations against the mass media that apparently twists their message and makes them sound like racists rather than patriots.

Mr Salomone, one of the more rhetorical of the bunch, refused Peppi Azzopardi's invitation to answer his accusations. He preferred to issue the threat of "Issa tigi tieghek" (Yours will come next). He also asked for Saviour Balzan. Salomone apparently relishes the idea of wrapping an edition of Maltatoday around Saviour's neck. And he is not shy or scared to say that in public.

But they are not violent. They are genuinely worried about the future and safety of the Maltese nation. And they are prepared to use any means to get that. Even if it involves rabid attacks on all those who disagree with them.

What worries me is the complacency about their low turnout. Of course many people had much more to do than walk down Republic Street chanting Viva Malta. This does not lessen the fact that the feelings that ANR and Lowell's merry band feed on are much more widespread among the people. The discontent, the angry and the downright pissed off will easily turn to ANR and Co as a pressure valve. They are in urgent need of alternative visions, alternative solutions. They are in need of solutions that do not appear on Washington Post videos talking of "blacks" who bring diseases and take work from the hand of the Maltese.

They need intelligent solutions. They need bright ideas. This is definitely no time for complacency. Roll up those sleeves and get typing.

jeudi, juin 08, 2006

Lamppost Update

The lamppost campaign is in full swing. J'Accuse is currently 'registering' all adherents on the blogosphere. All the lampposts may now be seen on flickr. If you have not done so yet, add a lamppost to your site and notify me by leaving a comment here. The next steps will be announced in the coming days. For work reasons this post is short and to sweet. Like its author.

PS: Ralph Cassar of AD informs me via Mark that what I referred to as a 'demonstration' against racism in Valletta by 15 NGO's was not meant to be a mass rally but a symbolic protest. My bad. That teaches me to verify my sources before blabbing. Incidentally the post entitled "It's the Commission, Stupid" where I took the MLP to task for accusing the government of favouritism in matters unrelated might also have been the victim of hopeless reporting. I read elsewhere that in the same press conference Labour accused the NSO of farming out a contract to Informa (later denied by government). This might have been the real source of the accusations. If it was ... my bad. Nul points to di-ve.com encore une fois!

mercredi, juin 07, 2006

Seven Lampost Army

They're coming in all shapes and sizes. Zetetiq, Mistoqsija, Antoine, Neebother and Peckelectrick have all declared their support to the campaign. Others have begn to display their lampposts on their sites. I like the idea of everyone having their individual lamppost - it further's the idea of individuality - everyone providing their own bit of light in their own manner. So here are the images as they appeared in their blogs...

Mark Vella - Xifer... Il-Blogg mit-truf

Maltagirl... Diverse Ramblings

Immanuel Mifsud... Il-Blobb tas-Sibt Filghaxija

That makes seven potential lampposts added (here's hoping that Twannie, Mistoqsija, Neebother and Peck add their own). Keep them going. This is only just the start. Addendum: as I typed this blog this lamppost appeared on Hsibijet (Roderick Mallia):

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Roderick Mallia... Hsibijiet

Meanwhile I remembered a comment from Antoine about the discussion remaining between intellectuals. I am not so sure. Once we have a good set of articles we can try to serialise them on a paper... my only problem is that for the Maltese versions there is not much printed media that would be a good host... unless we offer the series jointly to Nazzjon and l-Orizzont.

As for intellectuals... some were speaking out loud over a decade ago... maybe no one was listening then...

Merhba lill-Albanizi*
Oliver Friggieri

I

Qed tfur das-sajf dil-gzira bit-turisti
dehlin il-flus u l-lussu qieghed jikber,
illum skoprew lil Malta l-Albanizi!
Din pagna gdida: ftahna s-swieq u fostna
dehlin in-nies li qatt ma stennejniehom.
Kemm hadmet il-kampanja li ghamilna
bix nies li qatt ma gew issa bdew jigu!
Iss' ilna sekli maghrufin ghall-merhba
li naghtu 'l-barranin: ghax ahna Nsara.

II
Sinjuri Albanizi, tistghu taghzlu.
Se ssibu lukandi ta' kull klassi
li fihom kull ma tridu, sa pixxina
jekk l-ilma-bahar issibuh ftit kiesah.
F'lukanda ssibu wkoll xtajta privata,
izda tghumux bit-topless: ahna Nsara.
ghall-kiri tistghu taghzlu djar jew vilel
jew furnished flats bi prezzijiet ta' l-ghageb
li jistghu ivarjaw minn jum ghal iehor.
La tixxahxux la gejtu tiddevertu,
bil-flusli tonfqu tiehdu servizz tajjeb
u kollox efficjenti: ahna Nsara.

III

Ghamiltu tajjeb gejtu f'dawn il-granet
ghax habat l-istagun tal-festi taghna.
Bhalissa se taraw knejjes imzejna
bid-dehbijiet u fided li jbellhukom
ghax Alla taghna kbir u jhobb il-lussu
u jtina wkoll palata fit-turizmu.
Isimghu l-isparar u tihdux qatgha:
dan kollu loghob tal-hbieb; hawn ghandna l-paci.
Imbaghad araw l-armar u l-giggifogu.
Ixorbu u kulu. La tinsewx idduqu
bicctejn qubbajt u maghhom ftit pastizzi.
U kollox bi ftit flus: ghax ana Nsara.

IV

Jekk wara din il-btala tiddeciedu
li ma tridux titilqu u tridu tibqghu,
ghalikom ghandna mbaghad skema t'apposta
u skond il-kapital li gibtu maghkom
naghmlukom residenti permanenti.
Kif ghandna fostna residenti 'nglizi,
nibdew ikollna lilkom, Albanizi.
Thossukom f'darkom zgur: ghax ahna Nsara.

V

U issa biex mill-kliem nghaddu ghall-fatti:
ohorgu l-passaport inkella l-viza,
uruna l-kapital li gibtu maghkom.
Din hi biss procedura ta' kull darba
ghal kull turist u resident barrani.
Inkella tigu xejn! Mel'ahna Nsara?

*Imnebbha mill-istorja tad-dhul f'Malta ta' vapur mimli rifugjati Albanizi (1991)

mardi, juin 06, 2006

Lamppost Campaign


The latest arson attacks are not necessarily linked to the wave of intolerance that has gripped Malta and as such one cannot go on making assumptions without concrete evidence. Nowithstanding this fact, evidence of an ever-increasing number of people joining the intolerant crowd could be found in the Maltatoday survey that told us that 6.6% of Maltese would consider voting for extremists. 4.8% would actually vote for Lowell while 4.7% would vote for Marlin Debattista's ANR. Aren't we just a lovely bunch?

The barks by some columnists and the 15-organisation demonstration yesterday against extremism fall still short of an informed and pro-active campaign to deroot both intolerance and its causes in Malta. J'accuse does not harbour any delusions of grandeur and would love to be another ripple in an ocean of voices speaking out about the evils of intolerance. Following my earlier call for every individual to book their lamppost I do believe that it is a time that a veritable campaign is started that can hopefully start provoking the right reactions in the right circles. We will pick up from where the "Le Ghar-Razzizmu" campaign was prematurely dropped.

Until I find time to design a proper logo I have drafted something which you can see above. You are free to copy and paste it into your blog as a sign of support. Here are my first ideas on what can be done and what I am planning to do... any suggestions are welcome...

1. The blog called postform will be changed to (lamp)postform for the duration of the campaign. All bloggers listed as contributors will be given the chance to drop out should they prefer not to be associated with the campaign. Others wishing to join need only send me an email to jacques dot zammit at gmail dot com.

2. A manifesto and letter launching the campaign will be drafted. Depending on the interest shown here it will be either one from a group of Maltese bloggers or simply kicking off from J'Accuse.

3. The next step will be to rope in NGO's and pressure groups to unite under one banner and begin an educational campaign using the net... the aim will be to set up one net address. Postform has limited flexibility and will probably be used as noticeboard more than anything else (or a point of reference).

4. Next I will try to get a series of articles going (hopefully with the participation of some of you out there) under the general theme of lampposts. By this time we should have found a newspaper that is ready to subscribe to the campaign as well as publish some of the articles.

5. Stickers and t-shirts are also being considered. Something rudimentary has been designed in the Akkuza Memorabilia Shop. Just to get an idea of course.

Any ideas... any bright sparks...? Lets get kicking!

lundi, juin 05, 2006

It's the Commission, stupid


At some point during my holiday faineant slump I checked the latest news on Malta's favourite news site. Di-ve was reporting a Labour Party Press Conference during which President Zrinzo Azzopardi, MEP Joseph Muscat and Secretary General Jason Micallef accused the government of favouritism. So far so good. Not much changes. But then I read on and discovered the context of this accusation.

It turns out that the illuminati of Dar it-Trasparenza had sent their Euro-experts Zrinzo and Muscat to berate the government on the matter of the Daily Media Digest Contract awarded by the Commission of the European Communities to Informa - the Nationalist subsidiary company. The Labour party has once again broken new boundaries in the great championship of understanding European realities. I am quite sure that there are myriad instances where tal-Lejber can bring out their endless mud supply and sling it happily in the direction of the current occupiers of Castille accusing them of favouritism.

Why? I hear you ask. Well simple. The awarding of aforesaid contract by aforementioned European Institution to the abovequoted Nationalist subsidiary had ABSOLUTELY NO LINK with the Government of our banana republic. You see Messers Zrinzo Azzopardi and Joseph Muscat are barking up the wrong tree. The mistake is a huge howler coming from a President who is "edott fil-ligi Ewropea" and a Member of the Parliament of the European Communities.

IF any bungling was made (and I am forced to say IF due to the nature of the case - and my job) it is most probably either at Commission level (that's Ewropp not Kastill) OR at the level of that very honest being at INFORMA who, when filling the application form for the contract enterd NONE in the section where they are meant to declare political affiliation. Such person should also "inform" those ten individuals who will purportedly lose their jobs as the contract goes to shreds that it was his/her slight understatement that is at the root of the damage (probably) and not the fault of any sneaks like J'Accuse who tried to point out the anomaly in their own subtle ways when the contract was announced.

Back to labour. The ever slipping opposition worries me. They could be championing a hundred causes that would shoot them back into government. Instead they are busy calling for the resignation of Maltasong, accusing government of favouritism in instances where it has absolutely no say and drunkenly outshouting the Minister for Environment in Parliament. I would think that with a government like this one being in opposition would feel a bit like being in the Brasil team facing New Zealand on Sunday (4-0). Instead they are a bit more like Berluska's XI facing Liverpool ... doing their best to throw away a three goal margin in six minutes.

Cue Champions League Anthem