vendredi, septembre 29, 2006
You have reached J'accuse - la verité si je mens - unofficially Malta's most popular blog and specialist in extreme sports like navel-gazing and cave painting. The author of this blog is temporarily absent. Normal blogging will resume on Monday morning.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
Do not break glass. We would prefer that you read back issues of J'accuse by browsing through the handy column on the right. If you are using Internet Explorer you will notice that the bloody column has slipped down. That is because we are sufficiently technologically challenged not to know how to fix this mess even though it has happened before. Do not panic. Use the even handier scroll bar that is even more to the right than the right column and scroll down to the section that says Hot Off the Press.
J'accuse regrets to inform its esteemed readers that the Complaints Board will also be on holiday and that if they (the readers, not the board) have any complaints they should just grin and bear it. Why not try a little game over at www.rcade.com? We find the table tennis really groovy. If you really think you have a brain runnning between your ears then why not try this ultra cool logical game called Samorost? No links provided. Just search Samorost on google. Or should that just be "google samorost"?
On a more serious note:
Just booked my hotel in Kerkrade. Will be away till Sunday evening. So I.M. Jack will probably be online on Monday afternoon. Off to Maastricht (Trajectum ad Mosam) , Aachen (Aix) and Liege (Luik). Will take snappy shots and eat merry meals.
more at the home of kinnie&twistees
Weekend Matches of Interest:
Willem II vs Roda JC Kerkrade
Allemania Aachen vs Bochum
Stormvogels/Telstar vs MVV Maastricht
KC Gent vs Royal Standard Liege
Niort vs FC Metz
Piacenza vs Juventus
Hibernians Paola vs Valletta
Zebbug Rovers vs SK Victoria Wanderers
(derby) Victoria Hotspurs vs Oratory Youths
This is a recent cartoon that appeared on maltastar.com. This is an example of the type of cartoons that appear on the e-paper that thinks that a pardoy of Alfred Sant using the term "Alfossa" is libellous. This is a cartoon that appears in an e-paper that dedicates today's editorial to describing the Times Cartoon as stooping very low. It's an e-paper that objected to Alfred Sant's cartoon sceptre complete with loo-paper adornment.
You ask me? I like both cartoons. Good examples of good old satire. As for maltastar.com... they should drop the smokescreen of the cartoon. It can be helpful to deviate attention from Mr Micallef's gaffe. But isn't there something written about making a fool of yourself in order to stop others looking like fools?
Incidentally, I agree with Fausto that Maltastar's comments section is rather too open and anyone can write on it without too much censorship. I am not too sure that that is a bad thing - so long as the right of reply still exists. Such an open comments section is the closest we get to real web opinion columnists, since none of the mainstream papers have hooked on the idea.
Which also reminds me of this. Much as we may be happy that a fellow blogger is actually nominated for some kind of award, I feel that the Maltese blogosphere has failed to advance sufficiently in the same manner as other blogospheres in the world. What I mean is the influence of blogs is marginal to non-existent in Malta and they have failed to penetrate the realm of public opinion.
I appreciate the work of the nominee but frankly it will remain a blog that operates on the basis of a google blog search with the term "Malta" thrown in. All too often the linked sites have been up on the net for ages - which also denies the blog posting any immediacy which might be remotely linked to journalism. Last year's award for Pierre was merited in the sense that it was awarded for a couple of interviews that appeared on a site. Now we might be stretching our imagination a little. So as I said, this years nomination from the blogosphere smacks more of a failure of the blogosphere than anything else. In the battle vs conservative media we are losing ground.
And in case you were wondering that this is a case of sour grapes (because that is how us Maltese tend to think)... I do not consider myself a journalist - so I do not see any way how J'accuse could ever be considered for such an award. On the other hand the only sour grapes I have is that we have not been able to convince mainstream media to add blog columns (comments and all) to their sites - and get employed by them as ethereal columnists. I know one or two bloggers who could fit that bill easily.
Ah yes. Here is the comment to Imam El Sadi:
On reading Imam El Sadi's Comment "Mutual respect: The foundation of permanent friendship", Jacques Rene` Zammit wrote:
I welcome Imam El Sadi's comments regarding the Pope's speech at Regensburg. It is only through efforts such as these where a reaction is put down on paper and there is an engagement towards reasoned dialogue that we can start to avoid fiery and violent reactions such as the world has all too often witnessed.
I am afraid that the Imam's comments, as good-willed as they may be, are also based on the wave of misinformation that quickly followed the Pope's speech. This misinformation is based on the wrongful (and in some cases malicious) attribution of intentions as well as misinterpretation of the speech itself that was entitled Faith, Reason and the University: memories and Reflections.
My first reaction when the news broke out was to read the Pope's speech itself since although I do not count myself as a fervent Catholic I still believed that Benedict should be given the benefit of the doubt. The result was astounding. The Pope's speech had one intention, in the Pope's own words: "(...) not one of retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept of reason and its application... Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of cultures and religions so urgently needed today. "
It is therefore surprising that a speech intended to build a dialogue of cultures and religions would include offensive material. An intelligent theologian like Benedict would know better.
Imam El Sadi might rightly question the necessity to quote from a Medieval text. The justification lies not in the utility or otherwise of the demonstrative tool that Benedict intended to use but rather in the public perception (including all misunderstandings) that Benedict and his entourage might have predicted.
The dialogue between the Emperor and the Persian Muslim was an illustration of the possibility of dialogue as well as of the perceptions that the religions might have of each other. At no point does the Pope seem to endorse the Emperor's reasonings - not even in the controversial statement which is introduced by the Pope as being "brusque", which is not a positive qualification in any case!
In an effort to encourage reasonable dialogue it would also be encouraging to avoid comparisons such as "Imagine what would be the reaction of our Christian brothers and sisters if a prominent Muslim spiritual leader used the same context of that statement regarding Jesus, peace be upon him?" This kind of question will encourage contests of comparing atrocities. Where do we begin? The crusades in the name of Christ? The modern face of fundamentalism? The dead nun in Somalia? The innocent victims in the war on terror? What kind of dialogue is that Imam?
As for the meaning of 'Jihad', Imam El Sadi states that: "In his lecture, His Holiness the Pope, interpreted ‘Jihad’ as holy war, a term which does not exist neither in the Holy Qur’an nor in the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, the two main sources of Islam." In the full text of the speech (available here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/15_09_06_pope.pdf) one does not find any mention of the word 'Jihad'. The attribution to the Pope of the Emperor's description of Holy War is wrong. At no point does the Pope endorse the Emperor's statement. This wrongful attribution of endorsement is as though I would be attributed the intention of George Bush if I quoted a statement of his. Quoting someone does not mean endorsing his beliefs. Even more if the purpose of the quote is to illustrate the contrary.
As a layman, I would like to appeal to religious leaders who share the world we live in to act more reasonably and continue to engage in reasoned dialogue that rejects all forms of violence.
There is no place for violence in religion. There is no place for violence anywhere.
jeudi, septembre 28, 2006
In this day and age the critic and the cartoonist walk through very dangerous minefields since the trend of overreaction has become as contagious as a tropical disease. Cartoonists worldwide are feeling the constraints of the post-9/11 age and satire is under threat. It is not only just that. The treatment of religious material has become a delicate issue - we can only wait and see what kind of outraged response Daphne will get for her article in today's Indy. Self-censure has become the cautious approach - and has spread to other areas making us worry that the enlightenment might have come and gone.
Take a look at the Deutsche Oper for example. The world renowned Opera house in Berlin has censored the staging of Mozart's Idomeneo because the opera portrays (among other things) the beheading of the Profet Muhammad. if you have not read about it yet read it in the Times.
But back to Maltastar. Kurt Farrugia, writing for the online paper, took exception to a Tanti Burlò cartoon that appeared in the Times. To be fair to the journalist, his article was prompted by "many who have called in at the maltastar.com offices to protest at such a denigrating statement to the leader of the opposition." What denigrating statement? I hear you ask.
A quick look at the cartoon shows us a King - the by now familiar face of Sant in Tanti Burlò's pictures. His aide-de-camp is none other than Jace - Jason Micallef, Secretary General. The cartoon's ultimate theme is the by now infamous phrase uttered by Micallef "Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth". The phrase is attributed to an idiot in the cartoon.
It would appear that Maltastar readers objected to Alfred Sant's cartoon name: Alfossa, and to the description of Malta as Poohland. In both cases, Maltastar's interpretation (and it would seem that of most readers) relates to all things sewer. Alfossa, is read as Fossa - Sewer Pit. While Poohland is interpreted as the land of Poo - or as some would politely call it - number 2. Outrageous.
I will not go into the merits of interpreting cartoons. Whether Alfossa is really meant to imply The Sewer or is a play on the sound made when you say "Alfredsant" very fast. I will try to ignore Maltastar's blindness when preferring the "shit" justification rather than tanti Burlòs "Winnie the Pooh" explanation. We can also try to ignore Farrugia's hopeless grasp of the English language in the following explanation that he gives:
The partisan undertones of the cartoonist lie in the words “pretender” and “pseudo-throne.” Both words implying that the leader of the opposition is only "pretending" to be the prime minister of Malta, in Tanti Burló’s words, Poohland.
Rather than revelling in this Lornesque detail we would rather dwell on the larger cause at issue. It is a cartoon. It is meant to be satirical, can be grotesquely so and wins more points the funnier it is. The message is clear: Jason Micallef is an idiot because he quoted the Exodus phrase. I am sure that there are many among the Labour campaign managers who would agree as much. The phrase did no one any good. Least of all Labour. Look at how PN are capitalising on it all if yuou do not believe me!
This is how Maltastar ends its article:
It is not yet known whether the opposition leader and leader of the Labour party will be taking legal action against the The Times and the cartoonist himself.
Let us hope that the MLP are beyond this kind of suggestion. A cartoon is a cartoon. A twenty-first century democracy cannot hook onto some backward ideas and ask for the cartoonists head every time someone disagrees with his vivid, burlesque and maybe sometimes provocative portrayals.
Publish and be damned messirs, publish and be damned.
mercredi, septembre 27, 2006
"Tra questi documenti, quelli appunto contrassegnati "dai progressivi 112 al 119 con tutte le telefonate della Juventus di Luciano Moggi, la Gea ma anche del guardalinee Enrico Ceniccola, finito nell'inchiesta di Napoli per la partita Lecce-Juve 0-1. "Chiesi a Adamo - dice la donna - dove finivano quest'ultimi elaborati, ottenendo come risposta che di questo non dovevo preoccuparmi".
Denigrators of the bianconeri have had a great time over the past summer. Reading the news items, following the cases and above all examining the punishments one would think that the only illegal operator in the realm of Italian football is Juve. The supposition was that everyone had been investigated and that the Juve officials were worse off at the end of it. Worse off - even though no proof was found of fixed matches or of actual influence on refereeing - they are playing a dignified season in Serie B and have turned over a new chapter.
The investigations into Telecom Italia's illegal tapping are now shedding more light on the suspicious "selective victimisation" and it would seem that there is a methodology behind the fact that the only accusations forthcoming were against La Vecchia Signora. It also transpires that the cleanest team in football (false passports aside) are now under investigation for the much feared slealtà sportiva. Apparently Inter were also involved in some illegal spying activity that might have been intended to procure unfair sporting advantage.
As we had said earlier in the year on J'Accuse... there is much that is rotten in the Kingdom of Calcio. The petty measures that were taken until now stank more of jealousy and antipathy than real justice. The current campionato is a sham and the winners will have nothing to be proud of. Just as much as the scudetto sewn onto the Inter shirts this season is the biggest lie in the history of football.
Wait for more. There is no doubt that there will be more.
La Repubblica Article
mardi, septembre 26, 2006
September 5, 2006
Mountain View, CA, 94043, USA
Pursuant to the law dd. 15m June 1935 on the use of languages in judicial matters;
Rejecting all other conclusions other than more extensive or contrary; Declare the claim admissible and founded as follows:
- Find that the defendant cannot exercise any exception provided in the law relating to copyright and ancillary rights (1991) and on the law on data bases (1998);
- Find that the activities of Google News and the use of the "Google cached violate in particular the laws on copyright and ancillary rights (1994) and the law on data bases (1998);
- Order the defendant to withdraw the articles, photographs and graphic representations of Belgian publishers of the French - and German-speaking daily press, represented by the plaintiff, from all their sites (Google News and "cache" Google or any other name within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of
1,000,000.- € per day of delay;
- Also order the defendant to publish, in a visible and clear manner and without any commentary from her part the entire intervening judgment on the home pages of 'google.be' and of 'news.google.be' for a continuous period of 5 days within 10 days of the notification of the intervening order, under penalty of a daily fine of 500,000,- € per day of delay;
Awarding the costs of the expenses of 941.63 € (summons) and 121.47 € (costs of thy proceedings) against the defendant;
So ruled and pronounced at the public summary hearing dd. 5th September 2006
more on CNN.
So this is the first time that once an episode finishes, once it becomes evident that it's really past our bedtime, I cannot resist pressing the NEXT button on the remote and move on to the next episode. I am suffering. I am caught in a trap that keeps me awake till two thirty - a trap that only releases me when I run out of episodes to watch. It's not nice.
I'm in danger. I'm stranded. Ah well... I am lost.
lundi, septembre 25, 2006
Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi claimed yesterday that the Labour Party was trying to turn the clock back to the “dark times” before 1987.Dr Gonzi said that statements made by the MLP’s secretary general Jason Micallef, Labour leader Alfred Sant and Labour MP Justyne Caruana were a clear indication that the MLP had not changed its ways or its politics and that “old” Labour was still around.
Who's trying to turn the clock back? Really? Will we be hearing anything about solving today's problems or not? Will the new campaign be about Labour Bad Nationalist Good? How much of the electorate will vote AD?
dimanche, septembre 24, 2006
Hungary and Thailand, two unrelated nations both had their domestic political upheaval. A late evening coup in Thailand took advantage of the absence of the PM (attending UN talks) to declare martial law. The military heads remain loyal to the King and declared a transitional government that would guarantee a return to a democratic monarchy. Pressure kept growing on Hungarian PM Ferenc Gyurancsy to resign after he had admitted in a leaked private speech that his government had lied in order to seek re-election. Oddly enough none of MZPN, FZL, SDM or Pulse have issued statements of solidarity with the pariah PM.
The crash of a high-speed German maglev train shocked hopes that this technology would becme more popular in the future. The accident that caused the death of 23 people who had paid eighteen euros each to be part of a trial trip was most probably caused by human error. It was travelling at around 200km/h before crashing into a maintenance vehicle that had been left on the track.
35 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a kerosene tanker in Iraq. Most bombing victims were women queuing for cooking fuel to use throughout the holy month of Ramadan. The bombing occured in the mainly Shia district of the capital Baghdad.
The Non-Aligned Movement - a hodge-podge of dictators and renegade leaders met in Havana Cuba and continued to rattle their guns in the direction of the only missing renegade dictator . Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and his brother Raul as well as Robert Mugabe refused to comment when asked whether George Dubya would soon be admitted into their fold following his efforts in recent years.
Maltese politics continued its great unstoppable pace into the twenty-first century with a great show by the PN demagogues at the Floriana Granaries. Their speeches were fuelled by comments made by strategic mastermind Jason Micallef, pragmatic precisionist Alfred Sant and anything that could be a throwback to the rebellious eighties when the future was bright, the seas cleaner and peanut butter was still a commodity.
6. Slim Lady
Catwalks from Milan to Spain have rebelled against the thin waif kind of models. They are a bad example to today's youth and therefore new rules now require a minimum Body Mass Index. The new code will protect young models from anorexia and exploitation. The news was received with joy by millions of men all over the world who would prefer your average Malena to your average Victoria Beckham any day. The J'accuse editorial board has resisted any cheap comment or jibe at George Pullicino. We feel he has enough in his hands already... and around his waist for all that matters.
Italy has passed a decree banning the use of illegally tapped telephone conversations in the media and as evidence in court. This news comes a little too late for the Italian giants Juventus. "The moral duty was to guarantee that the sacredness of democratic life is not in doubt" crooned Clemente Mastella. Yes. And also to ensure that juries are not conducted in public before they are in court and to ensure that public lynchings of oversuccessful persona or clubs will never happen again. And we are not talking about the guilt but about the penalty inflicted.
Sports in the sign of four. On Saturday both Valletta and Juventus ensured emphatic victories against lowly opposition. The City beat St. George's 4-1 with Sebastian Montesterolo scoring a hat-trick to rush to the top of the scorers table with 10 goals. Juventus put 4 past Modena with David Trezeguet also shooting to the top of the scorer table while Alex Del Piero is now one goal short from reaching the 200 goal target. Elsewhere in the clash of the desperates Rigetta succumbed to a lacklustre Crespo goal. The race for the faulty scudetto is still on. Our money is still all on Palermo.
No great signs in the sky of gourmet fancy. I'd love to tell you where you can get a magnificent little container full of foie gras de canard but since most of you are not within comfortable walking distance from a Delhaize outlet I will pass. Anyway, it's delicious on toast and butter...
jeudi, septembre 21, 2006
The UN report says detainees' bodies often show signs of beating using electrical cables, wounds in heads and genitals, broken legs and hands, electric and cigarette burns. Bodies found at the Baghdad mortuary "often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances". Many bodies have missing skin, broken bones, back, hands and legs, missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails, the UN report says. Victims come from prisons run by US-led multinational forces as well as by the ministries of interior and defence and private militias, the report said.
Thus begins the sad epilogue to Bush's war on Saddam's evil dictatorship. The latest UN Torture report regarding the conditions in Iraq shows that torture conditions now are much worse than those that existed under Saddam's regime. The Duh!mericans first came to Iraq with a promise. They wanted to free the land from tyranny, confiscate any WMDs and leave it as a thriving democracy.
Today. While Saddam Hussein stands in the dock on trial for mass murder G.W.'s men still roam the area that was once the cradle of civilisation. Their heritage will not be an educational one. They came with their dream and will fly back with it. They did not bring hope but desperation. They did not relieve but caused more suffering.
It would seem that the American dream is exclusive to citizens of the land of stars and stripes. Do you know why the rest of the world does not have a dream of its own? Because it is awake. It cannot afford to sleep while this kind of atrocities are committed.
Sick of complacence now
I've got no patience now
Sick of complacence now
Sick of sick of sick of sick of you
Time has come to paaaaaaay
Yes I know my enemies
They're the teachers who taught me to fight
Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
All of which are
All of which are
All of which are
All of which are
"When the time comes for us to ask for people's trust, the people will again entrust us with the government". - Lawrence Gonzi, PM (Leader of Nationalist Party)
The Granaries Circus is on again. It is the season for one of Malta's two behemoth parties to engage in its annual feast of revelry and mass propaganda. Independence Day Celebrations have changed during my lifetime. From the pre-87 years of desperation to the early-90s period of belief in a future of Solidarity (always and everywhere) to the Smart Malta of today we have seen the face of Malta change... not so much the face of the MLPN way of doing politics.
The early speeches of EFA in opposition were rousing and inspirational. You could feel the project and were proud to participate in the building of a new, democratic Malta. Some time in the mid-nineties something went horribly wrong. The power-game centered on playing the people once again. Personally, the final stroke came with the incredible address before the electorate about wasting vote on AD. I could not believe my ears when I heard such willingly mendacious propaganda.
Nowadays I am no longer surprised at the twisted programming, the patchwork politics and the headless justifications of a general programme that has long been compromised by incompetence. From transport policy to environment to adaptation to EU standards to weak competition law application the government is lagging behind. Like the Hungarian government over the past two years, they are still intent on making us ignore the elephant and imagine that all is good and under control.
Gonzi's statement yesterday says it all. The PN can once again be confident that come the elections they will be restored in government? Why? Because for the next two years we will be seeing the so called "redistribution of taxes" that includes the removal of taxes that should never have been there. The next two years will be built on a simulated feel good factor. Steroids will be injected in into an economy that is built on the wrong inspirations and values. The modern word for "cejca" (pre-electoral gifts) will be Smart Malta.
The Opposition? Pity them once again for continually shooting themselves in the foot. Pity Sant and his pie-in-the-sky pensions delay. Pity Jason Micallef and his perfect timing for an "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" speech. Pity us who are denied a proper choice. AD will be trying for its 4 places in Parliament. Barring Vassallo that will mean trying to elect three virtual nobodies to Valletta.
So forgive me if today I do not wave my PN flag with that is packed somewhere in my flag collection (probably between the old Constitutional Party Flag and the Greens flag - and yes, I do not have an MLP flag yet). Forgive me if I do not wave my 'kerchief in glee while envisaging a brighter and smarter future. Forgive me for all this cynicism.
Gonzi claims that we are going through a silent revolution... that explains why we have not heard much about it yet.
For those of you in Malta... enjoy the holiday!
mercredi, septembre 20, 2006
Elephants are freuquent subjects of philosophical disquisitions. Possibly the most famous among which is the "I cannot define an elephant but I can recognise one when I see one". Which ultimately leads to the "do not try to define an elephant by saying its an elephant" issue - a popular argument in children's playgrounds.
Someone who seems to have difficulties with this definition issue is Pragmatic philosopher Sant on his weekly column. This is how he chose to start today (spot the elephant):
"Smart" is supposed to be a smart word and we are all expected to like it. Actually, under the succession of PN administrations led by Drs Fenech Adami and Gonzi, this country has been anything but smart, although the "smart" elites which manage its strategy and public relations were quite successful in convincing many people of the contrary.Still smarting?
mardi, septembre 19, 2006
09:15 del 19 settembre
Dallo studio di un importante istituto di ricerca, è emerso un calo di 80 mila spettatori per la Serie A. Tutti vogliono la Juventus, prima su giornali e tv.(Tuttosport)
Juvefollie: Ospedale chiuso a Crotone
10:23 del 18 settembre
In vista della gara di martedì contro la Juventus, l'ospedale di Crotone chiuderà per evitare l'invasione di tifosi alle stanze dei piani alti per vedere la partita dalle finestre.Deschamps lancia tra i titolari Balzaretti, Giannichedda e Camoranesi. La società difende l'italo-argentino : "Lavora, si impegna e va recuperato, non contestato".(Tuttosport)
Crotone Maxischermo in piazza, ma Sky dice no
19:20 del 18 settembre
Neppure per la finale dei Mondiali di Germania 2006 tra Italia e Francia si era pensato a un maxischermo per poter assistere alla partita. Ma per la gara contro la Juventus, nulla è impossibile. Così, l'amministrazione comunale di Crotone ha deciso di installare una simile struttura in piazza della Resistenza. E' arrivata, però, la replica di Sky che ha negato al Comune calabrese l'autorizzazione a trasmettere l'incontro su maxischermo. "L'iniziativa, al pari di ogni proiezione non autorizzata in luoghi pubblici di eventi sportivi diffusi dalla pay tv - sottolinea una nota -, rappresenta un danno economico per le migliaia di locali come bar e hotel, circa un centinaio solo nel crotonese, che sottoscrivono un regolare contratto per poter diffondere le immagini di Sky all'interno dei propri spazi".
Crotone Contro la Juve indosserà maglia celebrativa
15:14 del 11 settembre
Martedì 19 settembre, giorno storico del match Crotone-Juventus, il club calabrese indosserà una casacca celebrativa dell'evento in programma allo stadio 'Enzo Scida'.
Crotone is a city in Calabria, southern Italy, on the Gulf of Taranto. Founded circa 710 BC as the Achaean colony of Croton (Greek: Κρότων; Latin: Crotona), it was known as Cotrone from the Middle Ages until 1928, when its name was changed to Crotone. In 1996 it became the capital of the newly established Province of Crotone. As of December 31, 2004, its population was 60,517.
lundi, septembre 18, 2006
Pope Benedict delivers a speech in Germany. The speech is essentially an intellectual inquiry in the necessity of violence in religion. At one point in the speech the Pope quotes a medieval Emperor who had engaged in a similar intellectual debate with an islamic interlocutor in the XIVth century. Taken out of context, the quote makes the Pope sound intelorant and makes his speech sound like an incitement to violence. The media make a meal out of this out-of-context quote, so much so that overnight the issue spills into another international clash-of-the-civilisations confrontation. The reaction of the vocal side of the Muslim world (including such erudite persons as Tariq Ramadan from Oxford University) is shocking. An uninformed denouncement of the pontiff as well as calls for apology. This mornings breaking news is that an Italian nun has been shot dead in Somalia in reprisal for the Pope's comments. So now Muslim people are killing other people (nuns on missions in their own country) in order to prove that Islam is not violent. So help us God.
More on J'accuse this week...
2. Mendacius II
A lesser form of mendacity was manifested in Malta when Minister for Haphazard Planning and Coincidental Incoming Traffic Francis Zammit Dimech announced that Air Malta's new slashed fares (LM15 each way excluding taxes) "had nothing to do with the arrival of the low-cost airline, but was part of its overall strategy." Meanwhile on Air Malta's site the language used for the advert for the "Spread Your Wings and Fly" Campaign leaves no doubt as to which kind of competitor is being compared here. Do look out for phrases like "Air Malta provides a FULL service" as well as "FREE inflight services". Duh! Nothing to do with the low-cost airline which must not be named of course. Having said that we are glad that Air Malta has moved on from its previous "Spread Your Cheeks Wide and Prepare to Succumb to Our Monopolistic Policy" Campaign. Will someone tell FZD that making stupid statements like the one he did does not support his cause?
3. Led Zeplin
Yep. It was j'accuse on a mission. Readers of the IM Beck column on the Times will have noticed that Bocca received a couple of emails correcting his spelling of the group. Unfortunately Bocca got my initials wrong. It's JR not JJ, but hey, what's in the spelling... right?
A good article by Frank Salt. At least in spirit. He just about says what normal thinking people have in mind when they begin to wonder how to go about improving Brand Malta. We loved this particular paragraph though:
It is not the ministers who smash bottles in the street or vomit on the pavements, throw rubbish everywhere, shoot at signposts, destroy road signs, write graffiti on walls. It is not our ministers that tip cement all over the roads, as well as grease and oil from construction machines. It is not our ministers that bash down walls, destroy pavements or drop dust and rubble from trucks along our roads. It is certainly not our ministers that serve bad and overpriced food in restaurants and in some cases, treat customers very badly. It is also not ministers that serve alcohol to underage children and then allow them to run drunk and drugged along our primary tourist streets.4. Bratislava
Rocks. A quiet, unpretentious capital that has much to offer. The culinary experiences abound. Just in case anyone is planning a visit (Air Malta have cheap offers you know!) I would definitely suggest Medusa restaurant. It is to be found just off St. Michael's Gate and the menu is incredible - the food divine. Frank's wedding was a treat and the best kind of excuse one would have to visit a city like this which seems to thrive on the wedding economy!
Have a great week.
vendredi, septembre 15, 2006
«Su ogni esperienza personale lascio brandelli d'anima e partecipo a ciò che vedo o sento come se riguardasse me personalmente e dovessi prendere una posizione (infatti ne prendo sempre una basata su una precisa scelta morale)».
J'accuse will be absent for the weekend. I am off to Slovakia for a wedding in Bratislava. Last time I was in Slovakia I slept through it. Really. On a train from Prague to Budapest I barely had time to see some Slovak sun. We were only shaken from our sleep by two rough policemen who ordered us to show them our passports. All I remember, apart from their brusque methods and huge holster guns, is their reaction once they saw a Maltese passport. "Ah! Malta... Italia, Italia" and a smile. Then we went back to sleep for the rest of a very anonymous train journey between two beautiful cities.
Time has passed since 1996. We are in the EU together now - for all that's worth. So I am looking forward for this mini break and first real discovery of the country that (to my mind) lives in the shadow of its more successful twin.
PS Blogging will probably be resumed on Monday.
jeudi, septembre 14, 2006
Our biased reporting of the Dame of the Explicitly Ungrammatical will simply be limited to a few excerpts that merit the usual ephemeral attention before returning to reality. So here is the list of select quotes from Dame Vassallo - bearing in mind that this is still her undeclared quest to be declared member of the house of commons come what may (and that means notwithstanding whatever phsyionomical, geopolitical, demographic and sociological obstacles society may throw at this relentless feminist of the twenty-first century).
1. The Missing Comma
As the country's savings are squandered by the government and its ministers and the resultant deficit grows larger and larger every year, ministers are invited to resign by stakeholders and the question over whether Parliament will move into a new building remains unanswered.
Enjoyed this one. Try reading it with a comma after "government". Then picture a ministerial version of Mr Creosote growing larger and larger until it explodes. And we all end up with Pullicino and Gatt on our faces. Besides, are we really bothered about whether P will move to a new building?
2. The Better Endowed
However, it hardly shows up as the perfect system as it may end up giving a seat in Parliament to candidates on the basis of the first letter of their surname or, as we shall see in this article, their place of birth/residence rather than the virtues they should be endowed with. The notion that the larger a candidate's place of birth/ residence the better the chances of election holds
A Lorna Classic. For a columnist who is regularly complaing of the lack of real men and of the plight of today's thoroughly modern Lorna the lapsus about "endowment" is wisible (keeping in theme with Monty Python - any guesses where the word "wisible" was used instead of "risible"?). Hopefully, if we were really to elect candidates on the basis of their virtues then we would be voting on the basis of virtues that exist - and not on the basis of virtues we hope they had. Although on second thoughts... she may not be so far off the mark after all. A quick question also beckons for the statisticians among you... how relevant can the place of birth really be. I would imagine that as time goes by more and more Honourable Members from Gwardamangia would populate the commons seeing that most persons from a certain generation coughed their first cough at St. Luke's.
And then there's the usual slip of the pen. Lorna wants to write about "borders" and gets to write about "boarders". Bloody English. How useless can it get? Why do they have to spell words that sound the same differently? Pesky stuff that is. Must be a nashinalist conspiracy to make Labourite columnists seem dumb...
Perhaps, this occurs because the 10th district is quite a compact district and,
despite the demographic limitations of Swieqi, geographically and physically the 10th district is composed of a number of localities situated one next to the other with their boarders touching.
Thankfully boarding schools are a thing of the past in Malta otherwise an enquiry would have to be launched into what exactly the boarders were touching. Also, I ask you to check out the phrase "geographically and physically". What exactly is the physically doing there? And a "compact district" - a spin-off from compact disc technology? Coming soon to your home theatres - "Swieqi - The Compact District"!
4. Sour Grapes II
All in all, our Parliament is, for better or for worse, constituted in a parochial, demographically determined manner, and it is rather difficult for any given candidate, even if his national presence is boosted through TV exposure, to be successful if his place of birth and/or residence happens to be the wrong one.
So last time she wrote, Dame Vassallo of the Twisted Pen had complained about the disadvantages that are borne by the candidates whose surnames fall in the second half of the ballot paper at election time. Obviously this was not a personal crusade. It was a democratic crusade. The fact that she bore a surname that was 5 letters away from the Z at the end of the alphabet was purely coincidental.
And therefore we shall also consider today's gripe as another crusade for the improvement of Malta's democratic system and fine-tuning of the first-past-the-post-not-based-on-alpabetical-order-and-definitely-not-based-on-place-of-birth system. (apologies for the warped wrapping of text due to excessive hyphenation). No no. We will have none of that.
Should we say this.
What the Hell.
Where would Lorna Vassallo reside should she contest for elections?
Mgarr - electorate: 2212
And that forms part of the 11th District: which in 2003 had a quota of 3744
Now do the following statements still make sense?
Only a few candidates are elected from districts where the number of voters supporting their party does not at least amount to half the quota. As an example let us take the first district in the 2003 election.
mercredi, septembre 13, 2006
Here is how di-ve's report starts:
Party Chairperson Dr. Harry Vassallo said that whilst on the surface there appears to be a modest economic recovery, when one looks in detail at the figures published, serious issues are raised regarding the recovery and the nature of the economic growth registered.So. Basically as a reader I would take it that the recovery is not a recovery after all. In actual fact it would seem that this is not so. What AD are really complaining about is the fact that the recovery is not being felt by the people. Lower and middle income earners are still not gaining anything out of this recovery:
"It is obvious even at this point, that lower and middle income earners are not benefiting from this growth. In fact, from the figures themselves there is clear evidence that employee income is actually diminishing."To be fair to AD, the title might be a conjecture of the wild headline writers at di-ve. The government can be registering a recovery but distribution of wealth and growth is not at the levels it should be.
Well. Maybe Fausto might not be feeling so gleeful after all.
mardi, septembre 12, 2006
1. Brand Failure
MTA, new chairman - old stories. Sam Mifsud wants to withhold money from the payments to the international brand consultant who came up with this scam.
The new chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority, Sam Mifsud, believes the first stage of the Brand Malta campaign designed to boost tourism is a "relative failure". (...) Mr Mifsud proposed withholding €15,000 from the next 30-day contract of the MTA's international brand consultant Christian Sinding, as a "sort of penalty" for the campaign's false start.
2. Ryanair Sales off to a Flying Start
Sales of the 0.01c tickets on Ryanair Flights from Luton are selling like freshly baked pastizzi. The sad part of the story was as predictable as ryanair's success. 85% of those tickets are being bought by "foreigners" - the Maltese make up a meagre 15% of the gold-rush. Guess why?
No less than 6,000 advance bookings have been made for Ryanair's Malta routes in just four days - which works out at a booking a minute, airline communications head Peter Sherrard has told The Times. The airline seats were snapped up between September 7 and September 10, the majority of which were for the Luton route. Around 85 per cent of all bookings were made by foreigners.
3. Brussels Nihil Obstat Necessary
The news item about the Brussels review of the Malta - Ryanair agreement may have raised a few eyebrows. Why is it necessary to get the EU go ahead? Well, in case you did not know, these routes are being sold as "underserved" routes. The government is therefore subsidising the carriers offering to fly the routes. hence the need to have the agreement scrutinised under EU State Aid rules. We get a clue of the scheme offered by the wise, crafty and foxy Maltese government here:
The scheme is offering financial aid for start-up costs, specific route marketing and promotion of the route but will not finance recurring operating costs such as aircraft rental or depreciation, fuel, ground handling expenses, crew salaries or catering service costs. The amount granted to an airline shall be calculated per passenger embarking from the non-Malta airport and landing directly in Malta.
4. MTA in favour of Airline Competition
... so long as it is not Air Malta. Easy Jet expressed their surprise that the government had allowed both Ryanair and EasyJet to fly the Luton route. So we have an "underserved" route - probably being framed as a Service of General Economic Interest / Public Service route that can suddenly sustain two bidders... in open competition. Listen to Sam Mifsud (new guy at MTA):
"Since EasyJet were planning to start operating in spring they still have some leeway to plan things accordingly. We're still discussing matters and they haven't told us they're not operating," Mr Mifsud said after the meeting. Of course they questioned why we gave the green light to both EasyJet and Ryanair to start operating to Luton and we made it clear that we prefer to have more than one airline serving that destination."
The mind continues to boggle. We pay €30,000 a month to a consultant to come up with something as Brand Malta. We kick the possibility of getting more toourists here on the simple basis of cheap flights in the foot. To do what? To protect Air Malta from airline competition. The same competition that MTA seems to be all in favour of when it comes to let the two low-cost providers fight it out tooth and nail.
Can I be the next consultant? €30,000 a month would suit me fine. Pretty please.
lundi, septembre 11, 2006
As the song goes, I don't like Mondays and they become particularly irritating when the morning news is confusingly unreadable. Obviously the guys at di-ve or as it is better known Gaffes Inc. do not help in this respect. Take this story:
Hit-and-run leaves man in danger of dyingNow just tell me one thing. If this was a hit-and-run then one consequence would be that they would have no idea of the aggressor/culprit. The nature of H&R is such that the guy disappears from the scene before any particulars are taken or noted. How then is the hit and run offender described as a 19 year-old from Gzira? Is it just me and my morning mood that is missing the point?
A 53 year-old man from Sliema is in danger of dying after a Smart car driven by a 19 year-old from Gzira knocked him off his motorbike at the Strand, Sliema and simply drove away in a hit-and-run. Magistrate Dr. Apap Bologna has assigned several experts for an inquest.
Thankfully there's always Luxembourgish news to alleviate the morning depression:
Second Meat Cargo SeizedI wonder what "acting on irregularities on the meat or its labelling itself" really means. I also love the phrase "falsification of labelling". Are you as you are labelled? I'm just knackered.
Following last week's seizure of 720kg of suspicious chicken meat in Luxembourg, 3.6kg of frozen pork was held on Friday by the Luxembourg authorities. The Luxembourg authorities are understood to be exercising caution following receipt of information from Germany through a EU-wide information system, rather than acting on irregularities on the meat or its labelling itself. Like last week's seizure, this meat shipment also originates from a German meat producer which is at the centre of an investigation for falsification of labelling regarding the source of the meat as well as its sell-by-date. The Luxembourg authorities are carrying out tests to establish if the meat is, in fact, as it is labelled and is suitable for sale and consumption.
Gems brought to you on a sunny Monday morning by di-ve.com (Malta) and station.lu (lux) .
The Times has just been updated. It sheds more light on the reason for the not so anonymous hit-and run:
A 53-year-old motorcyclist from Sliema was in danger of dying yesterday after his motorcycle was hit by a Smart car at The Strand. The accident happened at about 10.15 a.m. The driver of the car, a 19-year-old man from Gzira, drove on but was traced, from the car registration plate which was found on site, the police said. Magistrate Apap Bologna is heading an inquiry.
dimanche, septembre 10, 2006
Today's Sunday TOM Editorial kicks off with a nice title. "Low-cost is not enough". The editor seems to appreciate the introduction of the new low-cost routes and reserves some praise for this step in what he deems is the right direction. However the editorial also adds that the low-cost airlines alone will not suffice to attract tourism. In a sort of eye-opening moment for the more general of readerships we can recognise the acknowledgement of the existence of a new breed of tourist. This kind of tourist is the one who is armed with an internet connection and prepares his trip independently from any managers of mass movement - better known as tour operators. The editorial stresses the need for Malta to accomodate these new tourists needs - particularly by becoming more available on the internet. Malta and its tourist industry need to have a stronger presence on the net in order to catch the much wider net of tourism that is now available.
I can see the logic behind this belated comment by the Times Editor. Anyone who has purchased a low-cost airline ticket knows that once the final purchase transaction for your trip is over you do not turn off the computer. Nope. Your next step is to book accomodation (on computer), possibly book a car or research transport (train, weekend tickets etc - all on computer) and finally you will check out what's on and where in your new destination (also on your computer). Some of these searches will have already occurred preliminarily before booking the trip itself. In essence a strong net presence is very, very important for the country - or city - you plan to visit. If the outlook from internet searches is gloomy then you might very easily opt for another more accessible country. Virtual reality has to be as attractive as the real thing.
Much as I love to discuss the merits and demerits of the attractiveness of Malta as a tourist detination and much as I understand the importance of the tourist industry to the Maltese economy, my primary motivation for the constant rants about low-cost airlines in J'accuse was not tourism. Not at all. I was more concerned about travelling OUT of Malta rather than in. You know what I mean. Getting the average Maltese person to travel more and see the world. Releasing the pent-up frustration that inevitably stocks these tiny islands' people. The low-cost airlines are a parallel and as necessary a development as incentives to tertiary education. They are the door to a better future based on a well-travelled population.
It may sound bombastic at this point but I am sure that less Hamilton Tours and more Do-It-Yourself will help this nation regain a bit of the balls that it has lost along the way ever since Mintoff decided to get the people to accept the concept of nanny state and the idea that there will always be someone to do things for you. Maybe one day we will understand that nobody owes us a living.
samedi, septembre 09, 2006
A ray of light suddenly appeared through the tax-laden clouds of travel in the Maltese islands. The government gave the go-ahead for low-cost operators Ryanair and Easyjet to operate to a limited number of 'underserved' destinations. In the same week, Malta International Airport announced new cheap flights from another operator - germanwings.com. In a game of touch and go, the Maltese travellers are given a tiny taster of modern travel. Ryanair immediately announced it's special Free Seats offer - customers would only pay tax and departure fees (Ryanair even covered the fuel surcharge). The glaring difference between Maltese fees and those of comparable airports become bleedingly obvious. The snowball has started to roll...
Port Workers set up their new Union and left the bully boys at GWU in shambles. J'accuse augured a new phase in Maltese politics where the former big boys can no longer afford to bully around. Others like Majjistral seem to think that there is no big deal here. Only time will tell.
Dubya admitted to secret CIA prisons. The man never authorised torture. He should sing a new version of "It wasn't me" starring Tony I-will-soon-resign (but I'm not telling you when) Blair.
They continued to explode all over the place. From Iraq, to Lebanon, to Turkey to the bomb hoax set up by a Dutch priest trying to prevent a Madonna concert from taking place. Irangate continues with a defiant Ahmadinejad still obstinately refusing to give up his nuclear programme.
We could now call Caomhin a seasoned blogger. He has kicked off a new blog that promises to be interesting. Not for the squeamish, but the idea behind it is good. So pop over to Gorefest and enjoy!
This kind of column stereotypically has to end in a food tip. No big nosh ups have featured in this week's menu. This morning's breakfast of gallettes de sarasin filled with fromage comte and bacon'n'eggs is my suggestion. Five stars. Wash it down with a good vintage can of ice cold coke.
vendredi, septembre 08, 2006
On j'accuse I have been advocating for the introduction of low-cost airlines into the market in order that the Maltese get a greater awareness of (a) the benefits of flying and (b) the barriers that still exist thanks to the brand managing government and quasi-para-statal companies. Ryanair's latest offer of 4 million FREE seats will fit the bill perfectly.
I checked out the offer as soon as I read about it. It is a great marketing ploy... basically Ryanair fills the seats on those flights which are less used (off season) by offering them at a ridiculously low price (in this case €0.01). The only snag is that taxes and charges have to be paid anyway. So here is the result of a booking for a Malta-Pisa flight in March (6th to 13th, low-season):
And there you have it. Black on white. The cost of the flight ticket is €0.02. 2 euro cents. An amount that can scarcely be quantified in Maltese tender (close to 8 mills). On the other hand the ticket price is boosted by the various charges for use of the airports and leaving Malta and Italy. Rounding the Italian fees upwards to €20, one would notice that the Maltese total of taxes and charges is three and a half times that of the Italian airport.
So. We started the first step. Travelling has definitely got cheaper. But this is not enough. To have equal opportunities of travel as do others on the continent we still lack two major steps: (a) a rationalising of the taxes and charges; (b) opening up as many routes as possible.
In the meantime... do pop over to Pisa, Dublin or Luton. It's worth it.... literally.
jeudi, septembre 07, 2006
Qui Milano (assemblea Serie B): Ultima battuta sulla Juventus. "Ci ha dato una grande mano per valorizzare il prodotto della serie B. Fa loro onore, si sono comportati senza puzza sotto al naso". I dettagli tecnici, seppur parziali, sono questi. Juventus, Genoa e Napoli non parteciperanno ai ricavi dell'operazione perchè sono già d'accordo con altri operatori rispetto a SportItalia. Gli highlights sono ancora di proprietà della Rai. (Matarrese)
Qui Milano (Sponda nerazzura): Perde anche l'Inter. Con i bianconeri in B è scattato l'effetto domino che coinvolge anche i grandi club. L'assenza del derby d'Italia è determinato dal calo del 25% degli abbonamenti. La tendenza al ribasso era prevista, però la società spera di correggerla proprogando l'acquisto delle tessere fino alla fine di settembre. Sono comunque lontani i tempi di Ronaldo e di Baggio. E anche il Milan non ride più. Deficit di diciottomila tessere. (Tuttosport)
Qui Rimini: Boom di abbonamenti in vista della Juve. Ieri pomeriggio e l'intera giornata di oggi centinaia i tifosi del rimini si sono messi in fila per sottoscrivere l'abbonamento. L'assalto ai bitteghini della squadra romagnola è dovuta al timore di non poter vedere la partita con la Juventus. ''Meglio abbonarsi per l'intera stagione che perderla'', ha dichiarato un tifoso in coda. Lo stadio di Rimini, il 'Romeo Neri', ha una capienza di appena 9.950 posti. Considerando che i posti riservati al settore ospiti sono 2.300 e gli oltre 5 mila abbonati e le tessere omaggio, le probabilità di prendere un biglietto sono in effetti minime.
Qui Matarrese: Antonio Matarrese non ha dubbi: "Vedere la Vecchia Signora in Serie B mi dà i brividi, ma chi sbaglia deve pagare". Il presidente della Lega calcio, intervistato da TV Luna nel corso della trasmissione 'Febbre Azzurra', ha spiegato: "Questa nuova Serie B in effetti è quasi una Serie A. Credo che sia un'occasione storica per il campionato cadetto avere società importanti come Napoli e Juventus. Che è giusto che abbia pagato, anche perchè occorre dare l'esempio".
Qui Panucci (sponda Rigetta): Il difensore della Roma, Christian Panucci, si prepara al nuovo campionato, che quest'anno non vedrà la Juve tra le protagoniste. "La Juve in B? - dice Panucci - Uno stress in meno. Da sportivo gli auguro di tornare in A presto, ma il fatto che non ci sia ci dà una possibilità in più di arrivare in Champions".
Pronostici primo turno B:
Rimini – Juve: 1 8.55, X 4.25, 2 1.33
Brescia – Piacenza: 1 1.75, X 3.10, 2 4.85
Vicenza – Genoa: 1 3.20, X 2.75, 2 2.35
Napoli – Treviso: 1 1.60, X 3.25, 2 5.85
Pescara – Bologna: 1 2.95, X 2.75, 2 2.
It appears that the Maltese roads are now full of billboards encouraging women to breastfeed. The picture used in the campaign must be similar to the one reproduced above. Indy columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia thinks that image was unnecessary and that she and others who share her opinion are being forced into sounding conservative or victorian. What do you think:
a) I agree with DCG, they should not show tits in public.
b) I agree with DCG, what if I was that baby... how could I live happily if I knew that my face stuck to my mums breast was shown all over the country?
c) No way, Daphne is wrong. We need to see more tits on the street.
d) DCG is a prude. I can't wait for the next testicular check-up campaign.
e) What is breast-feeding?
f) I think the buck should stop with electing tits to parliament. That's more than enough.
g) What is a breast? (info here)
PS. Ah yes. Any PC oriented persons reading this post should read "breasts" instead of "tits", except in option (f) where the word "boobs" would be more appropriate.
Eureka! Things are moving - and soon most of the moving will be in the skies. With not even half the fanfare that surrounded the negotiations with Ryanair and Easyje, another cheap wing is entering the Maltese market. Malta International Airport has announced a deal with Germanwings to fly regularly from Cologne and Stuttgart. Flights should start in March 2007. The first available return trip I found was for April - and the costs are finally more in line with what we were thinking all along the campaign. A return trip (Saturday to Tuesday) costs 144 euros .... wait for it.... taxes included.
Turkish: Fuck me, hold tight. What's that?
Tommy: It's me belt, Turkish.
Turkish: No, Tommy. There's a gun in your trousers. What's a gun doing in your trousers?
Tommy: It's for protection.
Turkish: Protection from what? "Zee Germans"?
from Snatch (2000)
President of the Universe George Dubya has acknowledged the existence of "secret" CIA prisons. The word "secret" is important there. What "secret" means is that the world did not know about them and consequently that they were not subject to any scrutiny whatsoever. In other words, while the world could rant and complain about the inhuman treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, Dubya set up other prisons out of sight of the general public. "Secret" is never for a good reason. Not in a democracy.
Dictators on the other hand- they love secrets. Hitler, for example, had his very own "Secret" police. I'm not sure about the spelling behind the acronym for his Secret State Police - GESTAPO (Geheime Staatspolizei). What is sure is that whatever the naughty Dubya wanted to do, was better off being done in secret. At least Dubya thinks so.
Bush claims that these GESTAPO-style prisons were a valid tool in the war on terror and that they gathered intelligence that saves lives. He assured the world that the CIA/GESTAPO treated the prisoners humanely. And why did Bush decide to share his little secret with the world?
Don't you just love him? The GESTAPO programme was complete. So now that nothing is going on we get the right to know about it. The US Supreme Court ruled against Bush's methods of interrogation and imprisonment - so Bush CHOSE to stop. Let me see. How much choice does one have when a court orders you to do something? Normally not much. Unless you can afford to ignore the courts. Which would not be very democratic.
Mr Bush said he was making a limited disclosure of the CIA programme because interrogation of the men it held was now complete and because a US Supreme Court decision had stopped the use of military commissions for trials.
Mr Bush said the CIA had used an "alternative set of procedures", agreed with the justice department, once suspects had stopped talking. But he said: "The US does not torture. I have not authorised it and I will not."
More delusions of grandeur. We will never know what the euphemism "alternative set of procedures" really means. Dubya says that the US does not torture... and then he goes on to say that he has not authorised it... as though it were in his power to authorise it and we are just being granted clemency by this magnanimous world leader.
- Daddy why does Bush want to invade Iran? - Because Iran is a dangerous country with a dangerous leader and now it will have nukes. - So daddy, if every country with a dangerous leader and nukes should be attacked and disarmed...
Yeah yeah. I know you've read it all before. But it still baffles me to this day.
source: BBC NEWS
mercredi, septembre 06, 2006
Gordie: Mickey is a mouse, Donald is a duck, Pluto is a dog. What's Goofy...?
Teddy: He's a dog, he's definitely a dog...
Chris: He can't be a dog, he wears a hat and drives a car...
Vern: Yeah, that is weird. What the hell is Goofy?
from Stand by Me (1986)
mardi, septembre 05, 2006
Around an hour ago maltarightnow.com announced the formation of the new Maltese union - the Malta Docker's Union. 312 disgruntled port workers have now left the General Worker's Union and formed the new MDU. Their resignation from the GWU is the only formality that remains. Meanwhile Tony Zarb's ship is in a complete mess as it tries to soften the impact of the "Issa Daqshekk" (Enough!) from within the ranks. The fat cats at the Union will definitely not be as calm as they are trying to portray themselves - and in the meantime the political spectrum still has to see what to make of the new developments.
What will Sant's Labour do? Align itself with the GWU or leave its doors open to MDU? What about the PN? Will it kill any opportunity of a rational relationship by gloating on the ills that were at the source of the nascent union? Will AD grasp this opportunity to strengthen its non-environmental image?
And what will the people make of it all? I wonder how far the "Issa Daqshekk" message can pervade the disgruntled masses.
New shoes for the dockers - new ways for the politicians?
The ploy should work well. A starved beggar would turn a few scraps of bread into a banquet. Ditto the starved traveller. Getting to Luton on a quarter of the previously available prices should give anyone something to smile about. This will be even more so when we consider that Luton is a coach ride away from London. And I am not underestimating the pulling power of the leaning tower either. Pisa is a good destination to boot.
But what happens after we have been on our fourth trip to Luton? What happens when the novelty of St. Patricks day dies down? Will we begin to notice that the original Ryanair idea was to turn Malta into a hub? Will we get the hint that they wanted to improve the old airport and slap on a few more exotic routes to boot? Will we ever understand that the key to cheap travel is beyond the taxes and fees?
Ajjut and some other bloggers seem to have missed the point. They seem to think that Ryanair is not the issue. Or Easyjet or any cheap flying carrier. But it is you see. The whole point is that the fees need to be lowered BECAUSE we need the cheap flights. Because we need to travel. Because we need to be able to see more of the world than the Leaning Tower. Because we need to broaden our horizons and stop being so gullible.
Because we are sorry enough to give ourselves a congratulatory pat on the shoulder when big daddy lets us out for a frolic on the continent... but just that little bit.
Give me a break.
lundi, septembre 04, 2006
On the same day that tennis giant Andre' Agassi bowed out of his last tournament, the giants of South America battled it out in an international football friendly. Five times World Champions Brasil inflicted a heavy defeat on arch-rivals Argentina thanks to an Elano double and a Kaka top-up. Shakthar Donetsk midfielder Elano was later descrived by Dunga as the symbol of the new Brasil. Much talked about duo Carlos Tevez and Mascherano failed to impress on a night that is best forgotten for Argentinian football fans.
samedi, septembre 02, 2006
vendredi, septembre 01, 2006
A while ago I penned a letter to the Times to complain about the excessive attention given by the Maltese (and particularly the letter writers in the Times) to icons and symbols like the Opera House, the George Cross and the Count Roger's flag. Our collective conscience is infatuated with symbolisms and archaisms that should compensate for our general lack of success as a nation in the modern era. We must be obsessed with the war and the battles for independence because we have nothing to be proud of now. The nation stopped "achieving" some time around 1970 and became one collective whinge.
Which leads us to try to claim achievements by hitching a ride on our history as expansive immigrants. It is with such opportunism that the Times regularly reports the achievements of the so-called persons of Maltese descent. Thus today we read that a certain Marcus Agius will become the new Chairman of Barclays PLC. Similarly, only a few days ago we read that Maltese-born director Jon Cassar (see picture, far right) was awarded the Emmmy for Best Director.
Sad... at least I think it is. I can imagine a special Times department armed with genealogical trees and all trying to create spurious links with all great men and women who stride this earth. A future headline might read: "Ronaldo 1/1750th Maltese - Great Great Great Great Great Uncle was cousin of Maltese Miner in Minas Gerais".
And what message are they giving us all? Easy - you want to be successful?.... emigrate. Get the hell out of this insular mentality and get a good career.
Who knows? They might be right after all. :-)