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Saturday, 25 June 2016

Brexit 1 - Brussels Nil, and still they don't get the message!

(All site written content is Copyright (C) 2013 by Hugh Hunt)

Saturday, 21 May 2016

So What are the Pros and Cons of Brexit?

(All site written content is Copyright (C) 2013 by Hugh Hunt)

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Overwhelmed Macedonia holds up migrants in dusty no-man's land.

Four-year-old Rashida from Kobani, Syria, part of a new group of more than a thousand immigrants, sleeps as they wait at border line of Macedonia and Greece to enter into Macedonia near Gevgelija railway station August 20, 2015. More than 1,000 migrants and refugees are gathered in a dusty no-man's land between Greece and Macedonia, held back by Macedonian police overwhelmed by a dangerous crush at a nearby railway station for trains heading north to Serbia.

Police periodically allow small groups through to join roughly another 1,000 at the once-sleepy Gevgelija railway station, unrecognizable since the surge in Middle Eastern, African and Asian migrants and refugees - many of them Syrians - trying to reach the European Union. At the station, families sleep in the open, before running and pressing to board the few trains leaving for Serbia, the last stop before Hungary and Europe's borderless Schengen zone. Stung by scenes of chaos, of children squeezing through open carriage windows to escape the crush and men wielding sticks, Macedonia has sent riot police to Gevgelija to try to restore some semblance of order.

It appealed on Wednesday for neighbouring countries to send train wagons to address the demand. But the United Nations refugee agency urged the government to do more, saying it should allocate a site to properly accommodate the 1,500-2,000 migrants and refugees now arriving daily, up from 200 per day in May. The problem risks worsening with the possible arrival of thousands more being evacuated by boat from the Greek island of Kos to the mainland after 21,000 people landed on Greek shores last week alone. A passenger ship, which has acted as a floating accommodation and registration center for Syrian refugees since Sunday, was expected to dock in the northern port of Thessaloniki on Thursday. It was unclear whether they would be allowed to disembark, but if they are, they will almost certainly head for Gevgelija.

GEVGELIJA, Macedonia | By Fatos Bytyci for Reuters

#europeanimmigrants        #macedoniaimmigrantcrisis

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Chinese in Africa: Soap sellers and bridge builders.

Are the estimated 1-million or so Chinese nationals who live and work on the African continent a neo-colonialist scourge that matches, if not outstrips, the one that preceded it? Or are they flying solo? What exactly are we referring to when we talk about Chinese labour in Africa? Are we discussing the Asian men in overalls standing on the side of freshly paved roads in the continent’s remotest crannies? Are we musing about the men and women who sell cigarettes and laundry soap to villagers in those same forgotten places?

Or are we talking about the “old Chinese” executives who run logistics companies or restaurants or nail bars in South Africa’s big cities? The category is too broad to be considered as a piece, but nonetheless too many editorials and op-eds insist on jamming all Chinese working in Africa into the same taxonomic box. This poses an overarching question: are the 1-million or so Chinese nationals (according to an estimate by The Economist) who live and work on the African continent a neo-colonialist scourge that matches, if not outstrips, the one that preceded it? Or are they flying solo? To arrive at an answer, we need to properly understand the sweep of Chinese engagement in Africa and the critical role labour plays.

Sourse – Daily Maverick  - By Richard Poplack for Good Governance Africa.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Turkey's summer of mayhem - Living in Turkey today means experiencing a creeping sense of dread - a sense that the animals have the run of the zoo.

The political earthquake that shook Turkey on June 7 had been little felt in the lives of every day Turks when a suspected Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) bombing in the border town of Suruc on July 20, killed 33 young activists planning to deliver aid to the besieged, mostly Kurdish city of Kobane, across the border in Syria.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant group that has battled Ankara for more than 30 years but agreed to a ceasefire with the government in late 2012, responded by renewing its attacks, blaming Turkey for ISIL's aggression. Ankara declared war on ISIL and the PKK, which the US and EU view as a terrorist group, and began rounding up suspects of both those groups, and of the Marxist outfit, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C).  It also began bombing PKK camps in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq, and later agreed to let the US fly anti-ISIL sorties from its military bases in the country's southeast.
Then came bloody Monday, in which a car bomb exploded outside an Istanbul police station, followed by a firefight, a shoot-out outside the US consulate in the city's Sariyer district, and several PKK attacks in the country's southeast. By day's end, nine people were dead, including six members of Turkey's security services. Three groups have since raised their hands to claim the Istanbul attacks - the DHKP-C (US consulate), the PKK (police station bombing and shootout), and the little-known far leftist group the People's Defense Units.

Who's in danger these days? A better question is who's not. In the past week, assailants opened fire on officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Alevi leaders, American diplomats, and a top footballer driving down the street. PKK attacks have killed about 30 members of Turkey's police and security forces. Turkey's bombing campaign against the PKK has killed nearly 400 militants and at least eight civilians, according to local residents. The UK has advised Britons to avoid all buses and trains in Istanbul. City police have warned all security units of possible terrorist attacks on Istanbul's metro system.

Ankara has detained more than 1,000 people since July 20, and nearly 850 of them are linked not to ISIL, the DHKP-C, or the PKK, but to the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) - the Kurd-rooted political party that received 13 percent of the vote in the June 7 election. The HDP's unprecedented entry into parliament pushed the AKP from its roost and shook Turkish politics to its core. This tension, between the AKP and the Kurds (both the HDP and PKK), lies at the root of the recent spurt in violence. HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas has repeatedly called for both sides to "silence their weapons". But on Sunday he urged the government to keep its distance from ISIL and accused the AKP of using the war to reverse its electoral defeat.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for investigations into the HDP's links to "terrorist groups" and sued Demirtas for a perceived insult in regards to the Suruc attack. Erdogan has long used polarising rhetoric to create a false dichotomy, of us (those who are for the AKP and for Turkey's continued rise) and them (an amorphous group of people who are supposedly against it). Suddenly there are a half dozen "thems", a vague, fearful "us", and little between the two. To live in Turkey today is to experience a creeping sense of dread, a dawning sense that the animals have the run of the zoo.

Sourse - Aljazeera - David Lepeska, a journalist based in Istanbul, focuses on Turkey and the Middle East.     

#turkey      #turkishunrest      #turkeyattacksonkurds

Friday, 14 August 2015

Air pollution is killing 4,000 people in China every day

A new study shows that air pollution is killing about 4,000 people in China a day, accounting for 1 in 6 premature deaths in the world’s most populous country. Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated that about 1.6 million people in China die each year from heart, lung and stroke problems because of incredibly polluted air, especially small particles of haze.
Earlier studies put the annual Chinese air polluti on death toll at 1 to 2 million, but this is the first to use newly released Chinese air monitoring figures.Study lead author Robert Rohde said that 38 percent of the Chinese population has a long-term air quality average that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls “unhealthy.” He said coal is the chief polluter.

Source - asiancorrespondent      #chineseairpolution

Friday, 31 July 2015

Sorry, but Black Africa is not the poorest continent because of its colonial history; that’s simplistic rubbish.

Whilst checking facts for the previous post I visited a Wikia site entitled “Black Africa”, which after a brief explanation of the continent’s position on the earth etc. made one staggeringly simplistic and banal statement. “Africa is the poorest continent despite its abundant natural wealth which is due mainly to its colonial history”, and that’s it. It does however possibly sum up why most people in the modern world won’t face up to the reality of why Africa stands out as the world’s greatest continental under-achiever, as it’s far easier to blame it on the evil colonialists; simple as that! No, not simple at all. In a world where black Africa was not the proverbial elephant in the room which no pc ‘Western’ politician from outside the continent dare talk honestly about for fear of being labelled racist, some real progress may be able to be made in effectively facing up to the deep rooted problems which blight the lives of the vast majority of black Africans. Unless political correctness is replaced by honesty no amount of speeches from well-meaning but na├»ve western politicians will ever have the slightest effect on improving the lot of ordinary Africans and dislodging their corrupt and greedy leaders. Arguably Obama was only able to get away with what he did say about African leader’s endemic corruption and duplicity because he is black with Kenyan family links, and a white American President would have delivered an entirely different message.

The plain truth, like it or not, is that with the exception of the countries of Europe and northern Asia, practically every other country on earth has been a colony during much of its history since the fifteenth century, including some of the world’s most prosperous democracies such as Australia, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, India, Indonesia, the USA etc. etc. So how is it that all these countries have managed to prosper to a reasonable extent at least since gaining their independence, many having been given a poorer start in their new life than some now failing countries in Africa? Is it just a coincidence that with very few exceptions the 48 countries of black African have failed to build prosperous and well managed economies and establish fair and democratic governance over their populations? Given their un-disputed natural wealth, and almost without exception having been given their independence with a reasonable starting point, both financially, economically and with established systems of governance and law in place by their former colonial rulers, surely it is reasonable to assume that at least some of them would have grown and prospered over recent decades.
These unscrupulous leaders and their corrupt predecessors are the ones ultimately responsible for poverty in Black Africa.
I lived and worked in Africa, so I do have some personal experience of the strangle hold endemic corruption has over almost every aspect of life; in fact make that every aspect of life, and at all levels of society, and I don’t pretend that I wasn't involved myself. I was in Nigeria in 1979, first under military rule with Major-General Obasanjo as President, followed by the much heralded ‘Second Republic’ headed by Shehu Shagari, a gentle charming northerner who I met on a couple of occasion, but who never had the strength of character to break free of the strangle hold the current and retired military still had over the economy. On New Year’s eve 1983 Shagari was deposed by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, bringing in another ten years of military rule. The first thing that Buhari did was introduce the usual head-line grabbing purge against corruption and black market currency dealing, needless to say aimed at clearing the way for himself, his own friends and associates to take over syphoning off the nation’s wealth into their own pockets.

Buhari has now become the recently elected civilian President of Nigeria, and is predictably making the usual promises to stamp out corruption in Africa’s biggest and wealthiest nation. Unbelievably, but very significantly, the nation is also facing financial melt-down and massive infrastructure break-down because of the systemic mis-appropriation of money and mind boggling mis-management during the four year Presidency of Mad Hat Man Goodluck Jonathan. The hope has to be that Buhari still has enough ill-gotten gains tucked away in off shore accounts from his previous Presidency to keep him in luxury for his lifetime, and that he will be able to set his fellow politicians, the military and civil service a good example and stop them plundering most of the country’s considerable GNP from what should be a financially sound national treasury, and well able to provide a basis for a flourishing economy.
Begging for help has become the symbol of the region rather than industry and enterprise as it should be.
There is no reason why Nigeria shouldn’t have grown into a prosperous world class economy over the fifty two years it has been independent. Other than the fact that it has been exclusively run throughout those years by greedy and massively corrupt politicians, military leaders and public servants of course, who have systematically plundered the country’s wealth to fill their own pockets and done nothing to realise the country’s undoubted economic potential. It has the world’s 10th largest oil reserves and enormous, but as yet un-exploited mineral resources in various areas of the country. It should by now have a highly developed infra-structure and booming economy, but in fact has crumbling roads, a terminally inefficient power supply grid, primitive health services and inadequate educational system, all of which prevent the country reaching anything approaching its realistic potential. The only thing which has continued to grow in Nigeria is it’s out of control population which has doubled in the past thirty years. Nigeria is a classic example, and the biggest, of how a black African State has dismally failed to achieve its economic and social potential over the past half century, and it has nothing to do with a hang-over from colonial rule or racism, and everything to do with corruption, greed and mis-management at the very highest levels of government and public service. This is the sad and tragic truth as to why almost every other black African country has achieved so little in comparison with the many other ex-colonies around the world. World leaders can make as many well-meaning speeches as they like on the subject, but in the end it is only black Africans who can address the home-grown problems of under-achievment which they have created for themslves.
#blackafrica      #corruptioninblackafrica

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The ultimate irony – Obama addressing Africa’s Kings of Corruption about the need to stamp out corruption in Africa.

President Obama rounded off his recent brief tour of Kenya and Ethiopia with a speech to the leaders of the 54 member states of the African Union at their impressive headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. His carefully crafted words were specifically targeted at the massively corrupt leaders of the 48 black African member states, who with very few exceptions do all they can to hang on to power for as long as they can so that they are able to steal as much wealth as possible from their poverty stricken citizens. One has to wonder how much genuine conviction Obama was able to put into his words as he pleaded with one of the biggest bunches of villains on earth to follow the path to democracy and honesty, though he may as well have tried to get them to become Jehovah’s Witnesses.
As I stand here before you, that old Irish saying comes to mind. “If the Devil cast his net now, oh what a catch he'd make”.

Obama urged them to stop clinging on to power year after year through intimidation and vote fixing, and to stamp out corruption in their countries, which are when all said and done the fundamental principles which their shady lives and those of their many henchmen and sycophantic supporters are governed by. The fact that Obama is also black would not have made a hapeth of difference to his audience who would have taken it for granted that he would make a big public show of berating them for what they consider the normal processes of African Government in order to impress other western leaders who would expect it. Little doubt that many of them would have been wondering how much the most powerful man on earth will have syphoned off during his eight years in power as they shuffled off to their waiting private jets and a quick trip back to African reality.
#obamaafricanunion        #obamacorruption

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Will the Fashion Industry ever realise the harm they are doing to young girls, or is it that they just don’t care!

It seems that the upper reaches of the Haut Couture fashion industry are still being run by terminally brain dead air-heads similar to the over indulged, vain and self-obsessed females who buy their generally bizarre and overpriced tat. Those who run the French luxury fashion brand Dior have transported Sofia Mechetner, the 14 year old skinny waif pictured, from poverty on the back streets of Tel Aviv to parade their latest “creations” on the catwalks of Paris and thus providing another appalling under-weight role-model for young fashion obsessed girls around the world who avidly follow the world of fashion. That’s the rarefied place patronised by the pathetic over indulged half-wits who feel entitled to spend thousands of pounds on one frock they’ll ware once, rather than use it to ensure there are fewer 14 year old waifs living in poverty on various back streets around the world dreaming of a Dior tallent scout finding them.

Even the girl’s own mother has said 'A girl her age should be playing, going out', but presumably she found the £170,000 two year contract too tempting to put her daughter’s future before her family’s good fortune. There has at least been a reasonably voluble level of criticism levelled at the Dior dim-wits resulting in a fiery global debate over 'child exploitation' in the fashion world. Not that it will have any effect in a blinkered industry which specialises in employing emaciated anorexics to parade their dubious wares, and thus encouraging generations of susceptible teenage girls to conclude that Belson was in fact a finishing school for would be cat-walk models. Dior does seem to have missed out on one slick trick however. Had they brains in their well quaffed heads they would have recruited an equally deprived Palestinian waif from the back streets of Gaza City, where there must be a much bigger choice, and had them parade together down the kittenwalk, which would have generated ten times as much free publicity. That would have needed a knowledge of world affairs of course, which rarely pokes its head into the rarefied atmosphere of fashionista land where Dame Vivienne Westwood is more their idea of an extremist.

#fashion    #diorsnewmodel

Monday, 27 July 2015

Turkey joining in the conflicts in both Syria and Iraq will bring major problems for expats living there.

Many of my friends here in SE Bulgaria have moved up from Turkey over the past few years, mainly for financial reasons in the past, but increasingly now, because of the deteriorating security situation in Southern Turkey. Having said that it’s a classic two edged sword situation for them as the increasingly un-settled economic situation exacerbated by the growing threat of IS terrorist attacks from Iraq and Syria, not to mention the complex situation with ethnic Kurds, have caused the Turkish Lira to plummet in value over the past few years and it is now worth only half what it was worth against the pound in 2011. The result is that expats living in Turkey are currently far better off when they convert their Pound or Euro pension into Turkish Lira, but if they want to leave Turkey and move back into parts of the EU, such as Bulgaria because of security worries they will make big losses when they re-patriate any savings they have in Turkish Banks, or the proceeds of selling their property there. In this latter case the outlook is not good as the increasing threat of IS attacks in Southern Turkey will inevitably tend to put off new expats who are looking for a home in the sun from considering Turkey as a long term safe option, which will continue to  depress property values even further.
The air-strikes in Syria and Iraq have caused Kurdish sympathisers to riot in Istanbul to add to the chaos.
Having refused to get directly involved in the complex conflicts in neighbouring Syria and Iraq for many months Turkey has now launched air raids on IS positions in Syria as well as PKK, the outlawed terrorist Kurdish movement’s camps in Iraq. The situation is quite bizarre as the Turkish air strikes in Syria are claimed to be supporting a Kurdish force fighting there against IS forces, and which has direct links with the PKK Kurds in Iraq, who are themselves Turkey’s target in that country, further complicating a situation which already bemuses most people. So from no direct involvement in the conflicts Ankara has simultaneously opened up two completely separate fronts in neighbouring conflict torn countries with the obvious risk that they have bitten off more than they can safely chew on their own. Long a reluctant fringe member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, Turkey made a dramatic turnaround this week by granting the alliance access to its air bases, and the Government has called for a special NATO meeting on Tuesday to discuss its understandable security concerns. "When Turkey requests for such a meeting I think it's very right and very timely to have a meeting where we address the turmoil and the instability we see in Syria, Iraq and surrounding areas close to Nato borders of Turkey," Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the BBC.

Not far short of 100% of Turks are Muslims with around 75% of them being Sunnis, which just happens to be the same as Islamic State, though this doesn’t mean that most of the Turkish population will welcome jihadist IS supporters with open arms as they certainly won’t. On the other hand it does mean that there are likely to be significant numbers of IS sympathisers and supporters among the general Turkish population which can only increase the risk of IS inspired terrorist acts as the coming months go by. One way or another it seems likely that Turkey’s un-expected entry into the conflicts in both Syria and Iraq in the last few days can only have a decidedly negative effect on the lives of expatriates who have made it their home in recent years, not to mention the tourist industry which plays a significant role in Turkey’s economy. The chances of an expat being the direct victim of an IS attack or atrocity will remain small, but the likely increasing pressure on the Turkish economy and currency could have a very significant effect on the lives of expatriates from all over Europe, and the hard decisions they will be faced with regarding their finances and future.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

In Britain immigrants are generally made welcome, but in Germany their presence can be met with violence.

In practical every day terms the greatest problem which exists in the European Union is that of immigrants, whether they be genuine asylum seekers escaping persecution and violence or the more common variety of economic migrants who are just looking to improve their living standards by entering the countries of the EU illegally. In terms of numbers Germany has the most within their borders, followed by the UK with the totals arriving in 2013, the most recent available, being inflows of foreign nationals into Germany at 607,000 and the UK 450,000. While there is massive media coverage lamenting the numbers reaching the UK and considerable public concern expressed, the situation in Germany is far more volatile than anything seen in Britain. This is either a tribute to British tolerance and understanding or an indication of the British public’s general  lassitude and indifference to what is going on around them, and in all probability the latter.

During the first six months of 2015 right-wing extremists in Germany have committed attacks against places housing asylum-seekers on an almost daily basis even on official figures, a massive increase on the same period last year, and probably far more violence has occurred which has not been reported because of fear of further retribution. Many refugees living in Germany are living in fear for their lives, while those who have reached the UK are drawing what benefits they can get their hands on while working illegally in the thriving black market for cheap labour. Germany these days is a nation split in two. On the one side is a populace that is showing greater solidarity with refugees than ever seen before, with initiatives created across the country to assist asylum-seekers in their everyday lives. The other half of the country is intolerant of immigrants and racist violence is generally on the rise around the country, with the president of Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office admitting that the level of attacks make for grim statistics, stating the obvious by saying "We have to assume that further crimes will be committed against accommodations for asylum-seekers".

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Look at all the fun the British miss out on since Maggie Thatcher brought the unions to heal and which Corbin wants to bring back!

Illegal protests currently going on in various parts of France which must make extreme left wing Labour Party Leader hopeful Jeremy Corbyn and his throw-back Union supporters wet their nickers yearning for the good old days of pre-Thatcher strike infested Britain. 

Angry British tourists hit out at Calais as wild-cat ferry strikers yet again blocked the Channel Tunnel by burning tyres and wrecked thousands of families' holidays with twelve mile tailbacks They also, yet again caused thousands of lorries to tale back for many miles on the M20 in Kent and in Calais where swarthy and violent illegal immigrants tried to climb aboard them for a free ride to hand-out Britain.

France's President Hollande is being forced to unveil farming reforms which will probably breach EU rules after violent and smelly blockades of town centres in Normandy and Brittany by angry farmers complaining that EU sanctions on Russia and Supermarket’s reducing prices have hit their margins on meat and milk.

Even French tobacconists, protesting in a more genteel fashion have dumped four tonnes of carrots, don’t ask, outside the ruling Socialist party’s headquarters in Paris in protest at plans to force the introduction of plain cigarette packets next year, as Britain already has.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Chinese setting new standards in conning the public.

The Chinese have become famous over recent years for conning the world into buying manufactured tat at incredibly low prices, but they now seem to be setting new standards in conning each other out of their new found wealth. Recently in Hubei province one ‘Inspector Lei’ has brought the art to a whole new level by setting up a complete fake police station in his home, disguising himself as a policeman complete with uniform, handcuffs and a siren on his car. From here he scammed unsuspecting members of the public by selling falsified Public Security Bureau documents and Warrants, having spared no expense in setting up the con with (real) investigating officers finding stun guns, surveillance equipment, GPS equipment, and even an interrogation room complete with bust of Mao Zedong when they raided the premises.
All that work and he loses it all by threatening to expose his truncheon on line!
Lei’s scheme was finally foiled after an argument with his girlfriend, who went to the real police after he threatened to post a sex video of them at it on line. Earlier this year another Chinese conman was thwarted by an angry girlfriend, or girlfriends in his case. Known only as Yuan, he was undone after deceiving and tricking no fewer than 17 girlfriends out of money over a period of several years. He was finally discovered after all 17 rushed to his hospital bedside after he was in a car crash and they discovered his deception, prompting them to set up an on line chat group called “revenge alliance”.