19 November, 2010


Ireland is in crisis. I may at some stage talk about the full horror of what is happening here, but probably will not get round to it. I have nevertheless been quite taken with the way UK media outlets seem to feel obliged to include generic images of beggars on the streets of Dublin with everything they run on the situation here. I have posted a series of these pictures over on my other blog: Beggars of Dublin

12 November, 2010

East German Journey

I find Open Democracy a bit annoying – they publish way more stuff than I can read, they publish it only on the Internet when I am a luddite who hates reading things onscreen, and they are always looking for money. Maybe if they published a more manageable amount of stuff then they would need less money.

For all that, they do occasionally hit paydirt, like in this long piece by John Hoyland about a trip he made to East Germany when he was a young CND activist. The Berlin Wall had just gone up (because too many East Germans were scarpering out of the workers' paradise that was actually existing socialism) and the Sino-Soviet split had not yet taken place, so the party Hoyland was in had a Chinese guy translating from English to German. The article is fascinating, as a piece of travel writing, as a portrait of Communist fellow travellers going through the motions of supporting what they know to be rubbish, and as a coming of age piece about Hoyland himself. I reckon that even people who do not share my DDR fascination would find this article worth reading, so I recommend it highly.

Pictures from article.

11 November, 2010

Crackdown in Western Sahara

There are a reports of a crackdown by Moroccan government forces against residents of a refugee camp in Western Sahara, the territory that has been under Moroccan occupation since the end of the Spanish colonial regime. Saharawi* sources are claiming 11 of their people killed, while the Moroccan authorities are saying that 5 members of the security forces were killed by separatists.

Efforts by supporters of Western Saharan independence have largely failed because the Moroccan regime is in with the right people – leaders of the USA and major EU countries see it as a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism and are loth to antagonise it by asking embarrassing questions about the occupation of Western Sahara, the illegal planting of Moroccans there, and the failure to hold a referendum on independence for the country. My understanding is that the EU has also signed a fisheries deal with Morocco, in which that country's king has basically agreed to let European trawlers steal the fish of the Western Saharans.

Deadly clashes as Morocco breaks up Western Sahara camp (BBC)

*the name by which the people of Western Sahara call themselves