Thursday, January 19, 2017

I fiori dell'Africa



Un'uomo e morto in Africa ieri sera
Uomo orgoglioso di paese orgoglioso
Tu conocscerai ni l'uno ni l'altro
In questo mondo di dolore
Chi oppure che e Eritrea?

Ho fatto visita alla sua figlia oggi
Colpita come un'uccello spezzato
Piegata in dolore 
Come un fiore rotto allo stilo
Lontana di casa, lontana di casa.
E chi oppure che e Eritrea?

O Eritrea, Eritrea, non smetti
di far l'emoraggia dei tuoi figli
dentro delle due mari.
Il flusso di sangue spande
della Terra Mare Rossa
e si sperde, si sperde 
nelle profundita nere.

I padri e le madri piangiono al paese (agar bet)
I loro figli dormono, se dormono, tutti soli,
e noi, riteniamo i nostri cuori di sasso:

che muoiono sulla mare profunda,
oppure al paese, oppure qua,
che muoiono che le mosche,
i fiori dell'Africa.

Friday, May 06, 2016

response to Daniel Finkelstein


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Jim Holloway"
Date: 5 May 2016 16:34
Subject: West-hating left
To:
Cc:

I would like to disagree with your article in yesterday's Times.
I don't believe that the left in general holds America to be evil; it is rather that American dominance inevitably multiplies the impact of such "evil" as any country may be given to. There is much to admire in America and much to despair of; much the same as Britain in its time of Empire.

I thought that your examples of the let's errors were ill-chosen. Soviet communism achieved nothing?  How to account for Soviet success against the Nazis,  almost unaided, compared with Russia's collapse in 1914-18, facing a Germany being ground down on the Western front by France and Britain?
Who can doubt the misguided idealism within the Russian revolutionaries?
Stalin undoubtedly carried out monstrous atrocities,  yet it remains the case that in both scale and intent they are hard to compare with Hitler's crimes. In only a few years, he accomplished the destruction of millions of Jews and others; his plans for the future of Poland and Russia are terrifying and chilling. Nazism intended to reduce the world to slavery in the service of the master race; communist ambitions were a flawed attempt to create a New Man who would be naturally free. Nazism,  I would claim, was beyond hope of reform; soviet communism did eventually collapse, faced by its own contradictions.

Malcolm X encouraged black people to think they were victims of colonialism? And was he wrong? They were certainly victims of something,  even in his own time and country.

You say Pan-Africanism adopted. ... as if it was a party or individual. You criticise the statement that 9-11 was perhaps the most successful terrorist attack in history: and was it not? Provoking America into disastrous wars, surely exactly bin Laden's intention?

The left, like any such label, covers many tendancies and groups. I do not feel that your article contributes to making a helpful distinction among them.

If you have read thus far, I thank you for your time.

Jim Holloway

Thursday, May 05, 2016

To leave, or not to leave, that is the question.

What are the reasons I want to stay in the EU?

Boring, but important: the economy. There can be no doubt that there will be tremendous disruption to investment for a prolonged period if we vote to leave.

Free movement: we are free to live work and study across Europe thanks to the EU. We may be trapped on our green and pleasant,  but cold and wet island.

The Union with Scotland: the UK will almost certainly come to an end as Scotland will vote to remain.

Northern Ireland: the hard won precarious peace will be destabilised, as the Irish Republic will certainly remain in.

The diehard outers will say in all sincerity that these are risks worth running to preserve or regain our sovereignty.  But I say that instead, without the UK arguing the case for a the EU to be a free association of sovereign state,  it will become a more and more centralised bloc of countries facing us from a position of strength: exactly what 200 years of British foreign policy as sought to avoid.

But what do the outers want, really? To me it seems clear that the real animus for most outers is about immigration and identity: if only we leave we can reclaim our country.  Anti EU comments slide effortlessly toward hostility to migrants generally, and to Muslims.

Many outers want the Poles to leave: and they will be disappointed.  The Poles will not be kicked out,  because then the million and a half Brits living across the EU would be sent home as well.  Or do the outers believe that we can kick the EU,  and like a beaten dog they will simply whimper and walk away, tail between legs? But the days of Empire are gladly gone.

I fear that disappointment, combined with economic turmoil, andthe collapse of the Union with Scotland,  will turn us into a nasty inward looking country. An out vote would be a triumph of resentment. Instead of believing in a Great Britain, at ease in Europe and the world, we would be choosing a Little England, fearful,  isolated,  out in the cold.

We would survive, no doubt. It's not a country I'd want to stay in. But then, if we leave, I may have no choice.  My freedom to relocate to warmer friendlier parts may be terminated.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear Gerald Kaufman MP

There has been much talk about rising energy bills, the confusing and wasteful marketing tactics of suppliers, etc, and now David Cameron is saying that they will have to offer the "cheapest" tariff, however that is to be worked out.




I would like to see the practice of standing charges outlawed. Standing charges, whether direct or disguised as differing tariffs for the first part of the consumption, amount to a poll tax on consumers. In today's world, no-one is expected to live without, at least, electricity; no matter how economical, consumers are forced to pay for the privilege of having a supply. The consequence is that those who, from poverty or environmental concern, use the least amount of energy, pay the most per unit of consumption. This is not only unjust, but a perverse incentive - those who are profligate users of energy will pay only a minimum tariff for every extra unit they consume - those who use almost no energy will still pay around £4 a week just to have a supply.



I would be obliged if you could raise this with OFGEM and/or the Department for Energy. In my view, the provision and maintenance of infrastructure should be paid for from the profits of the business. Obviously, the basic tariffs would need to be increased to make up for the loss of standing charge income, but this would mainly hit those who use excessive energy. It would give them an added incentive to economise, which should overall be more beneficial to the economy and environment than the minor savings squeezed out of the fuel-poor by the cost of standing charges.



I would add that suppliers should be forced to offer only one tariff for each product, eg dual fuel, economy7, nuclear-free, etc, instead of the current confusion marketing.





Monday, June 20, 2011

Shireen-e-man

Agar baayad khodaahafez begim
shirin-e-man
khodaahafez-e-shirin begim
va befahm
ke dar har gushe-ye-khiaabun-zendegi
haazer hastam
montazer-e-didanet hastam
taa vaghti ke
dige baaham hastim
shirin-e-man.

If we have to say goodbye
my sweet
then let it be a sweet goodbye
and know
at every corner of life's street
I am ready
I am waiting to catch sight of you
until the time
we are together again
my sweet.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I see that you are doing research into attitudes of home office applicants.

I work informally to support asylum-seekers, including those who are refused and destitute. The suffering endured by applicants at all stages of the process is enormous, while they are told by the press and the public how lucky they are to be here and how grateful they must be. People feel anything but welcome, especially when housed by NASS in the most violent and deprived neighbourhoods. they feel that the system is dishonest and spiteful. I could give any number of examples of policies and decsions which appear to support this view.

You might be interested in the widespread perception among asylum applicants that the Government actually welcomes the presence of failed asylum-seekers as a way of propping up the economy by providing sub-minimum-wage labour. This was the only way they could make sense of the refused applicants not being removed from the UK.

People believe that there is no torture with electricity in this country, but instead torture by paper, with an endless bureaucratic process that leads nowhere.

One of my favourites was the "no-policy policy": applicants whose NASS support had failed (a very frequent occurance) would typically manage by borrowing from other applicants. Once their support had been restored, they would be advised to send a fax - at their own expense of course - requesting that any shortfall be made up. These requests were never repsonded to. Further enquiries eventually established that no decision could be made on amking such reimbursements until the Minister made a policy decsion, an of course it was a low priority................. the theory was that support was for subsistance only and as the applicant had evidently survived they had no subsistance need relating to the period - often several weeks - for which payment had been missed; repayment of money borrowed could not be budgeted for.

Another source of cynicism has been the Home Office's policy in the recent past of refusing ALL asylum claims unless they were incontroverible, and letting it be settled at appleal stage. Careful analysis of the stats for certain years shows intitial decisions on case other than minors running at around 97% refusal, with about 25-30% ultimately successful on appeal - in other words, nine out of ten claims that ultimately succeeded had been refused initially. Applicants are then of course commonly blamed for the costs of the legal process etc.

Then there's the real kick in the teeth - granted at appeal, but three weeks later a letter in incomprehensible legalese advising that the Home Office has counter-appealed, generally pointlessly.

You mentioned in some of your posts that "everyone" gets frustrated with the bureaucracy; I certainly believe that well-intentioned people at the Home Office get frustrated and burnt out, but can you really put yourself in the shoes of applicants? People whose lives are on hold for years and years, waiting for a decision? Many are those that say they would rather be removed than carry on like this, and yet even a voluntary return is not possible.

So all this may account for the "them and us" attitudes you seem surprised to have found. Of course, not everyone's experience of the immigration system is negative; there are the lucky ones, and then there are those who play the system, who are cynical from the outset and therefore not disappointed.

People on the Legacy section of this forum are generally people who have not been well served by the system, however you look at it - that is why the legacy exercise was required. so it is unsurprising you have been met with hostility and bitterness. One of the saddest aspects of this whole mess is that people who came to this country full of energy and hope end up bitter and frustrated, and not only against the Home Office. People end up convinced of the fundamental truth, that immigrants are not welcome here, however we dress things up.

I hope you continue to visit and to give guidance, it is useful for people to see things from the other side of the fence. I would certainly not offer anyone to look at their individual case or prove something by accessing their file (which might even get you sacked?). People come on this forum essentially for mutual support, and they should be able to express themselves freely and anonymously without it being able to be linked up with their case files.

You see, on the "us" side of them and us, we mostly believe, more or less clearly, that the immigration system is not only shockingly inept (I must say, it has been improving over the last few years), but we think it is profoundly unfair, and therefore we empathise with those who attempt to circumvent it, even if some of us may not agree with doing so.

Personally, I believe that just as glaobalisation insists that rich countries should be able to move goods and capital unimpeded around the world, poor people should be able to sell their labout around the world.Telling someone, your life chances must remain limited because of where you were born is immoral. In principal I support open borders - of course this does not imply a benefits free for all.

I do not expect others to share my view, but there it is. I hope all this casts some light for your research. I have chosen not to post this in the forum as it may only stir up more bad feeling.

Good luck

JIM

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

email to Ayaan Hirsi Ali (AHA foundation)

Hi

firstly, I would like to support the right of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others to speak freely about all issues.

However, I feel that her campaign is misguided. She is entitled to her own views on Islam, and in spite of what many Muslims say about apostasy, she is entitled to promote her views; but her focus on Islam as being a threat to the West, and the cause of misery within the Muslim world, is way off the mark. Moreover, even if she herself opposes such action, her campaign is likely to simply add weight to those who would like to destroy Iran, invade Somalia with Ethiopian troops, etc.

All the abuses of women listed on the website certainly occur, but none are restricted to Muslim countries. Honour killings are well known to occur among Hindus and Sikhs, and occasionally even in Christian Mediterranean countries; female circumcision is unknown in most Muslim countries, but common among Christian Ethiopians and others.

A campaign against such crimes based on persuading Muslims that the very core of their culture and identity needs to be ditched in favour of Westernisation, widely seen as the grossest form of vulgarity, can never succeed - especially when it is easily demonstrated that such abuses are in fact not rooted in Islam.

If someone is genuinely concerned for the situation of Muslim and other women, rather than in becoming a mascot for the "clash of civilisations", they would do better to support the steady but unglamorous work being done by thousands of people all over the world to reform people's attitudes, promote education, explain why FGM is not Islamic, etc; it is better to work with people rather than just against them.

I am far from saying that Islam is or should be beyond criticism; but how does calling Mohammed a paedophile help? It is true that Muslim apologists overlook or shy away from such matters as Ayesha's marriage and hadith condoning FGM, and then there are the laws of evidence and inheritance, but we only bolster the position of America's Wahabi allies if we insist that Islam is immutable, and we take George Bush's all or nothing, with or against us approach. Indeed, those who are the enemies of Islam, who see the world in Osama's terms as believer v infidel, West v East, democracy v terror, should celebrate the 9-11 attack as bringing on the fight to the death between good and evil.

But instead of this easy "little jihad", intellectually lazy, suited to extremists and young hotheads, people of influence as you wish to be should be promoting the "greater jihad" the striving by all people of good faith to understand what is the best way forward, to find a better way than conflict if any other is possible. The Muslim world, and the smug West as well, is crying out for reform. We will not achieve it with bombs, insults, incomprehension.

Liberal democracies should promote their values primarily by refraining from unjust wars, from supporting vile dictatorships, from continuing economic and ecological policies that impoverish hundreds of millions, by allowing free movement of people (like Ayaan) to better their lives, and by making reasonable acommodations with other cultures as long as the primacy of host culture views is assured.

In this context, I support the criminalisation and active suppression of FGM and all forms of abuse committed against women residing in the West; I find the banning of scarves in French schools deplorable; I oppose banning the burqa as escalating a trivial issue; I think that shari'a law can be used as arbitration like the Beth Din subject to regulation and oversight which is wholly lacking today.

Ayaan, I would ask you, do you have more friends among the women you seek to protect, or among those who know little of the Muslim world? Do you think that Muslim women have on the whole benefited from your actions? Or have you simply been a weapon in what history may one day come to call "the Oil Wars"?

If you have read me to the end, I thank you.