Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At least there are some in France who have a conscience

Members of the French public and a number of politicians have spoken out against Sarkozy's Roma expulsion mania.  Today's Financial Times provides details.  A search of the FT's site finds 79 articles on the issue of Roma in France.  Peruse them to get a sense of the problems faced by these people everywhere.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Plight, and Forced Flight, of the Roma

So, the Roma are once again on the run.  This time it is the French who are kicking them about and kicking them out.  According to the New York Times, "On instructions from President Nicolas Sarkozy, the French police have been dismantling improvised Roma camps in recent weeks and deporting Roma groups to Bulgaria and Romania."  Bulgaria and Romania?  And how are the Roma treated there?: As reported in WAZ.euobserver.com: "The Romanian society sees the gypsies as a foreign element", said Claudiu Padurean, a journalist and executive director for the Human Rights League in Cluj, a Transylvanian city with a large gypsy population. "Their degree of integration into the society is very much reduced. One can only imagine what the general reaction would have been if the expelled people were ethnic Romanians, and not Rromas", Mr Padurean said."  As for the Bulgarians, perhaps their attitude is somewhat better than that of the Romanians

France is not alone:  Denmark began expulsions a few weeks ago, as well.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Horse Racing: stepping into a new universe

The universe in which horse racing exists is complex and requires that the novice learn a whole new vocabulary (do you know what a 'spinner' is? a 'stooper'?) including how to read the racing forms, how to bet, amongst other things, and calibrating a whole set of social strata.  There is the horse, the event, the aftermath.  The horse= owner (individual and/or syndicates) + trainer + groom(s) + jockey + food + housing + veterinarian + accoutrement + fees (for events, licenses, etc) = money.  The racing = venue, fees/licenses, vendors (restaurants, food, booze, souvenirs, linens, toilet paper, office supplies, cash machines, computers, etc), employees (management, event development/planning, janitorial, cashiers, judges, track maintenance, food service workers, supervisors, grounds maintenance, meeter/greeters, announcers, judges, IT), equipment (large and small, complicated and simple), racing forms,  TV monitors, camera operators/photographers, and associations for all of the above.  None of this would exist if it were not for the spectators, bettors, entourages.  These all form the pageant.  This requires a variety of fashion statements.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Basil Davidson Died Last Month

Basil  Davidson was a path-breaking journalist and historian of Africa and Yugoslavia.  He was 95.  He called fascists to task.  He called imperialists and the settler class to task.  He did not shy from confrontation and lived a life of conviction and integrity. There are two tributes to him in the London Review of Books.  And perhaps one of the highest compliments paid to him is found at allafrica.com in piece by Cameron Duodu.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Those early humans are at it again...

makes me think of Dad....on what would have been his 86th birthday.....

Story in today's NYT on Lucy's ancestors as tool makers

The Daily Mess

This morning, Steve Inskeep, on NPR's Morning Edition, interviewed Tom Ricks about his prognosis for Iraq: it is cause for pause when someone is more hopeful about the future of Afghanistan (this link takes you to BBC stories) than Iraq!  Tom Ricks' book "Fiasco" is a must-read for anyone seeking a well-written and researched account of this misguided adventure.  Ricks also has a blog that is useful to check on.  Ricks is also a contributor to Foreign Policy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Grim News

Venezuela is killing off union activists who disagree with Chavez.  Saudi Arabia and UAE plan to ban Blackberry use because they cannot break through its encryption software to spy on users.  Domestic workers are abused, physically and emotionally, in Kuwait. Stoning of women continues in Iran (and, Brazil offers to be an intermediary!).  Palestinians continue to live in limbo and their Arab neighbours do not really care.  Journalists and lawyers continue disappearing in China.  The US continues its great wall policy on the US-Mexico border.  US right wingnuts continue to insist that gun-toters in parks are just exercising their rights, even as two people get killed at a suburban Seattle lake-side park.  And then there is Sudan, Congo, Tibet, the Stans, Russia.

I think I'll look for the good news tomorrow.