Title picture: Stornoway, 18 January 2016

Thursday, 4 February 2016

More Syria

One of the reasons I got so thoroughly fed up with the news tonight was that image of self-congratulatory politicians, only capable of working their tongues, uttering meaningless words on a catastrophic situation that is Syria. 

Russia's president Putin accuses the Turks of preparing for a ground invasion - read, he wants a bust-up with the Turks; Putin can safely be accused of exacerbating that situation by propping up a vile regime, which has sent its entire populace to flight. Why? 'Coz Mr Assad is best described using an expletive, and Mr Putin finds that Mr Assad is his sole remaining ally in the Middle East. By continuing the civil war, more people will flock into Turkey, i.e. Europe, and the EU stands in grave danger of political paralysis and collapse. And that's what Mr Putin would REALLY like. But the Turks have their nefarious part to play as well, facilitating the transit of those hapless refugees to Greece, a country they historically dislike. Cameron, Tusk, Juncker - shut your faces and stop treating the symptoms. Address the root cause.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Friday 29 January

Today, we had a severe gale with stormforce gusts, which took its time to abate through the day.

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Thursday 28 January

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Wednesday 27 January

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Buildings gone

Had a browse through Google Streetview, with imagery of Stornoway dating back more than 6 years. Came across a number of buildings that have since been pulled down.

Streetview 2009 - now gone Nicolson Institute
Streetview 2009 - now gone Shell House, Shell Street
Streetview 2009 - now gone Shellfish Factory, Shell Street
Streetview 2009 - now gone Smith's Shoe Shop, Kenneth Street

Tuesday 26 January

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Monday 25 January

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Sunday 24 January

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Saturday 23 January

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Denmark

Like most European countries, Denmark has been subjected to a large influx of migrants fleeing the upheavals in the Middle East, southwest Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The country feels overwhelmed by the flood of people, and has reinstituted border controls on the sole land border it has, with Germany. There are also more stringent checks on the border with Sweden, at the Øresund bridge across the sea strait between the two countries. 

Yesterday, the Danish parliament approved measures that grant police officers powers to seize valuables from migrants, if valued over £1,000 and not of sentimental value, to pay for their keep in Denmark. Whilst acknowledging that the current situation is unprecedented, and outwith any experience of such an inflow in recent times, I have serious reservations. Put it bluntly, to my mind it is daylight, state-sponsored theft and robbery. Never, ever, have migrants into any European country been forced to hand over money to be able to stay. The migrants that are flocking into Europe usually have had to pay thousands of dollars for their passage across the Mediterranean, in leaky, rickety, unsafe craft, donned with lifevests that (in some instances) help you sink, rather than keep you buoyant in the water. 

As I have written before, the current migrant crisis has to be resolved internationally, involving all parties involved. Not just the European Union, but also Turkey, Russia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya (and other countries from which people flee). Turkey has turned a blind eye to the floods of people passing through its territory en-route to Greece. Russia is exacerbating the Syrian crisis by supporting the dictator Assad by bombing his opponents, under the pretext of fighting Daesh. Within a few months, weather conditions in the Mediterranean will improve as spring arrives. Unless something is done, 2016 will become a worse repeat of 2015. It will jeopardise the lives of the migrants, threaten the stability of Europe - something that would benefit nobody.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2016

Today it is 71 years ago since the infamous Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp was liberated by Soviet forces. More than a million people, mainly Jews, were killed there during the Second World War. The process was conducted as an industrial process. To date, some of the goods left behind by the victims of the Holocaust remain on display. These include suitcases with name tags, spectacle frames, hair and shoes. I have never visited Auschwitz and am not likely to. January 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering all the victims of the Nazi's policy of extermination of all those they considered to be sub-human. We must never forget.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Migrants

A surge of the desperate, or a surge of desperados. How many villains in that piece.

The Turks? For standing by and doing nothing, most likely profiting from it to an unimaginable degree.

The French? For standing by and doing little about the Jungle Camp, the successor to the camp at Sangatte in the 90s and 00s, and allowing the UK-bound migrants to congregate there, jeopardising the lives of all involved, including their own.

The EU? For falling apart and falling out in ostensibly formulating a response to the flood of people - and never speaking with one voice.

EU should go back to being the EEC, an economic trading pact, rather than a failed attempt at political unity. Another summer like 2015, and the EU will cease to exist, and David Cameron doesn't need to hold his in/out referendum, as all member states will be headed for the door.

Friday 22 January

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Thursday 21 January

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Over the years I've been in Stornoway, I have amassed 1,790 photographs of wargraves, or private gravestones referring to people being lost in wars. Although they are neatly annotated on the Scottish War Graves forum, they are not on my Flickr feed. So, I have a job on my hand to clarify which pic refers to whom, as the inscriptions on some of them are poorly legible.

Wednesday 20 January

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Tuesday 19 January


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A bright, sunny morning, but the clouds slowly moved across after lunchtime. The sun had just gone when I pictured the ferry at the terminal, around 1.45pm. The mainland mountains are clad in snow.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Monday 18 January

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After the morning clouds drew away, we were left with glorious winter sunshine, which showed the town up in its best.