View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Evening notes

Barack Obama is now the 44th president of the USA, and he made an impressive speech at his inauguration, just after midday EST (5pm GMT). One of his first acts is to close the prisoncamp at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba, an order that will be issued within 48 hours.

Guantanamo Bay means Bay of Pigs, and there are serious allegations that the prisoners held there have been treated like pigs by their custodians. Who themselves behaved like pigs in doing so. Good riddance to a stain on America's record. Holding suspects without prospect of a fair trial under any jurisdiction is in total contradiction to anything the Land of the Free stands for. If any of the people held at Guantanamo is suspected of any wrong doing, they should be afforded a fair trial under international law, such as the International Courts at The Hague.

As I said in my mobile posting on Facebook, words have to be matched by actions. The closure of Camp Delta is a positive move. In his speech, Obama openly listed the problems he faces as president of the USA, both at home and abroad. He carries a burden of expectation, to which his speech only added.

Tropical cyclone Fanele is approaching the Malagasy coast, and will deal a hammerblow as a category III hurricane. That is already bad enough if it happens on the American Gulf Coast or Florida, but for a nation like Madagascar, it is devastating. It has felt the pinch from both sides, as tropical cyclone Eric, a minor tropical storm, swiped the country's east coast with heavy rains.

Hurricane update - 20 January

Tropical cyclone Fanele has done the dirty on Madagascar, and has intensified explosively to a category II hurricane. At present, the storm is headed for the southwesterly provinces of the island nation, and will strike tomorrow morning at 0600 GMT (1000 hours local time) with winds of 90 knots or 160 km/h.


20 January

After a clear night and nice start to the day, Tuesday is now a rainlashed and windswept old day. So, it'll be a good excuse for watching television, the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th president of the USA. I wish him well at this difficult time.

Now that Israel has ended its military operations in Gaza, the resulting damage is becoming clear. As per usual, Israel's iron fisted approach will only serve to further antagonise the Palestinians against them, driving people into the hands of extremists. Allegations that same extremists set up positions deliberately near schools and hospitals cannot be independently verified. On the other hand, firing rockets at Israeli civilians targets out of Gaza was bound to elicit a response from Israel. This festering sore will continue to fester, with no hope of a resolution.

The weekend storms here in the Hebrides have left a trail of damage; more than a dozen cars had to be written off at Arnol, 15 miles north of Stornoway, after a wall collapsed on top of them. Conservatories and greenhouses were blown away and electricity supplies were interrupted. South Beach Street, part of the main thoroughfare in the town of Stornoway, has been closed to traffic because scaffolding on the Town Hall was destabilised by the 100 mph gusts of wind. They were left by a company, since gone bankrupt, which was repairing crumbling masonry late in 2008.