View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 23 February 2009


I just did not believe my eyes today, when the BBC reported that more white-owned farms in Zimbabwe had been seized by supporters of president Robert Mugabe. It is precisely the seizure of those white-owned farms that has led to the current food crisis. I can only describe as an act of breathtaking lunacy, to continue a policy which has been proven to be catastrophic in its consequences. Even though Mr Mugabe came to power by ousting a white racist regime, that of Ian Smith, those whites who elected to stay behind were prepared to work for the people of their country. There was a time that Zimbabwe could sustain itself in terms of food. Taking over those farms has destroyed that capability. I despair.


Reading journals written by American bloggers has raised my awareness of politics in the USA. One of the events that drew my attention was Hurricane Katrina and the delayed response and inadequate preparations to that natural disaster. Other pointers were problems acquiring health care as experienced by some of you.

I enjoy reading some of the entries, made by our own Dirk, who professes to be politically incorrect and questions aspects of government politics, irrespective of the colour of the government of the day. All governments are accountable to their electorate, and it is that very electorate that holds the power to remove them. Which has happened to the administration of President Bush in the last few months.

No administration holds the support of 100% of its population, and it is to be expected that supporters of President Bush do not like the policies being implemented by President Obama. As an observer from outside, I'll be careful in professing my preference; but in the past, I have been severely critical of Mr Bush on various aspects of his foreign and domestic politics. Mr Obama promises much, but we'll have to wait on delivery.

A video came my way today, which described President Obama as a dangerous communist, who will cause the destruction of America. Yep, and I've just had kittens. It reminded me of the McCarthy years, in the 1940s and 1950s, during which Senator McCarthy conducted a witch hunt of all who might have had alleged communist leanings. British readers may have watched an episode of the series "Who do you think you are", which researches the ancestry of well-known personalities - tonight's was Zoe Wannamaker. Her father moved to the UK in 1951, after it became clear that his past membership of the communist party made it likely that he be called in front of McCarthy - and put to jail for perhaps not answering. Nearly 60 years have passed, and the world has changed. But communism, however demonstrably discredited, is still a dirty word in certain quarters.

Monday 23 February

Overcast, grey and drizzly. It's quite mild outside, about 11C, which I also found out when I went to the Post Office and other shops earlier this morning. It was actually pretty busy in the town, by Stornoway standards.

Do I care about the Oscars? No. A film is never as good as the book it is based upon.

An animal disease, bluetongue, is slowly marching north through the United Kingdom. The disease is carried by mosquitoes, and has become prevalent in continental Europe. Discussions are going on whether vaccinations should be carried out in the Western Isles, which are 20 to 60 miles from the Scottish mainland. In the last week of March, the Chief Vet for Scotland will attend meetings in Stornoway and Benbecula to hear the views of crofters, who do not feel that it is necessary to have these vaccinations. This link carries the official policy from the UK Department for Food and Rural Affairs.

Edit: The link mentions midges, rather than mosquitoes. They are different species of insect, and I'll try to find out which is actually the carrier