View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Hurricane update - 22 July

The National Hurricane Center is advising that a new tropical cyclone has formed in the southern Bahamas, and advisories will be initiated at 11 am EDT (1500 GMT). Tropical storm watches and warnings can be expected for the Bahamas and southern Florida. Please monitor progress through the NHC website.

Immigration - part 2

Many thanks to those who responded to my first post on this subject yesterday. It struck me that opinions diverged sharply. Connie and Frances, as American citizens, disagreed with my take, whereas Carol, Sybil and Yasmin (Europeans) did agree. In the UK, there is a natural barrier against illegal immigration, commonly referred to as the English Channel or the North Sea. Illegal immigration still takes place, but they need to go to a lot of bother to make the crossing. Those in the southeast of England are familiar with the sight of illegals jumping from the backs of trucks on the M2 and M20 motorways. In terms of numbers however, we're talking about a few hundred a day - not the thousands that flood across between Brownsville and San Diego.

I agree that those wishing to enter any country should do so legally. At worst, illegal aliens could be terrorist recruits, seeking to carry out an atrocity. However, the problem that is confronting the US at this time (and has been for the past couple of years) is here to stay. Building a barrier stretching the length of the US / Mexican border is not working. I cannot imagine that any decent person would condone shooting illegal aliens on sight. For the rest of this post, I'll focus on those that are present in the US at the moment.

What to do with the illegal immigrants currently already in the United States? Well, some say that illegals should not receive any state support, food, healthcare, housing etc. Really? Would you be prepared for the sight of the homeless multitudes thronging the sidewalks of your cities, starving, dying, left to rot? I don't think so either. An extreme option, but one worth flagging up.

Sending them back will present huge problems on account of the sheer numbers we're talking about. I remember an idea mooted by President Obama of an amnesty for all illegals, and start from scratch. It's what I call pragmatism, but probably politically not palatable. Those subject to the amnesty will be offered support, but on certain conditions - a programme of integration in American society could be considered. Those who do not adhere to the conditions will be expelled. Anyone found crossing the border illegally after the amnesty is ended will be sent straight back - irrespective of circumstances.

Where I come from, there is a saying: "The best ship's captains stand ashore", meaning that it's very easy to pontificate from the sidelines. I'm in Europe, where the problem of illegal migrants is of a far lesser scale than what the Americans are facing. I hope the American administration is able to formulate a policy that mixes compassion with firmness, satisfactory to old and new residents alike.

Thursday 22 July

A nice sunny day, with a northerly breeze. That keeps the temperature down, but I'm not complaining.

Yesterday, British prime minister David Cameron dropped quite a clanger, when he referred to the United Kingdom as the junior partner in the early years of the Second World War - implying that the US was taking the lead. Far from it. The US did not get actively involved in WW2 until Germany and Japan declared war in December 1941.

A yachtsman and his family were rescued from their yacht near Rubha Reidh [pronounce: Roowa Ray] lighthouse on the Scottish mainland, near Gairloch. When their steering failed, the strong winds were threatening to send the yacht onto the rocks. The yacht let off distress flares and sent out a mayday call to Stornoway Coastguard. Their helicopter flew across the Minch and winched the occupants of the yacht to safety. Stornoway Coastguard praised the yachtsman for his prompt call for help and knowledge of correct procedures in case of an emergency.

The night before, Stornoway Coastguard could practically walk to a casualty yacht, which had grounded itself on rocks at the Sgeir Mhor - which lies behind the Coastguard Station. The RNLI lifeboat went out and helped the yacht back into deep water.