Mike Vickers' Blog

May 3, 2019

Beethoven’s 5th

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, RSNO — derryvickers @ 10:05 pm

 

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony: The most triumphal music ever written.

Music for the EU. Luckily it will be still available should we leave the EU: But why should we?

A spectacular performance this evening by the RSNO (Royal Scottish National Orchestra) in the Usher Hall Edinburgh.

Conducted by Sharon Roffman, Lead Violin. The orchestra all stood to play (except Cellos and Double Basses) just like the Scottish Ensemble.

A rapturous reception. Just read what the Scotsman hade to say not only about the 5th Symphony but the whole concert including Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with Katherine Bryant on flute and Pippa Tunnell of harp; both regular players in the RSNO.

A nice touch, she led her team off the stage and back again (as a play).Review of Concert

.

April 30, 2019

An Alliance Made in Heaven?

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa may — derryvickers @ 9:04 am

Well perhaps not!

A Heavenly Alliance

April 26, 2019

The Good Friday Agreement resurrected – we can only hope on this Friday one week on

The British and Irish governments have reached an agreement to establish a new round of talks involving all the main political parties in Northern Ireland, starting on 7 May.

Theresa May and the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, credited the public response to the killing of Lyra McKee with the announcement on Friday of a fresh attempt to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.

But see the small print

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/apr/26/northern-ireland-fresh-attempt-to-restore-power-sharing

April 24, 2019

Nancy Pelosi on Brexit: why Irish-US diplomacy is a powerful force in border talks – Liam Kennedy

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Politics, USA — derryvickers @ 6:00 pm

Nancy Pelosi on Brexit: why Irish-US diplomacy is a powerful force in border talks – Liam Kennedy

““Let me be clear, if the Brexit deal undermines the Good Friday Accord, there will be no chance of a US-UK trade agreement.”

For the full article

https://flipboard.com/topic/nancypelosi/nancy-pelosi-on-brexit%3A-why-irish-us-diplomacy-is-a-powerful-force-in-border-tal/a-w_Ey6CIET_CQgimrtlY0Vw%3Aa%3A2815871887-ff4a09e83f/scotsman.com

April 21, 2019

To Focus on a Brexit Resolution

Filed under: Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics, Yeats — derryvickers @ 9:45 am

I did not know how to comment on the murder of Lyra McKee in Derry last Thursday but Brian Wilson showed the way in Saturday’s Scotsman.

https://www.scotsman.com/lyra-mckee-s-murder-shows-danger-of-no-deal-brexit-in-n-ireland-brian-wilson-1-4911924

I particularly welcome: “This is not just “one issue among many” but – as I have repeatedly argued over the past couple of years – the one that must condition the whole negotiation. You cannot have a hard border within Ireland. Full stop.”

And his conclusion: “While there is no ideal solution to Brexit, there are certainly lessers of evil. There are many good reasons for real leaders to act on that principle and Irish peace is one of them.”

I am repeated reminded of Yeats ‘A Second Coming’

Let’s hope that the Good Friday Agreement remains intact.

April 16, 2019

Notre Dame

Filed under: Europe, In Our Time, Italian, Notre Dame, Sustainability, Travel, World Class — derryvickers @ 3:17 pm

Molti anni fa, ben circa dieci anni, noi, come una famiglia, abbiamo visitato Parigi per il fine settimana con Ryan Air. Siamo andati in giro, siamo passati SacréCoeur, abbiamo visitato il Louvre, visto il Mona visto da lontano e siamo andati al centro Pompidou con tutte le sue tubazioni esterne, e abbiamo salito la Torre Eiffel. Abbiamo apprezzato molto la cucina francese.

E, naturalmente, abbiamo accodato per andare in giro per la Notre Dame.

Non sarà aperto di nuovo nella mia vita, ma speriamo che nostri figli  saranno in grado di farlo. Anche così non può essere proprio come prima del fuoco. Capisco che ora non ci sono alberi abbastanza alti almeno in Francia per sostituire i legni del tetto.

I giornali sono pieni di bruciato, ma non catturerà la tragedia di essere solo sul Seine e guardare il tetto crollare.

April 15, 2019

The Strange Case of Julian Assange

Filed under: Assange, Europe, Jeremy Corbyn, Patrick Cockburn, Politics, Social, USA — derryvickers @ 2:15 pm

Assange had pleaded political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the last seven years.

He was eventually expelled last Thursday and arrested by the Met.

Since then many have come to his defence and an equal number have attacked him because

Julian Assange is wanted on two counts:

  1. Hacking and Leaking US military information principally on its war in Iraq
  2. Accused of rape in Sweden

You can read more about Hacking and Leaking in

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/julian-assange-wikileaks-chelsea-manning-war-democracy-a8867816.html

Cockburn believes that leaking / whistleblowing is essential in this increasingly authoritarian world and finishes his article with:

Assange is likely to pay a higher price than Ellsberg for his exposure of government secrets. The Pentagon Papers were published when the media was becoming freer across the world while now it is on the retreat as authoritarian governments replace democratic ones and democratic governments become more authoritarian.

The fate of Assange will be a good guide as to how far we are going down this road and the degree to which freedom of expression is threatened in Britain at a time of deepening political crisis.’

In his and Jeremy Corbyn’s view the UK Government should reject any US request to expatriate Assange to the US.

But to the Rape Charge, so far one case has been closed but the other is still open and the Swedish Government has yet to request expatriation. If the Swedish Government does ask for Assange to be repatriated to stand trial then the UK Government would find it difficult to refused, we are currently still part of the EU with Sweden.

Dani Garavelli in the Scotsman on Sunday:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/dani-garavelli-assange-apologists-make-light-rape-case-1-4906997

‘Labour backbenchers, including Diana Johnson, Stephen Kinnock, Stephanie Peacock and Stella Creasy, signed an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid seeking assurances that every assistance would be offered to Sweden should it make an extradition request.

Garavelli noted that:

‘In the end though, as so often, it was Emily Thornberry who nailed it. “Why weren’t the Swedish authorities told in advance of Assange’s ejection from the Ecuadorian Embassy as the US clearly was? Our priority should be the alleged two victims of sexual violence in Sweden and not a ruse to get him extradited to the US as a whistleblower,” she wrote.

And that sums up the main difference between the two potential charges: A clear court case as to whether Assange did or did not rape two ladies in contrast to the undoubted leak of US extremely dubious human rights violation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At present of course Assange is in UK custody and the UK government will have to decide whether to expedite Assange to Sweden if asked, or to the US. In my view the UK should expedite to Sweden, but I don’t know if the UK Government can successfully seek a clause in the agreement to so could prevent Assange there after being expedited to the US.

Just to finish for the time being; it looks clear that the Ecuadorian Embassy was pleased to get rid of their visitor after seven years

‘I think the first thing to say is Ecuador has been making some pretty outrageous allegations over the past few days to justify what was an unlawful and extraordinary act in allowing British police to come inside an embassy,” [Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s lawyer] said’

https://www.scotsman.com/news/assange-s-lawyer-claims-ecuador-made-smears-to-justify-arrest-1-4907277

Post Script:  I have now read a similar view to my collection above. See

https://labourlist.org/2019/04/labours-response-to-the-arrest-of-julian-assange-doesnt-cut-it/

April 2, 2019

Richard Ashworth’s Valedictory Speech to the European Parliament

Filed under: Europe, European Parliament, Politics, Westminster, World Class — derryvickers @ 8:44 pm

Richard Ashworth had the Tory Whip withdrawn  in 2018 and is now an Independent member of the European Parliament.

Here is his excellent valedictory speech to the European Parliament as his time is coming up and as the matter stands there will be no further UK representatives in the European Parliament.

I particularly draw reader’s attention to the paragraph in italics below; I cannot emphasise it more widely.

__________

[Richard Ashworth] welcomed the comments made by European Council President Donald Tusk, who had called on the MEPs in Strasbourg to be open to the UK participating in the Parliament’s next term in the event of an extension.

 ‘I want to say thank you’
Richard Ashworth said Brexit serves as a ‘cautionary tale’ for Europe. (Photo: EP)
He said: “President Tusk, on behalf of a million people on the streets in London, on behalf of 6 million people who have signed the petition, and on behalf of 63 per cent of the British population who did not vote for Brexit, I want to say thank you. “I want to say thank you to this house for the support you’re showing, and I want to reassure you that Nigel Farage does not speak on behalf of that 63 per cent of the population.

“May I add as a comment to the European people that, for over 25 years now no British Prime Minister ever explained to the British people what Europe did, what are the benefits, and why it matters.
“They never defended against the untruths which were spoken, and they never took ownership of the decisions that they took in Council. “Because of that, the British press ran a 20-year campaign based on populist mistruths, lies and deceit.”
‘Divided like never before’
He warned that the current divided state of the UK should be a “cautionary tale” to other Europeans, saying: “The consequence of that, we see today in Britain, is a sad nation, divided like never before, and a House of Commons in crisis.

“So let Brexit stand as a cautionary tale to the people of Europe. To the people of Europe, I say this; You are the generation who have lived through the longest period of peace and the greatest level of prosperity ever.

Never take it for granted. Value it. Fight for it. Defend it every day.”

[Ashworth’s] speech received a standing ovation in the chamber and was subsequently shared many many accounts across Europe.

Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/news/brexit/simon-ashworth-mep-speech-brexit-donald-tusk-video/

 

March 31, 2019

Need to rebuild the Westminster Parliament

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Left Politics, Politics, UK Parliament, Westminster — derryvickers @ 7:07 pm

Will Hutton

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/23/labour-leadership-is-at-rock-bottom-wont-be-forgiven-for-conniving-in-rightwing-brexit

The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/22/corbyn-faces-furious-backlash-over-backing-brexit

Both main UK parties are in chaos. The UK Parliament itself is in chaos.

‘Once I built a Parliament: Now it’s Gone

Brother can you spare a dime’

Take Back Control and then what?

A calm clear statement from Margaret Beckett.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/31/margaret-beckett-brexit-public-vote-dangerous-theresa-may

Gordon Brown (that forgotten leader) starts to make sense

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/30/uk-year-extension-brexit-take-back-control

The MPs are having to leave the Palace of Westminster as it is structurally falling down. Perhaps a period in the sticks will allow structural rebuilding in more senses than one.

March 28, 2019

Italy On the Frontiers of Europe

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Immigration, Politics, Theresa may, UK Parliament — derryvickers @ 9:34 am

I cannot support Salvini’s action and his sarcasm, to me, is ‘unfortunate’.

Corriere della Sera and Italian news agencies reported that 108 people were picked up by the tanker Elhiblu 1, and hijacked the vessel when it became clear that it planned to take them back to Libya.

Six nautical miles from Tripoli it suddenly changed course and headed north towards Europe. Migrants in Libya face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape, according to the United Nations and aid groups.

“These are not migrants in distress, they are pirates, they will only see Italy through a telescope,” said Italy’s far-right deputy PM, Matteo Salvini, who has cracked down on migrants, including closing Italy’s ports to NGO rescue boats, since he took office in June last year.

Salvini said that Italy’s ports would remain close. “Poor castaways, who hijack a merchant ship that saved them because they want to decide the route of the cruise,” he said with sarcasm, according to the Ansa press agency.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/27/rescued-migrants-hijack-merchant-ship-off-libya

There has to be extenuating circumstances for ‘hijacking’ and I see this action is one such.

Nevertheless, the EU must come together and work as a whole, on immigrant entry to Europe. Italy and Greece are on the Frontiers of Europe.

And I despise Theresa May, in particular, for her specific action of rejection of all immigrants coming through Europe to the UK for unaccompanied children.

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