well-argued and very convincing short article arguing against the
disturbing new national "security law" which threatens to
turn many acts of public protest (and even plenty of acts that are
not protest at all) into criminal offences.
"The Lleida Provincial
Council is promoting a project entitled ‘Persecuted and Saved’
that aims to identify and mark the principal paths through the
Catalan Pyrenees taken by 80,000 fugitives, 20,000 of whom were
Jewish, in order to escape the Nazi horror during the Holocaust.
will also show the prisons and concentration camps set up to hold
those who were caught. The project has already received a good deal
of interest from Israel, with Alon Bar, Ambassador of Israel to
Spain, visiting the key sites.
Furthermore, Walter Wasercier, CEO of
Israel’s principal airline, EL-AL, and Joan Reñé, President of
Lleida’s Provincial Council, have met in order to discuss setting
up weekly chartered flights between Israel and Lleida-Alguaire
Reñé claims that
the project is an opportunity to “recover the historical memory and
publicize the little-known events that occurred here during the
Holocaust.” Bar summarized the importance of the project with
a Hebrew saying, “to save a soul is to save an entire world”.
also expressed thanks to the Catalan people, many of whom risked
their lives to help save Jews and other refugees who were fleeing
from Nazi barbarism.
A chance for
Jewish people to find their ‘roots’
Bar believes that
many Jewish people may find their roots while exploring the sites
that their relatives used to escape tyranny and certain death. Over
20,000 Jewish refugees are believed to have passed through the
Pyrenees, often taking the harshest and most difficult routes in
order to avoid capture by Nazi soldiers patrolling the area.
Reñé also believes
the project is a good chance for Catalans to better understand and
appreciate the history of the area and the role that their parents
and grandparents played by helping the starving and freezing
survivors that made it over the mountains."
Yes, it still has the
glories of its art, its food, its history and its abundant cultural
riches - but it is also shot-through with corrupt men and women.
I don't just mean Mediterranean Europe or its Eastern bloc
neighbours. If we decide to include Russia in wider Europe then the
point is even clearer.
If we then go on to acknowledge that Turkey
has often been as much a part of Europe as any other more western
land covered with olives and sun-ripened tomatoes, then the case is
water-tight. Near the end of last December, two of Turkey's
government ministers were arrested and, in an open letter to the
Turkish press, a state prosecutor alleged police obstruction of a
every Spaniard, Greek, Italian or Catalan knows that corruption runs
deep through business and government activities, to the point where
many people are no longer shocked by fresh daily or weekly
revelations of it in the media. We know this all too well because
many of us are personally involved in it or we know people who are.
It starts from a young age, in truth - the cheating in school tests,
then self-serving greedy lies to each other and finally, it is only a
small moral step to fiddling the books.
don't pretend that all this only goes on in this part of the world.
As (Berlin-based) Transparency International's most recent annual
survey showed, most country's citizens have formed some damning
judgments on their own homelands. The “Corruption Perceptions
Index” for 2013 concluded that almost 70 percent of the world's
nations are "seriously corrupt or worse." While they found
that “regionally, Eastern Europe and Central Asia ranked the worst,
[but] Western Europe and the EU the best” this does not allow for
the fact that 4 of the top 5 “cleanest” are
northern-European/Scandinavian countries and therefore these rankings
for the region are somewhat skewed.
the channel from the continent, those reluctant and selective
semi-Europeans, the English, have had their own grubby trials to deal
with. Apart from the usual political/finance industry collusion, late
last year in London's atmospheric bear-pit court at the Old Bailey,
22 journalists, editors, police officers and prison workers began
facing charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct.
a separate example, a minority group spokesperson (from British
Future which studies migration and identity) admitted that problems
of electoral corruption had existed for some time. He acknowledged
that “unhealthy relationships” between parties, candidates and
“sections” of communities are continuing, though he maintains it
is actually less of a problem than in the past, with clan-based
politics from first generation migrants. His comments came in
response to a conservative MP who had argued that it was “mainly
the Pakistani community, not the Indian community” that was
responsible for a Scotland Yard investigation that eventually found
no evidence of widespread fraud in postal vote scams in London's
Tower Hamlets area. This came on top of a 2008 finding of guilt
against another conservative local councillor just outside London.
corruption comes in so many different forms and has a thousand faces.
A plan recently approved by the government in Malta is perfectly
designed for malpractice. It will give anyone who wants to purchase a
Malta EU passport the right to reside in any of the other 27 member
states for a one-off fee of 650,000 euros. This policy is being
introduced because, according to the country’s prime minister
Joseph Muscat, it will attract “high value” individuals from
around the world. Apparently, those who purchase passports are then
going to be able to buy citizenship for their immediate family for
just 25,000 euros. A private company called Henley and Partners (who
state that they “run an important government advisory practice”)
will be put in charge of processing the paperwork.(Meanwhile, Spain
is also planning on awarding foreigners residency permits if they buy
a house for more than US$215,000.)
if in fact, as one definition puts it, corruption is “the abuse of
power for private gain... and it hurts everyone who depends on the
integrity of people in a position of authority," the question
must be asked, “Who is not getting hurt from corruption?”