48 hours left! Keep GM out of Europe Commissioner Tonio Borg.

source: Twitter

source: Twitter

This morning I received an email from avaaz.org – an online activist community which promotes activism on several issues like climate change, human rights and in this instance genetically modified food.

The email explained how Commissioner Tonio Borg will be, in the coming days “granting approval to the first new genetically modified crop across Europe in 16 years despite serious doubts about GM’s long term health and environmental impacts.”

The motion is set to approve Du Pont’s Maize 1507 which is a crop designed to produce its own pesticide. Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech has already rejected the crop because of scientific evidence which concerns safety of GM crops. These include “contamination of organic crops and the environment; their impact on climate due to the excessive need for pesticides; the destruction of biodiversity and local agriculture; and the effects of GM food on public health” says azaaz.org.

Malta together with another 18 EU member states have already given the thumbs down to this crop. However, Tonio Borg has pushed through a compromise. This will let each state decide for itself whether to allow cultivation. Thos goes against EU wide policy and would open up countries to lawsuits from companies who want to push this crop.

It is well knows that Tonio Borg listens to us Maltese and that is why you need to write an email to him and let him know what you think of this.

Here is my message to EU Commissioner Tonio Borg;

To EU Commissioner Tonio Borg,
Former Maltese Commissioner John Dalli approved a GM potato and his decision was reversed. Please don’t make the same mistake. I have personally really admired your work especially in the height of the Libya crisis and I was rooting for you when you were being grilled to become EU Commissioner. So far you didn’t disappoint (especially after you halted the use of bee killing pesticides)! Please do not approve Du Pont’s GM corn.

Kindest regards,
Mel Hart
(ID card number)

The unacceptable face of racism

Norman Lowell - Imperium EuropaNorman Lowell has been seen at the forefront of a far right movement in Malta for years now. Him and his party are the Maltese equivalent of another swivel-eyed loon in the UK – Nigel Farage and the Ukip party. But while Farage has been dubbed the acceptable face of racism (as if something as horrible as racism can ever have an acceptable face), listening to Norman Lowell speak will unearth everything that is wrong about racism.

With the MEP elections coming up, Imperium Europa have stepped up their PR to try to get more votes. How do they do this? By scaring people and presenting their opinions as facts. Their YouTube channel has a running theme of “Informa ruħek” (inform yourself) and presents nothing but scaremongering.

Just in case you really want to inform yourself about migration of non EU nationals have a look at this infographic drawn up by the European Commission which, unlike the arguments of Imperium Europa, is based on actual number and statistics.

The recently banned Imperium Europa MEP advert is what you would expect from a far right party. The advert uses fear and sweeping statements to influence and is filled with racist undertones. Even though the advert says that Imperium Europa are against illegal immigration it uses images of refugees and people of colour fighting in Paceville. There is also a picture of a patient’s hand suffering from Ebola, a disease whose symptoms start within 2 days after infection. Why am I mentioning this? Because it is unlikely that anyone with this virus survives such a journey but since it looks scary and only parts of Africa are hit with this horrible virus then IE’s reasoning seems to be “might as well stick it in the advert”.

Imperium Europa saying they are against illegal immigration is misleading, especially when seeing the imagery used in the video which is meant to incite hate and fear. Many have argued against the decision to ban the video saying this is curtailing freedom of speech, but freedom of speech is not universal and hate speech does not fall under it.

What is really worrying about the story is the fact that the Broadcasting Authority approved the video and only after public outcry did it decide to ban it.

The video is available elsewhere, on Facebook and YouTube. I’m sharing it (and I have given this a lot of thought) because anyone with two brain cells can find it and because I cannot stand this having 15 thumbs up on YouTube and only 2 thumbs down. Comments are also disabled on the video (surprise, surprise).

Below is the banned advert, however if you do choose to watch it and feel like Imperium Europa might have a point then you owe it to yourself to have a look at the picture and video further down.

The picture is a screen grab from a video released by an Italian newspapers La Repubblica. In it you can see two victims of the sunken boat off Lampedusa, a man and a woman hugging each other. Death is what migrants from Africa face when crossing the Mediterranean sea. Pushbacks, which is what Imperium Europa stand for, is a barbaric act.

Lampedusa tragedy

The images in the video below are disturbing so please proceed with caution.

Finally, I know I will probably get bombarded through the comments section by Imperium Europa fans for this post. I will be removing any comments which break the rules of common decency. Remember that your freedom of speech is not universal.


What Happens in Brussels Stays in Brussels – Ġuże Stagno style

What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels by Guze StagnoIt was the sweet irony of life that I received the book that same day I had a shocking encounter at the local courier office. I’m mentioning this because the racist idiot who I met there could have well been one of the characters in the story (Commander and Co, for those who have already read the book), one of a colorful lot of canvassers visiting the Belgian capital and meeting the famed Labour MEP Charlo Pulis.

What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels, published by Merlin Publishers, is a colorful prism of stereotypes which we all meet in our daily lives. From the know it all rampant racist to the sleazy politician to the good intentioned journo.

There is much to be admired in Stagno’s new book. Firstly, and unequivocally, is the effortless read. Few local writers are able to drive the story along in such a smooth way. The lists and the dialogue are just a few techniques Stagno uses to achieve this, and it really takes great skill. I managed to gobble up the book up in around 7 hours collectively. The pop references also aid in placing the story in a specific time and place and give it a zesty gossipy feel, making it even harder to put down.

The social commentary is fascinating and at times I yearned for more characters rather than the development of the story. This possibly happens because the linear nature of the narrative doesn’t leave the reader guessing as to how things will eventually unfold. This is not in any way a criticism, it’s probably more about me being greedy and wanting more of such a brilliant book. This sheer brilliance can be found in Stagno’s attention to detail, that same detail that slaps us straight in the face in the book but in real life goes by unnoticed. Well known characters we meet in our every day life our colleagues, family members, neighbors, they are all there being scrutinized by Gustav’s judgmental eye and Stagno’s discerning pen.

The book is also quite funny and also has a few laugh out loud moments. One of my favorite passages describes the frenzy locals in Brussels get into whenever Twistees are available.

Another favorite moment is the kinetic sexual scene. With a very apt chapter title – is-sexy – whetting the readers appetite for the much anticipated action. Some cunnilingus and messy descriptions later – this is not your average 50 shades of grey sex, this is raw, testosterone filled, male perspective sex – I did get myself all hot and bothered. And finally, some description of oral sex. I am 30 years old and this is the first time I read anything of this nature in Maltese literature. Who knows, maybe Stagno will tempt some men out there to learn more about the allusive clitoris (and for that, the female race thanks you dear Ġuże Stagno).

The illustrations by Jimmy Grima also complement the narrative. Most of these are drawn in first person perspective, aiding the reader to better see the protagonist’s point of view.

My take on this one? Read it! No honestly, either click on this link and order it online or get yourself to your nearest bookstore and buy it. It’s a very enjoyable read, it will make you laugh but it will also make you think. Stagno definitely hit a few good sweet spots with this one.

And finally to all those who have read the book… Cesspit? Any thoughts?


10 most shocking comments on Cecilia Malmstrom’s Facebook Page

For all this talk about patriotism and nationalism I am surely feeling ashamed of being Maltese, and this is not the first time in the past few days. Never have I seen such abusive behavior online, especially on Facebook. Even during the general elections there was a more serene feel when browsing through comments. All this abuse is being thrown about on Cecilia Malmstrom Facebook page. She is the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and during the MT Salamis debacle pleaded to Malta to take in the 120 immigrants rescued at sea.

Once again the Government decided to stomp its feet and the immigrants were sent to Italy. Yet what happened after this decision was taken sent a cold shiver down my spine. A considerable amount of Maltese took to Malmstrom’s Facebook page to shout out their opinion. Their opinion being;

  1. The why don’t you take them yourself argument,
  2. The we are Maltese, no one steps on us, argument, and
  3. Abuse, lots of it.

This is shameful, and frankly, useless. The only thing this flock of sheep is managing to do is show what a xenophobic nation the Maltese really are – and this not just to the rest of us, who are sitting here reading these comments incredulously, but to the rest of the world.

Thankfully Cecilia Malmstrom’s page seems to be well maintained and most of the abuse is being deleted. However going through the hundreds of comments you still find the shocking utterance here and there. Here are a list of the 10 most shocking comments I could find.

Shocking comments on Ceciliam Malmstrom's page

Special mention goes out to this person (below comment) who posted something like 17 times on Malmstron’s page. What annoys me most about this breed of people is this presumption of speaking for the rest of us in Malta.

image 2

I understand that this has nothing to do with politics – red, blue, whatever – but there does seem to be this feeling that it is OK to do this because the Prime Minister is on ‘our’ side.

image 3

Joseph Muscat better take his own advice and wake up to smell the coffee. A stratum of Maltese people are showing off their true colours – pure ignorance and racism that is – because they are misreading your message (yes I’m giving the benefit of the doubt). It is high time for the Prime Minister to start condemning such talk.

This post has been amended to remove the names of those who spouted such abuse on Malmstrom’s page becuase apparently a lot of people are OK to dish it but then cannot take it.