The writing on the wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:00
  • Ciao
  • Floods of East Europeans... leave Britain
  • Plus ça change...
  • Comrade racist?
  • Yes, we have bananas


For three weeks they drifted in the Mediterranean because no European country was willing to take them in. Then the 37 men - reportedly Sundanese refugees - made it… to the safety of an Italian concrete shed surrounded by barbed wire.

They were brought to land by a German aid agency in their own boat. Originally the Italian authorities had refused to receive the ship, arguing that it ought to have docked at its first port of call, Malta. Under pressure, the Italians caved in.

But on their arrival, three Cap Anamur staff were arrested and they now face charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration.

The Italian authorities say the aid group are bleeding heart, do-gooding trouble makers whose claim that the migrants are Sudanese refugees is false, these are people from Ghana and Nigeria. And they did this so people will pay attention to Sudan. (Yes, that place where thousands of people are dying).

What cheek, say the Italian suits. "This is a devastating precedent because it shows Italy to be the soft underbelly of Europe," said the Italian justice minister, Roberto Castelli.

Italy is just full to bursting with refugees after all - 9,169 of them!

Floods of East Europeans... leave Britain

More than half of the Poles who have travelled to Britain to work since 1 May (8,000 out of 15,000) have returned home according to the Guardian. Terrible British weather? No. Slave-labour wages, exorbitant living costs and organised criminals who fleeced them for passports and savings apparently.

Plus ça change...

American military police raided a building belonging to the Iraqi ministry of police recently. They were searching for prisoners who had allegedly been physically abused by Iraqi interrogators.

Run that past us again? The American military police were trying to stop abuses? Yes, but they can't rehabilitate themselves that quickly.

The Iraqi police justified their actions thus: "We beat the prisoners because they are bad people. But we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or fuck them like you did."

Comrade racist?

The South African neo-nazi Eugene Terreblanche, former leader of the "Afrikaans Resistance Movement" (AWB) was released after serving three years for attempted murder on 11 June. According to Reuters and Associated Press reports, he was greeted by "400 supporters" as he rode from prison on a black horse through the town of Potchefstroom.

Terreblanche was imprisoned for organising a series of bomb attacks in the run up to the first post-apartheid elections in 1994. Terreblanche's lawyer also announced that the AWB, will now be "renewed".

Neues Deutschland and the German Press Agency have meanwhile reported that Eugene Terreblanche was welcomed by a celebration of his release - organised by the comrades from the South African Communist Party. ND is the daily paper of the Ex-Communist PDS in Germany. How strange… but maybe not.

Just recently the former party of apartheid, the National Party, formerly led by Pik Bowtha and P.W. Deklerk, has announced it is abandoning its independence and has been welcomed into the ANC.

Yes, we have bananas

Fair trade goods are supposed to provide extra cash to help poor farmers, to fund education, health-care and training projects and so on.

But beware, retailers sometimes charge huge markups on fair-trade goods while promoting themselves as good corporate citizens. They get away with it because consumers can be given little or no information about how much of a product's price goes to farmers and are prepared to pay "top dollar" for fair trade goods.

Sainsbury's has sold fair-trade bananas at more than quadruple the price of conventional bananas - and more than 16 times what growers receive.

They won't disclose their banana margins, but industry executives estimate British supermarkets pay their suppliers about 71 cents a pound for fair-trade bananas from the Dominican Republic. If that's the case, Sainsbury's is earning almost $2 a pound.

Last year, global sales of fair-trade goods surpassed $700 million.

Wall Street Journal

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