Monday, 22 August 2016

Toots Thielemans - The Passing of a Jazz Legend

All good things must come to an end.

And so, Belgium is mourning the passing of one of the greatest of Jazz legends, Toots Thielemans.

Toots died in his sleep last night. He wasn't ill, he had just played his heart out, day after day, year after year, and at the age of 94 he just got too tired.

I last heard him play live outside the European Parliament. I don't like crowds, so I wasn't actually there, but I lived virtually next door. I watched it live on TV with the sound off, and opened my terrace doors so I could hear it for real.

As in the USA there is country music, so in Belgium there is Jazz. Toots Thielemans will be much missed here.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Another UKIP MEP being set-up?

History would appear to be repeating itself the the UKIP camp in Brussels.

Welsh MEP Nathan Gill is being investigated for abusing European Parliamentary funds. He was unaware of the investigation into him.

We have seen this at least twice before. Fall foul of the party leadership, and allegations will be made. It happened to Tom Wise, and it happened to Nikki Sinclaire.

Tom Wise unexpectedly changed his plea in court to guilty, thus sparing Nigel Farage from taking the stand and having to answer questions on oath about investigations into his own affairs, something he very much wanted to avoid. To shut down the case completely it was vital that somebody was found guilty.

The official who had investigated Tom's case told me afterwards in Brussels that he, and his superior, were astonished that this had even gone to court, but that he realised when he was called to give evidence that this was a 'stitch-up'.

Nikki Sinclaire had challenged Farage for the party leadership, exposed far-right elements in Farage's political group in Brussels, and most importantly had tabled the petition calling for a referendum on membership of the EU. In order for Farage to take back the political space he had lost, Nikki Sinclaire had to be taken out. And so the police raids and the arrests began.

Nikki was cleared of all charges, after an astonishingly long 'investigation', but the damage to her political career was done.

Now it is Gill's turn.

Why I am not sure, but he has clearly been perceived as a threat to somebody, and we can only speculate as to who that might be. His fellow MEPs will tut tut and say how they support him, but not one of them will actually extend a hand to help him. They will be too scared.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Russians Kicked Out Of Crimea By The British

Of course, history in Russia is presented selectively, and the truth can change depending upon who is in charge, and what his agenda is.

I have been told, often, by those blinded by their love of Putin, that Crimea belongs to Russia because, well, they always thought it did. International law be damned.

On that basis, Crimea belongs to Great Britain and her allies, because in 1856 we ( the British) kicked the Russian army out of the Crimean peninsula.

Of course, this humiliating defeat is airbrushed out of Russian history. This defeat was a precursor to Russia's humiliation in the First World War, and their subsequent disgraceful collaboration with Nazi Germany in the early months of the Second World War.

Some photos here of the memorial in Pall Mall, London, to the British victory over the Russian armies in Crimea.

You won't read about this in any Russian history book, of course. Russian history books contain mostly lies.