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17 September 2014

J’accuse: ‘Flimkien... Direzzjon’, Cut & Paste

 - Sunday, 10 May 2009, 00:00

by Jacques René Zammit

‘Dal Notaro’

It’s past midnight in the Grand Duchy and I am back from a birthday celebration at one of the many restaurants that try to pass for Italian in this corner of Europe. “Dal Notaro” is no different from any of the myriad other eateries run by second or third generation Italians who still believe they can con you into thinking that a quickly assembled plate of prosciutto and Luxembourg mozzarella can be passed off as the real McCoy. The place does retain a bit of the Italian charm, if by charm you mean the waiter insisting on keeping the wine list well hidden and leaving guests with no alternative but a coy submission to his choice after a feeble attempt at resistance.

It really is irritating when a waiter tries to force feed a large group by hard selling one particular entrée or main course in order to minimise the variety at table and facilitate chef’s duties. Anyway, the filletto al Gorgonzola is still lying heavily on my stomach despite my downing a generous portion of grappa in order to tame the beast that was probably still alive at the moment of ingestion. In any case, I was not there for the food but for a birthday celebration.

Eurovision

I know it’s soon that time again, and I don’t mean the song competition invented exclusively in order to highlight the humorous intellect of Terry Wogan. No. What I mean is the Euro-vision or the way of seeing things from an expat’s perspective. It is probably one of the reasons why a night out with fellow expats, who will shortly be scrambling for a few places on a plane for a quick visit home, can be interesting. Join us at a table and you would wonder whether this is the seat of some conspiracy – a coup in the making.

Really. Who do we think we are? All we seem to speak about is “Malta needs this”, “Malta needs that” and “if I could change something in Malta then I would...”. In a way it is ironic because it also means that we have retained our busybody identity even though we are far from home. Have you ever seen a group of Britons, Germans or French sitting at a restaurant and plotting about how they would change the politics ‘back home’ if they had a chance? I guess not. Only in Malta right? In Malta, and among the Maltese expats.

Yes. We too are having our discussions about why we bother with the Eurovision. We too are rather concerned about immigration being the most important topic in the forthcoming European Parlia-ment elections, and we too have a penchant for that liberal democrat party that will never really come to life in Malta. Interestingly enough, we do so from within the perspective of the European institutions. Tonight’s event happened to be attended almost exclusively by employees of that venerable institution that dispenses justice throughout the realm of Europa. Translators, administrators and a referendaire mingled and joked discussing serious matters like anarchy and liberty...

‘Par condicio’

Back on the island of milk and honey the race is heating up. With less than a month to go for the European Parliament elections, the efforts of the candidates to be seen are multiplying and that inevitably means that unless you decide to impose a personal embargo on all forms of media you will have to hear what they have to say. It’s a great sign of a healthy democracy when its candidates are all given a chance to speak and say what they have to offer.

There could be some hitches of course. Like the fact that some candidates are backed, by their own admission, by machines which give them better exposure. Some parties own TV stations and radios and can play around within the limits of the law to give their candidates that extra little push. Other parties have to grovel before that excuse of an authority (Broadcasting) in order to be able to air a paid programme on private TV.

Normal Lowell has been a late entrant in the race. According to an unnamed Electoral Commissioner, Lowell has been graced by the recent amendments to the Constitution allowing candidates with a suspended sentence to run for elections. I am still waiting to see how this interpretation develops. The European Parliament Elections Act has not been amended and that should technically mean that Lowell should be struck off. In any case, J’accuse has always been of the opinion that politicians of the Lowellian kind should not be given any excuse to play the martyr. Let the people decide and hopefully there will be another poor showing by the extremist movement with a ludicrous Latinised name.

David Scissorhands

One man who has been desperately establishing his presence on all the media is David Casa. The outgoing MEP had two articles in the MSM this week, one on each English daily. It must be tough work for the PN candidates trying to live up to all the promotional yada set out by Chief Honcho Simon. You know all that talk about PN candidates being the bestest experts and fully deserving of your vote.

Well, J’accuse has been busy investigating this claim and David Casa’s article in the Independent on 5th May provided the right start for our investigation. Don’t even ask me what the article was about – it’s not even worth going into. But here was Casa, desperate to be as ubiquitous as the RTTM’s, the Demicolis, the Micallef Stafraces and the Cuschieris of this world. He was probably also desperate to appear to be in the know as SuperSimon himself.

Hence the article. Whoever bothered to read through the article must have probably decided that watching paint dry on a wall would have been more interesting. Those who like myself were arrogantly irritating enough to google whole paragraphs of the article got more than they had originally bargained for.

Always the perfect freethinker, Casa themed his article on the lines of the party campaign: job creation. Luckily for him, this was on the same day that the EU announced shrinkage of four per cent in the EU economy for the coming year. What Casa forgot, alas, is that we are on the verge of Wolfram-Alpha – the new computational search engine. Until it is fully functional, a combination of J’accuse and Google can examine the article for voters and let them draw their own conclusions.

And what did J’accuse find? Well, J’accuse found that most of the article signed David Casa was written by persons other than David Casa, and I am not referring to those servant minions who are scooped up to Brussels as assistants to MEPs. Nope. I am referring to information pages on the EC Commissions’ website, which information pages were, to use the technological jargon, cut and pasted by David “Scissorhands” Casa into what he claims to be his own article.

Don’t get me wrong. The information is in the public domain and I am quite sure that the Commission will not be pursuing anyone for plagiarism. What really gets on my nerves is the fact that there was no acknowledgement of this full-fledged cutting and pasting by our aspiring second timer MEP. Casa passed the material off as his own. He follows in the footsteps of that other Nationalist candidate Pippo Psaila who had already carved his name in the hallowed halls of Nationalist Plagiarists.

They do run for the party that plagiarised the main electoral slogan of a French party, but more and more candidates are riding the cut&paste shortcut. My googling of Casa’s last paragraph produced more mind-boggling revelations about the originality of the panoply of candidates that the PN has deemed fit to represent us in Brussels. In fact, Casa’s last paragraph was taken from an EPP report (Warsaw Summit or something) and... surprise, surprise, the Google results also pointed to an article by Vince Farrugia (another PN candidate) in MaltaToday.

Pushing the wrong buttons

So the next time you feel like getting your kicks and laughing at the Labour MEP farce of button this and button that, do spare a thought for the kind of buttons Casa & Co seem to be pressing to keep ahead of the competition. Most times it’s the combination of “CTRL+C” followed by “CTRL+V” – what in common parlance has become “copy and paste”.

I’ve given up reminding you what a farce this whole business of candidates has become. That it’s a rambling circus without values is no longer a hidden secret. You no longer have guarantees for what you are voting for, and the political parties behind the lists provide no solid backbone on which you can rely if all else fails. Blatant opportunism and hopeless prostitution of ideals has led to a hodgepodge of quickly assembled (and copied) propaganda. Which is why J’accuse still insists on converting to picking out the persons who will represent you while looking beyond the Titanic parties.

In my case for example, I will be looking to choose one representative for each formation – a Green first (least chances of getting elected so most in need of my vote), the best Socialist (a tough one there but I need to identify who could best win over the Socialist group vote in times of dire need) and then SimonSays (for want of anything better and despite his recent economic treatment of the truth). My vote is one that hopes to give Malta the best weight possible in Parliament. It has nothing to do with parties – I cannot afford to waste it that way.

In an ideal world – were we a bright enough little country – we would have decided to split the seats available in an equitable manner. For example, two Socialist, one EPP, one Green and one Lib Dem (Socialists get one more because they will be largest party this time round apparently – we can always add one to EPP later). We would then vote for the best Maltese representative in each group (and NO, I do not mean Emmy Bezzina or John Zammit for LD) in order to have as much influence as possible in the major formations.

Boobs

That would be an ideal world. In this world we have to suffer the ignominy of being spoken to condescendingly by a bunch of wannabe MEPs who prioritise party fidelity before national effectiveness. The EP is about much more than pushing the national agenda – but pragmatically speaking and quite frankly we must make the most of our miserly five seats.

In this non-ideal world, Malta and Italy act like best friends after a childish debacle. The flows of illegal immigrants will be swept under the Libyan carpet. See no evil, hear no evil and suddenly the hands of Maroni and Gonzi are as tainted as those of the waterboarding Americans. It’s a tough choice – one that is beyond the reaches of Inhobbkom Joseph who still deems it fit to capitalise on such a sensitive issue without an inkling of a clue on to how to behave internationally.

In this non-ideal world we can afford to almost forget about a virus while it spreads faster than before. We can still wonder whether it is a conspiracy, while also wondering how when a virus kills a few thousand everyone wants a mask but when another virus kills millions some illuminated geniuses still advise against wearing a condom.

In this non-ideal world we find weird ideas about discrimination. Like the courageous Becky Williams, size 30G, who started a campaign against Marks & Spencer because of its policy of charging two pounds more for the larger sized bras. She won and M&S admitted their underwear boob. Who knows what kind of campaign we will need to make to get our very own PLPN to admit their many boobs? Meanwhile, we are only a month away from choosing how many boobs we send to Brussels. The Choice is Yours.

Jacques has been busy examining cut and paste jobs over at http://www.jacquesrenezammit.com/jaccuse. There is a nice reward

available for whoever can solve the problem of the error message that

insists on appearing at the

top of the blog.

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