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Sunday, 04 February 2007
Poland

dziennik polska

This is a Polish language newspaper on display on the main paper stand in the supermarket. It is a sign of the high level of recent Polish immigration into the UK.  In August last year it was reported that 600,000 immigrants from Eastern Europe had entered the UK, more than half of them Polish.  The UK is not the only country thus affected: Sweden and Ireland have also opened their doors to Eastern European migrants.

I found this 2005 article interesting because it focuses on the history of Polish immigration:

For more than a century, Poland has been one of the largest sending areas in Central and Eastern Europe and a vast reservoir of labor for many countries in Western Europe and North America. Poland’s geographical and political location predestined it to struggle amidst the interplay between the West and the East, in both historical and cultural perspectives as well as economic and social contexts.

It goes on to look at the future challenges Poland faces, although the prediction (in 2005) that emmigration from Poland was dropping off was perhaps a bit off the mark.

Posted by bigblue on 04/02/2007 at 10:01 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Saturday, 03 February 2007
Planes Trains and Automobiles

magazine rack

The stationary shop at London’s Victoria Station has a whole section on planes. Although there are two titles in here about automobiles, there is a separate section for motor cars and bikes.  The train spotters also have their own section, as do the model railway entheusiasts. I once met someone who worked for Bombadier in Derby and he said that he believed the fascination that certain people have for a topic like railways, trains, planes and automobiles has something to do with a type of personality who likes to know everything about a defined subject matter. There is a finite scope of knowledge (with a “factual bent”) that one can have on one of these subjects (as opposed to a topic like 19th Century Germany Philosophy) and they are relatively static subject areas.  So you could say there is a low entry level to becoming a “know it all”.  That was the gist of this acquaintance’s theory. However I am sure that some people just develop an interested in planes, trains and automobiles as a child and it becomes a hobby like any other.

Posted by bigblue on 03/02/2007 at 10:34 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (4) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Friday, 02 February 2007
Underground

underground commuter

Yesterday I took the train into London, then rumbled slowly across London to work on the Piccadilly Line.  It was not a great experience: I should have taken the Metropolitan Line. The train stopped at unscheduled stops - between stations as well as at stations that don’t appear on the map. I had to reassure an Italian man that we were on the right train as he was concerned that we had not reached his destination. At one point the train stopped at an angle (due to the camber of the track) and he announced that they were working on the line, making tilting motions with his arms at the same time. I looked at him and gave a vague nod. He took the nod as agreement whie the other people in the carriage took it as representing me in thought (at least that is what I hoped). The Italian man alighted at Acton Town and I went back to my iPod.

Recommended link: Pod of Funk.

Posted by bigblue on 02/02/2007 at 06:44 AM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (3) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
Thursday, 01 February 2007
keystone

keys quartz

I used this photograph in an earlier design of this blog, and although it’s not a brilliant photo I am quite attached to it because of the composition and in particular the old keys which bring back memories of the house where my room was locked by a key like this. There was only one key to the room, and we couldn’t get another cut, because the locksmiths didn’t work with these old designs any more.

Yesterday brought news that that South African rogue, Sol Kerzner, was awarded a super-casino licence in the UK.  In the 1980s Kerzner (and his lawyer David Bloomberg) admitted to bribing apartheid officials and politicians with millions of Rands to secure exclusive gambling rights in the bantustan territories of South Africa.  It’s in this obituary to one of the corrupt politicians:

Three months later, however, the Transkei security services showed me and other senior officers documents, including bank statements and transfer records, proving that casino magnate Sol Kerzner had paid George Matanzima’s cabinet R2-million for exclusive gambling rights in Transkei….

The Kerzner bribe was referred to a commission of inquiry, which confirmed that the money was paid to Matanzima, who distributed it among his cabinet ministers….

George Matanzima was later sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in this scandal, serving three. The military government also tried to extradite Kerzner and other South Africans to face the music, including directors of JALC Construction. South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Department flatly refused to cooperate.

Kerzner and Bloomberg (a former Mayor of Cape Town) admitted the payments, but said that it had been “extorted” from them.  In the end they both avoided prosecution under shady circumstances and legal delays.

Hat tip: Ministry of Truth

Posted by bigblue on 01/02/2007 at 06:42 AM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (4) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share
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