“Through the awful grace of God.” #Elections2016

Thanks to Barb Taub for her blog post. I had never heard RFK’s speech before. It certainly made me wonder how history would have been changed had this Kennedy and Martin Luther King not fallen as victims of assassins’ bullets.

I haven’t blogged about my opinions on this upcoming election, yet, but anyone who knows me on Facebook or for real is  well aware of them. They boil down to this: The election of Donald J Trump would be a catastrophe for the world as we know it. Period.


Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. —Aeschylus (525-426 BCE) Thi…

Source: “Through the awful grace of God.” #Elections2016


Filed under Fiction and Other Truths


A time-out from the cares of the world?

Monday morning I headed out to Frankfurt for an appointment made a couple of months previously. Thank God for my sat-nav which would guide me to the location in a city where I rarely drive. But even with that support, I felt up-tight about the trip which was actually to take me to a place to relax.

The moment the car was parked I sighed with relief. And the closer I got to the 18th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel, I began to feel more at ease. Entering the Heaven Spa, I found the place empty but awash in the kind of all-world piano / flute music that sounds vaguely oriental and is meant to relax you immediately. It was working.

I don’t often allow myself this kind of decadent pleasure, but I’d received a gift certificate from my son D for my birthday. Or was it Christmas? Hard to say since they happen on the same day. At any rate, I had to take advantage of it before it expired and there I was, in a deserted spa, as if I were their only customer and they were only there to meet my needs.

I can’t deny finding that idea attractive. And yet, out in the world around me, hell had broken loose. Weeks before, Britain had decided to leave the EU for all the wrong reasons and was struggling to find a path forwards. The USA was in the grip of a divisive presidential election campaign that was pitting one megalomaniac against the first woman candidate who, unfortunately, has more than her fair share of detractors.

Not to mention that all over the place people were being murdered in the name of Allah, or by individuals feeling at odds with their world. Bullets were flying, bombs were going off, throats being slit, and trucks driven into crowds celebrating liberté, egalité and fraternité. How could I just let myself be pampered while across Europe people mourned their loved ones and faced shattered lives?

Good question. Nevertheless,  on that Monday morning I found myself in that enviable situation. The music started having its way with me and lured me into a separate place where a talented masseuse massaged away the cares of the world. Or tried to. And to an extent she succeeded. My eyelids closed, my limbs relaxed, my thoughts were set free for a blissful one and a half hours to think more pleasant thoughts than those I’d brought with me.

I started mentally composing a blog post – for me, that passes as relaxation. I pondered how I could write about the massage, of the physical release I feel when warm hands stretch and knead muscles. About what an ephemeral experience it was. The relaxation, I knew, would be fleeting. If I were lucky, I would benefit from it the rest of the day, until gradually all the nasty news bytes would catch up with me again. And heaven forbid, another tragedy could flash up as breaking news. After all, what right do I have to let the sorrows of the world go by without taking at least some notice?

Not that my thoughts will bring anyone back to life or ease the pain of those left behind. Nor will my single vote ensure that the American people do not destroy themselves in this election. However, I can’t help but think of one of my favorite poems and feel that in these perilous times, I mustn’t forget this message. Amazing, how timely it is.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

John Donne, 1624

An excerpt from Meditation 17


Filed under BREXIT, Disasters, Europe, Great Britain, Poetry, Terror

Frans Timmermanns’ View of Brexit


I would like to share Frans Timmermanns’ Facebook article, elaborating his view, and indeed his sorrow, at Britain’s choice of leaving the EU.

Timmermanns is the Vice-President of the European Commission, and as we read in this piece, we recognize a true European in education and outlook.

Some of the comments/reactions to his words are also quite illuminating. I have not commented on his page, but as you may well assume, my sharing this is my way of agreeing with his views.


Leave a comment

Filed under BREXIT, Disasters, Europe, Great Britain, Migration, Politics



The Continuing Saga of a Land Cursed

By Getting That for Which It Voted


Keeping up with the press in the last 10 days has been an exercise in head shaking, if not outright head banging. Two days after the Brexit debacle, the country was already in denial, and the disaffected were calling for a repeat referendum. And a lot of them had voted for Brexit!

All of a sudden, all that the leave campaign had promised if the UK left the EU became relativized. Like the 350 million pounds that would go straight into improving the National Health system. No, sorry, they couldn’t guarantee that. Well heck, just because they wrote it on the sides of big red buses and drove them non-stop around the land, that didn’t mean it would happen.

And well heck again, maybe that’s NOT what we pay into the EU every week any way – as the remain side told everybody, but no one seemed to want to hear it. It was the gross payment, and not the net payment, which is calculated after all that Britain gets back as support for various projects and the rebates that they jealousy accrued over the decades. In the end the figure was more accurately stated as closer to the 190 million pound mark that was paid for services rendered.

Then there was the claim that Britain could, on its own terms, stay in the EU single market but without the free movement of workers, i.e. immigrants from other EU states. During the campaign EU politicians had already burst that bubble. But the leave campaign wouldn’t listen and kept promising this. On day one after the vote, I heard the only UKIP (the right-wing anti-Europe party) Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell, holding forth to a BBC interviewer that Britain could now demand this and demand that and would get it. On which planet does this man reside? (Or what is his drug of choice?)

All sorts of other important facts, like the actual relationship of the EU to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, seem to have fallen by the wayside. That these states also pay their dues to the EU for the privilege of access to the market – without any right to participate in making the laws that regulate that trade – seems to have got lost in the rhetoric on how Britain would determine the future set-up. Doesn’t that sound like a bargain for the Brits? Just the ticket?

Then there are the Scots and the Northern Irish. The former are already looking for a date for their next independence referendum. They are devoted believers in the European project. The Irish are considering their options. Somehow reunite with the Irish Republic? Will the entire United Kingdom disintegrate over this issue?

An issue that should have never been brought to vote in a referendum?

On Saturday tens of thousands demonstrated in London to stop Brexit. London voted clearly to remain – let’s face it, of all parts of the UK, they have the most to lose – but at this demonstration, people from all over the country came to protest what was about to happen. The petition for a second referendum already has more than 4 million signatures.


Then of course, with David Cameron stepping down, the race for the next Tory (the currently ruling Conservative Party) leader got into full swing. After Theresa May (current Home Secretary and a remain supporter) and Michael Gove (Justice Minister and Brexit campaigner) announced their bids for leadership, everyone waited with bated breath for Boris Johnson to throw his hat into the leadership ring. BoJo’s speech reflected his personality, albeit somewhat subdued. He had canvassed the Parliamentary Tories and found that at this juncture, he would not be vying for the leadership post after all – and thus, he would not be the next Prime Minister. It would seem that the Parliamentary Tories – who would have to elect him – were more remain than leave. He found no support. That’s the tricky thing about power poker.

BTW, Gove, after maintaining religiously that he was not interested in the top job, basically stabbed BoJo in the back with his declaration. (New nickname: Brutus.)

This was a while after BoJo assassinated Cameron by means of a late switch to the (dark) Brexit side.

Oh yes, I must not forget to mention that the leavers seem to have been totally overwhelmed by their success and seem to have no idea of what to do next. Cameron is leaving it to his successor, sometime in the autumn, to initiate the exit process by activating Article 50 of the EU contract. But the EU wants them to start the process today.

The opposition Labour Party is also in disarray. Their leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anachronistic left-winger, is seen is a huge mistake. How fast can they get shot of him, just in case a general election winds up being called?? It’s difficult: He will not go softly into….

The campaign slogan that Brexiteers banged on about incessantly was: “Let’s get our country back!”

Well, now they’ve got it. And they have no clue what to do with it.

So dear readers, the dog’s dinner currently on the menu in Britain has been served. Enjoy your meal.

I trust this round-up gives you an idea of what’s been happening in Britain. Feel like shaking your head in disbelief? Feel like banging it against the nearest wall? I know the feeling. Sure, go ahead.







Filed under BREXIT, Europe, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Politics

BREXIT – Now a Done Deal

We woke up this morning to the news: The British had voted to leave the EU. Although I am not a Brit, I have been married to one for 41 years and I lived there for a few years, way back in the 70s. I feel a great connection to this country, its culture, history and people. I can’t help thinking that they have made a short-sighted and fatal decision.

After listening to David Cameron’s statement this morning, I initially felt sorry for him. He presented himself as professional and unemotional about the results, reflecting the consummate politician that he is. He announced his resignation, which seems right when losing such a vote.

My sympathy has been draining away in the hours since, as I reminded myself how unnecessary this entire circus was, that it was the product of Cameron’s wooing the EU sceptics in the ranks of the Tory party to ensure his election in 2010. So in fact, that promise has come back to deprive him of that very job.

Then there’s Boris Johnson, another talented politician, former mayor of the great city of London, who campaigned to leave with the full force of his personality. (I will refrain from making unjustified comparisons with a certain US presidential candidate – that would be wholly unfair.) As a contender for leadership of the Tory party, and thus prime ministerial candidate, he has everything to gain from the leave vote. But I wouldn’t dare suggest that his enthusiasm for Brexit stemmed from his own ambitions to higher rank.

While waiting for Boris to arrive at the venue for his statement, BBC World News showed briefly his departure in a taxi from his north London home. Surrounded by a retinue of police, a pack of news people and a crowd of London’s citizens, the sound of booing could not be overheard. After all, London was carried by the remain vote and it is London that will bear the brunt of the changes. So greetings to all those Londoners who once loved their eccentric Mayor!

To give his statement, Boris put on his most statesman-like air – not that he’d combed his trademark blond mane from his face. He does, after all, have the most to gain from the success of the leave campaign and his buddy David’s fall. He sees Britain’s exit from the EU as the opportunity to return to the country power over its own fate, to return to the democratic principles that made it into Great Britain.

I see no point in discussing all the consequences of this monumental decision. You probably are already aware of a lot of them. And there is also no doubt that the EU system is not perfect, but it must be improved for all members – not just for Britain – from within, for seen within the context of Europe’s history, it is the best thing that has ever happened to the continent.

My $ 64,000 question for Boris is: If you want Britain to rule itself democratically, how about initiating a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords? Create in its place a legislative body, elected according to proportional representation, that truly acts as a check and balance to the House of Commons. And of course, the people must be allowed to decide this. For neither House could be relied on to question the legitimacy of the present, albeit traditional, division of power, evolved over centuries. To me, it seems the next logical step.

Then there is, of course, the question of David Cameron’s successor. Today he is reckoning that the Tory Party Conference in October will choose a new leader, and consequently, a new prime minister.

NO, MR CAMERON! That may well turn into wishful thinking. An early election will have to be called! Just a shame that the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn are not in a position to take advantage of these developments.

This vote is also a game-changer on the issue of Scottish devolution. The Scots have voted with a huge majority to stay in the EU. Who could blame them for re-initiating their referendum to leave Britain? And this time round, I would be on their side. And the EU would probably look favourably on their application to join the club. It sounds like the Northern Irish may also get the hang of this referendum thing and start their very own movement for an independent north to either join the Republic of Ireland or join the EU as an independent country.

Is the great United Kingdom set to unravel in the next few years and become the dis-United Kingdom? How exactly will the divorce proceeding between GB and the EU go? I for one am curious as to whether Britain will really benefit from this move. It may turn into a Pyrrhic victory.


Filed under BREXIT, Europe, Great Britain, Northern Ireland


After several months of silence, caused to a great extent by my inability to fathom the goings-on of our world, this blogger finally returns to cyberspace, with no solutions at all. But it is time to share my feeling of helplessness about all the current crises on our planet. Who knows, you may well also be suffering from the same syndrome and appreciate reflecting on it. Here I make a start by broaching the crisis that has Europe reeling.

It all started (or at least reached a new high) when, last summer, the floodgates opened. A rush of human beings, driven from their homes by lunatic IS jihadists or by the bombs their own governments were chucking, suddenly stood at the borders of the EU, seeking refuge and solace, seeking a safe haven from the hell their homelands had become. And it wasn’t even “just” Syrians, but also folk from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and many other African countries that set off on a desperate exodus by land and sea in the hope of reaching EU shores.

I needn’t recap the events since then, for you are all literate. To have missed what’s been happening, you would have needed to have been on an extended vacation on a distant planet. But just to get us on the same page, and braving the risk of oversimplifying the situation, reactions to these developments have been mixed.

As I live in Germany, one of the countries that has been more welcoming than most, I have been reading daily of the ups and downs of dealing with this human inundation. We’ve experienced the rise of certain organizations, mainly in the east of Germany, that reject this migration out of hand as a dilution of their culture and a threat to life as they know it. Is it the fear that they will have less if these people receive help?

These groups hover on the verge of fascism; at best they are populists exploiting the situation. The number of attacks on refugee housing in the form of arson has risen greatly, but not just in the east. The only reason refugees have not been killed by these attacks is that they have been carried out on still-empty locations.

Is it only a matter of time before the perpetrators become murderous enough to burn down a building full of foreign families?

The only good news – but this is a biggie – is that in many, many areas of the country, private support for refugees flourishes. Local authorities have been overwhelmed with the task at hand but are doing what they can as fast as they can. Volunteers in every city and small town (yes, also in the east), who donate their time and efforts to helping these people, have taken up the slack and extended the limited reach of government. Refugees arrive with their world and their families destroyed; the personal involvement of locals like you and me puts a human face on the help offered. When communities open their arms, then there is hope.


Russia joined the fray in September, unfortunately on the side of Bashar al Assad, and this has proven to be a game-changer. The bombing sanctioned by our dear and erstwhile best new friend, President Vladimir Putin, has augmented the torrent of migration to Europe. I can just see this character sitting in his office, rubbing his hands with glee at the chaos he has caused within the European Union.


And that Union is being sorely tested in its unity by this Völkerwanderung. With several former Soviet satellite states reacting with xenophobic zeal and NIMBY mentally, I can only guess that their exposure to the West has not yet been sufficient. That said, there are enough states in Western Europe that are not exactly opening their arms to the needy!

After World War II when Germany lay in ruins, 14 million German refugees from formerly German territories in the east inundated what was left of the country. Those in the west who had survived the war with their houses intact were forced to take refugees into their own homes, and that was the situation for years until more housing was built and people found work. This was not necessarily done cheerfully, according to local stories I’ve heard, but somehow the country was rebuilt, and by the 1950s, Germany found itself in the midst of an unprecedented economic wonder that is the foundation of today’s affluence.


The challenge now facing Germany – and any other European nation that takes up the refugee gauntlet – is far easier in some ways than it was in 1945. Even the least economically successful EU countries are in rather better shape than in the aftermath of WWII. Demographic concerns about ageing populations are actually eased by the prospects of an influx of young workers who could be trained and soon be paying into the social security coffers to pay the pensions of us oldies.


On the downside, these people come with cultures, languages and religious traditions foreign to most of us.

Is this a risk to society as we know it? YES. We are, indeed, at risk of expanding our horizons, of seeing beyond our own borders, of enriching our society with a fresh injection of vitamin C(ulture).
And those migrants? They, too, will have to learn our languages, learn about our customs and our religious traditions; they will have to accept the role of women in modern western society. Above all, BOTH SIDES will have to learn to live and let live, to respect each other’s differences, to even rejoice in the recognition that we are not all alike.

By the way, I obviously have a migration background, too. After 40 years in Germany, I still feel just a tick more comfortable speaking and writing in English, not to mention watching Hollywood and Brit movies in the original. We have plenty of German friends, but we also have a circle of English-speaking friends with whom we enjoy cavorting.

In other words, we shouldn’t expect newbies from wherever to renounce their heritage and forsake their customs. We should strive for a kind of integration that will build communities across the boundaries of nationalities and religion, integration that will tear down walls and build bridges. (Ah, bridges, a favorite theme of mine.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Disasters, Europe, Migration, Syrian civil war, Traditions

ANOTHER SHOOTING IN THE US – a Never-Ending Tragedy

Now it’s in Oregon, the next massacre of innocents – young college students with their lives ahead of them, slaughtered by a crazy person with a gun.

I watched President Obama on the news last night, making his statement on this episode in a never-ending saga. His tone of quiet indignation and frustration was spot-on. No other advanced nation on this planet allows such carnage, such insanity.

At the root of this problem is paranoia, mental illness armed to the teeth with modern weaponry. And no one is doing anything about it.

How can members of Congress and Senators – of both parties – sleep at night? When will they finally put a stop to it? When will it end?

Leave a comment

Filed under American history, Disasters, Gun Control, US Shooting Disasters