Berlin Rent Cap a Clash of Ideologies

The City of Berlin has recently introduced a rent cap after rents doubled over 10 years. But they are still very low compared to other European capitals. The federal government has challenged the law in the courts saying it is unconstitutional. The rent cap was introduced by “Die Linke”, successor of the communist party of East Germany. Three industry experts tell me of their fear it will gradually return the housing stock to the ruinous state of communist times as landlords stop investing. Now campaigners gather signatures for a referendum to expropriate big private and even social landlords.

My report for European current affairs programme, Eòrpa on BBC ALBA on 4/2/21:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000rzvp/eorpa-series-28-episode-8

If you live outside the UK please access my report on youtube:

The Sea Cannot Be Blocked

In February 2020 I visited Moria, the notorious refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos. Some who worked there say the conditions were worse than in refugee camps in Africa. The camp has since burnt down in a fire set by the desperate refugees themselves.

“Η θάλασσα Δεν φράζεται” [I thálassa den frázetai]! Kostas Pinteris kept repeating the sentence over and over again. “The sea cannot be blocked”. He is a fisherman on the Greek island of Lesvos, on the edge of Europe. Turkey is within sight. In 2015 when the refugee crisis was at its height, he became a fisherman of men. He says he rescued thousands. Together with three others he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Fisherman Kostas
Kostas Pinteris, Greek fisherman who became a fisherman of men

Now the Greek government are planning to install floating barriers between the island and Turkey to keep the refugees out. Kostas says this will impede fishing as well as shipping and will inevitably lead to disputes with the Turks.

Poseidon is known to be the Greek god of the sea. But Thalassa was a primeval spirit of the oceans. Her name is still in practical use today: I thálassa den frázetai! Together with her male counterpart, Pontus, she spawned the tribes of fish and the storm gods. Thalassa and Pontus were later replaced by Oceanus and Tethys, Poseidon and Amphitrite.

Continue reading “The Sea Cannot Be Blocked”

Creideamh, Cànan agus Cogadh

Observations from a trip to the Balkans (in English below)

Stone Gate, Zagreb
An Geata Cloiche/ Stone Gate, Zagreb

A’ coiseachd tro Zagreb, prìomh bhaile Chroatia bho chionn ghoirid ràinig mi Kamenita Vrata, An Geata Cloiche. Tha soidhne dà-chànanach os a chionn – ann an Chroatianais agus Gearmailtis. Bha an dùthaich uair fo smachd Ìmpireachd na h-Ostaire agus na h-Ungaire. Tha an ailtireachd da-rèir. ‘S e geata a-steach dhan t-seann bhaile a th’ ann. An rud a tha iongantach mu dhèidhinn ‘s e is gu bheil ìomhaigh de Mhuire Mhàthair na bhroinn agus beingidhean feadha gus ùrnaigh a dhèanadh. Ach chan e a-mhàin is gu bheil daoine ag ùrnaigh an sin, chìthear fiù ‘s oileanaich a’ ruigh tron gheata dha na clasaichean aca is iad a’ dèanadh soidhne na croise. Gun teagamh is e àite a th’ ann an Croatia far a bheil an creideamh Caitligeach gu mòr mar phàirt dhe beatha poblach na dùthcha.

Sarajevo panoramic view
Sarajevo, BiH

Continue reading “Creideamh, Cànan agus Cogadh”

Catacomban Mhàiri Mhagdalene/ Catacombs of Mary Magdalene

(in English below)

img_0408
At first I thought the white fog came from my breath, but then it disappeared and its provenance remained unexplained

Air Eilean Lesbos sa Ghrèig tha catacomban ann a chaidh a chladhach le muinntir an àite às dèidh do Mhàiri Mhagdalene nochdadh dhaibh. Air an eadar-lìon chan fhaighear mòran fiosrachaidh mun dèidhinn ann am Beurla. Dar a ràinig mi baile Skopelos cha robh aon soidhne ri fhaicinn. Dh’fhaighnich mi do ghrunnan dhaoine, ach cha robh iad ga mo thuigsinn. Mu dheireadh thall lorg mi eaglais agus chaidh mi a-steach ann. Bha an eaglais ortadocs sin làn stuthan cràbhaidh mar is dual dhaibh.

Bha cailleach ann an aodach dhubh na suidhe an sin agus dh’fhaighnich mi dhithse a-rithist: “Maria Magdalena?” Rinn i soidhne dhomh nach b’ e seo an eaglais cheart idir, ach gun robh agam ri falbh suas an rathad. Chan fhada mus an do ràinig mi eaglais eile, ach bha an geata timcheall oirre dùinte. Abair briseadh dùil. B’ e seo an aon chothrom a bha gu bhith agam gus tadhail oirre. Bha e 7.45 sa mhadainn ge-tà. Chaidh mi timcheall is thog mi dealbhan bhon taobh a-muigh. Dìreach mus robh mi am beachd falbh nochd cailleach eile ann an aodach dhubh le gàire air a h-aodann: “Kali mera!” – madainn mhath, ars mise. “Kali mera – katakombe?” dh’fhaighnich ise. Mu dheireadh thall bha fios aig cuideigin mu dhèidhinn Màiri Magdalene.

Church in SkopelosLe iuchar mhòr dh’fhosgail i an toiseach an geata agus an uair sin an eaglais. Sheall i dhomh an icon a tha an-diugh na sheasadh na broinn, ach a-rèir choltais lorgar e gu h-ìosal san talamh. B’ abhaist taighean-còmhnaidh a bhith air an làraich seo. Bha Anton agus Eilidh Tsantarlioti a’ fuireach an seo timcheall air a’ bhliadhna 1900. A-rèir aon làrach-lìn co-dhiù nochd Màiri Magdalene dha Eilidh is i ag ràdh rithe gun robh i a’ fuireach sa ghàradh aice agus gum miannaicheadh i gun losgar coinneal dhi fad na h-ùine. Rinn iad sin ri taobh a’ chruinn-ola. Continue reading “Catacomban Mhàiri Mhagdalene/ Catacombs of Mary Magdalene”

Omas Käsekuchen – Granny’s Cheescake

My Granny’s Cheesecake on BBC ALBA (in Gaelic with English subtitles)

There is none like it! Here’s the recipe:

Omas Käsekuchen:

250 g Butter, 250 g Zucker und 8 Eigelbe verrühren, dann schaumig schlagen.

2kg Quark, eine Prise Salz, Vanillesoßenpulver, Vanillezucker, 2 Teelöffel Backpulver, Saft von 2 Zitronen, eine handvoll Rosinen, 160 g Grieß, 4 Esslöffel Rum, 8 geschlagene Eiweiß (steif) unterheben.

Die Masse auf eine große und eine kleine Form verteilen. Bei 190 Grad auf unterster Schiene backen bis der Kuchen goldgelb ist (ca. 30 Min). Guten Appetit!

Anna Louise Wagner, my granny
Anna Louise Wagner, my granny, RIP

Granny’s Cheesecake:

Stir 250g of butter, 250g of sugar and 8 yolks. Beat until foamy.

Add 2kg quark, a pinch of salt, custard powder, vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, juice of 2 lemons, a handful of raisins, 160g of semolina, 4 tablespoons of Rum, 8 beaten egg whites (stiff) and fold.

Fill the mass in a large and a small form. Bake at 190 degrees on the bottom rail until the cake is golden yellow (roughly 30 mins). Guten Appetit!

My homemade video preparing the cake (in English)

Continue reading “Omas Käsekuchen – Granny’s Cheescake”

Nach der “Brexitwahl:” Stehen schottische Unabhängigkeit und irische Wiedervereinigung vor der Tür?

Meine Schlagzeilen aus einer Diskussionsrunde im Deutschlandfunk:

https://srv.deutschlandradio.de/dlf-audiothek-audio-teilen.3265.de.html?mdm:audio_id=793602

Brexit

Eine Minderheit von 43,6% hat in der britischen Unterhauswahl, dank des Mehrheitswahlrechts, den harten Brexit der Regierung Boris Johnson ermöglicht. Der Rechtspopulist Johnson und der linksextreme Gegenkandidat der Labourpartei, Jeremy Corbyn, habe die britische politische Landschaft dabei weiter polarisiert.

Schottische Unabhängigkeit

Interview mit der schottischen Regierungschefin , Nicola Sturgeon, SNP

Die SNP sagt, das Wahlergebnis zeige, daß das Vereinigte Königreich zerbrochen sei. Obgleich sie sich Schottische Nationalpartei nennt, verstehen sie sich als Internationalisten und Europäer [mit sozialdemokratischer Gesinnung].

Die SNP hat aber auch nur 45% der schottischen Stimmen auf sich vereinigt. Eine Mehrheit hat also gegen Unabhängigkeit gestimmt. Continue reading “Nach der “Brexitwahl:” Stehen schottische Unabhängigkeit und irische Wiedervereinigung vor der Tür?”

Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich/ A Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church

A talk I gave for the Scottish Catholic Cultural Symposium at Pluscarden Abbey on 3/5/19, entitled: Faith in the North – Reviving Cultures: Healing the divide between the Catholic Faith and traditional Scottish culture  

Current Issues in the Gaelic Revival and the Place of the Catholic Church

1) Eòlas Pearsanta/ Personal experience

Bu mhath leam tòiseachadh le beagan dhen eòlas pearsanta agam fhìn. An-dràsta is a-rithist thathar ag ràdhn gur i a’ Ghàidhlig, cànan gàrradh Eden. Tha sin a’ faireachdain ceart, ach saoil, carson?

Update_06_01_15 018

Gaelic has often been described as the language of the Garden of Eden. And the funny thing is it attracts lunatics like myself from around the world who come and learn it. But why?

There are many obvious ways to put it: The people are friendly, the landscape is beautiful, the lovely weather…

 

Dhomhsa tha a’ Ghaidhealtachd a’ faireachdain gu sònraichte beannaichte. Agus tha mi dhen bheachd gu bheil sin air sgàth irisleachd nan daoine.

The closest I have come to explaining the attraction of Scottish Gaelic to myself is that Gaeldom must be especially blessed. In Scotland in general, but in particular in the Gaidhealtachd – as Gaeldom is known in Gaelic – people seem to look out for each other, the arrogance and elbow society of much of the Western world hasn’t reached here, yet.  Continue reading “Comann Gàidhlig na h-Eaglaise Caitligich/ A Gaelic Society of the Catholic Church”

“What do social media contribute to the revival and/ or survival of the Celtic languages?”

A talk given to the Celtic Congress in Kemper/ Quimper, Brittany in July 2018

img_6741
Flags of the 8 Celtic lands

1) Na Dùbhlain – The challenges
An toiseach bu mhath leam na dùbhlain a chur mur coinneamh. Tha mi a’ dol a thoirt iomradh air fear, Joshua Fishman, a bha na ollamh aig Oilthigh Stanford sna Stàitean Aonaichte. Tha esan air leth cudromach ann an saoghal nam mion-chànanan.

First of all I would like to talk about the challenges with this subject. At Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Scottish Gaelic language college on the Isle of Skye, where I studied an Honours degree, Joshua Fishman was regarded the number one minority languages guru. He died in 2015 but was a professor at Stanford University amongst other institutions and wrote the ground breaking book: “Reversing Language Shift” which was first published in 1991. I had the privilege of meeting him when he came to Sabhal Mòr in 2003. Continue reading ““What do social media contribute to the revival and/ or survival of the Celtic languages?””

Brexit – 1 Year To Go

Many fishermen supported Brexit (above: Oban)

Brexit – One Year To Go: My series on BBC ALBA

(In Gaelic with English subtitles)

 

 

Part 1: Voices for Brexit

  • Fishermen want control of UK waters
  • Others argue Brexit it will bring new trade opportunities and increase productivity
  • Brexiters want to reduce immigration,
  • Don’t believe civil service’s numbers indicating that UK will be worse off under any scenario
  • Some in agriculture see an opportunity to change the subsidy so it benefits those who actually work the land

Part 2: Voices against Brexit

Sheep on Isle of Tiree
Crofting on the Island of Tiree

  • Claims it will cost the UK £2bn a week, Leave campaign spread lies
  • Rural areas have benefitted especially from EU funding, doubts whether this will be a priority for the UK government
  • Has alienated EU citizens residing in the UK
  • Will badly affect research institutions as EU funding ceases and freedom of movement may mean fewer foreign researchers want to settle in the UK
  • The EU has brought peace and prosperity to the UK
  • May mean unrest brakes out again in Northern Ireland

Part 3: Voices for and against Scottish independence

  • Claims Scotland is now weaker than any other part of Britain economically
  • Scottish Brexit minister confirms that when the terms of Brexit become clear Scots should have a choice whether they want to continue in the UK
  • Surprising analogies with Brexit. Both are either said to bring opportunities or uncertainty depending on point of view
  • Some have changed their mind on independence after the Brexit vote

Part 4: Was the BBC biased in its referendum reports?

  • Equal time is allocated to either side in BBC’s referendum reports. But can the Bank of England’s view be balanced by that of a small think-tank?
  • Reality Check provides analysis, but uncertainty remains over whether the UK will be better or worse off in ten year’s time says BBC Scotland’s Political Editor
  • Media expert says Vote Leave admitted the most successful slogan of the referendum (“We send the EU £350m a week: let’s fund our NHS instead”) stated an “amalgamation” of a figure

Part 5: Brexit, Trump and AfD (right-wing party in Germany)

  • Some sense an anti EU feeling by some Brexiteers, see similarities to AfD policies blaming incomers for issues
  • Others believe Britain has moved to the left after the Brexit referendum
  • Donald Trump has also curbed immigration, supporters claim this is to protect their culture
  • Others say these policies work as long as those proclaiming them don’t come too close