Germany’s Bean-Sprouting Lies About Spanish Cucumbers


The recent E.coli outbreak has left 24 dead, 2,400 hospitalized and has cost Spanish farmers a massive 225 million Euros a week. Worst of all, the outbreak did not even originate in Spain despite German claims. Authorities initially considered the Spanish cucumber harvest to be the origin of the recent health-scare. Despite protests from Spanish farmers, the  accusations had a significant knock-on effect, as many Europeans avoided Spanish produce.

The Spanish are now calling for reparations to recompense for their significant losses during this period. Germany are somewhat familiar with the notion of reparations; however more in the context of Versailles than vegetables. Germany are being threatened with court action if a compensatory settlement cannot be reached. They also face a court battle on several fronts; with no Schlieffen plan to combat this issue they could potentially owe not only Spain money, but Holland and Sweden too. Who knows, Britain could make it a full-scale vegetable World War recreation if E.coli related deaths increase in the UK. But more importantly as, Spanish delegate Francisco Sosa-Wagner, stated, “We need to restore the honour of the cucumber.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13683270)

According to, The Telegraph, “bean sprouts have been responsible for well over 40 food borne illnesses around the world caused by either E.coli or Salmonella bacteria in the last 35 years or so”. Not only are they constantly being mistaken (and not in a good way, but a disappointing way) for noodles in Chinese food but they truly are the vector vegetable; spreading the deadly bacterium, as a mosquito spreads malaria.

Beware the conniving, disease-ridden, German bean-sprout but drop your prejudices concerning the humble, stoic and and all-round respectable cucumber.

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Wounds Still Healing


Remembering the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides

Two of the major flashpoints in the history of UN sponsored humanitarian intervention, occurred within a year of each other. The Rwandan genocide which began in 1994, lasted 100 days and saw an estimated 500,000 – 1,000,000 people die, or approximately 20% of the population massacred mercilessly on an unprecedented scale. This was a targeted campaign against ethnic Tutsi’s and moderate Hutu’s, which involved the most abhorrent violence, sexual abuse, and torture.  The Bosnian genocide of 1995 saw Bosnian-Serbs undertake a campaign of ethnic cleansing, in the attempt to eradicate the Bosnian-Muslim population. Most famously was the massacre at Srebrenica; despite being declared a safe enclave by the UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) the peace-keepers were unable to sufficiently protect the town, leading to the towns capture and then the targeted killings.

On the 26th May 2011, somewhat paralleling the closeness of the aforementioned events, two of the leaders responsible for these genocides were captured. Ratko Mladic, former leader of the Bosnian-Serb army and Bernard Munyagishari, a militia leader, accused of inciting and masterminding the massacre. The latter did not receive as much media attention as Mladic who has long been viewed as the most wanted man in Europe and will now potentially face a trial for war crimes at the Hague; providing his health does not deteriorate too badly. As far as closure, or comfort, is concerned the two leaders will hopefully be brought to justice 16 years after their crimes.

The wounds and scars left by the events of 1994/5 are certainly still in the process of healing. Many Serbs don’t consider Mladic a war criminal; the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13564139)  make note of one Serbian resident who claimed, ‘”I feel sorry for Mladic, he was a real Serb.”‘ On the surface, the capture of Mladic anaethsetises the pain, but the underlying wound is still very much felt when people are unwilling to accept the man as a modern-day monster. The ethnic and racial tensions appear very much present in modern day Serbia, if that resident’s statement is anything to go by.

In terms of Rwanda, the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13566368), again claims that one of the suspects equal, in terms of their involvement, to Munyagishari, is thought to be in Kenya, protected by their government. The effects of the 1994 massacre are huge; proliferation of HIV, children of the rape victims having to grow up in broken families, even other African nations have been affected by fleeing perpetrators, most noticably the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Economist presented a startling statistic for the DRC itself, that every minute, 48 women/girls are raped; hiding Rwandan war criminals do not help the vulnerable state, already plagued by its own problems. Even though Munyagishari has been captured many still havn’t been brought to justice, leaving Rwandan memories still somewhat vivid.

Is enough being done? One cannot be sure. If the operation to find these criminals and bring them to justice mirror the efficiency to which the UN dealt with the war crimes, then sadly no. The Bosnian and Rwandan genocide will always be remembered more for what the UN didn’t do, rather than what they did. They reduced numbers of peacekeepers in Rwanda days prior to the massacre despite the planning of it being almost common knowledge and were essentialy held at ransom by Russian and Chinese veto over what to in Bosnia; it was only after NATO acted independently that anything was done. It is both important and great news that these murderous criminals have been caught, but it does serve to provide a poignant reminder of past mistakes and oversights in the UN, and problems and tensions that are in many ways still present now within Serbia and Rwanda, as well as all the surrounding countries that have been affected.

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Some, more serious, thoughts on Pakistan


How symbolic success has simply illuminated the cavernous differences between the states 

Ryan Cordell & Danny Janes

Outside the White House and in sports stadiums as ‘Americas Game’ played out the reaction to the news that Osama Bin Laden, the world’s number one terrorist and all round figurehead for Islamist extremism, had been killed was that of chants of, ‘USA, USA’ and the more viral, ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’ For many this looked like a true World Police moment but was it anything more than a symbolic victory and has it only served to strain the already circumspect relationship between the US and its ally in the campaign against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and associated extremist groups.

The most disturbing aspects of this new chapter in America’s battle is the reliability of and the posture towards extremist groups, most notably the Haqqani network, of the ISI (Inter-services Intelligence). With fears already present in America over the internal reliability of the organization as well as the security behind military and nuclear establishments in Pakistan the Bin Laden killing as well as the Kirachi attacks have only compounded these fears. The sheer number of insurgent groups in some of Pakistan’s tribal regions, who in many cases share an address, with major nuclear establishments is startling even more so with the ISI’s ‘pick and choose’ approach to combatting them. Fears that the ISI were sympathetic towards Al Qaeda’s leader were certainly intensified when he was found, just outside the Pakistani equivalent of Sandhurst in a military-style compound fitted with nothing short of eighteen foot fences, barbed wire, few outwards-facing windows and no telephone or internet access. With the raid occurring without the knowledge of Pakistan intelligence, they feel violated in terms of state sovereignty, alienated and embarrassed, yet critical of American actions and Obama’s decision to act without the approval or input of the U.S. ally. The real dilemma is however, in deciding whether Pakistan can credibly justify a complaint against the U.S. actions in Attatobad, considering the circumstances.

It serves to demonstrate how, many people in these volatile areas such as Afghanistan and Pakistan support the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and most worryingly their cause – jihad against the west. Pakistan may present themselves as an ally against terrorism, but they are fundamentally a state divided between insurgent sympathizers and allies of the West – unfortunately the ISI are divided even further, making co-operation increasingly difficult. The level to which the insurgents are based and operational in Pakistan is demonstrated by the 22nd May 2011 attacks on the military base in the port of Karachi. Ominously this is outside the most common base of operations for Pakistani insurgents, in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani insurgents are willing to attack their own state in order to avenge Pakistan’s position in the fight against terror and for failing to prevent the death of Osama Bin Laden. This puts Prime Minister, Makhdoom Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, in an awkward position; already Pakistan’s commitment and reliability is doubted by the American government, yet if they are seen to be acting positively against terrorism than he is effectively jeopardizing his own people and nation.

Barack Obama’s decision to act without informing Pakistani intelligence or leadership and then to openly admit concerns about their reliability has both embarrassed and offended Pakistan. However their relationship is mutually dependent; Pakistan rely on U.S. financial aid and the U.S. rely on Pakistan for a logistical base and shared intelligence. Although, in the aftermath of the Abbottabad raid, Pakistan have sought to strengthen their links with China, their other major ally. In fact the base in Kirachi had both US and Chinese personnel working at it. America cannot afford to let Pakistan swing too far to the East as despite improving relations with China, there are still obvious differences between the two states. A strengthening relationship between the two nuclear powers, China and Pakistan, would only intensify tensions with India; potentially sparking another nuclear stand-off. If Pakistan and the U.S. were to drift apart, the Americans would have far less scope to diffuse any potential nuclear crisis between the arch rivals. Stability is what is needed in Pakistan and for that to occur America and Pakistan need to work even more closely; unfortunately it seems relations with Pakistan will simply continue to perpetuate the war on terror and crises in Asia and the Middle East.

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