Fool’s Gold

As we get to the dog days of summer, the West seems trapped between tragedy and banality. In Calais, immigrants from Afghanistan, Libya, and Sudan attempt to pile into trucks bound for the U.K., and in Greece, the island of Kos overflows with twelve hundred Syrian refugees.

Kos is ten clicks from the Turkish town of Bodrum, but only a third of that distance from the Turkish mainland—a good swimmer would have no trouble making it across.

They come in rubber boats, plastic dinghies designed to carry four people loaded up with twelve souls, each of whom pays almost one thousand dollars to get across—the export value of the contingent is over a million bucks.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper, rabidly anti-immigration, carries a report showing British tourists vacationing next to desperate Syrian families. The somber headlines are punctuated with splashy callouts: Stephanie Davis exhibits her bronzed legs… Vintage vixen! Kristen Stewart shows off… Pout and about! Stunning Alex Gerrard…

At the Macedonian border tear gas is used to stop migrants from the Mid-East making their way north to Hungary, and from there to Germany.

The run to Lampedusa, a 100 km run east from Tunisia, or double that from the Libyan coast, will also cost you eight hundred euros—but in this case the boat isn’t a consumable, it’s a capital cost, often amortized in one trip only. There might be one or two hundred migrants on a boat, a lucrative business.

Further west, Ceuta—an ancient Portuguese enclave in North Africa, now a Spanish possession. Here, a wall is supposed to protect the city from immigration. People still get across, the hungry are persistent.

Checked luggage? A powerful image of desperation.

Checked luggage? A powerful image of desperation.

The burden of migration on these small communities is colossal, which further increases their quest for a solution. The easiest one of course is to get rid of these people as soon as possible by sending them north.

And north they will go, headed for the promised land. When they get there, they will do all the jobs the locals reject. Contrary to what trash newspapers claim, immigration boosts the local economy at the base, rather than burdening its social services.

England for the English, Germany for the Germans, but who drives the cabs? When austerity digs in its claws, the immigrants leave. Four years ago the city of Seville, in Southern Spain, was awash with faces from Senegal, from the Ivory Coast. Red traffic signals in the center of town triggered an avalanche of would-be salesmen, touting everything from sunglasses to cellphones.

Now? Not a black face in sight. All the construction workers are Andalucian, the same goes for bar staff, waiters, cleaners—every menial job has returned home.

The root of the problem is simple to identify and hard to solve: the twin devils of war and poverty. One of the Afghans in Calais put it like this: ‘in the days of the Taliban everything was alright. Then the war came, and the English left us with nothing, so here we are.’

The core solution is completely beyond reach. From Yemen to Kurdistan, from Tikrit to Mazar-i-Sharif, war rages. Much of this strife has been our own creation, and therefore many of the consequences also.

In that respect, Al Qaeda won a resounding victory—not because it destroyed the West or drove Israel into the sea, but because by drawing the armies of the United States and Britain into the East it triggered a decade of chaos which led to an invasion of Europe.

There are few solutions that can stem the tide. Obviously the closer a point of contact is with the European Union the bigger the pressure. Perhaps it’s possible to establish a special status for those points, an outer perimeter which is not part of the Union, or is somehow restricted.

Then again, much of the blame lies with the pyramid of corruption that allows the migrant chain to function. If Turkey is heavily sanctioned for allowing people-trafficking from its shores, then the tide is stopped not at Bodrum, but at the Syrian frontier.

The fact is nobody much cares. Rita Ora flashes her underwear… Bikini-clad Danielle… In fact the hot topic is the release of thirty gigabytes of data hacked from Ashley Madison, a relationships site for people in a relationship.

The traffic following the release of a long list of emails (it’s trivial to find sites where you can trawl the list to check on your other half) has been nothing short of hilarious. The hackers apparently told Wired Magazine that one-third of the images in their possession are ‘dick pictures’, and there are almost forty million emails on the hacked list.

Apparently the Canadian company had around four million customers, so there’s a ten percent core that didn’t just think about it.

The irony is that the company was planning to raise two hundred million dollars for an IPO this fall—if I was in the hacking trade I’d have waited a couple of months for the ideal short.

One news article in particular provides some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for partner appeasement. My favorite has to be:

Give your spouse a compliment

“Your sexual technique is so massively satisfying that I consider going outside of our marriage and sharing everything you’ve taught me to be a public service.”

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones and tablets.

Atmos Fear and The India Road. Quick links for smartphones and tablets.

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