John Arne Riise dropped by a couple of weeks ago. He chatted about his career, how he planned to fill his free time in Malta and about what he could bring to Maltese football. His tenure as Birkirkara Football Club’s Sporting Director was short lived as three days after our chat his resignation was announced.
Very endearing – his kids are with him always, tattooed over his arms
John mentioned that his stay at Birkirkara was a ‘stepping stone’ and his target is to become manager at a big club.
A likeable man - complex and thoughtful. All the very best for many good things in his career and for the birth of his new baby in the summer, something he is very much looking forward to. Here is a clip with is interview. Music by Ramona Zammit Formosa [pianist] and Ruth Sammut Casingena [soprano]
And the fans ! waited to meet him and get his autograph. He was extremely polite and patient, posing for endless photos which they will no doubt treasure for many years.
Kindly observe copyright law and simple etiquette with regards to photos. Credit for photos: Sean Azzopardi If you wish to use any of the photos on this blog, kindly ask Lea Hogg for permission :)
An adequate supply of ventilators is one of the key factors that will determine the number of severe cases leading to death by COVID19.
Do we have enough ventilators in Malta and Gozo?
There have been countless projections, many curves, models and number crunching available on the public domain.
The increase in the rate of infections globally has been fast.
‘Flattening the peak of that curve‘ is key to slow it down and avoid hospitals being over-crowded. In South Korea, for example, flattening the curve drastically reduced the mortality rate, where only 1 percent of those infected have died.
My observations are that local families have been meticulous in adhering to new directives by the Ministry of Health with most choosing to self-isolate before the new restrictions were in place. The initiative led by the Government to increase the number of hospital beds and create more space to accommodate those that need medical care is very encouraging. Furthermore the educational material released by the Ministry to safeguard public health is excellent. So what needs to be done is being done.
How about those ventilators?
We know that the virus will spread.
However, will patients be at risk if plans and provisions have not been made for an adequate number of ventilators?
How many ventilators are available on the islands? And is the number realistic to provide the necessary care that will prevent unnecessary deaths? If not, how many more do we need?
The public need reassurance that the number of ventilators available are adequate. With the public information flowing via the internet, it is not a surprise that many people ask questions?
Yesterday an improved economic package to help businesses survive the economic situation was announced with measures to pay the equivalent of the minimum wage for workers in some sectors and relieve employers. This will cost the Government between €65 to €70 million per month.
Is further capital available to secure more ventilators? Only the Government can exercise the power to order and pay for them.
What comes first – Public Health or Economy? Should the economy be accelerated even further at the cost of human life?
People usually send me messages to discuss certain topics during my TV show. This week viewers ask for one of my medical experts to clarify the function of ventilators in relation to COVID19. And they also ask if we have an adequate amount of ventilators.
To avoid having to bring people together to film this week, we have no live show and a repeat will be aired. Therefore I write this blog post instead, at the request of viewers who would like answers.
Professor Arthur Lyon Dahl is President of the International Environment Forum, and a retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with 50 years' international experience in environment and sustainability. His most recent focus has been on global governance and UN reform.He has been a consultant to the World Bank on indicators of development, Visiting Professor at the University of Brighton (UK) and Senior Advisor to its project on values-based indicators of education for sustainable development, and Co-coordinator of the UNEP Major Groups & Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance. More generally, his consultancies have covered indicators of sustainability, environmental assessment and observing strategies, coral reefs, biodiversity, islands, environmental education, and social and economic development. A specialist on coral reefs and small island developing States (SIDS), he spent many years in the South Pacific and organized the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
LH: Why do you say ‘Thank God for the Pandemic?’
ALD: It may seem weird to be thankful for a catastrophe. Human suffering is never something to be sought or revelled in. But the pandemic now sweeping the world, with its ultimate outcome still uncertain, may be a blessing in disguise.
LH: How is it a blessing in disguise?
ALD: We have been working for decades to identify and address social and environmental challenges and to make plans and set goals for a sustainable society across the planet. I have personally been involved since the first Earth Day in 1970 and have contributed to many constructive processes, leading most recently to the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement to address climate change.
However, along side this, governments have given priority to their national sovereignty, multinationals to their profits, and many world leaders to their inflated egos. Wealth is increasingly concentrated alongside growing inequality. Governments are failing to meet the needs of their people as they succumb to political fragmentation undermining democracy, when not already subverted to nativism, racism, corruption and despotism. A corporate stranglehold on the economy, feeding off a materialistic consumer culture, has escaped from all regulation or control. It is plundering the planet’s resources while driving us to a climate catastrophe and the collapse of world biodiversity as we drown in pollution. Nothing that we have done on the positive side has slowed this headlong drive to destruction.
As a systems scientist, I have often asked myself what it would take to slam on the brakes and slow the momentum of this material society out of control, before it takes us so far beyond planetary boundaries that it leads to the complete collapse of civilization. In our rapidly globalizing world, our economic, social and environmental systems have become increasingly interconnected, and while this has greatly increased human productivity and interaction, it also raises our vulnerability to a complex systems failure, with one problem precipitating many others like falling dominoes.
For a triggering event, a third world war is an obvious possibility, but not very desirable, with most of the world’s population dying in atrocious circumstances. The Doomsday Clock has recently moved closer to apocalypse than it has ever been as reckless leaders re-arm in their desire for global greatness or domination. If nuclear arms are used, this could precipitate a nuclear winter and leave much of the planet uninhabitable for the survivors.
My preference leaned towards a financial collapse, as government, corporate and consumer debt grew into a giant bubble after the 2008 financial crisis. If currencies lost their value and global trade shut down, that might save us from a climate catastrophe and give us time to move to renewable energy sources.
LH: What in your opinion are the knock-on effects that will result from the Corona Virus?
ALD: A global pandemic was always another option, something resembling the Spanish Flu of 1918, but the emergence of such a threat, while probable at some point according to the World Health Organization (WHO), was unpredictable. Suddenly, it has happened. We are fortunate that the corona virus behind Covid-19 is not particularly lethal, although it could still kill millions before it runs it course. The knock-on effects could be much worse, as populations are forced into isolation in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Millions are losing their jobs and incomes. Education is interrupted. Whole sectors of the economy are frozen and driven towards bankruptcy. Supply chains are broken, including for essential medicines. Governments are doing everything they can to protect their populations, shore up their overloaded health systems, and preserve their economies. With such obvious priorities, worries about expanding debt are left for later. While it is too early to predict where all of this will ultimately lead, it is clear that the world will never be the same.
LH: What in your opinion are the challenges we face?
ALD: The challenge now, as we struggle through the immediate crisis, is not to plan to go back to business as usual, as most governments seem to be doing. We should see this as an opportunity to fix what is wrong in society. People are being forced to rediscover the benefits of a strong local community, with solidarity for those more vulnerable. Our addiction to material things and the consumer lifestyle is being broken, as we learn that getting along with much less in a simpler material lifestyle is not necessarily a disaster. The forced shift to digital communications technologies is stimulating creative new ways to maintain social ties and economic activities. Behind all of this is the need to rethink our basic values and our ultimate purpose as human beings. This period of forced isolation is a unique opportunity to read, study, reflect, pray and meditate on what kind of future we want for ourselves, our families, our communities, our nations and the whole world. With modern communications, we can still hold meaningful conversations with others, and help them to see the positive side of what we are going through.
LH: Do you believe governments can work together to solve all the problems created by Corona Virus ?
ALD: We are also being forced to see the necessity of global cooperation and a multilateral approach to governance. A virus respects no borders. No country can solve this problem by itself. The rationale for an effective system of global government has never been clearer. We take it as normal that a national government has legislative, executive and judicial functions that apply to everyone. Our ministry or department of heath is at the centre of national mobilization to fight the virus, and extreme measures can be imposed immediately for the common good. Yet governments have failed to give the WHO this capacity at the global level to organize a coherent approach to the crisis, and many lives will be lost as governments fumble to find the best way forward. As we move beyond this crisis, reforming global governance should become a priority.
We also will be forced to re-imagine how the world economy should work. We were on the verge of a major debt crisis before the pandemic started. The financial effort necessary to respond to immediate needs will leave an unmanageable level of debt behind. Many business of all sizes will be bankrupt. A financial system based on endless borrowing was never sustainable in the long term, and its collapse now seems inevitable. What will we put in its place? Should we go to a world currency? Should businesses be chartered to serve society rather than just their shareholders? How do we create meaningful employment for everyone? What mechanisms for the more equitable distribution of wealth would meet everyone’s basic needs and eliminate poverty?
Perhaps you now see why I am excited by the opportunities that the pandemic should ultimately open up. This is our best opportunity to make the paradigm shift called for in the UN 2030 Agenda and to accelerate our transition to a just, sustainable, climate-friendly civilisation in harmony with nature. I am full of hope.
A couple of months ago this was one of those distant nightmares you hear about on international news sites, like those natural disasters that happen in faraway places. This is where the nightmare started, on the verge of a possible outbreak here, at our doorstep today.
Time no is not a luxury we have right now and being vigilant is all we can do. Yet after the darkness, the sun will shine again.
Hope, pray and look ahead for the good times to be with us again.
Here today, it is a wonderful sunny day, perhaps a false paradise.
We are all waiting for what is yet to come, significant challenging weeks or months ahead, no matter which part of the world we are in. In order to tackle this virus, we have a responsibility to act and every person can help to prevent the spread of this disease and save lives.
Washing hands is still the most significant and essential thing we can do.
Easter means lots of good chocolate and this is an extremely easy recipe which can be made in minutes. It freezes well for 3 month.
You will need:
200g biscuits of your choice
100g chopped almonds
250g Novi bloc Dark Chocolate
50g unsalted butter
6 tablespoons almond milk
A splash of Amaretto
Icing sugar , for coating
Mini Easter Eggs for decorating
Crush the biscuits using a rolling pin until you have small and coarse crumbs.
Transfer crumbs to a large bowl and stir in chopped almonds.
In a saucepan place the dates and almond milk.
Bring to boil reduce heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and combined.
Still on low heat add the Novi Bloc Dark Chocolate and butter. Stir until the mixture is melted. Remove from heat and add the amaretto.
Add chocolate mixture to crumb mixture and mix until combined.
Spread the mixture out on baking paper and shape it into a log.
Roll up the paper and wrap. Place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight hours firm.
Remove log from the paper, dust with icing sugar from all sides, and remove any excess sugar with a brush. Cut into slices and serve with mini easter eggs.
Keep in the fridge or freezer. If kept in the freezer, place at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting or serving.
For a chance to win this Easter Novi Chocolate hamper SHARE this recipe and hashtag Novi [#Novi] on your social media page [facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest or linkedin] and leave a comment below. The winner will be notified on 30 March 2020
Novi Chocolate is imported, distributed and marketed by M & Z Marketing Ltd and is available in all leading supermarkets and stores.
What a month it has been since the publication of Oliver Friggieri: Sketches and Poems. It was a great pleasure to be received this week at San Anton Palace by His Excellency The President of the Republic of Malta, Dr George Vella together with Professor Oliver Friggieri and Professor Victor Grech,
Illum iltqajt mal-Professur Oliver Friggieri li ppreżentali l-ktieb “Oliver Friggieri: Sketches and Poems” li fih ġabra ta’ abbozzi u poeżiji, kif ukoll kontribut ieħor li sar minn Prof. Victor Grech, il-blogger Lea Hogg, Prof. Arthur Lyon Dahl u l-Perit Richard England. pic.twitter.com/6AIwhJIXVy
Cakes should be fluffy and light. The bulk of processed sugar and the flavour and consistency of butter is often needed to achieve the right consistency in cakes.
The big secret to achieving that light and fluffy texture is not to overmix. You will not need any electric mixers or gadgets. Simply sift the flour twice and dry ingredients into a large bowl and the liquid ingredients into another bowl. Then, gently fold in the liquids into the dry mix and fold in firmly, yet gently, as though handling something very fragile, until the batter is barely mixed.
Then just pour the batter into your cake tin and place in the middle shelf of a preheated oven immediately. I use a 23cm cake tin.
Chocolate Beetroot Cake
For the chocolate beetroot cake, you will need:
In the first bowl:
250g self-raising flour
2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 level tsp baking powder
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp oats
1 tsp cornflour
A few drops vanilla essence
You do not need a mixer for this cake, gently fold in the dry ingredients into the liquids and, after baking it, pierce all over with a skewer and sprinkle with rosewater.
Sieve the flour and mix all the dry ingredients together until the appearance is consistent.
In the second bowl mix:
1 tbsp apple organic vinegar
1 medium, cooked beetroot, peeled and chopped
200g dates chopped into small pieces
Use a hand blender or liquidiser to bring the mixture to a very smooth paste. Fold in the dry mix into the liquid mix, gently, a little at a time and work fast. Pour the cake batter into a prepared cake tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and, while still warm, pierce the surface all over using a skewer or a toothpick and sprinkle 5 tbsp rosewater. Allow to cool before removing from the cake tin.
I crave for this soup, even during the hot summers. In the winter I make it almost every week.
It is so quick to prepare, economical, no blender, no chopping and you end up with a satiny textured purée – perfection for the month of January.
My Scottish mother-in-law was never too fond of cooking but she made this soup when I went to her home for the very first time in Irvine all those years ago and I loved it so much that she made it for me each time I visited. This is her recipe.
Perfect also for packing to work and reheating in the microwave.
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free.
250g orange lentils
1 large potato
1 sweet potato
4 medium carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 vegetable stock cubes
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 litres water, topped up if necessary while it cooks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Rinse the lentils. Peel and roughly chop the vegetables. There is no need to soak the lentils overnight and place them in a large pot with a tablespoon of olive oil together with the peeled potato, sweet potato and carrots roughly chopped in large chunks. Add the garlic cloves, tinned tomatoes, stock cube and water. The vegetables need to be fully immersed and add more water if necessary.
Bring the pot to a boil and lower the heat. Stir and keep doing this from time to time to make sure the contents do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add more water while it cooks to keep the contents moist and make sure they do not dry up.
Simmer on low heat until the vegetables are fully cooked. Test one of the potatoes with a knife. When the vegetables are cooked, use a masher and mash all the contents thoroughly. You should end up with a creamy and textured thick consistency. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Scottish Lentil Soup
If the soup is too thick, add more water and reheat. This soup is even more delicious the next day.
Garnish and serve.
This soup has no added fats, is so healthy and wholesome and if you are craving comfort food try this for a healthy option.
Other options and choices – Serve with
add a can of chickpeas during the last 5 minutes of cooking
‘I like to stir a spoonful of imbuljuta, the chestnut and chocolate local Christmas hot drink into mulled wine – and the result is delicious result’
Mulled wine with a Maltese influence, as seen on TV, Photography Ian Noel Pace
2 oranges, juice and zest of 1 orange
grated zest of a lemon
100g sugar or equivalent stevia
6 cloves, plus extra for garnish 1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of cinnamon powder
seeds of half a vanilla pod
2 bottles of red wine, for non-alcoholic use red grape juice
4 star anise
a few red peppercorns for garnish
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan with 300ml of the wine. Bring to a boil, simmer and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stir and add a bit more wine if necessary. Do not let it dry out. The result should be a more syrupy version of the wine.
Add the rest of the wine and heat through.
‘and if you are mixing with the chestnut and chocolate drink, simply put two spoonfuls of imbuljuta into each glass and top it up with mulled wine. (I pureed the imbuljuta for this but it is a matter of preference, you may prefer larger pieces of chestnuts in the drink).’
If you want to make Imbuljuta, you will need:
400g pre-packed chestnuts
The equivalent of 175g of sugar in stevia (check the labelling on your jar for conversions)
50g drinking chocolate
50g dark chocolate chopped in large pieces
Grated rind of 1 orange
Grated rind of 1 tangerine
1/4 tsp mixed spice
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Seeds from 1/4 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
Place all the ingredients and half the chestnuts in a large pot. Add 1 litre of water and cook over moderate heat; stir until it starts to boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and add more sweetener if desired. Add the remainder of the chestnuts and heat through. If necessary add more boiling water. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Reheat before serving.
Dr Joe Giglio speaks about the events that have led to the situation in Malta today. Watch his interview of this week in English –
The financial services industry is bleeding at the moment
Dr Joe Giglio, December 2019
Joseph Giglio heads the criminal law department specialising in corporate and vicarious liability at LexPractis . For the last 25 years, Dr Giglio has been practising criminal law and his expertise includes corporate services for international clients. He lectures in Criminal procedure within the University of Malta and speaks at various seminars that focus on criminal law.
It is well worth making the time to go and visit the exhibition organised by Charles Bellia on behalf of ‘Friends of the Crib at the iconic Palazzo Ferreria also known as Palazzo Buttigieg Francia just as you pass the main entrance to Valletta. The exhibition will be open until 5 January.
Entrance is free and if you can also find more information if you are interested in displaying your hand made nativity cribs next Christmas. I am amazed to find out that so many people are nativity crib making enthusiasts.