Category Archives for "Current Affairs"
On both sides of the Atlantic millions of people have been asking the question, “How did this happen? Why did we lose?”.
How they laughed when it was first announced that Trump might run for President. How they scoffed at the very idea the the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland might one day leave the European Union.
Well, Trump is in now in the White House and the Brexit juggernaut is rolling, albeit around some obstacles put in its path. The causes for both events will no doubt be debated for a long while yet but there are already some reasons that now seem undeniable.
A quick google reveals that about 63 million Americans voted for Trump but over 90 million didn’t vote at all. As they say over there, go figure.
I wonder what percentage of those who didn’t vote were on the Women’s Marches or have spent many hours on social media bemoaning the fate of their respective countries.
Another reason often cited as the cause of these so called catastrophes is varying degrees on ignorance, gullibility, and bigotry among those who voted to leave the EU or put Trump in the White House.
I would be the first to agree that there are some pretty dim people out there but to suggest that tens of millions of people are unable to make rational decision for themselves and their families, having weighed up all the arguments for and against, is wildly inaccurate and very condescending.
After the Brexit referendum some people went as far as suggesting that certain people shouldn’t be allowed to vote at all. They suggested that some voters were either too old to make decisions that would have long term effects or that they were too stupid to know what’s good for them. This patronising viewpoint is one often heard uttered by the Eurocrats. Leave it to the experts, they know what’s best for us, eh boys?
This is another favourite excuse used by many to explain who things have turned out as they have done. It doesn’t occur to them that many immigrants and descendants of immigrants voted to leave the EU for reasons they can explain perfectly well for themselves.
If a white person said what is said on these clips people would be quick to whip out the tired old excuses of racism and xenophobia. The truth is that they believe that while immigration has benefits you can have too much of a good thing, and that stricter controls and stronger entry requirements isn’t at all xenophobic but just sensible governance:
In this next clip we see an American gentleman, “Big Joe” who is perfectly capable of making his point among crowds of people who were protesting the day after Trump’s inauguration.
One woman shouts, “You’re on a bicycle and you’re oblivious!” – not sure what’s wrong with being on a bicycle. Big Joe replies, “Political Correctness is un-American!”
I urge you to watch it to the end as the debate becomes a bit more articulate as it goes on.
Take your pick. I’m sure there will be plenty to choose from. The worst so far is the fact that Trump has signed the executive order to push ahead with the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Imagine if Clinton were now in the White House and Britain had voted to remain in the EU. What would change? I would bet very little, except perhaps that Hillary would probably have to keep Bill on a tight leash:
Things would grind on just as they had before with no major problems resolved and things getting progressively worse for many.
Instead, we are witnessing a big rush of energy entering the political world and things are turning upside down. Those on the Left who have always seen themselves as champions of freedom and democracy are becoming more and more censorial and authoritarian.
Meanwhile, more people are turning to the Right as they lose faith in the liberal and centre politicians who have failed to listen to their concerns and grievances and who have brought in changes that have transformed their communities and countries without consultation nor consent.
This energy is shaking things up. It’s removing some of that smug complacency (from both voters and politicians) and reminding us all that our votes do make a difference.
It’s reminding us that our democracy is a precious thing, and that we should never again leave it to others to make decisions for us.
By all means make your voices heard but don’t smash windows and burn cars. Burning the limousine belonging to a Muslim immigrant doesn’t do your cause any favours. Nor does bullying and intimidating Trump supporters simply because you disagree with their points of view.
Is a hijab an appropriate symbol to use in the Women’s March of January 22nd? Again, depends on your point of view. If you’re one of the organisers bemoaning the fact that 22 states in the US don’t allow Sharia law then it’s probably part of your agenda.
If on the other hand you feel the way this woman does, then it is not appropriate:
It breaks my heart, as someone who is forced to wear this atrocity since the age of 11 (I am 25 now), to see them celebrating the tool of my oppression. Being a hijabi has denied me so many rights, I feel offended right now. I don’t see how this is standing up for minorities. I am a full grown woman who lives a submissive life because she can’t afford to be independent, and has to do things she doesn’t approve of so that she can have something to eat. My parents have threatened repeatedly to throw me on the streets if I ever take it off. Millions of girls are denied their basic rights because of the hijab mentality. Why aren’t you standing up for them?”
The Hunkpapa Lakota holy man Sitting Bull once said, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” Today we could paraphrase that and say, “Let us put our minds together and see how we can prevent our children being slaughtered by jihadis.”
My parents generation had to fight the Nazis. It fell to them to fight fascism and to endure a horrendous war which threatened to crush everything; all hope, all joy, and all freedoms.
It falls upon the current and it would seem the next generation to live in the Age of Jihad and deal with all the threats and events it imposes upon them.
The assumption is that the vast majority of people want to prevent further acts of violence, to protect the vulnerable, and to live in an atmosphere of peace, cooperation, and mutual respect.
Here’s a little brainstorm about the current situation in Europe. I’ve tried to keep it factual but some opinions have crept in there too. It’s not just about jihadis and islamism, it’s about mass migration too because the two things are intertwined. You can’t discuss one without soon including the other.
That’s it for the moment. What are your suggestions? What’s your analysis and how do you think we can prevent more people from being bombed, stabbed, shot, run over, assaulted, and otherwise hurt?
Sometimes when I can’t get to sleep I don’t count sheep but instead I go through an alphabetical list of Native American tribes. It usually starts well; Apache, Arapaho, Apsaroke, Assininboine…I falter on the B’s; Brulé Sioux…but the C’s are quite easy; Creek, Cree, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Comanche, and Crow (though that’s cheating a bit because the Crow are the Apsaroke).
I’m usually asleep long before I get to zzzzzz…Zuni
Several decades ago I read a couple of dozen books about Native Americans:
A small charity based in Leeds called The Onaway Trust acted as a focal point for those of us concerned with the plight of modern day Native Americans and when the pay packet allowed I would send off a small cheque.
In return they supplied journals containing articles about the continuing struggles most notably the (at the time) recent armed siege at Wounded Knee in 1973. From these we learned about the American Indian Movement (AIM) and of people like Dennis Banks and Russell Means.
In about 1980 Russell Means came over to the UK to give a few talks to small audiences at universities and colleges and I jumped at the chance to attend. He was accompanied by Floyd Red Crow Westerman who opened the proceedings by singing some songs. After the interval we listened in respectful silence while Means gave his talk on the ongoing struggles of Native Americans in a world of injustice and hostility.
We have reservations about our reservations
Recently the world has witnessed how the many Native American tribes and others have gathered together on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in a way not see for generations to protest the threat to clean water and the encroachment on ancient tribal lands of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
With a hugely impressive display of dignity, forbearance, and non-violent protest in the face of extreme provocation (tear gas, dogs, rubber bullets, water canon, tasers) they appear to have been successful in halting the progress of the black snake.
The pride felt by these people for their cultural identity is self evident. At the same time Europeans think less of tribalism and more about a homogeneous whole: a multicultural, border-less utopia in which diversity is celebrated and everyone is equal (but not the same).
Come with me to the winged isle
Northern father’s western child
Where the dance of ages is playing still
Through far marches of acres wild
European tribes have been confined to the controlled spaces of folklore and historical study lest they stir up feelings of patriotism and (horror of horrors) national pride. Reveal your interest in Norse gods outside academia and sport a tribal tattoo and you’re likely to be viewed with some suspicion as some kind of racial supremacist.
We’ve learned to mock or even fear our own heritage. King Arthur didn’t exist! St.George was Turk! Faery Lore is dangerous! How sophisticated we have become in our modern multicultural mish-mash.
We love to learn about other tribes and agree to respect their culture and traditions, but we’re less celebratory and even a bit embarrassed about our own ancestry and tribal heritage.
According to many the Europeans screwed up the world and created all the problems inherited by the current generations. When it’s pointed out that our ancestors behaved arguably much better and certainly no worse than many other civilizations past and present these simple facts falls on deaf ears. One should never let the facts of history interfere with the current trend for hand-wringing apologies.
If you’re a white Briton the likelihood is that your DNA contains a combination of Western European, Scandinavian, Ancient Briton, and Mediterranean, with traces from further like the Near East or North Africa. We know this because DNA testing proves what the history books have taught us about successive invasions and migrations.
The blood of the British contains elements inherited from over twenty different tribes, Celts, Romans, Vikings, Jutes, Angles, Saxons, and Normans etc as well as any slaves and camp followers that came with them.
It’s all there in your DNA, like a dormant software program ready to be brought to life with the right combination of circumstances, or perhaps it will remain asleep and you’ll simply pass on the heritage to your children.
How did it get there?
Whether it was military invasion or waves of migration the melting pot of DNA was created through procreation.
Integration came about through intermingling and intermarriage.
Our ancestors got along (eventually) because they got it on with each other.
So when we consider that in 2005 Trevor Phillips warned that the UK was sleepwalking into segregation and that the recently published Casey Review confirms that segregation is now at ‘worrying levels’ it raises all kinds of questions that as yet have no answers.
For integration to occur people have to relax, keep and open mind, and respect differences but if your culture suggests that you are superior to others then that will never happen.
You will continue to see yourself as better than them. You are highly unlikely to celebrate your son’s betrothal to an outsider or to marry off your daughters to someone of a difference culture and religion. Your cultural beliefs may prohibit same sex relationships and condemn all kinds of lifestyles that are accepted within other tribes.
For some generations to come Europe will continue to be divided along cultural and tribal lines. We are long way off from being fully integrated. The only way to make any progress towards integration (assuming that is the goal and not everyone agrees that it is the desirable outcome) is to drop the orthodoxy and conservatism that isolates one tribe from all others.
Tribes and cultures that have a live and let live attitude with a little intermingling and marriage at the edges are the best hope for Europe.
Can we talk of integration until there is integration of hearts and minds? Unless you have this, you only have a physical presence, and the walls between us are as high as the mountain range.
Hardly a day goes by without one politician or another banging the NHS drum. The political ping-pong often revolves around the NHS wasted billions.
In July of this year the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 covered the anniversary of the death of Aneurin Bevan, the founder of the National Health Service. I wonder what Mr Bevan would make of today’s NHS.
During the program Jeremy Vine interviewed an Aneira Thomas, the first baby born in an NHS hospital. She was born on the 5th July 1948 at Amman Valley Hospital, Carmarthenshire.
She, her three sisters, and her daughter have all spent years working in the NHS in a variety of roles. As you can imagine she is a champion for the Health Service and is very proud of her connection to it.
However, when Jeremy Vine asked her what was the single biggest cause of waste in the NHS here answer was surprising. As I recall (and you can correct me if I’m wrong) she didn’t use the opportunity to knock the Tories or blame Conservative policies. Instead, she seemed to draw attention to the waste within middle management.
During the preceding weeks I had seen numerous stories in the press about the amount of waste in the NHS. It began to look as if the NHS is a huge bucket with so many holes in it that every time the budget is increased a lot of it escapes through the holes.
For 2015/16, the overall NHS budget was around £116.4 billion. It’s the second biggest slice of the tax payers’ pie after pensions. Defence spending for example is a third of health care.
If you work in the NHS you will probably have your own opinion so feel free to add your comments below this post. I’d be interested to know what truth there is for each of these examples of the holes in the bucket.
Are these all valid? Can you think of any others?
Hospital parking charges are a contentious issue. Over £120,000,000 was collected in 2015/16 according to a report published by the Press Association.
On the one hand there are the hospitals justifying parking charges as an important revenue source that offset the budget cuts. While on the other the patients, their families, and their visitors are angry about paying for every visit.
If just some of the waste in the list above was addressed perhaps many hospitals could waive or at least reduce the parking charges.
Why can’t we admit to ourselves that the NHS is one of the most overrated, inefficient systems in the world? – The Independent, April 14th 2017
You may be aware that wars were fought and lost. Treaties were signed and broken. Friends were made and betrayed. The accounts of the massacres will make your blood run cold. The injustices and maltreatment of survivors will make your blood boil.
Perhaps you’ve read nothing but you’ve seen films that give you some idea of the tragedy and betrayal. Dances With Wolves is one such film. For once the cinema had managed to capture something of what we had read in the history books.
So you might think that with the Indian Wars receding into history and Native Americans taking their place in American society, politics, business, and culture all is well.
Except it isn’t. In fact, the brutal treatment didn’t end with Wounded Knee.
Once the tribes were defeated militarily they were confined to reservations on what was then regarded as worthless land. The intention was to to provide them with the means to survive but suppliers and middle men ripped them off.
Their remaining children were forced through a schooling system designed to turn them into Americans. They were beaten for speaking their own languages. Their culture, stories, and prayers were forbidden.
Despite all of this the tribes and their cultures endured and survived, though not without many casualties along the way. Alcoholism and suicide on reservations is all too common.
Once again American politics and business is riding roughshod over the Native Americans. The Dakota Access Pipeline is being driven like a lance through the heart of the land. With comes a high risk of pollution through leaks and spills into the water supply.
They are driving bulldozers through ancient and sacred tribal burial grounds. Can you imagine the outcry if they did that through Arlington Cemetery?
Those who protest are being treated like criminals and private security firms are setting their dogs on them.
However, this outrage has had an unexpected effect. it has united the tribes of the USA in a way that hasn’t been seen for centuries. They are coming from all over the USA and beyond to show their support.
Social media has spread the message far and wide, and the world is watching. Video footage of the protest and the reaction of those paid to guard the construction sites is there for all to see.
Supporters of the pipeline are well funded. They are exploiting social media to spread their message too. They have pointed out that the intended route of the pipeline doesn’t actually traverse any Indian reservations. Thus they demonstrate their failure to understand how all things are connected.
From an ecological point of view what is over there is connected to what is here. Fences and lines on a map don’t mean a thing.
On the one hand this this may seem like yet another example of the US government looking the other way while the Indians are abused by a powerful corporation.
But it’s much more than that and it has rallied tribal people and others from all over the USA and beyond. There is no political agenda. All people want to do is safeguard their access to clean water.
When I hear the President of the United States referred to as the ‘Leader of the free world’ I can’t help but wonder, “Free from what? Free for whom?”
Would it be too much to ask that the USA sets an example to the rest of the world?
Give the tribes a break. Demonstrate to the watching world that you can live up to the principles and ideals that you boast are your bedrock.