Never too late to save the planet

Okay, so he could have done it earlier. But that’s history, so let’s not revisit it. I’m just delighted, in this most awful of awful years, that Barack Obama has called a ban on further oil exploration in the Arctic. Perhaps now the polar bear will have a fighting chance, the northern ocean will not suffer devastating pollution from oil leaks and spills. Perhaps the native american people who live in the cold zone will not be harried and persecuted by Big Oil’s relentless march for ever more profit. Perhaps, I hope so.

Yes, of course I know that America is not the only nation that pursues oil, non-stop and without care for the consequences. And of course I know that there will be attempts to overturn any banning legislation, and soon, far too soon. But it’s Christmas, a difficult time of year, any year, and I’m trying to look for reasons to be positive about the future.

Thanks, Barack. May you, Michelle and the girls enjoy the holidays and move on to even greater things. Some might say you could have done more: I say, you tried, and none of us has walked in your shoes.

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Quo Vadis, Planet Earth?

Mustn’t be too dramatic. After all, we’ve had neo-fascists in power before and, no doubt, will again. But… just take a look around.

Tory PM May in the UK, now Trump president-elect in the US, a big ? over Europe and the EU, the ever worsening middle-east, Putin keeping careful watch overall, the economic rise of China. No effective or respected UK political opposition, Hillary Clinton edged out of the US leadership by an archaic electoral college voting system, Farage and the continuing dog’s breakfast that is Ukip, what a fuck-up. You have to wonder, even if you were a right-winger, would you be rejoicing? And if so, why, for God’s sake? I just cannot see it, myself.

And all this before even considering the most important issue, the planet. I watched a documentary last week, broadcast live from Churchill, a recently expanded fuel exploratory settlement on the edge of Hudson Bay, in Northern Manitoba. This is a cold place, home to polar bears and the Inuit, but now full of structures reminiscent of a present-day Klondike that will, presumably, be abandoned as quickly, once the land has been desecrated in the search for gas and oil. It was all so familiar, the presenters waxing lyrical about the majestic and dangerous polar bears, the Inuit desperately trying to keep some of their traditions alive, meeting to share a bounty of whale blubber. Unlike those raping the stunning frozen land for fuel, the natives took what they needed, and left the rest for another day. Isn’t this the way we should all live?

Haven’t read it yet – I’m saving the experience for when I’m really pissed-off – but one of my heroes, Michael Moore, is predicting that Trump’s presidency may not even last four years. We can live in hope, but surely there must be more that we can do?

D-Day? Hope not!

Well, today’s the day we find out if the end of the world has arrived.

I’ve been watching the international news off and on; Channel 4 are doing a sterling job of covering the so-called rust-belt US states, talking to supporters of the Donald and those anti. So similar to the once-industrial areas here, in the north and Wales, where poverty reigns, unemployment is high, jobs few and the communities have never recovered from the brutality of Thatcher and her skeletal Rottweiler, Norman Tebbit. You can understand these dispossessed people protest-voting for Ukip, though I don’t see what they expect to gain from slimy Farage. He puts me in mind of the old saying, ‘Would you buy a used car from this man?’ Not on your life! But in the states, I’m lost for words, Trump represents everything bad and dangerous in politics. That’s quite a worry. He’s sexist, racist, ignorant, greedy, xenophobic, deceitful, manipulative, the list goes on and on. He’s a mash-up of all the worst human traits. God help the US, once home of the brave, land of the free. Now home of the poor, land of the desperate. Let’s pray they find a way back from the brink.

The word from the media is that Hillary has just nailed it, but there is no certainty, yet. It’s going to be a long day’s night.

Changin’ times?

It would be awesome if times really were changin’. The unsurpassable Robert Zimmerman has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize – for literature. Not for services to world peace or to education, both of which would be perfectly justifiable. But for literature. As a forever Dylan fan I am well acquainted with the lyrics of many of his songs and, yes, I do own some of the albums, though not all. And indeed, world class they are. But can even Dylan’s mighty and sustained oeuvre change the world?

Even as I write these words, the forces of darkness continue to oppress the citizens of the world. In fact, only this week, the phrase ‘Citizen of the World’, has been put forward in a speech by Theresa May, the UK’s brand spanking new PM, as a negative label. If you are a citizen of the world, she blurted, in that hurried breathless voice she is currently adopting, then you are a citizen of nowhere. Go figure. The good news is that she has been challenged on this view by people everywhere, on social media, in newspaper editorials, on UK television political programmes, like Question Time, This Week and The Daily Politics. Tweeters are adding Citizen of the World to their profiles, proud to describe themselves as such. But if Mrs May and her Brexit ministers have their way, the UK will soon belong to a shrinking nation, divorced from friends and neighbours in Europe, even more detested by the Irish and Scots. To quote from another famous ‘6os hit song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone? written after the Great War, I ask our foolish, short-sighted politicians, When Will They Ever Learn?

 

 

 

Election fever?

Been following western politics lately? Beats any TV drama or soap opera for entertainment, that’s for certain sure.

UK

In the last couple months the UK has voted in a referendum to leave the EU, this is commonly referred to as Brexit. This has resulted in, in no particular order:

The resignation of Cameron, the Prime Minister, oftimes referred to as ‘Dodgy Dave’

A declaration from Scotland that it will call a second vote to ‘leave the union’

Disgruntled mutterings from Northern Ireland about any reinstatement of border controls between NI and the Republic of Ireland

The value of sterling going up and down like a thing that goes up and down a lot

Europe

Barely concealed threats from other EU leaders to ‘punish’ the UK. Smack its bottom, perhaps? Various EU countries following the UK’s lead in considering their own position within the EU. The words ‘rats’ and ‘sinking ship’ spring to mind. Does nobody want to repair the stricken vessel and sail on to greater things, in harmony, tranquility and prosperity?  Get real, this is politics, not Pollyanna!

USA

Meanwhile, the long drawn out process for choosing a new president has arrived at the sorry spectacle of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton engaging in televised debates as to who is the better candidate for the Presidency when Barack Obama’s second term comes to an end. Remember when UK protest voters used to support the Monster Raving Loony Party? Where is Homer Simpson when we need him most? Is there no alternative to these two alternatives who seem to bring out the worst traits in the US electorate?

The amount of tweets and media stories covering these events grows exponentially. I must stop reading them and get a life.