The threats to Greenland

We concentrate on the obvious places where dictators thrive and warfare kills thousands, but tend not to note the stress experienced by the people of Greenland, who are struggling to cope with global warming, which is totally altering their way of life.  More than 90% of Greenlanders accept that the climate is changing, while 76% are …

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Kashmir: what happened

Indian-administered Kashmir remains under an unprecedented lockdown, subject to a curfew and without phone and internet links. It followed the announcement that India’s only Muslim-majority state would lose its autonomous status. Article 370 of India’s constitution, in force since 1949, guaranteed Jammu and Kashmir the right to make its own laws in all internal matters, …

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The return of federal executions

“Anyone who has witnessed the steady rise of Trump, with the thumbs-up, thumbs-down swagger of an omnipotent Roman emperor,” knew this day was coming.  Attorney General William Barr has just announced the end of the Justice Department’s unofficial, 16-year-long moratorium on executing federal prisoners. The department plans to put five inmates to death in December …

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It’s time to stand up to “flying rats” a.k.a Seagulls

Letter to The Sun: Vicious seagulls are taking over our country.  The decline of the fishing industry has left less food for these feathered menaces to scavenge from the docks, so tens of thousands of them have taken up residence in inland towns and cities. And they aren’t just poking through rubbish bins. These “flying …

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The British political system is bankrupt (and in good company)

The Queen, who by tradition does not comment on politics, is quoted as saying that the political class is incapable of governing.  Amen to that. Robert Unger, a philosopher at Harvard, says that European politicians don’t know how to do anything apart from splitting the difference, and are incapable of facing up to fundamental problems.  This …

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Good news, we hope: a new approach to cancer

From The Guardian: Scientists have opened up a new front in the war against cancer, aimed not so much at curing the disease as disarming it, so that it becomes a “manageable” condition. Just as bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, cancers can mutate to become resistant to the drugs used to treat them, which …

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Drug deaths in the US and some unintended consequences. No. 2

Well-intentioned policies can have unintended consequences. For example, while the rate of new opioid prescriptions has fallen in recent years, a large number of physicians have stopped initiating opioids altogether.  While that may sound like a good thing, it’s not clear whether this does more good or harm to patients in severe pain. This isn’t …

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A hard border is simply unworkable

The Guardian, on 7 August,  ran an interesting article on the “border” between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The hard border is not currently there because of the terms of the Good Friday agreement, underpinned by the fact that both the UK and Ireland are EU states. If Britain leaves the EU with no …

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The endless US gun murders – an Epicurean view

There are so many simple, clear steps that lawmakers can take to reduce the epidemic of gun violence in America.  The following policies are actually supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans and even many gun owners: Universal background checks. Closing the gun show loophole. Banning assault weapons such as AR-15s. Banning bump stocks. Addressing …

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Collectively we are all guilty of perpetuating misleading “facts”.

From the Harvard Gazette: We are all too ready to judge the world though anecdotes, images and distorted reporting designed to sell news, rather than quietly studying the actual facts.  Some examples:    –   Trump refers to American “carnage” in an era in which violent crime rates are close to historical lows. Bush created …

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