The wild animal trade in China

Teams in China are racing to discover which wild animal at a Wuhan food market was the source of the corona virus:  snakes, pangolins or bats? We don’t know yet. What is clear is how seriously China is now clamping down on the trade in wildlife. Recently, the country’s highest authorities enacted a permanent ban. …

Continue reading ‘The wild animal trade in China’ »

Rule by religious extremists? Bad for peace of mind!

The weekly Bible study arranged by Capitol Ministries for members of Congress and President Trump’s cabinet, illustrates how entwined Christianity is with our government.  Attendees include the vice president, secretaries of state for education, housing and urban development, agriculture, and health; the head of NASA; Trump’s chief of staff; former labor and energy secretaries; and …

Continue reading ‘Rule by religious extremists? Bad for peace of mind!’ »

Light relief

An email to my son, USA to U.K.: On 31/03/2020 Robert Hanrott wrote: Will,  I am going to phone you tomorrow, Tuesday.  I am concerned about you all.  Dead ……………………………………………………………….. And a reply…….. Hi, Dad, We are all fine. Please do call. It’ll be nice to speak to you. One thing though. When you sign …

Continue reading ‘Light relief’ »

Why are guns and ammo essential items?

Across America, people have been told to take refuge at home and to venture out only to get things they really need, like groceries, prescription drugs and petrol. But should weapons also be on that list? Gun rights advocates think they should. They’ve now achieved a federal shutdown-order exemption for gun shops( guns and ammo) …

Continue reading ‘Why are guns and ammo essential items?’ »

Auotopsy on the American Dream, part 2

Continued from yesterday: The core promise of the American dream has always been that you can do better than your parents. But we have to deal with the fact that our values have been hi-jacked. We decided that we needed more democracy in our politics. What better way to do that than to allow people to …

Continue reading ‘Auotopsy on the American Dream, part 2’ »

An autopsy of the American dream, part 1

Over the past 50 years, lots of things have changed in the United States. Here are a few examples. 1) A child’s chance of earning more than his or her parents has plummeted from 90 to 50 percent. 2) Earnings by the top 1 percent of Americans nearly tripled, while middle-class wages have been basically …

Continue reading ‘An autopsy of the American dream, part 1’ »

A bit of history – scurvy and the Sicilian mafia

Scurvy is an exceptionally revolting disease, and it was once commonplace on the high seas. The discovery in the 18th century that a regular supply of citrus fruits could prevent it eventually made seafaring far less treacherous. But it had rather less palatable consequences on Sicily: the emergence of the Mafia,  the world’s most notorious …

Continue reading ‘A bit of history – scurvy and the Sicilian mafia’ »

Re-writing history: revanchist Russia

”Second World War commemorations were once characterised by gestures of reconciliation, but Vladimir Putin is changing that. The atmosphere ahead of May’s 75th anniversary of VE Day is becoming “poisonous”, not least where Poland is concerned. The country is generally regarded as the first victim of Nazi expansionism, but in a speech in December, Russia’s …

Continue reading ‘Re-writing history: revanchist Russia’ »

Can tea help stop Alzheimer’s?

Drinking at least one and a half cups of tea a day could reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Flavonols are a group of compounds found in plant-promote cardiovascular health. Now a study suggests that they also help “stave off” dementia. Researchers at Rush University in Chicago tracked 921 people with an average age of …

Continue reading ‘Can tea help stop Alzheimer’s?’ »

Contentious comment of the month

History repeating itself In the 19th Century the United States expanded its borders to the PacificOcean, and in the process killed tens of thousands of native Americans, herding the remainder into the most dismal, waterless and unproductive land.  Then they signed treaties that, to this very day, are being ignored and broken, something to do …

Continue reading ‘Contentious comment of the month’ »

The decline of customer service

The service industry was meant to be the “engine” of our economy.  Whatever happened?  Where did “service” disappear to? Supermarkets now want to charge you for service but get you to do the work yourself.   You pick from the shelves and often bag the goods yourself. One member of staff supervises six or eight …

Continue reading ‘The decline of customer service’ »

Foreign languages “protect” the brain

The theory that learning a foreign language has a protective effect on the brain has been boosted by a new study showing that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience less cognitive decline if they are bilingual. When a team at the University of Reading compared the mental abilities of bilingual and monolingual MS patients, they …

Continue reading ‘Foreign languages “protect” the brain’ »

Offer a compliment, or give the bad news first?

Question to agony aunt:  “When giving negative feedback, is it better to start with the admonition and end with a compliment, or vice versa?”.  (Gillian Peall, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK) First answer: “Definitely give the compliment first. Knowing you have done something right may make the negative feedback more acceptable. Giving the bad news first can …

Continue reading ‘Offer a compliment, or give the bad news first?’ »

The Shame of Child Poverty

The plight of impoverished children anywhere should evoke sympathy, exemplifying as it does the suffering of the innocent and defenseless. Poverty among children in a wealthy country like the United States, however, should provoke. shame and outrage as well. Unlike poor countries (sometimes run by leaders more interested in lining their pockets than anything else), …

Continue reading ‘The Shame of Child Poverty’ »

Why Americans are dying young

IAmericans’ lives are getting shorter. A new study has shown that life expectancy in the US, which rose steadily over the past half-century, has now fallen for three years running. The downward trend is the result of an alarming hike in mortality rates among those between the ages of 25 and 64. Americans in the …

Continue reading ‘Why Americans are dying young’ »

Fifty years of environmental regulations scrapped

The following are just a few of the reversals of environmental protection laws in the last three or so years. 1. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord. 2. Easing of the regulation of methane emissions. 3. Scale-back of requirements for storing and releasing waste from coal-fired power plants 4. Increase in allowable levels of …

Continue reading ‘Fifty years of environmental regulations scrapped’ »