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’ »

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’ »

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’ »

Can planting trees save civilization?

Recently, the World Economic Forum launched 1t.org, a plan to plant a trillion trees. Even Donald Trump, who has withdrawn the US from the Paris agreement, has backed the initiative. But can trees store enough carbon to buy us time to act on climate change? A recent paper said 0.9 billion hectares could lock up …

Continue reading ‘Can planting trees save civilization?’ »

Failing to face the reality of an ageing society

You’d never have guessed it from the recent election campaigns, but Britain has a major problem with its pensions.   It’s this: as the U.K. population ages, the state pensions of ever more retirees are having to be financed by ever fewer people in work. Hence the sensible plans to raise the pensionable age for …

Continue reading ‘Failing to face the reality of an ageing society’ »

Some thoughts from Lucretius…

In the words of Lucretius:  “..we are all born from the same celestial seed;  all of us have the same father, from which the earth, the mother who feeds us, receives clear drops of rain, producing from them bright wheat and lush trees, and the human race, and the species of beasts, offering up the foods with which all …

Continue reading ‘Some thoughts from Lucretius…’ »

Electric scooters: the opinion of The Guardian

“The brakes may at last be coming off the “micromobility” revolution. This month, UK ministers are due to begin a consultation on legalising the use of electronic scooters on British roads. Not before time. There’s no justification for the current ban on these devices. A fast, heavy bike poses much more of a threat to …

Continue reading ‘Electric scooters: the opinion of The Guardian’ »

White, working class boys are performing badly academically

The educational under-performance of Britain’s white working-class males is “desperate”. Less then 10% of white boys from deprived backgrounds go to university, the lowest share of any demographic group. Boys lag behind girls at all stages of schooling – in few other areas, says the Higher Education Policy Institute, is there “such a big gender …

Continue reading ‘White, working class boys are performing badly academically’ »

$16 trillion bad dream?

The year 2019 saw the continuation of “the world’s most bizarre financial experiment ever”, said Merryn Somerset Webb on MoneyWeek.com – “negative interest rates”. The European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank were among those charging investors for the privilege of holding their bonds. There are now $16trn-worth of negative-yielding government bonds in the …

Continue reading ‘$16 trillion bad dream?’ »

As the U.K. shuffles out of the EU, a revealing letter

To The Economist: “So, three-and-a-half years after the Brexit referendum, Britain is leaving the European Union on 31 January. For millions of people, particularly in eastern Europe, the country we tend to call “Anglia” has been a benchmark of nobility, of spirit and excellence. Britain is deeply embedded in our cultural make-up. During the War, …

Continue reading ‘As the U.K. shuffles out of the EU, a revealing letter’ »

Messing up the trade war

Dictatorships are un-Epicurean.  Period.  Thus, standing up to China, which already  by some measures is economically ahead to the US (dear, oh, dear) is to be applauded.  While I agree that politics should not be discussed on this forum, resisting dictators and would-be dictators intent on world domination seems to be a no-brainer. It appears …

Continue reading ‘Messing up the trade war’ »

Management of tax and the deficit

The six big US tech firms. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft are accused of avoiding tax by shifting revenue and profits through tax havens or low-tax countries, like Ireland.  They are also accused of deliberately delaying payment of what tax they do end up paying.  Fair Tax Mark accuses Amazon of being the …

Continue reading ‘Management of tax and the deficit’ »

More on secret government databases

Rights campaigners in Britain have described as “utterly chilling” a secret database compiled by counter-terrorism police containing personal information about thousands of people referred to the government’s controversial anti-radicalisation Prevent programme. The Prevent Case Management (PCM) database is accessible to all police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Home Office is …

Continue reading ‘More on secret government databases’ »

Gene profiling by US police

People add their genetic data to genealogy DNA databanks in the hope of tracing long-lost relatives, biological parents and so on. They don’t expect their genomes to be accessed by the police. Yet officials in the US have used “investigative genetic genealogy” in more than 100 cases. One genetic testing company, Family Tree DNA, has …

Continue reading ‘Gene profiling by US police’ »