July 1st

More than $1.4 billion in money intended to support struggling families in the US was sent to people who were already dead. The “greatest country on earth” seems to have difficulty making distinctions between dead / alive, sane/ insane, joke / public policy.  As evidence, President Trump has withdrawn Federal funding for COVID testing activity, breaking with all of his public health advisors and the sane people of his country. He is putting into action what all his spokesperson said was “just a joke”. Tweets and “jokes” are now the basis for public policy.

The Trump government is asking the Supreme Court to declare Obamacare to be unconstitutional so that they can remove the health care benefits received by twenty-three million people in the middle of a pandemic. It is a clear signal that re-election is more important than the lives and wellbeing of citizens – sending a signal to his “base” of non-mask wearing covidiots that he can still do what he said he would do in 2016. What that signal is not at all clear, but it’s probably “see, I told I didn’t care what people think or whether they live or die!”.

Retweeting can be dangerous, as Rebecca Long-Bailey found out the hard way. The former candidate for the leadership of the UK Labour Party was dismissed from her shadow cabinet position by Sir Keir Starmer for retweeting a tweet written by the actress Maxine Peake. Peake had likened the actions of the now charged US police who killed black people to the actions of the Israeli occupying army who use similar tactics on Palestinians – not an inappropriate comment. She also claimed that the Israeli’s had trained the police in the US – a claim she later withdrew. But to a sensitive leader, the tweet was antisemitic and a conspiracy theory. When Israel continues to abuse its position as  dominant power in the Middle East and causes untold harm to Palestinians, it is not antisemitic to call them out. What is really going here on is a struggle for the heart and soul of the Labour Party. A classic “kind of” left vs really left struggle.  It will not end well.

Ireland finally has a new Prime Minister. The elections were held in February 2020, but no single party won a clear majority. Last Saturday the Dail sat in special session and elected Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil as the new Taoiseach. He will lead a coalition government which has taken all this time to agree on a government program which has a strong green policy core – this is Ireland after all.

Skills and competencies, not degrees, should be the basis for hiring to the US government, according to a new Executive Order signed by President Trump. Here’s the thing, the order was written for the President by Ivanka Trump who was hired based on nepotism, not skills. She was “grandfathered” in – well “fathered” in, according to one twitterati. If skills were the basis for cabinet appointments, almost all the current US cabinet would need to quit.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev Justin Welby (a former oil industry executive), is considering changing some of the images of Jesus in the Anglican cathedral church to depict him as he was – coloured and not white.  He hasn’t clarified whether the images will show Jesus wearing a mask.

Alberta has a new plan to stimulate the wealthy to take money offshore. Our Kakistocracy government has cut corporate taxes to put more money in the hands of already profitable companies. They are also spending $3 billion more on infrastructure, restricting immigration and opening offices abroad. Looks like the UCP economic playbook has just the one page. It’s the same kind of thinking they had before COVID-19. Not much new and not much of a new deal. While Kenney says this will create 50,000 jobs – no analyst worth their salt comes to this same conclusion. (Kenney’s last plan lost 50,000 jobs before the pandemic – the opposite of what he forecast). There is also some talk about diversification – talk and not a lot of action. This is probably why, 24 hours after the plan was published, Alberta’s credit rating was downgraded yet again on the grounds of a lack of a credible economic strategy. No plan, no gain.

Carl Reiner – one of the funniest men in the US – has died. He was 98 and lived a good life. He directed several very funny films (Dead Men don’t Wear Plaid, 1982) and recorded one of the funniest LP’s of all time with Mel Brooks – the 2000 Year Old Man. As The Guardian obituary said, he was the Gandalf of American comedy. RIP.

Today is Canada day. A day we celebrate ALL things Canadian. Be proud of who we are and what we can become. We can all do better. But take a moment to recognize that, given where other nations are, Canada is not a bad place to start from. Stay well.

July 3rd

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Hong Kong is now, for all intents and purposes, under direct rule by mainland China. Its “local” government has surrendered its authority to the CPC. This in defiance of international agreements. Protest is now illegal. The new laws threaten all of us who write about or challenge China – if we visit Hong Kong, we can be prosecuted for challenging China, even if we did so from the comfort of a home in Edmonton, Alberta. Hong Kong is now a flashpoint for global conflict. The UK has already offered citizenship to all 3 million citizens. Add this to a long list of places that have suddenly declared free speech offensive.

Airlines are in deep trouble. Some have already filed for bankruptcy, others are not flying, and major airlines have laid off staff, permanently killed off routes and some smaller airports are already being shuttered. As a frequent flyer, some of the crew I have long admired and been grateful for are no longer able to see a future as air crew or flight attendants. Airlines were already “hit” by the problems with the Boeing 737 Max (remember that!). Airline losses now exceed $4 billion and are mounting – daily losses between Europe and North America are in excess of $46 million a day. Travel will never be the same again.

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia and the USA (via a Muppet), will be in office until 2036. He easily won a vote to change the Russian constitution, which also included a ban on gay marriage. His US “agent”, Donald Trump, must be looking on with envy. He was already jealous with the President of China pulled off the same stunt in 2018 – Xi Jinping is now President of China for Life. All being well, Donald Trump – the Muppet – will be out of office on 20th January 2021.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House Press Secretary, claimed that Donald Trump was “one of the most informed men on the planet”. Right. He has previously claimed to be a “stable genius” – he is the very model of a modern stable genius (sung to the tune of the Major General song from the Pirates of Penzance) – and to know more about most things than other mortals. He knows, for example, that disinfectants and bleach can clean you out in more ways than one. He knows that the more we test people for COVID-19 the more we will find people with COVID-19 and so wants to cut tests. He thinks that the rallying cry “black lives matter” is a statement of hate. He knows that Putin is his new best friend, even though Putin is offering a bounty for those who kill US troops in Afghanistan. He is smarter than the average bucket of coconut shells washed up on a beach in Bali.

Republicans are campaigning against Dr. Fauci. They object to highly qualified and respected researchers going around the country telling people the truth. They prefer lies and deceit and the alternative universe they are trying to sell as part of their election campaign. Truth hurts their campaign, especially the proposition that US cases of COVID-19 could rise to 100,000 a day (they are already at 50,000+) and that the US response to the pandemic has been “shambolic”. Latest GOPers to object to Dr. Fauci include Rand Paul (not to be confused with RuPaul), Lindsay Graham and Mike Crapo. They want him fired from the Coronavirus Task Force for doing what scientists do. They prefer the President’s view that the virus will just go away now that the US is handling the pandemic so well. Right – they are living on another planet.

Pantomime season has come early to Britain. One day “air bridges” are set to be announced, enabling long locked-down Brits to go on vacation and people from several countries (including Canada) to visit the England (but not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) without quarantine – then the announcement is pulled and then made a few days later. This now you see it, now you don’t has become standard for the British government. Schools will open in September, they said, but we’ll wait for a few days to see what happens. Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is turning out to be more of a pantomime dame than a leading man.

Ghislaine Maxwell (58), daughter of the late Robert Maxwell (one of the most original robber barons of all time), has been arrested in relation to the Epstein sex trafficking case which ensnared Prince Andrew. She wasn’t in a Pizza Express in Woking but was rumoured to be in a Pizza Hut in New Hampshire. She is accused of enticement and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, transportation and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and two counts of perjury. She could face up to 35 years in prison. The prosecutors said that they would still like to hear from Prince Andrew – making them some of the few people in the world who do. Ghislaine is offering full co-operation with the investigators. A lot of men must by shaking in their thongs. Trump was a friend of Epstein, according to Stormy Daniels. Just saying.

Spare a thought for orchestral and choral conductors. While musicians have been able to perform a little, what do conductors do during the lock-down and era of social distancing? Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan born conductor of the LA Philharmonic, decided to do several one hour podcasts showcasing recordings of his favourite music, from Mozart to John Adams and John Williams. Gareth Malone, choral arranger and conductor, managed to make a BBC TV series showcasing singers performing in lock-down to seniors in care, teachers working with the children of essential workers and to health workers. Powerful stuff. Miss our concerts.

July 8th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

A virologist, an epidemiologist and a geneticist walk into a bar – of course they didn’t.

In Alabama students are organizing COVID-19 parties, ensuring that at least one of the attendees has tested positive and then offering a monetary prize to the next guest to be positively diagnosed. This from the self-proclaimed “greatest country on earth” with “some of the smartest people on the planet” – clearly not in Alabama. This in a country which will soon reach 100,000 new COVID-19 cases each day and leads the world in the most pathetic management of the pandemic. I think we should declare New Zealand the greatest country on earth and write off the US for the next while.

President Trump is organizing similar events, including the one held at Mount Rushmore and at the White House. His idea: lets defy the virus, infect as many as possible and prove that Darwin was right. Trump himself is tested everyday as are all those who meet him – any that test positive are immediately placed in quarantine. He cares that he is well, he doesn’t really care about anyone else. His new slogan “just live with it and get back to work”.  Even his son’s girlfriend, who is on the leadership team for the Trump campaign, has now tested positive. I suspect Putin is getting Trump’s Dacha in Moscow ready for the Trump’s family arrival on January 21st, 2021.

Trump’s new campaign theme (for this week) is that the US is facing a challenge from the radical left and the “cancel culture” and he alone can fight this. He wants to create a Hero Park full of statues of people we can all admire, like Rush Limbaugh, Stormy Daniels, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Vladimir Putin and others he has heard of. Jared Kushner is keen and Ivanka is already planning to set up a handbag stall. It’s a new kind of real estate deal: Trump Park. It will make it easy for protestors to locate the statues they will need to pull down once Trump leaves office. The irony is that Trump has tried to cancel more things – books, newspapers, ex mistresses – than anyone else.

One person who might beat Trump in November is Kanye West, who says he is now running for President. His odds are 50:1 according to paddypower.com – he’s not going to win or even run. He has missed filing deadlines in over thirty states. But he will soon release a new album. Let us hope Trump doesn’t take up singing.

The US has begun the process of formally leaving the World Health Organization. The rationale is that the WHO mishandled the pandemic. As a psychologist, we call this “projection” – projecting your own failures onto another. All could have done better, faster: but the accusation from the least effective country in managing the pandemic is a bit rich. The first thing Joe Biden or Kanye will do is rejoin.

Mexico has closed its border with the US on the grounds of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Arizona. Mexico is talking about helping to build a wall to keep American’s out and asking Trump to pay for it. Irony works in mysterious ways.

China has a new epidemic warning: the bubonic plague. The Inner Mongolian city of Bayan is under a level 3 epidemic warning (there are 6 levels – COVID-19 is a level 6 pandemic). The good news: it can be treated with antibiotics.

Boeing is no longer going to make the 747. I have travelled over 500,000 miles on these planes. The first commercial 747 flights began in the 1970’s and I flew on the upper deck in 1975 for the first time. My favourite 747 flight was from Edmonton to London on 2nd August 1990 – the opening night of the Bush (GH) Iraq War I. There were nine passengers and fifteen stewards – all other passengers cancelled. I sat upstairs with five others with an open bar with as much food as we could eat. Wonderful. The crew were so bored they came and sat next to us to chat. I stayed at the Hotel Russell in Russel Square, Bloomsbury – one of just twenty-three guests. All weird, but fun. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which I have flown many times (I am a 3 million-mile Aeroplan member) is simply wonderful – comfortable, quiet and fast. I am beginning to miss it and the destinations I travel to frequently – Dubai, Wellington, Brisbane, Cape Town.

Belairdirect, the insurance company, has threatened to pull its sponsorship of the Edmonton Eskimos football team if they do not change their team name.  New names suggested to date include the Edmonton Oh-So-Close, Edmonton Much-Better-than-Roughriders and the Edmonton Yet-Again.

July 11th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

The retail carnage caused by COVID-19 in the UK is beginning with massive layoffs at Boots and John Lewis as well as the continuing closures of small retailers across the length of Britain. The initial cut of 5,000 jobs in major retailers is just the start. There will be further fall out. What we will see, not just in the UK but around the world, is a recasting of retail with online buying replacing the high street experience. John Lewis is anticipating that, in 2021, online sales will represent 70% of their business versus 20% pre COVID. The full extent of the global recession will not be known for a while, but it will be massive.

The cancel culture movement has a new target: Jodie Comer, the actress who stars in Killing Eve. Why? Because her current date, James Burke, is a man who is a registered member of the US Republican Party. He is also a lacrosse player currently living in Liverpool. Comer has been vocal in supporting Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. The suggestion is that it is not possible to be taken seriously if you date a member of the GOP – you have to date a democrat or independent or, better still, don’t date at all. After all, a woman must have the exact same beliefs as the man she dates. A small vocal group are campaigning to have Killing Eve cancelled if she continues to be in it. How sad this is. Goodness knows what the tribal thought police think of Melania.

COVID-19 has killed 45 times more American’s than died on 9/11 and the count is rising – fast approaching 135,000 as this goes to press. COVID has co-conspirators in this death march – Republican governors, the President of the United States and his sycophantic enablers. Trump’s statement “you’re going to have to learn to live with it” sums it up: die, we need the money. His claim that “99% of COVID cases turns out to be harmless” is an out and out lie. The US border with Canada remains closed. Let’s keep it that way.

Betsy deVos, Trump’s multi-billionaire education czar, said last week the she thinks a return to school in September is essential and that, in her estimation, COVID-19 would only kill 0.2% of school students. This willingness to “write off” 14,740 children is totally unacceptable. This would mean that the virus killed no child: Betsy deVos did.

A leading republican has said that he would rather vote for a tuna sandwich than for Donald Trump in November. Subway is donating a very large tuna sandwich to the election officials in the hope that he can. Meantime, Kanye is back on his meds.

Roger Stone (67), liar and corruptor and pursuer of conspiracies, is now a free man, despite being found guilty of perjury and seeking to influence the jury. Donald J Trump (“the J is for genius”, he says) has commuted Stone’s sentence which was sought by his own Department of Justice. Stone had threatened to reveal what he really knows about Trump, his finances and corrupt business. So as to offer his blessing and commute the prison sentence, Trump lied and obfuscated in his statement accompanying his decision – at least 12 lies and falsehoods in a two page document. Another example of cronyism at work. Expect Paul Manafort tobe pardoned soon along with Hitler, Stalin and Judas (“he didn’t make that much from the deal”).

A store in Nebraska selling banjos has reopened, but is rationing sales – no more than 2 banjos per person. They are trying to avoid people stockpiling them. A bagpipe store in Seattle is doing the same.

July 13th

Donald Trump finally wore a facemask when visiting a veteran’s hospital in the middle of a pandemic. The fact that this is news is what is stunning here, not that he looked more like Darth Vader than Kiki Dee. His muffled words were “I freed Roger Stone and I have never met Ghislaine Maxwell”, at least that’s what Stormy Daniels thinks she heard.

Reports are emerging that the President wanted to sell Puerto Rico after it was hit by a devastating hurricane in 2017. He wanted to use the funds to buy Greenland (and maybe Bermuda – “good golf there”). The former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, is reporting that this is what she heard. She put this nonsense down to the Clorox injections and the twenty-two hydroxychloroquine tablets he was taking every day, not to mention having to approve Melania’s dress and shoe choices.

As Roger Stone celebrates his temporary freedom – he may face prosecution from NY – Michael Cohen is back in jail. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer has breeched his home confinement agreement by continuing to work on a tell all book about The Donald. The agreement, all lawyers agree, is most unusual in restricting freedom of speech and other constitutional rights – it will be challenged in court. The world really does not need another tell all book about The Donald – we already know that he is covidiot running the world’s most inept kakistocracy.

In more attempts to create distractions from their pathetic handling of the pandemic, the White House is now taking on Dr. Anthony Fauci, a world authority on pandemics and virology. Trump and Fauci are at odds on most things – like what day of the week is it or is that a dog or a cat? Fauci disputes almost everything Trump says about COVID-19 using such weird things as facts, science and evidence. Trump hates it. Trump is convinced that 99% of cases are totally harmless (lie), that the virus will disappear (lie) and that it was sent to the US by China (lie).  The real problem is that Fauci gets good press and Trump doesn’t. This will not end well.

Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, sometimes Prime Minister of Great Britain, is losing ground to his opposition rival Sir Keir Starmer. A new poll shows that Brit’s favour the smart lad over the scruffy toff. As they chunk it out, Brexit drags on. The EU’s chief negotiator Michael Bernier, whose sauce everyone loves, said that “significant divergences” remain in the crucial trade talks, with fishing rights, goods and services and law enforcement being some of the sticking points. Negotiating over fish and chips, surrounded by FedEx boxes and a few policemen, the negotiations continue. A no deal Brexit looks increasingly likely. This would mean that trade between the EU and UK would be within the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) – an organization in search of a new chief. de Pfeffel is hell-bent on nominating his old chum and former rival Dr. Liam Fox, who stands as much chance of winning this job as Kanye West does of becoming President of the USA.

de Pfeffel’s government seems incapable of making a simple decision: should people be required to wear a mask in public yes or no? Boris thinks yes, Gove thinks no and Priti Patel hasn’t a clue while Dominic Cummings is on his way to Barnard Castle. Gove says he wants to trust the good sense of the British public – always a dangerous thing to do (just ask David Cameron), especially on beaches.  Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon says its bloody obvious and the Scots are wearing masks, kilts and sporrans. Even the Welsh are wearing masks, leeks and eating seaweed. Come on England: mask up.

Poland appears to have a new old government. Andrzei Duda, the sitting President, has won re-election with 51.2% of the votes cast in a high turnout of 68% of the electorate. Duda is a social conservative – the new phrase for “almost fascist but not quite”. We can expect to see draconian changes to Poland’s legal system and some walking back of Poland’s relationship to the EU, given Duda’s strong nationalist tendencies. It’s Duda Duda Day in Poland!

15th July

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Dither dither what comes hither? de Pfeffel Johnson has flip-flopped again, this time over Huawei’s place in the UKs 5G network. Just last year he said that Huawei was to be part of the UK network and Mike Pompeo, the “pompeous” US Secretary of State, told him to smarten up and do what he was told. He has now done what he was told and banned them – they must be “gone” by 2027. It is getting difficult to keep track of the spinning government, especially now that masks are required inside shops (but not pubs) – they make clear and decisive government difficult, especially when worn over the eyes and ears.

Justin-time Trudeau is in trouble for not recusing himself from a decision to award a contract to an organization which seems to write large cheques to several Trudeau’s for no apparent reason. The braying from conservatives about this is meant to be ironic, given the frequency with which Stephen Harper’s conservatives did similar things. Andrew Scheer, who lied about his qualifications and job history and funded his offspring’s education from party funds is notably quiet – the issues under review are ethics and integrity after all. This is seen to be the biggest scandal since someone decided to put cheese with meat in sandwiches.

Many parts of the world are back on lock-down having moved too quickly to re-open as the pandemic hit in March. California has closed restaurants, bars entertainment venues, zoos and museums; Melbourne is locked down as is Tehran,  Bangalore and parts of Spain. Disneyland in Hong Kong closed after just a month of being open. Some US states – Arizona and Florida among them – are determined to stay open despite being the centres for the virus in the world. In the midst of all this, billionaire Betsy de Vos insists that schools should re-open in the US in September. Killing its own students, teachers and school administrators and spreading the virus are now deliberate policies of the United States.

Ivanka Trump, daughter of the most successful bioterrorist in history, has advice for those finding themselves laid-off as a result of COVID-19: “just get another job or a degree” captured in the phrase “find something new”, which is now appearing in TV ads and on billboards. Ivanka now lives on the planet Junos, since anyone living on earth can’t be this stupid. Her husband, Jared Kushner, continues to insist that his Middle East peace plan could also work anywhere in the world experiencing conflict: Syria, the Congo, Seattle: just “edit using find and replace”. Trump’s son, Don Junior continues to insist that the COVID-19 pandemic will end “as soon as the November election is over”.  This super-smart family – all related to a very stable genius – are now demonstrating just how incompetent and incoherent some people can be. American exceptionalism is alive and well – this level of exceptional stupidity is rarely seen.

Jeff Sessions, one time US Attorney General fired by Trump, lost his bid to regain his seat in the US Senate to represent Alabama. He lost to Tommy Tuberville, who won because voters thought they were voting for Tommy the Tank Engine. General Sessions is now officially a “has-been”. Trump tweeted his delight at Sessions loss and Tuberville’s win and Melania asked who Jeff Sessions was.

Trump, as he did several times in 2016, has fired his campaign manager and found a new one. It doesn’t matter who these people are, they are clones. There will be at least two more before November. Speculation is that he is about to ask either Roger Stone or Michael Flynn to be next campaign manager before he asks Ivanka and Jared and then he will ask Vladimir Putin, who has been running the campaign from behind the scene.

Kanye West, now back on his meds to control his bipolar disorder, has formally withdrawn his candidacy for the US Presidency. He has laid off the 145 people he hired to help him and given up on his attempts to get on the ballot in various US states, including Florida and Nevada. He will go back to trying to be more like Willy Wonka.

Speaking of Willy Wonka, Johnny Depp played Willy Wonka in the 2005 movie directed by Tim Burton. Johnny is in court suing a British newspaper over its claim that he is wife beater following accusations that he had assaulted his then wife, Amber Heard. She sounds quite the odd one – took a crap on their marital bed, frequently drank two bottles of red wine a night and attacked Depp several times. Johnny doesn’t sound like a Saint, but this bizarre stuff is now flooding the UK papers since the trial began ten days ago. It helps to make Kayne’s desire to be more like Willy Wonka than Joe Biden more feasible.

July 23rd

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

In a series of press and other statements the White House – now also known as Goya Beans Central – has said that “science shouldn’t stand in the way of kids going back to school”. The science here is also known as health and wellbeing. To translate the White House statement what they are saying is, “learn a little, risk dying and kill others”. Sounds like a plan.

Donald J Trump (the “J” is for jaded) recently boasted that amongst his greatest achievements as President was bringing back the incandescent light bulb, which in fact had never gone anywhere. He said people much prefer this old bulb to the new DEL bulb (he meant LED), since it made them look better, “which is so important”. Sales of the LED light bulbs are significantly higher that the those for the incandescent bulbs – they last longer, use less power and are cheaper.

As federal troops “occupy” certain areas of Portland and are moving into Chicago and other US cities, concerns are growing that these developments are part of a strategy which will end in the President declaring Martial Law, ruling by executive order and postponing the November election. There is also speculation that, should Trump loose the November election, he will dispute the validity of the result for several months, making it impossible for the electoral college to meet. The very fact these ideas are featuring in The Atlantic, Washington Post and New York Times tells us how troubled the US is. Its fall from a superpower to a dictatorship and growingly third world country is remarkable.

de Pfeffel Johnson plans to open stadiums and end the stay at home advice in October for England, despite the challenges that remain due to C-19. People can pack into a soccer game, fill leisure centres and do all sorts of things but can’t go to night clubs, which will please Johnny Depp. He also said that he thinks the UK will be back to normal by Christmas. He must have been eating magic Goya beans.

The Brexit talks continue, beginning to rival Coronation Street for the longest running show without a real story line. No sign of a trade deal, with just months to go before the end of negotiations. No deal is likely, with fishing rights, Ireland and whether or not Chile can enter the European song contest alongside Australia at the heart of it. A last minute magic deal is always possible, but the clock is ticking.

Alberta announced a plan to re-open schools with basically less money, less respect for teachers and administrators and a high-risk strategy for students. No limits on class size. No guarantee of PPE and a reliance on “common sense” amongst students – which any teacher will tell you is a high-risk strategy. This will not end well, especially given the refusal of so many to wear masks and so many to behave with any understanding of the pandemic we are still experiencing. Cases are on the rise in Alberta. They will rise faster in September when the schools return.

Princess Beatrice married Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi in a quiet ceremony in Windsor attended by the Queen (94) and Prince Phillip (99). She is now an instant step-mum – Mozzi has a son from a previous relationship. Young Christopher lives with his mum, Dara Huang. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg – RBG to her admirers – has announced that she is being treated for a recurrence of cancer. This strong woman remains a key figure on the US Supreme Court and is determined to keep her seat and see out The Donald.

Capt. Tom Moore, the 100 year-old veteran who raised one tonne of cash for Britain’s NHS, was Knighted by the Queen in Windsor. Capt. Sir Tom said to the Queen “Don’t ask me to kneel, I may never be able to get up again!”. Dame Helen Mirren had a birthday – she is 75 and still offering outstanding performances.

Kayne West is having real difficulties  managing his bipolar condition. He has had several meltdowns in the last few days. He is a very public example of what mental health challenges can be like and how difficult it is to live with and be close to someone experiencing such challenges. He deserves compassion, empathy and understanding. His family are doing what they can, but can only work within his limitations and through his willingness to be “helped”. It’s a good thing he didn’t run for President – it’s bad enough having a President who doesn’t even know they have a condition and are in need of an intervention.

July 27th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

C-19 cases in the US have now surpassed 4 million with more that 145,000 dead. Trump says that all is under control, but then he also tells us he “aced” the Montreal Cognitive Assessment test used to test for evidence of dementia. The simple assessment includes having to name three animals, repeating the statement “the cat always hid under the couch when dogs were in the room” and naming as many words as possible beginning with the letter “F” in one minute (Flynn, Fixated, Fascist…for example). As he continues to rant and rave about the “China Virus” he continues to want to push schools to re-open without necessary precautions. He wants to follow Alberta’s lead – defy science and base the strategy on a simple motto” “good luck kids!”. There are now less than 99 days to the US election. Expect Martial Law to be declared around 30 days out.

In Turkey the Hagia Sophia – a stunning place to visit – is now once again being used as a place of worship. It is a mosque again. It has also been a Catholic church and a museum. This is part of an attempt by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to shift his country away from being a secular state (one of the great achievements of Ataturk) into a Muslim country. He is also increasingly making autocracy the new normal. The violations of civil liberties and the mix of privatization with religion is toxic for many of the wonderful people of Turkey.

Alberta continues to lead Canada in the speed at which C-19 cases are rising. While some focus on death rates, there are also significant long-term effects for those who “survive”, including lasting damage to several body organs. Calgary mandates masks in public places and Edmonton has adopted a limited mask policy – all in the absence of a Provincial strategy that makes sense. Masks mandates are needed, especially given the low rate of compliance the further south one travels. Albertans also need to reject the “back to school” policy of the UCP kakistocracy government.

Barron Trump (14), the youngest of Donald’s offspring, will not be attending fully in-class school this fall. His private and expensive school – St. Andrew’s Episcopal School – has chosen to offer hybrid learning, with most of the learning being done online. This despite Barron’s father insisting that students should be in class full-time and threatening to withhold funds from schools that do not. St. Andrew’s doesn’t care a jot about what the US federal government says – its following the science. Melania, Barron’s mum, is helping her husband prep for his next cognitive test (Foolish, Folly, Folderol).

Canada is coming to terms with a scandal that is simply ridiculous: it should never have happened. As my FB colleague Kathleen Smith has rightly observed, the finance minister and the Prime Minister doling out a sole sourced contract to the WE charity that is linked to both the Finance Minister’s daughter and the Prime Minister’s entire living family when the work the charity was contracted to do could’ve been done by the government without costing the $44 million the charity was going to make from that contract. It would have been a ridiculous and excessive waste of taxpayer funds. It would have directly benefited the Finance Minister’s daughter, who is an employee of WE, and is a totally stupid thing for the Prime Minister and cabinet to have agreed to. It is now cancelled. As a scandal (which it is) it is relatively small potatoes. As an example of poor judgement, it is significant. As a resignation issue, it is not. Move along.  As an aside, Canada does not do great scandals – there is never any sex, sabotage, espionage or shooting of dogs. Britain does scandal much better – just think of Jeremy Thorpe, Profumo, Christine Keeler, Sir Anthony Blunt and Kim Philby. We can do much better at scandals: just elect conservatives – they can always be relied on to screw up.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, was taken back into custody and then released back to house arrest when a judge decided that he had been put back in jail as retaliation over a book he is writing about the Trumpkin – exercising his first amendment rights. Stormy Daniels, who Cohen paid off on behalf of Trump, is thrilled.

Mary Trump (niece to The Donald) has sold more copies of her book Too Much and Never Enough in a week than the 1987 The Art of the Deal  over three decades. The Donald says he wrote the Art of the Deal, but he didn’t – Tony Schwartz wrote it and Trump agreed with it. At least one Trump knows the art of the sale. Based on Trump’s tax returns between 1985 and 1994 which showed a loss greater than “nearly any other individual American taxpayer” during that period according to the IRS, co-author Tony Schwartz once suggested that the Donald’s book might be “recategorized as fiction”.

The government of de Pfeffel Johnson has done it again – flip flopped, u-turned and done the hockey-cokey. Having agreed that there could be travel between England and Spain without mandatory quarantine on arrival in England, they changed their mind. Now those who left under the assumption that they could return and get on with their lives now discover that the rules have changed and they have to spend 14 days locked-down. A cabinet minister – ironically in charge of the department that made the decision – is in Spain right now. U-Turns are becoming the defining characteristic of de Pfeffel’s leadership.

Westminster Abbey is in real financial trouble. 90% of its income comes from tourism and, given C-19, 90% of its income has gone. Staff are being laid off, services cut back and some of its “side” chapels are closing permanently. Thoughts and prayers seem not to make difference. Only a miracle or the Queen, who is directly responsible forthe Abbey, can save it.

A new book written by people no one has heard of and who did not interview the primary subjects of the book is about to appear. Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of A Modern Royal Family looks like it is whine and moan and based on rumours and speculation. The Daily Mail is on full melt-down (not an unusual development – it is how they sell papers) and Piers Morgan is ranting and raving about the self-obsessed young couple. It’s time to ignore Harry and Meghan and let them get on with being whiny and attention seeking. They should be treated the same way as Amber Head and Johnny Depp – entertainments silly side.

The NHL enters Canada to play the balance of the 2019-2020 games and for the Stanley Cup. Locked down in secure “bubbles” in Edmonton and Toronto until October and playing games without fans, the players are likely to be bored to death in their hotel rooms and secure bubble area. Perhaps they should read and review Mary Trump’s book and the new book about Meghan and Harry – on second thoughts, maybe just learn to knit and sew.

July 30th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

At long last the in-court wrangling between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Head is over after three weeks of evidence and legal arguments. Depp is suing The Sun newspaper (UK) over a claim that he was a “wife beater”. What the trial shows is that showbiz people are a depraved, privileged lot who have lost touch with reality. We heard that Amber defecated on their marital bed and that she drank at least one and half bottles of red wine each night. Johnny is a drug addict. Neither should ever be allowed to own a dog or visit Australia with one. These two made Harry and Meghan look relatively normal. A verdict is due in September.

Another celebrity, “be kind to one another” Ellen DeGeneres and her production team are being investigated by Warner Bros Television for workplace harassment, racism and generally poor management. The focus is on Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner and Mary Connelly – the executive producers – who are accused of creating a toxic workplace. Ellen has said nothing, but did hire non-union crews (not her own team) to film the lock-down segments at her plush home, shown since C-19 began.

If Trump does not win in November (he could still win), Melania is planning to write her story. The book will be called “I Write Book”. Trump’s is still mulling the title of his big comic book – “I was Vladimir’s Friend” or “The Best President Ever..” or “How to Create A Flailing Nation”. He is working on drafting pardons for himself and his family members (except for his niece Mary). Now that NASA is on its way to Mars, he is also looking at building Trump Mars (there will be a bar).

The first debate between Biden (77) and Trump (74) will be held in Cleveland  on 29th September in a health clinic, just in case either of these elderly men collapse – one from insanity and the other from laughter. The second debate is currently scheduled to be held in Miami, Florida (assuming anyone is left alive in Florida by then) on 15th October at a performing arts centre. They will be performing a newly found Harold Pinter play Two Old Men and a Virus.

Biden says he will announce his pick for a running mate next week. He has already committed to his VP choice being female and there is pressure for him to choose a woman of colour. Kamala Harris is the front runner with Susan Rice trending on some polls. Not on the Biden pick-list: Stormy Daniels, Meghan Markle, Betty White, Michelle Obama, Kim Kardashian or Oprah.

Demonstrating paradox in action, Trump’s national security advisor Robert O’Brien has tested positive for C-19, showing that neither the White House is secure or that it is able to effectively manage C-19.  O’Brien is self-isolating, which is what all of his cabinet colleagues should do (preferably for the next 30 years). It is no wonder that Trump is tested frequently – including for dementia and cognitive dysfunction. Trump’s valet, sons girlfriend and others who work in the White House have also tested positive. This is what “it is under control” looks like. A true claptrapocracy government.

Trump says he may have to postpone the election – he fears all these mail in votes (which he and most of his leadership team use) are often fraudulent (he gets Barron to fill in his). The good news – he can’t without a change in the law. The bad news – he could declare Martial Law and do it anyway – hence the reason federal forces (contract workers) are being sent across the US to create the impression of massive civil unrest. The book is increasingly likely to be titled “Our Flailing State”.