September 4th

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

Kellyanne Conway is leaving the White House, having co-led the Trump 2016 campaign with Steve Bannon (now charged with fraud) and stuck by Trump despite her husband’s campaign to impeach and remove him and her daughter’s disdain for Trump. She clearly sees the writing on the wall. Author of the phrase which has defined Trump’s Presidency “he believes in alternative facts”, she deserves a break. Let’s hope her family can stage an intervention and restore her able facilities.

Another welcome departure, this time from Liberty University. Long-time and pants zipper-down President Jerry Falwell is leaving the university under a cloud of repeated scandals. In compensation he will get $10.5 million – much less than he had hoped, but then each besmirching of their reputation knocked another million off the exit deal. He would have got $50 million otherwise. The University is now investigating several financial issues following his departure.

At the rodeo wild-west pantomime and reality TV show also known as the GOP convention, delegates voted not to have any positions on any key issue facing the United States. Instead, they voted on a policy of “supporting President Trump’s agenda of putting America first”. That is, they voted in favour of a dictatorship. In contrast, the democrats adopted a ninety-page policy platform. In abandoning politics and policy, the GOP has become a church that worships a person. Strange eh. But then this is a failing state. Separately, the Trump campaign released a policy statement “10 million jobs in 10 months” and “a new health care plan that you will like”. All policy statements were written as slogans, so that the Trump family can remember them.

De Pfeffel flip-flopped again, this time on masks for secondary school students. He thinks they should wear them. However, at the moment he doesn’t think it is inappropriate to sing Rule Britannia at the BBC Proms and to chant racists songs, but wait a few days to see what he says next. It is becoming difficult to follow his logic (maybe that’s the problem: looking for logic when there is none). He just now flipped flopped on opening /closing parts of Manchester. He is becoming Captain Wobble.

As the US descends into a degree of chaos and deaths from C-19 approach 190,000 Donald J Trump is becoming more and more bizarre. He claims a flight full of black-clad and hooded thugs was dispatched by Joe Biden to Washington, failing to understand that these are his own GOP Senators. One of his staff circulated an edited video of Joe Biden asleep while giving a speech and a new book suggests Ivanka is really pulling the purse strings (she is a handbag designer after all). All very messy. Yet, Trump appears on track to come close to or win a second term.

Harry and Meghan (soon to be rebranded Megharry) have inked a £112 million deal with Netflix. They will make amazing programs that will stun the world, possibly. More likely, they will make a few programs that Prince Charles will watch and the woke rich of Hollywood will like. They can now live comfortably in their $14.5 million mansion in California and pay some staff to do the work for them.

September 8th

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

Brexit talks between the UK and the EU focused on trade arrangements from January 1st 2021 are going nowhere. Michael Barnier, the EU Chief Negotiator and former Minister of Agriculture for France, says that Britain can’t make progress when it doesn’t fully understand what the challenges are. Britain says it can’t make progress when the EU doesn’t understand the idea of nationhood. So it is a mess. It is a mess that will have serious consequences (equivalent to 8.5% of UK GDP in economic damage) for individuals, firms and governments. Brace yourselves for a true Eton Mess.

COVID-19 cases in the US are almost at 6.5 million and deaths approach 190,000. Meantime, herd immunity appears to be working in Sweden (85,000 cases and 5,835 deaths) where the case rate has dropped below that of Norway and Denmark. Sweden did not institute a lockdown and relied heavily on social trust as the basis for compliance with public health advice (social distancing, masks, etc.). While Sweden experienced six times as many deaths as reported in Norway and Denmark combined, it has a higher population with C-19 antibodies which bodes well for the future.

Back to school woes across the world are clear. Kids in groups can get infected with C-19 and become spreaders. Teachers and other adults in school can get infected. Schools are not great places in terms of protection against C-19, despite the heroic efforts of teachers, administrators and parents to manage the situation (they really are superhero’s). In some parts of the world, schools opened and then shut down as cases hit – it happened in England and in Wales less than a week after schools started face-to-face classes again. In Alberta four classes in one school are now self-isolating. A number of teachers have died in the US. Why are we putting all of our health at risk?

Jessica Krug is a white Jewish woman from Kansas City who claimed she was black and taught courses at George Washington University as if she was a woman of colour. In fact, over time, she had claimed to be North African black, then a US rooted black, then more recently a Caribbean rooted Bronx black. She is white. Her status as an Associate Professor of History is currently under review. She was due to start teaching about black history this month.

The new Director General of the BBC, Tim Davie, has promised to eliminate the left-wing, anti-Brexit woke bias from the BBC. He is targeting news and comedy, spot the difference. He suggests that left-wing comedians dominate the BBC entertainment and news based quiz shows (Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You, News Quiz) and wants to find some right wing comedians. Borish Johnson is a candidate, as are the entire opinion team at Fox News. Donald Trump will be auditioning on November 4th.

Eight weeks before the US general election and Kayne West is still banging away. He has spent in excess of $6.8 million so far, his fans have contributed just $11,000. It’s not going well, but when the ballots are counted in the few states which have West on the ballot, he will realize that being a bi-polar genius with a gift for rap and a good eye for design is not enough to be President of the United States. According to the incumbent, you also have to be a lying, cheating, deceptive and unpredictable cad.

Michael Cohen’s book about Trump is out and tells us more of the same as all of the recent books about Trump – he’s not a nice or smart man. He likes to go to strip clubs, he lies and cheats, uses legal challenges to shut people up and has a foul mouth. Nothing new in this book.

A parade of boats on Lake Travis in Texas intended to honour and champion Donald Trump ran into trouble on Saturday. Boats began to sink – four in all – and others sprung leaks and signalled their distress. This event captures precisely the Presidency of the United States.

ExxonMobil has been removed from the Dow – a signal that all is not well in the oil and gas sector. Exxon’s market value has dropped significantly – it is about a third of what it was in 2008 – as has the value of many oil and gas stocks. In fact, oil and gas now constitute just 2.8% of the S&P 500 and 4.2% of the European stock market. Five tech firms (Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook) are worth more than the top 76 energy companies combined. Oil and gas firms are also losing money – in the last quarter BP lost $16.8 billion, Exxon $1.1 billion and Chevron $8.3 billion. Jason Kenney take note.

12th September

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

Professor Allan Lichtman, a Professor of History at the American University who has correctly predicted the outcome of every US Presidential election since 1984, is clear: Joe Biden will beat Donald J Trump in November. His methodology is not based on polling, but analysis of patterns and developments across a number of key indicators. His message is explicit: people are voting against Trump rather than for Biden, but that Biden will win unless the GOP go all out on voter suppression and / or Russia / China get much more involved than they are now. Less than eight weeks to go.

Two right wing politicians in Norway have nominated Donald Trump for the Nobel peace prize for the second time. First time around was for his peace efforts with North Korea and now it is for his peace deal between the UAE and Israel. He has as much chance of winning this prize as he has of becoming Mr. Universe.

After twenty seasons over fourteen years, Keeping up with the Kardashians TV series is to end, thank goodness. It began in 2007 and seems to have been a fixture, not just in the E! channel, but as a basis for gossip, media reports and wealth-making. It will be replaced with a new series in 2021 – Whatever Happened to the Trump’s?

Staying with TV stars, Dame Diana Rigg (82) passed away this week. She was last seen in the new version of All Creatures Great and Small on the UK’s Channel 5 just a few days before her passing was announced. She was a star in Game of Thrones, the Avengers and many classic TV and stage shows. A wonderfully smart woman, she was many a young man’s dream date in their fantasy world. RIP.

Bob Woodward, veteran journalist and provocateur, has a new book titled RAGE. It is an account of the US President Donald J Trump and includes details of interviews (eighteen in all) with the Donald. Damning, focused and in some places clearly indicating that the reality TV star is unfit for office. One revelation – Trump is well aware of the challenges of the pandemic but does not want to scare people (which he does all the time with his racist bigotry and outrageous feats of lying). Trump is now lying about lying, which is quite the thing.

Alberta kids are back in school – well some are. In just two weeks thirty-nine schools have reported C-19 cases and Alberta Health have recognized four as “outbreaks” (2 in Calgary, 1 in St. Albert and 1 in Lethbridge). Almost 100 grade 10 students at Ross Shephard in Edmonton are now in self-isolation. It will get more serious.

C-19 is on the rise in other places too. In the UK the government is imposing strict restrictions on gatherings indoors and outdoors – the maximum is six. Children don’t count in this calculation. People in their 50’s and 60’s are dressing up as kids so as to flout the rules, which come into force on Monday. They will devastating to the economy – pubs, restaurants, hotels and other locations will struggle again. Schools, of course, are exempted from these rules. On Friday, England reported 3,143 new cases and hospitals are beginning to admit more people.

The US Open Tennis tournament marks a sea change in the game. In the men’s singles, key players that have dominated the game for the last number of years – Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Nadal – are not to be seen in the finals game. Murray, heroically, was beaten early and Djokovic was disqualified following a incident in which he angrily hit a ball which then hit a line judge. In the women’s game, Serena Williams also played brilliantly in her semi-final, winning the first set, but lost to a very skilled and determined Azarenka. Sadly, the Zverev beat Busta in one of the dullest games in a long time. We will miss the nuanced games of the big four in men’s tennis. The men’s final between Zverev and Thiem will not be as interesting as the women’s final between Azarenka and Osaka.

Emeritus Pope Benedict, the first Pope to abdicate in 700 years in 2013, has reached another milestone. He is officially the oldest living Pope in history at age 93 years and 5 months. He has surpassed the age of the previous record holder Leo XIII (lived from 1810-1903), who was elected Pope in 1878.

14th September

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

The 100 year old Capt. Sir Tom Moore was to be interviewed by the TV host and former newspaper editor Piers Morgan. He was asked if he had any special needs for his dressing room. He asked for a can of coke, a milky bar and six blondes.

The US West is on fire. After some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, wildfires hit Oregon, Washington and California with devastating consequences. Some 10%+ of the population of Oregon have been evacuated and deaths are rising as the out-of-control fires burn, with close to thirty deaths so far.

The British government intends to breach international law. It is seeking to enact a new set of laws governing the internal market arrangements between nations within the UK (especially Northern Ireland). In doing so, it will breach the agreement it reached with the EU last December. Five former Prime Ministers – Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron and May – and former leaders of the conservative party have condemned Borish for this move, which also endangers the current UK:EU trade negotiations. Remarkably, a government Ministers stood in parliament and told members that the government intended to break the law. China is thrilled. It took intends to pass laws to renegade on an agreement it reached over the governance of Hong Kong – the deal was with Britain.

Britain is losing control of C-19. The government has introduced the rule of six – no more than six people can gather outside or inside (including homes), but children are not counted. Christmas dinners will be an arrestable offence and having a drink with friends at a pub will be difficult if not impossible. It also is about to ask 4.5 million to self-isolate for several months based on their age, weight, gender and social behaviour. Those who try to run businesses in the UK – my sister owns a pub in North Yorkshire and we have friends in the restaurant trade – are in despair. In contrast, Alberta’s rules for gatherings are 50 people maximum for indoor events and 100 people for outdoor events unless they are an audience at a concert outdoors, in which case 200 is the limit. As Britain begins to see deaths rise and hospital admissions rise quickly, it is clear that the virus is not under control or being brought under control. Deaths is the US will soon reach 200,000 and 400,000 are anticipated to die by year end. Israel is back on total lock-down. No sign of an efficient and effective vaccine. Get used to it. Wear masks, wash your hands and don’t play the banjo, accordion or bagpipes (ever). Oh, and no public singing, especially of Rule Britannia.

The underlying issue for government is social trust – do we trust our people? The issue for citizens is also trust – do we trust each other to (a) tell us the truth; and (b) behave responsibly.  In many places – the US, Brazil, England – the answer seems to be no to both questions. There are still many in the US who believe the virus is a democrat plot to oust Trump and others who say that the science is “just someone’s opinion”. Even Trump lies about what he knew and when he knew it and how the US is responding. Different governments show different levels of trust – Sweden at one end of the community trust line (high trust) and the UK at the other (low trust). Trouble is, low trust in the people leads to low trust in the government. Duh.

Trump thinks Biden is on drugs and many of us wish Trump was too. The drugs I would recommend are antidepressants (specifically, serotonin reuptake inhibitors), antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Given his performance at various rallies, like the one held in Nuremberg (sorry, I meant Nevada), an anticonvulsant like Lamotrigine  may also be needed soon. He seems to be getting more and more desperate and anxious about the upcoming election – the lying count is up high as are is nonsensical attacks on others. His narcissism is getting out of control. At least Melania is having quiet evenings at home, knitting and learning a new language – Russian. She has claimed to speak five languages fluently – Slovenian, French, German, Italian and English, though the jury is out on at least three of these. She is also working on her book, “I Write Big Book with Pages”.

Signs of life have been discovered on the distant planet Venus – an obnoxious gas (phosphine), which normally is seen as a sign of biological activity associated with a species, has been detected in large quantities. No sign of intelligent life has been found at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC though noxious gasses have been detected. Scientists urge caution, but seem excited, especially in Cardiff where the lead researcher lives.

September 18th

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

In Alberta 82 schools have C-19 cases, in addition 13 have outbreaks (2-4 cases) and 1 has a significant watch order (5 cases).  Our Minister, the ever Adrianna very Strange, says she will not visit schools unless Alberta Health says it is safe for her to do so. In a squirmy interview which was brilliantly undertaken by an excellent journalist Julia Wong, the Minister demonstrated her lack of compassion, understanding and appreciation of the work teachers, administrators, other adults in schools, parents and students are doing to keep schools as safe as they can be.  When they all close in a few weeks, she will have to resign.

The Trumpkin says a vaccine will be ready before the US election. It will not be, according to the head of the Centre for Disease Control and anyone else with a science degree. He will soon suggest that a dog will walk on Venus and a baseball game will be played on the sun.

Borish Johnson has now completely lost the plot. The rule of six – no more than six people can gather in / outside (children don’t count) – is being waived for grouse shooting and hunting. Next time you go to a friend’s house for a party, carry a shotgun and bring a grouse beater. The UK had close to 3,500 new cases a day last week and hospitals are filling up. 9.2 million are now in a curfew lock-down in North East England and a few other places. Borish promises to save Christmas – he is moving it to 2027.

The forehead thermometers used in some shops to take temperature are, according to my sister, brain washing machines. She went to a store to buy pasta, cheese and some green veg and came away with six bottles of white wine and packet of potato chips.

Sticking with strange events, Clive Blunden (65) divorced his wife Irene, who he had been married to for four years. He has now married Irene’s mother (77). To do so required a change in a law which had been on the books for over five hundred years. Irene feels betrayed by her mother. You can’t make this stuff up.

The cancel culture and woke brigade are in an uproar over Robert Galbraith (aka J K Rowling’s) new crime thriller Troubled Blood. In it a transgender woman is a murderer and there are working class characters in the book who are speaking a different dialect, according to the writing. She is accused of all sorts of crimes against humanity for these appropriations, of patronising writing and for abusing a trans identity. She can’t win – well, except she will. It will be a best-seller and will become a TV crime show, the next in the series of Cormoran Strike dramas. She is in almost as much trouble as Nigella Lawson who made a pasta with Marmite.

CTV Edmonton, which is owned by Bell Media, laid off two stalwart journalists who from the breakfast show this last week. Stacey Brotzel and Rob Williams who had great chemistry and were outstanding at their job were laid off on Monday after their show went off air. They brought energy, passion, compassion and insight into the newsroom and will be sorely missed. In 2015 Serena Mah was let go by CTV – one of four “restructuring position losses” at that time. She too was a determined, focused journalist. They are being replaced by younger, less energetic staff with less experience (presumably to save money). Global TV Edmonton, which is owned by Corus Entertainment Group, will benefit from added viewers.  They will be delighted by the great team there – Erin Chalmers, Kent Morrison, Daintre Christensen and Mike Sobel – who are part of my morning family.

A Tesla driver and his passenger were found asleep behind the wheel of a fast moving (140 km hr / 93 mph) car in Highway 2 near Ponoka in Alberta. In the same Province, a Premier has been found asleep at the wheel of the Alberta economy, which is travellng at a very slow speed right now. He claims to be too busy trying to further impoverish the already poor and funnel money to his wealthy donors.

22nd September

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

Ruth Bader Ginsberg has died. One of the most imaginative feminist jurists in the US, a real cultural icon, a smart woman and a stalwart of the US Supreme Court. Donald Trump will now appoint a third member of SCOTUS. So sad.  The US Supreme court will now move to 6 republicans and 3 democrats – Mitch McConnel / D J Trump’s major legacy for the next 25-35 years. Indeed, it may be his only real legacy. Trump has promised to name a woman by Friday or Saturday – Ivanka is brushing up her understanding of the law and Melania is checking out whether Legal is one of the languages she is able to speak (she is asking Barron).

Donald J Trump (the J is for “Jumping”) has given up trying to swap Puerto Rico for Greenland and is now sending them $13 billion to help rebuild the economy. He blamed Jo Biden for the devastation PR experienced, seemingly forgetting that the devastation caused by a hurricane and then a failure of Federal support occurred during the Trump Presidency. His memory loss is astounding, but then he is pretty remarkable in an “ugh” kind of way.

The US will soon hit 200,000 dead from C-19 and 7 million confirmed cases. DJT says it will go away when it gets colder, like the forest fires in Oregon, California and Washington. Let’s hope he too goes away when it gets colder.

The CDC, which used to be a scientific organization, is now a political propaganda organization. Last week, the CDC published a paper showing the C-19 can be transferred in the air and not just by droplets from a nearby person. On Monday they withdrew that paper, saying that it was a “mistake”. One wonders why the sudden change of scientific understanding? A phone call, perhaps? A tirade from Trump? A song from Ivanka?

Meanwhile, an Idaho pastor who decried mask wearing since God “wouldn’t be able to hear your prayers” is now in ICU for COVID-19. He held in-person services, despite local public health regulations. God works in mysterious ways.

In Britain a second and more serious lock-down will be announced today and will be in place for six months. Bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues will close at 10pm, the idea of returning to the office is “off” – work from home and face masks are now compulsory. Significant restrictions for “at risk” groups (anyone over the age of 10 are at risk). Borish will address the UK tonight, displacing East Enders (which will not go well).

Thousands of people in Brunei, Taiwan, Japan and Australia have been booking flights that land in the same airport the flight took-off from – flights to nowhere. They miss flying that much. As one who flew 150,000 – 200,000 miles each year, I am simply amazed that this is happening. Many years ago, there was a comedy sketch where Yorkshire Airlines took off from Leeds-Bradford and landed at Leeds-Bradford (first class passengers got extra mushy peas with their fish and chips). Amazing to me that this has come true, though I suspect the Brunei passengers don’t experience the wonders of northern guacamole!