May 7th

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

Fishermen from France are at odds with Jersey and have been blockading the port of  St Hellier’s  – a British protectorate. They are upset with license requirements for fishing in the waters off the coast of the island since these were not part of the new UK-EU rules. Britain has dispatched two navy frigates. France sent two baguettes and some nice cheese. President Macron suggests that Jersey is not honouring the UK-EU agreements and Britain suggests that Macron hasn’t read the agreement and is in fact a Belgian Waffle. Situation normal.

In Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a government. The President – Reuven Rivlin – has asked Yair Lapid, a former Finance Minister and leader of the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, to see if he can pull of a miracle and form a centre-right or a centre-left or a left-right or centre-back government: any will do. After four elections in less than twenty-four months, governments in Israel now are in power for a shorter time than governments in Italy. Netanyahu continues to be on trial for corruption.

In the US, Liz Cheney is about to ousted from the leadership of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives for a very serious offence: telling the truth. Insisting that lying and promoting nonsense is the key to winning back the Senate, House and the Presidency, her opponents are suggesting that using facts, evidence and truth is no longer part of their “game” and they have no interest in “policies”. Former President Drumpf is said to be “calling the shots” from a golf course in New Jersey. Cheney’s likely successor as #3 in the party’s leadership in the house is Elise Stefanik, who supports Drumpf’s claim that the election was stolen from him by a man dressed as Walrus while he was taking a nap.

In India as COVID-19 continues to do significant damage (but parts of Alberta has 2x the infection rate as seen across India), Prime Minister Modi is insisting that he and his government can get back in control. Doesn’t look like – official figures put deaths at 4,000/day but various reports suggest that this is around half of the actual number. India spends less than 1% of its GDP on public health. The consequences are just so painful to see.

In Britain, super Thursday elections saw significant support for Borish Johnson in England. Sir Keir Starmer, the current Labour leader, now faces challenges to his leadership from his left-wing, his right wing and some outsiders. The Scottish Nationalist Party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, looks likely to see her party retain its leadership position (it’s tight) and be ready to demand a second referendum on Scottish independence, despite declining support for independence in Scotland. The conservatives in England took Northumberland Council – historically a labour strong-hold. The big victory was in a parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool which has not knowingly sent a conservative to Westminster before (the constituency was created in 1964), unless you see its former MP [Lord] Peter Mandelson as a closet Tory. The by-election was caused by the resignation of Mike Hill, who is accused of sexual harassment and victimization at work. The most interesting candidate was The Incredible Flying Brick, who stood for the Monster Raving Loony Party, but didn’t win (he lost his deposit – he had lost his marbles a long time ago). Amongst his policy positions was a proposal to return the British currency to pounds, shillings, pence, farthings and groats – a very popular proposal (not).

In Alberta – which now has worse COVID numbers than almost any country in the world except Argentina – the government imposed “kind-of” strict measures to prevent the spread. Closing schools, restaurants, massage parlours and “fitness centres” (I don’t know what these are, but I think they are dubious sweat-shops) and reducing the number of people who can gather inside, outside and under water are all part of the “circuit breaker”. These measures will also include new “punishments” for those who repeatedly break the rules – they will have to listen to hours of speeches by the Premier and watch videos of rodeo’s. They will also be fined up to $1.29 for repeat offenses and be required to wear a mask when in court or when taking a shower.

Staying with Alberta, a ridiculous draft K-6 curriculum, already “rubbished” by those who can (a) read; and (b) think, has been rejected by 53 school boards, the profession, Deans of Education, curriculum experts (except those paid to work on the draft), leaders of indigenous communities and a great many parents and students. The school boards saying “no” represent more than 85% of Alberta school students. Minister Adriana Le Very Strange has suggested that a small number of students in Alberta will test the new curriculum – both students will enjoy using the draft curriculum to make paper-mache images of gravity near a Rubicon as an indicator of the achievements of Genghis Khan while listening to the jazz music of Mart Kenney and his band.

In the US a specific breed of cicadas which stays underground for 17 years and then suddenly emerge en-masse are due to appear shortly. One estimate is that app. 8-10 trillion of the Brood X cicadas will emerge towards the end of May across some 17 US States. These noisy creatures (app. 105 dcb) come out of the ground to mate and then their offspring return underground. The University of Maryland has a cookbook (CICADA-LICIOUS) of cicadas recipes, which might come in handy – Cicada Stir-Fry is a favourite, though friends prefer El Chirper Tacos.