Sunday, 26 November 2017

How the brown bear became public enemy number one in rural Romania



A year ago the technocrat environmental minister, Cristiana Pașca Palmer, brought in a law to make hunting bears illegal in Romania. She said that under European law “hunting for money was already illegal”, which seems to me undemocratic - why should countries not decide for themselves? 
The idea that hunting was acting to protect citizens from bears was, she claimed, just a cover for money making. 

Foreign conservationists across the world applauded. Romanians who lived in the countryside did not. A lot of Romanians have been killed or maimed by bears.

As a result a movement have sprung up, centring on the Szecklerland, the ethnic Hungarian region in the Carpathians, to make killing bears legal again. This article in the Guardian has the story (seen from the NGO, not the peasant, point of view).

In the 12 months since the ban, a movement calling for the widespread culling of bears has grown and gathered momentum, tipping the bear question over

Quotations

Friendship, “the wine of life,” should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed; and it is consolatory to think, that although we can seldom add what will equal the generous first growths of our youth, yet friendship becomes insensibly old in much less time than is commonly imagined, and not many years are required to make it mellow and pleasant.
James Boswell's Life of Johnson
When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Starving children in Eastern Ghouta



The Guardian has a harrowing story today about suffering in the siege of Eastern Ghouta in Syria.


The region suffered in the deadly 2013 sarin gas attack that nearly provoked a US intervention in the war, an intervention that might have led to the end, in the long run, of Assad. Ed Miliband's decision to oppose British intervention led to it being defeated in the House of Commons, which led Mr Obama to back down. Things have grown steadily worse since then. Siege Watch, a project that tracks blockades in Syria, has said the area is “on the brink of disaster”.


A story of terrible suffering and I have no wish to defend the Assad regime, but have some questions. Amnesty International says starve or surrender sieges are war crimes, but are they? And why don't rebel troops surrender? I presume inhabitants are being held captive by rebels but Guardian doesn't say a word about this. It reminds me of coverage of Eastern Aleppo.

Russia produces fake news but so does the Guardian, CNN etc.

The Guardian story make no sense. 

Sleeping Beauty ‘fuels culture of sexual assault’

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Inspired by the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, Mrs Sarah Hall, a 40 year-old British PR consultant, was reading a version of Sleeping Beauty to her six-year-old son and decided that it promoted unacceptable non-consensual kissing, reports The Times. She is reported to have said: 


“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent. It’s about saying, is this still relevant, is it appropriate? In today’s society, it isn’t appropriate — my son is only six, he absorbs everything he sees, and it isn’t as if I can turn it into a constructive conversation."

In the original version of the story the Prince awakened the Sleeping Beauty with something much stronger than a kiss. He impregnated her and she woke during childbirth. The brothers Grimm bowdlerised the story. 


The Prince was committing several crimes at once, in fact. He was a white man, in a position of unfair power in an utterly unjust, unmeritocratic, undemocratic, patriarchal system, first objectifying and then sexually assaulting a woman in a coma.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Today is the Queen's and the Duke of Edinburgh's 70th wedding anniversary

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II's and the Duke of Edinburgh's 70th wedding anniversary. King Michael of Romania attended the wedding, met his future Queen there and surprised the Communists by bravely returning to Bucharest. He was forced to abdicated a few weeks later.

The Queen, the King and the Duke are all with us today but the the King's life is moving peacefully towards its close, in the words that Lord Dawson of Penn, his doctor, used of King George V in 1936. Princess Elizabeth, his granddaughter, was ten then and had no idea that she would one day be queen.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Gordon Brown's memoirs sound unpickupable

From Lord Mandelson's review of Gordon Brown's memoirs. 
Modernisation is too often caricatured as privatisation in this book, and fails to grasp that New Labour’s reform agenda was not in opposition to social justice, but the only way in a changing world to achieve it.
I agree with his lordship on this . This is what the people who think Mr Blair was not left-wing fail to understand. He was hugely successful at transforming Britain in a left wing direction because he presided over economic growth and won three landslide election victories. His two great mistakes, from a Labour point of view, were announcing that he