We always hear a lot about weather in the US, and right now, it’s cold.
Prolonged cold, prolonged rain or wind, are all more dramatic than the dangers of drought.
Prolonged dry spells, as recently seen in parts of Europe, can cause the ground to sink by so much that cracks appear in the earth, tearing apart the foundations of houses, bridges, factories and other structures. In the worst case, whole buildings can collapse. Climate change will magnify these risks as factors such as rising average temperatures and more erratic rainfall continue to alter soil conditions.
And extreme cold of course means that people who know nothing about science but like bloviating about weather are claiming that unusually cold weather means climate change isn’t happening.
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
In 1787, when the 55 members of the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, good guns that could be held and used by a single fighter were still handmade, expensively-crafted things: a soldier could (perhaps) load and fire his musket three times a minute, but rifling (which allows more accurate aim) was known but not practical for army use. The “right to keep and bear arms” would as likely have referred to a sword or a pike as a gun. If the US had remained a string of small countries along the east coast of North America, it would certainly have made sense for them to do as the Swiss have done, and require every able-bodied adult man to be a soldier.
Switzerland allows any citizen (or indeed law-abiding resident) to have a gun if they want one: but the gun must be licensed. Further applications for gun licenses may be granted on request, each for a specific gun. Virtually every adult man attends regular annual training sessions, and holds a military rifle and ammunition under seal – which he is not allowed to use without specific orders and must keep in a safe place so that no one else can use it. If the US resembled Switzerland, insistance that the Second Amendment mattered terribly much would make sense.
There are a lot of differences between the US and Switzerland. Switzerland has four official languages: the US has none. The Swiss Confederation was founded on 1st August 1291, making it nearly 480 years older than the US. The US shares land borders now only with Mexico and Canada: Switzerland shares land borders with France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Switzerland has fought no wars of aggression in its over-800 years: the US has fought more wars of aggression in the past century than any other nation in the world. Switzerland founded the Red Cross: the US founded Guantanamo Bay. Neither the US nor Switzerland are members of the EU. And they both like guns.
But whereas Switzerland likes guns if controlled, licenced, and regulated, in the US for decades political lobbyists have been getting the Second Amendment redefined not to mean “every citizen has the right to bear arms in a well-regulated militia”, which is its common-sense interpretation, but to mean “Everyone should
buy own as many guns as possible!”
…if Donald Trump hates them, they can’t be all bad!
And by “the people”, Donald Trump means himself.
It’s actually really hard to believe sometimes that Donald Trump is for real. I don’t follow @realDonaldTrump on Twitter, because who wants that kind of thing in your timeline? But he’s always good for a laugh when you want one. So the question is: Does he do it on purpose? This is a multi-billionaire who appears to regard running for President as a useful means of self-publicity. Is his Donald Trump persona – arrogant beyond belief, childishly certain that people admire him, blusteringly furious at people who get in his way – just assumed, a performance?
If so, is the double-combover part of it? You’d have to be the kind of person who surrounds himself with sycophants and who ignores any personal criticism whatsoever to think that growing what’s left of your hair long and folding it to cover your bald scalp looks anything but completely stupid. (Mind you, it’s impressive that whatever product his hairdresser uses, the double-combover holds – not for Trump the occasional long flowing locks and glimpse of scalp in a high breeze.)
We firmly believe that the people best placed to take decisions about Scotland’s future are the people who choose to live and work in Scotland.
Like Donald Trump?
Like Ian Wood?
Like Rupert Murdoch?
Like Sir Brian Souter?
Like Anders Fogh Rasmussen?
This is not to argue that Labour or the Tories or the LibDems aren’t also flawed: I agree with this post at Better Nation that argues none of Scotland’s parties are properly fit to run this country right now. But the electorally-fatal flaw for each party is when their actions clearly belie their stated purpose.
In quick summary: in November 2008 an oil billionaire, Sir Ian Wood, got an idea for a concrete Italian-style piazza in the centre of Aberdeen, to be achieved by transferring a public park into private ownership. He offered to spend £50M of his own money to part-pay for his stony vision. (He likes concrete and no trees: Union Terrace Gardens has lots of trees.) (Update: apparently some of the trees would have survived.)
Annie Lennox, November 2011:
If Sir Ian Wood wants to invest £50m into the centre of Aberdeen, that is fundamentally good, but I disagree with the way he’s going about it. It is not because I’m a reactionary, it is not because I’m against modernity or change. It is the way that this was done; it is short-termism, it is short-sighted.
From what I am gathering, he is not saying: “I have £50m, I want to talk to you, I want to hear what you guys want.” He’s telling the city this is what he will do with it. I think it’s very imperious. I think it is very, very important to listen to more people, the people who are living there, the citizens of the town.
This offer from Sir Ian Wood interrupted a long-term plan for developing Union Terrace Gardens. A consultation was carried out, which overall rejected Wood’s scheme, and then in November 2011 the SNP-controlled council had the Electoral Commission run a referendum across the whole City – in which Wood’s scheme won by a slight majority.