Instructions To A Child On How To Die

This verified tweet reveals one result of America’s addiction to guns and violence: a society no longer caring for kid’s minds (the effect of such instructions on a small child must be traumatic), just making dubious and pathetic efforts to spare a few more young lives in the event of an all too common school shooting.

There’s a lot of religion adrift in America, but the words of Jeremiah 5:21, from the Bible they love to quote, don’t seem to figure in it:

‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’

America’s Drug Of Choice – Violence

One U.S. Politician Speaking On Behalf Of Most Of Them

There’s little more to be said about the latest massacre of schoolkids in the United States, but much more to be noted of the hypocrisy and emotional blackmail pouring from the mouths of those on whom the responsibility for these outrages lie. Listening to the officials yesterday at the post-tragedy press conference – the ‘hearts going out’, the ‘prayers and condolences’, headed of course by the greatest hypocrite of all, the incumbent president, one could only marvel at their gall.

The latest excuse for gun violence is now ‘mental health’, despite most perpetrators of these acts having no history of mental illness. The U.S. president emphasized how ‘more must be done’ to pinpoint these people, though he was somewhat vague as to how they should be dealt with.

Scott Israel, the Sheriff of Broward County where the shooting took place, was less unclear. He bemoaned the lack of police powers that prevented these people being locked away before they could commit a crime. Sheriff Israel would, perhaps, have been more at home in 1930’s Germany.

America and Americans have a problem. Sadly, there is no ‘Gun Addicts Anonymous’ where Americans can go to declare: “My name is John Doe and I’m a gun addict.” Yet, an addiction it most certainly is. Like all drug addicts, they cannot be helped until they recognise their sickness and want to be cured. The first step is to talk honestly about it, but no-one wants to talk about controlling their drug. Any hint of the gun culture in America being responsible for yesterday’s tragedy, and the other seventeen that have occurred in the last six weeks, never escaped the lips of those excusing themselves from responsibility, while singing each other’s praises for a ‘job well done’ in the aftermath.

It doesn’t stop at the addiction for guns. America is addicted to violence in every form. War is part of the addiction, and underlying it all is the unstoppable thirst for power. Only today, the Guardian newspaper reports that the latest U.S. Ambassador to Australia has said America must prepare for war with China:

The navy admiral nominated to be the next US ambassador to Australia has told Congress America must prepare for the possibility of war with China, and said it would rely on Australia to help uphold the international rules-based system in the Asia-Pacific.

In an excoriating assessment of China’s increasingly muscular posture in the region, Harry Harris said Beijing’s “intent is crystal clear” to dominate the South China Sea and that its military might could soon rival American power “across almost every domain”. [1]

In the same paper today, the former U.S. energy secretary Ernest Moniz stated that the world is closer to a nuclear war than it has ever been since the Cuba crisis of the 1960’s, driven by American belligerence:

Moniz, a nuclear physicist who played a central role in securing a landmark non-proliferation agreement with Iran in 2015, said the margin for error in avoiding disaster was getting thinner because of the introduction of new, smaller weapons, the broadening of circumstances in which their use is being contemplated, and a lack of high-level communications between major nuclear weapons powers.

As a result, Moniz told the Guardian, the chance of nuclear use “is higher than it’s been since the Cuban missile crisis”. [2]

America’s addiction to guns and violence is dragging the world towards the nuclear abyss. The blatant hypocrisy of officials at all levels over the massacre of seventeen kids was obvious for all who had eyes to see, and ears to hear. In America many remain blind and deaf to their addiction.

How would those same officials react after a holocaust slaughtered millions? Then they might be right to blame mental illness, but it would be their own.

[1] “Admiral warns US must prepare for possibility of war with China” Guardian, February 16th 2018

[2] “Nuclear risk at its highest since Cuban missile crisis, says ex-energy secretary” Guardian, February 16th 2018

Not Another Statistic!

Don’tcha just love statistics! Here’s a beauty today from the BBC:

“Vegetarian and vegan: A quarter of UK dinners have no meat or fish”

More than a quarter of all evening meals in the UK are vegan or vegetarian, research shows.

In the 12 weeks to the end of January, 29% of them contained no meat or fish, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Trends like Veganuary (going vegan for January) and “sustained interest” in meat-free diets are affecting habits, the market researcher said. [1]

Okay, so if a quarter of all evening meals are now meat-less and fish-less that must mean a massive drop in meat and fish sales. Except, further down the same report the BBC tells us:

[…] the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) says in the short term, meat sales are increasing.

In another report, Kantar’s analysis shows that 0.9% more meat and poultry and 2.9% more processed meat and poultry (like bacon and sausages) was bought over the 2017 festive period than the previous Christmas.

While the AHDB – funded by farmers and growers – recognises the growth of flexitarians – who are reducing their meat consumption overall – it says most people are still enjoying meat dishes at the weekend or replacing red meat with fish or chicken.

In the long term, it said, meat-eating has slowed, but just 0.2% of meat and fish buyers stopped doing so last year.

Nearly one third of the UK population is eating no meat for dinner, according to Kantar Worldpanel, yet only 0.2% has gone vegetarian, and meat sales are increasing?

It begs the question: what is Kantar Worldpanel?

Kantar Worldpanel is part of WPP. WPP began life in 1971 as ‘Wire and Plastic Products, plc’, making baskets and trolleys for supermarkets. It didn’t last long. In 1985 control of the company passed to ex-Saatchi and Saatchi executive, Martin Sorrell, who ran the firm into the ground and resurrected it as a holding company, renamed WPP.

A year later, Sorrell took control of Picquotware, a manufacturer of metal teapots and pans. In 2004 the company was wound up and WPP sold off all the assets. That was just the beginning. Company acquisition after company acquisition rapidly followed, and in 2000 WPP ‘acquired’ the U.S.-based advertising company Young & Rubicam for $5.7 billion, making it one of the biggest advertising agencies on the planet.

Advertising isn’t WPP’s only expertise. Tax avoidance comes high on the list. In 2009 the Guardian ran a report detailing how WPP was duping the British taxpayer out of millions of pounds, despite the efforts of the U.K. government to thwart it.

[…] critics say WPP has also spent the past decade successfully running a series of elaborate avoidance schemes, involving billions in assets held in low-tax regimes in Luxembourg, Ireland and the Netherlands. Overseas company filings show that over the years, in response to the UK revenue blocking a loophole, WPP appears to have ingeniously reorganised itself with even more hard-to-grasp spiders’ webs of legal entities.

We calculate that there could be a notional “tax gap” of some £100m between the UK tax charge declared by WPP over the last six years and a commonsense view of the total amount one might expect such a company to pay in proportion to its UK presence.

WPP itself estimates, for example, that 15% of its profits come from the UK. On this basis, one might expect it to have paid a total of around £126m. In fact, the company paid only £27m. It would take the average income tax paid in a year by 20,000 individual households to fill up such a tax gap.[2]

Which could go some way to explaining why British householders are finding it difficult to afford meat.

[1] “Vegetarian and vegan: A quarter of UK dinners have no meat or fish” BBC, January 7th 2018

[2] “Seeing double: Avoidance scheme allegedly used by UK ads agency” Guardian, February 4th 2009