How will leaving the European Union affect our food?| The Guardian

Food barely featured in the referendum, but years of jibes about Eurocrats controlling our food standards, and myths about bent bananas, left their mark. Food politics will now come to the fore in ways most consumers might not like.

This was predicted by the few studies which bothered to look at this vital area of UK life. The academic reports on Brexit unanimously anticipated not liberation but a period of turmoil and dislocation in the food system.

Farming was at the foundation of the common market in the late 1950s. The UK, then on its own, also set up a system of market support. The mechanisms differed but the goals were similar. Since the UK joined the EEC in 1973, decades of EU food law has been built, honed by crises – mad cow, food safety, trade deals, expansion.

Source:  The Guardian

There’s a powerful conservative case to be made for gay marriage

On January 1 this year, the tiny territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in the Atlantic became the latest country to allow same-sex marriage. Its elected council voted for the reform after a consultation found that a majority of its 5600 residents supported the change. After all, isn’t that what’s meant to happen in a representative democracy?

One after another, countries across the world have legalised gay marriage, usually because that is what their people wanted.  Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the US and Uruguay have all taken this step.  Finland is about to follow.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

World cardinals back pope after anonymous attacks by conservatives | Reuters

Senior Roman Catholic cardinals from the around the world defended Pope Francis on Monday against a spate of recent attacks from conservatives challenging his authority.

In an unusual move, nine cardinals in a group advising Francis on Vatican economic and structural reforms issued a statement expressing “full support for the pope’s work” and guaranteeing “full backing for him and his teachings”.

The statement was unusual in that the cardinals – from Italy, Chile, Austria, India, Germany, Congo, the United States, Australia and Honduras – customarily issue statements only at the end of their meetings, which are held four times a year.

The statement said the cardinals expressed their solidarity with the pope “in light of recent events,” which Vatican sources said was a clear reference to the attacks.

Source: Reuters

Sinn Fein renews pledge to campaign for same-sex marriage – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Northern Ireland is the only part of the British Isles where same-sex marriage is still not an option – unlike the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales. Within Northern Ireland, there is strong support from the public, and from the leading political parties – except for the DUP, which until their leader’s troubles over the heating fund scandal controlled the Stormont government, was able to block any progress through the Assembly. News that Sinn Fein, the leading opposition to the DUP and is to “actively” campaign for same-sex marriage is to be welcomed.

Sinn Fein has renewed its commitment to actively campaign for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

 Signing a pledge to work to legislate for marriage equality party members Gerry Kelly, Caral Ni Chuilin and Megan Fearon said there is a growing demand for a change in law.
Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin, left, Gerry Kelly and Megan Fearon launch the party's marriage equality pledge in Belfast
Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin, left, Gerry Kelly and Megan Fearon launch the party’s marriage equality pledge in Belfast

Sinn Fein and other parties have tried to force through new laws to lift the ban on gay marriage in five separate votes in the Stormont assembly.

Source: BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Trump’s (Dis)Approval Rating: How Low Can He Go?

This is supposed to be a honeymoon period for so-called President Trump.

Instead,

Gallup approval rating, 12th February, 2017

That’s negative approval at 15%.

Now consider. Since taking office, he’s made a big show of signing executive orders. It’s one thing though, to sign orders – another to have them put into effect. His most high profile order, to halt immigration from seven Muslim countries, has been a car crash. How many others will in fact become effectively implemented?

There are reports that Trump has found that the job of president of a country of 300 million people is more complicated than running his business – and that he is “surprised” to find it so.

Welcome to the real world, Mr President.

Guardian, on Labour’s Suicide Mission

It’s been widely reported that the Labour Party have been engaged in some succession planning, in preparation for Corbyn’s departure.

The Guardian notes

Corbyn’s champions always blame a supposed “Blairite” fifth column for his travails. But it is the left of the party itself that is now plotting against him most systematically. In December, Ken Livingstone told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: “If it’s as bad as this in a year’s time, we would all be worried.” In the Mirror last month, Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, asked pointedly: “What happens if we get to 2019 and opinion polls are still awful?”

Source: The Guardian

and

Replace the captain, in other words, but maintain course towards the iceberg.

South Africa: Zuma’s Approval at Rock Bottom

Last week, scenes of disruption in South Africa’s parliament were shown on TV screens worldwide, as EFF opposition MP’s maintained a barrage of interruptions to show their disapproval, and belief that his hold on the office no longer has any legitimacy.

Many, perhaps most, South Africans would agree. The latest opinion poll from Ipsos for eNCA shows his approval rating at only 4.0, equalling the lowest it has ever been.

Continue reading “South Africa: Zuma’s Approval at Rock Bottom”

That was the year, that was (Good Riddance!)

It’s been a momentous, difficult year. No, it’s not “New Year”, the traditional time for these reflection, but I’m not thinking the calendar year. I’m considering the year from February to February: more specifically, the year from February 9th 2016, the day I lost my stomach. That’s a long story, which I tell elsewhere, but the process has been rather prominent in my consciousness. To that, came the anguish  first, of the Brexit vote here in the UK, continuing “Zuptagate” horror stories in South Africa concerning President Jacob Zuma and his cronies, and finally the horror of a Trump presidency in the USA. Throughout, the entire world has seen the trauma of continuing war in the Middle East, with the resultant plight of refugees and terror elsewhere.

Continue reading “That was the year, that was (Good Riddance!)”

One year on from GIST surgery: (1) Diagnosis and early treatment

A year ago today, I checked in to the Royal Free Hospital Hampstead to have a stomach GIST removed, and with it, the whole of my stomach and spleen: time now to look back, on the year since – and before.

It all began some eighteen months earlier, in the summer of 2014, when I began to experience what I incorrectly described as “stomach” pains – and the GP described more accurately as abdominal pain. He diagnosed a bowel complaint, diverticulosis, and prescribed antibiotics. This brought some relief, but some residual pain remained – so another course of antibiotics. After the third such attempt, he said we needed to take a closer look inside the bowels, and referred me (under the “two week rule” to a bowel specialist at Royal Surrey for a colonoscopy. I had not previously heard of a two week rule. When I looked it up later, I found that this applies whenever there is any risk of cancer. Alarm bells were ringing. The consultant agreed with the GP diagnosis, but also that we needed a test to check, just to “confirm the diagnosis”. However, instead of the colonoscopy, he recommended a CT scan, because that would show what was going on outside the bowel, as well as inside it. That decision was of major importance.

Under the two week rule, everything had moved quickly to the date of the test – and much more quickly thereafter. Continue reading “One year on from GIST surgery: (1) Diagnosis and early treatment”