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09 November 2016 |
It didn't take long for me and other Filipino friends to be asked 'How do we Americans deal with this?' There is nothing soothing to say. Trump is not Duterte, of course, and there are differences in governance and law enforcement that (as yet) better protect Americans. But what I know is it is not the office that makes the person presidential. It is a waste of time to expect Trump to change. There will be no post-election unity, despite the conciliatory noises being made. And yet there is no choice but to endure.
09 November 2016 |
The first step for a business person is to make the sale, usually by over-promising and tapping into the emotional triggers of the customer. That is what Trump did. Over and over, he assured everyone that electing him would be 'fantastic'; he would deliver; customer-value is in the bag. The next step, once the sale is made, is for a hard financial logic to be applied. Trump's hype will be, at the very least, toned down. Once the customer has coughed up, business people typically become extremely pragmatic.
08 November 2016 |
The US election, to no one's regret, is now over. It remains to wish Donald Trump well as he prepares to take up the office of president. It is tempting to see Hillary Clinton as Humpty Dumpty and ask how she can pick up the pieces of her life, when tarnished and wearied by a campaign so full of personal abuse, revelations of tawdry behaviour and a lack of grace. Yet it is not Clinton that lies broken at the foot of the wall. It is the polity of the US, shown to be bereft of the trust necessary for national wellbeing.
03 November 2016 |
Initial silence from Dylan after the announcement of his Nobel Prize led one of the Scandinavian officials to complain he was being 'impolite and arrogant'. This prompted even more vitriolic opinion online on all sides, from fans, litterateurs, Dylanologists, and other armchair grenadiers. Just as things were getting completely tangled up in blue Dylan himself broke the silence to explain that news of the award had left him speechless. We shouldn't be surprised. Speechless is a normal state for a poet.
24 October 2016 |
This is a tale of two cities. Both are occupied by militants holding to an extremist reading of Islam which gives no space to other faiths or opposing voices. In both cases, the defenders are using civilians as human shields and preventing them from leaving in the breaks granted by the besieging forces. Both are under attack by the internationally recognised governments of the countries in which they are situated. In both cases, civilians are suffering. Yet the narratives in the west are wildly different.
20 October 2016 |
Before I turned five, I was in the serried Monday morning ranks of children who had to swear, among other vows, to honour the flag. Years later I watched, shocked, as a Greek friend burst into tears at the sight of the emblematic blue and white stripes at a soccer match: big, strapping Panayiotis sobbed helplessly for quite some minutes. Today the American elections are almost upon us, and Old Glory has naturally been very much in evidence throughout this most gruelling and worrying of campaigns.
15 October 2016 |
When the dust settles next year, maybe LGBTI advocates will see the wisdom in trying to convince the Labor party to reinstitute a free conscience vote on its side if only to force the Coalition to do the same. That way the parliament a few years down the track might be able to do what the LGBTI advocates want them to do now. If it were my call, I would have opted for the plebiscite in February with prompt parliamentary legislation to follow. But it's not my call.
11 October 2016 |
You'd swear, from men's outrage in response to Trump's remarks, that such behaviour is rare, committed only by the truly reprobate and swiftly condemned. But, no: the volume of assault and harassment stories shared on Twitter with the hashtag #notokay, 27 million by Monday afternoon, prove that sexual assault and harassment is common. If women in their millions are relating their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, there must be men in their millions committing these crimes.
09 October 2016 |
Colombia has been on a massive political and emotional roller coaster. A peace accord to end the 52 years civil war was signed on 26 September, only to be rejected in a referendum on 2 October. A few days later President Juan Manuel Santos, whose referendum was rejected, received the 2016 Nobel Peace. All of this happened not in a hundred years, but in the space of a few weeks. Yet for those who know a bit about Latin American politics the defeat of Santos in the referendum was not unexpected.
06 October 2016 |
The new situation was rammed home to me in a recent trip to a conference in Salamanca, where there is a Scottish seminary, and Madrid, where I have Spanish friends. Everyone I met was shocked at the news and it was as if there had been a death in the family. On the flight back to Edinburgh, it became clear to me that the Brexiteers were about to take my European nationality away from me and replace it with a Little Englander mentality that sees foreigners through a prism of otherness
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