Section: World

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North East People

Teaching in East Africa

Jim Walker

What a difference from Uganda in climate! Fort Portal is over 5000 feet above sea level, Kampala is over 4000 feet but Dar es Salaam is at sea level. The university is on a hill outside the city but, although we got a bit of a sea breeze, the humidity was very uncomfortable. Largely owing to the influence of the President, Julius Nyerere, political development in Tanzania was more advanced than it had been in Uganda but one British custom remained unchanged: the working day.

North East People

Teaching in Uganda: Part 2

Jim Walker

As I mentioned in the first part of Teaching in Uganda, the teachers’ wives did not work. At that time none of the couples had children living with them, they had a “houseboy” to do all the work around the house and a “shamba boy” to look after their garden. But my wife Anne could not stand the idea of such idleness. She was a nurse by profession but the school had no post for such a person.

New cross-party scrutiny for UK-EU trade

Kim Sanderson

Businesses are certainly being affected. Conservative MP Roger Gale, who sits on the new Commission, said: “The impact of the UK’s new trading arrangements with Europe and the world are being felt by businesses in every sector and communities in every corner of the country. We will be looking in detail at the impact of these deals, particularly upon the small businesses that are bearing the brunt of new red tape at our borders.”

North East People

Teaching in Uganda

Jim Walker

The school had no mains water or sewage and no grid electricity. Water came up to the school by means of a ram pump placed in a nearby volcanic lake; electricity was provided in the morning and evening by a diesel-engine generator. My fridge was powered by paraffin.

The invisible 1.2m British citizens scattered across Europe

Clarissa Killwick

Is it laziness or does it fit the agenda of some editors that readers’ preconceptions could be reinforced by their choice of images? On 6 April, under the inflammatory headline “Expats face hell in EU…”, the Daily Express gratuitously published no less than 4 pub photos to illustrate one article. According to a study on identity carried out by Brexpats founder Debbie Williams, birth country culture comforts are more likely to involve drinking imported tea, (if only we could still get it!), at home, rather than seeking out anglocentric pubs to be with our compatriots. Other than that our tastes are quite eclectic, blending cultures and with a common desire to share them. That, and the number of languages those in the study have between them, suggests a high level of integration, not to mention mobility. Stereotypical stock shots fail to convey any of this and, instead, are pernicious.

Poetry Corner

Song of the six million

Harry Gallagher

It didn’t begin with uniform wearers,
armband bearers; that’s just where it ended,
with proud keyholders
to blandly wicked gas chambers.

Around the world in 80 lines

Dylan Neri

The incredible solipsism of our species is undeniable. With the wonderful advancements of science and human understanding, this conceit has slowly been degraded to the point of embarrassment: no, the universe doesn’t revolve around the Earth; no, not the sun – no, not even the galaxy; “forget about your ‘dominion’ over all creatures”, said the […]

World Autism Awareness Week

Louise Brown

Females are commonly able to ‘mask’ their autism more than males making diagnosis more difficult in some cases. Where someone’s autism is less obvious (also in the case of high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome) sometimes others are far less tolerant as they are not aware they have this condition and hence get annoyed with things they view as socially inappropriate.

North East People

By bus to Russia

Jim Walker

I spoke Russian and could get by in French and German; but I had never driven anything larger than my father’s Daimler (in which I had failed my first driving test). Nevertheless, I applied and was accepted. The main driver was a mechanic who had driven heavy lorries across Australia between Sydney and Perth.

Review

Open: Kimberley Clausing

Giuseppe Bignardi

The starting point in the author’s analysis is that Donald Trump’s election was the consequence of dissatisfaction with economic stagnation and was based on a rhetoric that appealed to both the right and the left wing of the political spectrum.

Poetry Corner

Hope

Nicola Tipton

Longer days. Dormant
hope bubbles in heart’s well-spring.
Fountains crystal light.

Turn out your lights for Earth Hour tonight

Julie Ward

For one hour on 27 March millions of people across the globe will turn off their lights and unplug their TVs. Whole streets and cities will go dark and people will look out of their windows and see the stars. It will be a moment of reflection at a pivotal point in history when many of us have been confined to our homes for a year as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world from its likely roots as a zoonotic disease jumping species in the wet markets of Wuhan.

Earth Hour first started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. It was an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund designed to draw attention to the growing environmental disaster and accompanying species loss. 14 years later this symbolic action is observed in more than 180 countries. Mass action by millions of people can be a powerful catalyst for change and Earth Hour has succeeded in raising awareness of the climate emergency, forcing some governments to take notice and take action.

This year’s Earth Hour takes place in the year when the UK government will host the delayed Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow, which will focus attention on our record as a country, which is highly questionable with a new government supported coal-mine planned for Cumbria and lacklustre progress of the much vaunted Green Homes Grant scheme. Meanwhile the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill is making painfully slow progress since being tabled in September 2020.

Writing in the Oxford Political Review, Harvey Phythian pinpointed the policy problem in the Conservatives’ own 2019 election manifesto where the party proclaimed, “we believe that free markets, innovation and prosperity can protect the planet”. Basically, it’s a business as usual approach which is minimally responsive to the effects of climate change rather than being vigorously pro-active in taking preventative measures, hence a tree planting programme is given headline status when what we desperately need is strong and binding legislation to stop polluters in the first place. Meanwhile, the EU is making progress on a wide range of policies to proactively tackle climate change.

Boris Johnson’s own record on the issue is depressing. As a tawdry media columnist during his period in office as the Mayor of London he pooh-poohed the warnings of climate experts and accepted donations from wealthy climate-change deniers. His voting record in parliament clearly demonstrates his lack of support for strong legislative measures to protect the environment, and he has just taken delivery of a second gas-guzzling jet to whisk him off to meetings with his Russian oligarch friends in places like Tuscany whilst the rest of us will be fined £5,000 for daring to attempt a cheap cycling holiday in France this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. And let’s not forget his refusal to participate in a leaders’ debate on climate change in the 2019 election campaign prompting the programme producers to replace him and his Brexit mate Nigel Farage with melting blocks of ice.

All the more reason then to do your bit and turn off the lights between 8.30-9.30pm on Saturday 27 March and join a global action that recognises the connectedness of all life on earth. Reducing consumption is just one of a raft of actions that can contribute to achieving carbon net zero whilst reducing your domestic energy bills. The Centre for Sustainable Energy has a handy guideT to energy consumption of household items. Not filling the kettle and doing less ironing are on my list of actions.

A pandemic, a limited vaccine supply and secret vaccine contracts

Giuseppe Bignardi

On 17 March, the EU announced the intention of changing its export policy, particularly in relation to countries which are also vaccine producers. The EU argues that there needs to be reciprocity and proportionality to make sure there is an equitable distribution of vaccines. I do not know the details of the EU vaccine export plan, but I do know that Boris Johnson has failed on reciprocity and global solidarity.

“Take back the tap” on World Water Day

Julie Ward

Across the world 1 in 3 people live without safe drinking water, and it is estimated that by 2025 half of the global population will be living in areas where water is scarce. In many of the world’s poorest countries girls aren’t going to school because they have to fetch and carry water for their families. As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the world the mantra of “wash your hands” was meaningless in places where clean water is still in scarce supply.

New new world

Dylan Neri

After its first venture into space, India plans to send another probe to Mars, with the intention to land; Japan has ambitious plans to send a lander to mars, and investigate the Martian moon Phobos; and Russia and Europe will unite to send the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, after a two-year delay owing to the pandemic – any mission to Mars must coincide with the period in which the orbit of Mars brings it nearest the Earth, which is every twenty-six months.

What a week to be a woman

Sally Young

The heavy-handed response by the Met Police to the vigil, at Clapham Common, for Sarah Everard, was the leading story on Sunday. Peaceful vigils were held in Glasgow, Nottingham and elsewhere. The awful irony of this was not lost; that the murder of a woman by a serving a police officer, ends up with more women being man-handled by the Police. Sunday was also Mothering Sunday.

Nuclear power: at what cost?

Julie Ward

On 11 March 2011 a huge earthquake off the coast of Japan cased a Tsunami that caused devastation to the north east coast of the main island. The nuclear power plant at Fukushima was inundated causing a power failure and a meltdown of three reactor units, resulting in radioactive leaks into the atmosphere and the […]

Opinion

Full of sound and fury, signifying something….

Gareth Kearns

There is an old philosophical thought experiment that you will have heard of. It goes like this – “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This old chestnut persists because it so beautifully demonstrates how language and meaning can impact upon how […]

Opinion

Can the North East do a Biden?

Julia Mazza

The Republicans weren’t just beaten by a superior presidential election campaign, but with a four-year grassroots fight to weaken their authority and prevent the Trump agenda from becoming law. With some adjustments we can copy their game plan.

Simply sheepish: year 1

Emily Hunter

Crucially we came up with the concept of ‘sheep made out of sheep’. I’d been going to craft shows for years and always picked up a random needle-felting kit but I’d never come across a kit that made a virtue out of the type of sheep being crafted from its very own wool. I knew very little about sheep despite my grandma having a farm full of them! The pandemic struck and I set to work researching sheep breeds, the qualities of their wool, and which would work together well in a collection.

Hakuna Covid! A country of concern

Kim Sanderson

Farida Saidi documents the agonising detail of this political and personal saga on her blog Prayer and Science Tanzania, from the perspective of a Tanzanian living abroad. In one post, her joy that President Magafuli acknowledged Tanzania had a Covid problem was soon dashed by his subsequent mixed messages and over-reliance on another three days of prayer. She supports both prayer and a scientific approach, explaining that clear Covid-19 symptoms are still being explained away as “pneumonia”.

Poetry Corner

Endurance

Nicola Tipton

Two hundred years ago
this February in Rome
Keats died.
Aged 25.

National service, secret service

Jim Walker

In 1954 all young men had to do two years of national service.  Unless you deferred it (to become an apprentice or go to university) you went straight from school, as I did.  It was a prospect that few relished.  But few went on to have quite the experience that I did. If you joined […]

The changing face of British holidays

Liam Campbell

As we begin to take the first tentative steps out of the pandemic people’s thoughts are beginning to turn to the ideas of their first foreign getaway in over a year. After such a long and difficult winter, it is no surprise that holiday bookings have seen a 600% surge. However, when guests return to their favourite destinations, they may find their trips feel very different to how they did two years ago.

Changing the system

Julie Ward

What we can do as citizens is to ensure there is a viable planet for our grandchildren to inherit. “Eat less meat… educate yourself… hold your parents to account… follow the money… Your money is either buying a hotter or a cooler climate,” said Eno.