England is humming with its own agenda. This week, leaders from the G-7 summit nations fly into England for their few days by the seaside. Political and COVID news from around the world is buried.
But digging in the compost pile of news items, there is Thursday when the Belarusian journalist, Raman Pratasevich, whose plane was diverted so he could be detained in Belarus, appeared on the Belarusian state-run TV channel, confessing to all the things a journalist should confess to. “I am cooperating absolutely fully and openly … and live an ordinary, calm life, have a family, children, stop running away from something.” Which doesn’t quite make sense if it is being translated correctly. Pratasevich’s father said, “I know my son and believe he would never say such things. They broke him and forced him to say what was needed.”
On Friday in Hong Kong police arrested the lawyer and activist Chow Hang Tung, for promoting a remembrance of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. On the night of June 3, high up in the windows of office buildings candles flickered while young people walked quietly with their lit cell-phones held high. Discussion of Beijing’s brutal military crackdown of June 3, 1989 is forbidden in China, whose amoeba-like tentacles are now firmly nested into Hong Kong.
While Rishi Sunak takes his photo op moments, meeting and greeting the G-7 leaders arriving into London our eyes are to be diverted from the little line drawn through a law. Hurriedly, quietly, did we miss that, ‘it was a temporary measure’ to reduce England’s contribution of foreign aid from .7% to .5% while the effects of the COVID pandemic were raging thought this country. The commitment to the United Nations target was laid down in law but that doesn’t seem to bother Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak. The law was passed by one Prime Minister, David Cameron, and is now flouted by another, Boris Johnson. Old school chums they may have been but rivals in history they have now become. But this flouting is creating a deeper crack in the not so solid wall as members of the Conservative party who have come together trying to rein in the lads. Past Prime Ministers, Sir John Major and Theresa May are among those who find it morally incomprehensible that a country as rich as Britain can only balance its books by inflicting further suffering on the world’s poor. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, mulled and culled the letter of ancient laws, while guiding ministers to a path forward into debate. With the G-7 summit leaders moving from London to convene in Cornwall this weekend, it’s an embarrassment either way: for the government to look small by cutting the aid, or to look weak giving into their ministers.
As the representatives of the G-7 countries travel to Cornwall, and be staying at the Cabris Bay Hotel, with its stunning beach and clear waters, is to be the venue for discussions on debt, climate change and post-COVID recovery. Boris Johnson called it the “perfect location for such a crucial summit”. The UK, US, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan make up the G-7. And this year leaders from Australia, India, South Korea and the European Union are also coming along for a jolly beach weekend. A cruise ship bobs about outside the Falmouth Harbor, housing 1500 support staff. Cornwall was chosen for its green credentials, no doubt as a preamble to the Global Warming conference to be held in Glasgow.
Almost like a picnic on the beach. Although the weather, never mind the politics, can be tricky in Cornwall.
Where does the word picnic come from? The English definition of a picnic is a meal taken outdoors as part of an excursion – and is as much a part of English life as the BBQ is American. But the word is from the French pique-nique, used to describe a group of people dining in a restaurant who brought their own wine. It comes from the verb piquer, which means ‘pick’, ‘peck’, or ‘nab’, and the rhyming addition nique, which means ‘thing of little importance’. Rather grimly, picnicking emerged and became common after the French Revolution in 1789, when, for the first time, ordinary people could visit and stroll through the country’s royal parks. We took such a picnic this weekend in a hidden garden within London’s Regent’s Park and came to no harm. Picnics, like BBQ’s, are for making memories.
Back in London, the June 21st date is coming closer, when government will decide to lift or continue the remaining COVID restrictions. Health Minister Matt Hancock is seen shifting from foot to foot after last week’s blistering attack on his competence by Dominic Cummings. Rather like naming hurricanes, COVID variants are now being given names from the Greek alphabet so as not to inflame the finger-pointing and abuse that nation-naming can bring. The Indian Variant is now called the Delta variant. Members of Parliament from both parties are rumbling and watching Matt Hancock and the scientific advisors closely. Quotes are floated about, “If they say it’s going to be 28 June, we can take that. Protecting July and August is the main thing.” Another minister accepted it might take time to limit the spread of the Delta variant: “If we need to take until 28 June or 1 July, I’m not going to die in a ditch on that.”
This has been a Letter from A. Broad.
Written and read for you by Muriel Murch
First aired on Swimming Upstream – KWMR.org.
Web support by murchstudio.com