June Miscellany

When it comes  to air pollution, we’re good.  And  now , so is India where people – especially in the Punjab can see the Himalayas –for the first time in decades. Researchers believe  that the dramatic improvement in  the country’s  air pollution was caused  by the  COVID-19 lockdowns see https://www.iqair.com/world-most-polluted-countries.

These and  improvements  have prompted Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz, and a group of leading economists,  to says that this is a make or break moment CNN reports.

“The recovery packages can either kill these two birds with one stone — setting the global economy on a pathway towards net-zero emissions — or lock us into a fossil system from which it will be nearly impossible to escape,” they wrote earlier this month in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

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It wasn’t the best of  starts for the  National Party this week after a leadership coup which promoted Todd Muller to the position of Opposition leader.  First there was the  unfortunate Trumpian signal  of a MAGA cap in his office. Then a revealing  interview  with  Radio New Zealand’s  Catherine  Ryan in which he seemed to  linger in managementspeak, using PR twaddle  like  better ‘crafting of the  message’.

To be fair he had only been in his new job for 72 hours, but he  sounded as if he was still living in the 20th century, at a time when  the Corona virus has turned the world upside down; when people are searching for new, green solutions to help save the planet.

And finally came accusations that his cabinet lacked ethnic diversity which prompted some wags to refer to this by calling the Nats’  the Far White Party…!  But joking aside, one of the  real questions following  his elevation,  was why  does  National  consistently believe that businessmen can lead a country, when they  so clearly favour business over societal issues?

For Muller the challenges lie in curing homelessness, and, among other social  problems,  bridging our  social divides. By comparison  fixing  the already pampered Economy should be a doddle.  He has yet to show his mettle as leader though he does  have to overcome one significant  problem:  how  can he defeat Jacinda Ardern, the most popular PM in a century?

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Corona virus  is invisible,  does not discriminate  and  nobody is immune from it says The Donald. Yes, this time the man  (with  an estimated 18,000 falsehoods  to his name according  to the Washington Post) is  right.

Some though, are  less immune than others – the elderly. Stat.com estimates that  the virus  kills 13.4% of patients aged 80 or older, compared to 1.25% in their 50s and 0.3% of those in 40s. The sharpest divide comes at age 70. Although 4% of patients in their 60s died, more than twice that, or 8.6%, of those in their 70s did, according  to the  Imperial College’s  Neil Ferguson and his colleagues in their paper, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.  So, is this  reaper a case of survival of  the youngest?

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And on the subject of Trump, his  former social media pal Twitter, has  for the first time prompted readers to check the facts in tweets sent by  the U.S. President. Reuters reported  this week that Twitter had  warned those in the Twitterverse  that Trump’s  claims about mail-in ballots were false and had been debunked by fact checkers.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.