By now we've all heard of Cecil the lion and the "trophy hunter" Minnesota based dentist Walter Palmer who killed him.
Whilst I am aware that from time to time it may be necessary in effect to "thin the herd" of an animal population such as deer in my own country(which in the abscence of natural predators) has become a pest(there is talk of imprting wolves to "thin the herd" of deer esp in the Scottish Highlands- they tend to kill the "old, the sick and the lame"), there can be NO such justification for "hunting"(I use the phrase advisedly here) lions and other animals which are already on the "Endangered Species List".( shades of Oscar Wilde's description of the British aristocracy's fox hunting as being"the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable!")
This whole business reminds me of an old "Night Gallery" episode I once saw- "Clean Kills And Other Trophies" in which an obsessive hunter gets his comeuppance in a peculiarly ironic fashion. I am sorely tempted to wish a like fate to befall the aforementioned Mr Perkins!
As part of the much heralded shake up of the Marvel Universe this year, it now seems that a new BP(Black Panther) title is coming out in November.
All I can say is: good! There are a number of issues that should(and hopefully will) be addressed in this new solo title of the African Avenger. Issue one is(or should be) what will be the relationship between Wakanda and the United States( more to the point between King T'Challa and US President Barack Hussein Obama)? Will BP trie to rekindle is romance with his ex- former Queen Ororo Munroe(better known as Storm of the X-Men) or will he try to find a completely new love in order to give him the heir(heiress?) Wakanda needs- after all, nobody lives forever(not even in the Marvel Universe)!
I have long noted the tendency on the part of some writers to downgrade BP's role as a King( when even those of Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner of Atlantis never mind villains such as Dr Victor Von Doom, Lord of Latveria are respectfully referred to-but then they are white)- hopefully this new title will see BP "pulling rank" and reminding not just the world at large but also his fellow Avengers of his Kingly position.
Whilst I am gratified that Cuba and the US have resumed diplomatic relations after a 54 year hiatus, I must nonetheless express concern that the fate of Cuba's dissidents and human rights issues will be swept under the rug.
Armando Valladares( check out his autbiography at Amazon- "Against All Odds") and the courageous women known as "Damas de Blanco"( Ladies in White) deserve better!
First of all even though I DON'T subscribe to John McCain's politics(conservative Republican) I am outraged at Donald Trump's attack on him; you don't have to agree with a man's(or woman's for that matter) politics in order to respect him or her. By what right does Donald Trump(who much like Rush Limbaugh, George W.Bush, Dick Cheney and others) dodged the draft back in the 1960s whilst John McCain suffered and bled for his country as a Vietnam War POW???
Last Thursday's murders of four US Marines in Chattanooga TN by a suspected "lone wolf " jihadist(who was shot dead by local law enforcement) surprises me not in the elast. Ever since the "drone war" of the Obama Administration began to bite deep into Al Qaeda's ranks, the jihadists have begun to rely on a strategy of "leaderless resistance" in which ad hoc attacks on (esp) "soft targets"( such as the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 and the hacking to death of Drummer Lee Rigby) take the place of spectaculars such as 9/11 and 7/7.
Paradoxicallt thsi shows not so much strength but weakness!
Now that "The Stars And Bars" has been deservedly hauled down from South Carolina's statehouse, the furore over the Cenfederate flag continues-touching unexpected individuals.
Case in point: Country and Western singer Dolly Parton( who is reportedly proud to call herself a"redneck" although apparently NOT in the racist sense of the term)- according to the latest edition of the National Enquirer, although Ms Parton does NOT fly the confederate flag herself, her brother in law does.
As disdainful as I am of country and western music(which reminds me of the knuckle dragging racist troglodytes in "Deliverance") I am reluctant to be critical of ms Parton(whose fans include blacks as well as white) and any part of America that could include the likes of former President Jimmy Carter as well as film star Julia Roberts( and admitted Southern gal but NO redneck- one of her closest friends is Denzel Washington BTW) can't be ALL bad( Roberts and Carter are BOTH natives of Georgia)!
As a Briton, I have an ironic joke about America's fourth of July celebrations that goes like this: a group of white, Protestant(one signatory was Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a Catholic), heterosexual(presumably) firstborn property owning(and more than one such as my own nameskae George Washington were slaveowners) males put their heads together and declared that they were sick and tired and beaing oppressed by His Majesty King George III!
If I had to be asked how I feel about America I would reply that it was a bit difficult for me to "love" a country whose founding fathers seriously regarded people like me(ie of color) as "three fifths of a human being" . But in reality it would tend to fluctuate with the policies of the currtent Administration- there is just NO way to get away from the fact that certain Administrations(usually but NOT always Republican such as George W.Bush's) aroused either chilly inidfference at best on my part or at worst venomous loathing and contempt.
Still, America HAS been a force for good in world affairs(most notably during WWII and the Cold War) and the best I can say for it is that it produces Goerge Washington, Abraham Lincoln Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, JFK, LBJ, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as right wing yahoos such as Father Charles Coughlin, "Tailgunner Joe" McCarthy, William F. Buckley, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly , Sean Hannity and other birds of a similarly malodorous feather.
Who knows_perhaps the accession of Barack Obama means that America is beginning to make good on its promise of "liberty and justice for all"(not just white males)?
( Full disclosure called for here: I am straight, but it would almost be worth being gay to rejoice over the hissy fit self styled "conservatives" are having the US Supreme Court's upholding of "Obamacare subsidies" and legalizing gay marriage nationwide)
Well, this HAS not been a very good month for America's "conservatives"( I use the word advisedly as to quote Alan Dershowitz, they are less traditional conservatives as envisaged by Edmund Burke or maybe even William F.Buckley than authoritarian statists and virtual theocrats).
Firstly there was the Pope's encyclical on climate change,( which caused Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush to freak out- presumably they only follow church teaching when it reflects their political prejudices vis a vis abortion and SSM!).
Secondly, in rapid succession the Supreme Court saved the ACA(Or Obamacare as it is derisively known) and thirdly, it legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Response from "conservatives"- what can only be called the "Chicken Little" effect( "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!"). So far we have threats of mass disobedience, even secession, Chief Justice John Roberts being called a "traitor" on social media sites- despite being a conservative appointed by George W. Bush, claims that the ruling will lead to the persecution and outlawing of Christianity as well as ludicrous assertions that clergy of all denominations will be compelled to marry same sex couples against their will and their denomination's teachings!)
First things first: IF YOU DON'T WANT TO MARRY A MEMBER OF YOUR OWN SEX THEN NO ONE WILL FORCE YOU TO DO SO AGAINST YOUR WILL ANY MORE THAN YOU CAN BE FORCED TO MARRY SOMEONE OF A DIFFERING RACE /RELIGION!!!
Secondly whom opponents of SSM cite "religious freedom " as justification for opposing SSM what they are really arguing is reedom to force their religious beliefs to be given the sanction of law- a form of de facto establishment of religion- as I have observed before and will say so again, how depressing it is to see Americans yearning for the same state mandated religious orthodoxy their forefathers fled to the New World to escape. If opponents of SSM wish to move en masse to a polity where their prejudices have the force of law, here are some helpful destinations: , Saudi Arabia, Putin's Russia, ISIS territory, Iran, Pakistan.
There , I said it. Dylan Roof, the alleged perpetrator of the Charleston, SC massacre of nine African Americans(mainly women) is a terrorist- as much as say, Timothy McVeigh, John Walker Lindh(the so-called "American Taliban"), the hijackers of 9/11, Boko Haram, ISIS , the Tsarnaev brothers and our own "homegrown" terrorists suchas the Red Army Faction( the so-called "Baader Meinhof Gang"), Actione Directe and our own Provisional IRA.
To my mind, much of the talk about terrorism is tinged with(at least in its American context) cant, hypocrisy and thinly veiled racial and religious doubles standards( case in point, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York who never fails to inveigh against violent jihadism whilst giving a free pass to Provo terrorism in Ireland,esp during the troubles- a cynic might suggest that as long terrorists had names like Seamus, Padraig, Kevin, Malachi and Mairead he was OK with them- as opposed to those with names like Suleiman, Osama. Faisal, Ahmed, Mohammed and Khalid- that is to say Irish Catholic ones as opposed to Islamic fundamentalists).
It may be argued that as Dylan Roof is not a Muslim(either a convert or by birth) and has no known ties to violent white supremacists such as the KKK, he is"not really a terrorist". My response to this charge is that as he used murder and other forms of violence for political reasons ie to create a race war, he is manifestly a terrorist. As long as terrorists are seen as swarthy foreigners with hard to pronounce names rather than looking like "the boy/girl next door" we will never recognize them for what they are!
That being said, I AM not urging that Mr Roof be shipped off to "Gitmo" as a so-called"enemy combatant" , far less that he be subjected to"waterboarding" and other forms of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (ie torture) or be tried by military commission as Republican conservatives were prone to demanding for violent jihadists(as opposed to Caucasian Christians such as Mr Roof)
And given that so-called conservatives have been suspiciously silent regarding Dylan Roof's motivations ahd his likely punishment indicates clearly to me the racial/religious double standards implicit in discussion of terrorism!
I suppose we should grateful for small mercies. America has finally changed to such an extent that whites are willing to "pass" as black, as Seattle NAACP president Rachel Dolezal has evidently done.
I have read accounts of fair skinned African Americans who during slavery or the "Jim Crow" era in the South "passed" as white as well as of gay actors such as Rudolph Valentino or Rock Hudson who pretended to be straight, Jewish actors and actresses( John Garfield and Judy Holliday- born Julius Garfinkel and Judith Tuvim respectively) who changed their names or had nose jobs or even pretended to Christians or Italian and German American actors and actresses( Nicolas Cage and Bernadette Peters, Michelle Pfeiffer) who downgrade their ethnic origins in order not to be typecast, but at least these are responses to racist, homophobic or other factors- I am therefore at a loss to claim why Rachel Dolezal should claim to be black when she is no more African American than say, Sharon Stone or Drew Barrymore. When Bruce(and now Caitlyn) Jenner claimed in a recent interview that he believed he possessed a woman's brain( despite having lived his entire life as a man until now), several prominent women(feminist or not) criticized him for doing so. More worrying has been Ms Dolezal's claim to have suffered incidents of racist attacks. False allegations of racist "hate crimes" (rather like rape) may be rare but they tend to divert attention to real ones. Ms Dolezal should resign her role as area Prsident of the Seattle NAACP as well as her tenured position as a professor of African American studies and makean unambigous apology to the African American community for her reprehensible imposture!