10 January 2021
Good news this week: the failure of Donald Trump’s attempted coup d’état in America, which meant we had a few days when Covid didn’t dominate the news.
Trump’s incitement of an attack on the Capitol on Wednesday sent shockwaves round the world as it showed both the problems caused by Trump’s psychosis and the absence of effective security in the Capitol. The invasion left 5 people dead, one of them a police officer; another 60 police were injured and 12 are still in hospital.
The condemnation of the riots was bipartisan and many former Trump supporters are joining the Democrats’ moves to remove Trump from office before he can do any more harm and an impeachment motion is in progress. Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman said “He needs to be removed … Our president is this country’s greatest national security threat.”
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has already spoken to senior military officers to ensure there is a cut-out that will prevent the automatic launch of nuclear missiles if Trump ‘presses the button’.
Twitter initially suspended his account for 24 hours but it wasn’t till late on Thursday that he issued a video suggesting the protestors go home, accepting that “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20” and promising a smooth transfer of power before he spoilt it by muttering about voter fraud and saying “we love you” and “you’re very special”.
He also said he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” of the Capitol and that those who “broke the law will pay”, leaving the Trumpites he’d encouraged feeling betrayed.
Then, on Friday morning, he sent two more tweets which Twitter judged as “further incitement of violence” and “highly likely to encourage and inspire people to replicate the criminal acts that took place at the US Capitol” so they shut down his account permanently (would that they had done so 4 years ago).
I reckon shrinks all over America will be offering to treat him for free because his psychopathology is so fascinating they’ll get a best-selling book out of it.
Facebook has also banned him from posting anything on its platforms (which include Instagram) until after Joe Biden has been inaugurated. Other social media companies have closed down his accounts and the most violent far-right Trumpites have been reduced to social media channels and chatrooms like Parler, except that Apple and Google have removed Parler from their apps stores and Amazon have said they will no longer host it. The far-right message board 8Chan was created as a more lawless alternative to its predecessor 4Chan, the birthplace of the QAnon conspiracy theory, that was rejected by mainstream web service providers last year.
Naturally, I opened Parler and, while I don’t really understand how these things work, it does appear to contain strange messages from some deeply unpleasant people.
Talking of which, a brand-new Congresswoman Lauren Boebert from Colorado does her shopping with a Glock handgun (the gun most used by armed British police) in a holster on her hip and, while she described the attempted coup as “inexcusable”, has insisted she will carry her gun into Congress.
One hopes that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both have very tight security around them at all times, and that Trump has too – if he were assassinated, he’d become a martyr to the Trumpite commoners and increase the split in the Republican party which is already riven between Trumpites and those committed to the practice of democracy regardless of party politics.
It’ll be interesting to see how many of Trump’s more stupid decisions Biden can put right during his honeymoon period but he’s got a lot to do and, as Robert Heinlein once said, “You can’t do everything at once if you don’t die first”.
One of his higher priorities should be that, of the 5,500 children, some under 5, separated from their parents at the border since 2017 under Trump’s globally-condemned migration policy, 628 still haven’t been reunited with their parents.
A lot of the vandals on Wednesday were carrying confederate flags, the first time one has been seen in the Capitol building. The flag now represents white supremacy, racism and slavery but was originally created in 1861 when 11 southern states seceded from the United States, then only 85 years old, and called themselves the Confederate States of America.
What worried them was that the newly-elected president Abraham Lincoln was refusing to allow slavery in the new territories being annexed in the west and southern slavers feared they’d be next in line and would lose their unpaid labour force, so they fought a 4-year war and lost, leading to the near-total abolition of slavery throughout the United States.
Even today, many white Americans remain racist, some of them violently so, and the flag is still associated with and used by the Ku Klux Klan, but it wasn’t till 2016 that major retailers decided not to sell the flag and, since George Floyd’s murder, the removal of confederacy symbols has accelerated across the country.
Some people claim the flag is a valid symbol of the country’s history, with the same devotion as Germans claiming the swastika as such a symbol.
On New Year’s Eve, America ordered one of its aircraft carriers home from the Persian Gulf but, two days later, Trump reversed the decision because he thought the Iranian leaders had threatened him. Let’s hope Biden has already made contact privately with Iran to suggest the two countries talk before doing anything irreversible.
Kim Jong Un has told the North Korean Workers’ congress that his 5-year economic plan had missed its targets “in almost all areas to a great extent” and said he would learn from the painful lessons” of the past! He also said that America was North Korea’s “biggest enemy”, that plans for a nuclear-powered submarine had been completed and he was planning to develop smaller nuclear warheads. Another triumph for Trump’s diplomacy.
Our own dear government is being called on to explain why a confidential Ministry of Defence database set up in 2015 appears to have breached international law by failing to record an estimated 500 air strikes in Yemen that resulted in civilian casualties. In addition, the government has been granting export licences to arms manufacturers for weapons and ordnance to Saudi Arabia.
The government is also getting stick for its handling of the Covid pandemic – in the first survey of this year, 72% thought the government had acted too slowly. With 1,325 deaths on Friday alone, the NHS has warned it’s nearing breaking point while the numbers are still rising fast and the additional infections that were unavoidable after the idiotic decision to suspend restrictions for Christmas Day are now beginning to appear.
The poll also suggests that in a general election tomorrow, the Conservatives would lose their entire majority but no party would have a simple majority. It also indicated that Boris Johnson would probably lose his own seat.
The SNP MP Margaret Ferrier was suspended by the SNP in October after she admitted travelling to London and attending debates in the Commons after taking a Covid-19 test and, when she was told her test was positive, she returned home by train. She’s now been arrested and charged with breaching coronavirus restrictions. Dominic Cummings, lock your doors and turn the TV off so they’ll think you’re out and start looking in County Durham.
Elon Musk is now the world’s richest man, a position he achieved by doing absolutely nothing while investors scrambled to buy shares in his company, Tesla. It’s not known how his seventh child, X Æ A-12, reacted to the news. The baby’s mother, the Canadian singer Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) explained that the name was derived from “X, the unknown variable, Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence) and A-12, the precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft)”. Who’s a pretty flake then. Neither parent was sure how to pronounce the name.
At Marine FC’s ground in Crosby, the football match of the year took place as the Spurs team travelled to their grounds to play in an FA cup competition match. Sadly for those of us Brits who like supporting the underdog, Marine lost 5-0 but they were delighted with the respect shown them by Spurs – they were applauded off the field by every on all sides and their manager, Neil Young (no relation) said “The football community, and in particular the Tottenham Hotspur supporters, have been incredible. To sell over 20,000 [virtual] tickets in what is a very tough time for our football club … it’s really nice.”
And, in Staffordshire. police arrested two burglars on the job after one of them inadvertently sat on his phone and dialled 999. The police listened as the burglars talked about the burglary and heard the arresting officers arrive.