I’m aware of most of the differences between British English (yuck, but it’s the least ambiguous term I can think of) and US English, and I’m pretty aware of what’s going on in US politics, at least on a national level. Australian English and politics can still leave me baffled, however:
PM: I suspected Iraq wheat rort
My comprehension wasn’t helped by the fact that Google News UK listed this as a story, and sourced it to the ‘Daily Telegraph’. I was left wondering what on Earth Tony Blair had actually suspected, and what kind of bizarre mangle his words had been through…
Julie Bindel has a comment piece in the Guardian about the class snobbery that permeates the healthy eating debate, and particularly about the way that fair-trade liberals sneer at the poor for eating badly. It’s nearly sensible, but it falls down on a crucial point:
Encouraging a healthy diet has far more to do with choice than education… Although the majority have worked out that freshly squeezed orange juice is better for their child than fizzy pop, they have neither the budget nor the time to offer it… It is time we put working-class and poor people on a par with those of us who can afford to choose. It is no good sneering at people in Scotland who deep fry Mars Bars if we do nothing to make healthy food more widely available.
The point where this falls down, just in case you missed it too, is that healthy food is not expensive or unavailable.
I’m a great fan of governments and companies making their money from voluntary, rather than compulsory, charges. The lottery is an excellent example. Another, outside of the government sphere, is personal banking. There are generally no charges for holding a UK current account or credit card, and you can usually get the kind of quality deal that means the bank is paying you for your custom (the fact that it’s free almost makes up for the fact that the industry has no concept of customer service).
To my surprise, I find something amusing in Harry’s comments about the collapse of Soviet communism and, relatedly, Russian society:
Yeltsin’s Government made a deal with the population: the first part was, yes, life would be worse now. But, on the other hand, to be kind, it would be shorter too.
I’m not normally a fan of people who bring libel suits, although I have no intention of saying anything unpleasant about them [*]. All I will say is that if you fancy joining a club that includes James Goldsmith, Robert Maxwell, Jeffrey Archer and (Mrs Ripper) Sonia Sutcliffe, your social preferences are a little different from mine.
However, I’d be willing to make an exception for our marvellous mad Mayor. According to the Sun, he’s “a crude bigot who makes no secret of being … anti-Jewish”. As the Guardian Diary points out, this is clearly defamatory in English law. You’d have to have a heart of stone to object to Ken cleaning Mr Murdoch out for big money, although it would be particularly delicious if Ken gave the damages to Lesbian Community Activists, Asylum Support Groups, Travellers’ Rights Committees and other such Sun-hated types…
[*] similar rules apply to scary chaps in alleyways, knife-wielding fundamentalists, etc.