Expect the unexpected

In his New Year Editorial the Rev'd Dr.Nicholas Henderson writes: Bethlehem closed down for Christmas, Ukraine brings the season forward from 7th January to 25th December and hardly anything left standing in Gaza. Political will to resolve what is becoming a very uncertain New Year appears to be weakening. Christ was born in a time of autocratic rule, in an occupied country. According to the narrative his birth was followed by a massacre and a refugee flight into Egypt. It does seem a case of plus ça change. After all we have been appealing to God for generations in our prayers for peace, which have either been unanswered or more likely subjected to human fallibility and misuse of the freedom of will that we have failed to exercise responsibly. The last editorial on this site appealed for a ceasefire in Gaza at a time when the idea was politically unpopular. Now, an overwhelming number of countries support the idea but it has been vetoed, largely by the United States. Should the coming end of year presidential election in that country produce a narrow win or a challenged result, the previous beacon of Western democracy could well descend into a dangerous fractious dispute exacerbated by the constitutional Second Amendment’s ‘right to bear arms’ with a veritable arsenal of military grade weapons to hand. .....

In the 75th year anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a perspective on the emergence of BRICS in a changing world

Bishop Trevor Mwamba, President of the United National Independence Party (UNIP) Zambia writes: The German word, Zeitgeist, aptly describes the emergence of BRICS grouping of nations. Zeitgeist encapsulates the spirit or mood of a particular period of history rooted in the ideas and beliefs of the time. BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world's leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The genesis of BRICS lies in the banking crisis of 2007-08 when the G20 asked countries such as China, India and Indonesia to provide liquidity to the Global North’s collapsing banking system. This Global North’s banking crisis created an opportunity to rethink the global financial system. For decades, the Global South has been concerned about the unfair trade practices of the North. These practices include the imposition of credit conditions that in many cases do little to ease the financial burden of so-called developing countries. Indeed, the conditions attached to loans secured from institutions in the Global North often leave the indebted country worse off than it was prior to execution of the loan agreement. Formalization of what the 1991 South Commission report dubbed “the locomotives of the South” created an opportunity to challenge Global North financial hegemony. After all, it was now clear that economic development in the Global South had not been helped by the Breton Woods institutions whose governance is tightly controlled by Europe and the United States. It is this reality that has made BRICS an attractive alternative in the eyes of many Southern nations. ...

Democratic Deficit?

The Editor, The Rev'd Dr. Nicholas Henderson writes in his Editorial post, Lent 2023: ‘Gerrymandering’ is the political manipulation of electoral boundaries with the intent of creating an undue advantage for a political party or faction. These days it might also be extended to describe generically other associated practices to the same end. ... Whilst currently busy assessing the recent decision published by the House of Bishops and welcomed by the General Synod to enable same-sex couples to come to church after a civil marriage or partnership to give thanks, dedicate their relationship to God and receive God’s blessing - even the Church of England, cannot be accused of gerrymandering. At least not in terms of its electoral process, which has long used a system of Proportional Representation for its elections – the precise form being STV (Single Transferable Vote). ... Not fraudulent, but certainly unfair, the system as used in the United Kingdom for parliamentary elections remains that of the so-called ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) where winner takes all regardless of how low a percentage actually voted for the candidate. This has produced some seriously skewed results. For example, the Johnson-led conservative victory at the 2020 general election produced a large parliamentary majority of 80 seats – hailed a great mandate and the will of the people on what was actually only 43.6% of the popular vote. Clearly, this system often effectively negates the wishes of a majority of voters. ... The use of voter ID is in itself no bad thing, if it ensures democracy rather than distorting it. Nevertheless, there is a legitimate concern even if the scheme may in practice backfire and in practice remove the vote from the very people it is meant to encourage . In short and in practice it looks like a subtle variation of gerrymandering. ...

Kiev or Kyiv? #KyivNotKiev

Editorial: Kiev or Kyiv? - A difference in spelling the name of the capital city has emerged since the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine was first mooted. The shift indicates an almost universal reluctance to use the former Kiev as it is a transliteration from the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. The new (to us in the West) Kyiv is the local Ukrainian usage. Thus, solidarity in a spelling bee can be shown with those of us who are horrified at the increasing terror of Russian imperialism and accompanying military violence towards a near neighbour.

Some Anglican Social Responses Countering the Thatcherite Socio-economic Dogmatism: A reading by an outsider with an inside-insight

Dr. Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi - In this article Dr. Hettiarachchi revisits ‘the recent British past’, particularly the late 1990s when he lived in the British Isles. This may seem like 30-year-old history, but the impact seems perennial.

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