The Green Party is the latest threat to the Tories
Their gains in the local elections bode ill for Conservative MPs in the south
Rishi Sunak is lucky. The local election results were so bad for his party that they could have put the skids under his leadership. But the Coronation weekend intervened — and so, instead of angry Tories calling for the Prime Minister’s head, the nation united to watch Penny Mordaunt holding a sword.
Nevertheless, the Conservatives will soon be waking up with a delayed hangover. They’ll be conscious that something awful happened last week — the loss of over a thousand councillors, in this case — and yet some rather important details could be obscured in the recollection.
Not least among these is the impressive performance of the Green Party. While the Labour Party did well and the Lib Dems very well, the Greens grew exponentially — doubling their council seats from 240 to 481. ...
Beware the military-AI complex
Like it or not, arms technology will shape the future
Geoffrey Hinton has been described as the “Godfather of AI”. And so, when he warned the world about the dangers of artificial intelligence this week, the world listened.
His interview with Cade Metz for the New York Times is worth reading in full, but the key passage reveals Hinton’s surprise at the speed of recent developments:
Hinton also reiterated his opposition to the use of AI on the battlefield. However, that horse has already bolted. For instance, a few days before the cognitive psychologist voiced his concerns, Palantir Technologies announced its Artificial Intelligence Platform for Defence — which applies the latest AI capabilities to drone warfare. ...
The Covid questions that just won’t go away
New reporting shows the extent of China's cover-up
Back in March, I wrote about a reported link between raccoon dogs and the start of the Covid pandemic. According to some ill-considered headlines, this was the “strongest evidence yet” for a natural origin of the virus — as opposed to the rival lab-leak theory.
At the time, I was unconvinced that this “evidence” was even relevant, let alone strong. I’m therefore not surprised to see a new analysis now casting doubt on the narrative. It’s encouraging to see the New York Times, which had amplified the original story, now striking a more uncertain note. (It would be good if the BBC also updated its own coverage.) ...
Chinese cars pose an existential threat to Europe
Electric vehicles are taking over from German diesel
The European automotive sector — above all the German car industry — is a bulwark of the EU’s economic might. But for how much longer? It’s becoming increasingly clear that Chinese exports pose an existential threat.
This week, Brad Setser, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted out two charts that illustrate the astonishing speed and scale of recent developments.
The first chart shows that during the 2010s China became a massive importer of vehicles, but that, since 2020, Chinese exports have surged. As in so many other sectors, the People’s Republic is now a net exporter. To put it another way, a trade deficit of tens of billions of dollars per annum has been more than wiped out in the space of just three years. ...
The towns that defied the global baby shortage
Depopulation isn't uniform throughout wealthy countries
What is the world’s most under-reported apocalypse? Unmitigated climate change? The threat of nuclear war? The possibility of another, deadlier, pandemic? All of those could wipe millions, perhaps billions, of people from the face of the planet. But, then again, they haven’t happened yet (even if we are pushing our luck).
Most worrying, surely, is the population-reducing crisis that is already underway. In countries around the world — including all the rich ones — births have plummeted.
Some governments have tried to turn things around with pro-natalist policies. But, at best, the results have been disappointing. Instead of looking for a nation that has restored its birthrate to the replacement level (because there isn’t one), more local examples are surely worthy of attention. ...
Just Stop Oil should stop targeting normies
The group's stunts are geared towards the wrong demographic
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t approve of what Just Stop Oil (JSO) did at the Crucible Theatre this week. While there is a place for civil disobedience, protests that deliberately disrupt the lives of the general public are not justified. And, yes, that includes despoiling the green baize of a snooker table with orange powder.
But let me try to steel man the JSO position: the climate emergency is real. Over the last few days, Asia has experienced a brutal heat wave. In a region where more than half of humanity lives, the mercury is soaring and temperature records are tumbling. It’s bad enough already — but with an extra two or three degrees of global warming on the way, the future looks grim. If you think that the current migration crisis is intolerable, then just wait for the mass population movements of future decades. ...
Donald Trump Jr comes to Bud Light’s rescue
The former president's son called on conservatives to stop the boycott
It was all going so well. Just days ago, red state America was making a meaningful stand against the liberal elites — in this case the corporate clones who chose Dylan Mulvaney as the new face of Bud Light beer.
The ubiquitous trans activist identifies as a woman, but it soon became clear that an awful lot of Bud Light customers do not identify with Mulvaney. Attempts by the parent company, Anheuser-Busch (AB), to calm the situation only added to the outrage. A weak and gassy statement from CEO Brendan Whitworth — “we never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people” — was met with derision. ...
Why won’t San Francisco save itself?
America's most progressive city has overlooked its own degradation
April is the cruellest month — or at least it is in San Francisco. The city is already well known for its chronic problems with homelessness, drug abuse and crime, but the negative headlines are now piling up.
In the last two weeks alone, a tech entrepreneur was left to die in the street after being stabbed; the city’s former fire commissioner was battered with a crowbar; a homeless woman gave birth on a sidewalk; a council meeting to discuss policing was cancelled due to vandalism; and, under siege from shoplifters, the city centre branch of Whole Foods has closed its doors.
That last one might seem the most trivial, but it is also the most iconic. Whole Foods is the ultimate rich liberal brand — an upmarket grocer overflowing with fresh produce. If you can’t get organic quinoa in San Francisco, then what’s the point? ...