Friday, September 19, 2014

Britain stays united; The Ebola threat to world security; Don't write off our youth

1 Britain stays united (The Guardian) David Cameron committed himself to a devolution revolution across Great Britain, including votes on English issues by English MPs at Westminster, as he hailed the Scottish people’s decision to remain inside the United Kingdom in the referendum.

But he made clear the constitutional reforms including in Scotland will not be delivered until after the General Election, and in tandem with reforms in England. “We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of the voices of England must be heard”, he insisted.

The Prime Minister, vindicated in his decision to stage a Yes No referendum, also revealed he has asked Lord Smith of Kelvin to implement the Scottish devolution reforms set out by the party leaders in the final weeks of the referendum campaign.

Cameron did not recommit himself to the Barnett formula - the method by which resources are distributed on a population basis across England Scotland and Wales. Both Labour local councils, Tory MPs and Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, immediately insisted the Barnett formula has to be torn up.

Farage also pressed Scottish MPs to make an immediate commitment not to vote any further in English only issues, as he called for a constitutional convention to discuss the whole future political settlement in the UK. He said “The fact that three party leaders made commitments on behalf of millions of UK voters means nothing. Why should I stand by a panicky commitment to Scotland made by the Prime Minister?”

Some of Cameron’s remarks make clear that the offer of further powers in Scotland is dependent not only on the next election, but also a wider constitutional settlement including the exclusion of Scottish MPs from voting on many issues confined to England.

2 The Ebola threat to world security (BBC) The UN Security Council has declared the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa a "threat to international peace and security". The council unanimously adopted a resolution calling on states to provide more resources to combat the outbreak.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned an emergency meeting of the council that the number of Ebola infections was doubling every three weeks. More than 2,600 people have now died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record. Mr Ban said the "gravity and scale of the situation now require a level of international action unprecedented for a health emergency".

He announced the establishment of an "emergency UN mission" working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the crisis, saying he would convene a "high-level meeting" next week. The council heard that the international response had to be three times bigger than it was now to contain the crisis - the number of cases is doubling every two weeks in west Africa.

3 Don’t write off our youth (Asha Iyer Kumar in Khaleej Times) Youth-bashing based on assumptions of an interminable ‘gap’ has been a pastime of generations. Our opinion about youth is often subjective and biased. It strikes me as odd that we generally label our youth as irresponsible and wild, even as we pride ourselves on our own children as incorruptible and chaste, thanks to our impeccable parenting skills. The kids out there need a lesson or two, but our own wards are immaculate. How lopsided we are with our judgments!

Yes, boys and girls of our times are fast, furious and fashionable, but are they really deserving of our constant criticism? Not in my view. They are more grounded and discreet than we believe them to be, and I have met youngsters and witnessed cases that bear out this fact amply. I will not classify these as exceptions; to me they are representatives of hope.

In a recent discussion, a relative who runs a voluntary organisation said to me that a majority of her volunteers were young people, including students, and they were the most willing to donate for charitable causes. I strongly believe that beneath the surface of their impatience and mulishness is a deeply sensitised psyche. Much as they want to splurge, they also want to find ways to kill maverick viruses. They want to stop wars and save the world. They want to contribute to the betterment of the human race, if only we will repose faith in them.

All carts have rotten apples, but the vendor counts on the fair ones to earn his bucks. I put my money on the little girl who stands up to the national anthem that plays at the end of a movie, on my pupil who says that he values the life lessons I give him than the literature lessons, on the dutiful boy who escorts his mother to the market, on the girl who takes a wounded street cat home, and on millions like them, for they are our only hope. Let us not judge our youngsters by the swear words and slapdash manner, and write them off just yet.

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