As Trump tweets through his stages of grief, we arrive at X in our overview of coronavirus, always problematic in an A-Z.
Most of Europe is in lockdown 2.0, but everyone is hoping things might return closer to normal with the announcement of the first viable vaccine from Pfizer, soon to be followed by many others.
In the UK, the media is obsessed with saving Christmas, but unfortunately it is unacceptable to call Christmas Xmas, so we can’t write about the predictable ads that people go bonkers about at this time of year. We are, therefore, left with only two possible options.
First up is Extinction Rebellion, which is legitimately abbreviated to XR.
XR is a global environmental movement, which has the aim of using non-violent civil disobedience to urge governments into action to stop tipping points in the climate system.
Their hearts are in the right place, but their actions can prove divisive.
The Metropolitan Police was heavily criticised for allowing Extinction Rebellion members to “hijack” the Cenotaph on November 11th.
XR protesters, Donald Bell, an army veteran, and another protester dressed as a nurse, arrived at the Cenotaph, at 8am, to unfurl a banner declaring “Climate Change Means War” and a poppy wreath bearing the slogan “Act Now”.
The banner and wreath were allowed to remain on the memorial for 20 minutes before being removed by Met officers, a chain of events described as “profoundly disrespectful” by a spokesman for the PM.
XR is now launching a campaign of financial civil disobedience, aimed at exposing the “political economy’s complicity” in the unfolding ecological crisis. Essentially, they want people to stop paying their mortgages and to take out loans, which they will not repay, from banks that finance fossil fuel projects and contribute the money to frontline organisations fighting for climate justice.
Ironically, like the government, XR rebellion may be seen as too white and middle-class to gain much support among younger activists. It also has to be stated that organising demonstrations is extremely problematic in a lockdown and they are doing well to get mentioned.
Whatever their tactics, XR are trying to ensure that environmental issues remain high in the public conscience and even if governments don’t like their methods, they are certainly keen on being seen jumping onto the green bandwagon.
Next year, Boris Johnson will be hosting the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, with ‘assistance’ from the Scottish Government.
To show he was already on the green case, he announced, last week, that the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be accelerated by 10 years, from 2040 to 2030, as part of efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This is a government that likes to leak its tentative proposals and see how well they go down with the electorate, before performing a U-turn. Since they are going to lose all the tax from petrol and diesel, they are floating the idea of charging motorists for each mile they drive, which most definitely won’t go down well.
On the green front, Boris Johnson has also announced a new £40 billion for green projects, contained in a 10-point plan, which includes a combination of offshore wind, hydrogen, nuclear, electric vehicles, public transport and carbon capture to halt the UK’s production of greenhouse gases.
Among these proposals, he has committed £40 billion for green projects, with a view to creating 250,000 new jobs, with the unemployed being taught how to plant trees. This substantial offering is part of a bigger realisation by the government; it’s a potential vote winner among the young.
And to ensure he does not alienate too many of his Telegraph-reading support, he has committed an extra £4bn a year over the next four years to the UK military.
The Defence Secretary said that the £16.5 billion boost to military spending will allow “headspace” to think about how best to modernise the country’s armed forces. The move will generate 10,000 jobs a year and demonstrate willing to allies like the US, as we leave Europe.
The Tories are certainly shaking their magic money tree and there may be a reason they are not too concerned about the size of the potential debt.
I think it is now illegal to say that the world’s governments want us all locked at home for any other reason than to protect us from a virus that kills 0.1% of the people it infects. But strange things are happening. Especially to money.
In some Scandinavian countries, cash accounts for only around 10% of financial transactions and across Europe, the use of cash has dropped by around 60% since the pandemic started in early 2000. This is partly because people thought money might be contaminated, but also because all retailers now make it easy for us to buy goods using a card or phone.
This is the beginning of the end for cash, so what exactly will be its replacement?
A cryptocurrency, of which the best known is Bitcoin, is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology; a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
It’s not such a stretch of the imagination to think that, in the near future, paper money (a promise on paper to pay), will be replaced by virtual money.
Banks are doing deals with cryptocurrencies all over the world, and one of the most useful is XRP Ripple.
Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system, currency exchange and remittance network created by Ripple Labs Inc., a US-based technology company. Released in 2012, Ripple is built upon a distributed open source protocol, and supports tokens representing fiat currency, cryptocurrency, commodities, or other units of value such as frequent flier miles or mobile minutes. The ledger employs the native cryptocurrency known as XRP.
Ripple (XRP) plays dual roles as a payment platform and a currency.
Something big is happening to XRP, indeed, its share price went up by 40% only yesterday.
My unscientific belief is that the UK government, along with other world governments, has invested heavily in cryptocurrency, and especially, the XRP market, so are quite happy to bail out the country and its businesses for as long as required.