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Remind Me Again Why We Want to Brexit

by John Brian Shannon

The next general election in the United Kingdom is scheduled for May 5, 2022 and many are beginning to wonder whether Brexit will be completed by that date.

Of course, with a new Prime Minister at the helm starting July 23, 2019 there is the chance that injecting new blood into the ongoing Brexit debacle will finally get the UK over the line and at long last(!) allow the country to become all that it can and should be.

After 3-years of economic uncertainty that’s caused harm to the UK economy and to the other economies depending on a strong British economy (such as the Republic of Ireland) it will be refreshing to know that restoring the UK economy to the roaring lion it once was is on the horizon. And that’s a good thing.


Let’s Talk About the Benefits of Brexit for a Moment

With the passage of time, some Brexit benefits may have faded in the minds of some. Hey, you’re busy people and you’ve got lots on your mind, so let’s refresh, shall we?

  1. The UK will be able to sign as many free trade deals as it likes. Many countries including the Commonwealth of Nations countries, the USA, the CPTPP countries and more have all said they’d like free trading arrangements with the UK. Also, the African Union, MERCOSUR (an Atlantic Ocean-facing South American trade bloc) and the Pacific Alliance (a South American trade bloc fronting the Pacific Ocean) want trade deals with the UK in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe. GCC countries too, have expressed an interest in improved UK trade. Impressive, as those countries in totality represent about 4.5 billion citizens. And if you’re a moneygrubber like me, you don’t think of those people so much as ‘citizens’ of those countries, you think of them as ‘potential consumers’ of UK products and services. Hehe. (But if ‘we’ don’t fill their orders — then ‘some other country’ will) Consequently, if UK GDP doesn’t subsequently improve by £1 trillion within 5-years, Britain’s business community is doing it all wrong. Get used to seeing UK exporters selling record amounts of goods and services due to the new trade opportunities presented by Brexit.
  2. The UK will again control who is allowed to enter the country and be able (and allowed!) to properly police its borders in the same way that every normal country in the world polices their borders. At this point, the UK border force and the country’s police and security services have some rather large gaps in their information — as to who’s in or out of the country — due to the EU’s lax (irresponsible?) border and immigration policies. Commonwealth nations stand to gain the most from Brexit as many of them are rapidly developing nations whose young people may enjoy gaining streamlined access to seasonal work visas, returning home at the end of each season with some hard-earned cash in hand and a newfound appreciation for the opportunities the UK affords decent and hardworking Commonwealth citizens.
  3. The UK will again be in full control of its own laws and its courts. And no longer will a situation exist where the UK surrendered some of its hard-won sovereignty to a foreign power — which is expressly forbidden under the UK’s constitutional framework by the way. What kind of politicians would willingly surrender the sovereignty of their own country to a foreign power, and an economic competitor power at that? None! (Well, none… other than the pollyanna, globalist, snowflake generation of British politicians in power when the UK joined the European Union. And all of it done without the benefit of a referendum until 23-years later) Shameful in the extreme! Heads should roll. They won’t. They should. But as long as it gets straightened out before the next UK general election I’m fine with letting bygones be bygones.
  4. The UK will no longer pay an average net payment of £10 billion per year to the EU. Over 10-years that’s £100 billion (not £100 million, but billion!) Who could’ve negotiated such a deal? Only British-hating UK negotiators, that’s who.
  5. Cheaper food for UK consumers and a wider selection of goods from which to choose in the shops. This will occur due to the huge economies of scale of the North American marketplace and via the competition inherent within the EU marketplace, and from goods and services sourced from other continents.
  6. UK universities full and expanding due to higher enrolment from new free trade partner countries. And increased employment opportunities for British educators at UK universities is just one more benefit of Brexit.
  7. UK tourism operators will experience record year-on-year numbers as citizens from new trading partners become interested in the UK. For one example, if your Commonwealth son or daughter is working or studying in the UK, chances are you’ll end up in the UK at the holidays for a visit. And that’s good for UK tourism.
  8. UK hospitals will earn billions as patients from new trade partner countries travel to the UK for treatment. NHS expertise is highly respected around the world and Medical Doctors in other nations that have free trade agreements with the UK may have the option to send their patients to the UK for treatment. Billions that could be earned by the NHS are presently missed because no one is looking at this great cash-cow which could re-energize NHS budgets to a very high degree.
  9. The UK could dedicate its foreign aid spending to Commonwealth of Nations countries exclusively and keep the money in the family so to speak. The problem with foreign aid spending (as noble as it is for rich countries to help developing nations) is that once it’s spent, the UK will never see any benefit in return from such spending as the number of people who know which foreign aid donor funded this or that project in their nation is very small. Sometimes only a handful of people are in the know. But if the UK decided to spend their entire foreign aid budget in Commonwealth nations exclusively, the UK would become known as a major financier in their projects (projects that create much-needed jobs for citizens in developing nations) and the UK would gain recognition as a force for good in that country. PR like that you can’t buy from a public relations firm! It’s called, ‘Brand Loyalty’. Thenceforth expect UK companies to export more goods to each of those countries as disposable income rises among their population.
  10. Abolishing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) “The CAP costs British taxpayers twice over – once through subsidies paid to farmers and twice by keeping food prices artificially high. OECD data suggests EU farm prices are around 5% above world prices and our estimates based on this data suggest UK consumers pay around £2billion per year in higher prices due to the CAP.” AND: Abolishing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) “The UK fishing industry could potentially double in size after Brexit, as the UK takes full control of a natural resource which currently is mostly harvested by EU boats. Estimates by Napier (2018) and others suggest a rise in catch of up to £700m-800m per year which with positive supply chain effects could see a total boost to output of around £3bn per year – already offsetting a third of the possible trade losses.”BrexitCentral

How’s That For a Few Benefits of the UK’s pending Brexit from the EU?

There are more benefits, of course. But for now, let’s agree that 3-years of Brexit dithering has cost the UK economy plenty and has negatively impacted countries whose economies depend on a healthy UK economy, and that it’s time for UK politicians to get their act together and deliver what ‘The People’ voted for in the June 23, 2016 referendum.

Whether you think ‘The People’ are right or wrong is wholly irrelevant. What matters, is democracy. And either the UK is a democratic nation or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways.

So, let’s decide right now to make a success of Brexit and just get on with it.

Image courtesy of LondonThamesPort.co.uk

Why the Commonwealth needs a space programme

by John Brian Shannon

Exploring space is fun, isn’t it?

From the Sputnik launch in 1957, to the Apollo mission putting man on the Moon in 1969, to the two Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 that are now the farthest human-made objects to travel from Earth, to the Mars rovers ‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ and other great projects — all these programmes succeeded far beyond their designers best expectations.

The most recent space programmes concentrate on researching the nearest star, the Sun, which emits heat and light (and very dangerous) molten plasma that flies into space at thousands of miles per hour. These ‘Coronal Mass Ejections’ (CME) are ejected from the Sun and are occasionally 100-times the size of the Earth.

“NASA and the ESA are developing missions that will allow us to explore our own Sun like never before. These missions, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Solar Orbiter, will explore closer to the Sun than any previous mission. In so doing, it is hoped that they will resolve decades-old questions about the inner workings of the Sun.

“These missions – which will launch in 2018 and 2020, respectively – will also have significant implications for life here on Earth. Not only is sunlight essential to life as we know it, solar flares can pose a major hazard for technology that humanity is becoming increasingly dependent on. This includes radio communications, satellites, power grids and human spaceflight. — Universe Today


Aside from the NASA and the ESA ‘Cool Science’ stuff – We Need to Track ‘Boring’ Objects on Collision-course with Earth

While all of the above is endlessly fascinating, the gaping hole in space exploration (which should concern everyone who lives on the planet) is the millions of space rocks (asteroids) and comets that pass by and sometimes hit the Earth.

The Earth is hit by meteorites (bits of space rock and ice) every day of the year. Most fall harmlessly into the world’s oceans as water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and thousands of them have been recovered from the ice sheets in Antarctica, Greenland and Siberia where they appear as small black rocks on the ice in plain view. You can pick up a handful of them in some parts of Antarctica in less than an hour.

Some asteroids are as large as 1/5th the size of the Moon (but those ones are easy to spot and have very stable orbits, meaning we don’t have to worry about them, ever) while millions of them are the size of the Empire State Building in New York and could wreak considerable damage if they were to impact the Earth at their usual 24,000 miles per hour impact speed.

If a skyscraper-sized object impacted Antarctica we’d barely know about it — but if one were to impact within 100 miles of any city we’d know! — the entire city might be destroyed especially if it hit the ocean near any coastal city, or if it hit a nuclear power station or even a hydro-electric dam where the impact could destroy the dam, causing severe flooding.

Read how asteroid impacts could harm humans living far from the impact site (The Express)

The thing is, we know the trajectories of only a fraction of them!

Yet, the dinosaurs were wiped out by a rock from space 65-million years ago, and only small mammals and birds that lived or nested underground (and some species of fish) were spared.

Few humans live underground it must be pointed out.

Which is exactly why we need a dedicated asteroid observatory in space to collect data on asteroids and comets in our neighbourhood!

Read about the Statue of Liberty-sized asteroid named “2010 WC9” that hurtled past Earth, May 15, 2018 (The Smithsonian)

Watch an actual GIF of “2010 WC9” as it passed by the Earth on May 15, 2018 (Slooh)


We Need a Geosynchronous Space Station to Track near-Earth Objects

While NASA and the ESA concentrate on the fascinating planets, various moons, and our Sun (and NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the ESA’s Solar Orbiter will provide excellent realtime knowledge of the Sun and of CME’s that could potentially hit the Earth) and with both China and Japan mounting missions to the Moon a huge opportunity presents itself for the UK and its Commonwealth partners to save Earth from asteroidal or cometary impacts.

Although tiny groups of people are working to detect objects likely to impact us, typically they notify media outlets as the object passes or within a day or two of it passing the Earth — for the simple reason there are millions of asteroids in our space neighbourhood and they are difficult to spot, especially when black rocks are coming at us from black space with glare from the Sun blinding terrestrial observers.

Once they have passed by, we can more easily see them from the side that is illuminated by the Sun. But that would be much too late in the case of objects on a direct collision course with the Earth. We’d be hit before we could see them!

Such Extinction Level Events (ELE) are relatively uncommon, but a large asteroid or comet could hit us at any moment, or not for 100 years. Why sit around waiting for another ELE, when we may soon have the ability to deflect them from hitting our planet?

Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona

“Aerial view of Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. This crater is ~1.2 km in diameter and ~170 meters deep. The crater is the result of an impact of a 40- to 50-meter iron-nickel asteroid roughly 50,000 years ago.”NASA

Near-Earth asteroid “2010 WC9” that passed by our planet on May 15, 2018 is twice the size of the meteorite that created Meteor Crater in Winslow, Arizona.

For a direct comparison of the consequences of a Statue of Liberty-sized impactor, we need to consider the 1908 Tunguska Event which scientists say was caused by a meteorite of similar size to “2010 WC9”.

Read a great article about the Tunguska Event (NASA)

EXCERPT: “While testimonials may have at first been difficult to obtain, there was plenty of evidence lying around.

Eight hundred square miles of remote forest had been ripped asunder. Eighty million trees were on their sides, lying in a radial pattern.” — NASA


Using Parallax to Detect Objects in near-Earth Space

Many space objects pass by us without us knowing and it’s sheer dumb luck that we haven’t been wiped out by a large space rock as the dinosaurs were millions of years ago. In fact, there is evidence that there have been more than one mass-extinction event caused by asteroid impact in the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, something that itself, is still being studied.

Trying to see black objects in black space heading toward us is folly

Even with our modern instrumentation and optics, we’re lucky to catch one-out-of-every-thousand of these wanderers. By setting up a permanent geosynchronous space station (geosynchronous means 22,236 miles above the Earth) the people in the space laboratory will see a much different view of objects hurtling through space on a collision-course with Earth.

At the geosynchronous orbit, such rocky loners would be much easier to spot and record, as they will be backlit by the Sun during part of their orbit around the inner solar system where we live.

It would cost billions of dollars to operate such a space station — yet the very survival of humankind could be at stake.

Whether it is 10-years or 100-years before our planet is hit by a major or medium-sized asteroid or comet now is the time to get ‘out there’ and get tracking all of these nearly invisible objects (from the view of the Earth) to determine which of them will hit us on their next pass.


India Advanced Rocket Programme + UK Advanced Payload Programme

India has a rocket programme advanced enough to allow the country to launch payloads to Mars.

Perhaps UK leaders could convince India to be partners in saving the Earth from asteroid impact and by splitting the costs among all Commonwealth of Nations countries, the Commonwealth could conceivably save all life from extinction.

If India provides the launch vehicle and launch facilities, other Commonwealth partners like the UK, Australia and New Zealand could supply the space station exoskeleton and the other technologies required for people to survive in a remote-ish space station.

Commonwealth partner Canada could supply a double-ended Canadarm (similar to what the NASA Space Shuttle delivered to the International Space Station) to facilitate movement of various space station modules and to assist resupply spacecraft docking at the Commonwealth space station, along with supplying sophisticated asteroidal and cometary identification and tracking technologies.

Non-Commonwealth countries may want to contribute to the asteroid/comet knowledge base — and some may offer to add their own modules and crews to the Commonwealth’s geosynchronous space station. Hey, the more the better!

For now, even an unmanned geosynchronous satellite designed to track potentially dangerous objects that could go up this year would be 1000-times more effective than the ‘system’ we have now for tracking potentially dangerous asteroids and comets. And in the future when we’ve studied these objects and understand them more fully, we will devise surefire ways to deflect them from impacting our planet.

Each year, more modules with greater capability could be added to the geosynchronous satellite, and within 5-years a permanently manned module could be attached.

ANYTHING is better than what we have now, which is almost nothing!


A Time to Lead

I respectfully urge the leaders of Commonwealth countries to make this dramatic and much-needed entrance into space for the greater good of humankind and to serve to further deepen the links between Commonwealth member nations.

So much good has come about from space exploration since 1957 and there is much more to come, but for that… we need to ensure the survival of the human race.

Therefore, let us go forward together on what may become perhaps the most important mission ever undertaken by our human civilization.


Visit www.asteroidday.org for more information about the asteroids in our solar system.


 

A New Era for the Commonwealth of Nations

by John Brian Shannon

As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union over the next few months, the historical and ongoing ties Britain has with the Commonwealth of Nations organization are expected to dramatically increase in importance.

In the decades since 1972 when the UK joined the European Community (EC) Britain’s primary engagement was with its EC partners, while its Commonwealth partnerships dwindled.

But a dramatic reversal is in the making.

The acting Queen of the United Kingdom and head of the Commonwealth, Elizabeth II recently approved her son Prince Charles to soon succeed her as the head of the Commonwealth of Nations organization, and also approved Prince Harry to be a Commonwealth youth ambassador.

Both appointments were warmly received by Commonwealth leaders at the recent Commonwealth Heads of Government (GHOGM) meeting in London in April 2018.

It shows that the organization still values the contribution of the British Royal Family and seemingly wants to increase trade and political ties to the UK — almost as much as the UK wants to get cracking on trade matters with the 2.5 billion member bloc.

Rarely is there such a clear case of ‘Win-Win’ convergence in geopolitics, but this is a relationship that was born to succeed.

More on Commonwealth matters next week!


A Royal (and Fun for Everyone!) Wedding Today at Windsor Castle

In the meantime; Heartfelt congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who were married today at Windsor Castle. Harry now becomes the Duke of Sussex, while Meghan is henceforth the Duchess of Sussex.

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle May 19, 2018

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.

They are a fascinating couple who are certain to make their very positive mark on the Commonwealth of Nations, on the United Kingdom, and on the rest of the Royal Family. Godspeed and good wishes to Harry and Meghan!