Oh No! Not Another Royal Wedding!

As Britain braces itself for a ‘winter of discontent’, with students taking to the streets in violent protest and trade unions threatening to organise waves of strikes in protest at the even bigger waves of state sector redundancies on the way, Buckingham Palace today announced that the second in line to the throne, Prince William is to marry long term girlfriend, Kate Middleton. The marriage is set to take place early next year, and for those of us old enough to remember the last Royal wedding between Charles and Diana, the coming nuptials are littered with rich irony.

My first reaction at the news was ‘Oh no, not another bloody Royal wedding!’ And then I stopped myself. This isn’t because I have gone all soft and gooey in my middle years; I remain a Republican, albeit a Republican who respects Britain’s current Head of State, Queen Elizabeth – or Elizabeth Windsor to give her her correct name. I would much prefer her as Head of State than Richard Branson, Simon Cowell or Victoria Beckham, whom the public might vote for given half a chance. It is because simply ranting on about the expensive spectacle provided by a hereditary Monarchy in the early years of the 21st century, and being all po–faced about it, isn’t going to get me anywhere. Alright, part of me thinks that the whole wedding thing has been dreamed up by the British Establishment to act as a diversion to the shrinking, shivering Britain we will inhabit next year. But then, so what? Even if it has been, next year’s Royal wedding will make a lot of people quite happy, revelling as they will do in the escapism that it offers. So why should people like me rain on their parade?

Back in 1981, as Britain’s dole queues lengthened to three million and rioting disfigured the streets of many of the country’s inner cities, the then leader of the Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone, organised a ‘Not the Royal Wedding Festival’ in Brockwell Park, London. I don’t remember a great deal about the event, because most of it passed in a haze of dope, or should I say ‘day of hope’, but I do vaguely recall Ken Livingstone receiving huge applause for his speech. Revisiting that speech, here is what he had to say; “I can't think of a more appalling contrast between this wedding bean feast and what is happening in Ireland”. Bravo Ken!

Well that was then, and this is now. Charles and Diana did get married. The nation did largely celebrate, well with the exception of some ne’er do wells in Brockwell Park and a smattering of others including, as I recall, a Yorkshire miner whose dog was called ‘Cromwell’. Charles and Diana then got divorced, and Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in Paris. That much is ancient history. But lo! Here is my old friend Ken Livingstone, the great survivor of British politics, former leader of the Greater London Council and twice Mayor of London and now bidding for a third term of office – still with us!

Will Ken stick to his Republican principles? Even better, will Ken organise another ‘Not the Royal Wedding party’ in Brockwell Park? Afterall, we minorities should be catered for!

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less