Saturday, 12 January 2019

Was Marko Arnautovic waving goodbye as West Ham send Arsenal packing at the London Stadium

West Ham 1-0 Arsenal

West Ham deserved victory in this hard fought London derby, battling Arsenal to a standstill by the end.
The home side were constantly harrying their north London opponents, never allowing them the time to settle and  build their fluid game from the back
The first half saw both sides, create chances but neither could provide the finishing touch.
Arsenal's best effort came from Alexandre  Lacazette, forcing keeper Lukasz Fabianski into a decent save low down to his right.
West Ham almost took the lead when an exchange between Marko Arnautovic and Sami Nasri, led to the latter laying the chance on for the incoming Felipe Anderson, who saw his effort skim wide of the post.
The second half was just three minutes old when Anderson's cross from the right was headed weakly out by the defender. It fell to the impressive Nasri, who cushioned the ball for the incoming Declan Rice to score his first Premiership goal.
Arsenal continued to press but were limited to a long range effort from Matteo Guendouzi.
Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny had the ball in rhe net in the dying minutes but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Arnautovic was substituted with 20 minutes left, waving to the crowd, in what many expect could be his last home game for the club.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini would not be drawn on the Arnautovic situation, again claiming the Austrian striker's back problems, as the reason for his withdrawal.
The manager was keener to talk about the man of the match performance from Rice. "I am sure Declan will be a top player. He improves with every game he plays. He is strong in one v ones and has a good technique," said Pellegrini."He will be a good player for West Ham and the national team."
Arsenal boss Unai Emery felt his side needed to improve control. He was also disappointed at the lack of chances his team created.
Emery remained tight lipped as to why the club's top wage earner Mesut Ozil was not even on the bench.

published - morning star - 13/1/2019

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Media have played major role in promoting climate change denial

The latest dire warning about the threat posed by climate change came recently from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which told of how the world has 12 years to stop temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees.

The effects, if this happens, will be catastrophic, bringing more droughts, floods, wars, water shortages and thousands of environmental refugees.

The delay in taking action to confront climate change, will also see the cost rise inexorably, going forward.

Most would have expected this bombshell of a report to hit the headlines, well not in the British press. Three papers put the story on their front page, the Times only thought it worthy of mention on page 13, whilst the Daily Mail failed to report it at all.

The Evening Standard editorialised on the report, without actually reporting what it said.

The broadcast media was better, with the BBC and ITN giving it lead story billing on news bulletins, with much analysis throughout the day.

The non-reporting of the IPCC report is merely the latest example of how the British media has failed over the years to convey the real danger posed by climate change.

Terror threats or atrocity stories always get top billing. Not so much the natural events that usually result in far more death and devastation. Indeed, for a long time it seemed that there was a conscious effort to not link such natural catastrophes to climate change.

The BBC has been a particular offender in failing to report the true gravity of the climate change threat.

For many years in the name of balance, the Corporation reported both sides of the story. So although 95% of scientists were saying that climate change was happening and would have devastating consequences, unless addressed, the small minority, often backed by the fossil fuel industry lobby, who denied that narrative, were given equal billing.

The Corporation were recently rebuked by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting guidelines in an interview on the Today programme with climate sceptic Nigel Lawson. In the interview, Lawson claimed “official figures” show that “during this past 10 years, if anything… average temperature has slightly declined.” The statement was later refuted by the Met Office.  The Ofcom ruling stated: "Statements made about the science of climate change were not challenged sufficiently during this interview, which meant the programme was not duly accurate."

The BBC ties itself up in its delusional views of balance but the simple truth of reporting is that if it is raining outside, the reporter really needs to go out and get the facts, not report one person who says it is raining, whilst someone else who says it isn’t.

The combined effect of this failure to report the true danger posed to humanity by climate change has been immensely damaging.

There have been many authoritative reports published over the years, but every time the danger has been played down with the constant caveat that there is another side - it may not be happening.

This has enabled politicians to put the issue on the back burner. Those like former Prime Minister David Cameron have sought to win green votes, with stunts like the riding with huskies, only once in power to talk of “getting rid of the green crap.”

The issue has been one that can be dealt with when the economy can afford it. So, in the good times, measures to combat climate change can be undertaken. But in bad times, they must be dropped.

The media has helped produce the mood music for the self-delusion, thereby doing an immense disservice to humanity.

Time is of the essence on climate change, urgent action has been required for at least the past couple of decades, however, the indolence encouraged by the media coverage has partly ensured that that action has not been taken.

The latest IPCC report’s dire warnings were intended in the main to get through to the politicians. The actions now required to deal with climate change require major decisions on switches to renewable energy and sustainable transport systems. In reality, we are probably talking about a complete change of economic model, if the planet is to be saved.

An economy not based on consumption and waste but preserving and reusing what we already have. A world where people need to drive and fly less and probably go vegetarian.

A world where fossil fuels stay in the ground. These are unpalatable truths for many industries, especially those involved with fossil fuel extractions, but they need to be faced and acted on by politicians in power today.

The media has a duty to report this often unpalatable reality to people across the world. The failure by many to even report the most recent IPCC report does not augur well. But going  on failing to report the true nature of the climate change threat will be a huge dereliction of duty on the part of our profession if it continues.

published - Morning Star - 19/12/2018

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Give us this day our daily bread.. but don't feed it to the birds

It was great to see so many people out over the Christmas and New Year breaks walking in the various parks.
The weather was mild for much of the time and when the sun came through it seemed almost like spring had sprung.
Whilst we all appreciate the natural environment unfortunately, at times, it gets abused. Wherever human beings go it seems a stream of litter follows. Why when people come into our natural green spaces do they not respect them, take their rubbish home or put it in the bins provided?
It was also concerning to see a number of people feeding bread to the birds. One couple in Wanstead Park were not only dishing out the bread but apparently teaching their daughter this was a good thing to do. It isn't. 
Bread is bad for the birds, it damages them internally. In addition, the bread not eaten, sinks to the bottom of the lakes creating more damage to the eco-system. 
This is not news, there has been much publicity about the damage bread does to birds and waterways. There are notices that explain but still some people keep doing it. 
Along by Eagle pond, despite the notices, some people arrive and start dumping their bread, causing untold damage. Just as with reducing plastic use we need to stop some of our other destructive practices.
If people want to feed the birds fine, buy the right products - grain etc, sold in supermatkets and pet shops. Use the bread for something else.
Finally, it'd be great if people came to our parks by foot, cycle or public transport if at all possible. For some going by car is the only way they can get there but this is a very small number of people. 
A park keeper was telling me recently how some people will drive 500 metres, park their car and get the dog out for a walk. Why? Surely, they could walk that 500 metres. The emissions created are helping destroy the planet, that we all depend on for life.
These are all small things but all can easily be changed.

published - Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 3 & 5/1/2019

Thursday, 3 January 2019

West Ham struggle for a point against Brighton at the London Stadium

West Ham 2-2 Brighton

West Ham will regard this as a well won point but must wonder what would have happened if they'd got on the front foot, prior to going two behind.
The opening half was a pretty non-descript affair, with the two sides largely cancelling each other out. The best chances fell to Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic but Brighton stopper David Button saved both efforts.
Seven minutes into the second half, Anderson broke forward from midfield but saw his shot from just outside the penalty area whistle inches wide of the right hand upright.
It then looked as though West Ham would rue the missed chances as the visitors struck twice in three minutes
First, Lukasz Fabianski punched out a corner that fell to Dale Stepens whose crisply hit shot found the net through a mass of players.
Then Issa Diop allowed Shane Duffy to get behind him and prod home another corner.
West Ham's fortunes were transformed when substitutes Mark Noble and Michail Antonio replaced Robert Snodgrass and Pedro Obiang. 
It was a Noble long ball that put Arnautovic in to poke home. Then a couple of minutes later, a Noble cross field ball found Antonio, who powered to the byline to pull the ball back for Arnautovic to fire into the roof of the net.
Another mazey run from Antonio, finished with him blasting over from a couple of yards.
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini was disappointed that Brighton scored two goals from corners. "It was very disappointing to concede from set pieces,"said Pellegrini, who confessed his team were aware of this Brighton strength but still let them score.
Brighton manager Chris Hughton was hugely disappointed to have conceded a two goal lead. "On the first half performance we were very good," said Hughton, who told how Brighton's immediate aim was to get the magic number of points to stay up, then put as many points as possible between themselves and the bottom three.

published - Morning Star - 3/1/2019

Friday, 28 December 2018

People need to come together in the New Year for the common good

The hope for the New Year must be that people start coming back together in the UK.

The upheaval that has been the Brexit process has split the country apart. There was the debate between those who wanted to stay in the EU and those who wanted to leave.

There was always going to be a loser and winner. The final margin of victory for leave was so small (4%) that implementation of the will of the people was always going to leave a large number (48%) of the country dissatisfied.

If there is a second referendum, with the vote going the other way, there will be equal dissatisfaction on the leave side.

The Brexit debate also brought the racism present in society to the fore. Attitudes that many had thought went with the 1970s, resurfaced, with the referendum vote seemingly providing licence for some to be openly racist to fellow citizens and those coming in from other countries.

Whatever some might say the anti-migrant atmosphere that had been growing over the years leading up to the referendum was the major force driving Brexit.

The terrain was prepared largely by cowardly politicians unwilling to highlight the benefits of immigration to the country. Media also played its part, continually framing the debate in the negative terms of which party promised to reduce the number coming here by the most.

For a number of newspapers, simply economics dictated that anti-migrant (racist) headlines sold papers.

Another division that has grown due to the Brexit debate has been that between old and young. There has been a constant line advanced that old people voted to leave, betraying the young, who in the main voted to stay.

The actual evidence of these voting patterns seems a little flimsy.

The young versus old debate though is one that has been being forumulated in the media over a number of years. It goes that the older, baby boomer generation had it all – secure well paid jobs, houses and a clean environment. Because they had/have it the young people are being denied.

The construct is palpably wrong there are a few rich older and a few rich younger people. Equally, there are many more poor old and young people just striving to survive.

The division is an intergenerational one of class, between a few who have most (1%) and the many (99%) who have less.

It is the need to split this overall cake more fairly across the board that should be the focus, not setting one generation against the other.

Moving forward into the New Year, the country needs to come together between generations, races and creeds. We all have more in common and will prosper from coming together in community, rather than heading off into sealed off silos getting resentful toward others perceived as being on the other side. They are not we are all in it together and need to look out for each other at all times  

published - Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 27 & 29/12/2018

Sunday, 23 December 2018

West Ham rue missed chances as Watford take all three points at the London Stadium

West Ham 0-2 Watford

West Ham were left wondering what might have been in this hard fought London derby.
The home team started with the attitude of a side who had just won four games on the trot and thought they only needed to turn up for this one to make it five.
Watford pressured, right across the pitch, getting their reward on the half hour when Fabian Balbuena pulled down Roberto Pereyra for a penalty. Troy Deeney converted.
West Ham came out brighter in the second half, with Michail Antonio hitting the post with a header from a Robert Snodgrass corner.
The usually clinical Javier Hernandez missed two clear chances right in front if goal, both times being set up by Antonio.
The best chance for West Ham came when a cross from substitute Grady Diangana was headed goalward by Snodgrass, who saw the deflected effort pushed out by Ben Foster. Then with the goal at his mercy Antonio somehow managed to head onto the bar.
But Watford were always dangerous, with Lukasz Fabianski pulling off point blank saves to foil Abdoulaye Doucoure and Deeney.
So with three minutes of normal time left, and Andy Carroll having just seen his header tipped over, Pereyra and Gerard Deulofeu combined for the latter to finish with ease in the area.
West Ham manager Manuel Pelegrini felt his team were unlucky not to at least get a draw from the game.
The manager though was not too downbeat stating that if he'd been told he'd be on the present points total (24) at this stage of the season, after the four defeats at the start, he'd have been happy.
He was also optimistic that talismanic striker Marko Arnautovic would "soon" be back from injury.
Watford boss Javi Garcia underlined how his team had "scored. goals and created clear chances."
He felt they could have had more but for Fabianski's " two very good saves."
"Today, all the time we were very very organised," said Garcia, who felt his team had"solidarity and ambition."
He paid tribute to captain Deeney for his "commitment"and Pereyra for "always keeping a good level."

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Make 2019 the year you only buy what you need

Christmas is a time of celebration, when friends and family come together (and sometimes fall out).  A time of joy.

It is often too a time of excess. Waste of all types from food to plastic and paper being produced on a huge scale.

So Christmas should also be a time for reflection on how we live, maybe with a view to making resolutions to live more environmentally sustainably in the New Year.

The challenge for us all going forward is to live more simply, treading more lightly on the earth. This means reversing much of the consumption based economic model that rules today.

It is estimated that 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfill in the UK each year. In the US, 40% of food produced goes to waste.

This is at a time when millions struggle to feed themselves, what a scandal.

At the very least this food should be being redirected to charitable causes like food banks. However, the real challenge is to stop over producing food. Why not just buy what we need, make sure we are not throwing food away?

It might mean shops stocking less but is that not better than throwing it away.

The plastics crisis has reached epidemic proportions. David Attenborough’s excellent Blue Planet series underlined the seriousness of the situation, with animals imbibing plastics, as well as getting tangled up in the stuff. The planet is literally choking.

We need to stop producing plastic and excess food , simply recycling is not enough.

There are signs of positive change.

One of the most encouraging developments have been moves made by many high streets to go plastic free. It is an ambition we should pursue in Wanstead as part of the new environmental charter initiative.

There are plenty of people out there keen to see Wanstead high street go plastic free but they need a response from business.  

The shops have a key role to play in making our environment a more environmentally sustainable place to live.

The supermarket Budgens has shown the way, with its shop in Camden aiming to go “virtually plastic free” within three years. Some 1700 products at the store have switched to plastic free packaging.

Imagine if our supermarkets in Wanstead took such a step, the people would no doubt flock to support such an initiative.

These type of moves need to be our resolutions going forward.

At present humankind is choking the earth, with its destructive way of life. The time has come to reverse this way of living, looking to a simpler more sustainable mode of existence that co-exists sustainably with those other creatures, with which we share the planet.

Published - Wanstead & Woodford Guardian - 20/12/2018