History made as Kamala Harris is chosen as Biden’s VP
Joe Biden has chosen his running mate for the Presidential election in November. He had already committed to choosing a woman as his running mate, and has now set another precedent by choosing Kamala Harris, who will be the first black woman to be nominated for the Vice-Presidency. I hope this can usher in an age in America and around the world where someone’s gender is not considered at all when making a decision like this. Rather, their competence is at the forefront of the decision. Much will be made of Harris’ ethnicity, but I really do not think it should matter. What’s far more important is her record as a prosecutor in California, her record as a California attorney general, her record as a senator. The colour of someone’s skin should have been excluded as any sort of criteria for any sort of job long ago.
America is nearly 250 years old. You would think that by now, the great democratic experiment of Earth would have progressed to the point where someone’s gender or race wouldn’t come into consideration. But the progress is there now. Harris is tough as well. She’ll be able to duck, weave and weather the avalanche of bile thrown her way. Already, Trump is giving time to a conspiracy theory that Harris is not eligible to be on the Democratic ticket, similar to how he promoted the conspiracy that President Obama was not born in the United States. Biden is looking for someone to counter his age on the ticket. Kamala Harris will be coming into her political prime. How any dynamic between them as President and Vice-President would work and Harris will have a role in as Veep is unclear. I do think Biden has made the right choice for his running mate. A woman who has worked tirelessly and will continue to work tirelessly to make America a better country for all its people.
European football throws some spanners into the works
Well, there was plenty to talk about in European football this week. Major sides were dumped out unceremoniously and there were plenty of surprises. Paris Saint-Germain looked to be on their way to a shock defeat against Atalanta before their retinue of world class players dug themselves out of a hole in added time. RB Leipzig continued their own unexpected journey with victory over Atletico Madrid, who had earlier sent the holders Liverpool crashing out. Then came the two real shocks of the week, as Barcelona, one of the most successful clubs in European football in the 21st century, were humiliated by Bayern Munich. 8-2 was the final score. They were four down after less than half an hour. Bayern Munich are a very good footballing side. Especially since Hansi Flick took charge of the side, they look like the Bayern of old. However, this is the lowest I have ever seen Barcelona. The players aren’t playing for the manager, who is almost certain to be sacked. It’s also an aging squad, one that will need to be overhauled sometime soon, and at a great financial loss when you factor in how much money it cost to construct it.
Then both Manchester sides fell to the wayside as well. This was maybe Manchester City’s best chance yet to win the Champions League and would have rubbed even more salt into UEFA’s gaping wound after City’s ban from European competition was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. They would have had to overcome some very good teams in Bayern, Leipzig and PSG but their squad is so strong, so full of quality and the manager so experienced at winning everything that is on offer that you would have thought they would take full advantage and win their first Champions League title. Instead Guardiola seemed to take all energy, creativity and drive out of the side and they were caught out. Lyon caught them on the counter to set up a Franco-German semi-final on each side of the draw. The red half of Manchester also suffered disappointment (which I am totally not laughing my arse off at like an immature Chelsea fan, no, no, no) as United lost their Europa League semi-final against Sevilla. They had only just squeaked past FC Copenhagen in the quarters and their defeat shows that while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made good progress with his team this season just gone, there is a long way to go for the Red Devils to go before they are challenging for Premier League titles regularly again. The gap to Manchester City and Liverpool is a big one and will take time to close.
What the hell were the government doing with A-level results?
I can’t pretend to know too much about the subject anymore, it’s six years since I went through the same thing. But the government use of an algorithm rather than teacher assessment and coursework seems to me to be completely absurd. Surely, they can trust a teacher to do that part of their job well enough. They aren’t professional exam markers but they are aware of what will score well and are with students all school year and will get a feeling for what they are capable of. They have reversed that decision today and are going off of teacher assessment, which is the only thing they could have done, similarly to Scotland. And, as with Scotland, the areas that seemed to be targeted were the poorer parts of the country, where the schools are often among the lowest ranked in the country which simply disadvantages millions of students through no fault of their own. This is an unprecedented time for everyone and everything, but the attitude to something like this should always have been to try and help as many as possible, not completely shaft them at a crucial juncture in their lives. That by no means should be a licence to throw top grades at all and sundry, but if a student is predicted As and Bs, give them As and Bs, regardless of where their school is