Grieving and Living: What Abi Taught Us – WORD Christchurch

Lucy Hone. Image supplied
Lucy Hone. Image supplied

‘Buy This Book’. I have never, in all the many blogs I have written started a blog with these three words.

Lucy Hone wrote What Abi Taught Us after the traumatic death of her 12 year old daughter Abi in a car accident. Abi left the house to go for a drive with family friends. And she never came back. How does one cope with a life event like this?

Standing alone centre stage, without even the use of the podium provided, Lucy Hone reached out to all of us to share her strategies for survival in the face of one of life’s crueller events.

She made us think about what resilience meant to us, that it is not a suit of armour that you don, but rather a way of leaning into pain and hardship that allows us to feel the emotion while continuing to function in our lives, which just carry right on.

She used her studies in Psychology and  qualifications in Resilience Psychology to work out what strategies we need to nurture our own mental health – even in the face of the unthinkable.  The three Determinants of Happiness are: 50% from your genetic start point ( the Mum and Dad stuff), 10% from outside influences (winning the lotto or surviving an earthquake) and 40% from our own thoughts and actions. And it is in that wriggle room of 40% that Hone has developed the five strategies that we all need:

What Abi Taught UsStrategy 1 – Choose where you focus your attention

We don’t have infinite processing capacity. Our brains can only manage 7 pieces of information at a time. Genetically (and understandably, for survival’s sake) we are hard-wired to notice the bad stuff. We need to practise noticing what is going well. People who have higher gratitude scores have better well-being. Lucy has a sign in her kitchen – a bright pink poster and on it the words: ACCEPT THE GOOD. She refers to it often.

Strategy 2 – Never Lose Hope

Lucy paid tribute to the building we were in – the brand new The Piano – as a concrete manifestation of hope for Christchurch. She stressed how important it is to recognise that we all have some big hopes and many smaller ones. When tragedy occurs, turn to your smaller hopes. Ask yourself: What am I hoping for now? It may be something very small. Go for that smaller hope.

Strategy 3 – Nurture Your Relationships

Good relationships are a great predictor of happiness. Be careful with your communications, even when you are in pain. It takes 5 positive interactions to cancel out one negative communication. The negative is unfortunately very powerful.

Strategy 4 – Ask yourself: Is this thing helping or harming me?

Lucy and her husband chose not to view the motor vehicle in which Abi lost her life. They asked themselves this question and the answer was No, this will not help. It is a very simple tool. It will help you get up out of bed, put one foot in front of the next and grieve and function at the same time.

Strategy 5 – Understand that struggle is a part of life

Sometimes we just have to be brave. Sometimes the happy FaceBook version of our life is so far from the truth. We have to allow ourselves to feel sad. Resilience Therapy understands that the bad stuff will happen – just don’t get stuck in one emotional state for too long. Try not to bottle it up. Lucy worried that she might cry in this presentation. Then she thought – So What. Crying is just crying. She grieves while simultaneously living.

Abi loved the book Allegiant from the Divergent Trilogy and had highlighted a passage from it. Lucy found this passage after Abi had died. She sees what she is doing as being like a line from that highlited quote, that she is making:

the slow walk towards a better life

There was not a dry eye in the Concert Hall at 12pm.

Thank you for talking to us Lucy.

More WORD Christchurch

RIP Jean Aunty

Author Jean Watson, who was recently featured in the  documentary Aunty and the Star People, died in Wellington yesterday 28 December 2014.

Ms Watson wrote several novels. Stand in the Rain, which was published in 1965 and which was partly based on her marriage to writer Barry Crump, was her first and most well-known.

However, in the last 28 years or so, her focus was split between writing and philanthropic work in Tamil Nadu in Southern India, where she set up, funded and helped run a home for disadvantaged children. It was there that she acquired the affectionate name of Jean Aunty.  She wrote about the experience in Karunai Illam: The Story of an Orphanage.

My colleague Lisa was lucky enough to see Jean Watson at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival in August. Lisa’s blog post about the session is fascinating. While the focus of the talk was on Watson’s involvement in Karunai Illam, as depicted in Aunty and the Star People, I particularly enjoyed reading Jean’s comments on a number of New Zealand luminaries, including her description of Dennis Glover as a “very sort of sarcastic, open person”. He apparently called her a “middle-aged Ophelia”.

Jean Watson at WORD
Jean Watson in conversation with Gerard Smyth (director of Aunty and the Star People) at the WORD Festival, 29 August 2014,


Trying to disentangle the poverty and inequality issue – WORD Christchurch

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival featured two people who have worked hard to dissect the issues of poverty and inequality in New Zealand – political scientist Dr Bronwyn Hayward and journalist and author Max Rashbrooke.

Cover of InequalityBoth have recently had books published on these topics and provided some interesting insights about the nature of inequality and poverty in NZ.

Unless you have been hangin’ with the Taliban in a cave somewhere in the arid Afghani wilderness, you’ve probably been hearing lots about the political and economic topics of Poverty and Inequality in New Zealand. Particularly Child Poverty.

Poverty and Inequality are labels which Kiwis probably never thought would be applied to economic and social life in our precious little liberal democracy here in the South Pacific, besides, as long as we have alcohol, rugby, league, cricket, Richie McCaw, hair straighteners and sunny summers, then everything else just seamlessly plops into place right? Well, um, no. Not really.

The reality of inequality in New Zealand is a bitter pill to swallow, and after years of seeing the adverts of aid organizations on TV depicting skinny and deprived children born into environments of famine or conflict (or both) throughout the world, people seem to find it insulting to hear we have poverty here.

Maybe whoever started the discourse on poverty should have given it another more palatable title, like, um, Chronic Economic Deprivation, or Ongoing Financial Insufficiency, but chances are people wouldn’t accept this either. Perhaps its because poverty and inequality are hard things to define and measure , and we can probably blame academics for providing too many working definitions with no continuity. However, one place to start is with the assertion that in the last 30 years in New Zealand, “incomes for people at the top 10% have doubled, while those at the lowest end have barely increased” according to Max Rashbrooke’s website

Cover of Children, citizenship, and environmentBoth Dr Hayward and Mr Rashbrooke point out that much of what we see now in terms of inequality can be traced back to around 30 years ago, when we were told by various economists that “a rising tide will lift all boats”. Basically, the Labour Government, under the financial direction of Finance Minister Roger Douglas, drove us into an era of “Neo-Liberalism” (or “Rogernomics”) which “rolled back the State” with a program of deregulation, the removal of government subsidies and tariffs to various sectors of the economy (such as agriculture), and other key changes.

One significant change was to reduce the marginal tax rate from 66 cents in the dollar to 33, and as taxes were cut for the top earners in the country (with those at the bottom paying more via GST etc) we were hoping that those enjoying the “rising tide”, such as businesses and top earners paying less tax and facing less outgoings, would have more money to throw around and people at the bottom end would be employed and paid more as a result. However, income disparity and inequality has arguably increased ever since.

Both Dr Hayward and Mr Rashbrooke contend that the issues we are facing now in New Zealand (and other parts of the world) are fundamentally manifestations of these “neo-liberal” economic policies, and that there are two key dimensions to the inequality/poverty issue:

A. People have less to live on than ever, and everyone in society is paying the price regardless of how well off you are, due to crime and mental, emotional and physical health issues which affect us all.

B, richer people with more discretionary income enjoy a higher degree of political agency than the rest of us because they have more time, money, resources and connections through which they push their economic and social preferences at us all via lobbying government.

Its hard to get a clear picture on all this, as there are a plethora of indicators and measures relating to the subjects of poverty and inequality in New Zealand, however, some findings do suggest there was some positive change in NZ for a period, which some political and economic commentators point to as progress, confusing us all the more.

Key findings about income according to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD)

From a longer term perspective, median incomes fell in real terms from the late 1980s to a low point in 1994, and have been steadily rose at an average of 2.5% pa. By 2001, the median income had just returned to its 1988 levels.

According to the MSD, from 2001 to 2007 median household incomes rose 14% in real terms, but interestingly, from 2004 to 2007 “incomes for low to middle income households rose much more quickly than incomes for higher income households”

The MSD goes on to state that on all measures, the poverty rates for children declined from 2004 to 2007.

– The child poverty rate fell from 23% in 2004 to 16% in 2007. This reduction continued a downward trend that began in 1994 (35%), stalled from 1998 to 2001 and has continued downward from 2001 (29%) to 2007 (16%).

– Poverty rates for children in families with at least one adult in paid employment almost halved (from 15% to 8%) from 2004 to 2007, while for children in families with no adult in paid employment the rate remained steady at close to 60%

– In 2004, of all children identified as poor, around half were from households where at least one adult was in full-time paid employment – in 2007, this proportion had dropped to just over a third.

– Poverty rates for children in sole parent households fell from 56% to 49%, and for children in two parent households the rate almost halved, from 17% to 9%.

Interestingly, reported information from other OECD countries shows that with the child poverty rate for New Zealand being around 15.1%, New Zealand has a ranking of 20th out of 30 countries, a rate a little above the OECD median (12%) and similar to that of Ireland, Germany, Canada and Japan.

Which leads us to another thing.

New Zealand entered into recession in 2007/8 before the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). So, in a way we arguably led the world in economic mismanagement. Further to that, according to the NZ Treasury’s 2008 Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update, the effects of the GFC started to set in to the New Zealand economy. And then there were the Canterbury earthquakes. So, the perfect economic and social storm began to ferment over N.Z., and the economy and the citizens which dwell therein have been layered and laced with economic hardship for which few of us, or our government, seemed prepared. This caused the progress in poverty and gains in the median household income (which fell by 3% in the space of a year in 201-2011) to go backward according to the MSD, and this at the worst possible time when the price of many key essentials (housing, food, petrol) has gone up markedly in a small space of time, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Therefore, while there is debate about the nature of economic deprivation in NZ, what has become clear is that despite fluctuations in household incomes over the years, when Kiwi households do experience (internal/external) financial and economic shocks, poorer households are not insulated from such problems in the same way that the rich are. And it doesn’t take long for things to go sour for many of us.

For a more in depth picture of what’s going on, be sure to check out Bronwyn Hayward’s and Max Rashbrooke’s books and other works.

Key links

Bronwyn Hayward – Children, Citizenship and Environment

Max Rashbrooke Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis



Creating Worlds – Young Adult Readings at WORD Christchurch

Cover of Daughter of Smoke and BoneI kicked off a very full weekend at the WORD festival with some good old oral storytelling. Listening to stories read aloud is one of my earliest memories and my memories sitting in early intermediate school captivated by The Giver and terrified by Goosebumps are much easier to recall than what we learned in class afterwards…

Creating Young Adult Worlds was a great session, with five authors writing for young adults reading aloud from their work. Karen Healey, Laini Taylor, Meg Wolitzer, Elizabeth Knox and Tania Roxborogh gave us all a taste.

Laini Taylor read “the most embarrassing” chapter from the first book in her incredible fantasy trilogy Daughter of Smoke and Bone, in which art student Karou gets a satisfying revenge on her ex-boyfriend. The passage went from hilarious to heartbreaking in the space of a sentence, and included some pretty excellent life advice from a monster:

But here’s one. It’s simple. Don’t put anything unnecessary into yourself. No poisons or chemicals, no fumes or smoke or alcohol, no sharp objects, no inessential needles–drug or tattoo–and…no inessential penises either.

Karen Healey read from a short story ‘Careful Magic’ which will appear in an up-and-coming anthology Kaleidoscope. Within minutes she crafted an intriguing magical world and a few really fascinating characters that I can’t wait to read more about. Kaleidoscope is a collection of sci-fi and fantasy short stories featuring diverse characters, from disabled superheros, time-traveling Chinese-American figure skaters, to transgendered animal shifters. It’s is not in our library yet, so while you’re waiting why not catch up with Karen Healey’s other novels and short stories?

Elizabeth Knox read a passage from her historical-fantasy novel Mortal Fire, based in Southland, an imaginary country similar to New Zealand, which will be known to readers of her Dreamhunter series. Mortal Fire won the New Zealand Post Book Awards this year for best Young Adult Fiction. The story features some really interesting characters, though my favourite is Canny, daughter of a war heroine, Pacifica maths whiz and stubborn as anything.

“People get over things, cultures don’t.”

Cover of Mortal Fire Cover of Third Degree Cover of Belzhar

Tania Roxborogh read from the 2005 novel The Third Degree. The story is based on the author’s real experience of being badly burned when she was young and strongly features her relationship with her mother. Though the story begins when main character Ruth is starting university, many of the themes will be familiar to anyone who had to spend time in hospital as a child. There were some excellently gruesome medical scenes!

If I had to choose out of the five, I’d say that I am most excited to read Meg Wolitzer‘s new book Belzhar. I couldn’t describe it better than Karen Healey did in her tweet:

Intrigued? We have Belzhar on order so get your name on the waiting list!

Find these authors on our catalogue:

WORD Christchurch

Lyrical writing with Kristin Hersh and Aldous Harding: WORD Christchurch

Lyrical writing saw influential indie songwriter Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses in conversation with Aldous aka Hannah Harding, local folk musician. Rachel Morton, station manager of RDU, was the chair.

And this WAS a good session. It was raw and intense, and I will only be able to hint at how intimate it was, and how deep it went.

Kristin Hersh’s favourite piece of writing is an article about cockroaches. Hannah picks the last six pages of The Outsider “no fullstops, one blubbering eulogy”:

You don’t need God, you don’t need a lover, you don’t need children …

Hannah Harding: Lyrical writing
Hannah Harding: Lyrical writing

At which point Kristin says:

You don’t need, but it’s still a gameboard.

On Songwriting


I don’t write songs about things. I feel under the auspices of the songs … they make their own collage from bits and pieces. I’ve liced pieces of it, the images … I don’t find out what a song is about until it kicks in. … Songs don’t knock me on the head and trick me to write them anymore … songs are a pulsing will.


I am going to help people escape from lives they don’t want to live … It’s a way to justify my anxieties as an art.

A safe place?

The two talked about anxiety (Hannah) and PTSD (Kristin), dreams, archetypes, the enormous emotional vocabulary of children.

Hannah feels when she performs as Aldous she is “genuinely walking in another’s shoes”. Kristin talked about performing with makeup and beer as her only weapons, and she told a devastating story that had everyone in tears:

All crying. Kristin Hersh got note from drug addict “I am going to kill myself tomorrow but you bought beauty in my life.” #wordchch — ChChCityLibraries (@ChristchurchLib) August 31, 2014

Kristin Hersh and Hannah Harding: Lyrical writing
Kristin Hersh and Hannah Harding: Lyrical writing

 When ideas come


4am. Your Ghost was written mostly on Scottish whiskey.


It always starts out as a poem. I do see it as a project and I want it to be influential and I want people to resonate with it.

The Indies: WORD Christchurch

The Indies brought together publisher Murdoch Stephens from Lawrence & Gibson, and two of his authors, Brannavan Gnanalingam and Thomasin Sleigh, with chair Guy Somerset, erstwhile Books & Culture Editor for the Listener.

— Murdoch (@DoingOurBitNZ) August 30, 2014

The Indies
Thomasin Sleigh, Murdoch Stephens, Brannavan Gnanalingam and Guy Somerset.
The Indies
Thomasin Sleigh, Murdoch Stephens, and Brannavan Gnanalingam.

The team showed how sharp indie can be, and as Guy Somerset observed they looked like an awesome 1960s band.

Lawrence & Gibson deal with all aspects of publishing – even the printing and using the guillotine. As Thomasin observed, you get to experience “a really physical relationship with your cultural product”. Murdoch wants the writers to have a real sense of being in a collective, all the money goes back into books and:

We want to publish writer’s first experimental works.

Cover of Ad LibThomasin’s book Ad Lib is about reality tv. How long is it going to go on for? Until we’ve all been in it? She is interested in the formulaic repetition, the same bit of content being used over and over again.

There was discussion about New Zealand’s small independent presses – Hue and Cry, Giant Sparrow etc. They all have  different styles. Murdoch reckons the hardback book is going to make a storming comeback (I do hope he is right):

Lessons from adversity – Reed Kroloff: WORD Christchurch

Reed Kroloff is an architectural writer and commentator living in Washington, DC. He has served as Director of the famed Cranbrook Academy of Art, Dean of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans (during and after Hurricane Katrina), and Editor in Chief of Architecture magazine.

Reed Kroloff: Lessons from adversity
Reed Kroloff: Lessons from adversity

His presentation Lessons from Adversity looked at New Orleans and Detroit, and was utterly relevant to Christchurch in terms of planning, architecture, and life. Here are some notes and tweets from this session – words literally cannot convey it, as Reed’s stunning slideshow of images, examples, and infographics were at the heart of this talk.

His messages were:

  1. Sympathy lasts for ten minutes.
  2. Governments don’t care, people care.
  3. Money is thicker than water.
  4. Planning is important.
  5. Stop planning already.
  6. Be prepared.
  7. Get a story.
  8. People are resilient.
Reed Kroloff: Lessons from adversity
Reed Kroloff: Lessons from adversity

Reed enjoyed our “jaunty” Re:START Mall, and reckons Christchurch people are a lot like New Orleans folk – practical and proud. We went away saying Yo.

Tough Stuff: WORD Christchurch

Tough stuff brought together a team who have dealt with raw and challenging subjects in different ways. Film maker Gaylene Preston produced the recently screened Christchurch earthquake TV drama Hope & Wire; Rebecca Macfie wrote on the Pike River mine explosion; and Lloyd Jones has written on tough themes. Their panel was ably chaired by Finlay Macdonald.

Tough stuff panel
Lloyd Jones, Rebecca Macfie, Gaylene Preston and Finlay Macdonald

Rebecca Macfie talked about writing Tragedy at Pike River Mine. It was tough because of the subject matter, but also for grieving families and community so much was at stake. Rebecca had to cope with earthquakes too:

Gaylene Preston spoke about her documentary War stories our mothers never told us. During filming, her mother revealed a wartime affair. At the premiere, her Mum held her hand and said “Don’t let the lights come up”. But the crowd was warm, and hugged Gaylene’s mother out of the theatre. After a panadol and a glass of champagne, her Mum was the star of the after party.

Gaylene Preston: Tough stuff
Gaylene Preston

Lloyd Jones told a couple of stories in which he used true stories and the moral dilemmas involved. “Please don’t write about my testicles” his son said after a hospital incident. Lloyd also used the story of a friend’s Auschwitz survivor mother’s robbery in an article in the Dominion Post. This was not the tough stuff of writing, conveying nothing and stillness is the hardest:

High coloured moments are easy.

Lloyd Jones: Tough Stuff
Lloyd Jones

Lloyd observed that one of the tough and key things about writing narrative is how you manage time.
Gaylene is “attracted to the gap in the story” and later she said “the best place to stand is the gap”.

The discussion moved to the Canterbury earthquakes. Lloyd said:

This was a city that forgot what it sat on. … Time suddenly had a smell.

Rebecca spoke of “a brilliant rediscovery of the power of reporting … everydayness suddenly became news”.

When Hope and Wire was first mooted, Rebecca had objected to Gaylene: “It is too soon and you didn’t live here”. Auckland’s “quake fatigue” was picked over, and the balance between being an outsider and an advocate.

The panel agreed it is important the Christchurch story is claimed nationally, or it is just a thing that belongs to Christchurch. People have an “incredibly primal need to tell their story when they have endured something”.

The novel and the theremin: WORD Christchurch

Cover of The Life and loves of Lena GauntThe Sunday Fringe: WORD Christchurch  was a brilliant new aspect of the festival,  in partnership with radio station RDU98.5 and art space The Physics Room. The Novel and the Theremin was an intriguing and seductive kick 0ff. Tracy Farr’s book The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt tells the story of fictional theremin star Lena. We were lucky not only to have Tracy, but also  John Chrisstoffels – who can play that most intriguing of instruments. Lynn Freeman of Standing Room Only on Radio New Zealand was the chair.

The theremin favours those who like to solder and tinker, as you can build your own (apparently Jaycar have a kitset you can make!) Theremins can also use transistors or valves. Apparently valves are coming back into fashion for the warmth and livingness of their sound. Robert Moog came to invent the synthesiser through building theremins (and it was a Moog that John was playing for us).

John Chrisstoffels: The Novel and the Theremin
John Chrisstoffels: The Novel and the Theremin

The two talked about their various introductions to the theremin via B Grade movies, tv, and seeing Pere Ubu in concert. Apparently Hitchcock movies Spellbound, and Lost Weekend both have a bit of theremin action too. At its most classical, the theremin can sound like a violin or a female voice. This is what makes it uncanny.

Tracy read a piece from the book, where an elderly Lena goes swimming and does a theremin concert. While Lena is a fictional character, there was a real life virtuoso who played with Leon Theremin himself – her name was Clara Rockmore.

Tracy imagines Lena more Tilda Swinton-like then the lady on the front cover. In her mind, the older Lena looked like Barbara Brinsley of Dunedin (you can see her in this Ageing with attitude article).

John explained the technicalities of playing the theremin – glissando, using sightlines in relations to your fingers in the air, as well as pointing out some well-known tracks. Good vibrations was a bit of a cheat because it used a theremin with a keyboard. John thinks the theremin is a wonderful accompaniment instrument, as it’s “really expressive to play with someone else, and for playing along with records”.

Tracy noted Jon Spencer’s theremin humping antics:

This was one of my favourite sessions at WORD – two engaging speakers, a keen crowd, a  dollop of fantastic music  – and we all got to have a play on the theremin at the end. Bravo!

Tracy Farr: The Novel and the Theremin
Tracy Farr: The Novel and the Theremin

The Russian mafia state: Luke Harding – WORD Christchurch

Cover of Mafia stateThis year’s WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival featured some interesting characters, and one such character was the alleged raving Russophobe Luke Harding, a clever journalist who works as a Foreign Correspondent for that little rag The Guardian (which has won Press awards).

Luke has achieved a high degree of notoriety over the years, but one of his most recent books – Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia, provides an intriguing expose of life in Russia, which he claims through his own experiences as a reporter there, is pretty much a highly corrupt and illiberal country with all sorts of internal problems, and which brews away intimidatingly on the borders of all its neighbours in the region.

After taking a position in Russia as the Guardian’s new Moscow Bureau Chief, everything seemed to be going fine until one night, after arriving home from a dinner party, he discovers the window to his son’s bedroom is wide open! From then on, all sorts of untoward things start going down: phones that play back your conversions, ciggy butts in the loo (that aren’t yours), office doors unlocked, and being stalked by suspect looking men clad in leather. The book then goes on to tell of the Kremlin’s harassment and intimidation of various human rights groups, journalists and opposition groups. Worth a read, and gives you a picture of one of the primary actors (Russia) in the current Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to have a quick yarn with Luke at WORD after he appeared at a forum with Nicky Hager, and we had a chat about Russia and its recent moves into Eastern Europe:

So, um, sorry to bother you, but I’ve got a couple of quick questions, I promise I’m not from the Kremlin” I said, which he probably believed due to the absence of a flat top hair cut, a huge muscular frame, a leather jacket and a gun jammed in the back of my pants.

Ha, it’s all good.

So, um, in light of your experiences in Russia, do you think that Russia would be far more aggressive and expansionist if it weren’t for other ‘strong powers’ (i.e the USA) in world politics who fundamentally act as deterrents?

“Without a doubt” he said, and went on to say that the Russian offensives and actions in the Ukraine and the Eastern European region “is the scariest thing I’ve seen in my lifetime … People talk about the Islamist extremist group ISIS in the Middle East, and understandably so, but these people are not ‘State Actors’, that is, despite being somewhat well resourced, and scary, they don’t posses the military might and regional coverage of Russia.Yet ISIS has been the focus of world media, and this issue is garnering more media attention than Russia’s ongoing aggression in Eastern Europe”.

So where is the EU (European Union) on all this”, I said, “in the last 20 years the EU has promoted this ‘European solidarity’, and the so called ‘shared European identity’, yet when it comes to taking action on these Russian incursions into the Ukraine, there is indecision and arguably pandering. EU soft power isn’t working”….?

“Well that’s right”, states Luke…”fundamentally they are scared due to their reliance on Russian oil and gas”… This is a typical geopolitical problem. Russia is one of the world’s largest suppliers of oil and natural gas, and Europe has stuff all, except the Nordic/Scandinavian region who have cloistered themselves within their own energy cooperative. In fact, according the European Commission 33% of the EU’s oil, and around 40% or their natural gas comes from the Kremlin (the energy sector is arguably controlled by the State in Russia).

This is just a little problematic if you want to seriously challenge Russian moves into Eastern Europe and Ukraine in particular.  All this comes at the worst possible time for the EU, which was arguably founded on the basis of a post World War Two security community with a view to protect Europe from looming and ominous Soviet expansionism during the Cold War. The last thing the EU needs is price hikes in oil and gas, which causes problems for productivity and various sectors of the European economy… Five to six years after the Global Financial Crisis, Europe is still struggling economically with indicators showing that the world’s 4th largest economy, Germany, is contracting, which is a concern given that Germany is Western Europe’s current economic powerhouse, and the Mediterranean economies are still wallowing in the economic and social mire.

Russia knows this, that’s why it chose to enter the Ukraine now, with the EU stretched, and knowing that after ten years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US population probably don’t have positive feelings about entering another conflict.

Is the EU pandering to Russia? Maybe a wee bit…

Has much changed 100 years after World War One?Probably not, we still live in a geopolitical environment made up of countries who want more land and need more oil and gas to lubricate their systems of exchange.

Luke Harding, Richard King, Nicky Hager: Secrets, spies and free speech
Luke Harding, Richard King, Nicky Hager: Secrets, spies and free speech