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Badger and the censor THERE are times, readers, when



THERE are times, readers, when Badger despairs at humankind’s ability to be cruel to each other. There are times when, with a badgerly shrug, he simply wishes he could walk away and find somewhere cool and dimly lit to lie down with an un-improving volume of light verse. Readers will know that Badger has detected a certain sourness and cynicism in public discourse over recent years. As you will also know by now, readers, Badger is bang onside with sourness and cynicism, if it has a point: but what we are now experiencing is the nihilism of halfwitty and half-witted remarks, such as “Don’t vote, it only encourages them.”

A sentiment often advanced by those who do not vote and then complain at a result they forfeited all right to complain about. Consumerism has fractured society into chunks, some of which overlap and some of which stand in glorious isolation. In a world more interconnected than ever before, there seems to be more genuine loneliness – or, perhaps, wilful isolation of the self – than at any time Badger can remember.

As we have become increasingly identifiable by third parties through our actions and our responses to stimuli (for example, shopper loyalty cards; banking information; online gaming; online advertising) and accordingly placed into groups for targeted marketing, so the glue that holds us together as families and communities has weakened. Badger sees the way people, write and behave on social media and some of the vile and offensive things that appear on it. And Badger wonders whether the term “society” has somehow passed its sell by date.

The expression of extremes seems to have become the norm, particularly from the wilder shores of the fascist right. Those who express those racist, repugnant and intolerant views claim protection derived from a freedom of speech they want to deny others. That they are able to express their views at arms’ length or from the safety of a keyboard before a glowing monitor, seems to suggest that some line has been crossed.

As we look at online avatars and profiles, we become less human, less humane and more inclined to casual cruelties. The problematic result of all of this can be summarized as follows: social networks are addicting and provide the illusion of real relationship. Over time, we begin to falsely equate genuine, humanto- human relationship with the shallow connection and gratification offered by social networks.

We increasingly define ourselves in terms of our digital presence and feel the need to “share” constantly to feel heard and less alone. It is that need to be heard which causes people to ‘shout’ online. Scarcely a report of a court story can appear online without someone, usually someone with only a nodding acquaintance with spelling and grammar, hopping out from under their bridge to offer an opinion.

Over Christmas, Badger was looking at some exchanges on The Herald’s own Facebook feed. There was a report of a case. The report set out the charges the accused faced, the course of the trial, the guilty verdict and the sentence passed by the Court. Judging from the reactions, you would have thought that newspapers and their web feeds should only carry news that relates news that trolls find agreeable – for example “Billy Goats Gruff Eaten” or “Judge praises axe murderer for being nice to his mum”. It was “wrong” what was written. The story was not “true”. It was all “unfair”. It was “sad” to send the guilty to prison. Gloves off: what was written was objectively right.

There was no lie. The facts spoke for themselves. It was not unfair. The accused had their chance to defend their actions. They could not do so. The word “guilty” means guilt was established according to the law and beyond a reasonable doubt. That is not the law as trolls wish it, but the law as it is. Badger was horrified by one person, who from the content of his remarks was lucky not to be lifted by the rozzers himself. Badger pondered before deciding that a line had been crossed. He deleted comments that were argumentative, intimidatory, and hectoring in tone.

Enough was enough: freedom of speech does not include the right to bully others by being a keyboard warrior. If the person whose long and aggressive rants was to be believed, people who had committed a crime had gone unpunished. The fact he was prepared to stand idly by and do nothing about that state of affairs, speaks volumes for the very special trollish logic he applied to his statements. Badger censored a debate. Now, readers Badger is in favour of open, friendly, non-judgemental and balanced argument.

At the same time, he knows he is personally seldom all four of the foregoing at one time – and occasionally their diametric opposite in each and every respect – but Badger makes a genuine effort to approach those terms both singly and collectively. Badger was reluctant to reach for the metaphorical blue pencil, but for better or ill he did. Make no mistake, the remarks Badger deleted were not the ‘casual cruelties’ he referred to earlier. These were not spiteful, petty remarks of the type made by insecure juveniles.

The remarks he censored were appalling, crass and menacing. In the great scheme of things, however, they were far less offensive than some of the toxic rants Badger has seen peddled as fact by bigots online; but they were far over the bounds of what a reasonable person would tolerate. They were certainly beyond what an occasionally unreasonable Badger could tolerate. What makes humans human is their interactions with each other. Every human is different and each of us has rights and obligations that come from being part of the whole. Badger wouldn’t have it any other way. Our society is more important than “comments”, “likes” and “shares” on social media. Badger fears, however, that which connects us in so many ways, makes inhumanity to others far easier than it was previously.

letter to badger

‘Humane and committed’ -do you know best this time?

DEAR BADGER, Since you started to climb out of your badger sett each week and write articles for the Pembrokeshire Herald you appeared to want to help local humans, but last week you seemed to have lost concern for yourself and your wildlife friends.

In your last article you stated that Simon Hart, MP is “humane and committed”. Simon Hart before he became our MP was the Master of the South Pembrokeshire Hunt, Director of the Campaign for Hunting and Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance which was and still is deeply “committed” to the return of hunting with dogs. So surely, Mr Badger, you have to ask the question “what is he committed to and is it humane?”.

Simon Hart MP has strongly supported the campaign to repeal the Hunting Act 2004. The Act not only made it illegal to hunt wildlife with dogs for sport, but also made it illegal for hunts to block your sett entrances whilst hunting. So that law, besides protecting you, protected young badger cubs when they were born underground. Furthermore, Mr Badger, Simon Hart MP was against vaccinating your relatives in Wales, instead of culling, so you don’t catch Bovine TB from cattle.

Culling badgers is a disaster when carried out in England and was said to be “ inefficient and inhumane” after the badgers were shot and took a considerable time to die. Surely Mr Badger you must reassess your opinion of what being “humane ” means, or one day in the future, you may be culled or get blocked in your badger sett and unable to get out, so that will be the end of your excellent articles.

Michael Sharratt

Cwm Coile



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Cllr Mike James is new Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council




Cllr Mike James became Chairman at the virtual Annual Meeting of Council today (Friday, May 14) following an extended period as Vice Chairman due to the Covid-19 situation.

Cllr James, who represents St Dogmaels, moves into the Chairman’s seat vacated by Cllr Simon Hancock.

Cllr Pat Davies was appointed Vice-Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

At the same meeting Cllr Hancock was appointed Presiding Member for the coming year.

Cllr James joined Pembrokeshire County Council in 2010 and has previously served as Chairman of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Chairman of National Park Wales.

Cllr James said: “I feel very privileged to be appointed Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council.

“I always try to achieve the best in my life and this is right up there at the top.

“I hope I can achieve the high standard set by Councillors who have been Chairman before me. Councillor Simon Hancock most certainly accomplished that standard.”

Cllr James is married to Sian and they have two daughters, Fern James and Rhiannon Lloyd.

Born and bred in St Dogmaels, Cllr James attended Ysgol Llandudoch and Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi.

He worked for 32 years at Slimma/Dewhirst Cardigan and for four years as an LSA in Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn.

Cllr James has also served as Clerk to St Dogmaels Community Council, as the Carers Champion for Pembrokeshire County Council and as a representative on numerous other committees and sub-committees.

A member of Cardigan Rugby Club Male Voice Choir, Cllr James also sits on the Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Panel.

Cllr James added: “The last 14 months have not been easy for many people. I hope there is a light at the end of a long tunnel where we can meet and speak to loved ones again.

“I am a people’s person and I hope, if I am allowed, to have the opportunity to meet and talk to as many residents in Pembrokeshire as possible.”

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New international travel rules for Wales confirmed by First Minister



International travel will restart for people in Wales from Monday 17 May, the Welsh Government has confirmed today.

As part of changes to Wales’ coronavirus regulations, people living in Wales will be able to travel to some overseas destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

But additional safeguards will be put in place to help prevent new cases of coronavirus being imported into Wales.

A traffic lights system, aligned with England and Scotland, will be introduced. Countries will be classified as green, amber and red, depending on their rates of coronavirus.

Mandatory quarantine is in place for all people returning to the UK from countries on the amber and red lists. All people returning from overseas travel must have a PCR test.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

 “Wales, like other parts of the UK, will be restarting international travel. But protecting people’s health continues to be our top priority and we want to do everything we can to prevent coronavirus from being re-imported into Wales.

 “This will not be like travel in the past. Everyone travelling abroad will have to have a test when they come home and for many people, they will need to quarantine when they get home. There are significant fines in place for those who do not follow the legal requirements.

“Some countries are not yet opening up travel to people from the UK. It’s my strong advice that this is the year to stay at home and enjoy all that Wales has to offer.”

Under the international travel rules:

• People arriving from green-list countries are not required to quarantine on their return to Wales, but they must book and pay for a mandatory PCR test on or before day two of their return. All travellers and members of their household will also be reminded about the availability of additional lateral flow tests to continue to monitor their health.

• People arriving from amber-list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home on their return. This is a legal requirement. They are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and on day eight. Unlike in England, Wales does not operate a test-to-release scheme where an additional test can be taken on day five to reduce the period of quarantine. This is because some 30% of people who develop Covid-19 do so after day five.

• People arriving from countries on the red list are required to quarantine for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK at a designated UK port in a government-managed facility – a ‘covid hotel’ – at their own cost, starting from £1,750 per person. All UK entry points for arrivals from red-list countries are in England and Scotland, which means Welsh residents returning from those countries will need to quarantine outside Wales. Travellers are also required to book and pay for mandatory PCR tests on day two and day eight.

All those who do not follow the rules for red-list countries face fixed notice penalties of £10,000.

Welsh residents must also consult the requirements for visitors for any country they plan to travel to. Restrictions may be in place, including proof of vaccination, tests, quarantine and reasons for entry.

Vaccination status certificates will be available for people in Wales who have had two doses of their vaccination and need to urgently travel to a country that requires covid vaccination proof from Monday 24 May.

The First Minister added:

“We call on people to think about whether they need to travel overseas at this time. We should be cautious about going abroad in light of the ongoing risk of coronavirus and the presence of variants of concern in many countries.

“My clear message to everyone is make Wales your destination of choice this year.”

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Hemp: the old new supercrop



HEMP could become a more common feature of the countryside, our diets and everyday life, thanks to a new £1.1m research partnership.

The two-year project between Aberystwyth University and industry aims to make hemp a more valuable crop by increasing the amounts of compounds used to make a variety of food, health and pharmaceutical products.

Hemp is currently used in specialised fire-resistant fabrics, mattresses, building materials, insulation, animal bedding and biofuel.

An environmentally friendly, natural material, it is seen as a crop that can replace petrochemical products.

Hemp fibre has been used extensively throughout history, with production climaxing soon after being introduced to the New World. For centuries, items ranging from rope to fabrics, to industrial materials were made from hemp fibre.

Hemp was also commonly used to make sail canvas. The word “canvas” is derived from the word cannabis.

Pure hemp has a texture like linen.

Because of its versatility for use in a variety of products, today hemp is used in a number of consumer goods, including clothing, shoes, accessories, dog collars, and homewares. For clothing, in some instances, hemp is mixed with lyocell.

The new PHARMHEMP research partnership will develop the crop’s compounds sustainably; making them from parts of the plant that are currently left unused.

The research will also make the crop more valuable and allow use in more industrial and non-industrial sectors – making it more attractive to farmers who are keen to include alternative crops when rotating the use of their land.

Aberystwyth University’s involvement has benefited from the Welsh Government funded SMART Expertise programme.

Alan Gay, Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University commented: “We’re delighted and excited about this new partnership. We will use our long-established expertise here in Aberystwyth to help spread the benefits of this crop to many more people.

“We also hope to contribute to improving awareness of the crop among both consumers and farmers.

“The project is also an economic boost: supporting highly skilled jobs in the west of Wales. As well as the cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical uses, we will also explore industrial applications, which would significantly reduce the need for expensive imports.”

Professor Iain Donnison, Head of the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University commented: “The Pharmahemp project builds on IBERS expertise in developing new opportunities for Welsh farming. It also represents an exciting opportunity for us to revisit and tailor a highly sustainable and versatile crop for the 21st century.”

The project links a number of the UK’s experienced operators in Hemp with the specialised breeding expertise of IBERS, Aberystwyth University.

The commercial partners are: TTS Pharma, specialists in pharmaceutical and health products; Voase and Son, specialist hemp growers; Elsoms Seeds, who develop and distribute seeds to the farming community; and GrowPura®, experts in controlled growing of plants where high levels of control are required.

Mark Tucker, Chief Executive at TTS Pharma, added: “This project builds on the foundations we laid in 2018 with Aberystwyth University, along with our other research projects.

“The resources and expertise at IBERS in Aberystwyth are particularly well suited to this research. They will help us to develop new cultivars, optimised for the UK climate and the end-use.

“We are delighted to have such strong partners to deliver the project’s objectives.  We are confident that this project will contribute significantly to improving existing yields.  It will also accelerate the introduction of a domestic supply chain and help eliminate the importation of illegal and non-compliant materials from China, South and North America.”   

David Coop, Director of Elsoms Seeds Ltd, commented: “Elsoms Seeds is the UK’s leading independent seed specialist and plant breeder. We breed, supply, and treat high quality vegetable and agricultural seed throughout the UK, using the latest in plant breeding research and seed technology.

“We are looking forward to working with IBERS and our partners on this project, and one day providing UK farmers with high quality seed of the new and innovative varieties which will result from it.”

Nick Bateman of Growpura added: “In the pharmaceutical industry, the all-year-round production of materials under well-controlled conditions is important. 

“With this project, we are keen to see how this plant can be adapted to growing in our high throughput sterile growing conditions, so that high quality products can be produced right throughout the year.”

Industrial Hemp Grower Nick Voase said: “We have been growing and processing industrial hemp since 2002 but have seen little development of the crop in the UK. 

“We are happy to be involved in this project which will adapt the crop to new uses and is specifically aimed at optimising yields from UK grown crops.”

Despite a common misunderstanding, the industrial hemp strains grown in the UK are all varieties with negligible levels of the psychoactive substance THC and are selected from an ‘Approved List’ and only grown under Home Office licences.

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