Posted on 30th April 2022

This week on my daily walk I saw a Red Admiral butterfly with an escort of a pair of Cabbage Whites. They were near a young copper beech that I like to hug and then pray for a little added strength. For some reason at that moment , I started thinking about free speech, and, indeed, freedom of expression, both of which seem to be constantly under threat. This has been brought into focus by Elon Musk’s stunning purchase of Twitter for $44 billion. Even for the richest man in the world with an estimated $270 billion fortune, this is a stunning acquisition. Musk does not appear to be entirely driven by money. His friend, Ross Gerber told the BBC “Elon only gets involved if he thinks something is critically important for humanity. He doesn’t care about money at all “. This could be critically important because the other platforms are driven by profit. They have moderators and algorithms eliminating what they consider offensive and indeed selecting what they consider putting in front of users. The whole process is as clear as mud. Musk in contrast is promising total transparency. If he can expose and control the automated accounts or bots, many of which are Russian in origin, which have been peddling lies and disinformation and generally causing chaos, he will be doing the cause of democracy a great service. However, getting back to free speech, an interesting question arises. Will he allow Donald Trump back on the platform. In my opinion if the Donald wants to, he should be allowed back. I do not share his beliefs and opinions but I absolutely defend his right to express them. Free speech is the life blood of democracy. So let us hope Elon Musk lives up to his reputation.

Slane Castle

Prince Charles also hugs trees but he has backed an interesting invention that may well find its way onto Irish farms. As part of the Prince’s Sustainable Marketing Initiative, a start-up company called ZELP has developed a mask to be worn by cattle which using “pioneering technology” converts methane which the animals breathe out into water and carbon dioxide. ZELP has been testing this technology on farms owned by ABP the UK’s largest beef processor. ZELP says the masks are currently reducing the methane emissions by 53% and hope to hit 63% by next year. They also aim to commercially produce the mask next year. Considering the size of our national herd, it’s a constant source of debate when it comes to methane emissions and global warming, a device like this could save the day. The future King of England comes to the rescue of Irish agriculture, not quite but you get the drift. Better than Prince Harry’s hot air.

Finally to the War – called “evil and absurd” this week by the Secretary General of the UN who visited Moscow and Kyiv. Will he have any success in initiating the opening of humanitarian corridors so civilians can escape with their lives ? Like many I have my doubts but by God it is worth trying, even if you have to talk to the devil, in the form of Putin, to achieve it. May 9th the date that marks the end of the 2nd World War and a big military parade in Moscow is approaching and Putin has lost generals, thousands of troops and a cruiser and still he has no victory.

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