Palin slams McCain as a spoilt brat

"I'd never seen people with so much Louis Vuitton luggage," says Bristol Palin, in the battle of the

While all eyes are on the race for the Republican nomination for 2012, another battle has emerged: between political daughters.

Sarah Palin and John McCain were running mates in the 2008 election, but there is no love lost between their daughters.

Bristol Palin, 20, never one to shy away from the limelight, has laid into Meghan McCain in her memoir, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far.

Palin Junior writes that the first time she met John McCain's 26 year old daughter -- just before Sarah Palin was announced as his running mate -- she "ignored us during the entire visit", and that she "had a sneaking suspicion I might need to watch my back". She adds:

Every time we saw Meghan, she seemed to be constantly checking us out, comparing my family to hers and complaining. Oh the complaining.

Of the McCain family lifestyle, she writes:

I'd never seen people with so much Louis Vuitton luggage, so many cell phones, and so many constant helpers to do hair and makeup.

While she is initially kinder about Cindy McCain, who looked "like a queen" and held "herself like royalty", Palin reveals that she overstepped the mark by offering to be a godmother to her baby:

I had just met her and I wondered why she wanted any type of guardianship over my child.

Perhaps this is unsurprising -- when McCain was promoting her own memoir last year, she said that Sarah Palin had brought "drama, stress, complications, panic and loads of uncertainty" to the campaign, and said of Bristol:

When you're sent to an image consultant and it's said that you look like a stripper and you talk bad and you're hurting the campaign, when there's a pregnant teen there, it does a little bit to your self esteem.

Gloves off!

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Stephen Hawking's enthusiasm for colonising space makes him almost as bad as Trump

The physicist's inistence on mankind's expansion risks making him a handmaiden of inequality.

“Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves,” Stephen Hawking has warned. And he’s not just talking about surviving the UK's recent run of record breaking heat. If humanity doesn’t start sending people to Mars soon, then in a few hundred years he says we can all expect to be kaput; there just isn’t enough space for us all.

The theoretical physicist gave his address to the glittering Starmus Festival of science and arts in Norway. According to the BBC, he argued that climate change and the depletion of natural resources help make space travel essential. With this in mind, he would like to see a mission to Mars by 2025 and a new lunar base within 30 years.

He even took a swipe at Donald Trump: “I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen.”

Yet there are striking similarities between Hawking's statement and the President's bombast. For one thing there was the context in which it was made - an address to a festival dripping with conspicuous consumption, where 18 carat gold OMEGA watches were dished out as prizes.

More importantly there's the inescapable reality that space colonisation is an inherently elitist affair: under Trump you may be able to pay your way out of earthly catastrophe, while for Elon Musk, brawn could be a deciding advantage, given he wants his early settlers on Mars to be able to dredge up buried ice.

Whichever way you divide it up, it is unlikely that everyone will be able to RightMove their way to a less crowded galaxy. Hell, most people can’t even make it to Starmus itself (€800  for a full price ticket), where the line-up of speakers is overwhelmingly white and male.

So while this obsession with space travel has a certain nobility, it also risks elevating earthly inequalities to an interplanetary scale.

And although Hawking is right to call out Trump on climate change, the concern that space travel diverts money from saving earth's ecosystems still stands. 

In a context where the American government is upping NASA’s budget for manned space flights at the same time as it cuts funds for critical work observing the changes on earth, it is imperative that the wider science community stands up against this worrying trend.

Hawking's enthusiasm for colonising the solar system risks playing into the hands of the those who share the President destructive views on the climate, at the expense of the planet underneath us.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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