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entebbe: hijacked by political messaging | arts & culture | film | israel and palestine
unfortunately, entebbe fails to probe the difficult questions it raises. in particular, how did many young germans of the 1960s and 1970s generation come to see west germany, as it was then, as the heir to nazism? and how did a significant number of them go on to view israel as exemplifying fascism? the first was convincingly examined in the baader meinhof complex, a 2008 german film. but entebbe offers no insights into either. beyond portraying the obvious irony of armed germans separating jews from non-jews in the name of anti-fascism, there is little more to this film.its german protagonists are one-dimensional, and the israelis and palestinians are even less convincing. this is partly a result of the film’s insistence – repeated several times – that israelis and palestinians must engage in peace negotiations. much like steven spielberg’s 2005 film, munich, entebbe suffers from a heavy-handed political message on the need for political reconciliation.this didactic approach can have bizarre results. entebbe opens with an extract from a performance by israel’s batsheva dance company. fifteen dancers, dressed in a version of orthodox jewish garb, are sat on chairs in a semicircle. as echad mi yodea (a traditional passover song) plays, the dancers strip off some of their garments. the same performance appears again at the end of the film, interspersed with the rescue mission. the director, josé padilha, explains in the jewish chronicle that the orthodox garb represe...
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cannes is a celebration of diversity | arts & culture | film
an antidote to all of this virtue-signalling was provided by the return of lars von trier, who hitherto had been persona non grata at the festival since 2011, after he made bizarre comments about ‘understanding’ hitler. his new film, the house that jack built, screened this year out of competition, prompted many to walk out due to its brutal scenes of torture.critics are so determined to read gender into everything at cannes that they have looked past the possible anti-semitic implications of the house that jack built to insist von trier’s work is indicative of canne’s gender bias. the portrayal of female suffering in his films and the recent sexual-harassment accusations against him from björk are held up as further proof of von trier’s misogyny. the independent declared that ‘what we should be objecting to at cannes is not the screening of lars von trier’s horror film, but the shocking lack of diversity’.imagine thinking that an international film festival, where the majority of films are not in english and come from countries as far-flung as lebanon, turkey and south africa, lacks diversity. it is interesting how the very people who complain about hollywood blockbusters not having enough non-white performers can wilfully ignore films made by non-white people from abroad.if you really care about using the cannes film festival to highlight injustice, you could celebrate how cannes promotes the work of directors whose basic freedoms are being abused in their ...
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the ugly trade in palestinian pain | israel and palestine
israel had made clear, including in an airdrop of leaflets, that anyone who sought to dismantle the fence in gaza, the de facto border between this part of palestine and israel, risked coming to harm. and still hamas encouraged the protesters to strike at the fence. still it sought to swell the angry ranks by pleading with people to go from their mosques to the border. why would it do this? why would the governing party of a territory knowingly put that territory’s citizens into serious danger?this is the rub. this is the central question. and the answer is a disturbing one: hamas does this because it knows it will benefit politically and morally if palestinians suffer. it knows there is a market for stories of palestinian pain, and it is happy to flood that market.writing in the new york times last week, matti friedman, a former ap desk editor in jerusalem, touched upon this trade in palestinian horror. he said that during his years reporting from the middle east he even developed a certain respect for hamas’s ‘keen ability to tell a story’. hamas’s great insight was to recognise that the vast majority of the western media wanted ‘a simple story about villains and victims’, says friedman. most western reporters and commentators weren’t interested in nuance and certainly not in any reading of events that might seek to understand the israeli position. no, they wanted stories of ‘dead human beings’, made dead by ‘unwarranted israeli slaughter’, says frie...
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oh spare us this woke monarchy | abolish the monarchy | british politics
congratulations, harry and meghan. i hope you have a long marriage. what i hope doesn’t last quite as long is this woke monarchy your nuptials apparently herald. everyone’s raving about how the monarchy has finally landed in the 21st century, shaking off its old, oh-so-white ways to become a modern, multicultural outfit that signals to all brits, whatever their hue, that they are much-loved. it’s such a patronising mission, as patrician as any earlier big royal event that was likewise justified as a means of making the plebs feel fleetingly good about their lives.it was a fascinating wedding. and a nice one, sure. the chamber music was lovely. as was the kingdom choir’s rendition of ‘stand by me’. the sight of david beckham making smalltalk with nicholas soames was hilarious. but the whole thing was just so knowing and strained. it was a carefully orchestrated stab at projecting a new image of monarchy that ended up as a confused pageant that was neither one thing nor the other. the new aristocrats — slebs like clooney, oprah and elton — awkwardly rubbed shoulders with old aristocrats most of us would struggle to name. the black american episcopalian preacher was a hit with the crowds but left the queen and zara phillips visibly perplexed. the presence of the black choir was celebrated as a herald of the new britain and yet everyone ended up singing ‘god save the queen’, as they always must, because the queen, for all this institution’s much trumpeted mo...
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the black nihilism of ta-nehisi coates | arts & culture | race
coates’ philosophy of a tragic america is, i believe, fast becoming tiresome. americans are an optimistic people who believe that fate and destiny are theirs to control. a tragic sense of life is anathema to the spirit of who and what america is all about. coates may not have realised it, but he and his doleful message died a natural death the minute he achieved the very thing he has spent his career condemning and despising: the american dream.yet what is crucial to note is that coates’ racial pessimism is tied to a larger philosophical movement known as ‘black nihilism’, of which he is not so much its architect as its sycophantic and ardent devotee. black nihilism is an anti-philosophic movement, intellectually out of focus, and against – as its advocates state – philosophy, hope, metaphysics, epistemology, redemption, liberal democracy, free markets and even the grammar of liberation itself. its best articulation can be found in calvin l warren’s essay ‘black nihilism and the politics of hope’, published in the new centennial review in 2015.warren writes that black nihilism is a political philosophy that advocates an end to black emancipation through politics, and characterises any form of political hope as pointless. ‘black suffering is an essential part of the world’, warren writes, ‘and placing hope in the very structure that sustains metaphysical violence, the political, will never resolve anything’. black nihilism, he continues, speaks of a ?...
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it takes more than a makeover to make a woman | feminism
the second dissenting voice comes from venice allan, or dr rad fem as she is known on twitter. after attending a meeting of ‘terfs’ in bristol, at which bergdorf tries to interrupt one of the speakers but refuses to stick around for the q&a at the end, she goes to meet allan in a london café in order to ‘challenge her’. this is how the conversation goes:bergdorf: your strand of feminism, to me, seems a bit like a last-ditch attempt on keeping things the way they are. and the reality is that society is moving forward. people are getting browner, people are getting queerer, people are getting more fluid with their identity. feminism isn’t inclusive at all.allan: feminism is about women.bergdorf: transgender women are women.it is the most interesting bit in an otherwise infuriatingly anodyne programme. because while bergdorf intends to reveal the supposed nastiness of radical feminists like allan, instead what we see is the real reason why the trans v terf debate is so ugly – because this is really a clash of competing victim narratives. bergdorf says trans women are oppressed more than ‘cis women’; allan fires back that women are oppressed by men and penises. they’re just trying to out-victim each other. neither seemed to have anything interesting to add to the discussion of what it means to be a woman.trans women are not women, for the simple reason that it takes more than a statement of intent to be a woman. bergdorf says the vagina is ‘just a body part??...
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harry, meghan and the future of the royals | abolish the monarchy
‘will republicanism survive harry and meghan?’ so ran the headline of an article in the guardian last week. the journalist john harris was reporting from leeds, where he was hanging around for a day with the yorkshire chapter of republic, the anti-monarchy organisation, as they leafleted a may day parade. there, among left-wingers, labourites, members of the brass band, harris found people fond of or at least relaxed about the monarchy, in the run-up to the wedding of prince harry and the american actress meghan markle. the most strident republican he found was a 61-year-old punk, complete with dyed-black mohawk.but the burning question for republicanism today is not can it survive the happy couple, or, with prince william and kate middleton, this new generation of woke royals who talk about mental health, feminism and seem to have given the monarchy a pr boost. rather, the question is: can republicanism survive republicans? because, for decades, republicanism has been the preserve of a narrow section of society, the metropolitan liberal-left, the middle-class intelligentsia, who seem increasingly adrift from the values that should animate republicanism. prince among them: democracy. in the wake of the brexit vote, a historic demand for sovereignty and control, the plodding-on of the house of windsor feels even more of an anachronism. her maj may not wield direct power. but at a time when a fierce debate has broken out about where power resides – among the majority who ...
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carrot-gate and the sorry state of education | education
kids have never been as interested in cooked vegetables as they have this week. if you’re 16, the only thing you’re chatting about right now is boiled carrots. if you don’t believe me, check out the trending hashtag #aqacarrots.the reason for this is this year’s gcses, which began this week. the exam season was barely two days old when a bundle of very angry and upset pupils arrived at my classroom door screaming ‘boiled carrots!’ like vegetarian banshees. students sitting a biology paper by the aqa exam board were asked why carrots don’t decrease in mass when boiled. within hours, social media was boiling, too, with distraught teens bemoaning the question. the complaint was universal: the revision guide had not mentioned anything about boiled carrots. what kind of exam is it that asks a question on something that isn’t in the revision books? the scandal was even picked up by several news outlets, such as the huffington post.it is easy to mock the kids’ reactions, but it isn’t their fault. our schools do everything they can to proceduralise and commodify knowledge with the mantra, ‘if it’s not on the exam syllabus, you don’t need to know it’. we teachers fetishise revision guides, checklists, past-paper questions and the like, at the cost of instilling students with genuine love of a subject. if we reduce learning to setlists of bullet points, we can hardly be surprised if our students freak out when an exam goes off-list.in any case, schools’ re...
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why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom
and the problem isn’t as great as people make out. this year, pamco surveyed the readership – both in print and online – of british newspapers. the top 12 newspapers in the uk by ‘total brand reach’ are spread across seven owners. when the titles’ readerships are broken down further, it turns out that the guardian has the highest monthly desktop brand-reach, while the sun does best for mobile, the mail on tablet and the metro in print. the idea that a handful of individuals are monopolising british readers’ minds just doesn’t stack up.tackling phone-hacking?campaigners say we need leveson ii for the benefit of the victims of phone-hacking and press intrusion. in truth, these are trojan-horse issues through which very powerful people are pushing their own anti-press agenda. the first leveson inquiry wasn’t just an investigation into specific wrongdoings by the press; it was an elitist showtrial of the press – largely of the tabloid press – and of its entire ‘culture and ethics’.the public isn’t stupid, we know the score: the demand for a second press inquiry isn’t about phone-hacking – it’s about influential people trying to insulate themselves from media criticism, even if that means overthrowing 300 years of press freedom by giving the go-ahead to the first form of state-approved press regulation in britain since 1695.the public are not agitating for greater press regulation. in the government’s public consultation on this issue, in januar...
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fobts: a middle-class moral panic | sport
and all of them will lose their money because that is the nature of having a serious gambling problem. the amount you lose is not limited by the amount you can stake. the only limit is how much money you can get your hands on. the only conceivable benefit that could emerge from the carnage of today’s announcement is that it will take some gambling addicts slightly longer to lose their money. it is important to be blunt about this because the whole anti-fobt crusade is based on the woolly headed notion that gambling problems are caused by products rather than people. the people will now largely disappear from view, making it more difficult for them to be identified, let alone helped. making them disappear from view will be enough for many of those who are cheering the tories on today. one of the many myths about fobts is that they have led to a dramatic increase in the number of betting shops. in fact, the number has barely changed in 15 years and there are fewer betting shops around today than there were in the 1990s. but thanks to falling rents, they have come out of the side street and into the high street. they have become more visible. the de facto ban on fobts will do nothing to alleviate problem gambling, nor will it reduce the number of problem gamblers, but it will remove the physical manifestation of a moral panic from the sight of sensitive, middle-class eyes. throughout the agitation against these machines, it is telling that more has been said about bookmakers b...
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time to quell the lords’ anti-democratic riot | british politics | for europe, against the eu
it would be hard to exaggerate this shift in the political battleground. for the past 250 years, the lords has sought to halt or delay the forward march of democracy. at every turn their reaction was met with mass protests demanding reform.when almost everybody in britain was denied the vote, the riot became a pre-democratic expression of the popular will. listing the many riots that shook towns, cities and countryside in the late 18th and 19th centuries, historian ep thompson noted how ‘the british people were noted throughout europe for their turbulence [plus ca change], and the people of london astonished foreign visitors by their lack of deference’ (the making of the english working class).that lack of deference was rarely displayed more forcefully or eloquently than in 1771, when the undemocratic parliament voted to send to the tower the allies of radical journalist and mp john wilkes, in the climax of its crusade against press freedom. some 50,000 londoners rioted at westminster, crying ‘wilkes and liberty!’. when aristocratic prime minister lord north arrived, his disenfranchised constituents smashed up his carriage, cut up his hat, and came close to stringing up the pm himself.parliament eventually sought to stave off revolution by passing three 19th-century reform acts extending the vote to more property-owning males. each time, the lords led the resistance to democratic reform – and the disenfranchised demos voted with their feet and whatever came to hand....
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#muterkelly: now it’s #metoo vs music | arts & culture | feminism | music
#muterkelly campaigners argue that they are simply stepping in where, as they see it, the justice system has failed. but nobody can seriously claim that anything approaching justice could ever take place in the boardrooms of a company like spotify. spotify claims it is acting in line with its ‘values’ by censoring r kelly and xxxtentacion for their alleged ‘hateful conduct’. but unlike the courts, big corporations are not interested in justice or the truth, only self-preservation and self-promotion. just as many entertainment-industry giants will have covered up allegations in the past, in today’s climate it suits them to trumpet their #metoo credentials and publicly cast out alleged offenders without due process.spotify’s decision sets a worrying precedent, as the urge to censor can never be sated. deplaylisting was not enough for some, with one guardian writer calling for r kelly’s ‘smug face’ to be ‘completely removed from the platform’. the feminist group, ultra violet, called for more alleged ‘abusers’ to be shelved, including nelly, eminem and chris brown. a representative for xxxtentacion wrote to spotify to ask if david bowie, james brown, jimmy page, michael jackson, miles davis and dr dre would also fall foul of their ‘hateful conduct’ policy for their past behaviour.some argue that producers should be in the firing line, too. but this introduces further complications. the daily beast, for instance, names dr luke as one of its many othe...
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why demonising iran is a dangerous game | iran | israel and palestine | middle east
a war is unlikely, however, despite some of the more excitable headlines. open conflict is not in israel’s, iran’s or saudi arabia’s strategic interests. iran is too strong in syria and iraq, and too important to those respective states in their internal battles with islamist insurgencies, to be allowed to be rolled out. but iran is also too weak, in terms of finance and domestic political support, to extend and expand its influence in iraq and syria and beyond. likewise, israel is much too strong to be defeated militarily, but too weak to sustain a war with iran. its recent experience in the ill-fated lebanese war in 2006, which failed to halt the consolidation and rise of iranian-backed militia hezbollah, is testament to its shortcomings. in short, no state is weak enough to be defeated, or strong enough to win.then there are the international factors. iran still wants to retain some semblance of accord with europe. us sanctions will inhibit the ability of non-us banks and businesses to deal with iran, but as it stands, even without us involvement, iran is still far less politically and economically isolated than it was before 2015. to pursue conflict openly in the middle east would risk a return to complete isolation from the developed world.and then there is russia, which is hovering neutrally on the sidelines of the iran-israel scuffles. it has backed the iranian regime in the past, especially to the extent that iran has helped quieten the islamist threat, be it is...
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why ireland must repeal the eighth amendment | abortion | ireland
this has, of course, caused great difficulty for many thousands of irish women. some travel to foreign countries, often at expense and sometimes distress, in order to exercise their basic right to determine their own destinies. between 1980 and 2016, a staggering 170,216 irish women and girls went abroad for abortion services, the vast majority of them to the uk. thousands of irish women surreptitiously order abortion pills from the internet: between 2010 and 2012, 1,642 abortion-pill packages were dispatched to irish addresses by one provider alone. but even this is unpalatable to the irish authorities who must adhere to the eighth amendment. so over the past 10 years, more than 6,000 abortion pills were seized by officials upon arrival in ireland. to put this another way: women in the early stages of pregnancy have been physically prevented from taking a very safe drug that they want because the state thinks it knows better than them what should become of their bodies and by extension their lives. this is nasty, ugly, illiberal paternalism.the eighth amendment has got to go. it is time everyone took individual autonomy seriously. it is time we upheld an all-in, all-rounded, and serious definition of individual autonomy, one which includes bodily autonomy, reproductive autonomy, personal autonomy, familial autonomy, and moral autonomy. that is, the right to think whatever we like, say whatever we believe, raise our children as we see fit, and govern our lives for ourselves i...
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dementia: we need action, not awareness | health | nhs
most research into alzheimer’s relies on animals, and on researching human brains after death. that’s far from ideal. worse: in the us in 2014/15, the number of alzheimer’s drugs in registered trials was just 135, compared with nearly 5,000 trials of drugs designed to combat cancer. success rates are lower than one per cent. as for medical devices or stem cells being used to beat alzheimer’s, these have so far been given very little attention compared with drugs.to cure dementia, there’s a whole research mountain to climb, and it needs climbing fast. instead, though, the authorities are preoccupied with telling people to look out for dementia in others, and to ward it off themselves through cheap-and-cheerful ways of changing their behaviour. thus we learn from the lancet that more childhood education, exercise and social engagement, less smoking, and the management of hearing loss, depression, diabetes and obesity ‘might have the potential’ to delay or prevent a third of dementia cases. this is obfuscation. the fact is that no amount of lifestyle changes, or medical screening for dementia, will undo the condition. the official focus on patient behaviour is just hype designed to stigmatise people and distract from the need to get serious about medical research and development (r&d). nowadays, not a day goes by without the media proclaiming some kind of putative breakthrough in medical science. yet there remains a huge gap between such advance in the labs and a c...
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the ugliness of the knife-crime debate | crime and the law
further clouding the issue are the panics about gangs and ‘gang culture’. viewing the killings through the prism of gangs has serious consequences for how individuals are treated by the justice system. amnesty international published a report last week that suggested the metropolitan police are spying on large numbers of innocent young black and asian men through its ‘gangs matrix’. in doing so, the met has effectively created a parallel justice system in which mere association with suspected gang members is grounds for surveillance – even if the ‘suspect’ has never been involved in a crime. but many of the recent killings have little to do with gangs. for instance, a 23-year-old student, russell jones, was shot and stabbed to death in enfield, london in march. he was not a member of a rival gang, but merely in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’, as one friend said. in january, 19-year-old rezwan ali was knifed to death in walsall, birmingham, during a fight at a house party. these killings are not driven by gangs vying for control over territory. they are more often acts of individual retribution and random violence. they are all the more disturbing for their lack of any connection to gang activity.our approach to tackling violence is so confused because every explanation and policy proposal fails to treat those involved as morally autonomous human beings. either they are violent gangsters who can only be tackled by draconian state power, or they are vulne...
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stop playing politics with student suicides | education | mental health
by starting their measurements in 2007, the researchers suggest that, over the course of a decade, the suicide rate among students has nearly doubled. but there is little to suggest that 2007, in which 75 students took their own lives, was a typical year. in 2004, 112 students committed suicide, and in 2013, 100 died this way. over a 15-year period, numbers have fluctuated between 100 and 146. when put into this broader context, 2007 stands out for having far fewer reported suicides than other years. but when researchers use this year as the starting point, the rate of increase appears far larger.more recently, since 2014, there has been an increase in overall student suicides at a time when the overall number of students has remained relatively steady. the rate seems to be increasing and outpacing the non-student population. but the overall numbers are, thankfully, small – an increase from 130 to 146. it is difficult to read anything significant from such figures. one factor seems to be that more women have been taking their own lives during this time, while the number of male suicides has remained constant. today, almost half of all young adults go to university. if we isolate suicide in students, rather than suicide rates in the general population, it can appear as if going to university is, in itself, a causal factor in someone deciding to take their own life. recent reports suggest that making the transition from home to university can be emotionally challenging for so...
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david goodall: dying for the wrong cause
some argue that anyone in possession of their senses with a sustained death wish should be allowed euthanasia or assisted suicide. this is the basis for the legal framework in switzerland, where it is legal to assist a suicide so long as the motives for assisting are honest. this is also the direction in which the netherlands and belgium are heading. aurelia brouwers, a 29-year-old dutch woman who chose to die earlier this year, made the same points as goodall when she spoke of her dislike for her life, present and future.the central problem of assisted suicide is not the act of suicide, but the act of assistance. much as we can agree that it is immoral to force anyone to live, it is also immoral to kill – or to participate in the killing of – a human being. as emile durkheim noted 130 years ago, a permissive attitude towards suicide ‘denies the religion of humanity, the most important bond of protection between human beings’:‘from the moment that the human person is and must be considered something sacred… any attack upon it must be forbidden. no matter that the guilty person and the victim are one and the same… if violent destruction of a human life revolts us as a sacrilege, in itself and generally, we cannot tolerate it under any circumstances.’to the extent that it can be reflected in law, the attitude of the community – not the individual – must be against suicide, because it removes a member of that community. that is why our murder and manslaughter...
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sadiq khan, london’s paternalist-in-chief | food | health
moreover, thanks to some odd decisions in the past about where to place the cut-offs for ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’, childhood obesity statistics exaggerate the prevalence of obesity. and even those beefed-up numbers peaked over a decade ago. the obesity timebomb never went off. so why the sudden need to censor adverts?dodgy justifications aside, the real problem with khan’s plan is the implication that we are such monkey-see, monkey-do morons that we cannot be exposed to adverts without engaging in the supposedly reckless behaviour they promote, like eating burgers or chocolate bars. thankfully, our intellectual superiors, the kind of people who manage to sustain a healthy lifestyle despite the barrage of obesity-inducing imagery, are here to protect us from ourselves. sorry, sadiq, but we eat the ‘wrong’ food because it tastes good. nobody needed to woo us with some hypnotic, carefully calculated piece of advertising. as pictures doing the rounds on twitter over the past few days confirm, the mayor isn’t averse to a cheeky nando’s himself. he is even happy for the world to know it when it suits his need to look like a regular guy. but what does our ‘man of the people’ really think of the people he governs? that we need a hefty serving of paternalistic elitism to keep us in check.in pushing this policy, khan wants to look like a politician who makes the brave, unpopular choices needed to tackle the big problems facing society. excuse my french, but what a...
Tags : sadiq khan, london’s paternalist-in-chief | food | health - obesity ,like ,that ,this ,health ,khan ,public health ,look like sadiq khan, london’s paternalist-in-chief | food | health
why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom
and the problem isn’t as great as people make out. this year, pamco surveyed the readership – both in print and online – of british newspapers. the top 12 newspapers in the uk by ‘total brand reach’ are spread across seven owners. when the titles’ readerships are broken down further, it turns out that the guardian has the highest monthly desktop brand-reach, while the sun does best for mobile, the mail on tablet and the metro in print. the idea that a handful of individuals are monopolising british readers’ minds just doesn’t stack up.tackling phone-hacking?campaigners say we need leveson ii for the benefit of the victims of phone-hacking and press intrusion. in truth, these are trojan-horse issues through which very powerful people are pushing their own anti-press agenda. the first leveson inquiry wasn’t just an investigation into specific wrongdoings by the press; it was an elitist showtrial of the press – largely of the tabloid press – and of its entire ‘culture and ethics’.the public isn’t stupid, we know the score: the demand for a second press inquiry isn’t about phone-hacking – it’s about influential people trying to insulate themselves from media criticism, even if that means overthrowing 300 years of press freedom by giving the go-ahead to the first form of state-approved press regulation in britain since 1695.the public are not agitating for greater press regulation. in the government’s public consultation on this issue, in januar...
Tags : why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom - press ,leveson ,that ,public ,isn’t ,this ,press freedom ,phone hacking ,between journalists ,public officials ,vote against ,relationships between journalists ,second press inquiry why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom
the siege of israel | israel and palestine
recent political shifts in the middle east, in particular the growing influence of iran through both the vacuum of post-war iraq and in the civil war in syria, have contributed to a situation where israel senses much hostility around it. from hezbollah in lebanon, emboldened by the key role it has been called on to play by iran and assad in the syrian conflict, to turkey, where president erdogan has publicly regretted turkey’s peace deal with israel in 2016 and now frequently refers to israel as a ‘terror state’ and practitioner of ‘genocide’, to hamas in gaza, also backed by iran and which has become increasingly willing to confront israel on its border over the past two months, israel isn’t imagining things when it says it has enemies at its doorstep. a key problem has been the relentless internationalisation of the middle eastern region, which has caused quakes and shifts that have led to israel sensing the rise of those who do not only oppose it politically, but existentially, too.on top of this latest dynamic of regional isolation there is also the global isolation, or at least global problematisation, of israel. israel is frequently singled out by western observers, academics and activists as uniquely destabilising and destructive. they harangue the un to condemn israel, which it does, and they call on their own political leaders – some of whom, in particular in the us and the uk, have caused far more instability in the middle east than israel has – to d...
Tags : the siege of israel | israel and palestine - israel ,that ,have ,which ,siege ,moral ,double standard ,anti israel ,tear down ,with israel ,middle east the siege of israel | israel and palestine
the siege of israel | israel and palestine
recent political shifts in the middle east, in particular the growing influence of iran through both the vacuum of post-war iraq and in the civil war in syria, have contributed to a situation where israel senses much hostility around it. from hezbollah in lebanon, emboldened by the key role it has been called on to play by iran and assad in the syrian conflict, to turkey, where president erdogan has publicly regretted turkey’s peace deal with israel in 2016 and now frequently refers to israel as a ‘terror state’ and practitioner of ‘genocide’, to hamas in gaza, also backed by iran and which has become increasingly willing to confront israel on its border over the past two months, israel isn’t imagining things when it says it has enemies at its doorstep. a key problem has been the relentless internationalisation of the middle eastern region, which has caused quakes and shifts that have led to israel sensing the rise of those who do not only oppose it politically, but existentially, too.on top of this latest dynamic of regional isolation there is also the global isolation, or at least global problematisation, of israel. israel is frequently singled out by western observers, academics and activists as uniquely destabilising and destructive. they harangue the un to condemn israel, which it does, and they call on their own political leaders – some of whom, in particular in the us and the uk, have caused far more instability in the middle east than israel has – to d...
Tags : the siege of israel | israel and palestine - israel ,that ,have ,which ,siege ,moral ,double standard ,anti israel ,tear down ,with israel ,middle east the siege of israel | israel and palestine
david goodall: dying for the wrong cause
some argue that anyone in possession of their senses with a sustained death wish should be allowed euthanasia or assisted suicide. this is the basis for the legal framework in switzerland, where it is legal to assist a suicide so long as the motives for assisting are honest. this is also the direction in which the netherlands and belgium are heading. aurelia brouwers, a 29-year-old dutch woman who chose to die earlier this year, made the same points as goodall when she spoke of her dislike for her life, present and future.the central problem of assisted suicide is not the act of suicide, but the act of assistance. much as we can agree that it is immoral to force anyone to live, it is also immoral to kill – or to participate in the killing of – a human being. as emile durkheim noted 130 years ago, a permissive attitude towards suicide ‘denies the religion of humanity, the most important bond of protection between human beings’:‘from the moment that the human person is and must be considered something sacred… any attack upon it must be forbidden. no matter that the guilty person and the victim are one and the same… if violent destruction of a human life revolts us as a sacrilege, in itself and generally, we cannot tolerate it under any circumstances.’to the extent that it can be reflected in law, the attitude of the community – not the individual – must be against suicide, because it removes a member of that community. that is why our murder and manslaughter...
Tags : david goodall: dying for the wrong cause - that ,suicide ,assisted ,this ,human ,life ,assisted suicide ,have been david goodall: dying for the wrong cause
sadiq khan, london’s paternalist-in-chief | food | health
moreover, thanks to some odd decisions in the past about where to place the cut-offs for ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’, childhood obesity statistics exaggerate the prevalence of obesity. and even those beefed-up numbers peaked over a decade ago. the obesity timebomb never went off. so why the sudden need to censor adverts?dodgy justifications aside, the real problem with khan’s plan is the implication that we are such monkey-see, monkey-do morons that we cannot be exposed to adverts without engaging in the supposedly reckless behaviour they promote, like eating burgers or chocolate bars. thankfully, our intellectual superiors, the kind of people who manage to sustain a healthy lifestyle despite the barrage of obesity-inducing imagery, are here to protect us from ourselves. sorry, sadiq, but we eat the ‘wrong’ food because it tastes good. nobody needed to woo us with some hypnotic, carefully calculated piece of advertising. as pictures doing the rounds on twitter over the past few days confirm, the mayor isn’t averse to a cheeky nando’s himself. he is even happy for the world to know it when it suits his need to look like a regular guy. but what does our ‘man of the people’ really think of the people he governs? that we need a hefty serving of paternalistic elitism to keep us in check.in pushing this policy, khan wants to look like a politician who makes the brave, unpopular choices needed to tackle the big problems facing society. excuse my french, but what a...
Tags : sadiq khan, london’s paternalist-in-chief | food | health - obesity ,like ,that ,this ,health ,khan ,public health ,look like sadiq khan, london’s paternalist-in-chief | food | health
malaysia: a victory for democracy | asia
in last week’s malaysian general election, the 14th since independence in 1957, something remarkable happened. the ruling coalition party, barisan nasional (bn), formerly the alliance party, which has ruled for all of malaysia’s 61 years of independence, was finally defeated by another coalition party, pakatan harapan (ph), led by the 92-year-old former premier, mahathir mohamad.i was shocked. the unthinkable had happened. i had spent the days before the election talking to my brothers back in malaysia, urging them not to be too disappointed if, as expected, ph was narrowly defeated. like many others, i believed bn would win, albeit with a reduced majority. but my brothers were more confident. they felt the opposition had a chance. when their hopes were realised, they were ecstatic.as were many others. a lawyer friend of mine, who lives in kuala lumpur, described the win as ‘a new beginning’. william de cruz, former president of pro-democracy campaign group global bersih, said malaysia had shown the world how to reclaim democracy against all the odds. there was no rioting, he continued; no looting, no burning of cars, homes or shops, and no ugly manifestations of religious or racial bigotry. elsewhere, the wife of the late karpal singh, a lawyer who had fought against the government for many years, posted on facebook that she had turned 70 on 10 may, and bn’s defeat was the best birthday gift she could have wished for. she added that her late husband was holding god...
Tags : malaysia: a victory for democracy | asia - election ,against ,that ,malays ,party ,umno ,meant that ,ethnic malays ,many others ,mahathir mohamad ,coalition party malaysia: a victory for democracy | asia
why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom
and the problem isn’t as great as people make out. this year, pamco surveyed the readership – both in print and online – of british newspapers. the top 12 newspapers in the uk by ‘total brand reach’ are spread across seven owners. when the titles’ readerships are broken down further, it turns out that the guardian has the highest monthly desktop brand-reach, while the sun does best for mobile, the mail on tablet and the metro in print. the idea that a handful of individuals are monopolising british readers’ minds just doesn’t stack up.tackling phone-hacking?campaigners say we need leveson ii for the benefit of the victims of phone-hacking and press intrusion. in truth, these are trojan-horse issues through which very powerful people are pushing their own anti-press agenda. the first leveson inquiry wasn’t just an investigation into specific wrongdoings by the press; it was an elitist showtrial of the press – largely of the tabloid press – and of its entire ‘culture and ethics’.the public isn’t stupid, we know the score: the demand for a second press inquiry isn’t about phone-hacking – it’s about influential people trying to insulate themselves from media criticism, even if that means overthrowing 300 years of press freedom by giving the go-ahead to the first form of state-approved press regulation in britain since 1695.the public are not agitating for greater press regulation. in the government’s public consultation on this issue, in januar...
Tags : why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom - press ,leveson ,that ,public ,isn’t ,this ,press freedom ,phone hacking ,between journalists ,public officials ,vote against ,relationships between journalists ,second press inquiry why mps must vote against leveson ii - again | liberties | press freedom
trump’s dangerous iran obsession | iran | middle east
this is not to suggest the iranian state is a passive victim in all this. it has taken full advantage of the post-2003 unravelling of the middle east to consolidate its power outside its borders, first in iraq, where the revolutionary guards and assorted shia militias filled in the vacuum where the iraqi state used to be, and later in syria, where the state had also disintegrated, although not to the same extent as iraq’s had. iran has not actually sent in thousands of revolutionary guards. rather, it does what its rivals do, indeed what the us has done from the mujahideen-cum-taliban to the other islamist rebels in syria: that is, it has cultivated and backed proxy militias, much as it did most famously with hezbollah in lebanon. as the new york times noted of iran’s role in syria: ‘estimates of the number of iranian military personnel in syria today range from the high hundreds to the low thousands. while some directly participate in combat, most are trainers, commanders or experts who advise the syrian military and oversee militias. it is these militias, which could have as many as 20,000 fighters, that give iran its true muscle.’yet as active as iran has been in the region, it has been merely responding to, not driving, the collapse of the iraqi and syrian states. it didn’t prompt the disastrous interventions of the us and its allies since 2003; it took advantage of them. it did not invade syria; it was dragged in.yes, iran now has military positions from aleppo...
Tags : trump’s dangerous iran obsession | iran | middle east - iran ,syria ,military ,that ,this ,with ,middle east ,conflict with ,saudi arabia ,iranian military ,revolutionary guards trump’s dangerous iran obsession | iran | middle east
the met gala and the cultural-appropriation hypocrites | arts & culture | usa
on that point, at least, morgan is right. there is no doubt a hypocrisy among the chattering classes where mocking religion is concerned. islam, in particular, is a total no-go, while christianity has always been fair game. charlie hebdo’s various mocking depictions of jesus over the years barely caused a stir, while its muhammad cartoons caused outrage. so nervous are people about mocking islam that even after charlie hebdo’s staff were massacred by islamists, there was a sense of ‘they had it coming’ in the commentary. but just because that hypocrisy exists doesn’t mean you need to get upset when people play dress-up with catholicism.if anything, the met gala just proved how ridiculous it is to be nervous about mocking, or just playing with, religious ideas and imagery. and the same goes for the ongoing panic about cultural appropriation. why were the met gala attendees given a pass to ‘appropriate’ catholic culture? the event’s organisers claimed to be honouring catholicism rather than making fun of it. but this is precisely what virtually all people charged with cultural appropriation say in their defence, including keziah daum, the utah teenager who wore a chinese dress to a prom and sparked a huge online backlash as a result. many of the celebrities at the met gala wore crucifixes despite not being catholic. most of them probably know little about the doctrines of the church or the catacombs of rome. but who gives a shit? people should be free to wear wh...
Tags : the met gala and the cultural-appropriation hypocrites | arts & culture | usa - gala ,that ,about ,cultural ,mocking ,with ,cultural appropriation ,about mocking ,charlie hebdo’s the met gala and the cultural-appropriation hypocrites | arts & culture | usa
a manifesto for heresy | spiked
and i expect it will not surprise many of you here tonight that my advice is to do the latter: continue to speak your heresy, and damn the consequences. you should do this for two reasons. first, because it will be good for you as an individual. and secondly, because it will be good for society as a whole.of course it isn’t only trans-critical thinking that has been rebranded heresy. the industry of demonology has been working overtime of late, busy discovering new demons, busy delegitimising certain beliefs. the language of demonology is rampant in public life today. the two most common brands imposed on those judged to hold heretical beliefs are ‘phobic‘ and ‘denier’. they are fascinating terms. the first, ‘phobic’, speaks to the treatment of certain views as irrational fears, as forms of mental illness, essentially. and the second, ‘denier’, echoes precisely the terminology used against those who were dragged before the inquisition. they, too, were deniers: deniers of the light of christ.so if you criticise trans thinking, you are transphobic. if you think gay marriage is not a good idea, and that the institution of marriage plays a specific social role best filled by heterosexual couples, you are homophobic. criticise islam, and you’re islamophobic. indeed, when the runnymede trust first popularised the term ‘islamophobia’,  in the 1990s, it included in its definition any expression that treats islam as ‘inferior to western values’. so to make...
Tags : a manifesto for heresy | spiked - that ,heresy ,their ,should ,they ,this ,heretical beliefs ,what they ,punish yourself ,they believe ,express your ,your heretical beliefs ,sometimes their heresy a manifesto for heresy | spiked
what marx and nietzsche had in common | books & essays | politics
just as marx would have recoiled in horror at stalinism, nietzsche would have been aghast at the nazis and their misappropriation of his writings. in the first place, nietzsche loathed anti-semites in whom he saw personified the malevolent spirits of resentment and envy. anti-semitism was the emotion for weak, lower people, for whom ‘someone must be to blame for the fact that i do not feel well’. in human, all too human (1878), he wrote of how lowly men hated the jews on account of ‘their energy and higher intelligence, their capital spirit and will, which accumulated from generation to generation in the long school of their suffering’, and that the success of this higher people ‘awakens envy and hatred’, making jews ‘scapegoats for every possible public and private misfortune’. he even contrasted the jews favourably against his own (christian) countrymen: ‘what a blessing a jew is among germans! see the obtuseness, the flaxen head, the blue eyes, and the lack of intellect in the face, the language, and the bearing; the lazy habit of stretching the limbs and the need of repose among germans.’nietzsche hated not merely his fellow countrymen, but german militarism, too. this was the theme of one of his essays from the 1876 book untimely meditations, in which he rightly predicted that germany’s victory in its recent war against france would lead to the rise of militarism in his country and a decline in its culture (and the corresponding opposite effect in f...
Tags : what marx and nietzsche had in common | books & essays | politics - nietzsche ,that ,from ,this ,their ,have ,would have ,20th century ,have been ,among germans what marx and nietzsche had in common | books & essays | politics
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