Europe

Why Obama should stay out of the EU referendum

The US-UK relationship is indeed a special one. It transcends the spheres of politics, government and business. It is a relationship formed through a common language, structure of laws, of family and friends. We should respect our ally by supporting the sovereign decision of its people, in or outside of the European Union. The American government is often accused of meddling in other’s affairs, let us not make this mistake again. (Read More)

'Europe'/ CC
Europe

The EU debate you really should consider

With the EU referendum approaching thick and fast, we have to look at the less publicised factors of leaving, or in fact staying in the EU. With our media dominated by economical and fear factors of terrorism and migration, we forget the consumer, cultural, environmental and innovation benefits of the EU that shape everyday life. Many of these forgotten factors are taken for granted and we do not look into the origins of those benefits brought forward by the continent (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Brussels vs Istanbul: The proximity principle and selective caring

The proximity principle explains why a terrorist attack in the U.S. would affect us more than an attack in Nigeria. Proximity can also refer to cultural proximity where we perceive a certain culture to be closer to our own. This better equips us to relate to what has happened. An attack on a culture similar to ours makes the scenario that similar events could happen at home much more credible. We can rationally understand that attacks taking place in a faraway country could theoretically take place anywhere, but this hardly ever translates into an emotional response. (Read More)

UK

Where are the Labour voices?

Yet those currently at the heart of the Labour leadership seem to have managed to get through the last few weeks without such concerns. A google search of news and opinions on the referendum would get to quite a few pages in before Messrs Corbyn or McDonnell appear.
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Scotland

The toxic split of the Conservatives: Iain Duncan Smith resigns

Mr Duncan Smith has seemingly sided with Mr Corbyn saying the Budget “benefits higher earning taxpayers”. Within his resignation letter he announced he could see them as defensible terms but only narrowly, “but they are not defensible in the way they were placed within a budget that benefits higher earning taxpayers”. He in the past has sympathised with some budget cuts to the welfare system due to the last Labour government which made difficult cuts necessary.
(Read More)

UK

The watershed Budget?

Much can, and has, been said about Duncan Smith and his welfare reform. It is easy to demonise him, however maybe unfairly. If one explores his background in welfare reform, one should not forget that this man is a part of a rare breed of politicians nowadays – conviction politicians. His genuine belief that his reforms are for the better for disabled and disenfranchised people should be applauded. (Read More)

'Boris Johnson As Emperor' by Matt Brown
Europe

Boris, Brexit and Britons in Spain

A former Eton schoolmate and long-time rival of David Cameron, the Mayor of London and MP is unique in being culturally formed by strong European antecedents all while rejecting the EU: he was educated in Brussels, covered the European Commission as a journalist and has English, Russian, Swiss, Turkish and French ancestry (the latter which links him to most of Europe’s royal families). (Read More)

Science & Technology

Snooping digitally creates a toxic silence

Managers and bosses now have the right to snoop digitally on their staff. They might just find that the transparency they think they have won leads to a deeper transparency flying out of the office windows as people zip up, minimise and, more dangerously, take the conversations underground. We then end up with a kind of toxic silence. (Read More)

'Europe' / CC
Europe

At home and abroad: What does Europe mean?

The idea of Europe and the practicalities of Europe are, by and large, the differences between resident UK citizens and British expats. For many back home it’s not unfair to say that Europe is seen as behemoth of bureaucracy or the political right’s nightmare child that inflicts red tape, open borders and pedantic rules. For us, it’s a more complicated picture. (Read More)

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Arts & Culture

Listen | Alastair Stewart & Alan Graham discuss The Dark Knight Trilogy

Is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy a masterpiece of cinema? Has it aged well and will people’s love for it survive the potential hype and success of Ben Affleck’s new iteration in Batman v. Superman? Alastair Stewart and Alan Graham discuss this and more in a special retrospective episode looking at Nolan’s success, and failures, as master and commander of the Dark Knight myth. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

The rise of the superlative

Edward Hanna, Professor of Climate Change at University of Sheffield, observes, in his article for The Conversation, how, in recent news coverage of winter weather in the UK, that a common winter storm was renamed “weather bomb” by the media. This happened to coincide with my own noticing of the use of “Absolutely Amazing” to describe some fairly normal occurrences by people I’m connected to on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You really can’t get any more absolute or amazing than absolutely amazing. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

Anti-Semitism: The disease that never died

There was a naive thought after the Holocaust that anti-Semitism would never return or if it did it would only be present in the margins of society. Unfortunately as recent anti-Semitic incidents in the UK have shown this never happened. My paper for Parliament Street as part of our contribution to the latest inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism into how anti-Semitism is affected by the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians shows that anti-Semitism has just mutated into new forms. In the way it has mutated, it has grown like a bacteria eating at the fabric of British society. (Read More)

Middle East

ISIS foreign recruitment: The pitch and how to weaken it

It is estimated that 36,500 foreigners, at least 6,600 of which are from Western countries, have joined ISIS. Consequently, the often-asked, but no less serious, question remains: how can Western powers hinder recruitment? Scholars have identified the compelling narrative crafted by ISIS as a key variable to be undermined. (Read More)

Ideas & Discussion

What is happening to the word ‘beautiful’?

‘Beautiful’ has always been a battleground in feminist discussions of representation. While it may seem counterintuitive to argue that we should consider more women as beautiful while also arguing that a woman’s capabilities are worth more than her appearance, tackling the rigid definition of beautiful has been important for intersectional feminism. A traditionally beautiful woman is white; women of colour are more likely to be sexualised instead. A beautiful woman is also normally able-bodied. She usually does not appear to be economically below the middle-class, something that is subtly but pervasively inherent in our ideas of the ideal body shape (too slender for manual labour) and the current trend of tanning (demonstrating leisure time and disposable income). A beautiful woman often also has long hair, a delicate face, and big eyes; she is vulnerable, not strong. So renegotiating this limited meaning of beautiful is a powerful act. Great progress has made with it, which should be cause for optimism. However, recent redefinitions are more troubling than empowering. (Read More)

Science & Technology

What if our children are the screen-obsessed couch potatoes of the future?

The idea of “digital addiction” has returned to the fore with UCL researchers suggesting physical activity should displace the compulsive watching of television, internet surfing and video gaming. Often it’s suggested that at least gaming is more active and engaged than merely passively watching television, but the UCL study’s authors regard gaming as “just a different way of sitting down and relaxing”. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Asia

The Japanese national identity: the barrier to gender equality

Japanese identity has been becoming increasingly debated over the past few years. Recent conflicts over Japan’s colonial past, such as the Islands dispute and comfort women have been exacerbated by the embracing of an old-fashioned Japanese identity by nationalist Prime Minister Abe. Abe’s politics hearken back to an imperial glory of traditional Japan. Yet at the same time, the Japanese government is attempting to tackle the poor state of gender equality. Unfortunately, the stronger the Japanese traditional identity is, the weaker the already ailing fight for women’s rights becomes because traditional Japanese culture often promotes a passive image of womanhood. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Europe

Thoughts on refugees in Germany

The acceptance of the refugee crisis involves taking responsibility for fellow human beings, who were not as fortunate as us in terms of having a nice home and family which provides a comfortable life. Being able to know where the next meal comes from, or even knowing that we will survive the night without being attacked by bombs from the air, is a luxury which many people around the world do not have. This security should be available to all. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Ideas & Discussion

Tattoos and the rebranding of class identity

The image of tattoos has changed, in more ways than one. They have gone from simple and standardised to high-quality pieces of artwork, and they have also gone from working-class, tacky, and hipster, to relatively normalised. Yet the modern surge of ‘tattoo art’ is not just the typical mainstreaming of taboos. It is also a response to the fragmentation of class identities and part of a class identity creation that simultaneous idealises the traditional working class while denigrating poorer people. (Read More)

Arts & Culture

The X Factor is exploitative and cruel

Victorian freak shows, human zoos and the human novelty exhibitions of your John Merricks was once thought a harmful curiosity, at worse an indulgence based in the human need to see the strange and the macabre. But if we really think we’ve moved on and evolved beyond the Victorian penchant of pointing mouths agape at that which we don’t understand or find particularly hideous then we’re more naïve as a country than I could ever have imagined. Why not bring flogging and the work house back and all? (Read More)