2017: A year of corporate handouts and rising elitism

 

Donald Trump Inauguration
President Trump’s Inauguration. (Sourced from Wikipedia and labelled for reuse)

What can be said about 2017? While an improvement from its predecessor, it was often one of underhanded, back-room dealings at the top that benefited a few people as opposed to the many. Of course, it all started with Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, which contrary to what he would have you believe, wasn’t so massive in terms of crowd size. Running his presidency like a full-on businessman, staff including strategist Steve Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer would leave the White House over the course of the year.

Trump and Kim
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un (Sourced from Wikimedia Commons and labelled for reuse)

Inflated egos in both North Korea and North America rippled outwards throughout 2017; Kim Jong-Un continued to test rockets, including some that could reach the western coast, making its neighbours understandably nervous and leaving others to wonder whether conflict was on the horizon. Despite a trading of childish insults back and forth between the two leaders, Trump and Jong-Un didn’t end up trading their words for missiles. In the US, emboldened by the President seemingly turning a blind eye to their actions, neo-Nazi groups began to come out of their closets, violently clashing with groups like Antifa in the process. It came to a head in Charlottesville in August where a Unite the Right rally saw one person die and thirty-nine others injured. So long as Trump refuses to condemn the return of these vile far-right individuals, their abuse will only continue.

Saffiyah Khan 2017
Saffiyah Khan standing up to an EDL member in April 2017 (Sourced from The Guardian)

The #MeToo Campaign exploded across Hollywood and many big names from Harvey Weinstein to Kevin Spacey were implicated in sexual assault. The sheer size of the movement which quickly spread across twitter and other social media networks drew plenty of attention to how big the problem of harassment and sexual abuse is worldwide. In fact, the year itself was a strong one for women; Saudi Arabia moved to allow women to drive for the first time in its history, and women in the United States formed the biggest march in US history to take on the President and his woman-abusing ways. This was followed up by a march for science in which hundreds of professionals moved to condemn Trump’s denial of science and proven facts. Personally, I feel the viral picture above of Saffiyah Khan standing up to the racist English Defence League tells the story of women in 2017 better than I can; nearly 100 years after they were first given the right to vote, women are making their voices heard on higher, more widespread levels and it’s easily the most positive story of the year.

Battle of Mosul
Peshmerga soldiers at the Battle of Mosul (Sourced from Wikipedia and labelled for reuse)

Despite terror attacks around the world, the worst of which being in the Middle East, ISIS lost a vast amount of territory in 2017 as military offensives worked to push them back. As far as physical presence goes, it’s hard to see the group lasting much longer, but their ideology may endure longer yet, particularly through their indoctrination methods. Despite this however, bombs continue to fall on the Middle East, with America making use of a MOAB for the first time; the praising of the use of weapons by the US media certainly didn’t help here. The impact of dropping so many bombs on the regions needs to be considered, particularly with regards to creating more terrorists.

Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling
Members of the Washington Redskins kneel for the US National Anthem (Sourced from Wikipedia and labelled for reuse)

Sports and politics collided in the US as Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players triggered a wave of peaceful protests against police brutality and the treatment of minorities throughout the country; it was a brave yet simple act that would continue throughout the year as others spoke out against their treatment while also exposing the monopolistic and neglectful behavior of the NFL itself. Of course, Trump and his rabid supporters moved to attack and abuse the players, brainwashed by nationalism into believing that they were disrespecting flag and country. What they seemed to forget through all this is the right to protest that lies in the first amendment.

French Election 2017
French voters celebrate outside the Louvre (Sourced from Wikimedia commons and labelled for reuse)

In spite of successful surges in 2016, the EU managed to stand strong for the time being as France and the Netherlands defeated far-right nationalism in their respective elections. Geert Wilders was beaten by Mark Rutters who will maintain his seat for another five years. In France, the French Front Leader Marine Le Pen, a big fan of Donald Trump, lost out to Emmanuel Macron, who has pledged to bring several ambitious reforms and possibly reach higher in the leadership of Europe. On the other hand, the Catalan Independence vote triggered further instability within Spain; both the EU and the United Nations chose not to recognise the vote as legitimate. Outside of these events however, 2017 was also notable for the first millennial coming to power; Sebastian Kurz, 31 is leaning to the right side of the political spectrum with one of his policies dictating that refugees who come to Austria will not receive benefits until they have lived in the country for five years. Future leaders who come to power in the future should be scrutinised and held to account.

Jeremy Corbyn 2017
Jeremy Corbyn addresses the Labour party at the launch of their election campaign. (Sourced from Wikimedia Commons and labelled for reuse)

Over in the UK, things really haven’t moved forward since last year’s debacle; Theresa May’s early UK election aiming to “crush the saboteurs” turned into a mess as voters were swayed to Jeremy Corbyn, forcing the originally unelected PM to bribe Ireland’s DUP 1.5 billion pounds to cling on to power. Further scandals would continue infest the Conservative party throughout the year. First development secretary Priti Patel left the cabinet for her plans to secretly send funds to the Israeli army, then deputy Prime Minister Damien Green crashed out after pornography was found on his computer, and Boris Johnson bungled a UK prisoner release in Iran. Bafflingly enough, David Davies and Jeremy Hunt are still in their jobs, despite their own negligence regarding Brexit and the NHS. The current UK government seems weaker than ever and some are looking at the prospect of yet another vote next year, one which the Labour party could take and come to power. Have they done anything positive this year? They did at least move to tackle the endless plastics flooding our oceans in the Budget this year, but they could have done so much more.

Grenfell Tower Fire
Firefighters tackle the blaze at Grenfell Tower (Sourced from Wikimedia Commons and labelled for reuse)

Around halfway through the year a fire erupted at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, London killing 71 people, injuring 74 and depriving 223 of a home. The disaster exposed incompetency in public safety on part of the Labour ran council, poor effort in financial relief from the current government and the ever-widening gap and subsequent neglect between the UK’s rich and poor. Currently the inquiry is ongoing, and details can be found online; who is to blame for this comes down to several factors; there were no sufficient sprinkler systems in place, nor was there enough funding given to make the building safer. I remember driving near the site and seeing its burnt remains jutting out among the other towers; it’s practically a monument to the horrendous and shameful way the poor have been treated in the UK and even now, many of those who did escape the fire still haven’t received their full compensation. Making sure it never happens again is only a starting point, the rift between rich and poor must also be tackled.

Brexit passport
Image sourced from pixabay, labelled for reuse

Moving to the highest level of governance, the backwards Brexit stupidity continued in the UK as gross nationalism and poor preparation took priority over careful thought and fair dealing. Without a single benefit to its name, the negotiations hobbled on and eventually news broke out that chief negotiator David Davies hadn’t carried out a single study into the economic impact of Brexit over the year the con took place. His laziness spoke volumes of the true attitudes towards Brexit; one where the abusive rich will be high and dry as they impose the oncoming economic chaos onto everyone in the lower classes. The madness only got worse with the announcement of blue passports; a ridiculous campaign in The Sun brought about the decision which could cost the taxpayer five hundred million pounds. Staying true to last year’s explosion of fake news and denial, an aide of Theresa May quickly denounced this figure; what’s more damning about the move is how it panders to the bigoted individuals in the UK while completely ignoring other problems like homelessness, healthcare and education. Clearly the magic money tree is well at work here…

Rohingya Persecution
Protests calling for the support of the Rohingya people in Myanmar (Sourced from Wikipedia and labelled for reuse)

On the humanitarian front, the worst crises came through Yemen and the Rohingya Genocide. After three years of endless attacks, famine and suffering have swept through Yemen and the sales of the arms trade have only made it worse. Further down the line, a genocide swept through Myanmar as ethnic cleansing masquerading as a crackdown on insurgency took hold, causing half a million Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh. While Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel peace prize was not revoked, her downfall in the eyes of the international community was cemented with her complicity and failure to stop the suffering and treat the Rohingya people with dignity. On the other side of the coin Robert Mugabe was ousted in Zimbabwe with a military coup, ending a near four-decade period of economic failure through hyper-inflation. Many locals celebrated the move, praying for more prosperous times for their country. On the nature front, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua were plunged into chaos when Storm Nate struck, but this also caused an outpouring of support with some Americans heading there on their accord to help those stuck without electricity.

Following on from last year’s Panama Papers, the Paradise papers shed further light on the abuse and hoarding of unequal wealth around the world. In fact, 2017 was also a big year for the top 500 richest people as they saw their wealth increase by a gigantic one trillion dollars at the expense of billions beneath them who lost out on stagnating wages, increasing homelessness and privatisation of public services as they continue to gain more power and influence over others. The same holds true for privatisation of services that belong in public hands; Virgin, through a rather callous lawsuit against the UK’s NHS, has acquired one billion pounds worth of healthcare contacts in this year alone.

Trump UN Speech
Trump delivers a speech at the United Nations (Sourced from Wikipedia and labelled for reuse)

In his continuing mission to take America backwards, President Trump received his first major victories; he withdrew America from the Paris Climate Accord (The only nation on Earth to do so), scraped through a watered-down travel ban from the Middle East region and towards the end of the year he pushed through a tax cut that will make the rich even richer. He went on to cop his biggest controversy for recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Bullying and emergency voting ensued at the UN as the US demanded the names of those who voted against their decision and vetoed any action against them. The reckless decision created an explosion of violence between Palestine and Israel. But Trump also received his first major defeat, losing Alabama to Democrat Doug Jones, something which could spell further difficulties in the mid-term elections next year.

Net Neutrality Protest
New York City protesters look to stop the repeal of Net Neutrality (Sourced from Flickr user Backbone Campaign and labelled for reuse)

To close out the year, another shock hit the United States as the net neutrality repeal was passed, ready to segregate internet users into paid groups. From there, Ajit Pai, the head of the Federal Communications Commission pranced about both on and off the internet, happy that he and his friends in corporate telecasters were about to get a lot richer by charging citizens for access to specific sites. This brings difficulties in a few ways; not only are consumers being ripped off for what should be an inclusive service, but the flow of information can also be manipulated. If any information and websites holding governments and organisations to account could be locked behind a paywall, then the public would be constantly misinformed through a form of corporate intrusion to ensure their continued dominance.

2017 was ultimately a year of people at the top pressing down on those beneath them; with the negative results of 2016 still in the mind, this isn’t surprising and the ways the elite took advantage of last year’s events manifested themselves in the twelve months that followed. There was pushback in some areas but there is still work to be done. One thing I saw felt quite indicative; on the way back through Brussels Airport earlier this year I saw the security barrier manned entirely by G4S employees, followed up by a billboard for Exxon Mobil, a company who has been given the go-ahead to drastically up their plastic production; considering the talk of giving G4S plans to arrest in the UK and Rex Tillerson’s questionable views on climate change, this is perhaps an indication of the power corporations and those at the top may soon hold. We should watch this carefully in the year to come.

(Images used for the purposes of review and criticism under fair use)

Advertisements

2016: A year of nastiness unchained

 

2016 was a difficult year in many ways, there was much in the way of bitterness and little in the way of understanding; what went wrong over the past 365 days could almost be considered a chain reaction of sorts; there was something radical about this year, a point where numerous systems and sensibilities were suddenly thrown out the window in a blind rage. This is something I’ll try to consider and reflect on here, however difficult it may be from a purely UK perspective.

Was it any surprise that the same year white swimmer Brock Turner got a lenient sentence for sexual assault was the one in which a misogynistic, lying billionaire cheated his way to being President? The year itself seemed very backwards in general; Brock Turner’s judge was recently cleared of any misconduct while police brutality remained a serious problem in the United States. The Zika virus broke out at the start of the year in Latin America, India and Africa, prompting several relief efforts. Brussels and Istanbul both suffered horrific terror attacks at the hands of ISIS, delivering further prominence for far-right groups across Europe. President Duterte of the Philippines took a dark turn as he launched a violent war on drugs throughout the islands and Venezuela continued to plummet with rapid inflation ravaging citizens, most of whom can now barely afford food, water and other essentials. The internet saw a rise in fake news as it spread rapidly through Facebook and other sources, casting further doubts and requiring further checks and tensions began to flare between America and China as Donald Trump began to forge his own awkward rulebook as a millionaire president. Rising from the ashes of TTIP, CETA, a trade agreement which would put more power in the hands of corporations has made progress in the EU and Canada, a blemish on an otherwise welcoming and tolerant nation who have taken in over 38,000 Syrian refugees as of December, this year.

Image result for Trump and Farage lift
Image credited to Huffington Post UK

When talking about the Western world however, most eyes point to the UK and the United States who both took grossly misguided steps that may well end up destroying the values of openness, acceptability and freedom. The picture above explains better than words what happened to both nations in 2016; two lying conmen, masquerading as anti-establishment standing in a gold-plated lift with smug grins on their faces over how they managed to trick two of the most powerful western nations into voting against their own interests. They really did bring change this year; specifically, they made things worse and both times, events that should have derailed the two conmen had little to no effect. In the UK, MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far right terrorist chanting “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” while in the US, Trump could get away with making vulgar remarks about women and walking free from his criticism of a disabled reporter and countless ethnic minorities. It was blindingly clear that the two cons were disastrous. Britain has been hurled to the back of the queue on the world stage and into a period of uncertainty without any plan or a deal that would leave us better off and the United States has an incredibly misguided and potentially dangerous presidency coming in January 2017. On both sides of the world, the two big votes were fraught with infighting, vitriolic exchanges across social media and many instances that whipped some (not all) people into frenzies of anger and resentment. This often happens with any election but 2016 felt so unhinged and furious in the West that the structure of politics, left and right, looked set to come crashing down; not for reasons of progress but for more efficient division and manipulation of the masses to go down a specific path.

Image result for Brexit Protests
Image credited to Flickr user David B. Young. Labelled for reuse

It all came unravelling rather quickly on both sides of the pond; Nigel Farage has never been in the political arena for anyone other than himself; right from the get-go, his act in appearing to support the common man deluded thousands into believing his lies and frankly we should have expected this. The UK public elected him as an MEP where instead of collaborating, all he ever did was run his mouth off about how much he hated the European Union while receiving a hefty salary for it. 2016 saw him become especially bold in his vile rhetoric, spearheading the propaganda of the leave campaign and coming to a head with an utterly shameful comparison of the Hope Not Hate group to extremism and a subsequent disrespect of Jo Cox’s husband Brendan (Who is still grieving along with his family after their loss). Even now Farage is continuing to be a thorn in progressive UK politics, proclaiming himself the bridge between us and Donald Trump and propping up on division and bigotry. Most recently he felt the need to insult the Archbishop of Canterbury and his message of peace and acceptance, as if a country where division isn’t commonplace won’t be acceptable for him.

This erosion and hacking of Britain’s democracy didn’t stop at the EU referendum; Theresa May’s government passed the snoopers charter into law, perhaps the most extensive surveillance laws in the world; no discussion, no debate, they were simply put through and will come into effect next year. All companies will be required to hold browsing data (Categorised by who, what, when and where) for thousands of people across the UK with public authorities having free rein to access devices. On top of this, the government can demand a backdoor into devices from companies to allow for even more intrusion; consider the notion of all MPs being exempt from the charter and you have an extremely suspicious law coming into effect. Then there was the successful bid for Sky by media mogul Rupert Murdoch; after his last attempt was derailed by the phone hacking scandal in 2011, NewsCorp will now take over the large British broadcaster for £11.2 billion, handing over even more control to corporate media. It doesn’t bode well for public perception (which for years has been manipulated by the tabloid press) and it certainly doesn’t bode well for journalism either as a greater control and agenda is enacted on the media. Some have stated that Sky News won’t turn into Fox News in the States, but it may be worth taking their future coverage with a grain of salt. What could happen next? According to an account in the book: Hack Attack by Nick Davis, Murdoch may wish to steamroll British regulator Ofcom, imposing a complete domination of the UK press without any barriers. That’s worth keeping an eye on.

Image credited to Chicago Tribune

In the United States, things weren’t looking much better; after another horrendous spike in racism and abuse, thoughts turned to President-Elect Donald Trump’s oncoming term. Once again, Trump’s lies quickly came to fruition as his cabinet was filled to burst with the richest millionaires ever seen in a presidential cabinet. Draining the swamp as promised? People will soon learn that what they voted for was a sham. Any hope of the terrible decision being derailed was again quashed, this time by the electoral college, who placed Trump into the White House by passing the 270-vote mark. There’s something baffling about this to me; the electoral college is made up of many educated men and women; surely, they could clearly see that Trump is both unqualified and unfit to lead and yet they put him through all the same. According to an article in The Daily Signal, electors are pledged to support the candidate voted in by the general public; could this be another sign of appeasement, a need to avoid infuriating the masses? Either way, Trump is headed for the Oval Office and his presidency may be a rocky one; lately he has been tossing around the serious topic of nuclear weapons like a game, possibly meaning to rearm America’s stocks rather than disarm; some ties to Russia have also been difficult to swallow.

Then came the 19th of December in which a final flurry of insults was hurled at everyone; Russian ambassador Andrei Karlov was assassinated in Turkey, a truck ploughed through a Christmas market in Berlin in another terror attack and Trump received his key to the White House all while Aleppo burned, the world failing to gain any more clarity on the Syrian battle lines. A chaotic close to a dreary year in world affairs and local politics.

Image sourced from Google: Labelled for reuse

Looking back at 2016, I feel that an explosion of anger and hatred was unleashed after being bottled up for years, something which the rich, powerful and the opportunists took advantage of to better achieve their goals of manipulation for personal gain. Yet despite all this, there were still some genuinely positive moments for the year. The Paris Climate Agreement, after being established a year ago, has been coming into its own. This was then followed up by Leonardo Dicaprio’s climate change film: “Before the Flood” which fired back at environmental sceptics. War criminals Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Congo, Radovan Karadžić of the Bosnian-Serb conflict, and Hissène Habré of Chad all faced justice at the hands of the International Criminal Court, Belgrade War Crimes Court and African Union court respectively. Austria rejected far-right nationalism in its presidential electionThe snoopers charter ran into trouble at the EU Courts who said general and indiscriminate retention of emails and electronic governments in illegal, ironically providing further evidence that the Brexit con was extremely short-sighted. The Rio Olympics went relatively well despite Brazil’s economic problems and the later impeachment of President Dilma Rouseff. Over 30,000 Muslims in Hampshire protested the disgusting ideologies of ISIS and students turned out in droves in London to protest tuition fees on November 19th, continuing the pushback against rip-off education costs. Dakota’s controversial oil pipeline hit a major wall as communities of indigenous Americans and their supporters showed the power of protest. The final camp of terrorist group Boko Haram was captured by the Nigerian army, leaving them on the run and Israel’s crimes against Palestine were subjected to a pushback by the UN. A vaccine for the Ebola virus, VSV-EBOV was proven to be effective with a 70-100% success rate. Finally, China has announced that it will aim to completely ban the ivory trade by the end of 2017. As angry as we can get, it’s very reassuring to know that our ingenuity can win out in many cases.

Looking ahead to 2017, what kind of progress can be made? Can we manage to learn from the massive uptake of xenophobia and division? Or will some nations, especially the West, descend into further nastiness? It may well come down to common people, who can’t be blamed for 2016’s missteps as they were horribly misled by the people above them, to make the biggest action against changes that will negatively impact them in the future, not to mention challenge racism, bigotry and those who would cause further damage and division. To close, I think this alternative Christmas message from Brendan Cox suits best; it’s something that everyone should watch and consider as we go into the new year.

(Images in the public domain used for the purposes of review and criticism)

Sources

Brock Turner released from jail after serving only three months of his sexual assault sentence: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/brock-turner-released-three-months-sexual-assault-stanford-rape-case-a7222051.html

Brock Turner sexual assault trial Judge Aaron Persky cleared of misconduct: https://mic.com/articles/162780/brock-turner-sexual-assault-trial-judge-aaron-persky-cleared-of-misconduct#.DAAnZPWDI

Zika outbreak: What you need to know: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35370848

Brussels to Istanbul: Two airports, two bloody attacks: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/29/europe/turkey-istanbul-airport-brussels-similarities-elbagir/

Philippines: Death toll in Duterte’s war on drugs: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2016/08/philippines-death-toll-duterte-war-drugs-160825115400719.html

Venezuela on the brink: a journey through a country in crisis: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/11/venezuela-on-the-brink-a-journey-through-a-country-in-crisis

2016 Lie of the Year: Fake news: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/dec/13/2016-lie-year-fake-news/

WHAT IS CETA?: http://www.waronwant.org/what-ceta

Jo Cox murder suspect tells court his name is ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/18/thomas-mair-charged-with-of-mp-jo-cox

Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html?utm_term=.e4b1a8a3b281

Donald Trump aide Wilbur Ross: ‘Use Brexit to steal UK trade’: http://www.lbc.co.uk/news/world/donald-trump-aide-wilbur-ross-use-brexit-to-s/

Trump fan goes on rant on Delta flight, yells obscenities at Hillary supporters: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/man-calls-passengers-hillary-b-es-trump-rant-article-1.2889096

Nigel Farage launches scathing attack on Ukip’s ‘low-grade people’: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/09/nigel-farage-scathing-attack-ukip-low-grade-people

Nigel Farage insults Herman van Rompuy, calls EU President a “DAMP RAG”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bypLwI5AQvY&index=22&list=WL

Nigel Farage refuses to apologise for ‘Breaking Point’ poster in final pitch to voters: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-poster-nigel-farage-eu-referendum-live-latest-vote-leave-remain-a7095236.html

Nigel Farage faces threat of legal action over Hope Not Hate accusation: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/20/nigel-farage-accuses-jo-cox-widower-brendan-cox-of-supporting-extremism

Nigel Farage hits out at Archbishop of Canterbury over Christmas message: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/nigel-farage-archbishop-of-canterbury-negative-christmas-message-a7495186.html

What is the IP Bill and how will it affect you?: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/ip-bill-law-details-passed

UK’s new Snoopers’ Charter just passed an encryption backdoor law by the backdoor: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/30/investigatory_powers_act_backdoors/

Politicians will escape intrusive spy powers of the Snooper’s Charter: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/politicians-will-escape-intrusive-spy-powers-snoopers-charter-1594320

Sky reaches agreement for 21st Century Fox takeover offer for £11.7bn: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/sky-21st-century-fox-sale-takeover-agreement-reached-rupert-murdoch-a7477011.html

Why we use electoral college, not popular vote: http://dailysignal.com/2016/11/07/why-the-founders-created-the-electoral-college/

Donald Trump declares ‘Let it be a nuclear arms race’ with Russia: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/22/donald-trump-vladimir-putn-signal-renewal-nuclear-arms-race/

The Russian ambassador’s assassination was no work of art: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/22/assassination-russian-ambassador-turkey-9-11-art

Berlin terror attack: Horrifying dashcam video shows truck speeding into Christmas market: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/22/berlin-terror-attack-tunisian-suspect-anis-amri-investigated/

Donald Trump Completes Final Lap, Electoral College, to White House: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/us/politics/electoral-college-vote.html?_r=0

The crisis in Aleppo: who’s fighting who and why: http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/world/2016/12/15/aleppo-crisis-war-syria-explained/

Simple Politics: https://www.facebook.com/simplepoliticsuk/posts/1437746876270138:0

Marrakech climate conference: world forging ahead on climate action: http://ec.europa.eu/clima/news/articles/news_2016111801_en

Austria just decisively rejected the far right’s presidential candidate: http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/4/13833796/austria-presidential-election-2016-hofer-van-der-bellen

EU’s highest court delivers blow to UK snooper’s charter: https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/dec/21/eus-highest-court-delivers-blow-to-uk-snoopers-charter

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff removed from office by Senate: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-37237513

More than 30,000 Muslims from across the world meet in the UK to reject Isis and Islamic extremism: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/more-than-30000-ahmadiyya-muslims-from-across-the-world-meet-in-the-uk-to-reject-isis-and-islamic-a7191306.html

Student march: Thousands protest education cuts in central London: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/student-march-thousands-protest-education-cuts-in-central-london-a3399941.html

UN Security Council urges end to Israeli settlements: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/12/passes-resolution-israeli-settlements-161223192709807.html

We finally have an effective Ebola vaccine. The war on the disease is about to change: http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/22/14039628/rvsv-zebov-ebola-vaccine-trial-effective

China Bans Its Ivory Trade, Moving Against Elephant Poaching: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/world/asia/china-ivory-ban-elephants.html

Alternative Christmas Message 2016: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/alternative-christmas-message

Clippings: Giving in, appeasement and the roles they play in the modern political game

tabloid-attack-on-uk-judges

As 2016 comes to a close, politics is looking to the future after a set of thunderous earthquakes; there’s one particular trend I’ve noticed. After a Supreme Court ruling, the triggering of the Brexit process was debated in Parliament. I had some hope that the Labour and Liberal Democrats would be able to halt its progress. Perhaps both parties could have pulled together and fight the Brexit con, letting the people know why their vote was the product of lies and manipulation. But it was not to be as parliament voted vastly in favour (461 for to 89 against) of making the Conservatives release a plan for Brexit and aiming to trigger article 50 for next year at the end of March. The controversial move is all but confirmed; quite disappointing but did they really have much of a choice? To go against a vote, even if it was a con would be a bad move from any party wanting to win the next election. Consider the tabloid media’s attack on the UK’s judicial judges after they stated that Brexit could not be triggered without a vote in parliament first (Which is a fundamental part of our democratic process). If Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron denied Brexit from going through, the media would tear into them relentlessly and they might as well kiss the 2020 election goodbye. It’s this kind of acceptance that compels parties to act for the bigger picture rather than making moves that could anger the populous. It is also indicative of just how much sway external forces and the media have over the UK. Conversely, the move is certainly holding the current government to account; if Theresa May and her cabinet fail to deliver a comprehensive Brexit plan before then, they will be held as incompetent by their rival parties, thus diminishing their own reputation.

angela-merkel

It’s not just the UK who is tossing around ideas of appeasement; Germany’s next election is taking place between August and October 2017 and this has brought further measures which could be tied in with the events to come. Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently endorsed her party’s proposition for a partial burqa ban, stating that “the full facial veil is inappropriate and should be banned wherever it is legally possible”. When an election is bearing down on you, do you maintain your common policy or alter it somewhat to put more emphasis on integration while also making a light appeal to the far-right sects that have become more common in recent years? It’s easy to suggest that the need to stay in power and win elections is the principal goal of any political party, but this may well come at the cost of inclusiveness. The far right and populism is a side that can no longer be ignored in this regard and it’s possible that aspects of that political viewpoint may slowly become a larger consideration for the left to deal with in the future. We’ll have to watch 2017 carefully.

(Images used for the purposes of review under fair use. Tabloid headlines in public domain)

Clippings: An argument for City University’s motion against the UK tabloid press

city-university-logo

Update (November 27th 2016): With the amount of media attention the motion has received, City University is looking to undergo a more vigorous discussion over whether or not the tabloids should be taken off of campus stores. The person behind the motion has also stated that ban may have been too extreme a word, suggesting boycott be used.

City University has made the choice to stop selling tabloids on campus and I was one of around 200 students sitting in the Great Hall on November 17th, looking to get a sense (As a uni program rep) of how student concerns were being taken into account and implemented. After a few fairly simple motions, a lone student (whose name I won’t give to avoid personal attacks) announced a motion to ban the sale of tabloid newspapers because of the hateful messages they put out. The move was being done in partnership with the Stop Funding Hate campaign, which has been encouraging companies (most recently LEGO, the Cooperative and John Lewis) to withdraw their advertising and remove their association with a nasty set of newspapers. The decision is not unlike Bournemouth University’s choice to remove lads mags a year or two ago.

british-tabloids

There was much debate with some comparing the move to fascism, before we eventually chose to pass the motion; but is this really the case when confined to a single institution? One which aims to promote diversity and cooperation? Will the papers be forced to disappear overnight because one major institution chose to stop selling them? No; all students are still more than welcome to buy them outside the campus; we did not call for a complete ban across the nation for the tabloids. It is instead an effort towards changing their vile tone which could be achieved with enough support from companies and universities alike.

I read an article from Conservative magazine “The Spectator” recently which had much criticism of the decision; one interviewee argued that the best way to deal with bad journalism is to “do it better”; this was a message directed squarely at the university’s journalism students. But I ask critics this: How can you change the way the tabloids are ran when their owners and other people at the top will always set the agenda and the way their papers are made? If an editor at the Sun suddenly turned around and said that their negative tone needed to be scaled back then it’s possible their superiors would find someone else to follow through.

The bottom line is that the tabloids will not care about open discussion, especially the moguls who own them; they only want to sell as many papers as possible and the only way to challenge that corporate status quo is to put a dent into their profits. Only then will they realise that their rhetoric is not acceptable in a modern society that can and should be committed to embracing people from all walks of life, not demonising people who aren’t British citizens. The passed motion I feel is not a contributor to censorship; rather it is aimed at rejecting the hateful messages that these papers have been writing endlessly in recent years while also cosying up to the power elite on the side. The UK media has many flaws and I view this as a step towards changing things.

For the Road: August 2016 Update

Dubai 2016

It’s been just over a year since I started writing this blog and I’ve been taking a break for the past month, having finished up my journalism degree at Bournemouth University and visited the United Arab Emirates for the first time in thirteen years. It was an incredible three years with some amazing experiences all around.

City University Logo

After all that, what’s coming up next for me? Next month I’ll be getting into a master’s degree in International Politics at City University in London. I was inspired to do this master’s degree by a unit in Global Current Affairs during my second year at Bournemouth. It was mostly based in literature and aimed to give us journalism students a wider berth of knowledge outside of the usual practical units. I can say without a doubt that this was by far the most interesting unit of the entire course in that it opened my eyes to so many world issues. As some of you who read this blog will know, my writings here are mostly infrequent and opinion based; fairly amateur in terms of overall analysis. International Politics, if all goes to plan, will broaden this knowledge further, hopefully allowing for a more detailed set of articles on this blog.

As far as this master’s degree goes, I could take it in one of two directions; I could combine it with my base in journalism to be a foreign correspondent or get into something completely different such as embassy work. Alternatively there may also be some opportunities for opinion based journalism along the lines of Owen Jones from The Guardian. As far as work aspirations go, versatility has always been pretty high on my list and by heading to City University London; I feel I would be able to build my repertoire even more. In either case I hope to travel to far off places which leads me to the travel logs; where are they? While I did take a fair few videos during my time in Toronto, I felt that my phone wasn’t really a suitable piece of tech to put a watchable montage together. At some point in the future I may buy a proper camera to put together some videos.

So for now, the writings will continue (both here and on The Cainage Critique) and at some point I’ll be able to make this blog a little less blank with a proper logo (When I get access to Photoshop somewhere!). The Labour leadership election is coming up here in the UK so I’ll probably write something about that and the rather desperate campaign to smear Jeremy Corbyn from top to bottom along the lines of “Questionable Media”.

Thanks again to everyone who has read my writings over the past year; I’ll have more coming up soon.

Welcome to “For the Road”

Toronto Skyline

“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home” Matsuo Basho

Hello and welcome to “For the Road”, my personal (and hopefully travel!) blog in the field of journalism. Since I started writing “The Cainage Critique”, an entertainment blog on Blogger, I’ve been meaning to create a more serious and professional kind of blog; one that would both home in on the sectors I want to enter in journalism as well as sharing a few stories of the places I’ve been.

What can you expect from this blog? Well I plan on writing all kinds of features concerning global current affairs, technology, science and economics. In addition you’ll also see a fair few pictures and possibly video logs of the places I go to. This will begin with Toronto from September to December this year; I’m off to this lovely looking city in just under a month’s time as part of a study abroad exchange with Bournemouth University. Keep an eye on this space for my travels in the coming months.

It’s still early days; I still need to craft a logo, set up a page on Facebook and all the other things you do to spread the word about your blog. I hope you enjoy reading! 🙂