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Thursday, 26 October

22:31

Challenge to Tory/DUP deal fails "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

A legal challenge to the 1 billion confidence and supply agreement between the Conservative government and the DUP has failed in the High Court. 

Speaking about the verdict the DUP Deputy Leader, Nigel Dodds said;

This was a ludicrous case which has been rightly rejected at the first stage. The agreement between the DUP and the Conservative party is good for the United Kingdom as a whole and for Northern Ireland in particular. The agreement saw pensioners across the UK protected and will bring investment to Northern Ireland supporting health, education, infrastructure and to tackle deprivation.

The DUP is committed to delivering for all the people of Northern Ireland and this agreement will benefit everyone from right across the community.

22:31

How can you show that the Snowden disclosures are everybody's business? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

What's to become of the Snowden files? Are these documents to be re-appropriated into the system they sought to expose or can the leaks be elevated to the realm of the commons?

A Field Guide to the Snowden Files. Berliner Gazette.The Snowden disclosures have triggered debates about democracy, civil rights, the internet and intelligence agencies all around the world. These debates have led to a number of political changes, including negative ones, for instance, consolidating the delusion of cyber-security. Meanwhile, the documents that triggered the debates remain hard to penetrate for the general public, as well as for many experts. And it is not certain that the documents will be preserved for posterity or for those writing our history, since they are so spread out over the world corresponding to numerous sources.

The book and exhibition project SIGNALS takes this problem as its starting point and situates the historic leak in the context of civic appropriation. The artists participating in the exhibition test the files as material and, by creating works, transform them into commons.

Berliner Gazette.For the first time documents of the greatest intelligence leak in history were presented in an exhibition in Berlin the former 'capital of the spies' and the present retreat of many digital dissidents. Snowdens well-known documents published all over the world represent only a small percentage of the files that he actually saved before disappearing from his work as an NSA subcontractor.

...

20:30

The Death of Stalin "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The Death of Stalin 1I was only a toddler when Joseph Stalin died, so his demise did not impinge on my consciousness. But I vividly remember his successor, Nikita Krushchev, and his notorious shoe-banging episode at the UN General Assembly in 1960. Yet intriguingly it is neither Stalin nor Krushchev who really stand out in Armando Iannuccis controversial new film satire, The Death of Stalin, but rather Georgy Malenkov and Laventriy Beria. Jeffrey Tambor plays the former as a dim-witted but callous automaton incapable of human emotion, who has risen way above his rightful station, while Simon Russell Beale (without doubt one of the finest British actors working today) is truly chilling as the calculating Soviet security chief (much tubbier than his real-life character). Though some moments in the film have a slapstick quality that has resonances of Monty Python, far more striking is its exposure of the banality of evil, to borrow Hannah Arendts phrase about that other 20th century circus of horror, Nazi Germany. Without rubbing ones face in gore, the film nonetheless leaves one in no doubt about the brutality and pervasive sense of fear in Stalins Russia, yet most of the  key figues are portrayed as being rather ordinary men, constantly watching their backs while looking for opportunities to stick the knife into others. Im not surprised the film has divided critics and audiences, as some may feel tha...

19:52

President Kenyatta now is a time for restraint "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

While the results of Kenya's election impending, it is clear that democracy in Kenya is in peril. Kenyatta must pursue the path of dialogue.

An officer secures a waiting line at a polling station in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 26, 2017. Voting in Kenya's repeat presidential polls began on Thursday as some polling stations, mainly in opposition strongholds, reported disruptions and low voter turnout. Chen Cheng/PA Images. All rights reserved.The results of Kenyas presidential election are not yet in, and voting will continue in some areas on Saturday, but Raila Odingas decision to boycott the election leaves only one outcome possible: President Uhuru Kenyatta will have the majority of votes cast.

Any result, however, is marred by the choice millions of Kenyans made to not participate in the most basic, fundamental exercise of democracy. It is marred by the reality that without Odinga, the election was not a contest.

Turnout across the country was much, much lower than in the previous vote in August. It may well prove to have been the lowest turnout in Kenyas history of multi-party elections. Many people, even if they favoured Kenyatta, were anxious, and either decided that going to vote was not worth the trouble, or that elections should have been delayed, and stayed at home.  

With a significant number of polling stations in various parts of the country unable to open, either due to a lack of electoral staff or because of precarious security conditions, the legal and political legitimacy of the election was only further eroded. More people were killed and injured by what is likely to have been disproportionate police action.

Any result is marred by the choice millions of Kenyans made not to participate in the most basic, fundamental exercise of democracy.

Citing a lack of security, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) this evening postponed voting to Saturday in four counties: Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori, all areas which...

President Kenyatta now is a time for restraint "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

While the results of Kenya's election impending, it is clear that democracy in Kenya is in peril. Kenyatta must pursue the path of dialogue.

An officer secures a waiting line at a polling station in Nairobi, Kenya, Oct. 26, 2017. Voting in Kenya's repeat presidential polls began on Thursday as some polling stations, mainly in opposition strongholds, reported disruptions and low voter turnout. Chen Cheng/PA Images. All rights reserved.The results of Kenyas presidential election are not yet in, and voting will continue in some areas on Saturday, but Raila Odingas decision to boycott the election leaves only one outcome possible: President Uhuru Kenyatta will have the majority of votes cast.

Any result, however, is marred by the choice millions of Kenyans made to not participate in the most basic, fundamental exercise of democracy. It is marred by the reality that without Odinga, the election was not a contest.

Turnout across the country was much, much lower than in the previous vote in August. It may well prove to have been the lowest turnout in Kenyas history of multi-party elections. Many people, even if they favoured Kenyatta, were anxious, and either decided that going to vote was not worth the trouble, or that elections should have been delayed, and stayed at home.  

With a significant number of polling stations in various parts of the country unable to open, either due to a lack of electoral staff or because of precarious security conditions, the legal and political legitimacy of the election was only further eroded. More people were killed and injured by what is likely to have been disproportionate police action.

Any result is marred by the choice millions of Kenyans made not to participate in the most basic, fundamental exercise of democracy.

Citing a lack of security, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) this evening postponed voting to Saturday in four counties: Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori, all areas which...

19:08

Why are the Tories attacking students and universities? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"


In October 2017 the Tories and their baying attack dogs in the right-wing media laid siege to our universities.

On October 19th the Tory Universities minister Jo Johnson kicked off the campaign with the announcement of a classic divide and conquer strategy designed to create divisions between students and university administrators by levying fines on universities if any of their student groups attempt to prevent the likes of right-wing extremists, anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists and Salafi Islamist extremists from attending events at their campuses.

It seems absurd that the Tory universities minister would seek to interfere in student politics to ensure student groups are prevented from "no platforming" extreme-right groups and Salafi Islamist organisations like 
the EDL, the banned extreme-right terrorist organisation National Action, and the far-right Salafist groups Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun, because it seems like an insane move in light of the fact that several of extreme-right and Islamist organisations that have been "no-platformed" by the National Union of Students have also been proscribed as illegal terrorist organisations by the Home Office.

Why would the Tories want British students to be exposed to the ravings of extreme-right neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and the kind of Islamist fanatics that their (much criticised) Prevent strategy is actually aimed at keeping out of our education system?

The answer that springs to mind is that the Tories have no real interest in protecting the free speech of extreme-right hatemongers or Islamist extremists, they're just looking for an excuse to drive a massive wedge between students and their universities by threatening to impose fines on the universities if they don't intervene to force student groups to host suc...

17:42

Santiago Maldonado: the truth about what happened in the morgue "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

More than 50 people surrounded the corpse resting on a steel stretcher. Under a white light, the experts analyzed it. The body already has a name. Espaol

Photo: Facundo Nvolo. Courtesy of Cosecha Roja. All rights reserved.

This article is being published as part of the partnership between Cosecha Roja and democraciaAbierta. You can read the original article here.

Sergio and Germn Maldonado recognized him by the tattoos: it is Santiago, their younger brother, the 28-year-old who was missing for 77 days after the repression by the Argentine Gendarmera of a Mapuche community in Chubut. 

Around eleven at night, after twelve hours of solid work, the coroner Roberto Cohen finished the autopsy. One minute after midnight, Judge Gustavo Lleral approached the entrance of the building on Viamonte Street. Before the blinding light of the flashes, he announced the conclusions reached by the forensic experts: "The body does not present injuries", he said.

The government clung to this information and proposed, once again, that the case be closed. The truth is, however, that the cause of death remains to be determined. It should be made public in the next few days. The absence of injuries and blows to the body does not rule out police violence. For example, the first examination of Franco Casco's body who was found floating on the Paran River after being missing for three weeks determined that he had no visible injuries, but further investigation and complementary studies showed that the young man had been arrested and tortured in a Rosario police station and thrown alive into the water. Similarly, the body of Ezequiel Demonty was found floating downstream in the Riachuelo. While the autopsy showed that he had drowned, subsequent investigation discovered...

Santiago Maldonado: the truth about what happened in the morgue "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

More than 50 people surrounded the corpse resting on a steel stretcher. Under a white light, the experts analyzed it. The body already has a name. Espaol

Photo: Facundo Nvolo. Courtesy of Cosecha Roja. All rights reserved.

This article is being published as part of the partnership between Cosecha Roja and democraciaAbierta. You can read the original article here.

Sergio and Germn Maldonado recognized him by the tattoos: it is Santiago, their younger brother, the 28-year-old who was missing for 77 days after the repression by the Argentine Gendarmera of a Mapuche community in Chubut. 

Around eleven at night, after twelve hours of solid work, the coroner Roberto Cohen finished the autopsy. One minute after midnight, Judge Gustavo Lleral approached the entrance of the building on Viamonte Street. Before the blinding light of the flashes, he announced the conclusions reached by the forensic experts: "The body does not present injuries", he said.

The government clung to this information and proposed, once again, that the case be closed. The truth is, however, that the cause of death remains to be determined. It should be made public in the next few days. The absence of injuries and blows to the body does not rule out police violence. For example, the first examination of Franco Casco's body who was found floating on the Paran River after being missing for three weeks determined that he had no visible injuries, but further investigation and complementary studies showed that the young man had been arrested and tortured in a Rosario police station and thrown alive into the water. Similarly, the body of Ezequiel Demonty was found floating downstream in the Riachuelo. While the autopsy showed that he had drowned, subsequent investigation discovered...

17:13

Tories take 50,000 specially adapted cars away from disabled spend millions on ministerial cars "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Theresa Mays Tory government is taking away 900 specially adapted cars a week from disabled people.

These cars enable people with disablities who are in wheelchairs, are blind, or who have difficulty in walking to be independent, get to work, get to medical appointments etc.

But at the same time, Theresa Mays ministers are spending over 1.7 million a year on posh ministerial cars to ferry themselves around.

And thats apart from the additional expenses ministers get on top of that from taxpayers, for taxis, rail travel and...

16:57

Why you should learn how to blog in Derry (ahem, the Slugger OToole way) "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

I hate telling people how to do things, particularly blogging (just ask my fellow writers on Slugger). For a time I thought it was going to be an idea whose time had largely been superceded by microblogging sites like Twitter and Facebook.

However next weekend Ill be in Derry (yay!!) for a day-long course in which Ill be exploring the core underlying value of blogging, and why it still matters. Broadly, heres six reasons why you should take such an investment seriously:

Voice Not something you think too much about at the start, but it is something that insinuates itself as you proceed from day one.  From days one to fifty it is likely you havent a clue what yours is, but you are also unlikely to have enough readers for that to matter as much as it will later on. Figuring out what you want to say, and how to say and with whom to share it is a long but fulfilling process.

Placemaking  A blog very quickly becomes a place that people either come to or, God forbid, avoid. Although the blog is assumed to sit outside more generic forms of social media (it generally does, and thats a very good thing) it also has its own automated ways of building awareness in the space online. Within three weeks, Slugger was pulling in 90 readers a day, and I hadnt told a soul.

Connection/community After placemaking, comes community building: ie, connecting with and between people of differing perspectives. This means seeking opportunities for social learning (your own as much as the people you seek to connect with). A conviviality of space, therefore, is the most needed quality for this to happen. Be patient. No one spoke on Slugger for seven months.

Story generation In an abundant era of digitised information, of AI, Machine Learning (two reasons why derivative, copy and paste journalism is on the rise), the real shortage is human-generated stories. The blog is an antidote to the big algorithmic meaning-making machines of Facebook, Twitter and others. Good stories create good conversations, which in turn bring more and fresher insights.

Independence/ownership Autonomy is a thing. It comes with the blog, but everything you give to Twitter and Facebook belongs to them as soon as you write that short piece or give them those pictures and videos. Theyre the best tools we currently have for wide sharing, but once given away it is theirs, not your content. Important to remember that Twitter and FB have the memory of a fish.

Memory (aka, the archives)  Probably the most valuable as...

15:29

The Daily Mail always was a rabid dog, but Brexit has let it off the leash "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"


Gleichschaltung was the term used in the 1930s to describe the process of Nazification, where non-Nazi organisations like trade unions and rival political parties were eradicated, and the law courts and education system was purged of Jews, socialists and anyone even remotely critical of the government.

Rigging the judiciary with sympathisers, and purging schools and universities of alternative thought in order to create incubators for compliance and conformity were absolutely fundamental to the spread of Nazism (and to other totalitarian political ideologies too).

In the UK the Daily Mail was absolutely delighted with the progress of Gleichschaltung. During the 1930s they published editorial after editorial extolling the virtues of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, and imploring their readers to join Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists.

Meanwhile the anti-fascist Winston Churchill cut a lonely ostracised figure in a ruling Conservative party where Tory MPs were queuing up to embrace the fascist ideologyby joining the pro-Nazi Anglo-German Link and the anti-Semitic right Club in their droves.
 

Thankfully fascism was a very much less appealing prospect to ordinary British people than it was to the Daily Mail and the British ruling establishment class, and...

14:43

The melancholy of the Palestinians: a heritage destroyed "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Gaza's historical sites are under threat of destruction, but courageous young Gazan activists, archaeologists and historians are fighting to protect their heritage.

A view of St. Helarion in Gaza. Picture by Ahmed Al Nabris, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).On a summer day, when I started my secondary school in Gaza, my father told me a story. The story goes, when Israel occupied Egyptian Sinai, they brought a huge drill with hundreds of stones that have ancient Hebrew calligraphy on them. They dag and buried them secretly in the desert. "They did that so the next generations will find them and say that this land belongs to Israel," he explained.

Being a teenager, I listened sparingly. Even though I could not verify my dad's story, I do have oral evidence from security officers in Gaza who worked in this field from 1994 until 2007. They claim that Israel, in collaboration with Palestinians used to seize and steal Gaza's antiquities. I have seen the Taliban destroying Bamiyan Buddhas, I have witnessed the time when ISIS destroyed Palmyra, I have seen the looting and destruction of Iraqi antiquities, and cried in front of Ishtar's gate in Berlin, but never did I expect to witness the elimination of one of the most ancient Canaanite cities at the hands of Palestinians.

The first documented human settlements in the Gaza Strip date back to 6000 years ago. This part of the world has been part of the Iron, Bronze, Stone, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Ottoman, and Modern ages, it has been under endless attacks that have targeted its antiquities and tangible...

The melancholy of the Palestinians: a heritage destroyed "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Gaza's historical sites are under threat of destruction, but courageous young Gazan activists, archaeologists and historians are fighting to protect their heritage.

A view of St. Helarion in Gaza. Picture by Ahmed Al Nabris, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).On a summer day, when I started my secondary school in Gaza, my father told me a story. The story goes, when Israel occupied Egyptian Sinai, they brought a huge drill with hundreds of stones that have ancient Hebrew calligraphy on them. They dag and buried them secretly in the desert. "They did that so the next generations will find them and say that this land belongs to Israel," he explained.

Being a teenager, I listened sparingly. Even though I could not verify my dad's story, I do have oral evidence from security officers in Gaza who worked in this field from 1994 until 2007. They claim that Israel, in collaboration with Palestinians used to seize and steal Gaza's antiquities. I have seen the Taliban destroying Bamiyan Buddhas, I have witnessed the time when ISIS destroyed Palmyra, I have seen the looting and destruction of Iraqi antiquities, and cried in front of Ishtar's gate in Berlin, but never did I expect to witness the elimination of one of the most ancient Canaanite cities at the hands of Palestinians.

The first documented human settlements in the Gaza Strip date back to 6000 years ago. This part of the world has been part of the Iron, Bronze, Stone, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Ottoman, and Modern ages, it has been under endless attacks that have targeted its antiquities and tangible...

12:25

Slugger TV reviews #UUP17 and the approach of the Unionist Parties towards a deal "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Slugger TV is back for October looking at the Unionist Party conference and the approach of the UUP and DUP towards a deal.

Going through all of this we have Alex Kane (Commentator), Sam McBride (Political Editor of the News Letter) & Allison Morris (Irish News Security Correspondent).

12:13

Young Luther , A new play by Philip Orr. This Sunday the 29th Oct Admission free "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

When I was asked by friends in a  church in Bangor if I would compose a play for them about Martin Luther, I knew it would be a challenge.

Firstly, how could I handle such a big topic? Love him or loathe him, Luther is one of the most significant figures in church history. The story of Protestant faith is impossible to understand without looking at him. Even a three-hour epic wouldnt cover his life adequately.

Secondly, how should I deal with a subject that holds a lot of controversy. It doesnt need repeating that here in Northern Ireland, the relationship between Catholic and Protestant is still sensitive and to be honest, Luther had some offensive things to say about the Pope and the Catholic church, once he got into his stride. Then there were also the ugly things he said about the Jews and his lamentable failure to show sympathy with the Peasants Revolt.

In the end, I decided to focus on Luthers story up to the moment when he published his famous 95 theses in October 1517. These theses were a call for reform of the church and at that stage Luther was still a devout friar. I thought that maybe, on another occasion, I could write a play which tackled Luthers vigorous clash with the Pope and also some of his more unsavoury views.

After much deliberation and a few changes of thinking, I decided to imagine Luther as an older man, looking back to his younger life a man who is asking himself a few questions.  I thought that to be a good way to frame the narrative.

At the former monastery where he lived with his wife, the middle-aged Luther loved to entertain guests who had come from far and wide to hear this charismatic man talk. This would be a perfect setting for the play, I thought. Food was consumed and beer was drunk with gusto on these occasions. Some of his students would write notes on their heros conversations with his guests, later to be published as Luthers Table Talk. The picture that comes across in these accounts is an engaging and sometimes rude man but nonetheless a fearless fighter for what he believed to be the cause of religious freedom and Christian truth.

However, no writer of a play works alone. He or she depends on their team, on-stage and off-stage. It was a great privilege to have Brian Payne in the Ballycrochan church who is a versatile actor with the talent to undertake the challenge of delivering a one-man show about the young Martin Luther.

Plays which involve only one actor can be very exciting. The performer has to portray many different characters as he or she moves the story rapidly along. The audience will be impressed by Brian Paynes performance and hopefully will learn a lot about the early life of one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in European history.

The play will be staged this S...

11:16

Out of political prison in Uzbekistan, and still an optimist "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Erkin Musaev spent 11 years in prison on fabricated charges. As signs of cautious reform emerge in Uzbekistan, this former political prisoner is keen to see real change happen. 

Erkin Musaev, former political prisoner. Image: Human Rights Watch. The most striking thing about Erkin Musaev is his optimism. With a pleasant smile and gentle manner, he told us over dinner in Tashkent about his ideas for improving Uzbekistan, his homeland.

Uzbekistan is going through a reform shake-up under president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who last year took over the reins following the death of the authoritarian leader Islam Karimov. There have been some important human rights changes, but severe patterns of abuse still exist. 

Many people are excited about the changes but Musaev, 50, is an unlikely candidate to be one of them. He was a senior official for Karimovs administration for many years, and one of his representatives to NATO. Yet in 2006 he found himself facing bogus espionage charges, and was thrown in jail, convicted and sentence to 20 years in prison. Musaev was severely tortured, and his health suffered during his 11 years behind bars. But then, in August, he was released one of more than 10 former political prisoners set free since Mirziyoyev assumed the presidency. 

Since my release Ive written to president Mirziyoyev and offered to support what he is doing, Musaev told us, referring to the presidents efforts to respond to ordinary peoples problems through a new network of local complaint centers across Uzbekistan.

After months of interrogation and harrowing torture at h...

Out of political prison in Uzbekistan, and still an optimist "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Erkin Musaev spent 11 years in prison on fabricated charges. As signs of cautious reform emerge in Uzbekistan, this former political prisoner is keen to see real change happen. 

Erkin Musaev, former political prisoner. Image: Human Rights Watch. The most striking thing about Erkin Musaev is his optimism. With a pleasant smile and gentle manner, he told us over dinner in Tashkent about his ideas for improving Uzbekistan, his homeland.

Uzbekistan is going through a reform shake-up under president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who last year took over the reins following the death of the authoritarian leader Islam Karimov. There have been some important human rights changes, but severe patterns of abuse still exist. 

Many people are excited about the changes but Musaev, 50, is an unlikely candidate to be one of them. He was a senior official for Karimovs administration for many years, and one of his representatives to NATO. Yet in 2006 he found himself facing bogus espionage charges, and was thrown in jail, convicted and sentence to 20 years in prison. Musaev was severely tortured, and his health suffered during his 11 years behind bars. But then, in August, he was released one of more than 10 former political prisoners set free since Mirziyoyev assumed the presidency. 

Since my release Ive written to president Mirziyoyev and offered to support what he is doing, Musaev told us, referring to the presidents efforts to respond to ordinary peoples problems through a new network of local complaint centers across Uzbekistan.

After months of interrogation and harrowing torture at h...

10:13

Syria, the uprising and the media scene "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The Syrian revolutionary process is a more thoroughly documented uprising than has ever been seen before in history, notably thanks to these democratic media.

lead lead 2012, rising up chasing freedom. 2017, chased us out of freedom (the man is holding a flag of Jaysh al-Islam) Before the uprising Syrias media were in the hands of the regime and dominated by the business figures linked to it. At the beginning of the uprising, there was a surge of new media actors linked to the protest movements and the democratic space they opened up.

The uprising allowed for a general process of politicization among the large sectors of society involved in the revolutionary process, reflected in the creation of new newspapers, websites, blogs, groups in social networks, and so forth.

Even now some of them still exist, despite the ongoing attacks and repressive actions on what is left of the protest movement, especially by the forces of Assads regime and their allies. The democratic protest movements have also suffered from the authoritarian practices of various Islamic fundamentalist forces.

Prior to the uprising

Syria had three government-controlled national newspapers, state radio and state TV, all committed to strengthening the legitimacy of the Assad regime. Pan-Arabist newspapers al-Hayat and al-Sharq al-Awsat, as well as Lebanese, Jordanian and Gulf Arab titles, and a small number of private magazines, were available and allowed in the 2000s. The political parties of the Progressive National Front (PNF), supportive of the regime, were also authorized to publish their own weekly newspapers. 

However, the country was still far from having a pluralist and free press. This media landscape failed to offer a real public discourse as private media were controlled by personalities linked to the regime. In September 2001, the Syrian regime actually adopted a new Press Law (Decree No. 50/2001), which provided the government with...

Syria, the uprising and the media scene "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The Syrian revolutionary process is a more thoroughly documented uprising than has ever been seen before in history, notably thanks to these democratic media.

lead lead 2012, rising up chasing freedom. 2017, chased us out of freedom (the man is holding a flag of Jaysh al-Islam) Before the uprising Syrias media were in the hands of the regime and dominated by the business figures linked to it. At the beginning of the uprising, there was a surge of new media actors linked to the protest movements and the democratic space they opened up.

The uprising allowed for a general process of politicization among the large sectors of society involved in the revolutionary process, reflected in the creation of new newspapers, websites, blogs, groups in social networks, and so forth.

Even now some of them still exist, despite the ongoing attacks and repressive actions on what is left of the protest movement, especially by the forces of Assads regime and their allies. The democratic protest movements have also suffered from the authoritarian practices of various Islamic fundamentalist forces.

Prior to the uprising

Syria had three government-controlled national newspapers, state radio and state TV, all committed to strengthening the legitimacy of the Assad regime. Pan-Arabist newspapers al-Hayat and al-Sharq al-Awsat, as well as Lebanese, Jordanian and Gulf Arab titles, and a small number of private magazines, were available and allowed in the 2000s. The political parties of the Progressive National Front (PNF), supportive of the regime, were also authorized to publish their own weekly newspapers. 

However, the country was still far from having a pluralist and free press. This media landscape failed to offer a real public discourse as private media were controlled by personalities linked to the regime. In September 2001, the Syrian regime actually adopted a new Press Law (Decree No. 50/2001), which provided the government with...

10:11

New media must throw old ideas overboard "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Crucially, new models must consider the challenges of not just what is covered, but by whom and through what processes.

lead lead BristolCable. Norberto Soriano. All rights reserved.Sinclair gave advice to the President sometimes more than once a day on how to regulate the meat packing industry through legislation writes Thomas C Leonard in The Power of the Press. After Upton Sinclair published his groundbreaking novel The Jungle in 1906 on Chicagos meat industry, the socialist author met the president in confidence to advise Roosevelt on government strategy. This wasnt an unusual move for the President who used to regularly invite investigative journalists or muckrakers to the White House and work closely with them on developing government policy.

As spelt out in the Journalism of Outrage, The connection between muckrakers and policymakers may have been less remote and adversarial than the conventional wisdom mandates. Sinclairs closed-door meetings with Roosevelt, no matter how progressive in their cause on this occasion, point to a proximity between press and politics which over decades has morphed and eroded public trust in the media.

Collapsing trust and viability 

Fast forward to 2017, and it was recently reported that the BBCs political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, was to address the Conservative party conference; strongly suggesting a bias on her part towards the centre-right party. The report went viral, although it was entirely inaccurate. It was a moment which highlighted how the public were ready to believe that our media isnt impartial and is far too close to policymakers and big business.

However incorrect on this occasion, that distrust has been compounded by endless genuine exposs of relationships which are a tad too cosy, and revolving doors between politics and press. The phone hacking scandal involving former news of the world editor Andy Coulson who was communications director for former Prime Minister David Cameron is the emblematic example of the symbiosis between traditional press and politics among countless others...

New media must throw old ideas overboard "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Crucially, new models must consider the challenges of not just what is covered, but by whom and through what processes.

lead lead BristolCable. Norberto Soriano. All rights reserved.Sinclair gave advice to the President sometimes more than once a day on how to regulate the meat packing industry through legislation writes Thomas C Leonard in The Power of the Press. After Upton Sinclair published his groundbreaking novel The Jungle in 1906 on Chicagos meat industry, the socialist author met the president in confidence to advise Roosevelt on government strategy. This wasnt an unusual move for the President who used to regularly invite investigative journalists or muckrakers to the White House and work closely with them on developing government policy.

As spelt out in the Journalism of Outrage, The connection between muckrakers and policymakers may have been less remote and adversarial than the conventional wisdom mandates. Sinclairs closed-door meetings with Roosevelt, no matter how progressive in their cause on this occasion, point to a proximity between press and politics which over decades has morphed and eroded public trust in the media.

Collapsing trust and viability 

Fast forward to 2017, and it was recently reported that the BBCs political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, was to address the Conservative party conference; strongly suggesting a bias on her part towards the centre-right party. The report went viral, although it was entirely inaccurate. It was a moment which highlighted how the public were ready to believe that our media isnt impartial and is far too close to policymakers and big business.

However incorrect on this occasion, that distrust has been compounded by endless genuine exposs of relationships which are a tad too cosy, and revolving doors between politics and press. The phone hacking scandal involving former news of the world editor Andy Coulson who was communications director for former Prime Minister David Cameron is the emblematic example of the symbiosis between traditional press and politics among countless others...

10:10

In a global game of thrones, we need new rules "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Social media platforms are creating a new public sphere. But is it the public sphere we want or need?

lead lead Game of Thrones:"The fight between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon for control over the Seven Kingdoms. Both of them thought they belonged on the Iron Throne. When people started declaring for one of them or the other, their fight divided the kingdoms in two. Brothers fought brothers, dragons fought dragons. By the time it was over, thousands were dead. And it was a disaster for the Targaryens as well. They never truly recovered."

As social media platforms like Facebook grow, so the old institutions of the public sphere are withering. Those which survive seem to have no option but to do business with the dominant platforms, which only increases those platforms power to shape our discourse.

Habermas saw the public sphere as a virtual space in which private citizens come together to hold their governments to account. The mass media had a role in this, along with civil society organisations such as trade unions and NGOs. Together, these institutions shared information and ideas and created forums in which people found their collective voice.

For many people today, those old institutions are irrelevant. They do not buy newspapers. They do not belong to trade unions or political parties. Their public sphere is Facebook, and Facebook alone. This is where they get their political information; where they buy and sell goods; where they form relationships and pressure groups.

The twentieth-century public sphere was far from perfect. It was geared towards the interests of the lites which owned the mass media companies, controlled the advertising market and led our political parties. There are many ways in which the new public sphere is preferable. It has allowed previously-excluded groups, such as trans people, to assert themselves, for example. And it has given us, as citizens and consumers, powerful new tools for speaking truth to power.

Abuse of a new k...

In a global game of thrones, we need new rules "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Social media platforms are creating a new public sphere. But is it the public sphere we want or need?

lead lead Game of Thrones:"The fight between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon for control over the Seven Kingdoms. Both of them thought they belonged on the Iron Throne. When people started declaring for one of them or the other, their fight divided the kingdoms in two. Brothers fought brothers, dragons fought dragons. By the time it was over, thousands were dead. And it was a disaster for the Targaryens as well. They never truly recovered."

As social media platforms like Facebook grow, so the old institutions of the public sphere are withering. Those which survive seem to have no option but to do business with the dominant platforms, which only increases those platforms power to shape our discourse.

Habermas saw the public sphere as a virtual space in which private citizens come together to hold their governments to account. The mass media had a role in this, along with civil society organisations such as trade unions and NGOs. Together, these institutions shared information and ideas and created forums in which people found their collective voice.

For many people today, those old institutions are irrelevant. They do not buy newspapers. They do not belong to trade unions or political parties. Their public sphere is Facebook, and Facebook alone. This is where they get their political information; where they buy and sell goods; where they form relationships and pressure groups.

The twentieth-century public sphere was far from perfect. It was geared towards the interests of the lites which owned the mass media companies, controlled the advertising market and led our political parties. There are many ways in which the new public sphere is preferable. It has allowed previously-excluded groups, such as trans people, to assert themselves, for example. And it has given us, as citizens and consumers, powerful new tools for speaking truth to power.

Abuse of a new k...

10:09

The sweet spot: where media, citizens and government intersect "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The ability of the media to frame the discussion and get the community talking, so that people can both be educated and motivated to act beats creepy social media listening tools any day.

lead Occupy Atlanta.While commentators wring their hands in despair over the future of news journalism, governments everywhere struggle to engage citizens in meaningful ways.

Although a healthy democracy consists of people, government and media, right now they predominantly operate as separate entities, influencing and agitating each other through elections, scandal or protest.

As with most things, the internet is having a disruptive influence on the status quo. It has been whole-heartedly embraced by the people, and government is slowly digitising its services, yet publishers have been hard hit as new media players have rapidly cannibalised their revenue.

As a result, newsrooms are in crisis. The resources and might of journalism has been slashed by nearly half in just a few years. Mother Jones recently reported that in 2015 there were 40% fewer journalists working in newsrooms in the US than in 2007.

So what can be done? After working with governments and community groups around the world to engage citizens using social media, Ive come across an idea. What if professional news media could play a larger, and more active role in the ecosystem of representative democracy, and get paid for it?

...

The sweet spot: where media, citizens and government intersect "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

The ability of the media to frame the discussion and get the community talking, so that people can both be educated and motivated to act beats creepy social media listening tools any day.

lead Occupy Atlanta.While commentators wring their hands in despair over the future of news journalism, governments everywhere struggle to engage citizens in meaningful ways.

Although a healthy democracy consists of people, government and media, right now they predominantly operate as separate entities, influencing and agitating each other through elections, scandal or protest.

As with most things, the internet is having a disruptive influence on the status quo. It has been whole-heartedly embraced by the people, and government is slowly digitising its services, yet publishers have been hard hit as new media players have rapidly cannibalised their revenue.

As a result, newsrooms are in crisis. The resources and might of journalism has been slashed by nearly half in just a few years. Mother Jones recently reported that in 2015 there were 40% fewer journalists working in newsrooms in the US than in 2007.

So what can be done? After working with governments and community groups around the world to engage citizens using social media, Ive come across an idea. What if professional news media could play a larger, and more active role in the ecosystem of representative democracy, and get paid for it?

...

10:08

PeoplesHub "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

I dont believe deep change can be top down. Building a different sort of society happens from the grassroots most powerfully, when local groups can learn from each other.

lead Sarah Van Gelder on the road in search of the Edge of Change. Paul Dunn/YES! Magazine. All rights reserved.More than 20 years after co-founding YES!, I am launching a new project.

The idea came to me when I was on the road trip that resulted in my new book, The Revolution Where You Live. As I traveled, I met people who were doing amazing things in their communities. Some were starting cooperatives and other institutions of the new economy, while others were working to heal their citys legacy of racism, resisting fossil fuel development, or transforming their local food system. These innovations are, I believe, the seeds of a more just and sustainable world.

But a question kept nagging at me: Why isnt there more of this?

The question became even more pressing with the election of Donald Trump. On my recent book tour when I spoke in cities from Portland, Oregon, to Madison, Wisconsin people asked some variation on this question: The election was a wake-up call. I see now that I cant outsource my activism. Im ready to get involved. But how do I get started?

So I began wondering: What if the people I met in one city  say, Detroit could share what they know with people in other communities around the country? What if people had access to the skills that would allow them to step up with confidence together with others where they live?

We have a lot of work ahead of us especially with the retrograde politics in Washington, D.C. Could work in our communities deepen relationships while building our power and nourishing our spirits?

Those questions led to explorations of peer-to-peer trainings. What if we created an online space where people coached each other about how to have meetings that energize, to navigate conflict, or to take the first ste...

10:06

Whither journalism? "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

An unintended consequence of objectivity is a distancing so great that some communities are left feeling unseen or misunderstood. This attitude, not new technologies, is the root of journalisms disappearing audience.

lead journalismthatmatters. All rights reserved.While I have worked with journalists since 1999, I am not a journalist. My engagement work in organizations and communities convinced me that an effective approach to change is through story. I came to journalism wondering whether what I knew about engagement might be of service to a storytelling profession that, I believe, has tremendous potential for positive societal change.

In the last two to three years, Ive seen journalism moving towards more community-centred approaches. Drawing from what my work with journalists and my engagement work has taught me, I offer what I see emerging from the soul-searching currently happening among those I am in touch with.  For example, journalists at Elevate Engagement, a conference organized by the Agora Journalism Center and Journalism That Matters, a nonprofit I helped to found, acknowledged the destructive influence of journalisms cultural narrative on African American communities as part of a conversation revisiting identity and purpose that is under way among many journalists.

Community well-being is at the heart of journalism

A classic definition of journalisms mission is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.

I offer a twist to that definition: to support communities to thrive, journalism provides people (not everyone is a citizen) with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities...

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Wednesday, 25 October

23:16

Remainers: don't use our investigations as an excuse "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

As we uncover the dark money behind the Brexit campaign, establishment Remainers must also ask deeper questions about why they lost.

Flowers left after the death of Princess Diana: a moment Barnett describes as a 'foreshock' of Brexit. Image, Maxwell Hamilton, CC 2.0

Its perfectly possible that the Russians managed to interfere in British and American democracy. It seems plausible that the House of Saud would try to swing British votes. Why wouldnt they? After all, we know that the Israeli government even has the time to play around with British student politics.

If it does turn out that foreign states are working to sway British voters, then this is something we should be concerned about, sure. But I have to confess, over the last nine months, when Peter Geoghegan and I have been looking into where the DUP got their Brexit money from and then a number of the stories that have followed from this I have had a nagging worry.

If the liberal wing of Britains establishment concludes that Brexit happened because the other side cheated, it will never come to terms with the real reasons why so many people voted Leave. There will never be any introspection about whats gone wrong, and how to fix it. They will regard it as a justification for carrying on 'as hitherto'.

This has all come home to me somewhat in the last couple of months as my colleague Anthony Barnett has started promoting his book The Lure of Greatness, which is the best attempt I have read to explain the deeper causes of Brexit.

Anthony writes about the era which runs from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of history, and how it, itself, came to an end. He explains how the political order in this period of Western history is defined by what he calls the CBCs (Clinton, Blair, Brown, Bush, Cameron, Clinton).  He writes about how this order lost it...

22:33

LucidTalk Poll on a Border Poll & Irish Unity "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Lucid Talk released a poll on Irish Unity and a Border Poll this morning. You can listen to the results here on U105

The poll found that more than 60% of respondents thought a poll should be held within the next 10 years.

One of the more interesting findings was that 56% of the 18-44 year old respondents said they would vote Yes in a potential referendum.

Overall around 55% of respondents favour Northern Ireland staying within the UK.

 

 

20:19

Bungling David Davis ridiculed after claiming he knows a lot about EU countries then shows he doesnt "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

David Davis the man who is supposed to be in charge of Britains disastrous Brexit negotiations  is so incompetent he hasnt noticed Czechoslovakia has not existed since 1993:

Weve got a pretty good idea of what the economic interests are of every single member state. Germany, Austria, Holland and Czechoslovakia are all without governments at the moment.

To make matters worse, the embarrassing error came while bungling Davis was boasting about how he and his team have a good knowledge of what European countries want from Brexit.

And yes the Czechs, Slovaks and other European countries have noticed what a blundering idiot our chief negotiator is and they are openly laughing at us:

...

19:35

Why I'm a "lefty" and proud of it "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"


We've all seen how right-wing people often use words like "lefty" and "socialist" as if they're insults, and how they continually try to smear centre-left democratic socialists with claims that they're "hard-left", "trots", and "Stalinists", but being left-wing is actually something to be proud of.

Left vs right

I'm going to start out by explaining the difference between left-wing and right-wing.


Apologies if you're already familiar with the distinction between socialism and capitalism, but there are an awful lot of people out there who genuinely don't seem to understand the difference because the only definitions of words words like socialism they ever come across in the mainstream media are pejorative and deeply misleading.

The more left-wing a person is the more they believe in public ownership, and the more right-wing a person is the more they believe that private individuals and corporations should run everything for their own profit.

Thus someone on the hard-left would think that pretty much everything should be run by the state. A centre-left person would think that things like hospitals, schools, public transport, the police, energy infrastructure and core national industries should be run in a democratically accountable not-for-profit manner. A centre-right person would believe in a minimal state where only basic functions like the police, army, schools, and courts should be run by the state. And hard-right extremists would believe that literally everything (including schools, the police, the army, and the courts) should be run in order to generate private profits.



18:39

I fled for my life and ended up in Britain  without money, without English, imprisoned, and alone "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Loneliness affects large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers, but we do not hear about it. Campaigns like the current spotlight month being run by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness are a good first step, but there is much more to do.

Flickr/Andre Valente. CC-BY-2.0.As an asylum seeker, I know how frightening loneliness can be, and how difficult it is to escape. You lie in bed waiting for your parents or children to come and say good morning. Then you sit up and realise youre alone, in your room, again. Alone with the chatter of anxiety, terror, worthlessness and depression all banging about in your head.

You get up and shower, and everything moves in slow motion; the water drops take forever to slide down your skin, and you feel as if youre drowning in questions: what have I done with my life? Will anybody ever love me again for myself, for who I am?

When I first arrived in the UK, I didnt speak a word of English. I fled from my country for my life, with no idea where I was going. I came from a small village. I thought I was being brought to freedom and a new life, but instead I found myself a prisoner, locked up for months in a house where men spoke around me in a language I didnt understand.

When I finally escaped, I found myself on the street; a stranger stopped me and I said the one word I knew, London. I thought it was a country. He gestured that I was in London, and gave me two pounds. I was alone, in a place I knew nothing about, without a word of the language.

Because I hadnt been through the asylum system, I ended up in detention.

But the next person I met was a true friend: Grace and her children taught me English. The first thing I learned was, How are you?. Sometimes Id say to the kids Give me this, and theyd say, Say please!. They liked being able to correct me. Id ask them, Whats that? and they'd say, cup of tea! or theyd take me round the house saying, this is a chair! These are stairs! I began to...

15:55

Families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Declassified evidence about the 9/11 attacks point to Saudi Arabia. But will justice be served?

An aerial view shows a small portion of Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center collapsed following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Picture by Eric J. Tilford/Zuma Press/PA Images. All rights reserved. The 28-page famous Congressional report has ended in a bill known as JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act). Part of the 2002 investigation report was classified by then US president George W. Bush. However, last year, the Obama administration declassified them. The document showed that some of the hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from individuals who were connected to the Saudi government.

There is an abundance of evidence that leads to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia financing al-Qaeda, financing Osama bin Laden, and financing the charities that also supported Osama bin Laden and the attacks of 9/11. So, they are not entitled to immunity for a terrorist attack on American soil. Moreover, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Why should these pieces of evidence not be debated in court?

The 28 pages show a direct link of money being transferred through the Saudi embassy in Washington DC to two hijackers

The declassified pages offer previously unknown information about the actions of a powerful figure in the Saudi royal family. The document shows further ties between the Saudi government, al-Qaeda, and the hijackers. The 28 pages show a direct link of money being transferred through the Saudi embassy in Washington DC to two hijackers.

JASTA has raised tensions with Saudi Arabia. Over the past several years, Saudis have tried to stop the bill by lobbying, bribery, and threatening US officials. When the bill was introduced, the...

15:22

Belfast man sentenced in Germany for 1996 Provisional IRA attack on army barracks "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

A timely lesson from the German authorities on dealing with Northern Ireland legacy issues  Having successfully extradited 48-year-old James Anthony Oliver Corry from the Republic of Ireland in December last year, the Belfast man has now been convicted and sentenced for his role in the Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks near Osnabrck, Germany, in June 1996.

From the Irish Times report

A Northern Ireland man has been convicted in Germany of attempted murder for participating in an IRA attack on a British army barracks in the city of Osnabrueck more than two decades ago.

The court said James Anthony Oliver Corry was sentenced to four years in prison.

The 48-year-old Belfast man was extradited from the Republic of Ireland last December to face charges.

He was convicted of being part of an IRA unit that fired three mortar shells on to the grounds of the Quebec Barracks in Osnabrueck in northwest Germany on June 28th, 1996.

[Doesnt Gerry Adams think that approach is totally and absolutely counterproductive? Ed]  He might very well think that...

15:12

Social opposition to extractive industries hits all-time high in Colombia "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Tensions over land and natural resources persist in rural areas despite the end of the conflict between the FARC and the Colombian government, partly because the government continues to prioritize the extraction and export of commodities such as oil. Espaol Portugus

Image: Norway Ministry of Climate and Environment. Courtesy of Dilogo Chino.

Peace remains illusory for many Colombians a year on from the signing of a historic deal with guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Tensions over land and natural resources persist in rural areas despite the end of conflict between FARC and the Colombian government. This is in part because the government continues to prioritise the extraction and export of commodities such as oil without properly consulting affected communities, according to Camilo Gonzlez Posso, director of Colombias Institute for Peace and Development Studies (INDEPAZ).

The economic model has helped reproduce violence over the past 60 years, he says.

Gonzlez Posso recently told an audience at the Javeriana University in Colombias capital Bogot that conflict persists because the state remains susceptible to capture by private interests. The Colombian government has exclusive authority to award concessions for extractives projects through the National Mining Agency (ANM).

Colombia is now entering a phase of low-intensity conflict, Gonzlez Posso says. While the frequency of conflict may have dim...

14:17

The Tories are dressing their failures up as success stories again "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"


Theresa May has some incredible brass neck to criticise past Labour governments for supposedly "rushing" their welfare reforms, and then claim that the Tories are bringing in Universal Credit "properly"

Not only is the Tory mishandling of Universal Credit trashing people's lives (in the places it has been rolled out payment delays are rife and food bank use, indebtedness, rent arrears and evictions are soaring), it's also massively over budget and already five years behind schedule!

When the Tories announced their flagship Universal Credit policy back in 2010 they claimed it would have been fully rolled out by 2017, meaning the process should already have been totally finished by now. Since then they've repeatedly moved the completion date back, so that it's now 2022!

They're running five years late, they've written off hundreds of millions in waste, and they're still rolling it out in a way that's wrecking people's lives. But what's even worse than the actual incompetence is their insistence that they're doing the job properly and that they actually deserve praise for not rushing!


The Tories really are masters at dressing up their cockups as success stories.

In 2010 they promised that their fanatically right-wing austerity agenda would have eliminated the deficit by 2015. When 2015 came around they hadn't even halved the deficit, but instead of admitting that they'd f...

14:00

Dont be fooled: the governments plan to "live within its means is a dangerous con "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Public debt is bad. We all know it. So we can surely breathe a collective sigh of relief at the news that the UKs borrowing figures for September 2017 are the lowest for a decade. This is according...
Public debt is bad. We all know it. So we can surely breathe a collective sigh of relief at the news that the UKs borrowing figures for September 2017 are the lowest for a decade. This is according to the latest numbers published by the Office for National Statistics. Finally, after seven years of spending cuts, wage caps and privatisation, the Conservatives are finally starting to get a handle on all that dangerous public debt. Lets ignore the fact that they originally planned to eliminate the deficit entirely by 2015. And lets ignore the fact that George Osborne quietly dropped his target of achieving a budget surplus by 2020 after the Brexit vote. And lets definitely forget that the Office for Budget Responsibility has drastically reduced its growth forecasts for the next five years, rendering any reduction in borrowing completely irrelevant. Whats surely important is that borrowing is coming down. Its been a long, hard seven years of austerity but it will all be worth it in the end. Because high levels of public debt are bad for the economy, which means getting the debt down is sensible, prudent and necessary. Except that isnt quite true. The publicly entrenched perception of national debt being an essentially bad thing stems from two parallel and flawed beliefs. The first more forgivable belief is that high levels of public debt impede economic growth. This belief stems from a dangerous cocktail of hasty empirical conclusions and economic zealotry. The fact is that, at worst, the jury is still out on this issue. There is little evidence to show that public debt has any serious impact on growth, and even compelling evidence to suggest that healthy growth can occur at high debt levels. Even just a casual glance at the history of the UK tells us that high public debt doesnt always stymie growth. The average gro...

11:48

Senior Tory: women should be MPs if they are attractive "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Cllr Alan Scard who as Chairman of Gosport Conservative Association is in charge of selecting parliamentary candidates when asked by Channel 4 news if he would support putting more women in Parliament:

If they are attractive, yeah I would go for it. I know its a sexist thing to say, but you could get the blokes saying Oh you know, I would vote for her because shes really attractive.

Mr Scard himself, however, is not very attractive:

Sexism rap for Tory Alan Scard who says only attractive women should be MPs


11:23

Jo Johnson might have landed his Tory pal Chris Heaton-Harris in even more trouble "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"


After the Tory whip Chris Heaton-Harris triggered condemnation from universities, students, opposition parties, pro- and anti- Brexit campaigners, and free speech activists alike with his McCarthyite inquisition into what universities are teaching about Brexit, the Tory party wheeled out the Universities minister Jo Johnson to make a series of excuses.

Heaton-Harris had sent out letters to every university in the UK requesting a list of all professors teaching about Brexit, and copies of all Brexit-related course materials.

The important thing to note is that he used parliamentary resources to send out these letters, and he made his request for this information in a professional capacity, not a personal one.

Jo Johnson's attempted excuse for Heaton-Harris' behaviour was quite extraordinary: "He was pursuing inquiries of his own which may in time, I think, lead to a book on these questions".

Instead of getting his Tory colleague out of trouble,...

10:00

Predicaments of policy-oriented security research "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

If theres something wrong in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

lead Trump - Womens March on 21 January,2017. Wikicommons/ Mark Dixon. Some rights reserved.Typically, security research is called upon to give advice on how to sort things out when there is something wrong.

9/11 was the watershed and since then the security industrys R&D-Ghostbusters have been busy determining who the ghosts are and what gadgets and policies are needed to save and protect human lives from imminent threats.

Like the ghosts in the movie these threats become visible and tangible only through the use of sophisticated high-tech equipment that must be handled by professional security experts. Scanners, sensors, surveillance wet-, soft- and hardware are offered for sale to public authorities and their private contractors on flourishing security markets.

As long as the chase for ghosts goes on chances are good that at least one of the five key objectives of the European security research programme will be achieved: the establishment of a Competitive European Security Industry.

Techno-solutionism

Policy- or mission-oriented research in the field of security is confronted with a non-negotiable a-priori: there is a security problem! Hence, the focus of research is on finding a solution to a problem.

What exactly the problem is, however, remains unquestioned. This has created an approach that critical observers have labelled techno-solutionism. We do not exactly know what the problem is, but we assume technology will provide a solution. At the research end of the equation this techno-solutionism has created a strong bias towards technology and engineering efforts: here is the problem, go find a technical solution!

A closer look at the problem of problematizing, though, is missing. How threatening are the threats this question is out of scope for the European (and most national) security research programmes. At the policy end, n...

10:00

Last week on OpenGlobalRights: corporate responsibility, prison populations, and forced migration "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Last week on OpenGlobalRights, authors debated corporate information sharing, drug reform and prisons in Latin America, the US role in forced migration, and more.

Last week on OpenGlobalRights, Audrey Gaughran discussed the need for legal reform to ensure that human rights victims have access to information, and Azadeh Shahshahani argued that the US role in forced migration from the Middle East is a neglected area of the refugee debate. In addition, Ana Jimena Bautista wrote about the need to reform drug laws to reduce prison populations in Latin America. And finally, Augusta Hagen-Dillon demonstrated how womens funds are getting creative to address the rising backlash on womens rights.

We are continuously publishing new content and creating different themes for debate and dialogue, so stay informed by subscribing here for weekly updates. Interested in writing for us? Click here for submission guidelines.

 

Rights: 
CC by NC 4.0

09:59

Never forget politics "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Civil society must keep the dialogue over migration open, to retain relevance and to survive.

Illustration of the isolation of the EU. Sascha Steinach/Press Association. All rights reserved. The so-called European migration crisis and the populist political backlash that ensued even if undoubtedly driven also by a number of other factors have created all sorts of challenges for civil society actors. How to respond effectively to the increasingly hostile societal environment? How to stay in the game without giving up on core principles? What, if any, alternative political agenda should they put forwards? This text attempts to provide a rather sober reading of the situation at hand, and hint towards what I believe can be a way forwards.

Shrinking civil space

Not least in Central and Eastern Europe, we encounter signs of a shrinking space for civil society.[1] While in certain cases, the evidence remains somewhat anecdotal, there nevertheless seems to be a general trend towards circumventing the modus operandi of not-for-profit actors. This includes substantial cuts in funding, increased bureaucratic burden, as well as a growing disregard for civil actors positions. The key reason for this development is quite straightforward: the increasing discrepancy between what not-for-profits advocate, and the policies that European politicians pursue (and that their electorates expect them to pursue). While to many, the decline of civil society actors is the ultimate worrying trend, others readily put it right at the core of their politics, denouncing rights-based NGOs as foreign agents and enemies of the people who shall be destroyed if they cant be stopped.

Getting real

In my discussions with colleagues from the migration not-for-profit sector, I have been repeatedly astounded by the refusal on the part of some to admit to the political realities. Others strongly insist on taking radical positions which in their minds could form the basis of a countermovement to widespread public hatred and populist politics. Resp...

09:52

The case of the Emergency Relocation Quotas "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

What actually advances European policymaking in the field of migration? Scientific evidence, political decisionmaking or civil society activism?

The Soho Hotel, housing 150 refugees mainly from Syria and Iraq, is one of two SolidarityNow buildings in Athens supported by UNHCR and funded by the EU. NurPhoto/ Press Association. All rights reserved.Southern European countries and more specifically Greece and Italy have faced rising flows of asylum seekers and irregular migrants since 2013, and particularly during the 2015-2016 period.

Indeed no-one predicted the dramatic escalation of irregular maritime arrivals during 2015, lasting till March 2016 along the Turkey-Greece corridor, and to this day along the Libya-Italy corridor. Major challenges that such arrivals bring to light include the need for internal EU solidarity in sharing responsibility, the burden of processing asylum seeking applications, and eventually of integrating those admitted as refugees.

The Emergency Relocation Mechanism launched first in May 2015 and further expanded in September 2015[1] has played an important role as an EU policy response, seeking to enforce the more equitable  sharing of responsibility for asylum-seekers among member-states, and thereby taking some of the pressure off the frontline states.

The plan foresaw 160,000 relocation places in total, to be implemented over a two-year period (September 2015 to September 2017), more specifically assigning 66,400 places to people to be relocated from Greece and 39,000 from Italy to other EU countries.

Relocation is selective and applies only to those nationalities whose applications for international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection) have over a 75 per cent success rate on the basis of quarterly Eurostat data.

Thus, Syrians have steadily been eligible for relocation while for instance Afghans, Iraqis or Eritreans have moved over and under this threshold.

The 2015 challenge

...

09:50

In the ongoing war between fake news and evidence-based information, facts do not matter "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

To influence policymaking we need to engage both with policymakers and society, to break the cycle and restart, using concepts and narratives with equality and human rights at their core. 

lead Waves can occur in a glass of water, thanks to surrealism. Silvia Grav. All rights reserved.Post truth and fake news are the current hip terms circulating in the public sphere that are being used both as a tool for attack on, and an explanation for the current state of regress of democratic values and civil liberties.

The spread of hateful sentiments and the rise in violence against various minority groups is very often put down to the proliferation of fake news and populist narratives. It seems that the common strategy of resistance is the provision of facts.

Civil societies and individuals alike are trying to resist and reverse fake news by providing evidence-based information. Initiatives like the Anti-Rumour Campaign from Barcelona were replicated in many cities across the world, to tackle the myths and misconceptions about migrants and refugees with real facts. Many people, including myself, are regularly posting statistics, charts, and photos of the real facts, to respond to instances of fake news appearing on our Facebook walls.

This strategy seems pretty logical, right? Fake news could/should only be trumped by real news based on the truth. And what is real and true? Facts. We just need to figure out how to seek better, more convincing facts, and how to do it in a real time to respond to the fast pace of ever-emerging fake news. Problem solved. And what is real and true? Facts.

The problem is however, that facts do not matter. At least not in the ongoing war between fake news and evidence-based information. Facts per se, scientifically researched and measured numbers and data, exist in a vacuum. Facts, numbers and data do not describe or explain the reality as such; they just give an isolated snapshot of a particular phenomenon. Facts, number, and data need to be interpreted before becoming a communicable narrative reflecting reality.

And when facts are...

09:48

Comparing perception with fact in an aggrieved age "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

We need all the means at our disposal to promote serious debate that grapples with issues, advocates critical and divergent thinking, and inspires discernment and discrimination in the interpretation of information.

lead This initiative started by French Imam Chalghoumi and Jewish writer Halter toured Europe in July, 2017. According to one IPSOS Survey, the perception in France is that 31% of the population is Muslim.The true figure is 7.5 %. Paul Zinken/Press Association. All right reserved. Often, one of the gravest threats to an open and transparent democracy is that political decision-makers act not according to the reality of the facts, but according to how people interpret that reality. It might be argued that how people imagine the world has now become more important than how the world actually is, and that politics is frequently little better than an exercise in crowd-pleasing.

It is not unusual for these representations of reality to be shaped in one way or another by the media or by other major opinion-making outlets, subject to the influence of complex global and local phenomena, and particularly susceptible to political exploitation. As we are well aware, the most visible and attention-grabbing news items on the web are not necessarily based on sound data that has been properly weighed up and assessed, but are often merely those that happen to be the most widely circulated at a given moment.

Europeans on migration

The phenomenon is encapsulated in the attitudes of Europeans to migration and in the way that the upsurge in the number of refugees has caused instability in many countries. The economic and financial crisis has engendered a sense of public fear that has been further exacerbated by Islamist terrorism, leading many to conclude that integration is too difficult a task. The result has been rising intolerance and new forms of racism.

An IPSOS survey called "Perils of Perception" was conducted in 2016 on 30,000 people in 40 countries. Using real data from official sources such as the World Values Survey and the Pew Research Centre for purposes of comparison, IPSO...

09:00

Brexit, food and land ownership - it's time for a new direction "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

We're presented with a vision of food rotting in fields as foreign workers find Brexit Britain unwelcoming - but this vision neglects key factors behind Britain's dependency on foreign agricultural labour.

Recently The Guardian ran an article by John Harris called They say after Brexit therell be food rotting in the fields. Its already started. Harris points out how vulnerable the industry is. Nearly half the fruit and vegetable industry workforce coming to the UK from the EU (rising to 90% for seasonal pickers). As Brexit makes the UK look an unfriendly place for Eastern European migrants whose own countries economies are on the up, we're already told that a huge employment agent in the sector reports hes 20% down on staff. The agent foresees that crops will go spoiled and unpicked because of it. Some of the big growers, who run on tiny margins, may well consider their investment and choose to set up elsewhere. Central and eastern Europe quite possibly.

So what will happen? Its widely anticipated that British people wont want to pick food and the main growing areas of the country coincide with areas of low unemployment. So do - as Harris's article implies - inevitably face a future where Britain relinquishes even more of its food sovereignty, with domestic production decreasing and food miles and prices rocketing?

While the above bleak scenario has a ring of truth, it misses some key factors that have led to Britains dependency on foreign agricultural labour. Any discussion about the future of British agriculture must take into account issues of access to land, price rigging and working conditions. If we ignore them, the future may indeed be bleak.

The crisis of British agriculture is closely related to other crises in British society, and linked to the global crisis of the late 20th century capitalist model of industrialised agriculture. Its as hooked on cheap labour and poor working conditions as it is on fertilisers and pesticides. They are all symptoms of a fundamentally flawed and bankrupt way of producing f...

The social and political roots of exploitation in India "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

What is it that allows severe labour rights abuses to flourish in India? The answer is more complicated than poverty alone.

I'm Ravi Srivastava. I teach development economics in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, and I've been working on problems related to labour, labour migration, bonded labour, and forced labour for about four decades.

Neil Howard (oD): Thank you very much Ravi, that makes you particularly well-placed to answer the first question. In your view, what structures are there particularly within Indian society that help perpetuate exploitation? Im especially curious about how those intersect with global structures of coercive capitalism and nation states.

Ravi: At least during the last four decades, while I've been looking at the situation, there have been forms of unfreedom, forced labour, bonded labour, trafficking etc. This is primarily because the Indian economy has shifted from being more agrarian and rural to more urban. Forms of agrarian bondage have become much less as a result, but forms of non-agrarian bondage in general have increased.

Rice mills, brick kilns, construction, quarries, mines, garments the forms of recruitment in these and other sectors necessitate bondage or debt bondage. Then, of course, you have a lot of trafficking and other things involving recruitment of workers across state lines, for example for domestic work. Migrant child labour which is involved in a number of sectors, such as embroidery, textiles, cotton seed picking, and so on.

The nature of the problem has changed and this is because the demand for various kinds of unfree labour and cheap labour has also changed. Many of these people are located in the informal sector, and many of these are working within longer value chains. So you must understand, the problem of bonded labour or forced labour has to be located within the nature of the demand for such labour. And the demand for such labour has changed with the nature of the requirement of capital.

Neil (oD): So as capitalism has deepened and neoliberalised the Indian subcontinent over the last many decades, the forms of unfreedom required for labour, if you will, have also changed.

Ravi: Absolutely. We typically think of capitalism, and particularly today's global capitalism, as requiring flexible and in some sense also free labour. But what we find is that capitalism is able to extract more from labour if it is unfree to varying degrees. Unfreedom and flexibility co-exist, going against the classic definition of the kind of labour which c...

00:22

How to prevent nuclear war "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

What can be done to build support for a peaceful resolution to the stand-off with North Korea?

Credit: Pixabay/geralt. CC0 Creative Commons.

Everyone from Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and President Vladimir Putin to Steve Bannon and China agree: war with North Korea would be so horrific that it simply cant happen. Up to one million people could die on the first day of such a war. At that rate, it would take two months to match the death toll of the whole of World War II.

According to Paul Edwards, an international security expert at Stanford University, the effect of a major nuclear war would be comparable to the giant meteor believed to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs. Leading researchers Alan Robock and Owen Toon warn that even a regional conflict has the potential to cause mass starvation worldwide.

If it wasnt for Donald Trumps threatening rhetoric, his continual sabotage of diplomatic efforts, and his personal insults directed at Kim Jong-Un, the U.S. would not be on the verge of war. No other American president has elevated tensions so dramatically, but Trump shows no signs of changing track.

Nevertheless, the U.S. still has alternatives: despite numerous reports to the contrary, North Korea has said they would be willing to negotiate about their nuclear program if the U.S. stops threatening to destroy it. In that case, what can be done to build pressure inside the U.S. to pursue a peaceful solution to the crisis, and how can ordinary people help?...

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Tuesday, 24 October

23:29

Misogyny in the Tory Party: MP claims date rape just disagreement between two lovers "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

Tory MP John Redwood has been in the news a lot recently, telling us all just how great a hard Brexit is going to be for us.

By us, Redwood is probably referring to his fellow Rothschild directors, who no doubt will find their substantial salaries a useful cushion against any fallout from a hard Brexit.

But in the light of the Tory and tabloid outrage about sexist language used by two Labour MPs recently, it should probably be pointed out that Redwood once argued on his blog that date rape should not be criminalised in the same way as stranger rape, because it is just a disagreement between two lovers:

...

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Monday, 23 October

10:14

Pensions, Reparations and Reintegration: Parallel Processes for Injured Ex-Combatants and Civilians "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

by Luke Moffett and Kieran McEvoy (School of Law and Mitchell Institute, Queens University Belfast)

While talks remain on-going about the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, Secretary of State James Brokenshire has apparently confirmed to the Victims and Survivors Forum that a public consultation on dealing with the past will go ahead in the coming weeks. It appears likely that a pension for injured victims, a controversial and important part of the dealing with the past for those wounded and their carers, will not be part of this consultation process

The consultation will focus on the legacy mechanisms agreed in the Stormont House Agreement. These include: the Historical Investigations Unit that will focus on the investigation and potential prosecution of conflict related crimes; a truth recovery mechanism (Independent Commission for Information Retrieval); a storytelling repository (Oral History Archive); and a mechanism which is designed to explore larger themes and patterns (the Implementation and Reconciliation Group). Much of the discussion on these mechanisms has focused on those who were killed during the conflict. However, for the hundreds of individuals who were very seriously injured, and who live with the real consequences of those injuries there is no equivalent agreed process to address their needs.

Over the past five years there have been proposals by WAVE, the Commission for Victims and Survivors and others on how a pension for seriously injured victims could acknowledge and alleviate their suffering as part of a comprehensive approach to the past. However, a key stumbling block remains who should be considered a victim for the purposes of a pension. Although there is a lack of hard data on the numbers involved, it appears that somewhere in the region of a dozen former Loyalists and Republicans were so seriously injured during the conflict that they might meet the criteria to qualify for a seriously injured pension.

Some suggest that by excluding these victim perpetrators it creates a hierarchy of victimhood. On the other hand, others argue that to include people who...

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Sunday, 27 August

16:18

Call for submissions: Listening to Libya - Intervention and its aftermath "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

NAWA seeks to provide a deeper look into Libya by inviting Libyan writers, and readers to submit their thoughts, articles and pitches but also their reading recommendations to us.

Explosive Remnants of War in post revolution Libya. Picture by United Nations Development Programme / Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Some rights reserved. During the month of September, North Africa West Asia (NAWA) is calling for submissions and pitches on Libya.

Since the beginning of the Libyan uprising and especially with the military intervention that led to the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has become a ghost haunting any discussion of internationalism in Syria, and as primary evidence of western conspiracies for regime change. While much is discussed about Syria, very little has been heard from Libyans and Libya outside of the simplified dichotomy that we see in mainstream media. While indeed part of the story of Syria is located in Libya, the latters story is crucial to be told for its own sake.  

NAWA seeks to provide a deeper look into Libya by inviting Libyan writers, and readers to submit their thoughts, articles and pitches but also their reading recommendations to us. Though many foreigners have studied and written on Libya, we aim to bolster the voice and experience of Libyans for this series.

Our focus will be on the call for and the aftermath of intervention. How has the Libyan uprising altered internationalism and what is happening in Libya in the aftermath of the intervention?

You can submit your pitches or texts (50 to 100 words) and / or reading suggestions to NAWA@opendemocracy.net

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Sunday, 13 August

17:17

Call for participants: Tunisia, Middle East Forum "IndyWatch Feed Politics.eu"

openDemocracy .

openDemocracy is looking for participants for the Middle East Forum for Tunisia.

The Middle East Forum is a project that encourages emerging young voices to express themselves, exchange views and be heard. The project provides participants with a series of workshops to develop writing skills, media presence, and digital security as well as a free discussion space where they have the capacity to debate constructively. Participants in the forum host speakers, acquire skills, share knowledge, and give feedback to one another.

We are currently looking for 7 participants in or from Tunisia to join the project. If you are interested in participating in this project and developing your journalistic skills read the information below and send in your application.

Participants:

We expect that each participant will have the opportunity to achieve the following benefits:

  • - Career-related experience
  • - Practical and increased practice-based knowledge of journalistic writing, debate, social media
  • - Training which enhances digital security and the handling of human rights issues
  • - Increased knowledge and experience on how to create an online journalistic presence

Participants will be expected to:

  • - Adhere to policies, procedures, and rules governing professional behavior;
  • - maintain a punctual and reliable working relationship, abiding by the scheduled sessions and number of articles agreed to;
  • - communicate regularly with the facilitator, particularly in situations where the participant may need to adjust the terms of the working relationship (e.g., to reschedule a meeting/session);
  • - respect the opinions expressed and confidentiality of the group;
  • - take the initiative to volunteer for tasks or projects that the participant finds interesting.

Requirements

In addition to these general expectations, the participant will also be required to meet the following requirements during the program:

  • - Meet a minimum commitment of 12 sessions;
  • - develop a working relationship with the facilitator, such that he or she can adequately serve as a mentor;
  • ...

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