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rachel, spare us your partisan tears

what these double standards in emotionalist performance point to is a situation where even charitable concern, even liberal feeling, has become a hyperpartisan affair. in this era when politics is increasingly marshalled to the cause of moral preening, when activism is less about changing society and more about advertising how caring you are, more and more areas of life have come to be politicised. how you parent, what tv shows you watch, your once private religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and now even who you’re willing to cry over (mexicans, yes; libyans, not so much)... all of these facets of life are increasingly tools of political oneupmanship, means of moral distinction, ways to show you are better than those other people who live...




the truth about trump’s child-migrant policy | immigration | usa

while trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy does represent a departure, an honest account has to admit prior administrations have struggled with illegal immigration, and that there are no easy answers. in 2014, a surge in families and unaccompanied minors coming from central america led obama officials to expand the confinement of immigrant families, and adopt a new policy of keeping families together in detention centres. activists decried the holding of kids in facilities considered jail-like, but there was no wider opposition or outrage. jeh johnson, then secretary of homeland security, warned latin americans that children arriving illegally would be deported, and, when opening a new detention facility, called it an ‘effective deterrent...




fortress europe is no friend of migrants | for europe, against the eu | immigration | italy

it has become common practice for human traffickers to take migrants in small boats 12 miles out from the libyan coast into international waters, where ngo ships wait to rescue them. the international convention for the safety of life at sea identifies the country responsible for operations in that area of the sea as having a duty to take rescued people from boats. it also states that the relevant government ‘shall arrange for such disembarkation to be effected as soon as reasonably practicable’. by definition, ngos do not have the responsibilities of governments. yet if the ngo ships were to take migrants rescued off libya to the nearest safe port, this would be in tunisia or malta. instead, typically, they travel about 250 miles to ita...




oscar wilde: free-speech martyr | free speech

today, oscar wilde, the irish poet and playwright, is rightly celebrated as a pioneer of gay liberation and a martyr for sexual freedom. discussion of wilde and his legacy has bubbled up again with the release of rupert everett’s new film about his final years, the happy prince, which opened across britain last week. but wilde’s later years are also notable for another reason: his downfall is a perfect example of what happens when a fiercely independent mind comes into conflict with the customs of his age. wilde’s fate was sealed when the marquess of queensberry, the father of wilde’s young lover, lord alfred douglas, publicly accused the playwright of sodomy. wilde responded by suing queensberry for libel. not only was the charge di...




it isn’t christopher chope who’s mad - it’s his haters | british politics

so he doesn’t want to take photographs of women’s private parts – he wants to have a debate. bit of a difference, no? it is striking that jess phillips, the member of parliament for jess phillips, mocked chope’s talk of ‘parliamentary scrutiny’ as ‘archaic’ blather. in a piece for the guardian peppered with the kind of language these supposedly edgy mps think will endear them to ordinary people – ‘circle jerk’, ‘bollocking’, ‘bastard’; *cringe* – ms phillips slammed the ‘ridiculously old-fashioned’ practise of allowing backbenchers to hold up bills they think need more discussion. this is the same woman who has wanged on and on about her right to have endless parliamentary discussion about brexit, along wi...




only one person is to blame for eurydice’s murder | australia | crime and the law | feminism

people have been quick to blame the tragic murder of eurydice dixon, a melbourne-based aspiring comedian, on anyone but the murderer himself.some have made the observation that it is unwise for a woman to walk home by herself late at night, as eurydice did. and this has caused a storm. of course, in an ideal world a woman should be able to move through the world free from risk. eurydice should have been safe as she walked home. but the brutal reality is that she was not. she was raped and killed on 13 june. a horrendous crime. pointing out that women are not always safe, and that they should sometimes take measures to protect themselves from risk, has become virtually unsayable. the implication is that excuses are being made for perpetrators...




bilderberg: wrestling with cops in turin | europe | politics

the officer barged me back on my heels, whacking wildly at my camera, and in my considerable dismay i found my thoughts turning to the nature of truth. as the officer’s wiry knuckles whitened on my wrists, i pondered heidegger’s definition of truth as ‘unconcealment’ – bringing things out of hiddenness. some things, it turns out, are harder to unconceal than others.while the policewoman and i tussled clumsily in the soft afternoon sun, i glanced over at the minibus. out from behind it emerged the stately ex-president of the european commission, josé manuel barroso, now chairman of goldman sachs international. it would have been the perfect two-shot, politician and banker outside bilderberg, but it was not to be. a second set of it...




how paranoid parenting fuels kids’ ‘internet addiction’ | parents and kids | science and technology | video games

my research has led me to the conclusion that the compulsive attachment of children to their online worlds is down to the fact that adult society has made it very difficult for them to engage with the offline world. risk-averse child-rearing has created a climate in which children are constantly discouraged from experiencing life outdoors. during the past three decades, a culture of fear has enveloped childhood. alarmist accounts of stranger danger, bullying or the likelihood of traffic accidents have made parents reluctant to allow their children to go out and explore.today, parents frequently accompany children on their way to school. they hover over them when they play in the park. many children are actively discouraged from playing on th...




the case against an upskirting law | british politics | crime and the law

as most of his critics eventually acknowledged, chope has a long history of blocking private members’ bills. indeed, the bill on upskirting was the second bill he objected to on friday. his concern was not with the specific content of the proposed legislation, but with the way it was being pushed through parliament without proper consideration. but in the clamour to signal loathing of chope, this point was lost. his demand for parliament to take itself seriously and scrutinise legislation was, incredibly, interpreted as him supporting upskirting. the proposed legislation could see those convicted of upskirting sentenced to up to two years in prison. it could see more wrongful convictions and more children on the sex offenders register. and...




labour live: bread and circuses | british politics

strolling into the labour live event on saturday, i had promised myself i wouldn’t be bullied into paying more than the discounted £10 tickets (down from £35 a few months ago). the man at the ticket office wasn’t willing to argue. ‘if you live locally’, he said, ‘you get in for nothing’. was this the kind of socialist pricing experiment we’ve been promised under corbyn? i was looking forward to exploring more radical thinking inside.with my orange wristband in place, i joined 13 others queuing up for a festival that promised to open up politics to a wider audience ‘so that we can build a society that works for the many, not the few’. labour live was being held at white hart lane recreation ground, wood green in the moment...




merkel’s rule can’t end soon enough | germany

merkel’s decision to put the brakes on seehofer’s ‘master plan’ reflects her evasive and anti-democratic style. no voter has yet been able to read this plan, let alone discuss it. her concern about publishing it reflects the contempt in which she holds democratic debate. meanwhile, her carefully prepared statements on the issue (mostly in the form of tv interviews with choice journalists or her own weekly podcast) rarely tell us very much at all. despite opening germany’s doors to refugees in 2015, she has never made a proper public case for the benefits of immigration. her inability, or unwillingness, to explain her politics to the electorate has contributed to the narrow and technical way in which immigration is being discussed i...




it isn’t christopher chope who’s mad - it’s his haters | british politics

so he doesn’t want to take photograph’s of women’s private parts – he wants to have a debate. bit of a difference, no? it is striking that jess phillips, the member of parliament for jess phillips, mocked chope’s talk of ‘parliamentary scrutiny’ as ‘archaic’ blather. in a piece for the guardian peppered with the kind of language these supposedly edgy mps think will endear them to ordinary people – ‘circle jerk’, ‘bollocking’, ‘bastard’; *cringe* – ms phillips slammed the ‘ridiculously old-fashioned’ practise of allowing backbenchers to hold up bills they think need more discussion. this is the same woman who has wanged on and on about her right to have endless parliamentary discussion about brexit, along...




the ugliness of the ‘dead white male’ debate | education

in her speech, she tried to present herself as not being against knowledge per se. she employed the edu-speak equivalent of ‘i’m not racist, some of my best friends are black’, name-dropping pope, dryden and shelley as authors she has ‘no problem’ with. she said that it is important for students to know ‘some of the best that has been thought and said’, but that they should also know that putting shakespeare on the curriculum ‘was a choice that was made and a choice made by the powerful’. in this, she doesn’t seem to understand what the contemporary debate over the role of knowledge in the curriculum is all about. in raising the question of the ‘powerful’ when it comes to knowledge, bousted is alluding to the work of ...




why are so many kids in care? | social policy and the welfare state

there are a number of factors which could explain why certain areas have a higher rate of children being taken into care or put up for adoption than others. the authorities in southampton dealt with four child deaths in 2011, including the high-profile case of blake fowler. it is highly likely that authorities stung by high-profile tragedies become too quick to intervene in other cases, for fear of being branded negligent.nevertheless, bilson has painted a dire picture of how the rising number of children in care is affecting families across england, especially poorer families. what he calls the ‘spiralling, net-widening climate of fear’ is most concentrated on ‘families in the most deprived areas’. in other words, parents living in ...




no, arron banks didn’t ‘buy’ brexit | british politics | for europe, against the eu

if, two years ago, britain had voted to remain in the eu, he would no doubt be enjoying his boozy business lunches away from the public spotlight. but in the desperate search for a brexit fall guy, banks is in the frame. the electoral commission is investigating whether he and one of his companies broke campaign-finance rules. meanwhile, the information commissioner’s office is also investigating banks and leave.eu over possible breaches of the data protection act. he stands accused of doing deals with the russians, spreading fake news, and orchestrating the use of dodgy data to swing the brexit vote. he’s every remain-backing conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.banks appears to love this bad boy image. at the committee meeting, he didn’...




why are so many kids in care? | social policy and the welfare state

there are a number of factors which could explain why certain areas have a higher rate of children in care or adoption than others. the authorities in southampton dealt with four child deaths in 2011, including the high-profile case of blake fowler. it is highly likely that authorities stung by high-profile tragedies become too quick to intervene in other cases, for fear of being branded negligent.nevertheless, bilson has painted a dire picture of how the rising number of children in care is affecting families across england, especially poorer families. what he calls the ‘spiralling, net-widening climate of fear’ is most concentrated on ‘families in the most deprived areas’. in other words, parents living in poorer areas are being di...




no, arron banks didn’t ‘buy’ brexit | british politics | for europe, against the eu

if, two years ago, britain had voted to remain in the eu, he would no doubt be enjoying his boozy business lunches away from the public spotlight. but in the desperate search for a brexit fall guy, banks is in the frame. the electoral commission is investigating whether he and one of his companies broke campaign-finance rules. meanwhile, the information commissioner’s office is also investigating banks and leave.eu over possible breaches of the data protection act. he stands accused of doing deals with the russians, spreading fake news, and orchestrating the use of dodgy data to swing the brexit vote. he’s every remain-backing conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.banks appears to love this bad boy image. at the committee meeting, he didn’...




‘the fear of populism is really a fear of the masses’ | books & essays

fm: what do you make of the claim that the politics of fear has fuelled the rise of populism?ff: a lot of the critics of populism accuse populist movements of using the politics of fear. but more concerning is the fear of populism. if there’s any section of society that has bought into the politics of fear, it’s not the people voting for populist parties, but the existing political oligarchy. these elites fear that the populace is no longer listening to them, and so they see us as unpredictable and scary. they seem to have lost all understanding of the fact that, in a democracy, there is a risk that your ideas will lose. ultimately, the fear of populism is little more than the fear of the masses.fm: what role does the media play in creat...




grenfell and the problem of carbon targets | environment | housing

note that miliband identified social tenants as being more likely to support such measures. that is not because they are necessarily more supportive of carbon reduction, but because they have fewer rights than homeowners, and so are more easy to direct. miliband wanted to ‘kickstart the installation of more ambitious eco-upgrades, with social housing providing particular leadership to stimulate the industry and reduce costs’. now that social housing was on the frontline of the carbon-reduction campaign, social tenants were targeted for refurbishment measures, including cladding insulation.overall, the trend in building was to put much greater stress on reducing carbon emissions. part l of the building regulations covers energy and has be...




grenfell one year on: the milking of a tragedy | british politics | housing

and now he expects us to believe him when he says he wants to hear from the voiceless? clearly he really does think we’re stupid. behind that ‘nightmare’ of brexit that he wanted to destroy there were millions of poor and working-class voices. indeed, as a major study at the end of 2016 found, the largest pro-eu vote was among the richest in britain, in social class ab, whereas in the lower social classes, including d and e, the lowest of all, there were clear majorities favouring brexit. the report concluded that, ‘at every level of earning there is a direct correlation between household income and your likelihood to vote for leaving the eu’. shorter version: in very significant numbers, the poor voted leave. and yet lammy mocked ...