The warning signs are there for everyone else to see

“For a party that prides itself on the economy, the Tories have a shocking record of running it. Our economy has the slowest growth in the G7. We have got greater regional inequality than almost any other developed nation. Food banks now do the job of Government in providing for families—families that are more often than not in work.

Government could start solving this crisis by providing solutions, like closing tax-avoidance loopholes or creating a windfall tax for energy companies. But instead, we get endless bills paying lip service to a manufactured culture war. The priority isn’t the economy. It seems to be things like protecting freedom of speech, and yet the Tories are the ones who banned schools in England from using sources that are not overtly pro-capitalist. They are cracking down on freedom of assembly and protest. They are privatising Channel 4, when the Culture Secretary didn’t even know that Channel 4 receives no public money, so the argument is not financial. And as the Member for Rhondda touched upon earlier on, when we consider, that the Culture Secretary was a key focus of a Channel 4 documentary once about the influence that Christian fundamentalism has on UK politics, it becomes even more concerning that this decision is political and it’s personal. It is not professional.

But most terrifying of all, however, is that the Government literally wants to get rid of the Human Rights Act. And that begs the question: for whom do they think rights have gone too far? Do you know how scary it is to sit at home and wonder if it is you—is it your rights that are up for grabs? We have witnessed Windrush. Our economic strategy is to open our doors to the rest of the world when we need their hard work and then chuck them out 50 years later without a word’s notice. We tell our own citizens that their safety cannot be guaranteed in Rwanda, but we are perfectly happy to ship asylum seekers, people fleeing war and persecution, over to Rwanda as though they are cattle to be dealt with by someone else and despite knowing that this plan costs more than it will ever save.

This is just little England elites drunk on the memory of a British empire that no longer exists. We have the lowest pensions in Europe and the lowest sick pay. We pretend minimum wage is a living wage when it is not. We miss our own economic targets time and time again. We are happy to break international law. We are turning into a country where words hold no value.

And over the last 12 years, I fear we have been sleepwalking closer and closer to the F word. And I know everyone is scared to say it for fear of sounding over the top or being accused of going too far, but I say this with all sincerity. When I say the F word, I am talking about fascism—fascism wrapped in red, white and blue. And you may mock and you may disagree, but fascism does not come in with intentional evil plans or the introduction of leather jackboots. It doesn’t happen like that. It happens subtly. It happens when we see the Governments making decisions based on self-preservation, based on cronyism, based on anything that will keep them in power, we see the concentration of power whilst avoiding any of the scrutiny or responsibility that comes with that power. It arrives under the guise of respectability and pride, that will then be refused to anyone who is deemed different. It arrives through the othering of people, the normalisation of human cruelty. Now I don’t know how far down that road we are. Time will tell, but the things we do in the name of economic growth—the warning signs are there for everyone else to see, whether they admit it or not.”
Mhairi Black

Geflüchtete aus der Ukraine und Syrien: Unterschiedlich willkommen in Deutschland?

“Auch dieses Foto ist ein aktuelles Bild aus einem Krieg, den Putin gerade führt. Aber es wurde nicht in der Ukraine aufgenommen, sondern in Idlib in Syrien. Ein Krieg, den wir gerade zu vergessen scheinen, obwohl auch von dort zehntausende nach Deutschland geflohen sind aus Angst vor den Bomben Putins. Und, so groß die Hilfsbereitschaft für ukrainische Kriegsgeflohene gerade ist, so schwer macht es Deutschland den Geflüchteten aus Syrien, in diesem Land anzukommen. Die Menschenwürde ist unteilbar, sagt das Grundgesetz, und doch machen wir Unterschiede.”
Georg Restle

Echoes of war

David Swanson joined the Marines of Echo Company in April 2004 as an embedded photographer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He was widely recognised for the image of Private Eric Ayon. Echoes of war is Swanson’s account of his time spent with Echo Company in Ramadi, one of the most dangerous places in Iraq at the time. Swanson published this video some years after it had disappeared from the pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

#allesdichtmachen​: Gelaber statt Debatte

“Ich schlage vor, lasst uns einfach Mal tauschen: Jan-Josef Liefers wird Corona-Spezialist und Christian Drosten und Melanie Brinkmann bilden das neue Ermittler-Duo im Tatort. Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, was dann passiert: die Infektionszahlen explodieren und der Tatot wird besser.”

Die beste Instanz

“Wir führen diese Debatte über Rassismus auf einer total primitiven Ebene. Es handelt sich um ein Menschenrecht. Schutz vor Diskriminierung ist ein Menschenrecht.”
Natasha A. Kelly

“Ich würde mir wünschen, dass wir wegkommen davon diese Ereignisse, wie sie jetzt auch im WDR passiert sind, immer als Einzelfälle zu diskutieren. Und es ist ja heute immer wieder aufgekommen, daß es sich um strukturelle Probleme handelt, die nach ’45 nicht einfach aufgehört haben. Und ich glaube es gibt ‘ne Situation, in der man sich in Deutschland sehr, sehr stark wünscht, daß nach ’45 ein besseres Deutschland entstanden ist [sic]. Aber der Wunsch alleine erzeugt noch nicht die Realität. Und da brauchen strukturelle Probleme strukturelle Lösungen.”
Max Czollek

Gemeinsam mit ihren Gästen formuliert Enissa Amani eine bemerkenswerte Antwort auf die vom WDR am 09.11.2020 erstmalig ausgestrahlte Sendung “Die letzte Instanz“, deren Umgang mit dem Thema Rassismus bestenfalls als naiv zu bezeichnen ist.

Pathlesspedaled interviews: Jan Heine

“…but beyond that you just go for a ride and, you know, usually, especially when you are riding with friends, you’re talking. Not about bikes, about anything. And so you sort of forget the whole bike thing and the bike intrudes when it does things that you don’t expect. Or you never notice the bike, you say ‘man, this is a great bike’ we just rode, you know, 75 miles and not once did I think about the bike. You know, so it sort of the best bike is the one that you don’t notice. And, you know, people sometimes think because we focus so much about bikes [sic] and technology that we’re constantly thinking about bikes. But I think about my bike when I am not riding, so that I don’t have to think about it when I’m riding.”
Jan Heine

Die AAA-Bürger

“So wie Alibaba und Amazon wissen, wofür sich ihre Nutzer interessieren und was sie als Nächstes kaufen könnten, will der chinesische Staat aus den Datenspuren seiner Bürger ableiten, wie sie sich in der Vergangenheit verhalten haben und in der Zukunft verhalten könnten und sie nach einem Punktesystem entsprechend bewerten. Wer zum Beispiel über das Internet gesunde Babynahrung bestellt, soll Pluspunkte erhalten. Wer sich hingegen Pornos ansieht oder zu viel Zeit mit Computerspielen verbringt, muss mit Abzügen rechnen.” Da trifft es sich gut, daß Felix Lee nichts zu verbergen hat und ein solcher Umgang mit Nutzerdaten überhaupt nur in China in Erwägung gezogen wird…
www.zeit.de

With thanks to Michael August

Swipe my race: If you’re only dating someone for their skin colour, you should consider why

“I don’t think the stereotypes evolve as quickly as society evolves. I don’t think we get enough varied stereotypes as society is varied, because society is moving so quickly. Especially in a city like London. We’re so diverse, all of us, and the stereotypes don’t keep up.”

You are the product

“What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does—‘connect’, ‘build communities’—and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.” John Lanchester does not know what will happen should this $450 billion penny ever drop.
www.lrb.co.uk

Papering over poverty

“The Tories last year voted against a housing bill, right, this bill, it wasn’t asking much, it wasn’t attempting to turn Buckingham Palace into temporary housing for sex offenders. It was suggesting that private landlords have a legal obligation to ensure their properties are fit for human habitation. What sort of fucker votes against that? I wonder how many of the seventy Tory MPs, who are also private landlords, voted against that, including David Cameron? I’ll give you a clue: it was all of them!” Jonathan Pie, played by British actor Tom Walker, suggests that a healthy UK economy would need to do more than to create an environment in which only the wealthy do well.

Why are people so angry? Blame modernity

“The modern world’s cherished ideas of liberty, equality and prosperity are more popular than ever before. The problem is that it is difficult for the vast majority of the human population to realise them.” Pankaj Mishra appearing on yesterday’s BBC Newsnight programme.

We let technology into our lives. And now it’s starting to control us

“Our concern about government snooping sometimes distracts from self-awareness of our complicity as consumers of products so ubiquitous they have become everyday verbs.” Rachel Holmes is joining the resistance, because the so-called neutral platforms in reality facilitate hate against women, racism and homophobia.
www.theguardian.com