Section: World

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Umbrellas and democracy: #FreeHK53

Julie Ward

During the first week of January more than 53 Hong Kongers were arrested on suspicion of breaking this law, mostly as a result of their political actions in 2019 when they organised and stood in primaries ahead of a planned election in order to go to the polls with a slate of pro-democracy candidates. Amongst those detained were journalists and trade unionists.

Riots in the USA: whatever happened to democracy?

Julie Ward

This is no Hollywood blockbuster. This is real life in the richest country in the world where the outgoing president has been using his last vestiges of power to auction off indigenous lands and vast tracts of the Arctic to fossil fuel companies, to stuff the courts and other institutions with Christian fundamentalists opposed to women’s rights, and to execute prisoners on Death Row who might have expected clemency from the Biden administration.

Goodbye to Berlin

Robin Tudge

Finally on a beautifully hot July afternoon I finished the novel. The next few hours I wandered around Kreuzberg, hearing the explosive cheers, then jeers and woe, from the locals packing out the bars as their team crashed out of the World Cup, while my initial elation slumped into a fatigue that saw me beered up, sprawled on a sofa in an all-night bar near Tempelhof, muttering ‘I just finished a novel. A f****** novel.

The end of the British seasonal workers?

Liam Campbell

With the end of free movement, immediately; many people will lose their jobs. But far worse than that, is the fact young people in the future will not have the same chances opportunities I had to experience things which will open your mind to the rest of the world.

The Brexit deal: taking back control?

Carlos Conde Solares

Yet let me spare a thought for the UK government’s ‘choice’ to cease to participate in the Erasmus programme. This is a gratuitous, nasty, vindictive intergenerational middle finger to the British young, whom overwhelmingly voted Remain in 2016. Of all issues, Erasmus was by far the easiest to resolve.

25.12.20 A Hymn to Science

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

Frozen H20 floats immiscible on ponds As blades score surface with festive bonds. Snowflake fractals float upon a breeze Defying gravity, concealing lost leaves. Ilex aquafolium bleeds a hoary frost, waxy cuticle, cloaks shivers – no water is lost. Satsuma segments of time zones split and the world’s turn slows on the axis as tinselly-string […]

Christmas biscotti

Robina Jacobson

Once, in a fit of Christmas enthusiasm, we experimented with three days of exclusive holiday dining on red and green meals.  Lobster, an obvious choice, was behind an unassailable paywall but good fun was had with popcorn and red and green food dye.  Of all the new combinations of ingredients we tried, this for red […]

It’s beginning to (not) look a lot like Christmas: greetings from Ireland

Judi Sutherland

Here in Ireland we had a longer autumn lockdown than you’ve suffered in the UK, including a 5km travel restriction from mid-October to December 1st, and even now, a request to stay within our county. In our case, that would allow us to sample the delights of Dublin City, but we have restrained ourselves, having no wish to actually go looking for the virus, like the famous shellfish vendor; “She died of a fever, and no-one could save her, and that was the end of poor Molly Malone”.

Is Poland already an authoritarian state?

Michal Chantkowski

Poles, especially young ones are now saying enough is enough! That also includes those who have made the UK their home. Still recovering from the fallout of Brexit, we see similar* forces to those that took Britain to the edge destroying the country of our birth. We have had enough of misogyny, patriarchy, hypocrisy, intolerance and hatred our (second) government is cultivating in Poland. Many of us now refer to Poland as an authoritarian state. Is Poland authoritarian?

Robins

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

There’s a Robin in the meadow,
Nocturnal soloist in darkest night
Sing your song, as notes fade to dark
but burn bright, with breast alight.

Human rights must be championed

Julie Ward

In February 2018 I received news that 34 year old Teodora del Carmen Vásquez’ was to be freed after serving 11 years of a 30 year sentence for aggravated murder following the birth of a stillborn baby. Teodora was one of 17 El Salvadoran women whose cases were at the centre of a campaign initiated […]

ctrl-alt-del

Suzanne Fairless-Aitken

After centuries of conflict
weapons are finally downed.
The cruellest disease has silenced guns,
until a vaccine can be found.

How to put on a family nativity show: tea towels to the ready!

Caroline Hoile

Sad though it is that children, teachers, parents, grandparents, family and friends may well miss out on the inimitable traditional nativity, celebrated in the school hall, local church or community centre, all is not lost! The household tea towel drawer can rise to the occasion, and allow all those family members, who’ve ever wanted to don the occupants of its drawer, to do so – with a home-grown family production of a traditional school musical!

Britain and Ireland: a shared history

Judi Sutherland

I don’t feel responsible for what happened long before I was born. At the time of the Great Hunger, my ancestors were living lives of rural poverty as farm labourers in Scotland and England. None of them would have been able to vote for the British government that despised the Catholic Irish and conspired to keep them in poverty. I don’t feel responsible, but as an Englishwoman in Ireland, I have to be sensitive to the difficult history of our two countries. As last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests indicated, we Brits have a lot to learn about our country’s history of colonial rule.

The pandemic of violence and what to do about it

Julie Ward

So what can we do to stem the tide of gender-based violence apart from the usual petitions and letters to MPs? We need a system change across society starting with sex and relationship education so teachers and school governors should work together to implement age appropriate lessons. We need to increase women’s visibility across all sectors at the highest level, which means empowering girls to study STEM subjects and encouraging women to stand for election at every opportunity; it is heartening that we already have women police and crime commissioners in the region with more women standing in the forthcoming elections.

‘Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods’: a reflection

Anne Yvonne Gilbert

If you haven’t read it, Uwagba’s purpose in writing was to “sum up the tithes of co-existing with whiteness”. Fair enough, if I was black I’d be shouting too, but then she goes on “I just wanted to communicate the burden of whiteness, the mental and emotional trauma. This burden is placed on black people by the “progressive, liberal people that I interact with.” Wait a minute! The progressive liberals fighting racism and injustice in all its forms? Those liberals?

Kindness breeds kindness

Daisy Windsor

It doesn’t matter if you missed World Kindness Day. It can go on all year. And kindness really does breed kindness. It is infectious in a good way, and it makes the giver of kindness feel so good. It really is win-win!

Observing elections: a tool for democracy

Julie Ward

I was observing the USA elections as part of an international virtual civil society mission under the auspices of Democracy Volunteers. We observed in pairs, applying the ‘four eyes’ principle, attending online events and monitoring media reports. My partner and I were assigned New York State where Covid-19 has been rife since the outset and continued to dominate the headlines throughout the election period. I also undertook some additional media monitoring of the Chicago Tribune, reading on one occasion a concerning report of voter intimidation by a ‘Proud Boys’ flyer campaign near a polling station.

Logics of corruption: the UK state response to the Covid-19 crisis

Colin Gordon

A common theory is that the disaster of Covid-19 suits the UK Brexit regime’s interest by distracting from and/or explaining away the disaster of hard Brexit – a kind of a gigantic diversionary narrative or ‘dead cat’ tactic. This could, incidentally, imply that the regime has no particular interest in managing the pandemic, as long as it can avoid or divert blame for its failure.

The divided states of America: reflections on the election

Scott Hunter

I checked back and found accounts that were full of grandchildren and family gatherings. And, noticeably, short on political messaging. These were people who would be appalled at the idea that they might be seen as zealots for a political cause. These people wanted to convey the impression that their kids and grandkids were their world. Everything else came second. All Facebook users use the medium to project an image of themselves. These were no less valid than anyone else’s.

World War 1 ended 102 years ago: we won the war but not the peace

Giuseppe Bignardi

The reality of the subsequent peace treaty turned out to be different and the German perception of betrayal contributed to the rise of Nazism in Germany and to WW2. What really destabilised the new democratic German Republic was the imposition of exorbitant war reparations onto a country with a devastated economy and a starving population.

Know your rights

Julie Ward

The attack on our rights can be seen in a global context whereby a plethora of rights are under attack from right wing illiberal governments. However, that this should be happening in 21st century Britain is a shock for many who always thought the UK was less prone to the populist agenda of ‘taking back control’ regardless of the self-harm that might be inflicted and the freedoms and progress that might be undermined.

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