On this episode we talk about the wave of automation that’s about to take our jobs, Gideon’s spending cuts, immigration, Daesh, and new regular feature ‘Headline or Headlie’, where Brogan reads me headlines from real news and satire and I guess which is which (it’s surprisingly hard).
Unfortunately there was a problem with the recording from about one hour in, so you may want to skip forward by 10 minutes when it gets unbearable. We’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again in future.
“Immigration is economically positive, immigrants from the european economic area to the UK pay more in tax than they take in benefits and social services and are better educated” Link
“The Office for Budget Responsibility suggests higher net migration reduces pressure on government debt over time” Link
“In the uk, the period from 97 to 07 of high migration resulted in a substantial increase in overall employment and the highest growth in gdp per capita in the G7 without any significant negative impacts on the employment prospects of the native-born” Link 1 Link 2
“Open borders could potentially double world GDP, and could be the single best way to reduce poverty” Link openborders.info
Michael Flynn, former head of DIA on the US supporting ISIS
When crises occur, the immediate reaction is always to apportion blame, simplify arguments, take sides, get angry, and then do something…anything. The sensationalist press exacerbates this process, and since our politicians are so heavily influenced by media opinion, they often follow suit. Thinking outside the box is a definite no-no (see: Jeremy Corbyn).
The UK government’s reaction to the recent attack in Paris has therefore been just as expected. Events in France have given David Cameron and his Cabinet more ammo for the weapons they were already firing, while excusing them from tackling the more difficult questions. Increasing surveillance, dividing communities, turning teachers into thought police, strengthening anti-immigration sentiment; these are the orders of the day. Here’s a wider look at the causes of war in the Middle East and terrorism in the West. Continue reading
Which is more disagreeable: the archive picture of David Cameron with the Remembrance poppy photoshopped onto it, or the one in which the war-hungry PM wears it for real? Downing Street on Monday bizarrely decided to use the (poorly) altered photo as its Facebook profile pic, before swiftly taking it down and replacing it with one of the Prime Minister wearing the red poppy in live-action; the change occurring because the suggestion that Cameron couldn’t be arsed to pose for a photo wearing the poppy might be deemed offensive (imagine the typhoon-level media shitstorm if Labour had done the same with Jeremy Corbyn). The replacement image – of DavCam beaming, blood-red paper flower on his lapel – is no less insulting or fraudulent, however.
Those in the public spotlight who shun the near-ubiquitous red poppy have their reasons. Derry-born footballer James McClean elects to forego wearing the poppy because of what it symbolizes in his home town, while news presenters Jon Snow and Charlene White won’t wear the poppy because they wish to remain impartial and not show favouritism towards any one charity or cause. The political commentator and WWII veteran Harry Leslie Smith, meanwhile, last year stopped wearing the poppy because he felt the symbol had been “co-opted by current or former politicians” to justify new wars.
You have to wonder whether those who routinely wear the poppy, like David Cameron, so carefully consider the statement they’re making every time they pin the paper on their chest. The Remembrance Day flower was inspired by the poppies that grew out of the graves of soldiers in Flanders during WWI. It stands for the wasted dead. It is a symbol of all those who lost their lives in battle from the Great War up to the present day. The poppy, plucked from the gore-soaked fields of one of WWI’s most notorious battlegrounds, is designed to remind us that war isn’t – to say the least – favourable.
A few weeks ago Natalie Bennett was interviewed by Andrew Neil on Sunday Politics, in which she stated the Green Party’s policy of not criminalising any organisation, including ISIS. “It should NOT be a crime to join ISIS”, screamed the Daily Mail, “In an extraordinary claim, Natalie Bennett said people should not be punished for what they think and stressed it should ‘not be a crime simply to belong to an organisation’.”
Clearly the Daily Mail (just like ISIS itself) does believe you should be punished for what you think. Indeed not wanting to punish you for what you think is ‘extraordinary’. But taking a step back from the reactionary and emotive approach the press has taken, how should we treat organisations associated with terrorism?
Adam Curtis’s documentary ‘Bitter Lake‘ was released on iPlayer on Sunday 25th Jan – some have questioned why it has only been released on the BBC’s online streaming service, suggesting it may be “too dangerous for TV”. The documentary explores the history of the Middle East in the last century, focusing on Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. It tells quite a different version of history than the one told to us by politicians and the media, where the West is ‘good’ and we have to fight the ‘bad guys’. The documentary, after spelling out how comprehensively we have inflamed the situation in Afghanistan by fighting everyone, concludes we need to find a different story now, because ‘good vs evil’ just isn’t cutting it.
I believe we are finding that story. Continue reading
26, out of 119 – that’s how many ‘War on Terror’ suspects subjected to CIA torture were eventually found totally innocent, according to this week’s Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, or the summary report of CIA torture by the US Senate. (The remaining 93, by the way, includes suspects about whom those inside the CIA were undecided on, or whom were deemed to pose no further threat.) The report also finds not just that torture was ineffective in yielding information, but that it led to detainees fabricating information, resulting in faulty intelligence.