Nigel Farage’s local Ukip branch has rebuked the BBC for its ingrained liberal bias in holding a straw poll on the party leader in front of a London mosque. The mosque in question was Westminster Cathedral.
Tonight British nationalists, emboldened by their sides victory in the referendum and by the general hysteria of anti-independence rhetoric - in which the entire media and political establishment were complicit - go on the rampage in Glasgow.
Does it look like we’re ‘Better Together’ yet?
Great piece by George Monbiot.
To vote no is to choose to live under a political system that sustains one of the rich world’s highest levels of inequality and deprivation. This is a system in which all major parties are complicit, which offers no obvious exit from a model that privileges neoliberal economics over other aspirations. It treats the natural world, civic life, equality, public health and effective public services as dispensable luxuries, and the freedom of the rich to exploit the poor as non-negotiable.
Its lack of a codified constitution permits numberless abuses of power. It has failed to reform the House of Lords, royal prerogative, campaign finance and first-past-the-post voting (another triumph for the no brigade). It is dominated by media owned by tax exiles, who, instructing their editors from their distant chateaux, play the patriotism card at every opportunity. The concerns of swing voters in marginal constituencies outweigh those of the majority; the concerns of corporations with no lasting stake in the country outweigh everything. Broken, corrupt, dysfunctional, retentive: you want to be part of this?
Independence, as more Scots are beginning to see, offers people an opportunity to rewrite the political rules. To create a written constitution, the very process of which is engaging and transformative. To build an economy of benefit to everyone. To promote cohesion, social justice, the defence of the living planet and an end to wars of choice.
To deny this to yourself, to remain subject to the whims of a distant and uncaring elite, to succumb to the bleak, deferential negativity of the no campaign, to accept other people’s myths in place of your own story: that would be an astonishing act of self-repudiation and self-harm. Consider yourselves independent and work backwards from there; then ask why you would sacrifice that freedom.
Whatever you think of the various personalities involved in the NSA scandal, the issues raised are real and important. This is a discussion we need to have.
President Obama’s news conference today was … weird.
Binyamin Appelbaum, an economics reporter for the New York Times, summed it up sharply on Twitter: “Obama is really mad at Edward Snowden for forcing us patriots to have this critically important conversation.”
Obama began the news conference by announcing a series of reforms meant to increase the transparency of, and the constraints on, the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. They included reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which enables the collection of telephone metadata; changes to the powerful surveillance courts to ensure “that the government’s position is challenged by an adversary”; declassification of key NSA documents; and the formation of “a high-level group of outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies.”
“What makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation,” Obama said. “It’s the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.”
If that’s so, then Edward Snowden should be hailed as a hero. There’s simply no doubt that his leaks led to more open debate and more democratic process than would’ve existed otherwise.
full article: washingtonpost.com
Police in Canada have charged two young men with distributing child pornography in the cyberbullying case of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old who killed herself after a photo of her allegedly being raped was shared online.
The death of Rehtaeh, who was taken off life support after a suicide attempt in April, led to an outcry. Police initially concluded there were no grounds to charge anyone after a yearlong investigation.
Her mother said a boy took a photo of the alleged assault in 2011 and that her daughter was bullied for months after it was distributed online.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Roland Wells said one man, 18, had been charged with two counts of distributing child pornography and the second man, also 18, was charged with making child pornography and distributing it. Wells said the two were not being identified because they were minors when the alleged crimes occurred.
Halifax police Chief Jean-Michel Blais said policed and prosecutors agreed the available evidence did not meet the threshold for sexual assault charges against the two.
“It’s striking how preoccupied Harris and VandeHei are with the perception that Politico is too ‘insidery,’” Silver wrote. “My personal critique of their work cuts a little deeper than that, however. It’s not that they are too ‘insidery’ per se, but that the perceptions of Beltway insiders, which Politico echoes and embraces, are not always very insightful or accurate. In other words, the conventional wisdom is often wrong, especially in Washington.”
He added later in the email: “Furthermore, Harris and VandeHei seem to lack very much curiosity for the world outside of the bubble.”
Silver also took issue with VandeHei’s assertion that he’s using numbers to “prove stuff,” contending that he is instead “providing a critical perspective, and scrutinizing claims on the basis of evidence (statistical or otherwise).” That only works, he said, if you believe “that there is some sort of truth outside the bubble — what would be called the “objective” world in a scientific or philosophical context.”
“Politico, by contrast, sometimes seems to operate within a ‘post-truth’ worldview,” Silver wrote. “Some people think that is the very essence of savvy, modern journalism, but my bet is that journalism is headed in another direction - toward being more critical and empirical.”
The U.S. should certainly try to prevent terrorist attacks, and there is a lot that government can and has done since 9/11 to improve security in ways that are totally unobjectionable. But it is not rational to give up massive amounts of privacy and liberty to stay marginally safer from a threat that, however scary, endangers the average American far less than his or her daily commute. In 2011*, 32,367 Americans died in traffic fatalities. Terrorism killed 17 U.S. civilians that year. How many Americans feared dying in their vehicles more than dying in a terrorist attack?
Certainly not me! I irrationally find terrorism far scarier than the sober incompetents and irresponsible drunks who surround my vehicle every time I take a carefree trip down a Los Angeles freeway. The idea that the government could keep me safe from terrorism is very emotionally appealing.
But intellectually, I know two things:
1 America has preserved liberty and privacy in the face of threats far greater than terrorism has so far posed (based on the number of people actually killed in terrorist attacks), and we’ve been better off for it.
2 Ceding liberty and privacy to keep myself safe from terrorism doesn’t even guarantee that I’ll be safer! It’s possible that the surveillance state will prove invasive and ineffective. Or that giving the state so much latitude to exercise extreme power in secret will itself threaten my safety
The Arctic seas are being made rapidly more acidic by carbon-dioxide emissions, according to a new report.
Scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) monitored widespread changes in ocean chemistry in the region.
They say even if CO2 emissions stopped now, it would take tens of thousands of years for Arctic Ocean chemistry to revert to pre-industrial levels.
Many creatures, including commercially valuable fish, could be affected.
They forecast major changes in the marine ecosystem, but say there is huge uncertainty over what those changes will be.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Sunday that he believes rejecting LGBT people is similar to fighting slavery during the pre-Civil War era.
Appearing on the Family Research Council’s program “Stand With Scouts Sunday,” the arch conservative governor urged the Boy Scouts to stand strong against any impulse to “tear apart” the organization’s values and replace them with the “flavor of the month.”
“The fact is, this is a private organization,” Perry said of the Boy Scouts. “Their values and principles have worked for a century now. And for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up, which happens to be the flavor of the month so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that has served millions of young men, helped them become men and great fathers, that is just not appropriate and I hope the American people will stand up and say, ‘Not on my watch.’”