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Should Fake News Be Banned?

https://mcxv.com/fake-news-made-illegal/

I recently attended a debate which focused on whether or not ‘fake news’ is covered by free speech.  This topic is very relevant for bloggers because if you tend to focus on news and current events, you are contributing to the discourse and you are presenting your own view of the truth, a view which may or may not be widely accepted.

Would fake news laws shut down blogs just because the powers that be don’t agree with them? Who decides what is and is not fake? And what would that mean for political commentators, Youtubers, bloggers and keyboard warriors? Before you decide whether or not fake news should be banned you first need to think about what fake news is and who defines and decides what fake news is.

Donald Trump believes that the mainstream media deliberately lies about him and his fans. The public has, to some extent, always been dubious of the mainstream media but the rise of independent news outlets seems to be fuelling this distrust. Facebook and Google are clamping down on fake news. People are being implored to actually research the facts before they share a meme. Fake news is very relevant to a world where basically anyone can be a journalist and users alone decide what will go viral, but is fake news detrimental to or in fact supported by free speech?

I have written an article about whether fake news should be banned, the definition of fake news, the difference between interpretation and facts, and whether or not fake news should be banned. The article was published on MCXV, an independent news website which allows contributors to make a small profit based on a number of views they get. Is this the kind of website which would be targeted by anti-fake news legislation? Take a look and let me know what you think!

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Tuesday morning update

I have two announcements to make this fine Tuesday morning.

    1. Take a look at my published article on why we need more video campaigns for male domestic abuse victims
    2. I’m doing book reviews now! Take a look at my new and shiny book review website, and if you are an author or looking for new books to read this summer click on the ‘book club’ banner for lists of cheap books and the opportunity to list your own book and gain a wider audience.

For more information on Alter Ego by Tory Allyn (the book I’m currently reviewing) check out it’s Amazon listing here.

I’ve been quite busy writing about weird topics for minimal pay (latest includes sewing machine sergers, karaoke machines, and milk frothers) but I promise to update again soon with a longer and very exciting post.

Book Club Reading List

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Jeremy Corbyn

Click for my article on Jeremy Corbyn as the underdog of British politics.

I have long felt that the Labour party is suffering an identity crisis. The old Labour movement, the movement of Atlee, the NHS, and the welfare system was abandoned in favour of Tony Blair’s centrist movement, but that doesn’t appear to be working either. Jeremy Corbyn offers a return to old Labour, to the values Labour used to represent. Perhaps those values don’t have a place in this country anymore, perhaps the working class has changed too much.

Perhaps society has changed too much. If this is the case, and Labour cannot go back to its roots but it can’t re-imagine itself as anything more inspiring than a second rate Tory party whose main policy is seemingly slightly ‘nicer’ than the Tories, then perhaps it’s time for something new. Perhaps Labour should split, if that is how things are going. All I know is that we need differences of opinion in parliament, we need parties that differ enough that people feel that they have a choice. We need parties that represent people, that give them a voice. Parties people will support. And if Labour can’t be what it used to be but doesn’t have a good enough alternative, then something needs to change.

Corbyn has the support of a lot of people because they don’t see him as part of the establishment, because they see how much the media and the MP’s hate him. And this increases his popularity because he seems different. He’s an underdog. He shares people’s values, and that scares the establishment. He seems nice. He would rather hang out with and support local, ordinary people, then bother with the rituals and ceremonies required of politicians. Perhaps this isn’t a good enough reason to support him, but if enough people feel this way then they deserve to be heard, and if enough people want him in power he should stay.

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Reaction to Brexit

We’ve left the EU.

It still doesn’t feel entirely real, to be honest. It was assumed that the British people don’t really like change, that they’d stick with what they knew, that referendums don’t normally deliver results like this.

But it did. And now we’re out. Now we are a small little island bobbing around on it’s own with no real idea what’s going to happen or who it’s friends are. We’ve rejected our neighbours, we’ve turned our backs on our allies and we’ve upset a lot of people. The pounds low, the stock markets breaking and at the moment it looks like all those warnings were in fact correct and in a day we’ve screwed up our country beyond repair. This is a historical moment, something that may well have a massive effect on British history for the foreseeable future. The historian in me is excited, the traveller in me is upset and the regular human me is confused.

Neither campaign was particularly good. The Leave campaign has been accused, and rightly so, of using racism to create fear and in doing so gain support. As Nigel Farrage was such a big part of the Leave campaign it always had that dodgy UKIP feel that a lot of people can’t abide and their incredibly dubious ‘breaking point’ poster really did not help matters. All of this really dominated the campaign when in reality there were a lot more points to consider.

I know people who thoroughly researched the EU before the referendum and after much soul searching voted to leave, and I know they didn’t do it because of immigration. Immigration may be the reason some people voted, but there is this idea floating around that it must be the only reason and it really, really wasn’t. There were many concerns about the EU being a huge, confusing and undemocratic entity that was trying to take over the entire region and ensure the individual countries had less and less power for their own affairs. This may or may not be true, but it is a valid concern, and one that doesn’t stink of racism and xenophobia. There is also this deep seated British need to separate ourselves that perhaps played a bigger part then the younger more Europe friendly voters realised.

The media’s attempts to paint leave voters as exclusively working class small town un-university educated Daily Mail readers also backfired and may have actually lost the remain campaign the support they needed. The Remain campaign didn’t really seem interested in stating why we should remain in the EU; they seemed more focused on the dangers of leaving, and this simply failed to impress people.

If you focus on why the other party is wrong instead of on why you are right, it makes it look like your own argument isn’t that strong. I’m sure there were a lot of good reasons they were talking about, reasons they should have made the focus of their campaign, but instead all I could hear was fear mongering and a growing resistance towards it. Perhaps they didn’t trust the British people enough to give them real arguments out of fear it would go over our heads, or perhaps they trusted us too much to make such a big decision on something a lot of people simply didn’t know enough about.

It didn’t help that there is quite a massive lack of understanding about what the EU is and what it does in this country. The fact is it’s a massive, bureaucratic and multilayered organisation that is very hard to understand, and I do question if their lack of transparency is real as so much as people didn’t know where to look.

I’ve always known the EU existed, but until this referendum I’ll admit I never knew a great deal about it. I loved the fact I could live and work in another European country and I thought the idea of uniting countries in the same area via trade and belief was a good idea, but I never knew the logistics of it.

I voted remain because I love the open borders Europe has, I love the freedom of people moving and visiting as they please. I love the idea I could have just packed up and moved to Germany, or Holland or Italy or any of these 27 countries if I chose. And I loved cheap travel. Maybe these aren’t the calculated, well researched reasons that they should have been, but you always end up voting with what is most important to you at that given time.

There are a lot of questions, a lot of confusion and a lot of anger going on at the moment. The press is dominated by the immediate negative effects this decision has made, people are fighting amongst themselves, the young are accusing the old of destroying their futures, accusations of stupidity, racism and ignorance are flying around. The Leave voters are assumed to be racist, and the Remain voters apparently can’t deal with the realities of a democracy. These reactions are all to be expected, but none are particularly helpful.

Perhaps some of the older voters did vote because of an outdated idea of making Britain great again. But perhaps they voted because they, unlike us, have lived through a time when Britain was not part of the EU. Perhaps because of this it isn’t such a scary concept because they know we’ve done it before. And perhaps they also voted this way because they’ve lived through our membership of the EU, maybe they have a better insight of how it’s changed the UK then we do.

Some people did vote because of racism; perhaps  because they don’t like the EU telling us we should let in Syrian refugees. Maybe others don’t like the free flow of people, perhaps they want to build a wall around Britain and truly cut us off from the world. But others would have voted for any number of reasons; including the un-democratic and over imposing structure of the EU and fears that a closer union would end in one state, one army and one currency. Public opinion has never been and will never be unanimous, and it does not and never has fitted into neat categories.

Victor Klemperer, a Jewish academic and diarist who kept a record of the Nazi regime frequently found that you could never assume someone’s beliefs. He encountered children who spat at him in the street and Nazi officials who apologised to him, who told him they didn’t agree with the regime. He found different reactions and opinions everywhere he went, and he stressed throughout his book that the ‘vox populi’ is never unanimous. This is something I feel we could all learn from, something that would stop these broad accusations and let us focus instead on the actual arguments and the future.

Who knows what’s going to happen now? Maybe, miraculously, the leavers are right and this is the dawn of better trade deals and a rising economy. Or maybe we’ve just shot ourselves in our collective foot, will realise just how bad a mistake and will end up running back to the EU and beg to be let back in, which (if it did happen) would result in a much worse deal and the end of the pound. Hell maybe someone will invade us and the rest of Europe will turn a blind eye. Should we be optimistic? Should we be terrified? What do you think?

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The dark side of Australia’s history

Slightly darker reflections on Australia posted on my travel blog.

theflyingvegetarian

I’m staying in a place with a TV! Not wifi mind you, but a TV which has around 20 ever repeating  channels. I hadn’t seen any TV programmes since being here until the day before yesterday, and whilst it’s been nice for the evenings I miss Netflix and the internet like hell. When did TV get so terrible? When they realised no one watches it anymore? Who knows.

Anyway, last night I did see a good programme. It was a televised debate on ‘whether racism is destroying the Australian dream’, and as an English person who doesn’t know a lot about how it is here, it was really interesting. We have similar debates, although with different wording, in the UK.

I’ve always kind of assumed Australia was a pretty racist place. I guess coming from London, which is thankfully quite diverse and mostly cohesive, and the fact that when I’ve…

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The Winters Tale Review at The Garrick theater

So yesterday I went to see The Winters Tale, a Shakespearian play directed by Rob Ashford and Kenneth Branagh, starring Kenneth Branagh and Judy Dench. The show had full star reviews from several major publications so one would assume it would be a pretty good show.

It was not.

the-winters-tale-quotes
I think because The Winters Tale is in itself a confusing and I believe badly told story that makes absolutely no sense, that meant the actors found it hard to engage with the play and portray their characters properly. I’m not really sure if the acting was bad because of the play, or if they play was bad because of the acting, but something was definitely wrong.  I am not sure if Kenneth Branagh has a unique acting style or if he was genuinely forgetting his lines throughout the play, but there were several awkward pauses and sometimes it really felt like the actors were just saying words and didn’t really have any idea what they were saying, which would have made sense as most of the time I had no idea what they were saying either.

I vaguely managed to get the gist of the story, which involved a seemingly normal guy turning into a crazy and jealous monster within the space of a few minutes and then doing a complete 360 before the end of the first act, people dropping dead for no logical reason, being turned into statues and then being revived by Judy Dench, and some rather surprising but very welcome folk dancing. I was confused that the actors were dressed in Victorian attire and had a Christmas tree on set whilst the story was meant to be set in Ancient Rome; the play started with the actors walking through the audience singing a Christmas song, and yet the play was also vaguely set in Ancient Rome with the characters visiting an oracle and believing in multiple Gods. That alone would have been okay if the acting was convincing, but a lot of the soliloquy’s made no sense, partly because sometimes the actors spoke too quietly to be audible  (keep in mind we were on the bottom level so were closer to the stage than most of the audience) but mostly because through several quite large chunks of the play there didn’t seem to be a connection between the actors and the text. Sometimes they seemed a lot more like people reading a script than actors portraying a character. They did use different voice levels, sometimes whispering and suddenly screaming, but it wasn’t effective because as there wasn’t a great sense of character and so it was hard to feel the emotion. I didn’t really understand why they were randomly screaming and whispering. It was hard to understand or relate to the random bursts of emotion, especially as they seemed quite sporadic.

Kenneth Branagh did have a few strong moments, but for most of the play I literally thought he kept forgetting his lines. Judy Dench gave a good performance as she is a great actress, but even she couldn’t force the story to make sense. The actress who played Perdita, the abandoned royal baby who miraculously survives a bear attack when the men who left her there are torn to pieces, was actually pretty good; she was lively and the dancing scenes in the second act was one of the significant high points  of the play.

The play wasn’t a complete disaster. However, the play itself ended on an exceptionally weak note, which was a fault of the actual play rather than the production although I do feel they could have executed it better.  Hermione, the wife who suddenly drops dead just after the gods say she is innocent is somehow brought back to life by Judy Dench’s character and they all presumably live happily ever after. It was quite sudden and not particularly well explained, you don’t even see Branagh’s character meet his long lost daughter. This is probably not the fault of the directors of this play as I imagine it was quite close to the original. What this play has confirmed for me is that Shakespeare really isn’t all that. Whilst some of his plays are very good, i.e Macbeth and Midsummer Nights Dreams, that doesn’t mean every single thing he ever wrote was fantastic. If the play I saw yesterday was anything close to the original written by Shakespeare, it really is not a very good play. It felt like two different stories pushed together with a very hurried happy ending that was not properly explained, and as Shakespeare goes I wouldn’t really recommend it.

And yet somehow this play got a standing ovation. I feel this is because it was Shakespeare, and people assume that Shakespeare is both very good and very hard for us modern people to understand. Therefore, the more difficult one of his plays is to understand the more authentic it must be. However, this is not true. A Greek tragedy or a Shakespearean play can have challenging language, but if the original play flows reasonably well and if the actors deliver good performances you do not need to be a scholar to appreciate and understand it. This story in itself was, to me at least, very badly written, and the fact that the actors performances tended to suggest they didn’t understand the text either left me very underwhelmed and slightly bemused. Shakespeare can be good, but it is definitely not always good. In total, I would give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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Paris, Syria and scary current events

So, the past two weeks have been scary and intense. The Paris atrocities of November 13th, in which 130 innocent people were killed in seven terrorist attacks on the capital have understandably shaken Europe and the wider world, and you can still feel the aftermath here in the UK. There is no way to excuse these murders; the people killed were regular, innocent people, like you and me. The idea that you could be out with your friends on a Friday night, doing the things you have always done, and someone could just go and murder you because of some religious ideology that you have nothing to do with is beyond words.
Things have definitely changed in the UK in the last two weeks. There are police everywhere, personally every time I get a tube I feel like I am tempting fate and we may be only a week or two away from a full blown war. A lot of things are going on, and these are definitely scary times to live in.  I’m going to focus on the issue of bombing Syria, but this is only one part of a must larger issue and we still have no idea how it is all going to turn out.

The Paris atrocities were just that; they were atrocities. Because those that carried out these murders say they are Muslims, and indeed want to create an Islamic state based on their take on Islamic law, a worrying amount of people seem to have become concerned about Muslims in general. If you go to any comment section on a relevant news story, you will see a number of people suggesting that the Koran is evil, that that we shouldn’t trust Muslims, you will even get people suggesting that we should deport all Muslims to Syria.  I very much doubt we will get to the mass deporting of innocent people stage, but smaller levels of discrimination do appear to be on the rise, and both to keep the UK safe for all its citizens and to combat further radicalisation in our communities, this needs to be addressed. This is not just for political rhetoric and for the sake of being a good, tolerant person, but because terrorists want to invoke an ‘us and them’ mentality with the West as an all encompassing bad guy that must be destroyed. Attacking innocent people and treating them like the enemy isn’t going to help with that, and surely if we are going to try and stop radicalisation of people in this country we need to fight against this perception, not perpetuate it. Human history is full of people doing bad things to each other, and England’s history is a particularly bloody and often horrific one. That does not mean the majority of the population have personally done bloody and horrific things, or that they are responsible for these things, but we do need to acknowledge this countries past. In the same way you can’t blame all Muslims for ISIS, you cannot blame all Europeans for their colonial past or for the wars the leaders of these countries decided to drag us into.  This does not mean we shouldn’t fight Daesh or that we should apologise for them, but we need to acknowledge our part in the context of these events before we can plan what to do next. I’m sure the majority of people don’t believe all or most  Muslims are terrorist or Daesh sympathisers, but here are a few points for those that do.

Islam is not a uniquely violent religion.
That is not to say there are not very questionable passages in the Koran. It is true that there are parts that can be interpreted as promoting violence and even murder against non-believers and perceived sinners, and that people have carried out murders based on their take on the Muslim religion. Suicide bombers do follow a type of Islamic faith, although it is not the same beliefs as the majority.
However, it is not alone. The abrahamic religions have a lot of differences, but they also have a lot of similarities and it is simply untrue to suggest one is significantly more violent than the others.  The Old Testament has a lot of passages that sound pretty dodgy to me, including but not limited to: ” Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:17-18)” and “If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12)”. In the New Testament Jesus is reported as saying: “”Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34“.
Do these passages mean that all Jews and Christians are inherently violent? Of course not. Have people used these religions to justify violence? Yes. Of course they have. Murder in the name of religion is hardly a new concept. Here are some nasty titbits for you: During the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in the 1200’s, large numbers of Cathars were massacred by Christians due to their duelist religion, despite the fact they were mostly peaceful and pious people. Back in the day the Crusades were very real and lengthy religious war in which both Christians and Muslims murdered and enslaved each other in the name of their respective religions. During Tudor times in the UK, people were burnt alive for being the wrong kind of Christian. In numerous countries all over Europe those accused of witchcraft were tortured and murdered.  In more resent times, the Ku Klux Klan of whom many considered themselves Christian, murdered and terrorized black people for decades. Human history is full of people doing bad things to each other and justifying it in one way or the other. People have done many bad things in the name of Islam, but you can’t say that because some groups of people start trying to force everyone to share their outlook and commit horrific acts in the name of their Gods, it means everyone who subscribes to a version of that religion wants to do the same. Because that would mean all religious people would be murderers as people have done that in the name of pretty much every religion at one time or another. I’m not saying religion is bad. I’m saying some people use religion to justify a whole array of things, and in that respect Islam is not unique.

 The majority of Refugees do not pose a threat to our security

I guess I can kind of understand why some people have come to the conclusion that allowing refugees from the war torn countries of Syria and Iraq is a threat to our safety. Syria is an ISIS stronghold, the people who have committed atrocities have most probably been in touch with people in Syria and may well have gone there, and so therefore people coming here from Syria are all a potential threat. But that doesn’t really seem to be the case. As far as I am aware, whilst some of the terrorists managed to get through borders into France they were born and raised in Europe. As far as I am aware, none of those involved in the murders were refugees.  Why someone would choose to commit these atrocities in their own home country is something I cannot begin to understand, but that appears to be what is happening. No, this does not mean we should start deporting people on the chance that they may be a terrorist, but it is true that we seem to face a bigger threat from people already in Europe than those trying to enter.  It is true that out of all the refugees trying to enter the EU, a very small number may be be from Daesh and prepared to harm the European country they enter. But a far, far larger number are fleeing these same terrorists because they are in danger, and because they live in a war zone that has been in conflict for years, that is being bombed constantly, that is basically being destroyed. Most of them are genuinely desperate people who are trying to come here to protect themselves and their families, because they are likely to die where they are. A lot of them are leaving because they cannot stand what Daesh is doing in that region, because they know better than any of us here how they are treating people and what life is like in Raqqa.  It is not a pleasant and easy route. Many men, women and children die on that trip.  We should not turn our backs on desperate people out of paranoia. There was something in the Metro this morning about how the Conservative government have not met their immigration targets and net immigration is on the rise. Of course it’s on the blood rise! We are facing the worst refugee crisis since the second world war. Should we close our doors to fulfil a few targets? Is that going to sound good to future generations who are going to analyse our handling of this situation and judge us for it? Security does need to be tightened, and our countries need to work together to try and find known terrorists. Border security does need to be increased. But this does not mean we should close the borders and send these people back to the hell like war zone they were so desperate to escape. We need to be safe, but we need to be human as well, and I maintain all the things I said in my previous article.

We should not rush into Syria

I’m not normally a fan of Jeremy Corbyn’s politics (although I’m warming to the man himself), but I agree with his response on Syria. Paris was a terrible atrocity, but rushing into a war without a clear plan or sense of direction mainly out of revenge and the need to show our allies we are ‘doing something’ is not a good move, especially if the only action the government is willing to take is mostly symbolic. Dropping a few more bombs on a already heavily bombed area doesn’t seem like it is going to change much, especially as as far as I am aware there hasn’t been much success from the bombing already being carried out. You will probably kill a few terrorists, and maybe even some prominent ones. But there are others who can take their place, and in the mean time who knows how many civilians will be killed in the process especially as there is evidence that suggests members of Daesh will enter populated areas and use the civilians in that area as a sort of ‘human shield’, which means that even our apparently superior bombs are going to have a hard time distinguishing between terrorist and civilian. The fact is that you will kill innocent people. No matter how sophisticated the bombs that will be used, you are going to hit innocent people. That is a fact of war and sometimes it is unavoidable, but the benefits have to outweigh the costs for it to be worth it and I am not convinced that they do in this case.
Yes, we are already bombing Iraq. Is there evidence that that is helping? In the Metro today it detailed how ISIS is using tunnels in Iraq to avoid the bombs. Regular civilians are unlikely to have this luxury. I would suggest people read the testimonies of refugees from Raqqa and their opinion on the bombing, because they are the ones who are going to be most affected. And whilst they want Daesh to be stopped, most of them seem to think that bombing alone is not going to change much more than kill even more people than are already dying in that region. Incidentally, they are also questioning why all the decisions regarding Syria are being made without consulting the people who have fled this region and therefore are likely to know the most about it which is a fair point and something the prime minister should thing about. There is another point as well; The Syrian civil war wasn’t started because of Daesh, rather Daesh emerged out of an already existing conflict in that region. Assad murdered the Syrian people before the Islamic state did. And Britain was well aware of that, in fact we voted against fighting Assad in 2013. And the Islamic State has been around for a while now, and all the time they have been killing and controlling people. We’ve found the mass graves, we’ve heard the testimonies, we know this is happening. So it may well seem to the majority of people in Syria that we will turn a  blind eye to the slaughter of local people in that region, and are now only joining in to seek revenge for Paris. And whilst no one can deny the events of November 13th were horrific, if we now say that we want to eradicate Daesh and in the process potentially keep Assad stay in power as the ‘lesser of two evils’, I can only see that turning more people in that region against the West, especially if they see they start to see us as the reason for the destruction of their city and the death of their families. I imagine free press, whilst it does exist, is hard to find and risky to access in this region and you would have to be very careful about what you say, therefore if people are desperate and they see destruction all around, a group that offers you a way out even if it is through your own death may start to seem attractive.
Yes, something does need to be done. But not just about Daesh. They are not the only terrorists in that region. If war is going to happen, there needs to be a guarantee that the West isn’t simply going to hand power back to Assad in the end and turn things back to how they started. Because that is not going to end the conflict, that is going to make it worse, and sooner or later we may find ourselves right back in the position we are in now. There are obviously no easy answers, and there is a conflict of not wanting to interfere in other peoples countries but also wanting to help make them better for the people who live there that isn’t easy to resolve, but this is why I think we shouldn’t rush into broadening this conflict without thinking about the end plan and the future.
None of us want to send ground troops to the Middle East, and at this time I don’t want to advocate it either, but without sending ground troops  and solely relying on air strikes, it doesn’t sound like our respective governments are willing to properly commit to this war. Without committing properly and taking action that can be seen as not enough or even just symbolic, I don’t feel that it is worth it at this stage. They say there are 70,000 ground troops in Syria who can fight on the ground whilst the allies fight in the skies, but is that true? Who are these troops, and what do they want? The situation in Syria is very complicated, and many of these ground troops are jihadists themselves or fighting their own war against or for President Assad, which means that if we were to back those fighting Assad we may end up at war with Russia which would basically mean World War III. The PKK and some rebel groups do appear to be doing good things in that region, but they are also opposed by a lot of people in Syria. There are many mini wars going on within that context, and we can’t really rely on all of them to forget their differences and fight together. Jeremy Corbyn’s suggestion that it has to be a political settlement may not be enough and may seem naive, but at least he is thinking about how to end the conflict and create some sort of stability in that country. And his other point about cutting them off at the source, by stopping their money supply and stopping people buying their oil and selling them weapons is a good one, and it is something no one seems to be thinking enough about, perhaps because if we did it would incriminate some of the US and the UK’s very questionable allies. I don’t think he is just sticking to his ideologies without thinking about the situation. He seems to be the only one who really is thinking about the situation in the long term, and for what he believes to be the benefit of everyone, not just the people in Europe. Say what you want about him, but he has clearly thought about and maintained his position because he believes it is the correct one, and I think he may be right.
The UK is in danger. An attack is quite likely. I do believe that bombing Syria is going to make that attack even more likely, not necessarily from people in Syria but from those already in the UK, perhaps people who have never even been to Syria themselves. I question the idea that bombing Syria is going to make your average person in the UK safer, because the people who are going to attack them aren’t going to be in Syria. They are going to be here. And that is why we should try to combat radicalisation not just by fighting it, but also by disproving it. Our country has a long history of self interested blood shed, please let’s think about this carefully before we do any more.

Articles

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/6120373/Top-10-worst-Bible-passages.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/30/syria-airstrikes-legal-david-cameron-civil-war-flawed

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/29/raqqa-exiles-bashar-al-assad-isis-bombing?CMP=fb_gu

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_and_violence

http://www.rationalchristianity.net/genocide.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34940728

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34927939

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34939109

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34931421

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-34940427

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34941658

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/26/shadow-cabinet-seriously-split-over-syria-with-corbyn-in-minority

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34944499

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Why would Police officers need a degree?

I’ve just read an article on the BBC website which claims that the College of Policing has said all new police officers may be required to have a university degree in the future.

Why?

As far as I am aware, the police are sometimes trained at the College of Policing or an alternative and are sometimes required to undertake a diploma in policing, where I imagine they would learn the skills they would need for a job. Others may start off as voluntary officers or be recruited after school/college. Whilst specialists and detectives may benefit from a criminology degree, I see no reason why regular police officers would need one. How is studying an unrelated subject for three years going to make you a better police officer? It seems that the police force is one of the few sectors that does not currently require a degree, and that to me is a very good thing. Rather than having to waste their money, get into debt and only be able to apply for the police at 21 at the youngest, police recruits get specialist training designed for their chosen career, presumably don’t have to get a student loan, would get trained by specialists and would be trained for two years rather than the standard three. If the police have to take a degree, presumably they may still have to undertake specialist training afterwards, which means they would have to wait five years rather than two to start their career. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Why do we have this obsession with degrees? How will a degree help with a job such as this when specialist training is already offered, a job where presumably you would learn best in the field and on courses specializing in what you would actually do on the job?

In order to make the degree at least somewhat worthwhile, we need to expand other vocational options so people who don’t want to take a degree don’t have to without their employment options diminishing. This involves offering more specialist training without a degree being necessary, not less. Stop forcing people to waste their money, and stop acting like a degree is the only thing that makes a profession ‘legitimate’. If you don’t realistically need a degree for a job, why make people get one just because everyone else seems to have one? Why is that a good thing? People who chose to take an academic degree are now at a disadvantage, because the degree is becoming more and more normal and therefore graduates are required to have a range of other skills and work experience that are quite often hard to get at university, and non graduates are now apparently assumed to be ‘lesser’ in the world of work simply because they didn’t choose to go to university.  But how does going to lectures on a general interest subject help in a specialist job; as this article doesn’t say the degree would have to be specific, I am assuming this is what it means. A degree in psychology or criminology may be beneficial, but I don’t see how it would be more helpful than spending those three years gaining experience and/or qualifications directly through the police. I am not saying university is not a good thing, or that the degree of life experience and independence it offers young people should not be acknowledged. But it should not be mandatory for a sector that doesn’t seem to need it and has presumably functioned reasonably well without it until now, and if someone was able to train for a job and actually be working in that sector by the time they would have otherwise left university, surely they would still get those opportunities. A lot of the comments on the BBC article claim that the police would need a degree to make them ‘more intelligent’ than criminals. A degree does not necessarily make you more intelligent, and not having a degree does not necessarily make you less intelligent. Intelligence is also relative, and  is not always carried across. For example, if you did a degree in English literature than you would learn to analyse texts, to write essays and develop your knowledge of literature. Those are not bad skills to have. But when faced with a criminal, I don’t really see how it would put you in a better position than someone who did not have the knowledge of that particular subject. For certain careers, like journalism for example, a degree like English or history is very beneficial because it equips you with skills you can then apply to journalism, such as analysis, a clear writing style and the ability to see things from different points of view. But whilst it wouldn’t hurt if you wanted to be in the police, I don’t really see how it would put you in a better position than someone who had actually gained experience with the police during this time. University is not the only way to learn new skills and develop your intelligence. Since the rise of the internet, a lot of knowledge is already at your finger tips if you desire to look for it. University should be a choice. It should not be mandatory.

Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34805856