POLITICS
Is the UK Labour Party dead?
L1
Britain’s Labour Party boasts more members than any other political party in the EU, and they re-elected Jeremy Corbyn, its socialist leader, with a thumping majority last year. But the broader electorate seems not to share their faith. Indeed, according to a new report by the socialist Fabian Society, which helped found Labour, the party is on course to win fewer than 200 seats at the next election - its worst performance since 1935. Labour has recovered from seeming electoral oblivion in the past, winning three landslide victories from 1997 to 2005 after 18 years in opposition. Is this time different?
 January 4th 2017
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Matteo Tiratelli L1
4.0
2
Steve Recabaren L1
2.0
3
Doug Nineteenfortythree L1
0.0
4
Daniel Zeichner MP L1
0.0
ECONOMICS
Is tax the price we pay for a civilised society?
L1
Tax avoidance and evasion have been puncturing the public consciousness more and more in recent years, culminating in the Panama Papers and the massive tax bill Apple has found itself slapped with in Ireland, an EU ruling it is appealing this week. For many multinational corporations, tax planning is not only a legitimate activity, but a responsibility to their shareholders. Some, on the libertarian end of the spectrum, go so far as to say taxation is theft. But many in civil society point to education, healthcare, transport, infrastructure and the safety and stability provided by police forces to argue that tax is the price we must pay for a civilised society. 
 December 19th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Alex Wild L1
6.0
Research Director, TaxPayers' Alliance
2
John Christensen L1
1.0
John Christensen is a director of the Tax Justice Network, a global network of experts on international tax matters and development
3
Mark Williams L1
0.0
POLITICS
Should the West intervene in Syria to stop Assad?
L1
The severe humanitarian impact of the Syrian Civil War was on display once again this week in Aleppo where a government offensive backed by Russian airstrikes pushed deeper into the opposition’s last urban bastion, displacing thousands of people. One UN humanitarian spokesman said it looked like a “complete meltdown of humanity in Aleppo”. Emboldened by the latest successes on the battlefield, President Assad now seems determined to recapture all of the northern Syrian city. As the death toll of the war, according to some estimates already at around half a million people, keeps rising around the country, the pressure on the West to act increases. Mr. Assad’s backers say he is fighting terrorism, whereas those opposed view him as the head of a murderous regime. While Western countries such as the US have backed the armed rebellion over the last years, some have criticised the Obama administration’s approach as too hesitant; others saw it as the right step after Washington’s deadly entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Should the West intervene more forcefully in Syria to stop Assad?
 December 13th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Felicity Dowling L1
4.0
Socialist and spokesperson for Left Unity (http://leftunity.org/)
2
Richard E. Sherwin L1
2.0
Retired University teacher.
3
Bridget Whitehead L1
0.0
PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS
Should animal testing be banned?
L1
Humans have long experimented on animals to test new medications and cosmetic products. Given the level of suffering inflicted on animals in the process, there is little doubt that such experimentation is inhumane. As such, outlawing the testing of cosmetics on animals would seem to most an uncontroversial position. The EU has already done just that. But what about when it comes to life saving drugs? Is animal suffering the price that must be paid to ease human suffering? How reliable is the data that can be gathered from testing cures designed for people on other species? Are scientists doing enough to reduce the harm caused to animals? Are there more humane alternatives? And as with so many ethical questions, can it be reduced to the greatest good for the greatest many?
 December 6th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Jennifer White L1
2.0
2
Ärzte GegenTierversuche L1
2.0
3
Chris Magee L1
2.0
Following stints in think tanks, charities and the private sector, Chris now works for Understanding Animal Research.
4
Emma Martinez L1
1.0
Emma Martínez is the Policy and Communications Officer of the European Animal Research Association (EARA).
5
Dermot Healy L1
0.0
POLITICS
Hero or villain: How should Fidel Castro be remembered?
L1
Over 600 assassination attempts could not topple him, but old age was one foe he could not defeat. “Soon I’ll be like all the others,” Fidel Castro poignantly proclaimed in April and indeed before the year was out the enduring leader of the Cuban revolution joined his fallen comrades in the annals of history. But how should the history books remember Castro? As the liberator whose handful of ragtag rebels on a rickety boat went on to topple a dictator and defy a superpower? As the dictator who maintained an iron grip on power for 47 years? As the man who brought education and healthcare to the poor masses in Cuba, or as the man who persecuted homosexuals and political opponents? As a friend to Africans in their struggle against apartheid or as an enemy of democracy?
 November 28th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Omar Lopez L1
0.0
Omar López Montenegro is the Human Rights Director of the Cuban American National Foundation. He has a long history as a human rights activi
2
Steve Recabaren L1
0.0
ECONOMICS
What does automation mean for the economy of tomorrow?
L1
Across the world, algorithms, mechanisation, and various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) are shaping the decisions of employers, and changing the daily realities of employees. Just as the Industrial Revolution saw chain production specialise - and limit - workers’ activity, so has the integration of computers in companies’ functioning debunked the old correlation between value and manpower. When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, the company only had 13 souls working for it. This time last year, consultancy firm McKinsey announced it would conduct a study over several years investigating the effect automation might have on our jobs and production methods. It predicted that automation would foster a new creativity and meaning in the workplace, change the occupations classed as high-wage, and utterly redefine jobs and business processes. Moreover, the specialist consensus is that about half of today’s work activities could be automated thanks to demonstrated technologies. An extra 13% of US jobs could also be robotised once language-processing mechanisms achieve median levels of human performance. It comes as no surprise, then, that recent years have seen a profusion of discussions on how AI will impact our future. In 2014, Yuval Noah Harari, a University of Jerusalem lecturer, published a bestseller announcing the creation of a new, “useless” class, made up of people whose jobs would disappear. Since then, countless editorials have been written on the end of the job market as we know it, and many a utopian has proclaimed the age of comfortable inactivity to be around the corner. But will machines’ increasing independence challenge humans’ sense of purpose, and disrupt traditional roles? If we are to take science-fiction author William Gibson at his word - “the future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed yet” - we must decide what ‘evenness’ means.
 November 22nd 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Steve Recabaren L1
2.0
2
Salman Shaheen L1
2.0
Editor-in-Chief of The World Weekly
3
Trevor Francis L1
0.0
POLITICS
Should extremists be banned from public discussion platforms?
L1
Calls to no-platform controversial figures have come to the fore in recent years, as the world experiences a rising tide of populism, theocratisation, and alt-right movements. Though many claim that refusing to host extremist speakers jeopardises freedom of speech, some media outlets, university unions, and debating organisations stand by their bans, especially with regard to Islamists who are often tied to anti-Semitism. Those in favour of no-platforming argue that inviting representatives of extreme religious or socio-political views only ends up giving them mainstream legitimacy. In the wake of far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s highly controversial Remembrance Day appearance on the Andrew Marr Show in the UK, or the WikiLeaks revelations that the US Democratic Party sought to promote extremist Republican figures on the mistaken assumption they’d discredit themselves, there is a growing correlation between influential airtime and the rise once-fringe currents that have proven detrimental to harmonious communal relations - as shown by the spike in hate crimes. But the risk of no-platforming for liberals is that the banned figures gain traction and sympathy as “victims” or “outsider” figures, whose messages of truth are being censored by the establishment. Should opinions from every degree of the political spectrum be given equal and free airing? Are some views just too extreme? And how should democratic systems aspiring to political balance manage fringe entities?
 November 15th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Jim Jepps L1
6.0
2
David Osland L1
6.0
Author and journo, writing from the perspective of the reality-based left.
3
Haydar Zaki L1
2.0
Haydar Zaki is the outreach and programme coordinator for the Quilliam University Programme at the Quilliam Foundation.
POLITICS
How can the vast divisions revealed by the US election be healed?
L1
This year’s election process has exposed like never before just how divided and disgruntled America is. A Gallup poll found that only 8% of Americans are satisfied with both presidential campaigns, and only 28% of the country is satisfied with the way things are going in America. Donald Trump was called a racist, a misogynist and an egomaniac, while Hillary Clinton was accused of corruption and irresponsibility, and told she should be locked up. The candidates themselves alienated vast swathes of the population, with Mr. Trump describing Mexicans as criminals and rapists, and Ms. Clinton labelling Trump supporters “deplorables”. This is all a symptom of a divided America. Globalisation has led to prosperity to for some, but left many behind in economic stagnation, and seen entire states suffer from their industries collapsing. Ethnic minorities make up an increasingly large part of the population, and through movements such as Black Lives Matter are rising up against injustices against them, but this is sparking a backlash from those who believe racism to be a thing of the past. Millennials, burdened by huge student loans and struggling to get on the housing ladder, have a very different view of the country from baby-boomers, who see a young generation wanting everything handed to them on a plate. Mr. Trump's election is set to deepen the divides. What can be done to pull the country back together?
 November 8th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Ben Heidlage L1
2.0
2
Carl Chudy L1
1.0
POLITICS
Do economic sanctions work?
L1
On October 11, Daniel Russel, top US diplomat for East Asia, said he was confident the UN would make “significant” progress in tougher sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear programme. But while the sanctions keep getting tougher, Pyongyang shows no sign of ending its nuclear tests. Economic sanctions have been a core weapon in the diplomatic arsenal of world powers for decades, but their effectiveness remains controversial, with a number of studies suggesting they have only worked in 4% of cases. The sanctions imposed on South Africa, for example, are credited with helping end apartheid, but on the other hand sanctions against Cuba have done little more than bring misery to its people, whilst its government endures. Sanctions against Russia have yet to stay Vladimir Putin’s hand in Syria and may have hardened domestic support for him. Sanctions may have eventually helped bring Iran to the negotiating table, but they also led to dire short shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs, fueling the black market and skyrocketing prices. Are sanctions, then, just a convenient tool for politicians reluctant to go to war to be seen to be doing something? Or, if properly enforced, are they a useful way of bringing rogue states into line?
 November 1st 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Natasha Hickman L1
2.0
Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Communications Manager, @CubaSolidarity
2
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam L1
0.0
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at SOAS, University of London @Adib_Moghaddam
MEDIA
Is RT Kremlin propaganda, or an alternative to the mainstream media?
L1
When RT announced last week its UK bank accounts were being closed by NatWest, calling the move an attack on free speech, it once again brought to the fore the debate over the Russian state-funded international broadcaster’s role in the world. Critics charge RT as being a Kremlin propaganda tool, a sharper, more sophisticated instrument in the global information war used to penetrate Western society in a way never possible during the Cold War. They point to largely one-sided, Russian slanted coverage of the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria as key evidence of this. However RT bills itself as an alternative to the Western mainstream media and its proponents point out that beyond its reporting on issues of direct interest to Russia, it also carries a wealth of robust and pertinent coverage on numerous issues of social, political, scientific and economic importance in other countries, much of it underreported. Its British arm frequently exposes the social consequences of austerity and airs voices criticising the war in Iraq and the rise of the surveillance society. It was nominated for an International Emmy in 2012 for its coverage of Occupy Wall Street. Critics, again, say this is a Russian attempt to sow discord and paint Western governments as corrupt, while the Russian government would never receive the same treatment. Is RT solely a Kremlin mouthpiece that should not be granted international airtime? Or does it have a part to play in a pluralistic, international media landscape in which one must see issues from multiple perspectives and absorb a range of viewpoints to come close to understanding what’s going on in the world? And either way, should liberals who oppose dictators, authoritarian measures and the erosion of free speech everywhere, cheer or fear attacks on the broadcaster?
 October 24th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Matt Turner L1
6.0
Political commentator for The Independent, The Hill and Novara Media. Assistant Editor at EvolvePolitics. Can sometimes be found on RT UK.
2
John Wight L1
4.0
Writer and commentator
3
Sean Ferguson L1
2.0
ECONOMICS
December 19th 2016
Is tax the price we pay for a civilised society?
Tax avoidance and evasion have been puncturing the public consciousness more and more in recent years, culminating in the Panama Papers and the
more
3 - 100% / 0%  
POLITICS
December 13th 2016
Should the West intervene in Syria to stop Assad?
The severe humanitarian impact of the Syrian Civil War was on display once again this week in Aleppo where a government offensive backed by Russian
more
3 - 100% / 0%  
PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS
December 6th 2016
Should animal testing be banned?
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POLITICS
November 28th 2016
Hero or villain: How should Fidel Castro be remembered?
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ECONOMICS
November 22nd 2016
What does automation mean for the economy of tomorrow?
3 - 100% / 0%  
POLITICS
November 15th 2016
Should extremists be banned from public discussion platforms?
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POLITICS
November 8th 2016
How can the vast divisions revealed by the US election be healed?
2 - 100% / 0%  
POLITICS
November 1st 2016
Do economic sanctions work?
2 - 100% / 0%  
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Lead contributors of the week
1
Asra Nomani L1
17.8
Author: "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam." Former WSJ reporter. Former journalism professor, Georgetown U
2
Freddy bin Yusuf L1
12.0
3
Ulrike Lunacek L1
12.0
Vice President and Green Member of the European Parliament from Austria.
4
Laurie Shrage L1
10.0
Laurie Shrage is Professor of Philosophy at Florida International University
5
Salman Shaheen L1
9.8
Editor-in-Chief of The World Weekly
6
Jimmy K L1
9.0
7
Julia Bard L1
8.0
Julia Bard is a freelance journalist, a member of the Jewish Socialists' Group and on the editorial committee of Jewish Socialist magazine.
8
Dr. Craig Considine L1
8.0
Rice University, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology,
9
Nushin Arbabzadah L1
8.0
Writer. Raised in Afghanistan.
10
Josh Kurlantzick L1
6.0
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