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?
 1 week ago
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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
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.
 2 weeks ago
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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?
 3 weeks ago
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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
2 - 100% / 0%  
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
4.0
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
2.0
Writer and commentator
3
Sean Ferguson L1
0.0
POLITICS
Should the former colonial powers pay reparations to nations they once subjugated?
L1
The colonial era saw Europe’s share of the world’s GDP jump from 20% to 60%, leading many to point out that Europe didn’t develop the colonies - rather, the land, resources, and labour of the colonies developed Europe. Anthropologist Jason Hickel, writing in the Guardian, notes India commanded 27% of the world’s economy prior to British colonisation: when the colonialists left in 1947, it only represented 3%. Historian Mike Davis describes how the British overhauled India’s agricultural system, destroying traditional subsistence practices to make way for cash crops - at times exporting 10 million tonnes of food to Europe a year. As a result, up to 29 million Indians died of famine in the latter 19th century. Similarly, the socio-economic growth of Haiti - the first black nation to successfully rebel in 1804 against its coloniser, France - was instantly jeopardised by the colonial powers’ retaliatory boycott on Haitian products. France demanded 150 million francs as compensation; it took Haiti 122 years to pay. With many former colonies continuing to suffer from systemic poverty, widespread corruption, lack of infrastructure, and political instability, should the Western powers pay reparations? Opponents of this notion state that ex-colonies already receive their fair share of aid. Opponents also stress that the sins of the fathers should not be visited upon their children, and that those most likely to bear the financial brunt of eventual reparations won’t be the elites (whose present-day fortunes often derive from colonialism), but ordinary taxpayers. David Horowitz famously argued that reparations were a “separatist idea”, painting Africans as victims while pitting them against the nations which “gave them freedom”. Others suggest that compensation is impractical, politically unworkable, or divisive, focusing attention on the p
 October 17th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Colonialism Reparation L1
0.0
Colonialism Reparation is part of the movement for the condemnation, the reconciliation, the apologies and the compensation for colonialism.
2
Richard E. Sherwin L1
0.0
Retired University teacher.
3
Akhilesh Pillalamarri L1
0.0
4
Esther Stanford-Xosei L1
0.0
5
Garr Earl-Spurr L1
0.0
HEALTH AND MEDICINE
Should drugs be legalised?
L1
The infamous war on drugs has for decades stirred controversies and violence. And 2016 is no different. Last month, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked for an extension for his war on drugs, saying in reference to those involved in the drug trade, “he cannot kill them all”. Since Mr. Duterte took office in May, however, more than 3,000 people have been killed in his crackdown. The violent impact of the ongoing battles against the narcotics trade around the world has led some to call for a liberalisation of drug policies. Proponents of such measures cite the failure of the war on drugs, the possibility of governments to tax the trade and a reduction in crime, amongst other aspects. Those opposed in turn argue that prohibition deters drug use and that a legalisation of cannabis for example could serve as a gateway to harder, more dangerous substances. Others worry about a legitimisation of a drug culture in society. Should more countries follow the example of Portugal, which decriminalised the possession of all drugs 16 years ago? Or do drug laws need to be further tightened to achieve success? The question for those in favour of liberalisation is also whether drugs should be decriminalised or, more drastically, fully legalised.
 October 10th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Eric Grant Global Commission on Drug Policy L1
0.0
The Global Commission on Drug Policy was established in 2010 by political leaders, cultural figures, and globally influential personalities
2
ChangeDrugLawsNow L1
0.0
POLITICS
Should vital matters of peace and economic prosperity be decided by public referendum?
L1
This week, the Colombian people delivered a shock to their government by voting to reject the peace deal with FARC that stood to end five decades of conflict. In doing so, they made their voices clear on the future of their country, but they may have also jeopardised it by rejecting the deal negotiated by the government. Similarly, in Britain this year, the people were consulted for the first time in over four decades on membership of the European Union, voting to leave despite the vast majority of experts predicting painful economic consequences. For Swiss people, referendums on all manner of policies are a part of ordinary political life, and have generally functioned relatively smoothly, but when they rejected free movement it left the country tied up in knots over its agreements with the EU. In many instances, representative democracy has left people feeling shut out of the political process, especially when politicians go back on the promises that got them elected. But referendums can often be derailed by media bias, spin and the pull of populism. And on vital issues of peace and economic prosperity, in which votes can often be led as much by the heart as by the head, should the public be the ones who make the final decision with so much at stake? Or is it patronising to assume people are not qualified to have a direct say in the future of their nation?
 October 3rd 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Adam Payne L1
4.0
Politics reporter, Business Insider UK.
2
Fabienne Peter L1
4.0
Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick, UK
3
Andrew Capel L1
1.0
Community activist living in mid Wales. Recently joined the Campaign for Democracy which is based in Llanidloes, Powys
4
Salman Shaheen L1
0.0
Editor-in-Chief of The World Weekly
5
Evan Ravitz L1
0.0
LAW & CRIME
Is mass surveillance the price we must pay for a safer society?
L1
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety,” Benjamin Franklin famously wrote. But the US founding father did not live in the age of Islamic State and al-Qaeda, nor of lone wolf Islamist and far-right radicals with access to the means of committing mass atrocities on civilian populations. Given the disturbing frequencies with which such attacks dominate the headlines, one might be forgiven for thinking Western liberal democratic societies are experiencing an unprecedented number of terrorist attacks. They are not, but doubtless security services have disrupted far more plots than we ever get to hear about. Unlike Franklin, we also live in an age of mass surveillance in which, as Edward Snowden and others have revealed, states have access to reams of data about our private lives, from telephone calls and text messages to the websites we visit. In many built-up areas, CCTV follows us almost everywhere we go in public life. For many, such mass surveillance is a frightening prospect, but in Switzerland, voters recently endorsed new laws extending the authority of spy agencies to monitor internet traffic, tap phones, and deploy spy drones. Is this the necessary price we have to pay for security in the modern age or is compromising our liberties exactly what the terrorists want? And do such measures treat the symptoms of terror without addressing its root causes?
 September 26th 2016
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LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Lindsey German L1
2.0
Convenor of Stop The War Coalition, Co-Founder of Counterfire and Lexit
2
Meghan Sali L1
2.0
Communications Specialist for OpenMedia, an international organization working to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance free
3
Daniel Baldino L1
0.0
Dr Daniel Baldino is a political scientist specialising in Australian foreign, defence and security policy including counter-terrorism, inte
ECONOMICS
2 weeks ago
What does automation mean for the economy of tomorrow?
Across the world, algorithms, mechanisation, and various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) are shaping the decisions of employers, and changing
more
3 - 100% / 0%  
POLITICS
3 weeks ago
Should extremists be banned from public discussion platforms?
Calls to no-platform controversial figures have come to the fore in recent years, as the world experiences a rising tide of populism, theocratisation
more
3 - 100% / 0%  
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%  
HEALTH AND MEDICINE
October 10th 2016
Should drugs be legalised?
2 - 0% / 0%  
LAW & CRIME
September 26th 2016
Is mass surveillance the price we must pay for a safer society?
3 - 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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