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
3 - 100% / 0%  
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
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
12 - 40% / 60%  
LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Richard E. Sherwin L1
1.0
Retired University teacher.
2
Akhilesh Pillalamarri L1
1.0
3
Colonialism Reparation L1
0.0
Colonialism Reparation is part of the movement for the condemnation, the reconciliation, the apologies and the compensation for colonialism.
4
Esther Stanford-Xosei L1
0.0
5
Peter Butt 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
2 - 0% / 0%  
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
9 - 90% / 10%  
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
Callum Murison L1
2.0
4
Andrew Capel L1
2.0
Community activist living in mid Wales. Recently joined the Campaign for Democracy which is based in Llanidloes, Powys
5
Salman Shaheen L1
1.0
Editor-in-Chief of The World Weekly
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
3 - 100% / 0%  
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
LAW & CRIME
Should prostitution be legal?
L1
Often described as the world’s oldest profession, there are few jobs that evoke such controversy. Today more than 40 million people around the world have turned to prostitution to make a living and many sex workers see their trade being as legitimate as any other. But with human trafficking and child exploitation rife in the dark underbelly of the illegal sex trade, for many others, prostitution is far from a choice. Most countries have laws against prostitution, but the practice thrives because, as with any market, where there is demand for sex there will always be people willing to sell it. Is legalisation and regulation the best way to ensure this market is a safe one for its predominantly female and frequently vulnerable workers in which to operate? Or should governments do everything they can to crack down on the practice? If so, who should be criminalised: those who sell sex, those who buy it, or both?
 September 19th 2016
13 - 82% / 18%  
LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Laurie Shrage L1
10.0
Laurie Shrage is Professor of Philosophy at Florida International University
2
Don Hinrichsen L1
4.0
3
Scarlet Alliance L1
4.0
Under Decriminalisation, sex workers are better supported to negotiate with clients + report violence without fearing arrest/deportation
4
Thierry Schaffauser L1
3.0
I have been a sex worker for 14 years. I have worked on the streets, as a porn actor and as an escort.
5
Pace Ed L1
2.0
POLITICS
Has the world reached peak democracy?
L1
The 20th century saw the explosion of democracies across the world, first as European colonialism fell and then as the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving American-led liberalism the sole hegemonic force in the world. But as US influence wanes, the next superpower, China, will be a dictatorship that shows Pax Americana is not the only way of doing business. Meanwhile, rising authoritarianism in once emerging democracies such as Russia, as well as in Turkey and Latin America begs the question: is democracy on the retreat?
 September 12th 2016
9 - 89% / 11%  
LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Josh Kurlantzick L1
6.0
2
Brian Klaas L1
6.0
Dr. Brian Klaas is the author of the forthcoming book: The Despot's Accomplice: How the West is Aiding & Abetting the Decline of Democracy.
3
Simon Anholt L1
5.0
Simon Anholt is the founder of the Good Country, the Good Country Index and the Global Vote.
4
Ulrike Lunacek L1
4.0
Vice President and Green Member of the European Parliament from Austria.
5
GARRY CAMPBELL L1
1.0
Current affairs interest , wanting good world news coverage.
MIGRATION
How should Europe best assist Syria’s refugees?
L1
More than half a million people may have died in the Syrian Civil War, but no one knows for certain as the UN has stopped counting. What we do know is that over half the population has been displaced and many millions have fled abroad. The vast majority have been taken in by Turkey and Syria’s Arab neighbours, but many refugees are seeking the safety of Europe. Germany alone has taken in over 500,000 Syrians. Now a backlash against the influx of refugees is growing, and it is threatening governments such as that of Angela Merkel that have gone out of their way to safeguard refugees. EU President Donald Tusk says Europe is close to the limit of the number of refugees it can accept, but with no end in sight for the Syrian Civil War, people will keep coming. Should Europe do more to help some of Earth’s most desperate people? Has it shouldered too much of the responsibility already? And what practical measures should it take?
 September 5th 2016
6 - 100% / 0%  
LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Ulrike Lunacek L1
8.0
Vice President and Green Member of the European Parliament from Austria.
2
Edward Jonkler L1
6.0
Photojournalist specialising in the middle east.
3
Hamish DBG L1
4.0
Former British Army officer and advisor to NGOs in Syria & Iraq
4
Luke Cooper L1
2.0
Luke Cooper is a lecturer in Politics at Anglia Ruskin University and the convenor of the Another Europe Is Possible campaign.
5
Zoe Gardner L1
2.0
Zoe is a refugee & migrants rights campaigner, Communications Officer at Asylum Aid, a UK charity providing legal representation to refugees
RELIGION
Should the burqa be banned?
L1
A storm of controversy has been stoked after photographs emerged of police in Nice ordering a Muslim woman on the beach to remove items of clothing following a burqini ban in 15 French towns. But is it right for governments to decide what a woman should, or should not wear? Some, especially in Western society, see the burqa as a tool of oppression against women. But for others, governments banning the clothing some Muslim women wear is an infringement of personal freedoms and, in Western society, an Islamophobic measure. Should it be up to the state to decide?
 August 30th 2016
27 - 86% / 14%  
LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
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
Dr. Craig Considine L1
8.0
Rice University, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology,
4
Nushin Arbabzadah L1
8.0
Writer. Raised in Afghanistan.
5
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.
POLITICS
Is representative democracy the best political system?
L1
Along with the rule of law and the liberalisation of trade, representative democracy is seen as the standard political system for most countries around the world. It is a half way mark between central rule and real democracy. But is it truly the best system in terms of guaranteeing the well-being of all of its citizens? Is it efficient enough? Are there better alternatives?    
 May 12th 2016
13 - 90% / 10%  
LEAD CONTRIBUTORS
1
Manuel L L1
6.0
2
Josh White L1
6.0
Africa Editor at The World Weekly
3
Tom Hussain L1
5.0
4
Salman Shaheen L1
5.0
Editor-in-Chief of The World Weekly
5
Warblegoose Honk L1
4.0
Touch me in the morning Then just walk away We don't have tomorrow But we had yesterday
POLITICS
October 17th 2016
Should the former colonial powers pay reparations to nations they once subjugated?
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
more
12 - 40% / 60%  
HEALTH AND MEDICINE
October 10th 2016
Should drugs be legalised?
The infamous war on drugs has for decades stirred controversies and violence. And 2016 is no different. Last month, Philippine President Rodrigo
more
2 - 0% / 0%  
LAW & CRIME
September 19th 2016
Should prostitution be legal?
13 - 82% / 18%  
POLITICS
September 12th 2016
Has the world reached peak democracy?
9 - 89% / 11%  
MIGRATION
September 5th 2016
How should Europe best assist Syria’s refugees?
6 - 100% / 0%  
RELIGION
August 30th 2016
Should the burqa be banned?
27 - 86% / 14%  
POLITICS
May 12th 2016
Is representative democracy the best political system?
13 - 90% / 10%  
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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
Salman Shaheen L1
10.8
Editor-in-Chief of The World Weekly
5
Laurie Shrage L1
10.0
Laurie Shrage is Professor of Philosophy at Florida International University
6
Jimmy K L1
9.0
7
Olivia Blanchard L1
8.0
8
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.
9
Dr. Craig Considine L1
8.0
Rice University, Lecturer in the Department of Sociology,
10
Nushin Arbabzadah L1
8.0
Writer. Raised in Afghanistan.