Section: World

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Chimpanzee politics 2020

Dr Pam Jarvis

What now for the American election, after the announcement that Donald Trump and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19? In many ways, this was a long time coming, given that Trump refused to wear a mask. But he was not alone in this among world leaders. He, Boris Johnson, and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, […]

Up in front of the beak? Or the break-up of the Union?

Juliet Lodge

In a month’s time, the UK could be before the European Court of Justice for breaching the withdrawal agreement. Yesterday, the EU commission president sent a letter of notice to the UK, starting infringement proceedings against us. This states the EU’s view that, by unilaterally trying to change the terms of the agreement signed last […]

Is this the week that reality came knocking at Number 10?

Anthony Robinson

As the trade talks continue in Brussels, Britain’s desperation to enter the so-called “tunnel” is becoming all too clear. The Guardian reports that the UK government has this week tabled no fewer than five new draft negotiating documents containing legal texts on fisheries, the level playing field, law enforcement and judicial cooperation, civil nuclear cooperation […]

News from the Alps: Switzerland and the EU

Graham Avery

“We want free movement with the other Europeans!” That’s the message that Swiss voters sent to their politicians in a referendum a few days ago, when the idea of scrapping their agreement with the EU on free movement of persons was rejected by 62 percent. During the British debate on Brexit we heard a lot […]

A tale of two countries: a comparison of Trump and Johnson’s pandemic policies

Paige Yepko

Two political power heads, one ideology – both politicians possess a naïve and passive understanding of Covid-19, while testing and PPE issues have plagued both countries. Luckily, many state governors, as well as the first ministers of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, have had more freedom to enact their own policies that contradict their top […]

How Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign used AI to suppress the votes of black Americans

Marc Limon

On 28 September, Channel 4 News revealed that it had obtained a data cache used by Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which contained evidence that the campaign had sought to use digital technology to deter 3.5 million black Americans from voting, by targeting them with tailored, negative ads. While digital tools and social media platforms […]

A-level furore the tip of the iceberg: how digital technology and artificial intelligence threaten social welfare, social rights and social justice

Marc Limon

The scandal around this year’s A-level results, and in particular the application of an algorithm to help predict students’ grades based on the historic performance of their school, drew unprecedented attention to the use of digital technology solutions in national social policy. The consequent public outcry eventually forced Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson into another […]

Gove travels to Brussels to begin the climb down

Anthony Robinson

The fact that Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is accompanying Lord Frost, chief UK negotiator, to Brussels this week for the ninth round of talks says everything. Gove is said to be representing the UK at more “joint committee” talks about still unresolved issues on the Northern Irish border but make no mistake, crunch time […]

Norky’s ramblings: episode 8

Peter Norcliffe

True stories from ‘Norky’ who comes from Scapegoat Hill, a small, isolated farming village, high on the Pennines in West Yorkshire. You can catch up on his ramblings so far via his author page. The war took a different turn for my father in 1943. He had served on the Scillonian for about a year, plying between […]

EU cheese mountain may cause lasting damage to mental health, say experts

Jimmy Andrex

So, this dream I had, it was a film like Kill Bill, but with Emily Maitlis and Kay-Burley-off-Sky-News. Basically, they get so fed up doing clickbait interviews with whining trolls like Daniel Hannan or Darren Grimes, that they go on an intellectual Kung Fu Tag Team rampage, questioning right-wing dimwits to a pulp. In early […]

Going to Europe next year?

Sue Wilson

On 18 September, the newly merged Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office launched a public information campaign for post-Brexit travellers to Europe – Going to Europe next year? The campaign is designed to “help British travellers prepare for changes when visiting Europe from 1 January 2021”. Any new government campaign usually warrants a catchy new slogan, […]

Johnson’s mysterious Russian links continue to dog him

Anthony Robinson

The prime minister seems unable to shake off his mysterious connections to Russians and their money. The BBC is now reporting an $8m transaction between a Russian politician and the husband of Lubov Chernukhin, who is famous for donating £1.7m to the Tory party and paying handsomely for the privilege of playing tennis with David […]

The inspirational RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

John Harris

It is such sad news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. This is obviously not going to be an obituary (there will be plenty of those for us to read); it is intended as a personal tribute by someone who never met her, never heard her speak in person, never even saw her in person; […]

Biden fires warning shot across Johnson’s law-breaking plan

Anthony Robinson

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden last night tweeted a clear warning to Boris Johnson that he will not allow the Good Friday Agreement to become a “casualty of Brexit”.  The former vice president, whose Irish roots are in Ballina Co Mayo, has strongly supported the peace process and was quick to condemn any move that […]

Excuses, weakness and mendacity: the shambolic approach to Brexit continues

Lord Newby

As the government tries desperately to limit the domestic political damage caused by its plans in the internal market bill to break international law by unilaterally tearing up the withdrawal agreement, it has used a series of excuses to justify its position. Of these, perhaps the most pathetic was the agreement could be broken because […]

Johnson never intended to stick to the withdrawal agreement

Anthony Robinson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with President of the European Parliament David Sassoli for a meeting at Downing Street.

In what may be regarded as the ultimate in bad faith, last October – as the UK and EU teams were engaged in intensive final negotiations in Brussels – Johnson is alleged to have taken legal advice about repudiating the withdrawal agreement even before the text was completed. He was never committed to keeping the […]

US election 101: everything you need to know

Jack Walker

Tuesday 3 November will see incumbent President Donald Trump of the Republican Party square off against former Vice-President Joe Biden of the Democratic Party in the 2020 presidential election. There are a number of differences between elections in the United States and those in the United Kingdom, so read on for everything you need to […]

Will the Sochi summit herald the end-game for Lukashenko and Belarus?

Stephen Davis

Russia’s President Putin and Aleksandr Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed victor of Belarus’s disputed election of 9 August are meeting today (14 September) in Sochi, in a bid to agree how closure can be brought to the accelerating demands of the Belarusian people for the incumbent president to go. Despite a campaign of intimidation and brutal violence […]

The apple of my eye

Meryl White

This has to be one of the best apple pie recipes I’ve ever tasted, so when my neighbour passed me a large bag of apples, it gave me a perfect excuse to bake it. The recipe comes from a Dutch friend of mine, Cobi, who told me that there are many different versions, but this […]

Brexit stage set for showdown, as EU vice president reads Gove the riot act

Anthony Robinson
Vice President Šefčovič

Following hard on the heels of the government’s announcement on Tuesday that it intends to break international law by allowing the UK internal market bill (UKIM) to supersede parts of the withdrawal agreement, EU Vice President Marcoš Šefčovič flew to London earlier today. In a meeting with Michael Gove, he read him the diplomatic equivalent […]

Johnson now heading for his own Suez moment

Anthony Robinson
Boris Johnson in Downing Street

In 1956, prime minister Anthony Eden conspired with France and Israel to invade Egypt and recover control of the Suez Canal, which had been seized by president Nasser. It was an act of monumental hubris and Britain was eventually forced to withdraw under pressure from the USA and Russia. It was a seminal moment and […]

How will Covid-19 affect Europe’s beloved Schengen?

Kerry Pearson

“The risk we are facing is the death of Schengen.” Emmanuel Macron to EU leaders, 26 March 2020 As if Brexit was not enough to disrupt the harmony of the EU, Covid-19 poses a huge threat to European free travel. The ‘Schengen Area’, set up thirty-five years ago, is the passport-free EU zone that spans […]

The end of democracy or the big reveal?

Juliet Lodge

Something stinks and it’s not just the fish. Britain is rotting from its heart, as its democratic institutions and processes are eroded from within. It’s not just individual things, like cutting the number of days parliament sits, and thereby cutting the time available for MPs to make the government publicly accountable (we know that if […]

Covid-19: four scenarios for our future

Jimmy Andrex

What might the future living with Covid-19 actually look like? STAT magazine, an online journal for health professionals based in Boston, Massachusetts, asked eminent epidemiologists for their best (informed) guesses as to how things might pan out: “Will it always have the capacity to make us so sick? Will our immune systems learn — and […]

Trussed up farmers

Andy Brown

You have to hand it to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss. She can voice two contradictory ideas in one speech better than almost anyone else in the Cabinet. Even when speaking to Yorkshire farmers. So the front page of the Yorkshire Post on 28 August reported her giving an absolute re-assurance to farmers and consumers […]

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