FROM SCHALKE TO NEWCASTLE: ARE FOOTBALL CLUBS BECOMING COVERS FOR CORRUPTION?

By Howard Green

Professional football has been hyper-commercialised by every means available. Billion pound deals between private entities to secure TV rights, ridiculous sponsorship schemes that see clubs partner with the most strange or dangerous of companies, and ever-rising ticket prices turning the sport into an occasional daytime activity for the well-off rather than dedicated working-class fans. But there are still instances of defiance, of fans and players organising and speaking out against the commercial elements of the sport.

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SLAUGHTER AND MASS DISPLACEMENT IN IDLIB

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“Children and anybody with a free spirit have become terrorists in the eyes of the world.” My Syrian friend and I are discussing the current situation in Idlib. We are both exasperated that the world is standing idly by as thousands of innocent people are murdered or made homeless. Idlib, a governorate in North West Syria, is often portrayed as home exclusively to terrorists and violent Islamist extremists. My friend’s reference to “a free spirit” is his description of the people who participated in the Syrian revolution: those who dared to demand a free and peaceful life including the right to participate in democratic elections and to exercise freedom of speech and assembly without fear of being arbitrarily detained, tortured, executed or otherwise disappeared into the Syrian regime’s nightmarish prison system.Continue Reading

THE ENEMY OF YOUR ENEMY IS NOT YOUR FRIEND: PSEUDO-LEFTISTS, ASSAD & RUSSIA

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: mentions of torture, violence, assault

For a few years now so-called leftists have been acting as cheerleaders for Syria’s President Assad. The apparent logic seems to go something like this: “American imperialism is abhorrent, so naturally we will embrace America’s enemy – Russia –  and by extension, Assad as our friends.” Let me be clear: in this case, the enemy of your enemy is not your friend. It is perfectly feasible to recognise that Russia is an imperialist power and serial abuser of human rights without legitimizing America’s terrible track record of imperialism, occupation and human rights abuses.Continue Reading

THE NUCLEAR STANDOFF

by Gunnar Eigener

Amid simmering tensions between India and Pakistan, in parallel with the Trump White House determined to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia and Russia’s illegal missile, which effectively ended the INF Treaty, climate change might not be the nail in the coffin; human society might just jump straight into the furnace.

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RECYCLING LIES: TRUMP, MIGRANT FAMILIES AND THE MEDIA

By Lewis Martin

Two weeks ago, Donald Trump signed an executive order bringing an end to the separation of undocumented migrant children from their parents. This was widely reported in the mainstream press as a win for those had publicly campaigned against this policy. But just saying that doesn’t make it so. The executive order did bring an end to the separation of children from their parents, but there has been no commitment to reuniting the families already separated. Children previously taken from their parents are being kept in camps in the Texan desert, while families crossing the border since the executive order are being transferred to ICE ‘Family Detention Centres’, which have extremely limited capacity. Whilst this was picked up by smaller media outlets and on social media, many in the mainstream press didn’t acknowledge these complications, focusing only on the initial ‘win’.

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DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE! RUSSIA WELCOMES ENGLAND FANS WITH OPEN ARMS

by Jonathan Lee

You would be forgiven for thinking that any England football fan who decides to follow their team to the 2018 FIFA World Cup must be either crazy or a hooligan looking for trouble. UK Police Chiefs, senior MPs, sports experts, and – most perniciously – the British press, have all issued sombre pronouncements warning of the dangers awaiting any English football fan foolish enough to brave the shady hinterland of Mother Russia.Continue Reading

SPIES, MURDER, AND RUSSIA

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by Gunnar Eigener

The attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent bares all the hallmarks of a Cold War spy novel and the complexity of the smaller and more tightly connected modern-day world. Political balance is needed when addressing and reprimanding those responsible. If Russia is found to be to blame, what happens next? Is it likely that remarkably little will be done or will this be the beginning of a new coalition to stand up to Putin’s Russia?Continue Reading

RUSSIA AND THE SYRIAN PROBLEM

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions drone attacks, conflict, and terrorism.

While the US President, Donald Trump, has made it clear that the US presence in Syria was to carry out the extermination of Daesh, Russia’s intentions have always been to support their ally, Bashar al-Assad. Last September the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, made a surprise visit to Syria to announce that Russia had succeeded in its mission. While both might be correct, it is Putin who is in a more difficult position and the risk that Russia will be dragged further in has become ever more likely.

Syria was an opportunity for Putin’s Russia to flex its muscles on the international stage again after creating trouble in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Having already interfered in the election in the US and potentially in other elections in Europe, Russia remains largely unchallenged. Sanctions brought about by the US Congress do little to curb the ambitious plans of a nation seeking to relive past glories. Russia continues to forge relations with former satellite states and the lack of US involvement in NATO does nothing to deter the risk of another cold war breaking out in Eastern Europe. Yet, as with so many Western states, Russia has found itself stuck in the political and religious quagmire that is the Middle East.Continue Reading

DEEPGREY (5)

by Zoe Harding

(Part 5 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Part 1part 2, part 3, part 4.)

Once you write off the shambling hordes of DeepGrey-infected marketing consultants who make up most of the population, what’s left? The Nazis, of course. That persistent yet cannibalistic and insular sub-species, still reeling from the swift and brutal Consequences that followed their atrocities during the Meme War. When the War began, the tech industry was on the verge of realising what human society took several world wars to realise: fascists are poisonous to any system they’re allowed to root in, and should be rapidly expunged with fire and extreme prejudice. Continue Reading

DEEPGREY (4)

by Zoe Harding

(Part 4 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here.)

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This thing that’s now installed on the brains of nearly three billion people, across pretty much all but the top levels of every single first-world government (and even then, one wonders if MPs have always been this weird and robotic – oddly, history would seem to confirm yes). What does it do?Continue Reading

BLAMING THE BEAR – THE 21st CENTURY RED SCARE

by Chris Jarvis 

Tuesday November 7th marked 100 years since the Russian Revolution, when the Bolshevik Party overthrew the Provisional Government in Russia established in February of 1917. What followed was 84 years of Government by the Party in Russia, and what came to be known as the USSR, as well as a global struggle for ideological, economic, military, and imperial dominance between the “communist” east and capitalist west.

Throughout that period, a central plank of western political policy and rhetoric was the fear-inducing concept of the red menace and its attempts to wreak havoc upon the democratic states of Western Europe and North America. Erosion of civil liberties, aggressive policies on migration, and imperialist adventures through East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were all justified with the visage of Joseph Stalin, conniving communists. and the hammer and sickle looming ominously as a backdrop.

Amongst the most brazen of these were the infamous ‘red scares’ – periods of government, media and public hysteria about the communist threat, primarily confined to the USA. Continue Reading

DEEPGREY (3)

by Zoe Harding

(Part 3 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.)

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I kind of like the attack map. It’s nice to visualise the whole thing, even if perhaps ten percent of what I’m seeing is actual data derived from a fearsome net of analytics tools and keyword tracking.he rest is pretty colours and lines for the cheap seats and the press. It’s a nice reminder to stay on my toes, as well – that grey blob that covers three-quarters of my screen would love me to let my guard down so it can eat my brains and make me sell insurance.Continue Reading

THE UNDERCROFT – ART, SPACE AND POWER

by Laura Potts

Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.

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DEEPGREY (2)

by Zoe Harding

(Part 2 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour. Read part 1 here.)

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I do the digital equivalent of slipping off the main street down a back-alley, activating two spongy ‘legal’ VPNs at once to provide the paper-thin security necessary to sneak an actual functional VPN into life without precipitating a time-delayed ISP shit-fit. It’s a sort of rite of passage, at least for British free-internet users, to accidentally break the vestigial mess that is the remains of the Snooper’s Charter and get a whiny message in the actual mail six months later complaining about it. The word ‘terrorism’ was almost entirely inflated to meaninglessness well before Meme War propaganda began labelling the entire world simultaneously with it in white-hot strobe-flashing GIFs, so the strident accusations and threats that are all the government can do about you breaking the rules aren’t particularly punchy any more. It can be another strike towards losing your net neutrality privileges, though. Besides, much nastier things lurk in the same patch of those particular legal waters, and the absolute last thing you want to do is thrash about and make a fuss.Continue Reading

DEEPGREY (1)

by Zoe Harding

(Part 1 of a serialised prose fiction endeavour.)

Download the attachment, click the link and whoah hang the fuck on here.

It’s not easy to properly rip a headset off your head. They tend to tangle on your ears, or else there’s a cable somewhere that gets in your hair and insta-knots itself until it might as well be glued there. When I had long hair it was even worse, but even my current slightly-longer-than-a-buzz-cut approach still manages to trap the occasional stray wire in its velcro-like hooks.

Still, I manage it, because when you’re the sort of person that I am, you develop a pretty impressive set of reflexes for certain situations. Part of that is down to the still-can’t-quite-believe-that-happened bullshit that was the Meme Wars leaving its scar on our collective psyche. Some of the shit the Russians worked out how to do with flashing lights and the Mark 1 Eyeball remains impossible to describe, both due to of its design and because of the gag limitations of the human stomach. But it’s also partly down to my own situation which is sadly far from unique but also far from common.

I feel the sort of revulsion you get when you accidentally stick your hand into something dead. In the first few hyperventilating seconds after I rip off the headset, it dawns on me that what I’ve just witnessed indicates that that, metaphorically, is pretty much what’s just happened.Continue Reading

A CONTRARIAN’S VIEW OF BANNON’S BANISHMENT

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Content warning: mentions white nationalism, racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia.

By Gary Olson

My take on Steve Bannon’s recent firing is at odds with the celebratory tone I detect from others, especially those claiming it’s a victory for decent people. It was nothing of the sort, and Bannon wasn’t banished for any of the reasons we’ve read about in mainstream media accounts.Continue Reading

ANTARCTICA: THE CANARY IN THE COAL MINE

By Gunnar Eigener

The calving of a 5,800 square-kilometre section of the Larsen C ice shelf has been recorded. Although it is only half the size of the largest ever recorded iceberg (B15 broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in 2000, measuring 11,007 square-kilometres), it nonetheless represents yet another loss of ice – not just in Antarctica, but globally.Continue Reading

THE CASE FOR A SECOND REFERENDUM

By Zoe Harding

I know you’re sick of elections. I know you’re sick of polling. I know you’re deeply, deeply sick of campaigns, and I’m sorry about that.

But in my opinion? We need a second referendum, as a minimum. Brexit is looking more and more like a disaster with every passing minute, and someone, somewhere needs to find the political will to halt it. If the British people have to vote again so be it, because nothing I’ve seen in the past 12 months has done anything to demonstrate Brexit as anything other than a heaping pile of bollocks with a Union Jack in it, especially now Theresa May’s government has hobbled itself with a poorly-planned election.Continue Reading

CHECHNYA: NORWICH PRIDE, SOLIDARITY, ACTIONS

by Cherry Somersby

This week, Norwich Pride held an emergency demonstration outside City Hall to protest a new wave of abductions, imprisonment, and killing of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. Over 50 people gathered on the steps of City Hall to hear speeches from local activists, and to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. These acts of solidarity are vital, and it has been encouraging to see similar displays across the country, but our actions must go beyond this.Continue Reading

IS THE GOVERNMENT KILLING YOU?

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions violence, execution, massacre, abortion, domestic violence

‘For example, what does the billboard say,
 Come and play, come and play
 Forget about the movement’

Freedom – Rage Against The Machine

A UN-declared famine is threatening the lives of over a million people in South Sudan, with 100,000 of those facing immediate starvation. It has been six years since a famine was last declared, but the difference is that this famine is the result of structural violence.Continue Reading

A FRIGHTENED AND DANGEROUS NEW WORLD AWAITS? – LOOKING BACK ON OBAMA’S 2ND TERM

by Oliver Steward

Two things that have become clear with the election of Donald J Trump as President – elect.  Firstly, America’s status as a sole superpower and its Exceptionalism is coming to an end, and secondly, the liberal international order, rooted in principles of international law and community and defined in part by American hegemony, has been turned upside down.  The world is in an increasing state of flux.

While it is undergoing a process of reordering, the likelihood is that global affairs may not be very responsive to the will of the United States either through its diplomatic capacity, its institutional structures which it retains its legitimacy, or through hard power.  Authors such as Kupchan go further, arguing that America must prepare for the decline of the West, correlating with a decline in its own position.Continue Reading

ALEPPO: A TRAGEDY WE WON’T LEARN FROM

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by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions genocide, conflict, death.

“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As Aleppo draws its last few timid breaths, the global community sits back and watches as four years of war, suppression and ignorance engulf an ancient city, certain to go down, alongside the likes of Srebrenica, Rwanda and Darfur, as an abject failure of Western governments to fight the oppression of human rights and democracy that they have so carefully and vocally pronounced their desire to protect. Continue Reading

THE TRUMP CARD AND ‘MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN’ — IS IT ONE OF DECLINE OR RENEWAL?

by Oliver Steward

The United States is experiencing relative decline vis-a-vis in relation to other so-called ‘Great Powers’, notably China. The election of President-elect Donald  Trump may navigate this transition or accelerate this relative decline in the second decade of the 21st century.

US GDP has only grown nominally at 1.5%.  Some important elements can be taken to show the growing disparity and changes to the world’s two most important economic powers. As discussed in The Globalist, ‘US GDP stood at $16.8 trillion in 2013 —just about 4% larger than China’s economy…. [While]The IMF estimates that China’s GDP at purchasing power parity was $17.6 trillion at the end of 2014.’  Furthermore the US is spending $1 trillion on domestic and national security under the auspices of counter terrorism. It has spent blood and treasure in two costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Continue Reading

COLD WAR MARK II: UNNECESSARY, AVOIDABLE, AND A CHALLENGE TO INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

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by Oliver Steward

Today in international relations we are witnessing a return to a new Cold War between Russia and the West. However, this Cold War Mark II is avoidable, and has only been institutionalised by the actions of both the West and Russia to antagonise one another, and rejuvenate the old Cold War which ceased since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now in the second decade of the 21st Century it is here once again. This new Cold War is characterised by increased tensions between the West and Russia, with rhetoric particularly from the latter becoming increasingly aggressive, and the use of economic measures such as sanctions against Russia by Western powers.

The recent Russian bombardment of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo has done nothing to ameliorate the current diplomatic tensions, only deepened it. However two important qualifications need to be made about this new Cold War that makes it different to the Cold War of the 20th Century.Continue Reading

THE LIBERTY WING: WHAT’S THE USAF DOING OVER NORWICH?

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by Zoe Harding

In my last piece, while blithering about the US Presidential Race, I mentioned that one of the reasons for my interest in the politics of another country was the continued presence of their nuclear-capable aircraft in the skies over my head. This week I think I should clarify that, and take a look at what the world’s largest and most ludicrously overfunded military is up to in our neck of the woods.Continue Reading

A EUROPEAN LIFE

by Kelvin Smith

I was born shortly after the end of the Second World War in a nursing home that overlooked the Mersey, open to the world, “on the stream of trade” as my school song had it.

At primary school we drew Spitfires and Hurricanes in aerial dogfights with Junkers and Messerschmitts. There were bomb-sites in the towns and cities and there were Emergency Water Storage Tanks (marked EWS) everywhere. My first non-English words were Hände hoch and Achtung, closely followed by Frère Jacques. My parents had few foreign friends, although a Dutchman, a fellow chemist, had stayed with them in the early 1940s and he returned home with a broad Lancashire accent. “Reet bloody champion”, he would say.Continue Reading

STATE MEDIA AND THE DETERIORATION OF FREE SPEECH

by Gunnar Eigener

Out of the May 5th elections the biggest story was the criticism of the coverage by the BBC and other mainstream media outlets. Particular focus of this was on BBC Question Time and the BBC Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg. This isn’t the first time that Kuenssberg has come under fire and it probably won’t be the last. A petition was doing the rounds demanding an independent review of how biased her actions may have been but has now been taken down. Additionally, the lack of coverage over the alleged Tory fraud in the last General Election has generated a sense of distrust in the BBC, an organisation that states: ‘impartiality lies at the heart of the public service and is the core of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences’.

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BATMAN, THE PANAMA PAPERS AND THE EVILS OF CORRUPTION

By Faizal Nor Izham

Two weeks ago, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened to mixed reviews from film critics, but nonetheless went on to perform spectacularly at the box office. Just this week, the Panama Papers were also unleashed into the public sphere, from the world’s fourth-biggest offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca. The 11.5 million document leak featured startling revelations on a web of shady offshore accounting, involving twelve prominent world leaders including David Cameron. Implicating a total of 143 world politicians, their families and close associates, the leaks demonstrated the various ways in which elite rulers have been exploiting secretive offshore tax regimes.

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EU GETS READY TO SEND SYRIZA THE ‘YOU’RE DUMPED’ TEXT

by David Peel

We are a few weeks away from the General Election in Britain, and austerity is moving front and centre. Not NHS privatisation, not school academies, not McJobs or homelessness, but their mother and father – the ideology of austerity. The phoney election war between the major parties, otherwise known as the ‘cosy consensus’, is about to be dealt a blow.

It has emerged, if reports in The Times are right, that the EU has asked Finland to draw up plans for a Grexit, where Syriza doesn’t walk out of the EU, it is pushed. EU leaders are fresh out of patience with Greece, and their mood was not improved when Syriza leader Alex Tsipras turned to their bitterest enemy, Vladimir Putin, for help.

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SMASH THE CHARTS – POP, POLITICS, AND PUSSY RIOT

by Mike Vinti

It often seems today that everything exists in its own sphere — music in one box, politics in another, and visual art in another still. This is self-evident when you take a look at a lot of popular culture. For example, the rise of TV shows and films, such as The Interview, that use politics as backdrop for their plot, yet fail to engage in any substantial political critique.

The same thing has been taking place in music for the past twenty years, and musicians who have attempted to rectify this have either been relegated from their illustrious chart positions, or left to the underground.

This separation has made it harder for writers and artists of all stripes to experiment with the boundaries of their medium, and there’s been a death of explicitly political works of culture which make into the mainstream because of this. Of course, challenging the dominant perception of your chosen field always creates a stir. However it seems now, more than ever, musicians aren’t even being afforded the chance to do that.

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AND I AM THE SUN OF YOUTH

by Hannah Jerming-Havill.

First inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s Kral Majales.
Originally posted on leonpoetry.

And I am the Sun of Youth round and fat
Buddha sighing
I am the Sun of Youth lean and boned
boy-shaped man suspended in mourning
and I am the Sun of Youth exploding clouded skies
skimming ozoned minds with UV-waves
sweeping radio faces shock-wave burnt
bored and dry
I am the Sun of Youth bursting balloon
stretched with canister thirst
bursting papered borders dividing
families dividing tolerance collecting
heavy guilted green infected
fat green capitalist dam burst
burst like young bodies ferociously fucking
and comingContinue Reading