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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ISIS BRIDE SHAMIMA BEGUM IS BRITISH WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT

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By Jonathan Lee

Another day, another outrage. This time it’s about one-time ‘ISIS bride’ Shamima Begum, a 20-year-old girl from Bethnal Green who has finally had her right to return home recognised, after leaving the UK in 2014 to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Begum had her citizenship stripped from her in February 2019 by the Home Office. This was declared legal on account of her being a Bangladeshi dual national, meaning she would not be made stateless. However, when she was asked by the BBC, she said she did not have a Bangladeshi passport and had never been to the country. Regardless of the decision against her, her son was a British citizen and should have been allowed to return. Perhaps if he had been allowed to he might have survived. As it was he died of pneumonia in a refugee camp in Northern Syria, a month after his mother had her citizenship revoked. You have to wonder if this all would have happened had she been white?Continue Reading

WHAT WE CALL A TERRORIST SHOULD APPLY TO POWERFUL STATES AS WELL

by Sarah Edgcumbe

In April of this year, President Trump further demonstrated his ineptitude as world leader, and cemented his status as an intellectually defective moron, by designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Yes. Trump has designated a sovereign country’s state forces “terrorists” despite his single-handed destruction of the Iranian Nuclear Deal, wholehearted support for Israeli aggression and murder of unarmed Palestinians, and the fact that U.S state forces have unjustifiably slaughtered millions. The pot is definitely calling the kettle black. Continue Reading

SHAMIMA BEGUM IS A REFLECTION OF SOCIETAL FAILURE: WE MUST BRING HER HOME AND LEARN

By Sarah Edgcumbe

The British press has been in a frenzy recently over nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum and her desire to return to the UK from the refugee camp in Syria where she currently resides. There are probably very few people in the UK who are unaware that Shamima travelled from the UK to ISIS territory in Syria at the age of fifteen, where she married an ISIS militant, conceived and lost two children before giving birth to a third (who also passed away) in the refugee camp in Syria she currently calls home.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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AMERICA’S FADING ROLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

by Gunnar Eigener

America’s influence in the Middle East is beginning to fray at the edges. This is bad news for both the region and the global community. America has, over the past decade, became something of a pariah in the area. Its foreign policy, already distrusted by enemies and allies alike, has looked increasingly unclear and erratic under the current administration.

While previous Presidents acted with caution and measure, the Trump White House presses on, having found in its new National Security Advisor John Bolton the man who would seemingly give weight to any decision that Donald Trump would be likely to favour, yet is already being rumoured to be behind Trump’s decision to withdraw from the North Korea Summit. Continue Reading

IRAN AND THE ART OF THE DEAL

by Gunnar Eigener

The US President, Donald Trump, has announced that the US will pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran much to the dismay of all those involved and many other countries around the world. The deal was viewed by Trump as ‘the worst deal ever’, possibly an overstatement since Iran surrendered 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile and limited to installing at a maximum 5,060 centrifuges, making the production of a nuclear weapon impossible. Still, time limits were placed on these and other elements of the deal, meaning that in 15 years, Iran could have begun its nuclear programme again. While the JCPOA can, and should, be viewed as a successful deal, it is another example of not dealing with the root cause of the problem, which is the part Iran plays in propping up terrorist organisations and brutal regimes worldwide.Continue Reading

A WORLD IN CRISIS

by Gunnar Eigener

Everywhere we turn to some sort of crisis or damage control is taking place. North Korea’s recent testing of a hydrogen bomb, the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Hurricane Harvey devastating parts of Texas, the cholera epidemic and famine in Yemen, the failure of Brexit negotiations, US President Trump’s ever divisive actions, the list goes on. Our global problems are racking up and cracks are starting to appear.

Many of these problems have been long coming, but are now gathering lethal momentum. The world seems to be constantly on edge, waiting with baited breath for the next catastrophe or attack, humanitarian or economical, to happen. New problems are being created or the foundations of future conflicts being laid. What is probably most frustrating is that many are avoidable.Continue Reading

T IS FOR TERRORISM. T IS FOR TORY.

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions terrorism, The Troubles.

Not only has Theresa May’s snap election gamble backfired spectacularly, but the possibility of a partnership with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has left a sinister stain on the government going forward. Lurid headlines have been a constant feature of the campaign, attacking Jeremy Corbyn and his alleged links to the IRA and Hamas. But now, ironically, it is the current government that has turned to terrorist sympathisers in order to shore up their position. Time will tell if those tabloids will apply the same standard to the government as they did to Jeremy Corbyn.

Within these developments, there are two worrying aspects that have emerged – both nationally and globally. The first is the ease with which governments are able to use the fear of terrorism to further their own agenda. The second is the ability of governments to ignore or cover up their complicit actions.Continue Reading

REPUBLICANS ARE RIGHT ABOUT DOMESTIC ENERGY, BUT TRUMP’S ORDER WON’T HELP

by Tara Debra G

In January I wrote an assessment of Obama’s environmental record during his eight-year presidency. In my piece I discussed the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the fragile cornerstone of the U.S.’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, and how this one central piece of environmental legislation during the Obama era could prove to be a house built upon sand. On Tuesday President Trump proved his willingness to blow down that house and signed the Energy Independence Executive Order.

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THE POWER OF THE FARCE: THREE THINGS ABOUT ROGUE ONE

by Zoe Harding

Warning: contains spoilers. Also mentions fascistic, militaristic imperialism, Trump, and ‘Nazi dickheads’.

I know it came out last year, I was on holiday damn it.

The first I properly heard about Rogue One was that some Trump supporters wanted to boycott it because it was rumoured to contain anti-Trump themes. Seemed like a good reason to go and see it. Incidentally, the finished product contains no giant smug orange aliens inexplicably allowed out without supervision groping women – perhaps people were getting confused by Star Wars’ underlying anti-Nazi overtones. I can’t imagine how anti-fascism would seem anti-Trumpist at all. Those ‘Alt right’ (read: Nazi) dickheads really don’t like it, of course. Tough. They can fuck off back to Ender’s Game.

With that decent start in mind, I went to go and see it just before New Year. You know what? It’s pretty decent.Continue Reading

FANNING THE FLAMES OF WAR IN SYRIA

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By Faizal Nor Izham

While Islamophobia continues to run rampant on the streets of Europe, one critical aspect that tends to be overlooked by the mainstream media when it comes to the Western world’s relationship with the Middle East is the steady stream of armed aid the former provides to pro-Western regimes in the latter. Understanding the main source of grievances in the Arab world may offer us a clue as to why there is so much tension stemming from the Middle East today. For example, it’s no secret that the British government has for a long time been highly complicit in its arms dealings with Sunni Saudi Arabia, often used by the oil-rich kingdom to exterminate Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. And even more recently, leaked emails from Hillary Clinton also indicate that she is fully supportive of fanning the flames in Syria even further through the export of arms to extremist groups such as ISIS.

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INTERPRETATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ISLAM

by Faizal Nor Izham

Trigger warnings: Female Genital Mutilation, Islamophobia, Homophobia, Torture

How does Islam actually fare in terms of human rights, and is it really any different from any other religion? The “religion of peace” has been getting a poor reputation in Western media over the issue for decades, with human rights abuses in Muslim countries often stretching from the major to the mundane.

Female genital mutilation, the stoning of homosexuals to death, the subjugation of women – the list goes on and on. Apostasy is frequently met with the death sentence in conservative states such as Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, individual liberties in these countries, such as speaking up against the state, are frequently curtailed on the pretext of actually insulting the religion itself. Just ask Raif Badawi, the Saudi activist and blogger who dared to criticize the Saudi regime and was sentenced up to 1,000 lashes from the theocratic state for his troubles.

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RBS IS CUTTING FOSSIL FUEL INVESTMENTS. DOES IT MATTER WHY?

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by Olivia Hanks

The news that Royal Bank of Scotland has cut its investment in fossil fuels by 70% is only the latest in a string of decisions by high-profile investors to pull back from oil and coal. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has divested from companies that derive more than 30% of their sales from coal; and, last month, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.

The fact that both Norway and the Rockefeller family derive their wealth from oil has not been lost on commentators. Whether or not you consider it hypocritical to invest ‘dirty’ wealth in ‘clean’ projects (if so, what should be done with it instead?), the low price of oil and coal has offered a perfect PR opportunity with no financial sacrifice.Continue Reading

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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RENEWABLE ENERGY AND THE REAL PRICE OF OIL

by Gunnar Eigener

The realisation that renewable energy is going to be essential for the future is being embraced by more and more countries. With their geothermal and hydropower, Iceland’s electricity supply is 100% renewable energy. Thanks to it’s water projects, the African country of Lesotho has almost 100% renewable electricity. Albania runs on 85% renewable while Paraguay’s Itaipu dam provides 90% of its electricity and 19% of Brazils. By July 2015 Denmark had already produced 116% of its electricity needs and went on to sell its excess over the rest of the year. Infrastructure is being prepared to transform the way countries generate their power and investment is increasing. Renewable energy is becoming more and more accepted. San Jose in Costa Rica and Vancouver in Canada are just a few of the many cities committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy over the coming decades.

Yet with so much promise for the future, how is it that oil continues to present such a complex issue?Continue Reading

THE FINE ART OF WAR: PROFIT, DEATH AND THE GLOBAL ARMS INDUSTRY

by Gunnar Eigener 

“You must not fight too often with one enemy
or you will teach him all your art of war.”

                                                                                                              – Napoleon Bonaparte

Last week the European Parliament voted in favour of an EU embargo on selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Although non-binding, it remains nonetheless an interesting attitude taken by a trading block which in 2013 made €36 billion in arms export licenses. The attitude is not without reason however. Saudi Arabia has been involved in a conflict with Houthi rebels in Yemen for over a year resulting in bombings of a number of Medicines Sans Frontier hospitals, the deaths of thousands of civilians and the use of internationally outlawed cluster bombs. This embargo has come late in the day but it is still a positive action.

The UK Parliament’s International Development Committee has called for the UK to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Last year, the UK supplied almost £3 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. British military forces have also been involved in training Saudi pilots who carried out airstrikes. These Saudi pilots were offered 100 Bentleys by a billionaire prince as a reward for their work. David Cameron has long been accused of secretly involving the UK in a war of which we should have no part but has rejected this suggestion during Prime Minister’s Questions.

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(Yemen after an airstrike © Hani Mohammed)

Needless to say, the rest of the government hasn’t displayed a progressive attitude. Hours after the vote, Minsters attended the ADS Group dinner at the Hilton. ADS is an industry trade body that represents defence and security industries. ADS members include BAE Systems, the builder of Eurofighter and Tornado jets, as well Raytheon UK which builds guided bombs. Saudi Arabia is the UK’s biggest customer for weapons so this is hardly surprising. Yet it is the blatant fashion in which ministers ignore the death tolls and the violence. Despite calls from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that there is a humanitarian disaster happening in Yemen, it appears that business comes first. Despite world conflicts consisting of nearly 90% civilian casualties, 40% of them children, there has yet to be a serious debate.

The arms industry is without morals; it has no conscience. The connections between this industry and the political establishment should be an embarrassment for a government that claims to care about human rights. As austerity measures hit the military – George Osborne ordered £1 billion worth of cuts last year – private companies are stepping in to fill the void. Weapons manufacturers are reaping the benefits, and there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of them which is no wonder considering the government support they receive.

Research carried out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAP) found that approximately £700 million in government subsidies are provided to arms companies every year. Marketing and promotion support is provided by the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) and financing is given by the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD). Support consists of military personnel being made available to help with bids and arranging visits with government ministers and officials. While making up 2% of exports, 50% of the work done by the ECGD covers the arms industry. The government insists on using British companies to supply its military, often at a greater cost.

Is this really how we want to be viewed by the rest of the world? Judged by our ability and readiness to put our war machine into motion?

Despite being a critic of Robert Mugabe’s government in Zimbabwe, the UK government still granted arms export licenses to Zimbabwe so as to protect the reputation of British arms firms. Arms also continue to be sold to countries which continuously violate human rights like Qatar, Bahrain and others in Africa.

How long will our government continue to act in this way? The EU vote is unlikely to stem the tide of weapons flooding wars zones and creating new conflicts. Our politicians should surely be held accountable for their questionable actions. The arms industry is not a financial advantage for our economy, only employing approximately 90,000 people yet costing over £700 million in subsidies with jobs regularly going abroad. Arms industry experts often attend government officials foreign trips to boost their business.

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(War Heads © Polyp)

Is this really how we want to be viewed by the rest of the world? Judged by our ability and readiness to put our war machine into motion? As usual, the establishment carries on with its corporate duties, denying care and assistance to its own people whilst willingly piling onto a bloated, soulless industry that couldn’t care less about who its products affect. War is a business, that much is obvious but it has successfully entangled itself with those who control the purse strings. The rate at which arms firms line their pockets with taxpayers money and profit from predominantly killing civilians in any number of despicable ways is a stain on every country that participates in this business.

Two ex-defence Secretaries, Geoff Hoon and John Ried, have gone on to hold prominent positions in arms firms. Former junior military minster Ann Taylor left for Thales at the end of 2010. Admiral Sir Alan West, former First Sea Lord, ended up at QinetiQ’s Defence Advisory Board. The list goes on but you get the message. The people who are entrusted with this countries safety and prosperity use the government and military as a springboard to better paydays. And we, the taxpayer, have funded their journey. President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning in 1961 is coming true.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

See also: https://www.caat.org.uk/issues/influence

Featured Image © Polyp

‘THE RULES APPLY, UNLESS…’ — DOUBLE STANDARDS WITHIN CONSERVATIVE MUSLIM SOCIETIES

by Faizal Nor Izham

We keep reading news reports on the Islamic State, immigration from Syria and all-round growing Islamophobia that we often forget that there are other real, everyday problems affecting Muslim countries that are very easy to overlook. The increasing trend in focusing on much broader, impersonal issues by the international media has a tendency to de-humanise Muslims altogether, making it easy to forget that they too face ordinary problems, which often have nothing to do with the abovementioned huge issues.

In an increasingly globalised world, it is inevitable to encounter people from families who have settled in host nations with customs and norms that are different from their own. Coping with this culture clash and confusion of identities is therefore an increasingly common complaint, albeit one that is not always raised publicly. For example, Arabs who have been raised in the West not only have to endure daily Islamophobia (whether they are actually Muslims or not — other religions in the Middle East also include Christianity, Judaism, Baha’i, Druze, Yazidism and Zoroastrianism), they also have to deal with the inevitable clash of East meets West.Continue Reading

SURVEILLANCE & TOLERANCE: HOW YOUR GOVERNMENT IS CONTROLLING YOUR MIND

by Gunnar Eigener

For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens,
as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone
.” – David Cameron

Ever since Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks and The Guardian’s revelations about state surveillance and data gathering were largely greeted with indifference by the public, governments across the globe have continued to find ways to watch and obtain information about their citizens. Yet increasingly it is the actions taken by these governments in response to healthy criticism and protest and the sinister erosion of human rights that should strike a worrying chord in each and every person.Continue Reading

HOW FAR CAN FEMINISM GO IN ASIA?

by Faizal Nor Izham

Over the past century women have made great strides towards gender equality in the Western world. From the Suffragette movement of the late 19th and early 20th century in Britain to the commonplace election of female MPs today, women’s rights in the West are increasingly becoming the norm. Feminism has even played a role in the world of science fiction, with prominent authors such as Margaret Atwood and Ursula LeGuin imagining hypothetical future societies in which gender barriers, and in some cases gender itself, have been removed completely for the betterment of the human race.Continue Reading

WE DON’T NEED TO TALK ABOUT ISLAM, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT HUMANITY

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by Gunnar Eigener

The terrorist attacks in Paris have brought back a feeling of despair, that no matter where we live, there is always someone who wants to hurt us. The shaky camera footage of police storming a building, the bangs of smoke grenades, the echoes of gunfire, have sent a shockwave through France, Europe and the world. In the aftermath, a reaction is already beginning and anger will turn on Muslim individuals, communities, businesses and places of worship. Already a petition to “Stop all immigration and close UK borders until ISIS is defeated” is circulating and has got over 383,000 signatures so far. This will not solve anything, nor will blaming Islam.

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HUMAN RIGHTS FOR SALE

By Gunnar Eigener

“The State shall protect human rights in accordance with the Sharia”
Article 26, The Basic Law of Governance, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have been let onto the UN Human Rights Council. Who thought this would be a good idea? Well, apparently the UK and US governments do. The US State Department welcomed the news, while the recently exposed deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia leaves us with little doubt over how the government feels about this appointment. David Cameron’s inability to justify the secretive deal in an interview with Jon Snow shows just how hollow any beliefs he proclaims to have in defending human rights are.

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