RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND VIOLENCE IN THE TRUMP ERA

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions of gun violence, child sex abuse

Look closely at a Trump rally and you will see banners and signs with cryptic slogans like ’Q’ or ‘WWG1WGA.’ These are the signs of a growing far right pro-Trump cult-like conspiracy theory that has slid into the mainstream and is growing rapidly. 

QAnon is complex, but the foundational belief of the movement is that there is a cabal of liberal elite satanic Democrats, bankers, and Hollywood celebrities that are involved in a global child sex trafficking trade. Supposedly, information is released in periodic cryptic posts on the far-right chat board 8chan/8kun by ‘Q’. Dedicated followers claim that Q is a high up intelligence official in the administration, and that Trump was recruited by military intelligence to stop the liberal ‘deep state’ cannibal paedophiles. In their eyes, Trump is idolised as an almost god-like figure who will destroy his enemies and save American society and indeed, the world. QAnon has an almost apocalyptic desire to destroy the existing, corrupt world order to usher in ‘The Great Awakening.’ QAnon followers think they are preparing for this Trumpian counter revolution. 

The spread of QAnon

The current instability in America combined with a pandemic has created fertile ground for conspiracy theories to grow and flourish. QAnon has reached out into a political climate of fear and has come out in strong opposition to mask-wearing policies and lent into anti-vax conspiracies. But QAnon in its earliest iterations was the 2016’s ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy which falsely claimed that the Clintons were running a child sex trafficking scheme in a pizza restaurant. In 2019 Jeffery Epstein died under doubtful circumstances whilst awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges, subsequently, QAnon used these real cases of sex abuse as a kind of gateway into the movement. Their #SaveTheChildren tag seems like an uncontroversial statement, but this softened and appealing front for QAnon has been extremely successful in expanding the conspiracy, especially in reaching women. 

QAnon no longer just exists in the insular, male dominated dark corners of the internet…

QAnon has been historically associated with right wing fringe groups. But there now exists an entire QAnon media ecosystem, with enormous amounts of video content, memes, and more, all designed to spark the interest of potential recruits, then draw them into QAnon’s alternate reality. For example, algorithms will match holistic health people with the anti-vax movement, which will lead on to content on how the vaccine is a method of social control by Bill Gates. QAnon no longer just exists in the insular, male dominated dark corners of the internet, it is on pink coloured Instagram text squares, mum influencer Instagram stories, and then suddenly you are down the rabbit hole.

QAnon and violence 

QAnon is increasingly active offline too, and has now been flagged as a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI. Last year, a woman in Colorado was involved in a scheme with QAnon supporters to carry out an armed kidnapping raid to take her child back, whom she had lost custody of, believing wrongly the foster carers were satanic paedophiles. There have been several other examples where QAnon has certifiably spilled over into violence.

the President is sending a clear message that far right violence is an act of patriotic service, playing into QAnon’s underlying appeal of patriotic crusaders

QAnon merges with many existing conspiracies and far right groups. In the Trump era, conspiracy-motivated violence has echoed a surge in far-right violence. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, police killed Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, which sparked protests against police violence. A pro-Trump militia which 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse was a part of called ‘Kenosha Guard’ countered these protests with a call to take up arms and then paraded the streets holding guns. In a video it can be heard that the police said that they appreciated them – essentially deputising them. Kyle later shot and killed 2 people on the street, wounding several others. In St Louis amid a peaceful BLM march, the White and wealthy McCloskey couple came out of their house aiming their guns at the protestors. Portrayed by right wing media as heroes exercising their ‘God given right’, they were given the platform to speak at the RNC last month

White violence in America has always been linked with maintaining conservative ideas of morality, but now the President is sending a clear message that far right violence is an act of patriotic service, playing into QAnon’s underlying appeal of patriotic crusaders fighting enemies of of the world. Trump has given the green light to far right vigilantism throughout his whole term. In the last few months he has endorsed QAnon, called BLM protestors ‘terrorists’ and called for supporters and anti-maskers to ‘liberate Michigan’ and other states. 

Trump affirms QAnon 

Trump and the Republican party have undoubtedly been exploiting the energy of QAnon for their benefit. In a recent press conference, Trump said when questioned about QAnon:  “we’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country, and when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow“; not only legitimising QAnon but echoing their belief in a world destroying liberal order that is responsible for all of society’s ills. Trump has also amplified QAnon-promoting Twitter accounts in at least 185 instances, and there have been at least 70 Republican candidates who have run for Congress this cycle who have expressed support for QAnon. It is likely that we will see a continuing growth of QAnon and slide into the mainstream. 

QAnon and the future of the Right

Unsurprisingly, many people in America feel divided and uneasy about the future of the country and feel a sense of injustice about the way things currently lie. The QAnon belief system, where truth and lies are blurred, offers a simple answer. As election day looms and in the weeks after, we should expect to see increased urgency and calls for action within QAnon, as well as in the Trump support base as a whole. QAnon adherents may see it as their duty to take action into their own hands to fight the perceived enemy. For people deep into QAnon and linked far right extremist groups, violence is necessary to save the world. A conspiracy theory doesn’t have to be real for it to change the world. It is sometimes difficult to discern where QAnon starts and ends, but it will continue to grow and evolve in tandem with the growth of right wing populism, climates of fear, and lack of online content moderation. I fear it is making the right stronger as it both unifies and expands far right ideology.

Featured image credit: Becker1999 (Flickr)


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WHY NORWICH NEEDS A GREEN NEW DEAL

By Olivia Hanks

Between 2013 and 2019, an era of ‘austerity’, most of us noticed a marked deterioration in the quality of our public spaces and infrastructure – existing roads and pavements not maintained, school buildings getting shabbier, public facilities closing. During that period, Norfolk County Council oversaw at least £725m of funded infrastructure projects. Incredibly, more than £650m of this was for building or widening roads.

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A SMALL HOLE, SLIGHTLY CHARRED: CLOTHING AND CLASS IN THE SECRET HISTORY

By Molly Ellen Pearson

‘I was still standing. I’m shot, I thought, I’m shot. I reached down and touched my stomach. Blood. There was a small hole, slightly charred, in my white shirt: my Paul Smith shirt, I thought, with a pang of anguish. I’d paid a week’s salary for it in San Francisco.’

A novel preoccupied with appearances and the dark realities they can conceal, it is no wonder that clothes are a recurring theme in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. As protagonist Richard notices the gunshot in his expensive shirt at the climax, his ‘anguish’ stems less from the injury to his physical body than to the painstakingly assembled body of signifiers he has spent the novel maintaining; a ‘small hole’ through which his history, in its imperfect secrecy, is exposed.

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CALL THEM BY THEIR NAME: CONCENTRATION CAMPS

never again action protest camps

by Tamar Moshkovitz

It’s hard to look at photos of the US Border Patrol Facilities and not be horrified. Cramped and overcrowded rooms, sometimes stuffed with double the maximum capacity; people confined for well over the allowed period; children separated from their parents and thrown in rooms with strangers. And this may not be the worse yet, as a Trump administration lawyer went viral when she argued that the government was not obligated to provide basic hygiene products and beds to immigrant children detained at these facilities.Continue Reading

THE US IMMIGRATION COURT & THE POWER OF ITS JUDGE KING, PART II

by Ana M. Fores Tamayo

Continued from Part I here.

When the police in Guerrero, Mexico told this young woman to leave their station, not to report her missing brother or something worse could happen, she realized she could not count on the police’s help to go after the cartels. Luckily, her brother was returned, beaten up but alive. hen she began to get harassed later that year, because she saw a woman abducted and then murdered, when she began to get subsequent death threats, when she began to hear that they were going to take her small son unless she complied to whatever they wanted from her, when they began accosting her sexually — so that she had to leave her job — she knew she could not go to the police: she had learned her lesson  that first time.

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THE US IMMIGRATION COURT & THE POWER OF ITS JUDGE KING, PART I

by Ana M. Fores Tamayo

I went to an Immigration Merits Hearing at the Dallas Courts recently — the last hearing before an individual or family is deported or given asylum — and this young mother and child from Guerrero, Mexico, lost – as asylum seekers in the majority of these cases do. Although the judge admitted that the young woman “might be in danger,” he said he could do nothing about the consequences such criminal activity affects these poor folk in the countries from which they are escaping. The actions perpetrated in such countries were individual criminal proceedings, not governmental undertakings, and thus the people who suffered individually were not privy to meriting asylum under our government statutes, according to the judge’s ruling.

How can these learned men say such a thing? 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

PROPOSITION 112: A VIABLE WAY OF KEEPING FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND?

By Sam Alston

The USA political scene is consumed by a battle between President Trump and Democrats who are desperate to recapture Congress. However, in the mountain state of Colorado a referendum – bitterly opposed by locally entrenched oil and gas firms – proposes restricting the exploitation of the state’s massive oil reserves. The campaign and its outcome stand as a test in seeing whether such restrictions could be a viable solution to keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

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NOTHING WILL STOP THE CHANGING ENVIRONMENT

by Gunnar Eigener

The environment is changing. All across the globe, weather patterns have shifted, resulting in abnormal meteorological behaviour and pushing society towards conditions it is not used to. The UK has just come out of a record-breaking heatwave. Japan declared a national emergency after heatwaves there killed 65 people. Wildfires in Greece left over 70 people dead and in California, over a dozen people are missing as fires spread. Visitors required evacuation from Yosemite National Park and wind threatens to fan flames in Sweden’s forests.

However, should we be surprised by these events? Continue Reading

FOR A LATE PENNSYLTUCKY ANARCHIST – REMEMBERING ERIK PETERSEN IN 7 SONGS

by Chris Jarvis

Content warning: mentions police violence, state violence, alcoholism

July 14 is a day of mourning and remembrance for the punk community. Two years ago on that date, the folk-punk pioneer Erik Petersen passed away. Founding member and frontman of the iconic Mischief Brew, Erik Petersen was one of the most gifted songwriters of his generation. His music will long be remembered for its infectiousness, its unique storytelling, its wit, its rawness and its inflammatory radicalism.

Two years on, we remember Erik Petersen through seven of his greatest songs.Continue Reading

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

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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KNEELING IS NO LONGER A CHOICE

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by Lewis Martin

The NFL’s anthem controversy has been rumbling on for a long time. It started in 2016 with San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick deciding to  sit for the national anthem during preseason games. This eventually changed to kneeling after a conversation with former soldier and player Nate Boyer about he best way to protest during the anthem. This carried on for the rest of the season with players from across the league joining him in his protest against the treatment of people of color in the United States. At the end of the season, Kaepernick was released from his contract with the 49ers as they looked to rebuild the franchise afresh.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

HEAVENLY PALACES AND SPACE JUNKS: CHINA’S QUIET SPACE REVOLUTION

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by Justin Reynolds

There was some apprehension as a Chinese ‘Heavenly Palace’ fell to Earth last week. The 8.5 tonne Tiangong-1 space station, adrift since China’s space agency lost connection with it two years ago, made an ‘uncontrolled’ re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere early on Easter Monday.

Fortunately there was never much cause for concern, the European Space Agency calculating the chances of being hit by debris as ’10 million times smaller than the yearly chance of being hit by lightning’. Most of the station burned up on contact with Earth’s atmosphere and the remaining fragments plunged into the South Pacific. But the episode had a eerie resonance, symbolising something of the West’s prevailing perception of China as an enigmatic, technologically advanced state, glowing with – rather like its wayward satellite – a nebulous sense of danger.Continue Reading

WHEN WE STAY QUIET WE ARE ALSO MORE POWERLESS – AN INTERVIEW WITH SUNFLOWER BEAN

by Rowan Gavin

Sunflower Bean are a band who know what they’re about. Sitting down with the trio of 22 year old New Yorkers ahead of their show at Norwich Open on March 26th, it becomes immediately apparent how certain they are of their musical and political convictions. Drummer Jacob Faber, guitarist Nick Kivlen, and bassist & vocalist Julia Cumming made quite a splash with 2016’s debut Human Ceremony and its fresh-yet-eerily-familiar blend of indie, punk, psych and alternative sounds.

Having previously visited the Fine City when they supported London alt-rockers Wolf Alice, they returned to headline here for the first time at Open off the back of their entrancing second album Twentytwo In Blue, which was already making waves when I spoke to them three days after its release.

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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

GENERATION AIRBNB – SAN FRANCISCO

by Hannah Rose

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.
Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco. 1955

Aliyah has lived in San Francisco’s Mission district her entire life, which I estimate at being around twenty-eight years. Mission is the city’s working class and Latino area. She sleeps on the living room floor. The TV is on and throws intermittent light over her slumbering form, phone still in hand. I have to step over Aliyah on my way to her room—which I am renting through Airbnb for the week—and am careful not to wake her despite the blare of the TV. On the wall, beneath a tangle of half-deflated gold balloons left over from a party, is a giant poster of Whitney Houston—the queen of pop. Behind the water cooler is the silhouetted form of Michael Jackson—the king of pop—suspended on tippy-toes and ‘He Lives’ stencilled beneath.

Photographs of Aliyah and her husband smile back at me from heart-shaped frames that decorate the far wall and on a small, white canvas the words ‘Life is the Flower for which Love is the Honey’ are in poppy-red. One of a few splashes of colour in this windowless, dimly lit apartment.Continue Reading

ELITISM REFUSES TO DIE – THE UNIVERSITY FUNDING PROBLEM

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by Lewis Martin

Last month, Freddie DeBoer wrote about the failure of the university system in the United States to equally fund different institutions across the country. Looking specifically at Connecticut, DeBoer shows how Yale, one of the prestigious Ivy League universities, fuels social inequality by receiving public funds as well as other sources for revenue whilst other, more accessible community colleges are “cut to the bone”.

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OUR LEADERS ARE DRAGGING US BACK TO THE COAL AGE

by Laura Potts

We expect time to encourage positive progression, as new minds surface and opportunities ripen. But recently we are seeing more of the opposite achieved by the leaders of some of the greatest western ‘powers’. Last week, the current president of the United States announced the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate deal. This will have seriously detrimental effects on the environment and the future of our planet.

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HOW THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT IS REBRANDING ITSELF

by Tara Gulwell

Article mentions pro-life rhetoric, and abortion

The American Catholic college I attend, Loyola University New Orleans, has been experiencing a fierce debate on campus recently. After fierce backlash against the controversial moves of the pro-life group Loyola Students For Life (LSFL), which you can read about here, the group had to concede in a public statement that The Vagina Monologues was “an empowering work of feminist art meant to bring awareness to discrimination, sexual abuse, and other important issues affecting women.”

Not quite the opinion you’d expect from a bunch of religious pro-life students, right?Continue Reading

PUBLIC LANDS ARE UNDER THREAT IN AMERICA

by Tara Debra G

America’s National Park Service (NPS) has been catching a lot of attention in the press recently. After tweeting out pictures from Obama’s 2008 inauguration and Trump’s, the NPS’s twitter account was instructed to temporality stop using twitter. The account for Badlands National Park defied the gag however, tweeting out facts about climate change, leading to speculation that this was an act of criticism directed at President Trump’s past comments concerning global warming. So-called “rogue” accounts from NPS employers have since sprung up on twitter, though it should be said that the identity of the account-holders are not verified.

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EVERYDAY DOUBLETHINK – ONLINE LIFE AND ALTERNATIVE FACTS

By Sam Naylor

Kellyanne Conway has been making headlines this week. Sent out to explain away Sean Spicer’s bizarre comments regarding the crowds at Trump’s inauguration, she said “we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there”. Alternative facts, huh? How’s this:

Last week saw the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America, Bernie Sanders. As the world witnessed the honesty and good intentions of the new administration firsthand over the next few days, sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged (it sold out on Amazon). Commentators were broadly bemused. Why, with a president of unparalleled frankness ascending to the Oval Office, was a narrative of lies and alternative facts, paradoxes and doublethink, a story of a nation which unashamedly proclaimed “War is peace, Freedom is slavery, Ignorance is strength, becoming so popular?

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OUR DEMOCRACY REQUIRES WE MAKE 2017 THE YEAR OF THE EXPERT

by Olivia Hanks

All people are of equal value. The same is not true of opinions – and the conflation of the two is leading us down a dark path to ignorance and authoritarian rule.

2016 was not a good year for experts. Michael Gove (that straight-talking man of the people) declared that the British public had “had enough” of them. On the face of it, it seems he was right: in voting to leave the European Union, 17.4 million people defied the advice of specialists in every field from finance to ecology to social cohesion. A few months later, in the best Anglo-Saxon tradition of oneupmanship, the United States voted to be led by a man whose approach to policy is to say things at random and see which gets the biggest cheer.

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POST-TRUTH POLITICS AND THE WAR ON INTELLECT

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by Robyn Banks

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer.”- Mikhail Bakunin

There’s a new buzzword in the air. We are now living, it is claimed, in a post-factual or post-truth society, where facts no longer matter to the general public. At face value it seems like a bizarre claim. But while politicians and the media have always lied to the public, if you consider the audacity of the lies of the last decade in contrast to the sheer number of tools available to us to find out the truth, you begin to see the point.Continue Reading

FIDEL CASTRO AND CUBAN SOCIALISM

By Chris Jarvis

Content warnings: mentions execution, torture

Throughout the twentieth century, as ‘socialist’ regimes sprung up across the world, their leaders and key figures were consistently deified in the west. Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Guevara, Chavez, Allende; all were adopted as icons of the revolutionary left, with posters of them adorning walls across the world, and their words taken as gospel. For a time, much of the left in Europe and the USA endorsed Stalinism, even as the true horrors of the gulags, the famines, the mass executions, the anti-semitism began to be revealed. The unbelievable death toll of Mao’s ‘great leap forward’ was brushed aside by apologists. Colonel Gaddafi was revered by many as a valued comrade, even as he ordered mass executions and dismantled trade unions.

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AFTER TRUMP AND BREXIT, THE LEFT NEEDS TO REDISCOVER CLASS ANGER

By Robyn Banks

I’m in the break room at work choking on my out of date sandwich. I’ve just been informed by two of my colleagues- good, down to earth working class people who probably think I bang on about my degree too much- that Boris Johnson is a “lad”, and I have no idea what to say. But none of us have any money, I want to shout. And he wants us to have less! Before I can respond, the conversation moves on to laughing about his hair, which is much more tolerable. Later, as I complain about Trumps victory, I am told that all I want is for “everyone to sit in a circle and hold hands”.

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KATRINA IS NOT OVER

by Tara Debra G

(Content warnings for 2005 Katrina disaster, mentions of suicide, and PTSD).

I wanted a break from research. Spending an evening at a bookstore to clear my head seemed like a good idea. Living and studying in New Orleans can be exhausting. Researching a dissertation on the Katrina disaster of 2005 is a privilege – but also a daunting task. I walked around the shop happy to not think of anything for a while, but then I saw the heading ‘KATRINA’, and I couldn’t resist. The section consisted of only a few books, titles that I already knew, tucked away on a bottom shelf near the back. I was shocked by the lack of choice. This is New Orleans, after all. Even if I was in the gentrified, college-dominated Uptown, surely this area still had something to say on what happened. I ran to the store clerk and asked if they had any more books on Katrina, and he replied: “We used to have tonnes of them. But after time people forgot. People stopped caring.”

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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

US ELECTIONS: A NEW STATE OF POLITICS

by Gunnar Eigener

Whatever the result of the upcoming US elections, it will be remembered for being a particularly nasty campaign and for raising the shadow of far-right politics in parallel with Europe. The likely, and predicted, winner is Hillary Clinton — although more for being the lesser of two evils rather than a preferable option. The sheer lunacy of Donald Trump’s policies should have Clinton leading by a country mile but this is not the case. So what has happened and what does the future hold for US, and global, politics?Continue Reading

FIGHTING THE IRON SERPENT

by Teiowí:sonte Thomas Deer
Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory

When I was in Grade 2, I recall my teacher telling us a legend in class that I would hear many times later in my life. It was about this boy who lived long ago in a Kanien’kehá:ka village. While exploring around the river’s edge, he noticed two shiny things in the water. When he picked them up he discovered they were serpents – one gold and one silver. The serpents were barely alive and the boy returned home with them and nursed them back to health.

In time these serpents became healthy again and began to grow larger and larger. And as they grew, so did their appetites. The boy could no longer feed them enough so they began to consume the village’s food. The people of the village attempted to cast out the beasts, but by this point they had become too large to control and the serpents began to attack and consume the people of the village. Soon, the two serpents began to attack and plunder other villages. The people fled and made their way to the mountains. Pursuing the people, the two serpents smashed into mountains, poisoned the rivers, and ravished the earth.Continue Reading

PLEASE DON’T LET GODZILLA BOMB MY CITY

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by Zoe Harding

Can anything stop Donald Trump? The recent presidential debate between the Man with the Golden Skin and Madame Nixon has been heralded as another in a series of candidate-ending screw-ups, Trump appearing rambling and incoherent while Clinton seemed uncharacteristically cheerful and unscripted. Trump was called out repeatedly for lying, and his awkwardly unreleased tax returns were dragged ever closer to the cold light of day. Even his post-debate spin was desperate, with Trump claiming imaginary poll victories and showing a surprising measure of the political correctness his supporters are rabidly opposed to. He even blamed his microphone for his weak performance, giving Clinton a chance to drop one more zingy soundbite.

But here’s the thing: this isn’t going to slow Trump down. This won’t turn his supporters off him. To drop into a metaphor I’ve seen employed elsewhere, Trump is Godzilla. Continue Reading

AND THEY SAY RACISM IS DEAD

by Asia Patel

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TRANSGENDER RIGHTS: THE BOSS AND BATHROOMS

(Trigger warnings: Transphobia)

by Zoe Harding

You wonder where the hell they find these people sometimes.

Two weeks ago, one of the Tennessee state lawmakers pushing an anti-transgender rights ‘Bathroom Bill’ through their state legislature was exiled from his offices and denied access to several other areas of the legislative building on the grounds that he posed ‘a continuing risk to unsuspecting women who are employed by or interact with the legislature.’ Last year, former presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee told the 2015 National Religious Broadcasters that he wished he’d been able to pretend to be transgender in high school in order to shower with the girls. (Additional trigger warning: What.) Oh, the sexual assaults he could have committed if there was a legal loophole to allow it.

And these are the people pushing laws supposedly aimed at protecting American women and children from sexual assault. Americans are rallying behind real sex offenders to try to stop imaginary transgender sex offenders.

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THE WAR ON DRUGS IS RACIST: EXPLORING THE USA’S CRACK COCAINE EPIDEMIC

By Eve Lacroix

John Ehrlichman, an aide to President Richard Nixon, has confirmed what black activists and drug policy reformists have known for decades: the War on Drugs is not only a failure, but it is also a racist and controlling political tool.

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WHY ACTIVISTS SCREAM #BLACKLIVESMATTER AT BERNIE SANDERS

by Natasha Senior

Something amazing is happening. We are finally talking about racism. And I mean really talking about it. We are asking why it is, that in the US, black people are targeted significantly more than white people in terms of police violence. We are talking about institutional racism, wherein every single year we see little to no racial diversity in the academy award nominations. We are talking about symbolic racism, in which academic institutions seem to see nothing wrong with commemorating racist historical figures. It is not a coincidence that these conversations are taking place at the same time because we are in the midst of a powerful international movement called Black Lives Matter, which is taking a battering ram to every single racist barrier you can think of. But it is also going for the ones you might not have thought of, because now it is forcing us to introspect as we examine the places we thought were free and open spaces.

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THE TRUTH OF THE JUNGLE EVICTION: SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

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by Robyn Banks

On Monday, French authorities moved in to begin a mass eviction of the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle, resulting in ‘clashes’ between the police and activists alongside refugees. Unfortunately, that seems to be about as much as anyone really knows. As my house is currently full with donations for the camp, I was pretty invested in finding out exactly what was going on. Which charities should I contact now? What do they need? Where will all the refugees go and how many of them will remain?

As I scrolled through page after page of pictures of tents on fire and riot police, every headline seemed to be ‘Clashes between police and…’ and even those that were helpful were contradictory. It seems that misinformation is rife, whether deliberate or due to the incompetency of authorities on the ground, and even long term and well informed activists in the camp have been confused.Continue Reading

DONALD TRUMP: THE RESULT OF FIFTY YEARS OF RACISM

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By Ben Pavey

Donald Trump has been drawing a lot of flak recently regarding his call to deny all entry to the US to Muslim immigrants, a call which has been derided by a spectrum of people from his own party to politicians abroad. But the weakness of some of the condemnations- Ted Cruz’s “Not my policy” or Reince Pribus’ “I don’t agree”- hint that the fervor is not as heartfelt as it should be. The problem for most of the party is that the Republican party has made unashamed racists part of their base. Trumps remarks are not, as various candidates have tried to suggest, an outlier of republican thought, but the logical end point of the past 50 years.

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THE PARIS CLIMATE SUMMIT: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR HUMANITY TO SEIZE

by Natasha Senior

For many millennia to come, the climate crisis will be the defining moment of our history. When we first shovelled the crushed, decayed, fossilised remains of prehistoric creatures into engines, we found that we could create plentiful power. It is this power that has allowed us to coexist in huge societal networks, to eliminate disease and travel to outer space. But these tremendous strides in humanity have come at a huge price.

The infrastructure of our society relies on consuming, we no longer share local resources within small communities, but transport them across the world and transform them many times until they take the barely recognisable forms of commodities we use every day. In each step of this process we lavishly spend fuel, a resource that we once treated as ever-lasting, but now we see it’s running out. But our biggest mistake was that we thought we were getting all of this for free when in fact, all this time we’ve been borrowing huge amounts from the environment. And as we see the Earth changing drastically, with the oceans acidifying and the weather becoming increasingly unpredicable, we know that the time has come to settle the debt. These next few weeks, as world leaders gather at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, we will decide as a species how to return what we owe.

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TRIGGER

by Cadi Cliff

In response.

Troup County, January 26th 2015, 5

What is it about the rifle, the pistol, the Ruger 22?
Protection you can prop, old-school, by the front door
keep walking the perimeter of your picket fence
come on boy, let’s have some father son timeContinue Reading

WHY WON’T THE USA TAKE MORE SYRIAN REFUGEES?

By Faizal Nor Izham

Over the past week, footage of Syrian refugees has bombarded international news channels. Most of the four million fleeing Syrians – currently living in overcrowded refugee camps in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey – often go on to travel thousands of miles through central Europe, and across the Mediterranean, to countries such as Austria and Germany. Many have attempted to find their way onto boats, trains and trucks crossing the Channel to the UK.Continue Reading

COMMODITY PRICES, REVOLUTIONS, AND CLIMATE CHANGE

by Sam Alston

You can probably be excused for failing to notice that commodity prices on the whole have been falling. The price of gold (19.5% fall over the year), wheat (20% fall), and oil (over 30% fall) on global markets have all dropped recently. This has left mainstream finance reporters rather excited. As with house prices rises, commodity price falls are apparently a fundamentally good thing.  However it’s worth considering what this commodity price movement actually means.

Lower commodity prices means lower production costs for net importers of commodities (much of the western world), thus supposedly lower prices. The continual rise in the price of things like energy and bread that we have seen in the past few years should abate.  Since it has been made clear over the last few years that society no longer guarantees the right to commodities needed to live (like food), a reduction in these prices would potentially be the best step to stop people starving.

Those of a more revolutionary bent, may be slightly disappointed. A high cost of living has helped to bring down dictatorial governments in places like Tunisia, helped prompt the occupy movement, and just last week promoted an uprising in Burkina Faso that saw the parliament burnt to the ground.Continue Reading