DYING FOR OIL: DEMILITARISATION IS ESSENTIAL FOR CLIMATE TRANSFORMATION

by Lotty Clare

The environmental and climatic impacts of war and conflict have long been silent causalities. Environmental implications throughout the timelines of conflict are huge. From deforestation, mining for metals, use of chemical weapons, ‘scorched’ earth tactics, plunder of resources, and collapse of environmental management systems.  Natural resources can cause war, fuel war, and be destroyed by war. 

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PROBLEMATIC “PEACEBUILDING”: WHEN THE POWERFUL DON’T ASK AND WON’T LISTEN

peacebuilding afghanistan

by Sarah Edgcumbe

Afghanistan, a country that has been in and out of the news since the 9/11 terror attack and subsequent U.S.-led coalition invasion, is once again at the forefront of media attention this month, as a result of Trump’s decision to cancel peace talks with the Taliban on 9th September. The relentless violence and bombings conducted by Afghan state forces, U.S.-backed Afghan militias, Taliban, religious extremist groups, career criminals and other groups are no longer considered to be remarkable events; they happen so frequently that the international audience has become desensitized to them. Continue Reading

RED POPPIES VERSUS WHITE POPPIES (AND THE PROBLEM WITH PACIFISM)

By Sarah Edgcumbe

The red poppy/white poppy/no poppy debate has become increasingly emotive in recent years, as certain right wing groups have co-opted it for their own warped ethno-nationalist causes, bringing forth the notion of ‘poppy fascism’: If you’re not wearing a red poppy you must be some kind of terrorist sympathizer, or a communist… if you don’t like this country and what it stands for you can fuck off to another. Nice. Of course most people who wear a red poppy don’t behave like this, but the minority who do, aside from being obnoxious, are loud, determined and represented by sensationalist and divisive British tabloids, resulting in ‘poppy fascism’ spreading exponentially.

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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

THE 100FT TALL CANARY

by Stu Lucy

Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.Continue Reading

ON IMMIGRATION 5. BANKING ON THE FUTURE

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by Stu Lucy

 

In my previous piece I outlined a theory that compared the woes of our current modern condition to a biological model of a disease increasing its prevalence across the planet, particularly in the Western world. Although slightly macabre, I feel it was necessary to characterise the systemic issue of unbridled growth in such a dramatic and sensational fashion – after all it is the fate of humankind, and well… the planet, we are talking about here.

I finished with a simple analogy calling for global treatment of this cancer that has befallen us since the mantra of growth has been so fanatically professed by economists, politicians, and industrialists alike. How though may we undertake such a gargantuan task that requires the remodelling of all aspects of our societies, from our education systems to popular culture to our entire global trade system?Continue Reading

ON IMMIGRATION 4. TIME TO TREAT THE DISEASE

by Stu Lucy

Humans move, we always have done and always will do. Our movement has evolved through the existence of our species from necessity – following the seasonal availability of food – to luxury, such as holidays and recreational travelling. While part  of our species has been afforded the opportunity to travel around the planet in our spare time, absorbing the multitude of cultures and landscapes it has to offer, there continues to exist a drive to move to find something better, not for food, as in pre-modern times, but economic and/or environmental security. Economic, climate and conflict migrant populations are increasing year on year, and are so for one very good reason: a global disease.

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ON IMMIGRATION 3. THE NEED TO FULLY GLOBALISE WAR

by Stu Lucy

Reasons for migration come in many forms.The now globalised and fully interconnected 21st century world allows people the capacity to travel great distances in search of work or a better standard of living for themselves. Increasingly though, more and more individuals, mainly from the developing world, are forced into the migrant sphere through no fault of their own. I have already touched on two types of migrant; those coerced by economic situations to move to foreign countries, as well as those unable to sustain themselves in their native environments as a consequence of various forms of climate effects. There is of course another migrant population that find themselves forced to leave everything they held dear behind as a result of more pervasive and damaging spectre: conflict.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

UEA: BANKING ON IMMORALITY

by Lewis Martin

If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.

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WAR OR PEACE? THE GREAT POPPY DEBATE

by James Anthony

In the last couple of weeks, millions of people have been wearing poppies in advance of Remembrance Day, and once again it’s kicked off the same debate I see every year. The poppy debate seems to be a hugely divisive issue, with some outright refusing to wear one, seeing it as a symbol which glorifies conflict, and some people determined to make sure everyone wears one. I’m not convinced it’s quite as contentious an issue as it often appears in the press, but it is greatly worrying that Remembrance Sunday seems to become more and more about who wears a poppy and who doesn’t – and this attitude has to stop.

The poppy was never supposed to cause political controversy. Inspired by similar poppy wearing initiatives in France, the Royal British Legion launched the first Poppy Appeal in Britain in 1921 to commemorate those who fought and died in the First World War, but many have argued against this idea from the very start. The white poppy, worn to symbolise peace as a reaction against the red poppy, has existed since 1933, showing that this debate has been going on for an awfully long time. To this day, so many of us still wear the red or white poppy, but many choose not to, arguing over what they truly represent.Continue Reading

“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.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

WE STAND ON A PRECIPICE – THE SNAP GENERAL ELECTION

world votes radical

by Chris Jarvis

With Theresa May having all but called an early General Election, on June 8th, the UK will go to the polls for yet another vote that will have long-reaching consequences for the future of the nation, the third in as many years. For the people of Scotland and Wales it will be the fourth – and those living in Northern Ireland will face their fifth. Right now, our political leaders can’t seem to get enough of sending people trudging out to schools, churches and community centres to scribble little pencil crosses in printed boxes.Continue Reading

THE 20 BEST RADICAL MUSIC RELEASES OF 2016

By Chris Jarvis

Yes, yes, we all know that 2016 has been an unmitigated cluster-fuck, with rising fascism, worsening humanitarian crises and intensifying conflict. In moments of darkness, many of us turn to the arts world – especially music – for comfort, for release, for explanation. With David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Glenn Frey, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, George Martin, Phife Dawg, Erik Petersen, Leonard Cohen, Nick Menza, Greg Lake, Sharon Jones, and too many others all having passed away, many have found music to have also fallen on dark times.

That notwithstanding, 2016 has been a year of some undeniably and uniquely brilliant music too, especially music that espouses messages of a better world, of political analysis, of radical alternatives. Here are the 20 best of those radical releases from the past year.

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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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FROM ‘PRAYERS OF THE PLACE OF THE WORLD’

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975–), da ‘Preghiere del posto del mondo’, in the ‘Ma il mondo, non era di tutti?’ anthology (Marcos Y Marcos)

word, my place in the world,
word who says things,
word who says stories,
who says war and says death,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

HOW SUSTAINABLE WILL BRITAIN BE POST-BREXIT?

By Faizal Nor Izham

With negotiations for Brexit to be finally executed come March 2017, as announced by Theresa May last week, a burning question yet to be properly tackled by the Conservative Party is: what exactly is their overarching plan to ensure future economic sustainability and prosperity for the country? Now that a major source of economic strength has been cut off (read: migrants), a fully laid-out plan to outline Britain’s steps towards continued economic growth in their absence has yet to be tabled.

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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

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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SARAJEVO ROSES, THE STARI MOST: A TRIP TO BOSNIA

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by Zoe Harding

MOSTAR

Nearly every building in east Mostar bears war wounds. Tumbledown ruins stud the streets like broken teeth. The imposing concrete hulk of an abandoned bank juts into the sky over midtown, surrounded by parks and covered in graffiti. The famous Old Bridge over the river Neretva is notable both for its beauty and the fact that these marks are absent. Destroyed in 1993 by Croat tanks, the Old Bridge is one of the few things in this wounded city that has been properly rebuilt.

UNESCO plaques stud Old Town, listing countries that donated money to rebuild the bridge and the surrounding areas. It was a tourist landmark before the war, and it feels like the only part of Mostar the world really cares about — certainly, there doesn’t seem to be any money to clear the minefields on the surrounding hillsides, or to treat Bosnia’s tens of thousands of post-war PTSD victims. Tourists don’t visit them, after all, so it’s not like the spirit of international co-operation applies in the way it does to the pretty scenery in Old Town.Continue Reading

ISLAM: THE NEW VIETNAM WAR SYNDROME

by Gunnar Eigener

“Since the news, little kids haven’t played outside, as if their moms are afraid someone might snatch them out of their yards and send them off to war.”
Kimberly Willis Holt, ‘When Zachary Beaver Came To Town’

In the early hours of 26th July, Satoshi Uematsu drove to a home for the disabled where he had previously worked and stabbed 19 residents to death and injured 26. Shortly before handing himself in, he tweeted “May there be peace in the world…Beautiful Japan!!!!” Once in custody, he said that ‘it is better that disabled people disappear’.  Barely a week later and at a rally Donald Trump claimed to have seen video footage of $400 million being transferred to Iran by the US government as well as recounting the time he saw Muslims celebrating the devastation of 9/11. One of these stories received little attention while the other gathered headlines.

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NEOLIBERALISM

by Julian Canlas

neo

drank from lakes
that turned out to be droughts
cut our lids
to see the future
tricked crops
into growing
mined coal with safety pins.
‘It’s time for celebration, not gawking
at deaths crushed by credit,’ you say.

sick dentures pushing teeth back
broke vessels
gold-cracked chinas
rusty hammers made from origami cranes, pinkwashed. never grow
tired of going to the bank, where each need is a static noise
& a gunshot,
where you tell me,

‘you &I are beings in boats.
you&I are
establishments.’

wasting the column. no column. no pronoun to speak.

rather the gusts than a wall
rather understanding than secular missionaries
rather the freedoms of you & me than glass ceilings
rather the prickled rose we will hold firmly than the diamond-sculpted cross
rather the blood &organs than shed skin
rather the body of blood & sinews than war-torn factories

this is stinking of sweet sorrow,
where dystopias are youth’s memoirs, &
where adulthoods are delayed because there is no
money & water.
& until this day, we are sat on swings
that you say will break from our weight.

Featured image via GlobalSocialTheory

THE COLD WAR, REHEATED

by Gunnar Eigener

The Cold War peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis and ended with the falling of the Berlin Wall. It left scars across the globe, many of which are still felt today. It tore societies apart. It created a feeling of angst and paranoia in those who lived through it. The lack of trust the West and East held for each other hasn’t really gone nor have the players changed that much. For younger generations, it used to be hard to imagine what a time like that must have been like but as this century progresses, but it’s becoming easier.

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THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENT MOVEMENT: NUS ELECTIONS 2016 – DANIEL NIKOLLA

The Norwich Radical was born in the student movement, and we continue to be an active part within it. We recognise that while official structures are not the sum total of the movement, they play an undeniably important part and to understand the political consciousness of the student movement, you need to, in part, look at the National Union of Students. As we move into election season for the new NUS President, Vice Presidents and National Executive Council, we contacted all candidates in those elections and offered them the space to write about their election campaigns, why they are standing and their vision for NUS.

By Daniel Nikolla

I am a citizen of the world and I am the President of City and Islington College. Being a full time student, unpaid Student Union Officer and a non-EU International student in the UK is not easy at all! I take inspiration from the difficult things I have achieved in the past – Being an amateur to semi-PRO footballer from the age of nine, to moving to the UK aged 20. I also take inspiration from my family, who achieved so much in an oppressed society.Continue Reading

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

A SIMPLE MESSAGE

by Asia Patel

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THE EASTER RISING: ‘WE SERVE NEITHER KING NOR KAISER’

by John Sillett

Ireland was Britain’s first colony and British imperialism has done all it can to hang on to it. The Easter Rising of April 24th1916 followed a long history of the Irish seeking to be a free nation through armed rebellion. However the 1916 rising, although a failure in itself, had distinct traits that previous rebellions did not have.

The method of subjugation of Ireland by the British was Landlordism and the use of planters — the bringing in of English and Scottish Protestant settlers to work the land in what was a Catholic country. Surpluses from the country estates were sent to absentee landlords in Britain. Attempts before 1916 to free the country from foreign rule rested on a leadership by the Irish gentry and middle class traders and farmers. This nascent native ruling class — which also included settlers who had assimilated into Irish culture — proved unable to lead a decisive struggle for national liberty.Continue Reading

THE EU: ARE WE REALLY IN THIS TOGETHER?

by Gunnar Eigener

‘War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.’ – George Orwell

In the aftermath of acts of terrorism — spotlight grabbing though it might be — politicians reach out, indirectly and through other politicians, to those affected. It demonstrates that perhaps they possess some element of humanity themselves. The media briefly shows the caring actions of the people of those countries and cities devastated, physically and emotionally. Then, once all has been said and done, business returns to normal.

We point and laugh across the pond at the circus that is Donald Trump’s presidential bid. We criticise the depths to which the Republicans stoop to find a scapegoat for America’s problems. Yet what we fail to recognise is that the same process is taking place here — it is simply spread across European governments instead of being conveniently bundled up into one laughable narcissistic crazy-haired package. We try to convince ourselves that not in Europe would we allow such bile and hatred come from one individual and we don’t. But nor do we look at the bigger picture and see that very same bile and hatred come in the form of legislation and government actions.Continue Reading

THE CONSEQUENCES OF WAR

by Gunnar Eigener

When soldiers go to war, they face a grave peril. On the battlefield they face a danger that most of us back at home have no comprehension of. If we follow the logic of the Government regarding their policy of airstrikes in Syria, it is likely that boots on the ground may very well become part of the military intervention to defeat Daesh. Once again, young men and women will be asked to put their lives on the line for their country and for democracy. Irrespective of your view on a particular military venture, such men and women deserve our respect, but should our government really be sending our armed forces into war yet again, if they aren’t able to uphold their promises to look after them and guarantee their welfare when they come home?Continue Reading

THE POPPY IS A SYMBOL OF WAR

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by Robyn Banks

If I believe something, does that make it true? If you believe that the poppy is a symbol of peace and remembrance, does that mean you’re right and I’m wrong? Is the meaning of a cultural symbol decided by its creators, by the powers that be who would use it, or by the culture at large who see and understand the symbol? Or, is it simply enough to repeat something over again until it means what you want it to mean?

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HOW DO YOU STOP A WAR THAT HAS ALREADY STARTED?

By Jack Brindelli

“More than 1,000 people have taken part in a rally in central London to protest against the Government’s decision to launch airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria.” That was how Sky News began their coverage of the latest Stop the War march on the 13th of December. Now I appreciate Sky have form when it comes to underestimating demonstrations, but a demo that can’t have been larger than 3000 gave them ample to chance to do so this time. Even so, the grandiose phrasing seems almost to pity what is a comatose giant of an organisation. Let’s just go over that again; “More than 1,000 people” from an organisation that once boasted a mobilisation of more than a million.

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EAGLES OF DEATH

by Chris Jarvis

The skies over Damascus are silent tonight
as the Eagles of Death whistle through the air
and the Bataclan looks on, betrayed and manipulated.
A weeping cloud dampens the scarred earth with tears
and little splatterings of embers dance amongst the rubble.Continue Reading

LET’S TALK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN PARIS, NOT SHOUT


by Josh Wilson

I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how there is no chance for anyone to win outright in Syria. Since that article the tragic events in Paris have taken place and leaders from around the world alongside ordinary citizens have reacted to the news. As with all heartbreaking events, reactions have been fuelled by emotion, with the debate surrounding tricolore Facebook photo becoming a heated element of reaction to the atrocity. Many took up the option offered by Facebook to drape the French flag over their profile picture. I do have my reservations about this, mostly regarding Facebook picking and choosing which tragedies to offer this show of solidarity for. However, in a time of grief and high emotion I think this is a debate best left for another time.

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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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AEGIS

by Jules Ignacio

In the dark, the reconnaissance units
spread out on the mountaintop—the stage—
gawking at the riots, with their sniper eyes.

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SHELTER

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Antonella Anedda (1955-), from Notti di pace Occidentale.

She was running to shelter, covering her head.
She belonged to a tired image
not dissimilar from any other woman
surprised by sudden rain.

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REVIEW: THE HOLLOW OF THE HAND

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by Carmina Masoliver

On 9th and 10th October, the Royal Festival Hall played host to the premier of ‘The Hollow of the Hand’ – a collaboration between musician PJ Harvey and photographer-filmographer Seamus Murphy. It was essentially a book launch, but it will also be a project that includes a film to be released next year. It’s a relatively new breed of art, with politics at its heart, where reportage and art combine to create a particular type of documentary where the genre is combined with artistic photography/videography, poetry, and music.

The project saw Harvey and Murphy travel to Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington DC. Murphy stated that they went to these countries without any agenda, without a particular message they wished to convey. It appeared Murphy enjoyed going down the road less travelled, and cited a chicken coop in Kosovo as an example of the kinds of places he liked to visit, and was glad Harvey felt the same way.Continue Reading

THE COLOUR OF SAYING NO

by Sara Helen Binney

It was November, and the school hall was packed with pupils and teachers freed from lessons. In the festive atmosphere people mingled and chattered and joked. A few nervously practiced their Bible readings; I stood, arms crossed, before a school administrator. She shook her collection box.

‘Poppy?’ she said. It wasn’t a question.
I said, ‘no.’ I doubt I was very polite – I was sixteen, angry and definite.
‘You have to wear a poppy, for the service,’ she said.
‘Why?’ I demanded.
‘Everyone has to wear a poppy.’
‘But I don’t agree with it. Can’t I refuse?’
‘You have to take a poppy – just make a donation.’

Neither of my parents had ever worn a poppy. They brought me up listening to the anti-war songs of the folk revival, and took me to CND marches while I still struggled to pronounce ‘disarmament’. But at school, saying no wasn’t an option. I eventually put a penny in the box.Continue Reading

STUDENT POLITICS – JAPAN’S NEXT BIG THING?

by Faizal Nor Izham

The words “democracy” and “Asia” aren’t always known for going together. But with the proliferation of the Internet and social media, Asia appears to be learning a few lessons from other developing nations when it comes to democratic reform. The Arab Spring, the online democratic movement which eventually culminated in protests in Tunisia and Egypt, is surely a recent example that could be learned from.

The Internet has certainly had a liberating effect on this region, previously known for being conservative in terms of political expression and dissent. The Japanese political sphere, for example, is usually not renowned for being politically active or outspoken. But that’s slowly starting to change.

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NO ONE CAN WIN IN SYRIA – SO WHY ARE WE TRYING?

By Josh Wilson

I am going to be honest, I have no idea exactly is happening is Syria. Now is when I should stop writing an article about the Syrian War right? Of course, that doesn’t seem to stop everyone else from having an opinion, so I’m going to have a punt.

The Syrian ‘Civil’ War, that seems like it is now as international as the Cold War, has raged for more than 4 long years. The death and displacement it has caused is the most severe in recent history. There are so many players and interests that anyone that says they have a solution that is fool proof is lying to you. With Assad, a plethora of anti-government rebel groups, ISIS all backed by various outside sources, notably the US and Russia as well as other regional powers. The thought that any one of these groups can ultimately win and create lasting peace in the country seems like a fanciful claim to me.

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I DID MY BEST TO LEARN THE RULES

by Robyn Banks

I did my best to learn the rules.
The world was a nice place,
children shared, we waited our turn,
we helped those in need and said thankyou and please.

The board was black and the chalk was white,
together we learned to read and write,
I tried to learn the rules.
There used to be racism,
there used to be war,
there used to be poverty and workhouses and suffering
but Martin Luther King had a dream and women won the vote
and everyone shared now, and waited their turn
and Tony Blair painted rainbow children on my primary school walls.Continue Reading

LEADERS

by Jake Reynolds

My teacher covers peanut brittle with a tea-towel
then takes a hammer and smashes it into pieces.
Like a magic trick, she whips the towel off and tells us
to each grab a shard. It is a lesson about fairness.Continue Reading

THE PEOPLE WANT

by Jo Thompson

Hard to look, hard to understand
the softness of his drowned bones
rocked here by the waters.

How quickly banners can catch alight,
a mumble in the crowd growing up,
becoming certain of itself: the people
want to topple the regime. All’s parched,
and everywhere the green sickens yellow.
Outstretched hands wither into fists.Continue Reading

PHOTOJOURNALISM: SHOOT OR SAVE?

by Jess Howard

The world of fashion and artistic photography are always portrayed as incredibly glamourous. Pre-organised shoots or models dressed in couture to advertise the latest perfume. Photojournalism falls into a slightly different category. Sitting on the boundaries between art and reporting, a photojournalist’s job is to depict the events and suffering that words are unable to convey.

But how does a photojournalist disconnect from the suffering they are capturing, without wanting to help those in the picture?

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REMEMBRANCE: RED FOR SORROW, WHITE FOR HOPE

by Lesley Grahame

Remembrance is a solemn and moving national event. Even more so this year as we look back on 100 years of wars since the beginning of the war to end all wars. I wear my red poppy with sorrow and my white poppy with hope.

Whatever we feel or know about the horrors of war, Remembrance Day itself day is about a generation who wanted to make a difference, and put their own bodies in mortal and horrific danger to do so.  They trusted their leaders, if not to keep them safe, at least to keep them doing the right thing, and perhaps to take care of their families, and themselves if they survived. Community solidarity through shared grief is almost palpable at some Remembrance Events, as we are reminded that no family escapes if war comes to their county.

Few would deny the trauma or tragedy of war, or the need to help survivors, yet these can get lost in the pomp and ceremony, or worse, the glorification of war.Continue Reading

WAR-BLINDED

by Alex Valente.

Original Italian by Virgilia D’Andrea (1888 – 1933).

Tall and serious, his brow stark
his face towards the wide sea…
But the eyes now dark
speak of a bitter history.Continue Reading

THE NARRATIVES OF WAR

by Mattie Carter.

The constant stream of images and information from the Gaza strip can be almost overwhelming at times. Perhaps more than any other time in this long, seemingly unending conflict, there appears to be somewhat of a consensus among politically informed people, particularly the young, that Israel’s use of force has been disproportionate. However, despite this, the rhetoric on both sides is reaching a fever pitch and, whichever side you have more sympathy with, the solution seems further and further away from fruition. Despite a ceasefire brokered by Egypt (at the time of writing), there seems to be little real trust in the public that talks between the two sides will be anything more than a public relations gesture nor that the violence won’t soon begin again.Continue Reading