World news

Oh for the days when it was all Brussels’ fault! | David Mitchell

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 29/07/2018 - 7:00pm in

Jeremy Hunt blamed our Brexit shambles on the EU – the favoured whipping boy that has served British politicians for decades. That won’t wash any more…

Who would have thought Jeremy Hunt was such a massive nostalgic? I mean, he’s not called Jeremy Hostalgic! Seriously though, it turns out he’s a real old softie and I fancy there must have been a tear in his eye on his visit to Berlin last week.

I’m not saying he misses the Nazis! Honestly! I know hyperbole is fashionable at the moment, so it’s probably worth making clear that I don’t think Jeremy Hunt is a Nazi. I mean, he’s not called Jeremy Hazi! Seriously though, the man’s not a fascist, even if I don’t much like his politics. Having said that, English is all about usage and I reckon the word fascist is regularly used online to mean “someone whose politics you don’t much like”. Which, oddly, makes it a synonym for communist.

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Gamergate: the internet is the toughest game in town – if you’re playing as a woman | Charlie Brooker

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/10/2014 - 6:00am in

It’s a stealth adventure with nowhere to hide and hundreds of respawning enemies waiting to attack you the moment you stand out in any way

I haven’t always been the kind of man who plays videogames. I used to be the kind of boy who played videogames. We’re inseparable, games and I. If you cut me, I’d bleed pixels. Or blood. Probably blood, come to think of it.

Games get a bad press compared with, say, opera – even though they’re obviously better, because no opera has ever compelled an audience member to collect a giant mushroom and jump across some clouds. Nobody writes articles in which opera-lovers are mocked as adult babies who never grew out of make-believe and sing-song; obsessive misfits who flock to weird “opening nights” wearing elaborate “tuxedo” cosplay outfits.

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Rotherham child sex abuse: it is our duty to ask difficult questions | Slavoj Žižek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 01/09/2014 - 11:45pm in

Anyone who wants to fight for emancipation should not be afraid to examine religion and culture

The outline of what happened in Rotherham is now more or less clear: at least 1,400 children were subjected to brutal sexual exploitation between 1997 and 2013; children as young as 11 were raped by multiple perpetrators, abducted, trafficked to other cities, beaten and intimidated. The perpetrators were (almost exclusively) of Pakistani origin, and their victims were often white schoolgirls.

Reactions were predictable. The left exhibited the worst of political correctness, mostly via generalisations: perpetrators were vaguely designated as “Asians”, claims were made that it was not about ethnicity and religion but about the domination of men over women, plus who are we – with our church paedophilia and Jimmy Savile – to adopt a high moral ground against a victimised minority … can one imagine a more effective way to open up the field to Ukip and other anti-immigrant populists who exploit the worries of ordinary people? Such anti-racism is effectively a barely covert racism, condescendingly treating Pakistanis as morally inferior beings who should not be held to our standards.

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2014 is so horrible, nothing can cheer us up. Not even Simon Cowell with a bucket on his head | Charlie Brooker

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/08/2014 - 5:00am in

Russia v Ukraine, Isis, Boris Johnson, Cliff Richard and Ebola – there's not much to be cheerful about right now, though the ice bucket challenge is working overtime

Ah. Right. Looks like I picked a bad week to draw inspiration from current affairs for this knockabout comedy column. The news is rarely a warehouse of carefree chuckles but at the moment it's like an apocalyptic playlist on perpetual shuffle, with one harrowing crisis overlapping another. Palestine, Libya, Syria … it's all horrifying and upsetting. Not a single nice thing has happened all year, except the recent stealth launch of Cadbury's Wispa Biscuits, and even "stealth launch of Wispa Biscuits" sounds like a terrible euphemism for breaking wind.

The planet is currently playing host to countless alarming crises. There's the nail-biting tension of Russia v Ukraine, a depressing standoff overseen by facial-expression-avoider Vladimir Putin. I don't know if all the strings connecting Putin's face muscles to his brain were accidentally severed during a tragic smiling accident years ago, but I've seen brickwork convey more emotion.

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What is Drip and how, precisely, will it help the government ruin your life? | Charlie Brooker

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/07/2014 - 5:00am in

The Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill is the most tedious outrage ever, right down to the dreary acronym. But oh, the horrors it will bring …

David Cameron cares about your safety. It's all he ever thinks about. It's his passion. He's passionate about it. Every time David Cameron thinks about how safe he'd like to keep you, passion overcomes him and he has to have a lie down. With his eyes shut. A bit like he's having a nap and doesn't care about your safety at all.

Right now he's so committed to keeping you safe, he's rushing something called the Drip bill through the House of Commons. Drip stands for Data Retention and Investigatory Powers and critics are calling it yet another erosion of civil liberties and … see, I've lost you because it's just so bloody boring. Maybe it's just me, but whenever I hear about some fresh internet privacy outrage my brain enters screensaver mode and displays that looped news footage of mumblin' Edward Snowden and I automatically nod off only to be awoken shortly afterwards by the sound of my forehead colliding sharply with the table.

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How capital captured politics | Slavoj Žižek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/07/2014 - 5:15am in

WikiLeaks has shown us that western democracies are now ruled by market forces that debase the very notion of freedom

In May, an international trade agreement was signed that effectively serves as a kind of legal backbone for the restructuring of world markets. While the Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) negotiations were not censored outright, they were barely mentioned in our media. This marginalisation and secrecy was in stark contrast to the global historical importance of what was agreed upon.

In June, WikiLeaks made public the secret draft text of the agreement. It covers 50 countries and most of the world's trade in services.

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How WikiLeaks opened our eyes to the illusion of freedom | Slavoj Žižek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/06/2014 - 4:30pm in

Julian Assange, who went into exile in the Ecuadorean embassy two years ago, has blown apart the myth of western liberty

We remember anniversaries that mark the important events of our era: September 11 (not only the 2001 Twin Towers attack, but also the 1973 military coup against Allende in Chile), D-day, etc. Maybe another date should be added to this list: 19 June.

Most of us like to take a stroll during the day to get a breath of fresh air. There must be a good reason for those who cannot do it – maybe they have a job that prevents it (miners, submariners), or a strange illness that makes exposure to sunlight a deadly danger. Even prisoners get their daily hour's walk in fresh air.

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Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order? | Slavoj Žižek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/05/2014 - 6:02am in

In a divided and dangerous world, we need to teach the new powers some manners

To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"

There was a similar problem during the chaotic post-Soviet years of Yeltsin's rule in Russia. Although the legal rules were known, and were largely the same as under the Soviet Union, the complex network of implicit, unwritten rules, which sustained the entire social edifice, disintegrated. In the Soviet Union, if you wanted better hospital treatment, say, or a new apartment, if you had a complaint against the authorities, were summoned to court or wanted your child to be accepted at a top school, you knew the implicit rules. You understood whom to address or bribe, and what you could or couldn't do. After the collapse of Soviet power, one of the most frustrating aspects of daily life for ordinary people was that these unwritten rules became seriously blurred. People simply did not know how to react, how to relate to explicit legal regulations, what could be ignored, and where bribery worked. (One of the functions of organised crime was to provide a kind of ersatz legality. If you owned a small business and a customer owed you money, you turned to your mafia protector, who dealt with the problem, since the state legal system was inefficient.) The stabilisation of society under the Putin reign is largely because of the newly established transparency of these unwritten rules. Now, once again, people mostly understand the complex cobweb of social interactions.

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Anger in Bosnia, but this time the people can read their leaders' ethnic lies | Slavoj Žižek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/02/2014 - 3:07am in

Protesters were carrying three flags side by side – Bosnian, Serb and Croat, brought together by a radical demand for justice

Last week, cities were burning in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It all began in Tuzla, a city with a Muslim majority. The protests then spread to the capital, Sarajevo, and Zenica, but also Mostar, home to a large segment of the Croat population, and Banja Luka, capital of the Serb part of Bosnia. Thousands of enraged protesters occupied and set fire to government buildings. Although the situation then calmed down, an atmosphere of high tension still hangs in the air.

The events gave rise to conspiracy theories (for example, that the Serb government had organised the protests to topple the Bosnian leadership), but one should safely ignore them since it is clear that, whatever lurks behind, the protesters' despair is authentic. One is tempted to paraphrase Mao Zedong's famous phrase here: there is chaos in Bosnia, the situation is excellent!

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The 'fake' Mandela memorial interpreter said it all | Slavoj Žižek

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/12/2013 - 1:18am in

He claimed an 'attack of schizophrenia' rendered his signing unintelligible, but his performance translated an underlying truth

Gary Younge: Mandela's legacy must not be laid to rest

Our daily lives are mostly a mixture of drab routine and unpleasant surprises – however, from time to time, something unexpected happens which makes life worth living. Something of this order occurred at the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela last week.

Tens of thousands were listening to world leaders making statements. And then … it happened (or, rather, it was going on for some time before we noticed it). Standing alongside world dignitaries including Barack Obama was a rounded black man in formal attire, an interpreter for the deaf, translating the service into sign language. Those versed in sign language gradually became aware that something strange was going on: the man was a fake; he was making up his own signs; he was flapping his hands around, but there was no meaning in it.

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