Category Archives: Politics

The NSA surveillance scandal explained

For those who have heard some of what’s been going on but got a bit lost in the storm of media coverage, I thought I’d do a nice quick(ish) summary.

What happened?

The Guardian and Washington Post broke a story last week about the extent to which the US National Security Agency spies on people. This is the US equivalent of GCHQ – a spy agency specialising in digital communication. The reports basically said that the NSA had been saving huge quantities of data in partnership with companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Skype (not Twitter, oddly enough). They have also been recording phone call information from the large US carrier Verizon.

The targets of such digital surveillance have been mostly foreign to the US, although the system they use only has a 51 per cent confidence measure, which means that pretty much anyone could be on the list. Other governments have also been implicated, including the UK.

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What do young people in Britain actually believe?

Here’s a list of interesting points about the beliefs of young Britons today, put together by the Economist in a recent leader.

Most young people believe…

1) Sexual preference and homosexuality are just non-issues. Young people in Britain really don’t care what others get up to at home – or even in public – and the government shouldn’t either. Gay marriage? Meh.

2) Mass immigration is something we should worry about. Facing appalling job prospects, young people are concerned that immigration is becoming a problem. All the same, they wish politicians wouldn’t keep banging on about it.

3) Less than 30 per cent of those under 35 think that welfare is one of Britain’s proudest achievements (compared to 61 per cent of post-WW2 baby boomers). They think Britain actually spends too much on welfare and support cutting down on the amount of government funding it gets.

4) Global warming is a biggie.

5) Tesco can rule the world if it wants, just so long as it still sells cheap food.

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Is the UK becoming just ‘K’?

Britain has lost its perspective. Either that or its had one too many pints. Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, had to flee demonstrators in Edinburgh yesterday who were calling him racist, and take refuge in a pub. Safe in a BBC radio studio after he had been extracted by police, he called the demonstrators “fascist scum“.

This depresses me hugely, because it it synonymous with why Britain is in decline. Here are the three big problems:

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UK: A four party state

It’s a good day for Nigel Farage

The counting may not be over, but the result of Britain’s local elections seems pretty clear: the country is now a four-party state. The UK Independence Party is projected to win at least a quarter of votes. They’ve been labelled “patriots” by their supporters and “racists” by their detractors. So what does UKIP’s rise mean for Britain?

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Are we about to start a new war?

On Thursday this week, some nasty details came out of Syria – it looks likely that chemical weapons have been used on the civilian population. Images of victims allegedly attacked earlier in the month with sarin nerve gas show frothing at the mouth, and at least four people have died.

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Maggie: you either love her or you hate her (or have no idea who she is)

Margaret-Thatcher-redoApparently nothing (except the threat of nuclear war) actually happened in the world since Maggie Thatcher died. I really did try to look for something else to write about, but in the end I just gave in.

The reaction (great poll) to her death has been interesting, to say the least. She stirs fond memories in some and hate in others. The ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell posted a Twitter tribute to her and swiftly received such a torrent of abuse (“take thatcher and girl power and shove them up your skinny ginger arse u thick c**t”) that she deleted her tweet and apologised.

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