On Brexit being a ‘free and fair’ choice

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“ Should the EU referendum result be annulled? For the past year I’ve been arguing that this would mean defying a democratic decision – even if it was informed by lies. Democracy is not negotiable. But what if this was not a democratic decision? What if it failed to meet the accepted criteria for a free and fair choice? If that were the case, should the result still stand? Surely it should not ”

George Monbiot, ‘Who paid for the leave vote? Brexit should be halted until we know’, The Guardian

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On Britain’s business community opinion on EU migrants

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“ It includes a poll of more than 1,000 companies, weighted to represent Britain’s business community, which finds that 23% believe allowing in an unlimited amount of EU migrants with a job offer would have a negative impact on their organisation. More than a third (35%) of businesses in low-wage industries said they recruited EU nationals because they cannot fill the positions with UK-born applicants, signalling that labour shortages could result from a clampdown. There was even more disquiet about stricter schemes among the 91% of companies that expected to hire EU migrants. Some 28% warned that giving skilled EU workers five-year visas would hurt them. More (30%) said that one-year visas for unskilled workers would do damage ”

 Michael Savage, ‘Big business leaders press Theresa May to rethink hard Brexit’, The Guardian

On global drug prohibition and drug law reform

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“ Global drug prohibition was expected to reduce the international drug market and make it less dangerous. But this is the opposite of what happened. Instead, production and consumption of drugs such as heroin and cocaine increased and their price fell by 80% over a quarter of a century. More than 100 new psychoactive drugs are identified within the EU every year, some of them much more dangerous than older drugs. Drug prohibition was also supposed to protect the health and wellbeing of communities. But drug-related deaths, disease, violence and corruption have in many places increased rather than decreased. In Australia, where I spent three decades providing alcohol and drug treatment and advocating public health and human rights , while based in a Sydney teaching hospital, the rate of heroin overdose deaths – allowing for the growth in the population over time – increased 55-fold between 1964 and 1997 (…)  In the past few years, former world leaders – and even some in office – have started calling for drug law reform. The essential elements are clear. First, redefine drugs as primarily a health and social issue. Second, improve treatment. Third, start reducing and, where possible, eliminating sanctions for drug use and drug possession. Fourth, regulate as much of the drug market as possible, starting with recreational cannabis. And fifth, shrink extreme poverty, which exacerbates drug problems ”

Alex Wodak, ‘We have waged war on drugs for a century. So who won?’, The Guardian

On why proposing the disintegration of the European Union shouldn’t be what leftists want

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“ If it now disintegrates, if we all pick up our stumps and leave, developments at the economic level will only benefit the extreme right. The deflationary forces will be unleashed from the collapse of the euro, and they will only benefit forces like Marine Le Pen. It will not benefit the Left, just like Brexit did not benefit the Left. From a consequentialist point of view, I believe Lexit is profoundly wrong. As leftists, we have always protested our government when our government was wrong, which is most of the time. That does not mean, with the exception of a few anarchists in our midst, that we were against having a government. Similarly, as a Europeanist, it is my duty to protest and to disobey the edicts of Brussels and Frankfurt and so on, but at the same time I do not see why I should be proposing the disintegration of the European Union, even though I am extremely critical of its spirit and architecture ”

Yanis Varoufakis, ‘The European Choice’, Jacobin Magazine

On the small coverage of Turkey’s human rights violations

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“ Violation of the freedom of the press would attract more attention if a Western government blocked Wikipedia for two weeks and held more than 120 journalists. It seems, however, that such measures appear to be normal for a country like Turkey, that they are little to be scandalized for. On the one hand there are those for which Turkey has always been and will always be a country fundamentally different from European countries. On the other, there are those who hoped for Turkey’s accession to the European Union and read Pamuk’s novels, but who have now resigned to the idea that modern Turkey no longer exists ”

Translated from Italian.

Lorenzo Ferrari, ‘Turkey, human rights, and us’, Il Post

On the Conservatives rhetoric of ‘us-and-them’

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“ The Conservative general election strategy is a straightforward appeal to patriotism. Their slogan is “strong, stable leadership in the national interest”. Everything is focused on Brexit and getting the best deal for the UK. The EU makes a convenient enemy to unite against. Conservative and leave-supporting newspapers have ramped up the “us versus them” rhetoric (…) Those who accuse anti-racist campaigners of engaging in divisive “identity politics” are among the least likely to object to aggressive anti-European sentiment. Consistency isn’t the point. It’s about belonging to a team, and challenging anything that doesn’t directly benefit your group ”

Abi Wilkinson, ‘Theresa May is playing identity politics more adeptly than the left’, The Guardian