On how parents should act in a meritocracy

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“ …while parents have every right to act in ways that will help their children’s lives go well, they do not have the right to confer on them a competitive advantage – in other words, to ensure not just that they do well but that they do better than others. This is because, in a society with finite rewards, improving the situation of one child necessarily worsens that of another ”

Richard Reeves, ‘How the middle class hoards wealth and opportunity for itself’, The Guardian

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On May’s unstable leadership

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“ While May has survived the immediate threat to her premiership in the wake of the disastrous election result, Whitehall insiders and some ministers believe she is entering a crucial period between now and the autumn in which she will have to show some willingness to modify her Brexit plans. An Opinium poll for the Observer found that most voters (57%) believe May should resign before the next general election or earlier. Her net approval ratings remain dire, with 51% disapproving of the way she is handling her job and only 30% approving. Overall, Labour has a lead of two points over the Tories ”

Michael Savage & Jamie Doward, ‘Brexit: former civil service head warns Theresa May of chaos’, The Guardian

On how Iraqi forces’ abuses resulted in alienated individuals and potential ISIS’ victims

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“ While maintaining security and rebuilding the city is vital for enticing people to return, the behaviour of the Iraqi security forces – which include Shia soldiers – towards the mainly Sunni residents will be one of the ways in which Baghdad’s efforts will be measured in Mosul. Many are quick to point out that the reason, in the summer of 2014, for Isis’s success in the city – an insurgent flashpoint since 2003 – was the abuses of the Iraqi security forces, which led to alienation. Since 2003, Iraqi forces have carried out abuses against the civilian population with complete impunity, mainly targeting Sunni Arabs […] They have carried out campaigns of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial killings. These have all been key push factors for young Sunni Arab men to join Isis ”

Fazel Hawramy, ‘Mosul’s residents tell of hopes and fears after ISIS flees Iraqi city’, The Guardian

On legalizing prostitution

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“ The vast majority of women in prostitution are the victims, not the cause, of violence and abuse, and find themselves in constant danger of harm at the hands of pimps and punters. Countries that have implemented the Nordic model – based on a law first introduced in Sweden in 1999 that criminalises the demand for prostitution and decriminalises those selling sex – has two main goals: to curb the demand for prostitution and promote equality between women and men ”

Julie Bindel, ‘Why are women who have escaped prostitution still viewed as criminals?’, The Guardian

On the gender identities amongst young people

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“ There is a need to be thoughtful about the language we use, and to differentiate between gender, biological sex and sexuality. While biological sex development can be ascertained, an individual’s gender and sexuality cannot be assumed on the basis of this. In general, sex hormones can be said to be binary in terms of their actions. Male sex hormones masculinise the body whereas female sex hormones feminise the body. However it is not just the physical body that is so strongly associated with gender. There are many other attributes associated with being male or female, including behaviours, activity preferences and individual characteristics (…) Most often the gender assigned at birth, based on physical sex characteristics, turns out to be the gender we continue to identify with. But this is certainly not always the case. For gender-diverse young people, self-identified gender does not conform to expectations based on their external genitalia. While most trans young people identify with the opposite gender, other gender identities are emerging, including non-binary, gender-queer and gender fluid ”

Polly Carmichael, ‘A child without a gender challenges our preconceptions about sex’, The Guardian

On Turks marching for justice and freedom

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“ Our walk indicates our determination to defend freedom of expression and our right to peaceful demonstration in Turkey. We are walking to remind those who choose to rule by decree and intimidation that ours is a social contract: we, as citizens, submit to the authority of the state in exchange for the protection of our rights. We are walking to restore that contract; we are walking to restore democracy, justice and our hard-earned fundamental freedoms. We are walking to lift the deceptive veil of democracy from what is in fact a harsh authoritarian regime ”

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, ‘We are marching to halt Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism’, The Guardian

On what a democracy should and shouldn’t protect

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“ The Constitution protects uncivil speech – hate speech, even. But it does so not because our democracy approves of such speech, but because we believe that truth will expose lies and the evil of government censorship is greater than the perils posed by untoward speakers (…) While a democracy can afford to tolerate some uncivil speech, it cannot withstand the sweeping cultivation of contempt directed against the institutions designed to keep government honest and elections safe.  This should be obvious to all public servants. And yet the present occupant of the White House has become the strident mouthpiece of uncivil speech that libels these very institutions ”

Lawrence Douglas, ‘The biggest threat to American democracy isn’t Trump’s uncivil speech’, The Guardian