On why our understanding of historical social movements and changes is important

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“ Movements are reduced to individuals – Rosa Parks’ momentary act of defiance on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama is credited with forcing change, rather than the subsequent year-long transport boycott by the city’s black population. Individuals, meanwhile, are elevated to icons: Parks is sold as a demure seamstress, ignoring a life of activism in which she insisted on the right to use violence in self-defence. Or they are condemned to invisibility: Claudette Colvin was ejected from a bus nine months before Parks after also refusing to give up her seat, but her cause was dropped after she became pregnant at 15. Until recently, she was left out of the story altogether (…) Radical change is most likely to come from below, be fiercely resisted by entrenched interests from above and achieved through confrontation. ‘If those who have do not give, those who haven’t must take,’ argued the late anti-racist intellectual Ambalavaner Sivanandan. This is not a message those in power are keen to promote, lest their own interests be challenged (…) …knowing that some of our most cherished rights were won by often uncelebrated people facing great odds, unrelenting vilification and, at times, state repression, suggests that at least some of those being denigrated today will be celebrated one day. The means by which we might achieve progressive change may shift according to the context – but the need for it never goes away ”

Gary Younge, ‘Big business is hijacking our radical past. We must stop it’, The Guardian

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On the help drug addicts need

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“ It’s true that breaking free from heroin, alcohol or sugar requires an effort of individual will. It is equally true that it is easier to summon the strength to quit when others are on hand to help. These truths ought to be self-evident ”

Nick Cohen, ‘You don’t have to be poor to be hooked on alcohol or drugs but it helps’, The Guardian

On how governments should deal with homelessness

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“ In light of the global scale and depth of homelessness and inadequate housing, and the roots of these problems in the failure of governments to regulate the financialisation of housing, it is no longer reasonable for governments to treat these realities as mere policy or programme failures. Homelessness and inadequate housing are violations of human rights – and demand the appropriate response (…) Strategies must transform how governments, at all levels, interact with those who are homeless and inadequately housed. Instead of viewing them as needy beneficiaries, objects of charity, or, worse, as criminals, they must instead recognise that people who are homeless also have rights – and are active citizens who should be involved in decisions affecting their lives ”

Leilani Farha, ‘Housing is a human rights issue – and 2018 must be the year to address it’, The Guardian

On U.S.’ unacceptable recognisement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

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“ Of all the issues at the heart of the enduring conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, none is as sensitive as the status of Jerusalem. The holy city has been at the centre of peace-making efforts for decades. Seventy years ago, when the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, Jerusalem was defined as a separate entity under international supervision. In the war of 1948 it was divided, like Berlin in the cold war, into western and eastern sectors under Israeli and Jordanian control respectively. Nineteen years later, in June 1967, Israel captured the eastern side, expanded the city’s boundaries and annexed it – an act that was never recognised internationally. Israel routinely describes the city, with its Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy places, as its “united and eternal” capital. For their part, the Palestinians say East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future independent Palestinian state. The unequivocal international view, accepted by all previous US administrations, is that the city’s status must be addressed in peace negotiations. Recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital puts the US out of step with the rest of the world, and legitimises Israeli settlement-building in the east – considered illegal under international law ”

The Guardian, ‘ Death toll rises to 12 in violence after Trump’s Jerusalem recognition ‘, The Guardian

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

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