What a week! On the home front, with four days left of school for the year, it’s been hectic. On the international front… well. It’s been something else. Happy Sunday to you all, and here are some links!
One of the biggest news items around the world this week was the release of the report into the CIA torture programme. I found it difficult to read the details. What happened to these people was truly horrific. I would like to say that I can’t understand how one person can do something like that to another person, but in fact, I can see the way that an organisation’s permissive culture and reinforcement from the media and wider community can lead to someone justifying this in their own mind. There have been countless incidents in history where the same has happened. I suppose we look at those and imagine that we have evolved beyond that. If only that were the case. In this article, former Australian detainee David Hicks heckles George Brandis, Australia’s Attorney General at a Human Rights Awards ceremony. He claims that the Australian government knew about his treatment – this would make them complicit in his torture. Can we prove they were? I’m not sure, but if they knew about it, then of course they share responsibility for his treatment. If they didn’t, then perhaps the close relationship with the US, about which our politicians have boasted, isn’t as close as we thought it was.
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UK conservative politician Baroness Jenkin’s remarks about the poor have landed her in trouble this week, but I would like to step in to her defence. I agree that she is reinforcing stereotypes and making assumptions about people’s skills based on their income, but she has a point: many people do not know how to cook, and if you are poor and don’t know how to cook, then a lot of your money is going on cheap, pre-prepared foods which have little nutritional value. What we need to be doing is focussing on how people can gain the skills they need to help them make food at home, and also ensuring that quality ingredients are not out of the price league of those on low incomes.
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This is why we can’t have nice things. Sony set up a pop-up shop to sell limited edition retro-look PS4s for the 20th anniversary of the launch of the original Playstation. It’s not just that it might be unfair to those who don’t live in the London area – people are going to miss out, wherever the consoles were sold. It’s more that there were many who lined up to buy them were planning to sell them on for profit. It just seems a shame that there couldn’t be more people who simply appreciate the one-off for what it is: a collector’s item which inspires nostalgia for those who have been playing the Playstation for the past 20 years.
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While I’m encouraged by the fact that director Kathryn Bigelow has made a film highlighting the issue of ivory poaching, it is a little disheartening that it takes a threat to human lives for us to really get upset about the potential extinction of other animals. Bigelow has joined with other groups including WildAid to produce the animated short which shows how terrorism is funded by the ivory trade; considering our failings in halting poaching, perhaps this approach will lead to a better result for both elephants, and for us.