In its last meeting before the summer recess, the House of Lords finally debated Amendment 275 of the Agriculture Bill, which proposed to deregulate products of gene editing in UK agriculture.
The debate, which lasted nearly two hours, saw Lords raising numerous issues, though only a few stepped off the well-trodden path of the decades-long, adversarial debate about genetic engineering in food and farming.
Back in 1919, when the “Spanish Flu” pandemic was cutting down millions of young men who had survived the Great War, similar measures were taken in many countries to those being used now to try to stop the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including “social distancing” and mandatory mask wearing. Despite minimal technical abilities at the time, their understanding of the nature of this deadly virus was comparable with ours in practical terms, and without the enveloping fog of political and commercial agendas. The resonance with the current drive towards mask wearing, and imposition of mandatory masking in many countries, is beautifully illustrated by a research study at the time, published in a scientific journal in 1920 and now available in pdf form.
Just recently, the 59th anniversary of Fidel’s quintessential words to Cuban intellectuals was commemorated. One passage in the speech is particularly noteworthy. Fidel said, and I quote:
The Revolution… must act in such a way that the entire gamut of artists and intellectuals who are not genuinely revolutionary, find that within the Revolution they have an arena in which to work and to create; and that their creative spirit, even if they are not revolutionary writers or artists, has the opportunity and freedom to be expressed. That is, within the Revolution.
Demonstrators supporting Julian Assange hold banners outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
The book of hours on Julian Assange is now being written. But the scribes are far from original. Repeated rituals of administrative hearings that have no common purpose other than to string things out before the axe are being enacted.
Plus: How Institutional racism is not confined to policing
Policing of black communities is at the heart of the protests of the past two months, since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Today, following the revelation that five UK police forces have used the controversial Origins software, which claims to link ethnicities to names, neighbourhoods and potentially to crimes, the IRR calls on local authorities and other policing partners to question the impact of such data analytics in policing, which is the polar opposite of community policing and highly dangerous at a time when disproportionate and excessive stop and search, handcuffing and use of force have made police relations with black communities very fraught. We also draw readers’ attention to a new report by Resistance Lab on the use of tasers in Greater Manchester, that deepens our understanding of taser trauma.
On 23 July, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the world now has 15 million people infected by COVID-19. ‘The pandemic has disrupted the lives of billions of people. Many have been at home for months’, he said. The trauma of the Great Lockdown is taking a serious psycho-social toll. ‘It’s completely understandable that people want to get on with their lives’, Dr. Ghebreyesus said. ‘But we will not go back to the “old normal”. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives. Part of adjusting to the “new normal” is finding ways to live our lives safely’. Continue reading →
A short introduction to historical materialism and its significance for the understanding of contemporary capitalism.
Today we are living in times of rupture. The ecological crisis poses a threat to the survival of many communities and animal species; immense inequalities increase economic and social instability that could explode with various forms of social destruction at any time. Ten years after one economic crisis we are facing another. This time, the economic downturn is caused by the difficult-to-control coronavirus. One could only speculate about the scale of the recession, but it is already being predicted that the crisis of 2020 and its consequences will be dramatic indeed. It will affect the most vulnerable members of society – women, children, single parents, disabled persons, the old, workers, and small business owners.