What with Trump becoming more unwoke day by day, I thought it best to round up a few interesting articles from the internet that will hopefully keep us all as woke as possible, albeit in a halal way. I have chosen the most relevant quotes from these articles, as well as providing links in case you feel the need to read the article in full (as usual all are strongly recommended).

We begin with the veteran Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee who, in a recent interview with the Guardian, gave her bleak assessment of where Britain currently is and where it is potentially heading. Depressing but all true nonetheless. We then move on to Claire Armitstead who counters this depression with suggestions that all is perhaps not lost. Next up is an article from Aymann Ismail all about the #MosqueMeToo movement. Whilst the overall article is a difficult read due to the subject matter, it does begin with an opening paragraph that I found rather uplifting. I also found a short YouTube clip from BBC News on the same subject.

Following this we have Steven Pinker on media distortion, Fareed Zakaria on the pessimism of the Middle East (along with an accompanying YouTube clip), and we end on attempts by Saudi Arabia to stimulate their economy by trying to reverse the trend of Saudis splurging their cash in neighbouring Dubai and Bahrain. Enjoy!

‘These Are The Darkest Days I Have Known’

Polly Toynbee, 24 Feb 2018, theguardian.com

There has never been an austerity like this in my life-time. If Thatcher’s 1980’s cuts seemed savage, I would never have guessed a future Tory party would go so much further than she dared, in shrinking the state, crushing local government, squeezing the NHS as never before, leaving schools bereft. As for the shock Brexit vote, it has split the country in half in ways it may take decades to repair, if ever, as it sends Britain into a downward spiral. These are the darkest days I have known – plenty to write about, but very hard to think of optimistic themes.

In An Age Of Anger And Cynicism, Let Me Make The Case For Worthiness

Claire Armitstead, 24 Feb 2018, theguardian.com

Consider the work that is currently going on in churches, mosques and synagogues to plug the chaotically widening gap between the haves and have-nots – here, now, in one of the richest countries in the world, in this age of austerity. I live close to the Finsbury Park mosque, where, in a spontaneous reaction to last year’s van attack, trestle tables were set up along the street for a communal feast to which everyone, regardless of colour or creed, was invited. Furniture and catering were no problem because feeding people is part of what members of the mosque – worthily – see as their mission. My local church hosts a weekly drop-in session for migrants that draws hungry people from across London and beyond, to eat food donated by local shops and cooked by local volunteers before sitting down to free help and advice from rows of (largely retired) lawyers, counsellors and health experts.

#MosqueMeToo Puts Muslim Women “Between A Rock And A Hard Place”

Aymann Ismail, 14 Feb 2018, slate.com

For Muslims who grew up in the West, a mosque can be the only place where you get to be yourself. As a member of a highly politicized minority group, being with other Muslims can feel like the only way to not have your identity assigned to you. Like other places of worship, a mosque is more of a multipurpose building: karate classes, basketball in the parking lot, you grow with the community of regulars. We celebrate holidays and birthdays together there, mourn those who passed together there. The mosque is my home away from home, the congregation is my extended family, and Muslims from other mosques feel like family I just haven’t met yet…As Muslims, we are religiously bound to protect one another.

The Media Exaggerates Negative News. This Distortion Has Consequences

Steven Pinker, 17 Feb 2018, theguardian.co.uk

Whether or not the world really is getting worse, the nature of news will interact with the nature of cognition to make us think that it is…The impression that the news has become more negative over time is real…The consequences of negative news are themselves negative. Far from being better informed, heavy newswatchers can become miscalibrated. They worry more about crime, even when rates are falling, and sometimes they part company with reality altogether: a 2016 poll found that a large majority of Americans follow news about Isis closely, and 77% agreed that “Islamic militants operating in Syria and Iraq pose a serious threat to the existence or survival of the United States,” a belief that is nothing short of delusional.

There’s A Lot To Be Optimistic About These Days. And Then There’s The Middle East.

Fareed Zakaria, 15 Feb 2018, washingtonpost.com

There’s a lot to be optimistic about today. In almost every part of the world, economies are growing and war, poverty and disease are receding. But then there is the Middle East. Syria remains a collapsed country; more than 5 million of its people have already fled. Yemen is now the site of the world’s worst famine, and the war there seems unlikely to end anytime soon. Iraq, barely recovered from its own civil war and battle with the Islamic State, estimates it needs about $100 billion for reconstruction — money it does not have. And the danger of greater conflict in the region seems ever-present. We are now seeing fighting between Turkey and American proxies, and fire exchanged between Israel and Syria. Recently, U.S. airstrikes killed perhaps dozens of Russian mercenaries in Syria, a worrisome escalation for the former Cold War adversaries.

Saudi Arabia To Spend Billions On Expanding Entertainment Sector

Agence France-Press, 23 Feb 2018, theguardian.com

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to spend billions on building new venues and flying in Western acts, in a total overhaul of its entertainment sector that would have been unthinkable not long ago. Long known for its ultra-conservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a wide-ranging program of social and economic reforms driven by its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Hundreds of new companies had sprung up over the past year, registering for licences to take advantage of the budding sector…Authorities have also announced plans to lift a decades-old ban on cinemas this year, and about 300 are expected to open by 2030…The newfound openness, which includes plans to allow women to drive from June this year, has been hailed by some as a crucial liberalisation of Saudi society.

The reforms are part of Prince Mohammed’s ambitious “Vision 2030” program, which seeks to diversify the Saudi economy as it reels from a slump in energy prices, and the entertainment sector is seen as a potential source of growth. Saudis splurge billions annually on movies and visits to amusement parks in the neighbouring tourist hubs of Dubai and Bahrain, which is accessible by a land causeway…The goal to keep Saudis – more than half of whom are under 25 – spending their disposable income at home is part of a wider campaign called “Don’t travel”.

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