Smiley-faced monopolists, Nuit Debout and Newbury’s ‘refutrees’

By Thomas Bresson

Nuit Debout, place de la République. By Thomas Bresson, under a CC License.

The July issue of New Internationalist is out now, featuring three articles from me.

The theme of this month’s magazine is ‘smiley-faced monopolists’. It argues that “for Facebook, Amazon and Google, we have traded our privacy for something we find useful and put on hold our support for ethical shopping in exchange for the ease of low (or no) price and almost-instant gratification.” The magazine questions the exploitative and anti-democratic nature of  ‘surveillance capitalism’.

My feature focuses on online ‘direct’ giving and lending platforms. Why bother with aid agencies when you could just get money directly to those in need?

I also wrote two short articles for this month’s news section: one on the relentless Nuit Debout movement and discontent in France, and the other about the ‘refutrees’ of the Newbury bypass which were saved from destruction and are now thriving around the country.

Find out more about this month’s magazine, as well as reading selected articles, here at the New Internationalist website.

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What is London’s student rent strike all about?

Join the rent strike stickerOver 1,000 students in London students who are refusing to pay their rent for university accommodation. The rent strike is part of a wider Cut the Rent campaign against expensive university accommodation which campaigners say pushes studying in the capital out of reach for students from less-wealthy backgrounds.

A few weeks ago I spoke to students from Goldsmiths and University College London (UCL) about why they’ve joined the rent strike and New Internationalist have published my article about the campaign.

 

Preventing Prevent and LGBTI rights in the Caribbean

I have two short stories in the June issue of New Internationalist which is out now.

One article focuses on court cases being fought by LGBTI rights activists in Belize and Jamaica. When I was in Belize in January I met Caleb Orozco of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), a tireless activist who is challenging the country’s anti-gay sodomy law.  When I got back to the UK I also spoke to lawyer and activist Maurice Tomlinson who is challenging a similar law in his home country of Jamaica, as well as laws which restrict his rights to travel as a gay CARICOM citizen.

The second story is about the PREVENT, Islamophobia and Civil Liberties National Conference which takes place in London on 4 June. The event will examine the impact of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act, which in 2015 legally enforced on public sector workers the Prevent duty, which encourages people to monitor and report others they suspect to be at risk of radicalisation.

The main section of the magazine is written by journalists from Sierra Leone, and takes a critical look at the impact of Ebola, asking whether the right lessons have been learned. New Internationalist also has an interactive documentary called ‘Back in Touch‘ which brings the stories to life.

 

Kids on strike

On Tuesday 3 May thousands of parents kept their kids off school for the day in protest at Year 2 National Curriculum Tests (SATs).

Hundreds of people (most recent estimates are 1000!) attended a lively and colourful rally in Brighton’s Preston Park where I spent the morning. I wrote a report about the ‘kids strike’ for Red Pepper’s website and you can see some more photos from Brighton’s rally here on Flickr.

To find out more, see the Let Our Kids Be Kids campaign website.

 

 

Journo for hire!

After more than two years I have left the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and am working as a freelancer full time. I’ve learnt a lot at IDS and met some great people but the time has come for a new challenge.

Here is some of the work I did in my final months at IDS:

‘It’s time to decolonise feminist knowledge’ (BRIDGE) – a report from a Signe Arnfred lecture on the decolonisation of knowledge production. The lecture highlighted the close relationship between the colonial process and knowledge production in Africa.

In January I went to Belize as part of a learning exchange. I worked for two weeks at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) as part of the Open Knowledge Hub Project. These posts for the OK Hub and Eldis outline some of my experiences, touching on data, development and the response to climate change in the Caribbean.

‘Urbanisation, health and the Sustainable Development Goals’ (Interactions) – part of a series looking at how specific topics are reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals, including gender-based violence, unpaid care work, economic empowerment.

‘Faith, Gender & Sexuality: A Toolkit’ (Sexuality, Poverty and Law) – I edited this new resource for faith leaders in Africa and beyond.

Activist detained in Azerbaijan on her way to cover European Games

Platform campaigner Emma Hughes was detained at Baku airport on her way to cover the 2015 European Games, which runs from 12-28 June. The country has seen a crack down on people critical to the government, including activists and journalists in the lead up to the event and Azerbaijan now has over 100 political prisoners.

I wrote for the Transition Free Press blog about Platform’s work and the links between activism, oil and the European Games.

Read the full post here on TFP.

Recent writing

This week I had a couple of posts published on the Transition Free Press blog:

  • Real Media conference celebrates independent journalism about the new campaign and network to support and promote independent, ‘public interest’ journalism. As someone passionate about these kinds of publications and platforms, I’m really excited about its potential. Real Media are holding a conference in Manchester on 28 February.
  • Accelerating transition, city by city about the ARTS research project. A study of five European city regions which aims to find out more about what makes some areas hubs for sustainability.

At the Institute of Development Studies, I have been working on three features for the Interactions website, focused on how the project’s key themes: unpaid care work, gender-based violence and urban health of women and girls in low incomes settings, relate to the Sustainable Development Goals. The first article on unpaid care work is now published here.