On A Mutual Love-In

So as Americans like our Queen, we Brits tend to like your Presidents. I happen to like this President, which meant that the usual bile I reserve for the saccharine News coverage the BBC ladled out for the visit to Britain by the Obamas was largely absent today.

We are supposed to live in a les deferential age, so the fawning coverage of the recent Royal Wedding and today’s Presidential visit, especially by the BBC is still difficult to stomach, despite, as I say my own liking for Obama. The heavy duty serious coverage and analysis is, as usual left to Channel 4 News and later on by the flagship programme – our own ‘Situation Room’ if you like, ‘Newsnight’.

Not that there will all that much for anyone to say. Today President Obama met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and took the salute in Buckingham Palace gardens, because security prevents American Presidents being driven down The Mall in an open topped carriage. The Obamas then went on to meet  Prince William and his new wife, who is now Princess of something or other, before going off to play ping pong with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, at a Secondary School.

We shouldn’t get too carried away, but ping pong was the opening gambit between President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao of China in the former’s historic visit to ‘Red China’. How ironic that the Chinese Politbureau, despite having converted itself to Market Leninism, in the past decade completely turned the tables on the liberal Anglo American economic model and sat back as the Western economies consumed themselves to unsustainable excess and then near collapse. But I digress.

Tomorrow the serious talking gets underway in Britain between Obama and Cameron, although let us not pretend that they are some kind of equals. The BBC will prattle on about the ‘Special Relationship’, and Royal correspondents will become Presidential correspondents for another day. Americans will, if they have noticed that their President is away, be baffled to hear the words ‘special relationship’, and cynics will say the whole visit is a PR stunt. Which of course to some extent it is.

But who can blame the Obamas,and who can blame the United States? Any President, however remote his ancestry will always be given a welcome in Ireland, the Emerald Isle. And US Presidents (George Bush the second excepted) can count on a warm welcome in Britain.

But the biggest relief is surely that David Cameron appears to be his own man, and anxious to dispel the ‘poodle’ image that was associated with Tony Blair.

Hashtag politics: 4 key ways digital activism is inegalitarian

Many believe that the internet has made it easier for us to participate in political activism. But is that really true?

  • Protesting in person is costly in terms of money and resources; some people have children to take care of, jobs that can't be away from, or may not have time to attend a planning event.
  • The internet was supposed to be a way to sidestep this barrier to political activism. But this doesn't consider the other barriers preventing poor and working-class folks from participating in digital activism.
  • In particular, these people lack ASETs: access to computers, the skills to use them, the empowerment necessary to feel that using Twitter or other social media is for them, and the time to make use of digital platforms in an effective way.
Keep reading Show less

The 5 most intelligent video games and why you should play them

Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.

(Photo from Flickr)
Culture & Religion
  • Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
  • Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
  • These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
Keep reading Show less

The Danish shoot down Trump's plan to buy Greenland, call the idea 'absurd'

The bid to buy Greenland is unlikely to become seriously considered.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Greenland and Danish officials alike think the idea is ridiculous.
  • The island is an autonomous state, and it's unlikely the Danish would sell it because of yearly subsidies costs.
  • After hearing the Danish Prime Minister call the idea absurd, Trump cancelled their forthcoming meeting.
Keep reading Show less