“Not so long ago, the world used to be easy to divide up. For much of the 20th century, it was a contest between left and right, between command economies and free-market ones. All of eastern Europe, Russia, China and swathes of Latin America were toiling under the yoke of Marxism; western Europe was in a social-democratic middle or socialist muddle, with America and post-Thatcher Britain representing the power of market capitalism. We know how that worked out. What we didn’t know was what would replace it when India, China and Russia — let alone South America — embraced, in varying degrees, the market and its tangible success in making people’s lives more materially comfortable than at any point in human history” http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/comment/columns/andrewsullivan/article1286967.ece
“There has been enough of politicians and academics betraying their ideals and there has been enough talk on the subject. Young people need our revolutionary friendship, our support and our allegiance in finding a means of imagining a more optimistic future and combining to create it” http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=419644§ioncode=26 Combining to create it – “The social web and mobile technologies have accelerated the rate at which relationships develop, information is shared and influence takes hold. People now use social technology to help shape the world’s events and culture”http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18013662 Corruption & Politics – “A new survey for the BBC World Service has found widespread perceptions of economic unfairness – The poll found that more than 50% of respondents in 17 out of 22 countries believe economic benefits and burdens are not fairly distributed in their own nation” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17847372 And, http://voices.yahoo.com/the-triumph-triviality-8616861.html “Culture change strategists all agree about the urgent need to promote “global consciousness,” or “cosmic consciousness.” This generally refers to a broad worldview with a high level of awareness of the interrelatedness and sacredness of all living things. It is thought that such a universality of mind leads not only to intellectual illumination, but also to heightened moral sensibilities, compassion, and greater community responsibility”.
“The British Isles are home to just one percent of the world’s population and yet our small collection of rocks poking out of the north Atlantic has thrown up world beaters in virtually every field of human endeavour… Brian Cox” http://www.bbc.co.uk/p1drogrammes/p056dn
Peers celebrate humanist contribution to British society – “Last week we watched as Parliamentarians in the House of Lords debated the contribution of humanists to British society. The debate was called by Lord Harrison, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group (APPHG) and the British Humanist Association, and contributors included prominent humanists Baroness Whitaker, Lord Soley, Baroness Meacher, Lord Maxton, Viscount Craigavon, Baroness Massey and APPHG Chair Lord Warner. The debate gave Peers a chance to challenge the oft-repeated myths that only the religious contribute positively to society, as well as to celebrate our campaigning on public policy and ethical issues. They discussed the contributions of humanists and atheists over the decades to defending our democratic freedoms, by campaigning for free speech, secularism, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and an end to all religious privileges; humanists’ willingness (despite the misinformed image of ‘militant atheists’) to cooperate with religious groups on issues of common concern, such as on education issues; the work of humanist celebrants accredited by the BHA, who conduct ceremonies attended by over 250,000 people each year; and the work of humanists who provide pastoral support to the non-religious in institutions such as hospitals, prisons and universities. Lord Harrison commented on the fact that the number of non-religious people in the UK is on the increase (as shown by the 2011 Census and various other surveys), and that many of them have a humanist worldview. This means that Humanism is the default philosophical position for millions of people in the UK today. Lord Ahmad, responding on behalf of the government, mentioned the humanist contribution to charity volunteering, as well as the contribution of individual humanists to various secular charities which are supported by the religious and non-religious alike. The Bishop of Birmingham talked about the value of humanist funerals, the Church of England’s support of the move towards the legal recognition of humanist marriages, and celebrated the contribution of atheists and humanists to the common good”. Our write up of the debate can be found here, the transcript can be found here and the video can be viewed here (starting at 14:12:54).
Free – Bradley Manning: “The US soldier convicted of handing a trove of secret government documents to anti-secrecy website Wikileaks has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage. In a statement read by his lawyer after the sentencing, Pte Manning said he had acted “out of love for our country”. His supporters have called on President Barack Obama to pardon the soldier or commute his sentence to time served” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-23784288
Zero Tolerance – hopefully: “Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has said he rejects “utterly and completely” that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons. He was speaking in Damascus after the US said there was “undeniable” proof of a chemical attack” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23852062
“The Voyager-1 spacecraft has become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System. Scientists say the probe’s instruments indicate it has moved beyond the bubble of hot gas from our Sun and is now moving in the space between the stars. Launched in 1977, Voyager was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going. Today, the veteran Nasa mission is almost 19 billion km (12 billion miles) from home” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24026153
Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013
“From views of the Moon and our neighbours in the solar system, to colourful depictions of the gases and galaxies which swirl in deep space. Take a look at the best images – and see the overall winner – of this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24131917
“The four-day siege involving suspected Islamist militants at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre is over, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta says. Five attackers were shot dead by troops and 11 suspects were in custody, he said in a TV address to the nation. Kenya has “shamed and defeated our attackers” but the “losses are immense”, he said, confirming that 61 civilians and six soldiers had died” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-24225319
Great to be a Pagan! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kpv23 “Historian Michael Wood returns to his first great love, the Anglo-Saxon world, to reveal the origins of our literary heritage. Focusing on Beowulf and drawing on other Anglo-Saxon classics, he traces the birth of English poetry back to the Dark Ages. Travelling across the British Isles from East Anglia to Scotland and with the help of Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, actor Julian Glover, local historians and enthusiasts, he brings the story and language of this iconic poem to life”.