Topic: Politics of the United Kingdom
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, although he also confessed that his sceptical nature had led him to feel that he had "never been any of these things, in any profound sense." Russell was born in Monmouthshire into one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the United Kingdom.
In the early 20th century, Russell led the British "revolt against idealism". He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege, colleague G. E. Moore and protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is widely held to be one of the 20th century's premier logicians. With A. N. Whitehead he wrote Principia Mathematica, an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics, the quintessential work of classical logic. His philosophical essay "On Denoting" has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy". His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science (see type theory and type system) and philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics.
Russell was a prominent anti-war activist and he championed anti-imperialism. Occasionally, he advocated preventive nuclear war, before the opportunity provided by the atomic monopoly had passed and he decided he would "welcome with enthusiasm" world government. He went to prison for his pacifism during World War I. Later, Russell concluded that war against Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany was a necessary "lesser of two evils" and criticised Stalinist totalitarianism, attacked the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament. In 1950, Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought".
- "Bertrand Russell" | 2019-05-05 | 12 Upvotes 5 Comments
The Darien scheme was an unsuccessful attempt at establishing a Scottish colony on the Isthmus of Panama on the Gulf of Darién in the late 1690s. The aim was for the colony to have an overland route that connected the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. From its contemporary time to the present day, claims have been made that the undertaking was beset by poor planning and provisioning, divided leadership, a lack of demand for trade goods particularly caused by an English trade blockade, devastating epidemics of disease, collusion between the English East India Company and the English government to frustrate it, and a failure to anticipate the Spanish Empire's military response. It was finally abandoned in March 1700 after a siege by Spanish forces, which also blockaded the harbour.
As the Company of Scotland was backed by approximately 20% of all the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left the entire Lowlands in substantial financial ruin and was an important factor in weakening their resistance to the Act of Union (completed in 1707). The land where the Darien colony was built, in the modern province of Guna Yala, is virtually uninhabited today.
- "The Darien Scheme" | 2019-04-03 | 38 Upvotes 6 Comments
Hostile architecture is an intentional design strategy that uses elements of the built environment to guide or restrict behaviour in urban space as a form of crime prevention or order maintenance. It often targets people who use or rely on public space more than others, like people who are homeless and youth, by restricting the behaviours they engage in. Also known as defensive architecture, hostile design, unpleasant design, exclusionary design, or defensive urban design, hostile architecture is most typically associated with "anti-homeless spikes" – studs embedded in flat surfaces to make sleeping rough, uncomfortable, and impractical. Other measures include sloped window sills to stop people sitting, benches with armrests positioned to stop people lying on them, and water sprinklers that "intermittently come on but aren't really watering anything." Hostile architecture also seeks to deter skateboarding, littering, loitering, and public urination. Critics argue that such measures reinforce social divisions and create problems for all members of the public, especially seniors, people with disabilities, and children.
- "Hostile Architecture" | 2019-08-06 | 104 Upvotes 112 Comments
The letters of last resort are four identically worded handwritten letters from the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to the commanding officers of the four British ballistic missile submarines. They contain orders on what action to take in the event that an enemy nuclear strike has destroyed the British government and has killed or otherwise incapacitated both the prime minister and the "second person" (normally a high-ranking member of the Cabinet) whom the prime minister has designated to make a decision on how to act in the event of the prime minister's death. In the event that the orders are carried out, the action taken could be the last official act of Government of the United Kingdom.
The letters are stored inside two nested safes in the control room of each submarine. The letters are destroyed unopened after a prime minister leaves office, so their content remains known only to the prime minister who issued them.
Linguistic purism in English is the preference for using words of native origin rather than foreign-derived ones. "Native" can mean "Anglo-Saxon" or it can be widened to include all Germanic words. Linguistic purism in English primarily focuses on words of Latinate and Greek origin, due to their prominence in the English language and the belief that they may be difficult to understand. In its mildest form, it merely means using existing native words instead of foreign-derived ones (such as using begin instead of commence). In a less mild form, it also involves coining new words from Germanic roots (such as wordstock for vocabulary). In a more extreme form, it also involves reviving native words which are no longer widely used (such as ettle for intend). The resulting language is sometimes called Anglish (coined by the author and humorist Paul Jennings), or Roots English (referring to the idea that it is a "return to the roots" of English). The mild form is often advocated as part of Plain English, but the more extreme form has been and is still a fringe movement; the latter can also be undertaken as a form of constrained writing.
English linguistic purism is discussed by David Crystal in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. The idea dates at least to the inkhorn term controversy of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 19th century, writers such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and William Barnes advocated linguistic purism and tried to introduce words like birdlore for ornithology and bendsome for flexible. A notable supporter in the 20th century was George Orwell, who had a preference for plain Saxon words over complex Latin or Greek ones, and the idea continues to have advocates today.
- "Linguistic purism in English" | 2016-05-17 | 43 Upvotes 55 Comments
Lord Buckethead is a satirical political candidate who has stood in four British general elections since 1987, portrayed by several individuals.
The character, an intergalactic villain similar to the Star Wars character Darth Vader, was created by American filmmaker Todd Durham for his 1984 science fiction film Hyperspace. British video distributor Mike Lee adopted Lord Buckethead to stand in the 1987 UK general election and again in the 1992 general election. The character went unused until comedian Jonathan Harvey stood as Lord Buckethead in the 2017 general election; his televised appearance standing next to prime minister Theresa May went viral, drawing media coverage and an online following.
After the 2017 election, Durham asserted his ownership of the character and displaced Harvey. With Durham's authorisation, Lord Buckethead returned in 2019, now played by David Hughes; he appeared at People’s Vote rallies calling for a second Brexit referendum, and stood in the 2019 general election representing the Monster Raving Loony Party. Harvey also stood, using a new character, Count Binface.
The Statute of Anne, also known as the Copyright Act 1710 (cited either as 8 Ann. c. 21 or as 8 Ann. c. 19), is an act of the Parliament of Great Britain passed in 1710, which was the first statute to provide for copyright regulated by the government and courts, rather than by private parties.
Prior to the statute's enactment in 1710, copying restrictions were authorized by the Licensing of the Press Act 1662. These restrictions were enforced by the Stationers' Company, a guild of printers given the exclusive power to print—and the responsibility to censor—literary works. The censorship administered under the Licensing Act led to public protest; as the act had to be renewed at two-year intervals, authors and others sought to prevent its reauthorisation. In 1694, Parliament refused to renew the Licensing Act, ending the Stationers' monopoly and press restrictions.
Over the next 10 years the Stationers repeatedly advocated bills to re-authorize the old licensing system, but Parliament declined to enact them. Faced with this failure, the Stationers decided to emphasise the benefits of licensing to authors rather than publishers, and the Stationers succeeded in getting Parliament to consider a new bill. This bill, which after substantial amendments was granted Royal Assent on 5 April 1710, became known as the Statute of Anne owing to its passage during the reign of Queen Anne. The new law prescribed a copyright term of 14 years, with a provision for renewal for a similar term, during which only the author and the printers to whom they chose to license their works could publish the author's creations. Following this, the work's copyright would expire, with the material falling into the public domain. Despite a period of instability known as the Battle of the Booksellers when the initial copyright terms under the Statute began to expire, the Statute of Anne remained in force until the Copyright Act 1842 replaced it.
The statute is considered a "watershed event in Anglo-American copyright history ... transforming what had been the publishers' private law copyright into a public law grant". Under the statute, copyright was for the first time vested in authors rather than publishers; it also included provisions for the public interest, such as a legal deposit scheme. The Statute was an influence on copyright law in several other nations, including the United States, and even in the 21st century is "frequently invoked by modern judges and academics as embodying the utilitarian underpinnings of copyright law".
- "Copyright Law is 300 years old today." | 2010-04-10 | 31 Upvotes 5 Comments
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the second-longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country. At the time of her death, Elizabeth was queen of 14 other Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK.
Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). Her father acceded to the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, making Elizabeth the heir presumptive. She was educated privately at home and began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In November 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, and their marriage lasted 73 years until his death in April 2021. They had four children together: Charles III; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
When her father died in February 1952, Elizabeth—then 25 years old—became queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), as well as Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonisation of Africa, and the United Kingdom's accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union. The number of her realms varied over time as territories have gained independence and some realms have become republics. Her many historic visits and meetings include state visits to China in 1986, Russia in 1994, the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and visits with five Popes.
Significant events include Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022, respectively. Elizabeth was the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, and the second-longest verifiable reigning sovereign monarch in world history, only behind Louis XIV of France. She faced occasional republican sentiment and media criticism of her family, particularly after the breakdowns of her children's marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992, and the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. However, support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom remained consistently high, as did her personal popularity. Elizabeth died on 8 September 2022 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire. She was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III.
- "Queen Elizabeth II has died" | 2022-09-08 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments
Optic Nerve is a mass surveillance programme run by the British signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), with help from the US National Security Agency, that surreptitiously collects private webcam still images from users while they are using a Yahoo! webcam application. As an example of the scale, in one 6-month period, the programme is reported to have collected images from 1.8 million Yahoo! user accounts globally. The programme was first reported on in the media in February 2014, from documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, but dates back to a prototype started in 2008, and was still active in at least 2012.
The leaked documents describe the users under surveillance as "unselected", meaning that data was collected indiscriminately in bulk from users regardless of whether they were an intelligence target or not. The vast majority of affected users would have been completely innocent of any crime or suspicion of a crime. Optic Nerve as described in the documents collected one still image every 5 minutes per user, attempting to comply with human rights legislation. The images were collected in a searchable database, and used for experiments in facial recognition, to monitor known targets, and to discover new targets. The choice of Yahoo! for surveillance was taken because "Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets". Unlike the US NSA, the UK GCHQ is not required by law to minimise the collection from domestic citizens, so UK citizens could have been targeted on the same level as non-UK citizens.
The story was broken by The Guardian in February 2014, and is based on leaked documents dating to between 2008 and 2012. Yahoo! expressed outrage at the programme, when approached by The Guardian, and subsequently called it "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy." A GCHQ spokesperson stated "It is a long-standing policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters".
Though there were some limits to which photos security analysts were allowed to see, with bulk searches limited to metadata, security analysts were allowed to see "webcam images associated with similar Yahoo identifiers to your known target".
The salmonella-in-eggs controversy was a political controversy in the United Kingdom caused by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Edwina Currie's claims that "most of the egg production in this country, sadly, is now affected with salmonella" in 1988. These claims led to a 60 percent decline in egg sales over the next few weeks, and angered both politicians and those in the egg production industry. Currie's statement also resulted in the destruction of around 400 million eggs and the slaughter of around 4 million hens. The controversy dominated Currie's tenure as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and resulted in her resignation two weeks later.
- "Salmonella-in-Eggs Controversy" | 2023-02-22 | 55 Upvotes 73 Comments