Read on the street 11 January 2020

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity

Good morning,

With the excitement and perhaps hangovers of Hogmanay over and 2020 well under way it must surely be time to stop wishing each other a “Happy New Year” but, before I issue the edict, please allow me to mention the New Year one last time by sharing Edith Lovejoy Pierce’s inspiring words, "we will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." With so many deeply unsettling events already unfolding, let’s resolve to look for and indeed grasp the opportunities this year will, undoubtably, offer.








The world paid attention to the wrong Iraqi protests

Lost amid the coverage of the Iran-US conflict, there’s one part of the story that risks being forgotten. Writing in The Atlantic, Rasha Al Aqeedi sheds light on the Iraqi protesters demanding an end to rampant corruption and poor living conditions far from sectarian identities, religious imperatives and Western intervention. The protests, which have been met with a brutal crackdown from the ruling class and little sustained attention from the West, are now being obscured by the hostilities between the US and Iran as Iraqis worry about where the escalation will lead.

Read in The Atlantic.






Iran and the US have the same number of UNESCO World Heritage sites

This is short and sweet; a visual comparison of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that shows how the US and Iran are actually neck-and-neck in terms of protected landmarks of historical and cultural significance. It's a different view of the ongoing tensions, but also a reminder that these sites may not be where we expect them to be.

Read in Foreign Policy.








Why Australians must rage at their prime minister

Australian journalist, author and philanthropist Sarah Wilson explains why we should hold Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison accountable for his part in the devastating fires ravaging the country.

Read in Sarah Wilson’s blog.







Who would defend Harvey Weinstein?

Donna Rotunno, that’s who. In this piece the former movie mogul’s defence team makes their case for defending the man accused of multiple rapes and sexual assaults. Explaining their case, and referring to the #MeToo movement in the same breath, Rotunno says she feels that “women may rue the day that all of this started when no one asks them out on a date, and no one holds the door open for them, and no one tells them that they look nice.” Warning: this article may cause extreme anger.

Read in Vanity Fair.








The effects of Veganuary

What can going vegan for a month change? If you ask the New Scientist, a lot. In their latest self-experiment, the magazine has shown how giving up staple foods and dairy products can significantly lower your carbon footprint and improve your health. But even when experiments like the Veganuary study hint that behavioural changes in short periods of time can have important effects, we wonder: where’s the ethics in opting in and out?

Read in the New Scientist.









The “snowflake generation” isn’t to blame for decline of Saturday jobs

Poor snowflakes are feeling the heat again, this time for shunning Saturday jobs in favour of exam prep and study sessions. But what often gets lost amid the relentless millennial bashing is the reason. Martyn McLaughlin notes in The Scotsman that lazy, entitled youngsters aren’t the problem; Britain’s declining high streets are.

Read in The Scotsman. And, for a more critical take, read Libby Purves’ endorsement of the “character-building” Saturday job in The Times.









Jess Phillips’s honesty is deeply unnerving

Hugo Rifkind reflects on the uncharacteristic honesty of MP and Labour leader candidate Jess Phillips. Having captured the hearts of many with her penchant for straight-up answers and generally cutting the crap, Phillips’s refreshing candour and sincerity now faces its biggest challenge. How would maverick prime minister Phillips function being totally candid about the failings of a government when she’s a part of it? Will she renege on her approach? Or face saying things like, “fair do’s, I am buggering up this unemployment thing, but give me another six months and I reckon I can make it all very slightly better.”

Read in The Times.









What is Web 3.0 and why it matters

“Self-sovereignty” is a phrase you will likely hear a lot in 2020. It’s shorthand to explain the ethics behind companies or tech solutions that provide a service without using your data or your money for their own commercial ends. We are all getting fed up with handing over our data, money, and whatever other private asset or information to the big online four and perhaps we will soon be able to access an alternative. A charge of companies driven by ethical decisions that actually respect democratic principles, the rule of law, and our individual freedoms are building Web 3.0.

Read in Medium









Wrapping up CES 2020: anxiety, fear and cats

Tech's biggest annual gathering is over for another year. As always, it brought the weird and wonderful gadgets under one roof. From robots which help you to reach for that new roll of toilet paper to fake meat, there was something for everyone. In this piece, The Washington Post outlines the noteworthy, the weird, the wonderful, and of course the future money-makers.  

Read in The Washington Post.



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Written by Sarah Buchanan-Smith, Partner