Libya is now in flames. This might seem to be a rather hyperbolic note on which to begin, but it is true. The country is spiralling out of control, and the city of Benghazi, the former rebel capital in the 2011 revolution against the dictatorship of Colonel Gaddafi, has reportedly been captured by Islamist militants and declared an 'Islamic emirate'.
Growing up, I had a very simplistic view of the word 'democracy'. In history lessons, I'd learned about the past and how nations had been ruled by kings, queens or dictators. I was proud to live in a country where decisions weren't taken for us by one person, but where we the people could choose our own future. What an amazing, childish dream!
The extent to which the UK and most of the rest of the Western world are currently mismanaging our economies clearly has a huge financial cost. In the longer term, however, the political cost will be even greater than the economic price - unless we see radical changes in policy. The failure of the West to deliver a reasonable economic performance - combined with the related problem of widespread inability to get difficult decisions taken - has led an increasingly large number of people across the world to consider whether more authoritarian of running modern diversified economies might work better than those based on liberal democracy.
"I am more confident than ever that I will be the next European Commission President," tweeted former Prime Minister of Luxembourg Jean-Claude Juncker on 4 June. Quite how he knew with such certainty so far in advance of the EU's elected national leaders is something of a mystery. Until, that is, you consider the continuing dominance of the Franco-German axis in the European Union...
The duchy has to comply with the UK employment and health and safety laws. It collects and pays VAT on its turnover. This compliance gives it the appearance of a public organisation, subject to the laws applicable to everyone else. At the same time, its ancient privileges enable it to function as a state within a state.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, Russia has been its own nation, but one which sought to exert the same influence on nearby countries as it did in its previous incarnation. President Putin, a former official in the sinister KGB, well schooled in the police state methodology, seeks to replicate this today...
In using social media efficiently, ISIS attracts sympathisers globally and maximises its amplification. Unlike previous terrorist organisations who were only given a platform by mainstream media outlets and had to adhere to mainstream media's narrative and political frameworks -- ISIS now operate in an entirely unregulated social media platform that gives them sufficient room to manipulate potential sympathisers.
As someone who has an instinctive aversion to over-praising members of the military (indeed, as someone who cannot help but shudder inwardly every time 'our brave boys' are invoked), I was more than a little surprised that the commemoration of the D-Day landings, which took place last week, brought a tear to my eye.
On this anniversary, I want to salute the bravery of Edward Snowden. His conscious courage has given us all a fighting chance against a corporate-industrial-intelligence complex that is running amok across the world. I hope that we can all find within us an answering courage to do what is right and indeed take back our rights. His bravery and sacrifice must not be in vain.
Many people do not vote because of a sense of hopelessness. Would my vote make a difference? Would it have an impact on government? Here's a real-life example for those cynics, skeptics and pessimists ... In Southcoates East, UKIP's victory was decided by only 9 votes. With the benefit of hindsight, would you have voted if that preordained the defeat of such party?