We want to take this opportunity to wish all the national teams and individuals all the best in the 2012 games. While we would obviously like Team GB to be on the highest podium in every event, we celebrate the best and welcome them to London – the greatest capital city in the world.
Our positive and inclusive bid to host the Olympics was deservedly won. Around 40% of those who live in London were born outside this country. It is one of, if not, the most international cities in the world.
Tonight, the 2012 Olympic Games will open in a £27m spectacular. We will then witness two weeks of the most exceptional sportsmen and women from around the world competing in East London to show us all what the human body at its peak is truly capable of. For many long years, these incredible and committed people have given their lives to the Olympics – to be the very best that they can be.
While the games are fundamentally about competition where there are winners and losers, it is a profoundly meritocratic, diverse and optimistic competition. There will be cynics, naysayers and critics aplenty; after all, complaining is a sport Britons win gold in, but we fervently hope that this international event is the great success it deserves to be.
As a government & politics undergraduate at the University of Essex, I studied Professor David Sanders’ exceptional book, Losing an Empire, Finding a Role. In it, he describes the United Kingdom’s struggle with its identity after 1945, covering the period when it last hosted the Olympic Games in 1948.
While the Olympic symbol has five interlocking circles representing Europe (blue), Asia (yellow), Africa (black), Oceania (green) and America (red), the UK has been trying to juggle the three interlocking circles of our strategic interests. How do you balance a great power’s interests in a far-flung and fracturing Empire in decline, a Europe emerging from war and scrabbling towards political and economic union and a superpower United States?
The United Kingdom has rightly prided itself on upholding the highest ethical standards in this three-ball juggling act. Our long-standing commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law, have been a gold standard at times.
Over the centuries, we have exported democracy and a genuinely liberating system of common law, fought slavery, ignited the industrial revolution, defeated vainglorious dictators from Napoleon to Hussein, championed free markets and open borders, created a model health service and helped lead the world in the information revolution. We remain today, the home of some of the world’s greatest inventors and innovators, a powerhouse of ingenuity and creativity.
But, some would rightly say that the UK prosecutes dubious wars, illegally renditions and tortures and our foreign, pornographer, tax avoider owned national press is profoundly out of control – hacking phones and bribing police. Our politicians are on the make, we fix international financial standards such as Libor, mis-sell financial products and assist in money laundering. We operate oligopolies locally in media, retail and pharmaceuticals and assist tax evasion on an industrial scale. We’re also selling weapons to brutal regimes, harbouring odious dictators, denying vital drugs to the sickest nations and manipulating commodity prices so the poorest nations suffer. And now, we are also splurging billions hosting a militarised and privatised sports day, when we can’t even look after those who return from fighting our wars or the most vulnerable in our own society.
The reality is that both positions are true in whole or in part, and we so often fall far below the highest standards we expect of others.
Just as the modern Olympian becomes exceptional at a sport through endless hours of training, so our nation’s commitment to freedom, democracy and the rule of law only becomes exceptional through the constant vigilance of us all. We cannot delegate this duty as we delegate our nation’s sporting pride to a select band of athletes.
We must loudly complain when we, or our organisation, abuses hard won freedoms. We should vote against those who fail us or persecute those who cannot defend themselves, whether that vote is at the ballot box or as shareholders and consumers. We should demand that those who break the law are held to account whether they are mindless petty thugs or ruthless city thugs. We should also question ourselves on how we limit others’ freedoms by our own actions, by what we buy and invest in, how we fall into autocratic ways at home and at work, and how we break the spirit, if not the letter, of the law by what we do day-in, day-out.
As London 2012 begins, we think this is a time to be optimistic. Two hundred and four nations and 10,500 athletes are coming together on our shores for two short weeks to be the best they can be. There will be gold medals for both the richest and poorest nations, for people of every different race and creed. The Olympics motto is “Faster, higher, stronger”, and the creed, as described by Baron Pierre De Courbetin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, is:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
If these thoughts are humanity at its best, then we should aspire to emulate those ideals in all human endeavours. Just as the United Kingdom has struggled aligning the three interlocking circles of strategic interest (Empire, Europe and US), so we must all work to align the three interlocking circles of global strategic interest: the planet, its people and global prosperity. To be the best that we can be.
What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?
A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.
When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.
New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.
This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.
Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.
With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.
Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.
The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.
Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.
Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy
Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.
Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.
Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.
How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:
- They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
- They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
- They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
- They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.
Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.
Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use
The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.
Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.
Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers
Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.
Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.
Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy
Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:
- Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
- Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
- Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.
You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.