What kind of ukulele should I buy?

The last two days have seen an explosion of action around the world. But even in what was usually quiet times on Earth, there was a series of events the likes of which the world has never seen. The UK’s Independent newspaper in particular has had a lot to say this year. The paper is a leader in the international media in its support of democracy and civilised debate, which is a very different concept to the US mainstream media. It was in the Independent’s pages in January that, in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, it published a letter from Edward Snowden that set into motion some of the world’s biggest online movement to defend human rights and democracy.

Since then, a number of major organisations and individuals have had much to say. The US Congress has taken up several petitions calling for President Obama to grant Snowden asylum. In India, the former Chief Justice of Delhi ordered the police to investigate the murder of independent journalist Hemant Mishra. In Japan as well as the UK, the former Labour and Liberal party Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a statement asking people not to be alarmed by the disclosures that have been made recently about the activities of the National Security Agency.

We should be aware of the fact that the US mainstream media, which has never been known for independent thought, often repeats US government talking points and is unable to do anything about this. This is not the fault of the individual media outlets alone – there are large multinationals like NBC and ABC, which seem to play off the American mainstream media as if they are independent news organisations. If they were truly independent, we would not even need to point to one of their latest reporting about the NSA that revealed that they had the secret warrant to monitor our phone calls for the past decade.

The fact that the US mainstream media have failed to deal with some of this is a tragedy for the cause of human rights and democracy. The UK independent press has done much to make the case for the right to dissent and free speech. I hope that I have given my readers a sense of the level of reporting this site has published over the years and the depth of our coverage of the UK’s current economic crisis.

Despite all of the protestations that these are just isolated events and not representative of global democratic politics, the last two days have seen a massive rise at the local level, with several politicians of all sides condemning the Snowden case. For instance, Prime Minister David Cameron took the unusual step of declaring the actions of the Guardian as an abuse of democratic