2014 (60)
Dec 29 2014 12:00AM
The Al Jazeera case: Egypt’s descent into fear, loathing and televised raids on places of debauchery
Some recent developments in Egypt: raids on an “atheists’ café” and on a bathhouse for “debauchery”, 439 civilians sent for military trials for “rioting” with a new (and unacceptable) law being applied retroactively, a prominent analys...
Dec 23 2014 12:08PM
Islamic State: can the laughter for a bunch of rapists and murderers
They’re the baddies we love to hate. New (or relatively new) international outlaws whose very depravity has given them a special status. Could it be that some parts of the media are half in love with their almost picturesque excessiven...
Dec 19 2014 6:25PM
2014 – Goodbye to all that
So according to the Oxford Dictionary the word of the year for 2014 is vape . Looking into the rear-view mirror as we round the bend away from 2014 that seems to me to be quite a vacuous focus to select. 2014 has, on reflection, been a...
Dec 10 2014 12:47PM
CIA torture report: the lid lifted?
Is the long-awaited report into CIA torture during the so-called “war on terror” an exercise on transparency or something rather less than that? Seems to me it’s clearly the latter. This is a 525-page “executive summary” of a 6,700-pag...
Dec 4 2014 2:17PM
Bet you the Philippines government won’t like this ...
Won’t like what? Er, well, I bet you the authorities in Manilla won’t be happy with the new Amnesty report on the huge problem of police torture in the country. (More on this shortly). Anyway, you’re probably not the betting type and w...
Dec 1 2014 12:41PM
No room at the inn for Syria's refugees
It’s less than a month until Christmas but it looks like there’s no room at the inn for Syrian refugees in the UK. New figures released by the government today show that the UK has resettled just 90 out of at least 3.5 million refugees...
Nov 24 2014 2:21PM
The number one news formula: sport and more sport
So there I was, driving along, listening to the radio, when the news comes on. Wow. What’s this! The top news is ... it’s unbelievable. Forget Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. Never mind Theresa May talking about immigration or tackling ter...
Nov 17 2014 11:47AM
Pussy Riot selfies v. koala-cuddling photo-ops
Coverage of the G20 summit in Brisbane at the weekend centred on the “frosty” reception given to the Russian president Vladimir Putin by other leaders because of Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine . Never mind the Australian summe...
Nov 16 2014 8:00AM
Spain's long road to peace… via Argentina
A winding and deserted road through the rocky, pine-covered foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama to the north-west of Madrid eventually leads to arguably the most controversial monument in Spain: Valle de los Caídos, or Valley of the...
Nov 12 2014 11:27AM
Journalists: "No longer on the frontline, we are the frontline"
I was chatting with my friend at the BBC’s New Broadcasting House when both of our phones suddenly beeped with Twitter alerts. She checked her phone, looked up and said, “I can’t believe they’ve killed Steven Sotloff . They’ve beheaded...
Nov 4 2014 1:45PM
Fireworks: spare me the torture of these horrible things
On 5 November 1660, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that “This 5th November is observed exceeding well in the City; and at night great bonfires and fireworks.” Already a five decades-old tradition by then, the annual celebration of...
Oct 30 2014 11:52AM
Why do the Libyan militias run amok?
In Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Michael Fengler’s memorably-named 1970 film Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? , a depressed white-collar worker is seen meandering his way through stiflingly boring days before killing his wife, his son and a f...
Oct 22 2014 5:32PM
An English woman, a Scottish woman and a Northern Irish woman walk into an abortion clinic
An English woman, a Scottish woman and a Northern Irish woman walk into an abortion clinic. The English woman says, ‘I’ve been raped. Am I allowed an abortion?’ The receptionist says, “Yes (as long as two doctors confirm it is in your...
Oct 20 2014 12:11PM
The Ghoncheh Ghavami case: another Iranian own goal
There’s quite a good Twitter account I follow which specialises in anti-jokes. The jokes go a bit like this. “Q: How do you explain the offside rule to a woman? A: With a video recording of a football match and Fifa’s Laws Of The Game...
Oct 14 2014 11:39AM
'Mostly they kidnap Sunnis': Iraq’s sectarian abyss
Despite ISIS and despite the suicide bombings and incessant carnage , one of the things we’ve been hearing a lot from Western politicians in recent weeks is how things in Iraq are better than they were because an “inclusive” governmen...
Oct 2 2014 11:51AM
Noise noise noise: making music, not war
As I write this blog I’m listening to Orlande De Lassus’ Penitential Psalms , played by the Hilliard Ensemble. Beautiful devotional sixteenth-century music which is pouring out of the hi-fi in my flat and … well, er, hang on a minute....
Sep 25 2014 1:21PM
The 1920s, and all that jazz
I may have dreamt it but I’m pretty sure I read some stuff the other day about there now being a “90s revival” in progress. Oh no! Meanwhile, the “Noughties” revival is surely just around the corner ... These marketing wheezes are pret...
Sep 23 2014 1:25PM
Made in China: the world's 'tools of torture' factory
How much of what you own is ‘Made in China’? It’s a difficult question to answer, not helped by the fact that the relationship between manufacturer and consumer is rarely a direct one. But starting with my own desk, the phone, fan and...
Sep 22 2014 12:32PM
Gangster theatre: the Islamic State execution videos
Islamic State’s blood-thirstiness has been much commented on, as has its use of modern technology. Posting videos of a man issuing threats before killing a hostage … this is the “new normal” for Islamic State comms, but somehow it’s ex...
Sep 12 2014 9:43AM
Sand- Witch Hunt in Thailand
You probably had a sandwich for lunch and thought nothing of it. But in Thailand these days, you have to watch what you eat, as well as what you say. On 20 May this year, the military declared martial law in Thailand, with the stated a...
1/3
1/3