Nov 10 2017 10:54AM
Forget the Bond tune, listen to Ergo Phizmiz!
Blimey, bring back Gangnam Style. No, sorry, I don’t much like that Adele Bond tune. Too “polished”, too “polite”, too predictable for me. (Then again, I was never going to be the target demographic for this one. You probably won’t bel...
Jul 14 2017 4:32PM
Piss-poor - the Russian authorities’ understanding of Pussy Riot
One of the last times I posted something on Pussy Riot I was waxing lyrical (literally) on what I saw as the underlying radicalism of Pussy Riot’s Situationist-style art-cum-music stunts. I reckon it’s pointless looking at them as “pol...
Dec 8 2016 3:55PM
If you think Rillington Place is creepy, try Belarus. Or Saudi Arabia …
My TV-watching days are long gone, so I must admit I haven’t been watching the BBC serial killer drama Rillington Place . But nevertheless, I’ve heard a fair bit about it. I’ve liked some of Tim Roth’s early stuff (especially Made In B...
Oct 31 2016 1:43PM
The 200 best protest songs of all time
It’s a totally misleading title of course. This post should really be called something like “A List Of 200 Protest Songs That I’ve Been Able To Put Together In The Time Available, But That Also Only Comprises Songs That I Actually Like...
Oct 24 2016 4:14PM
Too much too young: the children of Aleppo
They say you can get used to anything if you have to, and maybe that’s true. But should you have to ? With something like the calamitous situation in Syria, people have had to get used to far too much, far too young. Farida, an obstetr...
Oct 17 2016 4:27PM
The refugee crisis as political narcissism
Such is the self-absorption of Britain with things that affect Britain, you could almost be forgiven for thinking the world’s refugee crisis is largely about who comes to this country. It’s all about Calais, isn’t it? The squalor of th...
Aug 31 2016 10:26PM
Good news travellers - you can now fly direct from London Heathrow to Tehran’s famous Evin prison
So they’re back. Direct flights from London to Tehran , that is. After a four-year break, including delays for “technical” reasons after originally announcing flights would resume in July, you can now fly British Airways from London He...
Aug 23 2016 3:08PM
I went on holiday to Russia and all I got was this lousy replica Kalashnikov automatic assault rifle
Coming back from holiday through Stansted airport the other day I noticed, as I often do, a sign warning people approaching customs that it’s forbidden to bring guns and other “unlicensed” weapons into the United Kingdom. You’d kind of...
Aug 11 2016 11:42AM
Israel and the Kafkaesque
It was itself a pretty Kafkaesque headline: “Kafka’s papers seized by Israeli judges”, declared the Times earlier this week. News that Israel’s Supreme Court had ruled that a cache of unpublished Franz Kafka letters and manuscripts sho...
Aug 8 2016 3:35PM
Aleppo is not the new Srebrenica - it’s the old Aleppo
When the former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell talked about the Syrian city of Aleppo being the “new Srebrenica” last week there was...a reaction. Not much of one, perhaps, but a ripple of one nevertheless. After a...
Jul 4 2016 2:11PM
Don’t shoot the piano player. Or the guitar player. Or the tabla player ...
In Francois Truffaut’s excellent 1960 film Shoot The Piano Player we see a classical pianist slumming it playing piano in a bar who then gets dragged into an underworld of Parisian gangsters. It’s a classic nouvelle vague homage to har...
Jun 17 2016 1:04PM
Soft toppling - Iran’s latest use of a dual-national as a political pawn
So Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman detained more than two months ago in Iran, separated from her two-year-old daughter and held for weeks in solitary confinement, is… a revolutionary foreign agent apparently hellbent on ov...
Apr 25 2016 3:24PM
Truth for Giulio Regeni
Is the UK Government doing enough over the terrible case of Giulio Regeni ? By “enough” I mean: is the Government putting any real time and effort into supporting the campaign to find out what really happened to this Cambridge Universi...
Mar 15 2016 12:41PM
Mocking justice: Israel’s jailing of Palestinian circus trainer Mohammad Abu Sakha
Yesterday’s lively “Justice for clowns” demo near the Israeli Embassy in London banged the drum for jailed Palestinian circus trainer Mohammad Abu Sakha who’s been held by Israel without charge or trial for three months. As with around...
Feb 26 2016 6:19PM
Mr Cameron's brilliant things
David Cameron was in Preston yesterday, praising the arms company BAE Systems for making “brilliant things”. Impeccably booted and suited (take note all wannabe PMs), Mr Cameron said: “I can see the planes being built right behind me h...
Feb 17 2016 1:17PM
Never mind the ‘thaw’, are human rights still in the deep freeze in Iran?
Jailed UK businessman Kamal Foroughi is a rare case of someone in Iran who may benefit from a diplomatic 'thaw'. Credit: Private “It’s going to be chilly this weekend”. “Lovely weather if you’re planning a barbecue”. “What can we expec...
Jan 26 2016 12:27PM
Arming Saudi Arabia: Philip Hammond at the controls
Repeat after me: “We have some of the most stringent export controls anywhere in the world.” Got that? Sure? Let’s be safe, though, and check again. So listen carefully, it goes like this: “We have some of the most stringent export con...
Jan 8 2016 2:59PM
Ever fallen in love (with a record sleeve you shouldn't've)
There’s a twee-indie song called Wouldn’t Trade My Records For You by a band called Cheap Clone that … I rather like. Fey vocals, jangly lightweight guitar and snappy drums, a super-sprightly 1.28mins duration, it’s pure twee pop . And...
Dec 10 2015 12:44PM
Syria in 2015: another year of agony
We're reaching the end of 2015 with no end in sight over Syria. The carnage and agony continue. So do the detentions, the torture, the deaths in custody, the "disappearances" and state gangsterism . The Syrian government's barrel bombi...
Nov 27 2015 12:39PM
Distant voices: the Amnesty media awards for human rights journalism
Writing in 1992, two years after the death in Iraq of The Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft, the writer and fellow journalist John Pilger paid tribute to a reporter "who died pursuing his craft with the kind of independence and courage...
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