Ian Birrell

Ian Birrell is a former Deputy Editor of The Independent and co-founder of Africa Express

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The enemy within: Nixon despised the hippie culture that saw academics, writers and rock stars promoting the use of hallucinogens

High time to end this immoral drugs war

Though he toyed with drug reform, David Cameron abandoned it for fear of hostile headlines. Yet the path from prohibition is a modern, conservative and radical step which makes sense politically, too

It's about time the Lib Dems started asking themselves what they are for

This is the key question for Clegg’s dwindling band of Lib Dems – and it is one they struggle to answer these days

As gay people celebrate, the treatment of the disabled just gets worse

With more spending cuts looming, are we content to leave one minority locked out of society as second-class citizens?

Ukraine crisis: There is no moral equivalence between Moscow and Kiev

This is potentially the biggest crisis in Europe since the bloodstained Balkan wars

Eugenia spent time at the Maidan protests: ‘Whatever politicians do must be controlled by the people’

Ukraine crisis: ‘I am convinced Yulia Tymoshenko is a real heroine’ says Eugenia

The former Prime Minister’s daughter says her mother is determined to continue the fight for justice and democracy

Is Europe really a safe enough place for my African friend to visit?

Look at our continent and you could see a place cursed by corruption, scarred by communal struggles and riddled with racism

Two cheers for Nick Clegg – at least he’s talking about drugs

He is absolutely right in his analysis that prohibition has failed and addiction must be treated as a health issue

Michael Gove is to relieve chairman Dame Sally Morgan of her duties

Sharpen the axe, minister: There should be more political appointments, not fewer

Why hasn't a government ostensibly committed to serious public and private-sector reform installed its own people in these critical posts already?

With the death of Ariel Sharon, I am left to wonder what happened to the political ideal that drew me to a kibbutz all those years ago

The kibbutz system showed Israel in a different light from how it is perceived today

'Chicken McNuggets' at a McDonalds fast-food restaurant in Yichang, central China's Hubei province

World hunger has dropped greatly – but what do we do about the planet’s expanding waistline?

Body mass index rises alongside economic growth

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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there