Joan Smith

Known for her human rights activism and writing on subjects such as atheism and feminism, Joan Smith is a columnist, critic and novelist. An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a regular contributor to BBC radio, she has written five detective novels, two of which have been filmed by the BBC.

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HIV-Aids has mutated into a disease of poverty

When a friend in London told me he was HIV-positive in the early 1980s, neither of us really knew what it meant. By the time I visited another HIV-positive friend in hospital in New York a decade later, the horror of the Aids pandemic had become apparent. I was shocked by how much his condition had deteriorated in the couple of years since I'd last seen him, when he had been well enough to wander round Manhattan with me. At the same time, I was touched by the support system for patients, including an organisation which walked my friend's dog daily when he became too frail to do it himself. He died not long afterwards, joining thousands of gay men whose lives were tragically cut short.

Helping hand: Freedom Charity, founded by Aneeta Prem, has been flooded with calls since the women were released

Concealment: the key to modern slavery

The horrific case of the three women freed from a London house could provide a means to break the silence that keeps victims trapped

‘Big gift for us’: David Cameron may have raised expectations he will be unable to fulfil in Jaffna

Dave goes abroad, but as arms dealer or avenging angel?

Cameron's tough language on Sri Lanka was impressive. But we are still left guessing what the guiding vision is

Closed ranks: A former Royal Marines officer has refused to condemn part of the ‘family’

Wilfred Owen and Marine A: as far apart as you can get

Calls for leniency for the convicted soldier are misguided – and do a disservice to those soldiers who hold on to their humanity in war circumstances

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: ‘simple libertine activity’

Those French bastards. Will they never learn?

Maybe they should reflect upon why so few men boast about paying for sex

Russell Brand’s political thoughts amount to little more than ‘Hello trees, hello sky’

Joan Smith: Spare us the vacuous talk and go back to Hollywood

To some people, Russell Brand's adolescent waffle sound likes informed opinion – but his pride in refusing to vote is foolish and dangerous

Al-Madinah in Derby, free faithbased school criticised by Ofsted

Faith schools must not be funded by us

Why should we allow governors to promote religious segregation?

The Daily Mail editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre

Which stories will we not be allowed to read?

Joan Smith says her profession has nothing to fear from the new plan to regulate the press

Coffins of children among the adult victims in an hangar of Lampedusa airport

Lampedusa, half way to broken-promise land

There are reports of ships failing to stop if they see migrant boats in trouble

Crude display: Why should women be put up with being objectified every single day?

Porn has changed – for the worse. Even men have noticed

The former editor of a lads' mag has changed his view of pornography, because of the possible effect on his son, but he has forgotten something

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Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor