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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

  • 'Tis the season to stop being a curmudgeon
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    At the time of writing, the weather is rubbish – wet and listless – and I would rather eat glass than an economy sausage roll at the office "party". The sight of presents I bought two days ago now marked down by 50 per cent (as the high street stretc...

  • Why we need to talk about child soldiers
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.Few people have expressed the agony of child soldiers so movingly as Ishmael Beah. Rescued as a teenager from a life of enforced killing in Sierra Leone, he found a new life in the US, became an acc...

  • You’d have to be a fan of the Cable and Fallon show to get this one
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    The point behind this impenetrable stream of consciousness is that the Vince Cable/Michael Fallon show is a silkier version of the one operated on that other Lib Dem/Tory front line by the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, and the irrepressible John Hayes....

  • Plebgate Part 2: When institutions fail us, who can the public trust?
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    The incident – if indeed that's what it was – which took place last September involving the then Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and the policemen on duty in Downing Street was, on the face of it, pretty small beer. A politician with a notoriously superio...

  • If the world is going to end on Friday, good thing HM the Queen has started on her ‘bucket list’
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    As I understand it, the Mayan calendar spanned 5,125 years, and, when cross-referenced with our own Gregorian calendar, it means that time ends on 21 December 2012. There are seven million Maya in South America and elsewhere there is evidence that th...

  • Editorial: Some welcome signs of a speedier Afghan exit
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    It will, of course, be an advance if the shift from mentoring battalion by battalion to involvement only at (larger) brigade level is completed safely by the end of 2013, as the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force hopes. For all the war...

  • The year of doing things shamelessly or: What I learned in 2012
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    1 We have learned that niceness, intelligence, experience and a distinguished career do not in themselves create a leader. The BBC’s George Entwistle was clearly a loyal servant of the Corporation who should never have become its master. In fact, lea...

  • Cameron is targeting the wrong jobsworths
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    The banks have, infamously, led the way, in their greed and arrogance. But it is easy to forget the income band that falls just below them. They are everywhere to be seen in the private and public sector – what in old parlance used to be called white...

  • Britain’s middle class is not just squeezed but deceived
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    There were a lot of reasons to feel cross about this, beyond the demand for £100, the first being that I had posted the return, if not exactly in good time, then in time for it to arrive by the deadline. The second was that there appeared to have bee...

  • Why must sex pervade everything on TV? Not even Mary Berry's mince pies are safe
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    This week has seen a bumper crop of Christmas foodie TV shows. What did they all have in common? Honey-toned voiceovers, lingering shots of bulging foodstuffs, and a cornucopia of soft-focus shots and come-hither looks. And all this before Nigella ha...

  • The long road to recovery
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.One of the boys grabbed a girl and threw her to the ground. She lay in the dirt beside the other children, their hands clasped behind their backs. Over them stood a group of young men, all sporting ...

  • Postponing Django Unchained in the wake of Sandy Hook sends the wrong message
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    America is in a state of shock, while many of us around the world sombrely shake our heads, unable to do away with the acrid feeling that we were about due for such an event, feeling it inevitable or, worse still, routine. The president has acted fas...

  • It will take more than sweets to make customers stay with HMV
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    It’s been a tough week for high street music retailer HMV. After suffering a 40 per cent drop in shares on Thursday, at the time of writing they’ve now sunk to 2.4p. But then it’s also been a tough year, so this shouldn’t really come as much of a sur...

  • Change will silence the kind of bigoted evangelists who blame Sandy Hook on gays and abortion
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    Now the response to Sandy Hook's been delivered. James Dobson, a member of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, said in his Monday morning radio show that this massacre of 20 elementary school children was the logical conclusion of A...

  • The case of Lindsay Sandiford in Bali: Why are drug mules are sentenced as if they were drug barons?
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    In May 2012, she was arrested entering Bali from Thailand with 4.7 kilos of cocaine concealed in her luggage. I am an expert on women in the international cocaine trade and I collaborated with the anti-death penalty charity Reprieve to give expert te...

  • Who would you want to wake up to on Christmas Day? Christian Bale and Kelly Brook top survey
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    The Blockbuster surveyed over 1,200 male and female customers, and found Christian Bale and Kelly Brook came out on top.Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell complete the top three for most-wanted male stars, and Mila Kunis and Kate Beckinsdale made it into...

  • The most terrifying spider in the world builds a fake spider decoy to trick its victims
    Wired Thursday, 20 December 2012

    A spider has been discovered that crafts a fake spider from leaves and dead insects within its web. Scientists believe this is to act as a decoy to "confuse or distract predators".Believed to be a new species in the genus Cyclosa found in the Peruvia...

  • Plebgate: If the police can do this to a Government minister, what hope is there for black kids from Brixton?
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    A year after the August 2011 riots, I interviewed young black men in Hackney and Tottenham: their experiences with the police were overwhelmingly negative. According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, police officers are 37 times more likel...

  • Seldom has optimism been as cautious as this
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    True, they had already had the headline from David Cameron – that most of the 9,000 British troops in Afghanistan would be coming home over the next two years, 3,800 of them by the end of 2013. But it took Philip Hammond’s statement and the questions...

  • No, the world isn't ending! An explanation of the Maya calendar
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    When taking all these theories together, we could almost reach an ‘overkill’ capacity for this day - should they all be true. But fortunately, we can be pretty sure that nothing of this magnitude will happen and the chances of the ‘end of the world’ ...

  • Letters: Poor penalised for phoning HMRC
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    But this practice goes on throughout government. My research has shown that 148 of the Department for Work and Pensions' helplines – or 87 per cent – are 0845.The most vulnerable, poor and distressed people have to call these numbers to claim, change...

  • Editorial: Another indictment for the police to answer
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Much attention will now focus on whether the former Chief Whip was unfairly hounded from office. After all, not only is the substantiating evidence apparently fraudulent, but CCTV footage only now made public also suggests the spat was much shorter t...

  • The difficult case of Neon Roberts: I would flout any law for my child too
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Neon had a brain tumour removed last year. Earlier this month, his mother, Sally Roberts, who was legally opposing the treatment of her boy with radiotherapy, went on the run with Neon, sparking a nationwide manhunt. On Tuesday, faced with evidence o...

  • Damned and cast out prematurely. No wonder Mitchell is angry
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    I make both assertions without knowing Mitchell very well or being able to judge whether or not he would have been an effective Chief Whip. But his career was wrecked without any definitive evidence and careers should not be wrecked on such a flimsy ...

  • Nature Studies: Our generation has seen a great thinning that we can’t quite name
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    I have long had a growing sense that something analogous to this applies to the natural world in Britain: that there is a malady which certain people sense, which distresses them, but which they cannot name, and so is never really discussed. The peop...

  • So what would the Victorians make of the modern-day Christmas card?
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    The shops of the Strand were lavish in their profusion of pies, puddings, currants, raisins, spices, candied peel and sugar mice. Hansom cabs clattered down the cobbles of gas-lit streets, and ladies in poke bonnets, mantled against the cold, purchas...

  • They have been forced to do things no one should do. And lost part of their lives too
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    The term “child soldier” ought to be an oxymoron. These two words should be so far removed from each other, that they should never be combined into one. How can a child, an innocent being still exploring life, be mixed  with arms and weapons and thro...

  • The Church is being reborn in cafés and homes
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Last year, a third of all adults attended a Christmas service, with the older generations more assiduous than the younger. That is a large number. And there is no reason to believe that the crowds of worshippers this year will be smaller. Yet last we...

  • For the price of a cinema ticket you can send a child soldier to school. Here's how
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    This Christmas, the Independent is campaigning to raise funds to give former child soldiers access to a life after war. Any amount of money is useful, and every penny will go to providing these children with the help they need. Please donate now, and...

  • Must watch: Crocodile leaps at man swimming in Australia
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Three adventurous tourists in Australia decided to go for A and B.The men, swimming at Litchfield national park, were curious about the sleeping croc, and decided to film as one went to check it out a little closer. As one of the most aggressive crea...

  • Insider attacks and public rejection, these are the reasons we're withdrawing from Afghanistan
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    The exit strategy for the ISAF had been getting Afghan security forces to fend for themselves, so that control of the country could be continued by proxy. This task, by all credible accounts, has not been achieved. Rather, the insider attacks have sc...

  • Black Republicans are only ‘tokens’ of progress
    New York Times Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Reed says: "this “first black” rhetoric tends to interpret African-American political successes — including that of President Obama — as part of a morality play that dramatizes 'how far we have come.' It obscures the fact that modern black Republican...

  • After a video of a baby being snatched by an eagle goes viral, here are the most controversial Youtube ‘fakes’
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Many are questioning whether or not the footage is real, what do you think? Does it look real?It's not the first time a viral video has had viewers stroking their chins; YouTube is littered with clips that are (probably) just too good to be true. Her...

  • Russell Brand takes on the Westboro Baptist Church
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Perhaps it would be best to ignore these hateful propagandists, but, as users searched for more information on the sect this week, they dug up a Russell Brand interview in which the English comic takes a "loving" approach to two representatives of th...

  • Ukip your views on social care and abortions to yourself, Mr Geoffrey Clark
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Geoffrey Clark was, until Tuesday night, UKIP’s candidate for Thursday’s elections at Gravesham Council and Kent County Council and had also put himself forward to the UKIP National Executive Committee.Mr Clark, who I was SHOCKED to discover is a whi...

  • Hipster, butt-chugging and Kony: The world's worst words, literally
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    The Atlantic Wire has kindly put together a list of the world's worst words and phrases - with explanations as to why exactly we find them so annoying.Todd Akin's rather offensive creation of "legitimate rape" has made the list, as he actually though...

  • To Megan Fox and other celeb mums - night nurses are a sign of flawed motherhood
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Fox and her husband, Brian Austin Green, have hired a night nurse so that they, the child’s parents, can get a night’s sleep.Well, I think that’s pretty disgraceful on several counts and I am about to be Very Judgmental - so if you don’t like condemn...

  • The top tips for keeping your goodies safe
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    With millions being spent on gadgets, jewellery and other expensive presents over this time, many homes are packed to the rafters with goodies; while shoppers are walking the streets with hundreds of pounds worth of items at any given time. And if yo...

  • Why we couldn’t back a Bill that strips us of our rights
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    We all accepted that future developments must await the outcome of the Scottish referendum, after which a Constitutional Convention will be the best place to consider human rights issues, fully involving all parts of the UK. We dissented on a key iss...

  • Letters: Let Anglicans marry gay couples
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    What possible justification can there be for such discrimination against the Church of England and the Church of Wales? There will undoubtedly be gay couples who are members of the Church of England, and who will wish to have a religious ceremony. Th...

  • A letter to Santa from all women
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Just a small Christmas list this year. No more street harassmentSo the woman who wrote to us this week describing her daily experiences might, even just once, get to work next year without having already been sexually appraised and verbally abused by...

  • Editorial: Today's fish and chip paper?
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    A risk that started with radio has, thanks to the internet, now gone into overdrive. But even the "24-hour news cycle" is as nothing compared with the difficulties we face today. After all, 21 December marks the end of the Mayan "Long Count" calendar...

  • Editorial: Equality is for everyone – men, too
    Thursday, 20 December 2012

    It is not yet clear how the post-ruling insurance landscape will arrange itself. But it was always naive to hope for a halfway house, whereby men's premiums fell as much as women's premiums rose. Indeed, the Treasury has estimated that for younger w...

  • Editorial: A blueprint for change at the BBC
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    But it should not be. Poor decision-making and an absence of effective editorial responsibility have lain behind almost everything that has gone seriously wrong at the Corporation in recent years, despite the presence of elaborate chains of highly pa...

  • Editorial: When prison, not a corporate fine, is the only answer
    Wednesday, 19 December 2012

    Those bankers who manipulated Libor had perverse incentives to do so. The only meaningful punishment would be one that gave the unwitting victims proper redress, named names and entailed loss of fortune and freedom. Unlike the US, Britain has been re...

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