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Thursday, 20 December 2012

  • The West can’t direct the Arab Spring, but we can support it
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    No, it hasn’t been all plain sailing in the two years of the Arab Spring and there are plenty of people around who are ready to write off the whole movement as yet another example of the ungovernability of the Arabs unless they are brought to heel by...

  • '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...

  • Editorial: If Osborne won't tame the banks, the market might
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Even were George Osborne to capitulate to the most radical reformers and immediately split up all universal banks, the danger of some financial institutions being "too big to fail" remains largely unchecked, as the fallout from the collapse of inves...

  • 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...

  • Laugh if you like, but these dark arts persist
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Lesser beings can only dream of such an endorsement. However, the curious underworld of the pre-publication blurb – a dark art pitched somewhere between the friendly back-scratch and the market trader's shout – persists despite decades of ridicule. ...

  • A political life: Christmas at Westminster, when party politics give way to plain old parties
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    For the journalists, it’s not just a free drink and a glimpse behind the scenes; it’s an opportunity to be playful and irreverent with the politicians, and thereby gauge their genuine mood. It’s also an unmissable chance to tease a Boxing Day splash ...

  • The top 10 reasons why Santa's on my naughty list
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    1. He gave me an illuminated globe for Christmas when I was 11. Who gives an 11-year-old boy an illuminated globe? Why did I get that while Adam - who was a really nasty piece of work - got Reebok trainers and a Sega Mega Drive? 2. He always drank th...

  • This week's big questions: Are you worried by the rise of Ukip? What do you do when you pass someone sleeping rough?
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Dressed up as a defence of the poor, benefit often has the opposite effect to what was intended. Unfortunately, a workless, dependent substrata of society has been growing ever since Thatcher closed down the mines, steel, shipbuilding and heavy engin...

  • Think there’s too much excess at Christmas? I can’t get enough of it
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    You know, all that money spent on too much food, of which too much is eaten, too much is thrown away and too much is bad for you. I’ve been as guilty of this as the next party hat refusenik. Yet I wonder whether the Yuletide vices we loathe are just ...

  • Errors and Omissions: Whoever is being ‘useless’ here, it certainly isn’t Tony Blair
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    The report said in its first sentence that Mr Blair was not the object of criticism: “Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go ho...

  • They gave us esprit de corps. But where’s theirs?
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    A big man (and getting bigger); a big talent; a big mouth. It is hardly surprising that his tax exile in Belgium has caused such a big fuss in France. And yet the scale of the fuss is rather surprising. It betrays the more than usually febrile mood o...

  • Instagram: When do my pictures become their property?
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    The question seems straightforward if you limit it to physical objects. There is the stuff you buy for cash or credit – that scarf, your house, that book. There is stuff you lease, and stuff you happen to have borrowed and will return. But then, when...

  • As long as rape is belittled, there will be more victims like this
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Men who commit rape there are unlikely ever to answer for their crime; most sexual assaults go unreported or uninvestigated, with cases languishing for more than 10 years before they even reach the courts. Women’s safety and their right to exist have...

  • Yes, I did call you a pleb. I can say what I like when I’m angry. Now just open that gate
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Or at least that’s what I’m said to have said. I find it hard to remember when I’m hot and angry what words came out of my mouth, but I accept responsibility for one “fucking”, for which I apologise, though I venture to suggest it’s not the worst lan...

  • IQ of a carrot? You could think of some politicians as fruit and veg
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    When asked about the effectiveness of IQ tests at judging intelligence, Mensa member Peter Baimbridge said:  "So most IQ tests will have Mr and Mrs Average scoring 100 and the higher you get, the brighter you are. And if your IQ is somewhere around 6...

  • Three cheers for the UN: female genital mutilation is male insecurity defined
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Greer famously refused to sign a petition defending Salmon Rushdie because he was, she said, a “megalomaniac” and “an Englishman with a dark skin” (as if there is any shame in that). When it comes to FGM, Greer’s mistake seems to confuse female genit...

  • The girls who fled a life of sex slavery
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.Four months ago, a woman in her early 30s came knocking on Alice Achan’s door in Pader, northern Uganda. ‘‘She had four children, ranging in age from 18 months to eight years. “They had walked, swum...

  • 'I was certain he would be killed'
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Please donate to our appeal for child soldiers here.When I learned that my brother Malik had become involved with the rebel group, the CPJP, I was heartbroken. I was devastated by the news, it felt like I’d been informed of his death—I was certain he...

  • The chance to be a child again
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    The Central African Republic is home to an estimated 2500 child soldiers. Recruited or abducted by the country's various rebel militias, the children--some as young as nine--are brutalized, drugged and exploited. Unicef, working entirely from donatio...

  • Home Alone, It's A Wonderful Life, Elf: What is your favourite Christmas film?
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    We've created a poll to find out your favourite Christmas film, but first (and don't let this influence you), here are some favourites from Independent Voices writers:Grace Dent: "Scrooged - Bill Murray trying to singlehandedly kill the goodwill of C...

  • Doha was all hot air. It's high time for a new central body to take action on climate change
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    For nearly twenty years now, the United Nations has convened annual global talks under the aegis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty signed by nearly 200 countries to address climate change. Its track...

  • An American Christmas: Why are we sacrificing British traditions for a yankified yuletide?
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    The popularity of American-style trends over here is nothing new. Yet we now seem to be nearing a point where our yankified tastes cease to be imitation and we begin to believe that we are, in fact, American.The warning signs appeared earlier this ye...

  • Let's give Megan Fox - and all new mums - a break
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Meet my three-year-old: Generally she’s a good sleeper but lately she’s been having nightmares. Last night a unicorn was trying to bite her toes. Sounds cute, right? If only she could wait till the morning to tell me about it and not 3am. Then there’...

  • This week's wackiest web stories: Bringing sexy back (legally)
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Geek apocalypseAt the center of the rebel base where Luke Skywalker took off to destroy the Death Star and save his people from the clutches of Darth Vader, Guatemala is preparing for another momentous event: the end of an age for the Maya. reuters.c...

  • Big, bad pharma: Why our relationship with the Pharmaceutical industry matters
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    There are quite a few reasons. OutsourcedThe first reason relates to how drugs are developed for us to use. It used to be the case that pharma wealth was generated in the developed world, for example the United States and Europe. As a result, its cli...

  • You can bank on it – this 'Halifax' will give you extra
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    There was so much to admire – from the beautiful script by Sally Wainwright, who was herself born in Halifax, to the powerful performances by old stagers Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid and, particularly, the utterly brilliant Sarah Lancashire – but it was t...

  • Youth workers are for life... and the astonishingly brave life-savers at Prospex need your help
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    For several years now I have been involved with a local charity in Islington, north London, most recently as a trustee. It is called Prospex (Prospex.org.uk), and is staffed by the most humble, hard-working and inspirational people I know. Led by Bee...

  • Eight ways the world might actually end
    Wired Friday, 21 December 2012

    Daniela Hernandez at Wired magazine has complied a list of likely apocalyses (apocalypsi?) which makes enlightening, if profoundly depressing, reading.Did you know, for instance, that "asteroid accident" and "comet collision" are two entirely distinc...

  • The Christmassy way to tell your neighbours you hate them
    wbrz.com Friday, 21 December 2012

    The middle finger of the display goes slowly up and down, while a clockwork elf operates a crank. Best of all, despite complaints from her neighbours and a police order, it appears the local authorities are totally cool with it. According to wbrz.com...

  • Armageddon some!: As the Mayan apocalypse nears, New Yorkers make love like there's no tomorrow
    New York Post Friday, 21 December 2012

    The New York Post reports a rise in singles ads posted on sites like OKCupid.com and Craigslist.org seeking "end of the world sex."Model Niki Ghazian knows how they feel, apparently. She told the Post: "If I die, I don't want to die on a dry spell! E...

  • The British workplace must become more accommodating to Muslim women
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    One only has to look at the number of ambitious, educated and career-driven Muslim women across Britain, unable to secure employment, to realise that Muslim women are one of the most under-used resources in the UK labour market.We need to question wh...

  • Vomiting, fights, blood, tears...The hell of working Black Friday
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Also nicknamed ‘Black-Eye Friday” and “Blackout Friday”, the fabled excess-ridden last working day before Christmas when people who don’t usually venture out all year descend upon bars and clubs like locusts with novelty Santa hats and emergency serv...

  • Letters: Changing America’s gun culture
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    The Second Amendment states, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". The US Justice Department's official position is that these rights are lim...

  • 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: Questions for Cameron over 'Plebgate'
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    Although the Prime Minister knew before his Chief Whip left the Government that some of the police evidence against the cabinet minister was not reliable, he neither said so publicly at the time nor moved from his balanced position between Mr Mitchel...

  • Editorial: The looking-glass world of the National Rifle Association
    Friday, 21 December 2012

    In fact, it turns out that Washington's efforts to create gun-free school zones actually incite maniacs to target children and the real answer is armed guards at all educational institutions. Welcome to the looking-glass world of the National Rifle...

  • 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...

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