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Home 2012 December

Saturday, 22 December 2012

  • Help the children brutalised by war
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    But that is what we at The Independent are going to ask, as we make a further push to raise money for our campaign to help Unicef free child soldiers in the Central African Republic. You have been extremely generous already, but I would urge you ...

  • Editorial: Tax breaks alone won't transform our childcare
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Back in June, the Government promised to change this dismal state of affairs and look at best practice in those countries that retain the highest number of mothers in work, such as the Nordic countries, The Netherlands, and Austria. That would mean u...

  • Editorial: A timely toast to health and safety
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    We all think we know how a set of rules once designed to protect us has grown to the point where it winds its coils around every department of life, crushing the life out of the most harmless pastimes and traditions. But what if much of what we thin...

  • Editorial: America's gun worship must end
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Not the motives of Adam Lanza, the murderer – though these were not easy to grasp either, even if such hatred, nihilism and paranoia is sadly familiar enough. What is really hard to understand is how a nation has allowed itself to get to a situation...

  • I see a tall dark man but his life line is rather unclear
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    What Watkins used to do, as in his last Almanack in 2006, was to assert that most of the predictions he had made the previous year "hath infallibly come to pass, viz., that in the month of March Master Chas. Kennedy will collapse of a fitt, brought a...

  • Long live the spirit of our family Christmas
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    The family Christmas my father was born into in 1910 was still a Victorian affair, and would continue to be so for several decades. At the centre of it were neither children, presents, food, or drink, but the gathering in my grandparents' terraced ho...

  • Letters: Settle this Plebgate stand-off now
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    The "Plebgate" affair, which (in policing terms) amounts to little more than a routine police encounter with an angry and frustrated member of the public, has spiralled out of proportion, and is diverting too much political effort and attention away...

  • Editorial: Pilgrims make progress in Bethlehem
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Are pilgrims getting tougher? Perhaps they have been mulling John Bunyan's famous lines: "There's no discouragement, shall make him once relent, his first avowed intent, to be a pilgrim."

  • Monday diary: Has Jon Gaunt loved the Police Federation to death?
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Alas, it now seems not only that the pleb accusation was false, but that the details of this meeting were finessed, in contradiction of a tape made at the time, to make Mr Mitchell look shifty and cocky. Until Gaunty’s role in the fiasco is fully inv...

  • What would Jesus think of Christmas today?
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    At a party, I told a woman about this begging girl in a bunny hat. A response came back instantly: “Did you ask her why she was poor?” No, I didn’t. I saw she was pale, sitting on an icy pavement, and that was enough. The woman, herself kept by a ric...

  • Jingle smells are an assault on the nose
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    The odd thing here is, as Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez point out in their acclaimed reference work Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, those that look the tackiest are often the most effective. It comes as no surprise that Salvador Dali’s Laguna Homme earns the...

  • The strange death of Labour Scotland
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    It is certainly true that the explosive rise of the SNP and, more broadly, Scottish nationalism, cannot be put on the heads of the Scottish Labour leadership alone. It has much to do with the trauma of Thatcherism and the subsequent disappointments a...

  • 'Elf and Safety: the Twelve Myths of Christmas
    Health and Safety Executive Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Here's a flavour:1. Workers are banned from putting up Christmas decorations in the office"Bah Humbug", says the HSE. They encourage decking halls with holly, but hope that employers "provide their staff with suitable step ladders to put up decoratio...

  • Ten facts about child soldiers that everyone should know
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    • There are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers in at least twenty countries in the world today. As well as being forced to fight, children are used as spies, couriers, cooks and cleaners. Girls are often forced into sexual slavery.• Some 40% of chil...

  • I don't want my kids believing in Santa Claus, and you shouldn't either
    The Telegraph Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Batting away accusations of Grinchery, Simons says "To me, the whole phenomenon seems bizarre: I cannot understand why people try to make their children believe what is not true, in an effort to create a synthetic innocence and wonder."Isn't there en...

  • Boss sacks employee for being too sexy, Supreme Court backs him up
    Slate Sunday, 23 December 2012

    His act was last week supported by an all-male Iowa Supreme Court, who voted 7-0 to declare that James Knight acted lawfully in removing his co-worker, who had never flirted or behaved inappropriately towards her employer.It was Knight, 53, who admit...

  • IoS letters, emails & online postings (23 Decdember 2012)
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    If it were possible to have a Christmas wish, mine would be to read no more headlines such as "Benefits cuts to hit disabled" (16 December), summing up as it does the Conservatives' unique blend of cluelessness and spitefulness, coupled with the Lib...

  • This is not just men trouncing women – it's complicated
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Wouldn't you know it: it's blokes contriving to come off better again. I've long been suspicious of chaps who parade their paternity with framed photos of their kids on their desk. In most workplaces fatherhood is seen as an asset, making you a bette...

  • Eric Pickles plays to the (closed) gallery
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Did Mr Pickles sympathise with this suggestion that his department favoured sound utilitarian principle, the swept-up cabbage-stalk and the recycled compost mulch, over cultural responsibility. No he did not. The bureaucrats who made these distincti...

  • Big Yellow Taxi? Not in Washington DC
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    London's (mostly) black taxis, with their distinctive shape, are as much a part of the city's brand as red buses, Big Ben or the Changing of the Guard. Ditto New York, whose yellow cabs long since achieved movie-star status. But what about the capita...

  • There's a book for everyone – even royalty
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    In Alan Bennett's novella The Uncommon Reader, a chance encounter with a mobile library leads the Queen to start reading so voraciously that she gets through Jane Austen and ends up tackling Proust. It's particularly tickling as the Queen is known to...

  • Caring and sharing is not abuse, Professor Dawkins
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    What Richard Dawkins would tell me is that I shouldn't be taking my children to any mass at all, because I shouldn't be raising them as Catholics. The teachings of my faith, says the professor, are so terrible, and insidious and damaging that they'r...

  • Football, a game I once loved, is out of control
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Chelsea may have won the European Cup, and shown some staunchly British virtues in doing so, but football has no rightful place on the national pantheon of sporting excellence. Indeed, the success of true sports people such as Jessica Ennis, Nicola...

  • Tasty is easy but healthy takes nous
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    I'm glad of the rare reprieve for ready meals, which are perfectly fine to eat once in a while – just as long as you don't have anything else salty for the rest of the month. They're also very handy for people who work for a living. Even more handy t...

  • Lives are at the mercy of quacks online
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Towards the end of his life, the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, told his biographer he regretted delaying surgery and chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. Jobs is regarded by some of his admirers as a genius, yet he rep...

  • Woo, those crazy, heady, rock-band days
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    "Is this where Good Luck Charlie is made?" I gazed out over the rather grim, industrial landscape of inner New Jersey and rather doubted if anything had ever been filmed here except for some news story or two about the decline of the American indus...

  • Harriet Walker: I am Christmas personified
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    Normally, I couldn't care less – I like Christmas for the holidays and the telly, but get a bit grumpy when required to do things I deem above and beyond the level of effort one should expend while on holiday and watching telly. Like put up a tree....

  • Ten reasons why I hate Santa
    Saturday, 22 December 2012

    2. He always drank the sherry we left and scoffed the mince pie but he left his reindeer starving. I know this because we left a carrot and it was only ever nibbled. Why do the reindeer who have to pull the selfish bastard only get a tiny bit of c...

  • Review of the Year in Arts 2012: This was the year when the local became gloriously global
    Saturday, 22 December 2012

    If you did opt for quality as your chief metric, then it's possible that "Gangnam Style" wouldn't figure in your annual audit, though it wouldn't be difficult to make the case for Danny Boyle's pageant of British virtues to retain a place. It triumph...

  • If there's a Sports Personality of the Year, why shouldn't there be an Arts one too?
    Saturday, 22 December 2012

    One reason that we don't, of course, is that it's quite refreshing to have a week without an arts award. There is no end of them, from the Booker to the Baftas to the Brits. There's probably a Best Mime Artist award somewhere too. The arts love prize...

  • Letters: We must learn to conserve energy
    Saturday, 22 December 2012

    Until we can rely on "cleaner" production systems it is probable that conventional technologies will be used for some time.Unfortunately, a consequence of the second law of thermodynamics is that electricity generation from the combustion of hydrocar...

  • The Emperor's New Clothes (23/12/12)
    Sunday, 23 December 2012

    But there is something I want to say that I know will make me sound like a Luddite, and will be greeted with baffled amusement by anyone under 30: I miss having a non-digital film camera. I miss the post-holiday ritual of turning up at Snappy Snaps ...

  • Absenteeism is not to be sneezed at
    Saturday, 22 December 2012

    As a result, it's been sick-note central here. I'm not saying we're one or two bodies short, but the Editor has threatened to ring-fence the whole office to stop anyone else going off sick. And that's a corrugated iron fence, not a financial one. In...

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