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Home 2013 January

Sunday, 27 January 2013

  • Editorial: High-speed rail is not the best way to spend £32bn
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    What's not to like? Plenty, say those worried for their bucolic back yards. The first section of HS2, from London to Birmingham, is wildly unpopular with many who will live alongside it. After yesterday's publication of the proposed route for the se...

  • Editorial: Violence that bodes ill for Egypt's future
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    But Egypt's transition has unleashed violence in unexpected places. The football pitch, which elsewhere has allowed opposing factions to play out their hostility by non-lethal means, has become something of a war zone in itself. At Port Said last Feb...

  • Editorial: A liberal gamble too far
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    For most of those who indulge, betting and alcohol are a source of pleasure. For some, the intensity of the desire to escape poverty and unhappiness, either by winning lots of money or by drink-induced oblivion, is less cheerful, but not a matter of ...

  • Editorial: Mali's lesson is that we still need the US
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Yet there is a risk that everyone, the French included, may be getting ahead of themselves here. It is not at all certain that the Mali government could have survived in power, let alone taken back the state's north-eastern territory, without help, ...

  • Editorial: Local A&Es are a national issue, too
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    If this case were a one-off, a single point might be made about the injustice of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" and the mixed message it sends about good stewardship in the NHS. What incentive, it might be asked, is there for managers to run a tight sh...

  • We can help poorer countries by tackling tax evasion and avoidance
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    By 2015, the UK will have reached 20 million pregnant women and children under the age of five with nutrition programmes and ensured another 4 million people have enough food throughout the year.But, with nearly a billion people around the world stil...

  • Political tinkering is the enemy of education
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    The researchers at Bristol University began with this simple thought. Suppose you are choosing a school for your child from next September. The exam results which should really concern you are not this year's but the ones which will come in 2018 when...

  • If you want the truth during a war, don't ask a pundit
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    The easiest way for television to improve coverage is to employ better-informed experts with some real claim to expertise. CNN has good correspondents, but I stopped watching it a few years ago because of the wretched quality of so many of their comm...

  • Shirker or striver? Most of us are neither
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    The idea that anyone holding down paid employment must automatically regard themselves as a board director in embryo arrived in the UK in the years after the First World War. Its origins, most social historians would probably agree, lay in the gall...

  • Editorial: Well, they would, wouldn't they?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    In the same way that setting the proportion of A to C grades as the target for GCSE school league tables encourages teachers to home in on those sub-C pupils who can be dragged over the line to the neglect of everyone else; in the same way that the ...

  • If you ask me...So if dogs were human, and we were their dogs
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    1. All humans will be forced to smell of our favourite scent – fox shit – and will be rolled in it daily, possibly at Harrods Fox Shit Spa, and possibly before receiving Harrods’ signature Fox Shit Facial. 2. We will put humans to use as Guide Humans...

  • Give councils direct power to raise tax
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    English regional devolution has been tried and rejected, and there is little appetite for an English parliament. But if English local government were financially independent, local areas could make choices for themselves, and local democracy would be...

  • If we want to limit immigration, why punish Chinese tourists?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    The Conservatives had made a manifesto pledge to “cap net immigration”, its response to the fact that this had become, according to pollsters, the single issue – apart from the economy – which most concerned the population. Yet this pledge was an abs...

  • HS2 shows that investment is not such a dirty word after all. But how did the Coalition get here?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    The media greatly overplayed “spin” then and I do not criticise the Government for seeking to set the agenda now. Governments have to find a way of conveying what they are doing and might do in the future. The fact that Cameron/Osborne choose to high...

  • It’s time we relaunched the grandparent in fiction – and in real life
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Children’s fiction used to be dependent on a great grandparent: Charlie wouldn’t have made it to the chocolate factory if Grandpa Joe wasn’t around to take him. And, more pertinently, he might not have made it out in one piece if his four grandparent...

  • Gove’s changes threaten Britain’s greatest asset: our creativity
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    This plan for the Ebacc should be studied before it is applauded. And when you do study it, you’re likely to feel a frisson of deep anxiety. Because the Ebacc has a top tier of subjects, on which all the educational energy and emphasis will be placed...

  • Virginia Ironside's Dilemma: Will I ever feel properly ‘grown up’?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Virginia says...It’s hardly surprising that your feelings of not being “grown up” have come on particularly strongly at this point in your life, just before you’re about to become a father. You’re asking yourself: will I make a good father? How will ...

  • The RSPCA: Can it destroy and protect animals at the same time?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    The country’s biggest animal welfare charity with a royal title, ‘is one of Britain’s most complained about charities,’ according to the Charity Commission. And now the RSPCA is under attack for its expenditure on prosecutions at the expense of rehom...

  • Adam Afriyie can only be regarded as Britain's answer to Barack Obama if you ignore his politics
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    DisserviceIn all the speculation about Adam Afriyie’s destiny as Britain’s first non-white leader, leaked to a bunch of pliant, eager-to-please Sunday political correspondents, the fact that some of his comrades in Westminster think him a distinctly ...

  • HS2 the high-speed rail from London to Manchester will be nice, but it won't do much for the North
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    In 20 years' time, you'll be able to leave Euston and, by the time it takes to queue for an all-day breakfast roll and a coffee at the buffet bar and then get back to your seat, you'll be pulling into Manchester Piccadilly and hearing the announcemen...

  • Childminders and nurseries can now look after more children - this means the quality of care will diminish
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    In my 30 years as a child minder, I’ve seen hundreds come and go and seen the childcare sector develop, professionalise and become one of the the finest in the world. One of the hallmarks of what makes the UK system so good is the personalised, focus...

  • Don't celebrate Adam Afriyie just because the Windsor MP has a ‘clean’ expenses record
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    So far, so much froth. An MP that most people have never heard of sets a hare running for a future leadership bid. Good luck to him.What concerned me though was in the inevitable "profiles" that appeared alongside the leadership bid rumour stories wa...

  • Poll: With Zero Dark Thirty, is Hollywood guilty of promoting torture?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty has courted controversy by appearing to condone torture, where it leads to a favourable outcome - an end-justifies-the-means attitude that contravenes international human rights legislation. And Kathryn Bigelow's film...

  • A guide for potential immigrants to the worst parts of UK culture
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Food: Unless you can afford the whopping bills that come with a night at the Fat Duck (and if you're an economic migrant, you probably can't) then Tesco's Value burgers might be a staple part of the diet. And they're made out of horse. Surveillance: ...

  • Hillary Clinton is a liar! (says Jonah Goldberg)
    National Review Monday, 28 January 2013

    Warning: the below is laced with sarcasm.For those of you who haven't had the very immense pleasure of reading Jonah Goldberg's absurdly titled book, Liberal Fascism, it may that you're still unaware of this writer's brilliance/wisdom/perspicacity (d...

  • Chuck Hagel was chosen by Obama because they agree war is always a last resort
    Washington Post Monday, 28 January 2013

    In a brilliant column for today's Washington Post, Bob Woodward - you know, he of the old Watergate stuff - gives an alternative account of why Obama chose Hagel. Woodward is just about the most impeccably sourced journalist since, well, since the be...

  • #silentnomore : Our message to trolls - no, we won't shut up
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    So tenacious is this mantra’s grip on our collective conscious that any deviation from the one true anti-trolling path results in a barrage of advice which basically amounts to two words: “shut up”. The theory, like that strange childhood belief in t...

  • Is Dubai's underwater hotel the wackiest of its kind?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Visitors will be able to book one of 21 double rooms in the underwater section of the hotel, which is connected by a central shaft to another disc suspended above the water.According to the artist's impression - above, surely inspired by 90s cartoon ...

  • A Pope, a dove of peace and a seagull get together...
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    Naturally this is a point to remind the theologically challenged among you that the seagull's interception was known in advance by God, and indeed could aptly be described as His Will. And let's take this moment of divine providence to remind ourselv...

  • Debate: Is HS2 high speed rail link a waste of taxpayers' money?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    What's going on?Details of the next phase of the controversial HS2 high-speed rail link have been unveiled in a move Prime Minister David Cameron said would boost Britain's stagnant economy.Today's announcement details the northern extension of the a...

  • HS2: a new railway to drag Britain from the 19th century to the 21st. But are the specifics right?
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    A new railway is the right way to drag Britain from the 19th-century to the 21st. The line will re-balance Britain, closing the North-South divide and shifting long-distance traffic from road to rail. But every voter, whether or not they are likely t...

  • Rolling Stone's ‘50 Funniest People Now’ vs ‘People's Sexiest’: Can you be funny and hot?
    Rolling Stone Monday, 28 January 2013

    By scientifically* cross-referencing Rolling Stone's list with People Magazine's annual Sexiest Alive lists, we've come up with an answer to a conundrum that has puzzled for centuries. The answer...wait for no. Not generally, anyway.Only one ...

  • Is Philippe Dubost's online Amazon resume the best CV ever? Monday, 28 January 2013

    As well as listing the usual educational and professional achievements, Dubost has proved his talents as a Web Product Manager by creating a very convincing take-off of the, listing himself as a product.His site has gone viral and he has s...

  • Letters: Holocaust no reason to ignore rights of others
    Monday, 28 January 2013

    The Israeli state, despite condemnations from the international community, has bulldozed its way into Palestinian lands, built a wall that surpasses anything the Russians could construct in Germany, and adheres to a philosophy that the land is given...

  • An open letter to Nick Clegg on the matter of his children possibly being educated privately
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    Was this part of the Coalition agreement? That not only do you have to vote for all the Conservatives policies, but you have to send your kids to the same schools as them as well? Perhaps you think it is different for your family with you being a maj...

  • Adam Afriyie? Good luck to him. He'll need it
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    Whether the impatient MP for Windsor has been planning to challenge David Cameron before the election, or preparing to run only if the PM fails to win a majority in 2015, slightly depends on whether you read The Sunday Times or Mail on Sunday yesterd...

  • Mary Berry goes all contrary with a simple recipe: take one part ignorance, add poison, and stir well
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    But now, suddenly, we discover that the fragrant lady of the cakes has a bitter centre, some pretty poisonous views, all seemingly arrived at without the burdensome reading of serious texts or heeding of authoritative voices.Where to start?In a newsp...

  • What my generation can learn from the Holocaust
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    It’s a spookily quiet place now, with trees growing from the tracks; difficult to imagine wailing children being dragged into overcrowded trains on a journey lasting days without food or water, on their way to be remorselessly, bureaucratically murde...

  • From Algeria, a lesson in how to bypass democracy
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    Living in Switzerland, Mourad encouraged the Swiss to question Khaled Nezzar, one of the top generals who overthrew the Benjadid government in 1992, cancelled elections. A civil war with Islamists followed the coup, in which Algerian goons tortured a...

  • George Osborne is destined to be remembered as the most inept Chancellor in British history
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    This may have satisfied his Eurosceptic MPs, but was disastrous in economic terms. Any foreign firm considering setting up business in Britain as a gateway to Europe will inevitably be having second thoughts. The speech was clearly bad for growth and...

  • A victim of man's methods - and, quite possibly, British badgers - the humble hedgehog is becoming an engdangered species. Here's what you can do
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    There are various points in our life at which we notice we are getting older - first it's the necessity to wear glasses, then it's the fact that we can't remember where we've left our glasses, and then we reach the stage when we don't even know that ...

  • Barack Obama says goodbye to David Plouffe
    New York Times Sunday, 27 January 2013

    This morning's New York Times reports that Plouffe (pronounced Pluff) is leaving to spend more time with his kids and do more consultancy - what else?! - in the private sector, where presumably he'll be able to charge gazillions for insights into how...

  • IoS letters, emails & online postings (27 January 2013)
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    I find it most disconcerting that modern wars are so often sold to the public as "the war against terror" when, under the surface, they are mostly pursuing commercial interests. In this way, corporate interests repeatedly "abuse" both the public and...

  • Every year on Holocaust Memorial Day, I'll light a candle. But why?
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    We're Jewish, but non-practising. Just in it for the jokes, really. So I suppose we saw this as a chance to get to grips with the serious side of our culture.On a hot summer's day, we visited Auschwitz. As we passed under the iron "Arbeit macht frei"...

  • We need to help the next generation tackle problem gambling
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    I have been working with problem gamblers since 2008 when I set up the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the first and only NHS clinic in the field. The demand for treatment has been overwhelming and we receive about 700 referrals a year, of which 1...

  • The Emperor's New Clothes: Footballers
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    And, even if we avert our gaze and think only of the score lines, little comfort is available. The top division is now so warped by cash it is a contest open to only the three richest of its clubs; the rest no more likely to win it than a film extra...

  • Can't help with world peace: I've chipped a nail
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    Then there was the survey about all the little things that are sent to try women. These included "an invisible snag on your fingernail" and "when the wind blows your hair into your lipgloss". They're so right. Certainly one of the things most likely...

  • Tom Hodgkinson: 'My inner bourgeois soul has re-emerged'
    Sunday, 27 January 2013

    Heating is very difficult to economise on, because you have absolutely no choice in the matter. Oil prices are fixed: we cannot shop around. That is not the case with food. Good habits of thrift mean that it is possible to eat well fairly cheaply. Th...

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