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Thursday, 31 January 2013

  • Editorial: Tory plotting shows MPs do not have enough to do
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    What is striking is that none of those involved in such machinations appears to be planning for Mr Cameron's removal before the election in 2015. And as no one knows what the outcome of the vote will be, any grooming of potential leadership candidat...

  • Is Cameron a liar? Now for the official verdict
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    The Office for National Statistics has been asked to sit in judgement. The question concerns Mr Cameron’s statement in a recent party political broadcast that “we are paying down Britain’s debts”. In the Spectator, Fraser Nelson, the editor, called i...

  • Editorial: A squeeze too far on Britain's least well off
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Given the scale of Britain’s public debts, major cuts in spending are unavoidable. And it is true that the cost of council tax benefit has doubled in recent years. Indeed, about five million households in England now receive some support, of which pe...

  • Why fixed terms parliaments are a nightmare for leaders and a gift for rebel MPs
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    The reform in question is fixed-term parliaments. Their introduction was supposed to stabilise the wild rhythms of British politics. For once everybody would know the date of the next general election years in advance and we could all calm down. The ...

  • The one thing plotters hate more than coalition is the PM
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    The “ABC” plot – Anyone But Cameron – is viewed with an understandable sense of irony in Downing Street. “He could part the Red Sea and it would still not be enough,” said one loyalist. One lesson is that the Eurosceptics are never satisfied. The ‘Gr...

  • Save lives Mr Cameron, but don’t imagine you need to save Africa
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Struggling to achieve anything at home thanks to the shaky state of her coalition, she decided to boost poor poll ratings by becoming a peacemaker on the continent, flying off to join the swollen ranks of self-interested saviours who use it as an exo...

  • Letters: Welcome to the new austerity health service
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    He has not retained the A&E dpeartment, if the downgraded "casualty" will not treat standard medical emergenices such as meningitis and pneumonia. There is also no point in having a downgraded maternity unit – only a fully staffed obstetric unit ...

  • Editorial: Chilling echoes of history in Greece
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    While austerity is still biting hard across much of southern Europe, confidence is nonetheless rising and there is some stability, at last, in the financial markets. It is of no mean significance that Greek bond yields this week fell below 10 per cen...

  • Self-help books: Read your way to happiness? Don’t knock it!
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    The enduring stereotype is of an endlessly upbeat tone, unrealistic aims, and banal to-do lists, all wrapped up with a snappy title and a multicoloured cover. Straight on to the bestseller list and hidden under the beds of neurotic types with nothing...

  • Man about town: Weinstein has three of this year’s big contenders at the BAFTAs
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    All three have attracted controversy. “I guess I have had three controversial films,” he laughed when we spoke yesterday. Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s western set in the world of slavery, is the “American holocaust, we’re finally dealing wit...

  • Boundary changes put on hold and an everyday story of squabbling politicians - aka the Tory Party
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    We had defeated the Tories’ attempt to overturn the Lords, and the boundary changes will not happen until 2018.But hidden in those numbers are some strange facts. Every single Labour MP voted. I know you’d expect that. But with the norovirus and fami...

  • Will Timbuktu be simply a repeat of Kandahar?
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    These were the joyous scenes in Timbuktu this week after the retreat of the Islamists. And these were the joyous scenes I saw in Kandahar a dozen years ago after the Taliban fled their birthplace: Afghan women and men looking forward to a brave new w...

  • The Boomtown Rats to headline the Isle of Wight festival - whatever happened to new music?
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    That’s the combined age of the three headliners of this summer’s biggest music festivals. Give or take a few years – I ran out of beads on my abacus somewhere around the Boomtown Rats’ keyboard player. Bob Geldof and his band (combined age 348) will ...

  • I don’t care for Scarfe’s cartoon – or political cartoons generally. But I don’t find it anti-Semitic
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    It hadn’t occurred to me what a singular experience it would be, discussing Jewishry in a non-Christian country and not having to apologise for killing Christ. I don’t say I’m charged with deicide every time I speak at Edinburgh or Hay-on-Wye, but th...

  • Is Andre’s ‘Bricks’ a pile of old bricks or a magnificent piece of art? We still can’t decide
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    As the American minimalist sculptor’s latest show opens at Turner Contemporary in Margate, yet again the various flashpoints about him are unrolled, of which the apex is of course the national fury unleashed in the 1970s over the acquisition by the T...

  • David Beckham's move to Paris is a chance to reflect on the modern ease of international travel
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    That was for a week’s holiday. Anyone wanting to go and work abroad, or live there for any extended period, had to overcome all these barriers, and, even in Europe, there were all sorts of additional legal restrictions about travel, residency, police...

  • Errors and Omissions: Don't try turning a colonel into an Oberst or a captain into a Hauptmann
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    The piece mentioned “the cellar under Stalingrad’s main department store, where Adolf Hitler’s Fieldmarshall, Friedrich Paulus, surrendered”.This looks like a mangled attempt at the German form of the rank, “Generalfeldmarschall”. Why bother? Just st...

  • WATCH: Best of the 2013 Super Bowl ads
    Friday, 1 February 2013

     1. A paeon to the underdog, Volkswagen has rounded up a cast of the angriest internet memes and misfits, thrown in Jimmy Cliff, and turned them all "sunny side up". Inventive schmaltz.  2. OAPs still have plenty of spunk and spirit, or at least that...

  • The vikings are coming! Say hello to the Nordic model
    The Economist Friday, 1 February 2013

    Here's their rather persuasive pay-off: "The main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical. The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets d...

  • This week's big questions: What is prison for? Do we want super-jails?
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Going to even the best-run prison for just a short time is a very severe punishment. There are no holiday camps. Prisoners need to be held safely, decently and securely. But none of that is a prison’s purpose – those are the conditions that need to b...

  • When pensioners fight back
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Dismayed with accusations of bullying, the 83 year-old told the Birmingham Mail:"It's a trumped-up charge...Bullying? You must be joking."He daughter has reportedly asked to see CCTV footage as proof, but Tesco has yet to oblige.She's not the first p...

  • Chuck Hagel cannot be trusted as Defence Secretary
    Commentary Friday, 1 February 2013

    Here's Tobin's pay-off: "Chuck Hagel demonstrated today that he isn’t fit for such a senior post. His incompetent testimony should have embarrassed the president and backers like Chuck Schumer, who gambled his own reputation on a man who has little c...

  • Facts that prove life is beautiful
    InkTank Friday, 1 February 2013

    1. A group of flamingos is called a flamboyance.7. On the day of his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. had a pillow-fight in his motel room.11. Penguins only have one mate their entire life and “propose” by giving their mate a pebble.15. Otters h...

  • What it feels like to be savaged by a LOLcat
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    In a case of art imitating art then disappearing whiskers first into a vortex of absurdity entirely of its own making, this reporter has been set upon by the Photoshop-happy lolcat lobby.It is a week since this newspaper carried my rather unfavourabl...

  • Immigration is the least of America's problems
    New York Times Friday, 1 February 2013

    Here are some of the more quotable and provocative of Brooks's assertions:"The argument that immigration hurts the less skilled is looking less persuasive.""Immigrants are doing a reasonable job of assimilating.""Immigrants, including illegal immigra...

  • So what if Beyoncé mimed the national anthem at Obama’s inauguration? At least it was in tune
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    The Star-Spangled Banner, of course, sounded as emphatic as ever coming from the lips of one of the most successful recording artists of all time but it was, actually, all pre-recorded. Instead of singing ‘live’, she was, in fact, just singing ‘along...

  • Hope for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is not the preserve of thoughtless optimists
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    There’s nothing new about such claims. In ‘ The End of the Peace Process’, the great Palestinian author Edward Said said his people’s dreams of statehood were being buried under a ton of Israeli settlement tarmac – in 1998. But as such prophecies bec...

  • Why should redheads have to endure this vile bullying from so much of the modern media?
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    As the wife and sister-in-law of redheads, I found this funny. Yes, the colour of her offspring’s hair was more important to her than knowing the gender or, in fact, if the baby she had been carrying for nine months was in perfect health. But ultimat...

  • Alcoholics Anonymous do extraordinary, brave work for people who are in need. But my journey to sobriety shows their technique isn't for everyone
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Before I continue, I want to be clear that I’m not a mercenary anti-drinking maniac – everyone is entitled to do whatever they like, and if that includes drinking, so be it. I can’t drink, but that doesn’t mean I think everyone else should stop too.M...

  • The Friday Quiz: Beckham, Bang with Friends and David Attenborough
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Quiz by Laura Davis at

  • Debate: Is porn always degrading to women?
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    What's going on?Update: Today at the Bath Literature Festival Kate Mosse is chairing a debate on pornography featuring Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai Brown, Dr Jan Macvarish and Ali Morris. Profits in the the porn industry have suffered from th...

  • This week's wackiest web stories: Beer that's cheaper than water
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    I need a dollarWhat would you spend your last £138 on? Unfortunately, that's problem Zimbabwe's finance minister is facing. Bus-tedNaples residents were left stranded at bus stops across Italy's third biggest city on Wednesd...

  • Questionable Time: James Delingpole fails to impress, but that's no thanks to Zoe Williams
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Alright... I confess. I have absolutely no idea what's going on in this picture but sometimes a man just needs to fire up his computer and place tenuously related visual elements against an apocalyptic background. If that is a crime then hang me. Any...

  • So husbands who don't do housework supposedly get ‘20 times more sex’? Sex is neither a commodity nor a chore
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Men, I pronounced with authority, are more likely to receive oral sex if they clean the toilet more often.  My friend Katy snorted in derision. “Men would be more likely to receive oral sex if they cleaned their cocks more often,” she spluttered.This...

  • In South Africa, sport and surfing is making Waves for Change in the fight against HIV
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    The host NGO was concerned with HIV care and before me stood a woman, perhaps in her late twenties, with a beaming smile. I knew little about HIV. What little I did know was informed mostly by Christmas Campaigns and TV ads.I remember her vividly, he...

  • Mary Berry, Joanna Lumley...When female role models go bad
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    I would also add that you should never read a newspaper interview with a female role model in case they say something unfeminist. Because there’s nothing more outrageous than a female role model gone bad.Take Mary Berry, for example, so kindly and el...

  • Letters: Why we're still angry with bankers
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    The fact remains that those who were primarily responsible for the 2008 crash – in whatever role – are not incarcerated, have not had their assets seized and are often still in employment in finance and government. That is wrong. It is impossible to...

  • The EU has changed Britain – and mostly for the better
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Europe House in Smith Square, where the European Commission and the European Parliament have their joint London headquarters, is the very building – the former Conservative Party Central Office – where Margaret Thatcher celebrated her election victor...

  • Gotta love those Royals: on the Tube, eating Big Macs, doing a day’s work
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    The heir to the throne, throwing protocol to the wind, has travelled on the London Underground with his wife. He mastered the art of the Oyster card and was ushered to his seat where he stayed for a full three-minute journey. The prince’s ride on the...

  • Mali and a new War or Terror: Cameron goes where Blair went before – but at what cost?
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    All that, along with the hostages killed, has been quickly forgotten as David Cameron now proclaims a new, tighter security and defence relationship with a country hitherto regarded as pretty close to a police state with scant regard for human rights...

  • Crazy in love with fizzy drinks: Why sugar tax (or a burping Beyoncé) is needed to break the addiction
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Unfortunately I don’t have the budget or CGI nous to produce this guerrilla advert – which I hope you’ll agree is not without artistic merit – at least not in time for Sunday’s NFL Super Bowl. Beyoncé fans won’t be disappointed though. The Queen of P...

  • Ricky Gervais' Derek may be clumsy but he’s not cruel
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Chin jutting out in an awkward gurn and body hunched forward, Derek is a character who is almost asking to be accused of being offensive, or worse, a mocking depiction of people with learning disabilities. “I have never thought of Derek as disabled,”...

  • It's not that porn degrades women, it's that business degrades porn
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Everything I’ve just cited is also true of music, television, publishing, journalism, advertising, and many other industries. But in porn, those dynamics manifest in ways that are much more controversial and distressing.We all watch porn; we don’t ac...

  • This High Court ruling on criminal records is only a minor win for human rights
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Yes, Phil Dilks, former Labour County Councillor, District Councillor, Parish Councillor, 8 years a member of his local police authority, is a crim. Should I be worried? After all, he lives within sight of my front door. Or have I better things to fr...

  • Humiliating, unnecessary, unjust: The criminal record system is the modern equivalent of the stocks
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    These crimes of mine would currently show up in an enhanced disclosure required for certain jobs – although maybe not for much longer, thanks to a recent ruling by the High Court, which could see an end to discrimination against those with minor, his...

  • Editorial: Syria's cracks are spreading
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    The situation inside the country is dismaying enough. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the near two years since the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad began. Although the regime’s grip is weakening, the fight only gets bloodier; and as many...

  • Clare Balding is undoubtedly a good thing, but are we in danger of having too much of her?
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    She's quite busy on the other days, too. So far this week, she's been named by Tatler magazine as the most fascinating person in Britain and has been signed up by BT's new sports service to present a weekly magazine show. And as if that wasn't enough...

  • Twitter: Do you love it or hate it?
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    He describes the social medium as “like high school, where the mean kids say something hurtful to boost their self-esteem and to see if others will laugh and join in”. With 10 million users just in the UK, Twitter is a hot bed for journo activity, an...

  • Marathon runner Claire Squires' tragic death shows the danger of fitness 'supplements' - and not knowing the damage they could cause
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    The following morning, photographs of the healthy, bright, smiling young woman and keen fund-raiser filled the front pages of our newspapers and a stunned nation responded quickly, with donations to The Samaritans on Claire’s Justgiving page sky-rock...

  • The coldest winter in 20 years for Syrian refugees
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Kitted out in a padded down jacket, jumper, scarf and goretex boots, I still felt the biting cold.  Around me young children, their faces red and raw from the low temperatures, played around.  Most didn't have proper shoes but ran around barefoot wea...

  • The sly wisdom of action hero Sylvester Stallone
    Shortlist Thursday, 31 January 2013

    On aging:"People were saying 'Urgh, has he got varicose veins?' So I thought, f*ck it, and covered them with a tattoo of my wife."On being ripped, yet smooth:"Looking as ripped as I do on the Bullet TO The Head film poster is a temporary situation - ...

  • The 5 Polish phrases every Briton needs
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    1. "Zubrowka vodka seems so passe. What should I serve at my dinner party?"Rubbish Google translation: "Wódka Żubrówka wydaje się tak passe. Co mam służyć w mojej kolację strony?"Iwona Taylor's translation: "Żubrówka już niemodna. Co innego mam podać...

  • Editorial: Who polices the police? No one, apparently
    Friday, 1 February 2013

    Indeed, Dame Anne Owers, the IPPC chairwoman, immediately acknowledged that her organisation "cannot do the job the public expect". All that can be hoped is that the Home Affairs Committee's damning conclusion that the quango is "woefully under-equip...

  • Editorial: A rose by any other name...
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Thus Kevin Twelvetrees (né Fentiman) also secured his place among the “nominatively determined”, namely those with names that are more than just names. Fans of the concept claim the country is awash with vicars called Vickers, opticians called Seymou...

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