Section: World

Cannabis – time to reassess?

David Haysey

The tide is slowly turning in one of the early fronts of the culture wars, as scientific possibility and questions of personal freedom challenge the assumptions of an earlier generation. Throughout its history, on questions where private vice encounters the desire to create the perfect ‘city on a hill’, the United States has lurched between […]

Who will protect our democracy from industrialised disinformation?

Tom Scott

Several recent events have raised urgent questions about the threat to our democracy from unscrupulous digital operatives. Disturbingly, these questions remain largely unanswered by a report this week from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Last week, Channel Four reported on a data leak from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign that revealed how ‘Team Trump’ had worked […]

Letter from America – Medicare part 2

John from across the pond

You’ve probably heard about ‘Obamacare’, but maybe not Medicare. They aren’t the same thing. I don’t know much about Obamacare except that it protects my insurance for pre-existing conditions: it is my only legal protection. There are so many provisions to it, but basically it is a resource to help people find some kind of […]

Museums and galleries respond to the climate crisis

Virginia Button

The US west coast is on fire, the hurricane season is off to an early start and in the UK a year of unseasonal weather has resulted in the worst wheat harvest in decades – yet more reminders that climate change is a pressing and immediate global crisis. And, as leaves fall and mists rise […]

Ancestral voices, prophesying doom

Tom Scott

Why do nations sometimes lurch into spectacular acts of self-destruction? A strange fervour that seized the Xhosa people of South Africa in the 1850s may shed some light on Brexit, writes Tom Scott. The history of southern Africa is not short on plunder, cruelty and betrayal. But as a student of it some years ago, […]

Belarus and the impact of Chernobyl on its struggle for freedom

Peter Webscott

‘CIA! CIA!’ the man wobbling towards me on his bike shouted as I tried to take his photograph. It was a shock. My embarrassed companions moved me on. We were standing in the main road through a small village deep in southern Belarus in the early 1990s where foreigners were a rare sight indeed, probably […]

The Lizard’s vagabond girl

Jenny Steele Scolding

I lie in bed and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. I pull back the covers, cross the bedroom and settle into my rocking chair in front of the window that overlooks the sea. Down in the cove, the fishermen have pulled the boats up high; a storm is brewing. I always start […]

Has Steve Bannon met his Waterloo?

Tom Scott

The arrest of far-right propagandist Steve Bannon in the US on fraud and money-laundering charges has sent shock waves through far-right populist circles around the world. Bannon, who was arrested by agents of the US Postal Service aboard a super-yacht belonging to a Chinese billionaire, is accused of running a fraudulent fundraising scheme. The indictment […]

Mining the motherlode

Matt Valler

The lines of influence emanating from a Cornish garden can show us much about the impact of globalisation and the physical threads that connect our world, writes Matt Valler. Back in March, in the final days before social distancing rules were enforced, I was sitting in a café in the heart of Cornwall’s historic mining […]

Winds of change – reflections on Minsk, democracy and dictatorship

Rachel Marshall

“I’m going to Russia, well, Belarus.” “Where’s that?” “Next to Poland. Where most of the Chernobyl cloud went.” So went conversations with friends in early 1995, as I prepared to depart for Minsk for a Russian language course. Minsk was a slightly strange place to be learning Russian. In the brave new world of the […]

Strategic ignorance: a privilege of power

Anthea Simmons

Knowledge is power. But if you’re a politician or a CEO, ignorance may be more powerful – and more lucrative… I’m afraid I don’t listen to BBC Radio Four as much as I used to. It was once a background to my daily life, but the far-right toxicity on the Today programme finished my love […]

Quarantine!

Margaret Ellis

“But we’ve only just got here!” Imagine the disappointment and anger of those arriving for a holiday in Spain to be told even before they have finished unpacking that they would be obliged to undertake 14 days’ quarantine on their return. So they are faced with the decision to return almost immediately, to reduce their […]

Life without medical supplies

Peter Barker

When he first visited Russia in 1995, Peter Barker found post-Soviet chaos meant medicine was in short supply. As the UK faces breaking of supply chains at the end of 2020, might we be facing a similar plight? I was involved in French twinning before I moved to Exeter. When I came here, I was […]

Jane Austen and the slave trade

Mike Temple

Did Jane Austen have anything in common with the “Black Lives Matter” movement? Surely not! Our Jane is the nation’s favourite author – she’s on our ten-pound note and we are all, regardless of our political differences, “Janeites”. Some adore her for her love scenes, especially if spiced up with a little wet-shirt action; some […]

Barbarians at the gates? The Russia Report and why it matters

Tom Scott

At long last, we can read the Russia Report prepared last year by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). Boris Johnson had gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent this document ever seeing the light of day, and succeeded in blocking its release before the general election in December 2019. Arron Banks of Leave.EU had […]

Digital botulism

Tom Scott

If you spend much time on social media – as most of us do these days –  you’ve probably been struck by the number of people who seem to believe things that are not just untrue, but are wildly and extravagantly bonkers. People who think that Bill Gates wishes to inject microchips into the world’s […]