MH-370, Vladimir Putin and the Kansas City Shuffle

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Strange tales are emanating from Russia about the fate of the vanished Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  First came a report that Russian military intelligence knew where the plane was. The Americans had "captured" the missing 777 and "diverted" it to their military base on the remote island of Diego Garcia, the story went, in order to prevent some "mysterious cargo" from falling into the wrong hands. Improbable as this sounds, it so captured the imaginations of conspiracy theorists that even … [Read more...]

Looking for the New Iron Curtain in the Second Cold War

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When I was 15 years old I went on a school trip to the Soviet Union. As well as Moscow and what was then Leningrad, we were supposed to visit Lithuania--only the Baltic republic declared its independence and seceded just before we arrived, so our itinerary was hastily rearranged, and we were bundled on a plane to Latvia instead. We arrived in the capital, Riga, to find it in the grip of independence protests of its own. Huge crowds were marching on the streets outside out hotel, demanding … [Read more...]

The Syrian Civil War – Made in Britain and the USA

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  We started this. That's what I can't help thinking every time I hear about the latest death and suffering in Syria. When the US and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, we set off a chain of events that led inexorably to the killing fields of Damascus and Aleppo. I watched it begin when I was working as a reporter in Iraq. I remember going to an interview at a hospital south of Baghdad: the moment I stepped into his office, the doctor told me "You have to get out of here. They're … [Read more...]

The Burden of the Desert

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  NEW EDITION OUT NOW "This tense, thought-provoking and extraordinary book is an absolute must" Daily Mail  The new edition of The Burden of the Desert, published by Short Books, is available now in all good bookshops  Zoe Temple, a young British journalist who dreams of being a war correspondent... Lieutenant Rick Benes, an American officer trying to get his platoon home alive... Adel, an Iraqi, who wants revenge for the death of his father... Mahmoud, an Iraqi … [Read more...]

It’s Time To Stop Watching English Cricket

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There's a time to draw a line and move on. And, quite frankly, I've had enough of English cricket. It was bad enough to sit through the Ashes, the worst tour in the history of English cricket. Now the "management" has decided to sack the most talented player, Kevin Pietersen, without a word of explanation. And they expect us to keep watching? Unless I get a proper explanation, I'm cancelling my Sky Sports subscription, I've made my last journey to Lord's. I don't see why I should waste any … [Read more...]

An Encounter with Peter O’Toole

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They say you should never meet your heroes. In 1996, I was 21 years old, an age for believing in heroes, and Peter O'Toole was as big as they came. Lawrence of Arabia wasn't just my favourite film, I was obssessed with it. I'd watched my old VHS copy so many times I'd worn out the best scenes; I'd trekked to a revival showing in a cinema just to see it on the big screen; I'd hunted down copies of O'Toole's other films in obscure video stores in London: The Night of the Generals, The Stuntman, … [Read more...]

Why Doctor Who is Better than Growing Up

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I remember the first time I ever saw Doctor Who. My father told me there was something coming on the television I ought to watch, because he'd enjoyed it when he was a kid, and I remember thinking I wasn't likely to get much out of something as ancient as that. But I watched all the same, and from the first moment I was spellbound. I must have been very young, because Tom Baker was still the Doctor. He went to Paris, where an alien who had a machine that could speed up time and age people … [Read more...]

Dear Suzanne Moore, Here’s One Rule For Managing Your Arse: Stop Talking Out Of It

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Oh boy. For anyone who doesn't know the background, and finds that title a little brusque, let me fill you in. Suzanne Moore is a well-known feminist columnist. She wrote an article in The Guardian today entitled '10 Rules For Managing Your Penis". "Recent news stories involving sexting, wine, toasters, politicians and penises indicate some men need a refresher course," Ms Moore chirped, "so here are my 10 rules for keeping your penis out of trouble". Ho ho ho. Cue the outrage. Misandry, … [Read more...]

The Great Gatsby-blanca

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Poor Jay Gatsby. If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one. What with everyone talking about the new Leonardo di Caprio film of The Great Gatsby of late, I decided I'd reread the book instead. And reading about poor old Jay Gatsby and Jordan Baker and all the rest for the first time in 20 years, in occurred to me that Hollywood didn't really need to spend all that money and razzmatazz on a new movie. Because it already made the best … [Read more...]

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling (as Robert Galbraith) ★★★★★ It was a clever idea of J.K.Rowling's to publish this book in secret, under an assumed name. Because The Cuckoo's Calling is all about identity -- and specifically the way in which we mistake people's real identities, especially where the famous are concerned. Of course, on one level it's blindingly obvious that it's a book about identity: it's a whodunnit, after all, a detective story in which we are supposed … [Read more...]