A tear gas canister, made in Brazil, used in Turkey.
How it changes. When I was in Istanbul last April the mood was sombre. Even the most ebullient of friends were downcast. The latent hostility to the regime was always present, but the AKP’s hegemony, I was told many times, went deep. Erdoğan was a reptile, cynical but clever and not averse to quoting the odd verse from Nâzım Hikmet, the much-loved communist poet imprisoned by Atatürk. The poet had escaped in a boat and been rescued by a Soviet tanker. ‘Can you prove you’re Hikmet,’ the captain asked him. He laughed and pointed to a poster in the captain’s cabin which had his photograph on it. He died in Moscow in 1963. His remains are still in exile. More »
Hassan Rohani’s election victory took many commentators by surprise. But the call for a move towards the centre, for e‛tedal (‘moderation’), has been in the air in Iran for a couple of years. In fact, all but one of the six candidates on the ballot on election day would one way or another have tried to pull the country away from the highly polarising politics that have dominated since Ahmadinejad’s re-election in 2009, and the protests and harsh crackdown that followed.
Still, there was nothing inevitable about the way Rohani was elected. More »
When Tony Blair announced radical changes to his mentor Lord Irvine’s job as Lord High Chancellor without warning in 2003, he provoked the wall-paper connoisseur and would-be Cardinal Wolsey into resigning. The horse-trading that followed gave us the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which stripped the Lord Chancellor of his judicial role, set up the Supreme Court as the final Court of Appeal for the UK, and a new Department of Constitutional Affairs, with an elected MP to be secretary of state instead of a peer. It changed its name to the Ministry of Justice in 2007, and has mushroomed. More »
In March the Southbank Centre announced plans to redevelop the Royal Festival Hall, including the undercroft, a small scruffy space, covered in graffiti, which has long been used by skateboarders and BMX riders. It’s probably the most famous – and certainly the most well documented – skateboarding spot in Europe. On one of the foundation piers of Hungerford Bridge there’s a skateboard graveyard: boards broken by the undercroft’s brutal geometry are scattered across the concrete.
Perhaps the most – if not the only – surprising thing about ‘the spy story of the age’ is that anyone should be at all surprised that the NSA is doing a lot of snooping on the internet. If the documents that Edward Snowden leaked to the Guardian show the worst that the spooks are up to, it’s almost reassuring; there I was thinking that someone had only to say ‘gooseberry bush’ on his mobile phone and within hours he’d be shot dead at Waterloo Station. More »
On 28 May, six men with guns arrived at a collective farm in northern Colombia, asking for Julia Torres, one of the community’s leaders. Her husband, Rogelio Martínez, was murdered on the farm three years ago. After he was killed, the army took up patrolling the boundary of the 553-hectare farm, but the patrols stopped without warning on 23 May. Torres now fears for her life. A campaign has been launched to write to President Juan Manuel Santos, asking that he ensure her protection. More »
Last month, Westminster School raised more than £7000 by auctioning internships with bankers, artists and barristers and a host of other placements set up by the private school’s alumni. Louise Tickle in the Guardian compared the auction to a Tory fundraising event in 2011, when party supporters stumped up thousands to get their children through the doors of hedge funds and banks.
Private schools and the Tory party aren’t the only ones at it. The week before Tickle’s piece was published, Highbury Grove, a state comprehensive, auctioned a day’s work experience at the Guardian. More »
Last Wednesday afternoon, Clément Méric, a 19-year-old university student, was punched by a skinhead wearing brass knuckles on rue Caumartin in Paris. He fell and his head hit a pole. He was declared dead the following afternoon. More »
Ed Miliband’s latest speech on welfare pretty much capitulates to the Tories, just as Ed Balls has capitulated on the economy. Both have willy-nilly accepted a Tory ‘interpretation’ of the financial crisis, even though that ‘interpretation’ has been relentlessly political. How little austerity actually has to do with the economy or those on welfare was demonstrated by the hooting and hollering of the Tory front bench when Miliband was seen to give in; and by Iain Duncan Smith’s casual description of Labour as the ‘party of welfare’ as though that were self-evidently a bad thing. It is clear what Tory priorities are, and they are not the well-being of the people. Labour’s capitulation was both unnecessary and unwise. More »
Last summer the government introduced new rules on family reunification, including a minimum income requirement for anyone hoping to bring a partner to Britain from anywhere outside the European Economic Area. The pernicious effects were quickly obvious and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration launched an inquiry in November. Its findings are published today. More »