Up until this week Pope Benedict XVI was seen as a very bad man by many a right-thinking liberal. A militant atheists’ Antichrist if you like. Chief among his crimes was his refusal to alter the Catholic Church’s line on the prohibition of condoms, a decision that according to his critics had condemned many in Africa to AIDS-related death and destruction. As the New Statesman put it in 2005, the Vatican ‘probably contributed more to the continental spread of the disease than the trucking industry and prostitution combined’.
At Prime Minister’s Questions today Ed Miliband used “u-turn” as a verb. This is verb-oten; it is number 52 on The Banned List. Even if Margaret Thatcher did once famously use the possibility of its being a phrasal verb (thank you Mrs Markey) to make one of the most enduring quotations in British politics.
Even for those battle-hardened by arguing against the authoritarian instincts of successive governments in the US and UK, the complexity and scale of the civil liberties debate in India can take you aback. The trial of a new biometric ID card system in rural Maharashtra from last September – administered by the government’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) – which will (it is planned) eventually extend to every citizen, has ignited fierce debate in Indian society about the relationship between state authority and individual freedom.
Students across the UK are expected to take part in a wave of protests today after the huge march and angry protests at the Tory Party’s London headquarters in Millbank at the start of the month. Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union, has urged students to engage in ‘maximum disruption and resistance’. Many students are angry about the hike in tuition fees as it means many students from ordinary backgrounds, rather than privileged students, will be hit hardest.
Mandelson: The Real PM?, Hannah Rothschild’s documentary and number 441 in my series of Questions to Which the Answer (Was) No, is on BBC4 tonight.
At the screening at the British Film Institute last month, it appeared that the entire Conservative Party press office – seven or eight of them – had turned out to pay homage.
Just spent a lot of time yesterday and today trying and eventually succeeding in getting rid of a fake antivirus infection on a PC running Windows XP. In case the following is useful to anyone in a similar situation, this is how I did it.
Number 330 in the series, asked by Michael Crick and, indirectly, by Rob Wilson, the Conservative MP and author of the 330th book about the making of the Coalition (it has been around for six months now so it takes an upper case C).
Number 438 in the series is asked by Mineral Products Today (page 5), along with number 439 on page 14:
Are archaeologists killing the goose?
(We all know it was Harriet Harman who killed the goose. Definitely no archaeologists killing no geese in this picture.)
Thanks to Alex.
Further to my comment about the views on economics of my fellow American football fan, Ed Miliband, a friend who has read The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, the book cited by the Leader of the Opposition, writes:
Even people who aren’t interested in sport (I’m not) should read it, because Michael Lewis is a brilliant and insightful journalist.
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