Teachers’ strike – are they justified?

By Emma Jones

Governments are doing themselves no favours with their anti-strike warnings, and the unions are doing themselves no favours by only publicising concerns over pensions, rather than the wider issues. But whatever you think of the reasons for the strike by teachers and civil servants, it should be agreed that these professions have the right to strike. Read more of this post

Public sector strikes: clear message or mild nuisance?

By Alexander Bryan

On 30June, Britain will experience its biggest strike since the 1980s. Over 750,000 people will go on strike in protest over the government’s plans to increase the public sector retirement age, along with pension contributions from workers. Read more of this post

Michelle Yeoh blacklisted by Burma regime

By Simon Stiel

Dictatorships have been tetchy about works of art that feature their countries. The official news agency of North Korea denounced 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day as “insulting to the Korean nation.” Read more of this post

The Twelfth Man: Westminster satire

By Matthew Richardson

This week many a constituent will have caught me with my nose in a book, sniffing the pages of the latest political biography to have slapped the shelves in no uncertain manner. I am, as you are no doubt aware, talking of the rather snappily christened tome, Ed. To put it bluntly, it has made me think. Dame Curiosity has begotten herself off the divan and taken a turn around the room. Read more of this post

Geert Wilders acquittal sparks free speech debate

By Thomas Bangay

“A beautiful day for freedom of speech in the Netherlands.” This was Geert Wilders’ verdict on his acquittal by an Amsterdam court on Thursday of all charges of hate speech. Wilders has advocated a moratorium on Muslim immigration to the Netherlands; compared the Qur’an to Mein Kampf; called Islam Europe’s Trojan Horse, which would ultimately lead to the end of Dutch civilisation; and declared that there is no such thing as a moderate Muslim. His 2008 short film, Fitna, portrayed Islam as a violent religion founded on principles of racism, sexism and subjugation. Read more of this post

Obama tackles race: “problems that confront us all”

By Chris McCarthy

It requires all Americans to realise that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help of all America prosper.

President Barack Obama, 18 March 2008

Since the first ship carrying a small cargo of Africans landed in Virgina in the early 17th Century, race has left more scars on the American conscience and fostered more division than any other issue. Several hundred years later, the first African-American would become President of the United States, the culmination of a movement for racial equality that had taken flight in the 1950s with the Civil Rights Movement. Read more of this post

The release of Ai Weiwei

By Cressida Smart

On Wednesday 22 June 2011, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was freed on bail. On 24 June, Europe welcomed the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao. On 1 July, China celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. China is the world’s most powerful lender with a horrific history in human rights. It is forecast to become the world’s biggest economy in 2016, overtaking the US. This week, David Cameron will have to finely balance the need to speak out about the human rights situation with the need to stay of good terms with this growing power. Read more of this post

England Keep My Bones by Frank Turner album review

By Jared Ingham

Overnight success can take years and folk rocker Frank Turner’s current hit album England Keep My Bones, which climbed as high as number 12 in the UK album chart, shows that. Years of lonesome touring and three albums came first. To achieve his current modest success Turner has had to be a real grafter. Read more of this post

So Much For That by Lionel Shriver book review

By Emma Brooks

I read We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver and absolutely loved it. The book was gripping yet revolting, you couldn’t help but feel disgusted and yet you wanted to know more. You felt empathy for the odd characters and yet couldn’t help wonder whether you really should be feeling sorry for them. Considering how great her novel was, I figured that others of hers would be just as gripping. However, I was unfortunately wrong. Read more of this post

Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World

By Laura MacPhee

Wednesday’s torrential rain may have been disappointing for June, but it was perfect “museum weather”. I decided to while away the wet afternoon at the British Museum’s acclaimed Afghanistan exhibition. I believe it is important to choose exhibition companions carefully, and I think I made the right choice in going with a friend who is studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He dutifully regaled me with additional historical and cultural details as we worked our way around the impressive displays. Read more of this post

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