Japan joins US efforts to pressure Teheran

By Luke Gowers

Japan recently announced that it would reduce oil imports from Iran in support of U.S. efforts to put pressure on the Islamic regime to abandon its nuclear programme. The announcement came from Japan’s Finance Minister, Jun Azumi, after he met with U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geither, announcing that, “In the past five years, we have reduced… the amount of oil imported (from Iran)…We wish to take planned and concrete steps to further reduce this share, which now stands at 10%”. Whilst Washington welcomes the commitment, it didn’t come without caution from Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, who is reported to have said that if implemented wrongly, U.S. sanctions could have a serious impact on the health of Japan’s economy and that of the world. Read more of this post

Police to investigate MI6 role in Libya torture

By Jevon Whitby

Thursday saw a decision by the crown prosecution service to investigate  two allegations of  rendition and torture by the British Secret Intelligence Service. MI6 is accused not of torturing in Britain, but removing suspects to Gadhaffi’s Libya to be interrogated away from the eyes of international law. Read more of this post

Celebrity big brother viewer: your votes, your values

By Ian Feis

Psychoanalysts have long hypothesized that humans tend to play out unconscious aggressive desires via videogames or watching films that provide outlets for libidinal urges. After a stressful day, people find themselves screaming at their favourite football team on the tele – the essential release of primitive sexual and aggressive impulses that have been ignored throughout the day.  More accurately these urges have been bludgeoned out of awareness by the dominant superego, which exists to force people into behaving in ways culturally sanctioned as appropriate – the morality of the masses prevails against one’s personal craving. Without a fail-safe liberation from bodily impulses, the enter system crashes and people become easily agitated and inevitably irritable. Read more of this post

Art in 2012 – the list is endless

By Cressida Smart

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)

Bubbling with anticipation, I perused the lists of exhibitions for 2012.  This is a special year.

Alongside the Olympics in London, the city will continue to host the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, which has been running for the past four year and which will culminate with the London 21012 Festival.  A remarkable range of exhibitions and events is on offer. Read more of this post

The Iron Lady

By Laura MacPhee

Much like Thatcher herself, Abi Morgan’s latest biopic was always going to divide opinion. Never one to shy away from potential controversy, I chose to watch “The Iron Lady” with a man who describes himself as “liberal”. I was almost disappointed to find that we both very much enjoyed it.   I must confess to having been a little dubious about the casting of Meryl Streep when it was first announced, and did wonder why no British actress could be found to play one of the country’s most famous leaders. Read more of this post

The 2012 presidential election – book review special

By Josh Cowls

I’m currently in New Hampshire, so this week I bore witness to one of the more extraordinary spectacles in the modern political world: the New Hampshire primary. Every four years, candidates from one or both of the main American parties head to the state to fight for their party’s nomination. New Hampshire is a north-eastern state, usually frozen over at this time of year, but its small population (42nd in the Union) and geographic size (46th) should not belie its importance in choosing presidents. New Hampshire proudly lays claim to being the first in the nation to hold its primary contest every four years (this is in fact prescribed in state law), and the state’s residents tend to take this role very seriously. Read more of this post

Fear in flight

By Tom Hewitson

What have I done?

It’s the middle of the night yet blazing sunlight burns my eyes. Outside the mountains of Afghanistan slip at glacial pace belying our speed. I’m sitting in the penultimate row of the 21:45 direct London to Bangkok. And I’m on my own.

I take a swig of water and try to steady my nerves. My mouth is like sandpaper. This time I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Read more of this post

The Liberal Democrats – unpopular but not incompetent

By Tom Dymond-Andrews

In case you’d forgotten, the Liberal Democrats are still in Westminster. Nick Clegg is still the Deputy Prime Minister and Britain still has a Coalition government.

With all eyes on Europe, and attention soon to be turning across the pond, even in government it can be easy to overlook Britain’s third party. In terms of how the public view them, this has undeniably been a torrid 18 months. As a party they have a mere 15% rating in opinion polls compared to the Tory 37%, and Clegg has a net score of -19% whilst his counterpart David Cameron boasts an impressive 48% approval rating. Read more of this post

The real benefit of Scottish independence

By Rochelle Sampy

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has recently announced that he wants to hold an independent referendum in the autumn of 2014. The pleas of UK Prime Minister David Cameron have been ignored and Westminster politicians like Vince Cable have now been encouraged to visit Scotland to save the union. Read more of this post

This is England 2012 – the return of racism

By Alexander Respov

The issue of racism had, it’s true, never really gone away. Yet, with 2012 less than a week old, it has come crashing back into the public arena.

First, there has been the on-going saga involving Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra. As claim and counter-claim fly to and fro between Liverpool and Manchester United, the Football Association attempts to stem the damage. All the time, the race row between Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers and the England and Chelsea captain, John Terry, lurks ominously on the horizon. Read more of this post

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