Notes From the Margins…
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The Innocence of Muslims protests: politics, religion and opportunism

  • September 22, 2012
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The impact of the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video continues to reverberate across the Muslim world.     Yesterday the Pakistan government’s declared a public holiday and a ‘Day of Love’ in honour of the Prophet Muhammed, which descended into violent chaos.

In various cities, demonstrators who apparently included numerous followers of extremist religious parties went on the rampage, burning cars, cinemas and other targets, and clashed with security forces who used tear gas and live ammunition.

By the end of the day 25 people were killed and over 200 more were injured.   Despite the violence,...

The Archbishop Removes the Emperors’ Clothes

  • September 03, 2012
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I’ve often wondered why it is that so many countries and institutions are prepared to pay so much money to hear Tony Blair’s observations on ‘faith’, ‘leadership’, ‘globalization’ and other subjects.

They clearly aren’t paying for insight or profundity, since Blair’s analyses of 21st century events, both in and out of office, are often strikingly superficial,...

Disabled people: heroes or scapegoats?

  • August 30, 2012
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I wish the Paralympics well, but I can’t help noting a certain discrepancy between the celebration of the Games and the distinctly less celebratory attitudes towards the disabled that are prevalent in British society.

Yesterday David Cameron said that the Games will ‘inspire a lot of people and change people’s views on disability’.   This inspirational...

Money makes the (neo-imperial) world go round

  • August 21, 2012
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The ‘international community’ is making cautiously optimistic noises regarding the highly-selective attempts to conjure up a new government in Somalia.   The new parliamentary institutions are intended to replace the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that Western governments and their African allies so disastrously supported both before and after the 2006 Ethiopian invasion.

Shadows continue to flit...

Putin versus Pussy Riot

  • August 06, 2012
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The ongoing trial of Russia’s feminist/punk provocateurs Pussy Riot is now approaching its denouement.

The three women face the prospect of seven years imprisonment for engaging in ‘hooliganism’ and having ‘ insulted in a sacrilegious manner the centuries-old foundations of the Russian Orthodox Church’.   These charges stem from the ‘punk performance’ in Moscow’s...

From BCCI to HSBC: the Age of Gangster Capitalism

  • July 24, 2012
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A long time ago, when words like globalisation and deregulation were still rumours on the political horizon, the Pakistani financier Agha Hasan Abedi founded the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)     in 1972.     BCCI was originally intended to be a progressive international Third World bank that would compete...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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