Notes From the Margins…
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Death in the Mediterranean

  • March 29, 2012
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The Guardian reports today on the Council of Europe’s nine-month investigation into the terrible incident which took place in May last year, when 72 African migrants sail left Tripoli harbour in a packed dinghy en route for Europe.   The boat’s engine cut out and it spent two weeks adrift, even though its passengers made numerous emergency calls by mobile phone and a distress signal was sent out by the  Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome  .

By the time it was rescued, all but nine passengers had died of starvation, exposure or...

Rioting in the Material World

  • March 28, 2012
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The final report from the Riots Communities and Victims Panel established by the government to investigate the causes of last August’s riots  and their possible policy responses has just been published.  In addition to ‘poor parenting’, failing schools and social deprivation, the report describes commercialism and materialism as significant driving forces behind the riots, which...

UKBA: protecting our borders once again

  • March 26, 2012
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This Wednesday at 00.10 hours, a chartered deportation flight of refused Afghan asylum seekers is due to fly from London to Kabul, escorted by guards from the private security firm Reliance Secure Task Management, which took over responsibility for escorting such flights in May last year, following the death of the Angolan asylum seeker Jimmy...

Cameron and Obama: the lords of mayhem

  • March 14, 2012
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State visits by British prime ministers to the United States are never a particularly edifying experience.  On this side of the Atlantic, they tend to perpetuate unhealthy delusions of imperial grandeur that stem essentially from Britain’s willingness to hover in the slipstream of American military power.

This vassal-like status is often obscured by nostalgic memories...

The case of Thomas Drake

  • March 10, 2012
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There’s an excellent piece by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker about Thomas Drake, the linguist and computer expert-turned-whistleblower from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), who was indicted by the Obama administration in April 2010 for releasing classified information to a journalist in 2006.

The case has attracted less media attention than  Bradley Manning, though...

Through a Stratfor darkly

Through a Stratfor darkly

  • March 09, 2012
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In western democracies the public has long become accustomed to looking at foreign policy through a rose-tinted lens, in which the actions of our governments always appear to be motivated by moral principles and humanitarianism.

We see politicians like Blair, Hague, Cameron and Sarkozy appear on television with furrowed brows to express their horror and outrage...

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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