Notes From the Margins…
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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 it describes as

…characterised by  opportunistic looting, very much targeted at  brands 50 per cent of recorded offences in  the riots were acquisitive in nature….the Panel was told that the majority of shops  targeted stocked high value consumer  products clothes,...

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...

Statesmen

  • March 07, 2012
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In these troubled times, with the Western world lurching toward a catastrophic war with Iran with all the vision and foresight of a stag party in the last stages of a pub crawl, we are fortunate to have leaders with the integrity and foresight to steer us away from the brink.

Thus we saw Benjamin Netanyahu...

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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