Notes From the Margins…
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A tribute to Syed Saleem Shahzad

  • June 04, 2011
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Andrew Buncombe at  The Independent has written a moving personal tribute to the murdered Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.

Syed Saleem Shahzad had strong hands.  When he took hold of one of yours and clasped it enthusiastically you wondered what damage might be done. It was just that way three weeks ago in Islamabad, in the aftermath of the US operation to kill Osama bin Laden. There was the broad smile, the laughter, the luxuriant beard and the strong grip. “How have you been?” he said, as we got into his Toyota Corolla.

You can read...

A global ‘Hamsterdam’?

  • June 03, 2011
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One of the most compelling subplots in series four of HBO’s brilliant crime series  The Wire concerns the attempt by Major Howard ‘Bunny’ Colvin of the Baltimore police to implement a liberal drugs policy in the city, borrowed from the Dutch model.    Facing imminent retirement and disillusioned with a career spent...

Jesus and the whales

  • May 22, 2011
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It’s the day after the beginning of the end of the world and outside my window everything seems calm in the neighbourhood.  There was no earthquake at six o’ clock yesterday and God’s elect do not seem to have floated upwards from their clothes and cars and wherever else they were, leaving the rest...

Death in the Mediterranean

  • May 10, 2011
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Ever since the first appearance of ‘boatpeople’  en route from Morocco to Spain in the early 1990s, the Mediterranean has been a graveyard for migrants, but the death toll has now reached truly staggering proportions as a result of the Libyan war.  Last month 800 people are estimated to have drowned trying to...

Beyond Satire

  • April 27, 2011
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The spectacle of Berlusconi and Sarkozy, two of the sleaziest and most cynical rightwing politicians in Europe, calling for a revision of the ‘borderless’ Schengen Area in response to the recent arrivals of undocumented migrants from North Africa is not an edifying sight.     For years the European Union provided weaponry and political support...

Priorities

  • April 12, 2011
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Anyone who still believes we live in the best of all possible worlds would do well to read the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s background report on global military expenditure for 2010.   According to SIPRI’s research the world spent $1, 630 billion on ‘defence’  last year, of which the United States spent...

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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