Tony Blair flew into Cairo on Wednesday to offer his support to the administration, to condemn the Muslim Brotherhood and to hold talks on the country’s growing problem with an al-Qaida-linked Islamist insurgency. ‘We should support those people in the region who want the open-minded society and the modern economy. That means we support the government here in Egypt,’ he told Sky News Arabia. More »
Lytton Strachey’s copy of Orlando.
As the Cambridge Edition of Virginia Woolf’s fiction slowly unfurls, this year will see the publication of Mrs Dalloway. It follows Anna Snaith’s edition of The Years (2012), which nestles Woolf’s 393-page novel in 600 pages of scholarly material: explanatory notes (144 pages), textual apparatus (220 pages), textual notes (50 pages), maps, chronologies, lists of illustrations, abbreviations, archival sources and editorial symbols, a bibliography and an (excellent) introduction.
One paratext the Cambridge series doesn’t have, however, is an index. More »
Commentary on the turmoil in Ukraine often focuses on the division between a Russian-speaking east and a Ukrainian-speaking west. Ethnolinguistic lines, the argument goes, explain the pro-Moscow v. pro-EU camps, pro-protest v. pro-Yanukovich. But the situation is more nuanced than that. The closest thing Maidan has to a leader is the boxing champ Klitschko, who struggles in Ukrainian and whose Russian is far purer than President Yanukovich’s. Its first martyrs include an ethnic Armenian from Russian-speaking Dnepropetrovsk and a Belarussian Ukrainian resident. Its violent front line appears to be multilingual. More »
Last Tuesday a group of 29 young mothers and mothers-to-be occupied an East Thames Housing Association show flat in protest against their prospective eviction from the Focus E15 Foyer, a hostel that provides temporary social housing and training to young people in Newham. Some of the Focus E15 Mothers have been there for more than three years. Six months ago, the women were served an eviction notice following a council decision to cut £41,000 of funding for the Foyer and its purpose-built single-parent units. The only alternative offered to them was private rental accommodation in Hastings, Birmingham or Manchester, far from their families, friends, jobs, colleges and children’s schools. More »
In Cambodia there is no right to freedom of assembly. On 4 January, the interior ministry issued a statement banning all demonstrations and marches. It isn’t clear what counts as a march. Rumours spread that any gathering of more than ten people in Phnom Penh would be broken up and the participants arrested. The ban came after weeks of strikes and protests by garment workers calling for higher wages and improved working conditions. At the moment they earn around £2 a day. More »
I was interviewing the ‘Bride of Sisi’, as she called herself, when a crowd gathered around me and another journalist and accused us of working for a ‘terrorist’ news channel.
Saadiya al-Sayed al-Sayed, a 48-year-old mother of two from the working-class area of al-Marg, had said she would like General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to be her and Egypt’s husband. ‘We are scared for our children, for our country. Those people’ – the Muslim Brotherhood – ‘are coming to set the country on fire. We are a kind-hearted people, and we want those who are going to take care of us. Sisi said Egyptians are his beloved, and we like those who are tender with us.’
The hundreds of women in the crowd around her, many of them with Sisi’s picture around their necks, began chanting, and she joined in: ‘The people want the execution of the Muslim Brotherhood. The people want the execution of the Muslim Brotherhood.’ Over and over, louder and louder. More »
The death toll from last Friday’s attack on Taverna du Liban, a Lebanese restaurant popular among expatriates in Kabul, has reached 21. The murdered foreigners include an American academic, the Lebanese head of the IMF’s Kabul office, two Canadian auditors and the restaurant’s owner, Kamal Hamade. The rest of the victims are unnamed ‘Afghan nationals’, many of them undoubtedly the cheerful young members of staff who would bring out extra dishes at no charge, who smiled when they mispronounced English words and waited to see if I would correct them, who were underpaid but happy at least to have a job. They were shot dead by two gunmen who got in after a suicide bomber destroyed the front gate and main security barrier. More »
Those who hold up the Netherlands as a beacon of toleration often cite Amsterdam’s ganja speakeasies as evidence. Last weekend I took a (coach) trip there to see them.
On the coach our Dutch chaperones are Brian and Edgar. Brian (his real name) has lived in Brussels for the past eighteen months. He reckons that Brussels, and Belgium generally, suck the chrome off a bumper. Why? Everything is better in the Netherlands. ‘Amsterdam is like New York. Brussels is like a village in Arizona. Public transport is shit. Everything is dirty. Wifi coverage is crap compared with Holland. Vegetables in the shops are squashy or too hard. And the bureaucracy…’
‘Don’t tell me about the bureaucracy,’ I say, but he does anyway, with a credible saga about his problems getting a Belgian bank card. I ask him about the coffee shops. More »
Being told to say sorry for my wrongdoings was my introduction to the double bind. I got the hang of how it worked, but never figured any way out of it. ‘Don’t just stand there. Haven’t you got anything to say for yourself?’ It became clear pretty quickly that a rational discussion of the pros and cons of my misdemeanour was not what the parent had in mind. ‘Well? And you haven’t even got the decency to say sorry.’ Deep breath while I prepared myself for entering the mire. ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘No you’re not. You’re just saying that, because you think you should.’ This was almost always true. I was certainly sorry for the trouble I was in, but rarely sorry in a contrite way. It would go on like this. The demand for an apology, the apology, the rejection of the apology and further fury until some punishment was decided on and I was sent in disgrace to my room.
According to the front page of yesterday’s Guardian, the NHS is to start selling our confidential medical records. Every doctor has a duty to keep patient-identifiable data secure, and only share it as far as is in the patient’s immediate best interests. At the same time, in order to run healthcare organisations or to carry out medical research, it is necessary to compile statistics about diseases and treatments. It therefore makes sense for some information collected in the course of caring for patients to be made more widely available – shared with managers, bureaucrats and researchers – but only if it is anonymised.