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Where were you Al?
Al Gore stood today at Hay as an indictment of American politics. In his keynote speech he was funny, passionate and engaging as he warned the packed audience of the impending "planetary emergency" prompted by global warming.
New Orleans: decision day
New Orleans goes to the polls today in what may be the most crucial mayoral election in its history. As I've written before there is little to distinguish between the candidates. The principle selling point of the incumbent, Ray Nagin, is his melanin count: Nagin is black and New Orleans has not had a white mayor for almost 30 years. The main attraction of the other; Mitch Landrieu is his name. Landrieu's sister, Mary, is a Louisiana state senator, his father, Moon, was the city's last white mayor of New Orleans.


The price to be paid ... The grave of Jonathan Kephart who was killed in Iraq in April of this year. Photograph: Guardian/Dan Chung
Across the great divide
The previous year, global opposition to the impending war in Iraq had grown alongside a tacit understanding that it would probably happen anyway. In the US, people were intellectually preparing themselves. The top five non-fiction titles on the New York Times bestsellers list for that first month were: 1) Bush at War; 2) The Right Man (Bush's former speechwriter relives his first year in the White House); 3) Portrait of a Killer (Patricia Cornwell on Jack the Ripper); 4) The Savage Nation (A rightwing radio talk-show host saves America from "the liberal assault on our borders, language and culture"); and 5) Leadership, by former Republican New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.


From 17 angles ... Zidane
He shoots. He scores. He folds his socks
"All I know most surely about morality and obligations, I owe to football," said Albert Camus. As the goalkeeper for his university and one his generation's most prominent thinkers, he was in a unique position to make a link between football and philosophy.
George & Tony’s Not So Excellent Adventure
If democracy is supposed to represent the will of the people, then there is either something wrong with the democracies or something wrong with the people on both sides of the Atlantic.
A nationalist race to the bottom
With its high murder rate and its banana and sugar industries about to be decimated by the globalisation, Jamaica has enough problems for a relatively small island. The last thing it needs is gaffe-prone Hackney MP, Diane Abbott as its unofficial ambassador. Over the few months Ms Abbott has been writing columns in the Jamaica Observer on Sunday. Some of them are interesting or at least not embarrassing. But her general modus operandi seems to be to big up Jamaica by belittling something or somebody else.
They did it their way - so they have no one to blame but themselves
Both were elected. Both have since been as good their word. With the exception of Dick Cheney's poor marksmanship and John Prescott's priapism there have been no real surprises since then.
The perfect storm
Two trends, one demographic one political, point to what could be a seismic shift in the America's electoral landscape that could take effect as early as November. The first is confirmed by the US census bureau which yesterday reestablished Latinos as the largest minority group and fastest growing of any ethnicity. Almost half of the nation's population increase from 2004 to 2005 comprised Hipsanic children . The second is voter drive announced by the We Are America Alliance. The demonstrations of the past few months show an ability to mobilise and a general sense of defiance among a section of the Hispanic community. Whether that translates anything electoral or political has yet to be seen. Most Latinos in the US are not allowed to vote because they are too young or undocumented. Only half of those who are do so. But the alliance's announcement yesterday suggests a desire to capitalise on the energy of the recent marches that could change all that.
Same-sex couples forced into exile from US flock to Britain
The UK's immigration rules were changed to grant equality to same-sex couples as an amendment to the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force in December last year. As a result, many Americans with European Union partners have moved to Britain. Lance Lattig, a spokesman for HRW, said: "A large number of same-sex couples have gone to the UK or are thinking of going."
Calls for resignation are meaningless without any changes in policy
"Just for the lack of a camera, it would sure look like Abu Ghraib," a military investigator, Lieutenant General Randall Schmidt, told the army inspector general in 2005, referring to Guantánamo.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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