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Occupations abroad always lead to the erosion of liberties at home
Before his show trial in Hungary in 1948, Robert Vogeler spent three months in a cell sleeping on a board that hovered just above two inches of water. Day and night a bright light bathed his cell, and even then someone would bang on the wall next door just to make sure he couldn't get any sleep. "It is just a question of time before you confess," he said afterwards. "With some it takes a little longer than others, but nobody can resist that treatment indefinitely."


The high life...relaxing in laidback Dominica. Photographer: Corbis/Bob Krist
Windward bound
When I was growing up in Stevenage, my national identity was stuck firmly to my front door. It was a small adhesive Barbadian flag. "Outside you're in England. But once you step foot in here you're in Barbados," my mother, who was born and raised there, would remind us. For the most part, this was not a difficult trade. Despite the fact that my two elder brothers and I were born in England, we were repeatedly told by many, in ways subtle and crude, that we would never really be English.
Obama and the Power of Symbols
After France won the 1998 World Cup, the French commentariat went into overdrive. Unlike the country’s political class, the team contained a broad racial and ethnic cross section of French society. The image of the soccer team’s star player, Zinédine Zidane, who is of Algerian descent, was projected on the Arc de Triomphe. "What better example of our unity and our diversity than this magnificent team?" asked Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Before the first whistle had been blown for the next World Cup, in 2002, the French electorate were clearly having second thoughts about unity and diversity. In presidential elections that year Jospin was beaten into third place by French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who won 17 percent of the vote.
Obama could set an earthquake under the established electoral map
The Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has a compelling personal and political biography. One of eight children, he could not read until he was 10, left school soon after and by the age of 12 was working as a shoeshine boy. Lula was instrumental in setting up his own leftwing political party, the Workers party, risked jail as a trade union organiser during the dictatorship and ran for president three times before he was finally successful in 2002, capturing the imagination and hopes of many Brazilians - albeit with a vastly watered-down programme.
Game over, game on
It's over. The contest anticipated to be so frontloaded that some states jumped the queue to be first, carried on right to the very last. From New Hampshire to New Mexico, the lines for those waiting to vote and attend rallies have been unprecedented. The Democratic base has never been so energised and rarely been so divided. And this is no regional coastal phenomenon; Iowa and South Carolina mattered. But so to did Texas, Alabama and Puerto Rico too.
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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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