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The west owes Haiti a bailout. And it would be a hand-back, not a handout
Last week started with a conference in Montreal, called by a group of governments and international agencies calling themselves Friends of Haiti, to discuss the long and short term needs of the recently devastated Caribbean nation. Even as corpses remained under the earthquake's rubble and the government operated out of a police station, the assembled "friends" would not commit to cancelling Haiti's $1bn debt. Instead they agreed to a 10-year plan with no details, and a commitment to meet again – when the bodies have been buried along with coverage of the country – sometime in the future.


Andrea Levy Photograph: Eamonn McCabe
'I started to realise what fiction could be. And I thought, wow! You can take on the world'
When Small Island was published five years ago it started out faring much the same as Andrea Levy's first three books: well reviewed but not particularly widely read. "Give me a basket and I'll go door to door with it," she joked to the publishers. The book "wasn't really selling. It certainly wasn't doing anything fantastic."
If you're disillusioned with Obama, you don't understand how he won
You've got to feel sorry for the Democratic ­Senate leader, Harry Reid. In 1995, when it seemed Colin Powell might run for president, Powell explained his ­appeal to white voters thus: "I speak reasonably well, like a white person", and, visually, "I ain't that black".


Chris Ofili:
After the elephant dung: Chris Ofili
A couple of years after he won the 1998 Turner prize, Chris Ofili was in Atlantis art store in the East End of London, buying huge quantities of paint and holding up a queue. When he handed over his credit card, the cashier recognised his name and struck up a conversation about his work. A student standing behind Ofili then joined in with some excitement.


Barack Obama
'Even Charles Manson could beat him now'
The following correction was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Friday 29 January 2010
Believers in Great Men Think Alike
After rereading
The war on terror has been about scaring people, not protecting them
So there was no ticking time bomb. No urgent need ever arose to torture anybody who was withholding crucial details, so that civilisation as we know it could be saved in the nick of time. No wires had to be tapped, special prisons erected or international accords violated. No innocent people had to be grabbed off the street in their home country, transported across the globe and waterboarded. Drones, daisy-cutters, invasions, occupations were, it has transpired, not necessary.
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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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