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Demonstrators call for the closing of Guantánamo during a protest at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia. Photograph: Christian Escobar Mora/EPA
Abroad, as at home, Obama coasts on a wave of disappointment
In January 1903 the US signed a treaty with Colombia that would have provided unfettered access to the Panama canal. Unfortunately, the terms were not good enough for the Colombian senate, which refused to ratify it. At the time, Panama had been a region of Colombia for 80 years. Undeterred by the annoying matter of Colombian sovereignty the US encouraged, incited and facilitated Panama's secession from Colombia.


A family looks at a pistol at an annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, which now claims more than 4 million members. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
America's deadly devotion to guns
At an organising breakfast for National Rifle Association (NRA) grassroots activists, Samuel Richardson, a man with whom I have not exchanged a word, passes me a note. "Please read the book Injustice by Adams," it reads. "He was [sic] lawyer for US Justice Department who prosecuted Black Panther Case." Quite why Richardson thinks this book is for me is not clear. There are six other people at the table, a couple of them journalists. The fact I am the only black person in a room of around 200 may have something to do with it.


The NRA evoked the spectre of a second term for Barack Obama in which he runs amok. Photograph: Tom Gannam/Reuters
NRA lobbyists show their swagger on convention floor
The 5.56 Nato calibre is a semi-automatic that comes in both matte black and pink camouflage. You can use it for hunting pigs and coyote or, naturally, have one in the house just in case. Asked if it wouldn't make more sense to call the police, Patrick Kisgen explains that by the time the police arrived you could be dead. "If someone broke into my house I'd want to get my gun and stand between them and my kids." At a nearby stall a young woman hands out stickers announcing Ambush. "Wear that sticker and twice a day every day we'll be giving out free firearms to someone who's wearing it. You might be lucky," she says.


The parents of Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, hold hands as they watch coverage of special prosecutor Angela Corey
George Zimmerman's trial could be as divisive as OJ Simpson's
George Zimmerman is behind bars. Six weeks after he shot Trayvon Martin, the state of Florida has been pressured, from above and below, to at least contemplate the notion that a man who killed an unarmed child might have a case to answer. He has now been charged with second-degree murder.
George Zimmerman’s Trial Could Become Racial Flashpoint
What Do We See in Obama?
When Jerry Kellman received an application for a job as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s with a cover letter signed “Barack Obama,” he thought, “What the hell is this? And Honolulu? I thought, Well, he’s Japanese.” Once Obama arrived in Chicago, some who heard his name assumed he was of Irish descent—O’Bama. By the time he ran for president, the right was more interested in the fact that his surname rhymed with Osama and his middle name—Hussein—reminded people of Saddam.


Mamie Till Mobley at her son
Mamie Till's warning still holds true in a racist world
In 1955 Mamie Till sent her 14-year-old son, Emmett, from Chicago to rural Mississippi to spend his summer holiday with family. As she packed him off she gave him some advice about how a black youth should conduct himself in the pre-civil rights south. "If you have to get on your knees and bow when a white person goes past," she told him. "Do it willingly."


Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney needs to rediscover the center to have a chance in November
If primaries are a battle between a party's heart and mind, over the last nine months Republicans have proved themselves to be fickle of heart and feeble of mind. Its pragmatists could not produce a candidate with a proven appeal to moderates outside the party. Those wedded to principle failed to settle on a candidate who could make a viable pitch for the conservative mantle. The result is Mitt Romney – a candidate they don't like and they have only belatedly come to accept that they are stuck with.


Prosecutors in Chinese dissident Zhu Yufu
Social media and the post-privacy society
While having a meal with his wife in his home town of Utica in 2007, the pollster John Zogby struck up a conversation with his 20-year-old waitress about privacy, social networking and YouTube. He asked what limits she set on what she would reveal online.
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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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