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Maya Angelou in 1999: tall, straight and true. Photograph: Martin Godwin
Maya Angelou: a titan who lived as though there were no tomorrow
The first time I interviewed Maya Angelou, in 2002, I got hammered. What was supposed to have been a 45-minute interview in a hotel room near Los Angeles had turned into a 16-hour day, much of it spent in her stretch limo, during which we'd been to lunch, and she had performed. On the way back from Pasadena she asked her assistant, Lydia Stuckey, to get out the whisky.
Protesters rally in Times Square in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin trial, July 2013. (Reuters/Keith Bedford)
The Truth About Race In America: It’s Getting Worse, Not Better
Progress is an essential tenet of America’s civic religion. As someone born and raised in England, where “not bad” is a compliment and “could be worse” is positively upbeat, this strikes me as an endearing national characteristic. But as with any religion, when faith is pitted against experience, faith generally wins. And at that point, optimism begins to look suspiciously like delusion.
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Robert Copeland, the police commissioner of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, listens as town residents call for his resignation after he was overheard abusing Barack Obama. Photograph: Jim Cole/AP
Racism is far more than old white men using the N-word
Let's hear it for Robert Copeland. The police commissioner of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (population 6,083) sticks to his principles. Even if those principles are stuck in a previous century and mired in bigotry. In March Jane O'Toole was finishing her dinner at a bistro in town when she heard Copeland, 82, announce loudly that he hated watching television because every time he turned on the TV he kept seeing "that fucking nigger". The "nigger" in question was the president of the United States.


People in Chicago meet to discuss gun crime. In shootings on the weekend of the NRA conference four people died and 35 were injured. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Tighter gun control won't stop the violence on its own
On a huge banner straddling an entire block of downtown Indianapolis the National Rifle Association convention promised "Nine Acres of Guns and Gear". It didn't disappoint. In a cavernous exhibition hall showcasing the industry's finest killing machines, scores of white men (few other demographics were present) aimed empty barrels into the middle distance and pondered their purchases. All the big names were there: Mossberg ("Built rugged. Proudly American"); Smith & Wesson ("Advanced by design"); and Henry ("Made in America. Or not made at all").
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