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The war on Christians

Imagine if correspondents in late 1944 had reported the Battle of the Bulge, but without explaining that it was a turning point in the second world war. Or what if finance reporters had told the story of the AIG meltdown in 2008 without adding that it raised questions about derivatives and sub-prime mortgages that could

Notes on …The Tarn Valley

Why didn’t I know about the Tarn Valley? I’d often been right next door. But here, north-east of Toulouse, between the baking fields of Gers and the rocky mountains around Carcassonne, is this best-kept secret. It’s a lush region of great rivers, rolling green hills and towns with magnificent red-brick gothic architecture and is sometimes

Do miracles happen?

Two recent popes are to be canonised on 17 April next year: Angelo Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, and Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. Both are being declared saints in haste: conventionally the Church has waited for a few hundred years for the dust to settle, with slow promotion from ‘venerable’ to ‘blessed’, before declaring

Witch-hunting capitalism in Africa

   Johannesburg  I stumbled upon a grand story the other day, thanks largely to my girlfriend Shmerah, who is doing a masters in anthropology at the nearby University of the Witwatersrand. One afternoon some weeks ago, Shmerah informed me that she and her classmates were excited about the imminent arrival in Johannesburg of the Italian-American

If only more banks were more like Wonga

I know a lot of people who work in the financial industry. One on one, they are decent and kind. I’d trust them to look after my handbag in the pub while I went to the Ladies. But you know what? I wouldn’t trust many of them to look after my pension or my ISA.

Why Britain’s economy will overtake Germany’s

What’s the most surprising thing that could come out of the current economic upturn? A rapid revival in northern manufacturing? The City really getting behind small British businesses? Ed Balls admitting higher public spending wasn’t always the best way to promote growth? Any of these eventualities would be fairly amazing. But the biggest surprise would