08/03/2014
8 Mar 2014

Russia's revenge

8 Mar 2014

Russia's revenge

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Features
William Cook
Today Crimea, tomorrow Estonia?

 Tallinn, Monday  ‘I have some sad news,’ says the Estonian politician, as we sit down to dinner. ‘War has broken out.’ The pain in his voice is palpable. For this patriotic man, and many like him, Russia’s invasion of Crimea has reawakened memories of an era everyone here hoped was over. Wandering the cobbled streets of Tallinn, Russia seems a long way away. You could be in Bremen or Lubeck. Yet Tallinn’s European heritage is only half the story.

Today Crimea, tomorrow Estonia?
John Osullivan
Europe’s ‘new world order’ is letting Vladimir Putin run riot

[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/Untitled_2_AAC_audio.mp3" title="John O'Sullivan discusses why we shouldn't be so afraid of Putin" startat=1088] Listen [/audioplayer]If Vladimir Putin’s invasion and occupation of the Crimea brings to an end the Pax Americana and the post-Cold War world that began in 1989, what new European, or even global, order is replacing them? That question may seem topical in the light of Russia’s seemingly smooth overriding in Crimea of the diplomatic treaties and legal rules that outlaw aggression, occupation and annexation.

Europe’s ‘new world order’ is letting Vladimir Putin run riot
Anne Wareham
How the politically correct garden grows

Next week is ‘Hug a Slug’ week. Well, come on, you did believe it for a couple of seconds. We’ve all grown so used to the fog of humourless eco-rectitude that has settled over our gardens that you probably didn’t even blink. No right-thinking (let alone left-thinking) person these days would dream of paving their front garden (bad for drainage), using a bag of peat-based compost (very un-green) or a nice toxic pesticide.

How the politically correct garden grows
Jane Kelly
When a survivor of Auschwitz asks for your story, what do you say?

My aim as a hospital visitor is to cheer, befriend, have a chat, do something to disrupt the bleak monotony of the modern hospital day. Some patients talk amiably while others are grumpy, demented patients kept on wards for months and who won’t shut up. Many conversations lead nowhere. Some days the pillow talk is dull, so I paid attention when someone in the chaplaincy mentioned a lady who’d been in Auschwitz and still had the camp tattoo.

When a survivor of Auschwitz asks for your story, what do you say?
Leo Mckinstry
If homophobia is a problem for bobsled, why is it OK for cricket?

Where are the threats of a boycott, the calls for isolation, the outraged letters to the Prime Minister? Where are the rainbow logos, the delegations of human rights activists, the declarations of solidarity? On 16 March Bangladesh is to host the T20 World Cup, one of the top limited overs tournaments in international cricket. All the top cricketing nations, including England, will participate. Yet the competition has not attracted so much as a bat squeak of protest from gay rights campaigners, despite the fact that Bangladesh has an appalling record of institutionalised discrimination against homosexuals.

If homophobia is a problem for bobsled, why is it OK for cricket?
James Forsyth
Patrick McLoughlin on HS2, rebellion and Ukip

It was, perhaps, inevitable that heading to interview the Transport Secretary I would end up stuck in traffic — so by the time I reached Patrick McLoughlin’s office, I was running a few minutes late. The normal punishment for tardiness is to be left languishing outside a minister’s office. But McLoughlin does things differently. When I arrive, his door is open and he urges me to come straight in. As befits a man who used to earn his crust as a miner, McLoughlin has a big physical presence.

Patrick McLoughlin on HS2, rebellion and Ukip
Nigel Farndale
Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?

The first gay marriage will be conducted this Easter, and those who still object to the idea find themselves in a minority. The majority, according to polls, can’t see what all the fuss is about. How far we have travelled in a relatively short period of time. Until 1967, the punishment for homosexuality was a year in prison, or chemical castration, which was the option taken by Alan Turing, the Bletchley Park codebreaker.

Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?
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