Driving through Gaza City last weekend, in an armoured UN land cruiser, I ask our guide what the ubiquitous green flags symbolise. ‘Hamas,’ he replies. And the black ones? ‘Jihad.’ It is almost five years since Hamas won 74 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council election, in a massive rejection both of the corruption of Fatah politicians and of the peace process with Israel. Since then, under a land and sea blockade imposed ostensibly to protect Israel from rocket attack and Egypt from Islamist contagion, Gaza has sunk ever deeper into a mire of victimhood and fundamentalism.
David Cameron should have enjoyed his trip this week. Autumn is a great time to be in Beijing. The sky is deep blue, the sun hot and the evenings cool. As the season progresses, the shadows thrown by the tall buildings lengthen and the north wind from Mongolia blows a little more urgently. The pollution in Beijing is much less bad than in other Chinese cities, and the new parks and landscaped gardens and flower beds are beautifully tended.
Iceland is recovering from its financial shock – without the aid of a bank bailoutIt’s been a good week for the admittedly small band of people who get excited about the decisions made by central banks. In America, the Federal Reserve embarked on a second great round of printing money. In this country, the Bank of England abandoned any idea of controlling inflation, leaving interest rates at a three-century low despite having missed its inflation target for seven months.
Suffering has had at least one benefit for white Zimbabweans, says the writer Peter Godwin – it has brought them closer to the rest of the populationWhen Robert Mugabe dies — when the blood transfusions, the vitamin jabs, Botox and hate-filled rants come to an end — few Zimbabweans will miss him. Yet while reading Peter Godwin’s new book, The Fear, it strikes me that one group will have a reason not entirely to curse him: Zimbabwe’s whites.
I suppose I am past the point in life where, as Gore Vidal put it, litigation takes the place of sex. I have consulted lawyers at least 12 times so far this year, which easily exceeds the amount of times I have engaged in mutual sexual activity. Even on my birthday I rang a lawyer and did not have sex. As it happens sex was on offer, as a special treat — along with the cake with its 50 bloody candles, each one lit with malevolent glee by my wife — but I had somehow wrenched my knee out of joint and any form of movement caused excruciating pain and a sinister, strangely synthetic popping noise from within the wrecked joint.
‘Hello. Is that the European Union? This is Earth.’ It’s a conversation that could have happened at any time in recent years, but if the EU’s planned global satellite system ever actually takes off it might yet become reality.The plans for ‘Project Galileo’ were dreamt up in the late 1990s. They are intended as a rival to the Global Positioning System satellites, or GPS, used by almost all of today’s satnav devices.
Every year, every month, there are more of them, the Women of the Year awards when female journalists are invited to join other women for a celebration of our sex at some London hotel. The other week it was the Harper’s Bazaar magazine’s Women of the Year awards, followed closely by the Cosmopolitan magazine’s Ultimate Women of the Year awards, not forgetting the Bounty Celebrity Mum of the Year award (which Samantha Cameron just narrowly missed).
Earlier this year, officials in the Indian driving licence department received an extraordinary application. It was from Lakshmi Mittal, the richest man in Britain, who wanted to know — given the circumstances — if it would possible for him to be posted the documentation rather than sit a driving test. They refused, and the steel magnate duly turned up for his fingerprints a few days later. The Indian press were delighted, and not just to see a billionaire humbled.