Andrés Sepúlveda sleeps behind bombproof doors in a maximum-security prison in central Bogota, Colombia. When travelling to judicial hearings or to meet prosecutors, he is accompanied by a caravan of armed guards with serious firepower. As they move at high speed through the capital, the motorcade uses sophisticated equipment to jam mobile phones to lower the risk of a coordinated assassination attempt.
The Cambridge Analytica story is full of hot air. Everybody delights in talking about how scary Facebook is, and lots of people believe the Donald Trump and Brexit campaigns somehow hoodwinked whole electorates — because, well, how else could they have won? We hear about creepy and sophisticated--sounding techniques such as ‘micro-targeting’ and ‘psychographics’. But there is a far bigger story, which goes beyond the antics of Cambridge Analytica or its parent company, Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL Group), and other such businesses.
If you’re looking for a snapshot of the state of global Christianity today, a good place to start would be by looking at two violently contrasting Sarahs: Bishop Sarah, and Cardinal Sarah. One is Anglican, the other Catholic; one white, the other black; one bland, the other terrifying. Both are tipped to be leaders of their respective churches: Bishop Sarah as a future archbishop of Canterbury; Cardinal Sarah as a possible pope.
It took a protest of Jews in Westminster for Jeremy Corbyn to own up to the Labour party’s problem with anti-Semitism. It ‘has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain,’ he said — an admission that has been a very long time coming. But among Corbyn’s cultish young followers, the apology was met with a shrug. ‘Problem? What problem?’
This I know, because I’m (roughly) a Labour supporter and have lots of Corbyn--supporting friends.
Anti-Christian persecution, for so long a great untold story, has started to gain the world’s attention. But the suffering of Christian communities, from Syria to Nigeria to China, is part of an even broader phenomenon. Religious conflict is on the rise across the globe, with ancient tensions being raised by new political methods. And in many countries — Sri Lanka, India, the Central African Republic and elsewhere — it’s Muslims who have the most reason to fear violence.
I went to Australia with my constant companion Hilary, the only woman in England I’m not paying alimony to. She is also my spirit guide, and can get me through airports by simply waving her phone at various machines. I’m ashamed to say I still expect my ticket to be punched by a ticket collector, and my suitcase marked with a chalk cross by a cheerful customs officer. ‘No smutty arts books from Paris I hope, sir?’
We start the day (I have no idea what day it is, owing to jet lag) having breakfast at the Bathers’ Pavilion on Balmoral beach.
The Savoy was too sumptuous, complained Claude Monet, returning to the hotel in 1904. His rooms — one for sleeping, one for easels, canvases, palettes, with a balcony over the Thames — were too distractingly plush. He had been happier painting with his knees up to his chin in his ‘bateau atelier’ (a rowboat studio) on the Seine at Argenteuil. Or hidden behind a screen in the ladies’ changing room on the first floor of Monsieur Levy’s dress shop opposite Rouen Cathedral.