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The democracy delusion

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 citizenship game

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

A tale of two Sarahs

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

The Corbynasties

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

Stand up for Muslims

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


Australia notebook

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,

Notes on...

Monet in London

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)