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Figuration fights back

As art prizes go, the Jerwood Painting Prize is scrupulously even-handed: over the past nine years since its establishment, its shortlists have been models of inclusiveness. In particular, they have managed to strike a balance between figurative and abstract art, and this year’s shortlist of six is no exception. It’s split between three abstract painters

A victory for drug-pushers

This week Tony Blair was warned to brace himself for another huge increase in opium production in Afghanistan. Analysis of a harrowing United Nations report showed that the situation was catastrophically out of control. Inspectors surveyed 134 districts. They learnt that some 23 were planning to plant poppies for the first time in 2003, while

Land of the free

Paul Robinson says we can learn a lot about decency and independence from plucky Canada You’ve probably heard that story about the Inuit having 50 words for snow? Well, the sign of a genuine Canadian is that he has 50 words for doughnut. When a glacial wind is howling through Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat

A question of loyalty

Brussels When push comes to shove, I think I know which side Neil Kinnock is on. Eight years in Brussels – as propriétaire of Boris Johnson’s crummy old digs at 76 rue van Campenhout – have not really gone to his head. Yes, he appears dutifully on the BBC as vice-president of the European Commission

They love to hate us

We are going through one of those horrible and debilitating periods in our history when we are convinced that everybody hates us. Racked with grief, we may even begin to hate ourselves – and thus climb into bed at night praying that we might wake up as Turks. Or Irishmen. It is partly the Eurovision

Television creates terrorists

Driving through the streets of Baghdad last week, I was struck by the number of satellite dishes for sale everywhere. After years in which the appliances were banned by Saddam, freedom is sprouting all over the skyline. There is still an almost total absence of local media, so that Iraqis know nothing of what is