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RIP Candida Royalle

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RIP Candida Royalle

So sad to hear of the death of my friend Candace Vadala, who under the name Candida Royalle (her website is here) was a pioneering maker of erotic films for women and a feminist fighter for free expression, having been a pornographic film actress in the 1970s. For the last few years she’d been working on [Read more…]

Strange Days - On the UK election

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            It’s refreshing to experience a general election in which the polls and the pundits are proved massively wrong.             It’s especially invigorating when the stakes are as high as they were on thursday. After all, a different result could have had huge domestic and international ramifications in fairly short order, [Read more…]

In Honour of General Election Day….

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A brace of pieces I did for James Delingpole’s Breitbart London site in the run-up to today’s General Election.  The first is about the Resistible Rise and Fortunate Fall of Lutfur Rahman, former mayor of Tower Hamlets and Britain’s answer to Boss Tweed, the founder of New York’ Tammany Hall machine. It’s real subject is the [Read more…]

Secretiveness and Dishonesty in the Aid Sector, Ch. 35

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In the aid world you hear a lot of rhetoric about “transparency” and “accountability”, but both are in troublingly short supply. This is especially the case at some of the powerful mega-charities. So it was good to see this OpEd piece in the London Times by Stephen Pollard calling for more openness in the UK charitable sector. [Read more…]

Remembering on Memorial Day

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Remembering on Memorial Day

When I was living in New York in the 90s I always liked Memorial Day Weekend. It marked the beginning of Summer of course. And if I was out at the beach I would make sure to visit one of the little war memorials that all the Long Island villages have, and pause in front of [Read more…]

BBC R4 "The Regimental Future" (or lack thereof)

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Rare (and well-done) BBC R4 programme on the shrinking British Army regimental system. Very much worth checking out.

A Sinister Threat to the Kalasha of Chitral

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A Sinister Threat to the Kalasha of Chitral

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper today carries a disturbing report of a Pakistan Taliban video telling the Kalash people – the 3500-strong pagan tribe who live in three remote valleys of the North West Frontier (and about whom I wrote here ) that they must convert to Islam or face death.  The survival of the Kalash — whose paganism is [Read more…]

Valete -- Those we lost in 2013

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Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, Seamas Heaney, Hugo Chavez, David Frost and James Gandolfini probably had the most obituaries this year. Here’s my own goodbye list:   Richard Beeston – Foreign Editor of the London Times and the great foreign correspondent of his generation. Rick was only 50. Roger Ebert – A great film critic, the first [Read more…]

A Stumble by the MOD Squad

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It is probably a good thing that the UK government’s plans to privatize defence procurement (part of what is euphemistically called the “Defence Reform Bill”) have been dropped, at least for now.  The idea had been to replace the Defence Equipment and Support Agency with a “government owned, contractor-operated” body. There is no question that the [Read more…]

The Moral Maze and Aid

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I was a “witness” on BBC Radio 4’s “The Moral Maze” debate show last night (13.11.13). The link is here. A good debate but it was remarkable that the issue of corruption and waste in emergency aid delivery did not even come up….