Featured articles


Permanent stalemate in Gaza suits Netanyahu

Jerusalem After midnight on Thursday is dead-time for the Israeli media. The weekend editions have gone to print (newspapers don’t come out on Shabbat) and the Friday night TV news shows have been pre-recorded. The country’s journalists are yearning for respite from a long week covering the war. Benjamin Netanyahu chose that black hole of

The truth about ‘living with obesity’

It’s been brought to my attention that it is no longer done to describe a person as fat. Better, apparently, to say that they are ‘living with obesity’. This weasel construction makes obesity sound like a malevolent squatter who refuses to be evicted. Or like a bit of genetic bad luck, such as ‘living with

Blue tits vs willow tits: a lesson in subsidies

I last saw a willow tit on my farm about a year ago. I’m searching for them again this spring, listening for their ‘chair chair’ calls, but I am worried that they may be extinct here. They are dying out everywhere: down by 92 per cent nationwide in the 50 years from 1967. And the

Why Latvia is expelling its Russian speakers

Riga, Latvia At the age of 74, Inessa Novikova, who is ethnically Russian, was told she had to learn Latvian or she’d be deported. ‘I felt physically ill when the policy was announced,’ she tells me when we meet in an office close to Riga’s city centre. ‘I’ve lived here peacefully for 20 years.’ There

Please stop clapping at funerals

The Happy Clappies – evangelical Christians who clap along to worship songs during church services – have been around since the 1980s. The slightly derogatory term was coined in 1985, and the practice is still going strong: you can hear it as you walk past any evangelical church on a Sunday morning. But in the

The secret to a (Paul) Hollywood tan

Anyone who is a guest on Good Morning Britain, the Today programme or the like has an agenda. They want to promote something – themselves, their new film, a charity, a political point of view. Of course, the presenters don’t like being used as stooges. And they have the power, because their show is live,

Could Iran shift to dynastic rule when Khamenei dies?

Who will rule Iran after Ali Khamenei? The question is being asked with increasing frequency and concern as the Supreme Leader approaches his 85th birthday amid rumours of ill health, and it will be raised again on 1 March, when Tehran holds elections to the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body which will

Notes on...

Magnolia will never go out of fashion

Last week’s news that a mature magnolia tree had been felled in a suburb of Poole, Dorset, because wood decay made it a threat to nearby houses, will have touched the hearts of gardeners everywhere. For, in the words of the plant collector E.H. Wilson, after whom Magnolia wilsonii is named, magnolias are ‘aristocrats of