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Can conversation change the world

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was helped to the podium, a frailer man now than when he brought Glasnost and Perestroika to the world almost thirty years ago. One of the 20th century’s most seminal figures delivered a fairly bleak keynote speech to the audience gathered in Sharjah, one of seven emirates, and near Dubai….
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Habeas corpus still manquee

At the same time as I was given Shadow Lives [The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror] by Victoria Brittain to review, I was in the process of reading the Man Booker prizewinning novel Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Brittain’s book is about the current lives of women in the UK and US whose husbands or…
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Whither Afghanistan?

Recently, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Asif Ali Zadari of Pakistan were in the UK to discuss the future of Afghanistan post 2014, when the bulk of the international forces withdraw. What form the end state takes is the key issue during the inteqal (transition) process. After a decade of international involvement, Afghanistan in…
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A rat’s progress in Afghanistan

I wonder if everyone who goes to Kabul for the first time keeps a diary. I know I did. In Ballots, Bullets & Kabulshit, Toby Ralph writes about one of the most fascinating and frustrating countries in the world. He spent two weeks there as an electoral advisor the year before the 2009 Afghan presidential…
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Muslims move into mainstream in Rwanda

The controversy that surrounds him concerns a time when he was seen talking to the militia, It is not known what the conversation was about nor his motives, but the result means that he is a very controversial figure. Despite this Ntihabose, himself a survivor, decided to make this film as he had been fascinated…
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Mali trembles from revolution

Amadou Cisse had been working for several months on opening his new venture, a restaurant in Djenne, one of Mali’s most famous places after Timbuktu. A Unesco World Heritage site, it is the oldest known city in sub-Saharan Africa, and the magnificent Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mud brick structure in the world….
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