An unassuming seaside village on the Roseland peninsula in Cornwall, St Mawes reminds me of my childhood. I go there regularly to pick up shells and sea glass from the pebbly beaches, paddle in the sea, walk along the coastal path, have picnics and stare for hours at the changing colours of the ocean.
I was horrified to hear about the recent attacks in the coastal town of Mpeketoni - it just highlights how vulnerable poor communities are in the country and, in particular, women and girls. With the ongoing plight of the 300 abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria and the horrific killings of two teenage girls in India and now Pakistan, never before has there been a greater time, to raise funds and awareness to put a stop to such cruel practices and to safeguard the lives and education of girls across the developing world.
As a concept, social investment can be hard to get your head around. For the UK Government however it has quickly become a credible and important way of helping charities and social enterprises increase their impact in communities, helping them to grow and support more people in need. The concept is simple.
As a dog lover I cannot imagine anything worse than my best friend used for food - and the thought of her being beaten, hung, skinned, blowtorched or even boiled alive leaves me frozen and distressed. Imagine then an entire festival devoted to eating dog as part of a trade where such methods are commonplace. This is not a myth created to shock - it's a fact.
Much has been made of how the two girls in the Zoffany painting inspired my writing of Belle. As important to me was the invisible third person in the painting, the man who put them there in terms of such equality: Lord Chief Justice Lord Mansfield. From the outset I went in search of the historical Lord Mansfield and I found him between two judgements....
With Iraq it was a case of naivety, blind stupidity or a gamble that has been first gradually and now speedily evolving the wrong way thanks to a new player the Syrian war created called ISIS. It's an extremist pan Islamic war machine determined to create a Mid East wide caliphate. And it may force NATO back into this land...this time oil is at stake...the magic phrase for military action.
Refugees consistently face some of the toughest choices imaginable - whether to stay where they are and face rape, torture or death or leave behind their family, everything they have and know to embark on a dangerous - all too often fatal - flight into the unknown. Here's where I'm supposed to say: 'Imagine if it were you, facing such a choice. Imagine if it were your mother or brother". But you don't need to be patronised. We're all more than capable of empathy. Yet we continue to treat refugees with ignorance and even contempt. Why does our collective empathy so often fail to manifest in our treatment of such a vulnerable group?
Supposedly manufacturing-free regions of the UK seem to actually have rather a lot of people making things. I know it's frustrating for the headline writers who would rather it wasn't the case, but the North West employing 340,000 people and making £20billion of goods in 2013 just doesn't follow the narrative does it? And what are 125,000 Geordies doing making £6.4 billion of stuff? I thought the paper said they were all strolling around the Quays pissed up and half naked in all weathers. British manufacturing is alive, it's well, it's kicking and it's cool.
Every day, Zahir braves the bedlam of Karachi's bustling streets, driving one of the city's iconic technicolour busses bedecked with peacocks and Urdu scrawlings. His concerns about the country he's living in and what can be done to fix it are among those told by Asad Anees of the University of Karachi...
You had better choose your boss carefully. Your reputation and your future job prospects are inextricably linked to that boss' integrity, quality and loyalty. In Cunningham's case, it is not yet clear whether she acted with her boss' consent or prior knowledge. More likely, Cunningham acted out of her own, misguided loyalty to her leader.