The first amendment in the United States is a wonderful thing. It means you can say whatever you like about anything... But with the increasing popularity of Facebook comment section fights, and chatroom brawls, I'm seeing more and more often that people seem to forget that freedom of speech goes both ways.
In certain London bars I reckon the bare monastic cell look is considered quite cutting edge. By contrast, ADX Florence is beyond cutting edge (unless it's prisoners cutting their wrists in despair). ADX Florence's ambience is an altogether bleaker affair, one which seems designed to crush people and push them right over the edge.
As Israeli military operations reignited in Gaza on July 8, the familiar indignant echo of "something must be done" rang out around the liberal and non-interventionist quarters of the Western world in a show of solidarity with the trampled Palestinian people that, while admirable, all too often fails to delineate exactly to whom the appeals for reason should be addressed.
Her "Foxy Knoxy" status is an irrelevance. No one has "failed" her. She has failed herself, and she fails the Kercher family each and every day she protests her innocence. There is only one female victim here - Meredith Kercher - and how dare Basile allow Knox's PR spin, and her own wilful ignorance, to conceal that.
Most people are familiar with what is known as Hard Power. The idea that someone with more swords, bigger guns and overwhelming military ability can force someone to do something against their will but which is almost entirely in favour of those holding the gun. History is full of situations, the ancient Chinese, Persians, Romans all the way through to the British, French, American and Russians...
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.
I have always admired the expressiveness of the Russian language. Popular turns of phrase that have become enshrined in everyday language reveal quite colourfully Russians' attitudes towards themselves and ongoing events. In particular I am struck by the way Russians reflect on failure with easy humour, as captured in the phrase 'they hoped for better, but it turned out as usual'.
Dear American Citizen, I write from the other side of the Atlantic. Our homelands are separated by a vast, malevolent body of water. Thousands of miles stand between us, yet still we share so many things, music, theatre, fashion, culture, history, high street stores and banking ties, and much more. Our military train together, and politicians lean on each other. We really aren't that different.
Readers of my very first blog will remember I couldn't have been more excited when preparing for my inaugural trip across the Atlantic Ocean back in the early stages of 2012. There I sat, carving out the words of my long-anticipated adieu to the green and pleasant land of my birth, to live my very own American dream...
People go to the States for all kinds of reasons - to take a road trip, visit great cities like New York, see the fall colours, take the kids to Disneyland or hang out in Hollywood. It's not often that food is given as a reason for going, but because of its size and diversity, the USA is one of the best countries in which to enjoy great eating.