Beneath the pallid smog of billowing smoke that hangs above Independence Square in Kiev, the belligerents of the civil war pause for breath in a conflict that few can be sure will not resume. If it does, the rebels that hide behind their barricades, and the state forces that try to haul them down, may discover that - beneath the burnt-out tyres, barrels, and rubble - the unexpected weight of history lies very much alive and unwell.
The reality is that in the case of Romanians 'benefit tourism' is a myth because from 5.7million working age benefit claimants in the UK last year, only 1,740 were Romanians, which represents 0.03% of the total claimants, or 1.45% of the Romanian community in Britain. To compare, the percentage of working age benefit claimants for the whole UK population is 9.5%.
As Kiev erupted into violence this week, the world's media made its way to the city's makeshift morgues and, once again, made record of a country taking democracy into its own hands. There has been no end of dramatic imagery emerging from the city, but perhaps the most moving piece to resonate around the world was the YouTube video I Am A Ukrainian, which made post-grad student Yulia the voice of a country in two short but powerful minutes. The sale of WhatsApp to Facebook may have been the big financial and tech news of the week, but arguably it was Tinder that deserved the headlines. In a certain Russian town, the dating app saw a 400% increase in users in the past seven days...
It gives me no pleasure to say this: revolutions are often in vain. It is, alas, too easy to be swept up in the excitement of young protesters taking control of the streets... TV cameras blinking down from the balconies of nearby hotels give us the impression of a people in revolt, an unstoppable wave of protest, sweeping away oppression and corruption.
Some may argue that a city museum in Istanbul would be redundant. Istanbul is itself a living museum, they might say as they trip over unmarked relics and ruins that literally dot the streets here. But this lets people off the hook for the wholesale destruction Istanbul has faced on a near constant basis since, well, always. Istanbullus like to eulogise their city but don't seem particularly interested in preserving it.
Right this second all around the world, millions of children are in danger. Huge numbers of children are caught up in emergencies, like conflicts in Syria and South Sudan and natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In the Philippines 1.7million children were forced from their homes when the Typhoon swept through their communities. I saw myself how children's lives have been destroyed and how they are slowly recovering with the help of UNICEF. As a father, it was a moving experience and the memories of the children I met will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Immigration may well prove to be the death knell of the EU as we know it. But if it is, it will not have been due to immigration itself but rather to Brussels' tone deaf, inflexible, and insensitive response to the issue. The matter is highly emotional and goes to the very heart of people's values, sense of fairness, cultural identity and social cohesion. Trying to counter that either with cold numerical and economic arguments or with dismissive insults of xenophobia is not only futile, it is grist to the mill for the political parties which have successfully made immigration their main platform and that seem on track to form the largest single grouping in the European Parliament after the May elections. But it's worse than that. The Brussels response will be constructed by many as being absolute proof of a type of Union they reject.
Over the last five or six years, as poverty and hardship have deepened, unemployment soared and inequality increased across Europe, so has xenophobia festered - with the rise of far-right parties such as Golden Dawn in Greece, and uncomfortable parallels can be drawn between the current socio-economic climate and that of the 1930s, which paved the way for Hitler's rise to power.
The world needs to know about the critical situation of Venezuela and to understand that the regime is taking every possible measure to oppress its people and cover the truth. If the only resource Venezuela has available to inform the world about what is happening is social media, then let's use it strategically to cause the greatest impact internationally.
Angela Merkel's call yesterday for a European network "so that one shouldn't have to send emails and other information across the Atlantic" is hardly surprising given the revelations of how German and other European citizens have had their data indiscriminately collected as they use web services based overseas.
Claudia, for example, a woman in her late 20s, was made to live in a small room with her husband, her three sons, her parents and her brother's family - all 11 of them, sharing a bathroom with 30 others. After more than three years of this mistreatment, no alternatives have been offered to their ghastly inadequate living conditions. Imagine if something similar was happening here in Britain. There would be outrage if a local council behaved this way. So it is not surprising that 23 senior religious leaders in the UK... have chosen to make a stand to defend the rights of these families who have been subject of discrimination in Romania.
Evgeni Plushenko, bowed out of the competition right before he was to take the ice in the singles event. As disappointed as he undoubtedly was (not to mention the fans), 31-year-old Plushenko has the rest of his life ahead of him, with a stack of Olympic hardware to his name and a celebrity brand to build upon. In time, his decision may be seen as noble- or at the very least, inevitable. Sometimes, you just have to know when it's time to quit. Street protesters in Ukraine and besieged civilians in Syria are probably hoping that the Russian government will follow their golden boy's lead and have the nerve to admit that their current foreign policy just isn't cutting it anymore.