I like the US as country and I love Americans as people. I feel comfortable enough generalizing to that effect. But I'm often so overwhelmed by "American-ness" these days, that I feel in danger of neglecting opportunities for new perspectives and daily variety in favour of the US. It's a real effort to escape from this risk in the Britain of today, and indeed in much of the Western world. One country should not hold that particular power over the rest of the globe.
In the last fortnight a number of media commentators accused Russell Brand of naivete and political ignorance for his criticisms of the democratic system and the limitations of the right to vote. This week, however, the British public were presented with further evidence of how hollowed-out the democratic process has become, when the Chilcot Inquiry revealed that it was being denied access to 25 notes sent by Tony Blair to George Bush, and 130 documents relating to conversations between the two architects of the Iraq War, in addition to dozens of records of cabinet meetings.
Forget what self-appointed experts might tell you or what political bureaucrats might suggest either! Just cast a quick look for yourself at the Middle East North Africa (MENA) map today. The inescapable conclusion - the revealing truth if you will - is that things are not going well at all. In fact, things are quite messy - and perilously so too.
For Rajapaksa and his government, it is obviously a privilege to be hosting CHOGM - a surprising choice, by any measure, given the country's dismal human rights track record, including disappearances, war crimes and what a UN report described as "a grave assault on the entire regime of international law". Rajapaksa wants to ensure that the Sri Lankan government comes out of this with reputation enhanced.
According to the latest UN statistics, of the total population affected by Typhoon Haiyan, an estimated 47,600 women are at risk of sexual violence. In the evacuation centres, an estimated 2,250 women are also at risk. We know that disasters impact men and women differently - but how can we get better at factoring this into account in international aid efforts?
Amaka is the protagonist of "B for Boy", the first feature film by Nigerian director Chika Anadu, which was screened at this year's London Film Festival. It is a courageous tale of being a woman and a mother in contemporary Nigeria and of the social pressure that is still put on women to produce a male child.
We will continue our cultural relations work well beyond the planned withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan next year; because we firmly believe that, along with the promotion of governance, security and development, the promotion of culture is a critical fourth foundation of Afghanistan's future.
The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (MMP+) is a new home for the arts, somewhere that with all the political and social unrest you see every day in North Africa, will send out a message to the rest of the world that Morocco is a country where contemporary culture can and will triumph over reactionary thinking.
To brand the entire technology as 'immoral' is unfair. The drone debate must be approached with reason, not hijacked by the same type of short-sighted, hysterical activists whose blind, misguided ideology focuses more banning every type of human development which, with refinements, could actually aid some of their own overarching aims. Most people partner drones with the 'War on Terror' in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, but the technology actually dates back to 1917 when the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane made its maiden flight in the United States.
One of the most surprising and to my mind worrying statistics I have come across recently is that 38% of the 220million women we need to support have actually used contraception before. That means that for whatever reason, having once been able to control their fertility these women have had their access to contraception blocked, and we have failed them.
As I type, the death toll in the Philippines stands at a suspected 1,200 people, with an expectation that that number can only grow. Bodies lie in rivers; towns have been razed to the ground thanks to Typhoon Haiyan wreaking havoc across a country that needs no introduction to the devastation a natural disaster can cause. Having family living in Manila myself, I am used to paying more attention than the average Brit each time the country makes headlines, whether that be for earthquakes, kidnappings, civil unrest or charges of corruption. This time round, the whole world has its focus.
As someone who was actually an 'orphan' in Uganda, the subject of volunteers and the impact they make is particularly close to my heart. My own personal story will hopefully provide a new perspective to the debate, and explain why I believe that you can learn something from everybody you meet in life.
So why is the west failing to make democracy and women's rights central to aid and trade policies in the region? Why does the EU's aid package to the region - which is supposed to link funding to democratic reform - make no mention of women's rights among the benchmarks governments must meet to keep the money flowing?
Whilst Japanese artists have always struggled to infiltrate the western mainstream, the same cannot be said for western music in Japan. The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, The Carpenters, Queen, Michael Jackson and Oasis all had huge success in Japan in their day, whilst short lived UK punk band Big in Japan played on the popular 80's cliche.