Meeting Adam Curtis on Bitter Lake

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Most broadcasters – especially those who work at the BBC – must produce their programmes to conform to strict guidelines. They must be within five seconds of the required length, they must comply with a rigid format and they must meet the approval of layers of executives. There are a handful of prominent programme makers who are allowed to set their own guidelines. Alan Yentob (Imagine) is his own executive producer and allows himself the freedom to make his programmes as long as he thinks they should be. Stephen Poliakoff has spent much of his career not bothered by the … Continue reading

The US record of failure in Somalia

On March 7 the Pentagon announced that it had killed 150 members of the Al-Shabaab guerrilla movement in a bombing operation in Somalia. These military actions are part and parcel of a broader United States foreign policy strategy to dominate the Horn of Africa. The administration of President Barack Obama has continued the military and political intervention in Somalia aimed at remaking the political landscape of the East African state which shares borders with some of Washington’s closest collaborators in the region including Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya. The administration’s rationale for a renewed air campaign in Somalia was to downgrade … Continue reading

Saudi Arabia is Going to Execute a Poet

There are few occasions on which the United Nations is able to disgrace itself more effectively than when it comes to making appointments to committees and sinecures. Iraq, for example, was due to take the chairmanship of the special committee on disarmament in 2003; a move prohibited not by any common sense on the part of the U.N. but because the US-led intervention in that same year made such an appointment impossible. Iran has recently been re-elected to a seat on the U.N’s Commission on the Status of Women. Robert Mugabe, the subject of a wide-ranging travel ban, was asked … Continue reading