Could the poisoner be from Prince Putin’s court

THE POISONING in London of the former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko confirms what we already know: that it is dangerous to criticise the Kremlin. It comes less than a month after the shooting in Moscow of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who tirelessly exposed Russian atrocities in Chechnya. Paul Klebnikov, another crusading journalist, was shot dead in 2004.

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The madness of bombing Iran

THERE IS no doubt that Western opinion is being softened up for a US or Israeli strike against the Iranian centrifuges at Natanz. “Can anyone within range of Iran’s missiles feel safe?”, screams a full-page advertisement in the International Herald Tribune, displaying a map of the Eurasian land mass with Iran at its centre.

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A fatal flaw at the heart of Bush and Blair’s democratic crusade

THERE ARE TWO competing visions of international relations. On the one side is the Blair-Bush “new” doctrine, which links world security to the spread of Western values. On the other side is the traditional doctrine of national sovereignty, which precludes intervention in the domestic affairs of sovereign states. In between wobbles the United Nations, whose charter commits it to uphold non-intervention, but which is pulled to the intervention by the present sentiment of its most powerful Western members.

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A cautionary tale about how we got terrified of the risk monster

CLEVER ELSIE, soon to be married to Hans, was sent down to the cellar by her mother to get some beer. She saw a pickaxe above her which had been forgotten by the masons. Clever Elsie was paralysed by the thought that “if I should marry Hans and we should get a little baby, and he grows up and we send him down to draw some beer, that pickaxe might suddenly fall down on his head and kill him”.

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