An interview with freed Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg. I saw him speak at the Amnesty UK Annual General Meeting in April last year and was impressed by how calm and tolerant he appeared after everything he’d been through. Go read, it’s very interesting and brings out a lot of different sides to his character.

A light-hearted article from the J-Times on the pain of learning kanji – the imported Chinese characters that stand for words or bits of words in Japanese. Just this week someone described to me their favourite kanji. This isn’t as geeky as it sounds – once you know the meaning of the character, you can work out what it means in the context of the word. I used to have kanji that I could appreciate on an aesthetic level, of being a clever representation of the concept it signifies. Of course, this was before I was catapulted into the 40-kanji-per-10-days climate of Level 4, and now I view them all with equal hatred.

Hilary Benn, Minister for International Development, is looking for answers about Britain’s aid and development policies. The blog post is average, but contains links to Benn’s speeches and related stories, which are well worth reading. I cast my vote in the 2005 election for Benn – as MP for Leeds Central, where I was living at the time, he played a big part in redeveloping the city to the vibrant, impressive place it is today, and as head of the Department for International Development, he seems genuinely committed to a better deal for the world’s poor. This is something we should all take seriously.

John Simpson reports from Iraq following the recent violence there. These lines bear quoting:

Some anti-war bloggers in Europe and North America seem positively gleeful about the way things are going here – as though the important thing is that President Bush and Tony Blair should be humiliated, and that the violence in Iraq is the method by which this can be achieved.

Yet what we are watching is the life-and-death struggle of a nation, and the efforts of its democratically elected politicians to sort things out.

One of the more sensible opinions going at the moment.


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