How big game hunting is dividing southern Africa

  • 10 September 2017
  • From the section Africa
An elephant kicks up dust outside Kingspool Luxury Safari Camp in the Okanvango Delta on June 18, 2010 Image copyright Getty Images

Drifting down the Zambezi in Zimbabwe, I overheard two American men swapping hunting stories.

"First shot got him in the shoulder," a white man in his late sixties explained to his friend. "Second hit him right in the side of the head!" Pointing at his temple, he passed his phone with a picture. The animal in question was a dead crocodile.

Crocodiles are easy to find on this part of the Zambezi: lying in the sun on the banks of the river, boats can float just a few feet away. And given that they are motionless for most of the time, not hard to shoot, I imagine.

The second American showed his pal a picture of a Cape Buffalo he had killed, and planned to have shoulder mounted. He complained he couldn't afford the $19,000 (£14,500) Zimbabwe demands for the licence to kill an elephant. His buffalo cost him $8,000 (£6,100).

"Are they saying an elephant is worth more than two buffalo?" he lamented. "I saw hundreds of elephants today. Far too many. You have to see it here to realise. In California they are saying these animals are endangered!"

Read full article How big game hunting is dividing southern Africa

Why don't many British tourists visit Victoria Falls?

  • 3 September 2017
  • From the section Africa
The statue of David Livingstone next to the Victoria Falls
Image caption The statue of David Livingstone next to the Victoria Falls has few British visitors

In August 1934, a memorial statue to one of Britain's greatest national heroes, David Livingstone, was unveiled alongside his beloved Victoria Falls.

A thousand people attended the grand ceremony, including British government dignitaries and hundreds of Africans, some of whom had travelled for days to honour him.

Read full article Why don't many British tourists visit Victoria Falls?

'Legal high' review after laughing gas cases collapse

  • 31 August 2017
  • From the section UK
Discarded nitrous oxide canisters at a festival Image copyright PA
Image caption Empty canisters of laughing gas are a common sight in fields after music festivals

The Home Office says it will continue to prosecute those who sell nitrous oxide, despite the collapse of the first contested cases under new laws.

The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing two cases after a judge and the government's own expert witness said "laughing gas" was exempt.

Read full article 'Legal high' review after laughing gas cases collapse

Grenfell Tower: A shadow over the capital

  • 13 July 2017
  • From the section UK
General view of the Grenfell Tower from Wood Lane station in west London. Photo taken 11 July Image copyright PA

Drive over London's Westway, and Grenfell Tower demands your attention. It is a black nail that has been hammered into the nation's conscience.

In its shadow, the faces of the missing are everywhere - on lamp-posts and bus shelters, railings and walls. Unblinking they stare, it is hard to hold their accusatory gaze.

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Has British democracy let its people down?

  • 12 June 2017
  • From the section UK
Union flags and England flags flutter in foreground, with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background Image copyright Getty Images

Parliamentary democracy is one of the British values that English schools are now required, by statute, to promote during lessons - not debate, not discuss, promote.

If some teachers interpret their new role as propagandists for this kingdom's existing system of governance, that would be a shame, because right now there are questions about how well our form of democracy is serving the UK.

Read full article Has British democracy let its people down?

Manchester bombing: An attack on innocence

  • 23 May 2017
  • From the section UK
Ariana Grande fans after the show Image copyright Getty Images

It was a deliberate attack on innocence and joy. Children buzzing with energy at the end of an exciting show by their favourite pop star, with music in their ears and smiles on their young faces.

That was the moment someone chose to indulge their own bitterness, their spite and their hate. With explosives and nails and unfathomable cruelty.

Read full article Manchester bombing: An attack on innocence

How should politicians reconnect with voters?

A bus travels along Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament Image copyright Getty Images

Excited about the election? Travelling around Britain and talking to people about politics, the sentiment which emerges as strongly as any is that they feel disconnected from power. Their voice isn't heard. Elections don't change much. Democracy doesn't work for them.

More than anything else, I think it was that which drove the Brexit vote, a feeling among millions that decisions that changed their lives and their communities were being made in a faceless office in Whitehall or, worse, a mirrored-glass building in Brussels.

Read full article How should politicians reconnect with voters?

Ian Brady: How the Moors Murderer came to symbolise pure evil

  • 20 May 2017
  • From the section UK
Ian Brady Image copyright PA
Image caption Ian Brady's notoriety and significance goes beyond the criminal to the political and the cultural

Ian Brady's mug shot has become visual shorthand for psychopathic evil. With his accomplice Myra Hindley, he occupies an especially ignominious place in our national folklore.

Margaret Thatcher described their crimes as "the most hideous and evil in modern times". A BBC News article in 2002 suggested the so-called "Moors Murderers" had set "the benchmark by which other acts of evil are measured".

Read full article Ian Brady: How the Moors Murderer came to symbolise pure evil

Why some fear a shortage of immigrants

  • 23 February 2017
  • From the section UK
Flower pickers Image copyright Getty Images

Britain's anxiety about immigration has long been that there is far too much of it. Concerns about the record number of foreign arrivals were a key factor in the vote for Brexit, and the national debate in Parliament and the press has tended to focus on who has got the best policies to reduce it as quickly as possible.

So one would think statistics suggesting a fall in net migration and a big drop on EU workers coming from the eight so-called accession countries (A8) like Poland would be a cause for rejoicing. Well, not entirely.

Read full article Why some fear a shortage of immigrants

Housing White Paper: Radical or feeble?

  • 7 February 2017
  • From the section UK
New housing Image copyright PA

Over the last three decades, governments of various stripes have promised radical change to solve England's housing crisis and today's White Paper is no exception.

The problem is that so many of the initiatives and ideas sold to the country as ground-breaking prove to be business as usual.

Read full article Housing White Paper: Radical or feeble?