In my view column

Falklands: self determination for some

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It would appear that Argentinian president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will not be invited to one of David Cameron's country suppers - these are reserved only for the great and good such as the rational Jeremy Clarkson and the delightful Rebekah Brooks.

The Argentinian president was not even granted the oily Cameron charm offensive, when she attempted to hand him copies of the UN resolutions calling for a peaceful resolution to the Falklands dispute. Apparently "the prime minister refused to accept the documents, turned his back and walked away without a farewell".

Nothing to lose but their chains

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Since 17 April 2012 (Palestinian Prisoners Day) a new wave of resistance has been launched by political prisoners in Israeli jails. Around 1,600 prisoners declared that they were starting an indefinite hunger strike, referred to as the "Karama" (dignity) strike.

This marks the biggest collective hunger strike led by prisoners since 2004.

The strike was sparked by two prisoners, Khadir Adnan and Hana Shalabi. Both have been released after 66 and 53 days of hunger strike respectively.

Both were protesting against the policy of administrative detention that has led to the jailing of almost 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli dungeons.

Administrative detention allows the Israeli state to hold prisoners indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.

A strange effect

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Science fiction computer game Mass Effect has won acclaim from critics and gamers alike for its innovative approach to interactive storytelling.

But what is truly exceptional about the game is that it has come under fire, not for programming its supposedly squishy-brained audience with violent behaviour, but for promoting same-sex romance.

The controversy arose when producer Electronic Arts (EA) was inundated with messages condemning the "homosexual content" of its games. A number of EA titles were targeted, but it's the final chapter of the Mass Effect trilogy which particularly captured the frenzied imagination of homophobes. Predictably, "family" and "faith" groups were quick to turn the affair into a media circus.

Can the Tories get away with regional pay?

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This government just won't let up. Its latest wheeze is a plan to introduce "regional pay".

The plans look like a thinly disguised attempt to reduce public sector pay in some parts of the country and cut government spending even further. But of course, they haven't been presented like this. Instead the Treasury has set out a detailed justification for its case that public sector pay must be made more "market-facing".

Why it's clicking off everywhere

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"Right now, there are more people on Facebook than there were on the planet 200 years ago," says Jason Russell, co-founder of the Invisible Children organisation, in his "Kony 2012" video. The inane "documentary" targets Joseph Kony, leader of the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army.

It is riddled with inaccuracies and demands that the US government send troops to Uganda to catch Kony, despite the fact that he hasn't been in the country for the last six years. Even so, it has become an internet sensation, taking just six days to notch up 100 million views - the fastest ever.

No victory

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The US exit from Iraq was a humiliation for the world's biggest superpower. Barack Obama wanted to fulfil his commitment to pull out of Iraq by 31 December 2011, but he also wanted to leave some troops in place. He didn't get his way. The Iraqi authorities refused to extend an agreement of immunity from prosecution for US troops beyond 2011 - so Obama had to pull them all out.

Obama once described Iraq as the "dumb war", yet in his speech to soldiers in the US marking the pull out he called it "an extraordinary achievement".

Unholy row

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In the August edition of Socialist Review I wrote about the crises that have hit successive ruling class institutions, from parliament to the banks. Few would have predicted that the next pillar of the establishment to be riven with turmoil would be the Church of England.

It was the intervention of the police on 15 October that resulted in Occupy London setting up camp outside St Paul's rather than Paternoster Square, home to the Stock Exchange - the original target. An institution that many would dismiss as unimportant suddenly found that it had been lobbed a political hand grenade. The internal division inside the Church produced by 150 tents was a remarkable reflection of the depth of the ideological crisis within the ruling class.

What's the solution for Greece?

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In arguing against a Greek departure from the eurozone some on the left are mistakenly conflating the EU and workers' internationalism

The vilification of Greek resistance to austerity has been a recurrent feature of media coverage of the eurozone crisis. Sadly most of the leading left wing parties across Europe have also been unable to provide a convincing answer to these attacks. The general response of much of the European left has been to replace the right wing paradigm of the "lazy Greek versus the disciplined German" with another simplification: that of right wing nationalism against the eurozone versus left wing, pro-EU internationalism. They fear leaving the eurozone would be a concession to nationalism.

The speed of science

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The scientific world has been shaken by developments in the OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tracking Apparatus) collaboration. Researchers from over 48 different institutions across the world have recorded neutrinos travelling 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light in a vacuum between a source and a detector.

This finding could overturn one of the most fundamental laws in modern physics - that nothing travels faster than the speed of light.

The scandal of faith

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Why are some in the West so terrified of Muslims? There are many tediously familiar answers: because they are all potential terrorists, because they are a drain on the social services, because their culture threatens to swamp British civilisation and so on.

There is, however, a more subtle reason for Islamophobia. Think of the sheer strangeness, in the eyes of sceptical modern Europe, of the presence of countless millions of ordinary men and women whose everyday lives are shaped and guided by belief. What sense can an agnostic, pragmatic society make of that? How can faith possibly fit into its materialistic priorities?

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