Even in the weeks before the Charlie Hebdo shootings it was clear that France was at simmering point. Just before Christmas in Bordeaux I met with a gay blogger who had observed the disturbing phenomenon of gay men turning to the Front National. It seemed to me important to write about it - since the moment when people who are normally considered part of the liberal left constituency start aligning themselves with the far right is a very dangerous one. This is what I discovered.




To be UN Special Envoy to Syria is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I tried to think up an image to sum up the grim intractablility of the Syria situation, and came up with 'a chess tournament played according to the rules of poker where half the players are wearing suicide vests'. Despite the difficulty of his role, Staffan de Mistura has been facing sharp criticisms in recent months. I talked to him to hear how he defended himself.



One of Syria's early casualties was the celebrated Arab cartoonist Ali Ferzat. Assad's thugs broke his hands left him for dead in a ditch, but he was rescued and escaped to Kuwait. I was lucky enough to meet him when he visited London.








This is a story I wrote a while ago. When my husband and I were honeymooning in Sri Lanka in 2004, we became increasingly interested in the role Buddhist monks were playing in that election. It transpired that they were conducting violent campaigns against Christians as part of a drive to rid Sri Lanka of foreign influences. The violent nationalism that they represented has plagued Sri Lanka ever since. Here also is a more informal journal I wrote at the time.



The cartoonist who fought Assad

How Marine Le Pen is wooing the gay vote

Interview - Special Envoy to Syria

Violent Buddhist monks

Battle of Writs against the IRA

I looked up lawyer Jason McCue when I was just starting out as a journalist. His biography in the Chambers Legal Directory immediately stood out from that of all the other lawyers - he'd written a novel, his hobby was scuba diving, and, most of interest to me, he defended newspapers against libel actions from alleged terrorists. As a result of our conversation, I did an investigation on the silent scandal that British newspapers were potentially giving millions of pounds to Irish terrorist orgnaisations. I still remain in awe of the bravery of the men who helped uncover this.


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