Patrick Worms

When Patrick gets tired of working at his Waterloo, Belgium home, he either picks up a spade or goes to the airport. There's always a crisis somewhere that needs handling or an insight to be got, whether it's how to keep mildew off his tomatoes or Russian troops out of Tbilisi. Cambridge taught him how to keep up, the European Commission how to run from bureaucracies, and the former Soviet Union how to operate in alternate universes.


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The Con Job

The Con Job

Forget misogyny, racism or the economy: an ancient craft is what decided this election. More»

The Day After

The Day After

Yesterday, my city was hit. My city of “zinnekes”, those people from everywhere on earth who, like me, become “Brusseleirs” in the remarkable cosmopolitan cauldron that makes Brussels the (small) New York of Europe. More»

Death of the Levant

Death of the Levant

Why ISIS as the standard-bearer of Sunni resistance? It is not the result of some lusting for barbarism on the part of the region’s Sunnis. It is not even because of the fearsome barbarity with which the Islamic State enforces its edicts (although that helps). Nor is it because its military and security structures are designed and run on Baathist lines (though that helps too). More»

When Europe Fails

When Europe Fails

The shock and horror at the mass drowning in the Mediterranean has been followed by a lot of huffing and puffing about how callous Europe is for allowing this to happen. Indignation abounds, but few solutions are being offered. More»

The Russian Option

The Russian Option

Carl Bildt, Sweden’s outgoing foreign minister, apparently took a decision that shocked many across Europe last week. He announced that the representatives of the Right Livelihoods Award, who bestow the yearly Alternative Nobel Prize, were banned from announcing this year’s winner at his ministry, something they had been doing for 18 years. More»

Blame the Americans

Blame the Americans

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is America’s fault, I am told. Washington egged on the fascists in Kiev, who were trying to shoot down Vladimir Putin’s plane, but somehow got the wrong one.  Everything bad that happens in the world is the United States’ fault. It always is. More»

The Development Crisis

The Development Crisis

The Internet is abuzz with news that a nefarious conclave of fossil fuel interests, big business and government is intent on pushing the world down the catastrophic path of geo-engineering. They want to modify the entire globe’s functioning to accommodate our hunger for stuff and energy, putting profit before planet. Evil, money-hungry boffins about to destroy the entire world? As apocalyptic scenarios go, this one has it all. More»

Discrimination and Inequality

Discrimination and Inequality

Many have noted, with amused or outraged disdain, the contortions with which right-wingers from Dick Cheney to David Cameron are seeking to appropriate a piece of the Madiba magic. Few have as yet noted its converse: icons of the modern left condemning Nelson Mandela for not being socialist enough. More»

Out of Africa

Out of Africa

I’ve got this thing about airplanes. Especially if I am taking them in the forgotten corners of the world. There was that Yerevan to Moscow flight, stopping off in Vladikavkaz for fuel paid for by us, the passengers, dropping various currencies into our begging pilots’ cap. There was that Yak40 linking Ulanbaatar to God knows where in rural Mongolia, with more goats and clucking hens than humans as passengers. More»

The Cameroonian Revolution

The Cameroonian Revolution

Monsieur Richard Ndeudjui, from Makenene in central Cameroon, is a contented man. Thanks to his Moringa leaf tea, he has vanquished the symptoms of his malaria. His son, a student at the University of Yaoundé, brought back the idea and convinced dad to try. More»

Brussels on Greece

Brussels on Greece

As the Euro crisis metastizes to Spain, Italy and elsewhere, European institutions are busy to try to keep the most stricken patient, Greece, alive. The European Commission has set up a high-powered task force “to identify and coordinate the technical assistance that Greece needs to deliver the EU/IMF adjustment programme and accelerate the absorption of EU funds.” More»

Zimbabwe Home Economics

Zimbabwe Home Economics

Zimbabwe’s Shona kitchens are grand affairs: sturdily-built round brick huts, always covered with a prettily tailored thatch roof. The walls are clad in mud or plaster, and often painted in traditional designs. By contrast, the houses are simple, almost slapdash: roughly put-together brick boxes, with a corrugated iron roof. More»

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