Guardian Writers

Spy agencies face political, legal battles

Parliaments, tech leaders and privacy activists are working to bring the surveillance complex to heel.

‘Bring Snowden in from the cold’

'The civilian rights of the US whistle-blower, who exposed secret internet surveillance, must be respected'.

Robocops should rest

Like most heraldry, the global tour of the Olympic torch is a modern invention, stretching back no further in the mists of time than the last Games in Athens. After London, Paris and San Francisco, prising the torch from the phalanx of the Chinese robocops protecting it has become the latest Olympic sport.

In search of a mission

The Casa Poporului is the unfinished work of one of Europe's last megalomaniacs, Nicolae Ceausescu. Much of historic Bucharest was levelled to create a building that the Romanian dictator could boast of as the largest in the world. An odd choice of summit venue for Nato, which tries to define itself as much by shared democratic values as it does by brute force.

Bloodshed in Basra

Thirteen months have passed since British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Britain's military operation in Basra as "successful" and "complete". Like United States President George Bush's earlier boast of "mission accomplished", these words now ring hollow.

Speedo slows down

Ten months after he came barnstorming to power, Nicolas Sarkozy is in some trouble. The tactician who sapped the strength of the French left by offering right-wing socialists a seat in his government or on the International Monetary Fund is now finding his own weaponry used against him.

Olmert survives, for now

Retired justice Eliyahu Winograd, who headed the panel investigating Israel's 34-day war in Lebanon in 2006, said recently what everybody already knew. The ground offensive launched in the last 60 hours of the war ''did not achieve any military objective, nor did it fulfil its potential''.

A society in pieces

If you bottle up 1,5-million people in a territory 40km long and 10km wide, and turn off the lights, as Israel has done in Gaza, the bottle will burst. This is what happened on Wednesday when tens of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt to buy food, fuel and supplies after militants destroyed two-thirds of the wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Gold, oil at new highs

Gold prices soared to new records trecently, on the back of oil's surge, helped by geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty. The oil price hit $100 a barrel in trading last week, having increased 57% last year, according to Fortune magazine. This puts oil within reach of its all-time inflation-adjusted high of $102 a barrel.

Putin’s man gets Putin’s job

The beauty of Russia's political system is that you do not need an election to know the name of the next president. No primaries, no caucuses, no real campaigning and fundamentally no choice. Russia's next president was announced this week by the current one. He will be the First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Putin’s man gets Putin’s job

The beauty of Russia's political system is that you do not need an election to know the name of the next president. No primaries, no caucuses, no real campaigning and fundamentally no choice. Russia's next president was announced this week by the current one. He will be the First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Four-course meal

After a week of uncharacteristic silence, Nicolas Sarkozy vowed there would be no going back on reforms that have triggered nationwide transport strikes. To an Ulster Unionist's ears, his message would have had a profound resonance: No surrender. Stern rhetoric was met with extreme action. Shortly after he spoke, unidentified saboteurs set fire to kilometres of cabling -- further disrupting France's high-speed rail lines.

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