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James Meek

Mpshe’s new job under fire

The appointment of former acting prosecutions head Mokotedi Mpshe as an acting judge on the North West bench may be unconstitutional.

Heart of the writer

JM Coetzee's new book <i>Summertime</i> has been shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.

Russia’s dirty war in Chechnya

Malika Labazanova crouched on the floor of her house at number 20, Third Tsimlyansky Lane, Grozny. A young man in camouflage fatigues held the muzzle of an automatic rifle against her head. Both were citizens of the same country, Russia, but he represented the government, and she did not.

Berlin blues

In Car City, a chic, lavishly funded theme park in the Volkswagen company town of Wolfsburg in Germany, there is a museum, and in that museum, there is something from Britain. Among the waxed and buffed automobiles of all eras spread out over several floors sits a perky white model with familiar curves.

What is Europe?

The European Union has grown to 25 diverse states, with five more waiting in the wings and at least another 14 sniffing around the periphery. Should Turkey be allowed to join the European Union? That decision has divided Europeans. But where does Europe end? James Meek finds that cases can be made for many other countries, from Tunisia to Iraq.

Ukraine: Bold but bloodless

Driving through western Ukraine on a hot spring day in the mid-1990s, I passed an idyllic scene. Scores of Ukrainian army conscripts lay around a radar antenna, sound asleep in the rich long grass and flowers, soaking up the sun, expressions of pure serenity on their faces. Now, however, it is worth remembering how many times, and with how little fuss and blood, Ukraine has stepped back from the brink before.

Buying into the unreal

In the software business, the games go by the indigestible acronym, MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), but they are more easily understood as virtual worlds. Aden is a virtual world in an online game called Lineage, created and run by Korean company NCsoft. The allure of virtual games has software firms selling non-existent ''commodities'' for thousands of dollars.

The enigma of the Iraq ‘liberation’

Paul Bremer's departure and the handover of limited sovereignty to an unelected Iraqi government was to be the end of military occupation and the beginning of independence. From London and Washington it may look that way. As the United States pulled out of Iraq this week it left behind 160 000 troops, an unstable government and a poorer nation crippled by debt.

People the law forgot

Images of Camp Delta's orange-jumpsuited, manacled detainees provoked international outrage. But the real horror they face is the threat of infinite confinement, without any rights, seemingly forgotten by the world at large. James Meek spent a month at Guantanamo.

No sniping, no mortars, no sign of Republican guards

The first American pontoon raft slid into the river Tigris with a slosh and a clatter, and young Iraqi men watched from both banks, curious, timid and passive, as United States marines prepared to bridge the ancient waterway. There was not the slightest opposition to the river-crossing.

Iceland’s Decode bubble bursts

E was bitten badly by the Decode bug. In 2000 he bought 30m kronas' worth of shares - more than 230,000 pounds at today's exchange rates - when prices were at their peak. They are now worth considerably less than 10,000 pounds and he faces bankruptcy.

War on the tsetse

One evening a small column of white, four-wheel drive cars passed through the villages of the Great Rift Valley in southern Ethiopia, in a chocolate smell of long-dry earth wetted by the early rains. To the local people it must have looked like one more foreign aid agency on the move.

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