My Christmas with Gaddafi’s spokesman

Moussa Ibrahim was one of her partner’s most charming PhD students and quickly became a good friend. So imagine the shock when Ros Coward turned on the TV and discovered he was the public face of Gaddafi’s regime

Moussa Ibrahim, Gaddafi’s spokesman, who became familiar to the world through his appearances in the Rixos hotel justifying the Gaddafi regime, was reported captured last week. Currently there is no news of his whereabouts, or whether he is dead or alive. If it’s the latter, his fate is not promising. It doesn’t seem highly likely that those who dispatched Gaddafi to his grisly end will be very forgiving to someone who, as the dictator’s minister of information, was seen as the public face of the regime and who spread Gaddafi’s inflammatory messages. But why should I care about the fate of a Gaddafi loyalist and whether he is tortured or not? Because only last Christmas, Moussa was in my home with his German wife and new baby. I cooked them a traditional roast dinner and we played with the baby. Moussa was very hands-on, changing nappies and rocking the baby to sleep. Perhaps more surprisingly, we toasted the Tunisian uprising over several glasses of good red wine, to which Moussa was always extremely partial.

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/oct/25/my-christmas-with-gaddafis-spokesman

A tree is not just for Christmas

Our annual celebration of Nordic non-drops is a cause for hope

Shopping at this time of year is enough to bring out the bah-humbug in anyone. Those mountains of useless expensive stuff encapsulate what’s gone awry in our attitude to the planet’s resources. Yet amid this disregard for nature is one puzzling note. Carted home in gas-guzzling SUVs, swathed in energy-profligate lights, and presiding over heaps of gift-wrapped plastic, the presence of the Christmas tree raises a doubt. Is there, after all, a little place in our hearts that still cherishes the nature we so readily destroy elsewhere?

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/dec/18/environment.comment