This is our ides of March – we have been warned

As a veil of iridescence casts a forlorn shadow over the undulating waves of the Gulf of Mexico, and Mt. Eyjafjallajokull spews plumes of volcanic ash into the high atmosphere, we are left wondering. Albeit that the latter was unpreventable and not a result of humanity’s destruction of the environment, one thing is certain: these stark, humbling reminders of the fragility and power of Mother Nature should prompt action. We have been confronted by one warning too many. It was one Robin Williams who kindly mentioned to us that using clean coal is a bit like wearing a porous condom – at least the intention was there. The trouble is that when it comes to the environment, good intentions don’t quite cut it. No one hacks down a tree for a laugh, or decapitates an endangered giant panda for a cheap kick, or burns some fossil fuels for a sneaky …

“Working like a machine? Have a break. Have a Kit-Kat.”

In the shadows of a trade worth up to $80 billion per year lurks an industry notoriously shy of scrutiny. As we gorge upon our favourite luxurious treat, we don’t spare a thought for those involved in its production. A cloak of hideous secrecy tucks exploitation away, safe from ubiquitous discovery. The reality is harrowing: beneath the rich, luscious surface of our sweet delight resides a clandestine dystopia filled to the brim with the veiled stench of child labour. As helpless mothers mourn for their kidnapped sons in Burkina Faso, we shove chocolate bar after chocolate bar down our throats. There is something poignant about the fact that those who make our chocolate never get to taste the product they slave so desperately over, not to mention that they aren’t even paid and undergo dangerous manual labour with machetes and blades. It beggars belief that this injustice manages to skate …

Hatemongering in the name of God

“Viva il Papa!” the crowd cheered rapturously, as Pope Benedict XVI clambered back onto two feet. The pinnacle of the Catholic religion, and one of the most powerful and influential men in the world, had been sent to the ground by a woman dressed in a red sweater just a few hours before delivering his Christmas Day message. Having burst through barriers guarded by stern-faced Vaticanites, Susanna Maiolo had pounced on His Holiness, and was subsequently dispatched to a psychiatric centre to seek help. It’s an astonishing act of iconoclasm, albeit from a mentally unstable woman. But irrespective of Maiolo’s intentions, there is something undeniably powerful about the image of a toppling pontiff. It reminds us that he is a man after all, and not just an icon. Even so, people are still afraid to speak out against his more objectionable ideas. My question is simple: why should Joseph Ratzinger …