1. If Christians are persecuted in many parts of the world, so are Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Buddhists and Jews. If Christians are persecutors in other (or sometimes the same) parts of the world: as are Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Buddhists and Jews. The fact that such a list of persecutors can include Buddhists, probably the faith least renowned for its zeal or intolerance, is a strong indication that by and large we are dealing with group rivalries, hatred of minorities, political struggles and only rarely a persecution based in the specifics of Christian theology.
    — Are Christians the most persecuted religion in the work, as David Cameron has suggested? Nelson Jones investigates.
     


  2. What could be more perfect for a vintage revival than newsprint? Something that retains the spirit of newspapers – the swagger of a disposable luxury – but without all the stuff that makes them seem directed at other people (or at parts of our own characters that we aren’t proud of).
    — Newspapers make you look classy and stylish. Surely they’re ripe for a vintage revival? 
     

  3. A cartoon by Will McPhail.

     

  4.  

  5. Between war and peace

    The Afghan presidential election has been declared a success – but as the west finalises its pull-out, what the country’s prospects? William Dalrymple reports.

    [Battle underway, Susannah Ireland/Eyevine; a district chief meets local elders in Helmand, Moises Saman/Magnum; women in the voters’ queue outside a school in the western city of Herat, Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images]

     

  6. A cartoon by Grizelda.

     

  7. Why futurologists are always wrong…

    …and why we should be sceptical of techno-utopians.

    [Image: Randy Mora]

     

  8. A cartoon by George Leigh.

     

  9. The nerds and the needy

    San Francisco is awash with tech money. Yet this city of innovation is also a place where you have to step over the homeless to buy a $20 artisan coffee. Laurie Penny reports.

     

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  11. Social media has transformed this landscape dramatically. People who create television – and all media, for that matter – have to navigate a sometimes awkward public/private balance when they go online. Many of them are present, and visible, and sometimes they do engage with fans, but just because you can tweet at someone doesn’t mean that it’s a dialogue. It’s the illusion of unfettered access that regularly leads to dissatisfaction, even anger, on both sides. People who create things want to hear what fans think of their work – but they don’t! Or maybe they do! For the fans, the hypothetical direct channel to writers and actors fosters a false sense of intimacy, and the nature of the internet leaves everyone feeling entitled to offer up their opinions on all things ever. But these channels are rarely free and open to begin with – and there is, of course, that total imbalance of power in any exchange, the mismatch that was so clearly on display when Harmon took on his fan up on that stage. However fluid the once-impermeable fan-creator barriers may appear, television is not actually a democracy.
    — elizabethminkel on the shifting dynamics between creators and fans, and how perhaps they should refrain from talking to each other.
     

  12. The facts of killing: how do we write about the Rwandan Genocide?

    Twenty years on, we still struggle to comprehend the trauma, writes Giles Foden.

    [Spéciose Mukakibibi, photographed in 1995, aged 37. Interahamwe militiamen attacked her with machetes and killed three of her five children. Photograph: Jenny Matthews/Panos]

     


  13. In the Insect Room

    By Gillian Clarke

    Marsh Fritillaries

    A drawer of butterflies,
    each impaled on the tiny stilt of its pin,
    as numerous as those quivering, alive
    in the colonies on Cors Llawr Cwrt, larvae
    that live on Devil’s Bit Scabious on the bog.
    They hunger, eat, belong, mate, breed and die.

    I love their language, pupae, chrysallis,
    the coloured oculi that dot their wings,
    their almost symmetry, their beauty
    nourished on buttercup, betony, bugle,
    sprung from the hoof-prints of grazing cattle
    on wetland and marsh.

    Though none here stir, they could be alive.
    If I gaze long enough, they move.

    The Snowdon Rainbow Beetle

    Trapped like the Snowdon Lily when ice lost its grip
    as loosening glaciers began to slip,
    mountains gave way with a slow, deep groan,
    scouring valleys from the tuffs and ash
    of old upheavals, this creature went its own way
    to survive on Snowdon’s western flanks
    feeding on flowers of the wild thyme.

    Genetically distinct, a jewel,
    its elytra striped with emerald, copper, gold,
    precious metals of the mountain’s heart,
    blue of the inky llyn, the colour of slate
    in rain.

          What’s beauty for, but to disguise
    a beetle as a waterdrop to hold
    Snowdonia in a carapace of gold?

    ***

    Gillian Clarke is the National Poet of Wales. Her latest collection is Ice (Carcanet, 2012). “In the Insect Room” was written while she was poet in residence at the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge last spring. She will be appearing with Carol Ann Duffy at the Cambridge Literary Festival, in association with the New Statesman, on 3 April. The festival runs from 1-6 April (cambridgeliteraryfestival.com; 01223 300 085).

     

  14. Appetite for destruction

    From Turner to Tacita Dean, artists have long been drawn to ruins

    [Turner’s The Chancel and Crossing of Tintern Abbey, Armstrong’s Coggeshall Church and Jane and Louise Wilson’s Azeville]

     


  15. Despite all the legal, historical and constitutional complexities which envelop the struggle in which I am engaged, the issues involved are amazingly simple: does it make sense in 1961 to enforce an inescapable hereditary disqualification from service in the House of Commons and deny to a constituency the continued representation of its elected MP? What happens to me is of no great consequence. But the principles raised are worth fighting for.