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15 June 2007

Ben’s baby

Irregular hours, inexplicable tantrums and incomprehensible babbling

By Simon Hooper

First, a happy and belated announcement. Ben has become a proud father; wife Chris gave birth to their first daughter – and the first newstatesman.com baby – last week. Congratulations to all. Which means, of course, in these enlightened times that Ben is currently undergoing the total sensory bombardment benignly known as “paternity leave.”

Still, what better preparation for irregular hours, inexplicable tantrums and incomprehensible babbling than a career as a hack?

With Ben taking his two-week crash course in parenting, we’ve done our best to ensure the same high standards and provocative content that newstatesman.com regulars have come to expect.

First of all, we threw our weight behind a UCL student campaign exposing the college’s investments in the arms trade that aimed to shame the college into adopting an ethical investment policy.

The great news is that newstatesman.com’s intervention proved decisive: following a lively response on these pages triggered by Sara Hall’s piece, UCL has agreed to move its money elsewhere – a victory Sara and her co-campaigners hope will force other arms-investing universities to follow suit.

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Another article that has been causing a stir on the web is Ed Husain’s alarming piece, arguing that a rising tide of radical Islamist rhetoric could be a prelude to jihadism bringing the violence of Baghdad to Bradford.

The Guardian’s Comment is Free site is currently running a counter-argument by Inayat Bunglawala. This is clearly an issue that has set the blogosphere buzzing with both stories getting very well hit.

Elsewhere, we’ve had a thought-provoking Head to Head debate on whether the police should use affirmitive action to raise the number of officers from ethnic minorities, featuring the Chief Constable of Cheshire, Peter Fahy, and Kay Hampton of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Don’t forget as well that you can only see exclusive extra snapshots from Nick Danziger’s stunning photo essay of Brown’s Britain online. All that, all your regular favourites and a new baby.

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