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THE sentence of death by stoning imposed on Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani by an Iranian judge was horrific and inexcusable.
IT WASN'T meant to be like this. If you remember, devolution was Scotland's chance to lead and the rest of the UK would follow. This was the opportunity for a new generation of Scots to be radical, to be different, to challenge orthodoxy and to innovate. Scotland was to be a powerhouse of policy development - a country small enough to be nimble on the world stage yet secure enough in its finances and institutions to be wise.
THE last few days of intense focus on the Lockerbie bombing demonstrate perfectly the difference between generating heat and light.
HE ISN'T the first man to try to make up for saying something stupid by booking a table at a swanky establishment, and he won't be the last. But the private dinner at Chequers hosted by David Cameron for President Zardari of Pakistan is unlikely to be enough to get him out of the spare room of international diplomacy.
THERE is something oddly familiar about the financial devastation unravelling in David Cameron's Britain of 2010. All we need is a re-run of Dallas on BBC1 and a relaunch of the Rubik's Cube and the transformation back to the 1980s will be complete.
SO SAM Cam has decided to go with the Flo? It is a headline writer's dream. I am referring of course to Samantha Cameron giving birth to her new baby girl, Florence.
IT HAS been a week dominated by booze. Not for me, you understand - though in the midst of conducting a grinding proof at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in the course of my day job the temptations were real - but in the world of politics.
BEHIND every successful modern politician is a successful spin doctor. For David Cameron, that man is Andy Coulson, director of communications at Number 10.
SO HERE it comes, our next winter of discontent. The TUC Conference this week met against the backdrop of savage spending cuts and growing unemployment. The big challenge for the union movement was to air and explain legitimate grievances without spilling over into the rhetoric of division and conflict. Some tried, but the overwhelming sense was of unions setting a collision course with the government and the inevitability of strike action.
READING the runes of nationalist politics is always a tricky business. All the more so as the SNP Government emerges from a difficult year and addresses the key challenge of how to convince all those who voted SNP in 2007 to do so once again in 2011.
LISTENING to Scottish Labour celebrating the economic troubles of the Irish Republic last week was a timely reminder of the corrosive negativity that too often defines Labour's contribution to Scottish political debate.
MY FIVE-year-old son returned from school on Thursday proudly sporting a bandage on his elbow after colliding with the school building. Naturally, we asked what had happened.
CONSULTATIONS and government green papers, such as those announced by education secretary Mike Russell on the future of university funding in Scotland, are usually civil service cover for "Yikes, that's a horror show - let's boot this one into Row Z." However, on this most vital of issues there is every reason to embrace the consultative process as not just meaningful but essential.
LAST Thursday the head of MI6 broke more than a century of silence and became the first head of the secret services to make a public, and televised, speech.
THIS is the 21st century, yes? I get confused sometimes, usually when listening to Tory politicians talking about crime. The demand from former Tory shadow home secretary David Davis that the European Court of Human Rights be resisted on the question of prisoners being given the right to vote is a case in point.
I FIND myself in the minority of people who neither love nor loathe George Galloway. I am, however, bewildered by his very public job application to become an MSP. Don't get me wrong, he has every right to stand and the good people of Glasgow may indeed enjoy sending their own little parcel of havoc to the parliament in Edinburgh. Actually, if he sells it like that, he's a shoo in.
TAKE a bow John Swinney - it isn't easy to deliver cuts of £1.3 billion without causing more than a ripple in public opinion. No mass strikes, no civil unrest, no middle class fury.
LORD Sanderson of Bowden must fear the sound of the post arriving every morning. After all, having been asked to reform and plan the resurrection of the Conservative party in Scotland he must wonder what other impossible challenge awaits.