The tools and technologies of war may change but the tactics of terror are timeless. Whatever one thinks of the ongoing saga in Mali, it is heartbreaking to think of that nation’s cultural treasures being willfully destroyed by retreating fundamentalist forces. Today’s news from the Guardian is a sombre reminder that war is about territories of the land, the heart, and the history of peoples. One suspects the truth here is not easy to determine but early reports of brutal occupation by forces hiding under a ‘God is Great’ flag are discouraging. That these reports are now being used to urge a mass killing of all rebels by the Mayor of Timbuktu tells us all how quickly war descends to the lowest level of human engagement if unchecked but above all, the removal from our planet of those rare records of thought, knowledge and beliefs of our forebears is a loss that now amount of technological advance can replace.