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The Guardian Weekly%282012-06-01%29

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Senegal fi ghts
Wrestlers grapple with corruption
Review, page 30
Bubbling up Refreshing change in India-
Pakistan trade Finance, page 17
Syria becomes the new Bosnia
What next? The Syrian uprising seems stalled Khaled Abdullah/Reuters Leaders join chorus of global condemnation
Libya-style Nato action appears very unlikely From Hillary Clinton in Washington, to William Hague in London, to the UN security council in New York and of course from Bashar al-Assad’s Syr-
ian opponents, expressions of out-
rage over the massacre at Houla in Syria have echoed around the world this week. The words were powerful and condemnatory – commensurate with last week’s slaughter of 108 in-
nocents, including 32 children.
Also weighing in was General Mar-
tin Dempsey, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff , who admitted the question of military intervention “may come to a point with Syria be-
cause of the atrocities”.
But words are the easy part. And words can be qualifi ed and mislead.
UN investigators concluded on Tuesday that 90 of those killed were executed , with the remaining victims dying from artillery fi re. A spokesman for the UN human rights offi ce said witnesses blamed pro-
government militias for the attacks.
Russia, Assad’s most loyal ally, signed up to the UN statement, while its deputy ambassador quickly added that the circumstances of the carnage were “murky”. Sergei Lavrov, its foreign minister, was also trying hard to sound even-handed A week in the life of the world | 1-7 June 2012
Incorporating material from the Observer,
Le Monde and the Washington Pos
t
when he met Hague in Moscow. Syria itself, defi ant as ever, denied responsibility for the “terrorist massacre” and complained of a “tsunami” of abuse, as if it were the principal victim.
Agreeing a coherent and eff ective international response to the bloodi-
est crisis of the Arab spring is looking more rather than less diffi cult, de-
spite levels of cruelty that will surely rank Houla alongside infamous kill-
ing grounds in confl icts elsewhere.
Responses so far suggest more of what has been tried and found want-
ing over the last 14 months: on top o
f
a non-binding UN statement, there is talk of yet more EU sanctions; another meeting of the unwieldy Friends of Syria group; a frosty few minutes at the Foreign Offi ce for the Syrian chargé d’aff aires in London.
Two encounters might make a diff erence: Kofi Annan met Assad on Tuesday to discuss what remains of the peace plan that bears his name. Six weeks on, the ceasefi re remains a fantasy. Assad has yet to withdraw his forces from towns, let alone launch a dialogue with the opposi-
tion. Armed actions by the rebels of the Free Syrian Army and suicide bombings that have been blamed on al-Qaida or other jihadi groups have made that even harder.
Hague, meeting Lavrov, was seeking to persuade the Russians, in eff ect, to stop backing Syria. But there was no sign that Lavrov will waive his veto and sign up to what the British call the “accountability track” – setting in motion moves to refer Syria to the international crimi-
nal court for war crimes. And any-
way, would it make any diff erence? It didn’t aff ect Abu Dhabi AED10 Bahrain BHD1.25 *
Cyprus €2.30 Czech Rep KC104 Denmark DKK26 Dubai AED10 Egypt EGP15 Hong Kong HKD35 Hungary HUF650 Iceland ISK500 *
Republic of Ireland €2.25 Japan JPY600 Jordan JOD2 Kenya KSH220 Kuwait KWD1 Lebanon LBP4000 *
Malta €1.95 Mauritius MR139 Morocco MAD25 Norway NOK35 Oman OMR1.25 Pakistan PKR200 Poland PLN9.50 Qatar QAR10 Romania ROL25.50 Saudi Arabia SAR11 Singapore SGD5.50 Sweden SEK37 Switzerland CHF6.20 Syria SYP145 Thailand THB250 Turkey TRY6.00
Continued on page 2≥
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Analysis
Ian Black
-
News
2 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 the Libyan regime at all last year.
Annan and Hague were exploring whether the “Syrian-led political dialogue” element of the UN/Arab League plan could be merged into a more explicit scheme for transition, b
orrowing the negotiated Arab-
b
acked model that led to Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down – albeit while leaving much of his re-
gime intact. US offi cials have talked up this option but it is hard to see why its chances should be any better now than before.
Hanging over the whole bleak story is this unchanging truth: last year’s Arab-backed Nato interven-
tion in Libya will not be replayed in Syria. Every idea that has been sug-
gested to help the opposition and weaken the Damascus regime – for example humanitarian corridors, no-
kill zones, safe areas or no-fl y zones – would all require off ensive military operations. Those are just not on the cards. Assad knows that.
It is a cruel irony of the Syrian crisis that the world knows a lot about what is happening. In the age of YouTube and Twitter no one can claim ignorance as they did when Assad Sr sent the tanks into Hama in 1982. But knowledge turns out to make no diff erence.
Syria in 2012 is looking more like Bosnia 20 years ago: eff orts by the international community to mitigate the confl ict either have little eff ect or make it worse. If 300 UN observ-
ers have proved ineff ective, would 10 times that number be any better? Will Houla prove to be a defi ning moment? The bitter truth is that there may be many more such atroci-
ties before anything much changes.
• A senior Iranian commander has admitted Iran’s forces are operating in Syria in support of the al-Assad re-
gime. Ismail Gha’ani, deputy head of the arm of the Revolutionary Guards tasked with overseas operations, told the semi-offi cial Isna news agency: “If the Islamic republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of people would have happened on a much larger scale.
“Before our presence in Syria, too many people were killed by the op-
position but with the physical and non-physical presence of the Islamic republic, big massacres in Syria were prevented.” The west has accused Iran of providing military and technical sup-
port to Assad to quell protests since the start of the uprising . Iranian of-
fi cials in return played down the ac-
cusations by saying the country only supported Syria morally.
Middle East focus, page 10 →
Leader comment, page 22 →
Syria is fast becoming the latter-day Bosnia
≤Continued from page 1
Africa Separatist rebel groups in Mali unite to form state The two rebel groups that seized control of the northern half of Mali are to fuse their movements and work together to create an independent Islamic state on the territory they occupy . Alghabass Ag Intalla, one of the leaders of Ansar Dine, which is fi ghting to create an Islamic state, confi rmed his move-
ment was joining with the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, a secular group led by Tuareg separatists. The agreement was signed in the town of Gao last weekend , and celebratory gunfi re rang out in both Gao and Timbuktu, another town under their control .
Americas Radioactive tuna caught
Low levels of radiation from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima power plant in Japan have showed up in bluefi n tuna off the California coast . Small amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were detected in 15 tuna caught near San Diego last Au-
gust , about four months after the chemicals were released into Japa-
nese waters – months earlier than wind and water currents brought debris from the plant to the US Pacifi c coast. The amount of radia-
tion in the fi sh is not thought to be harmful if consumed . Europe Matchfi xing tackled
Offi cers investigating Italy’s widen-
ing football match-fi xing scandal raided the national team’s training camp to search the room of de-
fender Domenico Criscito. Police also arrested 19 others including 11 players, among them Stefano Mauri, captain of Serie A side Lazio. Antonio Conte, manager of cham-
pions Juventus, was put under investigation. Germany sets solar record
German solar power plants pro-
duced a record 22 gigawatts of elec-
tricity – equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity – through the midday hours of last Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. Germany’s government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster, closing eight plants imme-
diately and shutting the remaining nine by 2022. They will be replaced by renewable energy sources.
Middle East Bahrain hunger strike ends
Bahrain’s most prominent political detainee, Abdulhadi al-Kawaja, has ended his hunger strike. Al-Khawa-
ja’s lawyer said his client felt he had successfully drawn attention to the issue of imprisoned activists.
Deadly mall blaze in Doha
A fi re in a shopping centre in Doha on Monday killed at least 19 people, including 13 children. The dead included four teachers and two civil defence offi cials. Most of the 17 people who were injured were rescue workers, said Qatar’s interior ministry.
World roundup
Asia/Pacifi c Tiananmen suicide
Ya Weilin, father of a man killed in China’s 1989 Tiananmen square crackdown, has hanged himself in protest after two decades of failed attempts to seek government re-
dress. Support group Tiananmen Mothers said that according to Ya’s family, the 73-year-old had carried a note detailing his son’s death and declaring he would die in protest .
Lhasa immolations
Two men engulfed themselves in fl ames outside a temple in Lhasa, the fi rst time the recent wave of self-immolations to protest at Chi-
nese rule has reached the tightly guarded Tibetan capital. One man died and the other was taken to hos-
pital. At least 34 other immolations have occurred since March 2011 . Lady Gaga no show
Lady Gaga cancelled a sold-out show in Indonesia after Muslim hardliners threatened violence if it went ahead. The Islamic Defenders Front claimed the singer’s clothes and provocative dance moves would corrupt youth in the world’s most populous Muslim country. Disco still feels the love
Next week
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Heat wave ... Indian children cool off in sweltering New Delhi Kevin Frayer/AP
International news
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 3
ANC battles in court over ‘rude and disgusting’ depiction of Jacob Zuma
Infl ammatory … The Spear by Brett Murray Gallo Images/Rex Features
Presidential portrait reopens South Africa’s apartheid wounds
David Smith Cape Town
One of the most heated debates in South Africa’s recent political history reached a moment of farce last week when three high court judges were asked to adjudicate on whether to ban a portrait of the president .
The work, The Spear, by Brett Murray, unleashed a brouhaha that has hogged headlines for weeks in South Africa . It was not that it showed Presi-
dent Jacob Zuma in a pose mimicking Soviet-era portrayals of Lenin – chest thrust out, arm aloft, coat-tail fl owing in the wind – that riled the ruling Afri-
can National Congress (ANC). It was, rather, the addition of his penis.
The ANC denounced the painting as rude and racist. It took the matter to a regional high court in Johannesburg, arguing that the image violated Zuma’s constitutional right to dignity. It also demanded that the City Press newspa-
per remove a photo of The Spear from its website, urging “all South Africans, members of the ANC and the alliance, to indefi nitely boycott buying the City Press news paper” until it did so.
The newspaper fi nally relented on Monday . “The atmosphere is like a tin-
derbox: City Press copies went up in fl ames on Saturday; I don’t want any more newspapers burnt in anger,” its editor, Ferial Haff ajee, said.
Zuma, 70, is a Zulu polygamist who has married six times, and has four current wives and 21 children. He has admitted fathering one child out of wedlock in 2010 and once stood trial for and was acquitted of rape. In an affi davit, he stated: “The portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect.”
The Goodman Gallery in Johannes-
burg – where the painting was on show last month – and the artist counter that freedom of expression, also protected by the constitution, is at stake.
The hearing was broadcast live on national television. ANC leaders were present, along with several of Zuma’s children, who have joined their father in the legal challenge.
As arguments began, the judges closely questioned Zuma’s lawyer, Gcina Malindi, on points of law, race, art and the limits of their ability to control publication on the internet. Malindi argued that the court should hear not just the opinions of a “super class” of art experts but how the paint-
ing was likely to be seen by the coun-
try’s black majority, denied education under the apartheid system.
An ANC spokesman described Ma-
lindi as a leading member of the move-
ment who had been tortured for his anti-apartheid activities. “That’s why this is emotional,” he said.
The painting came to the ANC’s at-
tention after report s it had been sold to an anonymous buyer. It would prob-
ably have gone unnoticed but for the ANC’s aggressive interest.
The case is being fought over a work that essentially no longer exists. Last Babylonian captivity An oil pipeline threatens the ancient city’s artefacts International news, page 9 ≥
week the painting was defaced by a
white businessman – peacefully taken
into custody by security guards – and a
black taxi driver, who was head-butted and body-slammed by a guard. The
businessman claims he was making
an artistic statement of his own,
critiquing both the ANC and Murray, while the taxi driver has laid an assault
charge against the guard.
The Spear saga has pushed all the buttons that inflame emotions in South Africa’s national discourse. The ANC, backed by trade unions, the
Young Communist League and some black commentators, has invoked
anti-apartheid rhetoric, saying the
work symbolises lingering racial op-
pression – still a defining prism for
much public debate here.
Gwede Mantashe, ANC secretary-
general, said: “From where I am , that
picture is racist. It is disrespectful. It
is crude and it is rude. The more black
South Africans forgive and forget, the
more they get a kick in the teeth.”
Murray is far from the fi rst white per-
son to criticise the ANC and be labelled
a racist. He is from Cape Town, often
seen as the country’s last bastion o
f
white privilege. But last week the Times
of South Africa devoted its front page to photos of the young Murray wear-
ing an ANC T-shirt and examples of his
work that used to lampoon the white
minority regime, under the sarcastic
headline: “Murray, the ‘racist’”.
Murray’s defenders say respect is
earned, and Zuma has not done so,
sexually or politically. Two black com-
mentators, Mondli Makhanya and Jus-
tice Malala, have argued that Zuma has
defi ned himself by his sexual lifestyle.
Malala wrote in the Guardian: “He has
done more to provide fodder for racist
stereotypes than any black South Afri-
can has done.”
Politically, there is a wide percep-
tion that Zuma is treading water and
needs a headline-grabbing diversion
from South Africa’s real crises: corrup-
tion, the failure to deliver services and
inequality. The ANC is said to be riven
by factions and in need of a common
enemy to rally against.
Sipho Hlongwane, a columnist for the Daily Maverick, argued: “As things stand, they have reason to thank the
artist for giving them a unique op-
portunity to further secure their core
voting constituency from the further
encroachment by the liberal infi dels.”
Zuma has done more to provide fodder for racist stereotypes than any black South African has done 4 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Spain looks to ECB to bail out its biggest bank
Giles Tremlett Madrid
Spain’s government plans to force Europe’s central bank into sharing the task of bailing out its troubled fi nan-
cial sector in a potentially controver-
sial move that could spark objections from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Spain is considering proposals to inject €19bn ($24bn) of capital into nationalised Bankia in the form of government debt that could then be accept sterling from Northern Ireland customers, has focused minds on the future of the single currency as the Greek crisis rages on .
Dunwoody, like most people in Clones, displays the kind of ambiva-
lence towards the single currency and the EU treaty that should worry the pro-European government in Dublin .
“Isn’t it a real sign of the times that a town like Clones has to examine the potential of bringing back the old cur-
rency? Maybe it’s a fl avour of what’s to come, maybe it’s a little warning to Brussels that the likes of Clones and indeed Ireland may have to fi nd their own way out of this mess. ”
Across the street in the Supervalu store the owner, Bernard McNally, has reported an extra 1,000 euros worth of trade since around Easter when “punt tourism” began.
Slaking his thirst after a stroll in the early summer heat, Rory Hamill hand ed over a surprisingly crisp, purple 20-punt note across the bar in Treanor’s pub. Hamill lost his job in the recession, but despite that he did not feel the Clones experiment w ould be rolled out across the Republic. “This is just a one-off as I don’t think we are going to abandon the euro in its entirety. We are stuck with the euro.”
Up at The Diamond in the town centre, meanwhile, armed Irish soldiers were protecting a van delivering cash (presumably euros) to a local bank. Spotting the troops at the top of the town, Ciaran Morgan confesse d he wouldn’t be around much longer to see how his scheme will progress .
“I’m off to New York to fi nd a job,” sa id the young entrepreneur.
Seumas Milne, page 20 ≥
Return of the Irish punt gives an economic boost to town
seeing a report on the internet about a village in Spain that was using the old peseta as an alternative to the euro.
“We checked with the central bank in Dublin and were staggered to fi nd there was around 285m punts that could still be exchanged as legal currency. We got the plastic vouchers printed in China and then started the project in March. Customers who have punts come to the town, go into a shop or business, and they then get the euro equivalent on the voucher which they must spend here in Clones.
“In our shop alone we’ve taken in over 1,000 punts,” Morgan add ed.
The embracethepunt.com scheme off ers to take old punts at a rate of 1 to every 1.20 euros. They then sell the punts back to the Irish Central Bank at a rate of 1 punt to 1.27 euros.
“The seven cents made on each transaction isn’t used for profi t in the shops,” stresse d Morgan. “Each seven cents made is put into a central fund to pay for things like Clones’ Christmas lights or the St Patrick’s Day parade .”
Ten of the business owners taking part in the scheme reported that trade was up dramatically since customers across the island dug out their old punts and started fl ocking to Clones.
But despite the boost to the town , the signs of the Irish economic crash are stark . Finbarr Dunwoody, presi-
dent of Clones Chamber of Commerce, point ed to the boarded-up shops and estate agents’ signs. “As you can see, 50% of the businesses in our main street are closed,” he sa id. “If we take one more euro into the town as a result of this scheme then it is surely a good thing. I was absolutely bowled over by the amount of punts still out there in the country so hopefully if we got 1% of that 285m it would be great.”
The reintroduction of the punt in this border town, whose shops also Henry McDonald Clones
The only euros visible inside Lipton’s mini-market just over a kilometre from the Northern Ireland border are the joke ones printed on the toilet rolls and tissue paper. For in Clones, almost everything – from a pint of Guinness to a bag of animal feed – can now be b
ought by exchanging the pre-euro Irish currency, the punt.
As Ireland went to the polls on Thursday either to ratify or reject the latest EU fi nancial reform programme, the butchers, bar owners, shop keep-
ers, barbers and citizens of the County Monaghan town have resurrected the old Irish currency bearing the faces of past Irish heroes such as Catholic emancipator Daniel O’Connell .
They are all taking part in an experi-
ment to boost a town ravaged in the economic downturn. It exploits a fi nancial loophole that deems up to 285m punts stuff ed under Irish mat-
tresses, inside piggy banks, salted away as souvenirs or in latent bank accounts, as legal tender.
Holders of the old currency can visit Clones and hand over their punts for blue and yellow laminated vouch-
ers, which are then used to shop in 45 b
usinesses . “There have been people coming from as south as Kerry and as north as Antrim to spend money in the town since it began this spring,” explain ed Ciaran Morgan, the 21-year-
old student who, along with his father, dream ed up the idea.
Inside his family’s store on the road up to the border, Morgan explain ed that he came up with the plan after Eurozone
Financial loophole means stashed old currency is still legal A local solution to the euro crisis … Clones has 45 businesses where you can use your punts Kim Haughton
used to raise money from the Euro-
pean Central Bank (ECB), forcing it to get involved in what may become a far wider bailout of Spain’s creaking bank-
ing sector.
Details are sketchy, but sources in Madrid confi rmed that involving the ECB was the most probable way for-
ward for a Spanish government that will have trouble raising the money itself at a manageable interest rate.
By sidestepping the markets, the government would indirectly “push the fi nancing of Bankia’s bailout on to the ECB”, according to El País news-
paper.
Part-nationalised Bankia, which holds 10% of Spanish deposits, last Friday asked the government for €19bn on top of the €4.5bn provided three weeks ago. That made it Spain’s biggest-ever bank rescue.
Spain’s boast that it had raised half of its 2012 fi nancing now looks fragile. Its long-term advantage in Europe, due to a low level of public debt four years ago, is also slipping away. A budget deficit of 8.9% last year has forced Spain to borrow signifi cant extra sums to pay its bills.
The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has imposed a fi erce austerity programme to bring the defi cit down to 3% next year. That has deepened recession and helped push unemploy-
ment close to 25%.
The government already expects to inject up to €15bn into banks this year as they set aside €82bn against toxic The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 5
Greek resorts suff ering as fearful Germans stay away Helena Smith Athens
Kate Connolly Berlin
Observer
Every May, coaches carrying German tourists used to cruise up the long winding road that leads from Pyrgos to ancient Olympia. There they would decant en masse into the tavernas, bars and shops that line the Pelopon-
nesian town’s cobbled thoroughfare. But things have changed.
“They’re just not coming,” says Dimitris Tyligadas, a local hotelier. “And if they do, they kind of look at us through half-closed eyes, as if they don’t really trust us.”
Olympia is not the only town suf-
fering from a fall in tourist numbers. The German reaction to the economic crisis engulfi ng Greece has been to stay away. In the 10 days after the inconclu-
sive election last month, an extraordi-
nary 50,000 bookings – half of those usually made every day at this time of year – were cancelled . Most were Germans fearing the consequences of being seen as the source of the auster-
ity regime enforced in return for EU-
I MF rescue loans to prop up Greece’s moribund economy.
“The drop was considerable,” said Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enter-
prises. “We estimate that German arrivals will be down by about 25% by the end of the year.”
A lust for the sun, sea and freedom of spirit associated with Greek resorts mean that 4 million Germans visit each year – more than any other EU member state. For a country that depends on tourism, with one in fi ve working in it, their absence could have a devas-
tating eff ect: never more so than now when the future of Greece, either in or out of the eurozone, is likely to have ramifi cations not only for Europe but the world economy.
Earlier this year Greek news papers were full of reports of Germans “fear-
ing for their lives” if they visited Greece. Violent street protests, peak-
ing with the burning of the German fl ag outside the Greek parliament in February, at the height of the book-
ing season, spurred the fi rst wave of cancellations.
It was a far cry from the image Germans such as Andrea Schale had in mind when they booked their Greek holiday months earlier. For Schale, a 27-year-old sales assistant from Potsdam, the resort of Malia in Crete conjured “fi shing boats, a white, sun-
baked terrace, a bottle of ouzo to wash down after a plate of souvlaki”. Last week as she prepared to board a fl ight from Berlin to the island’s capital, Heraklion, she was wondering whether
she had made the right choice.
“We’ve seen lots of images on TV o
f
Greeks burning the German fl ag, set-
ting fi re to rubbish bins and of stones
fl ying. I just hope the anti-German sen-
timent isn’t going to ruin our holiday. I
think I’ll pretend to be Austrian just in
case, or better still, speak English.”
The German foreign office has
advised tourists to check on the cur-
rent situation before any holiday and
to avoid “demonstrations and large gatherings”.
Ironically, Greece could not be quieter, less strike-plagued or better
value for money. Walkouts that saw
thousands of tourists being stranded
at harbours and airports last year have dropped as unions lay down their arms
ahead of general elections on 17 June.
“Precisely because of the crisis
Greece is the best value it’s ever been
for the past decade. To fi ght the bad
press and re-energise demand we have
reduced rates dramatically ,” Andreadis
said. “This is actually an incredible
opportunity. The Greece we dream
about and want our children to live in could be born out of this crisis.”
But it is a perilous balancing act. Although Greece attracted 16.5
million tourists last year – with record
numbers from Russia and other new markets in the Balkans and Turkey – falling prices could lead to the sort o
f
revenue losses that will exacerbate what is already the worst recession in
living memory for Greeks. real estate assets that have slumped in value since a 2008 housing bust. An independent audit of banking assets may uncover further problems, forcing the government to raise more money to help banks.
But growing uncertainty about the euro and worries about Spain as it nosedives into a second recession in three years mean the country must now pay above 6% interest on money borrowed for 10 years.
In recent weeks, Rajoy’s government has insisted that the ECB is the solution to Spain’s liquidity problems.
If Spain is unable to use govern-
ment debt to recapitalise banks and cannot raise money on the markets, it may still have to turn to Europe’s bailout funds.
“Spain cannot do this alone,” said Luis Garicano of the London School of Economics on a blog posting af-
ter Bankia asked for €19bn. “I do not understand why the government is waiting to ask for help from Brussels.”
Athens hits back at IMF
IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s uncompromising description of Greeks as tax-dodgers has provoked a furious reaction in Athens just weeks before the country heads to the polls.
With Greece mired in recession, the IMF managing director was rounded on by almost the entire political establishment.
In an interview with the Guard-
ian, Lagarde said she had more sympathy for victims of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa than Greeks . “As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. ”
Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek socialist leader, accused her of “insulting” Greeks. Following criticism , the IMF chief was forced to issue a state-
ment saying she was “very sympa-
thetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing”. HS
More online
guardian.co.uk/business/debt-crisis
≥
International news
6 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Manning ‘denied a fair trial’
Ed Pilkington New York
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of being behind the biggest leak of state secrets in US history, is being denied a fair trial because the army is withholding crucial information , his defence team is arguing.
With Manning’s court-martial ap-
proaching in September, his legal team has released details of what they claim is a shocking lack of diligence by mili-
tary prosecutors in aff ording him his b
asic constitutional rights. The stakes are high, with Manning facing possible life imprisonment for a raft of charges that include “aiding the enemy”.
Manning’s main civilian lawyer, David Coombs, has filed a motion with the military court in Fort Meade, Mary land, that sets out a catalogue of delays and inconsistencies in the army’s handling of the case. In par-
ticular, he claims the government has failed to disclose key evidence that could help Manning defend himself against the charges.
Almost two years after Manning was arrested, the military has not yet completed a search even of its own fi les to see if there is any mate-
rial benefi cial to the defence – as it is legally obliged to do. Manning faces 22 charges relating to the transfer of a massive trove of US state secrets from military computers to the whistle-
blowing website WikiLeaks. He was arrested in May 2010 at a military base outside Baghdad, where he was work-
ing as an intelligence analyst, and has been in custody ever since.
Disclosure by the prosecution of information that could be useful to the defence – known as “Brady materials” – has been a cornerstone of American criminal law since the US supreme court laid down a ruling making it obligatory in 1963. The rule applies equally to civilian and military pros-
ecutors, under the 14th amendment of the US constitution.
The defence motion itemises some of the information that it believes is in the possession of government bod-
ies, from the army itself to the FBI, de-
partment of justice, state department and various intelligence agencies. “To allow the government to restrict the defence’s access to this information,” Coombs concludes, “is to provide the government with an unfair tactical advantage that will likely prejudice Manning’s right to a fair trial.”
‘I come to learn’… Mitt Romney in Philadelphia Mario Tama/Getty Romney reaches out to woo black voters
Nia-Malika Henderson Washington Post
Mitt Romney’s campaign team has b
een laying plans to reach out to Barack Obama’s most loyal support-
ers – black voters – not just to chip away at the huge Democrat margins, b
ut as a way to reassure independent swing voters that the presumptive Re-
publican presidential nominee can be inclusive in his approach.
That plan, still in its early stages, ran headlong into harsh political realities in Philadelphia last week when Rom-
ney was treated to a hostile welcome on his fi rst campaign swing through a poor, black neighbourhood this year. Protesters met him with chants of: “Get out, Romney, get out!”
Madaline Dunn, 78, said she was “personally off ended” that Romney would visit her neighbourhood. “It’s not appreciated here,” she said. “It is absolutely denigrating for him to come in here and speak his garbage.”
Romney took his campaign to the Universal Bluford charter school in West Philadelphia aiming to highlight his education agenda but also to con-
nect with voters who were not part of his political calculus during the primary campaign. “I come to learn, obviously, from people who are hav-
ing experiences that are unique and instructive,” he said.
Romney campaign offi cials under-
stand their challenge with black voters against a Democratic incumbent, par-
ticularly when that incumbent is also the fi rst African American elected to the presidency. Still, they insist they will try.
“Yes, it is a bit harder this time. We have a black president. But we can’t go in with the mindset that we aren’t going to win any people over to our side,” said Tara Wall, a former Bush administration offi cial hired as a sen-
ior Romney communications adviser to handle outreach to African Ameri-
cans. “ We need to be able to communi-
cate and relate to these communities about how they are being impacted by Obama’s policies … It’s not a ploy, it’s not a tactic, it’s part of who we are. We have to show up.”
In 2008, Obama got 96% of the black vote with high turnout levels that put him over the top in two traditionally Republican states – North Carolina and Virginia – and he will need a repeat per-
formance to keep those states in his column this year.
The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a similar margin, with Romney receiving 5% of the Af-
rican American vote to Obama’s 92%. Yet there are signs that some of that support might have eroded, as blacks have faced record unemployment .
Michael Cohen, page 19 ≥
US hackers target al-Qaida
Karen DeYoung
Washington Post US state department cyber experts recently hacked into websites used by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen and substituted the group’s anti-Ameri-
can rhetoric with information about civilians killed in terrorist strikes, secretary of state Hillary Clinton said last week.
When al-Qaida recruitment prop-
aganda appeared on tribal sites in Yemen, Clinton said, “within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions … that showed the toll al-Qaida attacks have taken on the Yemeni people.”
The revelation provided an unusual window into low-level cyber warfare activities that the US government rarely discusses. In a speech to the spe-
cial operations command in Tampa, Clinton cited the hacking operation as an example of growing counter-
terrorism co-operation between the state department, the intelligence community and the military.
She said state department experts are also working with special opera-
tions forces on the ground in central Africa, helping to encourage defec-
tions in the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony.
As the US military has expanded op-
erations into areas formerly reserved for diplomats, Clinton has been an advocate for expanding her depart-
ment’s reach, with civilian-military operations she calls “smart power”.
“We need special operations forces who are as comfortable drinking tea with tribal leaders as raiding a terrorist compound,” she said. “We also need diplomats and development experts who are up to the job of being your partners.”
She added: “We can tell our eff orts are starting to have an impact” in Yemen, where the group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is based, “be-
cause extremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking support-
ers not to believe everything they read on the internet”.
The state department’s activi-
ties are the latest in online counter-
terrorism eff orts to stem the spread of radical Islamist ideology that stretch back at least a decade. The US central command has a digital engagement team that monitors blogs and forums, targeting those that are moderate in tone and engaging with users, said Major David Nevers, former chief of the team.
“ The idea is to go where the con-
versation is taking place, using … extremist commentary or propaganda as a jumping-off point to people who are listening in,” Nevers said in an interview this year. Bradley Manning’s lawyer says the army has failed to disclose evidence that could help him
International news
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 7
Montreal bangs pots and pans in protest
Casserole movement … tuition fees are at issue Olivier Jean/Reuters
Adam Gabbatt Montreal
At 8pm last Friday there were 20 people banging pots and pans near Jarry metro station in Montreal.
By 8.10pm, there were nearly 200, walking in circles round the intersec-
tion of Rue Saint-Denis and Rue Jarry as the pedestrian crossing changed.
Ten minutes later, hundreds of pro-
testers were in the road blocking traf-
fi c, the din from their kitchen imple-
ments drowning out the car horns.
The “casseroles” movement sprang up in response to the Quebec govern-
ment’s Bill 78, a controversial law in-
troduced last week to quell student protests over tuition fee increases. The pot-banging protests began with a Facebook call out on 19 May, and spread across Montreal, with Jarry’s contingent particularly popular .
to growing student demonstrations
against proposals that would increase
university fees by about $320 a year for five years. The legislation offi-
cially suspended university terms, in
response to the class walkouts that
have occurred in many institutions since February, and also placed dra-
conian restrictions on protests.
But the bill appears to have only fanned the fl ames of the demonstra-
tions, winning students larger backing from Quebec residents than they had
before .
Earlier last Friday, student groups
and union groups issued a legal challenge to Bill 78, asking that it be quashed . A separate motion was also fi led requesting that sections on the
number of demonstrators allowed to
protest and the restrictions on student
organisations be suspended. There may be progress on the uni-
versity fees matter outside the court-
room. On Monday, Quebec student
leaders said that negotiations with the provincial government were to
resume for the fi rst time in a month.
Volume of demo rises after government tries to quell student anger Mark Recher, a 53-year-old musician born and raised in Montreal, was out with his pan for the fi rst time, driven to protest by the new legislation. “The big games started when [the govern-
ment] passed Bill 78. Before that it was just the government and students,” he said.
“But now: fi rst it’s 78, but after that lots of things. Quebec has had enough. And all these young people – people say university is cheap now, but these young people’s taxes will be paying for us in a few years.”
The Quebec government intro-
duced Bill 78 last month in response International news
8 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Nuclear talks with Iran rescued
Common ground ... EU envoy Catherine Ashton, left, is hopeful
Julian Borger
International talks over Iran’s nuclear programme were salvaged from col-
lapse in Baghdad last week with a last-ditch agreement to make another attempt at a compromise deal in Mos-
cow later this month.
After two days of intense talks in the Iraqi capital, Lady Ashton, the EU for-
eign policy chief, said: “It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground. However, signifi cant diff erences re-
main. Nonetheless, we do agree on the need for further discussion to expand that common ground.”
The common ground seems lim-
ited, beyond the desire to keep talks going to forestall the threat of Israeli military action. Ashton pointed to Iran’s “readiness to address the issue of 20% enrichment” – a particular con-
cern for the international community as 20%-enriched uranium is easier to convert into weapons-grade material. But diplomats at the talks said Iran’s lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili, did not explicitly off er to curb this.
“It wasn’t easy,” one diplomat said. “Jalili said he was prepared to talk about 20% enrichment but then he came up with a bunch of peripheral issues like relations with Bahrain, and events in Syria.”
After the talks, Jalili told CNN that progress at Moscow would require that “measures that damage the confi -
dence of Iranians should be avoided”, an apparent reference to punitive measures such as sanctions.
Responding to the mixed outcome of the talks, the UK’s foreign secretary, Negotiators will try again for compromise at Moscow meeting
William Hague, said Iran needed to take “urgent, concrete steps”. He added: “If Iran fails to respond in a serious manner, they should be in no doubt that we will intensify the pres-
sure from sanctions, including the em-
bargo on oil imports already agreed, and will urge other nations to do the same.” The UK remained fully com-
mitted to a diplomatic solution to the nuclear impasse, he said, but added “we must see significant progress from Iran” in Moscow.
At the outset of the talks, a six-
nation group of senior diplomats pre-
sented what they termed a confi dence-
building package, calling on Iran to stop 20% enrichment, ship all its 20% uranium out of the country and stop operations at its underground enrich-
ment plant at Fordow.
In return, the group – the US, UK, Russia, France, Germany and China – off ered nuclear fuel plates for a re-
search reactor, help with nuclear safety at Iranian reactors and spare parts for Iran’s commercial airliners.
Jalili verbally presented counter-
proposals, but they were considerably more vague. First was what he termed “the operationalisation of the fatwa”, a reference to supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s reported religious edict outlawing the development of nuclear weapons, although it was not clear how this would be put into eff ect.
His second point was international recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and the third point dealt with regional issues such as Bahrain and Syria.
Western diplomats argued that Iran’s right to enrich uranium as part of a complete nuclear fuel cycle had been suspended until Tehran could con-
vince the international community it had entirely peaceful intentions for its programme. The six-nation group argued that such issues would ulti-
mately be addressed in a comprehen-
sive settlement of the Iranian nuclear standoff , but that the two sides should first carry out smaller, confidence-
building steps.
Iranian state media reports criti-
cised the package off ered to Tehran on the grounds it did not include im-
mediate relief from sanctions, but Eu-
ropean diplomats claimed Jalili hardly mentioned sanctions inside the meet-
ing “because he knew he would get no traction”.
A US negotiator said: “We are get-
ting to the things that matter … this is at least the beginning of a negotiation.” Leader comment, page 22 ≥
Amnesty: UN council ‘unfi t for purpose’
Lizzy Davies
The UN security council is suff ering a failure of leadership that makes it seem “tired, out of step and increas-
ingly unfit for purpose”, Amnesty International says . In its 50th global human rights report, it documents abuses in countries across the globe, noting a worsening in discrimination against gay people in Africa and an in-
crease in xenophobic rhetoric by some European politicians.
But after what it describes as a “mo-
mentous” year for the region, it is on the Middle East and north Africa that much of the report focuses. Despite “compelling evidence” of crimes against humanity being committed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, it notes, the UN security council has not referred the Syrian leader to the international criminal court . Failure to take action, it concludes, has left the security coun-
cil looking “redundant”. In Europe, the report fi nds, some governments have actively contrib-
uted to the strengthening of stereo-
types and prejudices and the fuelling of intolerance. The Romanian presi-
dent, it says, has twice been warned about making “anti-Roma” statements on television, while debates surround-
ing full-face veil bans in Belgium and France have been “based on assump-
tions rather than reliable data” and have “further stigmatised Muslims”. In countries such as Belarus and Az-
erbaijan, autocratic regimes strength-
ened their grip on power, the report notes. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the uprisings to the north inspired dissent in countries from Angola to Senegal to Uganda, authoritarian rules were imposed with force .
Israelis attack African migrants during refugee protests
Harriet Sherwood Jerusalem
Demonstrators have attacked Afri-
can migrants in Tel Aviv in a protest against refugees and asylum seekers that indicates an increasingly volatile mood in Israel over what the country terms as “infi ltrators”.
Miri Regev, a member of the Israeli parliament, addressed the crowd and told them “the Sudanese are a cancer in our body”. The vast majority of asy-
lum-seekers in Israel are from Sudan and Eritrea.
Around 1,000 protesters took part in the demonstration last week, wav-
ing signs saying “Infi ltrators, get out of our homes” and “Our streets are no longer safe for our children”. A car containing Africans was attacked and shops serving the refugee community were looted. Seventeen people were arrested.
A reporter for the Israeli daily Maariv described it as an “unbridled rampage” and explosion of “pent-up rage”.
The protest followed a claim by the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, that “illegal infi ltrators [were] fl ooding the country” and threatening the se-
curity and identity of the Jewish state. “This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity,” he said.
The government is constructing a fence along the Egypt-Israel border to deter migrants and asylum seekers, and is building what will be the world’s largest detention centre, capable of holding up to 11,000 people.
It is also seeking court approval to deport up to 3,000 refugees back to South Sudan, despite concerns over the humanitarian crisis there and hu-
man rights violations.
Israel’s police chief has urged the state to allow asylum seekers to work in order to avoid economic and social problems.
Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has described refugees as ‘infi ltrators’
International news
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 9
B
abylon was probably founded in the 23rd century BC . It was sacked countless times and rebuilt almost as many. It was taken by Cyrus II of Persia in 539 BC and by Alexander the Great two centuries later. It slipped into oblivion in the early Christian era before being rediscovered in the 19th century by Claudius Rich . At the end of the 20th century it was spoiled by Saddam Hussein and in the early 21st century damaged by the US army . Now it’s bracing for an oil pipeline.
At the end of March, the last sec-
tions of this pipeline triggered a letter expressing “concern” from Unesco ’s deputy director general for culture to the Iraqi minister for tourism and antiquities. In Iraq the pipeline is the subject of dispute be-
tween the oil and tourism ministries, and the Iraq state board of antiqui-
ties and heritage (Isbah) is challeng-
ing the legality of the project. “The oil ministry has caused incalculable damage by digging a 1,500-met re-
long tunnel under the Babylon archaeological site,” declared Qaïs Hussein Rachid, Chairman of Isbah, to the news agency Agence France-
Presse in mid-May.
The new pipeline is not far from two others built in the 1980s and 1990s, one of which is no longer in use. “The pipeline crosses the perimeter of the archaeological site but outside the walls, beneath the so-called outer city,” said Véronique Dauge, chief of the Arab States Unit at the Unesco World Heritage Centre. “But even if it doesn’t cross the cen-
tre of the ancient city, it is in an area that has never been excavated.” The site covers approximately 850 hec-
tares, most of which is virgin terri-
tory for archaeologists. A spokesman from the Iraqi oil ministry quoted by AFP reported that the land dug up revealed no archaeological remains.
“No one can say right now if the oil pipeline has caused damage,” said Lisa Ackerman, executive vice-
president of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), a New York-based foundation for preserving architec-
tural heritage, who works on the site with the Iraqi authorities. “But I think it’s very likely that it crosses “It is very important for Iraqis that Babylon be listed,” explained Alessandra Peruzzetto, a WMF ar-
chaeologist who specialises in the Middle East. “But the new pipeline will damage the site’s integrity, which is an important factor in assessing a site for listing.” Dauge confi rmed that the pipeline “will be an issue” if a new application is made – which is not yet the case.
Babylon’s new scar will be just one more of many – all of which are recent. There were those resulting from Camp Alpha, a military base for the US and Polish armed forces established on the site’s perim-
eter from April 2003 to December 2004. The levelling work carried out for the helicopter landing pads, and the trenches that were dug and later fi lled with landfi ll from elsewhere, caused much damage, as did the plundering of engraved ceramics and bricks.
A damage assessment report commissioned by Unesco in 2009 stated: “During their presence in Babylon, the US army and contrac-
tors employed by them, mainly KBR [a construction company], directly caused major damage to the city by digging, cutting, scraping, and level-
ling. Key structures that were dam-
aged include the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way.” “However,” said Ackerman, “even though the armed forces’ installa-
tion did cause damage, most of the destruction of the past few years has been due to the lack of conservation measures.” Runoff , in particular, has devastated the monuments. Since 2007 WMF has been working with the Iraqi authorities to establish a site management plan, and has now begun conservation work on several key structures. Le Monde Sacked countless times, spoiled by Saddam, Babylon faces a new threat
Iraq diary
Stéphane Foucart
Heritage crossroads Confl ict in India grows over preserving historical sites Review, page 28 ≥
Special interest ... Iraqis cherish Babylon’s treasures Roslan Rahman/AFP
No one can say if the oil pipeline has caused damage … but I think it’s very likely that it crosses sensitive archaeological zones
sensitive archaeological zones.”
The pipeline is causing a furore in Iraq, said Dauge, because Babylon is still not listed as a World Heritage site, despite being one of the most prestigious archaeological locations in the world. The application was made several times under Saddam Hussein but was always turned down because of the “absence of any management and preservation plans for the site”, she explained. That entails preparing the site to receive visitors, demarcating the boundaries, protecting the site, and so on.
10 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12
Waiting their turn ... overall turnout in the fi rst round of Egyptian voting was just 46% Khaled Elfi qi /EPA
Sabbahi’s Karama party has said it will boycott the runoff on 16 and 17 June. Sabbahi’s supporters believe he could yet mobilise dormant revolu-
tionary support . One distraught campaigner shouted: “What do we tell the martyrs and their families?” A weeping Deena Nayel said: “I feel oppressed. The old regime still rules. Morsi and Shafiq sold the blood of Egyptians.”
Hani Shukrallah, the veteran al-
Ahram commentator, wrote: “Having stunned themselves and the world by staging a great revolution, at enor-
mous sacrifi ce, many Egyptians felt they were back in square one, the very square which their despised deposed president used to taunt them for 30 years: ‘It’s me or the Muslim Brotherhood.’”
But he added later: “It’s not a new dawn of the Muslim Brotherhood we are witnessing, nor a revival of the police state, but the twilight of both.”
Dr Solava Ibrahim, of Manchester University, said that many will choose to abstain from voting in the runoff . “No matter what the results of the elections will be, it is clear the Egyptian revolution still has a long way to go un-
til it achieves true power.”
Egyptian election result points to a ‘nightmare’ fi nal contest
hoped that complaints about irregu-
larities including vote-rigging would produce a diff erent fi nal result. But the electoral commission rejected all ap-
peals after rechecking vote counts.
It also dismissed as a “false rumour” claims that 600,000 police and troops had illegally voted for Shafi q .
Protesters set fi re to Shafi q’s cam-
paign headquarters in Cairo on Mon-
day night, an Egyptian TV channel re-
ported. The privately owned Al-Hayat channel broadcast images of a fi re it said was at Shafi q’s campaign offi ce and which was allegedly caused by a group of protesters. Morsi received 5.7m votes (24.3%), followed by Shafi q with 5.5m (23.3%). Hamdeen Sabbahi, the independent Nasserist, got 4.8m (20.4%), Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, an independent Islamist, 4m (17.2%) and the former Arab League chief Amr Moussa 2.5m (10.9%). Abul Fotouh was the only can-
didate to reject the results outright.
For all the talk of polarisation, nearly half of the first-round votes went to candidates in the middle ground. Turnout was 46% of some 50 million registered voters.
Moussa, who had been seen as the front-running “stability” candidate, said on Monday that he would back neither of the presidential fi nalists, rejecting both a “religious state” and a state “run by remnants of the former regime”.
Ian Black Abdel-Rahman Hussein Cairo
Egypt’s fi nal presidential race will be b
etween the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate and a former air force general who is widely considered to b
e a stalwart supporter of the deposed Hosni Mubarak .
According to the final results an-
nounced by the country’s presidential election commission, the runoff later this month will pit Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party against Ahmed Shafi q, a law and order candidate and Mubar-
ak’s last prime minister.
Of all the likely outcomes of the fi rst round of the two-stage contest, this is the most polarised, pitting the long-
b
anned Brotherhood – the world’s oldest Islamist movement – against a secular fi gure who is seen as a remnant of the old regime.
For many supporters of the revolu-
tion that saw Mubarak deposed after 30 years in February 2011, this was a “nightmare” outcome to the fi rst elec-
tion for an Egyptian leader in which the result was not predetermined.
Supporters of losing candidates Middle East
Historic vote confi rms Muslim Brotherhood v
s Mubarak old guard
The facts: despite 14 months of violent pro-reform agitation and an estimated 10,000 deaths, the president, Bashar al-Assad, remains fi rmly entrenched in Damascus. His regime has been ostracised by fellow Arab states, faced sanctions from the west and been chastised by the UN. But the army has remained loyal, while Russia has off ered diplomatic protection and Iran provides arms .
The outlook: unless the US and the Nato allies, notably neighbouring Turkey, overcome their aversion to direct military intervention, the re-
gime looks likely to cling on. Syrians face the prospect of prolonged instability. Syria
Score (out of 10) The facts: the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi has been followed not by a new democratic dawn but by continuing political instability ex-
acerbated by the weak performance of a rudderless National Transitional Council, feuding between rival militias, continuing human rights abuses, allegations of fraud and a growing east-west divide.
The outlook: national assembly elec-
tions on 19 June, for which 4,000 candidates have registered, may be postponed . There has been credit-
able progress in restoring oil exports and public services. These gains may be undercut by reviving ethnic and racial tensions . Libya
The facts: among all the Gulf states, Bahrainis have pushed hardest for democratic reform – and been the most repressed. Fearing for its sur-
vival, the Sunni monarchy led by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa invited Saudi Arabia to send troops to help suppress its mostly Shia Muslim opponents last March . The interven-
tion, tacitly backed by the US, pres-
aged severe human rights abuses.
The outlook: April’s Formula One race in Manama fooled nobody: Bahrain’s rulers and ruled remain on a collision course. Hundreds of cases of alleged torture, compiled by international investigators last year, remain unaddressed. Bahrain
The facts: months of street protests forced the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, from offi ce after 33 years. But the February “election” of a succes-
sor was a sham, with Saleh’s vice-
president the only candidate. Saleh’s son and other relatives still control much of the military and govern-
ment. They are bitterly opposed by tribal chiefs and radical Islamists.
The outlook: teetering on civil war, Yemen is a magnet for jihadis dis-
placed by US military pressure in Afghanistan and Pakistan . With al-
Qaida expanding its presence in the south, and US drone strikes increas-
ing, Yemen is the new frontline in Washington’s silent “war on terror”. Yemen
Democratic defi cits How the rest of the Arab Spring nations are faring
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 11
Flashpoint … a Sunni gunman protests at the shooting of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid at a Lebanese army checkpoint Syrian uprising infl ames tensions in Lebanon
It was only a matter of time. Since the start of the Syrian uprising, the Lebanese have been asking when and how their giant neighbour’s woes would reach them. That trou-
ble would fi nd its way to the shores of the Levant was a given. So too was the fact that whatever happened would stir the coals of the country’s sectarianism.
Throughout the past 15 months Lebanon, a patchwork quilt of 18 sects – and almost as many exter-
nal patrons – has been increasingly polarised by the revolt in Syria, with residents split roughly in half between those who support the Syr-
ian president, Bashar al-Assad, and those who want him gone.
The numbers on each side have barely shifted as the violence in Syria has steadily worsened. And they were never going t o. The pro-
Assad bloc, led by the Shia Islamic parties Hezbollah and Amal, a splin-
ter of the Druze sect, and roughly half the country’s Christians see the uprising as a plot led by Sunni jihad-
ists who want to change the regional order with the silent backing of the west.
In the other corner are the Sun-
nis, the other half of the Christians and most of the Druze, who believe that the revolutionary events taking place in Syria are another phase of the Arab spring revolts, which have ousted entrenched old orders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya (with a little help) and Yemen.
Both sides shape facts to fi t their narratives; both have infl uence in-
side the country’s deeply politicised security agencies; and both have considerably hardened their po-
sitions – with the encouragement of their regional patrons – as the Syrian crisis has worn on.
In the 20 years since the end of the Lebanese civil war, next to no progress has been made in building a functional country. Institutions remain feeble, the judiciary compro-
mised and the bulk of the po-
litical class a feckless mob of naked opportunists. In such a combustible atmosphere, a struck match is cause for alarm. So when a sheikh in the Sunni heart-
land of Akkar was shot dead at a Lebanese army checkpoint last week the country quickly had a new crisis on its hands.
Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Wahid was an important fi gure in northern Leb-
anon and across the border in Syria. He had helped organise refuge for Syrian refugees near Lebanon’s sec-
ond city of Tripoli and played a role in establishing supply lines back into the war-torn west of the country.
Suspicions that there was more to the killing than a trigger-happy soldier were added to by the arrest several days earlier of an Islamist from Tripoli, Shadi Mawlawi, who was accused of being a member of al-
Qaida who had received funds from a Qatari national.
Within hours of Abdul Wahid’s death, the Sunni north was up in arms and clashes soon spread to mixed Sunni-Shia areas in Beirut. The Lebanese army promptly with-
drew from Akkar and more than 20 soldiers and offi cers were arrested. Lebanon’s leaders quickly sensed that the crisis could lead to a blood-
letting and have promised an inde-
pendent judicial investigation. The country’s Sunnis will take some con-
vincing that such a thing is possible .
In the wash-up, Mawlawi was released last week with a $300 fi ne, a punishment that casts serious doubt on his original charge. He sa id his confessions were coerced. Qatar and the Gulf states have asked their citi-
zens to leave Lebanon – a punitive measure against a government that needs their citizens’ summer tourist dollars, and that also implies a belief that Beirut was doing Syria’s bidding by arresting the Qatari national.
And all the while, the chaos in Syria and its sectarian dimension – real or manufactured – continues to worsen. Sectarian faultlines in Lebanon are now more pro-
nounced and dangerous than for many years. And the political class shows little capac-
ity, or will, to deal with them.
The facts: the Arab spring began tri-
umphantly in Tunisia, when a popu-
lar uprising sparked by the death of a street vendor unseated the country’s long-time ruler, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in January last year. Tunisia’s has also been the most successful democratic transition to date. Elec-
tions last October saw the moderate Islamists of An-Nahda emerge as the largest party and form a coalition .
The outlook: An-Nahda’s leaders have respected Tunisia’s relatively secular social norms and have not attempted to anchor a new constitu-
tion in sharia law. But fears persist that An-Nahda could prove a stalking horse for Islamist extremists. Tunisia
The facts: street protests have been generally small-scale, but pressure is building on King Abdullah to make good his promises of reform. A slumping economy, frequent political reshuffl es, a string of high-
level corruption scandals and an infl ux of refugees from Syria have compounded a sense of growing instability.
The outlook: so far, attention is focused on reform rather than the replacement of the Hashemite mon-
archy. But this could change if hard times persist and Abdullah fails to deliver the modernising changes his core East Bank constituency is increasingly demanding. ST
Jordan
Analysis
Martin Chulov
Flas
h
point … a Sunni gunman
protests at the shootin
g
of Sheikh Ahmed Abdul W
a
hid a
t
a L
eba
nes
e a
rmy
c
h
ec
k
po
i
nt h
ardened their po-
t
h
e
nt n
al h
e h
as
t
s
d
e i
n
n
ctional
t
ut
i
ons
e
, the
m
pr
o-
e o
-
A
nd all the while, the chaos in
S
yria and its sectarian dimension
– r
eal
or
ma
nuf
act
ure
d –
co
nti
nue
s to worsen
.
Sectarian f
aultlines in
L
e
b
anon are now more p
ro-
n
ounce
d
an
d
d
an
g
erous
than for man
y
y
ears. A
nd the p
olitical class
s
hows little capac
-
ity, or will, to deal
wit
h t
hem
.
More online
guardian.co.uk/world/middleeast/roundup
≥
International news
12 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 US protest at jail for doctor who helped fi nd Bin Laden
Poor Iranians compete to sell their kidneys
No shortage … sellers advertise their kidneys on unoffi cial noticeboards in Tehran Torab Sinapour
Saeed Kamali Dehghan
Marzieh’s biggest worry is to come up with money for her daughter’s wedding. In Persian custom, it is the parents’ duty to provide a jahizieh, a dowry, and as a widow , she feels it is important to fulfi l her responsibility and protect the family’s honour.
To do this, she is ready to sell one of her kidneys. If she is successful, she will travel to one of Tehran’s kid-
ney transplant centres and have it removed. “It is getting too late for my daugh-
ter to marry – her moment has already passed,” she said.
Iran is the only country where the selling and buying of kidneys is legal. As a result, there is no shortage of the organs – but for those trying to sell a kidney, there is a lot of competition.
In order to advertise her kidney, Marzieh has written her blood type and her phone number on pieces of paper and has posted them along the street close to several of Tehran’s hospitals .
Others have done the same. Some have written in big letters or in bright colours to attract attention; some have sprayed their information on walls .
“Kidney for sale,” reads one ad, car-
rying the donor’s blood type, O+, and a mobile number, with a note empha-
sising “urgent”, a hint that the donor is prepared to consider a discount. Many are handwritten, though some have typed the ads to make them look b
etter. “24 years old, kidney for sale,” another reads. “Tested healthy.”
Iran’s controversial kidney pro-
curement system is regulated by the CASKP and the Charity Foundation for Chris McGreal Washington
A US senate committee has voted to cut Pakistan’s aid by $1m for each of the 33 years of a prison sentence given to a doctor for helping the CIA to track down Osama bin Laden.
The appropriations committee unanimously approved the $33m reduction as outrage grows in Wash-
ington over the conviction of Shakil Afridi for treason. The physician ran a fake vaccination programme in an attempt to collect Bin Laden’s DNA in order to verify he was living in the It is the only country w
here the organ trade is legal and fl ourishing
Abbottabad compound where he was eventually killed a year ago.
The aid cut will not be immediately implemented as it comes out of next year’s budget, but it will increase the pressure on Islamabad as Washing-
ton seeks to have Afridi’s conviction quashed or his sentence reduced.
The appropriations committee debate refl ected the frustration at what many in Washington see as Pakistan’s duplicity that has bubbled away for many years over the links between its intelligence service and the Taliban .
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher demanded stronger action from the Obama administration. “Secretary Clinton will have to do more than voice protests over the Afridi case. Both the departments of state and defence need to take punitive actions against Pakistan.”
In response Pakistan said the US should respect its courts. A foreign offi ce spokesman, Moazzam Ahmad Khan, said that the case would be decided not by pressure from Wash-
ington but in accordance with the country’s laws. There is evidence that Afridi may not have realised he was being used to hunt Bin Laden. A retired Pakistani army brigadier, Shaukat Qadir, who obtained access to intelligence reports about Afridi’s interrogation, said that he may not have known he was helping track down Bin Laden.
“Shakil [Afridi] had no idea of whom or what he was looking for. He was merely paid to follow instructions,” Qadir wrote in a report. It is not clear if Afridi knew he was working for the CIA. Qadir’s report may explain why Afridi did not immediately leave Paki-
stan after Bin Laden was killed. Special Diseases. These charities fi nd potential sellers and introduc e them to the recipients, and are charged with checking compatibility and ensuring a fair trade.
After the transplant, the vendor is paid by both the government and the recipient. In an interview with the semi-offi cial Mehr news agency, the CASKP’s director, Mostafa Ghassemi, estimated the total offi cial price list to be around $570, of which about $80 is paid by the government. “In 2010, a total of 2,285 kidney transplants took place in the country, of which 1,690 kidneys were supplied from volunteers and 595 from those clinically brain-dead,” he said. Ac-
cording to Mehr, the majority of peo-
ple selling kidneys are aged 20-30. Despite the state control, bureauc-
racy and time-consuming procedures have left the door open for non-offi cial direct negotiations, making the Iranian system more like a kidney market.
Dr Benjamin Hippen, a transplant nephrologist with the Carolinas medi-
cal centre in North Carolina, has stud-
ied successes, deficiencies and the ambiguities of the Iranian system.
Making a judgment about whether the 20-year-old system as a whole has been successful was complicated, he said. “The majority of those selling kidneys in Iran are disproportionately poor, and information about the long-
term outcomes for sellers is quite lim-
ited. Too, it is increasingly clear that there are many different systems, rather than a single unified system in Iran. ”
Black market organs The illegal trade in kidneys has risen to such a level that an esti-
mated 10,000 black market opera-
tions involving purchased human organs now take place annually, or more than one an hour, World Health Organisation experts say.
Evidence collected by a world-
wide network of doctors shows that traffi ckers are cashing in on rising international demand for kidneys driven by the increase in diabetes and other diseases.
Patients, many of whom will go to China, India or Pakistan for surgery, can pay up to $200,000 for a kidney to gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as $5,000 Guardian reporters
Anatomical auction
In pictures – Would-be sellers advertise their kidneys close to Tehran’s hospitals http://bit.ly/iranorgan
14 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12
has been reinvented during the past generation.”
Go back to the 1960s, and the pros-
pects for the Thames looked bleak. The river was declared biologically dead in 1957. Beyond the Square Mile, the docklands had made a remarkable recovery from the devastation of the blitz, but the container revolution threatened the economy of the East End in a far more destructive and in-
sidious way than anything infl icted by the Luftwaff e.
“This was a desperate moment in London’s history,” says White. “Until the 1960s, the wealth and fortunes of London depended on the Thames.” It was a highway, an artery of global com-
munication and commerce, a source of trade, raw materials and precious human capital.
The Port of London Authority was the capital’s biggest employer. On an average day, about 20,000 porters, ste-
vedores, coopers, crane-drivers, tally clerks and lightermen worked at the docks before the fi rst world war. Lon-
don was the Thames, and the Thames was London. As recently as the 1960s, London was the trading city it had been for 2,000 years, and the Thames was still central to that. “The river held the key to London’s strength and status,” says White. After 1966 – the year of a major seamen’s strike – “the Thames was forced to reinvent itself”. The way it has done this holds up a vivid and enthralling mirror to 50 years of social and cultural change. I n the afternoon sunshine, the waterway seems as timeless as ever. D ownstream, the evidence of reinven-
tion unfolds like a tableau along the South Bank, now plausibly the engine of London’s global reputation. “London’s economic base,” says White, “became reduced after the col-
lapse of manufacturing in the 1960s. Today, there are just three essentials for its future: finance, tourism and London’s mirror to 60 years of change
Jerry White, who has just published London in the Eighteenth Century: A Great and Monstrous Thing (Random House), a well-received study of the capital, thinks this watery jamboree is appropriate. White believes that “it is impos-
sible to exaggerate the place of the Thames” in the fabric of British life. “You could say,” White observes, “that the Thames is only now begin-
ning to get the attention it deserves. The untold story of this river is that it Robert McCrum Observer
The Amazon is grander, the Congo infi -
nitely darker and the Mississippi much mightier, but the river Thames, which runs softly into London out of Celtic mists, remains always “sweet”, in TS Eliot’s words, “till I end my song”. Like the country it inspires and bi-
sects, the longest river in England can b
e both intimate and splendid, as the aff ectionate expression “Old Father Thames” suggests. In the words of one commentator, “this great river is liquid history”.
During the next few weeks, from the Queen’s diamond jubilee to the Olympic climax, a pageant of contem-
porary history and culture will be en-
acted along the banks of the Thames. Dunkirk will be remembered by sur-
vivors from the “Little Ships”. Teams of marine commandos will enforce a ring of steel around the Olympic park. The Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean will be b
erthed by the Thames Barrier. And this weekend, in the wake of the royal barge, some 1,000 ama-
teur mariners will celebrate nautical tradition in a compelling armada, rang-
ing from currachs to ketches.
UK news
The river Thames is at the heart of the Queen’s diamond jubilee events
The royal family is enjoying record popularity, but things could get a good deal more complicated after the Queen leaves the scene, accord-
ing to a Guardian/ICM poll.
Britain would be worse off without the monarchy say 69% of respondents, while 22% say the country would be better off . This 47-point royalist margin is the larg-
est chalked up on any of the 12 occa-
sions since 1997 on which ICM has previously asked the question.
Pro-royal feeling is spread re-
markably equally among the social classes, and across the regions of England and Wales. It is less marked in Scotland – where 36% say the country would be better off without the Windsors – but even there a solid 50% feel the opposite way. Support is stronger among the older, and especially among Con-
servative voters .
But if “long to reign over us” is the diamond jubilee sentiment, that could be partly out of nervousness about what is coming next. When voters were asked what should hap-
pen when the Queen dies or if she abdicates, they remain resolutely anti-republican, with just 10% say-
ing Britain should elect a head of state instead of having a new mon-
arch. But if there is support for the hereditary principle, there is much less for what it means in practice. Only 39% want the crown to pass to Prince Charles in line with the suc-
cession; 48% want it to skip a gen-
eration and pass straight to Prince William. Tom Clark
Poll shows record support for monarch
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 15
culture.” Finance is located in the skyline of the City of London. Before landmark buildings like the Gherkin and the Shard, London’s bridges begin to suggest the shift towards tourism and culture. Up to 1750, in the days of the Great Frost, when the river froze, there was just one river crossing – Lon-
don Bridge – a chaotic, ramshackle, medieval thoroughfare crowded with shops, dwellings and the severed heads of traitors. As London and Britannia flour-
ished in the 18th century, the river became an open sewer. New bridges – Westminster, Blackfriars – opened up trading possibilities into the home counties of the south of the country. Later, the railway inspired Cannon Street bridge, perhaps the ugliest across the Thames. Today, passing the Tate Modern gallery, the Globe theatre and the re-
juvenated, Shakespearean borough of Southwark, another symbol of the con-
temporary Thames comes into view: Norman Foster’s Millennium Bridge. This celebrated “wobbly bridge” has none of the commercial consequence of the river’s traditional bridges. As a pedestrian crossing between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Globe theatre, it is integral only to the creative economy of Thameside.
This stretch of the Thames is a palimpsest of London’s violent past: the Tower of London and its Traitor’s Gate, the Monument (to the Great Fire of 1666), HMS Belfast and the memo-
ries of two world wars, the replica of Francis Drake’s Golden Hind, the site of the Clink, the debtor’s prison, Nel-
son’s HQ, and fi nally the Edwardian self-confi dence of Tower Bridge.
T owards Docklands is the futuristic megalopolis of Canary Wharf. This, for White , marks the apex of another, equally neglected, aspect of the river’s renewal: the residential revolution east of Wapping and St Katherine Docks. The Isle of Dogs, now bounded on three sides by the river, and its re-
development will always be associated with Thatcher’s Britain. As signifi cant are the extraordinary property trans-
formations of Limehouse Reach, Free Trade Wharf and Cuckold’s Point. Historians may well fi nd in these re-
conditioned wharves and renovated rookeries the bricks-and-mortar sym-
bolic of the long economic boom that led up to 2008’s economic crash. Linda and Steve, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, have been persuaded to come to the Thames by American friends. “Seemed like a good way to see London,” said Steve. “We can’t be-
lieve this weather,” adds his wife. The cultural dimension of the Thames, however, is probably its main selling point. In art, aspects of the river have been captured by Canaletto, Turner, Monet and Whistler. In fi ction and poetry, London and the Thames are woven into the pages of the Eng-
lish literary tradition. Overseas visi-
tors to the capital and its artery come to it through the pages of books such as Our Mutual Friend, Great Expecta-
tions and Oliver Twist. Later Victorian novels place the Thames in a sunnier, and more humorous light. Both Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame wax dithyrambic about the magic of the Thames at dawn. But even works of the imagination dwin-
dle before the mind-boggling scope of the Thames’s history, a continuous narrative that reaches back to Julius Caesar and beyond. At low tide, archaeological research has uncovered pre-Roman temples and burial grounds along the river at Battersea. Then there’s music. Han-
del’s Water Music was premiered on 17 July 1717, performed on a barge for George I. In living memory, the Sex Pistols played a notorious concert on the Queen Elizabeth riverboat on 7 June 1977. For the jubilee of 2012, the musical side has not been left to the counter-culture. A “River Of Music” will celebrate “a weekend of free music from around the world on stages along the River Thames” in July.
Peter Wilby, page 21 →
Tracy McVeigh Matthew Taylor
A bank holiday, a flotilla, stamps, street parties, bunting, an Andrew
Lloyd Webber song and wall-to-wall
homage – it’s all becoming a little hard
to stomach for Britain’s republicans.
While the silver jubilee in 1977 had
angry young anti-monarchist punks
on the Thames , this year for the dia-
mond jubilee the royal family will be cheered down the river on barges
while a “right royal” picnic is planned at the “people’s palace”.
It’s left an awful lot of British anti-
monarchists – anything from 22% to 50% of the population, according to recent polls – wondering where the
dissent has gone.
Last Saturday, the fi rst “alternative
jubilee street party” took place in Lon-
don: an anti-austerity protest outside
the Putney house of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
In Sheffi eld, campaigners targeted Clegg’s constituency offi ce; in Man-
chester, protesters highlighted “cor-
porate tax dodging”; while in Notting-
ham, campaigners focused on chan-
cellor George Osborne, dubbed the Sheriff of Nottingham after he cut the
top rate of tax and announced deeper
welfare cuts in the budget.
Simon Hope, who came to the
Putney party with his four-year-old daughter, said: “The government is trying to use the jubilee to distract
people from the cuts and the tough times they are facing. ”
Graham Smith of Republic, a move-
ment campaigning for the hereditary
monarchy to be replaced with a dem-
ocratic head of state, said Britain’s
centuries-old tradition of republican-
ism was still out there. “Not only is
it there, it is growing. We have seen
our membership triple since the royal wedding build-up last year, from 7,000 to around 22,000. ”
And there are other outbreaks o
f
rebel lion: anti-monarchy merchan-
dise is doing a roaring trade online.
Lancashire T-shirt producer Vasco
Wackrill said his republican T-shirts
are selling out.
The anti-establishment anthem God
Save the Queen, famously performed by the Sex Pistols on the Thames in June 1977, has been re-released , with
former band member Glen Matlock
playing at an “anti-jubilee” three-day
festival in Bath that is expected to at-
tract a crowd of around 5,000 people.
But overall, jubilee fervour seems
to be unstoppable. The Thames has been a centre of human habitation for 5,000 years.
• The fi rst bridge across the river in London was built by the Romans in around AD50.
• In 1683 the Thames froze for two months . The last “frost fair” on the river was in 1814 .
• In 1858 parliament was sus-
pended because the stench from the Thames was too strong.
• In 1878, 600 people died when the Princess Alice, a Thames pas-
senger paddle steamer, sank after colliding with another boat.
• Flooding of the Thames claimed 14 lives in January 1928.
• The river was declared biologi-
cally dead in 1957. Today it is home to 125 types of fi sh and 400 species of invertebrate. RM
The ebb and fl ow of history
Republicans ask: where’s the dissent?
Getty Images/Vetta
16 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 “we decided more often against than in favour”.
Lance Price, former Labour and No 10 press officer, had previously de-
scribed Murdoch as the “24th member of the cabinet”.
Blair said: “Am I saying he’s not a powerful fi gure in the media? Well no, of course he is, and, of course you’re aware of what his views are, and that’s why I say part of my job was to man-
age the situation so that you didn’t get into a situation where you were shift-
ing policy.
“I would say very strongly we man-
aged the position that I believed in on Europe and that was a position the Sun and the News of the World frequently disagreed with me on.”
On his relationship with Murdoch, Blair said: “Europe was the major thing that he and I used to row about. I believed in what I was doing, I didn’t Building for growth … government looks to investment Roger Bamber/Alamy
• Lady Warsi, the Con-
servative party co-chairman, agreed to submit expenses claims to a parliamentary in-
quiry. The move follows alle-
gations in the Sunday Times that she failed to declare some income to the Lords register of interests and also that she claimed up to £2,000 ($3,000) in expenses for liv-
ing in a fl at in London when she was not paying rent. • Education secretary Michael Gove described as “bizarre” a GCSE exam ques-
tion that asked students to explain the possible reasons behind prejudice against Jewish people. The paper read: “Explain, briefl y, why some people are prejudiced against Jews.” Gove said he did not understand why the exam board had set such a question. A spokeswoman for the board said there was never any intention to justify prejudice. • The “male-dominated elite” is deterring the ap-
pointment of women to the upper echelons of corpo-
rate Britain, the equalities watchdog warned. A study of recruitment of non-executive directors , carried out for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, found that the men who hold the majority of seats around the tables of the 350 biggest London-listed companies tend to select members with similar charac-
teristics. • The chancellor, George Osborne, was forced to make two climbdowns over his budget, including scrapping the “pasty tax”. Osborne is to reverse plans to charge VAT on food that is designed to cool down, such as sausage rolls and pasties, and will also reduce a VAT charge on static caravans from the standard 20% rate to 5%.
• Plans to introduce closed inquests with evidence heard in private have been dropped from the government’s “se-
cret justice” bill following a dispute between David Cam-
eron and Nick Clegg. Govern-
ment offi cials heralded the move as the main concession in one of the most controver-
sial pieces of legislation con-
tained in the Queen’s speech. It follows a row behind the scenes that delayed publica-
tion of the bill . News in brief
Tony Blair: Murdoch ‘did not lobby me’
House-building seen as key to get Britain out of recession
Heather Stewart Julia Kollewe
John Maynard Keynes once advo-
cated paying people to dig holes and fi ll them in again, in order to create j
obs and demand in a time of slump. With Britain deep in double-dip reces-
sion, the government is embarking on a 21st-century version of the policy, using its fi nancial power to kickstart a wave of building projects .
Nick Clegg dropped a broad hint last week that the coalition hoped to un-
leash a “massive” wave of investment in housing and infrastructure from the private sector by using government guarantees. The policy, about which there are as yet few details, would be an extension of what chancellor George Osborne calls “credit easing”. Instead of funding a new road or power station upfront, the government would off er guarantees – to pension funds wanting to invest in infrastructure, for example, or housebuilders.
These are likely to be straight-
forward loan guarantees, but the government is also considering more radical options, such as underwriting part of the risk for pension funds when they invest.
It’s not a Plan B, Treasury offi cials insist: the government won’t borrow or spend any money up front, so it will stick to its strict defi cit targets. It does, however, signal a marked change of mood music. Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, says: “It’s clear that this is a substantial change, in that they really want to see something hap-
pen, and something happen now.”
Last week’s news from the Offi ce for National Statistics that GDP contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.3% in the fi rst quarter of the year banished any doubt that the economy is anything but deep in the doldrums.
The figures revealed that even before the euro crisis reached its latest climax, manufacturers were suff ering from weak demand, thousands of builders were standing idle, and key parts of the services sector, including fi nance and business services , were feeling the pinch.
International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde, in London to reveal the results of the IMF’s latest health check of the UK last week, backed Osborne’s defi cit-reduction scheme, saying she “shivers” at what might have happened if the government had not got to grips with the fi nances.
But the IMF’s experts were clearly nervous about the weakness of the UK economy: they called on the Bank of England to unleash more quantitative easing – and cut interest rates – and the Treasury to draw up emergency plans in case the situation deteriorates. Dan Sabbagh and John Plunkett
Tony Blair told the Leveson inquiry on Monday that Rupert Murdoch did not lobby him directly over media pol-
icy when he was prime minister and highlighted examples where his gov-
ernment had gone against the News Corporation founder’s wishes.
Blair said that he and Murdoch had “a working relationship until after I left offi ce”. After this they became closer and Blair was godfather to Murdoch’s daughter Grace, he added.
He told Lord Justice Leveson that Murdoch “didn’t lobby me on media stuff ”, but said that was “not to say we weren’t aware of the positions their companies had”, in particular his strong views in opposition to Eu-
ropean integration.
But he said on regulatory matters aff ecting Murdoch’s business directly, need him or anyone else to tell me what to do.”
Robert Jay QC, counsel to the in-
quiry, said Price had also said he had been told Blair would never change policy on Europe without talking to Murdoch first. He replied: “No we would never have given an assurance to Mr Murdoch or anybody else that we were not going to change policy with-
out seeking their permission. That’s absurd.
“Having said that, if we were about to engage in a major change of policy on an issue that mattered to any partic-
ular media group we would probably have tried to prepare the way for it, but I think that is perfectly sensible and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Blair also confirmed he sent Re-
bekah Brooks a message of support after she resigned as chief executive of News International . UK news
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 17
Finance
Murree Brewery’s lager returns to market lost since 1947 partition
Joint venture ... traditional Pakistani beer Murree will be made by an Indian company Sipa Press/Rex Features
Pakistan and India share a beer
Jon Boone Rawalpindi
Amid rising hopes for an unprece-
dented opening up of trade between south Asia’s two nuclear rivals, Indian drinkers are soon to enjoy Pakistani beer for the fi rst time since the two countries gained independence.
Murree Brewery, a Raj-era oddity in an increasingly conservative Islamic country, says it will start selling its lager in India, a market that was lost after partition in 1947.
The joint venture with an Indian beer maker represents a remarkable step as the countries try to overcome decades of hostility to increase the tiny amount of trade that trickles across their border.
“This is a huge opportunity for us, given the size of the Indian market,” said Sabih-ur-Rehman, a former ma-
jor who helps run the brewery and dreams of Murree beer becoming as internationally recognised as other Asian brands – such as Kingfisher (India), San Miguel (Philippines) and Singha (Thailand).
Despite the common history shared by the 2 billion people of Pakistan and India, business between the countries is pitiful. In 2009, only 1% of India’s total trade was with Pakistan, which itself only sold 1.7% of its exports to its neighbour.
Pakistan’s leaders believe trade could help to revive the country’s failing economy, though it remains un-
popular with some religious parties.
Optimists even claim better eco-
nomic ties could help the two over-
come their entrenched disputes over issues such as the control of Kashmir and the future of Afghanistan.
“Improvement in trade will mean greater interaction across the borders and great interaction inevitably leads to greater understanding,” said Kam-
ran Mirza, head of the Pakistan Busi-
ness Council.
But a large number of trade barriers remain to be overcome between the two nations, which have fought three wars against each other.
There is just one customs post along the 2,900km border, at the heav-
ily militarised border post of Wagah, between Lahore and the Indian city of Amritsar. The small number of goods on either side of the border can take days or weeks to clear customs.
Each evening at sunset, in a daily reminder of the ongoing military standoff, soldiers on both sides of the border stage an elaborate fl ag cer-
emony involving a lot of foot stamping and shouting. It culminates, literally and fi guratively, in the two countries slamming their respective doors in each other’s faces.
But in mid-April, India opened a customs facility in the border village of Wagah, which is supposed to increase the amount of goods that can be proc-
essed daily. Offi cials say it should tri-
ple the value of trade between the two countries to $8bn within three years.
The opening was soon followed by a delegation of Indian industrialists, who visited Lahore preaching the need for open borders.
Pakistan is also committed to get-
ting rid of a host of restrictions and tariff s after it gave India most favoured nation status last year.
“A lot of people in the city are antici-
pating a boom in this city when trade really starts taking off ,” said Ashaar Rehman, the Lahore resident editor of the Dawn newspaper. Theoretically, Murree Brewery has much to gain from trade liberalisation. Indians drank about 2bn litres of beer last year and the market is growing as an increasingly affl uent middle-class looks for unusual beer brands.
In Pakistan, people ordering beer via room service in smart hotels have to sign a form declaring it is “for me-
dicinal use only”. Officially, only Christian and Hindu Pakistanis are le-
gally allowed to drink. “But many of the other 97% also drink,” Sabih-ur-
Rehman cheerfully points out.
In Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, no questions are asked of customers when they go to legal “wine
shops” – often little more than grated
holes in the wall in back streets.
Even though Murree has tripled production since 1995, many Pakista-
nis turn their noses up at the compa-
ny’s off erings, which also include gin,
vodka and a prize-winning 21-year-old
single malt whisky.
“We regard it as an insult to serve
Murree to guests,” said one of Islama-
bad’s politicos during a recent gath-
ering – lubricated with Carlsberg and
Johnny Walker Black Label.
Unfortunately, the prized western
imports are hard to come by. Bootleg-
gers say the six-month ban on Nato supplies has led to soaring prices as much of Pakistan’s black market sup-
plies come from consignments in-
tended for Kabul.
The Pakistani gov-
ernment has recently scrapped a ban on ex-
porting alcohol, but
Murree’s lager will,
for the time being,
be brewed under li-
cence in India.
“The Indians are going to really take
to this,” said Sabih-
ur-Rehman. “We
are one of the most
historic brands in
the world and they
still remember us
in India.”
Murree still makes its beer in one of the company’s 19th-century brew-
eries in Rawalpindi, near the head-
quarters of the army chief. When Pervez Musharraf was in power, boxloads of Murree lager would be dropped off for the general.
Founded in 1860, it was part of a network of breweries across the subcontinent established to satisfy the soldiers of the British Raj.
In the 1970s, the hardline rule of Zia ul-Haq closed down Murree for two years. Nonetheless, the company remains one of the country’s biggest enterprises. Murree has a proud his-
tory of punning slogans. In the 19th-century it used the catchline “Eat, drink and be Murree”. JB
Eat, drink and be Murree
stan s
biggest
city,
e
d o
f
plies
come
f
rom
ten
d
T
e
rn
scr
a
po
M
f
b
s
.
18 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Finance
Unemployment among the young takes shine off economic growth
• Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry phones, is reportedly preparing for a major restructuring that will see it eliminate at least 2,000 jobs worldwide from its roster of 16,500. The job cuts were planned for this week, according to the re-
ports. One source close to the company said the cuts could hit as many as 6,000 people and aff ect legal, marketing, sales, operations and HR operations.
• Formula One motor racing teams will share a one-off $180m windfall from agreeing to sign a commercial contract that paves the way for the $10bn fl otation of the sport on the Singapore stock ex-
change. The Concorde Agree-
ment commits the teams to race until the end of 2020, and getting them to agree to the contract has been a cru-
cial part of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s plans to fl oat the business. “It’s a good deal for the teams, it’s great,” said Ecclestone. Around 30% of F1 will be listed. • Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has gone from hero to zero as the stockmar-
ket fl otation of the decade fl ounders amid lawsuits and accusations of greed, hype and deception. The law fi rm that won a $7bn settlement for Enron’s shareholders is pursuing Zuckerberg, his board and the banks advis-
ing the company for making “untrue statements” about its fi nancial performance. After months of hype about the fl oat of the social networking site, which has nearly a bil-
lion users across the globe, the appetite for its shares has collapsed since its launch at $38 a share . The shares were last week trading at $31.78 as the company earned a new moniker: Fadebook.
Masking the problem ... too many young Africans are without work A
ustralia lures super-rich immigrants
Finance in brief
Youth joblessness slows Africa
Nick Mead
Africa is one of the fastest-growing re-
gions in the world after escaping the worst of the global fi nancial crisis – but the phenomenon of jobless growth combined with the world’s youngest population threatens progress, ac-
cording to the latest African Economic Outlook (AEO) report.
With the number of young people in Africa set to double by 2045, the lack of jobs for them is “an immense challenge but [is] also the key to fu-
ture prosperity”, said the report, pro-
duced by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the OECD’s development centre, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the UN De-
velopment Programme.
Around 60% of the continent’s un-
employed are aged 15 to 24 – and more than half of these, many women, have given up on fi nding work, the report found.
“The continent is experiencing j
obless growth. That is an unaccept-
able reality on a continent with such an impressive pool of youth, talent and creativity,” said the AfDB’s chief economist, Mthuli Ncube.
The economic eff ects of the Arab spring knocked growth back to 3.4% in 2011, according to the latest esti-
mates in the AEO report. North Africa grew by just 0.5% last year, a fall of 3.6 points from 2010, while sub- Saharan economies expanded by more than 5%. The continent as a whole is fore-
cast to bounce back to growth of 4.5% this year, although with population growth of 2%, GDP per capita is ex-
pected to grow by a more modest 2-2.5%.
The report expects economic growth of 4.8% for Africa in 2013, al-
though it warns of the risks posed by economic storm clouds in Europe – which threaten to constrain growth by hitting demand for African ex-
ports, reducing tourist numbers and limiting foreign direct investment and overseas aid.
But high growth alone does not guarantee jobs, and while many young people in poor countries have no choice but to work in insecure jobs for little money, many better-
educated youths in middle-income countries are unemployed, discour-
aged and economically inactive. The AEO warns that while young people bring economic opportunities, they “can present a significant threat to social cohesion and political stabil-
ity if they do not secure decent living conditions”.
The OECD development centre director, Mario Pezzini, said: “In low-
income countries, most young peo-
ple work but are poor nevertheless. In African middle-income countries, on the other hand, such as South Africa or the northern African countries, de-
spite better education, more youths are inactive than working.”
The report calls for the removal of obstacles to informal businesses, which make up much of the econ-
omy. In rural areas especially, better education in agriculture and new technologies would help address mismatches between the skills de-
manded by fi rms and those learned by young people.
“Despite the challenging short-term outlook, the long-term perspective is good if African governments can eff ec-
tively tackle the hurdles young people face,” the report said.
The AEO report called for increased diversifi cation of African economies. While high global commodity costs have benefi ted resource-rich econo-
mies – such as oil exporters Nigeria and Algeria, gold producers including South Africa and Ghana, and copper exporter Zambia – there are fears that it leaves the continent susceptible if the bubble bursts.
Domestic demand was boosted by private investment and infrastructure spending, with “Africa’s growing mid-
dle class [continuing] to boost con-
sumption, residential construction and private investment”. Alison Rourke Sydney
Five million dollars will get you a visa into Australia under new regulations announced last week.
As of July, the new business in-
novation and investment visa pro-
gramme will allow migrants who invest $5m into government bonds, regulated managed funds or directly into Australian companies to enter the country.
“Australia is well placed to attract investors who are looking for the fi nancial security off ered by a stable government and economy,” said the immigration minister, Chris Bowen.
Bowen said he expects considerable interest in this new type of visa from across Asia, particularly China. He said a 2011 report on ultra-high net-worth individuals in China showed 47% of those with investable assets over $15m were considering an application for in-
vestment migration.
The programme will be aimed at business migrants who have a track record in entrepreneurship. “We will encourage them to take more inno-
vative and bolder business decisions with greater certainty around their residence status while they’re doing so,” Bowen said.
Over the past decade, there has been a strong emphasis on skilled migration , with preference given to those with construction and engineer-
ing qualifi cations.
The government expects the new investor visa, which will be contingent on residency in Australia, to attract hundreds of applicants. Foreign exchanges
Sterling rates (at close)
25 May 18 May
Australia 1.60 1.60
Canada 1.61 1.61
Denmark 9.29 9.24
Euro 1.25 1.24
Hong Kong 12.14 12.28
Japan 124.46 125.29
New Zealand 2.07 2.09
Norway 9.42 9.47
Singapore 2.00 2.01
Sweden 11.22 11.36
Switzerland 1.50 1.49
USA 1.56 1.58
African Economic Outlook 2012
Interactive – GDP growth and Human Development Index score at a glance http://bit.ly/africagdp2012
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 19
Michael Cohen
Observer
Polling suggests that Romney is moving ahead. But it’s hardly time for liberals to start heading for the hills
Obama’s grip on his nation is strong
That Obama is neck and neck with Romney is what should perhaps be most shocking, given the economy
R
ecently, there has been a palpable buzz in liberal enclaves across America. You can hear it in the Upper West Side of New York City, in Hyde Park in Chicago and in college towns from Berkeley to Eugene, Oregon. It’s the distinct hum of liberals freaking out that Barack Obama might lose in November.
This is not a new phenomenon; the liberal electoral panic began in November 2010, when Republicans took back the House of Representatives and picked up steam during last year’s debt-limit debacle. Things had settled down for a few months and then came a series of pub-
lic opinion polls that suggested the presidential race between Obama and Romney has tightened.
In particular, there was a CBS/New York Times poll that showed Romney with a three-point lead. No longer could the president’s supporters have complete con-
fi dence that their hero would defeat his Republican opponent (a view that is held by a majority of Americans, who by a 20-point margin expect Obama to win). Crushing memories of victories denied in 2000 and 2004 lingered in the minds of left-leaning voters.
It should fi rst be noted that with more than fi ve months to go until election day most Americans are barely paying attention to the race. Polls this far out can give one a general sense of where the race is heading, but they are hardly predictive. It’s worth remembering that in June 1992, the leader in national polls was independent candidate Ross Perot. So a lot can change between now and November.
Considering how evenly divided the nation’s politics have been over the last 12 years, the 2012 election was always going to be close and the polling rejuvenation for Romney is a natural regression to the mean.
As Romney’s tumultuous primary battle has ended, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have rallied around his candidacy. Meanwhile, continued economic bad news is preventing Obama from having any sort of political breakout. His approval ratings remain relatively steady, but still below 50%.
That Obama is neck and neck with Romney is what should perhaps be most shocking. The track record of presidential incumbents battling high unemployment, sluggish economic growth and an electorate over-
whelmingly convinced the country is on the wrong track is generally not good. In fact, there’s a name for them: one-termers. If anything, Obama’s ability to keep his head above water against Romney is an indication of his unusually high ratings and Romney’s improving but still lacklustre personal marks. But anyone who thought Obama was going to have an easy time of it was deluded. And with minefi elds on the way to November, such as a potential supreme court decision that could gut his main domestic accomplishment (in healthcare) and a fi nancial crisis in Europe that could eventually infect the US, the road ahead may not be so easy for the president.
Still, none of this means it is time for liberals to start looking for rental properties in Vancouver or Toronto. In fact, the one place where Obama appears to have something of a political advantage is the only place that actually matters – the electoral college. For readers not familiar with the electoral college, it is an invention of America’s Founding Fathers that makes democracy in the United States messy, complicated and unfair. Rather than simply count up all the votes and give the presi-
dency to the one who has the most, candidates must win states and their resulting number of electoral votes. In 2000, the key battleground state was Florida. But it wasn’t the only showdown state: places such as Wisconsin (which Gore won by 5,000 votes); Iowa (where he won by 4,000) and New Mexico (which he won by a mere 500) were incredibly competitive. Even in traditionally liberal states such as Minnesota and Oregon, Gore won by mere percentage points. In 2004, the map was remarkably similar – only New Hampshire, New Mexico and Iowa changed columns and while John Kerry won many of the same states that Gore won, he did so by similarly slim margins.
B
ut in 2008, things changed dramatically. States that were once highly competitive such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada moved decisively into the Democratic column. States that were perennial swing states, such as Florida and Ohio, were won by Obama and even states such as Virginia and North Carolina that were barely on their radar screen in 2004 went Democratic. Part of this was a function of the Republicans’ broken political brand, but it was also a function of Obama himself and his appeal to blacks, Hispanics and college-educated whites. This new electoral map was a refl ection of the Democratic coalition he was seeking to create.
Conversely, for Republicans, their electoral map remains disturbingly static. Since 2000, the number of solid Republican or Republican-leaning states is largely unchanged – and no state that even Kerry won in 2004, except perhaps New Hampshire, Wisconsin or Penn-
sylvania, is considered a Republican target this year.
Obama enjoys a small but noteworthy advantage in the electoral college. According to a recent tally by the RealClearPolitics website, Obama has 227 solid or “leaning” electoral votes, while Romney has 170. Combined, that represents 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia). These are places where residents will for the most part hear more about the election than experience it fi rst hand, since candidates will likely not make more than a token appearance in them.
Of the 11 other states, Obama is either leading or tied in nine of them. For Romney to become president, he needs to win the majority of these swing states, not just perennial targets such as Florida and Ohio, but also North Carolina and Virginia (places where Obama is leading or tied). Amazingly, if he were to win all four of these states he could still lose the election. In fact, for Romney, it’s extremely diffi cult to construct a scenario where he wins the election while losing Florida. In the end, what this means for election day is that more likely than not the battle will be waged on turf that strongly favours the president.
None of this means that, in the end, Obama will win the election . But for liberals it’s hardly time to start heading for the hills.
Comment&Debate Comment&Debate 20 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Seumas Milne
Eurozone elites are trying to scare Greeks and the Irish into swallowing austerity, b
ut it is they who destroyed the economy
We must ditch failed economic model
Knowing most Greeks want to stay in the euro, Europe’s political class is ratcheting up the fear of forced-exit chaos D
emocracy has never been the European Union’s strongest suit. It’s an institution where the unelected and the barely accountable have always called the shots – and electorates are routinely made to vote again if they get the answer wrong in a referendum. So perhaps it’s no surprise that as soon as it became clear the Greeks would be given another say on the austerity programme that has already driven their country into 1930s-style depression, the threats and bullying began in earnest.
The entire European establishment has now lined up to scare Greeks off giving another majority to anti-
austerity parties, as they did in explosive elections last month. Europe’s revolt against austerity has to be con-
tained. Democratic niceties about not interfering in other countries’ elections have been ditched. If Greeks vote for parties such as the radical left Syriza – now leading in most opinion polls – they will be voting to leave the euro, Europe’s political elite has warned.
“To remain in the euro,” the unelected EU commission president José Manuel Barroso declared, “Greece must respect its commitments”. By commit-
ments, he meant the package of pulverising privati-
sations, tax rises and cuts in jobs, pay and services demanded by the EU and IMF in exchange for loans that cannot be repaid and are reducing the country to beggary. Knowing most Greeks both reject death-spiral austerity and want to stay in the euro, Europe’s political class is ratcheting up the fear of forced exit meltdown.
Most preposterous has been the British prime minister David Cameron lecturing Greeks on their responsibilities from outside the eurozone. “You can either vote to stay in the euro, with all the commitments you’ve made,” he declared, “or you’re eff ectively voting to leave”. Fellow Tory minister Ken Clarke warned the Greeks of “serious consequences” if they voted for “cranky extremists”. This from a government that demands growth from Europe while driving its own economy into a double-dip recession with homegrown austerity.
Meanwhile, the Irish are getting similar treatment, as the country’s elites tr ied to scare voters into backing the EU’s permanent austerity treaty in a referendum this week . Crucial to the campaign has been the threat that Ireland will be denied future emergency bailout funds for its own shrinking economy if the treaty is rejected. So far, that has kept the yes campaign ahead, even though Sinn Féin has mirrored the European trend by doubling its support to more than 20% on the back of opposition to the country’s failed austerity programme.
But in both cases, the threats are phoney. The legal basis of the treaty clause the Irish government is claiming would cut off future bailout funds is strongly contested and the prospect unrealistic. And Greeks are not voting on whether to stay in or leave the euro this month. They are voting on whether to continue to reject a shock therapy programme that even those demanding its implementation know can only drive Greece deeper into debt and destitution.
There is now a strong likelihood that the country will end up leaving the euro, whichever way it turns – and that may well off er Greece the most realistic chance of eventual recovery. But it’s not what parties such as Syriza are demanding. Instead, its leader Alexis Tsipras was in Paris and Berlin last week calling for a halt to Greece’s debt repayments, and negotiations with Europe’s leaders on a new deal.
The stronger the vote for anti-austerity parties, the better the chance that those negotiations could produce more than cosmetic results. That’s because the threat of a disorderly Greek default – which could still take place inside the euro – has the potential to trigger a cascade of bank runs and knock-on crises across the eurozone whose impact could dwarf the Lehmans crash of 2008.
Greece is, after all, only the state furthest down the road of collapse. The threat to crippled Spain could already be on a much larger scale. Across the eurozone, the banking system is once again tipping towards break-
down, as self-defeating austerity deepens the crisis.
A
s one EU commissioner told me last week, “this austerity union is simply not sustainable”. Eurozone leaders’ attempt to solve the crisis by “internal devalu-
ation” – cutting wages and services across the south to restore competitiveness – was a “complete disaster”, he said, that would deliver mass poverty and migration to the north.
But despite hopes that France’s new president François Hollande, now backed by Barack Obama, could shift Europe towards jobs and growth, the concessions potentially on off er from Germany’s Angela Merkel are not remotely on the scale necessary to overcome the growing crisis. That would need a commitment to fullblown eurobond lending to underpin state debts, a Marshall plan-style programme of fi scal transfers and investment in weaker eurozone states, along with recapitalisation and public takeover of European banks.
However, Germany’s leaders show no sign of being prepared to foot the bill for the costs of a currency union that has benefi ted German capital above all but now threatens, like the gold standard in the early 20th cen-
tury, to bring Europe’s economy to its knees.
But the eurozone’s implosion isn’t only the result of a cockeyed, one-size-fi ts-all currency structure that was always going to buckle under pressure. It’s also the product of the wider crisis of neoliberal capitalism that fi rst erupted in the banking system fi ve years ago and has since wreaked havoc on public fi nances, jobs, services and living standards throughout the western world.
Asked recently who they held responsible for the Greek crisis , 50% of Britons polled rightly blamed the banks, 22% Brussels – and only 4% the Greek people. But the eurozone breakdown is also the product of a generation of EU treaty-enforced privatisation, market deregulation and corporate liberalisation that paved the way for the crisis across Europe, including in Britain.
It’s that inbuilt neoliberal dimension of the EU, central to debates in mainland Europe, that has been missing from the growing political pressure for a referendum on EU membership in Britain – but has played a central role in this crisis. Across the continent, whether in or out of the eurozone, the need for a break with a failed economic model could not be more pressing.
Matt Kenyon
Comment&Debate Comment&Debate The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 21
Peter Wilby
If we want street parties and pageantry, let’s have them to celebrate the Magna Carta, not an unelected monarchy
I
n an orgy of deference, the British are celebrating Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne. If any other country were paying homage to an unelected head of state in this way, while the living standards of the majority of the population fall and schools and hospitals struggle with diminishing resources, we would call it “the cult of the personality” and probably think about invading.
According to a Guardian/ICM poll last month, the royal family is more popular than ever, with only 22% believing Britain would be better off without a monarchy, and as few as 10% preferring, on the Queen’s death, an elected head of state rather than a King Charles or William. As Elizabeth II’s supporters never tire of pointing out, the unelected monarch is far more popular than any elected politician.
That is not surprising. The Queen never has to say any-
thing controversial, allocate resources between compet-
ing claims or take decisions that provoke disagreement. If your job is confi ned to uttering bland pleasantries, shaking hands and distributing gongs, it is quite diffi cult to be unpopular. Since you are exempt from freedom of information laws, you are not at risk of having your expenditure on moats and duck ponds highlighted in newspapers. Since you took offi ce without election, you do not have to contend with the disappointed or disgrun-
tled supporters of your rivals and, since nobody is paid to lead an opposition to you, you do not have to face weekly questions about how you discharge your duties.
Elizabeth II has understood all that. She deserves con-
gratulations, though no more than others whose jobs re-
quire them to keep their opinions to themselves. It seems that her son and heir, who may have a lower boredom threshold, lacks the same grasp of what is required. By voicing a range of opinions on alternative medicine, edu-
cation, GM crops, architecture, organic food and so on, he has made himself so unpopular that, if the succession were subject to an electoral contest, he would, according to the ICM poll, lose by nine percentage points to his son William. That is why, even if she were inclined to abdi-
cate, Buckingham Palace offi cials and other pillars of the establishment will strain every sinew to stop her doing Jubilee? Celebrate democracy
so, in the hope that, by the time she dies, Charles (if he is still inconveniently alive) will be suffi ciently mellowed enough by age to change his ways.
It is a miserable prospect for republicans. Though Republic, the main anti-monarchist campaigning group, promises “the biggest and boldest” protest of modern times, it may as well join the celebrations for all the good it will do. Who wants to miss a good party? At times like this, republicans risk being portrayed as killjoys and spoilsports. A better strategy is to ask how they can instil a more democratic mood in the British population.
While Britain claims to be among the world’s oldest and most stable democracies, democratic principles have quite shallow roots in our public life. MPs swear an oath “by almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors”. Nobody in British public life takes an oath to democracy.
A monarchy, particularly a slimmed-down Scandin-
avian version, may be just about tolerable, provided our public life asserts the primacy of democracy. Why should MPs not swear an oath to serve their constituents hon-
estly and diligently and, as required of foreigners seeking British citizenship, to respect the country’s “rights and freedoms” and to “uphold its democratic values”? We hold street parties to celebrate the landmarks of the monarch’s life but not to mark the major events on the British road to a (partially) democratic constitution. Why not a party, an extra bank holiday and a pageant to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in June 2015? Monarchy, we are told, is merely a symbol. When MPs and judges pledge allegiance to the Queen, they are really pledging allegiance to Britain’s history, traditions and way of life. If so, we should think more about what monarchy actually symbolises: hierarchy, hereditary privilege, deference, feudalism, unearned wealth, militarism . Democracy has a better story to tell. Republicans should help us develop symbols for its celebration. They may not immediately displace the royal symbols but, in time, people will come to love them more.
Comment is free... Have your own say
Steve Bell’s blog
Read the comments that were inspired by this week’s editorial cartoon http://bit.ly/Euroraft ≥
Don’t trample science
Anti-GM campaigners would do well to remember that progress is dependent upon scientifi c research http://bit.ly/GMFoes ≥
The truth hurts
There were two sides to Christopher Hitchens, and I fear it is the mean-spirited one that has been honoured with an Orwell prize http://bit.ly/HitchenOrwell ≥
theguardianweekly
22 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Barely had Kofi Annan’s feet touched the ground after last Friday’s massacre in Houla, when reports came through of another mass killing from an artillery assault on Hama. The war Bashar al-Assad is waging against his own people does not pause for a UN envoy. The horror of Houla is more than just a hu-
manitarian challenge. In a 15-month confl ict that has largely been left to run on its own steam, is this massacre a sign of things to come? It certainly did not come out of the blue. Most of the 13 neighbourhoods of Homs that have b
een emptied of residents by the fi ghting are close to Allawite communities, from the Shia sect forming the backbone of the regime. For months, the adjoining Allawite villagers heard the chants of defi ance from Houla, which had b
ecome a stronghold of the opposition militia and home of many of the families of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Perhaps that is why, when men in uniform appeared in the enclave after the shelling had largely stopped last Friday evening, they killed men, women and children alike, some of them infants. Some of the vic-
tims had their wrists bound, according to one video. Many had shots to the head or had been hacked to death. Russia suggested that the violence in Houla had been intended to sabotage Annan’s visit, and Assad’s regime blamed al-Qaida, as it now does for every civilian who dies. As only one side in this confl ict has tanks and artillery, a non-binding resolution by the UN security council, which criticised the use of artillery and tank shells on homes in Houla, is explic-
itly a condemnation of the Syrian government alone. However, to keep face with a policy it is in the process of jettisoning, Russia continued to suggest on Monday that the close-quarter killings in Houla could have been conducted by the rebels’ own side. To suggest “armed terror-
ist groups” alone account for civilian deaths, or that the ranks of the opposition fi ghters have been “stiff ened” by Islamist jihadis linked to al-Qaida, is doing Assad’s work for him .
Assad is undermining the Annan plan at the risk of losing the support of the last two mem-
bers of the UN security council, which have held out against a Libyan-style intervention – Russia and China. With a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards admitting the presence of Iranian forces in Syria, it is brutally clear what will happen down the line if the confl ict carries on. Syria will disintegrate into a Lebanese-style civil war, with shockwaves throughout the region. Already tremors are being felt in Lebanon itself.
For Russia, civil war and sectarian chaos in Syria are as potent a threat to its strategic in-
terests as a Nato intervention. It’s late to the table, but Russia’s support for Annan could yet save the plan.
With a sandstorm closing the airport, the six-
party talks with Iran in Baghdad had every incentive to get a peace process worth talking about back on track. In an election year, Barack Obama has no conceivable political interest in sliding into another Gulf war . And Iran has every interest in avoiding the oil sanctions that are about to start in earnest . Both sides are more than aware that the clock is ticking. And yet two days after they began, the talks ended with an agreement to meet in Moscow in a month’s time but precious little else.
The Iranian negotiators talked extensively about their rights to a full fuel cycle under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) but not about specifi cs. A full nuclear fuel cycle can b
e achieved with levels of enrichment well b
elow the danger level of 20%, which is what their centrifuges buried under a mountain in Fordow are designed to achieve. The US and European members of the six-party talks refused for their part to off er Iran a real incen-
tive for abandoning enrichment to 20%, a short technical hop to highly enriched uranium that can be weaponised. Dangling modest relief from technology restrictions, such as aircraft parts, fall well short of the bargaining price. And whatever Iran agrees to, foreign fi nancial fi rms who continue to deal with Iran’s central bank after 28 June will be blocked from US markets, and an EU embargo on Iranian crude starts shortly after on 1 July. So where is the incentive for Iran to trade?
This is the problem with the sanctions. They have to be liftable and or least delayable. Sanctions relief has to be part of the negoti-
ations if they are to work as a lever, rather than as a spanner in the works.
Although the two sides were at last talking about the substance of the issue – Iran’s nuclear programme – the process was still bumping along the bottom.
Both sides have decisions to make. Iran has to address concerns by the IAEA over the extent to which it conducted research on weapon-
isation. But the US and the EU have also got to be mindful of Iranian psychology. The regime needs a deal they can present as a victory, not a national humiliation. If the ending of medium-
enriched uranium is the goal, it is one worth spending time on. It will not be achieved by Iran looking down the barrel of a gun.
Iranian nuclear talks
Stuck in a sandstorm
Syria
Horror of Houla
FA wants ban on fans abroad 1 June 1981
The Football Association would favour a complete ban on English supporters at overseas matches if that were the price of keeping an English team in international soccer following the violence at Saturday’s World Cup game in Switzerland. The FA is considering abandoning its England Travel Club, an organ-
isation set up three years ago to limit the distribution of tickets to fans with identity cards who had agreed to abide by a code of conduct. It has not controlled the violence . Five England fans are still in gaol in Basle being questioned about the looting of a jewellery shop. Another 27 were detained before the match by Swiss police and put onto trains returning to Britain. Swiss police said 12 people were “signifi cantly injured” and one man was stabbed. “Personally I don’t care if we have no more support away from home,” Mr Ted Croker, secretary of the FA said yesterday. “We may well have to ask football’s governing bodies to put pressure on countries we visit, perhaps even order them not to sell tickets to English supporters.” The Swiss police and football au-
thorities seemed unprepared for the notorious English supporters, even though their behaviour at Turin last summer received wide publicity and a fi ne of £8,000 imposed by UEFA, the European soccer organisation. Alcohol and tickets were freely available at the Basle ground on Sat-
urday, even though the FA had asked for both to be strictly controlled. Only 40 Swiss police were on duty to keep order among 40,000 fans. It was the fi rst time the Swiss police had had to use tear gas aerosol sprays or dogs at a football game. Mr Gwilym Robert, Labour MP for Cannock, said people convicted of violence abroad should have their passports confi scated, but offi cials said that temporary passports could be obtained at any Post Offi ce. Football violence is no longer a purely British vice, but is becoming common in Holland and Germany too. Most European police forces have learned how to control it. The notorious French CRS riot squads had few problems with Liverpool’s supporters in Paris at the European Cup last week. But the combination of banning the sale of alcohol, controlling ticket sales and making travel to away games inconvenient and expensive has failed to staunch football violence in Britain. Martin Walker archive.guardian.co.uk ≥
theguardianweekly
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 23
Reply
Gillian Blease
Terror theatre is a ruse
It is diffi cult not to agree with Naomi Wolf’s conclusion that ending foreign wars would be a far better US security strategy than continuing with the self-interested fi ction of an everlasting threat of imminent terrorist strikes (‘Terror theatre’ has vested interests, 18 May) . Regrettably for a country that has contributed so much to the modern world, the US continues to suff er severely from its historical delusion that what it per-
ceives as good for America is always, and necessarily, good for the rest of the world. It is this very same delu-
sion, derived from a fundamental-
ist assertion that God has a special relationship with America, that has led to so many crises and wars of all kinds around the globe.
For example, we now know all too well that the Cuban missile crisis was provoked by the Russia-targeting presence of US missiles in Turkey, and that the Vietnam catastrophe fl owed from Kennedy’s preoccu-
pation with his re-election. We also know that from Iraq to Afghanistan and elsewhere, the future “en-
emies of America” were aided and abetted by America’s political and military preferences of those years. We further know that Reagan’s and Bush’s crusades against the “empires of evil” played directly into the hands of the military-industrial complex that viewed selective war-
mongering as an eff ective means of achieving the ends of US superpower ambitions. We fi nally know that alliances and treaties such as Nato, Seato and others were essentially de-
signed to maintain US hegemony.
Sadly, many of the more recent bilateral agreements and manoeuvrings, including US forces and military assets in Australia and elsewhere in the region, are ultimately aimed at containing the spread of Chinese and related interests. In simple words, the US may not want to start new military confl icts at full throttle, but its government certainly wants to main-
tain its position as the only genuine superpower, militarily, economically and industrially – despite the histori-
cally demonstrable realities that the world does indeed change its dy-
namics every so many decades.
The fatally fl awed feature of all this, of course, is the Machiavellian cynicism of the big commercial and fi nancial “capitalists” (to put it crudely) – and not just Ameri-
can by any stretch – who exploit the Terror Theatre syndrome of modern democracies to lull fearful people into increasing servitude to d omination by the “new crony-
capitalist industry” that Wolf alerts us to so convincingly.
Alfred Zarb
Leura, NSW, Australia
in learning between the eighth and 15th centuries – much of it spon-
sored by the Christian church.
For those wanting a measured and detailed account of the “fall” of the Roman empire, I suggest Peter Heather’s excellent The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History ( Pan Books, 2006). An equally measured account of the role of the Christian church in the scholarship of late antiquity and the medieval period (with due acknowledgement of the importance of Islamic scholarship) is given in John Hannam’s fascinat-
ing God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Founda-
tions for Modern Science ( Icon Books, 2009).
Brendan Byrne
Mitcham, South Australia
Islanders lead the way
It is ironic that the world’s small island nations, who have had the least impact on causing anthropo-
genic climate change, are the most vulnerable to its eff ects, including rising sea levels and extreme weather events, yet are leaders in mitigation strategies (Clean energy sources embraced by small island nations, 18 May) .
If sanity is to prevail, the technology is available to create a low carbon future for the planet as a whole through transformation of fossil-fuelled growth into clean, renewable-energy growth.
The forthcoming Rio +20 con-
ference should dismiss Margaret Thatcher’s mythical “trickle-down eff ect” by implementing a “welling-
up eff ect” exemplifi ed by small island states. Such a resolution would be supported by the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which is committed to protecting the biosphere and has suggested replace-
ment of GDP (Gross Domestic Profl i-
gacy) by GDH (Gross Domestic Hap-
piness) as an indicator of progress.
Bryan Furnass
Canberra, Australia
UK border chaos explained
It is no surprise to me that UK passport control is in chaos (Border checks on drugs and guns dropped amid Heathrow chaos, 11 May) . In 1988 I was leaving the UK in a car with Swiss number plates. I and my two daughters presented British passports issued by the consular section of the British Embassy in Bern (the capital of Switzerland). The offi cer took our passports and asked me to pull over out of the queue. After 15 minutes he returned the passports. I asked him what the problem was. He said he couldn’t understand why three British nationals were in a Swiss car. I said, “Well, you could have asked.” We almost missed the overnight ferry from Felixstowe to Zeebrügge.
The last time I fl ew to the UK, the passport control offi cer looked at my British passport and asked me if I was resident in Austria. “Where did that come from?” I asked myself and replied, “No.” The next question was, “Are you resident in the UK?” “No.” I then added in the simplest English that Geneva was in Switzerland, which is where I was resident and that it would have been quicker to ask me, instead of embarking on a guessing game.
However, it was not over. Having got through the initial control, I was then stopped by an offi cer who looked at my passport and then gave me a strange look. I said, “Now what’s the problem?” She said she had never heard the name Oliver used as a family name.
“So you’ve never of the TV chef?” “Oh,” she said, “Jamie Oliver.” “Yes! And I’m not related to him.”
Felicity Oliver
Ostermundigen, Switzerland
Briefl y
• Though I agree with most of what he writes about the prevalence of privilege (18 May) , George Monbiot seems to have fallen into the all-
too-common error of equating social mobility with social justice. Equality of opportunity, which certainly enables individuals to rise in the social hierarchy, does not have much eff ect on injustices within society as a whole. In fact, it renders them more respectable and thus actually reinforces the profoundly inegalitarian status quo.
John Salter
St Etienne du Rouvray, France
• In response to your stories (Finance) Buff ett urges ‘shared sacrifi ce’ and (Shortcuts) They’d rather dance to disco (11 May) et al: Just what do the rich cost the average taxpayer? They certainly have their hands in our pockets. What they fail to pay in taxes the rest
of us have to make up. I’d like to know what that amount is. Would somebody please do the maths?
Ross Dobson
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
• Tom Meltzer suggests that when a town has an embarrassing name, residents should get in on the joke (18 May) . It may humour you, or perhaps surprise you, to learn that in Newfoundland, Canada, the town of Conception Bay is nearer the town of Dildo than the town of Come-By-Chance.
Bob Walsh
Wilton, Connecticut, US Fall of the Roman empire
With her gratuitous side-swipe at the Christian church as the “cause” of the fall of the Roman empire, Laura Martin (Reply, 18 May) reveals not that she is “an utterly inexpert person in history” but completely ignorant of history.
The fall of the Roman empire was a complex, multivalent process that unfolded over hundreds of years; its cause simply cannot be ascribed to any one source. Doubtless, the rise of Christianity, and its consequent adoption as the state religion of the empire, played a role in the mix of causalities, however marginal that role may have been.
But if it is as clear-cut as Martin suggests, how then does she explain the continued existence of the eastern Roman (Byzantine) empire for another 1,000 years – a civi-
lisation that was as “Christian” (if not more so) than the west? Facing the same internal and external pressures as the western empire did, surely the eastern half of the Roman empire ought to have collapsed as thoroughly as the western given the power to undermine the state that Martin ascribes to Christianity.
Indeed, many historians now suggest the Roman empire did not so much “fall” as it was transitioned into the Germanic kingdoms of the early medieval period – and that it was Christianity that ultimately gave these disparate civilisations an overarching framework within which they were able eventually to evolve into the Europe of the modern world. While no one doubts the importance and infl uence of Islamic scholarship in the “revival” of Euro-
pean learning, it was undoubtedly the infl uence of Byzantine Chris-
tian scholars fl eeing the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 that actually sparked the Renaissance in northern Italy. And yet this “revival” itself was only possible because the Middle Ages, far from being a howling wilderness of supersti-
tion and ignorance, had witnessed gradual and meaningful progress Send letters to: Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU United Kingdom, fax +44 (0)20 3353 3186 or email weekly.letters@guardian.co.uk
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Comment&Debate 24 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 We just don’t do summer
Ian Vince
Comment is free
Why can’t we accept that hot weather doesn’t b
elong in Britain?
N
ow that summer appears to have fi nally arrived, can I strike a dissonant chord by suggesting that it goes away again? No? I should explain. I’m writing this article in the midd le of the night. Earlier today, an unscheduled siesta on my desktop whisked me away from work into a swirling narcoleptic swoon . This was no elective nap ; a restless night turning the pillow for the cool side, an over-
the-counter antihistamine pill, an airless, warm offi ce and the soft warble of a wood pigeon are as eff ective an anaesthetic as a Horlicks and chloroform cocktail, and I went under like a ketamined dormouse. I’ve no wish to be a killjoy, but all of the blame for this can be laid fi rmly on the doorstep of summer.
It is, of course, a British tradition to moan about the weather as a conversational gambit. And, like most of us, I can extract a good minute and a half of chatter about the fi ner nuances of a climate that veers from mildly interesting to interestingly mild – chatter that saves me from revealing the terrifying truth about my social in-
eptitude – but I’m at a loss when it comes to discussing the heat, because everyone else seems to like it and I really don’t. Furthermore, while I’m resigned to nodding along in pretend agreement about “the lovely weather” if it’s soaring away in the high 20s in August, I’m damned if I’m going to go down without a fi ght in May. This weather doesn’t belong here. The French call these heatwaves canicule, which translates as “little dog”, a reference to the dog days of summer – so called because they follow the fi rst sight of the rising Dog Star, Sirius, just before sunrise as it gets far enough away from the sun to be visible again after an ab-
sence of over two months. In ancient Greece and Rome, the malign infl uence of Sirius was blamed for the sultry, stifl ing weather of July and August because it appeared so close to the sun. Not very good science, perhaps, but maybe they found it hard to think straight in the smoth-
ering warmth. Given that they were from the Mediterra-
nean and couldn’t stand the heat, what chance do solidly northern Europeans like me have of coping ?
Not much. While for some the fi rst sight of a bright blue sky signals an instant transformation to human solar panel, pointing completely unprepared fl esh at the sun while identically coloured pork chipolatas siz-
zle away on a nearby barbecue, some of us become ir-
rationally irritated by heat. Even when we attempt to be mellow about it, something pierces the bonhomie we are trying to cultivate within . While others attempt a “Mediterranean” approach, according to a template based on a half-remembered Sophia Loren movie, all I see is the sudden appearance of convertibles touring the more affl uent areas of the country while adolescent boys cry “wanker” in their wakes. Likewise, the spectre of cafe diners going alfresco in the slipstreams of bus lanes, while parks fi ll with seasonal alcoholics, leaves me cold. If only it did leave me cold, because the heat, dear God, the heat – doesn’t that really get on everyone’s nerves?
There are some good signs that I’m not the only one – frustrated motorists seething in traffi c queues on buck-
led motorways, people tutting on buses and summer riots all point to an undercurrent of heat-based irritation. I’m biased; I have hay fever and asthma, so a hot day sees me snivelling like a toddler at the hands of an unjustly militant parent . Which is why I wonder whether we are really set up in this country for hot weather. Everyone agrees that we’re useless at snow; perhaps it’s just that we feel we should be better at the other end of the scale.
Of griefs, virtual and actual
Edward Collier
Comment is free
Does a cyber friendship ever really turn into a genuine relationship?
R
ecently I learned that my friend George had died after a short illness. My fi rst thoughts were for his family; George was one of those men for whom the term “larger than life” might have been coined, and his absence would be deeply felt. And then there was the funeral – assuming it was not a private, family aff air – should I attend?
The question was moot because I’d never actually met George in the fl esh. We had become friends through the wonder of the internet, brought together through a mutual love of cricket. We “met”, if that’s the correct term, on a cricket forum where his closely reasoned yet contentious posts struck an immediate chord with me. I will miss his brazen attempts to wind me up, attempts that often succeeded.
His death has made me wonder about the cor-
rect “form” for cyber grief. Is it like any other grief, expressible in the same way? These days there is bur-
geoning interest in virtual relationships – and some days it seems that there is no aspect of human behaviour, from transgressive sexual relations to falling in love, from larceny to largesse, that cannot be conducted down the wire. But just as phone sex is not the same as sex-sex, so the question arises – is a virtual friendship the equal of a “real” one?
Looking through my list of friends on Facebook, I’d have to conclude “no”. Looking through my son’s list would make that answer even more emphatic. But just as there are degrees of friendship in real life, from casual ac-
quaintance to BFF, so there are in virtual life. Surely, you might argue, if it feels as if George were a friend, then that should be enough. I should grieve as if we had met every Thursday night in The Dog and Duck. The problem is that part of me regards that feeling with suspicion.
Like many others, particularly those of my genera-
tion (I’m 55), I was not swept along by the tsunami of emotional incontinence that attended the death of Princess Diana. Of course I was sad at the untimely death of a young woman, but I found the acres of cellophane-wrapped fl owers and the accompany-
ing public ululation mawkish and absurd, and felt absolutely no compulsion to add to it. Is my sadness at the death of someone whose face I knew only from an avatar any more authentic? Because if it isn’t, then I would be letting George and his memory down if I were to pretend that it was.
The kind of mild compunction I’m now feeling might be exacerbated were I to attend the funeral, where I might be called upon to give an account of how George and I knew each other. I think I would fi nd it hard to con-
fess that we hadn’t actually met, as such, but had merely exchanged pixels. These fi ner feelings are, I would con-
tend, increasingly absent the younger one is; I cannot imagine anyone of my son’s age worrying over these minor niceties of “proper behaviour”. His answer would doubtless be “whatever”.
Maybe the vaunted levelling power of the internet age will help to put paid to the rationale for whole swaths of protocol. I’m not convinced that this would be an im-
provement. For all the irritations of having to conform to expected models of behaviour, there is also something liberating about them. Knowing in advance how one is expected to behave in certain circumstances frees one from the necessity of fretting about it – I don’t have to worry about what to wear to a funeral, because protocol dictates it. But while I might be relieved to know that all I have to do is actually fi nd my black tie and I’m good to go, others might feel unreasonably restricted, thinking that George would far rather see them in a clown’s cos-
tume, or tennis whites, or that sombrero that was bought on a shared holiday to Tenerife – anything rather than sombrely suited and booted.
But that’s the problem with funerals – George doesn’t care what you wear, because he’s not actually there. Those he has left behind are, however, and it is their wishes to which one should be attentive. So the question is – would George’s widow and family welcome a virtual friend to his fi nal goodbye? Or should I just stay at home and get mildly pixillated in his memory?
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 25
A prison with humanity
H
alden prison smells of freshly brewed coffee. It hits you in the workshop areas, lingers in the games rooms and in the commu-
nal apartment-style areas where prisoners live together in groups of eight. This much coff ee makes you hungry, so a couple of hours after lunch the guards on Unit A (a separated wing where sex off enders are held for their own protection) bring inmates a tall stack of heart-
shaped waffl es and pots of jam, which they set down on a checked tablecloth and eat together, whiling away the afternoon.
The other remarkable thing is how quiet the prison is. There isn’t any of the enraged, persistent banging of doors you hear in British prisons, not least because the prisoners are not locked up much dur-
ing the day. The governor, Are Høidal, is surprised when I ask about figures for prisoner attacks on guards, guard restraints on prisoners, or prisoner-
on-prisoner assaults. He looks startled, says there isn’t much violence here and he can’t remember the last time there was a fi ght.
Halden is one of Norway’s highest-security jails, holding rapists, murderers and paedophiles. Since it opened two years ago, at a cost of $217m, it has acquired a reputation as the world’s most humane prison. It is the fl agship of the Norwegian justice system, where the focus is on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
There was early speculation that Anders Breivik, currently on trial in Oslo for the murder of 77 people, might end up here, given that there are few high-
security options across Norway, but that now looks unlikely, at least for the fi rst chunk of his sentence. If he is judged to be sane, he will probably remain in isolation in the Ila prison where he is currently being held, a former Nazi concentration camp with a less utopian vision. However, the underlying ethos of Halden prison gives an insight into Norwegian attitudes towards justice, which are under scrutiny as the country assesses how to deal with Breivik.
When Halden opened, it attracted attention globally for its design and its relative splendour. Set in a forest, the prison blocks are a model of mini-
malist chic. Høidal lifts down from his offi ce wall a framed award for best interior design, a prize given in recognition of the stylishness of the white lami-
nated tables, tangerine leather sofas and elegant, skinny chairs dotted all over the place. At times, the environment feels more Scandinavian boutique hotel than class A prison.
Every Halden cell has a fl atscreen television, its own toilet (which, unlike standard UK prison cells, also has a door) and a shower, which comes with large, soft, white towels. Amelia Gentleman visits Halden, the high-security jail in Norway where each cell has a fl atscreen TV and rehabilitation, not punishment, is the aim
Awash in alcohol How has drunkenness aff ected the tide of history? Notes & Queries, page 42 ≥ Continued on page 26≥
Weekly review
26 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 other inmates and two guards, and performs regularly for fellow inmates. Leaning back in his swivel chair, he admits he’s enjoying being able to focus on his music, but says, “The Halden prison has been compared to the fi nest hotel. That’s the impression my friends and parents have from reading the papers. It is not true. The real issue is freedom, which is taken away from you. That is the worst thing that can happen to you. When the door slams at night, you’re sat there in a small room. That’s always a tough time.”
No one is thrilled to arrive here. The reception offi cer explains that the most positive reaction is one of relief. When they are brought in, “some of them are crying”, he says. “They don’t know what Prisoners have their own fridges, cupboards and desks , white magnetic pin-
b
oards and huge, unbarred windows . “There was much focus on the design,” Høidal says. “We wanted it to be light and positive.”
Obviously the hotel comparison is a stupid one, since the problem with being in prison, unlike stay-
ing in a hotel, is that you cannot leave. Even if the prison compound has more in common with a mod-
ern, rural university campus, the key point about it is that hidden behind the silver birch trees is a thick, tall concrete wall, impossible to scale.
Given the constraints of needing to keep 245 high-risk people incarcerated, creating an environ-
ment that was as unprisonlike as possible was a pri-
ority . “The architecture is not like other prisons,” Høidal says. “We felt it shouldn’t look like a prison. We wanted to create normality. If you can’t see the wall, this could be anything, anywhere. The life be-
hind the walls should be as much like life outside the walls as possible.” This principle is governed in part by a key feature of the Norwegian sentencing system, which has no life sentences and stipulates a maximum term of 21 years.
“Everyone who is imprisoned inside Norwegian prisons will be released – maybe not Breivik, but every one else will go back to society. We look at what kind of neighbour you want to have when they come out. If you stay in a box for a few years, then you are not a good person when you come out. If you treat them hard … well, we don’t think that treating them hard will make them a better man. We don’t think about revenge in the Norwegian prison system. We have much more focus on rehabilitation. It is a long time since we had fi ghts between inmates. It is this b
uilding that makes softer people.”
Prisoners are unlocked at 7.30am and locked up for the night at 8.30pm. During the day they are en-
couraged to attend work and educational activities, with a daily payment of around $9 for those who leave their cell. “If you have very few activities, your prisoners become more aggressive,” Høidal says. “If they are sitting all day, I don’t think that is so good for a person. If they are busy, then they are happier. We try not to let them get institutionalised.”
At Halden there are 340 staff members (includ-
ing teachers and healthcare workers) to the 245 male inmates. The prison guards have completed a two-
year university course, with an emphasis on human rights, ethics and the law. Staff are encouraged to mingle with inmates, working with them to combat their criminality. A great deal of attention is given to making sure people have homes and jobs to go to when they leave, and that family ties are main-
tained. (There is a well-stocked chalet-style house for prisoners to receive overnight visits from their families.) The regime is expensive – approximately $500 a night, compared with around ($330) at the more ba-
sic, older Norwegian institutions . But the generous amount of money and thought lavished on inmates at Halden doesn’t stop them (politely) expressing their dislike of the place and their desire to leave as soon as possible. An elderly prisoner, with terminal cancer, serving a long sentence for drug smuggling, is in the craft room, crocheting a toy with no enthu-
siasm for his task. He concedes that Halden smells b
etter than other prisons he has been in . “The only thing that is nice is the building,” he says. “People think that you are staying in a fi ve-star hotel, but prison is prison. They lock you up.”
Kent, a 43-year-old offi ce manager serving a three-
year sentence for a violent attack, is sitting in the pris-
on’s mixing studio, where prisoners record music and make a programme that is broadcast monthly by the local radio station. He has formed a band with three ≤Continued from page 25
they’re going to do with their dog. There are aggres-
sive people who are high on drugs, or withdrawing from drugs, which is not always easy to deal with. It’s only the older guys who’ve been in other prisons who are happy to be in Halden.”
As we walk around the compound, an inmate comes up to ask Høidal, “Can we have a swimming pool?” He laughs, and remembers the shock of a Russian prison governor who visited recently and was horrifi ed to see that the inmates didn’t stand to attention when Høidal came past but instead clus-
tered around him, seizing the chance to list their complaints.
The inmates tell Høidal they’re annoyed by recent changes to the routine, but they are respectful when The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 27
Award-winning design in the lock-up that feels more like a luxury hotel than a prison … a guard at Halden, front; drying laundry in a block living room, left; the inside supermarket where inmates can shop once a week , top; daily life spent between work and school, above; outside wall and surveillance camera system , below Gughi Fassino/Anzenberger
abuse of a minor, pays tribute to the humanity o
f
the prison staff (as opposed to that of the fellow prisoners, who, when they found out what he was in prison for, announced they were going to dismember him). “The people who work here don’t look down on you,” he says. Compared with the 1850s Eidsberg prison, where he was before, Halden is a relief: “Being there and being here, it’s like heaven and hell.”
Two prison offi cers are sitting with the eight pris-
oners on A-block, encouraging them to knit woollen hats. One also has expensive oil canvases for them to experiment with, but there isn’t much appetite for either activity, so once the waffl es are fi nished, they return to playing a card game.
The civility between staff and inmates is notice-
able everywhere. Information for new inmates is translated into English for those who do not speak Norwegian. The text is apologetic about the possibility that they may have to wait before they are transferred to a cell, and concludes: “We hope you have understanding for any waiting and hope to help you as soon as possible. With best regards, the reception offi cers.”
Maybe I’m not there long enough to sense latent anger or profound despair, but Halden doesn’t feel like a place where you have to look over your shoul-
der. An offi cial in the healthcare division says up to 40% of inmates will be taking sleeping pills, and between 10% and 20% are on anti-depressants, but overall the atmosphere is calm.
Though food is provided by the prison, inmates can buy ingredients to make their own meals. The prison shop has wasabi paste for those who want to make sushi. You can buy garam masala, vanilla pods or halva, and there is prime fi llet of beef at around $60 a kilo, which prisoners club together to buy when they want to make a special meal. The most frequently borrowed books in the library are cookbooks. Most prisoners’ fridges are full o
f
yoghurt drinks and cheeses; a couple say they’ve put on weight since they arrived.
At 3pm, a table is set for 10, with white china plates, glasses and white paper napkins, in the drug rehabilitation unit, where Robert, 45 and an ex- addict and dealer, is living. Some prisoners are sitting on the brown woollen sofas watching the communal television. It looks like an advertise-
ment for a family ski-chalet, complete with beauti-
ful forest views. This is the main meal of the day; afterwards, between four and fi ve prisoners will be locked in their cells for an hour to give the prison guards time for a break, then there will be free time until lock-up at 8.30pm.
Occasionally the prisoners talk of the Breivik trial, which is closely followed on television. On the whole they don’t believe the liberal regime from which they benefi t should be extended to him. “He couldn’t stay in a place like this,” Robert says. “If I saw him, I would knock him down. I’m a nice prisoner but I would do it and I would brag about it. Everybody wants to take him out.”
Høidal says, with some relief, that if Breivik is ever transferred to Halden, it won’t be for at least a decade, by which point he will have retired. In the days after the attack, the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said, “We are shaken but we will not give up our values. Our response is more free-
dom, more democracy.” Høidal echoes his words: “If it happens again, then maybe we will have another discussion about the system. For the moment, I don’t think that this case will change Norwegian thinking.”
they address him. He listens politely, agrees that in prison minor irritations can become major frustra-
tions, but remarks that people outside would laugh at the trivial nature of their complaints.
In the winter, when the compound was covered in snow, one of the inmates went outside and stamped around for a while. Looking out from the staff can-
teen later, guards noticed he’d written Help Me with his footprints. A UK prisoner might set fi re to his cell; even these appeals for attention are done in the most non-aggressive manner.
Huge, blown-up photographs of daffodils, Pa-
risian street scenes or Moroccan tiles cover the corridors. Høidal doesn’t have a clear answer to whether the pictures have a positive eff ect on inmate behaviour, but says that whenever a state building is opened in Norway, 1% of the construction budget goes on art.
One wild-eyed, ex-amphetamine addict slaps Høidal on the back, tells him he is a good man, but says he misses his old prison, Oslo, where he served an earlier sentence. Drugs were more of a problem in that jail, he adds wistfully. Høidal agrees that the style of Halden prison, with the relentless presence of guards wanting to talk and help inmates, does not suit everyone. “Some people don’t like them being around all the time. If you want drugs, then you prefer Oslo prison.”
Another prisoner, living in the relative seclusion of Unit A, where he is a year into a sentence for sexual Designer jail: inside Norway’s Halden prison
In pictures – photographer Gughi Fassino behind the wall http://bit.ly/haldenprison
Weekly review
28 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Heritage law divides modern India
Confl ict grows as preservation of historical sites forces eviction of local residents, fi nds Jason Burke
W
ith its snuffling boars, motorbikes, samosa stand and Deepak General Stores, the village resembles thou-
sands across India. But look up from the rubbish-strewn, potholed main street and what makes Tughluqabad diff erent from the others is very clear: a 700-year-old, 25-metre-high, 10-metre-thick, 6.5km-long wall.
A handful of tourists may drive down through the snarling traffi c to reach the village, sited within a complex of forts, tombs and defences built in the 14th century, but otherwise the rich heritage b
rings little benefi t. Indeed, it could bring about the village’s destruction. A supreme court judgment last year now means the 60,000 inhabitants are likely to be evicted and their homes demolished as illegal “encroachments” on an archaeological site.
Though a last-ditch legal fight is under way, people such as Shakunthala, a 60-year-old grand-
mother , are worried. “I’ve lived here all my life. We are poor people. We have nothing. Where will we go? What will we do?” she said.
Resistance is led by Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, a local politician. Bidhuri invoked the “valiant history” of the community, which he said fought British colonial overlords during the 1857 rebellion.
“The records show that the people of Tughluqabad fought bravely in the fi rst independence war. Now they want to throw us out of the homes we have in-
habited for so long,” he said.
Such confl icts are increasingly common in India. With legislation recently passed and a new political will to boost the lucrative tourist trade, offi cials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the govern-
ment body responsible for maintaining 3,660 of the country’s historical sites, have been charged with clearing them of illegal settlements.
The Times of India newspaper recently spoke of a “man v monuments confl ict” on a national scale.
“Our job is to conserve and protect the monu-
ments and encroachment is a problem,” said Dr Gautam Sengupta, the ASI director general. “We try to do things amicably but there is little we can do without support from law enforcement agencies.” Sometimes the ASI fulfi ls its mandate without con-
fl ict. Many temples are run in tandem with local trusts or administrative bodies. But hundreds of sites have suff ered from the pressure generated across India by land scarcity and a rapidly increasing population and are now home to large numbers of people or used as shops, storehouses or even schools. ASI offi cials speak of their legal duty to ensure a clear belt of land of up to 300 metres around every site.
PBS Sengar, the ASI’s director of monuments, said if “encroachments” were not cleared, “ultimately the sanctity of the monument is lost, repairs are not possible, the original historical setting is spoiled and a lot of damage is there”.
So in the famous desert fortifi ed town of Jaisalmer, a regular stop on the tourist trail of Rajasthan, local families are now facing legal action to force them to dismantle their homes. At the other end of Rajasthan, in Deeg, the ASI is trying to clear hundreds of people from homes and shops built around the 18th-cen-
tury fort.
Some, however, are pioneering a different approach. In Nizamuddin Basti, a poor Muslim neigh-
bourhood in Delhi, specialists from the Agha Khan Development Network, an international private phil-
anthropic NGO, have developed a “holistic” strategy that combines development and conservation.
Ratish Nanda, who oversees the restoration of the 16th-century tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun, as well as dozens of shrines, said the goodwill of local people was essential. “Local peo-
ple need to benefi t from conservation. The commu-
nity need to see buildings as assets, not burdens,” he said. In Nizamuddin, where 40,000 people exist in narrow lanes and tenements, school reading pro-
grammes, clinics and training schemes have been set up alongside conservation projects. One aim, Nanda said, was to create “an example of what can be done” to inspire authorities to change their approach.
But though ASI offi cials say they respect the Niza-
muddin project, it is unlikely such strategies will be seen elsewhere . Government in India is infamous for its lack of engagement with local communities.
In Tughluqabad, few have had any contact with offi cials. “The worst thing is you never know what is happening,” said Ram Bhatti, 73. “Is it going to be the whole village? Or just some of us? And where would they send us? We are always the last to know.”
Pause for refl ection ... the Archaeological Survey of India wants to move hundreds of people living around the historic fort of Deeg Amar Grover/Getty
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 29
Weekly review
Cold turns to thaw
Russia has toned down its anti-American rhetoric of last winter, reports Kathy Lally
T
he harsh anti-American tone that sounded so loudly in Russia over the last six months has grown quiet, and the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, set off to the US for last month’s G8 meeting representing a country that has offi cially declared good US relations a principle of its foreign policy.
The announcement of “stable and predictable co-
operation” with the US was made by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s decider, who set off the anti-American cam-
paign last autumn.
Within hours of his inauguration as president how-
ever, Putin issued a fl urry of decrees, among them ordering good relations with the US. The command came with some caveats, of course, including the requirement that the US refrain from meddling in Russia’s internal aff airs, a troublesome stipulation because the two countries diff er greatly on what in-
terfering in internal aff airs means.
Still, the change in pitch has been remarkable since the anti-American rhetoric began in earnest in late November, when Putin, then a presidential candidate, made a thinly veiled accusation that the US was fi nancing attempts to interfere with Rus-
sian elections. The oratory grew more strident in December, when Putin accused secretary of state Hillary Clinton of inciting street protests in Mos-
cow, suggesting that the demonstrators were in the pay of Americans. US Ambassador Michael McFaul was hounded by aggressive camera crews and wild accusations in the Russian media, culminating in a confrontation in late March, when he asked camera-wielding pursuers whether they were eavesdropping on him so they could follow his movements. Since then, he has been left alone.
At the height of the anti-American-
ism, many analysts contended that Putin’s words were intended for do-
mestic consumption – that he found it convenient to blame Russia’s prob-
lems on external forces while running for office. That view remains widely held, although Putin’s circumstances have changed since then. He took over the presidency weakened by questions about the fairness of the election and by persist-
ent protests against him in Moscow, which may aff ect the course he pursues.
“If he feels he is weakening, no one knows what the results will be,” said Mark Urnov, a pol i t i cal scientist at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “I suspect any effect on foreign policy will be minimal. We don’t have the resources to back up a really hard line.” Russia’s interests, he said, lie in peaceful collaboration with the west.
Urnov said he hopes the US will demonstrate a friendly attitude toward Russia and look for areas of co-operation, avoiding policies and statements that can be construed here as belittling Russia, which could provoke tough talk from Putin. But even a stern reaction from the president, Urnov stresses, would probably be limited to talk.
“Maybe I am too optimistic,” Urnov said, “but if we analyse his previous behaviour, we see tough talk but rational behaviour.”
One certain flash point is the Magnitsky law, which, if enacted, would freeze assets and bar Rus-
sian officials connected to human rights abuses from receiving US visas. The congressional bill was named in memory of Sergei Magnitsky, a corruption-
fi ghting lawyer who died in pretrial detention after he was accused of the crimes he uncovered.
Russian offi cials have lobbied strenuously against the law , which they consider provocative. In his de-
cree on good relations with the US, Putin referred to the Magnitsky bill, telling his foreign ministry “to work actively on preventing unilateral extraterrito-
rial sanctions by the US against Russian legal entities and individuals”.
The bill has deep support among Putin critics in Russia, who see it as a way of singling out wrongdo-
ers without being anti-Russian. “The Magnitsky bill is a very good thing, and the US should keep empha-
sizing that there is a diff erence between the Russian people and those in power,” said Dmitri Oreshkin, an organiser of a movement supporting fair elections. “This bill targets people who break the law, not or-
dinary Russians.”
The US should avoid pronouncements about promoting democracy in Russia, Oreshkin said, and emphasise educational and cultural exchanges that would give ordinary Russians direct knowledge of the US.
One of those encounters occurred last month, when jazz pianist Herbie Hancock performed in Moscow. The event was spon-
sored by the US State Department through its American Seasons programme, which has brought a number of Ameri-
can performers to Russia .
The 1,700-seat Interna-
tional House of Music was well-fi lled, and the audi-
ence was knowledgeable and wildly appreciative.
As she was leaving the venue after the performance, Inna Valentik, a 52-year-old Muscovite, frowned when reminded about all the anti-American allusions that had been fi lling the airwaves until recently.
“I don’t like all of that, the way politics can divide us,” she said. “Here, listening to this music, you feel only hap-
piness. It goes straight to the heart, and you feel the truth.” Washington Post
Carol Jardine
T
oday it’s mild and grey, yesterday was hot and sunny, and two days before it was wet and freezing cold.
It’s not only the weather that changes daily in the navel of the universe. The city is changing – daily . The tightly packed population of 14 million range from the designer-clad mega-rich who cruise around in shiny limousines, to the general workforce who swarm on to the ferries or throng into the crowded buses .
On my daily journey to work, I cross the Bosporus by ferry, perched on a polished wooden bench amid a mosaic of passengers. I observe the mix of headscarfed “conservatives” in their long, dark coats conversing gaily with their bare headed counterparts in jeans, suits and, often, very high heels.
A burka-clad woman, with only pink-rimmed sunglasses and pink shoes peeking out from the black, is com-
plaining about something to her denim-
jeaned neighbour. Outside, jetblack cormorants line the breakwaters and snow-white seagulls circle in clouds. Disembarking, I go with the fl ow on to a crammed, smelly bus. The three-laned roads are chock-a-block with every mode of transport . Tatty minibuses, where unshaven drivers ter-
rifyingly juggle change and talk on their mobiles while driving one-handed, weave perilously between buses. A ride in an offi cial yellow taxi is no less peril-
ous. The drivers, mostly semi-literate, often ask passersby for directions. Modern trams glide through the mayhem . The kings of the road are the metro-buses that skelter freely to and fro across the Bosporus Bridge , travelling on their bespoke highways, oblivious and contemptuous of the traffi c- choked roads on either side .
The view from the smeary windows of such public transport refl ects the changing face of Istanbul – magnifi cent domed mosques and palaces sit un-
comfortably close to space-age skyscap-
ers, with shanty villages and decaying wooden houses standing in isolated islands bordered by motorways . Ataturk is everywhere. He gazes be-
nevolently down in offi ces, restaurants and cafes. His handsome face betray s the draconian methods he used to transform this Middle Eastern jewel into a European city . But in its haste for modernisation, has Istanbul lost its way? Like the taxi drivers, is it is racing onwards unsure of its fi nal destination? Stop and start as Istanbul moves forward
Letter from Turkey
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Weekly review
30 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Senegal promotes fairer fi ghting
Dakar’s new government wants to clean up the national sport of w
restling, says Dorothée Thiénot
L
ess than a month after ousting presi-
dent Abdoulaye Wade , known as “the Old Man”, the youth of Senegal has again triumphed over the old guard. This time the battle was not in the poll-
ing stations but in the sandy arena set in Dakar’s Demba-Diop football stadium . T wo of the country’s Senegalese wrestling giants, in a mixture of wrestling and boxing, met in late April for the fi ght of the century. In front of a crowd 25,000 strong, Balla Gaye 2 , 26, fl oored Yékini , 35, the latter suff er-
ing his fi rst defeat in 15 years. The fight was over in just two minutes and 15 s econds. All the safara (holy water), prayers, mys-
tical sacrifi ces and Yékini’s seven months’ training were to no avail.
The country had been waiting for this for months. Following the failure of the fi rst jakarlo at Thies, 70 km from the capital, a TV press conference showed pictures of a pitched battle, with chairs fl ying, broken windows and knives fl ashing. The mayhem raised the tension and the price of tickets, with the cheapest selling for $12, more than a 10th of the average monthly wage. The bloodshed upset sponsors and the new government ; president Macky Sall called for all necessary measures to be taken “to clean up the sport”.
Alioune Sarr, who has headed the National Wres-
tling Federation (CNG) since 1994, has Sall’s support to impose stricter rules on the sport as a whole , in particular the promoters who control the business: Gaston Mbengue, Luc Nicolai and Serigne Modou Niang, whose fi ghts were sponsored by the leaders of Wade’s party. “Wrestling should be a school for virtue. Unfortunately, what with the rivalry between neighbourhoods and the arrival of money, violence and funding have taken priority over sport,” Sarr complains.
Dakar has 43 CNG-accredited clubs. Unoffi cially there are said to be several hundred. The sports min-
ister, Malick Gakou, grew up in Guédiawaye, north of Dakar, and is thought to be the main wrestling sponsor in the suburbs. “In a context of increasingly casual jobs and long-term unemployment, wrestling is a way of interesting youth in sport,” he says. The minister, who is also the honorary president of Balla Gaye 2’s club, sees wrestling as “a means of speeding up development and creating jobs in the suburbs”.
Balla Gaye 2, also from Guédiawaye, embodies the dreams of the disillusioned young men who now pin their hopes on wrestling, having given up on the “Barça or barsakk” (Barcelona or die) escape route. This Wolof expression refers to attempts to reach Europe in open boats, which have abated since the early 2000s. “There is a social bomb in the suburbs,” says the famous wrestler Mouhamed Ndao, aka Tyson, who grew up at Pikine, another underprivileged part of Dakar. “It’s an additional reason for the authorities to try to manage this sport professionally. There is no better way than wrestling to kindle dreams and combat migration.” Tyson is an idol in Senegal. An educated man, he has taken advantage of his image and was the fi rst to earn $200,000 for a single fi ght. “Before only the promoter made anything out of wrestling. It was seen as a sport for illiterates and country folk. Tyson changed all that by bringing in marketing, hair styling and so on,” says Ndao, who talks about himself in the third person. He is cam-
paigning to give young wrestlers training so that they are no longer at the mercy of promoters.
Of the country’s 8,000 registered club members, some fi ght for free in the hope of getting noticed. Small-time wrestlers start at $30 a fi ght. Less than 30 can expect to earn $2,000 in a season. The young men who fancy themselves as the next big champion are easily exploited. The new govern-
ment has asked the CNG to introduce stricter rules. “There has to be more control over the clubs. The kids will do anything, take anything,” says Sarr, who is gathering evidence of widespread doping. “Train-
ers should remember they are above all educators,” he adds.
Strangely wrestling is the hostage of another sport, with fi ghts only being staged in football sta-
diums. With 600,000 entries a year and tickets more expensive than for football, wrestling still lacks its own infrastructure. The construction of national arenas was promised long before Wade was elected in 2000. The Old Man endorsed the idea but never took it any further. This time “every eff ort will be made to ensure that the fi rst stone is laid during Sall’s fi rst term of offi ce”, Gakou promises, adding that he will do his utmost to “magnify the sport” and establish “transparency and ethics”. Le Monde ‘School for virtue’ … traditional wrestling in Senegal has become beset by violence and corruption Barry Lewis /Corbis
The language of Senegalese wrestling
Jakarlo
Face-to-face, verbal jousting between wrestlers before the fi ght. There are three jakarlos before a fi ght
Djinns
Or ginees, sacred spirits invoked before a fi ght Safara
Holy water that wrestlers sprinkle on them-
selves before entering the fray. The federation has banned combatants from using 10-litre bottles. “It’s indecent in a country that’s short of water,” says CNG president Alioune Sarr
Going to see Ardo
Ardo is professor Abdourahmane Dia, the head of the CNG medical committee. This expression refers to medical treatment following injuries sustained in the ring.
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 31
Weekly review
Mobility scooters step up a gear Amelia Gentleman fi nds out why more vehicles are crowding on to British pavements
T
he TGA Supersport tends to be bought by people who were fond of motor-
bikes in their youth, and many of its owners know it aff ectionately as the Harley, because its high silver handle-
bars supported by chrome springs are immediately reminiscent of the brand. It’s a Hell’s Angels look for people with limited mobility.
This is boom time for the mobility vehicle industry. The Supersport was one of hundreds of vehicles on display at the annual show of mobility scooters at the Birmingham NEC last month – a mini automobile trade show (but with medical mannequins instead of models in bikinis). Over the past decade, the stigma around these vehicles has eroded, and they are in-
creasingly popular with younger people. Manufac-
turers are responding by trying to take the product away from its medicalised roots and promoting it as a lifestyle accessory.
Some of the new brand names are startling. There is the Vegas scooter, displayed spinning on a rotating roulette board; the brochure explains it’s a lightweight model capable of carrying a driver up to a maximum weight of 130kg, with a top speed of 6km/h. Electric Mobility has a heavier item in sleek silver, which can travel up to 12km /h, is fi tted with a USB port so you can recharge your mobile and plug in your satnav or iPod, and is marketed as the Rascal .
These vehicles have transformed life for millions of people with disabilities. Shaun Greenhalgh, 56, from Wigan, has had diffi culty walking since he slipped and ended up with several prolapsed discs when he was in his early 30s. He has been using a scooter for 24 years and now owns four. “Like most scooter users, I can walk to some degree, but only with pain and discomfort,” he says, as he examines the models on display at the exhibition. “Without it, I would have no life. They might as well have put me down.”
But as they have become more popular, mobility scooters have become more controversial. Although the main growth in the market is the consequence of an ageing population, there is evidence that people with no disabilities are beginning to buy the scooters on the secondhand market (where they can cost as little as $150) because, with no tax, licence or insur-
ance requirements, they provide a cheap alternative to cars for getting around town .
The steady rise in sales of these vehicles in the UK is evident in their inescapable presence in shopping centres and high streets all over the country. Weirdly, there are no industry statistics that give an accurate sense of how the market is growing, but the depart-
ment for transport off ers estimates, suggesting that there are around 250,000 to 300,000 on the road across the UK, four times the total fi ve years ago . None of the suppliers will reveal their sales fi g-
ures, but between 60,000 and 70,000 scooters are thought to be sold in the UK each year. No other country in Europe is selling as many (with the pos-
sible exception of the Netherlands, where bicycle use is very high, and the mobility scooter is seen as a bike replacement for older cyclists).
They remain classifi ed as medical devices and the law states that this kind of vehicle should be driven only by someone “suffering from some physical defect or physical disability” – but there’s no clear defi nition of what that means, and the disability can be temporary or permanent. Whereas wheelchair us-
ers tend to be unable to walk, scooter users often can, but with diffi culty. The anti-mobility scooter lobby is confused by the vision of people stepping off their vehicle and walking into a shop. The sense that some people are using them for convenience is stoking the hostility, and legitimate users say the public are vocal in their criticisms. Toni Orchard, 39, travelled from Swindon to visit the exhibition to research the best model to buy, because she thinks a mobility scooter will improve her quality of life. She has had trouble walking long distances for the past 10 years because of her obesity, which she says has become more severe as she has grown older, despite her concerted eff orts to tackle it, including a gastric band.
“If I had one I would do more days out; I could go and see places rather than being put off by the amount of walking,” she says. “I can’t walk long dis-
tances without pain. I can’t do more than go around the block to the shops. It would be great to be able to go out without worrying about which places have seats that I can rest on.”
Greenhalgh says: “If someone sees you in a wheel-
chair, they assume you are 100% disabled, but with us they are confused.” The technology has improved vastly since he fi rst used them 20 years ago. “To begin with they wouldn’t take my weight and I’d burn out the motor. Now they come in all shapes and sizes, for all terrains,” he says.
As a former driving instructor , he is critical o
f
people who drive their scooters irresponsibly. “The problem now is that people drive them very badly, they put them on full speed in shopping centres,” he says . “It’s horrendous.”
The growing market in secondhand scooters, he says, is led by relatives of newly deceased users, who want to offl oad them quickly. He is annoyed by this increase in able-bodied users, saying they buy them “because of the fuel prices, or because they’re so lazy they can’t be bothered using a bike or a bus, or because they’re drinkers. Go to a pub, you’ll see them parked outside. We need to stop able-bodied people from using them. If every Tom, Dick or Harry gets one it will be chaos.”
Among manufacturers, there is a recognition that the industry will have to deal with the rising contro-
versy. Because there are some government grants for the vehicles, this hatred of the scooter is getting muddled up with a broader, rising resentment o
f
so-called benefi t scroungers, stoked by the UK gov-
ernment’s tougher rhetoric on what it describes as “idlers and layabouts”, as it pushes through huge cuts to disability benefi ts.
Steve Perry, Electric Mobility marketing man-
ager, says: “A lot of the hostility to scooters is sim-
ply because there are now lots of them. People see them in shopping centres, racing through, too fast. They are very quiet; there is no whirring noise like a car engine to let you know they are coming. But the independence they give … we get letters from people telling us that it has revolutionised their life.” In the front line of fashion and pleased to be out and about … Chelsea Pensioners line up on their mobility scooters Indigo/Getty Images 32 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Science
structures, the brain is made of thousands of specifi c types of brain cell that look and behave diff erently. Their names – Golgi, Betz, Renshaw, Purkinje – read like a roll call of the pioneers of neuroscience.
Lichtman, who is fond of calculations that expose the magnitude of the task he has taken on, once worked out how much computer memory would be needed to store a detailed human connectome.
“To map the human brain at the cellular level, we’re talking about 1m petabytes of information. Most people think that is more than the digital content of the world right now,” he said. “I’d settle for a mouse brain, but we’re not even ready to do that. We’re still working on how to do one cubic millimetre.”
He says he is about to submit a paper on mapping a minuscule volume of the mouse connectome and is working with a German company on building a multibeam microscope to speed up imaging.
For some scientists, mapping the human connec-
tome down to the level of individual cells is verging on overkill. “If you want to study the rainforest, you don’t need to look at every leaf and every twig and measure its position and orientation. It’s too much detail,” said Olaf Sporns, a neuroscientist at Indi-
ana University, who coined the term “connectome” in 2005.
“It’s like trying to describe the Mona Lisa by fi xing the positions of the atoms and molecules that make up the paint.”
Instead of setting their sights on the distant goal of a complete human connectome, Sporns and other neuroscientists are focusing on what is achievable to-
day: larger-scale maps of neural wiring. This summer, under the $40m Human Connectome Project (HCP), they will begin to produce the most detailed wiring maps yet of the healthy human brain.
“Even at these larger scales, there’s an enormous amount we can learn about the brain,” said Sporns.
The HCP has recruited 1,200 people, who will have up to five diff erent brain scans in a two-day visit to Washington University in St Louis, Missouri. One draw for the volunteers is they are not required to have their brains sliced.
The volunteers are healthy young adults, aged 22-35, and include Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and white non-Hispanics. To help tease out genetic factors , the group is made up of 300 pairs of twins and their non-twin siblings, whose connectomes, behaviours and genetic makeup can all be compared.
Neuroscientists already have Mapping what makes us human
Researchers want to learn how all 85bn neurons in the brain are wired together, says Ian Sample
T
here is a macabre brilliance to the machine in Jeff Lichtman’s laboratory at Harvard University that is worthy of a Wallace and Gromit fi lm. In one end goes brain. Out the other comes sliced brain, courtesy of an automated arm that wields a diamond knife. The slivers of tissue drop one after another on to a conveyor belt that zips along with the merry whirr of a cine projector.
Lichtman’s machine is an automated tape-
collecting lathe ultramicrotome (Atlum), which, according to the neuroscientist, is the tool of choice for this line of work. It produces long strips of sticky tape with brain slices attached, all ready to be photo-
graphed through a powerful electron microscope.
When these pictures are combined into 3D images, they reveal the inner wiring of the organ, a tangled mass of nervous spaghetti. The research by Lichtman and his co-workers has a goal in mind that is so ambitious it is almost unthinkable.
If we are ever to understand the brain in full, they say, we must know how every neuron is wired up.
Though fanciful, the payoff could be profound. Map out our “connectome” – following other major “-ome” projects such as the genome and transcrip-
tome – and we will lay bare the biological code of our personalities, memories, skills and susceptibilities. Somewhere in our brains is who we are.
The job at hand is not trivial. Lichtman’s machine slices brain tissue into exquisitely thin wafers. To turn a 1mm thick slice of brain into neural salami takes six days and yields about 30,000 slices.
But chopping up the brain is the easy part. When Lichtman began this work several years ago, he calculated how long it might take to image every slice of a 1cm mouse brain. The answer was 7,000 years. “When you hear numbers like that, it does make your pulse quicken,” Lichtman said.
The human brain is another story. There are 85bn neurons in the 1.4kg of fl esh b
etween our ears. Each has a cell b
ody (grey matter) and long, thin extensions called dendrites and axons (white matter) that reach out and link to others. Most neurons have lots of dendrites that receive information from other nerve cells, and one axon that branches on to other cells and sends information out.
On average, each neuron forms 10,000 connections, through synapses with other nerve cells. Altogether, Lichtman estimates there are between 100 trillion and 1,000tn connections between neurons.
Unlike the lung, or the kidney, where the whole organ can be understood, more or less, by grasping the role of a handful of repeating physiological some idea of how brains are wired, but the variability between even healthy people is substantial. The cerebral cortex makes up 80% of the human brain, but holds only a fi fth of its neurons.
Its familiar, wrinkled, cortical surface contains 150 or so areas that diff er markedly in their size and connectivity. Tucked beneath the cerebral hemi-
spheres, the cerebellar cortex occupies only a 10th of the brain’s volume but contains 80% of its neurons. Again, its lobes and lobules diff er markedly from person to person.
The HCP brain scans will map the connectivity of participants’ brains to a level of around 1mm or 2mm. That is enough to see where nerves form thick bundles to carry lots of information quickly from one region to another.
The first detailed connectomes are expected to be completed, and made publicly available for scientists to work on, later this year. The maps will be anonymised to protect individuals’ identities. The scientists behind the HCP use diff erent techniques to build a picture of two related aspects of the brain.
The anatomical, or structural connectivity, reveals the large-scale wiring, akin to motorways that criss-
cross the country. The other aspect, functional con-
nectivity, shows which parts of the brain work in uni-
son, when the brain is resting or performing a certain task. To this end, participants will be given memory tests, problems to solve, and asked to recognise emotions in faces, all while being scanned.
At Oxford University, Tim Behrens oversees amount
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The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 33
how the HCP will use a technique called diff usion tractography to map the major connections in the brain. Based on magnetic resonance imaging – a staple of modern neuroscience – diffusion tractography measures how water diff uses through the brain.
The principle is straightforward. Left unobstructed, water molecules move around randomly at body temperature, going this way and that. But in the brain, water molecules move pref-
erentially along the lines of nerve-fi bre bundles. Follow the water, and scientists can infer the posi-
tions of major tracts of nerves.
“It makes mistakes, it misses things, and it only goes down to around one cubic millimetre, but it can be done on a human brain without damaging it, and you can do the whole brain at once, and that makes a huge diff erence,” Behrens said. “Instead of tak-
ing years and years to map one connection, it takes 40 minutes to do the whole thing.”
The connectomes mapped out by the HCP will show scientists what healthy brain wiring looks like. But in future, researchers will want to compare these with the wiring of brains that have gone awry.
Historically, dysfunctional brains have been understood by spotting how tumours, strokes or damage to specific regions affected people, for example by knocking out speech or vision . But there are plenty of disorders that leave no obvious signs.
Dispatches
Beating heart cells made from skin tissue
Scientists have turned skin tissue from heart attack patients into beating heart cells . The procedure may help scores of people who survive heart attacks but are severely debilitated . By creating new heart cells from a patient’s own tissues, doctors avoid the risk of the cells being rejected by the immune system . Though the cells were not considered safe enough to put back into patients, they appeared healthy in the labora-
tory and beat in time with other cells when implanted into rats. “We have shown that it’s possible to take skin cells from an elderly patient with advanced heart failure and end up with his own beating cells in a laboratory dish that are healthy and young – the equivalent to the stage his heart cells were in when he was just born,” said Lior Gepstein, a cardiologist at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
No US prostate checks Men should no longer receive a routine blood test to check for prostate cancer because the test does more harm than good, a US government task force has concluded . The recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force runs counter to two decades of medical practice in which many physicians give the prostate-specifi c antigen (PSA) test to healthy middle-aged men. But after reviewing the evidence, the task force concluded that such testing will help save the life of just one in 1,000 men. Washington Post
Hepatitis testing in US The US government has called for all baby boomers to be tested for hepatitis C, which kills more Americans each year than Aids and is the leading reason for liver transplants. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention made the recommendation to fi nd hundreds of thousands of people who have the infection, which greatly increases their chances of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer . The hepatitis C virus is transmitted by blood, usually through intravenous drug use or transfusions . Washington Post
Scotty gets beamed up Star Trek fans remember him as Scotty, the USS Enterprise’s chief engineer . Last week, however, it was the turn of the late actor James Doohan himself to be “beamed up” when his remains, and that of more than 300 hardcore space enthusiasts, were blasted into orbit aboard a privately owned rocket. Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 took off last week from Cape Canaveral in Florida carrying a container holding lipstick-tube-sized canisters fi lled with cremated remains. Just connect ... MRI scanning is leading to far more ambitious ways of studying the brain; below left, a phrenological map from the 19th century Geoff Tompkinson/Science Photo Library
Brain scans have already found signs of mis-
wiring in parts of the brain called the frontal cortex and parietal cortex in people with schizophrenia. The connections in another network that joins the orbitofrontal cortex to a region called the striatum are important for addiction and compulsion.
Sebastian Seung, a computational neuroscientist at MIT, has teamed up with Lichtman and is working to make a neuron-level connectome a reality.
In his book Connectome, published this year, Seung sees a fully fledged human connectome as decades away, but achievable through steady advances in computation and imaging. His belief that our connectomes are key to knowing how our identities are stored in our brains is evident in his catchphrase: “You are your connectome.”
In common with many other neuroscientists, Lichtman believes that the brain’s wiring holds the answers to some of our greatest questions.
“All the normal functions of the brain, the storage of information about the world, our memories, the way we perceive the world, the behaviours we learn, are all probably encoded in connectivity,” he said.
“Is it readable? Absolutely. There was a time when people wondered how we would ever decode the genome. That turned out to be a very simple code. The brain is complicated, but there’s no magic here. What the brain does is built into the wiring.”
34 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Bigger and odder … Eleuthera 1984 by Alex Katz Licensed by VAGA, New York Culture
I
t’s a pleasure to look at Alex Katz’s paintings, and at the people and places in them; the people can show a restrained kind of pleas-
ure themselves, though they don’t often look back at you. Instead they look aloof, sometimes through sunglasses, dressed for summer; we can try to enjoy their company, imagine ourselves moving carefully into the bright shapes and the hard light of their world. Sometimes the people are poets, or else dancers whose poise sug-
gests runway fashion: Katz studied fashion in high school, worked with a dance company for decades, and spent a great deal of time, early in his career, with the exuberantly informal, intellectually playful poets known now as the New York school (John Ash-
b
ery, Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler and so on). At other times the people in the paintings turn out to b
e the same person, Katz’s wife of 50-odd years, Ada, depicted with admiration and reserve.
As for those places, they’re comfortable, often outdoors: vacation spots, with seashores, piers and pine trees. They might be in Maine, where Katz lives for part of each year, or else they are other holiday spots for the denizens of New York’s Upper East Side, a long way from Katz’s own childhood as a Russian Jewish immigrant, born in 1927 and raised in Brook-
lyn and Queens. From there he attended Cooper Union, the famously selective Manhattan art col-
lege, and in 1949 the Skowhegan School in Maine: there, Katz has said, he found his vocation in fi gures and landscapes, attracted to the coastal light.
Katz in the early 1950s had trouble making his way into a gallery scene dominated by heroic abstractions such as those of Jackson Pollock. Rather than change course, he found friends and allies in poets – O’Hara, Schuyler, the dance critic Edwin Denby – and other painters, such as Larry Rivers, who had also returned to fi guration. By the end of that decade his reputa-
tion was set: he has moved easily among New York writers and galleries ever since. While Katz has tilted b
ack and forth among genres – one year brought a series of head-only portraits of poets, another a sea-
scape – his sense of clean outlines and big colours has remained at the base of his style. Katz favours bright, uniform planes, put together to make up faces and bodies, with just enough depth to keep up an illusion. Behind the people, and when there are no people, he off ers solid lines, fl at skies, landscapes that are almost abstractions . Katz often seems to be thinking about Matisse, or else about other friendly modernist models for his not-quite-re-
alist homage to how the world looks. (Katz’s memoir, Invented Symbols, says that “the only art book I had for 20 years” was a collection of pictures by Henri Rousseau.) The people themselves in Katz’s paint-
ings can look almost fl at too, like people on posters, in four-colour printing or in old comic books. There are jokes about fl atness, jokes against doc-
trinaire abstraction, all over Katz’s work. In Ada on Red Diamond (1959) the painter’s wife and muse emerges enigmatically from a red diamond on a brown square, a background borrowed perhaps from a Russian Suprematist: she’s smiling, too, as she gives life to what would otherwise be an empty frame. Red Sails (1958), a collage of coloured paper, could be an abstract experiment with asymmetrical fi elds of two colours, juniper on tangerine, except for the tiny red triangles in the middle: they’re sails, so that orange-red fi eld must be a sea.
Older conventions of representational painting appear, too, and Katz takes them seriously: full-
length portraits, head studies and profi les, boating scenes, cloud studies like John Constable’s, even an odalisque. Recent landscapes and seascapes invoke east Asian practice, using single brushstrokes to con-
note harmony as well as immediacy: the whitecaps in Grey Marine (2000) come close to calligraphy. Katz gets compared at times to Pierre Bonnard, for his colours (bright orange! bright green!), and for those portraits of his wife. Whether she’s facing out at us, just head and shoulders, or in a bathing suit, the paintings show respect: it looks as if she has chosen to be there. Besides easel paintings and prints, Katz became famous during the 1960s for fl at, life-sized, painted fi gures made out of plywood or aluminium, which stand on the fl oor like genuine people or sculptures: they are not quite sculpture, but “fl at” paintings you can walk all the way around. These works suggest the relative “fl atness” of real people’s real identities, the way that we fi t our acquaintances into types, and Painting
A
lex Katz’s bright colours and clean lines both engage and unsettle, says Stephen Burt
An edge to pure pleasure
the pseudo-acquaintance we have with celebrities: we know about them, but we don’t know them for real, we can’t know what goes on inside.
Such fl at people, easy to meet but quite hard to know well, reappear in Katz’s paintings of multiple repeated fi gures: his series of bathers, whose gaudy caps look like glass beads, or the six women (one woman six times?) in The Black Dress (1960). Three have the same sceptical expression; one frowns, her brow creased. Behind the women, Katz has placed a picture of a picture – his portrait of Schuyler: none of the women is looking at it. It’s a rare note of frustration.
As Katz’s paintings got bigger, the people in them – when they had people in them – got odder, though they were still having fun, still hard to get to know. Five people on the beach in Round Hill (1977) look past one another, away from one another, through sunglasses or half-closed eyes. One of them, sprawled on one elbow, reads Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare’s most cynical play. Haute bourgeois relaxation there seems hollow, but elsewhere it’s at-
tractive. In Isleboro Ferry Slip (1976), almost 2 me-
tres square, a young man and a young androgynous fi gure stride forward across a pier, their backs to the sea. Wind plays with their hair, and both seem to look for us; one scowls, one smiles, as if they were trying to star in two diff erent fi lms.
It’s hard to see Katz without thinking of David Hockney: the large scales, bright lines, fl at surfaces The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 35
The Dictator is a very diff erent proposition
On fi lm
O
n the face of it, Sacha Baron Cohen might seem to be hoeing the same row this time round but by other means. Once more, a funny foreigner with unpalatable attitudes is let loose on the Land of the Free. Like Borat and Brüno before him, Aladeen parades bigotry to risque but comic eff ect. You might have thought that the shift from real-world interactivity to scripted narrative would simply have added a bit of precision and gloss to the same underlying routine. Not so. The Dictator is a completely diff erent proposition from its star’s last two big-
screen vehicles.
Assad and Kim Jong-un have nothing to fear from this comforting exercise. Nor does anyone else. Poten-
tial targets ranging from eco-nazism and cultural relativism to racial profi l-
ing and confl ict-zone profi teering are referenced, only to be indulgently side-
stepped. Only once does the fi lm really acknow ledge the import of its subject matter.
In a right-on set-piece bolted on at the end, Aladeen urges Americans to abandon democracy. Under a dictatorship, they could enjoy the benefi ts of inequality, emasculated media, rigged elections, etc etc. Gosh, guess what, they do already! Compare the vacuity of this with the oratorical climax of Chaplin’s The Great Dictator to remind yourself that comedy needn’t turn its back on reality.
The reason for his retreat from the edge isn’t entirely clear. We can’t ask him, since he doesn’t like doing interviews as himself, preferring to hide behind whichever character he’s playing at the time. The Dictator is of course providing Baron Cohen with his fi rst real taste of full-scale Hollywood stardom. It would be sad to think he’s sold out for the big bucks, and, heaven forbid, popularity. Still, if he were to deign to address us, he could argue that he’s paid his dues. The real-people mockumentary process must have been not only exhausting but also sometimes dangerous, both legally and physically.
Baron Cohen is now 40, married with two kids, and an established member of the Hollywood elite. If he so chooses, he can settle down to domesticating his past practices, acting in other people’s movies and polishing his gongs. Good luck to him. For what we received in his heyday, we can only give thanks.
David Cox
and unapologetic delight in the simplest pleasures of sun, sea and sociability all unite the Englishman in California with the Russian immigrants’ son in New York and Maine. As with Hockney, the paintings dare you to attack them as self-satisfi ed: the moment you do, they turn uncanny, or troublesome.
If you like 1960s pop art, too, you’ll like Katz, but you probably should not call Katz “pop”; Katz himself wouldn’t. For one thing, he started earlier and kept going afterwards, and for another, even his fl attest, brightest, most media-saturated work seems quieter, subtler, friendlier than Andy Warhol or Richard Hamilton often allow. “I wanted to make paintings you could hang up in Times Square,” Katz once declared, and he has literally done so, design-
ing a billboard in 1977; this show takes its name – Give Me Tomorrow – from a later billboard, shown in New York in 2005.
Katz makes some paintings big even when they are not billboards – so big that the size itself has aes-
thetic eff ect. Beige Ocean, 4 metres wide, is a blown-
up close-up, its foamy whitecaps larger than life; Green Refl ections 3, 2.5 x 3 metres, gives us individ-
ual spatters of white paint on ultramarine ground, like magnifi ed snow on the sea. “All the successful painters are good decorators,” Katz has said; these large paintings without people make their decora-
tive patterns into puzzles. Where should the eye start to follow them? Where should it stop?
These salient patterns benefi t from the way in which Katz often works, fi rst making preparatory sketches, then using something called a pouncing tool to project a charcoal sketch on to the canvas. After such care, Katz then paints in the outlines quite fast, at times in a single sitting. Unsympathetic viewers say the results look like colour by numbers: more patient ones might notice that these are techniques akin to, but never identical to, those of reproducible commercial art, just as the people and places in Katz are akin to, but never identical to, the pretty illusions of advertisements and big screens.
Everything in Katz – all places, all people – looks stylised, simplifi ed, cut to please the eye, and yet none of it looks trivial. Instead, the paintings, and the cut-outs and the collages, from the 1950s to the 2000s, exist on an edge: an edge between pop and depth; between a love for individual characters and places and an attraction to simplifi ed, repeated patterns; between a realist sense that there are people and things in the world that can be known, and a modernist attention to layers and brush-
strokes, and the fl atness of paint.
It’s an edge, but not a cutting edge. The works, like the people they show, delight or unsettle but will never provoke shock or rage: and why should they? At his best, Katz the portraitist, Katz the maker of big and small scenes, Katz the painter and print-
maker, and maker of stand-up cut-outs does justice to pleasure, on a human scale, and to what the eye seeks when freed from grander demands; it would be churlish to ask him for anything more.
Alex Katz: Give Me Tomorrow is at Tate St Ives, Cornwall until 23 September The bubble reputation How are Lear, Dickens and Browning perceived now? blogs.guardian.co.uk/arts
36 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 R
oger Brown, 55, has presided over the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, since 2004. Reputedly the world’s top school for “modern” music, it is, as he says, “an institution established for people who hate institutions”.
Since 1945, Berklee students have won many top prizes, including 205 Grammy Awards in categories such as pop, rock, jazz and fi lm music. Quincy Jones started here in 1951 with a scholarship, going on to win 27 Grammys. In 2011, shortly after leaving the school, the jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spald-
ing won the Grammy for the Best New Artist. She en-
tered the school aged 17 and went on to teach there.
The college boasts a truly impressive honours b
oard. Former students include Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Diana Krall, Melissa Etheridge, but also Howard Shore, well known for his fi lm scores, and Brad Whitford, the Aerosmith rhythm guitarist.
The college is close to Harvard and the Mas-
sachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Indeed its founder, Lawrence Berk, was an MIT engineer. His aim in starting the school was to convince elite Boston that popular music, with its strong African-
American infl uences, was far more sophisticated than they thought. It was originally called the Schill-
inger House of Music and specialised in a system of harmony and composition based on mathematical models by Joseph Schillinger , a Russian musician who died in 1943. George Gershwin and the clari-
nettist Benny Goodman studied under him. The college later changed its name to Berklee, a tribute to the founder’s son, Lee, who took over from his father in 1979.
Brown was born in Gainesville, Georgia, in the days of segregation. He led “the marvellous life of southern kids” focus ing largely on US football. But his mother, unusually for a woman in the south , had played trombone in the Atlanta Symphony Orches-
tra. Brown was classically trained, but the local radio station gave him his fi rst taste of pop music.
The college’s third chief executive, Brown has strong connections with Africa. In 1978, having graduated in physics, he went to Kenya to teach maths. “At the time I hadn’t made the connection b
etween the segregationist situation in the southern states and my desire to go there. I understood later,” he explains. Before he set off for Kenya, he looked Ultimate institution for fusion Berklee College mixes musicians and genres with huge success, reports Véronique Mortaigne
Graduates of the world’s top school for modern music ... from top: Quincy Jones, Esperanza Spalding and Diana Krall
for a book to learn Swahili. “I walked till I reached a bookshop in Harlem called Revolutionary Books. Being white, with a very noticeable southern accent, I was scared stiff . But the man was very friendly.” Brown went on to play drums in a gospel choir in Kenya and in Gainesville.
Every year Berklee College presents honorary doctorates to musicians from outside the college . In 2010 Angélique Kidjo , of Benin, received this award “for her exemplary work for Africa”, Brown explains. The college operates a talent-spotting scheme there that enabled the guitarist Lionel Loueke , among oth-
ers, to obtain a contract with Blue Note and team up with trumpeter Terence Blanchard.
The college brings together more than 4,000 students from 80 different countries, under the guidance of 360 teaching staff . “There are excellent musicians trained in Europe’s academies. But at Berklee our aim is not just to prepare them to join a famous orchestra, but also to help them create new musical forms,” Brown says. His predecessors wit-
nessed the arrival of various revolutions – free jazz, funk, hip-hop – and took them on board.
It is now up to Brown to cope with the “tectonic shock” of the global market, digital music and so-
cial networks. “Young people are growing up in an immaterial world,” he says. “They have never been as interested in music as they are now, because they can fi nd it everywhere, on Facebook and in all the media.” He predicts that technology will bring artists and their audience closer together.
Brown was in Cannes, France, in January for the Midem International Music Market . He announced a brainstorming session to rethink music, held in Bos-
ton in April, and the September launch of Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain. Until now the college has been involved in partnerships with local schools, reaching from South Korea to Brazil.
Studying at Berklee is expensive – $33,000 a year – but a large number of students win scholarships or are supported by foundations. The college prides itself on the quality of its amenities, its rehearsal rooms, concert halls, studios and equipment. To keep them up-to-date, part of Brown’s job is to fi nd funding ; $50m was raised in 2007 alone.
Students must pass an audition and show excep-
tional talent, but that does not mean they have to be able read music, “nor indeed improvise”, Brown adds, for the benefi t of those with a classical back-
ground. “When the jazz bassist Marcus Miller audi-
tioned he was 18, but they immediately asked if he wanted to study or teach,” recalls French fi lm-score composer Krishna Levy, who studied at Berklee in 1986-87.
“I spent a year experimenting with all the pit-
falls of composition. I asked fellow students to play stuff the wrong way round,” says Levy, who had just emerged from a very academic course. “I met a teacher, Herb Pomeroy , a trumpeter who had played with Charlie Parker among others. His big band was amazing. I used to play piano 10 hours a day and listen to hard rock, which I had totally rejected till then.” The jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson has great memories of his time at Berklee too: “There was a fantastic spirit of wanting to learn from each other [...] with people from all over the world jamming together.” Le Monde Music
Culture
Berklee students have won many top prizes, including 205 Grammys for pop, rock and jazz
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 37
Reviews
Film Killing Them Softly
Directed by Andrew Dominik The adverb is horribly inappropriate. Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly is a slick ensemble-
nightmare of middle-management mobster brutality and incompetence in the tradition of Goodfellas and Casino, Pulp Fiction and TV’s The Sopranos, with something of the opening voiceover monologue from the Coens’ Blood Simple: the one about being on your own.
It is outstandingly watchable, superbly and casually pessimistic, a world of slot-mouthed professional and semi-professional criminals always complaining about cleaning up the mess made by other screw-ups. The movie delivers the classic mob “betrayal” trope: someone shoots someone else, at close range, suddenly and terrifyingly, having lulled his victim – and us – into a false sense of security with a long pointless conversation about what they were going to do later.
The movie is adapted by Dominik from novelist George V Higgins’s 1974 thriller Cogan’s Trade, up-
dated to the Bush/Obama handover era of 2008, albeit with some automobiles that seem to belong to that earlier era. It is a time of fi nancial anxiety, which Dominik applies cleverly, if not entirely subtly, to the world of crime. American taxpayers were being asked to bail out banks for the sake of confi dence and prestige – and these taxpayers also had to tighten their belts. Here, local wiseguy Markie (Ray Liotta) has to be whacked for robbing some other wise-
guys’ poker game: he didn’t do it, but someone has to be seen to get killed for the sake of confi dence and prestige. And the hit men will have to accept a reduced fee in the current economic climate.
The assassin in question is Cogan, played with suavity and shrewd style by Brad Pitt, a killer who prefers to shoot people at long range, be-
cause he detests the screaming and plead-
ing of victims who realise they are going to die – what he calls “killing them softly”. He is called in to help out with a mixed-up situation. As well as Markie, others have to be addressed. The poker hit was actually car-
ried out by two ridiculous young jerks, Frankie and Rus-
sell, brilliantly played by Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, hired by another mobster whom Cogan feels delicately unable to rub out because he is personally acquainted with the man, so he subcontracts this wet job to a second assassin.
And here is where Cogan himself is guilty of incompetence; he calls an old friend Mickey, hilariously played by James Gandolfi ni, who’s in need of the cash but instantly reveals himself to be quite unequal to the demanding task of contract killing: a heavy drinker and prosti-
tute addict (he calls it his “hobby”) , and on the verge of a breakdown. Dominik controls the scenario and the cast tremendously well. Admittedly, slo-mo hit scenes to the accompaniment of ironically romantic music, and pre-crime banter and squabbling between rob-
bers, are not entirely original, but these scenes are executed with fl air, with a regular supply of dialogue zingers. The political dimension to the movie, em-
phasised with continually recurring glimpses of the outgoing and incoming presidents on the TV news, is restated with a grandstanding monologue from Cogan. Perhaps it’s too emphatic to count as satire, but it gives an extra edge to a smart, nasty, gripping movie. Peter Bradshaw Theatre As You Like It
Shakespeare’s Globe, London
If all the theatre in Georgia comes anywhere close to the standard of the Marjanishvili company, then the job of theatre critic there must be the most covetable in the land. At the end of its irresistible As You Like It, they got a standing ovation (at least from those not on their feet already). Its conception of Arden is of a small, makeshift stage – theatre within theatre. Throughout, you see the cast off stage: their camara-
derie, chess games, squabbles, vanities. It’s charm-
ing but also fi tting, because As You Like It is partly about escape as a means to self-knowledge.
Levan Tsuladze’s direction is animatedly Chekho-
vian – aff ectionately in touch with faulty humanity. And what is fascinating is that, in the absence of Eng-
lish words, Shakespeare’s wisdom stands out with such clarity. I saw, with fresh emphasis, the extent to which the play is about temperament: sunny souls turn hardship into a picnic; those with melancholy hearts will drag their heels for ever.
Which brings us to Nata Murvanidze’s match-
less Jacques. The Georgian language lends itself to melancholy, and one luxuriates in Murvanidze’s voice. But, as his mournful strolling concludes, autumn leaves shoot over him in an exclamatory fountain – nature poking fun at his stubborn sadness. It is per-
fect comic punctuation. Rosalind (Ketevan Shatirishvili) and Ce-
lia (Nato Kakhidze) are also exqui-
site, playful sylphs whose words are sometimes in fast-
forward. Audrey (Manana Kozakova) is the funniest and most formidable shepherd-
ess, who milks her plastic sheep lewdly and erupts on stage in blazing scarlet to be wed. In a production defi ned by witty detail, I adored the comedy of the desperate prompter, the lifesize rag doll in the wrestling match and the magic of the moment in which the cast, offstage, casually imitates birdsong until you hear a Georgian dawn cho-
rus – and a summer morning in Arden. Kate Kellaway Observer Culture
Exhibition
Damien Hirst: Two Weeks One Summer
White Cube Bermondsey, London
The last time I saw paintings as deluded as Damien Hirst’s latest works, the artist’s name was Saif al-
Islam Gaddafi . A decade ago the son of Libya’s then still very much alive dictator showed sentimental paintings of desert scenes in an exhibition sponsored by fawning business allies. Searching for some kind of parallel to the arrogance and stupidity of Hirst’s still-life paintings, I fi nd myself remembering that strange, sad spectacle.
There is a pathos about Two Weeks One Sum-
mer, in which Hirst shows paintings of parrots and lemons, shark’s jaws and foetuses in jars in a vast space in White Cube Bermondsey (until 8 July). It is the same kind of pathos that clings to dictators’ art. This is the kind of kitsch that is foisted on help-
less peoples by Neros and Hitlers and such tyrants so beyond normal restraint or criticism they believe they are artists. I am not saying this to be cruel. There is a real analogy: Hirst like an absolute ruler must be utterly surrounded by a court of yes-people, all down the line from his painting shed to the gallery, if there is no one to tell him he is rowing himself to artistic damnation with these trivial and pompous slabs of hack work.
This is the third exhibition by Hirst to open in London this spring, and it retroactively mocks the others. His retrospective at Tate Modern is brilliantly edited. But here is the other side of the story: an art-
ist so wealthy and powerful that he can kid himsel
f
he is an Old Master and have the art world go along with the fantasy. The most recent paintings here were fi nished this year, so the fantasy is still very much alive. So is the courtiers’ chorus of support.
The exquisitely produced catalogue has an essay by a senior curator at the Prado in Madrid, who draws comparisons with Caravaggio and Velázquez. Yikes. It would be impressive stuff if we did not have the paltry reality of Hirst’s paintings before our eyes. At White Cube, I pass from picture to picture, trying not to crack up laughing or actually swear out loud. The exercise feels like a parody of being an art critic, for these are humourless parodies of paintings. Like the Prado expert I can spot the analogies – lemons, how Zurbarán – but they work only to destroy and humiliate Hirst’s daubs.
Seriously – Mr Hirst – I am talking to you. It seems you have no one around you to say this: stop, now. Shut up the shed. I say this as a longtime admirer, not an enemy. These paintings are abominations unto the lord of Art. They dismantle themselves. Each of these paintings – from the parrot in a cage to the blossoms and butterfl ies – takes on the diffi culties of represen-
tational painting and visibly fails to come close, not merely to mastery, but to basic competence.
If Hirst did not try to paint an orange accurately, no one would know he can’t do it. But he has tried, at least I think it’s an orange, and the poor sphere seems to fl oat in mid-air because of the clumsy circle of shadow below it. For a moment I thought this was intentional, then I realised it was a competence is-
sue. Such issues abound. You look at a branch and it is obvious he has worked at it: equally obvious the work was wasted. At their very best these paintings lack the skill of thousands of amateur artists who paint at weekends – and yet he can hire fools to com-
pare him with Caravaggio. Jonathan Jones
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Arden. Kate Kell
a
The First Crusade: The Call from the East
b
y Peter Frankopan
Belknap/Harvard University Press 262pp $29.95
“Deus vult!” – God wills it! – was the battle cry of the First Crusade, in which armies of Europe, at the very end of the 11th century, marched off to liberate the holy city of Jerusalem and conquer the infi del Turks, who were sweeping all before them in Asia Minor.
Whatever God’s actual intentions in the matter, his representatives on Earth, Pope Urban II in Rome and the Emperor Alexios in Constantinople, quite clearly fostered this great martial enterprise for their own political purposes . The emperor, assailed b
y enemies on his frontiers and by rivals within his family, was desperate for military aid, just as the pope was comparably eager for a galvanising cause that would confi rm his primacy as the leader of the Christian world.
Older studies of this complex military venture often tend to emphasise its romantic character. In this view, Pope Urban’s electrifying call to arms at Clermont in 1095 is regarded as the starting point for years of heroism and self-sacrifi ce. That day, in a fi eld in France, the pontiff thundered out that the Muslims, “a foreign people and a people rejected b
y God, had invaded lands belonging to Chris-
tians, destroying them and plundering the local population”. He then proceeded to detail the horrors infl icted by these demonised Turks.
“They throw down altars, after soiling them with their own filth, circumcise Christians, and pour the resulting blood either on the altars or into the b
aptismal vessels ... When they feel like infl icting a truly painful death on some they pierce their navels [and] pull out the end of their intestines ... And what can I say about the appalling treatment of women, which is b
etter to pass over in silence than to spell out in detail?”
Given such atrocities, how could any respectable Christian war-
rior hesitate to act? As it hap-
pens, Urban’s oratory hardly exaggerated the Turkish ruth-
lessness, although very soon the Crusaders would slaughter with a comparable barbarity.
The subtitle of Peter Frankopan’s highly readable The First Crusade – The Call From the East – underscores his revisionist approach to his subject: he seeks to understand the roots of the Crusades in the literally Byzantine politics of Asia Minor during the late 11th century, focusing on the empire’s strategic accommodations with its enemies in the aftermath of an ignominious defeat at the b
attle of Manzikert in 1071. The book’s hero is, in eff ect, the How the east was briefl y won
M
ichael Dirda relishes a history of the First Crusade that deals in realpolitik, not religion
Scene of struggle … Jerusalem and its crusader king Godfrey of Bouillon, left David Sanger/Getty
Books
38 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, who spent his reign in a relentless quest for stability.
In some instances, Alexios triumphed on the battlefi eld, as when, in 1091, at Lebounion, he essentially wiped out the marauding Pecheneg nomads. But more often he preferred high-level diplomacy, either co-opting or buying the friendship of various Muslim warlords, although such ententes lasted only until those leaders were killed or died. Eventually, Alexios’s enemies grew too power ful to be placated. In short order, his dominion over the seaboard and interior of Asia Minor essentially collapsed. There was a coup attempt involving close associates, including his brother. The empire tottered.
But the west possessed fighting men and modern technology – chiefl y the knight mounted on an armoured war horse – and there might lie salva-
tion, of a sort. By eliding the interests of Constantinople with the promise of liberating Jerusalem, Alexios pre-
sented himself as a champion of Chris-
tendom. He wrote to Urban, who, faced with a rival pope and widespread clerical discord, quickly grasped that a noble cause in a distant land would bolster his wobbly perch on the throne of St Peter. To increase the Crusade’s attrac-
tiveness, the savvy pontiff emphasised not only the spiritual rewards of participation, but also the virtual guarantee of a place in heaven for those who lost their lives. The leaders of the Crusade soon in-
cluded Robert, Duke of Normandy (one of William the Conqueror’s sons); Count Raymond of Toulouse; Godfrey of Bouillon; and the soon-to-be-famous Bohemond, whose family controlled the Norman kingdom of Sicily. They and their carefully recruited armies, consisting of reliable fi ghting men, would meet at Constantinople in 1096 and 1097.
In the meantime, the unexpected occurred. From 1095 to 1096, a charismatic preacher, Peter the Her-
mit, gathered a following of his own and, without pa-
pal authorisation, unleashed what is now known as the People’s Crusade. Whipped to a frenzy, this rag-
tag and chaotic mob moved across Europe, preach-
ing antisemitism, murdering Jewish populations and devastating the countryside in its hunger for food and supplies. Some of these marauding zealots made their way to Asia Minor, where they brutally overran a small castle near Nicaea, and were crushed by venge-
ful Turkish forces. Many of these fanatical Christians quickly converted to Islam to save their lives.
For Alexios, this unoffi cial crusade presaged the When
they
feel
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A tragicomedy in many rich varieties
In One Person
by John Irving
Doubleday 427pp £18.99
Steven Poole
Everyone’s an actor, in an amateur-
dramatic society whose prompter has fallen ill and whose audience comes only for the pleasure of hating the show and leaving at the interval. So try not to be too harsh on your fellow players. Something like this metatheatrical moral drives John Irving’s deeply enjoyable novel, which has a Shake-
spearean title (from Richard II: “Thus play I in one person many people, / And none contented”), and a large part of which centres on an amateur-dramatic society in late-1950s New England.
Our narrator, William, begins by recounting his high-school years. The local am-dram outfi t is the First Sister Players: his mother is the prompter, his stepfather directs and his grandpa Harry enthusi-
astically dons falsies to play women. It is not lost on William, who is sexually interested in both boys and girls (with often charmingly funny results), that cross-dressing is more tolerated in a Shakespeare production than it is in the outside world. William is obsessed with a conceited fellow schoolboy, and also with the alluringly mysterious town librarian, Miss Frost, who recommends to him appropriate literature about “crushes on the wrong people”.
The novel becomes a comic celebration of poly-
morphous perversity, and of literature. William plays Ariel in The Tempest, and Irving plays adroitly Shakespearean tricks: several deaths, and one beau-
tiful witticism, happen off stage, to be reported later by minor characters. There are important parts for Dickens, Flaubert, James Baldwin and the plays of Ibsen, beloved of an amusingly morose Norwegian sawmill-owner.
Irving also toys with recurring themes from his backlist. A line that William cites fondly from his first novel is taken from Irving’s own The Hotel New Hampshire. In One Person resembles especially Irving’s most famous novel, the wondrous The World According to Garp. Both TS Garp and William Abbott are novelists; both have absent fathers; both have a bookish girl as best friend and, later, lover. The courage of Garp’s minor character Roberta Muldoon, a man who becomes a woman, is here a major theme. Adult William has aff airs with men, women and people on the way from being one to the other. “I know only a few post-op transsexuals,” he says at one point. “The ones I know are very coura-
geous. It’s daunting to be around them; they know themselves so well. Imagine knowing yourself that well! Imagine being that sure about who you are.”
William takes two-thirds of this substantial novel to grow up; the rest of it is episodic epilogue, with in-
creasingly bleak but often still very funny fragments of scenes from the following half-century. William is constantly nudging us to share his own memories (Do you remember this guy? Do you remember what that guy said?), a literary device that proves impres-
sively eff ective. The term “tragicomedy” tends to be rather loosely applied nowadays to anything that’s a bit funny and a bit sad; In One Person deserves it more than most.
The sport of wrestling features in many of Irving’s novels, and it plays a particularly satisfying role in this story. In order to defend himself against ag-
gressive bigots, the young William is taught a sin-
gle wrestling move by the marvellous Miss Frost . William practises his duck-under over the years in wrestling clubs, and eventually gets to use it in anger against someone who richly deserves it. In a novel so subtly alert to theatrical convention, this is surely a nod to Chekhov. After all, if you put a loaded gun on the stage, you had better make sure someone fi res it by the end of the fi nal act.
A beautiful hell
Seven Years
by Peter Stamm, translated by Michael Hofmann
Granta 272pp £14.99
Toby Litt
Halfway through Peter Stamm’s Seven Years, an extraordinary moment occurs. The narrator, Alex, is remembering being with Sonia, the young woman who had just agreed to marry him. “We stood next to each other in the bathroom and looked at ourselves in the mirror. Two beautiful people in a beautiful apart-
ment, said Sonia, and laughed.”
The action of Seven Years is a gently atrocious playing out of the consequences of Alex’s being one of the beautiful people, and thinking that he knows who he is.
In the novel’s opening pages we are masterfully presented with a set of complex relationships. It is the recent past, perhaps 2008. Alex and Sonia, now middle-aged and estranged, are attending the opening of an exhibition of paintings by a woman in her 60s, Antje. Antje’s typical subjects, grotesque chimerical creatures, are among the very few things in the novel not to have satisfying proportions and gorgeous surfaces. These aesthetic qualities pre-
occupy both Alex and Sonia, who are architects.
However, Alex’s main preoccupation is and has always been something quite diff erent – something ugly. Not really a thing: a person. Ivona. A woman. But a woman that Alex treats, from the beginning, as if she were a thing, an emotional tool, another mirror in which to admire himself.
Seven Years is far from being merely another novelistic account of an aff air. What helps it transcend this is one of the great characters of contemporary fi c-
tion. “Meet Ivona … She’s from Poland … The woman put her glass down on the table, and next to it her tis-
sues and her book, which was a romance novel with a brightly coloured cover showing a man and a woman on horseback … There was something stiff about her posture, but her whole appearance was somehow sagging and feeble. She seemed to have given up all hope of ever pleasing anyone, even herself.”
Alex is remembering Munich, the summer o
f
1989, the time he fi rst met Ivona. He seduces her not so much because he can as because “her ugliness and pokiness were a provocation to me”. Alex knows he should be faithful to the blandly beautiful Sonia, but over the years he keeps returning to Ivona, an illegal immigrant who ends up working as a cleaner.
Architecture serves as a slightly overinsistent metaphor for relationships throughout the book: Sonia presents Alex with a scale model of the cold, formal house she’d like them one day to build and live in; this is an ideal the diffi culty he would fi nd in trying to control the ar-
mies and ambitions of Bohemond, Godfrey, Ray-
mond and the other western leaders. But, despite near catastrophe time and again, the Crusaders triumphed . Frankoban’s penultimate chapter – The Crusade Unravels – provides a detailed account of the taking of Jerusalem and the establishment of Godfrey of Bouillon as its king. He reigned for just under a year, dying in the summer of 1100.
Bohemond – named Prince of Antioch – emerged as the Crusade’s best-known hero . Emperor Alexios, by contrast, quickly drew down the vilifi cation of the squabbling Crusaders, being perceived as villainous and hypocritical. Bohemond even organised a new “crusade” to attack Constantinople and oust the em-
peror. He failed , although his knightly reputation was not tainted. Instead, the emperor’s daughter Anna Komnene tried to rehabilitate her father in her notable, if often unreliable, history The Alexiad.
That work of rehabilitation is furthered in this carefully researched book. As Frankopan states resoundingly in his last paragraph, “Alexios I Komnenos put in motion the chain of events that introduced the Crusades to the world,” and it was his “call from the east” that reshaped the medieval world. The First Crusade tells a complex story, and its presentation of political machinations, compro-
mises and betrayals seems utterly convincing. The harsh truths of realpolitik are, alas, with us always. Washington Post
The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 39
Continued on page 40≥
40 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 High on determinism
Memoirs of an Addicted Brain
b
y Marc Lewis
Public Aff airs 336pp £17.99
David Shariatmadari
It’s worth keeping William James’s moment of empathy with arthro-
pods in mind during any discus-
sion of the way thoughts and feel-
ings emerge from the brain. Marc Lewis’s brilliant – if not wholly sympathetic – account of his many mind-bludgeoning drug experi-
ences wears its biological determinism on its sleeve. Our selves are the product of excitation and inhibi-
tion in those “fl eshy computers we carry around in our skulls”, he says. But however true this may be, it is not necessarily useful in the study of personality. An individual is not just the product of his or her own b
rain, but of the way it interacts with the world, with other brains, with experience.
Lewis has certainly woven his experiences into an unusual and exciting book. Each chapter deals with a diff erent phase of his life (along with a diff er-
ent drug), and the vivid accounts of external events are married with descriptions of the neurology b
ehind them. His fi rst school-skipping experiments with alcohol introduce us to GABA and glutamate, the brain’s chemical “zeros and ones”. Lonely and b
ullied, he swallows a bottle of cough medicine and thus explains the neuronal blockade that results in “dissociation” – when sensory information from the cortex is detached from meaning supplied by the limbic system. The result is a fragmented puzzle, a welling up of signifi cance ungrounded in reality.
His scientifi c glosses are easy to understand but do not feel dumbed-down. The insights they off er are surprising. Serotonin, for example, rather than sim-
ply being a “happiness molecule”, is used through-
out the brain as a brake on excitation. It dampens and regulates neuronal fi ring, allowing us to fi lter input from the outside world without being over-
whelmed. LSD, which the author discovers – almost too perfectly – while at Berkeley in the 60s, works b
y squatting in receptor sites normally activated by serotonin. The result: no regulation, no brakes and a tsunami of sensation. beautiful couple continue to strive towards, but it’s Ivona’s series of warm, grubby, dark, badly decorated fl ats that are the only places Alex ever feels truly at home. For long periods of Alex’s life, he doesn’t visit Ivona, or even think about her. She, though, is a devout Catholic – and be-
lieves that Alex is destined to become her husband. Brilliantly translated by Michael Hofmann, Peter Stamm’s prose comes across as relentlessly unde-
monstrative. Yet it is booby-trapped with devasta-
tions waiting to happen . “It wasn’t pleasure that tied me to [Ivona], it was a feeling I hadn’t had since child-
hood, a mixture of freedom and protectedness. It was as though time stood still when I was with her, which was precisely what gave those moments their weight. Sonia was a project. We wanted to build a house, we wanted to have a baby, we employed people, we b
ought a second car … we were never done.”
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? It feels, Stamm seems to suggest, like being a project – a project to only ever treat other people as projects. It feels, in other words, like a very modern hell.
Similarly, cannabinoids, which the brain pro-
duces naturally, allow neurons to continue fi ring after an initial burst, when in normal circumstances they would become unresponsive for a short period. This allows the focused thought and absorption in a particular mode of thinking or behaviour that is sometimes essential. Smoking marijuana, Lewis explains, floods the brain with an external can-
nabinoid, THC, hence the drug’s bizarre eff ects: an obsession with tiny details, brighter colours or more intense sounds, “self-mesmerisation”.
Heroin is more straightforward. It mimics, but hugely eclipses in intensity, the chemicals produced by the brain to alleviate suff ering. And crucially – for this is the motor of addiction – in its soothing wake comes a surge of the chemical that reinforces desire, “the dopamine … that tops this dark lake with an electric sheen of attraction”.
Lewis – sensitive, hurt and far from risk-averse – seemed destined to fall for heroin. There are the usual addict’s stories of narrow escape and extraordinary consumption here: the week-long binge in his father’s apartment in San Francisco, punctuated only by trips to dodgy neighbourhoods to get more of the stuff . And later, with a diff erent drug, the biggest of all his falls from grace: three days of psychotic insomnia on amphetamine stolen from doctors’ offi ces. Lewis had become an intern in a psychiatric hospital, of all places. His escapades lead to expulsion and arrest.
But by this point, he is less likeable. He has turned from lost, wide-eyed young man, stumbling across the riches of the counterculture, into a thieving, obsessive commitment-phobe. He says of his wife, “I was trapped. Crushed by the collapsed coalmine of her needs,” and one wonders where the emotional defi ciency really lies. Our cooling towards him may refl ect the way society treats addicts: young people are the victims of upbringing and infl uence . Once they’re adults, a less forgiving attitude creeps in, which seems unfair. But it’s very hard to feel the same towards Lewis once he admits giving his partner a black eye, before “explaining” it with neuroscience.
This is where the so-far avoided question of responsibility pokes its nose in. Biological determin-
ism is all very well, up to a point. But Lewis is over-
playing his hand if he believes it can be marshalled in quite the same way to address domestic violence. Though I don’t doubt he feels thoroughly ashamed of his actions, there’s something obtuse about deal-
ing with this incident using the same framework as the drug experiences – that is, following it with a mini-essay on the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex.
For, like James’s imagined crab, Lewis is a person – a self. The brain is the ground from which a personality emerges, but whether neuroscience can answer moral questions, or help us navigate the impossible situations life sometimes puts us in, is moot. This memoir is as strange, and artfully written as any Oliver Sacks case-study, with the added scintillation of having been composed by its subject. But, for all its scientifi c dazzl e, it is no more complete a portrait of real life.
Books
40 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 ≤Continued from page 39
Music in the silence
The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places
by Bernie Krause
Little, Brown 278pp $26.99
Paul Mitchinson
Washington Post
Bernie Krause might be the Zelig of 20th-century electronic music. Run your fi nger down the back of LP jack-
ets from the 60s, squint hard, and you’re likely to fi nd Krause’s name popping up in small print on all sorts of albums. If you were a musician who wanted a shot of techno-gim-
mickry from that decade’s newest toy – the Moog synthesiser – chances are you’d have hired Krause. The Doors and the Byrds did. Or if you were a fi lm-
maker who wanted a certain eff ect that only elec-
tronic gadgetry could summon, you might have put him on your payroll. Those slow-mo helicopter whumps in the opening scenes of Apocalypse Now were brought to you in part by Krause.
But Krause’s The Great Animal Orchestra might come as a surprise. Since completing a doctorate in bio-acoustics more than three decades ago, Krause has become one of the world’s most outspoken – and unusual – environmentalists. Part anthropologist, part technician, part musician, he lugs his recording equipment around the globe, seeking to capture the vanishing soundscapes of our rapidly changing Earth. If you ever wanted to hear ants sing, beavers cry or corn grow, Krause is your man. His book movingly conveys his anger at the unseen toll that human-generated noise has exacted on the natural world – and why this matters.
Western music, according to Krause, has divorced itself from its primary inspiration: the natural world. In clear-cutting forests and paving over meadows, we’ve managed to deprive ourselves of a decent tune to whistle past our graveyard.
He begins his story with a journey to Lake Wallowa in Oregon in 1971, where a Nez Perce elder off ers him a music lesson. Crouching by a stream on an autumn morning, he is instructed to remain silent. As gusts of wind whip past, the air is fi lled with a mys-
terious “combination of tones, sighs and midrange groans ... a cross between a church organ and a colossal pan flute”. To his surprise, he discov-
ers it is the sound of wind blowing across the tops of a cluster of nearby reeds. “Now you know where we got our music,” concludes the elder triumphantly. “And that’s where you got yours, too.”
Krause lovingly invokes the sacred experience of the natu-
ral soundscape . He extols the “wonders of the terrestrial orchestra” and draws repeated comparisons to the greatest works in the western canon. For example, a dawn chorus of birds, baboons and in-
sects is “so rich with coun-
terpoint and fugal elements” that it reminds him of Bach. An orchestra of birdsong in the stillness of the morning is still one of the greatest shows on Earth. th
t
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The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 41
A shock to Victorian ideas of womanhood
Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace
by Kate Summerscale
Bloomsbury 304pp £16.99
Rachel Cook
Observer
When I was at university in the late 80s, the infl uence of The Madwoman in the Attic, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s milestone feminist study of the Victorian imagination, could be felt in every corner of the depart-
ment of English . As a result, our studies were onerous. It wasn’t enough to read Jane Eyre, Villette and Middlemarch. Beside them on your desk would be a teetering stack of books about Victorian attitudes to sex and sci-
ence, to marriage and mesmerism, to geology and phrenology and the female malady – plus a pile of minor novels, too. As a result I felt like the heroine of one of these febrile tales myself: dazed, confused and in desperate need of, if not smelling salts, then at least chocolate.
Future students are going to have it easier. They will need only to turn to Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace. Yes, on the surface of it, Kate Summerscale’s new book is a straightforward account of misplaced love and misguided betrayal , but it is also a vast section of Victorian thought in microcosm .
You would not believe the walk-on parts her narrative turns up. Dickens strolls by, and Darwin, while the novelist Catherine Crowe is at one point found wandering the streets of Edinburgh, mad and stark-naked. Summerscale’s heroine, Isabella Robinson, is an acquaintance of the publisher Robert Chambers, whose bestselling Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation was a daring, proto-evolutionary account of the Earth’s formation – and she was a busy correspondent of George Combe, the phrenologist whose fame was such that Queen Victoria invited him to examine the head of the Prince of Wales.
Isabella’s putative lover, Edward Lane, is the proprietor of a fashionable spa, Moor Park, at which patients tried the new fad for hydropathy, and his brother-in-law, George Drysdale, is the author of Physical, Sexual and Natural Religion, a guide to contraception and sexual disease, which argued that desire was natural and masturbation no sub-
stitute for the real thing, since it kept the natural passions “pent up in the gloomy caverns of the mind”. Against this enlightened backdrop, her in-
fatuation with Lane, the cause of her subsequent “disgrace”, seems almost mundane – until, that is, you remember that beyond her circle the world was still corseted in fear and loathing. In 1850 a woman who desired to have intercourse with a man other than her husband was usually classifi ed as suff ering from sexual mania . The story begins in 1844, when Isabella, a wid-
owed mother , married Henry Robinson, a civil en-
gineer, on his third proposal. “I suff ered my scruples & dislike to be talked away by others,” she later ex-
plained, “& with my eyes almost open I walked into the bonds of a dreaded wedlock like one fated.” The marriage was advantageous to them both: Isabella could not aff ord to be picky, and for Henry it brought status and money. For the sake of a quiet life she signed over to him a settlement, made on her by her father, of $8,000.
Soon after, the couple moved to Edinburgh, and it was there that Isabella met Edward Lane . He was 10 years her junior and in possession of a de-
voted wife, Mary, but he was a charming and able conversationalist, and he and Isabella, an intelligent and curious woman , sometimes talked together about new ideas. Isabella quickly became infatuated with Lane, a passion she detailed feverishly in the pages of her diary. The pity of it is that it wasn’t until four years later (and after she had enjoyed similarly unrecip-
rocated, if less ardent, infatuations with two of her sons’ tutors) that anything of substance happened between them. In 1854 at Moor Park, Surrey, where Lane now off ered patients the “water cure” , the cou-
ple fi nally kissed. Isabella was in ecstasy. Was the re-
lationship consummated? There is no evidence that it was. In her diaries she talks of her “half-realised” bliss in Edward’s arms; her tone is one of sexual frus-
tration rather than satisfaction.
But this is, and was, a moot point. In 1855, after her relationship with Lane had again cooled, Isabella was taken ill, probably with diphtheria. Looking into her room one day, Henry heard his delirious wife mut-
ter the names of several men. He went to her desk, opened her diary and learned both of her loathing for him (not that he was exactly a devoted husband; he had a mistress and two illegitimate daughters) and of her infatuation with Lane. As soon as she was well he told her he intended to sue for divorce.
Summerscale devotes the second half of her book to this decision and its consequences . I won’t reveal who won, or how, but it is riveting to watch the new Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Cases and the newspapers that followed the case so avidly wres-
tling with the only serious piece of evidence avail-
able to them: Isabella’s purloined diary. There were times when I longed for Summerscale to take sides . And I would have liked an afterword, telling us how she stumbled on this curious story in the fi rst place. But mostly I’m all admiration: she has turned a sepia photograph, curling and tattered, into a fi lm that runs through the mind in glorious and unimpeachable Technicolour.
Passions detailed feverishly … 1850s Edinburgh was where Isabella Robinson fi rst met Edward Lane Neil Setchfi eld/Alamy
Books
42 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12
Diversions
I really need a drink ... Winston Churchill
Tipsy on many things b
esides just alcohol
When has drunkenness aff ected the tide of history? The fi rst and most catastrophic occasion was when Eve, who was obviously blotto on cider at the time, opted for Knowledge, when ignorance was bliss. D
ick Hedges, Nairobi, Kenya
• King Gwyddno of Meirionydd (a part of Wales, UK) lost most of his land to the Atlantic Ocean when a drunken lock-keeper failed to close the gates on a stormy night. The tide came in and the rest is history. Bar staff at the Houses of Parliament in London have received new guide-
lines on serving alcohol but it is too soon to tell if the changes will have any eff ect on the sea of legislation. P
aul Lloyd, Swansea, UK
• Had Lady Macbeth not got Dun-
can’s bodyguards drunk, what then?
Gavin Mooney, M
ountain River, Tasmania, Australia
• When – as Disraeli said of Glad-
stone – that he was inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity.
A
aron M Fine, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, US • Certainly only for good with the greatest 20th-century Englishman, Winston Spencer Churchill.
E
dward Black, Church Point, NSW, Australia
• When Al Capone knew a “good thing” when he saw it.
B
arrie Sargeant, Otaki Beach, New Zealand
• Throughout human history, the most cataclysmic events and many lesser calamities have been caused by people drunk on power.
Peter Vaughan, St Senoch, France
• Twice a month when there’s a nip tide.
John Burrows, Potomac, Maryland, US
A lovely place for repose
Won’t it become rather crowded when we all decide to retire to Wenlock Edge? Study of my 2004 AA road atlas of Great Britain reveals that Wenlock Edge is bounded by Westhope, Middlehope and Easthope. Coupled with the added bonus of Much Wenlock to the north-east, it seems that Paul Evans need not resort to Craven Arms in defence of his pristine principality: there is yet boundless Hope in Paradise for us all.
Noel Bird, Boreen Point, Queensland, Australia
• In the Weekly of 18 May, the weather on Wenlock Edge is Notes & Queries
described as “vile” – a horrendous mix of wind and rain, mire, puddles, grey mist and rippling waves of fl ooding water. Do we really want to retire to such a place?
Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia
• I presume you’re a real estate agent ... nice try.
Roger Morrell, Perth, Western Australia
• Please don’t include me , as I plan to stay right here!
Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia
• No – skyrocketing house prices will keep the masses from invading.
Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
• No, because all those birds in the enchanting Nature watch will move out to make room for hominids.
Geraldine Dodgson, Pauanui, New Zealand
• Maybe so, but I’m sure everyone will get along perfectly well; we’re all on the same page, for Evans’ sake.
Jim Dewar, Gosford, NSW, Australia Any answers?
It may not be love or money, so what’s making the world go round?
Nicholas Fothergill, Melbourne, Australia
In evolutionary terms, is shyness a good thing?
Donna Samoyloff , Toronto, Canada
Nature watch Wenlock Edge
My lords-and-ladies, I am the vulgar spirit of rustic insolence hiding in the bushes who calls you cuckoo pintle, Jack-in-the-pulpit, willy lily; I am the ribald namer of wild things to embarrass you toff s who decide which side of the fence I’m on; I am the fl y in the ointment. So might say the fl y, dancing around the erect spadix-maypole-phallic-thing as a b
urst of May sunlight shines through the spathe and this common fl ower looks like such a holy place. Rude names may be a way for the down-
trodden to take their revenge , but it is an extraordinary plant with its b
lotched spear-shaped leaves and cowled bloom . Its erotic reputation was enhanced when John Goodyer translated Dioscorides in 1655, claiming it “stirrs up aff ections to conjugation being dranck with wine”.
For all this Arum maculatum belongs on the wild side of the fence – the coarse shadows under leaf-
ing trees and may blossom hedges in spattering rain. On the other side , the old order remains intact. Keep out: the fi elds are green and fertilised with chemicals; thistles and nettles have been sprayed with herbicide; hedges fl ailed, trees trimmed and dead wood taken away; lush grass is grazed by plump lambs and long-suff ering ewes. This is bucolic on an industrial scale.
But in a corner of the fi eld, subversives gather. Rabbits nibble the landlord’s grass, a-twitch for signs of danger; they have survived centuries of guns, dogs, railways, roads, disease and rotten weather to steal a living from the land. In the skies above, the swifts have come back to scream around the roofs of Wenlock as if they owned the place. Lords-and-ladies, our sly rebellion may not shock but it’s not gone away, says the fl y. Paul Evans
Send answers to weekly.n&q@
guardian.co.uk or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London
N1 9GU, UK
Maslanka puzzles 1 “What was she like when she was one years old?” That’s what Pedan-
ticus heard the reporter ask on his favourite morning programme on Radio 4. Why did he suddenly feel one of the “terrible twos”?
2 The person responsible for forcing manufacturers to recall cars with faults argues that a fault causing the engine to cut out in a car is no more dangerous than running out of petrol , so he doesn’t need to order a recall. Is that a respectable argument?
3 Over lunch at the Pfand-
haus, Triangular Merkin tries to convince a scepti-
cal Mr Hollandaise and his interpreter that there really is a table cloth when there clearly isn’t. Using only these three cheeses from Westphalia, how does she conjure up a non-existent tablecloth?
4 Alain de Button-Mushroom challenges you to the “heap big mushroom” game. Before you are two heaps of ’shrooms: one of 37 and the other of 73. The pile of 37 includes one spotty ’shroom. You both know that eating this would make one grow embarrassingly to twice one’s size. You take it in strict turns to take and eat one or more ’shrooms from one of the heaps. The one left with no choice but the spotty one loses. Should you go fi rst or second? What’s your strategy?
email: guardian@puzzlemaster.co.uk
Wordplay
Wordpool
Find the correct defi nition:
MUSELET
a) budding muse
b) young mussel
c) wire cage for champagne cork
d) dance similar to chaconne
Cryptics
Raced around tree (5)
Two teas and a dance (3-3)
Type of parallelogram to make him brood (8)
He Was, and He Wasn’t
Identify these words that diff er only in the letters shown:
S**** **** (what Beethoven was?)
**** **** (what Beethoven wasn’t!)
Missing links
Find a word that follows the fi rst word in the clue and precedes the second, in each case making a fresh word or phrase. Eg the answer to fi sh mix could be cake (fi shcake & cake mix) ...
a) short judge b) duck timer
c) seaweed ping d) running car
e) tor asunder f) infer comment ©CMM2012 For solutions see opposite page The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 43
Diversions
Sudoku classic Medium
Fill in the grid so that every row, every column and every 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. We will publish the solution next week. Free puzzles at guardian.co.uk/sudoku ≥
9 4 7 6 1 3 2 5 8
6 5 8 2 7 9 3 1 4
3 2 1 8 4 5 6 9 7
8 3 4 7 9 2 5 6 1
1 9 2 5 8 6 7 4 3
5 7 6 1 3 4 9 8 2
7 1 9 3 6 8 4 2 5
2 6 3 4 5 1 8 7 9
4 8 5 9 2 7 1 3 6
Last week’s solution
4 8
5 4 6 7
2 1 5
1 8
3 5
2 9
4 5 6
1 6 7 3
9 7
Maslanka solutions
Quick crossword Last week’s solution, No 13,112
First published in the Guardian
23 May 2012 , No 13,116
Across
1 Recounted in (whopping?) detail
(4-2-4)
7 Lacking freedom (8)
8 Road tax (4)
9 Appearance (4)
10 Move like a snake (7)
12 Quickly! (2,3,6)
14 French composer,
d. 1869 (7)
16 Over-abundance (4)
19 Disparaging remark (4)
20 Territorial division (8)
21 White wine grape (10)
Down
1 Flower (5)
2 Eccentric (7)
3 Curve (4)
4 Ill will (3,5)
5 Group of eight (5)
6 Wool coat (6)
11 Out of sorts (5,3)
12 Lasting from long ago (3-3)
13 Gold or silver in bars (7)
15 Move abruptly to one side (5)
17 In bad taste (5)
18 Small design used as a company emblem (4)
1 2 3 4 5
6
7 8
9 10
11
12 13
14 15 16 17
18
19 20
21
K N E E S U P C U S
H L I A R R A N G E
A S U N D E R O S T
K D E D I S S E N T
I T E M S O S E L
A P E N I T E N C E
T L H U
H E R B I C I D E L
I E T S F A B L E
L I G H T E R L U I
A I I A D O P T E D
R O M A N C E O C E
Y E G L U R C H E R
Cryptic crossword by Gordius
Across
1 Fashionable singing in The Bill (7)
5 Last word of body in ego trip (7)
9 Dangerous types said to be safe? (8,7)
10 Precious metal, or a fraction of a shekel (5)
11 Nearly led astray with erudition? (9)
12 Insulate Bresnan to cause excitement? (9)
14 Thin slice of metal used in confl ict (5)
15 Scramble as the change appears (5)
16 “Heavy metals” drama detailed with the occasion of Caesar’s end (9)
18 Well dressed, it’s concluded (7,2)
21 Weapon for a childless listener (5)
22 Cameron’s “big idea” in Yorkshire, say? (8,7)
23 Square-cornered and confused (7)
24 Out of service, hav-
ing expired without suspicion (7)
Down
1 Raids on new invasions (7)
2 Unfashionable tour-
ist vacation – one perhaps may start here? (8,7)
3 Latin rule translated as malevolence (3-6)
4 Supporter of visual art (5)
5 Somehow get pardon for one grooming another’s child? (9)
Puzzle No 25,644 published in the Guardian 24 May 2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9
10 11
12 13 14
15 16 17
18 19 20 21
22
23 24
6 Vegetable rejected by one in repeated refusal (5)
7 Ready-sliced loaf? (5,2,8)
8 One who writes a letter to a philosopher (7)
13 A body done in and left (9)
14 Turn blows to fi nd their direction? (4-5)
15 Warmonger – a little weed (7)
17 Wandered off , but right away detained (7)
19 In one’s depres-
sion it could have stopped a lorry (5)
20 Sat, having fought against having no work (5)
Last week’s solution, No 25,639
1 A good example of over-gener-
alisation. Repeat after Professor Pedanticus: “She is one year old!” “she is two years old!” This is not to be confused with eg “a two-year old”.
2 No, it is a foolish argument. First, it is dangerous for the engine to cut out in the fast lane for whatever reason. Second, it is the driver’s responsibility that the fuel be kept topped up, but the manufacturer’s that the engine not cut out because of structural faults. Holding the manufacturer to precisely that obligation is the man’s offi ce. Third, the risks are additive. You may not argue, eg that because we accept a necessary risk we must accept an unnecessary one.
3 She cuts out a sixth of each cheese, and rearranges them as below, left. 4 Go fi rst. Eat 37 good ’shrooms from the pile that doesn’t have the spotty one in it. Then, however many Alain eats from one group, you eat from the other. You can’t lose! Wordpool c) Cryptics CEDAR, CHA-CHA, RHOMBOID He Was, and He Wasn’t STONE DEAF; TONE DEAF Missing Links a) short/circuit/judge b) duck/egg/timer c) seaweed/wrap/ping d) running/buff et/car e) tor/rent/ asunder f) infer/no/comment
L S B S A D C
D I S P I R I T L E E C H
T U I A T P A
T I E D E N T E R P R I S E
G F U U E T
C A R E S S T W I T C H E S
T M E S I
R E G A T T A I M P A S S E
N H A T M
K N I C K E R S I C E M A N
O I O S N R
U N S P O R T I N G S A T E
A A I Z R E I
G A T E S E V E N T I N G
E E T S S H G
44 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12
Shortcuts
Banksy’s art gets no respect from builders
A Melbourne builder has inadvertently destroyed a valuable piece of street art by the British graffi ti artist Banksy by drilling a hole through it to put in a bathroom pipe.
Melbourne resident Tina McKenzie told Australia’s Network Ten she had lived above Banksy’s Parachuting Rat for almost a decade. “Anybody that understands street art and recognises it as more than j
ust vandalism understands that it is something we need to preserve,” she said.
It is the third work by Banksy in the city to be destroyed in two years, including one that was painted over in 2010 in a council cleanup.
Jacqui Vidal, a local gallery owner, said the council needed to be more careful in avoiding the destruction of graffi ti artwork. “There should have b
een something noted on the plan-
ning permit that Banksy work had to somehow be avoided,” she said.
Banksy, whose identity is unknown to the public, fi rst drew attention in the early 1990s with stencilled graffi ti seen by some as subversive and by others as satire.
Reuters
Queen Rania reined in Q
ueen Rania of Jordan has scaled back her public activities sharply since fac-
ing damaging criticism last year that she was playing too promi-
nent a role in running the country.
Rania, now 41, married Prince Abdullah in 1993, six years before he ascended the throne. Stylish and tall, in 2005 she was voted the third most beautiful woman in the world and hailed by Oprah Winfrey as an “international fashion icon” who also speaks up for women’s rights.
On her Twitter account, followed b
y more than 2 million people, she describes herself as “a mum and a wife with a really cool day job”.
In the past, Jordan’s carefully con-
trolled media would report on two or three diff erent royal appearances a day. Now the queen is mentioned less frequently, typically visiting a school or hospital or programmes for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Plans for the creation of a Queen Rania Foundation – modelled on one run by Sheikha Mozah, the glamorous consort of the emir of Qatar – have been quietly shelved.
Rania was born in Kuwait to Pales-
tinian parents who became refugees in 1948 when Israel was created. Her Palestinian identity has been exploited by the king’s critics among the East Bank tribes.
According to sources in Amman, the previous head of the Mukhabarat secret police told the queen she needed to lower her profi le for the good of the monarchy. Ian Black
Is this a Jacob or a Sophia? D
epending on your view of the world, the name Jacob either makes you think of the third patriarch of the Hebrew people, ancestor of the tribes of Israel, or it makes you think of a certain sexy werewolf.
But one thing is clear: the name Jacob is on a lot of minds. It is, in fact, the most popular name for boys in the US – and has been for 13 years running, so says the Social Security Administration.
Sophia is now the top name for baby girls, according to the annual list of popular baby names released by the administra-
tion this month. Isabella had topped the girls’ list for two years before being bumped.
So it might be time to move on from Jacob as well. Fortunately, there is a young upstart on the list: Mason surged in the baby name polls to the sec-
ond most popu-
lar spot.
Mason is a solid name: it evokes strength, sturdiness, a quiet for-
titude. The moniker, which knocked Michael out of the top fi ve for the fi rst time in 63 years, owes its popularity to the fact that Kourtney Kardashian named her son Mason Dash Disick in 2009. (Full disclosure: Mason is also the name of this reporter’s nephew) Mason may have leapt to the number two spot on the list, but it still isn’t the fastest-rising name in popularity. That honour goes to Brantley, which debuted on the list this year at the 320th spot, according to Laura Wattenburg, creator of the Baby Name Wizard website.
“That is an amazing repeat of last year, when the hottest name was Bentley, which landed at 75 from absolutely nowhere,” Wattenburg said. Both are also the names of popular country music stars: Dierks Bently and Brantley Gilbert.
“Both are formerly preppy names that have become good ol’ boy Southern names. We are seeing a generation of preppy cowboys.”
The fastest-rising name for girls? Briella, which climbed 394 spots to 497. Briella Calafi ore is the name of the hair stylist star of the reality shows Jerseylicious and Glam Fairy.
Other celebrity infl uencers include Amy Adams, who named her daugh-
ter Aviana. Two diff erent spellings of the name were fast risers. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees named his son Bowen, another name that grew popu-
lar last year.
“What we all have in com-
mon is that we don’t want to be just like each other, but people don’t want their kids’ names to be weird,” said Wattenburg, who declined to reveal the names of her daughters.
But we’re not just sheep either, blindly following celebrities, hence perennially popu-
lar names like William, Emma and Olivia.
“We like names that are not common in our generation, or even our par-
ents’ generation, but go at least three or fi ve generations back,” Wattenburg said. “That way it feels fresher.” Indeed, Old Testament names like Noah, Elijah and, well, Jacob, are more popular these days than New Testament classics like John and Mary. “The names we choose for our babies are very revealing,” Watten-
burg told me, “a very honest indica-
tor of parents hopes and dreams and obsessions”. Brian Braiker
Baffl ing gifts from Paris P
olice are investigating a series of mysterious packages sent from Paris to residents along New Zealand’s remote west coast.
At least four unexpected parcels were delivered to homes on the South Island this month, all with Pa-
risian postmarks, police said. They contained cash – a €50 note ( $63) was in one, a NZ$100 note ( $75) in another – and a special hair-
themed gift: in three cases a new hairdryer, in the other a set of hair clippers.
The parcels included handwritten notes, two of which had the words “thank you for being a true friend” scrawled in a mix of lower- and upper-case letters. There was no obvious link between the recipients, who were left baffl ed by the gifts, said police.
Police said the parcels “appeared to simply be a goodwill gesture”, but later they began to suspect more sinister motives.
In a press conference in Grey-
mouth, police suggested the appar-
ently random acts of long-distance kindness could in fact have been a dry run for a money-laundering or drug-traffi cking operation.
Senior Sergeant Allyson Ealam said New Zealand customs and Inter-
pol had been engaged to help track down the sender of the packages.
“We have already been told that the return addresses on each of the parcels exist and we are now checking the names of the senders,” she said. Each package had a diff erent return address, she added.
Experts had failed to fi nd any concealed drugs in the parcels, while fi ngerprints had been taken from the packaging.
It was unlikely to be an elaborate marketing stunt, she said.
“They all did the right thing by contacting police about their surprise parcels. Maybe they have come from someone who won the lottery over there. Or it could be that it’s a nice prank.” Toby Manhire
Rats ... not everyone sees the artistic value in Banksy’s work Sipa Press/Rex Features
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The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 45
Mark Tran Lusaka
The neatly laid out kiosks, with their red brick walls and green corrugated roofs, give the new Soweto market near the city centre a tidy and orderly air. Too much so.
The bustle of what should be a vibrant meeting point between ven-
dors and customers is absent. Instead, the market is a forlorn place, particu-
larly the two large covered sections that dominate the area. In one, women are selling dried tobacco leaves, with an acrid odour so pungent it tickles the back of the throat. Most of the long concrete stalls stand empty.
It is the same story at the other big covered section, where women sell dried fi sh. The new Soweto market, which opened in 2009, has capacity for 1,600 vendors, but it was easily less than half full, judging by a stroll through the premises recently, when both buyers and sellers were thin on the ground.
Step outside the market, across an open drain, and it is a different story. On an expanse of open ground, beneath huge electricity pylons, vendors sit on mats selling tomatoes, onions or second-hand T-shirts. There is also entertainment. Two young men have set up a game, where punters are invited to throw rubber rings at kwacha notes laid out on the ground in con-
centric circles. If the ring lands round a note, they get to keep it. Yet the game is deceptive, as the rings bounce.
Nearby, Yvonne, 26, loads a kilo of tomatoes into a plastic bag and sells them for about 50 cents. A mother of four, she has been there since 7am . “I would rather be out here than in the market because there are no custom-
ers inside,” she said .
Yvonne’s preference for sitting out in the open under a hot morning sun, rather than in the comfort of a covered market just a few metres away, sums up the problems for the Lusaka city au-
thorities in their futile eff orts to move street vendors from main roads into organised markets. The authorities ar-
gue that the street vendors exacerbate sanitation problems and congestion.
It certainly is rammed just outside one corner of the new Soweto mar-
ket, where blue minibuses fight for space with crowds of shop-
pers and vendors sell-
ing large pots and pans, charcoal burners, sacks for the maize har-
vest, yams, popcorn, yellow plas-
tic containers, Reluctant to change ... vendors display their wares in the open, choosing not to trade under cover in nearby new Soweto market Mark Tran
small dried fi sh called kapenta, beans and pulses. On the other side of the street are vendors selling a colour-
ful assortment of clothes. Compared with some other cities in the devel-
oping world, such as Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, or Dhaka in Bangladesh, Lusaka for the most part is neat, with a well-paved road. Then there are the scruff y bits where street vendors line Lumumba road .
Nkanda Luo, the local government minister, told the government-owned Zambia Daily Mail: “The government wants to discourage street vending be-
cause of its eff ects such as the spread of waterborne diseases. We will not allow people to trade in places that have no proper sanitation facilities such as toilets.”
The new Soweto market and the Lusaka city market, established in the mid-1990s, were designed to take the pressure off the streets, but street vending continues to cause head-
aches for the authorities. It is disingenuous of ven-
dors to say there is not enough space at the new Soweto market. There is clearly plenty of room, but the city faces a catch-22 situation. The vendors do not want to go to the covered markets because there are no Zambia’s hard sell to street vendors
International development
Despite congestion, many resist trading in covered market
customers. But because the vendors shun these markets, shoppers have little incentive to visit.
Even when vendors want to set up at the new Soweto market, they say they cannot aff ord the fees. “I can’t aff ord the charges,” said Florence Banda, a 41-year-old mother of fi ve, who sells T-shirts. She also complained about the lack of business. “We are just sit-
ting here but people are not buying,” she said, perhaps unaware that busi-
ness is even slower inside the confi nes of new Soweto.
Zambia’s president, Michael Sata, who was sworn in last September, ini-
tially wanted to leave the street ven-
dors alone as he counted them among his supporters. But even his govern-
ment realises that the situation is un-
tenable. There is talk of introducing set hours or days such as weekends in certain areas. Some vendors say they are willing to pay towards sanitation. Such ideas, however, are unlikely to fi ll the empty stalls at the new Soweto market. “It’s the business,” says Oscar as he swats away fl ies from dried fi sh on a roadside stall . “There is no busi-
ness inside.”
guardian.co.uk/weekly
≥Read more Follow all the latest global development news on our new-look website, or go to guardian.co.uk/global-development
≥
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46 The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12
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The Guardian Weekly 01.06.12 47
Sport
Sports online Find more coverage and news at guardian.co.uk/sport ≥
Strauss’s England clinch West Indies series win
Beaten but only mildly bowed, West Indies lost by nine wickets at Trent Bridge to seal a Test series defeat by England that almost looks a triumph, if only for the absence so far of the predicted meltdown-walkout-chilly-
fi ngered team implosion. A maiden hundred from Darren Sammy was matched by Andrew Strauss’s 21st for England . Meanwhile after 53 days, 76 matches and 30,000 pointless Lycra-
clad groin thrusts, Kolkata Knight Riders won IPL5 , defeating Chennai Superkings thanks to a fi ne 89 from Manvinder Bisla. “There was no plan, I wanted to enjoy it,” he said af-
terwards, summing up the entire for-
mat. Sunil Narine, who might have been with West Indies in England but for the small matter of $700,000, was voted player of the tournament.
Football just keeps coming Euro 2012 continues to clank ominously into view: England’s breathlessly fraught build-up took a favourable nudge forward with a 1-0 Roundup Barney Ronay
defeat of Norway in Roy Hodgson’s fi rst match in charge, marred only by Gareth Barry’s groin injury that has ruled him out of the tourna-
ment in Poland-Ukraine. Elsewhere a rope-a-dope strategy appears to be in play among the pre-tournament favourites. Germany were beaten 5-3 by Switzerland and the Netherlands lost 2-1 to Bulgaria. Spain, who have to dig deep to fi nd a way to lose these days, beat Serbia 2-0.
Harlequins get their fi rst Rugby redemption! Harlequins, still scarred and gored by the phoney scars and gore of the Bloodgate scandal , won English rugby union’s Premiership for the fi rst time, beat-
ing Leicester 30-23 at Twickenham. Winger Tom Williams, he of the fraudulently chomped blood cap-
sule, scored a tr y as the team who fi nished top of the table also ended up champions. “We were deter-
mined to write a new chapter for Harlequins,” said director of rugby Conor O’Shea on a day of relief as much as triumph for all concerned.
That’s a devil of a fi nal Call it improbable, but Lord Stanley’s Cup , the oldest trophy in North America, will go either to the New Jersey Devils or the Los Ange-
les Kings. The Devils took out the heavily favoured New York Rangers, while the Kings disposed of last sea-
son’s Stanley Cup runners-up, the Vancouver Canucks. Wonder how much it costs to keep a hockey rink cold in LA. In June.
Refl ective … Darren Sammy
Chivas team celebrates the dream
You need a special kind of faith to be a Chivas USA supporter in Los Angeles – let alone Major League Soccer. Leaving aside the hang-ups of sharing a stadium with the (last season at least) all-conquering LA Galaxy, Chivas USA arrived in the league too late to be one of the MLS originals, or near-originals, and too early to ride the wave of supporter-
culture that characterises current success stories such as Portland, Vancouver and Seattle. As I talk with Julio Ramos, the unoffi cial Chivas Mayor and core member of the Union Ultras, he is quick to acknowledge there have been mistakes, but resistant to the idea of Chivas as a cautionary tale. “Chivas USA, to me, is a team that represents the American dream for all the immigrants, because Chivas USA represents el pueblo, the main hardcore people of Los Angeles – people from Mexico, Puerto Rico … all the immigrants that come to the United States,” Ramos says. He is critical of the team’s original Latino selection policy that char-
acterised its entry into the league . Now, he says, the fans just want the best team on the fi eld, whether they’re “Latino, Asian, whatever …”.
To a supporter of any other side , such a statement would be a no-brainer. But such is the life of a Chivas USA fan – both proud of, and inhibited by, the legacy of parent team Club Deportivo Guadalajara. Historically, Guadalajara are the most successful team in Mexican soccer . When their “little brother” Chivas USA entered MLS in 2005, they brought that legacy – but they also carried a weight of expectation and an identity that hasn’t yet fully translated to the local market . What has happened though, is that supporter groups such as the Ultras and the Black Army have taken shape – groups that try to support the team in the specifi c con-
text of their existence in California and MLS, rather than suff er by comparison with the Mexican giants. Most are Guadalajara fans too, but have thrown themselves into celebrating their local team. And in celebrating what they have, rather than what they lack, they’ve found a voice. Sport blog
Graham Parker
Motor racing
Paul Weaver Monte Carlo
Mark Webber became the sixth race winner in as many races here last Sunday, making Formula One history, and Fernando Alonso, a supposed no-
hoper at the start of the year, went out on his own at the top of the drivers’ championship.
However, while some might de-
scribe this as the most unpredictable and exciting season in living memory , this race was a poor one.
There is rarely a hectic succession of overtaking manoeuvres at Monaco’s street circuit. But the dullness of this event was really explained elsewhere. The teams and their drivers were neu-
rotically concerned with preserving their tyres, driving within even the slow speeds imposed by the tightness of the track.
Then there was the rain. In reality the only meaningful rain fell after the race was over, but the clouds hung overhead, both physically and meta-
phorically, for most of the two hours. It persuaded everyone to stay out that extra bit longer on their starting rubber, rather than be forced by the weather to make two stops.
Webber, who became the fi rst Aus-
tralian to win twice in Monaco, started from pole and decided to remain there, j
ust as he did in 2010. It was the eighth win of his career and he led a slow train of fi ve cars to the fi nishing line, with Nico Rosberg, Alonso, Sebastian Vet-
tel and Lewis Hamilton trailing behind like noisy bunting.
So Red Bull become the fi rst dou-
b
le winners of the season, following Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Bahrain, opening up a 38-point gap at the top of the constructors championship. But it is all too random and a little more reality would not come amiss, even if it means injecting a little tedium into the racing on occasions.
Excitement is all very well but motor sport folk want to know who are the b
est drivers and which are the fastest cars. And why. It is better than sticking a pin in a list of numbers. Webber, who has been critical of the racing this year, was in no mood to complain.
Before pushing the Sky presenter Martin Brundle into a swimming pool, he said: “I’m feeling incredible. It was History is made as Australian is sixth winner in season’s fi rst six races
Webber wins it from the front
a very interesting race. It was reason-
ably straightforward at the start, get-
ting the gap on the super softs and just managing with Nico [Rosberg]. We had a bit of a gap over the rest so both of us were getting away and trying to get into a reasonable gap.”
Nor was Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal , prepared to criti-
ci se this lottery-flavoured season. “It is remarkable that there have been so many diff erent winners,” he said. “I think the tyres have been a factor but there are also so many strong driv-
ers as well.
“It was a fantastic performance and a great drive from Mark. We discussed before the race whether it would be a one-stop or a two-stop and the idea was that we were going to try and make those tyres last as long as possible and Mark did a super job … The hardest po-
sition is when you are leading a group, especially around Monaco when it gets slippery because everyone else can judge their grip by looking at what you are doing. ”
Red Bull’s only concern after that was that the stewards might outlaw the slot in the car’s fl oor, but the re-
sult was confi rmed. It was also a pleas-
ing day for Ferrari, with Alonso third and Felipe Massa sixth. Their car was awful at the start of the season but they brought enough bolt-ons to the last race, in Barcelona, to give Alonso something to work with.
When Rosberg, who was running second, came in for fresh rubber after 27 laps it started a chain reaction, with Webber and Hamilton also coming in. But Alonso, Vettel and Jenson Button decided to stay out for longer.
After Hamilton had come in Alonso produced a blistering lap and that, combined with a quicker pitstop, ena-
bled him to leapfrog the British driver, who was passed by Vettel in the same manner. Hamilton’s wretched luck is taking a long time to change.
Tight circuit … the Monaco Grand Prix proved to be a slow and cautious competition Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty
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Centurion House, 129 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WR, UK Editor: Abby Deveney. Le Monde translation: Harry Forster. Printed by GPC. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Offi ce. Annual subscription rates (in local currencies): UK £90; Europe €149; Rest of World £115; US $165; Canada $200; Australia $235; N Z $300 Quarterly subscription rates: UK £23; Europe ¤37; Rest of World £29; US $41; Canada $50; Australia $59; NZ $75
Sport
The joy of six
Mark Webber’s victory marked the fi rst time six diff erent drivers had won the season’s opening six races Monaco Grand Prix
Mark Webb er (Aus) Red Bull
Spanish Grand Prix
Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams
Bahrain Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull
Chinese Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes
Malaysian Grand Prix
Fernando Alonso (Sp) Ferrari
Australian Grand Prix
Jenson Button (GB) McLaren
Hot wheels
How mobility scooters
became all the rage Review, page 31
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