A week in the life of the world | 8-14 December 2017 Crunch time me for Brexit talks ks May’s reputation tation on the line Devastated from all sides The brutal final battle for Mosul Vol 198 No 1 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply Designer slams fashion ‘waste’ McCartney joins new campaign Have Trump’s tweets begun to backfire? A 9 0 kg g i nge r b r e a d White House, with 9kg of icing, stood beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. A copy of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, read by President Franklin Roosevelt to his family, was displayed in the library. At first glance, last Friday’s White House Christmas reception was not so different from years past. But something was missing: the host. Instead of greeting guests and posing for photos like his predecessors, Donald Trump was upstairs in the White House – tweeting. “The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon,” he posted at 3.12pm, referring to reports that his secretary of state would soon be axed. “FAKE NEWS!” Eight minutes later, Trump descended to the grand foyer. The president made brief remarks to “my friends in the media” and shook a few hands, but left after five minutes. It was a sure way to avoid some awkward questions after another torrid day, and week. That morning, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. The previous day, there had been the reports about Tillerson’s expected demise. And before that, Trump had delivered one of his wackiest speeches yet – “I will tell you this in a non-braggadocious way. There has never been a 10-month president that has accomplished what we have accomplished” – while pushing a major tax overhaul and used a ceremony honouring Native American war heroes to mock a senator he has nicknamed “Pocahontas”. “Something is unleashed with him lately,” Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent of the New York Times, told CNN. “I don’t know what is causing it. I don’t know how to describe it. I think the last couple of day’s tweets have been markedly accelerated in terms of seeming a little unmoored.” Haberman, who has known Trump for years, added: “People are constantly saying, ‘Don’t do things.’ He’s also a grown man. He’s the president. They can’t handcuff him. They can’t break his fingers to keep him from tweeting. They do tell him: ‘Please don’t do this.’ He does these things anyways.” The tweetstorms – that 4→ doddis/Alamy After a week of diplomatic havoc, even some of the president’s conﬁdants fear his weaponisation of social media is going too far, writes David Smith Abu Dhabi AED14.50 Bahrain BHD1.90 *Cyprus €2.50 Czech Rep CZK145 Denmark DKK39 Dubai AED14.50 Egypt EGP49 *Greece €3.95 Hong Kong HKD52 Hungary HUF950 *Republic of Ireland €3.30 Japan JPY900 Jordan JOD2.90 Kuwait KWD1.45 Latvia €5.50 Lebanon LBP6000 *Malta €2.20 Norway NOK52 Oman OMR1.65 Pakistan PKR385 Poland PLN14 Qatar QAR14.50 Saudi Arabia SAR15.50 Singapore SGD8 South Africa ZAR49.90 Sweden SEK55 Switzerland CHF9 Turkey TRY15.50 2 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 World roundup Glitch leaves US airline short of pilots Iceland hopes for stability with new PM 1 4 A scheduling glitch that allowed all American Airlines pilots to take time off during Christmas week left the airline scrambling to find pilots to operate thousands of flights over the busy holiday period. American, the world’s biggest airline, has about 15,000 active pilots and expects to operate more than 200,000 flights in December. The glitch let pilots take a vacation even when there were no other pilots available for that flight. Normally such a request would be denied. A spokesman for AA said it expects to avoid cancelling flights by paying overtime and using reserve or on-call pilots. The pilots’ union said that about 15,000 flights have been affected. More US news, pages 4-6 Katrín Jakobsdóttir, 41, the leader of Iceland’s Left-Green movement, replaced Bjarni Benediktsson as prime minister in a coalition that Icelanders hope will restore stability. The former education minister, who is considered to be Iceland’s most trusted politician, signed an accord with the centre-right Independence and Progressive parties. Varadkar safe for summit as deputy quits 6 Benediktsson’s Independence party narrowly won the 28 October election – the country’s second snap poll in less than a year – but lost a quarter of its seats, paving the way for Jakobsdóttir to form a left-led coalition. More Europe news, page 7 Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, avoided a general election after his deputy, Frances Fitzgerald, resigned from the cabinet hours before a parliamentary vote that would have led to the collapse of the Fine Gael-led coalition. → An election threatened to add to the complexities over EU negotiations on Brexit and the UKIrish border. Fitzgerald had been under intense pressure regarding her handling of information about the treatment of a police whistleblower. → 4 Obesity warning for America’s children 6 2 1 2 More than half of children growing up in America today could be obese by the time they are middle-aged, according to Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health. Its projection found that 57% of US children 3 will be obese by the time they are 35, in part because of increased childhood obesity rates. “It’s definitely a shocking and sobering number,” said Zachary Ward, the study’s lead author. “But if you look at trends … over the past 40 years, it’s not too surprising.” Honduras election result still contested 3 Tens of thousands took to the streets across Honduras last Sunday, demanding a new president and an end to an election debacle that has plunged the country into its worst political crisis since a coup in 2009. Opponents of Juan Orlando Hernández, pictured, accuse him of meddling with the vote count in order to deny victory to the Alliance party leader, Salvador Nasralla. The electoral commission (TSE), which is controlled by the ruling National party, announced as the marches got under way that the election winner would be declared after a recount of just 1,000 suspicious voting tallies. The Alliance, which has a list of 11 demands it believes are necessary to ensure a fair and transparent vote count, attacked the decision and said it would not attend the recount or accept the results. More Americas news, page 10 → Malta arrests over journalist’s murder 5 Police in Malta arrested 10 suspects over the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the country’s prime minister has said, nearly two months after the anti-corruption journalist was killed by a powerful car bomb. Joseph Muscat told a press conference on Monday that eight people – all Maltese nationals, most with criminal records – had been detained in earlymorning raids in three different parts of the island. He tweeted later that two more suspects were also in custody. Muscat said there was a “reasonable suspicion” the suspects were involved in the killing of Caruana Galizia, whose popular blog attacked high-level political corruption, shady business dealings and organised crime on the island. The joint police and military operation was the first breakthrough for the Maltese investigation, which has been helped by experts from the FBI, Europol and the Finnish and Dutch security services. Police had until Wednesday this week to either charge or release the suspects. Muscat, who was a frequent target of Caruana Galizia’s blog reports along with others in his inner circle, offered his “personal commitment” that those responsible for the killing would be found. Caruana Galizia’s son, Matthew, who is also a reporter, said his family had been given only one phone call from a magistrate’s office after the arrests were made public. Special report, pages 12-13 → Former president of Georgia detained 7 Ukrainian police detained the former president of Georgia, who has emerged as an anticorruption campaigner in his new country. Police arrested Mikheil Saakashvili at his home in Kiev on Tuesday. Footage showed Saakashvili being taken away while several hundred protesters were blocking the road. Saakashvili left Georgia in 2013 after serving as president for nearly a decade, and was appointed governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region. But he quit in 2016, complaining that his efforts to root out corruption were suffering from official obstruction. Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship was revoked this year. The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures → Centre pages 24-25 $1bn settlement frees Saudi prince 8 The senior Saudi prince, Miteb bin Abdullah, once seen as a leading contender for the throne, was released from detention after paying more than $1bn in a settlement agreement with authorities. Miteb, 65, son of the late King Abdullah and former head of the National Guard, Taliban storm Peshawar college was among dozens of royal family members, ministers and senior officials rounded up as part of a corruption inquiry, partly aimed at strengthening crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s position. “It is understood that the settlement included admitting corruption,” an official said. 10 Twelve people were killed and dozens injured after Taliban militants wearing burqas stormed a college in Peshawar, as Pakistan marked the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, officials said. Police said at least three militants opened fire at security guards near the gates of the Agriculture Training Institute, injuring one person before making their way inside and targeting student accommodation. The main Taliban militant group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility saying the place they attacked was housing a secret intelligence office. More South Asia news, pages 8-9 → It’s all smiles when Xi meets Obama 12 The former US president Barack Obama met Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing only weeks after Donald Trump’s state visit. Chinese media fawned over Obama and Xi, dubbing the smiling pair “veteran cadres”, a term typically applied to retired Communist officials. But in a sign 7 of the diplomatic sensitivity, Chinese state media released one terse article. Obama reportedly encouraged developing relations with China and pledged to continue to be involved in US-China ties. The visit was part of a trip that included stops in India and France. More Asia Pacific news, page 8 → UN chief visits North Korea amid furore 5 12 10 13 13 The United Nations political affairs chief visited North Korea this week, the highest-level visit by a UN official in more than six years as tensions grip the region over Pyongyang’s nuclear programs. Jeffrey Feltman, a former senior US state department official, was due to meet with officials to discuss “issues of mutual interest and concern”, the UN said. Feltman is the first senior UN official to travel to North Korea since B Lynn Pascoe 14 8 11 9 Opposition kept out of Harare cabinet 9 Opposition activists in Zimbabwe said they will launch a fresh campaign to introduce democratic reforms after the new president announced a fresh cabinet with key roles for veterans of the ruling Zanu-PF party and senior soldiers, but no posts for the opposition. Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured, took power after popular protests ousted Robert Mugabe, and many had hoped the 75-year-old would give leading opposition politicians significant roles in an “inclusive” government in line with his promises to reach out to all “patriotic Zimbabweans” and build a “full democracy”. Tendai Biti, a former finance minister and opposition politician, called the move a betrayal and referred to the government as a “junta”. “Now we the citizens have to regroup and [fight] for a normal elected political authority,” he said. Hun Sen summons the power of prayer Sumo star resigns after attack claim 14 11 Thousands of monks joined the Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, for a prayer ceremony at the Angkor temple, lauding “political stability” after the main opposition party was dissolved, an act that has cemented his grip on power. Hun Sen, pictured with his wife, has ruled Cambodia since 1985. The court ruling dissolving the rival party boosts his position before next year’s elections. visited in February 2010, the UN said. The US and South Korea went ahead with large-scale joint aerial drills on Monday, a move North Korea had said would push the Korean peninsula to “the brink of nuclear war”. The exercises were conducted a week after Pyongyang said it had tested its most advanced long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the US. North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its missile and nuclear programmes. One of the biggest stars of sumo wrestling announced his retirement after allegations that he assaulted a fellow wrestler. Harumafuji, one of four reigning grand champions – or yokozuna – said he was quitting the sport, weeks after he allegedly attacked Takanoiwa, a younger wrestler, leaving him with a fractured skull and concussion. “As a yokozuna, I feel responsible for injuring Takanoiwa and so will retire from today,” Harumafuji told a news conference. The Mongolian wrestler’s exit at the pinnacle of his career comes as sumo was beginning to regain its popular appeal after a surge of bad publicity. Japan’s education minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, said sumo, as Japan’s oldest sport, needed to take its responsibilities more seriously and needed to stamp out violence. 4 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 International news United States Trump turns on Clinton after Flynn admits lying to FBI President’s tweet under scrutiny as his lawyer seeks to take blame David Smith Washington Martin Pengelly New York Donald Trump said on Monday he “feels badly” for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI, and claimed without evidence that Hillary Clinton “lied many times” to the agency without consequences. The president spoke after John Dowd, a lawyer who sought to take the blame for a Trump tweet that analysts said indicated the president was guilty of obstruction of justice over Flynn’s firing, offered a new defence of Trump’s actions: the president cannot obstruct justice. Trump’s remarks to reporters were the latest in a series of outbursts over the investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia, after Flynn’s guilty plea and admission that he is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. “I feel badly for General Flynn,” the president said. “I feel very badly. He’s led a very strong life, and I feel very badly about it. I will say this: Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it destroyed his life, and I think it’s a shame.” Trump added: “Hillary Clinton on 4 July weekend went to the FBI, not under oath – it was the most incredible thing anyone has ever seen – lied many times, nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it’s like – it ruined his life. It’s very unfair.” How Twitter has made Oval Oﬃce the focus of the world ← Continued from page 1 unrivalled glimpse into Trump’s id – raged with particular violence last week, triggering one of the worst diplomatic ruptures with the UK since British troops torched the White House in 1814. It started when Trump shared three anti-Muslim videos posted by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right hate group Britain First. Theresa May’s office said he was wrong to do so. Then Trump fired back: “@theresamay, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Trump did not provide details about his accusation against Clinton, who answered FBI questions in July 2016 about her use of a private server while she was secretary of state. The FBI never asserted that Clinton made false statements. Flynn, a retired general who was a senior adviser in Trump’s campaign and his first national security adviser, has pledged to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s associates coordinated with Russian efforts to sway last year’s election in favour of the Republicans. As part of the deal, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential transition. Experts told the Guardian the wording of his plea agreement suggested he may already have been wearing a wire or recording conversations with other figures in the investigation. Trump took aim at the FBI last weekend, accusing it of bias in favour of Clinton during its investigation of her, which resulted in criticism but no charges. He questioned the direction of the agency and wrote that after director James Comey, whom Trump fired in May, the FBI’s reputation is “in Tatters – worst in History!” He vowed to “bring it back to greatness”. Flynn was forced to resign in February after it emerged that he misled vice-president Mike Pence over discussions with Kislyak about sanctions on Russia. Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that he fired Flynn “because he lied to the vice-president and the FBI” about his conversations with the ambassador last December. The tweet could signal the president took part in the obstruction of justice. If Trump did fire Flynn for lying to the FBI, that would mean the president knew Flynn had committed a serious crime when, according to the Comey, the president asked Comey the next day to halt an FBI investigation into Flynn. Dowd, the lawyer who said he had written the tweet, told the Axios website on Monday: “The president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the constitution’s article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.” Any suggestion the Trump tweet had admitted obstruction of justice, whoever wrote it, would he said be “an ignorant and arrogant assertion”. Bob Bauer, a New York University law professor and former White House counsel to Barack Obama, was quoted by Axios as saying: “It is certainly possible for a president to obstruct justice. “The case for immunity has its adherents, but they based their position largely on the consideration that a president subject to prosecution would be unable to perform the duties of the office, a result that they see as constitutionally intolerable.” In his original attempt to contain the fallout from the Saturday tweet, Dowd said “the mistake was I should have put the lying to the FBI in a separate line referencing his plea. Instead, I put it together and it made all you guys go crazy. A tweet is a shorthand.” Dowd said the first time the president knew for a fact Flynn lied to the FBI was when he was charged. It was the first and last time he would craft a tweet for the president, he said. “I’ll take responsibility,” he said. “I’m sorry I misled people.” The suggestion that Dowd wrote the tweet was met with incredulity Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!” In fact @theresamay belonged to a different woman; Trump quickly realised his mistake and corrected it to @Theresa_May. The British prime minister reiterated that Trump had been “wrong” to retweet the incendiary and unverified videos. She was joined by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the (Muslim) mayor of London and even longtime Trump cheerleaders Piers Morgan and Nigel Farage. The extraordinary spat refocused attention on Trump’s Twitter habit and its potential to wreak diplomatic havoc. It is true that, long after the fact, letters and telegrams revealed tensions in the relationship between wartime leaders Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, and recordings demonstrated how Ronald Reagan apologised to Margaret Thatcher for invading the former British colony of Grenada without her approval. But Trump’s Twitter barbs take place in real time and on full public display. It forced May to respond with sharp words and, some fear, could one day goad North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to respond with a nuclear missile. Thomas Countryman, a US foreign service officer for 35 years, said: “The UK and the US have had sharp disputes Guilty plea … Michael Flynn is cooperating with Robert Mueller Chip Somodevilla/Getty by Democrats and legal experts. Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor, wrote: “Anyone who buys Trump’s lawyer’s alibi for his corruptly treacherous client is a complete fool.” Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer in the White House of George W Bush, said: “A lawyer who writes a tweet like that incriminating a client should in the past, but I am not sure I have ever seen such a sharp dispute over such a non-substantive issue and it cannot possibly help the relationship.” Trump joined Twitter in March 2009, when the social media site was three years old. He has posted 36,500 tweets (not all written by him personally) and has approaching 44 million followers (Barack Obama has 97.4 million). He weaponised tweeting during the election campaign . In January the New York Times observed: “While that habit generated conversation and consternation when Mr Trump was a candidate, he now serves as commander in chief and his 140-character pronouncements The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 5 What happened next? Essays on post-Obama America → Books, page 34 With Mueller calling the tune, the Russia investigation edges closer to White House Analysis Simon Tisdall F Comment, pages 18-19 → irst came the lie. Then came the cover-up. It’s a classic Washington two-step. And the news that Michael Flynn, a former White House national security adviser, has pleaded guilty to perjury means Donald Trump may soon be dancing to the tune of the special counsel investigating the accelerating Russian influence-peddling scandal. Flynn’s guilty plea rained a cold shower on Trump’s victory parade celebrating a rare success in Congress. Trump finally managed to get his tax cuts bill through the Senate late last Friday night. Little matter that the tax changes, which will benefit the richest Americans and big corporations, betray the blue-collar voters who put him in office. A win’s a win in Trump’s zero-sum book. But the Flynn affair is a different matter altogether. A former general sacked by Barack Obama, Flynn was best known, until now, for his ferocious attacks on Hillary Clinton before last year’s election. He famously led a chant of “Lock her up” at a Republican rally. Now it is Flynn who is staring jail in the face. By admitting he lied to the FBI when he had denied holding secret talks last December with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to illegally subvert Obama administration policy, Flynn has raised the lid on a possible illegal conspiracy reaching all the way to the top. Last Saturday, Trump said Flynn’s actions had been “lawful” and said on Twitter that he had fired him “because he lied to the vice- carry the power of an Olympian lightning bolt.” On his wild Wednesday, Trump began tweeting at 6.32am with a plug for the Fox News show Fox & Friends, which he watches. The first retweet of Britain First – “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” – followed minutes later, eventually earning a correction from the Dutch embassy, which noted the perpetrator was not Muslim. Idiosyncratic tweets followed all day as Trump travelled to Missouri – he is known to tweet from cars and planes – then the swipe at May at 8.02pm. He rounded off the day with another old trope, a dig at Barack Obama, at 9.23pm. Even some of Trump’s confidants believe he went too far with the Britain First tweets. But Trump’s unapologetic embrace of Twitter makes perfect sense to his biographer Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps and Donald Trump: The Candidate. “He’s a salesman and a salesman’s No 1 technique is to keep the attention on him and frame what the conversation is and control what is being discussed,” she said. “Twitter is perfect: it allows him to get out ahead of the news agenda. “There’s often speculation that various officials at the White House have tried to … get his finger off the send button. Perhaps. I think that’s in part wishful thinking because it’s be disbarred. He can tell Mueller he wrote it.” By Monday this week there had been no comment from the White House. Trump denies that he pressured Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, told reporters on Monday it was “absurd” to suggest that Flynn’s conversation with the ambassador could have influenced Putin’s thinking. president and the FBI”. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, and several other campaign and transition officials have all denied personal contact, or knowledge of contacts, with the Russians before Trump took office. Yet Flynn’s sworn evidence states he either discussed or took orders about his meetings with senior figures in Trump’s team. Kushner was reportedly one of those senior figures. Others in the frame include Donald Trump Jr (Trump’s eldest son), Michael Cohen, a lawyer, and Carter Page, a campaign adviser. Another adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators. Trump has denied prior knowledge of the contacts with the Russians. The future of his presidency hinges on the veracity of those statements. Kushner, a close confidant inside the family circle, is plainly in the sights of the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Trump named Kushner his senior adviser on Middle East policy last January. Prosecutors say that, in the previous month, Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of the Trump team to ask the Russians to help oppose a UN resolution unfavourable to Israel, contrary to Obama’s policy at the time. The unfriendly relationship between Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s rightwing prime minister, and Obama is a matter of record. So, too, are Kushner’s pro-Israel stance and his personal links to Netanyahu, a close family friend. Other people who occupy top posts have questions to answer. The transition team was led by Mike Pence, the vice-president. Trump and Pence claimed in February to have been misled by Flynn about his contacts with Kislyak concerning Obama’s sanctions on Moscow for election meddling. Yet court documents relating to Flynn’s guilty plea say multiple members of the transition team coordinated with Flynn to ask Russia not to retaliate. In the event Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, did not take retaliatory action, which was in itself unusual. The day after Flynn met Kislyak, Trump tweeted from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that Putin was “very smart” not to hit back. The tweet was retweeted by the Russian embassy. After Trump sacked Flynn in February for supposedly misleading him and Pence, he asked James Comey, the FBI director, whether he could “see your way clear to letting this go, letting Flynn go”, according to Comey’s testimony to Congress. Comey refused. His subsequent sacking by Trump led directly to the special counsel’s appointment. Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s firing of Comey and Flynn was part of an attempted cover-up. That would constitute obstruction of justice – a charge that, if proved, could spell the end for Trump. like his magic wand. Why would they want to take it away? He’s used it to undermine the media, detach facts from truth, makes himself the arbiter of what’s important and cement that politics-of-grievance bond.” Under any other president, the clash with Britain would have dominated the entire week. In Trump’s world, it was quickly buried under an avalanche of fresh dramas. Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman turned TV host, suggested the president is now “completely detached from reality”. He said on the MSNBC channel: “You have somebody inside the White House that the New York Daily News says is mentally unfit. That people close to him say is mentally unfit, that people close to him during the campaign told me had early stages of dementia.” But another explanation for the president’s boisterous behaviour, seemingly emboldened, carefree of consequences, may have been that he sensed a legislative victory finally in his grasp. In the early hours of last Saturday, Senate Republicans passed a $1.5tn tax bill that would deliver massive gains to corporate America and the wealthy. True to form, Trump responded on Twitter: “Look forward to signing a final bill before Christmas!” The message was posted at 2.49am. Observer Jared Kushner, a close condﬁdant inside the family circle, is plainly in the sights of the special counsel 6 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 International news United States Tax cuts race through Senate Critics attack ‘looting’ of public purse as bill adds $1tn to national deficit Edward Helmore New York Emma Graham-Harrison President Donald Trump last Saturday hailed passage of a sweeping tax reform bill through the Senate in the early hours, calling it “one of the big nights” and predicting Democratic opposition would “cost them very big” in midterm elections next year. Critics warned, however, that the bill was a shameless giveaway to lobbyists, corporations and the wealthy that would hurt ordinary Americans and push up the national debt. After nine months of setbacks, the vote put Trump and the Republicancontrolled Congress on the verge of their first major legislative victory. The first major overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years will pave the way for a $1.5tn reduction in tax bills, permanently slash the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35%, and also offer temporary cuts to individual tax rates. Congress’s own analysts say it will come at a huge cost to the public purse, adding around $1tn to the national deficit. But Republicans who for years have demanded fiscal restraint rejected those numbers to push the bill through. The New York Times was utterly damning in an editorial, describing the bill as a “looting of the public purse by corporations and the wealthy”, which it said showed that “Republican leaders’ primary goal is to enrich the country’s elite at the expense of everybody else, including future generations who will end up bearing the cost”. The bill also tacked on controversial Republican goals, including opening Anger … New York protesters picket a Trump fundraising brunch the Arctic national wildlife refuge to oil drilling, and is seen as a backdoor attack on the Affordable Care Act. It ends one of the key provisions of the ACA, the personal mandate, which forces healthy Americans to buy health insurance or face tax penalties. Without it, insurers face a pool of older, more vulnerable customers, and the rise in premiums is expected to mean 13 million Americans will lose health coverage within a decade. The bill was hurried through the Senate in the early hours of last Saturday, without time for opposition senators to read it, much less for analysts to cost out the last-minute changes needed to secure the slim 51-49 majority that passed it. “The Republicans have managed to take a bad bill and make it worse,” said the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer. Some amendments had been scrawled on the 500-page draft by hand, and several seemed to have little to do with taxes. Adding to Democrats’ outrage, they got the first glimpse of many changes via lobbyists, who had seen the bill before them. But they were powerless to stop it, because Republicans used a procedural rule that meant they needed only a simple majority to pass the bill. Final-hour concessions brought all but one of the Republican rebels on board. Bob Corker of Tennessee voted against the bill because of concerns about its impact on the national debt. Midterm elections next year proved a helpful spur for Republican leaders trying to rally support for the reforms. Most analysis of the bill suggests it will provide a rapid boost to overall economic growth, likely to appeal to any politician facing re-election. “We have an opportunity now to make America more competitive, to keep jobs from being shipped offshore and to provide substantial relief to the middle class,” said Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. The reform is not quite over its final hurdle. There are substantial differences with the bill passed by the House of Representatives, ranging from the Arctic drilling to whether individual tax cuts will expire, and the fate of tax credits for student loans. A committee will meld the two, and the resulting bill will be presented to Trump. “Something beautiful is going to come out of that mixer,” he told reporters. “People are going to be very, very happy. They’re going to get tremendous, tremendous tax cuts and tax relief, and that’s what this country needs.” Trump shrinks national monument lands David Smith Washington Oliver Milman New York Donald Trump was widely condemned on Monday for drastically shrinking two national monuments, representing the biggest elimination of public lands protection in US history. The president modified designations for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante – rock formations – in Utah, potentially opening the land to big developers and the oil and gas industry. It is likely that the move will be challenged in court. “Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said at the state capitol in Salt Lake City. “And guess what? They’re wrong. “The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best, and you know the best how to take care of your land. You know how to protect it, and you know best how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come.” Bears Ears will be slashed from nearly 607,000 hectares to 92,000, while Staircase will be halved from over 800,000 hectares to 407,300 hectares. Trump, who has focused intently on undoing Barack Obama’s legacy, described his predecessor’s Antiquities Act designations as a threat to people’s way of life, imposing restrictions on hunting, ranching and economic development. In April, promising to “end another egregious use of government power”, Trump ordered a review of national monuments declared since the 1990s. Supreme court agrees to travel ban Tom McCarthy and Oliver Laughland New York and agencies The US supreme court ruled on Monday that a ban ordered by Donald Trump on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries and two other countries could be imposed immediately while multiple court cases challenging the ban are resolved. The ultimate disposition of the ban was expected to take months to resolve. But the 7-2 ruling by the high court was a blow to antidiscrimination advocates, who vowed to protest against the decision. The ban means that the United States would categorically refuse entry visas to prospective travellers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, plus North Korea and Venezuela. An executive action announced in July, exempts travellers with “bona fide” links inside the US such as documented business purposes or close family relationships. The ruling does not mean that the supreme court has accepted the ban as constitutional, but that it finds persuasive the Trump administration’s argument that an emergency injunction against the ban was unnecessary. The high court is expected in the coming months to rule on whether it violates constitutional protections against discrimination. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the ruling. But justice Elena Kagan, a Barack Obama nominee, sided with the majority. The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, hailed the ruling as “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”. The progressive Center for Constitutional Rights decried the supreme court ruling in a statement: “Whatever the courts say, the Muslim Ban is inhumane and discriminatory. We must continue to demonstrate that we reject and will resist the politics of fear, antiMuslim racism, and white supremacy.” The Trump administration has denied that the ban is discriminatory along religious lines. But the president himself may have undercut that argument, legal analysts said, by tweeting anti-Muslim videos from a British farright group last month. The president’s first ban, issued in January, was blocked by a series of lower court rulings. The second attempt was allowed to come into effect in a limited form over the summer. The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 7 International news Suicide of Croat ‘hero’ reopens wounds Tribute … a Bosnian Croat lights a candle for Slobodan Praljak in Mostar Dado Ruvic/Reuters General found guilty of war crimes has admirers in nation’s heartland Andrew MacDowall Čapljina and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina On the square of the quiet town of Čapljina, hundreds of candles on the paving stones outside the municipal building spell out one name: Praljak. The Croat general Slobodan Praljak died after taking poison on live TV moments after his sentence for war crimes was upheld last Wednesday. Preliminary autopsy results, released last Friday, said he probably died from heart failure after swallowing potassium cyanide. His suicide shocked the world, but reactions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Čapljina, his hometown, and Mostar, the city his forces besieged, are particularly fraught. “It’s like life has stopped completely here,” says Miro Jovanović, a municipal official. “We want to honour him as he lived proudly, but couldn’t live with this injustice.” In Čapljina, beside the Neretva river between Mostar and the Adriatic coast, Praljak’s 20-year sentence is seen as a miscarriage of justice. It lies in the heartland of Croatian nationalism. A joke goes that in the rocky hills of western Herzegovina nothing grows but snakes, stones and Ustasha – the second world war Croatian fascist movement. Several cafes have posters of Praljak, the Croatian flag and the slogan “our hero”. “We were together in the war when I fought, he wasn’t guilty,” said Ivan Buntić, 59, as he opened his clothes shop in Čapljina. “He was a special man, like a Greek hero. Perhaps he knew that war crimes were happening, but he couldn’t do much – he was the one who was trying to restore order. Everyone had armies, everyone had [concentration] camps.” Praljak was one of six ethnic Croats convicted by The Hague tribunal who, prosecutors said, were “key participants in a joint criminal enterprise to ethnically cleanse Bosnian Muslims” in the 1992-95 Bosnian war. He was involved in the siege of Mostar, during which its 16th-century Old Bridge was destroyed by Croat shelling. Croats make up 16% of the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and many feel that the framework established at the war’s end disadvantages them at the expense of Muslim Bosniaks and Serbs, and that war crimes against Croats have gone unpunished. Arranging flowers outside her shop on Čapljina’s main street, Marijana Slobodan Praljak swallows poison in the dock after the UN tribunal in The Hague upheld his war crimes sentence Vego, 29, said Praljak was “righteous”. She added: “As a Christian Catholic, this is the first time I’ve thought a suicide was heroic. I took my kids to light candles. I’m not saying there were no crimes, but there were crimes on all sides.” Her friend Iva Meric, a 22-yearold working in a clothes boutique, was more sceptical: “My generation are pressured by what we’re told by other people who lived through the war. Everybody defends their own – of course we say we’re not guilty.” The implications of Praljak’s suicide echo beyond the Neretva valley. The judges last Wednesday upheld the verdict that the late Croatian president Franjo Tuđjman shared the purpose of the “criminal enterprise”; his successors in Zagreb, now capital of an EU member state, have been accused of sending mixed messages since Praljak’s death. The Croatian president, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, said Croats needed to admit “some of our fellow compatriots in Bosnia committed crimes” – but acknowledged Praljak’s death had “deeply struck the hearts of the Croatian people”. The prime minister, Andrej Plenković, said the UN court’s verdict was a “deep moral injustice”. Plenković leads the political party founded by Tuđjman, the HDZ. In the Mostar head office of the HDZ’s Bosnian sister party, Vladimir Šoljić, who was “defence minister” of the wartime Croatian statelet HercegBosna, remembers Praljak as a charismatic, brave individual from their first meeting at secondary school. “He always had a crowd around him at school, and later as a soldier was always the first to lead. He spent every day in the war seeing Muslims, helping them with loans, support, calling their families – then they turned around and called him a war criminal.” Šoljić insisted Herceg-Bosna was not driven by ethnic cleansing, part of a plan to divide Bosnia among Croats and Serbs, but a move to protect Croats and that there were no war crime orders from above. “If anyone can find a single order or instruction of any kind to commit war crimes, I’ll do the same as General Praljak.” Others have less rosy memories of Praljak. Nedim Ćišić, a 38-yearold Bosniak musician and artist, was sheltered with his parents and sister by Croat friends in Čapljina after being released from a Croat-run prison camp. “One night we heard boom! boom! boom! Which was strange, as the fighting wasn’t close at the time. Then we heard it was the Muslim businesses being blown up. That’s when we knew it was time to leave.” Armanj, a 37-year-old waiter, was wounded in the leg by a sniper when he was a teenager. “Fourteen members of my family died, all because of that monster, Praljak. His suicide was cowardice.” Moderates sidelined at German far-right AfD congress Philip Oltermann and agencies The nationalist wing of the German anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland has been strengthened and moderate forces sidelined at a party conference marked by protests last weekend. Several people were reportedly hurt in clashes between protesters and police in the city of Hanover last Saturday as the AfD congress chose Alexander Gauland to return to the co-leader post he had held until 2015. Gauland opposes the expulsion of Björn Höcke, an AfD member who said history should be rewritten to focus on German victims of the second world war. Gauland replaces Frauke Petry, who quit to become an independent member of parliament. Her sudden departure two days after the AfD became the first far-right party to win seats in the Bundestag since the 1950s exposed rifts over whether the party should ditch rhetoric such as saying that Islam was not compatible with the German constitution. Outside the conference centre, thousands of anti-AfD protesters marched carrying placards reading “Hanover against Nazis” and “Stand up to racism”. Earlier, riot police fired water cannon at dozens of people who blocked a road leading to the event. Ten protesters were temporarily detained; several police officers and one protester were injured. The party’s incumbent leader, Jörg Meuthen – a representative of the economically liberal wing of the movement who also opposes Höcke’s expulsion – won enough votes to keep his post. But he was joined as co-leader by Gauland, who ran after a candidate seen as a moderate, Georg Pazderski, failed to win enough votes. The sidelining of Pazderski, a former ally of Petry, weakens the influence of those AfD members who are keen to manoeuvre the rightwing party into a position where it could enter a coalition. The party now has seats in 14 of the 16 regional parliaments. Polls suggest it will also win seats next year in Bavaria and Hesse. 8 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 International news Rebels kill Yemen’s ex-president Saleh Leader sought to change sides in civil war and ally himself with Saudis Patrick Wintour The Yemen civil war took a dramatic new turn on Monday when Houthi rebels backed by Iran killed the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, punishing him for switching sides and seeking peace with Saudi Arabia. Pictures of his body appeared on Houthi-run television after the militia claimed it had killed him as he fled the capital, Sana’a. He ruled Yemen for more than 30 years and was forced to resign in 2011 as part of the Arab spring political revolution. Houthi military officials said Saleh was killed as he and other party leaders were travelling from Sana’a to his hometown of Sanhan. Houthi fighters followed him in 20 armoured vehicles, then attacked and killed him and almost all those with him. Earlier his house had been destroyed in fierce fighting that erupted in Sana’a last weekend between Houthi militia and forces loyal to Saleh. Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded Houthi positions close to the city airport and the ministry of the Ali Abdullah Saleh had ended his alliance with Houthi rebels and sought talks with the Saudis and the UAE interior. The Saudi bombing was part of a doomed bid to prop up Saleh and prevent the Houthis taking complete control of the capital. His death may prompt a furious reaction from Saudi Arabia, which is determined to push back Iranian influence in Yemen. The violence between the Houthis and Saleh’s forces led to at least 125 civilian deaths and 238 injured in clashes last week, according to the International Red Cross. Houthis and Saleh’s forces had held Sana’a for three years before the alliance collapsed. The International Red Cross warned it was struggling to keep the hospital functioning in Sana’a and ensure access to its warehouse of medical supplies. The distribution of humanitarian aid across the country is already fraught, with 7 million people dependent on aid in what the UN has described as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The civil war has so far claimed 10,000 lives. Last Saturday, in a televised address, Saleh in effect announced that he was swapping sides in the civil war, and would seek a dialogue with the Saudi and United Arab Emiratesled coalition he had been fighting, alongside the Houthis, since 2015. The Saudis have sought to reinstall the UN-recognised government of president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi. It is widely thought that UAE diplomats persuaded the 75-year-old Saleh to swap sides. “Yemeni citizens have tried to tolerate the recklessness of the Houthi over the last two and a half years, but cannot any more,” Saleh said in his address. He told his forces in the capital to stop taking instructions from the Shia Houthis. The alliance of convenience had been close to collapse for months, with claims that Houthis tried to kill Saleh’s son. Hadi has ordered forces loyal to him – mainly in the southern city of Aden – to capitalise on the opposition’s disarray and advance north to Houthi positions. Hadi’s staff said they would offer an amnesty to collaborators with the Houthi regime. It is thought the Saudis and UAE had been engineering Saleh’s turnabout for months after they became disillusioned with Hadi, who has been living in exile in Riyadh. Peter Salisbury, a Yemen expert at the thinktank Chatham House, said: “With Saleh gone, and no one with whom the Saudis can strike a deal, it is likely the Saudis will take the gloves off, but the precise extent to which they do so depends very much on what Washington allows them to do. It could get very bloody and messy.” He added: “It had become clear to Saleh that the Houthis were consolidating their hold in north-west Yemen both militarily and at an institutional level. If he did not strike now, it would be too late in six months, so his calculus was to cut a deal with the Saudis.” The UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, called for fighting in Sana’a to pause this week to allow civilians trapped in their homes to seek food and water. Riyadh’s determination to crush the Houthis hardened last month after an Iranian-made missile was fired from Houthi positions at Saudi Arabia’s international airport in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia responded by mounting a blockade of goods entering Houthi-controlled ports. Smoggy wicket Pollution stops play in Delhi A cricket Test match between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted last Sunday with claims players were “continuously vomiting” due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital. Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to the toxic smog that afflicts much of north India year-round but worsens to hazardous levels in winter. Airborne pollution levels 15 times the World Health Organisation limits confronted players on the second day of the third Test in Delhi. As the haze worsened, many Sri Lankan players returned from lunch wearing face masks before complaining to umpires, who halted play for 20 minutes to consult with doctors and match officials. The match resumed but was interrupted as bowlers Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal left the field with breathing difficulties. “We had players coming off the field and vomiting,” the Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas said. “There were oxygen cylinders in the change room.” It was the latest professional match in Delhi to be affected by air pollution after two in the domestic Ranji Trophy tournament were abandoned in the city when it was engulfed in smog in November 2016. Schools were shut and doctors declared a public health emergency in Delhi last month as pollution levels spiked to 40 times the WHO safe limits, likened to smoking at least 50 cigarettes in a day. United Airlines briefly halted flights into the capital. Michael Safi Delhi Photograph: Altaf Qadri/AP Sport, pages 46-47 → Japan’s emperor to abdicate Justin McCurry Tokyo Japan’s Emperor Akihito will abdicate in spring 2019, almost three years after he suggested his age and health were affecting his ability to carry out official duties. The 83-year-old will officially retire on 30 April 2019 in the first abdication by a Japanese emperor for 200 years. His eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will become the 126th occupant of the chrysanthemum throne. Akihito has become an enormously popular figure since succeeding his father, Hirohito, Japan’s wartime emperor, in January 1989. While the postwar constitution prohibits emperors from wielding political influence, Akihito has used his role to promote reconciliation with former victims of Japanese wartime aggression. On a visit to China in 1992, he said he “deeply deplored” an “unfortunate period in which my country inflicted great suffering on the people of China”. He and Empress Michiko, a commoner whom he met while playing tennis, have also had a prominent role in helping the victims of natural disasters, making several visits to the region devastated by the 2011 tsunami. The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 9 Tell us here whatlike youthis think Kicker Feel to share your views Thenfree a short description here like this → Reply, page 23and Page XX Then Section International news ‘Democracy is happiness’ in Himalayas as Sherpas take long path to ballot box Nepal diary Vidhi Doshi T he treacherous trail that connects the remote Sherpa village of Tempathang, in the Himalayas, to the rest of the world was unusually crowded over the last weekend of November as scores of voters walked for hours across narrow mountain ridges to vote in Nepal’s first parliamentary elections since 2006. Young men listened to songs blaring from their phones. Mothers carried babies in slings and baskets. The night before the election, many camped near the polling station, sharing food and talking politics. Nepal’s Sherpas, skilled mountaineers famous for guiding western adventurers to difficult summits, have lived on some of the world’s most brutal terrain for centuries. While Nepal’s neighbours have experienced decades of rapid growth, its own experience has been different. Corruption and instability have stalled development, leaving Sherpa villages with limited access to power, healthcare and education. Now many hope Nepal’s transition from monarchy to federalised republic will bring with it modern basics. “Democracy is happiness,” one voter said, “and happiness is roads.” Wangdhi Sherpa woke at 4am to walk to the polling station. “If we vote, there will be development,” he said as he walked along the gruelling trail that lies around 120km north of Kathmandu, the capital. Sherpas were among the 2 million Nepalis who voted in the first phase of elections on 25 November. A second phase was to take place this week in towns and cities. New national and local governments are expected to be announced early next year. In the past 28 years Nepal has had 26 changes of government. Previous experiments with democracy in the 1950s and 1990s disintegrated. Then came one disaster after another: 10 members of the royal family were shot dead by the crown prince at a dinner party in 2001; a decade-long civil war claimed more than 16,000 lives; and a devastating earthquake in 2015 killed more than 8,000 people and left thousands homeless. Amid such turmoil, elections Trekker … Kami Sherpa, who walked from Tempathang, wore his best suit to vote Vidhi Doshi/Washington Post are a festive event: the first phase of voting saw an estimated 65% turnout of those eligible to vote that day. Before heading to the polls, Kami Sherpa put on his best suit and hat. “My country is becoming more beautiful today,” he said, “so I should also look my best.” But for others, enthusiasm for Nepal’s future is tempered by memory of past failures. Yangi Sherpa, one of the few who stayed home in Tempathang, said: “They say they’ll make roads, give us electricity. They’ve been saying these things for a while, but nothing happens.” Despite scattered violence, the election commission rated the day They say they’ll give us roads, electricity. They’ve been saying this for a while, but nothing happens a “historic success”. The former chief election commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel attributed the high turnout to Nepalis’ competitive spirit: “We love democracy. Whether we understand it is a different thing.” Since the civil war ended in 2006, Nepalis have twice elected assemblies to write a constitution. Local elections were held for the first time in 20 years this summer. Now newly created provincial governments will have significant power to oversee regional development. At the national level, the competition for leadership in this election is between the Nepali Congress party, led by prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, and the Left Alliance, combining the party of former rebel Maoists and the Unified Marxist-Leninist party, rivals a few months ago in local elections. The Left Alliance is capitalising on anti-India sentiment after what some call a “blockade” by India in 2015 when Nepal was devastated after the earthquake. India has denied imposing a blockade. A victory for the Left Alliance, observers say, could increase Chinese influence in Nepal, where India has wielded diplomatic sway as a trading partner. Levels of corruption in Nepal are among the highest in South Asia, and politicians switch allegiances on a whim to form coalitions. Many villages are still unconnected to road networks and one in four Nepalis live below the national poverty line. “Election manifestos are whimsical and unrealistic,” said Sudip Pokharel, director of the Democracy Resource Center, an independent organisation in Kathmandu that observes elections. “They promise things like cable cars and wifi for everyone when even basic needs are not met. Politicians keep winning because of patronage networks, which means there is no incentive for parties to think about agendas.” Meanwhile, the Sherpas of Tempathang are virtually isolated for half the year in winter and the monsoon season. Many Sherpas make a meagre living rearing a yakcow hybrid called dzo. The nearest doctor is a six-hour walk away, down the mountain, and the school provides only primary education. “We just have to trust them,” Nurbu Sherpa, 55, said of political parties. “They know what’s good for the country.” Washington Post 10 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 International news Argentina ‘death flight’ pilots sentenced Navy calls off search for survivors on submarine Fate still unknown … portraits of the ‘disappeared’ outside the court in Buenos Aires Marcos Brindicci/Reuters First judgment passed in ﬁve-year criminal trial of junta-era oﬃcials Uki Goñi Buenos Aires Two former Argentinian military pilots have been given life sentences for their part in the death of a close friend of Pope Francis, who was hurled to her death from an aircraft during the country’s 1976-83 dictatorship. The ruling last week marked the first Argentinian judgment against participants in the so-called death flights, in which opponents of Argentina’s military regime were thrown from aircraft into the freezing waters of the South Atlantic to hide the murders. The court heard that former coastguard pilots Mario Daniel Arrú and Alejandro Domingo D’Agostino were in the crew of a Skyvan PA-51 plane from which Esther Careaga and 11 others were thrown to their death on the night of 14 December 1977. Careaga was a close friend of Jorge Bergoglio, who decades later became Pope Francis. The pilots were among 5 4 defendants in the huge trial, which also involved the cases of 789 victims of the Navy Mechanics Higher School, ESMA, in Buenos Aires, where up to 5,000 people are estimated to have been killed. The victims included leftwing opponents of the regime and members of Argentina’s tiny urban guerrilla groups, but also human rights activists and relatives of people who had already been “disappeared” by the military. Careaga was seized by the military after denouncing the disappearance of her pregnant 16-year-old daughter Ana María. Along with two French nuns and nine others, she was thrown from a plane that left the city’s airport on the night of 14 December 1977. The court found that Arrú and D’Agostino had piloted the three-hour flight. The body of Careaga, along with those of one of the nuns, Léonie Duquet, and two other mothers, Azucena Villaflor and María Bianco, washed ashore six days later and were buried in a common grave. Their remains were only identified via DNA testing in 2003. Jorge Bergoglio met Careaga when he worked as an apprentice at a pharmaceutical laboratory in Buenos Aires in the early 1950s. Careaga was a feminist far ahead of her time, a biochemist and Bergoglio’s boss. “Careaga was a good friend and a great woman,” said Bergoglio, then archbishop of Buenos Aires, when the bodies of the three mothers were identified in 2003. The scope of the crimes under investigation in the five-year trial was astounding. A total of 484 cases correspond to persons who were either murdered or made to “disappear” at the ESMA. The remaining 305 cases involve survivors of kidnapping and torture as well as children born in captivity at the camp. Arrú and D’Agostino’s participation in the death flights was discovered by Argentinian journalist and ESMA survivor Miriam Lewin, who in 2011 tracked down the Skyvan PA-51 aeroplane to Miami. Incredibly, the original 1977 flight logs were intact and named the crew on the night of Careaga’s death. A third crew-member, Enrique José de Saint George, died during the trial. The legal campaign started with a single case almost 40 years ago. Argentina called off the rescue operation for its missing submarine last Thursday, 15 days after a reported explosion apparently sent it to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Patagonia. “No one will be rescued,” said navy captain Enrique Balbi, who has been acting as official spokesperson for the rescue effort. Nonetheless, the search operation for the ARA San Juan would continue in waters of up to 500 metres deep, he added. “Despite the magnitude of the effort made it has not been possible to locate the submarine,” said Balbi, referring to the multinational response that has included US, British and Russian aircraft, ships and personnel. The submarine had 44 people on board. Luis Tagliapietra, whose son Damián was a 27-year-old trainee on the submarine, told the TN news channel: “This is perverse and impossible to understand. They’re playing word games,” he said. “What they are really saying is that they’re not going to be looking for it any more.” The San Juan lost radio contact with the naval base in Mar del Plata on 15 November but it was not until two days later that the navy announced publicly that the submarine had gone missing. “More than double the number of days than it would have been possible to rescue the crew have passed,” Balbi told reporters. The huge sea and air rescue effort will now be reduced to trying to locate the vessel itself. Uki Goñi Buenos Aires Bolivian anger as court scraps presidential term limits Laurence Blair Orinoca Bolivia’s highest court overruled the constitution last week, scrapping term limits for every office. The move allows Evo Morales, the president since 2006, to stand for a fourth term in 2019 – and for every election thereafter. Morales, 58, is a former coca grower, and the country’s first indigenous president. Bolivia, along with Nicaragua, is now the only presidential democracy in the Americas to place no limits on re-election. Last month, a senior minister shared an image of a placard that invited Morales to stay in power until 2050. “This is a coup against the constitution and a mockery of the referendum results,” conservative senator Óscar Ortiz said – referring to a plebiscite 18 months ago in which Bolivians narrowly rejected a presidential reelection. Ortiz called for citizens to spoil their votes in last Sunday’s judicial elections and vowed to challenge the case abroad. The US state department has expressed “deep concern” over the ruling, and some opposition leaders, warning of an imminent “Venezuelan-Cuban-style” dictatorship, have called for street demonstrations, although few expect serious unrest. The sharpest criticisms of Morales have come from erstwhile allies . Felipe Quispe, an indigenous leader who once branded the policies of Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism (Mas) as “capitalism with an Indian face”, is in hiding after police quashed anti-corruption protests. “The outlook is bleak,” said Roger Chambi, 27, a student and activist. “It’s an outrage against the people. You see where politics and justice has got to. The worst thing is we saw it coming, but could only watch.” Some sense a wasted opportunity for Morales, who promised to retire to a farmer’s life. “He could have attained the moral stature of a Mandela or a Simón Bolívar,” said Diego von Vacano, a Bolivian political scientist at Yale University, “had he chosen that route.” The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 11 International news ‘Wasteful’ fashion industry attacked Wear clothes longer and recycle more, designer Stella McCartney urges Sandra Laville Clothes must be designed differently, worn for longer and recycled as much as possible to stop the global fashion industry consuming a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050. Fashion designer Stella McCartney condemned her industry as “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment” as she joined forces with round-the-world sailor and campaigner Dame Ellen MacArthur to call for a systemic change to the way clothing is produced and used. In a report published last Tuesday, MacArthur’s foundation exposes the scale of the waste, and how the throwaway nature of fashion has created a business that creates greenhouse emissions of 1.2bn tonnes a year – larger than that of international flights and shipping combined. It warns that “if the industry continues on its current path, by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the carbon budget associated with a 2C pathway”. The report also reveals that: • less than 1% of material used to make clothing is recycled into new clothing; • the estimated cost to the UK economy of landfilling clothing and household textiles each year is about £82m ($110m); • a truckload of clothing is wasted every second across the world; • the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used has decreased by 36% in 15 years; • half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres are released per year from washed clothes, contributing to ocean pollution. MacArthur, who gained the support of industry leaders including the C&A Foundation, H&M and Nike Ready to re-wear … McCartney’s campaign highlights fashion waste for her report, is calling for a circular textile economy to be created to make fashion more sustainable. The report calls for four actions to be taken: to phase out substances of concern and microfibre release; increase clothing utilisation, for example by the industry supporting and promoting shortterm clothing rental businesses; to radically improve recycling; and to move to renewable materials. McCartney said the ideas in the report provided solutions for an industry that was incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment. “The report … opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet,” she said. MacArthur acknowledged the scale of the challenge to turn around the $2.4tn industry. “Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting,” said MacArthur. “We need a new textile economy in which clothes are designed differently, worn longer, and recycled and reused much more often.” Figures in the report reveal the throwaway nature of today’s fashion industry, which is based on a faster turnaround model, with more new collections released per year, at lower prices. The report said more than half of “fast” fashion produced is disposed of in less than a year. In the US, clothes are only worn for around a quarter of the global average. The same pattern is emerging in China, where clothing utilisation has decreased by 70% over the last 15 years. Sixty per cent of German and Chinese citizens say they own more clothes than they need. Globally, customers miss out on $460bn of value each year by throwing away clothes that they could continue to wear. The report said: “The textiles industry relies mostly on non-renewable resources – 98m tonnes per year – including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton, and chemicals to produce, dye, and finish fibres and textiles. “Textiles production (including cotton farming) also uses around 93bn cubic metres of water annually, contributing to problems in some water-scarce regions. “With its low rates of utilisation … and low levels of recycling, the current wasteful, linear system is the root cause of this massive and ever expanding pressure on resources.” Claws for thought Mystery of Pepsi lobster A Canadian fishing crew found a lobster with the blue and red Pepsi logo imprinted on its claw, raising fresh concerns about debris littering the world’s oceans. The lobster was caught in waters off Grand Manan, New Brunswick, and had been loaded on to a crate when Karissa Lindstrand came across it. Lindstrand –who drinks as many as 12 cans of Pepsi a day – spotted the resemblance. “I was like: ‘Oh, that’s a Pepsi can,’” she said. On closer inspection, it seemed more like a tattoo on the claw. “It looked like it was a print put right on the lobster claw.” Neither she or any of the crew had seen anything like it. Some experts believe the lobster might have grown around a can at the bottom of the ocean. Others speculate that part of a Pepsi box became stuck on the lobster. The find comes amid growing concerns over the amount of debris accumulating in the world’s oceans. Between 5m and 13m tonnes of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by seabirds, fish and other organisms, leading the record-breaking sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur to warn that by 2050 the sea could have more plastic in it than fish, by weight. Ashifa Kassam Toronto Photograph: Karissa Lindstrand Fears over US gene research Arthur Neslen A US military agency is investing $100m in genetic extinction technologies that could wipe out malarial mosquitoes, invasive rodents or other species, emails released under freedom of information rules show. The documents suggest the US’s secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has become the world’s largest funder of “gene drive” research, raising tensions ahead of a UN expert meeting in Montreal this week. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity was due to debate whether to impose a moratorium on the gene research next year and several southern countries fear a possible military application. The use of “genetic extinction” technologies in bioweapons is the stuff of nightmares, but known research is focused entirely on pest control and eradication. Some UN experts, however, worry about unintended consequences. One said: “My main worry is we do something irreversible to the environment, despite our good intentions.” 12 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Special report Media freedom Crime, censorship and cash shortages blight world’s press Study finds international freedom of expression at lowest point in 10 years Graham Ruddick Media freedom around the world has fallen to the lowest level for at least a decade, according to a study that shows journalists are threatened by government censorship, organised crime and commercial pressures. Turkey has experienced the biggest decline in freedom of speech over the past decade but Brazil, Burundi, Egypt, Poland, Venezuela and Bangladesh have also had a disturbing decline in the diversity and independence of the media, according to the report. “For the first time, we have a comprehensive and holistic overview of the state of freedom of expression and information around the world,” said Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19, the freedom of expression campaign group, which produced the report in conjunction with V-Dem, a political and social database. “Unfortunately, our findings show that freedom of expression is under attack in democracies as well as authoritarian regimes.” The report’s authors measured freedom of expression in 172 countries between 2006 and 2016 through a metric based on 32 indicators such as media bias and corruption, internet censorship, access to justice, harassment of journalists, and equality for social classes and genders. Hughes said journalists were threatened by intimidation, prosecution and even murder in some parts of the world – with 426 attacks against journalists and media outlets in Mexico alone in 2016. The freedom of the media globally is further threatened by the rise of the internet because online content is being controlled by a handful of internet companies whose processes “lack transparency”. Commercial pressure on news providers has also led to redundancies and cuts in investment, while the “vast majority of countries”, including China, restrict access to a range of websites. The report found that 259 journalists were jailed last year and 79 were killed. Areas of concern include the vulnerability of journalists reporting on or criticising the “war on drugs” in the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras, and intimidation and malicious charges against voices opposed to the Erdoğan regime in Turkey. As of April this year, 152 Turkish journalists were in prison, according to the opposition. More than 170 media organisations have been shut down since last year’s coup, including newspapers, websites and TV stations, and 2,500 journalists have been laid off. However, Article 19 noted improvements in countries including Tunisia, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and also praised the introduction of freedom of information laws in 119 countries. Another group, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), warned there has “never been a more dangerous time to be a journalist”. It said Donald Trump’s attacks on “fake news” were sending a message to authoritarian leaders that it is acceptable to crack down on the media, pointing to recent criticism of CNN by the Egyptian government after the terrorist attack on a mosque in Sinai. Robert Mahoney, the deputy executive director of the CPJ, said: “The United States has traditionally been a beacon of press freedom but a barrage of anti-press rhetoric from president Trump undermines the role of the press in a democracy and potentially endangers journalists. “Labelling reporting you don’t like as ‘fake news’ sends a signal to authoritarian leaders globally that it’s OK to crack down on the press. It did not take the Egyptian foreign ministry long to seize on Trump’s attack on CNN International last month to try to draw attention away from the message to the messenger.” The head of the BBC World Service – the biggest international news broadcaster – warned that the rise of new economic powerhouses that do not fully support freedom of expression would threaten media freedom in the 21st century. Francesca Unsworth said: “We are dealing with a world I don’t think buys into enlightenment values of freedom of expression as part of economic development.” Unsworth said China was trying to spread its influence in Africa and the Caribbean by investing in the local media alongside vast spending on improving infrastructure. Afraid to probe too far and fearful when they publish S ome are in hiding, exile – or jail. Others self-censor, use pseudonyms or seek approval from officials. Some are left hoping their work is not too popular so it does not create problems. Such is life as a journalist in the growing number of countries condemned for shutting down, stifling or squeezing the financial life out of independent media. Russia Yevgenia Albats, editor-in-chief, New Times weekly All governmental institutions are under the control of KGB graduates, so politics in Russia is a clandestine operation with non-transparent rules, unknown participants and secretive outcomes. It is difficult to cover politics when the omnipotent secret service is in charge. I can publish whatever I believe is worth it. No one can tell me don’t cover this or that. Yet, I lack financial resources to run the paper and hire enough reporters capable of digging in. My biggest obstacle is the fear among businesses, ad agencies and newsmakers of dealing with a publication considered anti-Putin. It is a fact of life that you can get killed or injured if you cover politics in my country – as has happened to two dozen reporters in the Moscow region alone in the past decade. India Sandhya Ravishankar, a Tamil Nadu-based investigative journalist Tamil Nadu is a state where there is an iron curtain as regards government transparency. When corruption is exposed, the government has used criminal defamation laws and intimidation to try to muzzle the press. When I report on investigative stories that do not please the government of the day, fellow journalists, who prefer to play safe or ingratiate themselves with the powers that be, often turn against me. When I began freelancing I found my investigative reports were more likely to be published online than in newspapers or mainstream TV channels. My four-year investigation into illegal beach sand mining had no takers until the Wire, a young news portal, dared to pick it up. Other newspapers loved the story The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 13 On the website Latest world news and analysis → theguardian.com Prosecution … protesters support a Cumhuriyet correspondent jailed in Turkey in July Ozan Kose/Getty Brazil Erik Silva, investigative journalist The greatest difficulty of the media in Brazil, especially smaller organisations, is the lack of financial independence. This is used to target journalists who challenge powerful figures. I was charged with criminal defamation for exposing exorbitant payments to certain public servants. So far, I have won in the courts, but it has been time-consuming and expensive. The legal process has been used to try to silence the press and undermine the credibility of the information I publish. The freedom of the press is guaranteed, but when it comes to information that displeases political interests, we suffer the consequences. It is not just legal cases – there are reprisals in terms of budget cuts from our political clients. Sometimes I worry about my security. If something happened to me, I would not be the first journalist in Brazil targeted because I denounced powerful political interests. But more common than physical attacks are professional reprisals. Politicians try to force critical journalists from their jobs, particularly in small cities in the interior. World press freedom ranking, 2017 Most freedom Poland Least freedom Rank 1 Norway 22 Canada 153 Belarus 155 Turkey 148 Russia No data 40 UK 43 US 147 Mexico 14 Ireland 180 North Korea 8 Jamaica 103 Brazil 50 Argentina but were afraid of lawsuits from the illegal miners and did not wish to wade into a politically charged story of corruption that implicated every government – centre and state – for two-and-a-half decades. This is self-censorship. I fear for the safety of my family more than anything else. My number has been made public on social media and I have received calls threatening to rape me. Police complaints have led nowhere. Turkey Aydin Engin, a veteran correspondent for Cumhuriyet, who faces trial The AKP government claims not one journalist is in jail but we know the number is above 160. None have any 145 136 South India Sudan 31 South Africa 19 Australia other profession than journalism or have taken part in any other kind of activity, as is claimed. [There is] almost no media left to be censored. We frequently witness governments, big companies and banks trying to buy off journalists around the world. But the AKP was smarter and bought papers and TV channels instead. Today 70% of the print and visual media in Turkey are government bodies and no longer serve as news and information channels. The other 30% have became mostly what we call the “penguin media” because they prefer to broadcast a documentary about penguins instead of reporting on such big news as the Gezi resistance. Adam Leszczyński, former foreign editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, now founder of OKO.press, a crowdfunded fact-checking and investigative website The worst thing for journalists in Poland is the avalanche of lies from government propaganda. It is so primitive, nonsensical and aggressive that is almost like a caricature of authoritarian media. You cannot debate in any meaningful way with those people. We are often attacked in progovernment media, but there are no open and really dangerous efforts to intimidate us or to block publication of our stories. It’s not that rosy, however. Government officials often don’t respond to our questions, even though they are legally obliged to. Ruling party politicians are working on a law to “renationalise” Polish media, but it will affect mostly the big foreign players. They probably calculated that an attack on free media would be too costly – especially when they haven’t finished taking over the justice system. My guess is that they will not attack free media until the government starts losing popularity. Cambodia A former Cambodia Daily journalist, who asked to remain anonymous due to fears of reprisal, said he was charged with incitement for his work The hardest thing about being a journalist in Cambodia is that we don’t have the right to write about the real situation because the government is very strict on independent media. Authorities sue journalists they accuse of publishing untrue information. They are arrested and put in jail. Some independent journalists are hiding after two reporters from Radio Free Asia were arrested [last] month. The prime minister, Hun Sen, wants journalists to write good things about the government because he is afraid the international community will put pressure on him. The court received an order from Hun Sen to take action against me and my colleague when we wrote about sensitive stories, including elections, corruption issues and land disputes as well as illegal logging. I have not been safe since I was charged. Sudan Journalist who must remain anonymous for safety reasons The hardest part about being a journalist in Sudan is not having freedom of speech. I mainly write articles related to the environment and climate change but can never mention the government’s corruption and how it is stealing funds Sudan gets for establishing adaptation and mitigation projects. Journalists are sometimes forced to add false information and lie to the public. There is a pre-print censorship on all newspapers, which means a security man comes each day to check content to make sure nothing damages the government’s image. If I criticise the government in an article the editor rejects it, because the security men could shut the whole publication. The government won’t hesitate to hurt anyone who stands in its way, or even hurt their families. You can be kidnapped, tortured and even killed, or they can put you in jail. Kazakhstan Vadim Ni, environmental writer, chair of livingasia.online The hardest thing is that you never know what can lead to prosecution. Now many journalists prefer to avoid publishing information until they have spoken to officials, and in many cases they are very difficult to reach. The fear of criminal prosecution can prevent journalists from writing about many sensitive issues. I was concerned for my safety this summer when we finished our report on harassment of environmental defenders in countries of the former USSR. We were lucky and no penalties followed. 14 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Cash vanishes in Venezuela Hyperinflation of bolívar spurs move from paper to electronic payments John Otis Caracas Venezuela’s currency, the bolívar, is named after Simón Bolívar, the 19th-century hero revered across South America for leading the fight for independence from Spain. But the recent history of the banknote he inspired is far less glorious: low-value notes have been rendered practically worthless – and now Venezuela is running out of them. The cash crunch is so acute that ATMs now provide a daily limit of 10,000 bolívars, enough to buy just a few cups of coffee. Black-market money changers charge commissions of up to 20% to score paper money for small-business people who pay their workers in cash. Banks are running out of banknotes. “Sometimes, bank tellers will only pay you half of your pension and suggest that you come back later for the rest,” said Marta Milano, who was waiting in a long line outside a state-run bank in Caracas hoping to collect her pension. Although many nations are moving away from paper money in favour of electronic payments – for convenience and to reduce crime – critics contend that Venezuela is turning into a cashless society thanks to economic blunders by President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government. Out-of-control state spending, government currency controls and other policies have led to what many describe as hyperinflation, as well the collapse of the bolívar – which now trades at about 100,000 to the US dollar on the black market. Now there is not enough cash in circulation to keep up with skyrocketing prices. Jean Paul Leidenz, a senior economist at the Caracas thinktank Practically worthless denomination … bundles of 100-bolívar bills Ecoanalítica, says there are about 13bn banknotes in circulation in Venezuela. But about half of these are 100-bolívar notes, each worth a small fraction of one cent. The central bank has introduced higher-denomination bills, including a 100,000-bolívar note. But these new banknotes are printed in Europe and the government, which is dealing with falling production of oil – its main export – and massive foreign debt, lacks the money to import enough of them to meet demand. “Prices are doubling around every two months. So at that rate of price increases you can’t keep up with inflation even if you start importing bills,” Leidenz says. He and other analysts are calling for market reforms, including the lifting of government currency controls, to help combat inflation and boost national production amid Venezuela’s worst economic crisis in modern history. But the Maduro government has made no effort to change tack. Maduro blames the cash shortage on private bankers whom he claims are working in cahoots with President Juan Manuel Santos of neighbouring Colombia, who has criticised Maduro for cracking down on democratic freedoms. Maduro insists that bankers are smuggling cash across the Venezuelan-Colombian border as part of an elaborate conspiracy to sabotage the economy and bring down his government. He did not, however, explain why smugglers would covet nearly worthless banknotes or why spiriting them out of the country would threaten the Venezuelan economy. Instead, Maduro tried to paint the cash crisis as an opportunity for Venezuela to ditch cash altogether. He said that by next year, up to 95% of all payments in Venezuela should be done electronically. That’s already starting to happen, though critics point out that the transition stems from a dearth of cash rather than planning by the Maduro government. These days Venezuelans pay for the smallest purchases – from a pack of gum to newspapers – with credit or debit cards. But paying with plastic creates new problems. The rising number of electronic transactions c an cause internet connections for card readers to collapse. Empty shelves at supermarkets prompt many Venezuelans to seek out blackmarket venders who sell milk, rice and other basic staples but accept only paper money. What’s more, only about 40% of Venezuelans have bank accounts. For them the daily scramble for cash continues. Nicolás Maduro said during his weekly televised broadcast last Sunday. The new digital currency would be backed by the country’s reserves of gold, oil, gas, and diamonds, he said. Opposition leaders scorned the announcement. “It’s Maduro being a clown. This has no credibility,” opposition lawmaker and economist Angel Alvarado told Reuters. The move highlights how • The UK and other EU governments are planning a crackdown on bitcoin amid growing concerns that the digital currency is being used for money-laundering and tax evasion. The Treasury plans to regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to bring them in line with anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financial legislation. Traders will be forced to disclose their identities, ending the anonymity that has made the currency attractive for drug dealing and other illegal activities. Under the EU-wide plan, online platforms where bitcoins are traded will be required to carry out due diligence on customers and report suspicious transactions. • The Adani Group, an Indian conglomerate and mining giant, is likely to have to again answer allegations that it siphoned more than $600m into overseas tax havens, after finance authorities recommended appealing an earlier judgment that had cleared the group of the claims. The Indian finance secretary said that the decision clearing the group in August had been reviewed by officials in November, and that they had ordered an appeal to be lodged by 14 December. In August, the Guardian revealed details of a massive fraud investigation into the company. • A partly British-built hybrid electric plane could be flying by 2020 as the result of a collaboration between Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce. The manufacturers will convert a short-haul passenger jet, paving the way to making commercial air travel running partly on electricity a reality. Engineers involved in the E-Fan X project said the technology could mean cleaner, quieter and cheaper journeys. Foreign exchanges Maduro to launch cryptocurrency and ‘overcome US blockade’ Venezuela’s president has said his country will launch a cryptocurrency to combat a US-led financial “blockade”, although he provided few clues about how the economically crippled Opec member would pull off the feat. “Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency … the ‘petro’, to advance in issues of monetary sovereignty, to make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade,” Finance in brief Finance US sanctions this year are hurting Venezuela’s ability to move money through international banks. Venezuela’s traditional currency, meanwhile, is in freefall. Currency controls and excessive money printing have led to a 57% depreciation of the bolívar against the dollar in the last month on the widely used black market. That has dragged down the monthly minimum wage to a mere $4.30. Reuters Sterling rates Australia Canada Denmark Euro Hong Kong Japan New Zealand Norway Singapore Sweden Switzerland USA 4 Dec 1.77 1.71 8.44 1.13 10.50 151.76 1.96 11.17 1.81 11.29 1.32 1.34 27 Nov 1.75 1.69 8.31 1.12 10.41 148.50 1.94 10.85 1.79 11.05 1.31 1.33 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 15 UK news A simple question of trust Kicker here like this Did tell thehere truth? ThenDamian a shortGreen description like this → Matthew d’Ancona, page Then Section and Page XX21 May’s weakness exposed as DUP holds up Brexit progress Irish border dispute embarrasses PM in eﬀorts to advance Brussels talks Daniel Boffey and Jennifer Rankin Brussels Anushka Asthana London Theresa May’s political weakness was brutally exposed to Brussels on Monday as an agreement struck between Britain and the EU to solve the problem of the Irish border and move to the next phase of Brexit talks was held up by a last-minute telephone call with the leader of the Democratic Unionist party. Confidence early on Monday that an agreement was within reach came to nothing when, during a working lunch with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, May was forced to pause discussions to take a call from Arlene Foster. The unionist leader, whose party currently provides the Tories with a working majority in the Commons, told the British prime minister that she could not support Downing Street’s planned commitment to keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU laws. In London, Tory Brexiters, including Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob ReesMogg, told the Brexit minister Steve Baker, and the prime minister’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, that they were also rallying behind the DUP’s stance. David Trimble, a former first minister of Northern Ireland, said Tory MPs at the meeting had shown “unanimous backing” for opposition to the draft proposal “minted in Dublin”. Discussions between May, Foster and DUP officials continued this week in a bid to secure an agreement, but Monday’s events raised fresh questions about May’s ability to deliver on any deal she proposes to the 27 member states, and has filled diplomats in Brussels with a deep foreboding for future talks. Diplomats waited for two hours in a room at the Council of Ministers headquarters for a meeting that had been planned to follow the JunckerMay lunch. When it became clear the two sides could not get an agreement, the officials were sent home. Juncker and May attempted to put a brave face on Monday’s spectacular collapse of their plans. The commission president praised May for being a “tough negotiator” who was energetically fighting for Britain’s interests. “On many of the issues there is a common understanding and crucially Stalled … Theresa May’s talks with Jean-Claude Juncker Virginia Mayo/AP it is clear we want to move forward together,” May told reporters before hinting further talks were needed. “There are a couple of issues, some differences do remain, which require further negotiation and consultation. And those will continue but we will reconvene before the end of the week and I am also confident we will conclude this positively.” The delay also took the EU into unusual territory, as member states had less than a week to approve an agreement that many have not yet seen. Some EU diplomats are increasingly concerned at the deadline, billed as “the extension of the very last round”. The text has to be discussed in 27 national capitals, if EU leaders are to sign it off at a summit on 14-15 December. “The less time we have before the European council, the more difficult it becomes to run the text through 27 national administrations and get an agreement,” said one. “It is [the UK’s] decision to leave it to the last minute and it is [the UK’s] risk.” Government sources made clear that there were two key sticking points in the negotiations with the EU27 – the role of the European court of justice when it came to citizen rights and the Irish border. On Ireland, one senior government source admitted that progress would be difficult without the support of unionists. “It has to be a deal which is going to carry the support of the EU27 and everybody here. It is a reality that you need DUP support if the deal is to stand the test of time.” In Dublin, where there had been full confidence that an agreement had been reached that could avoid a hard border after Brexit, the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, told reporters that he was “disappointed and surprised” by Britain’s U-turn. Varadkar said: “It is evident that things broke down, became problematic during the lunch in Brussels.” The Irish prime minister’s deputy had been on national radio just hours earlier predicting that a deal was close and that “a positive statement for the country” from the taoiseach was planned for the afternoon. The DUP’s fury had been prompted by a leak early on Monday of a draft 15-page joint statement from the European commission and the UK that suggested Britain had bowed to the Republic of Ireland’s demands by accepting that “in the absence of agreed solutions, the UK will ensure that there continues to be continued regulatory alignment” with the internal market and customs union. Foster swiftly put out a statement insisting that she would not accept any special status for Northern Ireland as the UK left the EU in March 2019. Speaking at Stormont, she noted the speculation emerging from negotiations. “We have been very clear,” she said. “Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom. The economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom will not be compromised in any way,” she said. The news was then seized upon by Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who suggested that any promise for Northern Ireland could be replicated for Scotland. That call was followed by similar suggestions from the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Jeremy Corbyn claimed that the difficulties in overcoming negotiation points showed May’s government was ill-equipped to negotiate a successful Brexit deal. The Labour leader said: “It is disappointing that there has not been progress in the Brexit negotiations after months of delays and grandstanding. Labour has been clear from the outset that we need a jobs-first Brexit deal that works for the whole of the United Kingdom.” However, the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the DUP were right to “scupper” the deal. Additional reporting by Lisa O’Carroll and Henry McDonald 16 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 UK news Social mobility chief quits over ‘inaction’ May challenged to live up to pledge to create more equal society Michael Savage Observer Theresa May was plunged into a new crisis last weekend after the government’s social mobility adviser revealed he and his team were quitting, warning that the prime minister was failing in her pledge to build a “fairer Britain”. Alan Milburn, the former Labour cabinet minister who chairs the government’s social mobility commission, said he and his three fellow commissioners were walking out – including a leading conservative, Gillian Shephard. The move was seen as a direct challenge to May’s vow to place social justice at the heart of her premiership. In his resignation letter, Milburn warned that dealing with Brexit meant the government “does not seem to have the bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality.” “I have little hope of the current government making the progress I believe is necessary to bring about a fairer Britain,” he said. “It seems unable to commit to the future of the commission as an independent body or to give due priority to the social mobility challenge facing our nation.” Milburn said that failing to deal with the inequalities that fuelled the Brexit vote would simply lead to a rise of political extremes. He said: “The worst position in politics is to set out a proposition that you’re going to heal social divisions and then do nothing. It’s almost better never to say that you’ll do anything about it. Crisis … Alan Milburn said May had the wrong priorities Linda Nylind “It’s disappointing that the government hasn’t got its shoulder to the wheel to deal with these structural issues that lead to social division and political alienation in the country. “In America for 30 years real average earnings have remained flat. Now here the chancellor is predicting that will last for 20 years. That has a consequence for people, but a political consequence as well. It means more anger, more resentment and creates a breeding ground for populism.” It is understood that Shephard, a former Tory education secretary and deputy chair of the commission, will Child and pensioner poverty rising, report says Hundreds of thousands of children and older people have been plunged into poverty in the past four years, according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. It found almost 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners were living in poverty last year compared with 2012-13, the first sustained increases in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years. The foundation warned that decades of progress were at risk of being unravelled amid weak wage growth and rising inflation. The thinktank urged the government to unfreeze benefits, increase training for adult workers and embark on a more ambitious housebuilding programme to provide affordable homes for struggling families. Richard Partington also resign. The social mobility commission, set up by Nick Clegg under the coalition government, advises ministers on the issue and monitors progress. Its most recent report last month warned of a “striking geographical divide”, with London and its surrounding areas pulling away while other areas are left behind. Milburn said that, while his term as chair had now come to an end, he had decided to walk away rather than reapply for the role. He said a repeated refusal to properly resource and staff the commission, an obsession with Brexit and an “absence” of policy had led to his decision. The other remaining commissioners – Paul Gregg, director of the centre for analysis of social policy at the University of Bath, and David Johnston, the chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation – were also understood to be quitting. The dramatic resignations were a setback for the prime minister, who used her first speech after taking office to vow to tackle social injustice. “When it comes to opportunity, we won’t entrench the advantages of the fortunate few, we will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you,” she said. Milburn’s letter to May states: “I do not doubt your personal belief in social justice, but I see little evidence of that being translated into meaningful action. The 20th-century expectation that each generation would do better than the last is no longer being met. At a time when more and more people are feeling that Britain is becoming more unfair rather than less, social mobility matters more than ever.” A government spokesman said the resignations came after Milburn – whose term as the commission chair expired last July – was told that a new chair was to be appointed. Hunt says NHS must use new money to cut waiting times Denis Campbell Jeremy Hunt has ordered NHS England to stick to waiting time limits, putting him in conflict with its leaders who said hours earlier that insufficient funding from last month’s budget made this impossible. NHS England told ministers last Thursday that it would have to tear up guarantees on waiting times and deny patients new drugs next year because of a lack of money. But the health secretary rejected the proposals and signalled the start of months of difficult negotiations over what care the NHS can provide. “ The government is committed to NHS constitutional standards, that is why we found a significant increase for the NHS in the budget. Our determination is to move back to hitting those standards,” Hunt told an audience of NHS chiefs. NHS England, however, used a board meeting to warn it had to make “difficult choices” next year that would involve limiting what it could provide. It blamed the chancellor, Philip Hammond, for creating what the Patients Association said was an “extraordinary” situation by giving it only £1.6bn ($2.1bn) extra funding for 2018-19 in his budget last week – less than half the £4bn sought by the NHS. In a paper given to its board, NHS England said: “NHS constitution waiting times standards, in the round, will not be fully funded and met next year.” Hammond said in the budget that the £1.6bn was to be used to improve waiting times, which have been increasingly breached since 2014. NHS England ratified plans to stop prescribing cough mixture, cold treatments, eye drops and laxatives, which it wants patients to buy instead, as well as a range of “low-value treatments”, including fish oil, herbal remedies and homeopathy, as part of a plan to save up to £190m from its £9.2bn bill for prescribed medications. NHS England said it could not be expected to provide more care at a time when its budget increases of 1% to 2% were smaller than rises in patient demand, running at up to 7%. The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 17 International news Subject UK news Swept away on a wave Camera defies tide to rejoin its owner A camera left on a beach in Yorkshire will be reunited with its owner after filming itself being swept up by the tide at the beginning of a 800km odyssey across the North Sea. The waterproof camera was discovered on 2 November on the shore of Süderoog, a tiny German island in the Wadden Sea. It was found by two coastal protection officers who discovered that a number of short video clips survived the journey. The most recent recording, dated 1 September 2017, shows a boy and girl playing on the beach. At one point the camera is put on a rock and left behind. The last minutes of the movie feature images of seaweed and the sound of gurgling water. Holger Spreer and Nele Wree uploaded the clip to the Süderoog Facebook page, commenting that “at last, a piece of flotsam is chatting to us”. An officer of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Association spotted the post and contacted the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, one of whose officers recognised the landscape visible in the video as that of the Flamborough Cliffs near Thornwick Bay in east Yorkshire. Using a computer programme used to calculate the location of people missing at sea, German officers identified the sea coastal stretch as the likely origin of the camera. After 12 days of searching, the island’s Facebook page announced that the owner had been found. A father, alerted by a friend to the story in the Guardian, recognised the camera as the one lost by his son. There are plans to have owner and camera reunited by Christmas. Philip Oltermann Photograph: Hallig Süderoog Aid to Syria ‘was reaching jihadis’ Hannah Summers The government has suspended a multimillion-pound foreign aid project amid allegations that money paid to a contractor in Syria was reaching the pockets of jihadist groups. The plug was pulled on the scheme funding a civilian police force following claims its members were being made to hand cash to extremists. Officers from the Free Syrian Police were apparently also working with courts accused of torture and summary executions, according to allegations made in a BBC documentary. The Foreign Office confirmed last Sunday that it had suspended access to the justice and community security scheme (Ajacs), which has been running since late 2014, following grave concerns about its management by the British contractor, Adam Smith International. Britain is one of six countries supporting the communityled police force set up after the Syrian uprising and stationed in regions held by opposition rebels. According to documents seen by Panorama, police officers in Aleppo province were forced to hand over cash to the extremist group in control of the area, Nour al-Din al-Zinki. The programme, Jihadis You Pay For, also claims that Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida until a split in 2016, had handpicked police officers for two stations in Idlib province. Other evidence suggested dead and fictitious people were on the force’s payroll. Adam Smith International, which strongly denies the allegations, said it had managed taxpayers’ money “effectively to confront terrorism”. When the company visited one police station, supposedly the base for 57 police officers, it could not find a single officer, the investigation found. The contractor said it accounted for the officers on subsequent visits and that it had found very few instances of dead officers remaining on the salary list in Syria. It said it used cash because there was “no practical alternative” and that officers imposed by Jabhat al-Nusra were detected within two months. Payments to the stations funding the extremist group Nour al-Din al-Zinki were stopped in August 2016, it added. Jabhat al-Nusra hand-picked police officers for two stations in Idlib province, a documentary claims In a statement published last Sunday, Adam Smith International said the allegations about the Ajacs project were “false and misleading”. Kate Osamor, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for international development, said that if the allegations were true, British taxpayers would be “rightly outraged”. She added: “The opaque Conflict, Stability and Security Fund that financed this project also operates in 70 other countries – many with questionable human rights records.” Funds come from Britain’s £13bn ($17.5bn) foreign aid budget, which is allocated largely by the Department for International Development but also spent by other departments including the Foreign Office (FCO). An FCO spokesman said: “We take any allegations of cooperation with terrorist groups and of human rights abuses extremely seriously and the Foreign Office has suspended this programme while we investigate these allegations. Such work in Syria is important to protect our national security interest but of course we reach this judgment carefully given that in such a challenging environment no activity is without risk. That is why all our programmes are designed carefully and subject to robust monitoring.” News in brief Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and Page XX • UK rail fares will rise by 3.4% in January – the largest increase for five years. Fares for all journeys in 2018 show an average rise slightly below the 3.6% set by the government in August for regulated fares, which include season tickets. Rail operators said it showed the industry was attempting to keep down the cost of travel. Unions said it was “another kick in the teeth” for passengers paying the highest fares in Europe. Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which speaks for the train companies, said: “Money from fares is underpinning the partnership railway’s long-term plan to change and improve.” • Royal Bank of Scotland is closing 259 branches, a quarter of its network, in a move that puts nearly 700 jobs at risk and sparked warnings about the end of high street banking. The bailed-out lender said 62 Royal Bank of Scotland and 197 NatWest branches would shut as customers went online. The Unite union said 1,000 roles faced the axe, although the bank – 71% owned by the taxpayer – said the move would result in 680 redundancies after redeployment. • Net migration to Britain over the past 12 months has fallen by the largest amount since records began, with EU nationals accounting for three-quarters of those who chose to return to their native country, official figures show. In evidence that a “Brexodus” is under way, the latest figures show net migration to Britain fell by 106,000 to 230,000 in the 12 months to June. The Office for National Statistics said three-quarters of the 106,000 reduction in net migration from its 336,000 peak in June 2016 – the month of the referendum – was accounted for by EU nationals. • Facebook will create 800 new jobs in London over the next year, increasing its UK workforce by more than 50%, as it opened a new office in the capital on Monday. The US tech giant has had offices in the UK for 10 years, but its expansion marks a vote of confidence in the UK. By the end of next year, Facebook said it would employ more than 2,300 people in the UK. 18 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Comment&Debate It’s time for Britain to end special relationship Jonathan Freedland The neurotic link with the US should be broken. Trump’s hateful tweets will help make the break Probe points to Kushner Jill Abramson The investigation into Trump’s Russia links is taking a new twist: his son-in-law’s in the frame W hen Donald Trump took the oath of office, less than 11 months ago, the word of the hour was normalisation. Let’s not treat this man like a normal president, his US opponents said, because he’s not. You can’t, for example, assume that most of what he or his White House says is the truth – as you would for a normal occupant of that office – because he is a serial and proven liar. And sometimes it will not be enough to describe his words or deeds as “controversial” or “racially charged”, because the right word will be “racist”. For most of the past year, that normalisation debate has raged chiefly inside the US. But now it is a global question. Put simply, how should the peoples of the world handle Donald Trump? That question pressed in on Britain particularly sharply last week, after Trump retweeted three inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos shared by the deputy leader of the Britain First group, a faction of the far right so far off the spectrum that an unfamiliar chorus of voices united to condemn the president for legitimising its message. Even Nigel Farage and the conspiracy-theorist headbangers of America’s Infowars website struggled to defend him. Not content with demonising non-whites in his own country, Trump was now promoting a group hellbent on spreading fear and loathing in ours. In the process, and by angering those who had previously kept silent, Trump brought a rare degree of unity to these fractured islands. The focus now is on Theresa May’s invitation to Trump to come to Britain on a state visit. She made that offer – usually extended only late in a presidency – on that lightning trip to Washington, when the prime minister thought it would be smart to be the first foreign leader to visit the new president, and to come bearing extravagant gifts. How she must regret that move now. Still, the very fact that this ludicrous situation even exists points to a larger problem: the absurdity that is the so-called special relationship. So-called because it’s only the Brits who call it that. The Americans never use the phrase unprompted. When they do, it’s only out of an embarrassed obligation to accommodate British neediness. A former state department official, Jeremy Shapiro, admitted in October that his bosses were always careful to use the phrase when the Brits were in town, “but really we laughed about it behind the scenes”. Yet it matters to us Brits desperately – and the Americans can smell our desperation. How much time does a visiting British prime minister get with the president? What kind of gift do they hand over? Is the body language warm or chilly? All these questions have obsessed the political class, policymakers and journalists alike, for decades. But this is not diplomacy, it’s neurosis. Perhaps one could laugh off this behaviour, dismissing as mere pathos the notion of a country that thinks it alone has a special relationship with Washington, unaware that a 2009 study found that 14 of 25 EU nations surveyed all ame of Trumps is about to get really bloody. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moving ever closer to President Trump himself, it looks like someone inside the family is about to be sacrificed. With Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleading guilty last week to the charge of lying to the FBI, much more about the Russia scandal is now coming into focus. The Flynn flip was by far the most dramatic event so far in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016’s US presidential race. Flynn’s evidence can only lead up the chain of power towards Trump. Consider this chronology. On 23 November it was widely reported that Flynn had informed the Trump legal team that he could no longer discuss the case with them. The end of cooperation with Trump surely signalled the beginning of cooperation with Mueller. Two days later the New York Times and Washington Post carried nearly identical stories about Jared Kushner’s waning influence. The Times story had three bylines, including Maggie Haberman, the president’s go-to reporter. It concluded: “Mr Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who had been in seemingly every meeting and every photograph, has lately disappeared from public view and, according to some colleagues, taken on a more limited role behind the scenes.” Ashley Parker, who was a frontline reporter on the Trump campaign for the Times and now covers the White House for the Post, parroted virtually the same line in a story headlined “The shrinking profile of Jared Kushner”. Someone high up in the White House seemed anxious for the word to spread. The Times story was attributed, in part, to three “advisers to the president”. Parker’s included an earlier interview with Kushner and came “from interviews with Kushner himself, as well as 12 senior administration officials, aides, outside advisers and confidants, some speaking on condition of anonymity to offer a more candid assessment”. Both stories raised the question of how long Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, the president’s daughter, would remain in Washington. The Flynn plea deal makes clear that he was not acting as a lone ranger in his communications with Russian officials, including the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. Documents show that Flynn was told to call the Russians and other key international officials G Robert G Fresson The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 19 Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. We are, says Leonard, over-invested emotionally in the fantasy we call the special relationship. Yes, there is shared history; and, yes, intelligence and special forces cooperation is intensely close. But for the rest we need to end the neurotic neediness – and be a bit more like the French. It’s striking that Emmanuel Macron has managed both to host Trump in Paris and to stand up to him on, say, climate change, with a minimum of psychodrama. Indeed, the US president is said to like his French counterpart a lot. Part of that will be personal: a misogynist like Trump was bound to show more respect to a man than to May. B believed they, too, were special to the Americans. But this fetish has real-world consequences. It was the driving spirit behind Tony Blair’s catastrophic decision to support the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Blair’s judgment was that the paramount strategic objective was to be at Washington’s side: “With you, whatever.” All other considerations were subordinate to that goal. That same urge propelled May to visit Trump in Washington too soon, where she “put her career, her reputation and the national interest in the hands of someone who can land almost anywhere on any topic and be on the opposite side the very next day”, says to discuss the sanctions President Obama was placing on Russia for interfering in the US election. Within minutes of the plea deal being announced, several news organisations reported that Kushner was the one directing Flynn’s communications, which Flynn then lied about to the FBI. In the statement Flynn made about his guilty plea, he noted that he made the decision to cooperate because it was in the best interests of his family. No doubt this is a reference to his own son, Michael Flynn Jr, who worked for his father during the transition. Until now, Kushner has survived the fights that are common inside Trump’s circle. During the campaign he dictated changes in the campaign leadership. In the White House, he won a bloody duel with Steve Bannon, whose hard-right, nationalist agenda was set back as a result. But Kushner’s time may be up. The clues that Kushner has been pulling the strings on Russia are everywhere. Before the Trumps were even in the White House, he tried to set up a backchannel to communicate with the Russians. He then pushed Flynn hard to try to turn Russia around on an anti-Israel vote by the UN security council. Then there were the secret reassurances to the Russians that the Obama sanctions were nothing to ut it’s also true that France has long managed to be more detached than Britain in its dealings with the US. Paris decides what it wants to achieve in the world, and either works with or against Washington, depending on what best serves its interests. So while Blair followed George W Bush to Baghdad, Jacques Chirac had no hesitation in staying well out of it. For Robin Niblett, director of international affairs thinktank Chatham House, it’s clear we need to ditch the sentimental guff and “be more hard-nosed”. Hold on, say the Brexiteers. Maybe there was a time when we could have loosened our links to the US, but not now: once we’ve left the EU, they say, we will need the US as a partner in a new free trade agreement. Even if you buy that logic, Trump is the wrong man to rely on. We know he regards free trade as a con: the only good deal, he once wrote, is one in which “you crush the opponent and come away with something better for yourself”. As a matter of principle, he doesn’t believe in win-win. He is a zero-sum merchant – and he will make sure Britain gets zero. So now, at the end of this first year of Trump, is the ideal time to ditch our delusions. If Britain is to be a grown-up country, with a measure of self-respect, the time has come to look at the US with clear eyes – and to treat it as an ally whose leaders change. Sometimes those leaders will reflect our values and interests; sometimes they will clash with them; and, very occasionally, they will actively undermine them. When that happens, we have to be ready to stand up for ourselves and against Washington. Now is one of those moments. worry about once Trump took office. Kushner was behind those machinations, too. W hat he told the president about firing former FBI director James Comey will be critical in assessing whether Kushner is also vulnerable to obstruction of justice charges. Those details are yet to leak. Other clues include that fishy meeting during the campaign to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer close to Vladimir Putin. Kushner was there, too. And, during the transition, his meeting with a sanctioned Russian bank. There was also the failure to include some of these contacts on his initial federal disclosure forms. Declining power. Flynn turning state’s witness. It doesn’t look good for Kushner. When President Trump turned over his business empire to his two sons, he said that if they did a bad job he would not hesitate to say: “You’re fired.” The same is surely true for his son-in-law. But what Kushner fears more is Mueller saying: “You’re charged.” How he might deal with this, and what this might mean for President Trump, no one yet knows. It’s only the Brits who call it the special relationship. The Americans never use the phrase unprompted It looks like someone inside the family is about to be sacriﬁced 20 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Comment&Debate Attacks on Sufism are the real extremism HA Hellyer Ellie Foreman-Peck The Suﬁ tradition is an integral part of Islam. The hateful ideology that insists otherwise ignores history and distorts the truth L ast month more than 300 Muslim worshippers were murdered in a mosque by presumably extremist Islamists in Egypt. One reason for the attack is a deeply ideological one, which relates to the Sufi tendency of many of those massacred. That ideological component is a problem that Muslim communities the world over must tackle – a virulent strain of extremist thought that ironically rejects orthodoxy, while insisting it is the most orthodox. In much of the international reportage around this brutal massacre, words such as “Sufi minority” were used, as though Sufism was some kind of marginalised sect or cult. That perception is not the perspective of the mainstream of Islamic thought. Historically, Sufism was regarded by Islamic scholars as being an integral part of the broader religious disciplines. To describe Sufism as a sect would be akin to describing the different legal rites of Sunni Islam as “sects”. Of course, this is precisely what the extremists do. They will often declare in their rhetoric that Sufis are guilty of shirk (idolatry) due to their bida (deviance). The irony is that while such extremists insist that they are following the most “pure” version of Islam, they have rejected a fundamental part of mainstream Islamic thought. In that regard, such extremists are themselves a sect. The majority of Islamic scholarship is deeply influenced by Sufism, and Islam’s most famous figures upheld it as a core part of the faith. There were critics of certain excesses, to be sure – but they were also Sufis themselves. Sitting alongside this is the incorrect narrative that Sufis are somehow the “moderate” or “peaceful” part of the global Muslim community. To declare them as such is to fall into the framing that Sufis are somehow wholly distinguishable from the overwhelming majority of Muslims. The framing also suggests that the broad majority of Muslims are not peaceful or moderate, and that these “Sufi Muslims” are some kind of exception. While some may wish to promote that kind of dichotomy, it’s a rather baseless one – the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not extreme, but are peaceful. It’s because of that reality that they, as Muslims, are the primary victims of groups such as Islamic State. Second, it is important to be aware that it is not just extremist Islamists who deny the historical authenticity of Sufism. It is true that the likes of Isis and others have declared their open rejection of Sufism, and their media outlets have been inciting violence against Sufis. But that rhetoric does not come out of a vacuum. There are scores of preachers who are influenced by purist Salafi notions of what proper Islam ought to look like, who have been speaking against Sufis for a very long time. While some leading Sufi figures have been rather uncompromising in their own views, Sufi traditions recognise the plurality of Islam, which is at the core of their own critique of purist Salafism – that the latter fails to recognise that pluralism. Purist Salafis by and large do not preach vigilante violence. But the rhetoric many purist Salafis employ against Sufism provides a type of background noise that more radical extremists will quite happily exploit. Extremism is not an intrinsically Muslim problem. But there is an extremist ideology that exists. If we are to tackle extremism in general, it isn’t a “reformation of Islam” that anyone ought to be looking for. Indeed, in a sense, that took place already, and one result of that was the extremist rejection of orthodox Sufism by many, who then claimed to be more orthodox than anyone else. Any holistic response to the challenge of extremism will need to address that fallacy. HA Hellyer is senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute in London More at theguardian.com/opinion Opinion In brief What to get your dog for Christmas? We love vinyl – and a bit of inconvenience Sales of Christmas pressies for pets have gone up 300% over the last two years, according to newspaper reports. And the gifts seem to be getting swankier: dog cologne for £12.95 ($17.50) a pop, cat beds for £449, pet tipis at £54. And I thought most people were hard up. There’s nothing wrong with giving your pets presents. But, speaking as a dog owner, doing so should come with a warning. It’s the present-opening that dogs love even more than the present. What, after all, is more fun than ripping something open and tearing it to shreds? Even if it isn’t yours. You need spend barely a minute wondering what the dogs will want. You already know. Anything edible, noisy and wrapped up. They don’t want the latest toy or bit of technology; they don’t know about trends, status, style, or whether you gave As HMV records its biggest sales of long-playing records since the 1980s, is it time to scrap the Spotify and dust off the turntable? Anyone who grew up with longplaying vinyl will appreciate its appeal – the warmth of its sound, the “rightness” of its length, the indelibly irritating click of that scratch where the cat once jumped on the moving turntable. Perhaps music has become too easy to access: in a world where a button can playlist the hits of JS Bach to follow those of Stormzy and Led Zeppelin, perhaps this is a cry for a bit more difficulty, an escape from the world that Bowie predicted, where everything is available “like running water or electricity”, and nothing is valuable. Perhaps we all subconsciously want our lives to be a little more challenging. them the same thing last year, or whether their present only cost peanuts. There is no need to go over the top with advent calendars, crackers and beers. The dog does not give a sniff whether his ball-thrower is a retro wooden model. It doesn’t insist that its biscuits taste seasonal. My dogs have consistently rejected Christmas-dinner-flavoured treats. In the current climate, it might be sickening to see people frittering away vast amounts of money on dog presents. Otherwise, why not? Their presents are partly for us. They give us a chance to stop being sensible and to have a laugh. This, after all, is a festival of lights, intended to keep the gloom at bay. And if you really want to buy a dog a serious present, why not rescue one for Christmas? That would be the best present any dog could get. Michele Hanson If that’s the case, late-20th-century Britain still has a lot to offer us. It is Friday lunchtime, and every single bank has a queue snaking out of the door and on to the cracked pavement, where the rainwater from the gutter is making tidal waves from the few passing Austin Allegros that haven’t already fallen to pieces. Such is the attachment to difficulty here that these cars are made with a rectangular steering wheel, making them skittish on a good day and lethal on a bad one. Stuff your selfdriving cars. This is what we want. While you’re at it, bring back milk in glass bottles, rotary-dial telephones, shops with ashtrays, travel agents, insurance brokers, and household showers with all the water pressure of a middle-aged midnight piddler. Bring it all back. Progress? Pah! Wind up the gramophone and let’s dance. Nigel Kendall The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 21 Comment&Debate In praise of ... sanctuary for seabirds Theresa May issued a carefully worded rebuke of Donald Trump’s retweeting of Islamophobic videos If Green lied then he must go Matthew d’Ancona Tory modernisers would be furious if Theresa May’s deputy is shown to betray everything that they stand for T o change the controversy, change the question. In July 2003, Joseph C Wilson, a former US ambassador, wrote a New York Times article casting serious doubt on President Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Niger. This posed the question: why did we go to war in Iraq? A week later, a Washington Post columnist disclosed that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative. Suddenly the question changed to: what is the couple’s agenda? As a distraction, it worked a treat: Plame’s career in intelligence lay in ruins, and Wilson’s revelation about the limitations of Saddam’s WMD programme was lost in a Washington soap opera. Compare the behaviour of Damian Green’s allies in recent days. On 1 November, the writer Kate Maltby reported that he had made sexual advances towards her in 2015 and 2016. Four days later, the Sunday Times reported that police had found pornography on a computer seized from Green’s parliamentary office in 2008. Last Friday, in a BBC exclusive on the Today programme, Neil Lewis, a former Scotland Yard detective, declared that he had “absolutely no doubt whatsoever”, after forensic analysis of the machine, that Green had accessed “thousands” of pornographic images. Green, the UK’s first secretary of state and Theresa May’s de facto deputy, strongly denies all the allegations, which are now under investigation by Sue Gray, the Cabinet Office’s head of propriety and ethics. Her job is to establish whether Green behaved appropriately. Last weekend, however, his senior supporters tried to change the question. What they now ask, with the cold fury of Tories clutching Magna Carta, is whether the police are conducting a vendetta against Green. You can bet that further investigations will be mounted in the long-running feud between the embattled cabinet minister and the police. But let us not be so easily swayed by the studied outrage of the Green camp. It is very possible that certain former coppers do not like him, but that what they have alleged still stands. Little terns and black-throated divers are among the seabirds that have been given greater protection after a stretch of coastline in Cornwall was awarded special status. The marine special protected area, which stretches for 40km between Falmouth Bay and St Austell Bay, is home to more than 150,000 rare seabirds. Great northern divers and Eurasian spoonbills are also visitors along with sandwich terns and common terns. All are amber-listed by conservation groups because they have suffered significant losses of numbers and range recently. The newly designated stretch of land has been set up to help minimise disturbance to the birds that feed there and who use the Cornish coastal areas as a safe haven during winter. The latest expansion of Britain’s marine special protected areas will make a significant addition to the UK Blue Belt programme, which already protects 23% of UK waters. Robin McKie Observer On the question of Green’s allegedly epic consumption of porn, I imagine that if this is proved, most people will be wondering why an MP can get away with behaviour for which almost every UK worker would be sacked. What really matters, though, is that we do not lose sight of the broader picture. Gray has a formidable task. It is not her job to say whether MPs should watch smut in their offices: that responsibility is borne by Kathryn Hudson, the parliamentary commissioner for standards. But it is most certainly Gray’s job to assess whether Green has told lies about his alleged consumption of porn, just as she must judge whether he is telling the truth about the alleged sexual misconduct. Full disclosure: I am a good friend of Maltby and was so at the time of the alleged incidents. I am astonished by the suggestion that she is making these claims as a publicity stunt or to climb on a bandwagon. For more than 20 years I have praised Green as one of the few senior Tories who grasped the need for rootand-branch reform of the party. In July, as most Conservatives made excuses for the party’s pathetic election performance, he had the clarity of insight to insist that “we need to think hard, work hard, and change hard”. But that is precisely why there is such a strong sense of anger among Conservative modernisers, especially women MPs and activists, who feel that Green may have betrayed utterly what they have fought for. Needless to say it will be a disaster for May if Green is not given a clean bill of health by the Cabinet Office inquiry. But it will also be a serious setback for those who have struggled for decades to persuade voters that the Tory party is not a tribe of self-serving sexists, bigots and xenophobes. If Green is found to be a sex pest, what hope for the rest of them? The matter before Gray is one of simple ethics: did this man behave unacceptably towards women, and did he lie about that and other matters? If he did, he will have to go. And if he does, he will not be the victim of a “witch-hunt”, a police stitch-up, or a smear campaign, but of his disloyalty to the very principles for which he once stood. 22 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 theguardianweekly Comment Refugees and migrants Solidarity, not fear The scale of the global humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding since the Arab spring precipitated revolt and instability across the Middle East in 2011 can feel overwhelming. In the past few weeks alone, terrible stories have emerged of the brutal treatment of Rohingya Muslims, forced to flee Myanmar to grim camps in neighbouring Bangladesh. Recently CNN ran a devastating film shot undercover in Libya showing young migrants from Nigeria being auctioned into slavery. The impact of the CNN report drew unflattering attention to the EU-backed programme run by Libya to detain and repatriate migrants in order to prevent them attempting the Mediterranean crossing into Italy or Spain. This is an arrangement of convenience for Europe. It has led to migrants being held in wretched and degrading conditions that were condemned by the UN as “inhuman”. Last week the EU met with members of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The EU has now signed up to a programme to repatriate migrants rather than leaving the huge task to a country that is still in turmoil after the fall of Gaddafi, which was backed by the UK, France and the US. The great majority of the world’s displaced people flee to the nearest safe place, often another poor or middle-income country: in the past year a million refugees have arrived in Uganda from South Sudan. By far the largest part of the responsibility for those displaced around the Middle East has been borne by neighbouring countries, in particular Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Europe has been reluctant and defensive in responding to a crisis for which it is at least partly to blame. There has been a complete failure to agree a fair process for resettlement of refugees across the 28 member states. Greece and Italy have been left, for years now, to manage an unprecedented influx of desperate men, women and children. In an unparalleled international political vacuum, there has been little global leadership. Last year the New York declaration on refugees and migrants tried to lay the framework for a positive approach. It starts with recognising realities: the forces that motivate young people to risk death in the hope of a better life need to be met not by the kind of resistance that ends up with thousands being penned up in a filthy Libyan detention centre, but by opening up legal channels of migration. This time next year a UN refugee summit in Morocco aims to have a programme for legal migration in place. A humane policy for migrants would make it easier to distinguish and meet our obligations to refugees, those who flee in fear. But all of this depends on changing attitudes, above all moving away from the language of threat. Many people in the rich world want to – and do – support refugees. Fear often speaks with a powerful voice. But so can that other great human emotion, solidarity. Catalonia election The challenge of compromise Campaigning in Catalonia’s 21 December regional election began officially on Tuesday. Opinion polls show pro- and anti-independence political parties running neck and neck. But the outcome will shape the future not just of Catalonia and Spain but of other European nations and EU institutions. This election was triggered by the Madrid government after it enacted article 155 of the Spanish constitution in October – an unprecedented move that led to the formal suspension of the region’s autonomy. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, hoped this would help him to gain time while working to dampen secessionist feeling, including by floating ideas about an enhanced version of Catalan autonomy for the future. More, not less, political turmoil could lie ahead. The political battle comes with a legal one. On Monday a Spanish supreme court judge decided not to release Catalan cabinet members so that they can run in the election. The ministers are currently in custody accused of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds, all of which they deny. Meanwhile the ousted Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has sought refuge in Brussels with four of his former ministers. The move has divided his sympathisers. Some depict it as a case of forced exile, others as a flight from responsibility. Mr Puigdemont cuts something of a lonely figure now. He has been badly frustrated by the lack of support from European leaders. Madrid’s attitude is unpopular in Catalonia. Yet Catalan public opinion is fragmented, not united, on what course to follow. Catalan radicals talk about historic aspirations that were crushed under Franco and are again in danger. A more immediate reality is that Catalonia’s post-Franco regional autonomy now needs to be firmly re-established and strengthened. This month’s vote is a key test for Catalan and Spanish democracy. Dialogue and compromise remain good options. The next weeks will show if they are realistic. Will French be the world’s new lingua franca? Steven Poole Are we turning into a French-speaking planet? That was the surprising possibility raised by president Emmanuel Macron on a recent visit to Burkina Faso. “French will be the first language of Africa,” he said, plausibly, before adding, “perhaps the world.” Ah, oui? C’est vrai? No, this is preposterous, and therefore very French. It’s true that a 2014 study did indeed suggest that French could be the most spoken language of the world by 2050 – assuming enormous population increases in Africa. But, given that French is currently the first language of only 75 million people, most observers still bet on English or Mandarin Chinese. Macron’s real message, perhaps, was simply that France is important – because talking up the French language has always been a proxy way of talking up the importance of France itself. It’s not that French is dead on the global stage. French is still one of the official languages of the UN, Nato, the International Olympic Committee and Eurovision. But the days of its global pomp, when it was the language of international diplomacy and spoken by much of the global elite, are long gone. Macron’s dream of a mainly French-speaking planet almost certainly won’t come to pass, but its invocation is a clever rhetorical gambit: it implies a new swashbuckling spirit in France, conveniently represented by the president himself, as well as perhaps a sly assertion of increased French strength within the EU as Germany struggles to form a government. But the departure of Britain from the EU will probably fail to help the status of French as an official language. When I visited the European commission recently, it was explained to me with regret that English is already the lingua franca in EU business because it is everyone’s second language. No matter, though. We admire the French – do we not? – precisely for their lovable self-importance. And French will always retain its allure to literary and romantic types. It is still the language of elan, of insouciance, of existentialism. Perhaps if Macron’s dream of the global primacy of the French language doesn’t succeed in this world, it will in the next. The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 23 Reply Thank you for all the impressive articles on Zimbabwe, especially those by David Smith and Ranga Mberi (24 November). Although recent political events were sparked by infighting inside the regime, the appalling domestic, economic and social situation in the country was also a catalyst for change. Zimbabwe has a literacy rate of 91%, but this is no benefit if the country is one of the poorest and people can barely subsist. The new leader of Zimbabwe has said he wants to fix the economy and called for the lifting of sanctions. The international community could exert pressure by offering to do this in stages, when the regime takes steps towards real democracy. I’m not surprised that the new leadership in Zimbabwe want to let Mugabe keep his ill-gotten gains and give him immunity, as prosecuting him would also shed light on his cronies’ corruption and atrocities. But I hope that the removal of Mugabe is the first step to real freedom. It would be a great pity if the Zanu-PF party elite were to carry on with business as usual. Hopefully the people can find ways to push forward the struggle for their rights without more brutal repression. It is incredibly heartening to see such wonderful developments. Maybe other corrupt regimes in Africa are afraid of similar events and will give in to the people’s wishes for fundamental change. Steven Katsineris Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia Stop blaming the Russians Tom McCarthy (A nation divided by impostors, 27 October) and Natalie Nougayrède (Russian cyberwarfare threatens democracy itself, 10 November) need to get real about the impact of Russian interference using fake social media accounts. Do they really think that the tiny amount spent by the Russians in spreading misinformation had more impact than the half-truths promulgated in the lead-up to the US election by multimillion-dollar Letters for publication firstname.lastname@example.org Please include a full postal address and a reference to the article. We may edit letters. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions, see: http://gu.com/letters-terms Editorial Acting editor: Graham Snowdon Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Gary Kempston What next for Zimbabwe? donors, or nightly by Fox News? The truth is that there was already fertile soil for that misinformation to thrive in. Blaming America’s divisions on Russia’s interference conveniently shifts blame away from the nastiness that has already taken root in America. Ron Thomson Nelson, New Zealand Political blood relatives Unlike Julian Borger, George Orwell would not have been surprised by the anti-democratic alliance of radical libertarians and conventional despots (24 November). They are usually blood relatives, with the former often adopting the “libertarian” label, or similar euphemisms, as a disguise in places where “autocracy” is in disrepute. Here in Australia, the conservative government that jails refugees offshore but shows strong sympathy for the fossil-fuel industry and the right to denigrate minorities is called the “Liberal party”. For those confused by the semantic fog pumped out by the hard right, they can be detected by a strong smell of xenophobia. John Hayward Weegena, Tasmania, Australia We have too many toys So Damian Carrington tells us that various megatrends will help to turn the tide against catastrophic global warming (24 November). I have To contact the editor directly: email@example.com On social media facebook.com/guardianweekly Twitter: @guardianweekly Subscriptions You can subscribe at subscribe.theguardian.com/weekly Or manage your subscription at subscribe.theguardian.com/manage my doubts, since no one has yet proposed to “take our toys away”. We might have more renewables, more electric cars and more efficiency, but how can we seriously believe that this will solve the problem? Indeed, you only have to ponder megatrend number four – electric cars – to realise that this is hogwash. We can’t even cover current electricity needs with renewables, so where will the electricity come from to power all those cars? Take a look at our skies, where planes jostle for position. And at our roads, where oversized trucks haul millions of tons of “stuff ” backwards and forwards unnecessarily so that we can enjoy cheap shopping and corporations can turn a hefty profit. Yes, you only have to look at the mountains of tat being piled up in our shops in preparation for Christmas to know that this is the case, but we simply don’t seem to care. I won’t believe that we are serious about preventing climate change until someone really does start to “take our toys away”. And there is no sign of that happening. Alan Mitcham Cologne, Germany Briefly • It’s a pity that from the suggested canon of great women film-makers (24 November), only Agnès Varda is convincing. What about Kelly Reichardt, Naomi Kawase, Catherine Breillat, Jane Campion? John Aspinall Castelnau d’Auzan, France • We don’t need a border between the two Irelands at all (1 December). Reunite the island: the Northern Irish can then stay in the EU as they wish to do and my forebears will rejoice. Great Britain can then go its own way. Derek Murphy Bad Pyrmont, Germany • Prince Harry is to wed an American divorcee? (1 December). The last time a member of the royal family did that, matters did not end well. Alan Williams-Key Madrid, Spain Or contact: UK, Europe and Rest of World firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 330 333 6767 USA and Canada: email@example.com Toll Free: +1-844-632-2010 Direct line: +1-917-900-4663 Australia/New Zealand: firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free : 1 800 773 766 Direct line: +61 (0)2 8076 8599 From the archive 8 December 1988 Gorbachev eases Europe’s fears This is not just the end of the Cold War. Mikhail Gorbachev sought yesterday to announce the birth of ‘a new world order through a universal human consensus.’ And the midwife of this new world is his promise to end the age-old European nightmare of invasion from the East. The Russian steamroller has loomed over Europe since it first invaded, on the heels of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in 1812. The superpower confrontation across the Iron Curtain that has locked the developed world into two overarmed alliances has lasted since Gorbachev was a teenager. More than two-thirds of the earth’s population have known no other world. As that era withers, a new and more complicated world awaits us. The first cries of that new world will be heard this week, as Nato looks at its plans to modernise short-range nuclear weapons in the light of the Gorbachev troop cuts. Dismantling six of the 15 forward-based tank divisions in eastern Europe, or 40 per cent of the punch potential for a Soviet invasion of Nato, may not bring about military parity on the central front. But it should remove Nato’s worst-case scenario of a surprise attack from a standing start. By promising to reduce Soviet forces in the European USSR and eastern Europe, [Gorbachev] removes many of the reserves any Soviet attack on Nato would need. And on Mr Gorbachev’s other tense frontier, the bamboo curtain with China, he also promised to ‘reduce significantly’ the troops stationed in Asia. The small print remains to be studied. The head count of soldiers and tanks going back to inland barracks has yet to be checked. But Gorbachev’s promise was clear: ‘We are witnessing the emergence of a new historic reality – a turning away from the principle of superarmament to the principle of reasonable defence sufficiency,’ he announced. But before declaring that peace has broken out, it is worth noting what Mr Gorbachev did not say yesterday. He did not announce the demolition of the Berlin Wall. And there was no suggestion of an end to the military conscription that keeps the Soviet military far bigger than the all-volunteer American forces. The vision of a new global order has been unfurled by Gorbachev. Now the nitpicking begins as the old world piles up its objections. Martin Walker 24 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Eyewitnessed Pope Francis receives a traditional honour guard during a welcome ceremony on his arrival in Dhaka, Bangladesh during a tour of south Asia. The Pope met a group of Rohingya refugees who fle Young Saudi Arabian women have a King Kong moment while attending the first Comic-Con Arabia event in the capital, Riyadh Fayez Nureldine/Getty An elephant demolishes a house during an eviction drive inside Amchang wildlife sanctuary near Gauhati, Assam, India. Hundreds of people live illegally within the reserve Anupam Nath/AP The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 25 ed Myanmar amid accusations of ethnic cleansing there Max Rossi/Reuters Britain’s Prince Harry poses with Meghan Markle after announcing their engagement. The couple will marry at Windsor Castle in May Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA Balinese students ride to school as Mount Agung spews smoke and ash. The Indonesian island volcano has erupted for the first time in more than half a century Firdia Lisnawati/AP A robot at the Kimono Roboto exhibition at Space O in Tokyo, Japan, wears a kimono created by a Japanese Living National Treasures artisan Franck Robichon/EPA 26 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 27 Digging for victory Where archaeology and war intersect → Discovery, pages 32-33 The final battle for Mosul Ghaith Abdul-Ahad followed Iraqi soldiers through treacherous ruins as they made their last push against Isis. But with the city’s liberation, a new wave of savagery was unleashed. Will this be the real legacy of the war? O ne hot and sticky evening in July, in the dying days of the battle for Mosul, a group of Iraqi army officers sat for dinner in a requisitioned civilian house not far from the ruins of the mosque where, three years earlier, the leader of Islamic State had announced the creation of a new caliphate. At the head of the table sat the commander, large and burly, flanked by his two majors. The other officers were seated according to rank, with the youngest at the far end. The commander, who was trying to lose weight, had banned his cook from serving meat at mealtimes, but tonight was a special occasion. The day before, his unit had liberated another block of streets in the Old City without casualties. In celebration, a feast of bread soaked in okra stew, and roasted meat shredded over heaps of rice, was laid out on a white plastic table. Over the previous eight months, since the commander and his men had started fighting in Mosul, the caliphate had shrunk to a tiny sliver of the Old City squeezed between the River Tigris and advancing columns of army and police forces. Thousands of Isis fighters, who captured the city in 2014, were now trapped, living without running water or electricity, with dwindling supplies, being bombed day and night by US drones and jets. Caught in the siege with them were thousands of civilians. The few who were managing to escape came out filthy, emaciated and crazed by thirst and the constant bombing. The officers at dinner that night were all veterans of the war against Isis, but nothing in their long years of fighting compared to what they had experienced over the past few weeks in Mosul, one of the fiercest urban battles since the second world war. They fought in narrow alleyways, old stone houses and dense networks of tunnels and basements. Their advance was sometimes measured in metres, and their casualties were mounting. “We have one more battle and Mosul will be fully liberated, inshallah,” the commander said as he tucked into his meal. A captain who was still limping from a recent injury said: “Our fathers used to talk about the Iran-Iraq war as the ‘long war’. That one lasted for eight years. Well, soon this war against Isis will surpass it.” Laughing, the commander asked the officers to open the military maps on their phones and proceeded to explain the plan for the next day’s advance. “You jump into this building, make a fire base here and here at street corners,” he said, giving them the coordinates of the street. “You advance towards this high building. Your flanks will be secured by other units. Once you take the building, you will dominate the whole area with your snipers and we can reach the river in few hours.” To the last man ... Iraqi soldiers shoot at Isis fighters hiding behind a berm in the Old City of Mosul Ghaith Abdul-Ahad Before leaving, a wiry junior officer named Taha asked the commander: “Sir, what do we do with the two detainees?” The prisoners had crossed the frontlines the night before and taken shelter with a civilian who denounced them to the army. “We tried to hand them to the intelligence service, but they refused to take them.” “Yes,” the commander said, “they told me: ‘You deal with detainees from your end. We can’t hold them because of human rights and Red Cross inspections.’” “We worked on them all night,” said the junior officer. “One eventually confessed that he was with Daesh [Isis], but he said he left them two months ago.” At that, everyone laughed. “The other,” the junior officer continued, “we beat him hard but he didn’t confess, so I think he must be innocent.” “Just finish them,” said a major. “Release one and finish the other,” the commander said. The sentence issued, now came the question of who would be bestowed with the honour of executing an Isis fighter. Kifah, a tall and lean soldier, stood next to the table and asked to be given the prisoner. But the junior officer suggested that they gift the One of the factors that had aided Isis’s takeover of Mosul was the conduct of the Iraqi army in the city prisoner to a captain who was still grieving the loss of his brother, killed by Isis a month ago. “Call him and give him the detainee,” said the commander. The officers rose swiftly and stood to attention as he made his way to the living room where tea was to be served. The following morning, Taha and two officers headed to the Old City to scout the frontline before the coming battle. They walked through streets scattered with twisted cars and lorries, past halfcollapsed houses and craters left by airstrikes. They stopped by the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, where Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had addressed his followers in 2014, to snap selfies in the rubble. The al-Hadba minaret, which had long been a symbol of the city, with its elegant design and familiar lean, lay in heaps of 800-year-old bricks. It had been blown up by retreating Isis fighters. From behind the ruins, refugees were pouring out of shelled houses. They emerged dazed after months of siege. Even by the standards of Mosul, they were wretched. A soldier carrying an old woman stopped in the middle of the road to rest. She clung to his back, fearing that he might leave her. Taha went to the soldier and lent him a hand, and together they carried her to a shed where medics were trying to help other people fleeing. They were followed by the woman’s young daughter, who held a large Qur’an in her hands, and her injured brother, who lay on a stretcher carried by two soldiers. His bones stuck out of his skinny flesh, his right leg was bandaged and he had an old scar that stretched the length of his abdomen. After depositing him in the shed, the two men left. Now other soldiers took an interest in him, grabbing him and starting to question him about his injuries. “He was trying to get water from the river when he was shot by a sniper,” cried his sister as her brother lay in the stretcher, smiling faintly. “This is the injury of a fighter,” said one soldier. “Take him to where his brothers are.” Two men helped the man to his feet and walked him across the street into an empty shop, where he was shot. The women screamed, begged and wailed, but the soldiers ignored them. “You are Daesh,” one soldier said. “All of you in the Old City are Daesh.” One of the factors that had aided Isis’s takeover of Mosul was the conduct of the Iraqi army and security forces stationed in the city, who behaved like sectarian occupation forces, mistreating and detaining the population at will. In the early stages of the battle for Mosul, the Iraqi army and police, keen to change their prevailing image, had taken care to preserve the lives of civilians. But the Old City was seen as the last refuge of Isis, and almost every inhabitant was treated as a suspect. Fightingage men from other parts of the city, and those with injuries, were detained on the spot. The rest were sent to detention centres, where their identity would be checked. On the way back, the officers went into the basement of an old stone house, where a couple of soldiers lay on filthy mattresses, recording military coordinates of the battalions taking part in the next day’s offensive. The filth in the house matched the ruins of the streets outside. Flies swarmed over discarded food packets, and dozens of empty plastic bottles lay amid piles of women’s clothing and other domestic items. Then, on the radio, came the words: “We caught a Daesh.” Taha grabbed a radio and said: “Bring him to me.” A wave of excitement ran through the room. Taha made a pistol gesture and shot in the air. “We will have a party today.” Half an hour later, a soldier brought an old man into the room and pushed him to the floor. The man looked emaciated, but underneath his threadbare Tshirt, his muscles were tense and lean. His silky grey hair and wavy, shaggy beard, and the thick circles around his large, dark eyes, gave him the look of a 19th-century Russian revolutionary. The soldier said he was spotted crossing over from Isis lines with the civilians, but when he saw the soldiers he tried flee back to Isis territory. “Who are you?” asked Taha in a firm voice. “I am a hospital medic, please check my card.” “Where is your national ID card?” asked Taha. “It was taken by Isis Continued on page 28 → 28 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Weekly review ← Continued from page 27 fighters to prevent us from leaving,” replied the man. “Daesh forced me to go to the old city and work in their field hospital. I was there treating injured civilians and yes, I will be straight with you, I did treat some of their fighters, too, because they forced me to. But I am not Daesh, sir, I actually hate them.” “You are a liar,” said Taha. “Yalla old man, why don’t you confess so we can send you away from here?” said one young officer. The old man, smiling, said: “But how can I confess something I haven’t done? How can I prejudice myself?” Taha swung his leg back and kicked the man’s face so hard that he collapsed, motionless. One soldier pulled the man up again. Slowly, he opened his eyes, which at first looked stunned, and then darkened with anger. He opened his mouth, and a dark lump of flesh, blood and a set of large, gleaming false teeth tumbled on to his chest and the floor. “Ha, will you confess?” said a soldier with a metal pipe. “I have nothing to say,” hissed the man with blood pouring from his mouth. Taha nodded to the heavyset soldier, who pulled the old man to his feet, his legs wobbling. He leaned the man against the arched window and then, in one quick move, the soldier flipped him out of the window, but held his feet. The old man hung, swinging, from the window. “Are you going to confess now?” asked the soldier. “What else is left for you?” “How can I prejudice myself ?” came the faint voice of the old man from below. In that dark room, the soldiers and officers looked at the old man’s feet, dirty and cracked, for a few seconds before they vanished from the window. He fell into the yard below with a thud. The soldier who had dropped him leaned out of the window and fired five bullets into the body in the rubble below. A cloud of gunpowder filled the room, dancing in the shafts of light. The soldier looked out of the window and then fired two more bullets. “These two at his legs, just in case he wants to walk home,” said the soldier, laughing. Taha and the two officers walked back. A young officer said, with a sheepish smile: “I wonder if God one day will punish us for all these killings. Will we go mad or something worse?” “He is my fifth since the start of [the battle of] Mosul,” said Taha. “Al-Qaida have one good principle: if they suspect someone, or have the tiniest evidence against him, they execute him. They say that if he was guilty, he deserved it, and if he was innocent, his blood will be purged and later he will go to heaven. I follow the same principle.” The following morning, before dawn, in rooms lit by flickering generator light, two dozen soldiers in boxer shorts and T-shirts were preparing for battle. They had slept on the frontline, ready to attack at first light. Before they put on their uniforms and weapons for the last push, these lean young men looked harmless, even vulnerable. Like a large, dysfunctional family preparing for a picnic, the soldiers bickered and jostled. Someone shouted for his night-vision goggles. Another looked for the box of smoke grenades. Finally the soldiers formed a long line and moved into the ruined, haunted alleyways of old Mosul. As they made their way through concrete rubble, their metal ammunition boxes and magazines rattled in the darkness, announcing their arrival like goat bells on a mountainside. Bodies lay everywhere, scattered like breadcrumbs leading to the frontline. With the sun rising, the stench of the dead rose above the ruins, bringing with it swarms of flies. One Destroying the city in order to save it ... above, civilians use a lull in the fighting to flee Old Mosul; below, scenes of destruction in the city Ghaith Abdul-Ahad young officer threw up. The soldiers stood watching him dispassionately. They were silent. “If someone is injured today, they will probably die before they reach the back lines,” said one veteran soldier. “Why are they pushing us so fast before even securing a supply line?” said another soldier. “So that the commanders can reach the river quickly and take selfies,” someone answered. At 5am, the soldiers climbed over the skeleton of a metal bed and into a tall building that was once home to medical labs. The building was gutted, its floors piled with medical records, x-rays, medicine boxes and decomposing bodies. A sign on a wall instructed female doctors, by the authority of Isis’s moral police, the Hissba, to always wear the niqab, even when they were examining female patients. When the order for the attack came, a column of men, each holding the shoulder of the man in front, moved quietly to the front of the building and stood behind a twisted shutter. The early morning sun filtered through a thousand bullet holes, washing the soldiers’ faces with a bright orange glow. The first column ran across the street, climbed a mound of debris in the middle and reached the opposite corner. A second column followed, one by one. The first crossed, the second followed, then the third. Smack, came a sniper’s bullet. The third soldier fell, and the fourth ran to pull him back. Smack, came the second sniper bullet, and hit the helper’s leg. He crawled back and the offensive came to a halt. The officers in the building called for an American airstrike on the sniper’s position. It came five minutes later, but when it was over, the sound of the sniper’s shots resumed outside. Trying to guess the sniper’s position, the officers called for a second airstrike, closer to the building they occupied. Soldiers and officers took cover in the corridors. When it came, the building shook violently and the air filled with a thick cloud of dark grey dust. Smoke grenades were thrown, and the cloud turned orange and yellow as the dead soldier was brought in, carried between four men, the first casualty of the day. “We can’t stay here,” said the junior officer. “Head to that house,” he said, pointing up the street. With their guide, one of the local vigilantes helping the army, the men started climbing another mound of debris, slipping on pots, tiles and bits of furniture. They pushed open the front door slowly. In the entrance of the house stood a small blue plastic barrel filled with murky, acrid water. A dark film floated on the top. In the July heat, they had finished whatever water they had, and were parched. They hesitated at first, but gradually relented, clambered around the barrel and started drinking. “Don’t drink that,” said the guide. “This is filthy water. Just wet your lips, otherwise you will get diarrhoea.” Ignoring him, the soldiers splashed their faces and drank. The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 29 Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Bodies lay everywhere, scattered like breadcrumbs leading to the frontline The house was small: two rooms around a courtyard. One room had collapsed, and in the other the junior officer, soldiers and their guide sank down, exhausted. Outside the house, there was a racket of explosions, machine-gun fire and the whoosh of airstrikes. At least five battles were raging on the same block, and they didn’t know who was firing where. “Go down and check that the basement is clear,” the junior officer said. Two exhausted soldiers dragged themselves to the rickety stairs. “Sir,” the junior officer said into the radio. “Sir, are we getting any support? We are only five here, and we are waiting for other units to advance.” “Hold your ground. Support is on its way,” answered the commander. “And water sir, the men are parched.” From downstairs came the clanging of furniture and pots. The courtyard was clear. The two soldiers moved towards a door to the basement. “Be careful,” shouted civilians from the floor above. “There are families still hiding in this area.” The basement door squealed as they pushed it open slowly. “If they die,” joked a soldier from the floor above, “they will be martyrs in Allah’s eyes.” Silence, followed by a burst of gunfire. A second burst echoed loudly in the small courtyard. The two soldiers ran back up the stairs, one with his face covered in blood, clutching his injured arm and dragging his gun. “Tie it, tie it,” he pleaded, as he lay with the bleeding arm in his lap. “There is no one in the basement – they fired at us from an opening in the wall leading to the alleyway. They are in the alleyway,” said the second soldier as he tied a tourniquet around the injured arm. Their position exposed, bullets started raining over the courtyard from multiple directions. “Sir we have one injured man and we are besieged here,” said the junior officer on the radio. “Give me the enemy coordinates.” “Where are they?” the junior officer asked the soldier. “How would I know? They shot from behind the wall.” They gave random coordinates 50 metres away and settled back to wait. A whoosh followed by an explosion shook the house. A wall fell and rocks rattled on the roof. There was nothing for the five of them to do but wait. So they kept an eye on the door, listened to the firing outside in the alleyway and tried to guess where the Isis positions were. Half an hour later, there was still no news of reinforcements. “Boys, we can’t just sit here. We will lose all our work, let’s move,” said the junior officer. “Two of you go from that side and skirt around them, and we move to the next house.” They divided up the hand grenades, and were preparing to move when the sounds of heavy machine-gun fire came from outside the entrance of the house. The door was pushed open, and 15 Iraqi army soldiers from another column stumbled into the room. “Disperse,” shouted their chubby officer. “And keep an eye on the door.” It was chaos: soldiers were shouting at their officers, and officers were refusing to obey orders radioed to them by their commander. The building they had captured earlier had been set ablaze by Isis fighters as they escaped, and two men had burned to death inside. They did not want a repeat of that. “Sir, I can’t advance, we are besieged. The other battalion has an injured man and they can’t even evacuate him,” shouted the officer into the radio. “You either send us help or give us permission to retreat. We can’t even evacuate the injured.” Twice the officer and his men tried to find a way out of the small house, but each time they opened the door, Isis fighters opened fire, pinning them down and sending everyone clambering back into the room. “They are trying to get us killed,” the officer said. He collapsed on the floor where men squeezed against each other, and more stood in the doorway. The house was surrounded, and by the afternoon even the acrid water in the plastic barrel was running out. A civilian scout came back to the house, saying an Isis unit was moving down the lane. The officers positioned two machine-guns at the windows and went back to their slumber. American jets sent a rocket or a bomb every 15 minutes. During a lull, when even those guarding the window were nodding off, there came the tinkling of broken glass, and the sound of something falling just outside the room. “Get down. It’s a grenade,” shouted a soldier. The explosion smashed the front of the room, sending in showers of glass, shrapnel and smoke. Then bullets came screeching in, smacking against the ceiling or high on the walls above the soldiers’ heads. Men piled on top of each other, trying to take cover. Shouts of “I am injured” were drowned in the chaos. “You’re bleeding, let’s move,” said a voice. Someone crawled to the entrance and threw a smoke grenade, and under its cover the soldiers ran. Taha and his four men stayed behind, shooting bursts of machine-gun fire from the window over the courtyard. “We have to leave. We have one box of ammunition left, and no grenades,” said one soldier. Taha didn’t want to leave and lose ground that had taken him all day to capture, but his fighters were not going to hang around. In a few minutes, they were back in the crowded room where they had started their day. In spite of half a dozen airstrikes, the sniper still controlled the street, cutting off the only supply route. At 5pm, the generals demanded a fourth attack. Taha called on the men to gear up and start moving. “Water, water – we are dying of thirst,” the soldiers shouted back. They refused to move. The junior officer alternately pleaded and threatened, until finally they relented and shuffled forward, grumbling and cursing. They were halfway to the house when they learned that a young, gingerhaired new recruit who had volunteered to stay behind and collect water had been killed by the sniper. On hearing this, the men simply turned around and walked back, abandoning the attack and refusing to obey orders. In the rubble-strewn alleyway, they sat on boulders, or piled up metal sheets to make beds, and asked anyone passing for water. The dead soldier lay under a sheet, his feet sticking out. Two soldiers sat next to his body and wept in silence, their shoulders shaking. A few metres away lay the rotting corpse of a dead Isis fighter. After midnight, three soldiers crawled on their bellies out of the darkness from across the street. Braving the sniper fire, each carried sacks containing bottles of water and boxes of ammunition. They emptied their load and headed back with the body of the young soldier. The soldiers stayed where they were, to continue fighting the next day. Four days later, Taha and a captain, Wissam, sat on piles of red, blue and pink underwear in a burnedout storeroom, contemplating their fate. They knew that the commander was under pressure from his commanders, who were under pressure from the generals in Baghdad, who were under pressure from the prime minister, who had been in Mosul since yesterday, waiting Continued on page 30 → 30 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Weekly review →Continued from page 29 to declare victory, and was himself pressured by the Americans to finish the battle, or else they would stop air support. The whole pyramid of pressure was weighing on these few men in a room full of coloured bras and burned bottles of shampoo. Since the first day of the offensive, days ago, they had been manoeuvring between bombed-out buildings and heaps of rubble, trying to advance, but had come up against fierce Isis resistance at every corner. When they had managed to advance, they only gained a few metres. “I just want to see my daughter now,” the junior officer said. “Will I ever see her again?” “It’s fine,” laughed the captain. “In a few hours it will be just another anecdote.” They stood, collected their men and crept outside, skirting around the bodies. Other units had pushed ahead, parallel to their progress, and their sniper had killed a handful of Isis fighters, who lay in the alleyway outside. They started shooting at a corner building ahead, but before they reached it, an explosion went off. One of the men inside had blown himself up. The soldiers found six fighters on stretchers, frozen into blackened charcoal in their moment of agonising death. The soldiers took shelter in a small shop, fired, and moved down an alley into a building, where they killed two more Isis fighters. They climbed the wreckage of the building and emerged on to the roof. They looked out at the vista of destruction. They had reached the blue River Tigris. Mosul was liberated. On 9 July, as the defeat of Isis was declared in Mosul, the prime minister, dressed in military fatigues, stood flanked by rotund generals in crisp uniforms, and gave the long-awaited victory speech. “Mosul is liberated,” he declared from a platform inside the military base on the outskirts of the city. A week of celebrations was called and, all over Iraq, banners and flags were raised in jubilation. Pockets of Isis fighters continued to resist for another week, but gradually the fighting died down, and a day came in Mosul when, for the first time in years, machine-guns, car bombs and jet fighters went silent. Then the orgy of killing started. Night after night, in ruined houses, makeshift cells and the dark streets of Mosul, those identified as members of Isis were tortured and executed. Jubilant Iraqi soldiers filmed themselves beating and shooting prisoners. The heritage of torture in Iraq evolved in a linear path from Saddam’s intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat, to the Americans in Abu Ghraib, and thence to the sectarian forces of the Iraqi government and its militias. Now, in the nightmare of Mosul, torture served no investigative purpose. It achieved and demanded nothing beyond an imperative to exact pain and revenge. The officers did not see their victims as humans, let alone as fellow Iraqis: they were simply the enemy. They needed to hear the Isis soldiers who had been their tormentors begging for mercy, before they could celebrate their final victory. They needed to hear the Isis soldiers’ animal squeals of pain, in order to feel they had avenged the loss of their families. Perhaps Isis’s victory lies in its conversion of the Iraqi people to its own methods. It has been a long time since the commander and his men started fighting. Before Isis, they fought Sunni insurgents and Shia militias, and before that, they spent their formative years in the shadow of a sectarian civil war – they had seen their relatives killed, car bombs, kidnappings, dead bodies in the streets. A decade and a half of harrowing war had become an integral part of their existence, not just as soldiers, but also as the unfortunate citizens of the country of Iraq. They are the children The officers did not see their victims as humans, let alone as fellow Iraqis: they were just the enemy Time for a wash ... Iraqi soldiers rest after the end of the fighting Ghaith Abdul-Ahad of the occupation, locked in an endless cycle of the violence it created. In the war against Isis, they found a cause, the camaraderie of a close-knit tribe, and something akin to patriotism. They saw themselves as the defenders of the nation, warriors of a just and pure cause against an absolute evil. The cause allowed them to feel they were above the state – they did not answer to a gang of corrupt politicians in Baghdad. They have stared death in the eye many times, and that gave them the right to decide what is right and wrong. “Sometimes we do things and we know we are breaking the law,” the commander told me one afternoon as he sat sipping his tea. He lit a cigarette and continued: “My general tells me: ‘Don’t bring me any prisoners – if you know they are Daesh, then deal with them from your end.’ My soldiers call me and say: ‘We have found a man’, and I tell them: ‘Kill him.’ I ask myself sometimes: what am I doing? Who am I to end the life of a man? I tried to consult a cleric who fights with the security forces. He said that if the prisoner was not armed, it is better to be cautious and hand him over to the state. But then who are those who are going to pass judgment on him? What qualities does the judge have that I don’t? And who appointed the judge? You’ll tell me it was the state – but who gave the state the right to rule over people? It wasn’t given by God, so I have the right to end the life of a man as much as the state has. But then, we are openly breaking the law, and if they catch me I will be strung up.” After the liberation of Mosul, when the military started counting the cost of this war, the ecstasy of battle wore off, to be replaced by bitterness, resentment and the feeling that their victory was hollow. Like many other frontline units, the commander’s battalion had suffered heavy losses. Many of his veteran officers had been killed, and those who replaced them were killed, too. Those who survived carried the scars of major injuries, and the mental scars of a decade of war. Around them in Mosul, captured Isis weapons were siphoned off by soldiers and corrupt officers, and then sold to the Kurds or one of the dozens of Shia military units that were ostensibly established to fight Isis. These militias have been stockpiling Isis weapons in preparation for the next conflict. In Baghdad, the very politicians whose disastrous actions had led to the rise of Isis were appearing on TV, giving speeches, as they continued to jostle, bicker and loot the nation. The commander and his men knew that the silence of guns in this ruined country did not mean peace; it simply meant the end of one kind of war and the start of another. “What I dread most,” Taha said, “is going back to the days of sectarianism, when we didn’t know who was our enemy and who was our friend.” “I wonder what will we have after Daesh?” asked another officer. “It will be the militias,” answered Cpt Wissam, with his sarcastic laugh. “We will finish with Daesh and they will send us down to the south. Why do you think the Hashed [Shia paramilitaries] are hoarding all these weapons and money?” “I am afraid we will be coming back to Mosul to fight again in few months,” said the commander. “There were 40,000 Daesh fighters in Mosul. Have we killed 40,000? No. Then where are they?” “After Mosul, we should drive to Baghdad and do to the Green Zone what we did to Daesh,” Taha said. “Only then will Iraq have peace.” The names in this article have been changed The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 31 Weekly review Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Romania battles over its bears Not welcome … since the government banned the hunting of bears last year, stories of attacks on humans are becoming more widespread FLPA/Alamy Despite a national hunting ban, Transylvanians want to shoot the beasts, says Luke Dale-Harris H igh in the Carpathian mountains, Csaba Demeter, a forest guard, was leaving the woods one evening early this summer when a brown bear attacked him from behind. It pinned him to the ground, sank its teeth into his limbs and tore deep lacerations into his back with its claws. Demeter pulled his coat over his head and played dead, holding his breath and stiffening his limbs as the bear dug into his flesh. It was five minutes before the animal gave up and went back into the forest, leaving Demeter barely alive. He has told his story many times to Romanian journalists. It is not that it is unique – bear attacks are relatively common in Romania, and a couple of years ago it would barely have made local news. But in recent months the attitude towards bears has changed, and the appetite for stories of attacks has risen dramatically. In the small towns that greet the foothills of the Carpathians, crowds gather to hear politicians talk of action to deal with “problem bears”. Deeper in the hills, in remote villages sealed off from the world by thick forest, people have begun to take the situation into their own hands, trading recipes for homemade poisons designed to kill bears. Many villagers see killing bears as a necessity. The government, they say, has left them to fend for themselves, and the bears are a threat that cannot be ignored. More than 6,000 brown bears are believed to live in Romania, spread unevenly along the country’s 800km mountain range. For more than 25 years after the fall of communism in 1989, management of the animals was left to regional hunting associations. Each year, the associations would submit a total for bears in their area, and the number considered dangerous to humans. A quota would be set for each hunting association, who would then auction off permits for “problem bears” to private companies catering to hunters from all over the world. Then, in October 2016, the Romanian government made a surprise decision to ban bear hunting. The newly appointed environment minister, Cristiana Paşca Palmer, claimed that under European law “hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway”. The idea that hunting protected citizens from bears was, she claimed, just a cover for the hunting industry and based on pseudoscience. Conservationists applauded. Their optimism was short-lived. In the 12 months since the ban, a movement calling for the widespread culling of bears has gathered momentum, tipping the bear question over from political discussion into what the movement’s leader, Csaba Borboly, describes as “something like a war”. Borboly is the president of Harghita county, a predominantly ethnic Hungarian region in the foothills of Transylvania, an area of dense forest and precarious farmland where people and carnivores have coexisted uneasily for centuries. It is here that the presence of bears is most keenly felt. Almost everyone has a story, from the woman who woke up in the night this spring to find a 200kg brown bear sniffing around her toilet, to the hundreds of farmers who approach the government each year for compensation for lost livestock and crops. Borboly promises to “restore the natural balance”. He claims that in the 12 months since the hunting ban the number of attacks on people, crops and livestock in the region has more than doubled, with 263 so far this year. He puts this down to a huge rise in bear numbers now that they are protected , and “the genetic and behavioural deterioration” of bears not punished for entering human space. His figures and analysis are widely rejected by scientists, but in rural Romania Borboly’s voice is heard loudest. “The government does nothing and the patience of the people is decreasing, therefore one takes ‘For thousands of years, people have lived with carnivores, and there has never been a war like this’ justice into one’s own hands and bear traps and poisoning appear,” Borboly says. Last year, he was criticised for posting an article on his blog calling for “vigilante justice”, offering “ideas” on how to kill a bear: “Carbide in wax to burn the bear’s stomach, bread soaked in antifreeze, rat poison dipped in honey.” Csaba Domokos, a bear specialist working in Harghita with the Milvus Group, a wildlife protection NGO, says: “It is hard to explain the level of influence that Borboly has developed in this region. When he says something, even if it is completely insane, you have to listen because you know that everyone else around here is. “[Borboly] has convinced everyone in these rural regions that the only thing standing between them and total mayhem is hunters. He has helped encourage the belief that vigilante killing of bears is the only way for people to keep themselves and their children safe.” Less than 80km east of Harghita, in the steep valley villages beyond the mountains, the attitude towards bears is quite different. Bears are still common here, and attacks remain a part of life for villagers. But few see hunting as the solution. This is in part due to the work of Silviu Chiriac and a small group of biologists who have spent much of the past decade studying the effects of hunting on bear behaviour. Their conclusions match those of similar studies in other parts of the world: where hunting is prevalent, attacks increase, and bears are more prone to enter inhabited areas. “Hunting is not the only cause of problems with bears, but it is an important element,” he says. “Hunters like to shoot the largest bears they can find, deep in the forest. This is basically actively choosing the bears least likely to attack humans, the ones that never come into contact with civilisation. For thousands of years people have lived with carnivores here, and there has never been a war like now in parts of Romania. “We don’t have true wilderness here – not like in Alaska or Canada – so we need to find a way to live with bears that is acceptable to people in the modern day. It’s not easy, but unless we want to lose bears from our country I can’t see that we have a choice.” 32 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Discovery Modern warfare leaves a mark on the ancient Archaeologist Mary Shepperson explains how military activity casts a fresh light upon her work M odern conflict archaeology, the study of 20th and 21st century conflicts, is a new and slightly uncomfortable discipline. First, very little of it involves what most people would recognise as archaeology – digging up cultural material from the ground for study. Most of the material legacies of modern conflicts remain above ground and embedded in current society, necessitating a more anthropological, interdisciplinary approach. Second, the time periods under study are often within living memory, and often remain highly contentious. This means that modern conflict archaeology can be a political minefield – as well as an actual minefield. I’m working in Iraq, in Basra province at the 2,000-year-old city of Charax Spasinou, founded by Alexander the Great in 324BC. Thirty years ago, however, the site was home to thousands of Iraqi soldiers. The Iran-Iraq war was dragging towards its end, both sides exhausted by the offensives that had made 1987 the war’s bloodiest year. That spring the Siege of Basra had cost the lives of at least 60,000 Iranian and 20,000 Iraqi soldiers. Charax Spasinou wasn’t the only archaeological site re-occupied during the eight-year conflict. The border area between Iran and Iraq is rich in archaeology, and archaeological sites often made the best defensive positions – rising ground into which earthworks could be dug. There’s hardly an ancient tell in eastern Iraq that doesn’t have the remains of an artillery emplacement or observation post. At Charax Spasinou it was the ancient city’s ramparts that led to the site being incorporated into the Iraqi defensive lines north of Basra. The surviving mudbrick ramparts on the northern and eastern sides of the city stand up to eight metres above the flat alluvial plain and run for almost 3.5km. When the Iraqi army arrived, engineers refortified Charax Spasinou for modern warfare. At least 45 gaps were punched through the upper level of the ancient walls, with ramps of debris on the inner side so that tanks and artillery could be embedded in the ramparts. Along the top, infantry positions were dug into the mudbrick and connected by trenches running behind them. At least 199 of these dugouts are still visible on the top of the ramparts, each big enough for between two and four men. In some areas the remains of sandbags can still be seen. The alterations to the ancient wall are the most visible reminder of the war at Charax Spasinou, but the greater impact on the archaeological site was from activity inside the walls, which damaged the city’s buildings just below the surface. In front of the walls and behind them the army used bulldozers to throw up berms, as well as digging auxiliary trenches and storage pits for equipment and ammunition. Hundreds of vehicles – tanks, armoured personnel carriers, fuel tankers and supply trucks – were stationed behind and around the walls of Charax. Each was protected by bulldozed banks of ancient archaeological deposits, usually heaped into a horseshoe shape to give protection on three sides and escape via the fourth. So far I’ve counted 212 such vehicle emplacements within the five square kilometres of the ancient city, not including the many more visible immediately outside the ramparts. As might be expected from such an intensive occupation of the landscape, a considerable How left-handed sportspeople master the art of surprise Nicola Davis From cricketer Wasim Akram to baseball pitcher Clayton Kershaw and table tennis star Ding Ning, the world of sport has no shortage of left-handed players. But now researchers say they’ve worked out why lefties are overrepresented in some elite sports but not others. The study, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggests that being left-handed is a particular advantage in interactive sports where time pressures are particularly severe, such as table tennis and cricket – possibly because their moves are less familiar to their mostly right-handed opponents, who do not have time to adjust. “The data suggests that the heavier the time constraints are operating in a sport, the larger the proportion of left-handers,” said the study’s author, Dr Florian Loffing of the University of Oldenburg in Germany. “We are less used to playing lefties, and [so] might end up in not developing the optimal strategies to compete with them.” While it is thought that about 10-13% of the population is left-handed, in certain interactive sports there is often a surprisingly high proportion of lefthanders playing at elite levels. Southpaw stars have seen significant success in sport, with big names including baseball aces Sandy Koufax and Randy Johnson, cricketers Garfield Sobers and Mitchell Johnson and table tennis’s Wang Nan and Kasumi Ishikawa. Previous research has punted a number of possible explanations, including that left-handers have more efficient connections between the two hemispheres of theirr brain. Others have e suggested that lefties ies have the edge due to an element of surprise: since most players are righthanded, players will be more used to playing against right-handed partners. But the question remained: why did diff fferent sports show such different proportions of left-handed players? To probe the issue, Loffing collected the names and handedness of the he top 100 or so players for badminton, squash, tennis, ennis, table tennis and – for men only – cricket and nd baseball, across six years between 2009 and 2014. 14. The initial findingss showed a significant difference in the proportion n of left-handed players in different sports, with more ore than 30% of top baseball Mary Shepperson, Stuart Campbell/Courtesy of the Charax Spasinou Project Old and new ... clockwise from left, the ancient walls of Charax Spasinou, showing modern infantry trenches and artillery emplacements; liner from an Iraqi infantry helmet; the wastelands of Charax Spasinou today, coated in salt and the remains of military hardware She moves in mysterious m ways … China’s left-h left-hander Ding Ning pitchers left-handed left-handed, compared with just under 13% of male m badminton players and 8.7% of male squash players. For women, playe more than 19% of m ttop table tennis players were leftp iies, compared to ffewer than 8% of tennis and badte minton players and mi 8.4% in squash. 8.4 Loffing said that suggest simply being the results sugg amount of military material remains on the surface, although this is quickly disappearing in the harsh environment of southern Iraq. Metal fragments are everywhere, most are unidentifiable but there are large vehicle fragments in clusters where trucks and troop transports have been left to disintegrate. Corroded green copper bullets mix with the ancient Parthian and Sassanian coins. More personal items are sometimes in evidence. An occasional helmet, buttons, the zip from a coat, an Iraqi army sock: the small leavings of the men who fought here. Ali Wehayib Abdul Abbas, who keeps an eye on the site for the antiquities authorities and is helping us with our geophysics, remembers the war at Charax Spasinou. He was conscripted into the army at the age of 18 and fought in the northern sector around Halabjah before being transferred to the southern front. The army engineers arrived in 1984, he tells me, and cut the ancient walls and dug their trenches. Hundreds of tanks and troops were based at the site and the local villagers were moved to nearby towns. The Iranians never quite reached Charax Spasinou. Ali Wehayib says they were stopped at Majnoon, now an important oil field a kilometre north, in 1987. Nevertheless, Charax Spasinou carries deep scars from the conflict, as does Ali Wehayib, who rolls up his trouser leg to show me. The recording of the Iran-Iraq war remains forms a part of the archaeological survey we are carrying out. In every respect, the military legacy at Charax Spasinou represents an important phase of occupation at the site, as well as being the material record of significant historical events that had a profound impact on Iraq and the wider region. While the use of archaeological sites as military positions is an unfortunate aspect of war, it’s important to remember that these activities are also the record of important events in a landscape that continues to be shaped by human occupation. The Charax Spasinou project is supported by the British Council’s cultural protection fund, and by the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage a rarity does not explain why left-handed players are more common in certain sports. For both sexes, it seems time is of the essence – possibly because high pressure makes it harder to anticipate what an opponent with an unfamiliar trait might do. Loffing admits that other factors could be at play, including team strategies in some sports. But he advises right-handers to get as much exposure to playing lefties as possible, particularly under pressure, and suggests left-handers keen for a sneaky edge might want to take up fast-paced sports. Dr Scott Hardie of the University of Abertay, who was not involved in the research, said: “Another way to look at this might be that it is not about rarity, but about the way that left-handers may be able to deal with fast-paced information and dealing with reactions.” Dispatches The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 33 Marriage can help stave off eﬀects of dementia Being married could help stave off dementia, a study has suggested. Levels of social interaction could explain the finding, experts said, after the research showed that people who are single or widowed are more likely to develop the disease. Experts conducted an analysis of 15 studies that held data on dementia and marital status involving more than 800,000 people from Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Their study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, concluded that lifelong singletons have a 42% elevated risk of dementia compared with married couples. Hormones and asthma The puzzle of why asthma is about twice as common in women as men may have been solved, according to researchers who say it might partly be down to testosterone. While boys are about 1.5 times as likely to have asthma as girls, the situation changes with adolescence. A team of researchers from the US focused on a type of white blood cell, known as ILC2 cells, that originate in the bone marrow and become “seeded” in particular tissues of the body. When an allergen enters the lungs, the cells secrete proteins that trigger ILC2 to produce yet more proteins, which kick off a cascade of inflammatory response. The findings, published in the journal Cell Reports, revealed women with asthma had about twice the levels of ILC2 cells compared with men. Breeding baby coral Scientists have bred baby coral on the Great Barrier Reef in a move that could have worldwide significance. Coral eggs and sperm were collected from Heron Island’s reef during last November’s coral spawning to produce more than a million larvae, which were placed on to reef patches in underwater mesh tents, with 100 growing successfully. The lead project researcher and Southern Cross University professor Peter Harrison, who discovered mass coral spawning in the 1980s, says the results are “very promising”. Caesar’s invasion spot Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain was launched from the sandy shores of Pegwell Bay on the most easterly tip of Kent, according to fresh evidence unearthed by archaeologists. Researchers named the wide, shallow bay the most likely landing spot for the Roman fleet after excavators found the remains of a defensive base dating to the first century BC in the nearby hamlet of Ebbsfleet, near Ramsgate. 34 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Books These essays on post-Obama America make for vital reading, writes Annette Gordon-Reed We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates Jonathan Cape, 256pp It is no surprise that the election of the first black president of the United States would occasion much thinking, writing and talking about the subject of race in America. An event that many did not think would happen in their lifetimes happened: a man of African descent and – this may have been more culturally important – his black wife and children resided in the White House as the nation’s “first family”. President Barack Obama’s portrait would hang in government offices across the country, and in embassies around the world. He would be the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed services. How proud this made Americans of all races. For black people, having a black man compete for and win the greatest prize in politics was beyond exhilarating. Yes We Can! That phrase, the Obama campaign’s insistent motto, also tapped into the desires of many of Obama’s white supporters who wished to produce evidence that there had indeed been racial progress in the country, including some who may have had a few doubts about the one-term senator with the “non-American” sounding name. Even his defeated opponent, Senator John McCain, took note of the historical significance of Obama’s victory as a praiseworthy thing. Countries across the globe, themselves not even close to doing anything like it, expressed surprise that Americans had done it, but joined the chorus of praise. At the same time, how galling it was for the not insignificant number of white Americans who fervently believed that the US began as a country for white people, and should for ever remain so. All the reasons why many saw Obama’s election as an occasion for pride were for others evidence of America’s degradation, a source of intolerable shame and anger. Something had to be done. What was done, Ta-Nehisi Coates says in We Were Eight Years in Power, the book of essays that follows his bestselling and influential Between the World and Me, was to seek to erase with extreme prejudice the effects of the country having lived under a black president by electing the man Coates dubs in the book’s final essay The First White President (Trump’s “ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power”). Coates takes his title from the haunting words of Thomas Miller, a black South Carolinian who had been elected to state office during the years of Reconstruction after the civil war. Black people in South Carolina significantly outnumbered white people and, for a time, dominated the legislature. They had, in fact, as WEB Du Bois showed in his magisterial Black Reconstruction in America, instituted “good Negro government”: the very thing, Du Bois said, whites feared most. In the face of black success, they resorted to lies about the black men who served in office, creating a caricature of politics during Reconstruction that lived in history books and popular culture (for instance, DW Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation) until well into the 20th century. By the time Miller talked of the achievements of “eight years in power”, in 1895, Reconstruction, the effort to make a new society in the south by bringing the 4 million African Americans freed after the civil war into full citizenship, was dead. The south had been “redeemed” for white southerners. Rather than share in the benefits of black advancement that would have lifted the south overall, white southerners chose to turn back the clock to the time when their superiority was unquestioned. Even poor white citizens who could have joined their black peers to shake the economic hierarchy that kept white elites in charge and non-elite whites near the bottom of the heap (just above blacks) opted for racial solidarity rather than economic advancement. In choosing this title, Coates makes plain his view that, post-Obama, the US is living under a nationalised form of a redemption government. What are the characteristics of such a moment? Coates answers with essays first published in the Atlantic that range across politics (Malcolm X, Michelle Obama), culture (Bill Cosby) and history: “For most of American history, our political system was premised on two conflicting facts – one, an oftstated love of democracy; the other, an undemocratic white supremacy inscribed at every level of government.” These essays are introduced by shorter Notes that contextualise the older pieces, and track Obama’s presidency; Notes from the First Year, Notes from the Second Year and so on. The most famous of the essays reproduced, the one that can be said to have put Coates on the map just before the phenomenon of Between the World and Me, is The Case for Reparations (recompense for historical crimes against African Americans). With this, Coates, who had been labouring for years building a following on his Atlantic blog, achieved what he calls in this book “writer fame”, not to be confused, he quickly adds, with “George Clooney fame”. But even this more modest level of fame disturbs him. He became a known quantity, interrupted on the streets and in “the cafe where I regularly wrote”. While heartened by his great success, Coates indicates that it also perplexes him. Passages in Notes from the Sixth Year, in particular, reveal what sets Coates apart and has made him so successful. He is remarkably open with his readers about his conflicts. No non-academic writer today has a keener sense of the relevance of history to the problems about which he writes. Significantly, Coates’s approach to history does not appear to be purely instrumental. One senses a genuine interest in, and curiosity about, the ways in which historical forces, always subject to contingencies, have moved us to the place where we presently stand. To say that this could only be so, given that his most consistent topic – race in present-day America – is ineluctably tied to history, is to miss why he has become such a powerful voice. Many write about race and history but, more often than not, with history as a garnish. To get details, one must do, and present, research, which Coates does in a manner accessible to the general public. Whatever one thinks about the issue of reparations, Coates’s treatment of the subject was so effective because of his deft use of scholarship, a feature Pete Souza/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty History’s lessons A new vision of how America saw itself … when America elected Barack Obama as president shared in common with nearly all of the essays in this book. His is seldom, if ever, strictly an appeal to emotion or an invocation of morality; though both passion and morality are important to his presentations. Instead, the intellectual weight of the reparations piece, especially, is bolstered by Coates’s skilful deployment of the work of academics. We Were Eight Years in Power is not quite the The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 35 Strangers who brought gifts to other lands The Story of the Jews: Belonging, 1492-1900 by Simon Schama Ecco, 790pp Thane Rosenbaum Washington Post opposite of an upbeat book. No one with a true historical sense could tie up the stories of America told in these essays with a tidy assurance that we shall overcome. The odds may even be against it. But Coates says something near the very last page that, again, shows his firm grasp of one of the most important lessons of history. Nothing was “inevitable” about the outcome of the last election in the United States. The American story will continue, for the foreseeable future, at least. How that story unfolds will be a matter of the choices we make. In this multicultural age, Jews, bizarrely, have ended up less an ethnic group than a subcategory of white privilege. Israel is perceived as a colonial power, and Jews are regarded as blue-blooded patricians with no claim to historical oppression. For those who regard Jews as Wonder Bread-eating, upper-class Wasps, albeit with a better sense of humour, and are blindly without reference points on where Jews fit into the human story, Simon Schama’s second volume of The Story of the Jews will be a revelation. It is an engaging and electrifying read by a skilled literary craftsman, cultural historian and tour guide, travelling through 500 years of history via Venice, London, Paris, Istanbul, Jerusalem and San Francisco. Along the way, Schama tells the story of the Jewish people who survived the Middle Ages to enjoy a measure of relief during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Schama enchants his readers with characters worthy of a Charles Dickens novel, if Dickens had decided to focus on the not-so-great expectations and bleak houses of the Jewish diaspora. The Story of the Jews dazzles with the art and alchemy of an adventure novel. Dashing between nations and centuries, Schama assembles an all-star team of largely unsung Jewish heroes who inject humanity and spunk into what might otherwise have been morbid tales of endless persecution. In Mantua, Italy, in the mid-16th century, Leone de’ Sommi was the predecessor of today’s Jewish showman: producer, director, playwright, choreographer, costume and set designer. In Kaifeng, China, during the Ming dynasty in the mid-17th century, a thriving Jewish community was led by Chao Ch’eng, a Jewish major in the imperial army. A French doctor in the mid-18th century, Jacob Rodrigues Pereire, taught the deaf to speak. An American naval officer, Captain Uriah P Levy, was responsible for resurrecting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello property and commissioning the statue of Jefferson that stands on the Mall today. Adah Isaac Menken, a glamorous Jewish-American actress, appeared on Broadway in the mid-19th century and wrote pro-Israel poetry a century before the Jewish state came into existence. Schama weaves a tapestry of interlocking themes that illuminate the advances and setbacks of life in the diaspora. For instance, wherever they lived, Jews were determined to demonstrate their patriotism. And yet they were repeatedly subjected to false charges of disloyalty - most prominently in France during the Dreyfus affair. One simply can’t tell the world’s story without including the Jews, a people infinitesimal in numbers and yet essential in enhancing the richness of the cultures in which they were provisionally accepted. Yet, paradoxically, Jews throughout Europe, Russia and the Middle East were at times forced to wear identifying badges or hats; never truly came close to achieving equal rights; were relegated to usurious occupations; and were always vulnerable to grotesque caricatures, blood libels, forced conversions and pogroms. So much destructive and misguided energy was wasted on despising this resourceful minority, one can only wonder what these countries would have achieved had they left the Jews alone and empowered them to raise the quality of everyone’s lives. That they didn’t probably accounts for why Schama ends with Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, who concluded that having an actual homeland was better than being a stranger in another’s land. Comedy and cold Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard Harvill Secker, 272pp Anthony Cummins Observer In Autumn, Karl Ove Knausgaard mused on whatever came to mind during his (now ex) wife’s pregnancy with their fourth child, Anne. Winter, the second in a quick-fire seasonal quartet published in Norwegian two years ago, repeats the formula for the run-up to her birth early in 2014, with 60 prose pieces between two and five pages long on everything from cotton buds to the 1970s and “hollow spaces”. It’s an enterprise that is catnip to parodists. A piece on Conversation starts by informing us that “a great deal of interpersonal communication takes place outside language”. Chairs begins: “A chair is for sitting on.” The excuse for such statements – that their addressee is in utero – doesn’t survive literalminded scrutiny, but they’re only a springboard in any case: Sugar starts by saying it “consists of tiny white crystals that crunch between the teeth” and ends by using it to explain the populist Progress party’s rise to power in Norway. These swerves are key to the book’s appeal. When Knausgaard exposes himself in the manner of his autobiographical novel My Struggle – admitting he’s afraid of women (“I fear … I will be found lacking”) or describing a humiliating flare-up when his daughter won’t sit down to lunch – it’s interesting enough. But he becomes more charming and persuasive when Knausgaard wanders into quizzical speculation – about, say, why coffins don’t have windows or how sex is like cannibalism. Take his thoughts on the ontology of “mess”, which isn’t, he says, a “meaningful concept when applied to nature”, because nature “only exists on one level, the level of the real” (it is what it is). Your house, by contrast, can be messy: although it too “exists in the real”, it simultaneously “aspires towards the ideal”. “All tragedies arise out of this duality, but also all triumphs,” he loftily concludes, “and the feeling of triumph is what prevails in me now, when the kitchen in the house on the other side of the lawn, lit up like a train compartment in the darkness, where only a few hours ago I did the Christmas cleaning, is sparkling clean and bright.” However unpromising the opening proclamations, the sudden joy of that final image makes the argument harder to gainsay. Knausgaard isn’t the silkiest writer – there’s a 200word whopper of an awkward sentence on the very first page – but combing Continued on page 36 → 36 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Books ← Continued from page 35 over his prose feels a bit like reporting on a football match by watching the grass: fundamental and yet somehow unimportant. It helps that he recognises the comic potential of his restless endeavour to restore wonder to the world, though it’s always moot. “One evening some weeks ago the bureau that stands by the wall in the room next to my office caught my attention,” begins a piece entitled – wait for it – Atoms, which sees him panic-buying books on particle physics (“I suddenly realised I knew nothing”). Winter is at its weakest when Knausgaard devotes entries to his friends. We don’t know these people and for that reason don’t care about their eyes or faces. Knausgaard’s pieces work best when they have some preconception to unsettle. Thermodynamics as tragedy – convinced? Either way, Knausgaard on the shamelessness of hot air doesn’t seem a bad metaphor for this project, whether you find its laissez-faire lack of inhibition laughable or liberating, a swindle or sublime. Magnificent beasts Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello Cape, 256pp Kathryn Hughes Elena Passarello starts this extraordinary book with the image of Yuka, a woolly mammoth chiselled from the softening permafrost by Siberian tusk hunters in 2010. First a rounded hoof comes into view, then a hollowed-out eye and finally the flank still bearing evidence of the gash that must have done for young Yuka – she was no more than 10 years old when she died – nearly 40 millennia ago. Most surprising of all, though, is the burning smoulder of her pelt, which has kept to its ginger-red despite the passing centuries. As Yuka is flopped on to the snowmobile it is not her odd dislocations – most of her spine is gone although her legs remain rigid – that qualify as one of the “curious poses” of the book’s title (taken incidentally from a line in When Doves Cry by Prince). It is what happens next, Passarello suggests, that stretches and shrinks Yuka into something truly strange. First she becomes the object of hard financial bargaining as the tusk hunters hide her carcass in a frozen cave and wait for the highest bidder. Then, when the scientists finally get their hands on her, she morphs into the poster child for a “rewilding” initiative that aims to make extinct breeds live again by splicing their ancient DNA into the embryo of their nearest living relatives. Each of the 17 short pieces in this book catches a famous historical animal just at the moment it dangles precariously between nature and culture. We meet a bear made to fight dogs in the stews of Elizabethan Southwark, and Clever Hans, a horse doing complicated fractions at a time when many working people still struggled with basic numeracy. Pressing on into the 20th century, there’s Mike the headless chicken from postwar Oregon who struts and preens around the farmyard for 18 months apparently unaware that he has been decapitated in readiness for dinner. And Arabella, the common cross spider who was sent into space with the Skylab 3 mission of 1973 and spent 59 days industriously spinning webs so that the boffins could observe the effect of zero gravity on her intricate craft. Although these animal case histories lodge under the label of “essay”, Passarello tests and stretches the form in thrilling ways. Particularly brilliant – but, honestly, they are all brilliant – is an extended fantasy written from the point of view of Harriet, the Galápagos tortoise who Darwin reportedly brought back on the Beagle. Harriet – initially sexed as “Harry” – is heartsick for her captor whom she is convinced has saved her for love. Most of the other Galápagos tortoises have been stowed on board as ambient larders, but Harriet tells herself: “You’re not dinner, you’re different.” Back on dry land, though, “Charlie” turns out to be a heartless beast and hopeless lover. He marries his “nervous, pious cousin” and pimps Harriet out to various naturalists with clammy hands, before finally sending her to a museum in Whitehall so chilly that she is obliged to go into perpetual hibernation. All this might come off as charming but essentially whimsical were it not for the fact that Passarello underpins her wild imagination and pyrotechnic prose with rigorous research. She doesn’t do footnotes, but an extensive bibliography of 255 sources bears witness to the huge accumulation of reading that has gone into her book. There is always a danger with this kind of “creative non-fiction” that the first-person narrator will take over. Instead Passarello keeps a decorous distance from her material, so that when she does detour into memoir towards the end of the book, it really means something. In her chapter Lancelot child in the 1980s she became she recounts how as a chi obsessed with a circus “u “unicorn” that was, in fact, a deformed goat with a bad perm. But instead of makoccasion for mourning, Pasing this into an oc sarello boldly m maintains that it has always been like this. thi There never was a time when animal forms weren’t already enmeshed (or m mucked up) in fantasy versions of themselves. th For Passarello is not so much this realisation rea dismaying as chastening. For it dismay only, she suggests, by coming is only about how we have used clean a animals to make sense of our anima that we can begin to own lives l we might repair theirs. see how h Wild imagination ... Passarello imagines the trials in love of a Galápagos tortoise Feline fidelity The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel Doubleday, 256pp Lynne Truss Consider two famous facts about cats. One: on the night of 30 April 1915, the ship’s cat of the RMS Lusitania went awol in New York. The next day, the ship sailed for Liverpool without him; a week later it was torpedoed by U-boats and sunk. Two: in the ruins of Pompeii, there have been found no cat remains, although mosaics and statues indicate that cats were favoured pets. Countless people perished in the destruction of Pompeii, as did dogs. But when they died, they did it cat-less. I mention these feline feats of scarpering in times of crisis because the reader needs to be warned: Hiro Arikawa’s bestselling Japanese novel features a cat with a heart, who feels loyalty and gratitude and would never abandon his loving human master. Is this a book for cat lovers who can’t handle the truth? Nana is the protagonist. A stray cat in Tokyo, he is taken in by a young man named Satoru after being hit by a car. Nana finds he has fallen on his feet. Satoru is a cat lover from youth; gentle and intuitive, he mourns his first cat Hachi, from whom he was traumatically separated as a child. The name “Nana” derives from na, the Japanese word for seven – the shape of Nana’s tail; Hachi was named after the number eight because of markings on his head. Nana is scornful of Satoru’s literal-mindedness when it comes to naming cats, but he has the feline instinct for knowing which side his crispy chicken is battered, and decides to stick around. Five happy years of cohabitation pass in a single sentence, and then Satoru tells the cat that they must make a journey. They will visit Satoru’s childhood friend Kosuke, with the purpose of rehoming Nana. Satoru is not forthcoming about the reason. “We just can’t live together any more,” he says. At this stage, Satoru’s motives are officially unclear. The reunited Kosuke and Satoru reminisce about the number-eight cat, and we learn about Satoru’s talent for friendship and the shock of his parents’ death. But does Nana stay with Kosuke? The structure of The Travelling Cat Chronicles is deceptively simple. With alternating sections of third-person and Nana-the-cat narration, it consists of three journeys to friends, followed by a pilgrimage across a beautifully evoked landscape. There is then a heart-breaking last journey that left me in bits. I’ve rarely changed my mind so much about a book in the course of reading it. I started out quibbling with the translation (would a cat that exclaims “Good lord” also say “yada yada”?), but before long, I had surrendered to Arikawa’s powerful emotional agenda, according to which a human’s love for his cat is not delusional but self-fulfilling, just as all loving sacrifice is its own reward. What Nana observes and experiences is Satoru’s huge capacity for consideration, which is moving enough in itself. But when the cat responds to his love – well, you ought to laugh, but I couldn’t. “Cats are not so heartless,” declares Nana. “How could I ever leave him?” But anyone who has ever unashamedly loved an animal will read this book with gratitude, for its understanding of an emotion that ennobles us as human beings, whether we value it or not. 38 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Power of image and music born of the old south William Eggleston’s colour photography was revolutionary. Now, at 78, he has released his very ﬁrst album, explains Sean O’Hagan D arkness is falling outside the window of William Eggleston’s fifth-floor apartment in midtown Memphis, and the silences that punctuate his conversation have grown even longer. After several hours in his company, I am preparing to take my leave, when suddenly he decides he is going to play the piano for me. I help him to his feet and he makes his way unsteadily to the Bösendorfer grand in the corner of his living room. Once seated, he stares for a few long moments at the keyboard, as if lost in thought. “I play the piano maybe two or three times a day,” he told me earlier, “but only if she wants to be played. I speak to her and she talks back. Mostly, just to say: ‘What’s in there?’ She is almost always responsive.” This evening, the piano wants to be played. The 78-year-old photographer, who has imbibed several glasses of bourbon-on-ice in the past hour or so, calls up a snatch of a Beethoven piano sonata from memory. It is the starting point for a long extemporisation that unfolds tentatively, becoming more complex and compelling as his concentration becomes total. In his eighth decade, the man whom many consider the world’s greatest living photographer has surprised the art world by releasing his debut album. Entitled Musik, it comprises 13 improvisations on compositions by Bach (his hero) and Handel as well as his singular takes on a Gilbert and Sullivan tune and the jazz standard On the Street Where You Live. Even more surprising, to those of us who have witnessed his serene piano playing on several occasions over the years, the works are played entirely on a Korg synthesiser, and assume the character of experimental electronic soundscapes. The original recordings survive on 49 floppy discs that amount to around 60 hours of improvisation. Producer Tom Lunt, a friend of his son, Winston, edited and remastered the tapes. Eggleston professes to have had “nothing whatsoever” to do with the album. The results are by turns challenging and mesmerising. “There’s the same sense of freedom you find in his photography,” Lunt said recently of the album, while Eggleston’s close friend the film director David Lynch has described it as “music of wild joy with freedom and bright, vivid colours”. The great washes of sound, sometimes seductively symphonic, sometimes ominous, certainly add a new resonance to the photographer’s most famous quotation about being “at war with the obvious”. William Eggleston has never adhered to tradition. Derided by critics in the early 70s as a vulgarian for daring to shoot the everyday in vivid colour, he is now regarded as a master of the medium. Other photographers had used colour, but no one had done so with the same vivid tonal palette and disorienting compositional force. “What he was doing in the 70s,” Martin Parr once remarked, “was so far ahead of the game that it was revolutionary.” “For my generation, he is more influential even than [Robert] Frank,” says Alec Soth, perhaps the finest of the current generation of American documentary photographers. (Soth’s image of Eggleston hunched over a keyboard adorns the cover of Musik.) “I doubt there is anyone shooting in colour today who has not been influenced by his early work.” Eggleston’s photographs have influenced the style of film-makers such as Sofia Coppola and Gus Van Sant, and appeared on album sleeves by Big Star in 1974, and more recently on Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Give Up (1994) and the 2007 EP Joanna Steve Pyke; Eggleston Artistic Trust/David Zwirner, New York & London Culture Newsom & the Ys Street Band. “They are just gifts from me to people I like,” he says. “Eggleston sees the beauty in the things and places that other people find commonplace or even ugly,” says Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. “He transforms them somehow and the heightened sense of reality in his best pictures is so intense it is almost hallucinatory in its electric glow.” It was not always thus. On hearing that Eggleston had abandoned black-and-white in the early 70s, his friend the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson told him: “You know, William, colour is bullshit.” When John Szarkowski, the curator of the Museum of Modern Art, showed Eggleston’s work in 1976, the reviews were savage: the New York Times called it “the most hated show of the year”. The negative criticism upset Szarkowski, but not Eggleston. “The controversy did not bother me one bit,” he says, “Those few critics who wrote about it were shocked that the photographs were in colour, which seems insane now and did so then. What’s more, they didn’t explain why it so shocked them. To me, it just seemed absurd.” His detractors, though, were offended, not just by how he photographed but by what he chose to photograph. Eggleston pointed his camera at the sky above him and the earth below, at rooftops, road signs, puddles, deserted roads, the packed interior of a freezer, the light falling on a ketchup bottle on a diner tabletop. When people appear in his photographs, they often look beatific in the soft southern sunlight or dazed by their excesses. His friend and fellow southerner, the novelist Eudora Welty, said of his work: “In landscapes, cityscapes, street scenes, roadside scenes, at every sort of public convergingpoint, in dreaming long view and arresting close-up, through hours of dark and light, he sets forth what The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 39 ‘Words just don’t seem to fit’ … from left, William Eggleston at home; Untitled, c 1975, one of his most famous images; Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973, known as The Red Ceiling; cover of Primal Scream’s 1994 album, Give Out But Don’t Give Up makes up our ordinary world. What is there, however strange, can be accepted without question; familiarity will be what overwhelms us.” One of his best-known images, Greenwood Mississippi, 1973, more commonly referred to as “The Red Ceiling”, depicts from below a bare lightbulb and three white electric cables leading to it against a shiny crimson-painted ceiling. Like several Eggleston images, it is mundane in terms of subject matter and broodingly ominous in its atmosphere. “It’s like red blood that’s wet on the wall,” he once said. “It shocks you every time.” Was it, though, a record of what he actually saw or an intensification, even an exaggeration, of it? “It was the most accurately reproduced version of what I saw, if that makes sense.” So, the red ceiling really was that red? He nods. “The prints I have seen of it were not artificially enriched at all. That’s why I use the word ‘accurately’.” What was once perceived as vulgar is now acknowledged as visionary and sought after. In 2012 at Christie’s, New York, 36 of Eggleston’s prints from the 1970s sold for close to $6m. One of the most famous – a child’s tricycle shot from street level to appear loomingly larger than life – fetched $578,500. Eggleston seems blithely unconcerned by this, as only people from old money can be, while also being utterly assured – in his elegant, unassuming way – of his own genius. Alongside making music, he has been drawing and painting – abstract colour works that fill hundreds of notebooks – even longer than he has been making photography. “I haven’t tried writing yet, but I still might,” he says, smiling. “Drawing, painting and photography we could say are all run by the same rules – which don’t really exist.” To make sense of the contradictions that define William Eggleston, the gentility and the wildness, the elegance and the excess, one must consider his childhood on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta. Did growing up in the old, segregated south mark him in any way? “Not much. The negroes that I grew up around were really like family members. They grew up around us and their families were born in the main houses. That’s just the way it was.” I sense that he had little contact with, or interest in, the social upheavals of the late 1960s in America. “No, not one bit. Whenever it was that civil rights happened, though, we lost all our labour. They all moved to Chicago or somewhere like that.” On the door of his apartment, beneath his name is a postage ‘I don’t try to express the power of my photographs. I think I can say the same thing about music’ stamp depicting civil rights activist, Rosa Parks. I take it he was pro-civil rights? “I didn’t see anything wrong with it,” he says, matter-of-factly. “I never did think about it much, to tell you the truth.” And yet his photographs often address, obliquely, yet powerfully, the discontents of the American south. A portrait of a besuited white man and his white-jacketed black chauffeur, both standing and listening attentively to a funeral service that is happening beyond the frame, evokes the entire history of racially determined deference, protocol and power. A picture of a confederate flag, reflected in a puddle, with the title Troubled Waters, now seems even more prescient in its suggestion of a fading political past and uneasy present. Part of the complex dynamic that underpins Eggleston’s work, and perhaps even more so his life, is the tension between his temperament, which tends towards the excessively libertarian, and his social position. Other than taking photographs, which he does not depend on for a living, he has not had to work a day in his life. Even so, his creative selfabsorption seems extreme even by artistic standards. “It could be that I was always little bit selfish in what it was I wanted to do,” he says, “so I was not ever that interested in what Joe Blow was interested in.” Does he believe that one needs to be selfish to be an artist? “Now, that’s an interesting question. Put it this way, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I think you are right that maybe a really fine artist possibly has to be selfish. Maybe that is just part of the puzzle of being an artist.” His life, I suggest, has been one long series of improvisations. Likewise, his way of going out into the world to take photographs. “I’ve never thought that exactly, but now you mention it, it must be so. Why not?” So, there is an affinity between the taking of a photograph and the making of a piece of music? “I think so, yes. There must be some connection but it remains utterly mysterious to me.” He drags on his cigarette and closes his eyes in deep thought. A silence worthy of Samuel Beckett ensues, before he opens them again and, exhaling slowly, continues: “What I will say is that it’s practically impossible for me to explain in words anything at all about an image. So I don’t ever try to express the power of my photographs. I think I can say exactly the same thing about a piece of music. It is what it is and words just don’t seem to fit.” Observer Musik is out now on Secretly Canadian 40 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Culture Section Subject A revolution in 13 characters Cate Blanchett and director Julian Rosefeldt issue a call to arms in Manifesto, explains Steve Rose H ere’s Cate Blanchett as you’ve never seen her before: as a bearded man pulling a shopping cart through a post-industrial wasteland. In a drunken Scottish accent he/she proclaims: “We glorify the revolution aloud as the only engine of life. We glorify the vibrations of the inventors young and strong. They carry the flaming torch of the revolution!” Now Blanchett is a grieving widow telling a funeral congregation, “to lick the penumbra and float in the big mouth filled with honey and excrement”. Now she’s an American news anchor in the studio, talking to a reporter standing in the rain under an umbrella. The reporter is also Blanchett. “Well Cate, perhaps this could all be dealt with if man was not facing a black hole,” she tells her other self. Now she’s a 1950s mother, clasping her hands in prayer before the Thanksgiving family dinner: “I am for art that comes out of a chimney like black hair and scatters in the sky,” she murmurs, as the children eye the turkey hungrily. These are not clips from the two-time Oscarwinning actor’s showreel; this is Manifesto, originally a multi-screen gallery installation, now an unclassifiable feature directed by German artist and film-maker Julian Rosefeldt. The script is collaged from more than 50 artists’ manifestos from the past century, and recited by 13 different Blanchetts. Today, the actor is in another persona – different from any of her previous roles. Certainly different from her current turn as a green-screen-chewing, emo-styled goddess of destruction in Thor: Ragnarok. This is Blanchett as artistic collaborator. Sipping tea alongside Rosefeldt, discussing big ideas in overlapping sentences, they are an articulate double act. “Well the first thing is: is it a film?” Blanchett begins. “She keeps asking that,” says Rosefeldt. “The amazing thing,” Blanchett continues, “is that there are all these assertions of debasing and debunking and destroying what comes before in order to create this fundamental moment of unique artistic expression, but in performing, you’re struck by the similarities between een these manifestos: the e energetic similarities and rhythmic similarities, the ck.” just the intellectual attack.” Rosefeldt takes up her point: “There’s a lot of ‘down with this’’ and ‘to hell with ant to break with that’. They definitely want structures. Many of them m were written when they were just 20 or 21 years old. We now look at these as texts by world famous artists but at the time, often the here yet. They artwork wasn’t even there were just angry young people.” eople.” Blanchett continues: “But you know, what I admire, whether or not there are certain things hings in the manifestos that I might ant, find personally repugnant, there’s something brave ve Many faces … Cate Blanchett in Manifesto and, below, as herself Walter McBride/WireImage and noble about having the courage to commit to something. I think the artist understands that you have to invest in something, absolutely.” Blanchett certainly invests here. They shot Manifesto in 11 days on locations in and around Berlin, which often meant playing being, say, the old Scottish man in the morning and the newsreader in the afternoon, then preparing the next day’s accents in the hotel room in the evening. Often they only had time to do one extended take. She seems to have enjoyed the change of pace: “I always work best – which is why I love theatre – where it’s just: ‘The audience is there. It doesn’t matter whether I feel like doing this or not. I’ve just got to do it.’ It’s got the adrenaline of standup.” She and Rosefeldt first met in 2010, introduced by a mutual friend at the opening of Rosefeldt’s exhibition in Berlin. The idea for Manifesto formed in 2013, when Rosefeldt was working on Deep Gold, a 20-minute homage to the film-maker Luis Buñuel. In his researching, Rosefeldt came across two manifestos by French futurist writer and choreographer Valentine de Saint-Point. “I thought: ‘That’s interesting … Manifestos,’” he recalls. been written by artists across Manifestos have bee the world at different times, but the word still evokes the revolutionary spirit of the 19th and early 20th century. The film has also resona resonated in unanticipated ways in places where w they have shown it, such as in Istanbul, says Rosefeldt, Rose shortly after aft the referendum granting president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sweeping new powers, and in sweepin France, after elections in which France Front National was in genuine the Fron contention. Meanwhile, in the US, contentio Donald T Trump’s fixation on “fake news” gave ga Manifesto’s newsreader segment a new relevance. segmen The political landscape has shifted towards populism and shifte against “elitism”, Rosefeldt suggests. Blanchett agrees: “It’s that notion of ‘elitism’, provocative ideas being the domain of the educated, and keeping those ideas separate from the people who they’re trying to keep uneducated and disenfranchised. This is why artists’ voices are being taken away, and the social and political discourse we’re dealing with at the moment is so utterly simplistic. “As much as Manifesto is about the role of the artist, I think it also asks: ‘What’s the role of the audience?’ Often their attention span is underestimated, and if you’re constantly shooting below the intelligence or the capability of an audience then the work gets thinner and thinner.” So how does she square that with appearing in Thor: Ragnarok? She laughs. “Yeah. All things are an experiment, aren’t they? If you know the outcome then why do it really? There’s got to be an element of risk and fun and fuck-up. That’s what keeps me energised: involvement in projects of different scale and ambition.” Is there a certain dissonance between, let’s say, Manifesto Blanchett and Thor Blanchett? “Well, I haven’t done that many effects movies, believe it or not,” she insists. “I went in as wideeyed and bushy tailed to [Thor] as I did into this. And also, it shouldn’t be thus, but I felt like I was speaking to different audiences.” Perhaps she’s channelling Tristan Tzara’s Dada Manifesto: “I write this manifesto to show that people can perform contrary actions together while taking one fresh gulp of air.” “Whether you agree or disagree with the notion of a manifesto, it’s an effort to engage,” says Blanchett. “It’s an encouragement. It’s about something.” Rosefeldt concurs: “Something that started as a love declaration to these writings has almost become a call for action. You feel like it’s time for action again.” Thor: Ragnarok is on general release worldwide; Manifesto is on selected release The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 41 Culture Reviews Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Film Battle of the Sexes Art Surrealism in Egypt E xhibitions that celebrate global twists on the story of modernism may not see otherness at all, but just award points to non-European artists of the 20th century for getting safely westernised. Surrealism in Egypt: Art et Liberté 1938–1948, which has just opened at Tate Liverpool, falls into that trap. In the 1940s, a group of artists in Cairo made surrealist paintings and photographs that are full of bodily contortions, dream visions and sex. Some of this art is a lot of fun. Ida Kar’s 1940 photograph Eternity shows rotting meat on rib bones that look like colossal columns: it is an image of ruin from a land full of the past. Mahmoud Said’s beautifully vulgar 1933 painting La Femme aux Boucles d’Or portrays a woman showing off her long golden hair and generous breasts in front of a horizon that pointedly includes two mosques. This painting hints at the attraction of surrealism in early 20th-century Egypt: it was the first art movement that preached sexual liberation. The Parisian ways of the surrealists pointed to freedom. But the artistic results are only so-so. There are lots of mildly diverting paintings of nudes such as Fouad Kamel’s, Rock & pop Gorillaz T he first Gorillaz tour in seven years is an event that arrives in the UK trailing a certain degree of hype. There has been much talk of the vast, continually rotating cast involved: in addition to Damon Albarn, a band that features in its ranks two drummers and six backing vocalists, there’s a menu of guest stars to contend with. Tonight at the Brighton Centre, the biggest names present are either Long Beach rapper Vince Staples or two-thirds of De La Soul, the latter performing a rapturously received version of Feel Good Inc. But the lack of big-name guests shines a light on Albarn’s less glitzy collaborators. Peven Everett is faced not merely with performing superb recent single Strobelite – its sonic debt to early 80s boogie underscored by the sight of Albarn accompanying him on that most early 80s Collection of Fatenn Mostafa Kanafani T above, skeletons and strange desert plants. Yet there is no great artist in this show and no evidence the Egyptian wing of surrealism added anything essential to an international movement that was already waning by the 40s. It achieves the opposite of what it presumably intends. Far from decentring surrealism, it reveals that Egyptian artists in the mid-20th century suffered from what Robert Hughes, remembering how enslaved he was as a baby critic in Australia by the myth of Manhattan, called the cultural cringe. Egyptian surrealists cringed before the might of Paris – as artists and writers did all over the world at that time. Why should we look at second-rate imitations of a modern French style when we could be contemplating a majestically beautiful minbar carved in Cairo in the 15th century? Forget progress in time if you want to widen your sense of art. It illustrates how today’s middle-class reverence for the modern makes it harder, not easier, to appreciate world art. To truly decentre how we see art, we need to escape the archetypally western cult of the new: to risk a journey in time as well as space. Jonathan Jones Surrealism in Egypt: Art et Liberté 1938–1948 is at Tate Liverpool until 18 March of instruments, the keytar – but the more unenviable task of filling in for the late Bobby Womack’s vocal on Stylo, which he does brilliantly. Zebra Katz, clad in a silver jumpsuit, spends Sex Murder oss the stage like a finalist in Party sashaying across RuPaul’s Drag Race. But the most striking guest might be Little Simz. Her star turn, Garage Paly alive, an urgent, hammerace, comes thrillingly aid with vocals increasingly ing kick drum overlaid swamped in dubby echo effects. ism of Gorillaz output The sheer eclecticism can make for a disjointed nted live experience. The only real linking factor is Albarn’s ncy to crestfallenvoice, and his tendency sounding melodies. But it’s hard not to be impressed by the unbridled diversity on offer. Alexis Petridis erica Touring in South America to 30 March 2018 his is a seductively enjoyable, smart and well-acted film based on the most deadly serious sporting contest of modern times: the Battle of the Sexes tennis match of 1973 in a packed Houston Astrodome. It stars Emma Stone, pictured below right, and Steve Carell, pictured top, respectively women’s No 1 Billie Jean King and fiftysomething ex-champ and self-proclaimed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs – fighting to prove that men are better at tennis and better, full stop. The film crucially faces the same challenge as the participants from real life: the challenge of tone. How unseriously should this match be taken? How strenuously should the attitude of casual jokiness be maintained? No one involved in this encounter could be certain of its outcome; neither side could be sure of avoiding humiliation, and thus everyone had a vested interest in keeping it light. Up to a point. But only one side was facing jokiness as a weapon, the boorish condescension and toxic bantz that they faced outside the sporting arena every day of their lives. The movie displays the same gracious good humour as its heroine. In 1973, King was enraged by the fact that female players on the grand slam circuit were paid a fraction of what the men got, despite pulling in the same number of paying customers. She formed the breakaway Women’s men’s Tennis Association, and having duly punished King with excommunication from their club, the male tennis establishment was quietly scandalised to discover that the American public rather liked their women men rebels and pioneers. They got sponsorship hi and d even some sympathetic press coverage. Then the sociopathically reckless has-been Riggs challenged King to an exhibition prizefight. Stone has intelligence and candour as King. She is instantly sympathetic and vulnerable; her address to the camera has a cartoony clarity and vigour. Her Billie Jean is sensual and vulnerable when she discovers that, despite being married, she is falling in love with a woman: LA hairdresser Marilyn Barnett – another unassumingly excellent performance from Andrea Riseborough, pictured below left. As for Carell, he is the only possible casting for Riggs: the humourless, belligerent guy thinking that he is the life and soul of the party. It’s a variation on his manager Michael Scott from the American TV version of The Office or his weatherman Brick Tamland from A Anchorman. creates a winning Simon Beaufoy crea script, smoothly h handled by directors Valerie Faris and Dayton. Jonathan Dayto And what rem remains of this now? King’s point is argument now meaningful equalthe same: mea ity is what wha she wanted. But pay disparity remains, and not every mains workp workplace has access to the Houston Astro Astrodome to put them to the test. Peter Bradshaw Pet 42 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Diversions Notes & Queries Nature watch Wenlock Edge You can party with a pal, but a friend will help to clean up • I propose the Age of Deleterious. Earl St Jean, Warkworth, Ontario, Canada What’s the difference between a pal and a friend? The level of intimacy. Charlie Bamforth, Davis, California, US • With the rise in sea levels, maybe we are in fact seeing “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”. John Anderson, Pukekohe, New Zealand • Pals can be found on social media. Real friends can’t. Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia • It is the Era of Malevolence. Rosemary Durrant, Breton, Alberta, Canada Assess the stupidity quotient • A pal is a casual acquaintance who may develop into a friend. Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada Social media … a pal imitation? • You can say “You’re my friend”, but you don’t need to say “You’re my pal”. E Slack, L’Isle Jourdain, France • “Friend” usually signifies a relationship of somewhat greater depth. We don’t, for example, sing “What a pal we have in Jesus”. Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia • Pals share your worldview. Friends are hard-won and unexpected. Maurice Trapp, Le Vigan, France • You party with a pal, but a friend helps you tidy up after. Richard Orlando, Westmount, Quebec, Canada The water keeps on rising • The difference between being an Australian and an American. Lorna Kaino, Fremantle, Western Australia • A pal is a buddy but a friend has the potential to be a BFF. Avril Taylor, Dundas, Ontario, Canada • A pal is fleeting: for half an hour you’re the greatest; then when his mug is drained, his mug droops and memory fades. “Hey, pal” is generally derogatory since the 50s (TV cop shows). RM Fransson, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, US Doesn’t much feel like the Age of Aquarius, so what shall we call it? The Age of Aquariums. Silly, I know. But it seems to be representative of humans’ effect on the natural world. Charlie Pearson, Portland, Oregon, US Is it time to rethink our definition of intelligence? Given the state of the world, is it time to rethink our definition of stupidity? John Boyle, Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia • No need: determination of the intelligence quotient was always somewhat artificial. Anthony Walter, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada More Notes & Queries See additional answers online bit.ly/notesandqueries Any answers? When we lose loved ones we try to keep them alive in our mind. How? Edward Black, Church Point, NSW, Australia • I think we should call it the Age of Acquisitions. Denise MacKean, Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada What makes an idea worthy of a sacrifice? R De Braganza, Kilifi, Kenya • The Age of The Chicken McNugget. Joyce Reesor, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada Send answers to weekly.nandq@ theguardian.com or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Good to meet you John Geﬀroy It was late in a long career teaching in an international school in the western United States when a colleague introduced me to the Guardian Weekly. He had spent years teaching in Edinburgh, and brought his subscription to the GW with him. At first I suspected a British affectation; he was also almost alone among the male faculty in insisting on a coat and tie. However, when he lent me several articles he guessed would interest me, I realised that this compact weekly, remarkably free of advertisements, satisfied a need that had not been well-served in my reading. The writing, research and analyses were consistently at a very high level, and the breadth of coverage of the world was unique among the weeklies I had sampled. I soon realised that in my teaching of social and cultural anthropology, the Guardian Weekly would be invaluable in raising issues concerning social As the match-flare of a late November afternoon dimmed in the trees, I caught a glimpse of a tower. Peering through hazel branches I could make out a tall structure that looked like the powerstation chimney – except that was north and this was west. It could have been a stack of hay bales, but harvest was over long ago. Curious to discover what I had seen, I wandered down the wooded bank, losing the long view, crossed the road and went through the gate on to a green lane, now used only by dog-walkers, sheep and an occasional tractor, but once the thoroughfare over the Edge to a hamlet on common land below. Up the rise I had seen earlier was a hedge about two metres) tall, but no tower. There was a tree: a sweet chestnut about 20 years old. All its leaves had fallen; its bark marked with smudges of grey lichen like a potter’s thumbprints; its branches and cultural change, especially the processes of globalisation. Our school consistently served students from over 75 nations, and I soon found the paper something to rely on. The bulletin boards outside my classroom gradually filled with clippings from the Guardian relating to our coursework. Affectation, indeed! While I am now retired from teaching, the Guardian Weekly never ceases to feed my appetite for sane and urbane coverage of a bewildering world. If you would like to appear in this space, send a brief note to email@example.com scratchy dark against the sky – violet to the south, cold blue to the north, with a scud of grey clouds. I walked to the end of the hedge, where the downslope began, marked by a holly tree. It was about 3 metres tall, flail-sided and male, still holding a few small white flowers, but it was not a tower. I turned back around the other side of the hedge, once the boundary of the green lane. By five o’clock, the light had gone; the hedge held a faint orange illumination from bark lichens and a weft of bryony berries; its dark was full of the wing prrrrs and tzeeps of settling yellowhammers. Across the fields the woooo of a tawny owl eased from mobbing jay anxiety into night-time. Something in the wood let loose a treeful of wood pigeons, all clatter and whistle. A dog barked. There was no tower. I walked back the way I had come, down the fields, across the road and up through trees to the point where I had looked across to the rise. When I reached it, I peered through hazel branches and there against the skyglow was the silhouette of a tower. That can’t be right, can it? Paul Evans Read more Nature watch online bit.ly/naturewatch The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 43 Quick crossword 1 2 Cryptic crossword by Screw 3 4 5 6 Across 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Across 1 The spearfish (anag) – mythical being that can change its form (5-7) 9 Castrated chicken (5) 10 Temporary encampment (7) 11 Swear word (4) 12 Fur – lean kiss (anag) (8) 14,6 Light open lorry with low sides and a tailboard (4-2,5) 15 Inhabitant of the country at the southern end of the Arabia (6) 18 Wedged together (8) 20 Weighty book (4) 22 Touched – held (7) 23 Relinquish (5) 24 Perceive the difference – show prejudice (12) Down 2 Of the liver (7) 3 Yearn (4) 4 Rent all or part of a rented property to another person (6) 5 Complex (8) 6 See 14 7 Assessed once more (12) 8 Expert – done (12) 13 Strong (8) 16 Self-centred person (7) 17 Not often (6) 19 Useless – underwear (5) 21 Whooper or trumpeter? (4) B E A U T Y R D U A MM A N T H I I O M O R O C C O S A D L I B E L R E B O B A M A P U L I I G R OW N U P H H E S H A N D Y S C A A L Y P S L O L A D M I S T H U S S R Y I B A N A T A N D A X U S E P T T E R B I E A N S C E A K E D Last week’s solution, No 14,814 First published in the Guardian 6 November 2017, No 14,820 Down 1 It’s driven tooth upwards, colliding with craft (2-4) 2 Pushy parent ultimately spreading disease (6) 3 Object forcefully as her allies crumbled (5,4) 4 Joined item in bedroom – it won’t happen again! (3-5,5) Futoshiki Hard Fill in the grid so that every row and column contains the numbers 1-5. The “greater than” or “less than” signs indicate where a number is larger or smaller than its neighbour. 5 ©Clarity Media Ltd 1 3 ∨ 2 ∧ 4 2 > 1 3 < 4 ∧ ∨ ∧ 4 > 3 > 2 5 ∧ 5 4 1 2 ∧ 1 5 4 > 3 ∧ > 3 > 2 5 1 Last week’s solution 1 1 What’s said when one’s due to be cuddled by future partner (3,1,4) 5 Rubber rings held by campaigners next to motorway (6) 9 How big top is making you upset (7) 10 He checks the blue pens qualify (7) 11 Announced foundation course (5) 12 Opening popular bit of summer course in Russia (9) 13 IT-speak on the BBC, able to get translated (12) 17 Act of authorising a goal line technology, initially, is complex (12) 20 Can early bet inform odds, when backing one to get up? (4,5) 22 Please tell leader off (5) 23 Alternatively, ten said aid sent as I tend to fracture after separation (7) 24 Famous item in entrants’ pockets (7) 25 Cryptic crossword finally found in papers taken by woman (6) 26 Felt constituent’s very large following when leading (8) 2 3 4 5 9 6 8 18 19 10 11 12 13 15 7 14 16 17 20 21 22 23 25 6 Swinger didn’t get called (5) 7 Writer comes after top journo over detail (8) 8 Yes, a film about insects (8) 10 These in stock? Sees at ground (6,7) 14 Pay for return of issue once (2,3,4) 15 Prize bull’s a bit big (8) 16 Worried about gonads, ie balls (8) 18 Bring up secretary’s cleavage (6) 19 Some privates switched positions (6) 21 Note resounding upturns when there’s no resistance (5) First published in the Guardian 16 November 2017, No 27,356 24 26 S H O D D A C I F U T S A E A G A G G R O A M O N U M E S R A V E R I C I N T E R M R E E X I S T N O A T A L E N Y L A F O A R N D I C T A T B I O A N A N O E N V L I O P L E I N G C T E D F L A C T H S E R L V D I R E T U M O S M I U E A U R N M E S S T N A J S N T E U S T N T U U B E O U S G R Y E S I T O S A H A P Last week’s solution, No 27,349 Sudoku classic Easy > ∧ > 2 ∧ 4 > ∧ > ∨ > > 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 theguardian.com/sudoku ∧ Last week’s solution 44 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Diversions Shortcuts China keen to advance Florence rules David’s its toilet revolution image is copyrighted When Mao Zedong was building up support to conquer China he declared: “A revolution is not a dinner party.” And Chinese president Xi Jinping’s mission to “revolutionise” the country’s toilets is certainly a far cry from hors d’oeuvres. Xi has stressed the need to upgrade China’s toilets in order to build a more civilised society and improve the hygiene of the masses. He first launched the “toilet revolution” in 2015, initially aimed at building better bathrooms at tourist sites. The stench and filth of many Chinese toilets horrifies foreigners. But the latest campaign is also about improving the bathroom experience for the domestic populations. Xi has reminded cadres of the need to carry out the toilet tumult until the end, perhaps akin to Marx’s permanent revolution, and encouraged officials to modernise tourist bathrooms while expanding the push to rural homes. Many country loos are simple pit toilets. “The toilet issue is no small thing, it’s an important aspect of building civilised cities and countryside,” Xi said in a front-page article in the People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece. “This work must be a concrete part of advancing our country’s revitalisation strategy and we must make great efforts to fill these shortcomings that affect the quality of life of the masses.” The National Tourism Administration announced plans to build and upgrade 64,000 toilets between 2018 and 2020 as part of a plan titled Advance the Toilet Revolution Steadily. Benjamin Haas His are the most famous curves in Florence and adorn everything from aprons to fridge magnets, but images of Michelangelo’s David can now only be used with official authorisation, a court rt in Italy y ruled. The 16th-century ury marble statue is the star attraction ion at the Galleria dell’Accademia, which took legal action against nst a tour company that at used an image of the biblical nude in marketing ng for €45 ($53) tours off the art museum, which normally costs €8 to enter. r. A civil court in n Florence ordered d Visit Today to remove the images because of copyright infringement, and d asserted that it is the right of the institution that holds olds the work to authorise horise reproduction images mages only on requestt and with payment of an agreed fee. The gallery director, Cecilie Hollberg, g, who took the civil action, described it as a “historic victory, which provides a precedent”. cedent”. Hollberg was as awaiting clarification on from the state attorney ney about whetherr the ruling could apply pply to all the objects cts and souvenirss that portray David d and were sold across the city, La Repubblica reported. The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, said: “Now the task for everyone – institutions, citizens and businesses – is to apply this ruling. Florence’s image should not be commercially exploited without limits and without rules.” Robert Booth New Zealand media bullish about Te Reo High-profile New Zea Zealand media personalities are refusing re to back down from using Māori words in their prime-time primebroadcasting, despite h hundreds of complaints from English speakers w who say they feel exclu excluded by the use of the Te R Reo language. Newshub presen presenter Kanoa Lloyd, who is of M Māori descent, began introducing Te Reo words reports in 2015 and to her weather rep received a torrent of complaints. Many listeners sa said they were unhappy with Lloyd Ll referring to New Zealand by its Te Reo name of Aotearoa, an and to the North and South Islan Islands by their Te Te Ika-a-Maui and Reo names of T Te Waipounam Waipounamu. Lloyd defie defied her critics and continued using Te Reo has continu words in her job as co-host of The P Project NZ. Her staunc staunch approach to preser preserving the indigenous language seems to have inspired other bro broadcasters. “Radio New Z Zealand – the New Zealand equivalent Z of the BBC – is supposed to be free of political meddling. Yet now it has been hijacked, and its hapless staff obliged to dispense their daily dose of Te Reo,” wrote Dave Witherow in The Otago Daily Times. Lloyd recorded a passionate twominute video rebuttal to her detractors, saying: “I actually felt a bit sorry for these guys, sorry the world is moving too fast for you my bros.” Eleanor Ainge Roy Finnish bakery oﬀers cricket-based bread A Finnish bakery has launched what it claims to be the world’s first insect-based bread to be offered to consumers in stores. The bread, made using flour ground from dried crickets as well as wheat flour and seeds, has more protein than normal wheat bread. Each loaf contains about 70 crickets and costs €3.99 ($4.75), compared with €2-€3 for a regular wheat loaf. “It offers consumers a good protein source and also gives them an easy way to familiarise themselves with insect-based food,” said Juhani Sibakov, the head of innovation at the bakery firm Fazer. The demand to find more food sources and a desire to treat animals more humanely have raised interest in using insects as a protein source in western countries. Last month Finland joined five other European countries – Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Denmark – in allowing insects to be raised and marketed for food use. “I don’t taste the difference … It tastes like bread,” said Sara Koivisto, a student from Helsinki, after trying the product. Reuters Maslanka puzzles 1 “What is wrong with this headline?,” demanded Pedanticus: “Coffee drastically lowers your risk of heart failure and stroke: Every extra cup boosts your longevity by 8%, study finds”. What had nearly given the old boy a heart attack? 2 “It’s too difficult, and my teacher agrees!” whinged Andy. Candy, who likes to think for herself, took a look. “You are told the minimum value of y for the equation y = x(x - p)/3 + 4 is 1; and you have to deduce the value of p.” Andy looked doubtful. “Not calculus!” he cried. “I hate calculus”. But Candy was already working on a solution – without calculus. What is p? 3 Down at The Last Chance saloon Tom reveals an urn. It contains – Wordplay c) precious stone used as charm d) Sultan’s bodyguard NEKTONIC a) joke-word for alcoholic beverage b) aquatic organisms that can swim c) of the dead d) unaffected by magnetic fields SHOFAR a) driver b) usher c) sand dance d) ram’s horn used in Jewish ritual Wordpool Same Difference Find the correct definition: BEZOAR a) cedar chest b) mass of indigestible material blocking the digestive tract Identify the words, whose spelling differs only in the letters shown: ******* (in a geologist’s garden?) C******* (in the kitchen) with equal probability – two white balls and one black; or three white balls. Rosencrantz withdraws a ball at random. It is white. What are the chances the urn contains a black ball? He now withdraws one of the two remaining balls at random. It is white. What are the chances the remaining ball in the urn is black? Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka E pluribus unum Rearrange the letters of FLEEING COUNT to make another word. Missing Links Find a word that follows the first word in the clue and precedes the second, in each case making a fresh word or phrase. Eg the answer to fish mix could be cake (fishcake & cake mix) and to bat man it could be he (bathe & he-man) ... a) heart fast b) horse wheel c) dry leaf d) mortal king e) horse box f) live card ©CMM2017. For solutions see page 47 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 45 Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Mind&Relationships Oliver Burkeman This column will change your life When we read the reviews for products online why do we believe that it’s quantity, not quality, that counts? E arlier this year I fell straight into a trap that, I’ve since learned, is common when shopping on the web. Seeking to banish sunlight from the bedroom of a tiny human who starts his nights before dark, I stumbled upon a blackout blind that promised to cling to the windows as if by magic (though actually by static electricity). It got plenty of reviews online, but a mediocre average rating owing to the fact that, in many cases, it didn’t cling at all. Yet in some semiconscious back corner of my brain, I figured that a product bought by so many people couldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately, it was. For the money I paid, I could have taped bin bags on the windows, then spent the rest on a nice whiskey to sip in the 45 minutes available to me each evening between the baby going to bed and me falling asleep. There’s solace, I suppose, in learning from a paper just published in Psychological Science that this appears to be a basic human bias: we’re influenced more by how many other people have chosen a product than by how that product worked out for them. The Stanford psychologist Derek Powell and his colleagues presented people with pairs of products as they might show up on Amazon, one with a poor average rating based on lots of reviews, the other with a similarly low rating based only on a handful. Reliably, people chose the product with more reviews. This makes no sense, statistically speaking: the larger the number of reviews on which a bad rating is based, the higher the likelihood the product really is bad. This is the “law of large numbers”: famously, if you ask a crowd of 1,000 to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar, the average of their Illustration by Michele Marconi; right, Lo Cole What I’m really thinking The Muslim oﬃce worker guesses will be spookily close to the truth; ask three people and it probably won’t. So, if forced to choose between two such products, you’re actually better off selecting the one with fewer reviews, since there’s a bigger chance the people who hated it are outliers, whose bad experience won’t accord with your own. There’s a faint echo here of the “mere exposure effect”, which describes the way that we grow In some semi-conscious back corner of my brain, I figured that a product bought by so many people couldn’t be so bad fond of anything to which we’re repeatedly exposed, all else being equal, regardless of any other reason to like or dislike it. That’s one reason that grating TV adverts work: sure, they’re annoying, but you notice them lots, and noticing leads to liking. In both cases, we seem designed to find sheer quantity (of product reviews, of encounters with an ad) reassuring at a gut level. It takes more conscious reasoning to see, in the case of online shopping, that the larger the quantity of purchasers, the more seriously you should recognise their judgment – and not buy something if they hated it. This is, perhaps not coincidentally in my case, the kind of reasoning it’s notoriously harder to practise when you’re tired. firstname.lastname@example.org My family has been in the UK for 60 years. We experienced racist abuse in public and at school, and saw our home vandalised many times. But that was the 1980s. Things got better and were meant to carry on getting better. Sadly, the abuse is back. Increasingly, I practise shameful pragmatism in the workplace. I don’t overdo the Brit shtick (“We Brits don’t do that, do we?”), but I do think twice about admitting I’m not a royalist. I’ve lied to pass the Tebbit cricket test, hiding my love for a team that infuriates me and fills me with pride, while reminding me of days spent with my late dad watching the sport. I won’t mention the latest attack. If you bring it up, I’ll say it’s sick, awful, depraved. Is that enough? Or should I say I condemn it “as a Muslim”? Are you just making conversation, or are you trying to find out if I’m a sympathiser? As a human, I’m horrified and disgusted. As a Muslim, I’m mostly frightened. Insecurities and anxieties I had as an immigrant’s child, which lessened in my 20s, have reached unhealthy levels this past decade. My over-consumption of news media means even I can understand why people can’t see past my Muslim identity any more. So, excuse me if I seem as though I’m keeping my head down and sticking to conversations about work after this latest terror attack. Like you, I’ll be thinking of the human spirits p rubbed out and those defined by for this atrocity at the rest r of their lives. I’ll also be live wondering how w tthis chapter of history o will end. w Tell us what Te you really you’re thinking at mind@ think theguardian.com theguar 46 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 Sport Future promise in England’s final pain Tight, punishing contest sees Kangaroos take 11th trophy from 15 attempts Rugby League World Cup Aaron Bower If there is one overriding image that will remain with England fans for at least the next four years, it is the sight of Kallum Watkins stumbling and falling with the freedom of Brisbane Stadium laid out in front of him. At that stage the opportunity was clear for England perhaps more than ever before. The chance to become world champions was on – all Watkins had to do was stay upright. What the centre did not account for, however, was one of those moments that turns the course of a game, if not a tournament, on its head: the tap that won the Rugby League World Cup. Step forward Josh Dugan. The Australian’s last-ditch ankle tap, with Australia’s women sink New Zealand to retain title Australia’s departing co-captains Steph Hancock and Renae Kunst bowed out in style, defending their Women’s Rugby League World Cup title with a 23-16 win over New Zealand at Brisbane Stadium. There was no fairytale for New Zealand captain Laura Mariu, who ended her 17-year international career. Australia centre Isabelle Kelly crossed twice but the win was sealed by Caitlin Moran’s drop goal with 13 seconds left, ensuring the hosts end 2017 undefeated. Australian Associated Press Watkins searing away downfield, just about felled the centre and kept Australia’s six-point lead intact. There were further near-misses – and further frustrations – in the closing stages as England pressed and pressed without any reward. By full-time the outcome was a distinctly familiar one. Yes, this was World Cup No 11 at the 15th attempt for the all-conquering Kangaroos. They remain the best side in the world and the benchmark for everyone else. And yes, this was a missed opportunity for England to end that stranglehold. But before their celebrations could begin, there was a frank admission from the world’s best player, the kind that confirms just how much England have stepped up in the eyes of the Australians. “It’s one of the toughest games I’ve ever played in,” said Cameron Smith. From a multiple World Cup, State of Origin and National Rugby League winner, that is fair praise. It will matter little in the moments immediately after another heartbreaking defeat to Australia, but longer term, this heroic performance sets England up for an opportunity it cannot squander. International rugby league has been reinvigorated by this World Cup. The emergence of Tonga as a powerhouse and the growth of the other Pacific Nations makes it essential that momentum is not lost. But from England’s perspective, there is also much to build on. Sam Burgess, stand-in captain for the final, led the side with passion, James Graham bled for the cause from the first minute and England have surely piqued the public’s attention with this heroic effort. They certainly could not have done any more in that regard. As good as Super League is, the powers that be would be wise to listen; the public Winning moment … Josh Dugan takes flight to ankle-tap Kallum Watkins and deny England a potentially match-turning try Gregg Porteous/PA want more of this international rugby league drama. It could well catch on. If you had not seen the game and simply glanced at the final score, 6-0 in Australia’s favour does not suggest a classic. But as a breathless, devastated Graham just about managed to mutter: “What a spectacle.” He was right. The praise kept coming too, with greats such as the Australian full-back Billy Slater pointing out just what a war the Kangaroos were in. England’s agonising pain of defeat will eventually subside and hopefully make way for optimism. The gap is perhaps closer than it has been between Australia and England – now the world’s second-best side without question – for some time. Every player takes credit for that – as does the coach. Wayne Bennett’s appointment two years ago was met with confusion and scrutiny. The prospect of an Australian coaching England even drew criticism from some Kangaroo greats. The gripe from an English perspective mostly revolved around how he would be based full-time in Australia while in charge. Bennett promised he would make England better. Plenty doubted whether he would come good on it. Russia’s festival of football can rise above the residual cynicism Inside sport Amy Lawrence I t should come as no surprise for Brazil and Germany to be earmarked as favourites for the football World Cup in Russia. After all, they are the two most decorated countries in the tournament’s history (not forgetting absent friends Italy, who, like Germany, have four gold stars embroidered over their crest, one behind Brazil’s five). But when you add some context, it reveals something about sport’s capacity to drag the badly defeated back up from the floor that most bookmakers are not willing to separate two heavyweights who flabbergasted the planet with Germany’s 7-1 defeat of the hosts in the 2014 semi-final. That the gap has narrowed enough for the 2018 World Cup’s leading nations to be perceived as equal again is a testimony to a remarkable Brazil recovery. Outside these two, France, Spain, Belgium and Argentina are all capable of having a say in the latter stages. It is easy enough for cynicism to play its part around a World Cup draw. Some groups appear to lack intrigue. The opening game, Russia v Saudi Arabia is, according to the Fifa rankings, the lowest-grade fixture of the tournament. Reticence about how welcoming the host country will be adds extra negative vibes. World Cup 2018 draw Group A Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay Group B Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran Group C France, Australia, Peru, Denmark Group D Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria Group E Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia Group F Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea Group G Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England Group H Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan Finals to be played in Russia from 14 June-15 July 2018 The Guardian Weekly 08.12.17 47 Sport in brief But the World Cup’s capacity to overcome the cynicism, to flush away the pre-tournament negativity, should not be underestimated. The Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo got to the heart of it all with one phrase: “Going to the World Cup looks like the key to entering a different dimension.” That sense of possibility, of inspiration, is felt from underdog to favourite. Four years ago Brazil were crippled by pressure. Now, as the saying goes, they are ready to go again. Halfpenny’s penalty, after South Africa had battled back from what was at one stage an 18-point deficit. The result left Wales with two wins and two losses from their four matches. and Sam Allardyce took over at Everton. Pardew’s new reign began with a goalless draw against former club Crystal Palace at The Hawthorns, while Allardyce, the former England manager, got off to a winning start with a 2-0 success at home to Huddersfield. • Two veterans of English football management returned to their Premier League dugouts last week, as Alan Pardew was named manager at West Bromwich Albion • Wales rounded off their campaign of autumn rugby union internationals with a 24-22 victory over South Africa in Cardiff. A tight game between two weakened sides was settled by Leigh More majors? Tiger Woods back on course Chess Leonard Barden Magnus Carlsen’s next defence of his world crown will be a 12-game series in London from 9-28 November 2018. The prize fund is the world body Fide’s minimum of $1m, which could yet present a problem if Fabiano Caruana wins the eightman candidates in Berlin in March. In that case the billionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has made his home city of St Louis into a global chess capital and who could easily fund a much larger purse, may try to have the match switched to the US. Meanwhile, the 10-player annual London Classic, which has both Carlsen and Caruana in the field, is under way at the Olympia Conference Centre. The event is also the final leg of the Grand Chess Tour. Norway has two world champions now after Aryan Tari won the world junior (under-20) crown. Tari’s fastest win was scored in daring style after his provocative 4... Bg6 opening choice where 4...Bd7 is usual to prevent 5 e6. Later 9...g5! took the initiative,and was rewarded with the passive 13 Be3? (13 Nxe4 dxe4 14 c3 is safe). Tari’s vigorous 15...e5! set up complications where • As England’s cricketers played the second Ashes Test against Australia in Adelaide, their missing star all-rounder Ben Stokes endured a torrid time with bat and ball on his Canterbury debut against Otago in New Zealand’s 50-over Ford Trophy tournament. The 26-year-old – who is suspended from international duty pending possible charges over an altercation outside a Bristol nightclub in September – signed as an overseas player for Canterbury in New Zealand, but was dismissed for two and then failed to take a wicket in his nine overs as Otago claimed a three-wicket win in Rangiora. Nevertheless Stokes, along with opening batsman Alex Hales, looked set to be included in England’s one-day squad to face Australia in the new year. Hales is free for selection after he was deemed to be a witness, not a suspect, regarding the incident in Bristol on 25 September. Stokes will only be free to play provided charges do not materialise. Maslanka solutions 3523 Vasilios Kotronias v Hristos Banikas, Greece 2014. How did Black (to play) win? his opponent missed the tactical trick 21...Qxg5! with a potential knight fork, and White soon resigned. Grigoriy Oparin v Aryan Tari 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 g4 Bg6!? 5 e6 Qd6 6 exf7+ Bxf7 7 f4 Nf6 8 Nc3 Nbd7 9 Bh3 g5!? 10 fxg5 Ne4 11 Nge2 Bg7 12 O-O O-O 13 Be3? Nb6 14 Bf4 Nxc3 15 bxc3 e5! 16 Bg3 Nc4 17 Rf5 Bg6 18 Qd3 Qe7 19 dxe5 Nxe5 20 Qe3 Bxf5 21 gxf5 Qxg5! 22 Nf4 Rae8 23 Qe2 Ng6 24 Ne6 Nf4 25 Qg4 Nxh3+ 26 Qxh3 Qxf5 0-1 3523 1...Rxh3! 2 gxh3 Qxe4+! 3 Rxe4 Nf6! and White resigned. The mate threat is Bxe4+. Now there can be no doubt, and the Rugby Football League would be wise to persuade him to continue this journey into 2018 and beyond. When the players begin to drag themselves up from the floor, they will realise they have instilled England’s rugby league followers with hope and confidence. They will rue this missed opportunity, but they have delivered pride and confidence aplenty that the future is bright. It took 22 years for England to return to the World Cup final. One would hope that, following the undoubted progress made by this side over the tournament’s six weeks and shown by the bucketload last Saturday, it will not be that long again. • Rickie Fowler’s stunning closing round of 61, which claimed the Hero World Golf Challenge by four shots, was not enough to switch the narrative. Even Tiger Woods’s Sunday 68, meaning three sub-70 rounds out of four as he tied ninth, failed to be as significant as what came later. Woods, in the immediate aftermath of his first completed tournament in 12 months, declared his intention to play regularly in 2018. He even touched upon his desire to add to a majors haul that currently sits – and seemed destined to close – at 14. “I don’t know what my schedule’s going to be but my expectations are we’ll be playing next year,” Woods said. “How many, where, I don’t know yet, but we’ll figure it out.” Woods’s fourth surgery, a back fusion, has cured what he described last week as crippling pain. Nonetheless, and sensibly given the context, the 41-year-old has called for patience as a watching world wonders whether he can even partly replicate past glories. 1 It must be difficult for headline writers, who have to scan an article for the gist and summarise it neatly in a few words. Although we are gratified and prepared to believe that the risk of a stroke or infarct might well increase monotonically with each coffee quaffed it is absurd that every extra cup should increase longevity by 8%; for then two cups would increase it by above 16%. I leave you to deduce how many cups you need to double your life expectancy. (I assume that by “every extra cup” it means every extra daily cup). With thanks to Robin Derricourt of Sydney for sending this in. 2 y = x(x – p)⁄3 + 4. Rearrange this to give a more pliable form: x2 - px = 3y – 12. If we add (p⁄2)2 to each side [How do you know that’s what you should add?] we find (x – p⁄2)2 = 3y – 12 + (p2)⁄4. But (x – p⁄2)2 ≥ 0; that is 3y – 12 + (p2)⁄4 ≥ 0. In other words 3y ≥ 12 – (p2)⁄4. But the minimum value is 1; so 3 = 12 – (p2)⁄4, whence p2 = 36; so p = ±6. (This is part of an “impossible” exam question controversially set in New Zealand.) 3 At the outset the probability it is the black urn P(B) = 1⁄2. Now there are 5 white balls, each of them as likely to be the one that has been withdrawn. Two of these are associated with an urn with a black ball in; 3 with the urn with 3 balls in. The chances are thus 2⁄5 that the ball came from an urn with the black ball in; so after the first withdrawal, P(B)’ = 2⁄5. Now begin again and this time withdraw two balls. The number of (ordered) ways that could happen if there is a black ball are 2; whereas in the other case it is 6; so P(B)” = 2⁄(2 + 6) = 1⁄4. Wordpool b), b), d) Same Difference ROCKERY, CROCKERY EPU GENUFLECTION Missing Links a) heart/break/fast b) horse/ fly/wheel c) dry/dock/leaf d) mortal/sin/king e) horse/shoe/box f) live/rail/card Guardian News & Media Ltd. All rights reserved. Published by Guardian News & Media Ltd., Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK. Acting editor: Graham Snowdon. Printed by Trinity Mirror Printing Ltd, Watford. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Annual subscription rates (in local currencies): UK £120; Europe €196; Rest of World £192; US $240; Canada $240; Australia $312; NZ $392 Quarterly subscription rates: UK £30; Europe €49; Rest of World £48; US $60; Canada $60; Australia $78; NZ $98 To subscribe visit gu.com/subscribe/weekly R Ratings game Why do we still trust online W products with lots of bad reviews? p Mind & Relationships, page 45 M Zoe Williams Are you fed up with secret Santa, mince pies, oﬃce drinks and the whole festive thing? Here’s how to say no at Christmas and get away with it I f this season seems tailored to stimulate the anxieties of Fomo sufferers – fear of missing out – it holds just as much horror for those with Dogi – dread of getting involved. They are pinged like pinballs from one question to which the answer is no, to another. Would you like to come to x, spend the evening at y, spend an entire day at the house of z, have another drink, have a mince pie, come in for mulled wine, taste my world-beating cake, join our secret Santa, take a look at my tree why dontcha? For some, all the true answers are “no”; others wouldn’t mind a qualified yes, but balk at the sheer scale of it all. Why can’t lunch just be lunch? Why does it have to be 15 hours? There is a subsection of questions to which the answer is “nothing” – what would you like for Christmas? What have you been up to all year? – and we’ll just have to resolve that another time. Just by the way, I am a no-er. I’m on the other side of the hedge altogether, making the demands and looking crestfallen when a person wants to catch the last train. But only people who like to say “yes” can explain how to say “no” in a way that the “yessies” will understand, or at least accept. Probably the most common no/yes axis is drink: the season turns everyone into a problem drinker, exaggeratedly merry and unrestrained, except those who were problem drinkers already, who find it really annoying how hard it suddenly is to get to the bar. It is vital to the carnivalesque spirit that everyone joins in; otherwise the alcoholic bubble bursts and you’re just regular people, with regular livers, on a regular Tuesday night, with a regular wreck of a Wednesday coming. There is a well-known canon of excuses for teetotalism: I have a hangover; I’m on antibiotics (one from the 80s, there – most antibiotics are no longer incompatible with alcohol, but there is something about a social lie that doesn’t keep up with the times); my journey with booze has come to an end (I like the open-endedness of this: come to an end this week? Or come to an end for ever? Only an oaf would press the point); I have a big meeting tomorrow. All of these rely on the premise that you’re dealing with reasonable people, with a sense of accountability, who can understand cause and effect. That is exactly the opposite of what you’re dealing with: a person like that wouldn’t be trying to get you drunk in the first place. A person like that would already have gone home. There is no reasoning with merry people, you cannot appeal to their wisdom. You just have to pretend that the drink in your hand, whatever it is, has vodka in it. Carry two drinks to ram home just how thirsty you are. The season turns everyone into a problem drinker, exaggeratedly merry and unrestrained At some point in the evening, your sobriety will start to emit a high-pitched warning noise to other people, who in the ever-dimmer caves of their consciousness will notice that you’re not slurring or repeating yourself. Five minutes before that point, leave. Don’t say goodbye. Everyone notices the person who’s the first to say goodbye; nobody in the history of the social human has ever noticed what time one person disappeared. Refusing food, even though it should be a universal human right not to eat something you don’t fancy, is somehow even more freighted and emotional. There is a sense of collective responsibility, here – look, none of us like mince pies, all of us would rather not have this oppressive feeling of baked goods backing right up to our oesophaguses, but we all take it for the team. Demurring is like freeloading on other people’s sense of duty. Just eat it. Even having to explain this is making me want to eat a chocolate, just to prove it’s not that big a deal in the service of harmony. Again, the answer is never to find more inventive ways of saying no; being gluten-free or on a diet just compounds the original offence. It’s better to just have something in your mouth that makes it impossible to put anything else in, like chewing gum, or a cigarette, or a party horn. When it comes to social events, there are none of these easy fixes: unavoidably, if you don’t go, even if you’ve said you’re going to, people will notice you’re not there. In the olden days, anyone who hated hanging out with their families would volunteer for Shelter. It’s a double-edged sword for the homeless charity: they get a lot of brand recognition (ha! Take that, RSPCA. Nobody’s sitting round discussing your good works with helping animals over Christmas dinner, while they mourn the absence of uncle Tim). But they’re also becoming a little jaded, and now I believe you have to volunteer for the whole three days if you want to hitch yourself to their apple-wagon. You can always be the person who goes overseas for the whole two weeks, then stay indoors. It’s like the premise for an afternoon radio drama, rife with risk and potential for mishap. But definitely have a go if you think you’re crafty enough.