Vol 198 No 5 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply A week in the life of the world | 5-11 January 2018 Warnings of plastics ‘binge’ Producers raise pollution risk New fix for the war on drugs Portugal’s radical policy in focus Storyteller for the small screen Jodie Foster’s new directorial turn Iran shaken from within Angry demonstrations are biggest since 2009 Weak economy and food price rises blamed A striking image, taken by an amateur photographer on a smartphone, shows a young woman in Tehran taking off her hijab, perching on a telecoms box, and holding her headscarf aloft on a stick. It may look as if she is waving a white flag of truce, but given her geographical location, in a country where wearing the hijab is obligatory for women, it is a small – yet audacious – act of resistance, embodying the aspiration of a young nation frustrated with economic grievances but also a lack of social and political freedom. The photo surfaced last week as a new wave of anti-regime protests that began over economic issues in north-eastern Iran spread across the country in a way nobody anticipated. Having taken on a political dimension of huge scale, those protests – which continued with increasing violence this week – pose the biggest challenge to Tehran’s leadership since the 2009 unrest, shaking the foundations of the Islamic Republic. The geographical scale of unrest in provinces, and the harshness of the slogans chanted, are unprecedented since the 1979 revolution. They have drawn parallels to the months of antigovernment unrest after the disputed 2009 election, which gave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in office amid a bloody crackdown. Anadolu Agency/Getty Saeed Kamali Dehghan Standing up … protests have been led by young and working class Iranians But the new protests, labelled by many on Twitter as Eteraz-e-omomi (or “the general strike” in Farsi) are posing more questions than answers, puzzling observers about how it all started, why it spread so quickly, and what it means for Iran’s future. There are also big differences from the turbulence eight years ago. A relatively small protest last Thursday in Mashhad, Iran’s secondlargest city and the main base for opponents of moderate president Hassan Rouhani, unexpectedly gave impetus to a wave of spontaneous protests spreading across provinces. A source close to government officials said Rouhani’s administration believes the first protests were organised by his opponents, most notably supporters of his campaign rival, the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi. “Death to Rouhani” were among the first chants in Mashhad, but the situation soon got out of control with people chanting anti-regime slogans such as “death to the dictator”, denouncing the leadership of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Within a day the protests spread to Kermanshah in the west of Iran, Isfahan in the centre, Rasht in the north, and even Qom, the hotbed of clerics, as well as other cities such as Sari, Hamedan and Qazvin. As the protests grew bigger, anti-regime demonstrations were held in Tehran but also in Shahr-e-Kord, Bandar Abbas, Izeh, Arak, Zanjan, Abhar, Doroud, Khorramabad, Ahvaz, Karaj and Tonekabon. By Tuesday, at least 21 people were estimated to have died in clashes between protesters and security forces. Mohammad-Taghi Karroubi, son of an opposition leader under house arrest, 4→ 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 05.01.18 World roundup Opioids driving down US life expectancy Presidential race begins in Cyprus 1 4 Life expectancy in the US has declined for the second year in a row as the opioid crisis continues to ravage the nation. It is the first time in half a century that there have been two consecutive years of declining life expectancy. Drug overdoses killed 63,600 Americans in 2016, an increase of 21% over the previous year, researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics found. Americans can now expect to live 78.6 years, a decrease of 0.1 years. The US last experienced two years’ decline in a row in 1963, during a tobacco epidemic and a wave of flu. The new data from NCHS shows that synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have emerged as the latest threat. US world diary, page 9 The race for the Cyprus presidency has begun in earnest in an election that, once again, could hold the key to the island’s feuding Greek and Turkish communities finally uniting. Last Friday nine candidates, including the incumbent president, Nicos Anastasiades, formally submitted bids to contest the race, the first round of which is scheduled for 28 January. Anastasiades is widely viewed as the frontrunner, but not tipped to win outright in the first round, in which case a vote between the top two candidates will be held. More Europe news, pages 6-7 → Morsi jailed for ‘insulting judiciary’ 6 Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has been sentenced to three years in prison and fined 2m Egyptian pounds ($112,000) after being found guilty of insulting the judiciary. Nineteen others were also jailed for three years last Saturday, but fined lesser amounts ranging from 30,000 to 1m Egyptian pounds. The defendants were accused of insulting the judiciary in media statements and on social media. More Middle East news, page 4 → → Venezuela frees government opponents 2 Three dozen opponents of Venezuela’s socialist government have been freed from prison, a local rights group has said. Following condemnation for holding about 270 activists in prison, President Nicolás Maduro’s administration said it was freeing 80 of them, replacing jail terms with sentences such as community service. Alfredo Romero, whose Penal Forum group tracks the detention of activists, said 36 “political prisoners” had been freed, but he criticised the government for not giving a blanket amnesty. Latin America news, page 11 1 → UN warns on killing of Colombia activists 3 3 by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) ended a civil war that had lasted half a century. More than half of the 105 rights activists and community leaders killed last year were gunned down by hitmen, the UN said. By comparison, in 2016, 127 rights defenders and community leaders were killed, up from 59 in 2015 and 45 in 2014, according to UN figures. 8 2 Campaigner Erica Garner dies aged 27 5 More than 100 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia last year, according to the United Nations, which urged more accountability and better protections. Activists have been particularly at risk in regions that were vacated by rebel fighters under a peace agreement signed in 2016, leaving a power vacuum, the UN’s human rights office in Colombia said. The peace accord signed 5 The Black Lives Matter activist Erica Garner has died, after a week in hospital following a heart attack. She was 27. Garner was the daughter of Eric Garner, a man who died in a police chokehold in New York in 2014. Among tributes, Senator Bernie Sanders said that, although Garner “didn’t ask to be an activist, she responded to the personal tragedy of seeing her father die … by becoming a leading proponent for criminal justice reform and for an end to police brutality”. Announcing Garner’s death in New York, the Rev Al Sharpton said she was “a warrior to the end”. He said: “Her heart was broken when she didn’t get justice … the [heart] attack just dealt with the pieces that were left.” Four months ago Garner gave birth to a son who was named after her father. She also had an eight-year-old daughter. In a recent interview with the webshow Like it or Not, she talked about the difficulties of life as a parent and an activist. “I’m struggling right now from the stress of everything,” she said, “because the system, it beats you down.” Her mother, Esaw Snipes, told the New York Times that her daughter learned during her recent pregnancy that she had heart problems. “She was a warrior. She fought the good fight,” Snipes said. Coalition raids kill 68 Yemenis in a day 7 Sixty-eight Yemeni civilians were killed in two air raids by the Saudi-led coalition in one day, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Yemen has said, as he condemned what he described as “an absurd and futile war”. Jamie McGoldrick’s unusually direct criticism came in an update citing initial reports from the UN human rights office of the two strikes last week. The first hit a crowded market in Taez province, killing 54 civilians, including eight children, and wounding 32 others, McGoldrick said. The second was in the Red Sea province of Hodeidah and killed 14 people from one family. “I remain deeply disturbed by mounting civilian casualties,” McGoldrick said. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures → Centre pages 24-25 Surprise resignation by Mali PM 8 Mali’s prime minister and his government have resigned in a surprise move, just months before presidential polls are due to be held. Authorities gave no reason for Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga’s decision to step down months before the president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, seeks re-election. The president’s office said Maïga, who had been in his post since April, handed in his resignation along with his government’s last Friday, when it was accepted. He resigns with Mali’s north still a theatre of unrest. More Africa news, page 10 → At least 41 die in Kabul from Isis bombs 10 Islamic State has killed at least 41 people and injured more than 80 others in an attack on a Shia Muslim cultural centre and news agency that share a building in Kabul. The first explosion was detonated by a suicide bomber sitting among students at a lecture marking the 38th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Two more blasts outside targeted security and medical services, and people attempting to put out a fire started by the first bomb. The explosions killed at least one journalist working for the Afghan Voice news agency. More South Asia news, page 8 → Mount Taranaki granted legal rights 12 Mount Taranaki in New Zealand is to be granted the same legal rights as a person, becoming the third geographic feature in the country to be granted a “legal personality”. Eight local Māori tribes and the government will share guardianship of the sacred mountain on the west coast of the North Island, in a long-awaited acknowledgment of the indigenous peoples’ relationship to the mountain, who view it as an ancestor and whanau, or family member. The new status of the mountain means that, if someone abuses or harms it, it is the same legally as harming the tribe. Kim Jong-un’s nuclear force ‘complete’ 10 4 6 13 11 13 14 7 9 12 South Sudan’s rivals agree to ceasefire 9 A ceasefire between South Sudan’s warring parties began on Christmas Eve, in the latest bid to end a devastating four-year war. Government and several armed groups signed a ceasefire deal during peace negotiations in Addis Ababa. The agreement says all forces should “immediately freeze in their locations”, halt actions that could lead to confrontation and release political detainees, as well as abducted women and children. Riek Machar, pictured, the former vice-president whose falling out with president Salva Kiir started the conflict in December 2013, ordered his rebel forces to “cease all hostilities”. South Sudan’s leaders fought for decades for independence but, after achieving it in 2011, a power struggle between Kiir and Machar led to civil war two years later. Shanghai to limit population to 25m North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has warned the United States that his country’s nuclear forces are now “completed”, adding that the nuclear launch button was always within easy reach. While he remained defiant in his confrontation with Donald Trump, he struck a more conciliatory note on relations with South Korea, offering to start talks on sending a North Korean delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Japan’s whalers get free run in Antarctic 14 11 China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, authorities have said. The state council said the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved. More Asia Pacific news, page 13 → After a year in which he ordered a string of missile launches and the regime’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Kim used his annual New Year’s Day address to declare the North’s nuclear weapons capability a reality. “We achieved the goal of completing our state nuclear force in 2017,” Kim said in a speech broadcast live by state TV. “The US should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my desk. This is not blackmail but reality.” A fleet of Japanese ships is hunting minke whales in the Southern Ocean. It is a politically incendiary practice: the waters around Antarctica were long ago declared a whale sanctuary, but the designation has not halted Japan’s whalers, who are continuing a tradition of catching whales “for scientific research” in the region. In the past, conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd have mounted campaigns of harassment and successfully blocked Japan’s ships from killing whales. But not this year. Despite previous successes, Sea Shepherd says it can no longer frustrate Japan’s whalers because their boats now carry hardware supplied from military sources, making the fleet highly elusive and almost impossible to track. As a result the whalers are – for the first time – being given a free run to kill minke whales. More environment news, pages 12, 13 → 4 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 International news Middle East Tehran’s enemies must be extra careful Weakening of regime could lead to escalation of tensions in region Analysis Simon Tisdall Like birds of prey circling high in the desert sky, Iran’s many foes are watching the protests in Tehran and other cities with beady-eyed anticipation. But hopes that the unrest could trigger regime collapse, voiced in the US and Israel, appear premature. Any real or imagined weakening of the Iranian government’s grip could presage a dangerous escalation of regional tensions. Predominantly Shia Muslim, Iran’s efforts to project its power across the Middle East have earned it many enemies. Its expansionist policy accelerated following the USBritish debacle in Iraq after 2003. Iran is now a leading actor in postSaddam Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. These perceived encroachments are a cause of resentment, not only in Iraq’s Sunni heartlands to the north and west of Baghdad, but especially in the headquarters of Sunni Islam, Saudi Arabia. Iranian officials have already accused the Saudis of fomenting the protests. Until recently the idea that Saudi Arabia was secretly plotting regime change in Iran might have seemed outlandish. But tensions between the two countries are at an all-time high. The Saudis accused Iran of direct responsibility for a recent Iran shaken from within by wave of deadly protests ← Continued from page 1 Mehdi Karroubi, said new demonstrations show that, despite the crackdown in 2009, the desire for protest has remained. “Instead of blaming foreign powers and saying that they are inciting the protests, the establishment has to acknowledge that there is a base for protest within Iran,” he said. Karroubi said that, after Rouhani won a landslide victory with the support of reformists, his unexpected conservative turn since had disappointed his base. “It’s always been the reformist youth who pumped hope inside the country and they’re silent now.” Senior figures in the reformist camp, who do not back regime Under fire … Hassan Rouhani faces US, Saudi and Israeli wrath EPA missile attack on the king’s royal palace in Riyadh. The missile was launched from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting Houthi rebels backed by Tehran. The rivalry extends to Lebanon, where the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, mounted what most observers concluded was a bungled coup in November to reduce the influence of Tehranbacked Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia political party and militia. In his drive to repulse Iran, knock Qatar and other Arab Gulf states into change, and even many supporters of the Green movement, which arose after the 2009 presidential election, are uncomfortable with some of the slogans, such as those in support of monarchy. Compared with 2009, the new protests appear to lack any specific organisation, which many see as an advantage because the state cannot easily crack down on them by arresting a leader, and others as a disadvantage because they don’t have a clear strategy for the next step. While the middle class and the elites were behind the 2009 protests, this latest wave appears to be led by the working class, most affected by the weak economy and a jump in food prices. “It’s a jigsaw puzzle,” said one commentator, who did not want to be identified. “There might be other reasons at play too, such as internal rivalries line, and assert control at home, the youthful Salman has gained a reputation for recklessness. Nobody truly knows how far Salman is prepared to go, although he has vowed in the past “to take the fight to Iran” and has described Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as “the new Hitler of the Middle East”. Salman has the backing of his friend Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy. Trump’s wish to see what he calls Iran’s “rogue regime” toppled is no secret. What has been surprising is the sudden eruption of the protests, which had no obvious internal trigger. Trump and Mike Pence, his vice-president, voiced hopes Iran’s “oppressive regime” would fall, though Hassan Rouhani was democratically re-elected president under a year ago. Israeli politicians are also excited about regime change in Iran. The regional cooperation minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, said the protesters were “courageously risking their lives in the pursuit of freedom”, and called on the “civilised world” to support them. Israel says Iran has stepped up missile and weapon supplies to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Palestinian militants in Gaza. It is worried about the security of its Golan Heights border with Syria. A weakened Iran could lash out. It could also prove a disruptive partner for Iraq and Syria, and Turkey and Russia, Tehran’s allies of convenience. As for the circling US, Saudi and Israeli hawks, they should be careful what they wish for. between different factions, especially as Khamenei becomes older and the succession race becomes serious.” Bold resistance … a woman raises her headscarf in protest Twitter Rouhani admits discontent but condemns violence The Iranian authorities threatened a crackdown against protesters and scrambled to block social media apps allegedly used to incite unrest as the biggest demonstrations in nearly a decade continued into this week. People across Iran took to the streets again on Monday night in defiance of riot police and state warnings to stay away. The president, Hassan Rouhani, said last Sunday night that “people have the right to criticise”, but the authorities would not tolerate antisocial behaviour. Officials said at least 200 people were arrested during demonstrations in central Tehran last Saturday. It was not clear how many were arrested in the provinces, which saw even bigger protests. By Tuesday it was estimated at least 21 people had died in clashes between police and security forces. Rouhani, urging the nation to be vigilant, acknowledged people were unhappy about the state of economy, corruption and a lack of transparency. “People are allowed under the constitution to criticise or even protest, but in a way that at the end they lead to a better situation in the country for the people.” Condemning US president Donald Trump, who voiced support for the protests, Rouhani said: “This gentleman who today sympathises with our people has forgotten that a few months ago he called us a terrorist nation.” Saeed Kamali Dehghan In contrast to coverage of the 2009 protests, a number of state news agencies and local newspapers reported on the recent protests. Last Sunday night, the state-run newspaper Iran was among the first to publish images of protests in Tehran. Earlier in the day, conservative cleric Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghadam said the authorities should listen to the protesters and allow gatherings, and state TV must cover the demonstrations. Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran University professor, blamed the Rouhani government’s economic policy for the protests: “I think perhaps the government policy seems to some as leaning towards liberalisation of the economy, raising the price of gasoline and removing subsidies, and at the moment, because the economy is not doing so well, it has created a sense of concern among a lot of people.” The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 5 International news Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and Page XX Trump’s bombast augurs ill for world peace President’s disdain for traditional diplomacy could catch fire in 2018 Analysis Julian Borger The Trump effect on international relations is likely to be studied for generations to come, but first we have to survive it. With the US presidency sliding towards two major conflicts, that is no foregone conclusion. Experts on nuclear weapons and the institutionalised madness of mutually assured destruction are increasingly making nervous jokes about living outside the blast radius in Washington DC. The standoff with North Korea was bequeathed by the previous administration. But Trump’s demagoguery has steepened the incline of the slippery slope to conflict in Asia and the Middle East, while his blithe lack of concern about climate change is a serious hindrance to efforts to rescue the planet. North Korea The only time the two presidents met, Barack Obama warned Donald Trump about the threat posed by North Korea’s weapons programmes. Kim Jong-un was already well on the way to making an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a nuclear warhead. “It won’t happen!” Trump tweeted soon after. But it did, in spades. Pyongyang now has (most likely) a hydrogen bomb, and, quite possibly, a missile capable of reaching Washington. China Trump wants to achieve two objectives in his relations with China that are fundamentally in conflict. He is seeking to make it the battleground for “America first” policies abroad, remaking a trade relationship in the US favour, while trying to enlist more help from Beijing in tightening the vice on North Korea. Beijing’s decision to start building refugee camps suggests China is planning for regime collapse in Pyongyang or war on the Korean peninsula. Iran Hostility to Tehran is one of the few constants in Trump’s foreign policy. In part this seems grounded in his desire to destroy Obama’s flagship foreign policy legacy, the 2015 deal in which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in return for Demagoguery ... Trump raises the risk of a slide into conflict in Asia and the Middle East Getty sanctions relief. Trump refused to certify this deal in October and may torpedo it entirely in mid-January. That would put the administration on a confrontation course with Iran, forsaking Washington’s traditional allies in Europe along the way, in favour of alignment with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and his Abu Dhabi counterpart, Mohammed bin Zayed, who are determined to push back Iranian influence in the Gulf. Syria The Trump-Netanyahu-Salman axis has no real plan for containing Iran’s reach where it has extended most, in Syria. As Russia reduces its footprint, Iran is set to expand its own, rebuilding the Syrian army and bolstering it with proxy militias on the template of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The consolidation of Iranian military power from Herat in Afghanistan to southern Lebanon will remake the map of the Middle East, one of the most important long-term consequences of the US invasion of Iraq, followed by Obama and Trump’s decisions largely to stay out of the Syrian civil war. In 2018, the US will almost certainly become more aggressive in its attempts to contain Tehran’s reach. All of Trump’s national security team are hawkish on Iran. The question is whether they will opt for a slow-burn approach, bleeding Iranian forces through proxies, or choose all-out confrontation. Washington withholds UN funding after snub on Jerusalem The US has announced significant cuts in UN funding for 2018-19 in what will be interpreted as a further attempt by the Trump administration to bend international decision-making to its will. This year’s contribution will be slashed by more than $285m. “We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of,” the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said. Under the UN charter, the US is responsible for 22% of the annual operating budget, or around $1.2bn in 2017-18, and 28.5% of the cost of peacekeeping operations, estimated at $6.8bn. The timing sends a clear message. Last month, the general assembly voted 128-9 in favour of a resolution condemning the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After the vote, Haley reminded the assembly that the US would remember the vote “when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the UN, and we will remember it when countries come calling on us to use our influence for their benefit”. Edward Helmore New York Russia There is far less unity in the Trump team over Russia. In his desire to grant concessions to improve the relationship with Vladimir Putin, the president is at odds with almost all his most senior officials. The secretaries of defence and state, James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, have sought to box Trump in on the issue, stipulating there will be no sanctions relief and no diplomatic thaw until Russia pulls back in Ukraine. Either Trump overhauls his team, replacing Mattis and Tillerson with more pro-Moscow alternatives, or a newly re-elected Putin sours significantly on Trump. Either way, the drift of both countries from disarmament back to an arms race looks hard to stop. Europe The UK government’s hopes of an extra-special relationship with Washington post-Brexit have foundered on the rocky shallows of Trump’s personality. The president’s Islamophobic forays into British politics have given Theresa May little choice but to rebuke him openly, drawing his ire in return. Meanwhile, deep differences over Iran, North Korea and climate change have forced Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel to plot a European course on global issues that is increasingly independent of the US. That divergence is likely to widen this year. 6 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 International news Europe Corruption still mars Bulgaria as it takes over the EU helm Campaigners worried that Brussels is going soft over Sofia’s failings Jennifer Rankin Brussels As of 1 January, Bulgaria, the poorest and “most corrupt” country in the European Union, has picked up the baton of the bloc’s rotating presidency. The presidency – chairing EU meetings and setting an agenda – does not have the clout it once did, but it is still a big moment for the Balkan nation of 7.4 million people, which was part of the last wave of EU enlargement that reunited east and west. Yet more than a decade after Bulgaria joined the EU, questions remain over its record in tackling corruption, while the presence of far-right minority parties in government has caused alarm. According to Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, Bulgaria is the most corrupt country in the EU. “No one [in Bulgaria] is prosecuting political corruption, there are no ex-government officials in jail,” says Ognian Shentov, chairman of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Sofia. “We have reached a stage of state corruption which we describe as state capture.” A report by his organisation paints a devastating picture. More than one in five adults, 1.3 million, are thought to have taken part in a corrupt transaction, such as paying or receiving a bribe, but only 72 court cases were completed in 2015. Anti-corruption campaigners point to the Bulgarian subsidiary of Lukoil, the Kremlinowned energy company that supplies 100% of Bulgaria’s oil imports. Lukoil is Bulgaria’s largest company and has seen its monopoly power entrenched, with laws discouraging competition. Another red flag includes the delay in investigating the collapse of the Corporate Commercial Bank, the country’s fourth-largest lender until a 2014 bank run that appears to have been set off by a feud between its wealthy owner and a politician. More than a decade after joining the EU on 1 January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania remain subject to special monitoring to bring them into line with European norms. The cooperation and verification mechanism (CVM), designed and run by Brussels, was only meant to last a few years. But the European commission continues to publish annual reports. “Clearly the mechanism has produced results. Bulgaria managed to bring under control organised crime,” says Ruslan Stefanov, who leads CSD’s corruption monitoring programme. “But on corruption and judicial reform, it is not producing the results the EU and Brussels had expected.” He argues, however, it is wrong to conclude Bulgaria is “the most corrupt country in the EU”, pointing to other surveys that give a more mixed picture than Transparency International. “[The TI survey] is a question of whether you like your country or not. I don’t think Bulgaria is experiencing more corruption than, say, Slovakia, but the potential impact is much bigger because the economy in Bulgaria is much smaller.” Yet Stefanov worries Brussels might be going soft on Bulgaria because it does not want to “thrash a country” that is about to take the presidency. A senior official at the European commission, who was not authorised to give a name, rejected suggestions the reports could be scrapped for political reasons. The CVM process would not be concluded until “we will see all benchmarks and all recommendations in the reports fulfilled”. The presidency is far from the only reason why the EU may be less inclined to get tough with Sofia. Solvent and stable Bulgaria is not “a problem country” for Brussels. Bulgaria is not facing sanctions for violation of the rule of law, like Poland, nor has it picked a fight on refugee quotas, like Hungary. Nor has it had three multibillion-euro bailouts, like Greece. Sofia’s solid finances and predictability under the centre-right prime minister, Boyko Borissov, pictured left, explain why Jean-Claude Juncker, European commission president, wants Bulgaria in the eurozone and has called for it and Romania to “immediately” join the passport-free Schengen zone. France, Germany and other western countries have blocked Schengen entry of the two eastern states for years over corruption fears. But Heather Grabbe, director of the Open Society European Policy Institute, said: “In 2007 willingness to join everything was just assumed and ability was the big problem; but now the fact Bulgaria is trying and wanting to be part of things seems to count more.” Eastern promise … Bulgaria was welcomed into the EU in 2007 and its stability makes it a problem-free country for Brussels Getty The biggest controversy of Bulgaria’s time in the European spotlight seems more likely to centre on ministers who are part of the xenophobic United Patriots coalition. In October deputy prime minister Valeri Simeonov was found guilty of discrimination for a 2014 speech in parliament calling Romany people “arrogant, presumptuous and ferocious-like humans” and comparing Romany women to “street dogs”. And defence minister Krasimir Karakachanov has called for Europe’s external borders to be defended by “force of arms if necessary” to stop asylum seekers. Banned Putin critic calls for boycott of March election Marc Bennetts Moscow Russia has rejected concerns that a decision to bar the government critic Alexei Navalny from running against Vladimir Putin in March’s presidential election could undermine the vote’s legitimacy, as the Kremlin hinted at reprisals in response to opposition calls for a boycott of the polls. Russia’s election committee ruled last week that Navalny should be ineligible to stand for office until at least 2028 because of a previous conviction for fraud. The decision was later upheld by the supreme court. Navalny said the charges that led to his conviction were trumped up to prevent him from challenging Putin. He said he would ask his 200,000 campaign volunteers to divert their efforts into convincing Russians to boycott the election and called for nationwide protests. Navalny said in an online video address: “Only Putin and the candidates he has personally selected, those who don’t represent even the smallest threat to him, are taking part. To go to the polling station now is to vote for lies and corruption.” Putin, who has been in power for 18 years, was a notable absentee at his official nomination for re-election in Moscow last Tuesday. The Kremlin Alexei Navalny has said voting in the presidential election would now mean voting for ‘lies and corruption’ cited Putin’s work schedule as being behind his failure to attend. The EU said in a statement that the decision to bar Navalny “casts a serious doubt on political pluralism in Russia and the prospect of democratic elections next year”. It pointed out that the European court of human rights had previously ruled that Navalny had been denied the right to a fair trial on the charges cited by Russian authorities. “Politically motivated charges should not be used against political participation,” the EU said. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 7 Macron can rescue the EU French president’s eloquence the key → Natalie Nougayrède, page 19 Catalan nationalists could face fresh wave of arrests Judge is seen as acting on the orders of ruling politicians in Madrid Stephen Burgen Barcelona Observer Poland rejects Brussels concern over judiciary laws The Polish government last month accused the European commission of a politically motivated attack after the EU’s executive body triggered a process that could see the country stripped of voting rights in Brussels over legal changes that the bloc claims threaten the independence of the judiciary. Poland’s fellow 27 EU member states were advised by the commission that the legislative programme of its government was putting at risk fundamental values expected of a democratic state by allowing political interference in its courts. The row represents the greatest crisis in the EU since the Brexit decision, with Poland showing little inclination to back down. Frans Timmermans, commission vicepresident, told reporters that in two years 13 laws had put at serious risk the independence of Poland’s judiciary. “Judicial reforms in Poland mean that the country’s judiciary is now under the political control of the ruling majority.” Poland’s new prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, replied on Twitter: “Poland is as devoted to the rule of law as the rest of the EU.” The Polish foreign ministry called the Brussels action “essentially political, not legal”. Daniel Boffey Observer Brussels Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said Navalny’s boycott “can in no way affect the legitimacy of the election”. He said calls for a boycott may be in violation of Russian law and should be “rigorously studied”. Navalny came to prominence during anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow in 2011 and 2012, when he called the ruling United Russia party “crooks and thieves”. Although Navalny, barred from appearing on state television, was only polling at about 2% before the decision to ban him from next year’s vote, his supporters say his participation would have allowed him to tap into anger over corruption. In an opinion poll published last month, more Russians said for the first time since 2003 that they wanted to see change rather than the “stability” Putin has made his cornerstone. Russian media have reported that the Kremlin is seeking to secure 70% of the vote for Putin with a 70% overall turnout at the 18 March election. Although Putin is all but certain to win re-election for a fourth term that would keep him in power until 2024, an opinion poll released by the Moscow-based Levada Centre last month indicated that turnout and Putin’s share of the vote would fall short of the Kremlin target by about 10%. Turnout at the previous presidential elections, in 2012, was 65%. The dramatic election in Catalonia on 21 December was supposed to draw a line under months of tension and division across the Spanish region over its status. Instead it opened a potentially damaging new division with suggestions a fresh wave of arrests of Catalan nationalists may be unleashed. Altogether, 19 of the elected candidates are either in prison, on bail or in exile, and face charges that carry up to 30 years in prison. Now the supreme court judge Pablo Llarena plans to issue writs against a further 11 people linked with the deposed Catalan government for their part in organising last October’s referendum and fomenting secessionism. They include Marta Rovira, acting leader of Esquerra Repúblicana (Republican Left) – its leader, Oriol Junqueras, is in prison – Anna Gabriel and Mireia Boyá of the anti-capitalist CUP party, and Josep Lluís Trapero, former head of the Mossos d’Esquadra police force, who was hailed as a hero for his handling of August’s terrorist attacks. Even the name of Pep Guardiola, former Barcelona football club coach and now at Manchester City, has appeared in a police report that forms part of the investigation into events leading up to the unilateral declaration of independence on 27 October. The report describes the peaceful demonstrations organised by Catalan organisations as “sowing the seeds of hate towards the Spanish state”. At one gathering, on 11 June, Guardiola read out a manifesto for independence. The report has been passed to Llarena, who is in charge of the investigation. Commenting on the legal moves last month, the deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, pictured, said in Brussels: “I think it’s clear that in Spain there are a number of state prosecutors, judges and state attorneys who are under orders from politicians. The judges are political appointments.” The legal assault on the secessionists began last March when the superior court slapped a two-year ban on former Catalan president Artur Mas from holding public office for his role in organising the illegal referendum in November 2014. Three members of his cabinet were also banned. They faced fines of €5.2m ($6.2m), about €2m of which was raised by independence organisations Òmnium Cultural and the Asamblea Nacional Catalana, but Mas has had to offer his home as collateral. The ANC and Òmnium have had to raise close to €1m in bail for activists and politicians. In September, the late attorney general José Manuel Maza threatened to arrest 712 Catalan mayors who agreed that their facilities could be used in the banned 1 October referendum. They faced charges of perverting the course of justice and misuse of public funds. The following month Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders respectively of the ANC and Òmnium, were held in protective custody on charges of civil disobedience. They are still in prison. A few weeks later eight members of the Catalan government that declared UDI were jailed while Puigdemont and five cabinet ministers fled to Brussels. Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, refers repeatedly to “the rule of law” whenever the Catalan issue is raised and his government denies that it is using the judiciary to do its dirty work. “There is a separation of powers in Spain,” says Pablo Casado, a member of the ruling Popular party’s communications department. However, there is plenty of scope for political interference. The 20 members of the General Council of the Judiciary, which appoints most senior judges, are themselves appointed by congress and the senate. Members of the constitutional court that declared the Catalan referendum illegal are also political appointees. “The conflict between Spain and Catalonia is a political conflict and the Spanish government has renounced its political responsibilities and has hidden behind the judicial process,” Argelia Queralt, professor of constitutional law at Barcelona University, said. “But this doesn’t mean they are manipulating the courts, only that they are using the existing legal means.” 8 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 International news Indian villagers pay price of sand boom Killings highlight rural crisis as protests against river mining turn violent Michael Safi Jatpura Observer “We didn’t know they had guns,” Santosh Yadav says. “If we knew they had so many guns – that they were planning to commit a massacre – we would never have argued with them.” Yadav still replays the morning of 19 May last year in his mind. The decision he made with his uncle and cousins to go to the riverbank. To confront the men mining sand near his village. Not to run when the miners went to their vehicles and returned with guns. “We were telling them to stop taking the sand,” he says, standing by the same river on the outskirts of Jatpura, his village in the east Indian state of Jharkhand. “They said, who are you to stop us? If we want to lift sand, we will. Then they lifted their guns and fired.” His cousin, Niranjan Yadav, died first, he says. Then his uncle, Uday. The miners turned their guns on Vimlesh, the second son. Postmortem reports show all three were shot at close range in the chest. “They also fired at me,” Yadav says. “To save myself, I jumped back and hid behind one of the trucks, and then in a hole behind a nearby bush … It is by sheer luck I managed to escape death that day.” The three shot men were victims of an environmental crisis. Virtually every facet of construction depends on sand. With Asia in the midst of history’s largest-ever building spree, awareness is growing of the extent to which the world’s supplies are dwindling. China used more cement between 2011 and 2013 than the US used in the entire 20th century. In India, by Building spree … sand has become vital to feed India’s housing drive some estimates, the amount of sand used for construction has tripled since 2000. The country plans to build at least 60m new houses by 2024. “Demand for sand now outstrips that of any other raw material,” says Sumaira Abdulali, convener of the Awaaz Foundation, which campaigns against illegal sand extraction. As supplies of sand close to cities such as Delhi and Mumbai have become exhausted, developers are turning to more remote regions to source it, bringing them into conflict with smaller, usually vulnerable, communities. Groundwater shortages, flooding and depletion of animal life often follow in the wake of unsustainable mining, which activists claim can also weaken bridges and barrages along the path of heavily mined rivers, leading some to collapse. No reliable data exists for the amount of sand mined, Abdulali says. “But it’s quite clear when you visit the countryside in India, there is hardly a creek, river or beach where you don’t see the effect of sand mining.” Also unknown is the toll of the hundreds of conflicts in small communities between those with mining leases and local residents. “But we know the violence is widespread,” Abdulali says. Jatpura is a long way from the burgeoning cities of urban India. The sand miners arrived at the beginning of the year, using excavators and industrial vacuums that could slurp vast quantities of sand from the riverbed. Niranjan Yadav led the opposition to the project. The mining was veering close to a patch on the banks of the river where Hindu villagers traditionally burned their dead. The dredging also made the river treacherous. Holes appeared beneath the surface, sometimes six metres deep. Villagers said that in April a 12-year-old boy had been playing in the water when he slipped into a crevice and drowned. Satinder Singh was a manager from a nearby village who oversaw the sand mining in Jatpura and other sites. After the Yadav men were shot and the alleged gunmen fled, he remained close to the river “to keep watch”, according to Neha Arora, deputy commissioner for the state’s Garwha district. Officers found him beaten to death, and his rented house in Jatpura razed. Police believe he was attacked by a mob. The Jatpura shootings triggered protests and Jharkhand state has since amended its mining policies. Lifting sand is now permitted only from large rivers; the river by Jatpura, classified as medium-sized, is now out of bounds. Water cannon mobilised to ﬁght pollution in Delhi India has unveiled a new weapon against air pollution – an “antismog gun” that authorities hope will clear the sky above Delhi but that environmentalists say amounts to a temporary solution. The cannon’s Indian manufacturers say the droplets of water it ejects at high speed can flush out deadly airborne pollutants in one of the world’s smoggiest capitals. The device – shaped like a hair dryer and mounted on a flatbed truck – was tested in Anand Vihar, an area of Delhi’s east bordering an industrial zone. The US embassy website last Wednesday showed concentrations of the smallest, most harmful particles, known as PM2.5, registered 380 at Anand Vihar – more than 15 times the World Health Organisation’s safety maximum. The cannon, designed to combat dust on mining and construction sites, costs roughly $31,000. “If it proves successful, then we will roll these out on Delhi’s streets as soon as possible,” Imran Hussain, Delhi’s environment minister, said in Anand Vihar as the cannon spurted mist under hazy skies. Its manufacturer, Cloud Tech, said it can blast up to 100 litres of water per minute into the skies and clear 95% of airborne pollutants. Greenpeace said the cannon was a distraction from the root causes of Delhi’s winter pollution, as cool air traps a toxic blend of pollutants from crop burning, car exhausts, open fires, construction dust and industrial emissions. “This is definitely not the solution,” Greenpeace’s Sunil Dahiya said. AFP ‘Honour’ killings of two teenagers shock Karachi Sune Engel Rasmussen Karachi The night Ghani Rehman was condemned to die, his father asked if they could share a last meal together. But Ghani preferred to wait in his room. His sisters came to see him, and he gave each a small token to remember him by: a plastic-wrapped mint drop. The 18-year-old boy knew what was coming. Less than 24 hours earlier, the neighbour’s 15-year-old daughter Bakhtaja, with whom Ghani had tried to elope from Ali Brohi Goth, their poor neighbourhood of Karachi, had been tied down and electrocuted. His father finished dinner, then returned. With the help of an uncle, he strapped his son to a rope bed, tying one arm and one leg to the frame with uncovered electrical wires. Bakhtaja had endured 10 minutes of electrical jolts before she died. The boy took longer and eventually the uncle strangled him. The couple were then buried in the dead of night. In Pakistan, illegal so-called honour killings are a pandemic, and women its main victims. Still, the murders in Ali Brohi Goth shocked Karachi. The brutality was unusual, and while “honour” killings do occur in the city, they are usually reported in rural areas. “There are pockets in Karachi where tribal culture is being followed, but we had no idea it was to this extent,” said Mahnaz Rahman, resident director of Aurat Foundation, a women’s rights group. Outside a secular middle class, some communities are becoming more entrenched in conservative values, she said. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has reported an average of 650 “honour” killings annually over the past decade. But the real number is likely to be much higher. Bakhtaja and Ghani are buried 10 metres apart in the local cemetery. The fathers and two uncles were arrested. Ten days after the murders, Karachi was hit by monsoon rains that wrought havoc. Dozens of people were electrocuted. It was God’s punishment for killing the teenage couple, local women told each other. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 9 Flaws Kickerand hereorder like this Trump exposed US constitution Then a has short description here like this → Jonathan Freedland, page Then Section and Page XX 22 International news Hippy dream dragged into billion-dollar industry as California legalises cannabis Los Angeles diary Rory Carroll W hile Arctic conditions gripped America’s north-east, sunshine bathed Los Angeles last week – but that was not the only reason denizens of the Venice boardwalk were feeling mellow. An astringent, earthy aroma infused the Pacific zephyrs wafting through the buskers, joggers, skateboarders, tourists and panhandlers. “Weed is part of the culture here,” said Oni Farley, 30. “It’s part of the LA/California scene, the laid-back vibe.” He ignored a police patrol car that inched through the throng. “I’ve blazed in front of cops and they don’t say anything.” Pot wasn’t hiding. In multiple different ways it was on display. “Addicted to weed, anything green helps,” said a scrawled sign tilted against the backpack of Alexander Harth, 36, a member of the boardwalk’s homeless population. A vape shop offered glass pipes and other pot paraphernalia. T-shirt stores peddled images of Barack Obama smoking a joint alongside other herb-themed garments saying “best buds” and “just hit it”. This week, California, the US’s most populous state, and the world’s sixth biggest economy, officially “hit it” by legalising cannabis. Think Amsterdam, but sunnier and vaster – a watershed event for the legalisation movement. Overnight a shadow industry worth billions of dollars annually emerged into the light, taking its place alongside agriculture, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and other sectors that are regulated and taxed. It will answer to the newly created Bureau of Cannabis Control – bureaucratic confirmation that a day many activists did not dare dream of has indeed come to pass. California legalised pot for medicinal purposes in 1996, ushering in a web of dispensaries, spin-off businesses and creeping mainstream acceptance. That culminated in voters in 2016 approving proposition 64, a ballot initiative that legalised pot sales for recreation, as of 1 January. High there … California is now the largest US state to legalise recreational marijuana use Robert Galbraith/Reuters It is expected to unleash profound changes across the state. The Salinas Valley, an agricultural zone south of San Francisco nicknamed America’s salad bowl, has already earned a new moniker: America’s cannabis bucket. Silicon Valley investors and other moneyed folk are hoping to mint fortunes by developing technology to cultivate, transport, store and sell weed. Entrepreneurs are devising pot-related products and services. Financiers are exploring ways to fold the revenue – estimated at $7bn per annum by 2020 – into corporate banking. California is not the trailblazer. Colorado grabbed that mantle in Weed is part of the culture here. I’ve blazed in front of cops and they don’t say anything January 2014 when it became the first jurisdiction in the world to legalise recreational cannabis sales. California is one of 29 US states where pot is legal for medical or recreational use. But cultural, political and economic heft makes California a landmark in the global legalisation campaign. This is the state that incubated the political careers of Richard Nixon, who launched the war on drugs in 1971, and Ronald Reagan, who continued hardline prohibition policies. When California legalised pot for medicinal purposes, many cities and neighbourhoods refused to issue licences for pot dispensaries. In Venice they popped up like toast, as did “clinics” where for a fee ranging from $20-$40 doctors issued pot recommendation letters to ostensible patients. Full legalisation feels historic, but the new era may begin with a whimper. State authorities have given counties and cities authority and responsibility to govern the new industry. The result is a patchwork. Some places, such as Kern county, are still banning all commercial pot activity. LA and San Francisco only recently approved local regulations so it could be months before newly licensed pot shops appear. Donald Trump’s administration also casts a shadow because pot remains illegal under federal law. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has compared the herb to heroin and threatened a crackdown. Fearful of federal prosecution, banks are shunning pot businesses, leaving the industry stuck with mounds of cash that must be transported under armed guard. Venice’s bohemians helped pave the way to California’s big experiment but it is another California, that of boardrooms and city halls, which stands to gain. Based on Colorado’s experience, Golden State politicians are expecting tax windfalls. Labour unions are hoping to recruit thousands of workers to cultivate and sell pot. Corporate expansion felt a world away from the patch of sand that Alexander Harth called home. Despite the sunshine drawing crowds he stuffed his sign into his backpack. The dollars weren’t coming. Observer 10 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 International news Pressure mounts on Zuma Court tells parliament to bring in rules to pave way for impeachment Agence France-Presse Ruth Maclean South Africa’s highest court has ruled that parliament failed to hold president Jacob Zuma to account in a scandal over state-funded upgrades to his country residence, fuelling opposition calls for him to be impeached. The constitutional court ordered the national assembly to make rules that allow the president to be impeached, adding to Zuma’s difficulties after he was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the ruling African National Congress. Frustrated by setbacks in the national assembly, the leftwing Economic Freedom Fighters and other small opposition parties went to court as part of a campaign to impeach Zuma before a general election in 2019. In 2016, the court found that Zuma had violated the constitution when he refused to pay back public money spent on multimillion-dollar upgrades to his property at Nkandla, in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. Improvements to the homestead cost $15m and included a swimming pool, which the former police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko claimed was a “fire pool” for extinguishing fires, an amphitheatre, which Nhleko said could serve as an emergency assembly point, as well as a chicken run and cattle enclosure. The court cited section 89 of South Africa’s constitution, which allows for the president to be removed for serious misconduct, or violation of the constitution or law, if two-thirds of the members of the national assembly are in agreement. Mugabe to keep luxury lifestyle Political peril … the ANC has replaced Jacob Zuma as party leader Getty “We conclude that the assembly did not hold the president to account … The assembly must put in place a mechanism that could be used for the removal of the president from office,” judge Chris Jafta said, handing down the judgment, which was supported by a majority of the court. “Properly interpreted, section 89 implicitly imposes an obligation on the assembly to make rules specially tailored for the removal of the president from office. By omitting to include such rules, the assembly has failed to fulfil this obligation.” Despite a damning 2014 report into the upgrades by the then public protector, Thuli Madonsela, Zuma managed to avoid paying anything until 2016, when he refunded a small portion of the cash spent on Nkandla. Opposition parties blamed Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the national assembly, for parliament’s failures on Nkandla. Mbete was accused of personally trying to protect Zuma over the upgrades after she said: “In the African tradition, you don’t interfere with a man’s kraal [cattle enclosure].” The court’s chief justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng, disagreed with his colleagues over the ruling, but it was not enough to change it. After Mogoeng passed him a note, Jafta said: “The chief justice characterises the majority judgement as a textbook case of judicial overreach, a constitutionally impermissible intrusion by the judiciary into the exclusive domain of parliament.” Although Zuma has survived six motions of no confidence, including one involving a secret ballot, his power was diminished when the ANC chose Ramaphosa as its new leader, rather than Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the president’s ex-wife and his chosen successor. It was well known that Nelson Mandela wanted Ramaphosa, a powerful union leader, to succeed him, but when Thabo Mbeki became president in 1999 Ramaphosa withdrew from political life. Zimbabwe’s ousted president Robert Mugabe will get a residence, a fleet of vehicles and private air travel as part of a new government-funded retirement package for former leaders, according to state media. Mugabe will also be entitled to at least 20 staffers including six personal security guards, according to details of the benefits published in the Herald newspaper. The 93-year-old, who quit in November under popular pressure following a military takeover, is the first beneficiary of the generous measures unveiled last Wednesday by new president Emmerson Mnangagwa. No financial details were spelled out, but the country’s constitution stipulates that an ex-president is entitled to a pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting president. Local independent media had reported that Mugabe was granted a $10m retirement bonus as part of a deal to persuade him to step down. The government denied the claims. As part of the new package, Mugabe will have three cars – a Mercedes-Benz S500 or an equivalent class of sedan, an all-terrain station wagon and a pickup van – which will be replaced every five years. Mugabe and his wife will be entitled to diplomatic passports. The couple can go on four first-class air or train trips within Zimbabwe and four trips abroad on a private plane. Mugabe will also be awarded a fully furnished official residence anywhere in the capital, Harare, in addition to bills and entertainment allowances. Health insurance for the former leader, his spouse and dependants is also included in the raft of benefits. Six out of 10 back Weah as Liberia’s new president Ruth Maclean Daniel Nyakonah Monrovia The former football star George Weah has won Liberia’s presidential election, defeating the vice-president, Joseph Boakai, in a runoff with 61.5% of the vote. Last Thursday’s announcement by the country’s election commission chair, Jerome Korkoyah, means Weah, pictured right, will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s president next month, after an election fraught with accusations of fraud. It will be the country’s first democratic transition since 1944 and follows two devastating civil wars. Spontaneous celebrations erupted in the capital, Monrovia, a Weah stronghold. Supporters danced, clapped and sang “Olé, olé, olé” outside the electoral commission’s of-fices as the results were read out. Weah, a national sporting hero, topped the first round of voting in October with 38.4% but failed to win the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff. Boakai came second with 28.8%. The runoff r was delayed twice after several parties took their allegations of malpractice to alle the supreme court, but it finally took place with a low nal turnout on 26 December. turn Weah, 51, is the only AfW rican to be Fifa’s world player of the year yea or to have won the Ballon d’Or for Europe’s best player. At the time, Nelson Mandela called him the “pride of Africa”. His was already an inspirational story to a generation of Africans: he grew up in Clara Town, a poor suburb of Monrovia, and played football across the river in West Point, Liberia’s biggest informal settlement, where he still has a large fanbase. Many see his becoming president as a fitting next chapter in the rags-to-riches fairytale and one that gives them hope. “With George, he will empower the youth, the women, and will develop the country,” said one supporter. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 11 International news Lima protest at pardon for Fujimori Dan Collyns Lima Crackdown … Mexico’s army hunts drug kingpins but shootouts often add to a rising body count Getty The killing goes on in Mexico War on the drug cartels began in 2006 but today gunmen still spread fear David Agren Reynosa Sofía, a medical assistant in Reynosa, a scruffy border city in northern Mexico, has a morning routine. She wakes at 6am and readies her son for nursery; then she reviews her social media feeds for news of the latest murders. Updates come via WhatsApp texts from friends and family: “There was a gun battle on X street”, “They found a body in Y neighbourhood”, “Avoid Z”. In Mexico today, choosing your route to work can be a matter of life or death. It is 12 years since the then president, Felipe Calderón, deployed thousands of soldiers to suppress drug cartels, but the bloodletting continues, the rule of law remains elusive and accusations of human rights abuses by state security forces abound. Mexico races past grim milestones: more than 200,000 dead and an estimated 30,000 missing; more than 850 clandestine graves unearthed. Government statistics released last month confirmed that 2017 was officially the country’s bloodiest since 1997, with about 27,000 murders in 12 months. Some of the worst recent violence has hit Reynosa and the surrounding state of Tamaulipas, squeezed against the Gulf coast and US border. Once in a while, a particularly terrible incident here will make news globally, such as the murder of Miriam Rodríguez, an activist for families of missing people, who was shot dead at home on Mother’s Day. But most crimes are not even reported in the local papers. “We don’t publish cartel and crime news to protect our journalists,” said one local news director, whose media outlet has been attacked by cartel gunmen. Eight journalists were killed in Mexico in 2017, making it the most dangerous country for the press after Syria. The information vacuum is filled by social media, where crime scene photos and news alerts on shootouts are shared on anonymous accounts. In Reynosa, violence is part of everyday life. Morning commutes are held up by gun battles; cinemas lock the doors during a shootout. More than 90% of residents feel unsafe in the city, according to a state survey in September. The violence here began in 2010 when the Gulf cartel’s armed wing – ex-soldiers known as Los Zetas – turned on their masters. Since then, conflict has scorched the state as rival factions emerge and collapse. Fighting erupts over trafficking routes and the growing local drug markets, but state forces are also implicated: last month soldiers killed seven people, including two women, in what was described as a “confrontation”. The government bristles at the suggestion it is at war. When the International Institute for Strategic Studies ranked Mexico as the world’s seconddeadliest country (Syria is first) – ahead of Afghanistan and Yemen – the foreign ministry noted that Brazil and Venezuela have higher murder rates. But the body count keeps rising: tourist areas have seen shootouts and decapitations. Last month six men were found hanging from bridges in the resort of Los Cabos. All of which has been disastrous for the image of president Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office in 2012 with an agenda to push through structural ‘As long as US drug demand exists, new criminal groups will appear’ reforms and promote Mexico as an emerging economy. Fighting crime seemed an afterthought. Peña Nieto’s government continued to target cartel kingpins. But analysts say the strategy shatters larger criminal empires but leaves smaller – often more violent – factions fighting for the spoils. Breaking cartels pushed crime groups to diversify, said Brian J Phillips, a professor at Mexico City’s Centre for Teaching and Research in Economics. “The new groups are more likely to raise money by kidnapping or extortion, since that doesn’t require the logistics of drug trafficking,” he said. “As long as demand exists in the US, and supply is in or passing through Mexico, new criminal organisations will appear.” Liberalisation of marijuana in some US states has led some farmers to switch to opium poppies. Politicians are seen as allying themselves with criminals. “Mexico cannot stop dirty money going into the political system,” said Edgardo Buscaglia, an organised crime expert at Columbia University. “That’s the key to understanding why violence has increased in Mexico.” Such claims are all too familiar in Tamaulipas, where two governors have been indicted in US courts on organised crime charges. In Tamaulipas, locals are exasperated with the flailing government response. They just want the killing to end. “They can traffic all the drugs they want so long as they don’t mess with ordinary people,” said a woman known online as Loba (She-wolf). She is one of the activists who report on cartel violence via Twitter and Facebook. It’s a perilous task: at least two citizen journalists in Tamaulipas have been killed, and Loba was kidnapped in 2011 and held for 12 days before her family paid a $13,500 ransom. When asked why she runs such risks, Loba answered: “Perhaps this can save someone from being shot.” Thousands of Peruvians have marched in Lima to vent outrage over a pardon for jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, in the biggest protest since the decision was announced. The anger was directed at president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who granted the pardon on health grounds on Christmas Eve to lift the 25-year sentence Fujimori, 79, had been serving for corruption and authorising death squad killings. Public indignation threatens to push Kuczynski’s beleaguered government into a political crisis as he reshuffles his cabinet and seeks to forge a new alliance with the majority opposition party, led by Fujimori’s daughter Keiko. “The president has lost all legitimacy,” said María Isabel Cedano, a feminist campaigner who backed Kuczynski in the 2016 presidential runoff to prevent a win for Keiko Fujimori. “He has betrayed us. He should resign and convene new elections.” Alberto Fujimori, whose authoritarian leadership in the 1990s left an indelible mark on the country, continues to cast a shadow over Peru. His supporters credit him with stamping out the Maoist Shining Path movement and responsibility for Peru’s economic success, while others consider him a corrupt and iron-fisted dictator. Speaking from a hospital bed last Tuesday, Fujimori asked for forgiveness from the Peruvians he said he had “let down”. “It was a taunt,” said Rosa Rojas Borda, who lost her eight-year-old son Javier and husband Manuel in the 1992 Barrios Altos massacre – one of two carried out by a military death squad Fujimori created. “He should ask for forgiveness from the relatives of those he had killed.” Human rights lawyers in Peru say there are legal grounds to challenge the pardon because it was a political, not humanitarian, decision. Carlos Rivera, a lawyer at the Legal Defence Institute, said Kuczynski issued it as part of a deal to avoid impeachment on corruption allegations. The president has denied any wrongdoing. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed “deep concern”. Paulo Drinot, a senior lecturer in Latin American History at University College London, said: “The pardon is a major reversal in the consolidation of Peru’s democracy. PPK has undermined the rule of law for his own political survival.” 12 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 International news Warnings of ‘disastrous’ plastics binge Commentary: community spirit is key to lasting change Alarm as fossil fuel firms invest $180bn with view to increasing production Matthew Taylor The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US. Fossil fuel companies are among those who have ploughed more than $180bn since 2010 into new “cracking” facilities that will produce the raw material for everyday plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons. The new facilities – being built by corporations like Exxon Mobile Chemical and Shell Chemical – will help fuel a 40% rise in plastic production in the next decade, according to experts, exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis that scientists warn already risks “near permanent pollution of the earth.” “We could be locking in decades of expanded plastics production at precisely the time the world is realising we should use far less of it,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the US Center for International Environmental Law. “Around 99% of the feedstock for plastics is fossil fuels, so we are looking at the same companies, like Exxon and Shell, that have helped create the climate crisis. There is a deep and pervasive relationship between oil and gas companies and plastics.” Greenpeace UK’s senior oceans campaigner Louise Edge said any increase in the amount of plastic ending up in the oceans would be disastrous: “We are already producing more disposable plastic than we can deal with, more in the last decade than in the entire 20th century, and millions of tonnes of it are ending up in our oceans.” The huge investment in plastic production has been driven by the shale gas boom in the US. This has resulted in one of the raw materials used to produce plastic resin – natural gas liquids (NGL) – dropping dramatically in price. The American Chemistry Council says that since 2010 this has led to $186bn dollars being invested in 318 new projects. Almost half of them are already under construction or have been completed. The rest are at the planning stage. Kevin Swift, chief economist at the ACC, told the Guardian: “There has been a revolution in the US with the shale gas technologies, with the fracking, the horizontal drilling. The cost of our raw material base has gone down by roughly two thirds.” Tipping point … millions of tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans Alamy The findings come amid growing concern about the scale of plastics pollution around the world. Last year scientists warned that it risked near permanent contamination of the planet and at a UN environment conference in Kenya last month the scale of plastic in the sea was described as an “ocean Armageddon”. Last June a Guardian investigation revealed that a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute with most ending up in landfill or the sea. Steven Feit, from the Centre for Environmental International Law, said: “The link between the shale gas boom in the United States and the ongoing – and accelerating – global plastics crisis cannot be ignored. In the US, fossil fuel and petrochemical companies are investing hundreds of billions of dollars to expand plastic production capacity … All this buildout, if allowed to proceed, will flood the global market with even more disposable, unmanageable plastic for decades to come.” Although the majority of the new investment is in the US, the impact will ripple outwards in the form of vast new supplies of raw materials for plastics being transported to Europe and ‘Links between the shale gas boom and the plastics crisis cannot be ignored’ China. Petrochemical giant Ineos has been shipping natural gas liquids from the US to cracking plants in Europe and the UK for the past year. Last month the company announced it will ship the first NGLs from the US to China in 2019 where it will be turned into plastic resin at a new facility in Taixing, China. Roland Geyer, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, was the lead author of a study revealing that humans have produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s, with the majority ending up in landfill or polluting the world’s oceans and continents. The report warned that plastic, which does not degrade for hundreds of years, risked “near-permanent contamination” of the earth. He told the Guardian: “I am now all but convinced that the plastic waste/pollution problem will remain unmanageable without serious source reduction efforts.” The ACC added that the plastics boom had brought huge economic benefits to the US, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. Steve Russell, the ACC’s vice president of plastics, also defended the environmental impact of plastic, citing a study from 2016 that found using plastic reduces environmental damage. “Advanced plastics enable us to do more with less in almost every facet of life and commerce. From reducing packaging, to driving lighter cars, to living in more fuel-efficient homes, plastics help us reduce energy use, carbon emissions and waste.” A decade ago I visited Modbury, a picturesque, rather conservative place in the English county of Devon, to find out how it became the first town in Europe to ban plastic bags in shops. It took Modbury a month to go plastic bag-free after resident Rebecca Hosking showed local traders a film she’d just made about plastic bags killing marine life in Hawaii. It was surreal to see how quickly behaviour changed: suddenly, carrying a plastic bag was antisocial behaviour. Ten years after Modbury, small communities are again leading the transformation of our antisocial relationship with plastic. The west coast village of Aberporth is aiming to become the first single-use plastic-free place in Wales. Its pub has switched from plastic to paper straws and ditched condiment sachets; the shop sells milk in glass bottles. As in Modbury, this change is driven by direct experience: villagers are shocked by the plastic washing up on their shores; Plastic Free Aberporth member Gail Tudor is also a filmmaker who witnessed plastic pollution on a 10-day trip around Britain’s coast. We assume that cities are the cradles of innovation but in the UK, sustainable living is often being led by small communities, from the Scottish island of Eigg (clean energy) to Balcombe, in West Sussex (community energy) to Penzance, in Cornwall (plasticfree). This is no accident: an inspirational individual can get things done in small places. Faceto-face dialogue is more compelling than media or social media. And living more closely with others shapes human behaviour – the shaming of plastic bag-use saw Modbury change rapidly. Hopefully it won’t take a decade for the government to follow Aberporth on single-use plastics. Charges could reduce use and better reflect their true cost to our planet. Policymakers are fearful of backlashes against red tape and the nanny state, but the public response to nudges such as plastic bag charges or smoking bans show we are supremely adaptable. Therein lies our best hope for survival. Patrick Barkham The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 13 International news Japan set to restart giant nuclear plant Safety measures cleared despite lingering fears from Fukushima disaster Justin McCurry Kashiwazaki Japanese authorities last week ruled that reactors at the world’s biggest nuclear power plant were safe to restart, almost seven years after the disaster at Fukushima. The nuclear regulation authority gave its formal approval for Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to restart the reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, 240km north-west of Tokyo. The reactors, the same type of boilingwater units that suffered meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi following the tsunami of March 2011, now meet stricter safety standards, the regulator said. When all seven of KashiwazakiKariwa’s reactors are operating, it can generate 8.2GW of electricity, enough to power 16 million households. Occupying 4 sq km along the Sea of Japan, it is the biggest nuclear power plant in the world. But the reactors have been idle, with the plant, in Niigata prefecture, the nuclear industry’s highest-profile casualty of the nationwide atomic shutdown that followed the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011. Japan only has one nuclear power plant currently in operation, and the country is deeply divided over the revival of the technology. KashiwazakiKariwa now has the look of a working nuclear plant, with about 1,000 Tepco staff and 5,000-6,000 contract workers providing the labour for the postFukushima safety retrofit, projected to cost 680bn yen ($6bn). They have built a 50 m-high seawall that, according to Tepco, can withstand the biggest tsunami. In the event of a meltdown, special Niigata prefecture Sea of Japan Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Fukushima Daiichi Japan Tokyo Kyoto Pacific Ocean 150 km vents would keep 99.9% of released radioactive particles out of the atmosphere, and corium shields would block molten fuel from breaching the reactors’ primary containment vessels. Autocatalytic recombiners have been installed to prevent a repeat of the hydrogen explosions that rocked four of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors. Other parts of the sprawling complex are home to fleets of emergency vehicles, water cannon, backup power generators, and a hilltop reservoir whose 20,000 tonnes of water would be drawn to cool reactors in the event of a catastrophic meltdown. “As the operator responsible for the Fukushima accident, we’re committed to learning lessons, revisiting what went wrong and implementing what we learned here at KashiwazakiKariwa, the plant’s chief, Chikashi Shitara, said. “We are always looking at ways to improve safety. “Because of our experience at Fukushima, we’re committed to not making the same mistakes again – to make the safety regime even stronger.” The public, however, are far from convinced. Last year, the people of Niigata prefecture registered their opposition by electing Ryuichi Yoneyama, an anti-nuclear candidate, as their governor. Exit polls showed that 73% of voters opposed restarting the nuclear plant, with just 27% in favour. Yoneyama has said he will not make a decision on the restarts, scheduled for spring 2019, until a newly formed committee has completed its report into the causes and consequences of the Fukushima disaster – which could take at least three years. For many residents the plant’s location renders safety improvements irrelevant. “Geologically speaking, this is no place for a nuclear power plant,” said Kazuyuki Takemoto, a lifelong anti-nuclear activist, citing instability caused by underground oil and gas deposits in the area, and evidence that the ground on which Tepco’s seawall stands is prone to liquefaction in the event of a major earthquake. Critics have pointed to the chaos that could result from attempting to evacuate the 420,000 people who live within 30km of KashiwazakiKariwa. “That’s more people than lived near Fukushima, plus we get very heavy snowfall here, which would make evacuating everyone impossible,” Takemoto said. Adding to their concerns are the presence of seismic faults in and around the site. Ocean rescue Super corals may halt decline New super corals bred by scientists to resist global warming could be tested on the Great Barrier Reef within a year as part of a global effort to save the “rainforests of the seas” from extinction. Researchers are getting promising early results from cross-breeding different species of reef-building corals, rapidly developing new strains of the symbiotic algae that corals rely on, and testing inoculations of protective bacteria. They are also mapping out the genomes of the algae to assess the potential for genetic engineering. One breakthrough is the reproduction of the entire complex life cycle of spawning corals in a London aquarium, which is now being scaled up in Florida and could see corals planted off that coast by 2019. “It is a story of hope, rather than saying: ‘It’s all going to die and there’s nothing we can do about it,’” said Madeleine van Oppen, of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The researchers, who presented their cutting-edge work at a conference at Oxford University, acknowledge that biological interventions on coral reefs could be seen as controversial or risky. “But it is too late to leave them alone, given the pace at which we are losing corals,” said Van Oppen, who said the broad aim was to speed up natural evolutionary processes. Coral reefs are critical ecosystems, hosting more than a million species and sustaining natural services worth $10tn a year, providing food for 500 million people. But climate change is heating the oceans and causing corals to bleach: reefs could die out as early as 2050, with perhaps half already gone. The global coral bleaching catastrophe from 2014 to 2017 was the worst in recorded history. “That was a real wake-up call,” said Van Oppen, with the world’s largest expanse of coral – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – losing half its corals in two years, despite being seen as the best managed. Damian Carrington Bee deaths linked to fungicides Damian Carrington Common fungicides are the strongest factor linked to steep declines in bumblebees across the US, according to the first landscape-scale analysis. The surprising result has alarmed bee experts because fungicides are targeted at moulds and mildews – not insects – but now appear to be a cause of major harm by making them more susceptible to the deadly nosema parasite or by exacerbating the toxicity of other pesticides. The widespread decline in bees and other pollinators is worrying because they fertilise about 75% of all food crops. Pesticides, habitat destruction, disease and climate change have all been implicated in bee declines, but relatively little research has been done on the complex question of which factors cause the most damage. The new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, used machine-learning statistical methods to analyse the role of 24 different factors in explaining the decline of four bumblebee species, tracked at 284 sites across 40 US states. These included latitude, elevation, habitat type and damage, human population and pesticide use. Scott McArt of Cornell University in the US, who led the study, said: “The ‘winners’ in predicting both nosema prevalence and range contraction were fungicides.” 14 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Finance in brief Finance Spark … Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are working together Electric passenger jet revolution ready for take oﬀ Battery-powered air taxis and hybrid planes set to change aviation Karl West Trains, ships and automobiles have all been swept along in recent years by the electric power revolution – and planes are next. Passenger jets are poised for an electric makeover that could fundamentally change the economics and environmental outlook of the aviation industry. Up until now the fact that the necessary batteries weigh two tonnes each has limited the switch from fossil fuels to an electric-powered future. However, last November a consortium comprising Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens said they had found a way to use hybrid electric jet engines to conquer gravity. They are converting a regional jet into a demonstration plane, called the E-Fan X, which will be ready by 2020. Paul Stein, chief technology officer at Rolls-Royce, said: “It is a two-tonne battery pack – the batteries are still fairly heavy. Beating gravity into submission is a huge challenge, so weight is a big issue.” The BAE 146 demo aircraft, a jet that seats up to 100 people, will at first have one of its four gas turbine engines replaced with the hybrid engine. This engine will be powered by batteries and an onboard generator using jet fuel. If successful, the team will then move to two electric engines. Siemens is designing the 2MW electric motor, Rolls is building the generator that powers the engine and Airbus will integrate the system into the plane and link it to flight controls. They are developing the hybrid motor because fully electric commercial flights are currently out of reach. Pound for pound, fossil fuels contain around 100 times as much energy as a lithium-ion battery, the most common electric power pack at present. In a car, which has its wheels planted firmly on the ground, engineering experts can design a vehicle to offset that weight disadvantage. But in a machine that must lift itself off the ground and propel upwards this is a much harder problem to solve. This tricky dilemma is a challenge that has been embraced with renewed gusto in the aviation sector. “Aviation has always eluded electrification largely because of the size and weight of components involved,” Stein said. “But technology has moved on apace. Electrification is now poised to make a significant impact.” Stein said three classes of aviation are potentially within reach of an electric engine revolution. “The smallest is air taxis, which can take one to four people up to [120km]. For small air taxis, the battery technology is almost ready now,” he said. Some of these air taxis look like flying cars, such as those backed by Larry Page, one of Google’s founders. Chinese-owned Terrafugia’s “roadable aircraft” drives like a typical car on the ground and fits in a standard singlecar garage and can be pre-ordered for $300,000. Pipistrel, a Slovenian company, already makes a two-seater electric training plane. Airbus has also developed a two-seater, the E-Fan, which flew across the Channel in 2015. The second market is the small, regional jet that can carry between 10 and 100 passengers. “Our target end ‘Beating gravity into submission is a huge challenge, so weight is an issue’ game is a fixed-wing, regional hybrid design,” Stein said of the E-Fan X project. The third market – the shorthaul commercial market, dominated by Airbus’s A320 and Boeing’s 737 – is still some way off. Bjorn Fehrm, an aeronautical analyst at aviation Leeham News and Comment, said: “For ultra-short range, it can be fully electric. For the range of today’s thousands of single aisle [A320, 737] planes, it will have to be hybrid for at least another 30 years. For long range, it’s unrealistic. There would have to be a breakthrough in fuel cells, or similar.” Airlines are watching the evolution of electric battery technology with interest. EasyJet wants electric planes to fly passengers on its shorthaul routes within 10 to 20 years. It has signed a deal with Wright Electric, a US engineering company, to develop electric-powered aircraft that could reach Paris and Amsterdam from London. The attractions for airlines are clear: depending on the oil price, jet fuel had accounted for between 17% and 36% of their running costs over the last few years. Stein reckons the E-Fan X could produce fuel savings of 15%. “For us, safety is paramount. The burden of proof to ensure we maintain that safety margin is very high,” Stein said. “We cannot have a battery chemistry that risks a fire.” Substantial investment and brainpower is being ploughed into developing alternative battery chemistries. One promising option is a solid-state lithium battery, which replaces the liquid electrolyte of current cells with a solid substitute. Such batteries offer much higher energy densities and should also be cheap to mass produce. Huge riches await those that can crack the problem and produce a next generation power source that is cheaper and greener. • Global stock markets ended 2017 on record highs, gaining $9tn in value over the year due to a strong worldwide economy, president Donald Trump’s tax cuts and central banks’ go-slow approach to easing financial support. The FTSE 100 hit a new peak in London, with an all-time closing high of 7687.77, having earlier hit a new all-time peak of 7697.62. In global terms, the MSCI allcountry world index gained 22% or $9tn on the year to an all-time high of 514.53. • Growth in China’s manufacturing sector slowed in December as a punishing crackdown on air pollution and a cooling property market start to weigh on the world’s second-largest economy. The data supports the view that the Chinese economy is beginning to gradually lose steam after growing by a forecast-beating 6.9% in the first nine months of the year. However, signs of a sharper slowdown – a major fear among global investors – have yet to materialise. The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released last Sunday dipped to 51.6 in December, down from 51.8 in November and in line with forecasts. • Apple has apologised to customers for deliberately slowing the performance of older iPhone models without users’ consent. The US tech company also announced a $50 reduction in the cost of iPhone battery replacements, down from $79 to $29, and an iOS software update providing updates on iPhone battery health in early 2018. The apology comes after Apple admitted to slowing down the iPhone 6, 6S, 7 and SE – when their batteries are either old, cold or have a low charge – to prevent abrupt shutdowns. Foreign exchanges Sterling rates Australia Canada Denmark Euro Hong Kong Japan New Zealand Norway Singapore Sweden Switzerland USA 1 Jan 1.73 1.70 8.37 1.12 10.54 152.02 1.90 11.07 1.80 11.06 1.31 1.35 29 Dec 1.73 1.69 8.37 1.12 10.56 152.39 1.90 11.06 1.81 11.06 1.32 1.35 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 15 UK news Keeping Labour together Kicker here like this Corbyn must description resist radical pruning Then a short here like this → Martin Kettle,and page 21 XX Then Section Page What does 2018 have in store for beleaguered Theresa May? With potential successors circling, the PM’s problems have not gone away Analysis Heather Stewart Theresa May began 2017 with a healthy majority in parliament, a commanding poll lead and an apparently unassailable grip on the Conservatives. She ended it relying on the Democratic Unionist party to govern, with rebellion simmering among MPs on both wings of her party – yet doggedly insisting she is “getting on with the job”. But this year will bring a fresh set of daunting challenges. First, and colouring everything else, is Brexit. The prime minister snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in December by securing the EU27’s agreement that “sufficient progress” had been reached to proceed to the next stage of negotiations. The deal, however, came with a £35bn ($47bn)-plus price tag, and exposed tensions over Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic that have been parked, not resolved. May’s cabinet held its first formal discussion of a potential future trade deal – the “end state” – in December, but little clarity is expected in the coming months, with two rival camps vying to shape the debate. Broadly, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox – and their followers on the far reaches of the Tory backbenches – are “divergers”: they want Britain to “take back control” of laws and regulations. Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and other “aligners”, cheered on by pro-EU MPs, would prefer a closer continuing alliance, fearing the impact on economic stability of a more abrupt shift. May’s studied ambiguity has kept these groups just about onside: she has suffered only one defeat in the Commons on Brexit, which for a government with no formal majority handling an issue of such divisiveness is a moderate success. But experts warn that as negotiations shift to the nature of the “end state”, holding her party together will become a growing challenge. “I personally think there is no other deal than a soft Brexit deal, and she’s just going to lose Brexiteers off the edge of the bus,” Focus … May and her party have their sights on the Brexit ‘end state’ Getty says Lord Wood, a Labour peer and former adviser to Ed Miliband. “I think at some point the Brexiteers’ tolerance for ‘the wrong kind of Brexit’ will snap.” Whether that means cabinet resignations or backbench demands for a leadership contest, handling the malcontents will require a deft touch few at Westminster believe May has shown in the past 12 months. May is also under pressure to rebuild her party’s pitch to the country. Backbench rebellions on a series of issues, from universal credit to school funding, underline the extent of the Tories’ vulnerability to Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity message. PM sacks first secretary of state following porn allegations Damian Green was sacked last month as first secretary of state after admitting he lied about the presence of pornographic images on his House of Commons computer. An investigation by the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, found that Green’s vehement denials after a Sunday newspaper reported that porn had been found on his computer were “inaccurate and misleading”. His departure was a personal blow for Theresa May, who brought him into Downing Street to help shore up her authority. In his resignation letter, Green continued to maintain that he did not “download or view” the pornography, but added that he “should have been clear in my press statements”. He became the third cabinet minister to step aside since November, following the departures of Michael Fallon and Priti Patel. HS MPs want answers to their constituents’ concerns on spending cuts – and a broader vision of what a Conservative government is about. “They have still not given the public any reason to vote for them. Where are the bold policy offerings?” says one disgruntled senior Tory. Nick Timothy, May’s former joint chief of staff, who was forced out in the wake of the general election, has been using his column in the Daily Telegraph to recommend radical measures, including a wealth tax, that were noticeably lacking from the manifesto he helped to write. Gove has been getting his teeth into the environment brief, announcing policies on everything from plastics to pesticides. Tory MPs have been told to stress their green credentials, which No 10 hopes will help to improve the public’s perception of the Conservatives’ values. This year, Downing Street also plans to focus on housing and school standards, areas in which it believes May has a good story to tell. But she will also have to tackle controversial issues such as postBrexit immigration, and some of her MPs fear she is hampered by timidity and her lack of a solid majority. Meanwhile, the prime minister’s every move is watched by a platoon of potential successors. From Johnson, who has been waiting for the ball to “come loose from the back of the scrum” for years, to newer faces such as the fiercely ambitious defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, they are united for the moment by the sense that the painful compromises required by Brexit would be better made by the already heavily compromised May. That could change if hardline Eurosceptic MPs believe Brexit is being put at risk, or the party’s liberal wing thinks the Conservative brand is taking such a hammering it’s time for a change. Local elections in May, including in London, will be a crucial test of the party’s support. But for the moment, May’s strongest protection is the resurgent Corbyn. Conservative MPs fear any new leader would be forced to seek their own electoral mandate – and might well not get it. 16 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 UK news Londoners queue up to leave capital High house prices fuel record exodus to more aﬀordable areas of UK Robert Booth and Caelainn Barr The urge to quit London is so widespread that only a handful of the remotest corners of England and Wales did not see someone from the capital arriving to start a new life last year. According to the most recent official figures, analysed by the Guardian, 292,000 people left the metropolis in the year to the middle of 2016, up 14% on a decade earlier and the highest level since 2006. The trend is being driven by people leaving London’s relatively expensive housing market but also by financially squeezed councils sending homeless families out of the capital. People arrived from London in every part of England and Wales except three areas: the remote Isles of Scilly 40km off Land’s End, Barrowin-Furness in Cumbria and Torfaen in rural south Wales. Among the most popular destinations were Brighton and Birmingham, whose populations were swollen by a combined 12,100 people from the capital last year. Other s included Bristol, which welcomed 4,210 people from London, and Manchester, which attracted 4,150. Most people leaving London went to nearby areas in the home counties. Dartford was the most likely destination with 4,260 people moving to the Kent town in the year to June 2016. The need to escape the capital’s often unaffordable housing market is a prime reason for departures. At £482,000 ($650,000), average prices are more than double those in the rest of the UK – £223,000. Moves by region Number of people moving from London to the following regions. From mid-2015 to mid-2016, thousands 0 20 40 60 80 South-east East South-west West Midlands East Midlands North-west Yorks/Humber North-east Scotland Wales N Ireland SOURCE: ONS/BARRATT HOMES Councils are sending homeless families out of the capital to cheaper properties at the rate of more than 2,000 a year. In April, May and June this year, London boroughs made 524 placements outside of the capital. They included two families moved 450km north to Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland, another two families to Merseyside, five to Bradford in West Yorkshire and 32 to the West Midlands. More than 200 families were sent to Kent and almost 100 to Essex. A significant number of the total number of leavers are thought to be people who graduated from univer- sity in the 1990s, moved to London and bought homes when they were cheap and are now in their 40s with families and considerable equity. The trend is causing social tensions with incomers branded “DFLs – down from London” by local people who resent the impact on house prices when property-rich arrivals outbid each other. This has been the case in the Sussex town of Lewes, to which 740 Londoners moved last year, and in the picturesque north Kent fishing towns of Whitstable and Herne Bay, with 3,700 Londoners moving into the area that includes Canterbury. “The effect on places within commuting distance is gentrification and rising housing prices to London levels in the most sought-after parts of those places,” said Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at Oxford University. “This then ripples out to most of the rest of Brighton, Reading, Cambridge, even Hastings. Migration from London has already reduced many communities to shells of what they once were. “Creating a sense of community again will take a long time and requires two or three generations to be able to stay in one place. The immigrants who have the greatest effect on life in England are internal immigrants, English-born affluent people with a large deposit.” Laura Boon, 36, moved to Canterbury from Crystal Palace last year with her husband, Tom, a hospital doctor, and their two daughters aged seven and eight. After 16 years in the capital they bought a four-bed detached house just outside Canterbury for about half the price it would have cost in south-east London. “If we’d wanted to live in a comfortably sized family house and afford a social life in London we would have needed two very healthy incomes,” she said. Minimum wage dwarfed by increases in executive pay The disparity in pay between those at the top and bottom of the earnings ladder is revealed by analysis showing the national minimum wage would be £5.24 ($7.08) an hour higher if it had risen at the same rate as a top chief executive’s pay over the past two decades. With 2018 marking the 20th anniversary of legislation that heralded the minimum wage, research by the GMB union underscores by just how much the statutory pay floor has failed to keep pace with executive earnings. It shows that if increases in the national minimum wage had kept pace with a chief executive it would be £12.74 an hour compared with £7.50 now for those 25 years and older. For a worker aged over 25 on 40 hours per week this would equate to £26,000 a year compared with the £14,664 they are currently paid. The disclosure will intensify the debate about the yawning gap between the best and worst paid. Analysis published last week by the Vlerick Business School, based on 2016 data, found that chief executives of FTSE 100 companies receive on average 94 times more than the average employee. The average FTSE 100 company chief saw an 11% rise in their median total pay between 2015 and 2016. Calculations by the High Pay Centre confirm that the average FTSE 100 chief is now paid £4.35m a year – compared with £1.23m when the national minimum wage came in – an increase of 354%. Jamie Doward Observer Cartoon, page 21 → Calls for transport secretary to quit over rail bailouts Toby Helm and Jamie Doward Observer Lord Adonis is calling for the resignation of transport secretary Chris Grayling for using taxpayers’ money to bail out private rail companies – a decision the former government infrastructure tsar says is symptomatic of a government that has “broken down” under the strain of Brexit. Adonis, who resigned as head of the government-backed National Infrastructure Commission last Friday, said the decision has landed taxpayers with a potential bill running into billions and will lead to higher fares and less investment in the network. His intervention came as rail passengers suffered the biggest fare rises in five years this week and commuters held protests across the country. With the price of season tickets increasing by up to 3.6%, Labour, unions and transport groups have warned that commuters are starting to turn their back on rail travel. Adonis said his relations with government had become severely strained over Brexit in recent months. But it was Grayling’s move to bail out Stagecoach and Virgin, which were contracted to run the East Coast line until 2023, that was the final straw. “Handing a cheque worth hundreds of millions of pounds to Richard Branson and Brian Souter [chair of Stagecoach] would be indefensible at the best of times but we are now at the worst of times with a Brexit squeeze on the public finances and with rail fares going through the roof,” Adonis said. “I think Chris Grayling’s position is going to become untenable. It is of a piece with him being a radical Brexiter to whom everything is subordinate to hard-right ideology.” Grayling announced at the end of November that a new partnership would take responsibility for intercity trains and track operations on the East Coast route in 2020. Virgin Trains East Coast, in partnership with Stagecoach, had previously agreed to pay the government £3.3bn ($4.4bn) to run the service until 2023. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 17 International news Subject UK news The mother of all windfarms? Dutch firm plans North Sea megahub Britain’s homes could be lit and powered by windfarms surrounding an artificial island deep out in the North Sea, under advanced plans by a Dutch energy network. The radical proposal envisages an island being built to act as a hub for vast offshore windfarms that would eclipse today’s facilities in scale. Dogger Bank, 125km off the East Yorkshire coast, is a potential site. The hub would send electricity over long-distance cables to the UK and Netherlands, and possibly later to Belgium, Germany and Denmark. TenneT, the project’s backer and Dutch equivalent of the UK’s National Grid, recently shared early findings of a study that said its plan could be billions of euros cheaper than conventional windfarms and international power cables. Rob van der Hage, who manages TenneT’s offshore wind grid development programme, said: “The big challenge we are facing towards 2030 and 2050 is onshore wind is hampered by local opposition and near-shore is nearly full. It’s logical we are looking at areas further offshore.” As each kilometre farther out to sea means another kilometre of expensive cabling to get the power back to land, the firm argues a more innovative approach is needed. The island idea would theoretically solve that by allowing economies of scale, higher wind speeds and relatively short, affordable cables taking power from offshore turbines to the island. There converters will change it from alternating current – as used in mains electricity but that incurs losses of power over long distances – to direct current for transmitting back to the UK or Netherlands. That long-distance cable, an interconnector, would give the windfarms flexibility to supply whichever country’s market was paying the most for power at any given time, and mean the power almost always had a use. To fit all the equipment, the island would need to be around 6 sq km, but Van der Hage is not daunted. “In the Netherlands, when we see a piece of water we want to build islands or land. We’ve been doing that for centuries. That is not the biggest challenge,” he said. The more significant obstacles look likely to be economic. While TenneT could shoulder the estimated €1.5bn ($1.8bn) cost of building the hub, it is not allowed to build power generation, so that would be left to the likes of offshore windfarm developers such as Denmark’s Ørsted and Germany’s Innogy. However, to get them on board TenneT needs to find other energy network operators, such as the UK’s National Grid, to help pay for the long-distance cables. If all goes well, Van der Hage said, the earliest the island could be operational is 2027, with the windfarms to follow. The project could handle windfarms with a capacity of 30GW, more than twice today’s total installed offshore wind power across the whole of Europe. Adam Vaughan Image: TenneT Politicians still top New Year honours list Guardian reporters A quarter of all knighthoods in the New Year honours list have gone to politicians, including the Tory kingmaker Graham Brady, who has Theresa May’s political future in his hands as chair of the 1922 committee of backbenchers, and former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. The annual list makes knights of Brady and Clegg, despite the prime minister’s promise to stamp out the cronyism of the David Cameron era by focusing awards on those who contribute to their community. Other politicians to get the highest honour include Christopher Chope, a rightwing Conservative who was a junior minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, who served as a junior whip under William Hague. Labour’s Lindsay Hoyle, the depCheryl Gillan, the Tory party’s longest-serving female MP, is the only woman to receive a top political honour uty speaker of the Commons, is also knighted along with Mark Hendrick, who has served as Labour MP for Preston for 17 years and was previously the first MEP from a minority ethnic background. The only female MP to get a top honour is Cheryl Gillan, who becomes a dame. Notable names honoured from the arts world include former Beatle Ringo Starr, and the last surviving Bee Gee Barry Gibb, both of whom receive knighthoods. Also honoured is Darcey Bussell, the former principal dancer at the Royal Ballet, who becomes a dame for services to dance. News in brief Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and Page XX • Five men were arrested as part of an investigation into a possible Islamist plot to attack Britain. Counter-terror officers arrested a 21-year-old man in Sheffield last Friday on suspicion of preparing acts of terror. Two other buildings were searched in the city in connection with the alleged plot. The raids followed the arrests of four men in Sheffield and nearby Chesterfield before Christmas. Two of the men have been charged with one count of engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism under section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. • British passports issued after October 2019 will be dark blue and gold, replacing the current burgundy model. The British passport is redesigned every five years, and the new version will come into production when the current contract expires, the Home Office has announced. The return of the navy cover, first used in 1921, is being hailed as a victory by pro-Brexit MPs, who had campaigned for it. The government said the new passport, which would include updated features and technology, would be one of the most secure in the world. • The number of Irish passports issued has hit record levels since the Brexit vote, with applications from Britain and Northern Ireland continuing to rise, the Irish government announced. More than 160,000 Irish passports were issued to people in Northern Ireland and Britain in 2017. At the same time, the number of people born in Britain registering as Irish rocketed by 95%. According to statistics issued by Ireland’s department of foreign affairs, 779,000 Irish passports were issued in 2017, the highest number since records began. • Readers have raised more than £1.25m ($1.7m) in the Guardian and Observer 2017 appeal for three homelessness charities. The appeal, which continues until 7 January, is in aid of the UK youth homelessness charities Centrepoint and Depaul UK, and the No Accommodation Network (Naccom), which supports local organisations providing shelter for destitute refugees and asylum seekers. 18 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Comment&Debate Silicon Valley is eating your soul John Harris Former Google and Facebook executives are sounding the alarm about the pervasive powers of technology. But will we listen? O ne source of angst came close to being 2017’s signature subject: how the internet and the tiny handful of companies that dominate it are affecting both individual minds and the future of the planet. The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia is in retreat. If you want a sense of how much has changed, picture the president of the US tweeting his latest provocation in the small hours, and consider an array of words and phrases now freighted with meaning: Russia, bots, troll farms, online abuse, fake news, dark money. Another sign of how much things have shifted is a volte-face by Silicon Valley’s most powerful man. Barely more than a year ago the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, seemed still to be rejoicing in his company’s imperial phase, blithely dismissing the idea that fabricated news carried by his platform had affected the outcome of the 2016 US election as a “pretty crazy idea”. Now scarcely a week goes by without some Facebook pronouncement or other, either updating the wider world about its latest quest to put its operations beyond criticism or assuring us that its belief in an eternally upbeat, fuzzily liberal ethos is as fervent as ever. The company has reached a fascinating point in its evolution: Facebook is at once massively powerful and suddenly defensive. Its deeply questionable tax affairs are being altered; 1,000 new employees have been hired to monitor its advertising. At the same time, it still seems unable to provide any answers to worries about its effects on the world – beyond more Facebook. While Zuckerberg and his colleagues do ethical somersaults, there is rising noise from former insiders at tech giants who worry about what their innovations are doing to us. Former Facebook president Sean Parker warned in November that its platform “literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” At around the same time, the former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya held a public interview at Stanford University in which he did not exactly mince his words. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he said. “No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth … So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.” Then there is Tristan Harris, a former high-up at Google who is now hailed as “the closest thing Silicon Bill Bragg A possible way out resides in embracing the idea of navigating the internet with a basic degree of moderation Valley has to a conscience”. Under the banner of a “movement” called Time Well Spent, he and his allies are urging software developers to tone down the compulsive elements of their inventions, and the millions who find themselves hooked to change their behaviour. What they are up against, meanwhile, is apparently personified by Nir Eyal, a Stanford lecturer and tech consultant. In 2013 he published Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products. His inspiration for the book is the behaviourist psychology pioneered by BF Skinner. Among his pearls of wisdom is one both simple and chilling: “For new behaviours to really take hold, they must occur often.” But on close inspection even he sounds somewhat ambivalent: in April, at something called the Habit Summit, he told his audience that at home he had installed a device that cut off the internet at a set time every day. Good for him. The reality for millions of other people is a constant experience that all but buries the online world’s liberating possibilities in a mess of alerts, likes, messages, retweets and internet use so pathologically frantic that it inevitably makes far too many people vulnerable to pernicious nonsense and real dangers. Thanks to manipulative ephemera, WhatsApp users anxiously await the ticks that confirm whether a message has been read by a receiver; and, a turbocharged version of the addictive dots that flash on an iPhone when a friend is replying to you, Snapchat now alerts its users when a friend starts typing a message to them. And we all know what lies around the corner: a world of Sensurround virtual reality, and an internet wired into just about every object we interact with. As the repentant Facebookers say: if we’re not careful, we will soon be at risk of being locked into mindless behavioural loops, craving distraction even from other distractions. There is a possible way out of this, of course. It resides not in some luddite fantasy of an army of people carrying old Nokia phones and writing each other letters, but the possibility of a culture that embraces the idea of navigating the internet with an emphasis on basic moderation. We now know – don’t we? – that the person who begins most social encounters by putting their phone on the table is either an addict or an idiot. T here is also a mounting understanding that one of the single most important aspects of modern parenting is to be all too aware of how much social media can mess with people’s minds, and to limit our children’s screen time. This, after all, is what Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did, as evidenced by one of the latter’s most pithy statements. In 2010 he was asked about his children’s opinion of the iPad. “They haven’t used it,” he said. “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” Two billion people actively use Facebook; at least 3.5 billion are reckoned to be online. Their shared habits, compulsions and susceptibilities will have a huge influence on the world’s progress, or lack of it. So we ought to listen to Tristan Harris and his campaign. “Religions and governments don’t have that much influence over people’s daily thoughts,” he recently told Wired magazine. “But we have three technology companies” – he meant Facebook, Google and Apple – “who have this system that frankly they don’t even have control over … Right now, 2 billion people’s minds are already jacked into this automated system, and it’s steering people’s thoughts toward either personalised paid advertising or misinformation or conspiracy theories. And it’s all automated; the owners of the system can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, and they can’t control it.” And then came the kicker. “This isn’t some kind of philosophical conversation. This is an urgent concern happening right now.” Amid an ocean of corporate sophistry, those words have the distinct ring of truth. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 19 Comment&Debate Macron must use his eloquence to save Europe Natalie Nougayrède The French president is uniquely placed to speak for the continent. If he reaches out to the British people, perhaps Brexit can be avoided I n 2017, France won and Britain lost. Emmanuel Macron emerged to transform a sclerotic political scene, dazzling the world and many in his country with a youthful energy that made French rejuvenation a buzzword. Theresa May stumbled from one hiccup to the next, rushing to Washington for an awkward meeting with Donald Trump, triggering article 50 with no plan for the aftermath, and losing her majority in parliament. Macron made headlines with slogans such as “Let’s make the planet great again”. May’s mantras – from “global Britain” to “Brexit means Brexit” – backfired or seemed to go nowhere. Macron secured a solid base in the national assembly for his upstart La République en Marche party. He made sweeping, lyrical speeches about Europe, heralding a new era of empowerment and European sovereignty. May went to Florence, in a worthy attempt to build bridges with Europe, despite everything. But what mostly got noted was that the UK would pay its dues to the EU – an early sign of bowing to the inevitable as her Brexit negotiating team prepared to align itself with conditions laid out by Brussels. For these two former global, colonial powers, who must now grapple with a fast-changing world where punching above your weight is no longer so easy, last year surely marked Gallic triumph and British misery. But would the French be right to gloat? If things continue like this in 2018, no one will stand to gain. France has a lot to lose if Britain turns its back on Europe. To say “good riddance”, as former French prime minister Michel Rocard once said, is shortsightedness. Brexit has now become a process so tedious and drawn out that we’ve almost forgotten the shock of that morning of 24 June 2016. Parts of France’s establishment have long thought of Britain as a contrarian force in the European club. De Gaulle was right to block the British, goes that line of thought. For one thing, British-led EU enlargement to the east – in fact, Europe’s reunification – diluted France’s sense of being the indispensable cornerstone. Europe’s centre of gravity shifted to Berlin. So it has been tempting for some in Paris to relish the thought of going back to some sort of “core” Europe model: a cosy group holding close to the vision of the “founding fathers” of the 1950s. This won’t fly. The world has changed. Europe has changed. Forces that have the potential to undermine it have not dissipated – from Moscow to Ankara, from entrenched populist movements to the cyberworld, from migration to the many impacts of unregulated globalisation. For all the talk about Europe surviving (or even being galvanised by) Brexit and Trump, Britain’s current crash course out of the EU remains as damaging a move for all as it was deemed to be 18 months ago. Brexit will represent the first European breakup in 60 years – a wound whose ultimate consequences we have yet to fathom. Britain is rocked by polarisation and internal divisions, but it remains a strong democracy – carrying Matt Kenyon For these two former global, colonial powers, last year surely marked Gallic triumph and British misery values that today can hardly be taken for granted. Given this, France and Britain have special responsibilities, not least in the UN, where the very principle of international cooperation is under threat. Some of those who think Brexit can be made to work will believe the cracks in the liberal order it will open up can be papered over. But there will be a cost. If Macron really is the saviour of Europe he wants to be, then he should say something to help to prevent Brexit. A window of opportunity may open up next summer, when it will become increasingly clear that Brexit is a near-impossible task. This is not to suggest France should move to carve out new conditions for Britain. The EU, in these Brexit talks, is focused on its self-preservation as a bloc, and that includes a big “no” to a bespoke deal that might transform the single market into gruyère cheese: full of holes. In 2016 Barack Obama, a man Macron in many ways likes to imitate, delivered a speech in Hanover addressed not to governments but to “the people of Europe”. It is striking that, as Europe’s leaders keep talking of “unity”, they mostly tend to reach out to their domestic, national constituencies. Macron has shown he can look beyond. Why not reach out to the British people in this historic moment? Why not say: we would like you to stay, we are not seeking to benefit from your departure nor to harm you, and we still have so much to achieve together? Why not say: some of the trends that led to Brexit, among them inequality and a broken social fabric, are problems France and others on the continent also have to deal with? Why not plunge into historical references in which the salvation of France was made possible thanks to Britain’s courage, and now, nearly 80 years on, show French courage in return? What does Macron have to lose? At the moment the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, can’t deliver such a speech because she is tied up with domestic uncertainties. But Macron can really make a difference in becoming the first, strong continental voice to make the case for stopping Brexit’s collective wrecking ball. If that happened, 2018 would be a Franco-British success story, not a messy divorce. En marche to that! 20 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Comment&Debate Kabul attack exposes deadly new Isis strategy Hassan Hassan Observer The caliphate may be defeated but Islamic State militants have turned their attentions to reigniting local sectarian insurgencies I ts much-vaunted caliphate has gone. But while 2017 might have seen the end of Islamic State’s dream of ruling over its twisted vision of an ideal society, last year ended with an ominous sign that its deadly international campaign against the many people and faiths it sees as spiritual foes has gathered new energy. Last Thursday, dozens of civilians in Kabul were killed in a suicide attack that targeted a Shia cultural centre in the Afghan capital. The attack comes despite an intensifying campaign by the US and Afghanistan to uproot the twin threats emanating from Isis and the Taliban. Striking inside the Afghan capital, despite the surge in security and military measures, has also raised fears about the enduring ability of the group as the caliphate it once established in Iraq and Syria has collapsed. In Afghanistan, Isis has done so much with so little. In Libya, for example, the group had hundreds of local battle-hardened fighters with experience stretching back to the early years of the Iraq war and who played a pivotal role in early Isis efforts in Syria in 2014, but its fortunes have dwindled over the past two years. The Afghanistan affiliate, in contrast, has competition from resurgent Taliban militants, but it has managed to deepen its presence. Striking inside the capital suggests that the group has evolved from a largely foreign-led organisation to an increasingly localised one. Aside from its persistence in Afghanistan, the nature of last Thursday’s attack is a harbinger of what is to come as Isis loses its caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The Isis media outlet claimed that the cultural centre was bankrolled and sponsored by Iran. “The centre is one of the most notable centres for proselytisation to Shiism in Afghanistan,” the statement added. Isis has sought to tout itself as the defender of Sunnis across the region and the choice of words in its statement is designed to drive that message. The sectarian theme is likely to be the group’s main focus in the coming years, as it retreats from a caliphate to an insurgency. The sectarian narrative helps the group present a “contiguous ideology” from Afghanistan to Syria, in place of the caliphate it seems to have lost; its message to its followers is that the victims of its attack were potential soldiers in the army that Iran is forming everywhere. Presenting itself as the last line of defence against Iran will ensure that its localised operations have a general regional theme. The group has increasingly focused on sectarianism, not just against the Shia but also against Christians and other religious minorities. The group’s attack inside Iran in June was designed to achieve this objective and attacks that it portrays as directed against Iranian interests, such as the one in Kabul, serve a similar purpose. By doing so, it seeks to tap into a market in which even al-Qaida and the Taliban cannot compete with the same vigour. In October, suicide bombers linked to the group killed at least 57 worshippers in a Shia mosque in Kabul. Isis’s sectarian focus makes its persistence even more troubling. A day after the Kabul assault, the group also claimed responsibility for a militant shooting on a church in Cairo, one of several attacks targeting Coptic civilians and churches in the country in recent years. The lesson from such attacks is that the group can still be deadly. Indeed, its territorial demise might even exacerbate insurgencies elsewhere, if militants fill up the ranks of affiliates in other countries. The territorial demise of the caliphate might reduce threats against the west, but for the immediate region, where it can move more easily, Isis will continue to exploit social divisions and political stagnation. Hassan Hassan is co-author of Isis: Inside the Army of Terror More at theguardian.com/opinion Opinion In brief Good marriages don’t rely on dream weddings I’ve changed my mind about changing my mind “What people fail to realise,” my newlywed friend remarked as we discussed my upcoming nuptials, “is that when women say they want to get married, they generally mean they want a wedding.” To which I would add: or security, or reassurance, or even – whisper it – status. The trouble is that matrimony may make you wealthier, but the power isn’t vested in any institution to make you happier, or more secure in the psychological rather than the custodial sense. Only the right partnership can do that. Data taken from more than 350,000 people in two UK surveys, analysed by researchers from the Vancouver School of Economics, informs us that married people are happier than single ones, that those in committed relationships, even without the paperwork, are as happy as those who have put a ring Was there ever a time of greater certitude, when so many were so convinced of so much? Brexiteers, vegans, doomsayers, Putinistas, people of faith, people of no faith, terrorists, trolls, football pundits … Minds are made up, closed for new business. No one, it seems, is open to the subtle arts of persuasion, discussion, debate, exchange. No one, it seems, apart from me. I seem to be more biddable than ever. It may be unfashionable, but I’ve changed my mind about changing my mind. I do it all the time. Recently I’ve changed my mind about vases, tuition fees, surfing, houseplants, cinnamon, Portugal and the accordion. In some matters, I’ve changed my mind more than once: social media (thumbs down, thumbs up, thumbs down); winter (love, hate, love); and porridge (hot, cold, just right). on it – and that the middle-aged are the most happily hitched of all. I’m 45 now and very happily married, although we have never bothered with either the legal shenanigans or the big party. As for that man I did officially marry – reader, I divorced him. My clear-sighted friend is also divorced. Both of us had brilliant weddings; it was the aftermath that didn’t work out so well. My current partner also had a previous long-term relationship, complete with property and children. By the time we met, we had figured out a few things we wanted and a few others we decidedly did not. Smug Marrieds in their middle years know that long-term love is about old slippers, not glass ones, and that the morning coffee can be even more romantic than raising a champagne glass – if you’re drinking with the right person. Nina Caplan Then there are the things I change my mind about every day, several times: God, crisps, democracy, the internet, euthanasia, alcohol, the free market. I didn’t even want to write this, but they talked me into it. This near-constant vacillation is not a good look for an occasional opinion writer. People tell me there is a danger that uncertainty comes off second best. No one ever won an argument with “I’m not so sure”. But I’m not so sure. Showing a willingness to evaluate and alter one’s position where appropriate can have a reciprocal effect. If we treat others’ views with due care and attention, perhaps they will do the same with ours. So please don’t try to talk me out of this. The last thing I want to do is change my mind about changing my mind about changing my mind. Mark Rice-Oxley The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 21 Comment&Debate In praise of ... a royal car park The Labour party has warned of an alarming rise in UK household debt as inflation rises and wages are squeezed Labour must reflect all talents Martin Kettle The Tory party’s travails oﬀer a great opportunity if Corbyn puts his team forward as a strong and united alternative I n a distinctively Conservative context, Michael Heseltine has posed an important question for all those who reject the doctrinaire extremes. The most important liberal Tory of the Thatcher era asked last week whether the national interest of preventing or softening Brexit should override any partisan anxiety about what a Jeremy Corbyn government might mean. You do not have to be a pro-European Conservative like Heseltine to see that the answer to that question is now yes. Heseltine’s dilemma is an academic one at present. Corbyn may have said recently that he expects Labour to be in power by the end of 2018. Yet that seems unlikely. The problem is not that Labour might not win a general election in 2018. The problem is that there is an obstacle: the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. This 2011 law says that in order for there to be an election, the government has to lose a confidence vote or the prime minister has to persuade two-thirds of MPs to vote for one. Both are possible in theory in 2018, but not likely. For the moment, therefore, the question facing Labour is not what it will do in government, but what it will do in another year in opposition. Some will say the answer is straightforward. Corbyn simply needs to do more of what he has done so well in 2017: offer a positive alternative economic message, remain constructively ambiguous about Brexit, wait for the Conservatives to hit the rocks and prepare to win on a tide of public anger. That is not an approach that can be dismissed. It has got Corbyn and Labour to a place that very few, even among the committed, would have predicted back at the end of 2016. Twelve months ago, Labour was polling in the upper 20s. Now, in line with the June election result, Labour polls consistently in the low 40s. For Labour, 2016 was a year of internal divisions. Yet 2017 witnessed a ceasefire. Is this standoff merely a hiatus or is it perhaps the shape of things to come? The latter is the better option. There are certainly some in Momentum who want to The scruffy council car park in Leicester that was revealed in 2012 as the site where Richard III was buried in 1485 is being given scheduled monument status. The listing is to protect “one of the most important sites in our national history”, the remains of the medieval friary where the battered, naked body of the last Plantagenet king was buried after he lost the battle of Bosworth, his life and his crown to Henry Tudor. Part of the site, including the grave, has been preserved within the new Richard III centre, converted from an old school whose playground helped preserve the archaeology. However, many traces of the lost Greyfriars church and the friary buildings are believed to lie under the car park. The heritage minister, John Glenn, said: “The discovery of Richard III’s skeleton was an extraordinary archaeological find and an incredible moment in British history.” Maev Kennedy transform Labour into a party for radical socialists alone. What is most striking about Labour is that, so far, there is little evidence of a systematic attempt to purge the centrists and social democrats. This is not to downplay or be naive about the instances where existing leaders and candidates have been ousted in favour of new and mainly more leftwing alternatives. But at this early stage the evidence that it is happening is patchy and rarely black-and-white. Labour is at a critical point where its different traditions have to decide whether to recognise the others’ legitimacy within the party. Labour has always been an often loose coalition of socialist and labour, liberal and conservative, revolutionary and reformist, left and right, and much else. This has become increasingly irresistible in postindustrial politics. If one tradition tries to deny legitimacy to the others, as some in New Labour foolishly attempted, and some in Corbyn Labour might like, the resulting party will always be weakened. Fanaticism is fatal for Labour, whether it is fanaticism of the right, the centre or the left. The important questions in British politics in 2018 are all about Brexit. Will Brexit happen? And if it does, on what terms? But in the years beyond 2018 there is a different question that needs addressing now too. Assuming that the Tory government eventually falls over in the aftermath of Brexit, what kind of Labour or Labour-led government comes next? The issue here is not whether Corbyn should or will create a Labour party that Lord Heseltine, if he had a vote, could vote for. Part of the issue, nevertheless, is whether Corbyn’s Labour is one that can win 2017 Tory voters in marginal seats. That is one reason why Labour must continue to liberalise its position on Brexit. There will be no Labour government and thus no respite from Theresa May’s economically brutal Brexit if that does not happen. Labour’s different traditions would be wise to maintain the current armistice. If they spend their time trying to exterminate one another it will not happen. The choice is Corbyn’s. 22 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 theguardianweekly Comment #MeToo What comes next? The exposure of the predatory behaviour of the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, and the #MeToo campaign it triggered, have had an impact even his accusers surely never anticipated. It has forced at least some powerful individuals to at last face consequences for their behaviour. But it has proved even more important in two other regards. First, the sheer volume of testimony that has emerged refutes the idea that the odd “bad apple” needs to be removed but everything is otherwise fine. It has demonstrated that this is a widespread and structural issue. Second, the torrent has emboldened women to challenge behaviour that they silently endured. Women are, at last, being heard. But which women? The questions that #MeToo has forced people to confront – who is heard, who is believed, who wins redress – are skewed by race and class as much as by gender. The very phrase “me too” bears examination: many ascribed it to the actor Alyssa Milano, who started the social media avalanche. But it was a black woman, Tarana Burke, who first used the words to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of abuse – just as the battles of black workers, mostly forgotten, shaped US sexual harassment law. What does #MeToo mean for women who face additional discrimination and abuse as people of colour? For women on factory floors, in care homes or delivering parcels? For women on short-term contracts and without union representation, or in the gig economy, where bosses can easily deny them work and where abusers may be clients of the business paying them? No woman should suffer socially, economically or professionally for challenging her abuser. But how much harder it is to speak out when the cost may be not only your career, but the ability to pay the rent or feed your children. Plenty of people want to move on; some because they don’t understand the movement’s importance, and others precisely because they understand its implications. Even now, women are paying a price for speaking out. Much discussion has skipped past the primary question – how women should be treated in the workplace – to fixate on how perpetrators should be treated, without pausing to acknowledge the penalties that victims have already paid. The #MeToo campaign has proved powerful. But it cannot solve all the problems it raises. The work of effecting real, widespread and lasting change will be long, slow, unglamorous and exhausting. It will be not just about raising awareness but about improving law and policy, and bolstering women’s economic status. It will depend on measures such as a new international standard on violence and harassment in the world of work, under discussion by the UN’s International Labour Organisation. Its best hope of success rests on its ability to address the needs of all women. Surveillance in China Big Brother is watching “Orwellian” is a much abused word; but in the case of Xinjiang, in China, its use is entirely apposite. Authorities’ grip on the resourcerich, violence-stricken north-western region – and most of all on the lives of its Uighur Muslims – grows tighter by the day. “The happiest Muslims in the world live in Xinjiang,” a propaganda official there claimed last year. But a series of recent reports have unveiled a digital police state. Technological advances, such as facial recognition software and biometric data collection, are married to a vast and expanding security apparatus, a bureaucracy that inserts itself into all parts of life, and traditional hard power: shows of force by heavily armed police. Officials collected DNA from millions of residents last year under what they describe as a free Physicals for All healthcare programme. It follows a regional security directive urging the collection of “three-dimensional portraits, voiceprints, DNA and fingerprints”. At checkpoints, armed police use handheld devices to check smartphones for banned apps. At petrol stations, machines scan drivers’ identity cards and faces. One prefecture requires each car to have a GPS tracking device. At knife shops, machines etch the identity details of the buyer on to each blade. The tightening of controls was triggered by deadly violence: ethnic riots in Urumqi in 2009, which killed almost 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, and knife, bomb and vehicle attacks, some outside Xinjiang. But rights groups, exiles and analysts say that many more in the Turkic-speaking Uighur community are frustrated by economic inequality, discrimination and tight restrictions on cultural and religious expression or criticism of authorities, all of which officials conflate with separatism and violent extremism. The region is unique in China in the level of repression. But it has become a laboratory for measures then used elsewhere. And as Chinese global ambitions grow, these techniques are likely to be exported. Trump has laid bare serious flaws in the US model Jonathan Freedland It is 20 years since I published a book called Bring Home the Revolution. Begun when I was still in my 20s, it too was an essay in idealism, arguing that the American uprising of 1776 and the constitution that followed in 1787 were a rebellion against a system of government under which we Britons still laboured two centuries later – albeit with an overmighty, overcentralised government in place of the bewigged King George. The American revolution, I argued, was our inheritance, a part of our patrimony mislaid across the Atlantic. From a written constitution to a system of radically devolved power to the replacement of monarchy with an elected head of state, it was time for us to bring home the revolution that we had made in America. But it’s time for me to admit my doubts about its core idea – its admiration for the US constitution and system of government. For this first year of the Donald Trump presidency has exposed two flaws in the model that I cannot brush aside so easily. The first is that Trump has vividly demonstrated that much of what keeps a democracy intact is not enshrined in the written letter of a constitution, but resides instead in customs and conventions – norms – that are essential to civic wellbeing. Trump trampled all over those as a candidate – refusing to disclose his tax returns, for example – and has trampled over even more as president. But the first year of Trump has also shown the extent to which the US has an unwritten constitution that – just like ours – relies on the self-restraint of the key political players, a self-restraint usually insisted upon by a free press. Yet when confronted with a leader unbound by any sense of shame – and shamelessness might just be Trump’s defining quality – America is left unexpectedly vulnerable. And yet, despite everything, I still see so much to admire in the founding achievement of America. The society remains innovative, restless and creative. But its next act of renewal might be to update or amend the text that gave it birth, to declare that no human invention, no matter how great, can remain stuck. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 23 Reply Katherine Viner has reaffirmed that the Guardian Weekly’s mission is to “use clarity and imagination to build hope” (22 December). I could not have put it better and look forward to another year of the Guardian doing just that. However, delivering on this splendid mission might just mean that the Guardian has to contemplate crossing a rather risky Rubicon. I refer to the clarity provided by Larry Elliott in the same edition when he described the reality of the last four decades as “a class war between capital and labour, which capital has won hands down”. This insight is the starting point to cutting through the confusion of the weekly flow of events to a clarity that will allow imagination to flourish, hope to arise and change to occur. The question remains: will the Guardian cross such a Rubicon and more fully contribute to a better clarity of understanding and mobilisation for change in the years ahead – for the people, against the few? Stewart Sweeney Adelaide, South Australia • Referring to the excellent article on the Guardian’s history, position and future by Katharine Viner, I once more realised why I appreciate the Weekly so much and can’t do without it. My Dutch daily Trouw is much younger but has similar principles. Now let’s all try to practise these in life. Niek de Vries Tiel, the Netherlands Igor Kisselev/Alamy The building of hope While the media loves to hate Trump, and Trump is always telling us how much he scorns the media, both know they are in a dysfunctional symbiotic relationship thanks to a profit-making company that has its own agenda. Twitter is a vertical, hierarchical form of communication – and mostly one-way. It facilitates diatribe, not dialogue. Journalists should not allow themselves to become the “followers” of anyone. Social media is a fashion beloved of those who don’t know how to sit still and think for themselves. When we all wake up from up our stupor, maybe the world’s media will lead the way back to real conversation by disconnecting from all social media. We should reserve Twitter et al for banal social intercourse instead of building news stories around it. Nick Inman Larreule, France The dangers of extremism The problem isn’t Trump The problem is not Trump’s use of Twitter (cover story, 8 December); it is the media’s use of Trump’s use of Twitter. Journalists have come to rely on tweets as an easy source of news: the more outrageous the better. So much easier than asking awkward questions of power. If journalism is the relaying of information, something has gone badly wrong. Twitter is not information. It is the spontaneous expression of mood, the stuff of gossip, not democratic debate. Letters for publication email@example.com 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 Peter Beaumont’s fine feature focused on Jerusalem makes clear the extensive costly human impact of president Donald Trump’s decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (15 December). As Beaumont implies, that decision means that another Palestinian intifada is now a real possibility. My wife and I were holidaying in Syria and Jordan in 2001. That was at the time of the second Palestinian intifada. We recall how nasty and brutal it was – on all sides. Once, as we taxied from Amman To contact the editor directly: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 to a Dead Sea resort, the contentious West Bank town of Jericho was clearly visible some 15-20km away. At that distance there was no sign of the dreadful hostilities it was experiencing. But for local Jordanians just across the border, the trauma of that conflict seemed very close to home. Our taxi driver told us with grim humour that at night he and his family looked across in that direction from the Dead Sea border area where they lived to experience the night flashes, explosions and gunfire as a sort of ghoulish afterdinner entertainment. Most Jordanians and Syrians we met, while they strongly favoured the Palestinian cause, were wary of extremism on all sides. As one Jordanian said to me as we came across him watching TV reportage of a recent terrible Jerusalem restaurant bombing: “Israelis – boom, boom, boom. Palestinians – bang, bang, bang. Why?” The Middle East got over that bout of violence. Now the stupidity of Trump threatens it with another. Terry Hewton Adelaide, South Australia • With reference to your 8 December story on the final battle for Mosul: the harrowing endgame shows, as usual, how even one death in the name of religion is always one too many. A second terror is listed at the end of the article – the same politicians who led to the rise of Isis jostle for position as they loot the nation. My take on that is, in summary, the conditions are ripe for it all to happen again. As one learned person said recently “politics is about the past; history concerns the future”. Nothing has been learned. Stephen Banks Birmingham, UK Briefly • In Romania battles over its bears (8 December), your writer decries, “Despite a national hunting ban, Transylvanians want to shoot the beasts”. That is why I have always supported the right to arm bears. Robert Milan Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Or contact: UK, Europe and Rest of World email@example.com +44 (0) 330 333 6767 USA and Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free: +1-844-632-2010 Direct line: +1-917-900-4663 Australia/New Zealand: email@example.com Toll Free : 1 800 773 766 Direct line: +61 (0)2 8076 8599 From the archive 5 January 1961 Peter Downes, tiddlywinks icon The secretary-general of the English Tiddlywinks Association sounds like a character in a Goon Show script. One expects him to resemble a Sellers sportsman who talks in Churchillian tones about national honour – “that English feller did damned well to come in thirty-second.” The fact that Mr Peter Downes is only 22 is not much of a surprise – the game is associated these days more with university rags than with drawing-room carpets – but one hardly expected the tiddlywinks equivalent of Sir Stanley Rous to be an earnest young teacher of French and Divinity at Manchester Grammar School, whose bookcase is stacked with volumes of poetry by Rimbaud alongside titles like “Style in the French Novel”. Although he has devoted the school holidays to organising the northern junior tiddlywinks championships held in Manchester this week, Mr Downes has none of the air of a crank. He is refreshingly normal with a variety of interests that range from the Student Christian Movement to soccer refereeing. He wants nothing more than the acceptance of tiddlywinks as a game worth a paragraph on the sports page rather than a column on the gossip page about how debs are following the duke in taking up “winking”. Mr Downes was fairly proficient at the game before he went to Cambridge. He joined the tiddlywinks club which was already in existence there, and after a weekly review at the time of the Altrinchammonarchy controversy had printed an article headed “Does the Duke cheat at tiddly-winks?” he wrote to the palace, urging the Duke of Edinburgh to play the Cambridge team. Prince Philip nominated a team from the Goon Show to represent him, and in addition to providing the Hickeys and Tanfields with acres of copy it raised £200 for the National Playing Fields Association. Since then the association, which makes no profits for itself, has raised over £1,000 for the NPFA, and Mr Downes gets great satisfaction out of the thought that a game whose only playing field is a dining-room table has done something for more orthodox sports. After the visit of the Goons, “winking” became the thing to do at Cambridge. A conference was held which formed the English Tiddlywinks Association and devised the “international rules of tiddlywinks.” 24 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Eyewitnessed Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar take an early morning walk past a pond at Balukhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh Marko Djurica/Reuters A Balinese girl takes part in a traditional dance during a cultural parade at a festival in Denpasar to mark the New Year Sonny Tumbelaka/Getty A robin is caught in flight on New Year’s Eve as it approaches a suet cake that hangs from a tree in Frankfurt, Germany Michael Probst/AP The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 25 Pope Francis leads the First Vespers and Te Deum prayer in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on New Year’s Eve Tony Gentile/Reuters A street vendor displays his stock of wristwatches at a bus terminal in Delhi, India Saumya Khandelwal/Reuters A tear runs down the face of Kenyon George, whose girlfriend Shawntay Young was among 12 people who died in an apartment building fire in the Bronx, New York Julio Cortez/AP 26 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Portugal’s big fix for the war on drugs W hen the drugs came, they hit all at once. It was the 1980s, and by the time one in 10 people had slipped into the depths of heroin use – bankers, university students, carpenters, socialites, miners – Portugal was in a state of panic. Álvaro Pereira was working as a family doctor in Olhão in southern Portugal. “People were injecting themselves in the street, in public squares, in gardens,” he told me. “At that time, not a day passed when there wasn’t a robbery at a local business, or a mugging.” The crisis began in the south. The 1980s were a prosperous time in Olhão, a fishing town 50km west of the Spanish border. Coastal waters filled fishermen’s nets from the Gulf of Cádiz to Morocco, tourism was growing and currency flowed throughout the southern Algarve region. But by the end of the decade, heroin began washing up on Olhão’s shores. Overnight, Pereira’s beloved slice of the Algarve coast became one of the drug capitals of Europe: one in every 100 Portuguese was battling a problematic heroin addiction at that time, but the number was even higher in the south. Headlines in the local press raised the alarm about overdose deaths and rising crime. The rate of HIV infection in Portugal became the highest in the European Union. Pereira recalled desperate patients and families beating a path to his door, terrified, bewildered, begging for help. “I got involved,” he said, “only because I was ignorant.” In truth, there was a lot of ignorance back then. Forty years of authoritarian rule under the regime established by António Salazar in 1933 had suppressed education, weakened institutions and lowered the school-leaving age, in a strategy intended to keep the population docile. The country was closed to the outside world; people missed out on the experimentation and mind-expanding culture of the 1960s. When the regime ended abruptly in a military coup in 1974, Portugal was suddenly opened to new markets and influences. Under the old regime, Coca-Cola was banned and owning a cigarette lighter required a licence. When marijuana and then heroin began flooding in, the country was utterly unprepared. Pereira tackled the growing wave of addiction the only way he knew how: one patient at a time. A student in her 20s who still lived with her parents might have her family involved in her recovery; a middle-aged man, estranged from his wife and living on the street, faced different risks and needed a different kind of support. Pereira improvised, calling on institutions and individuals in the community to lend a hand. In 2001, nearly two decades into Pereira’s accidental specialisation in addiction, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them. The opioid crisis soon stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. HIV infection plummeted from an all-time high in 2000 of 104.2 new cases per million to 4.2 cases per million in 2015. The data behind these changes has been studied and cited as evidence by harmreduction movements around the globe. It’s misleading, however, to credit these positive results entirely to a change in law. Portugal’s remarkable recovery, and the fact that it has held steady through several changes in government – including conservative leaders who would have preferred to return to the US-style war on drugs – could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs, addiction – and itself. In many ways, the law was merely a reflection of transformations that were already happening in clinics, in pharmacies and around kitchen tables across the country. The official policy of decriminalisation made it far easier for a broad range of services (health, psychiatry, employment, housing, etc), that had been struggling to pool their resources and expertise, to work together more effectively to serve their communities. The language began to shift, too. Those who had been referred to sneeringly as drogados (junkies) – became known more broadly, more sympathetically, and more accurately, as “people who use drugs” or “people with addiction disorders”. This, too, was crucial. It is important to note that Portugal stabilised its opioid crisis, but it didn’t make it disappear. While drug-related death, incarceration and infection rates plummeted, the country still had to deal with the health complications of long-term problematic drug use. Diseases including hepatitis C, cirrhosis and liver cancer are a burden on a health system Johanna Parkin/Guardian Design Since decriminalising all illegal substances in 2001, this otherwise conservative country has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and narcotic-related crime. So why hasn’t the rest of the world followed suit? By Susana Ferreira The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 27 Does free will exist? The forces that control our actions → Discovery, pages 32-33 that is still struggling to recover from recession and cutbacks. In this way, Portugal’s story serves as a warning of challenges yet to come. Despite enthusiastic international reactions to Portugal’s success, local harm-reduction advocates have been frustrated by what they see as stagnation and inaction since decriminalisation came into effect. They criticise the state for dragging its feet on establishing supervised injection sites and drug consumption facilities; for failing to make the anti-overdose medication naloxone more readily available; for not implementing needle-exchange programmes in prisons. Where, they ask, is the courageous spirit and bold leadership that pushed the country to decriminalise drugs in the first place? In the early days of Portugal’s panic, when Pereira’s beloved Olhão began falling apart in front of him, the state’s first instinct was to attack. Drugs were denounced as evil, drug users were demonised, and proximity to either was criminally and spiritually punishable. The Portuguese government launched a series of national anti-drug campaigns that were less “Just Say No” and more “Drugs Are Satan”. Informal treatment approaches and experiments were rushed into use throughout the country, as doctors, psychiatrists and pharmacists worked independently to deal with the flood of drugdependency disorders at their doors, sometimes risking ostracism or arrest to do what they believed was best for their patients. In 1977, in the north of the country, psychiatrist Eduíno Lopes pioneered a methadone programme at the Centro da Boavista in Porto. Lopes was the first doctor in continental Europe to experiment with substitution therapy, flying in methadone powder from Boston, under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, rather than the Ministry of Health. His efforts met with a vicious public backlash and the disapproval of his peers, who considered methadone therapy nothing more than statesponsored drug addiction. Down in Lisbon, Odette Ferreira, an experienced pharmacist and pioneering HIV researcher, started an unofficial needle-exchange programme to address the growing Aids crisis. She received death threats from drug dealers, and legal threats from politicians. Ferreira – who is now in her 90s, and still has enough swagger to carry off fake eyelashes and red leather at a midday meeting – started giving away clean syringes in the middle of Europe’s biggest open-air drug market, in the Casal Ventoso neighbourhood of the city. She collected donations of clothing, soap, razors, condoms, fruit and sandwiches, and distributed them to users. When dealers reacted with hostility, she snapped back: “Don’t mess with me. You do your job, and I’ll do mine.” She then bullied the Portuguese Association of Pharmacies into running the country’s – and indeed the world’s – first national needle-exchange programme. A flurry of expensive private clinics and free, faith-based facilities emerged, promising detoxes and miracle cures, but the first public drugtreatment centre run by the Ministry of Health – the Centro das Taipas in Lisbon – did not begin operating until 1987. Strapped for resources in Olhão, Pereira sent a few patients for treatment, although he did not agree with the abstinence-based approach used at Taipas. “First you take away the drug, and then, with psychotherapy, you plug up the crack,” said Pereira. There was no scientific evidence to show that this would work – and it didn’t. He also sent patients to Lopes’s methadone programme in Porto, and found that some responded well. But Porto was at the other end of the country. He wanted to try methadone Continued on page 28 → 28 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Weekly review ← Continued from page 27 for his patients, but the Ministry of Health hadn’t yet approved it for use. To get around that, Pereira sometimes asked a nurse to sneak methadone to him in the boot of his car. Pereira’s work treating patients for addiction eventually caught the attention of the Ministry of Health. “They heard there was a crazy man in the Algarve who was working on his own,” he said, with a slow smile. Now 68, he is sprightly and charming, with an athletic build, thick and wavy white hair that bounces when he walks, a gravelly drawl and a bottomless reserve of warmth. “They came down to find me at the clinic and proposed that I open a treatment centre,” he said. He invited a colleague from a family practice in the next town over to join him – a young local doctor named João Goulão. Goulão was a 20-year-old medical student when he was offered his first hit of heroin. He declined because he didn’t know what it was. By the time he finished school, got his licence and began practising medicine at a health centre in the southern city of Faro, it was everywhere. Like Pereira, he accidentally ended up specialising in treating drug addiction. The two young colleagues joined forces to open southern Portugal’s first CAT in 1988. (These kinds of centres have used different names over the years, but are commonly referred to as Centros de Atendimento a Toxicodependentes, or CATs.) Local residents were vehemently opposed, and the doctors were improvising treatments as they went along. The following month, Pereira and Goulão opened a second CAT in Olhão, and other family doctors opened more in the north and central regions, forming a loose network. It had become clear to a growing number of practitioners that the most effective response to addiction had to be personal, and rooted in communities. Treatment was still small-scale, local and largely ad hoc. The first official call to change Portugal’s drug laws came from Rui Pereira, a former constitutional court judge who undertook an overhaul of the penal code in 1996. He found the practice of jailing people for taking drugs to be counterproductive and unethical. “My thought right off the bat was that it wasn’t legitimate for the state to punish users,” he told me in his office at the University of Lisbon’s school of law. At that time, about half of the people in prison were there for drug-related reasons, and the epidemic, he said, was thought to be “an irresolvable problem”. He recommended that drug use be discouraged without imposing penalties, or further alienating users. His proposals weren’t immediately adopted, but they did not go unnoticed. In 1997, after 10 years of running the CAT in Faro, Goulão was invited to help design and lead a national drug strategy. He assembled a team of experts to study potential solutions to Portugal’s drug problem. The resulting recommendations, including the full decriminalisation of drug use, were presented in 1999, approved by the council of ministers in 2000, and a new national plan of action came into effect in 2001. Today, Goulão is Portugal’s drug tsar. He has been the lodestar throughout eight alternating conservative and progressive administrations; through heated standoffs with lawmakers and lobbyists; through shifts in scientific understanding of addiction and in cultural tolerance for drug use; through austerity cuts, and through a global policy climate that only very recently became slightly less hostile. Goulão is also decriminalisation’s busiest global ambassador. He travels almost non-stop, invited again and again to present the successes of Portugal’s harm-reduction experiment to authorities around the world, from Norway to Brazil, which are dealing with desperate situations in their own countries. Portugal’s policy rests on three pillars: one, that there’s no such thing as a soft or hard drug, only healthy and unhealthy relationships with drugs; two, that an individual’s unhealthy relationship with drugs often conceals frayed relationships with loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves; and three, that the eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal. “The national policy is to treat each individual differently,” Goulão told me. “The secret is for us to be present.” A drop-in centre called IN-Mouraria sits unobtrusively in a lively, rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood of Lisbon, a longtime enclave of marginalised communities. From 2pm to 4pm, the centre provides services to undocumented migrants and refugees; from 5pm to 8pm, they open their doors to drug users. A staff of psychologists, doctors and peer support workers (themselves former drug users) offer clean needles, pre-cut squares of foil, crack kits, sandwiches, coffee, clean clothing, toiletries, rapid HIV testing, and consultations – all free and anonymous. On the day I visited, young people stood around waiting for HIV test results while others played cards, complained about police harassment, tried on outfits, traded advice on living situations, watched movies and gave pep talks to one another. They varied in age, religion, ethnicity and gender identity, and came from all over the country and all over the world. When a slender, older man emerged from the bathroom, unrecognisable after having shaved his ‘The national policy is to treat each individual differently. The secret is for us to be present’ The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 29 Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Long-term fix … left, a nurse hands out methadone in Lisbon; below, a man receives clean syringes after being given the drug at a clinic Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty beard off, an energetic young man who had been flipping through magazines threw up his arms and cheered. He then turned to a quiet man sitting on my other side, his beard lush and dark hair curling from under his cap, and said: “What about you? Why don’t you go shave off that beard? You can’t give up on yourself, man. That’s when it’s all over.” The bearded man cracked a smile. During my visits over the course of a month, I got to know some of the peer support workers, including João, a compact man with blue eyes who was rigorous in going over the details and nuances of what I was learning. João wanted to be sure I understood their role at the drop-in centre was not to force anyone to stop using, but to help minimise the risks users were exposed to. “Our objective is not to steer people to treatment – they have to want it,” he told me. But even when they do want to stop using, he continued, having support workers accompany them to appointments and treatment facilities can feel like a burden on the user – and if the treatment doesn’t go well, there is the risk that person will feel too ashamed to return to the drop-in centre. “Then we lose them, and that’s not what we want to do,” João said. “I want them to come back when they relapse.” Failure was part of the treatment process, he told me. And he would know. João is a marijuana-legalisation activist, open about being HIV-positive, and after being absent for part of his son’s youth, he is delighting in his new role as a grandfather. He had stopped doing speedballs (mixtures of cocaine and opiates) after several painful, failed treatment attempts, each more destructive than the last. He long used cannabis as a form of therapy – methadone did not work for him, nor did any of the inpatient treatment programmes he tried – but the cruel hypocrisy of decriminalisation meant that although smoking weed was not a criminal offence, purchasing it was. His last and worst relapse came when he went to buy marijuana from his usual dealer and was told: “I don’t have that right now, but I do have some good cocaine.” João said no thanks and drove away, but soon found himself heading to a cash machine, and then back to the dealer. After this relapse, he embarked on a new relationship, and started his own business. At one point he had more than 30 employees. Then the financial crisis hit. “Clients weren’t paying, and creditors started knocking on my door,” he told me. “Within six months I had burned through everything I had built up over four or five years.” In the mornings, I followed the centre’s street teams out to the fringes of Lisbon. I met hi-vis-clad Raquel and Sareia, who worked with Crescer na Maior, a harm-reduction NGO. Six times a week, they loaded up a large white van with drinking water, wet wipes, gloves, boxes of tinfoil and piles of state-issued drug kits: green plastic pouches with single-use servings of filtered water, citric acid, a small metal tray for cooking, gauze, filter and a clean syringe. Portugal does not yet have any supervised injection sites (although there is legislation to allow them, several attempts to open one have come to nothing), so they go out to the open-air sites where they know people go to buy and use. Both are trained psychologists, but out in the streets they are known simply as the “needle girls”. “Good afternoon!” Raquel called out cheerily, as we walked across a seemingly abandoned lot in an area called Cruz Vermelha. “Street team!” People materialised from their hiding places like some strange version of whack-a-mole, poking their heads out from the holes in the wall where they had gone to smoke or shoot up. “My needle girls,” one woman cooed to them tenderly. “How are you, my loves?” Most made polite conversation, updating the workers on their health struggles, love lives, immigration woes or housing needs. One woman told them she would be going back to Angola to deal with her mother’s estate, that she was looking forward to the change of scenery. Another man told them he had managed to get his online girlfriend’s visa approved for a visit. “Does she know you’re still using?” Sareia asked. The man looked sheepish. “I start methadone tomorrow,” another man said proudly. He was accompanied by his beaming girlfriend, and waved a warm goodbye to the girls as they handed him a square of foil. In the foggy northern city of Porto, peer support workers from Caso – an association run by and for drug users and former users, the only one of its kind in Portugal – meet every week at a noisy cafe. They come here every Tuesday morning to down espressos, fresh pastries and toasted sandwiches, and to talk out the challenges, debate drug policy (which, a decade and a half after the law came into effect, was still confusing for many) and argue, with the warm rowdiness typical of those in the northern region. When I asked them what they thought of Portugal’s move to treat drug users as sick people in need of help, rather than as criminals, they scoffed. “Sick? We don’t say ‘sick’ up here. We’re not sick.” I was told this again and again in the north: thinking of drug addiction simply in terms of health and disease was too reductive. Some people are able to use drugs for years without any major disruption to their personal or professional relationships. It only became a problem, they told me, when it became a problem. Caso was supported by Apdes, a development NGO with a focus on harm reduction and empowerment, including programmes geared toward recreational users. Their award-winning Check!n project has for years set up shop at festivals, bars and parties to test substances for dangers. I was told more than once that if drugs were legalised, not just decriminalised, then these substances would be held to the same rigorous quality and safety standards as food, drink and medication. In spite of Portugal’s tangible results, other countries have been reluctant to follow. The Portuguese began seriously considering decriminalisation in 1998, immediately following the first UN General Assembly Special Session on the Global Drug Problem (UNgass). High-level UNgass meetings are convened every 10 years to set drug policy for all member states, addressing trends in addiction, infection, money laundering, trafficking and cartel violence. At the first session – for which the slogan was “A drug-free world: we can do it” – Latin American member states pressed for a radical rethinking of the war on drugs, but every effort to examine alternative models (such as decriminalisation) was blocked. By the time of the next session, in 2008, worldwide drug use and violence related to the drug trade had vastly increased. An extraordinary session was held last year, but it was largely a disappointment – the outcome document didn’t mention “harm reduction” once. Despite that letdown, 2016 produced a number of promising developments: Chile and Australia opened their first medical cannabis clubs; following the lead of several others, four more US states introduced medical cannabis, and four more legalised recreational cannabis; Denmark opened the world’s largest drug consumption facility, and France opened its first; South Africa proposed legalising medical cannabis; Canada outlined a plan to legalise recreational cannabis nationally and to open more supervised injection sites; and Ghana announced it would decriminalise all personal use. The biggest change in global attitudes and policy has been the momentum behind cannabis legalisation. Local activists have pressed Goulão to take a stance on regulating cannabis and legalising its sale in Portugal; for years, he has responded that the time wasn’t right. Legalising a single substance would call into question the foundation of Portugal’s drug and harm-reduction philosophy. If the drugs aren’t the problem, if the problem is the relationship with drugs, if there’s no such thing as a hard or a soft drug, and if all illicit substances are to be treated equally, he argued, then shouldn’t all drugs be legalised and regulated? Massive international cultural shifts in thinking about drugs and addiction are needed to make way for decriminalisation and legalisation globally. In the US, the White House has remained reluctant to address what drug policy reform advocates have termed an “addiction to punishment”. But if conservative, isolationist, Catholic Portugal could transform into a country where same-sex marriage and abortion are legal, and where drug use is decriminalised, a broader shift in attitudes seems possible elsewhere. But, as the harm-reduction adage goes: one has to want the change in order to make it. When Pereira first opened Continued on page 30 → 30 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Weekly review Getting better … users waiting at a treatment facility in Lisbon Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty ←Continued from page 29 the CAT in Olhão, he faced vociferous opposition from residents. They worried that with more drogados would come more crime, but the opposite happened. Months later, one neighbour came to ask Pereira’s forgiveness. She hadn’t realised it at the time, but there had been three drug dealers on her street. When their local clientele stopped buying, they packed up and left. The CAT building itself is a drab, brown twostorey block, with offices upstairs and an open waiting area, bathrooms, storage and clinics down below. The doors open at 8.30am, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Patients wander in throughout the day for appointments, to chat, to kill time, to wash, or to pick up their weekly supply of methadone doses. They tried to close the CAT for Christmas Day one year, but patients asked that it stay open. For some, estranged from loved ones and adrift from any version of home, this is the closest thing they’ve got to community and normality. “It’s not just about administering methadone,” Pereira told me. “You have to maintain a relationship.” In a back room, rows of little canisters with banana-flavoured methadone doses were lined up. The Olhão CAT regularly services about 400 people, but that number can double during the summer months, when seasonal workers and tourists come to town. Anyone receiving treatment elsewhere in the country, or even outside Portugal, can have their prescription sent over to the CAT, making the Algarve an ideal harm-reduction holiday destination. After lunch at a restaurant owned by a former CAT employee, the doctor took me to visit another of his projects – a particular favourite. His decades of working with addiction disorders had taught him some lessons, and he poured his accumulated knowledge into designing a special treatment facility on the outskirts of Olhão: the Unidade de Desabituação, or Dishabituation Centre. Several such UDs, as they are known, have opened in other regions of the country, but this centre was developed to cater to the particular circumstances and needs of the south. Pereira stepped down as director some years ago, but his replacement asked him to stay on to help with day-to-day operations. Pereira should be retired by now – indeed, he tried to – but Portugal is ‘I don’t treat patients – they treat themselves. I’m here to help them make the changes they need’ suffering from an overall shortage of health professionals in the public system, and not enough young doctors are stepping into this specialisation. As his colleagues elsewhere in the country grow closer to their own retirements, there’s a growing sense of dread that there is no one to replace them. “Those of us from the Algarve always had a bit of a different attitude from our colleagues up north,” Pereira told me. “I don’t treat patients. They treat themselves. My function is to help them to make the changes they need to make.” And thank goodness there is only one change to make, he deadpanned as we pulled into the centre’s car park: “You need to change almost everything.” He cackled at his own joke and stepped out of his car. The Olhão centre was built for just under €3m ($3.5m), publicly funded, and opened to its first patients nine years ago. This facility, like the others, is connected to a web of health and social rehabilitation services. It can house up to 14 people at once: treatments are free, available on referral from a doctor or therapist, and normally last between eight and 14 days. When people first arrive, they put all of their personal belongings – photos, mobile phones, everything – into storage, retrievable on departure. “We believe in the old maxim: ‘No news is good news,’” explained Pereira. “We don’t do this to punish them but to protect them.” Memories can be triggering, and sometimes families, friends and toxic relationships can be enabling. To the left there were intake rooms and a padded isolation room, with clunky security cameras propped up in every corner. Patients each had their own suites – simple, comfortable and private. To the right, there was a “colour” room, with a pottery wheel, recycled plastic bottles, paints, egg cartons, glitter and other craft supplies. In another room, coloured pencils and easels for drawing. A kiln, and next to it a collection of excellent handmade ashtrays. Many patients remained heavy smokers. Patients were always occupied, always using their hands or their bodies or their senses, doing exercise or making art, always filling their time with something. “We’d often hear our patients use the expression ‘me and my body’,” Pereira said. “As though there was a dissociation between the ‘me’ and ‘my flesh’.” To help bring the body back, there was a small gym, exercise classes, physiotherapy and a jacuzzi. And after so much destructive behaviour – messing up their bodies, their relationships, their lives and communities – learning that they could create good and beautiful things was sometimes transformational. “You know those lines on a running track?” Pereira asked me. He believed that everyone – however imperfect – was capable of finding their own way, given the right support. “Our love is like those lines.” He was firm, he said, but never punished or judged his patients for their relapses or failures. Patients were free to leave at any time, and they were welcome to return if they needed. He offered no magic wand or one-size-fits-all solution, just this daily search for balance: getting up, having breakfast, making art, taking meds, doing exercise, going to work, going to school, going into the world, going forward. Being alive, he said to me more than once, can be very complicated. “My darling,” he told me, “it’s like I always say: I may be a doctor, but nobody’s perfect.” A longer version of this piece appears on thecommononline.org. Research and travel for this piece were made possible by the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 31 Weekly review Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Mumbai metro runs into a holy row Parsi priests, cricket fans and conservationists object to tunnel route, reports Bachi Karkaria I n October a petition was sent to the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, about the latest phase of the Mumbai metro – a 33.5km stretch currently under construction. The petition claimed that the metro, if built, would “breach the magnetic circuits” of two Zoroastrian fire temples, thus “diminishing their spiritual powers” and unleashing “dark forces”. Signed by 11,000 people, the petition concluded that the temples were “living, vibrant … intermediaries between God and mankind”, and that if these “holy fires are defiled the backlash from nature will not spare those responsible”. The third phase of Mumbai’s metro network will pass under some of the oldest, swankiest and most built-up enclaves of south Mumbai. The tunnel will be bored close to two Zoroastrian fire temples and a well that supposedly has the power to grant wishes. The dwindling Zoroastrian, or Parsi, community in the country numbers fewer than 45,000 in Mumbai and only 56,000 in total in India. But in this city of roughly 18 million they are a high-profile group – and many of them now see Ashwini Bhide, managing director of the Mumbai Metro Railway Corporation (MMRC), as a demon of sorts. Mumbai desperately needs the metro to rescue its disastrously inadequate public transport system. The bulk of the burden is borne by its colonial-era commuter train network, which carries 7 million passengers a day – seven times its intended capacity. The first two phases of the metro were relatively uncontroversial, as they are both elevated lines. Only the third phase is underground, passing under South Bombay, a district where few of its rich residents will need to use public transport. Bhide insists that the metro will not damage the Parsi temples. At a meeting between the metro authorities and a Parsi delegation that included the two clerics who put forward the petition, Bhide pointed to government studies that declared the construction safe. “We explained to them that the tunnel was going nowhere under the sanctum sanctorum,” she says. “Even the wells from which water is drawn for ceremonies are safely distant from the alignment. Moreover, they are embedded in the soil layer, and there’s a large buffer between that and the tunnel which bores through the basalt rock.” Firoz Kotwal, who presides over the Wadia Atash Behram temple, one of the two on the metro route, agrees with Bhide. “The MMRC team convinced us with concrete proof that there was no danger at all to the fire temple, and the chief minister gave us a personal assurance of safety,” said Kotwal. “So the hue and cry is baseless.” But the petition diehards are not letting up. “What about spiritual integrity?” asks Hanoz Mistry, one of the petition’s signatories. “An Atash Behram [temple] is a composite whole, not just the consecrated fire enthroned in the sanctum sanctorum. “There is no such thing as safe distance. Would one take the risk of constructing a metro line under a nuclear reactor, even though the concerned engineers may give all kinds of assurances on safety and structural stability? An Atash Padshah [imperial fire] is far, far more delicately and sensitively balanced and spiritually exalted,” he said. Public hysteria has also grown around the idea that the metro would swallow 20 cricket pitches from the open space of Azad Maidan, a sports ‘What about spiritual integrity? A [temple] is a composite whole, not just the consecrated fire’ Train strain … the elevated part of Mumbai’s metro system already carries some of the city’s millions of commuters, but some Parsis, below, are unhappy Danish Siddiqui/Reuters ground equally hallowed to cricket fans. The powerful Maharashtra Cricket Association complained that the field would be lost to thousands of players. They also noted that the Mumbai police had commandeered an additional patch to accommodate protesters recently evicted from their historic rallying ground near the government secretariat – again, because of the metro. But Bhide says the cricketers are mistaken. “Only 3.5 hectares of the 20 hectares would be affected, and that, too, only during construction. The state’s cricket association has relocated some of these, and staggered timings for play.” There have also been controversies over the commandeering of a 25-hectare tract of greenbelt land in the Aarey Milk Colony district by the MMRC for a car depot, a move that has been challenged by the National Green Tribunal as it is claimed that it threatens 3,130 trees. More recently, there has been concern about insufficient testing of the soil for tunnelling below the “heritage mile”, an area of grand stone colonial buildings. In August, a 100kg cornice fell off the JN Petit Library, a 119-year-old neo-Gothic building recognised by Unesco. Activists blamed the metro construction for the accident, and in October the Mumbai high court issued a two-month stay on construction work to reinforce the building. Several other buildings have also developed cracks. It is difficult to be sure whether this is linked to the tunnelling. Mumbai is built on basalt, and the metro will pass 25 metres below the surface. Whatever the validity of the protests, tunnel vision might be the real enemy. “The city will come to a standstill in a few years” without the metro, Bhide says. Phase three is likely to go ahead regardless: 14% of the civil engineering is complete, three tunnel-boring machines have been lowered into the ground and another six are ready to go. While “magnetic circuits” and “dark forces” may delay completion beyond 2021, when this section of metro is due to open, they won’t stop it. With 1.7 million commuters expected daily, there is, quite literally, too much riding on it. 32 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Discovery Think you are free? Then think again Yale psychologist John Bargh has studied the unconscious forces that control our actions. Not even he is immune, ﬁnds Decca Aitkenhead H owever you feel about your behaviour in 2017, you will almost certainly assume that the choices you made were your own. You could not, according to John Bargh, be more wrong. The Yale psychologist has just written a book, Before You Know It, about the extent to which our actions are dictated by forces about which we are almost oblivious. Who knew, for example, that we feel less hostile to people different to ourselves after washing our hands? Or that the reason why you’re feeling so friendly is the cup of piping hot coffee you are holding? Or that parents who want to encourage their children to be generous will have more success by turning the room temperature up than by telling them to share? Bargh’s book, as Malcolm Gladwell puts it, “moves our understanding of the mysteries of human behaviour one giant step forward”. The 62-year-old American is a big, smiley man, but his demeanour is at odds with the rather depressing message of his work. Human beings’ brains, it explains, are primed by prudent and rational evolutionary instincts to trust people who look like us, and to fear those who look “other” as a threat. This goes some way to explain why, despite all of modern society’s efforts to promote progressive values, social progress is so agonisingly slow. That’s pretty dispiriting, isn’t it? “Yes, I hate to say it, but yes. Democracy is an advance past the tribal bal nature of our being, the tribal nature of society, which was there for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, illions, of years. It’s very easy for us to fall back into to our tribal, evolutionary st tribe, us against them. nature – tribe against It’s a very powerfull motivator.” Because it speaks to our mostt primitive self ? “Yes, se how powerful it is.” and we don’t realise rstood its power, Bargh Until we have understood argues, we have no hope of overcoming it. “So that’s what we have to do.” If unconscious racism is an ancestral legacy, it is also reinforced einforced by contemrgh offers a study of porary culture. Bargh popular primetime US TV shows – Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, Bones es – in which participants who had never seen the programme were shown hown scenes in which the main n charach either a ter interacted with black or white character. aracter. The scenes were edited, nly the however, to show only main character. The e audio was also removed, so that ld see participants could only the main character’s acter’s non-verbal communication towards the off-screen character. They were then asked to judge how the visible character felt towards the unseen character. “These are shows, remember,” Bargh says, “that intentionally tried to have equal-power black and white characters. It’s not like the black people on the show are all the criminals, and the white people are all the detectives. They have the black detective and white detective; they actually have equal power.” The findings were chilling. The main character was consistently judged to be conspicuously more positive towards the show’s white characters, and more negative towards its black characters. “They don’t script it that way. And it’s not intended by the producers or actors of the show. There are programmes that do intend it – but we’re even talking about the ones that don’t, and it still has this massive effect. It’s conveyed so powerfully to people watching that, after they see it, they have more negative automatic attitudes towards black people. The research found that the more they see of shows like that, the more they have more of a racist attitude.” Anyone who has ever wondered why minorities object about what colour a doll comes in, say, might reconsider their scepticism about the importance of culture after reading Bargh’s book. He presents a study of two sets of Asian-American five-year-old girls, who were asked to perform maths tests after being “primed” with activities designed to trigger One group was their unconscious sense of identity. i asked to colour in pictures of Asians eating with chopsticks; the other othe to colour in pictures of a girl holding a doll. The first group outperformed tthe second in the maths test. By the age of five, they had abthat Asians are sorbed the stereotypes stere good at maths and a girls are bad. “These Asian-American Asia girls are not hearing at home that girls can’t do maths,” Bargh Ba says. “These are Harvard presch preschool kids; the parents are, like, tiger mums and dads. A lot of them brought brough the children into the study thinking th that being in this Harvard would help their girl get study at age five w into Harvard at ag age 18: that’s how motivated they are. Th They’re not the ones who are telling the gi girls they can’t do maths. It’s in the culture cultu we soak up, without even knowin knowing it.” Bargh decided de to test his own unconscio unconscious racial bias, using a complex system of word association and a physical reflexes devised to eliminate any possibility of him consciously dictating his responses. He was dismayed to discover that his unconscious associated “white” with “good” and “black” with “bad”. However, he found he could override his bias by deploying the power of imagination. He sat the tests again, and got opposite results, “simply by really trying to feel as if I was a black person. Now obviously with no experience, it’s laughable that I could try – but I really did try to convince myself temporarily that OK, I’m a black person. And I reversed the results.” In a fascinating study conducted by Bargh, participants were invited to imagine they had a superpower that rendered them safe from all physical harm, and were then quizzed on their social attitudes. Half the participants were liberals, and half conservatives. The imaginary superpower had no impact on liberals’ social attitudes. “Feeling On science The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 33 Why Trump is being sued by fossil hunters Elsa Panciroli R Why is social progress so agonisingly slow? Above, the Women’s March on Washington; left, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy; far left, John Bargh Mario Tama/Getty; five; Graeme Robertson physically safe,” however, “significantly changed the conservative participants’ social attitudes to being similar to those of liberals.” This worked, he explains, because research has found that “conservatives have larger fear centres of the brain. They’re more concerned with physical safety than liberals.” Once we feel afraid, our own fear can further distort our perception of actual danger. For example, research has found that when people become new parents of a tiny, vulnerable baby, they begin to believe their local crime rate is going up, even if it is falling. “That happened to me,” Bargh admits. “After my daughter was born, suddenly we felt that the neighbourhood was getting so dangerous that we had to leave.” Even more pertinent to current events is Bargh’s research into sexual harassment. In the 1990s, an esteemed law professor had studied supreme court cases of sexual harassment and concluded that 75% of the accused genuinely did not realise they were doing anything wrong. Intrigued, Bargh devised a study to see if this could be true. Participants were asked to fill out an anonymous questionnaire devised to reveal their willingness to use power over a woman to extract sexual favours if guaranteed to get away with it. Some were asked to rate a female participant’s attractiveness. Others were first primed by a word-association technique, using words such as “boss”, “authority”, “status” and “power”, and then asked to rate her. Bargh found the power-priming made no difference whatsoever to men who had scored low on sexual harassment and aggression tendencies. Among men who had scored highly, however, it was a very different case. Without the notion of power being activated in their brains, they found her unattractive. She only became attractive to them once the idea of power was active in their minds. This, Bargh suggests, might explain how sexual harassers can genuinely tell themselves: “‘I’m behaving like anybody does when they’re attracted to somebody else. I’m flirting. I’m asking her out. I want to date her. I’m doing everything that you do if you’re attracted to somebody.’ What they don’t realise is the reason they’re attracted to her is because of their power over her. That’s what they don’t get.” Perhaps the single most confronting revelation of Bargh’s work is its implications for consumer capitalism. It’s not that our economic model makes us sad – although it does – so much that making us sad is good for consumer capitalism. He describes a study by a Harvard social psychologist. “It found that sad people not only buy more, but they pay more. They’re willing to pay more because, basically, when we’re sad, we want to change state.” Someone feeling sad would rather spend $100 than $10, “because it changes the state more. And stores know this.” Ever wondered why shops like to pipe out mournful music? Well, Bargh grins – there’s your answer. “They don’t want us to be happy; they want us to be sad. Politicians want us to be fearful. All these things are not in our own interests at all. They’re manipulating us for their own interest, and against our own, and I think that’s horrible.” esearch published last year suggested that the only area of science that liberals and conservatives could bond over was dinosaurs. Everyone loves Brontosaurus, right? Whatever else may be going wrong, surely palaeontology is safe from the ravages of politics? Last month Trump announced plans for the biggest loss of protected public lands in US history. By gutting two of America’s national monuments – Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears – he will remove government protection for over 800,000 hectares. These areas were designated because they contain thousands of archaeological sites, landscapes sacred to NativeAmerican tribes and unique geology. Among the countless geological treasures are palaeontological specimens of international importance, spanning 320m years of life on Earth. Much of this will be open to destruction if planned cuts go ahead. But scientists are fighting back. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) is suing the US president. “From a palaeontological point of view, these two areas contain remarkable fossil records of important intervals of North America’s history,” says David Polly, president of the SVP and professor of palaeontology at the University of Indiana. “Trump’s changes have now exposed many sites to potential destruction,” Polly said. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah has yielded one of the most diverse herbivorous dinosaur faunas in the world. As many as 25 new species of dinosaur have been found there in the last two decades. The stratigraphy spans from the Permian, around 270m years ago, all the way through the Mesozoic “time of the dinosaurs”, to the Late Cretaceous. The rocks at Bears Ears reach back even further, right into the woodland world of the Carboniferous, 320m years ago. Bears Ears is also unique in preserving ecosystems from the Late Permian. “The first ecosystems that were dominated by vertebrates, in the time of the sail-backed Dimetrodon and its relatives,” says Polly. Let’s hope that legal action by the SVP and others can prevent the loss of these sites to preserve the rich heritage found in these amazing landscapes. 34 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Books Lost souls, orphaned without wild salmon Lorraine Berry laughs and cries as the great portrayer of Native American life tells his own story You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: a Memoir by Sherman Alexie Little, Brown, 437pp Sherman Alexie has emerged as one of the US’s greatest writers. And because he has always written of the terrible beauty of Native American life with an honesty and humour that makes white people uncomfortable, his work has been deemed controversial. Alexie’s young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, has appeared near the top of annual US “banned books” lists. Each year, new challenges arise to his thinly veiled autobiography of his years growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in eastern Washington state. In addition to his fiction, Alexie is also well known for his poetry. In addition to his 26 books, he wrote and co-produced the film Smoke Signals. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is his long-awaited memoir. In it, he focuses much of the story on one particular year – the year in which his irascible mother, Lillian, died, but also the one in which he underwent brain surgery to remove a large tumour. Those who are familiar with his novels will relish the true-life stories behind some of his fiction; those who aren’t will find that his writing provides a powerful alternative to the stock figures of the mythological wild west – the brave cowboy and the stoic, noble Indian. At the centre of this book, though, is his relationship with his mother: a difficult, abusive woman who could also perform acts of enormous maternal sacrifice on behalf of her children. Alexie’s recounting of his mother’s death differs from standard grief memoirs, most of which are accounts of love or at least move towards reconciliation. He is angry at his mother, even after her death and despite his efforts to forgive. However, although he comes to realise that the reasons for her rages were understandable and even though he is now a parent himself, Alexie still resents the impact her rage had on him and his siblings. The book is infused with humour. Some of the funniest moments are his writings about basketball, the game he made the centre of the drama of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He also writes about the variation of the game of exchanging insults, “the dozens”, that Indians play among themselves, especially when wrestling over whose suffering has been worse. Other moments are more typical: that first phone call from the deceased’s phone, for example. “On the morning of her funeral, my phone rang. The Caller ID announced it was ‘MOM’. For a moment, I believed it was her calling from the afterlife so I pondered what I would say. And I decided I would go with, ‘Hey, Lillian, gotta say I’m impressed with your resurrection, but is it a Jesus thing or a zombie fling?’” Of course, it’s his sister calling from his mother’s house. Alexie’s mother was Spokane while his father was a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe. They were born into a world where the creature on which their tribes were reliant, and about which their holy stories were told, was the salmon, whose five-year life cycle is the stuff of legend. Alexie writes about the salmon’s journey to reproduce with characteristic wit; his audience doesn’t find his crudeness that funny, but he is correct. “‘Salmon,’ I said, ‘are the most epic fuckers in the animal kingdom.’” I have never forgotten sitting on rocks next to the shore of the Stillaguamish river. The water roared and tumbled over boulders in the centre of the river, but in the shallows I watched dozens of Coho salmon in their death throes after they had fulfilled their journeys. But on the Columbia river the series of dams created barriers that even the most motivated salmon were unable to pass. The Grand Coulee Dam was constructed in the 1930s. “The Interior Salish, my people, had worshipped the wild salmon since our beginnings,” Alexie writes. “That sacred fish had been our primary source of physical and spiritual sustenance for thousands of years.” But within five years of the dam’s construction, the salmon vanished. “My mother and father were members of the first generation of Interior Salish people who lived entirely without wild salmon. My mother and father, without wild salmon, were spiritual orphans.” The loss of the salmon was just one of the great injustices in his parents’ lives. Alexie’s father drank himself to death, but his mother stopped drinking when Alexie was a boy. She made her living by making and selling quilts. Alexie recounts a time when, after the lights had been turned off because she couldn’t pay the bill, his mother sewed in the dark until she had made a quilt that would earn enough to get the electricity turned back on. And while she did such things, he also recounts the night when, responding to his 10-year-old anger, she threw a full can of soda at him that knocked him unconscious. And then left him to sleep it off without seeking medical attention. And yet, even as he writes about incidents such as this, he reflects on his mother’s life, and begins a new poem for her: I want to reverse this earth And give birth to my mother Because I do not believe That she was ever adored. I want to mother the mother Who often did not mother me. I was mothered and adored By mothers not my own, And learned how to be adoring By being adored. Alexie’s memoir of his relationship with Lillian reflects the complicated love that many of us have for our parents. It is his gift to us, through his willingness to be honest without being vengeful, that those of us who have felt shut out of the grief memoirs in which parents and children had perfect relationships can read these pages and weep. The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 35 Empathy for our fellow creatures The Inner Life of Animals by Peter Wohlleben Bodley Head, 288pp Jennifer S Holland Washington Post True to life … Sherman Alexie’s writing provides a corrective to wild west mythology Alamy Peter Wohlleben seems like someone I’d like to join for a cup of tea after a stroll through the woods. The forest ranger and author of the immensely popular The Hidden Life of Trees is one of the most likable characters (among many) in his new book. The Inner Life of Animals is a natural follow-on and just as beautifully questions human assumptions about nature. As he turns from plants to animals, Wohlleben again shares relevant science plus his own insights on his subjects – what animals almost certainly feel and what their behaviours tell us about how they think – developed over years of observing, listening to and giving fellow creatures the benefit of the doubt. It’s a tidy, polite little book. Each quick chapter is a sweet rush that makes you crave just a little bit more. Despite the short attention to such subjects as animal love, shame, trickiness, altruism, fear and regret, Wohlleben packs each chapter with stories and, where it exists, scientific evidence, so the reader feels nearly sated. (The subject of grief may be the exception.) As a daily caregiver to animals and a trained ecologist working in the field, the author is well suited to bridge anecdote and published study. From outside the author’s experience, the stories of animal intelligence and empathy are often familiar: Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language; the French bulldog that adopted wild-boar piglets; Clever Hans, the math-loving horse. These classic tales remind readers that the debate over animal capabilities is nothing new. It’s just taken this long for most of our species to consider the possibilities. And there is much material here, outside of Wohlleben’s musings, that readers will find fresh. One example came from a wolf researcher who described to the author how wolf pups engage ravens in play and how the birds even warn “their four-legged friends” when a predator such as a grizzly is nearby. Another comes from a recent project in Germany to try “to teach manners to pigs” at mealtime, in which yearlings learned to respond to individual names. Wohlleben pays attention. He cares about the little guy. “I, for one, would be really interested to know more about weevils,” he tells us cheerfully. He’s not afraid to be sentimental and a little silly, especially when describing his own animals. “Our dog Barry was a little scaredy cat,” he writes. The family’s beloved goats, whose images grace the cover of the book, make repeat, sometimes goofy, appearances. Clearly Wohlleben approves of anthropomorphic terms – in fact, he suggests that many scientists’ and policymakers’ refusal to use them is misguided. Though schooled to think otherwise, I was convinced, by the end, that such language, used judiciously, does more good than harm. For the most part, Wohlleben doesn’t proselytise as much as nudge readers to look not just at the evidence of animals’ complex lives. Gentle though his approach may be through much of book, Wohlleben delivers firm messages. Especially toward the end, the reader feels his frustration grow at the ways we underestimate our fellow creatures. “When you think how sensitive pigs are, how they teach their young and help them deliver their own children later in life, how they answer to their names and pass the mirror test, the thought of the annual slaughter of 250 million of these animals across the European Union alone is chilling.” Such hard-hitting moments aside, Wohlleben’s words will touch even the animal-emotion sceptic. Size matters Big & Small: a Cultural History of Extraordinary Bodies by Lynne Vallone Yale, 360pp Kathryn Hughes According to Lynne Vallone in this supple, clever book, children are fascinated by anomalous bodies because they have not yet found their settled place on the human scale. We all start as the smallest person in the room and, if all goes well, we grow until one day, we simply stop. All the same, deep within our average adult bodies we retain that memory of being tiny together with the compensatory longing to be huge, to tower over our care-givers and make them quake. That’s why we continue, even as we shrink again in later life, to be fascinated by stories of bodies both great and small. Vallone starts her account with Jeffrey Hudson, the court dwarf. Little Jeffrey first burst into history when he was seven years old and 45cm high, jumping out of a pie as a delightful surprise for Charles I’s consort, Henrietta Maria. The queen loved her unexpected dinner guest. He grew up to be a captain of the horse, natty in scarlet silk and fine leather. All the same, that didn’t mean that he was at liberty to shape his own identity. The court painter Anthony van Dyck put Hudson to hard symbolic work in his 1633 piece, Queen Henrietta Maria with Jeffrey Hudson. In the painting Hudson is present not simply to emphasise Her Majesty’s height and slenderness (in real life she was neither) but also to dramatise her towering temporal and spiritual power. In 1643, with civil war raging, Hudson accompanied his mistress into exile in France. From there he was exiled again, for killing a man in a duel. Sold by Barbary pirates into slavery, it was only after he had been divested of the last shreds of cuteness that he was able to return, an ageing adventurer like any other, to live out his remaining time in Rutland, the smallest county in England. What Hudson thought about any of this we do not know. He left no letters or diaries. But the same turns out to be true for pretty much all of the little and large people trooping through Vallone’s account who found themselves pitched into the public gaze. It was certainly so with Charles Stratton, aka General Tom Thumb, the American dwarf who made a fortune for Phineas Barnum in the middle decades of the 19th century. The fact that Stratton was “perfectly symmetrical in all his proportions” and able to carry a tune (he made Yankee Doodle Dandy his own) meant that Barnum could market Stratton as a cut above the sullen achondroplastic dwarves usually found in freak shows. Continued on page 36 → 36 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Books Determined to survive ← Continued from page 35 His marriage to fellow dwarf Lavinia Warren in 1863, was celebrated in a fashionable New York church with various Vanderbilts and Astors in attendance. Vallone is a leading figure in literary childhood studies, which could explain why the land of miniatures is where she feels most at home. Slightly less persuasive is her treatment of bigness. She concentrates on the robotic giants who strode through the mid-20th century’s cultural imagination as avatars of scientific progress. Still, in case we should go away with the idea that largeness is intrinsically less textured than smallness, Vallone finishes with a powerful section on “the obese girl” who, she argues, is one of the west’s most potent, modern-day monsters. By rights we should applaud the large teen’s unequivocal taking up of space in a manner that appears to reverse centuries of female diminishment and erasure. In reality, Vallone suggests, our rush to pathologise her says more about our own anxieties. We are all of us both too big and too small for comfort. Goblin by Ever Dundas Saraband, 288pp Peter Ross Inimical synthesis Proxies: Twenty-Four Attempts Towards a Memoir by Brian Blanchfield Picador, 192pp Neel Mukherjee With its roots in the Latin exigere, to examine, and in the Middle French essaier, to attempt, to put something to the proof, the essay form, from its inception, has been peculiarly alive to the interrogative relationship it has with the self that writes it. Montaigne, held to be the progenitor of the form with his Essays, published in 1580, asked the question Que sais-je? (“what do I know?”) in his essay Apology for Raymond Sebond. Proxies is award-winning American poet Brian Blanchfield’s first book of essays, and it returns the form to Que sais-je? The short introductory note outlines what might be seen as the book’s USP, “a total suppression of recourse to other authoritative sources” while composing it. The single-subject essays were written with the internet off and without consulting books and other works that either feature or are referenced in the pieces. Accordingly, ly, there is a 20-page “correction” correction at the end that aims ms to remedy the occasional blurriness and errors of referencing. And yet this trick, enabling Blanchfield to let the constraint lead him to “an area of personal al uneasiness, a site of vulnerability”, is the least interesting teresting aspect off what might well be a book ok like no other. A formal constraint traint is also, of course, a challenge nge. The sheer variety of the seemingly emingly unrelatable and unrelated lated subjects Blanchfield brings into conversation with each other er in these essays is exhilarating. What everything hat unites everyth hing is the self, so that the he essay can move mov ve to a looser and bigger er genre – memo memoir oir or life-writing, as the indicates. he subtitle indica ates. Although every piece ece here records some kind of reckoning Blanchfield has with himself. On Withdrawal Tumbleweed al and On Tumble eweed put Observations into gold … Brian Blanchfield’s musings on owls and mushrooms are captivating together a picture of his life employed in part-time or fixed-term teaching jobs. An account of foot disgust in Sophocles’s Philoctetes leads to the awful way his stepfather treats his mother and ends with two graphic paragraphs on her washing and dressing the open wound (“frightfully clean, like a throat”) on the sole of her husband’s right foot every evening after dinner. In On Peripersonal Space, Blanchfield tussles with his mother’s open distaste of his homosexuality. Part of the joy in reading Blanchfield is experiencing the way his alchemical mind and style fuse disparate things into gold. The style is a thing of wonder: dense; learned, cleaving towards the academic, without ever being dry; lyrical (we never forget that he is a poet); often joyously gnarled but always surprising. He can observe the world minutely, as when he writes how “owls have a concentricity about their feathery faces c faces”.. In a catalogue of school canteen food, he notes: “White ccrimini mushrooms ever in their bin at the salad bar.” Why is that “ever” so perfectly positioned, so funn funny? Like Montaigne, Blanchfield would w probably say that it is only ever possible poss to ten tend towards knowledge, never neve er reach it it, hence the US subtitle, Essays E Nea Knowing, where Near “near” “nea ar” could be both indicative of proximity p (but never identification) ca ation) and also, if we take it as a verb, as a journey towards a de estinatio that is always destination already e elusive. So, in the e end, wh what does he know? An enormou us amount enormous amount, it turns out. But a more interes interesting sting ques question he might have asked of his project pro oject could have been: “How do I express wh hat I know what know?” The answer can be given in one word: inim inimitably. Dead things can’t die; weirdos always find each other. These two statements, from Scottish author Ever Dundas’s terrific debut novel, contain between them much of the meaning of the book, and much that makes it moving. It is a celebration of freakery, of creating one’s own family; a meditation on trauma and loss and abandonment (in both senses of that word) which, somehow, is never bleak. Goblin brims throughout with a kind of reckless joy. The story switches regularly and rapidly between past and almost-present, mostly in London: between the firelit city of the blitz and the firelit city of the 2011 riots. Goblin, when we first encounter her, is an 81-year-old reader-in-residence at Edinburgh’s Central Library, where she is kept company by Ben, a homeless man eating his way through Ulysses, page by page. Goblin is the name her mother used for her: a term of hatred that she has reclaimed. One day, she reads in the newspaper about the discovery in Kensal Green Cemetery of a macabre buried cache – doll parts, bones, a camera. The film, when developed, is of interest to the police. This provokes in Goblin intrusive thoughts of her childhood in London. Things that were buried are coming to the surface. Suddenly, we are back in 1941 and she is a semi-feral girl, an androgynous urchin with a head full of HG Wells and Bride of Frankenstein, and a bedroom full of strays. Neglected and emotionally abused by her mother, Goblin shows love and mercy to animals. A crucial plot point has to do with the so-called pet massacre of 1939 when, in the first four days of the war, an estimated 400,000 animals were put down by Londoners worried that they would not be able to care for them. As well as animals, Goblin’s other comfort is language. She is a storyteller, potty- and poetrymouthed, cursing and versing, “weaving tales, spinning words into nets”, as one character puts it, until “no one knew what was true any more”. She creates a personal mythology based around her reading. Goblin is a picaresque; the heroine sets out to walk from Cornwall to London, a revacuee heading back to the blitz with her pet hog, Corporal Pig, trotting at her heels. There is so much energy and delight in that chapter, but Dundas can do stillness too. She is an accomplished creator of tableaux. The plot seems to freeze on artfully composed scenes: girls in gas masks playing skipping games; a teenage boy lying in his bedroom, Dietrich on the wall, Liszt on the gramophone, smoke in the air; a drowned child , her dirty blond hair “like a messed up halo” What Dundas reveals, is the mildewed wall behind the Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Her wartime London is rendered with such eldritch vivacity that the story loses considerable energy, though not fatally so, when it moves on and Goblin grows up. The novel itself is a kind of foundling. After its original publisher faced financial difficulties, it was rescued by Saraband and was named as Scottish first book of the year at the Saltire literary awards. Dead things can’t die? Quite so. Dead good things shouldn’t either. 38 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Culture L ast month Charlie Brooker told me about the moment he learned Jodie Foster would direct an episode of Black Mirror, his inspired series of one-off dramas about the ways our gadgets are colonising the idea of “human”. Brooker had written a script for the new series in which a neurotic single mother uses technology to spy on her daughter. The Netflix people suggested they tried the script out on the two-time Oscar-winning actor. Brooker has had considerable global success with Black Mirror but the thought of working with Foster, “an actual icon”, made him come over, he says, “all British and starstruck”. He turned to his co-showrunner for the series, Annabel Jones. “We were like: ‘You’re kidding, right? You are going to try Jodie bloody Foster? Yeah right, of course you are.’” The script was given to Jodie bloody Foster, though, and she came back immediately and said she wanted to do it. Through the course of the film-making – the shoot was in Toronto, the editing in London – Brooker says Foster could not have been more engaged or engaging. And for his part, he says, as long as he repressed the thoughts that went: “Christ, she was in Taxi Driver, she was in The Accused, she was in The Silence of the Lambs …” he was fine. Otherwise, obviously: “You got a bit of vertigo.” I met Foster to talk about her film when she was in London working with Brooker on the edit of Arkangel (her episode of Black Mirror), and experienced a bit of that vertigo. It would be fair to say that the actor, now 55, is not the most enthusiastic of interviewees. Having been first put in front of cameras aged three, and subsequently having suffered well-documented traumas with stalkers, Foster has long been wary of talking about herself beyond her work. She is determinedly friendly, but radiates the same intense and guarded intelligence you know from her most famous roles, as well as a profound awareness of being quoted out of context. Stray a little too far into personal territory and you immediately feel like the seediest of tabloid hacks. One of the reasons Foster has taken a break from acting for a while – a decision she announced in an uncharacteristically frank speech at the 2013 Golden Globes in which she came out both as single and as a director (she assumed everyone already knew she was gay) – was, she says, to avoid any of this. She still loves the idea of acting, but she finds all that goes with it, the junkets and the photo shoots and the interviews, “absolutely soul-crushing”. With that idea hanging in the air we sit in a hotel room sipping Earl Grey tea and talk first about how the Black Mirror offer came about. Foster was at lunch with her agent, and “moaning as ever about the feature film industry”, she says. She was and is nostalgic for the three-act beginning and middle and end of 90-minute drama. “Much as I love this renaissance of episodic series,” she says, “characters are not in service of a single story, and I miss that.” As she grumbled along these lines, her agent stopped her – “I think I have something you should see” – and told her about Black Mirror, Brooker’s series of standalone “indie” films. Foster went away and binged on the first two series. (“Friends had told me about it a million times, but I hadn’t tuned in,” she says.) And then she read the script. “I was like: ‘How did you know?’” Part of that affinity was the fact that having “made movies for some 50 years”, Foster was deeply aware of how few stories out there “are told by women, through women’s eyes, and with a female director”. The other thing she liked about ‘I make movies to figure out who I am’ Jodie Foster tells Tim Adams why the theme of mothers and daughters persuaded her to direct an episode of Black Mirror The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 39 On camera and behind it … main, Jodie Foster now; from top, collecting a Golden Globe award in 2013; in The Silence of the Lambs; directing Arkangel for Black Mirror Nadav Kander/Observer Brooker’s script was its believably human drama. “What was interesting,” she says, “is that though all of the shows are about technology, none of the shows are really about technology at all. All of them are about relationships and the emotional damage we all carry, which is highlighted by the Klieg light of technology.” In her notes to Brooker, Foster had quite a lot of thoughts about the dynamic between mother and daughter. He went away and rewrote parts. She wanted the feel of the film to be more blue collar and lived in, to depict a slightly bruised small-town American world. I guess Foster made those changes because she wanted to bring the story closer to home. She agrees to a point: “This show goes back to mothers and daughters,” she says, “and it brings you back to your own mother. I have been thinking about her in the edit suite this week.” Foster and her mother, Brandy, had a famously intense relationship. Brandy was divorced from Foster’s father, Lucius, a former lieutenant colonel in the US air force, before Jodie, the youngest of their four children, was born. In order to help support the family Brandy put her infant daughter forward for casting not long after she could walk. Foster was the breadwinner before she went to school and the pair of them were inseparable in her early movie career. Some years ago now, Foster began to lose her mother to dementia. Again at her Golden Globes speech, she addressed her directly: “Mom, I know you’re inside those blue eyes somewhere and that there are so many things that you won’t understand tonight,” she said. “But this is the only important one to take in: I love you, I love you, I love you. And I hope that if I say this three times, it will magically and perfectly enter into your soul. You’re a great mom. Please take that with you when you’re finally OK to go.” With those words in mind it is hard, when you watch Foster’s unsettling Black Mirror episode, not to think a lot of that relationship was running through her head when she made it. Foster insists it is not directly autobiographical – it was Brooker’s script, after all – but does allow that, “as a director I have always wanted every movie I have made to be in some way the story of my life. Otherwise how am I supposed to commit to it?” She suggests Brooker’s parable has a universal theme, about the fears any parent has about raising children, and the understanding that at some point you have to let them go. “In a weird way our children have become our favourite form of entertainment,” she says, talking more widely of the trend for “helicopter parenting”. “We live vicariously through them and rediscover the world through them. There is something wonderful and healthy about that – and something also suffocating and sad.” Does she recognise that dichotomy from her childhood? “My mother used to say she was always scared and she didn’t know why,” she says. “She said she would wake up in the middle of the night thinking: ‘How am I going to take care of my children?’ It wasn’t a given. It was very important to her to give that opportunity to me, and yet there was always that contrary sense of, ‘You’ll never take care of yourself without me!’” Her mother must have been immensely proud. “She was, but she was a part of it. We were a team that made movies together. We went to little towns together and stayed at the Ramada Inn and made dinners on hotplates. It was like a travelling roadshow.” In some ways Foster has always seemed like a slightly reluctant movie star. She argues that’s not really the case: films were all she ever wanted to do; it was the fame part that hit her in her teens after Freaky Friday, Bugsy Malone and particularly Taxi Driver, that made her uncomfortable. She read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers recently, she says, and the notion of successful people being those who are lucky and committed enough to get in 10,000 hours of practice in a chosen field first resonated with her. “When you are 18 and you have already made 30 movies, you know quite a lot about storytelling …” One way of reading her subsequent career has been as an effort to change that insistent “we” she talks about of her mother, to a definitive “I”. In her 20s, she rejected acting for a while to study English literature at Yale, and graduated with honours. When she went back to films she began a run of extraordinary, drawn-out success with The Accused, and then The Silence of the Lambs. In 1991, the year she won her second Oscar for the latter, she started her own production company and directed her first film, Little Man Tate. There was a sense in which she could put her talent to anything. Was she a frustrated director all the time? She says it was more just how it turned out. “Sadly I never worked out how to be prolific as a director and have a career as an actor, and also raise children and run a company. It was the directing that always went on the back burner. But now is the time.” It is easier for her to commit to the total immersion that directing requires, she suggests, now that her ‘When you are 18 and you have already made 30 movies, you know quite a lot about storytelling’ two sons, aged 19 and 16, are more independent. She raised her boys with her former partner, Cydney Bernard. In April 2014, Foster married actor and photographer Alexandra Hedison. She has no interest in revealing how her marriage has affected her working life, but you have the sense, talking to her, that it has coincided with a greater self-confidence, that she is a bit less tough on herself than she once was. When she stepped back from acting, she says she felt a new freedom. “I didn’t want to be the most successful director, or the highest paid, I just wanted to be somewhat of an auteur,” she says. “If that meant I made two movies my entire life and I loved them, then I was fine with that.” Though she has recently accepted her first acting role for five years (as the lead in the thriller Hotel Artemis), she is doing so very much on her own terms, out of curiosity rather than necessity. “What once was chosen for her, now is very much her choice. “Some directors love cranes and CGI and spectacle, but that is not why I make movies,” she says. “I feel like I make movies because there are things I have to say in order to figure out who I am or my place in the world, or for me to evolve as a person. But until you get to the end of your movie you don’t always realise why you were obsessed with that particular thing.” And then she heads back to the editing suite to once again make doubly sure. Observer Season 4 of Black Mirror is on Netflix 40 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Culture Weft and warp of the 20th century Hannah Ryggen’s political views found expression through her tapestries, finds Skye Sherwin O n a wind-blown farm on a remote Norwegian shore, with no running water or electricity, Hannah Ryggen worked from scratch on her anti-fascist tapestries. Spinning wool from her sheep, she dyed it with things she’d found by foraging: birch leaves, bark moss and bog rosemary. Urine, too, was an essential part of this alchemical process, and visitors were asked to leave their donations in a bucket. Using a homemade loom, she started weaving – without preparatory drawings – a design she saw in her head. Before you even get to the end result, the conviction, not to mention the sheer stamina required, is staggering. What Ryggen created in this far-flung spot, where she lived from the mid-1920s, channelled both current affairs and her day-to-day experience. Modern Art Oxford’s survey, subtitled Woven Histories, features a rogue’s gallery of political thugs, their faces rendered angular and cartoonish by the horizontal and vertical lines of the weave. In one 1936 work, Hitler, Göring and Goebbels pop up like murderous glove puppets with blood-red faces and hands. Three decades later, Lyndon B Johnson’s beagle – for the artist a fluff y media distraction from the Vietnam war – becomes a similarly scarlet hound of hell. In between the monsters are freedom fighters, artist martyrs and Ryggen’s own family and farmyard animals. With her rough-hewn style and heartfelt message, Ryggen harnessed the raw power of folk or outsider art. Her seclusion, however, was only geographic. She spent six years as a painter’s apprentice before turning, pointedly, to weaving, and her renegade use Frankness and humour … how Hannah Ryggen, above, wove together the tumult of the second world war Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum of traditional rural techniques was just as attentiongrabbing in 1930s Norway as it is now. Making tapestries almost exclusively for public spaces, she was known across Europe and America. Since her death in 1970, the Swedish-born artist has remained a defining figure in Scandinavia, although she has only recently been rediscovered by the wider world. For most in the UK, this exhibition will be a revelation, and not just for her oddball mix of scalding protest and rustic weaving. What’s clear here is why Ryggen strikes a chord now. Her art has plenty to say when it comes to today’s most urgent political and environmental issues, from the “altright” to the slow food movement. Early works from the 1930s give a lively impression of Ryggen’s sensibility. She focuses on the human dimension in headline news, even as she elevates contemporary figures into idealised archetypes. The tapestry Liselotte Herrmann depicts a young communist executed by the Nazis as a Madonna, feeding the baby she was separated from. Even at her most homely, Ryggen tracks big issues, as with We and Our Animals, which relates her struggle, in rich oranges and indigos, to consume the beasts she reared and cared for. What’s at stake here is more than sentimental. During the Great Depression, not eating livestock was a life or death matter. The Ryggens’ smallholding kept them from starving. This is unashamedly didactic art, its message stripped back to charged symbols and icons. Yet it never feels preachy. What makes the tapestries so memorable is their disarming frankness and jarring humour. Ryggen is happy to include a bird’s round butthole, her husband’s red nose or her own lopsided breasts, visible through her clothes. In her first overtly political work, Ethiopia, Mussolini is a square-faced Herman Munster with an arrow through his neck in place of a bolt. Ryggen wasn’t burdened by our own questions about the point of political art. That she came from a world where people believed culture made a difference is brought home, horrifically, in her 1940s output, when Norway was occupied, her husband imprisoned and emaciated POWs marched past the farm; 6 October 1942, a huge three-scene tapestry, shows theatre directors from the nearest cultural hotspot Trondheim, who were executed for their leftwing productions. On the right, beyond a bullish Winston Churchill, the Ryggens float on a rose-filled boat, awaiting disaster. With their coarse weaves and tufted wool, her tapestries have a terrific, material presence. A committed communist, Ryggen used the weft and warp of the tapestry itself as a metaphor for the knotty social bonds that hold us together. She often brought in pattern to suggest this network in ways that make her rejection of preparatory drawings all the more astonishing. Mother’s Heart, about her cherished, epileptic daughter Mona, is a kaleidoscopic mix of abstract pattern, nudes, love-hearts and flowers. Yet beyond the work’s physical heft, it’s Ryggen’s unique one-woman approach to the entire weaving process that really distinguishes her. As eccentric as it first seems, she struck on an art form that completely embodied her beliefs in self-sufficiency, social responsibility and the value of work, from start to finish. It’s impossible not to get caught up in her peculiar, impassioned fabrics. At Modern Art Oxford until 18 February The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 41 Culture Everything must go Photographer Lorenzo Vitturi tells Sean O’Hagan about capturing the mayhem of a Lagos market D uring a trip to Lagos in 2014, Lorenzo Vitturi visited Balogun market for the first time. “I knew it was one of the biggest street markets in Africa,” he says, “but nothing prepared me for how overwhelming it was. The crowds of people on the narrow streets, the products on display, the noise, the colour, the chaotic energy. I knew I had to take photographs there, amid the sensory overload of what is, in effect, a city within a city, with tens of thousands of people passing through it every day.” What most fascinated Vitturi was the contrast between the human drama of the vast, sprawling market and the eerie emptiness of the 27-storey brutalist office block that loomed over it. Built in 1987, Financial Trust House was once the hub of Nigeria’s financial sector. But as the market grew around it, the bankers and traders moved elsewhere. “Save for the owner’s office, all 27 floors are empty,” says Vitturi. “The real estate value of the building has fallen dramatically, but he is still holding out for some kind of miraculous redevelopment.” Three years on, Vitturi has created a dramatic photobook that captures the curious dynamic of Balogun market: the cacophonous streets and the silent semi-derelict building. In 2014, in his acclaimed book Dalston Anatomy, Vitturi captured the edginess of Ridley Road market in east London as it held out against gentrification. Money Must Be Made is a similarly imaginative evocation of a place that defies straight documentary. Vitturi uses a hybrid approach: ornate, posed studio portraits of locals are juxtaposed with striking laser-cut collages and sculptural installations made from the brightly coloured products on sale: plastic buckets, woven mats, chairs, hats, bowls, beads, umbrellas, footballs and fabrics. Here and there, we are given a glimpse of a bustling street, with garish products filling the frame and objects piled high in teetering pyramids, as people jostle for space in the cut-and-thrust of street-level Darwinian capitalism. Venice-born Vitturi, who now lives in London, is a graduate of Fabrica, the Benetton-funded visual research centre in Treviso. He worked as a set painter for Tinto Brass, the Italian director of such “erotic” films as Caligula, and at Rome’s legendary Cinecittà Studios. He describes his images as “posed but not overly staged”. In Lagos, unable to find space to shoot amid the swirl of the market, he isolated his subjects in a makeshift outdoor studio in the courtyard of the office block. Their often ornate styles of dress and the objects they carry become part of an elaborate human sculpture, a metaphor for the market itself. ‘The street traders in Balogun are not just resisting gentrification, but had defeated it’ Entrepreneurial skills … an innovative Balogun market trader from Money Must Be Made “These people have to survive by their creativity as well as their entrepreneurial skills,” says Vitturi. “Every day, the sellers construct these extraordinary sculptures, using a limited space to pile up their wares in the most precarious ways. There is so much creativity in such a compressed space. The results are often close to my own aesthetic. That was something I wanted to reflect in the book.” The only breathing space in the ongoing dazzle of colour comes in the middle section, in which Vitturi shifts his gaze – and his approach – to the ghostly interior of Financial Trust House. Suddenly we are in a world of monochrome greyness: rooms filled with the detritus of a once-thriving place; corporate signs and computer parts covered in a layer of Saharan sand. The vivid human drama outside seems a world away from the atmosphere within, where an aura of post-apocalyptic emptiness prevails. “It struck me early on that the place was almost the opposite of Ridley Road,” says Vitturi, “not just in scale, but in the sense that the street traders in Balogun are not just resisting gentrification, but had defeated it by expanding to meet the demands of their customers.” Why did he choose the brutally descriptive title? “Money Must Be Made was one of several quotes I selected from the interviews I did with traders. I hired a local calligrapher to paint the words on to a flag made of traditional Nigerian fabrics. It summed up the ethos of the market. Balogun is a place where nothing is wasted. The level of recycling is incredible. Everything has a value. One guy said to me, ‘If you shit here, I will find a way to make money out of it.’ That really summed up their resourcefulness, but it didn’t really work as a book title.” Money Must Be Made by Lorenzo Vitturi is available from Self Publish, Be Happy On video games Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX When the lights go oﬀ in virtual worlds Simon Parkin I t’s truly a golden age for apocalyptic dreamers and fretters. While doom impends for our world, it has already visited scores of virtual ones. Demon’s Souls, the 2009 opus by Japanese video game auteur Hidetaka Miyazaki, is the latest game world scheduled to die. Sony, its publisher, recently announced that it will be taken offline in February. Video game apocalypses have, since the rise of the internet, become almost commonplace. More than 50 online worlds have closed since the mid-1990s, usually in response to dwindling populations of players who, through inactivity, render the project commercially unviable. The earliest examples closed without ceremony, but developers soon realised that it was better to end with a bang than a whimper. Game designers have usually folded the end of the world into their fiction. When Rubies of Eventide closed down in 2009, for example, its creators set fire to the capital city, a blaze that took every player down with it. When Star Wars Galaxies closed in 2011, the ending was marked with wonder, rather than violence: in the last few hours the skies flickered with a firework display set to mournful music, a swansong for digital existence. Dr Henry Lowood, curator of History of Science and Technology Collections for Stanford University Libraries, was present when publisher EA switched off the servers for The Sims Online in 2008. He watched its world’s trees and structures pop from existence. At the time, Lowood described the scene as like seeing “a tidal wave or an earthquake wiping out a town”. The passing of a virtual world presents a challenge to the documentarians of our nascent digital culture. Even offline video games can be difficult to preserve, requiring specific and outdated hardware to run. How do the historians capture for posterity online worlds that constantly change, evolve and then disappear? Weirdly, the kind of oral tradition that preserved the tales of antiquity has re-emerged, capturing fragments of evidence and experience in blogposts, radio programmes and video clips. Unlike an old film, an expired video game world is gone for ever, and certainly in the form in which it was first experienced by its inhabitants. Observer 42 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Diversions Notes & Queries Nature watch Wenlock Edge Don’t overcook the custard Just look up to the heavens and smile that they are there When does infatuation turn to love? When the recipient of your sighs returns the favour. Kate Henderson, Kingwood, Texas, US When we lose loved ones we try to keep them alive in our mind. How? By keeping them alive in our heart. Christine Kerr, Marrickville, NSW, Australia • Usually, too early. Giorgio Ranalli, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada • I find it helps to consult them when I have a major life decision to make. Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia • The tiniest visual hint will bring them to mind, such as when you spot something that he or she once loved. Richard Orlando, Westmount, Quebec, Canada • With a smile, a re-creation of the good times and gratitude. Charlie Bamforth, Davis, California, US • Like any custard, when the temperature is right. But beware! Cook it too long and it will curdle. Stuart Williams, Lilongwe, Malawi Celebrating life … Day of the Dead • By remembering that the one we loved is still alive, but in a finer dimension. C McCutcheon, Loule, Portugal It’s really worth fighting for • In the case of my father: by emulating his habits, even (especially?) the ones I used to find annoying. Jonathan Knowles, Kolsås, Norway What makes an idea worthy of a sacrifice? • The social benefit that it creates. Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada • Mindfulness. André Gauthier, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada • Brainwashing. Anthony Walter, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada • It’s nothing we do; they just simply hang around. Kate Light, Motueka, New Zealand • If that idea becomes a cause worth fighting for. Marilyn Hamilton, Perth, Western Australia • By repeating their precious little habits. Gerldine Dodgson, Pauanui, New Zealand • Just look up to the heavens and smile. David Tucker, Halle, Germany • Its promulgation by a charismatic charlatan who promises you heaven. Paul Broady, Christchurch, New Zealand • Unwavering and tested faith in it. Nicholas Albrecht, Paris, France • The second time around. David King, Dundas, Ontario, Canada • With time, if at all. Charlie Pearson, Portland, Oregon, US • When wanting him/her for yourself turns to wanting him/her for his/herself. Barney Smith, Bristol, UK More Notes & Queries See additional answers online bit.ly/notesandqueries Any answers? Singers sing, performers perform. Does personal life ever affect them? E Slack, L’Isle Jourdain, France Is there anything better than chamomile tea at bedtime? John Geffroy, Las Vegas, New Mexico, US Send answers to weekly.nandq@ theguardian.com or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Good to meet you Vernon Gibberd Although I first encountered it as an intimidatingly dense weekly at my Quaker boarding school, my reacquaintance with the Guardian Weekly came in 1963. It was a year’s subscription and a wedding present from my college chaplain at St Catharine’s, when, newly married, Tineke and I left Cambridge to work for an agricultural project founded by Seretse Khama’s uncle, Tshekedi in the Bechuanaland Protectorate. This later became Botswana, with Seretse its first president in 1966. That oh-so-light air mail edition reached us at a speed that should shame today’s post offices. Projectworker Fish met the nightly mixed goods on his bike at our siding on the Cape to Cairo railway and brought it the 4km to our mud-andthatch rondavel. And what a week’s good read it was! Tineke, now a homeopath, loves the What I’m Really Thinking column best, while my fondest Black-white-black-white: the bull watches the bird through the snow. This is the first flurry for years, long enough to have forgotten how snow changes everything the other side of the doorstep. It began with the supermoon, a silver florin in a halo of limelight. Then came Storm Caroline – “good times never seemed so good,” sang Neil Diamond – and although not such good times elsewhere, it was easy going here. Weather presenters spread long fingers over maps and warned that the departing storm would pull down Arctic air, leading to snow at low levels. No one warned the dogs, they felt the excitement of a world changed around them, a duty to redraw their scent maps, a camaraderie with humans daft enough to roam abroad in a blizzard. After the first snowfall overnight, the morning brightened: a veiled sun above winter trees, white fields, and suddenly the familiar had been memory is reading Nancy BanksSmith’s television review despite the remoteness of that medium. Even the sports pages always kept me interested, albeit while I was on a dusty roadside waiting for a lift. Now, after an almost continuous 54 years, it’s still our newspaper, still takes a week to read with its news, reviews and analyses at a breadth and depth not even matched by the hour-long Channel 4 News, for we now have television here in Gloucestershire – and electricity, too! If you would like to appear in this space, send a brief note to firstname.lastname@example.org enchanted. Snowflakes showered from an overhanging hedge sounding like pouring grain; wiper-bladesized fragments flew from boughs of ash and chestnut in a plantation; a nuthatch knocked out a coded message; a treecreeper wound an invisible ribbon up a cherry tree. On the fencepost, the robin presented a Christmas card of him/herself, pudding plump, breast shot, left eye watching, right eye scanning the electromagnetic map of the wood for sanctuary. Blackbirds were loud with excited-speak. Up on the top, the wind returned with a vengeance, bringing a sideways lash of snow; and down below, the bull was goaded by it to turn from feeding towards something that caught his eye. A shaggy black Highland bull with a copper ring through his nose, his shoulders rolled and his hooves stamped snow into dark earth. It felt as if, after all this time, the weather and the beast had become one, perfect opponents, the storm in a quiet heart, black and white. Snow blew between the tips of his horns, through the maps of wild bulls and forests. He saw the blackbird at the gate; perhaps like him and the storm, it had come from the north, too. Paul Evans Read more Nature watch online bit.ly/naturewatch The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 43 Quick crossword 1 2 3 Cryptic crossword by Arachne 4 5 Across 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 20 22 23 24 Across 8 Swedish assorted buffet (11) 12 Way of life (9) 16 Inflamed swelling (7) 17 Small bushy plant with bitter minty leaves (6) 19 Increase (3,2) 23 Beard growing from an ear of barley or rye (3) 1 Drunken revels (11) 9 Expenses (9) 10 Game played with matchsticks (3) 11 Stealing (5) 13 Butcher’s chopper (7) 14 Hebrew prophet (6) 15 Repeated incantation (6) 18 Large river mouth (7) 20 Cancel (informal) (5) 21 Greek god of flocks and herds (3) 22 Dilapidation (9) 24 Breaking down (11) H F A L W I T B O S W I S Down 2 Skill (3) 3 Adriatic country (7) 4 Plant – preparation for treating bruises (6) 5 Passageway (5) 6 Fresh thinker (9) 7 Embarrassing disagreement (11) M B B E P A S O D O B L E S R W A S T R E L E N T O O E R E M E N D O W O I N N E T D A N U I R I Z A R D R Y S E G D R T F U L L B O A R D E Y T Y T E D D Y B E A R D Y E T Last week’s solution, No 14,834 First published in the Guardian 1 December 2017, No 14,842 Down 1 Not so dense, spelling “bum” right (7) 2 Dotty pants a lot after giving birth (9) 3 Jet set romps regularly in bar (5) Futoshiki Easy ©Clarity Media Ltd Last week’s solution < 4 1 ∨ > ∨ ∧ < 4 3 5 ∨ 2 2 3 9 4 5 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 21 6 17 19 22 23 24 25 27 4 Travelling to the pole, in need of pap (9) 5 Provide grub, but not support (5) 6 A country boy turned up to welcome American Buddhist (5,4) 7 Charlie grew old behind bars (5) 8 Cordial setter’s absorbed in short newspaper article (7) 14 Help the French ban kind of moustache (9) 16 Say obscene words about substandard game (9) 17 Write on sex with variable confidence (9) 18 Half-inch fairy kindles revolt (7) First published in the Guardian 6 December 2017, No 27,373 20 26 28 20 Scratching head, expecting ruling (7) 22 Blush, stuck (5) 23 Miniature bears puff and creep (5) 24 Unruly leaders of Viking hordes often cause absolute chaos (5) H O A N D R R I D R O O U C A S H H A T S E I I R U M M P C O L L A I S O F A T Y C T C C N O M E D A A R O M A N R P P S N O W D R I L E O C I E R D E C A N C L H I A P I E I N C T E L E S T D E D U C I O S A E C T E D P R I A I D L R S O I L P A I N T N E Y S C M A R F T A L I A N E E S M E A T S Y Last week’s solution, No 27,367 Sudoku classic Medium 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. 1 3 5 2 ∧ ∧ 2 < 4 > 3 5 ∨ 5 2 1 4 ∧ ∨ 4 1 2 < 3 ∨ ∧ ∨ 3 5 > 4 1 < 1 1 Wise fool ignoring content of inane books (7) 5 Will supplement of fish oil initially improve capacity for love? (7) 9 Mates saunter about surrounding bit of property (5) 10 Leaves Gillette founders with millions (6,3) 11 Abrasive doctor appears extremely narked (9) 12 Find FIFA banning all females in Asian country (5) 13 Are sick of blighter with shed (5) 15 Institution raising issue of defunct generators (9) 18 Half-hearted hostility and dismal dazzle (9) 19 Perhaps Guinness works to eliminate boundaries? (5) 21 Oddly dismissing Carnegie Hall’s backer and investor (5) 23 Vocal work of Mercury inspiring boy band at first (5,4) 25 Radical change to sport’s corporate image (9) 26 Behold Shakespearean heroine with retrograde moon (5) 27 Ageing yodeller dropping round, unfortunately (7) 28 Scramble and vault on walls of Eton (7) < 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 ∧ > 2 ∧ Last week’s solution 44 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Diversions Shortcuts Death entrepreneurs ﬁnd new ways to go out Dying is easy? In fact, it turns out most of us have been doing it wrong. In an eco age, both burial (which releases methane), and cremation (using natural gas and electricity) have downsides. But new options are being developed, often by starry-eyed death entrepreneurs. Last month, Sandwell council in the West Midlands announced it would like to become the first to offer “liquid burial”, via a £300,000 ($400,000) “Resomator”. Cadaver disposal in the Resomator would be as easy as stepping into a “torpedo-shaped” bath of an alkaline solution, heated to 152C, and, after simmering a while, the chamber is reduced to a nice bouillabaisse – “a tea-coloured liquid” which can be flushed into the local water system. Leaving your body to science? At Texas State University, the largest “body farm” in the world, on Freeman Ranch, averages 70 corpses a time, deliberately left outdoors to rot down naturally, often via wild animal feasts, to better understand the process of decomposition and with the wider aim of improving forensic science. Katrina Spade’s Seattle-based Urban Death Project is attempting to turn people into compost. The process is modelled on an animal version used in agriculture. Feed around 60 bodies in at the top of a three-storey unit, and over four weeks, a rich loamy compost should emerge at the bottom end. Families are given a symbolic urn of soil to take home. Good results can be achieved if we just give up on our precious subterranean six feet. The harmful methane buildup can’t develop if we’re instead buried in very shallow graves, wrapped only in a biodegradable shroud. Gavin Haynes French rescue Sodom manuscript for nation The French government has stepped in to declare Marquis de Sade’s manuscript, 120 Days of Sodom, a national treasure as it was about to be sold at auction in Paris. Officials ordered that the 18thcentury erotic masterpiece be withdrawn from the sale, along with André Breton’s Surrealist Manifestos, banning their export from France, the Aguttes auction house said. They were part of a vast sale of historic documents owned by French investment firm Aristophil, which was shut down in a scandal two years ago, taking $1bn of its investors’ money with it. Sade wrote the controversial work about four rich libertines in search of the ultimate form of sexual gratification on a roll made from bits of parchment he had smuggled into his cell in the Bastille. When the Paris prison was stormed at the beginning of the French revolution on 14 July 1789, the famously philandering aristocrat was freed, but he was swept out by the mob without his manuscript. Sade believed it had been lost to the looters and wept “tears of blood” over it, but the unfinished manuscript turned up decades later. Even so, the book remained unpublished for more than a century and was banned in Britain until the 1950s. Auctioneer Claude Aguttes, said the French ministry of culture had promised to buy the Sade and Breton works “at international market rates”. Agence France-Presse Researchers invent glass that heals itself Japanese researchers say they have developed a new type of glass that can heal itself from cracks. Made from a low weight polymer called “polyether-thioureas”, the glass can heal breaks when pressed together by hand without the need for high heat to melt the material. The research, published in Science, by researchers led by Prof Takuzo Aida from the University of Tokyo, promises healable glass that could potentially be used in phone scree screens and other ffragile devices, which they say are w a an important challe lenge for sustainable societies. a While selfh healing rubber a and plastics h have already been developed, b Heal thyself … good news for butterfingered phone users the researchers said that the new material was the first hard substance of its kind that can be healed at room temperature. The new polymer glass is “highly robust mechanically yet can readily be repaired by compression at fractured surfaces”. Samuel Gibbs Mekong delta trove of new species found A snail-eating turtle found in a food market and a bat with a horseshoeshaped face are among 115 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region. A report from the conservation charity WWF reveals that three new mammals, 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles and 88 plants were found by scientists in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam in 2016. They include an extremely rare crocodile lizard, two species of mole living among a network of streams and rivers, and a vibrantly coloured frog that is one of five new species discovered in the same forest in northern Vietnam. The snail-eating turtle was not discovered in a river or forest but in a market in north-east Thailand, having been caught in a nearby canal by shopkeepers. The mountain horseshoe bat was found in the evergreen forests of Laos and Thailand, and has a horseshoe-shaped facial structure, the WWF said. Many of the new finds are already threatened by habitat destruction, the creation of new infrastructure, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, the conservation charity warned. Press Association Maslanka puzzles 1 “He demands he is there.” Thus spake the presenter on our favourite speech network. What made steam issue from Pedanticus’s ears? 2 If a and b are different, show that if (√a + √b) is rational, so is (√a - √b). Show also that if √a is not rational, neither (√a + √b) nor (√a - √b) can be. 3 On closer inspection Garabaggio’s Wall Seen Through My Tilted LetterBox is seen to consist of four right-angled triangles. According to the catalogue of the Rogue’s Gallery, where this pretentious piece of shallowness is currently on display, the diagonal of the rectangle measures 1 metre, and the central section of the diagonal is 28cm long. What are the dimensions of the rectangle? 4 During Hanukah down at The Last Chance saloon Sheriff Einstein showed them how to play dreidel. This is a four-sided top, each side bearing a different one of the four letters: נ (Nun), ( גGimel), ( הHei), ( שShin). If properly made, when the dreidel is spun each of the four symbols has an equal chance of 1 in 4 of ending up face up. How many spins do we expect to need to get all four letters? If a go consists in spinning the dreidel twice, how many goes does if take for one of the pairs to be a double Nun? Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka Wordplay Same Difference Wordpool Identify the two words the spelling of which differs only in the letters shown: A******* (rich) E******* (waste) Find the correct definition: XENIUM a) gift to ambassadors in the Classical world b) in psychology a unit of estrangement c) placeholder name for the element Nihonium d) wayfarer’s inn Dropouts Identify the word in which each asterisk represents a missing letter: C*O*N*E*S 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 fish mix could be cake (fishcake & cake mix) … a) sand gain b) bank book c) cap pudding d) gas root e) alter trip f) spinning dog ©CMM2018. For solutions see page 47 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 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 What makes something a distraction isn’t the fact that it’s stupid or silly. It’s the role that it’s playing in your life T hroughout history, people who like to think of themselves as highminded have sneered at the masses, frittering their days away on “mindless entertainment”. The definition of “mindless” keeps changing: not so long ago, novels were considered a frivolous indulgence; then broadcasting took their place, and novel-reading became something that high-minded people did. For years, I told myself I wasn’t like the Average Person who watched four hours of TV a day, because I was doing something much more brainy: surfing the internet. Recently, largely thanks to social media, it’s become impossible to ignore the fact that this is often mindless too. So now, on my more self-disciplined days, I stay off social media, and feel slightly superior about it. And what do I do instead, since I’m far too smart to waste my life on rubbish? Now, I listen to podcasts. So, naturally, I was intrigued by a recent essay on New York magazine’s website The Cut, by Sirena Bergman: “I listen to 35 hours of podcasts every week. Is that … bad?” Her conclusion: yes, partly. The brain needs silence, and the trouble with audio – like mobile internet too – is that it doesn’t simply replace other forms of entertainment; rather, it seeps into the gaps that you might previously have used to be alone with your thoughts. Podcasts improve my daily life immensely and I’ve zero intention of abandoning them; but Bergman draws attention to an important truth about the content we incessantly consume: it’s quite possible to get addicted to stuff that seems edifying and intellectual, as well as to brainless nonsense. Indeed, for a certain kind of person, it’s probably easier. You know it’s a distraction to compulsively seek updates on reality Illustration by Michele Marconi; right, Lo Cole What I’m really thinking The new resident in a retirement home TV shows. It’s harder to remember that political news, or fascinating tales from the frontiers of science, might be serving the same function. The point is that what makes something a distraction isn’t necessarily that it’s stupid or silly. It’s the role it’s playing in your life. If it’s helping you numb out, or put off important but scary tasks, or avoid asking tough questions about how you’re spending your time, it’s a problem, whatever the details. Seemingly productive work can easily be It’s quite possible to get addicted to stuff that seems edifying and intellectual, as well as to brainless nonsense a distraction, if it’s not the work that counts. Even deeply meaningful activities can be distractions. That’s the logic behind a suggestion attributed to the investor Warren Buffett: first, write down your top 25 goals for life; then identify the most important five, focus on them, and avoid the other 20 like the plague – because they’re the seductive ones most likely to distract you, precisely because they do matter. They just don’t matter most. From this perspective, “mindless entertainment” really isn’t the main danger. Yes, obviously, it’s a waste of time to watch four hours of (most) television a day. But that very obviousness means it’s hard to do by accident. It’s when you catch yourself feeling smug that you’re immune to that sort of thing that you really need to start worrying. email@example.com Why am I here? This is awful. What’s happened to me? I don’t like it. Why did I have to leave my little old cottage and beautiful garden, and the neighbours who were real friends? I was so happy there, and now I’m in a flat in an ugly modern building that calls itself a retirement home. Friends visit and say, “It’s so clean and warm! And it’s all on the level!” Well, my house was warm (in parts) and cleanish. And I loved walking up and down in my hilly town. There are a lot of other women here, and a handful of men. Every day in the entrance hall there is a pile of newspapers ordered by residents. I saw that most of them were the Daily Mail and I shuddered. One fellow resident, smiling kindly, said to me, “Everyone here dresses so nicely.” I looked down at my trousers and well-worn, comfortable cardigan, and thought, “Oh God, I haven’t even got a single dress!” I have been invited to join the bingo group and the crochet circle. In both cases, I declined – graciously, I hope. But then, the worst moment: someone publicly expressed her outrage at the way we are being invaded by refugees. My hackles rose immediately, but feebly I let them fall again. It required too much courage, just then, to give vent to my own passionate and contrary feelings on this subject. But the time will come. Another friend, visiting, asked: “What do you like most about living here?” I thought long and hard, and then answered truthfully: “I can’t think of anything at all.” Later, I realised that my scattered chi children won’t need to w worry so much now. I am safe and now war warm and clean. It ca can’t be that bad, can it? i Tell us what you’re rea really thinking at mind@the m guardian.com gua 46 The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 Sport Against sporting and personal odds, they came through to win or having these diseases, because From inspirational at the end of the day, we are all baseball and wheelchair human.” SB tennis players to Alfie Hewett squash’s power couple, Wheelchair tennis often flies under the radar at grand slams, but it is a Simon Burnton and wonderfully entertaining sport at its Jacob Steinberg salute best. It takes tremendous levels of dedication and skill to rise to the top some of last year’s and Alfie Hewett had to demonstrate both qualities in ample quantities real champions Jake Diekman Last Christmas Diekman, who had battled with ulcerative colitis since childhood but not let it kill his dreams of becoming a professional baseball player, had an alarming flare-up. Surgery was scheduled for 25 January, four days after his 30th birthday, after which there was another in April, and a third in June. His colon was removed and rebuilt, leaving him “really freaking sore” and eventually with what is known as a J-pouch, fashioned out of his small intestine, replacing it altogether. In February he pledged to make a quick return to baseball, to his doctors’ displeasure. “I’m going to push very hard,” he said. “A lot of people are like, ‘No you’re not’, and I was like, ‘I’m pitching the second half of the year.’” He did just that, returning to action in August and to the Texas Rangers team in September. He went on to make 11 appearances, finishing with an ERA (earned run average) of 2.53 (which, for those who have no idea what an ERA is, is good). But more important was his iny sistence on making every step of it public, in regularr video updates for a Dallas newspaper and countless interviews. His aim was to raise awareness of Irritable Bowel Disease, and also to raise funds through his Gut it Out foundation. “If others see e me going through it maybe b th they’re ’ not so scared,” he said. He hopes, with his openness, to normalise a condition that is often seen as being too awkward to discuss. “It doesn’t have to be embarrassing, and it’s not just all about going to the bathroom a lot,” he says. “There doesn’t need to be a stigma behind having a bag, when he faced Argentina’s Gustavo Fernández in the French Open final last June. Hewett was 19 at the time and, though he was a double silver medallist at the 2016 Paralympic Games, his hopes of winning his first singles title at a major looked over when he found himself on the wrong end of a bagel in the first set. The likable Norwich City fan was a bag of nerves, but gathered his thoughts during the changeover, elected to keep fighting and mounted a stirring comeback to stun his opponent and triumph 0-6, 7-6 (11-9) 6-2, becoming the first British winner of the men’s wheelchair singles title at Roland Garros. A teenager had made history on the Parisian clay and Hewett wasn’t done there, teaming up with Gordon Reid to beat the tough French pair of Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer to the Wimbledon doubles title for the second successive year. He is one of the finest young athletes around. JS The squash power couple Neither Nour El Tayeb nor Ali Farag, left, had won a top-tier World Series event in squash before the US Open in October October. The Egyptian pair’s performances had been perform improving, but they had impr yet to scratch that itch before bef e travelling to Philadelphia. Phi delphia. It all came together tog her on one memorable afternoon, though. rabl On a day ay of high emotion, Farag watched w tched El Tayeb win women’ss final and El Tayeb the wome watched Farag win t h dF n the men’s final, husband and wife e supporting each other in their pursuit suit of glory. JS Sam Kasiano o and friends In January Sam Kasiano, asiano, pictured ugby league centre right, the rugby ly known as prop affectionately Dogzilla, travelled d to Fiji with a few team-mates for his wedding. It was a dramatic time to be in Fiji, what with an earthquake on the morning of the big day that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale and, once that passed, a tsunami warning forced them to flee to higher ground. “We were running looking for our kids, for our wives,” said Mario Tartak, Kasiano’s manager. “Everyone was pretty distressed. You look at your kids and you look at your wife and everybody was terrified.” When they looked down from the hilltop they saw someone stuck at the bottom, struggling with his disabled father. “We were swimming and suddenly we all had to race up the safe spot of the hill,” said Sean Brown, the struggling son. “We got out of this buggy and I was struggling to get my dad out. There were heaps of blokes sitting around not giving a damn. All of a sudden you see [Greg] Eastwood [another prop], p p , and [Frank] Pritchard [Kasiano’s best man and Samoa team-mate] pick my old man up and carry him on their shoulders up the hill. When we got to the top Kasiano was giving water to my dad and taking care of him.” The big wave never materialised and the wedding went ahead, but Kasiano clearly still had an appetite for extreme weather-related activities: in July he moved oved to Melbourne Storm. SB B Victoria Azarenka Luck has rarely been on Victoria Azarenka’s side in recent years. Few players on the WTA Tour can match her natural ability and one of the most heartening h t i moments of the tennis season was seeing the former Australian Open champion return to the grind in time for Wimbledon. After recovering from a series of serious injuries, Azarenka,, above, had returned after giving birth to her first child, and reachround at SW19 was a ing the fourth fo promising sign for the Belarusian. promisin an. Yet events conspired against her again. A custody custo battle over her son,, Leo, left her unable u to leave California, nia, her out of both the US Open ruling he pen Belarus’s first Fed Cup final. and Bela l. “No parent sh should have to decide beetween their th child or their career,” r,” the 28-year-old wrote in an open letter 28-yeartter on social media. It was tough for or Azarenka to take, but she maintained ned her dignity throughout. t There is a happy twist in the t form of her wildcard rd at month’s Australian Open. JS this mon The Guardian Weekly 05.01.18 47 Sport in brief Simone Zaza There are certainly sportsmen who have come back from greater adversity than Zaza, pictured below, but the Italian footballer’s resurrection is nevertheless remarkable. In 2016 he started 10 club games, spent 13 on the bench, and scored three goals. There were also nine international caps, among them the Euro 2016 quarter-final against Germany, in which he came on with penalties looming, and then spanked his over the bar after a comedy high-stepping run-up. “It really traumatised me,” he said in January. “After the Euros I felt really terrible. Over the summer I lost a lot of weight. The things that hurt me the most were the [YouTube] videos, the Zaza Dance.” His decision to move to West Ham that summer was another poor one. “Very quickly quic I found that many things upset ups me: the environment, the culture, cultur the training, the food. I’m not sa saying I’m a victim, I know very well that I earn a lot of money playing football. f I’m just trying to explain tthe causes of this failure.” In January Januar he moved to Valencia, and some something changed. His first goal for th the club felt, he said, “like being reborn”; reb he has gone on to score 16 in the league over the year, despite playing with a persistent pe knee injury. SB draw in the fourth Test at Melbourne. Australia captain Steve Smith batted for almost seven hours to record his 23rd Test century and stave off defeat despite England having taken a big first-innings lead. The result meant Australia led the five-match series 3-0 heading into the final match at Sydney this week. World record price … Virgil van Dijk • Liverpool smashed football’s transfer world record for a defender after paying fellow English Premier League club Southampton £75m ($101m) for the Dutch international centre-half Virgil van Dijk. The transfer fee eclipses the £53m spent by Manchester City to sign the England full-back Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur last summer. • England’s cricketers avoided an Ashes series whitewash but were unable to force victory in a rain-affected Chess Leonard Barden India’s former world champion Vishy Anand, now a veteran aged 48, rolled back the years at the World Rapid Championship in Saudi Arabia. He produced a vintage performance for the $750,000 15-round, three-day event in scoring 10.5/15 to take the gold medal. His win over Norway’s world No 1 Magnus Carlsen is featured in this week’s puzzle and proved a decisive moment. In a final tie-break Anand easily defeated Vladimir Fedoseev, a rising Russian star half his age. Carlsen was the hot favourite for the crown, and despite a wobbly start came on strong in the middle rounds to take a clear lead on 9/12. Then he uncharacteristically faded with two nondescript draws and a loss to Russia’s Alexander Grischuk. China dominates women’s chess, and although the world No 1 Hou Yifan did not compete, they still took gold and silver through Ju Wenjun and Lei Jingjie in the $250,000 women’s championship. Carlsen won this game by simple yet impressive strategy against China’s Wang Yue. His 9 Ng5! acquired the bishop pair in a position where White also controlled the only open • Birmingham has been selected to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, the biggest sporting event to be awarded to an English city since the London Olympics in 2012. The West Midlands mayor, Andy Street, described the announcement as a “fantastic Christmas present” for the region but it will not come cheap with the projected overall cost running to £750m, with the government covering around £560m. • Guy Novès became the first France rugby union coach in history to be sacked after he was replaced by Jacques Brunel. Novès endured a torrid two-year spell in charge, managing just seven wins from 21 matches, forcing the French Federation president, Bernard Laporte, to act. The former Italy coach Brunel, 63, was named as his successor. Maslanka solutions 3527 Magnus Carlsen v Vishy Anand, world rapid. Should White’s knight go to c5 or f4? file, Black’s pieces became comically passive and 25 Qa5! set up the finish 27 Rd8 Rxd8 28 Qxd8+ Kg7 29 Bf6+ Kh8 30 Qf8+ and mate. Magnus Carlsen v Wang Yue 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d3 c6 4 Nf3 d5 5 Bb3 Qc7 6 Nc3 dxe4?! 7 Nxe4 Nxe4 8 dxe4 Be7 9 Ng5! Bxg5 10 Bxg5 Na6 11 Be3 O-O 12 Qd2 Qe7 13 Qc3 Re8 14 O-O-O Nc7 15 Rd3 Qf6 16 f3 Ne6 17 Rd6 g6 18 Rhd1 Qg7 19 Qd2 h5 20 g3 Nc7 21 Bh6 Qh7 22 Rd8 Bh3 23 Rxa8 Nxa8 24 Bg5 Nc7 25 Qa5! Ne6 26 Bxe6 Bxe6 27 Rd8 1-0 3527 1 Nc5?? Rxc5! 2 Qxc5 Qe4! and Carlsen resigned: 3 Kf1 Qh1+ 4 Ke2 Bf3+ 5 Kd2 Ne4+. Back in style … Alfie Hewett triumphs, top left; Jake Diekman returns to form, above; and Nour El Tayeb plays her part, far left Getty • Two former South American football officials were found guilty on multiple corruption charges late last month by a New York City jury in the first case brought to trial as a result of the US government’s sprawling investigation of football’s governing body, Fifa. Juan Ángel Napout, the former president of South American football’s governing body (Conmebol), and José Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil’s football federation, were both found guilty of racketeering and wire fraud conspiracies following a five-week trial. Their co-defendant, Manuel Burga, the former head of football in Peru, was cleared of similar charges. The convictions add to the 23 guilty pleas prosecutors have already secured against individuals and entities accused of bribery in the government’s probe of corruption at Fifa. More than 40 people and companies have been charged as part of the investigation, which the US attorney’s office says remains ongoing. The case was the first to come to trial since a dramatic dawn raid at a hotel near Fifa headquarters in Zurich in 2015 revealed the investigation to the public for the first time. 1 It would be a shame if the subjunctive (past and present) were to vanish from English as it can occasionally allow us to make neat distinctions. These uses, admittedly, are sparse, often in ossified forms and easily confused with other forms. Verbs of demanding and insistence are the chief stumbling blocks for modern radio folk. If I insist Bert goes to school I am saying (perhaps in the face of statements to the contrary) that Bert goes to school; if I insist he go to school, I am not saying he does but rather I am making a demand of him. It would be nuts to demand that something be the case that is already the case, which is why We demand the foreign minister goes to Syria falls so awkwardly on the logical ear. But the use of the subjunctive is a well-hidden subtlety, noticeable only in the verb to be and in the 3rd person singular of more pedestrian verbs (and even that might be unclear, as in eg We insist that the government listen. Is government singular or plural there?), which is why eg some Poles say Thanks god! Or schoolchildren sing Britannia rules the waves. The French, the Germans, the Hungarians all retain their subjunctives. Why cannot we? 2 (√a + √b)(√a - √b) = (a – b), so that if one of (√a + √b) and (√a - √b) is rational so is the other. Now suppose √a is irrational. We note √a = [(√a + √b) + (√a √b)] ⁄2; if even one of (√a ± √b) were rational, both would be; but by hypothesis √a is irrational; so (√a ± √b) are irrational, too. 3 We have two pairs of congruent triangles, and all four are similar. The smaller one has sides (36, 48, 60) = 12(3, 4, 5); the larger (48, 64, 80) = 16(3, 4, 5); so the letter-box measures 60 X 80, both units in centimetres. 4 Let the expected number of goes before success be n. We succeed first go, or later; so n = (p)(1) + (1 – p)(n + 1) — n = 1⁄p. For all 4 letters we expect 25⁄3 spins. For a pair of Nuns, 16 goes. Wordpool a) Dropouts CROWNLESS Same Difference AFFLUENT, EFFLUENT Missing Links a) sand/bar/gain b) bank/note/ book c) cap/rice/pudding d) gas/tap/root e) alter/ego/trip f) spinning/top/dog 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 Addicted to stuff Why mindless distractions fulfil a serious function Mind & Relationships, page 45 George Monbiot Our blindness to the living world is lethal, as we normalise the erosion of our environment, and the devastating losses to fragile ecosystems it brings W hat you see is not what others see. We inhabit parallel worlds of perception, bounded by our interests and experience. What is obvious to some is invisible to others. As the psychologist Richard Wiseman points out: “At any one moment, your eyes and brain only have the processing power to look at a very small part of your surroundings … your brain quickly identifies what it considers to be the most significant aspects of your surroundings, and focuses almost all of its attention on these elements.” Everything else remains unseen. Our selective blindness is lethal to the living world. Joni Mitchell’s claim that “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is, sadly, untrue: our collective memory is wiped clean by ecological loss. One of the most important concepts defining our relationship to the natural world is shifting baseline syndrome, coined by the fisheries biologist Daniel Pauly. The people of each generation perceive the state of the ecosystems ms they encountered in their childhood od as normal and natural. When wildlife is depleted, we e might notice the loss, but we are unaware that the baseline by which we judge dge the decline is in fact a state of extreme me depletion. So we forget that the default efault state of almost all ecosystems ems – on land and at sea – is domination ation by a megafauna. We are unaware are that there is something deeply ply weird about British waters; they are not thronged with great whales, vast shoals of bluefin tuna, two-metre cod and halibut the size of doors, rs, as they were until a few centuries ago. We are e unaware that the absence of elephants, rhinos, li lions, scimitar cats, hyenas and hippos, that lived on the British Isles during the last interglacial period (when the climate was almost identical to today’s), is also an artefact of human activity. And the erosion continues. Few people younger than me know that it was once normal to see fields white with mushrooms, or rivers black with eels at the autumn equinox, or that every patch of nettles was once reamed by caterpillars. I can picture a moment at which the birds stop singing, and people wake up and make breakfast and go to work without noticing that anything has changed. Conversely, the darkness in which we live ensures that we don’t know what we have, even while it exists. The recent BBC television series Blue Planet II, focusing on underwater life, revealed the complex social lives and remarkable intelligences of species we treat as nothing but seafood. If we were aware of the destruction we commission with our routine purchases of fish, would we not radically change our buying habits? But the infrastructure of marketing and media helps us not to see, not to think, not to connect our spots of perception to create a moral worldview upon which we can act. ich w Most people subconsciously collaborate in this subc evasion. It protects them from either cognitive dissonance. To be grief or cog wonder and enchantment aware of the w of the world, its astonishing ast creatures and complex interactions, inte and to be aware simultaneously of the remarkably simultaneou rapid de destruction of almost every living system, is to ever take on a burden of grief ta tthat is almost unbearable. This is what the a great conservationist g Aldo Leopold meant when wh he wrote: “One ecological education is of the penalties of an eco that one lives alone iin a world of wounds.” Th darkness in which The we live ensures that we don’t know what we have, even while it exists In June, this year, a powerful light – 125 watts to be precise – was shone into a corner of my own darkness. Two naturalists from Flanders, Bart Van Camp and Rollin Verlinde, asked if they could come to our tiny urban garden and set up a light trap. The results were a revelation. I had come to see the garden – despite our best efforts – as almost dead: butterflies and beetles are rare sights here. But when Bart and Rollin showed us the moths they had caught, I realised that what we see does not equate to what there is. When they opened the trap, I was astonished by the range and beauty of their catch. There were pink and olive elephant hawkmoths, pictured; a pine hawkmoth, feathered and ashy; a buff arches, patterned and gilded like the back of a barn owl; flame moths in polished brass; the yellow kites of swallow-tailed moths; common emeralds the colour of a northern sea, with streaks of foam; grey daggers; a pebble prominent; heart and darts; coronets; riband waves; willow beauties; an elder pearl; small magpie; double-striped pug; rosy tabby. The names testify to a rich relationship between these creatures and those who love them. Altogether, there were 217 moths of 50 species. This, Van Camp and Verlinde told me, was roughly what they had expected to find. Twenty-five years ago, there would have been far more. A food web is collapsing, probably through a combination of pesticides, habitat destruction and light pollution, and we are scarcely aware of its existence. Every summer night, an unseen drama unfolds over our gardens, as moths, whose ears are tuned to the echo-locating sounds bats make, drop like stones out of the sky to avoid predation. Some tiger moths have evolved to jam bat sonar, by producing ultra-sonic clicks of their own. We destroy the wonders of the unseen world before we appreciate them. That morning I became a better naturalist, and a better conservationist. I began to look more closely, to seek the unseen, to consider what lies beneath. And to realise just how much there is to lose.