Vol 198 No 13 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply A week in the life of the world | 2-8 March 2018 Syria’s week of bloodshed ‘Hell on Earth’ in eastern Ghouta Leader of the e not-free world rld Xi to end China’ na’s two-term limitit Neanderthals Ne redraw history re Cave Ca reveals the th first artists Can coral paradises be saved? South-east Asian idylls hope a tourism ban will allow devastated reefs time to recover. But some fear it is too late Hannah Ellis-Petersen Thailand and the Philippines Our Thai tour guide, Spicey, takes a drag on her cigarette and gestures sadly towards the beach. “The problem with people is that they are too greedy. They see a beautiful place and they want it. They take, take, take from nature. And then they destroy it.” The golden sands of Maya Bay are some of the most famous in the world. This once-idyllic cove, on the tiny Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, was the paradise location of The Beach, the 2000 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It was then pushed by tourism officials in advertising campaigns to entice wealthy visitors to Thailand. But mass tourism has since taken a vast toll on the fragile coral reefs here: 80% of the coral around the bay has been destroyed, the result of millions of boats dropping anchor on it, tourists treading on and picking it, or poisoning by rubbish and suncream. It is a sad tale replicated across the bays and beaches of south-east Asia. It was here that the world’s greatest diversity of coral and marine life used to occur, but now the reefs are the most threatened on the planet, with 80% of what remains at high risk. Human pollution has combined with overfishing and the tourist trade to deliver environmental destruction. Fragile … tour boats are a serious threat to the future of coral reefs Getty “What we are seeing now with coastal tourism in Boracay [in the Philippines], Maya Bay and Koh Phi Phi Leh is not new, but what is surprising is that this story is still very real today,” said Dr Loke Ming Chou, a tropical marine science professor at the University of Singapore. The “frenetic, makeshift and ad-hoc development driven only by profit” was a curse for these pristine beaches. “After so many lessons of overwhelmed beach locations,” he said, “the rush to make money still ignores the environment, which is what attracts tourists in the first place. This is not sustainable and such places will collapse when tourists stay away to avoid swimming in their own muck.” Last month it seemed governments were finally paying attention. According to recent announcements, both Maya Bay and Boracay could be shut down for up to six months. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has called for Boracay’s temporary closure, comparing it to a “cesspool”. “You go into the water, it’s smelly,” said Duterte. “Of what? Shit … it’s destroying the environment of the Philippines and creating a disaster.” In Thailand, where the ministry of environment has banned smoking and littering in beach locations, the mooted June-to-September shutdown of Maya Bay would be the most far-reaching attempt yet to get a grip on an industry that is both a moneymaker and an environmental menace. In the high season, Maya Bay, just 200 metres long, receives up to 5,000 visitors a day. About 300 speedboat trips are made here every day. Larger boats sailing round the islands also stop by the cove. Although the 10→ Abu Dhabi AED14.50 Bahrain BHD1.90 *Cyprus €2.50 Czech Rep CZK145 Denmark DKK39 Dubai AED14.50 Egypt EGP51 *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 02.03.18 World roundup Mueller investigation finds Europe link Shock byelection blow for Orbán party 1 4 New charges filed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation detail the existence of a group of Europeans, known as the “Hapsburg Group” and led by a “former European chancellor”, who were allegedly covertly paid by Paul Manafort, pictured, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, for pro-Russian lobbying. Justice department filings – which were filed retroactively – indicate that it was the former Austrian chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, who went to meet US congressmen in 2013. At the time of the alleged payments, in 2012 and 2013, Manafort was working on behalf of the then Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his pro-Moscow Party of Regions. More US news, pages 12-13 Hungary’s ruling party suffered a shock defeat in a byelection, spelling potential challenges ahead for the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, ahead of the general election on 8 April. Last month Orbán, who is seeking a third term, branded the opposition as out of touch and “hopeless”, but last Sunday’s triumph for Péter Márki-Zay in Macron unveils tougher asylum law the key constituency of Hódmezővásárhely may show a wider feeling among voters against Fidesz’s anti-migrants, populist rhetoric. Márki-Zay, who ran as an independent but with opposition backing, won 57.5% of the votes. More Europe news, pages 6-7 → 6 Tough proposals to crack down on immigration and asylum in France have been unveiled by Emmanuel Macron’s government. The bill, which criminalises illegal border crossing, has sparked anger from charities. The plan, to be debated in parliament in April, will reduce the consideration period for an asylum application to a maximum of six months. Polls have consistently shown a majority of French people believe there are too many migrants in France. → Ecuador drug suspect extradited to US 6 5 1 2 A suspected drug chief known as the “Pablo Escobar of Ecuador” has been extradited to the US, Colombia’s chief prosecutor’s office said. Washington Edison Prado claimed membership of the Farc guerrillas, a status that would have made him eligible for amnesty under a Colombian peace deal, but was unsuccessful. US officials accuse Prado, also known by the alias Gerald, of shipping more than 200 tonnes of cocaine to the US. More Americas news, page 14 → Russia and Argentina foil cocaine plot 3 A former Russian diplomatic official and an Argentinian police officer were among those arrested in connection with a large cocaine seizure at the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires that prompted a year-long investigation into an international drug ring, officials have said. The Argentinian security minister, Patricia Bullrich, said the 389 kilos of cocaine were hidden inside luggage seized in December 2016. The investigation began after Victor Koronelli, the Russian ambassador to Argentina, and three members of the Russian federal security service told Bullrich of their suspicions about the diplomatic luggage found at a school annexe to the embassy. After authorities confirmed that there were drugs inside the 16 pieces of luggage, they swapped the cocaine for flour and placed a GPS to track the luggage. US unions challenged at supreme court 5 A divided US supreme court sparred on Monday over a case that could undermine the financial footing of labour unions that represent government workers. The justices heard arguments in a challenge to an Illinois law brought by Mark Janus that allows unions representing government employees to collect fees from workers who choose not to join. The court split fourfour the last time it considered the issue, in 2016. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court in April and has yet to weigh in on union fees. In the US, organised labour is a big supporter of Democratic candidates and interests. Unions strongly opposed Gorsuch’s nomination by Donald Trump. The unions say the outcome could affect more than 5 million government workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia. The unions argue that so-called fair share fees pay for collective bargaining and other work the union does on behalf of all employees, not just its members. More than half the states already have right-to-work laws banning mandatory fees, but most members of public-employee unions are concentrated in states that do not, including California, New York and Illinois. Labour leaders fear that not only would workers who do not belong to a union stop paying fees, but that some union members might decide to stop paying dues if they could in essence get the union’s representation for free. 9 2 3 Saudis to budget big on entertainment 7 Saudi Arabia announced plans to spend billions on building venues and flying in western acts, in a radical overhaul of its entertainment sector. Known for its ultraconservative mores, the kingdom has embarked on a programme of reform driven by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. At a glitzy media con- ference in Riyadh, the General Entertainment Authority chief, Ahmad bin Aqeel al-Khatib, told reporters the kingdom was to invest $64bn in its entertainment sector over the coming decade. “We are already building the infrastructure,” Khatib said, adding that ground had been broken for an opera house. More Middle East news, pages 4-5 → The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures → Centre pages 24-25 Ramaphosa’s South African reshuﬄe Rubbish dump collapse kills 17 in Maputo South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office last month, announced a sweeping cabinet reshuffle that included re-appointing Nhlanhla Nene, who was sacked by Jacob Zuma, as finance minister. Ramaphosa stamped his mark on the presidency with his choice of Nene, while David Mabuza, the current premier of Mpumalanga Heavy rains triggered the partial collapse of a huge mound of garbage in Mozambique’s capital, burying and killing at least 17 people. Authorities said more bodies might be buried at the Hulene rubbish dump on the outskirts of Maputo and a search was under way on Monday. The garbage in the 8 province, was named as deputy president, a controversial choice due to his reputation as a tough hardliner. Ramaphosa announced a total of 30 changes after grafttainted Zuma was forced to resign by the ruling ANC party last month. More Africa news, page 7 → 10 poor, densely populated area where the disaster happened rose to the height of a three-storey building, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa. Lusa and Rádio Moçambique both reported 17 deaths. Half a dozen homes were destroyed and some residents in the area fled for fear of another collapse. 4 Uproar over Jacinda Ardern interview 12 New Zealanders have criticised an interview with their prime minister, Jacinda Ardern. In the opening segment of the Australian current affairs show 60 Minutes, which aired last Sunday, the veteran reporter Charles Wooley described the 37-year-old Ardern as “attractive”. The interview was met with derision from many New Zealanders on social media, who were appalled at Ardern having to endure the overly personal line of questioning, and dismissed Wooley as misogynistic and inappropriate. Other viewers said the interview was “repugnant”, “creepy” and “painful”. Malaysian PM makes a food blunder 13 7 11 13 8 14 10 12 Unicef deputy quits after text claims 9 Justin Forsyth resigned as deputy executive director of Unicef following accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards female staff while chief executive of Save the Children. Forsyth, pictured, said he was not resigning because of the mistakes he had made while at the charity, but because of attempts to damage aid organisations and the humanitarian sector. It emerged last week that Forsyth was accused of sending inappropriate texts and making comments to female staff about their appearance on separate occasions in 2011 and 2015 while head of Save the Children. After the allegations came to light, Forsyth said he had issued an unreserved apology to the women involved at the time, and considered the matter closed. He announced that he was tendering his resignation to Unicef with a heavy heart. Bollywood pioneer mourned 11 Indian cinema pioneer Sridevi Kapoor died unexpectedly in Dubai last weekend. She was 54. Tributes poured in for the versatile performer, who was celebrated for her ability to bring nuance and depth to her roles. She made her debut as a child actor in the Tamil film industry, winning her first lead role in Bollywood in 1979’s Solva Sawan. More South Asia news, page 10 → Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak sparked criticism after saying he had stopped eating rice in favour of more expensive quinoa. Najib, who faces a general election within months and is under a cloud in a corruption scandal, has been blamed for a rising cost of living since launching a goods and services tax in 2015. Hoping to win a third term in the election due by August, Najib has denied wrongdoing in connection with the graft scandal surrounding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad state fund. The fund has also denied wrongdoing. Opponents labelled the prime minister aloof and out of touch with ordinary people following a comment he made while visiting a hospital. “I don’t eat rice. I eat quinoa,” Najib is heard saying in a video taken at a question-andanswer session. Rice is a staple grain in Malaysia. It was subsidised by the government until 2015. More Asia Pacific news, pages 8-9 → Mould ordeal for Nauru asylum seekers 14 Four years after the Australian government was repeatedly warned the mould growing throughout Nauru’s regional processing centres was making people sick, refugee families, including young children, are still being forced to live under rotting canvas. At least 330 refugees and asylum seekers, including 36 children, still live in mould-prone tents on Nauru. Some tents and work buildings have previously been found to be “highly toxic”, with the level of mould measured at up to 76 times the normal, safe level. At least a dozen former staff are understood to have developed conditions from exposure to mould and breathing the contaminated air in the buildings. The conditions include toxic mould syndrome, cognitive and neurological symptoms, chronic pain and chest infections. 4 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 International news Middle East Moscow mired in Syria as Putin’s ‘victory’ slips away Fresh barrage in Ghouta exposes Russian leader’s gamble to protect Assad Martin Chulov Observer and Kareem Shaheen Istanbul From the ruins of eastern Ghouta, Arif Othman sees the current phase of Syria’s war as brutally simple. The longer he holds out against Bashar al-Assad and his allies, the worse it will get – especially at the hands of the Russians. “We were supposed to have surrendered by now,” he said at the end of the most intensive week-long barrage anywhere in Syria in the past three years. “When we didn’t, the bombs were bigger, the planes more regular, and the injuries like nothing we’ve seen. All sent from Moscow.” The Russian-led air blitz has been the sum of all fears for the besieged population. Up to 400,000 people, with nowhere to run, have been pinned down by Vladimir Putin’s air force as Syrian and Iranian-backed ground troops edge closer to the largest and most important opposition area anywhere south of Idlib. Despite a nationwide 30-day ceasefire ordered by the UN security council last Saturday, Syrian regime forces launched a fresh ground and air offensive the next day against rebel positions in the enclave. In the last week more than 500 people have died, among them more than 130 children. Putin on Monday ordered five-hour daily “humanitarian pauses” in eastern Ghouta, effectively replacing the UN security council resolution. The move by Moscow followed mounting condemnation of the violence, with the UN secretary general, António Guterres, describing the situation in Ghouta as “hell on Earth”. The Russian defence ministry said on Monday the measures, decided in agreement with Syrian forces, were Areas of control Former opposition areas evacuated or surrendered to regime Oppositioncontrolled enclave Adra Douma Eastern Ea E aste ern e r Gho ho ho out ou u uta ut tta a Arbin Eas Damascus D am mas m ma a ascu as ascus sc scu cu cus uss Mezze military airbase 2 km 2 miles Ein Tarma City limits Former opposition areas seized by regime Isis control Source: Institute for the Study of War. Map ©OpenStreetMap contributors intended to help civilians leave and to evacuate the sick and wounded. However, the spokesman for Failaq al-Rahman, one of the main rebel groups in eastern Ghouta, called it a “Russian crime”, accusing Moscow of presenting people with the choice of forced displacement or being killed in bombardment and siege. The UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said: “Five hours is better than no hours, but we would like to see an end to all hostilities extended by 30 days, as stipulated by the security council.” For Assad and Putin, Ghouta is the key to controlling the capital and winning the war. But outside the Syrian cauldron, both friends and foes are starting to believe the two have miscalculated. Nearly 18 months into Russia’s intervention to prevent Assad’s defeat at the hands of rebel groups , it is increasingly unclear just how Moscow will recoup its investment in the world’s most intractable conflict. While it no longer appears Assad is in danger of falling, what remains of Syria looks nothing like the prewar country he used to rule. Central authority in the once-rigid police state has been subsumed several times over – first by opposition groups, then by regional players also increasingly invested in shaping postwar outcomes in their own interests, which only partly align with what Putin wants. Protagonists on both sides are drowning in a swamp they did not see ahead. Putin, in particular, is learning that Syria in its present form is ungovernable. His December claim of “victory” at a Russian airbase near Idlib has been followed by a dizzying series of events which, on the contrary, have drawn Russia further into the war. The statement is looking every bit as premature as George W Bush’s claim of “mission accomplished” in 2003 at the end of the war in Iraq. From Ghouta north to the Turkish border, from Hama in the west to the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, where up to 200 advancing Russian mercenaries were killed by a US counterattack on 7 February, a new regional order is being fought out. “And we will be trampled like mice under the feet of buffaloes,” said Ayman Thaer, a volunteer at an aid centre in Ghouta. “May God damn them all.” Just how to balance the increasingly potent interests on display in Syria is bedevilling all who have tried. “The only winner so far is Iran,” said Bassam Barabandi, a former Key questions about the battle for Ghouta similarities: persistent and ferocious bombardment with the aim of forcing rebels into a deal. Why is Bashar al-Assad’s regime targeting eastern Ghouta? Eastern Ghouta is the last rebel-held enclave bordering Damascus. Forces loyal to Assad have imposed a deadly siege on the area since 2013, yet several insurgent factions have kept control. Last month Syria’s army launched one of the most intense bombardments of the war, saying their assault was necessary to end rebel mortar strikes on the capital. Residents accuse Russia of also bombing Ghouta. Is this the beginning of the end of the war? Dislodging militants from Ghouta will essentially give Assad control of the capital and its surroundings, but he has vowed to take back all Syrian How bad is the situation on the ground and is aid getting in? In an attempt to convey the desperate misery, Unicef released a blank statement last week. A footnote said the agency has no words to describe the “children’s suffering and our outrage”. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said it was “hell on Earth”. About 400,000 civilians, already starved from years of blockade, are trapped. More than 500 people have been killed since 25 February. Humanitarian groups, who say Syrian helicopters have dropped barrel bombs on markets and medical centres, were unable to enter the enclave before last weekend’s UN-ordered ceasefire. How does Ghouta compare to Aleppo? Syria’s second city, Aleppo, fell into government hands in December 2016 after four years of resistance. Whole districts were pulverised by Russian and Syrian air raids. The battles for Aleppo and Ghouta share Seven hospitals in the region have reportedly been bombed recently The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 5 Fantasy islands Dubai revives its grand tourist folly → Review, pages 26-29 Blow to Netanyahu as reports say former aide will testify Oliver Holmes Jerusalem Syrian diplomat who defected from the regime in mid-2013. “It achieves what it wants without too much noise. Iran enjoys Russian-American conflict because it makes Russia more dependent on Iran to survive.” The clash between the US and Russian mercenaries was kept quiet by Moscow, which – in different circumstances – would have complained bitterly if 200 of its citizens had been killed by a rival power. For Putin to admit the men were there would have belied his claim of victory and withdrawal from a war that no longer needed him. Acknowledging they were advancing on an oil refinery held by US Kurdish proxies would have been an equally tough sell, when Unrelenting … Smoke billows after Syrian government bombardments in eastern Ghouta Getty territory. While there are insurgents across the country, Ghouta is one of the two main remaining pockets controlled by opposition fighters. The other is the north-western province of Idlib, the largest rebel stronghold. little to alleviate suffering, and food and medical supplies are low. How bad is the situation for residents? Ghouta’s fate has been compared to that of Srebrenica, the Bosnian Muslim enclave whose residents were massacred in 1995. It has suffered years of besiegement and multiple chemical attacks. Seven hospitals have reportedly been bombed. The first aid convoy for many weeks arrived recently but did securing Syria from the threat of terrorism and US hegemony remains the official narrative. Russian officials have complained to their counterparts in Turkey that Iranian aims are increasingly at odds with their own. Russia – which had high hopes of ensuring Assad’s survival and securing its own lead role in shaping order in the region – is focusing on more short-term gains. With little to bank, Russia will continue to find its veto at the UN security council a potent tool. It has vetoed UN resolutions against Assad 11 times. Leader comment, page 22 → Why isn’t the world doing anything to stop the war? Seven years in, the civil war has dragged in multiple nations, turning a pro-democracy uprising into a quagmire of conflicts. The UN security council has called for ceasefires, but failed to halt the bloodshed. Many of its members are focused on their military aims. Washington has accused Beijing and Moscow of blocking progress through vetoes. In turn, Russia says US support for anti-Assad forces has destabilised the region. Oliver Holmes The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is battling for his political career in the face of various corruption allegations, has suffered a potentially devastating blow after a former confidant reportedly agreed to turn state witness. A week after police recommended the country’s second-longest-serving prime minister be indicted for bribery, Israeli press reported that Shlomo Filber would testify against his former boss to avoid jail. Police did not confirm whether Filber, a Netanyahu appointment who headed the ministry of communications, would testify, but all the main Israeli media reported that a deal had been reached. Filber was arrested last Tuesday over allegations that he had promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the telecoms company Bezeq, in return for a news website run by its principal shareholder providing favourable coverage of Netanyahu and his family. The shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, is also in custody, along with his wife and son. Former reporters at the Walla! news outlet have claimed they were put under pressure to avoid negative reports on the prime minister. Elovitch has denied the allegations. Filber’s legal team has not commented. Police also announced that they had arrested Nir Hefetz, a former Netanyahu spokesman, alleging that he had tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Netanyahu’s wife. The prime minister has not yet been named as a suspect in the case, but he is expected to be questioned. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and claims a media-led witch-hunt has sought to remove him from office. Government critics hope Filber’s testimony will open a fissure in Netanyahu’s inner circle and force him to step down early, despite pledging to remain in office until 2019. Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of the leftwing newspaper Haaretz, wrote a piece headlined The Final Days of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Rule. Others have speculated about snap elections, possibly as a last-ditch attempt to stall legal proceedings. Avi Gabbay, the head of the opposition Labor party, said last Tuesday night: “The Netanyahu age is over. We must prepare for an election soon.” Netanyahu’s delicately balanced governing coalition has held together, but his once sturdy political foothold appeared shaken last week when police declared they were recommending that the country’s attorney general indict him for “bribery, fraud and breach of trust” in two separate Police have recommended that Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for bribery and fraud cases. Case 1000, known as the “gifts affair”, involves claims that he and his family received about $280,000 worth of gifts from international billionaires. In return, police said, Netanyahu had helped Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and media magnate, with US visa matters and Israeli tax breaks. Case 2000 relates to secret talks with the publisher of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, in which Netanyahu allegedly requested positive coverage in exchange for damaging a competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom. The Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Nahum Barnea wrote that Netanyahu’s days in office were numbered. US targets May for date of Jerusalem embassy opening The US is expected to officially open its Israeli embassy in Jerusalem in May, US officials have said, dramatically bringing forward Donald Trump’s contentious plan by at least a year. US officials said the move was brought forward to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel declaring independence. It was not clear how Washington planned to open a so-far unbuilt embassy within three months. The decision comes despite overwhelming global opposition. It is widely feared that moving the embassy from Tel Aviv will push back efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Trump, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, said moving the embassy to Jerusalem was “the right thing to do”. Diplomats are believed to be looking at several sites. The US consulate in west Jerusalem, which issues visas, could be swiftly converted into an embassy. OH Jerusalem 6 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 International news Political fatigue rife as Italian poll looms Berlusconi’s longevity is emblematic of sense that little ever changes Angela Giuffrida Rome Federico is one of the swath of Italians aged 18 to 23 eligible to go to the polls for the first time this Sunday to vote in national elections. Like many of his cohort, he is unimpressed by politics, but far from disengaged. “Of course, I will go to the voting booth,” said the 21-yearold engineering student at Roma Tre University. “But I will put a big cross through the ballot paper. None of the politicians are honest, all they do is use propaganda.” Marco, a fellow engineering student, is unsure whether to vote, but has nonetheless taken note of the candidates and finds them wanting. Silvio Berlusconi has dominated Italian politics since the early 1990s, and came to power for the second time four years after the two students were born. Now, the 81-year-old billionaire’s coalition of rightwing parties is leading in the polls, as he attempts a comeback after years of scandal. “Berlusconi, he never goes away,” says Marco. The men are equally disenchanted by the youngest candidate in the running: Luigi Di Maio, the 31-year-old leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S), which has morphed into Italy’s most popular party over the past nine years – mostly thanks to 25 to 40-year-olds inspired by the party’s vows to weed out corruption and bring down the old elite. “Look what’s happening to M5S now,” said Federico. “They said they Friend or foe … Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini Andrew Medichini/AP Analysis: the bitter fight for control of Italy’s right wing With polls showing they have 37% support of Italy’s electorate, the centre-right coalition of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s Lega is within sight of securing an absolute majority in parliament. A Forza Italia victory in this Sunday’s election could give Berlusconi the power to choose the next prime minister of Italy. The 81-year-old is barred from running for office after a tax fraud conviction. If Salvini emerges with an edge over Berlusconi, who has suggested he would name Antonio Tajani, the president of the European parliament, as prime minister, it would have vast implications for the thirdlargest economy in the eurozone. Berlusconi is critical of Brussels but ultimately supports the EU. He is seen as a leader who would essentially favour the status quo on budget and pension rules and the enactment of jobs legislation signed by the current Democratic administration. Salvini, on the other hand, wants to scrap Italy’s retirement age, change pension and budget rules, and has called for upending Italy’s migration and asylum policies as part of his “Italians first” campaign. “Berlusconi is a one-man show who has always worked through compromise,” says Wolfango Piccoli, from Teneo Intelligence. “Salvini sells himself as a disrupter.” Stephanie Kirchgaessner Rome would give part of their salaries towards helping small businesses, but [in some cases] it’s not true. They presented themselves as being different, but they’re the same as the rest.” Valentina Prosperini, a 22-year-old shop worker, said she would vote but had not decided which party to back. Surveys forecast that up to 40% of voters under 25 could snub the vote. But Prosperini said: “It’s important to participate. The most important theme for me is jobs. It’s difficult to find work, and, when you do find it, you have to try to keep hold of it.” Analysts say the growing sense of political apathy is not confined to the young: overall, about 30% of voters plan to abstain or are undecided. “This is partly due to a loss of faith in politicians,” said Antonio Noto, the head of polling agency IPR. “A decade ago, the level of faith in political parties was around 10%, now it’s 7%. People think that voting is useless.” The main concern among voters is financial wellbeing, as the country’s recovery from a lengthy recession gathers pace. The outcome of the upcoming elections will likely be determined by the 10 million voters who, so far, remain undecided. In the 2013 elections, support for M5S rose 5% in the final few days of the campaign. “There are those who will say: ‘I don’t want Berlusconi,’ and those who will say: ‘I don’t want [current prime minister Matteo] Renzi either as he is as a replica of Berlusconi,’ and so might vote for M5S,” said Francesco Galietti, founder of Policy Sonar, a Rome-based consultancy. “And then are those who will say they’ve all been a disappointment in one way or another, and so won’t vote at all.” Greek MPs back inquiry into leaders over bribery claim Helena Smith Athens The Greek parliament is to investigate 10 of the country’s top politicians over accusations that they accepted bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis in return for patronage that resulted in huge losses for Greece. After a raucous 20-hour debate, MPs voted last Thursday to form a parliamentary committee tasked solely with investigating two former prime ministers and eight other ministers in connection with the allegations. Yannis Stournaras, the governor of the Bank of Greece; Dimitris Avramopoulos, Europe’s migration commissioner; and the former prime minister Antonis Samaras are among those accused of giving Novartis preferential market treatment. “We will not cover up,” Samaras’s successor, Alexis Tsipras, told parliament. “The Greek people must learn who turned pain and illness into a means of enrichment.” Officials in Tsipras’ administration have described the alleged bribery scandal as the worst since the creation of the modern Greek state almost 200 years ago. It has raised fears of political instability when many had hoped the country was finally returning to normality after years of tumult. The 10 who have been implicated vehemently rebutted the charges in often angry and emotional speeches. Stournaras, a former finance minister who helped steer Greece through some of its darkest days of the debt crisis after the country’s near- economic collapse, described the allegations as “disgusting fabrications”. Panagiotis Pikrammenos, who headed a one-month caretaker administration at the height of the crisis in 2012, came close to tears as he described the allegations “as lies and unacceptable slander”. A cross-party committee of 21 MPs is expected to be established imminently. It will have the power to decide whether accusations of bribery, breach of duty and moneylaundering apply, under a strict statute of limitation, to the accused. Under Greek law, parliament must investigate politicians for alleged infractions before they can face judicial prosecution. Few question that wrongdoing was committed. A confidential report by prosecutors originally tipped off by US authorities alleged that bribes of as much as €50m ($60m) were paid to politicians between 2006 to 2015 to promote Novartis’s products. More than 4,500 doctors are accused of malpractice as well. The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 7 International news Move over, Homo sapiens Neanderthals were the first artists on Earth More than 65,000 years ago, a Neanderthal made strokes in red ochre on the wall of a cave, and in doing so became the first known artist on Earth, scientists claim. The discovery overturns the belief that modern humans are the only species to have expressed themselves through works of art. In caves separated by hundreds of kilometres, Neanderthals daubed, drew and spat paint on walls producing artworks, researchers say, tens of thousands of years before modern humans reached the sites. The finding, called a “major breakthrough in the field of human evolution” by an expert not involved in the research, makes the case for a radical retelling of the human story, in which the behaviour of modern humans differs from the Neanderthals by the narrowest of margins. Until now the evidence for Neanderthal art has been tenuous and hotly contested, often because the works were not old enough to rule out modern humans as the artists. But the latest findings, based on new dates of symbols, hand stencils and geometric shapes found on cave walls across Spain, make the most convincing case yet. “I think we have the smoking gun,” said Alistair Pike, professor of archaeological sciences at the University of Southampton. “When we got the first date for the art, we were dumbfounded.” The Neanderthals were already at home in Europe when modern humans left Africa and made their way to the continent about 40,000 years ago. The remnants of Neanderthals, in the form of skeletons, tools and adornments, reach back more than 120,000 years in the region. In a study published in Science last Thursday, an international team led by researchers in the UK and Germany dated calcite crusts that had grown on top of ancient artworks in three caves in Spain. Measurements revealed that paintings on the walls predated the arrival of modern humans by at least 20,000 years. At La Pasiega cave near Bilbao, a ladder-like painting has been dated to more than 64,800 years old. In Maltravieso cave in western Spain, a hand shape – thought to have been created by spraying paint from the mouth – was found to be at least 66,700 years old. At Ardales cave near Málaga, stalagmites and stalactites appear to have been painted red 65,500 years ago. “We have no idea what any of it means,” said Dirk Hoffmann at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Paul Pettit, professor of palaeolithic archaeology at Durham University, said: “The most important question still remains … What were Neanderthals doing in the depths of dark and dangerous caves if it wasn’t ritual, and what does that imply?” In a second paper, published in Science Advances, Hoffman and others show that dyed and decorated seashells in the Aviones sea cave in southeast Spain were made by Neanderthals 115,000 years ago, pointing to a long artistic tradition. If Neanderthals were the first artists, what might they have achieved had they not died out? “If you’d given Neanderthals another 40,000 years,” Pike said, “they probably would have got to the moon.” Ian Sample Images: P Saura/PA; Breuil et al Leader comment, page 22 → Netherlands ‘becoming a narco-state’ Daniel Boffey Brussels The Netherlands is starting to resemble a narco-state, with police unable to combat the emergence of a parallel criminal economy, a report from the Dutch police association has warned. Official figures suggest crime is on a downward trend, but officers say many victims have stopped reporting incidents while organised crime syndicates have been given a free rein. “Only one in nine criminal groups can be tackled with the current people and resources,” the report given to the De Telegraaf newspaper says. “Detectives see that small criminals develop into wealthy entrepreneurs who establish themselves in the hospitality industry, housing market, middle class, travel agencies.” The paper from the Dutch police union, based on interviews with 400 detectives, adds: “The Netherlands fulfils many characteristics of a narco-state. Detectives see a parallel economy emerge.” Critics of the Dutch tolerance policy towards the sale of cannabis and the legal status of prostitution claim the Netherlands is a major hub for trafficking drugs and people. Most of the ecstasy taken in Europe and the US comes from labs in the south of the country. Half of the €5.7bn ($7bn) a year of cocaine taken in Europe comes through Rotterdam, according to Europol. The Dutch police association wants an extra 2,000 officers to be recruited. While there has been a 25% drop in recorded crimes over the past nine years, to below 1m, the paper says 3.5m crimes a year go unregistered. The mayor of Amsterdam, its local police force and the capital’s public prosecutor also warned last month of a growth in organised crime. Amsterdam’s police chief, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, said his force was spending 60% to 70% of its time attempting to combat gang-related hit-jobs. The minister for justice and security, Ferd Grapperhaus, said the report must be taken seriously. “Therefore we are investing extra money in the coming years: an average of €267m every year. We also have a fund for combating organised crime (€100m).” Schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria Ruth Maclean and agencies More than 100 girls remained unaccounted for early this week following an attack on a school in north-eastern Nigeria by suspected members of Boko Haram, officials have said. The disappearance may represent one of the largest kidnappings since the jihadi group abducted more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014. That case spawned the social media campaign Bring Back Our Girls. The information ministry said 110 students of the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state, were unaccounted for after what is believed to be a faction of Boko Haram invaded the school last week. Heavily armed insurgents attacked the village of Dapchi last Monday evening in camouflaged trucks, according to witnesses, heading directly for the school and shooting as they went, scattering pupils and teachers. It is unclear whether or not the military later staged a rescue mission. Last Friday president Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria had suffered a national disaster. He said more troops and surveillance aircraft were being sent “in the hope that all the missing girls will be found”. Several parents and a government official told Reuters last Wednesday that the military had rescued 76 schoolgirls and recovered the bodies of two that were killed, leaving 13 missing. But the local government of Yobe state released a statement saying 50 remained unaccounted for. Last Thursday, however, Reuters reported that the Yobe governor had told residents of Dapchi that no girls had been rescued. Meanwhile, a parent from the school told AP that a list had been compiled of 101 missing children. Chiefs of the armed forces and the police were on their way to the state, according to the information minister, Lai Mohammed. However, Nigerians remember with bitterness how long it took the administration to acknowledge the attack on Chibok, and then to act. Despite often claiming victory over Boko Haram, whose insurgency has led to the death of tens of thousands, and making some inroads against them, Buhari’s government and armed forces have failed to wrest back control of the north-east and, unable to protect civilians in their villages, have corralled them into garrison towns. 8 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 International news North Korea open to US talks Pyongyang says Seoul negotiations should be undertaken in tandem Tom Phillips Beijing Benjamin Haas Pyeongchang North Korea has said it is willing to start direct talks with the US, with the move coming as a high-level delegation from Pyongyang, headed by a controversial general, visited the South for the Winter Olympics closing ceremony. Pyongyang also said the relationship between the two Koreas and US-North Korean ties should advance in tandem, according to South Korea’s presidential Blue House. The announcement last Sunday came after president Moon Jae-in met the head of the North Korean delegation, Kim Yong-chol, the vice-chair of the Workers’ party’s central committee. The eight-person North Korean delegation included officials responsible for its nuclear programme and, in a rare move, diplomats in charge of US issues. The makeup of the group suggest ed Pyongyang was looking for a breakthrough in the diplomatic impasse and economic sanctions resulting from its nuclear and missile tests, and could signal a desire for more substantial talks compared with an earlier visit by Kim Jong-un’s sister during the opening ceremony. Kim was a highly controversial figure to lead the delegation because many in South Korea blame him for the sinking of a naval ship that killed 46 sailors and for attacks on remote islands in 2010. The 72-year-old previously headed the Reconnaissance General Bureau and was tasked with foreign espionage and cyber-attacks. His trip coincided with a visit by Ivanka Trump, sparking speculation Close encounter … Ivanka Trump and Kim Yong-chol Lucy Nicholson/Reuters that officials from the two sides could have met while in South Korea. An earlier meeting with the US vicepresident, Mike Pence, was cancelled after he criticised Pyongyang’s dismal human rights record. Trump was seated close to Kim at the closing ceremony, and the two watched as athletes from North Korea waved their own flag – a rare sight in South Korea. The two neighbours marched together under a unified flag during the opening event. The Winter Olympics led to a dramatic rapprochement between the two neighbours which remain in a state of war. The two sides began discussions for North Korea to participate in the Paralympic Winter Games, which begin on 9 March. Several prominent politicians spoke out against the South Korean president’s decision to allow Kim – who has been blacklisted by Washington and Seoul – to lead the delegation. Dozens of protesters travelled to condemn Kim upon his arrival, some holding signs calling him a war criminal. Six opposition lawmakers camped overnight on a road near where Kim crossed the border, saying Moon should cancel the visit. A day before North Korean officials arrived, Pyongyang said its nuclear arsenal was aimed only at the US and dismissed talk that it would attempt to reunify the Korean peninsula by force, according to the state news agency. Washington announced new sanctions targeting more than 50 ships and trading companies and Donald Trump warned there would be a “phase two” if the move did not produce results. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said : “There is a brighter path available for North Korea if it chooses denuclearisation. We will see if Pyongyang’s message, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearisation.” Ten Winter Olympic highlights, page 46 Australia replaces deputy prime minister Katharine Murphy Canberra Michael McCormack became Australia’s deputy prime minister on Monday, replacing Barnaby Joyce as leader of the National party. Joyce resigned last week after controversy about his private life and the lodging of a sexual harassment claim, which he contests. McCormack saw off a late challenge from the maverick George Christensen to take the party leadership, vowing to unify the Nationals Xi paves way to stay on beyond 2023 and stand up to their Liberal coalition government partners when necessary. McCormack said he was “a team player” who would serve the interests of rural and regional Australia. “We will all work closely together because that is what the National party members do,” he said. “I would like to thank each and every single National party member for the faith they have shown in me and I want people to know that in me we have a fighter. I will fight. I have never shirked from a tough decision and I will never be silent when I ought to speak.” Christensen had declared the Nationals should use Joyce’s departure as a trigger to end the formal coalition with the Liberals. He said he would rather see a Liberal prime minister and a full cabinet of Liberal ministers than “compromise our values and the welfare of the good people we represent”. McCormack met the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on Monday to discuss the allocation of portfolios and the coalition agreement. The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, considered the country’s most dominant since Mao Zedong, looks to have further cemented his grip on power after Beijing unveiled plans to scrap the presidency’s two-term limit. China’s official news agency, Xinhua, announced the dramatic news last Sunday in a bland 36-word dispatch. It paves the way for Xi to remain in power well into the next decade and perhaps even beyond. The report said the Communist party’s 205-member central committee had proposed China’s constitution be modified so that it no longer contained a section stipulating that the president and vice-president should “serve no more than two consecutive [five-year] terms”. Jude Blanchette, an expert in Chinese politics from New York’s Conference Board research group, said: “It’s amazing. I just did not think this was possible. I just thought it was way too aggressive and bold [a move] and unnecessarily so. It’s an unequivocal signal that Xi Jinping has designs to stay on past 2023.” Bill Bishop, the publisher of the Sinocism newsletter on Chinese politics, said: “So long as Xi is alive and the Communist party of China is in power then Xi is going to be the most powerful man in China.” Steve Tsang, the director of the Soas China Institute in London, said: “It’s now official that he’s not going to stand down … welcome to Xi Jinping’s brave new era. The message [from Xi] is: ‘I can do it, I will do it, don’t even think about challenging it!’” The growing supremacy of Xi, 64, who took power in late 2012, was underlined in a second Xinhua report that announced a body of political philosophy bearing his name, Xi Jinping Thought, would also be written into China’s constitution. The philosophy was added to the Communist party’s charter last October, a move experts said effectively anointed Xi as China’s most powerful leader since Mao, who ruled between 1949 and his death in 1976. Blanchette said it was impossible to see the central committee’s proposal not being green-lit by China’s parliament, the national people’s congress, when it convenes this month. “I think it’s a pretty good bet to say that Xi Jinping is going to be the dominant force in Chinese politics for at least the next decade,” he said. The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 9 Lab masters China’s great leap forward in science → Discovery, pages 32-33 International news Fate of Hong Kong publisher snatched from bullet train remains a mystery Beijing diary Tom Phillips T he 11.10am to Beijing left on time, gliding north out of Shanghai’s rail terminal and darting through the suburban sprawl. On board the bullet train sat an unlikely trio, one of whom held the key to a real-life political thriller so frightening and tangled that it has left all those trying to decipher it gripped and unnerved. Only two would make it to their final destination. As the G126 hurtled towards the Chinese capital on 20 January, the latest chapter in a surreal two-year saga was about to unfold. The man who didn’t make it to Beijing was Gui Minhai, a portly Chinese-born Swedish publisher known for his scandalous books about the leaders of the world’s second-largest economy. Just over two years earlier, in October 2015, Gui had vanished from his holiday home in Thailand, one of five Hong Kong booksellers snatched in still unexplained circumstances during what many suspect was an attempt to silence or punish those who dared defame members of the Communist party’s top leaders. The 53-year-old publisher – who had only recently emerged from Chinese custody – was travelling with Sweden’s consul general in Shanghai, Lisette Lindahl, and another Swedish diplomat. At just after 3pm, the train pulled into Jinan West station in Shandong province, about 400km shy of the capital. The doors slid open and a cluster of plainclothes agents pushed into the carriage. As they lifted Gui from his seat, an English-speaking female officer announced a police operation was under way. “They had no uniforms and no credentials,” said one source with knowledge of the day’s events. “They simply took him.” Magnus Fiskesjö, who met the bookseller in Beijing in the 1980s and has been a friend ever since, said he was stumped by the mystery. “It’s a very scary movie,” the Cornell University academic sighed. “It’s astounding … I find myself speculating quite wildly as to why they would do this.” China’s official explanation – made public on 9 February after Missing … police in front of posters for Gui Minhai, below, last seen alive on 9 February Anthony Wallace/Getty the bookseller was paraded before Beijing-friendly reporters at a facility in eastern China – is that Gui is suspected of leaking state secrets to “overseas groups” and trying to leave China as part of a Swedish plot. “I fell for it,” the bookseller said in a video that activists rejected as a forced confession. (Supporters say Gui was travelling to the Swedish embassy for a medical examination amid fears he was suffering from a rare neurological disease.) Few people believe that implausible narrative. Jerome Cohen, a New York University expert in Chinese law and human rights, said: “The thing that is so surprising is the failure of the Chinese government to put out a coherent explanation that does not subject them to ridicule. It seems the People’s Republic of China doesn’t mind how ridiculous it makes itself look. It’s like a second-rate comedy show – only the joke is on Gui.” In the absence of hard facts, dark hypotheses and conspiracy theories have grown. Was Gui snatched by rogue agents or had he fallen victim to a botched handover between security forces? Was he a pawn in a game of geopolitical chess that a newly assertive Beijing was using to humiliate and intimidate Sweden and the west? More worrying still, had Gui published or picked up some information that had enraged one of China’s top leaders and made the bookseller the target of a vicious campaign of retribution? Or was he simply another victim of an aggressive crackdown on dissent that followed Xi Jinping’s rise to power in 2012? One thing seems certain, said Fiskesjö: at some point after Gui’s detention a high-level decision was taken to silence him. Gui’s 23-yearold daughter, Angela, has another theory: that the “state secrets” her father supposedly possesses actually relate to his own story, specifically his illegal rendition and subsequent mistreatment in Chinese custody. During regular conversations on Skype, which were permitted after Gui was placed under surveillance in a flat in October, she said her father hinted at such abuse. “He wasn’t able to speak very freely about it … but it is quite clear to me that he has been tortured.” Cohen finds the theory convincing. “What secrets would this man have, other than what he learned through his own kidnapping and his own mistreatment once he got back to China?” he said. In one of their last Skype chats, Angela Gui recalls joking and “talking shit” with her genial father, as was their norm. But just over 24 hours after their last online encounter, on 19 January, Gui was gone. When he reappeared before the cameras three weeks later Gui delivered what some interpret as a farewell. “My message to my family is that I hope that [they] will live a good life,” Gui said. “Don’t worry about me. I will solve my own problems.” 10 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 International news Fight to save the coral islands ← Continued from page 1 beauty of the place is still evident, the atmosphere resembles a busy industrial port more than a paradise beach, with the roar of engines and the smell of petrol. By 9am, as speedboats continually pull up, the beach is packed. Three uniformed national park police blow their whistles at the boats that park directly on the beach, obstructing the view of the bay. If tourists want to swim, there is a small area where they are packed in tightly, many in life jackets. Paradise? US tourist Chad Roberts thinks so. “It’s amazing, better even than the pictures, I can’t believe how blue the water is,” he said. But Spicey, who was born in Phuket and has been a tour guide for almost seven years, said she hoped the Thai government fulfilled its pledge to close Maya Bay, even for a few months. “It needs just a small break to heal.” The corals and fish once visible when snorkelling have all but disappeared, she said, yet tourists still take bits of coral to feed the fish, which is illegal as it stops the fish cleaning the coral and it dies. The local environmental authority has laws in place to protect Maya Bay and the surrounding national park, but the fines are so low – often only 500baht ($16) – that the rules are flouted. A year and a half ago a law forbade boats throwing down anchors, possibly destroying 10 years’ worth of coral growth in a single second. But Kezia, a diver who has spent the past year in Koh Phi Phi Don (the largest inhabited island on the Thai archipelago), said it still happens. There is a reluctance by local authorities to prioritise the environment over profit. Maya Bay is a massive money-earner. Every visitor has to pay 400baht simply to access the island, which can add up to a daily revenue of $70,000. According to another Crowd pleaser … Maya Bay’s beach tour guide, Yass, temporarily closing Maya Bay is not enough. People must be taught to look after it if it is not to become a ruined paradise. “I see the guys in the speedboats fix the oil and change the engine on top of the reef in the morning, and you can’t say anything to them,” he said. Around 2,600km away, Boracay has the same problems. More than 2 million tourists flock to this 8kmlong island every year. Unregulated development has seen the rise of hotels, restaurants and food chains along its famed White Beach. Inland is also covered with hotels. Everywhere, new construction projects are visible. An endless flow of sewage is pumped into the ocean, as well as detritus from construction work. Jojo Rodriguez works for Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative, an NGO that has been monitoring Boracay’s reef since 2012. He believes the authorities “purposefully turned a blind eye” on environmental issues that could threaten the tourist trade. Following a massive die-off of coral in 2015, local authorities threatened to declare Rodriguez persona non grata after he linked the disaster to the sewage pumped into the sea. He said intimidation and threats have since been used against campaigners who tried to speak out about the environmental damage. “All these huge profit makers don’t want anyone to get in the way – everybody is afraid to lose the tourism money,” he said, “and so we’re slowly losing Boracay.” Many living on the island said while there were rules in place to save the environment, bribes meant these were rarely upheld. “If you have money, you can do what you want, build what you want here,” said Simone, owner of a kite-surfing shop. On White Beach the horizon is filled with boats, and a hum of boat engines fills the air. Fertiliser from the island’s vast golf course is also a major pollutant of the coral, as are the piles of rubbish that end up in the sea. Michael Martillano, president of the diving association on the island, says the marine life of Boracay is nowhere near as rich as it used to be. “You used to see a lot of sharks and barracudas, all the big stuff. Now you’ll see one, maybe two sharks if you’re lucky, nothing like before.” Is there still hope for the island? “Boracay will never be the same again,” said Rodriguez. “The president said close down Boracay, but it’s not going to be solved in six months. For the island to heal itself? Maybe 60 years if we are lucky.” Observer Coral in crisis: why we need to act What is coral? Coral is made up of layers of skeletons of tiny animals called polyps. Over years, these colonies form banks known as reefs. Only the coral’s living surface is coloured – layers of dead matter beneath are white. Where are reefs found? Coral reefs are located in tropical oceans. The world’s largest is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The second largest is off the coast of Belize, central America. Others are found in Hawaii, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. Because they need sunlight to survive, the reefs form in waters that are usually no deeper than 45 metres. Tourism also takes its toll. Boat anchors smash reefs and oil is spilled. Hotels also pump sewage on to reefs. Why are they important? They protect coastlines from wave action and tropical storms; provide habitats for thousands of marine species; and generate nutrients for food chains. They are also an important source of tourism revenue. How bad is the threat? Roughly 75% of coral reefs face danger. Threats include destructive fishing, uncontrolled coastal development, tourism, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. Why are the reefs dying? Ocean temperatures are rising. When the temperature gets too warm, corals expel the algae that provide them with nutrition and then quickly die of starvation. How many reefs will die out? We have already lost about half of all coral reefs. Scientists warn that, even if we halted global warming today, more than 90% of the reefs will die by 2050. Robin McKie Observer Bali declares war on its waste heaps Kate Lamb Jakarta Overwhelmed by tides of waste and decades of mass tourism, to some the Indonesian island of Bali is a paradise long lost. Last weekend, however, thousands of people joined in an effort to rid its coastline, rivers and jungles of rubbish and restore its beauty. The mass cleanup was the initiative of One Island One Voice (OIOV), an umbrella movement of organisations and individuals wanting to reduce waste and create a “greener, cleaner Bali”. The movement includes groups such as Bye Bye Plastic Bags, an NGO founded by two Balinese teenage sisters, Melati and Isabel Wijsen, who want Bali to ban plastic bags. “This event is not only a cleanup action, it is a chance to raise awareness and understanding about what really happens in Bali,” said Rima Agustina, one of the coordinators. She said it was as much about changing attitudes as cleaning beaches. “All it takes is one or two hours of picking up trash and for most people the mindset is completely transformed.” Bali’s beaches have been swamped by mounds of rubbish for months, much of it plastic washed in from neighbouring Java during the annual rainy season – or what Balinese call rubbish season. The waste has become such an issue that tourists are being scared away. Indonesia is the second-largest plastic polluter in the world after China, with 200,000 tonnes of plastic flowing into its oceans via rivers and streams each year. The initiative echoes other movements around the world trying to tackle the burial of beauty under consumer garbage. Volunteers in Mumbai, for example, have been waging war on detritus on the city beaches for several years. The OIOV initiative aims to collect tonnes of rubbish in every region in Bali and take it to village-scale and industrial sorting centres. Some will be upcycled or turned into EcoBricks. A small island ill-equipped to cope with endless hotel developments and its millions of tourists, Bali alone produces about 5,000 cubic metres of waste a day. With five legal rubbish dumps on the island, only about 25% of waste is collected via official channels. The rest is burned, or dumped on roadsides, in rivers and the ocean. The cleanup organisers say they do not expect to turn Bali’s rubbish woes around overnight. Cleanups are just a way to raise awareness. 12 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 International news Trump plan to arm teachers meets with Unions have dismissed presidential line while students seek answers Joanna Walters New York US teachers’ leaders have strongly rejected Donald Trump’s assertion that the answer to mass shootings in schools is to train and arm teachers and expect them to confront and kill gunmen carrying assault weapons. The US president stuck to his insistence last Friday that if an armed teacher had confronted the gunman who targeted a Florida high school on 14 February, the teacher “would have shot the hell out of him before he even knew what happened”. The White House has said it will be willing to spend government funds on arming up to a million teachers, to “harden our schools”, offering the suggestion of bonuses to those staff. In a crowd-pleasing address at the Conservative Political Action Conference convention in Washington, Trump also suggested that an armed sheriff ’s deputy who failed to run into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school to take down the gunman may have been a coward. Trump said veterans moving into teaching could carry concealed weapons, and ordinary teachers should get trained. “You would have welltrained, adept, gun-adept people, people who were marines for 20 years and retired. I don’t want to have 100 guards with weapons all over the school. You do it with concealed carry and this would be a major deterrent,” he said. Teaching representatives were horrified. “Teachers don’t want to be armed, we want to teach. We don’t want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters. No amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, a leading union. “How would arming teachers even work? Would kindergarten teachers be carrying guns in holsters? Is every classroom going to have a gun closet? Will it be locked? Anyone who pushes arming teachers doesn’t understand teachers and doesn’t understand our schools … it may create the illusion of safety but, in reality, it would make our classrooms less safe.” Many teenagers who survived the shooting at Parkland on 14 February, in which 17 people died, have called not for their teachers to have guns but for a ban on the kind of semi-automatic rifles that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was able to buy legally. A group went to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, a week after the shooting to lobby state senate politicians, although many said they were angry at finding a lack of commitment to new laws. They are also planning to lead a national march in Washington on 24 March to protest against the proliferation of assault rifles in US society and years of inaction over mass shootings. While the National Rifle Association and Trump were leading calls Gun talk … President Trump proposes his concealed carry plan; below left: Isabella Pfeiffer, a high school student, in the Florida Senate Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA to bring more weapons into schools, it emerged last Thursday that surveillance footage at the high school showed an armed sheriff’s deputy, who was guarding the school, stayed outside the building while the shooting was unfolding. Trump said: “When it came time to get in there and do something, he didn’t have the courage. That’s a case where somebody was outside, or something happened. But he certainly did a poor job. They’re trained, they didn’t act properly or under pressure or they were a coward.” Trump received weak applause when he suggested to the audience that he would support moves to strengthen background checks. In a further sign Republicans are only willing to make limited concessions on gun control, the pro-gun Florida governor, Rick Scott, said he would support restraining orders to ban gun sales to anyone reported by a relative or expert to have mental health problems. He also wants to raise to 21 the Florida age limit for buying any firearm, but he failed to signal support for attempts to outlaw assault rifles or high-capacity ammunition magazines. Gary Younge, page 18 → Doctors caught up in row over illness at US embassy Ian Sample When a mystery illness struck at the US embassy in Cuba in late 2016, the diplomatic fallout was rapid. The US slashed the number of people at its Havana mission and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats after at least 24 people reported a mix of headaches, dizziness, eyesight, hearing, sleep and concentration problems. Many of the affected diplomats said their illness came on after they heard strange noises in their homes or hotel rooms. Some reported that the sounds – which ranged from grinding to cicada-like to the buffeting caused by an open car window – appeared to be directed at them, and that their symptoms abated when they moved to another room. Now the dispute over the cause of the episode has spread to the medical world, where some doctors and scientists are furious with a situation they believe is being spun for political gain. A study published last month by US doctors who examined 21 of the diplomats has been criticised for starting from a position that the diplomats had been exposed to some unknown “energy source”. Sceptics insist this remains conjecture at best, and is far from proven. The American embassy in Havana where 24 people reported headaches and dizziness after hearing noises While US officials have begun to row back from claims of an acoustic attack – a scenario an FBI investigation found no evidence for – the use of some other kind of energy weapon which happens to make a sound is still under investigation. The US government asked doctors at the University of Pennsylvania to run tests on 21 of the diplomats. The results, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, describe a new syndrome that resembles persistent concussion. While some The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 13 On the website Latest US news, opinion and analysis → theguardian.com/us outcry of horror Native American hunter tests rights along Canadian border Leyland Cecco Toronto Airlines among businesses that sever ties to gun lobby The National Rifle Association has criticised more than a dozen companies for choosing to sever partnerships after the shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead. The lobby group called such moves a “shameful display of political and civic cowardice”. Last Saturday, in similarly worded statements, the airlines Delta and United said they would end discount programmes for NRA members. The carriers joined more than a dozen businesses, including the car hire companies Hertz, Budget and Avis, the hotel chains Best Western and Wyndham Hotels and the software groups Symantec and Norton, that have ended various loyalty and discount schemes for NRA members. In response, the NRA said the companies had unfairly sought to “punish” its the group’s 5 million members over the massacre. Oliver Milman of those affected recovered swiftly, others have had symptoms last for months. The study concludes that the diplomats appear to have “sustained injury to widespread brain networks.” Robert Bartholomew, an expert in mass psychogenic illness (MPI) who teaches at Botany Downs Secondary College in Auckland, New Zealand, said he was “floored by the study” and claims that it reads like US government propaganda. In the article, the doctors state that their objective is to describe “neurological manifestations that followed exposure to an unknown energy source” but Bartholomew points out that there is no proof that any kind of energy source affected the diplomats, or even that an attack took place. “It’s like the authors are trying to get us to believe an attack has occurred,” he told the Guardian. Mitchell Valdés-Sosa, director of the Cuban Centre for Neurosciences, who was part of a Cuban investigation into the incidents, said other explanations have been dismissed too soon. “When you look at the evidence, at what’s being presented, it doesn’t support the idea of widespread damage to brain networks.” He believes that a few diplomats had real medical problems, the causes of which are unknown, which then sparked fears over attacks when they were linked to unusual noises. When Rick Desautel shot the elk perched high on a steep hillside, he followed his typical routine: he retrieved the fallen animal, dressed it and carried the meat to his hunting camp in the forests of western Canada. He then hiked to an area with cellphone reception and called the local conservation officers. “It took them a couple of days to find us,” he laughs. He knew what was coming next: he was 65km north of the border and the officers would quickly work out that he was a US citizen without permits to hunt in the Canadian province of British Columbia. As a conservation officer, he knew the standard procedure: he would accept the tickets, and as before, they would be dropped. But this time was different: after that hunting trip in 2010, the British Columbia government decided to bring the charges to court. The ensuing legal journey lasted more than eight years, as Desautel fought to prove his indigenous heritage, and thus his right to hunt in lands that were his ancestors’ territory long before any border was drawn. The case appeared to reach an end in December, when the provincial government lost its appeal at the British Columbia supreme court. But in January, the government filed papers to appeal again. That fight, however, could have unintended consequences: Desautel’s case could set a precedent that would grant tens of thousands of Native Americans living in the US added rights – in Canada. The legal tussles comes as the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, promises to abandon the strategy of forcing indigenous peoples to endure costly court battles to win recognition of rights. Desautel identifies as Sinixt, an indigenous people whose territory once stretched from southern British Columbia into Washington state. The Canadian government declared the Sinixt extinct in 1955. But in March last year, the court affirmed his right to continue hunting in Canada – and restored the Sinixt’s legal status, in an outcome he says made him feel “elated and joyful”. But the supreme court had gone a step further: by determining that Desautel did not need to be a resident of Canada to be granted hunting rights, it transformed a case about identity into one about the border. “Judges tend to write decisions so that the judgment is specific to the case at hand. They try not to write decisions which have a overarching implications for the whole country,” says Bruce Miller, an anthropologist at the University of British Columbia, who provided documentation to assist in proving the continued existence of the Sinixt. Several indigenous groups contest the border, some more forcefully than others. The Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy issues its own passports and many of its members refuse to recognise the frontier at all. Experts believe the Desautel ruling could apply to tens of thousands of people living in the US who were dispossessed of ancestral territory in Canada when the border was drawn. By recognising the hunting rights of indigenous communities based in the US, the province must reckon with other rights that follow, says Gordon Christie, a law professor at the University of British Columbia who focuses on indigenous legal issues. This could apply to consultation on resource projects such as pipelines, a contentious issue where indigenous communities hold significant power at the bargaining table. Christie National borders cut through indigenous communities’ traditional hunting grounds, where elk roam suspects the ruling could also apply to valuable water rights. Ironically, there is no chance of this scenario unfolding in the other direction. In 2011, Stephen Stark, a Tsawwassen man in Canada, attempted to fish waters his people traditionally harvested – in the US. Stark was apprehended 700 metres over the border and learned, unlike Desautel, that there is no comparable provision in the US constitution that could apply to indigenous peoples in Canada who pursue fishing rights south of the border. In spite of his defence that he was fishing traditional waters, Stark is facing felony charges and could spend up to five years in prison with a fine of $10,000 Desautel believes he had to start the process in order for future generations to benefit. His fight is predicted to continue for years and costs millions of dollars. “My lawyer told me you’ll be an old man when this thing wraps up” says Desautel. “I’m starting to believe him.” 14 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Debt load hampers rebuild of Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands On the mend … reparations provided small gains in construction jobs Dennis M Rivera Pichardo/Washington Post Signs of recovery after hurricane but concerns persist over economies Tim Craig Washington Post Hurricane-induced economic turmoil in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is not likely to be as severe or long-lasting as the financial damage New Orleans suffered after Hurricane Katrina, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) of New York said last week. With the economies of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in tatters even before the September storms, William Dudley, president of the FRB, said local recovery efforts have been “severely hampered” by their governments’ inability to access additional debt. But about five months after Hurricane Irma skirted the Virgin Islands and Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Dudley said there are signs the local labour market is stabilising. “As repair and rebuilding efforts get underway in both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, jobs are being created in sectors such as construction,” Dudley said. Since September, Puerto Rico has lost 4.2% of its jobs while employment in the US Virgin Islands has dipped 9.4%, according to data presented by Jason Bram, an FRB research economist. After Hurricane Katrina flooded 80% of New Orleans in 2005, that metropolitan area suffered a 29.7% reduction in the job market, Bram noted. The losses in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands “are considerably steeper than after most major hurricanes that have hit the United States,” Dudley said. “However, they are not as devastating as Katrina’s impact on the New Orleans economy more than a decade ago, which was and remains unprecedented.” FRB economists noted that in Puerto Rico, overall post-storm job loss remains just slightly higher than the 3.3% job loss rate experienced in New York after the 2008 financial crisis and recession. They caution that Federal Reserve data does not take into account the so-called “informal economy,” which is believed to be significant on both islands. Despite continued job losses in the hospitality industry, both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands already are seeing small gains in construction jobs compared with August, Bram noted. Puerto Rico has regained 1,000 professional and business services jobs. Another key recovery indicator being closely tracked by FRB economists – night-time light usage – also is showing signs of rebounding. Using satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bram estimates that Puerto Rico had recouped 75% of its night-time brightness by January, four months after the storm. The brightness of the US Virgin Islands night-time sky was about 56%of pre-storm levels, he said. The big unknown on both islands is whether the residents who left after the hurricanes will return. $73bn Puerto Rico’s debt. A long recession also led to a 15% drop in GDP. The US Virgin Islands’ debt is around $2bn The population of both islands was steadily falling in the years leading up to the hurricanes. Citing Department of Transportation airport passenger data, Bram said Puerto Rico experienced a net outflow of 220,000 people in the 12 months leading up to November. That was about 160,000 more people than had been leaving the island each year prior. In the US Virgin Islands, which had a population of about 103,000 before the storm, the net annual outflow through November totalled about 10% of the population. If residents do not return in large numbers, Dudley said the ability of both islands to pay off debt and pay for reconstruction could be constricted. Puerto Rico, saddled with $73bn in debt, declared a form of bankruptcy in May. The fiscal crisis follows a decadelong recession, including a 15% drop in the territory’s gross domestic product since 2006. In 2016, President Barack Obama and Congress approved the Puerto Rican Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, which included the creation of an independent financial oversight board. The US Virgin Islands has about $2bn in debt. On 31 January, Moody’s Investor Service said the territory is likely to default and that its employee pension system will be insolvent by 2023. Dudley said both islands will have to face “painful” financial adjustments. But Dudley cited New York City and Washington DC as examples for how reforms and fiscal control boards can help distressed localities rebound relatively quickly. “While Puerto Rico’s path to prosperity will not look exactly like that of New York or other cities, history can provide valuable lessons, as well as hope for a better future,” Dudley said. Finance in brief Finance • More than $1bn was wiped off tech firm Snap Inc’s market value last Thursday, in one of the company’s worst trading days since it went public last year – and the rout was led by a bored tweet from a member of the Kardashian clan. Kylie Jenner, one of the first wave of celebrities whose fame grew primarily on Snapchat over other social media firms, shared her disappointment with the app on Twitter late on Wednesday: “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me ... ugh this is so sad,” she said. “[S]till love you tho snap ... my first love”. Jenner’s tweet, combined with growing fears on the part of investors that a long-awaited usabilityfocused redesign may not solve Snapchat’s user growth issues, sparked a plunge in the company’s stock, which fell 6% over the course of last Thursday, clearing $1.3bn from its market capitalisation. • Charges related to Donald Trump’s corporate tax changes, the cost of exiting Africa, the collapse of Carillion and legal battles pushed Barclays bank nearly £2bn ($2.8bn) into the red last year. Chief executive Jes Staley collected a pay package of £3.9m, down from £4.2m. The group reported an after-tax loss of £1.9bn for 2017, against a net profit of £1.6bn the previous year, largely due to a one-off US tax charge of £900m and a £2.5bn loss on the sale of the African business. • Adani’s plan to build Australia’s largest coalmine suffered a setback as the company abandoned its deadline for securing financing for the first stage of the Carmichael mine. In October, chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj had set a March date for settling the project’s financing. Foreign exchanges Sterling rates Australia Canada Denmark Euro Hong Kong Japan New Zealand Norway Singapore Sweden Switzerland USA 26 Feb 1.78 1.77 8.48 1.14 10.98 149.80 1.91 10.98 1.85 11.42 1.31 1.40 19 Feb 1.77 1.76 8.41 1.13 10.97 149.39 1.90 10.90 1.84 11.19 1.30 1.40 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 15 UK news The drugs do work Let’s be positive about antidepressants → Mark Rice-Oxley, page 22 Hygiene breaches found at more than half of meat plants Inspections showed violations of safety rules at many audited suppliers Mega-producers driving out the small local abattoirs Andrew Wasley The scale of food safety and hygiene problems in meat plants around much of the UK is revealed by new analysis showing more than half of all audited plants have had at least one “major” breach in the last three years. Inspection figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveal there were on average 16 major plant safety infractions every week between 2014 and 2017, according to a data analysis last week by the Guardian and Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Almost two thirds of audited meat cutting factories (540 out of 890) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had at least one instance of major noncompliance with hygiene or food safety regulations. Several plants had multiple failures, with 25 breaches at plants belonging to Russell Hume, the meat supplier at the centre of recent concerns about UK food hygiene. Scotland has a separate regulator. A major noncompliance is, by the FSA’s definition, “likely to compromise public health, including food safety … or may lead to the production and handling of unsafe or unsuitable food if no remedial action is taken”. Among the overall number of failings identified by FSA auditors in the period analysed, there were 221 major non compliances relating to maintaining legal temperature controls, and in excess of 300 relating to minimising the risk of cross-contamination. More than 50 major breaches were found relating to ensuring animal byproducts are correctly identified, and 26 connected to traceability. Breaches at the Russell Hume meat plants related to multiple aspects of production, including maintaining legal temperature controls, preventing cross-contamination, ensuring environmental hygiene and management of food safety systems. The findings “raise serious questions as to how robust the FSA’s system for monitoring food hygiene really is”, said Kerry McCarthy MP, a former shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs. “Failure on this scale can’t be attributed to just a few rogue businesses falling through the cracks. Consumers need to have confidence in the system and need to know that action Safety menu … concern is growing over food hygiene inspection Getty is being taken against companies with incidents of major noncompliance.” “These figures are truly shocking,” Kath Dalmeny, CEO of campaign group Sustain, said. “I find it so dismaying that over the last decade our government has slashed the budgets for the bodies who police our food system – our local authority meat hygiene services, independent public analyst laboratories and trading standards inspectors.” Ron Spellman, deputy secretary general of the European Association of Food and Meat Inspectors, said: “What I also find worrying is the attitude of the company I’ve read today, in which they blame the FSA’s handling of the issue for the collapse of the company. There seems to be no willingness to accept responsibility.” Prof Hugh Pennington, an expert in bacteriology, said: “Widespread breaches [are] obviously a bad thing, but their detection shows that the regulatory system seems to be working.” An FSA spokesperson said: “We carry out thousands of audits and unannounced inspections of meat plants each year to verify that food hygiene standards are being met. Issues that may pose imminent or serious risk to public health will result in immediate and robust enforcement action being taken. Only 2% of plants were found to have more than two major noncompliances.” In a statement, the former directors of Russell Hume Ltd said: “Between 2014-2017 the FSA carried out a number of routine inspections and audits of Russell Hume’s six branches … inevitably there were a small number of recommendations over this period that required action. But these averaged around one a year per branch, and taken together and in the context of industry practice as a whole, the audit results were positive for Russell Hume. The company has never been prosecuted for food safety or hygiene offences, and saw no FSA enforcement action taken against it over this period.” Locally sourced meat, one of the cornerstones of sustainable eating, may soon be out of reach for British consumers as large numbers of small suppliers are forced to close. Seeking out locally grown foods is seen as part of healthier eating that reduces environmental impact, allows traceability and improves farm welfare. But a new study has found that small abattoirs are struggling to survive, leaving more of the country’s meat supply in the hands of a small number of mega-producers. More than a third of small abattoirs have closed in the past decade, leaving only 63 in England, down from 96 in 2007. In 1970 there were about 1,900 abattoirs in the UK. The reasons, according to the Sustainable Food Trust, are high costs and squeezed profit margins. Transporting small numbers of farm animals to be slaughtered, and then back to the farm of origin for traceability purposes, is more expensive than sending them to a larger abattoir. The regulations governing smaller abattoirs are also onerous, because they were designed with large facilities in mind. Many struggle with the paperwork. Bigger abattoirs are also often built or expanded with the aid of government grants or tax breaks, which smaller ones miss out on. This expansion can also create overcapacity, contributing to driving the smaller concerns out of business. In its report, the trust calls on the government to put support mechanisms in place to preserve and build on what remains of the local abattoir sector. One of the measures suggested is allowing mobile abattoirs, removing the need for animals to be transported to and fro, and small static abattoirs sited on farms. The authors also call for a taskforce to be set up to examine the problem. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs did not respond to a request for comment. Fiona Harvey 16 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 UK news Corbyn backs customs union with EU Labour leader’s move puts party on collision course with Tories Anushka Asthana Heather Stewart Conservative MPs have sought legal advice about the prospect of Theresa May losing a parliamentary vote on a post-Brexit customs union as Jeremy Corbyn made clear that Labour now supported that position, the Guardian understands. The opposition leader attempted to outflank the Tories by promising to place such an arrangement firmly on the table, in a speech on Monday that won the cautious backing of industry representatives. Corbyn’s suggestion that Labour would pursue “a new, comprehensive UK-EU customs union” after Brexit was praised by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and Institute of Directors (IoD), as well as the former Conservative chancellor George Osborne. The move places May on a collision course with a number of her own remain-supporting backbenchers, whose amendment to the trade bill calling for the government to pursue a customs union will now have the backing of the entire Labour party. The government has already moved to delay the vote until after the local elections in May because of fears that it cannot be won. Now, in a sign of further concern about the impact of a defeat, senior pro-Brexit Tory MPs have sought advice on whether the amendment is legally binding to assess whether May could accept it without having to fulfil its demands. Fleshing out Labour’s Brexit policy in a speech designed to put clear blue water between the party and May’s Conservatives, Corbyn also said: Selfie conscious … Jeremy Corbyn is mobbed by admirers after a speech PA Rightwing press attacks ‘boost Momentum support’ Attacks on Jeremy Corbyn by the rightwing press are leading to large spikes in his support base immediately after negative newspaper articles, according to data seen by the Guardian. Figures from Momentum came days after Labour went on the offensive over reports in the Daily Mail, the Sun and other newspapers that Corbyn met a Czechoslovakian spy in the 1980s. Breaking from the tradition of his predecessors, who courted the tabloids, Corbyn blamed significant parts of the national press “owned by billionaire tax exiles” for “a succession of false and absurd stories”. Buoyed by its gains in the general election, Corbyn’s Labour has maintained it can use social media to bypass the mainstream press and any personal attacks. Momentum, the Corbynsupporting group, said its numbers not only supported this assertion, but indicated that high-profile press attacks had become a “seal of approval”. With 37,000 members and additions of more than 1,500 newcomers a month, Momentum insiders said the group’s membership was estimated to exceed that of the Conservative party in less than two years. It is already larger than Ukip and is set to overtake the Green party’s membership this year. Ben Bradley, a vice-chairman of the Conservative party, was forced to apologise to Corbyn last week and will make a “substantial” donation to charity for a tweet he made about the Labour leader’s links to cold war spies. Nadia Khomami • Labour supported a “new and strong relationship with the single market” but would seek “protections, clarification or exemptions” in relation to party policy on nationalisation and state aid. • Free movement would end after Brexit “as a statement of fact”, but the Labour party would put jobs and the economy ahead of “bogus immigration targets”. • May’s government had kept voters in the dark over what it was seeking from Brexit: “Anything agreed at breakfast is being briefed against by lunch and abandoned by teatime.” Labour’s customs union policy would prevent Britain from signing independent trade deals, but Corbyn insisted the UK should still be involved in EU-wide negotiations. “A new customs arrangement would depend on Britain being able to negotiate agreement of new trade deals in our national interest,” he told an audience in Coventry. Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI director general, said Corbyn’s commitment to a customs union would “put jobs and living standards first by remaining in a close economic relationship with the EU”, although she questioned the “rhetoric on renationalisation”. Stephen Martin, the director general of the IoD, which is calling for a partial customs union, said Labour had “widened the debate” and manufacturers would be particularly pleased. However, Martin said there were no easy solutions and it was hard to see the EU extending its trade agreements to a sizeable non-member state without revising treaties. Senior Tories, including Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, accused Labour of betraying millions of leave voters. But Corbyn said: “Our message has been consistent since the vote to leave 20 months ago. We respect the result of the referendum.” Labour’s turn leaves May between a rock and a hard place Analysis Toby Helm After months of what has become known in Labour circles as “constructive ambiguity” – deliberately blurred positions designed to keep both remainers and leavers onside – Jeremy Corbyn on Monday confirmed that Labour wants to keep the UK in some form of customs union after the post-Brexit transition period ends in 2021. The move – urged upon Corbyn by a majority of his shadow cabinet and an increasingly rebellious group of backbenchers – caused political tremors across Westminster. Last week attention was focused on Conservative divisions on Brexit, as Theresa May summoned 11 cabinet ministers for an awayday. Hardliners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were supposed to agree with soft Brexiters like Philip Hammond and Amber Rudd what the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU should look like. It was always going to be an impossible task. May, lacking a majority in parliament, is trapped between rival Tory factions who will not allow her to move one way or the other without calling her leadership into question. Since the bitter rows over the Maastricht treaty in the early 1990s, it has been the Eurosceptic Tory right that has caused most problems for Conservative prime ministers over the UK’s relationship with Europe. But as Labour shifts and large numbers of anti–hard Brexit MPs show they are prepared to abandon tribalism, new alliances are forming in parliament. If enough soft Brexit Tories are prepared to join Labour, SNP and other colleagues, the Tory left could become the decisive force in this backbenchers’ parliament, tipping the scales in the crucial votes to come. If it does, expect a very different Brexit to the one desired by the likes of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. Observer Rafael Behr, page 21 → The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 17 Get a grip Technology adversely affects handwriting skills Children are increasingly finding it hard to hold pens and pencils because of an excessive use of technology, senior paediatric doctors have warned. An overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing children’s finger muscles from developing sufficiently to enable them to hold a pencil correctly, they say. “Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,” said Sally Payne, the head paediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust. “Children coming into school are being given a pencil but are increasingly not able to hold it because they don’t have the fundamental movement skills. “To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills.” Payne said the nature of play had changed. “It’s easier to give a child an iPad than encouraging them to do muscle-building play such as building blocks, cutting and sticking, or pulling toys and ropes. Because of this, they’re not developing the underlying foundation skills they need to grip and hold a pencil.” Six-year-old Patrick has been having weekly sessions with an occupational therapist for six months to help him develop the necessary strength in his index finger to hold a pencil in the correct, tripod grip. His mother, Laura, blames herself: “In retrospect, I see that I gave Patrick technology to play with, to the virtual exclusion of the more traditional toys. When he got to school, they contacted me with their concerns: he was gripping his pencil like cavemen held sticks. He just couldn’t hold it in any other way and so couldn’t learn to write because he couldn’t move the pencil with any accuracy.” Mellissa Prunty, a paediatric occupational therapist who specialises in handwriting difficulties, is concerned that increasing numbers of children may be developing handwriting late because of an overuse of technology. “One problem is that handwriting is very individual in how it develops in each child,” said Prunty, the vice-chair of the National Handwriting Association. “Without research, the risk is that we make too many assumptions about why a child isn’t able to write at the expected age and don’t intervene when there is a technologyrelated cause,” she said. Amelia Hill Photograph: Getty/EyeEm University lecturers strike over pensions Sally Weale Alexandra Topping University bosses were last week under pressure from the government to return to talks in an effort to end strike action that has brought widespread disruption to campuses. As tens of thousands of lecturers and other staff walked out across the UK last Thursday in protest against changes to their pensions, the government intervened to try to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table. In London’s Tavistock Square, a group of demonstrators occupied the headquarters of Universities UK (UUK), which represents employers and wants to end defined-benefit pensions. The industrial action is the biggest ever seen at UK universities. The strike is scheduled to last 14 days, spread over a month at 65 universities. If a solution is not found, staff are threatening to extend the dispute to disrupt final-year exams and graduation ceremonies. Increasingly frustrated by the impasse in the long-running dispute, Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, urged both sides to return to negotiations to avoid further disruption for students, who had thousands of their lectures and tutorials cancelled. “I am deeply concerned about the impact this strike will have on students, who deserve to receive the 65 The number of universities where lecturers are taking industrial action over changes in their pensions education that they are paying for. For many, this is a vital time in their studies,” he said. The minister had spoken to UUK and the University and College Union (UCU), which represents striking staff. The strike comes amid heated debate within the sector about the high cost and ultimate value of some university degrees. The prime minister announced a review of higher education last week amid concerns that students are graduating with debts of more than £50,000 ($70,000) at the same time as vice-chancellors are receiving substantial pay rises. A small number of vice-chancellors broke ranks with UUK to come out in support of their staff. A YouGov poll on the eve of the strike suggested that a majority of students (61%) support the industrial action. News in brief UK news • The UK’s biggest investigation into child sexual exploitation needs 100 more officers to tackle the unprecedented scale of abuse in Rotherham, the head of the operation has said. The National Crime Agency, which is investigating past grooming offences in the town, has identified more than 1,500 potential victims and 110 suspects, and officers expect those figures to rise. Paul Williamson, the senior investigating officer on Operation Stovewood, said his team of officers had been able to contact only 17% of the 1,510 possible victims due to a shortage of specially trained detectives. • The UK’s big energy companies have been accused of dirty tricks after analysis revealed that they are routinely charging customers almost exactly the same amount after switching them off controversial default tariffs. In the face of Theresa May’s plans to impose a price cap on standard variable tariffs (SVTs), which more than half of energy customers are on despite their steep prices, companies such as British Gas, E.ON and SSE have pledged to phase out such tariffs and shift billpayers on to better value fixed deals. But data compiled for the Guardian shows that, in the case of market leader British Gas, the most expensive fixed deal – which many customers are being moved on to – is identical to its SVT, at £1,099.84 ($1,533.83). • Britain’s economy grew at a slower rate than first thought in the final three months of 2017, leaving the UK lagging further behind other major economies as it prepares to leave the EU. The Office for National Statistics revised down its estimate for UK growth in the fourth quarter to 0.4%, following an earlier estimate of 0.5% and missing economists’ forecasts that the rate would be unchanged. • Toys R Us was expected to tumble into administration this week after last-ditch talks to find a buyer faltered. The move will put 3,200 jobs at risk and follows the recent decision by its bankrupt American parent to try to sell the loss-making UK business as well its other European stores. 18 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Comment&Debate Youth need their elders to change gun laws Gary Younge Children, who have not learned hopelessness, can speak against the status quo, but it is up to adults to realise change I n May 1963, a white police officer in Birmingham, Alabama, tried to scare some black children as they went to protest against segregation. As fellow policemen turned hoses and dogs on black youngsters nearby, the kids made it plain they knew what they were doing and continued marching towards the demonstrations. A reporter asked one her age. “Six,” she said, as she climbed into the paddy wagon. Events in Birmingham proved a turning point in the civil rights era. Before protests started, only 4% of Americans regarded the struggle for racial equality as the country’s most pressing issue; after Birmingham, it was more than half. And young people were crucial to its success. That was no accident. Adults had too much to lose, and the campaign was faltering, so Martin Luther King’s organisation trained young people to carry the mantle. Soon they were filling the city’s prisons. “There were 12 people in [my] jail cell,” Dennis Mallory, who was a teenager at the time, told me. “And 11 were from my school.” The political courage and leadership of the young people in Florida who took on the gun lobby last week stands in the storied, inspiring tradition of youth activism in America and beyond. Whether it was Paris, Mexico or Brazil in 1968, Soweto in 1976, the intifada of the late 80s, Seattle in the 90s, the Prague spring of 1968 or the Arab spring of 2011, the young have often led resistance against injustice or for progressive change – and sometimes both. In Florida, the familiar cycle of carnage, thoughts, prayers, rage and stasis has been broken by an impassioned and uncompromising demand for gun control triggered by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, where 17 people were shot dead last week. There have been die-ins outside the White House and school walkouts around the country: they have grilled (and, frankly, toasted) their Republican senator and a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association (NRA), and lobbied the state legislature. When liberals see young people challenging authority in this way, they can start to wax romantic. Youth can be fetishised as though it holds intrinsically radical properties. It doesn’t. It is not an abstract identity. Youth interacts with class, race, gender, nationality, region and a range of other factors in different ways at different times. During the 1926 general strike in Britain, students were used as scab labour. Young people, aged 18 to 24, voted for Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and 1983, They are more likely to be the spark than the ﬂame. The systemic threat from youth is one of contagion Robert G Fresson and Ronald Reagan in 1984. The under-35s in India went for the Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi. Young white people backed Donald Trump. And while the young can at times make an impact on the streets, they are among the least likely to vote – if indeed they are even eligible to vote – and cannot withdraw their labour to any devastating effect. There is a limit to what they can achieve alone. In the days after the shooting, Emma González, 17, who was at the school when the shooting happened, emerged as an impressive, articulate champion for gun control, saying: “We are going to be the last mass shooting.” There have been four since their school attack, and at the rate things are going this year the United States was due another school shooting before the end of February. But, at a moment like this, far more problematic than overstating the effect of young people’s protest is underestimating it. If there is one unifying element in the nature of youth and student protest over the past 50 years, it has been the likelihood of it finding its greatest potency precisely when established political structures have shown themselves to be obsolete – structures young people feel neither beholden to nor indebted to. There are few better illustrations of this than guns in the US. A consistent majority favours stricter gun laws, and support for background checks is almost unanimous. Yet thanks to a combination of big money, gerrymandering and political spinelessness, each mass shooting is received in a mood of learned hopelessness. Citing Sandy Hook, people understandably insist that, if nothing changed when the kids were younger and the president cried, then nothing ever will. When reporting for my book about all the children and teens shot dead in one random day in America, I asked each family an open-ended question: what did they think had made the tragedy possible? Not one mentioned guns. When I asked the more leading question, of what they thought about guns, most had an opinion: they were too easily accessible. After a while, I concluded that they looked on gun deaths as being a bit like traffic fatalities. If your child was run over by a car, you might call for a traffic light, speed bump or lower speed limit – and no one would claim that was unconstitutional. But you wouldn’t call for an end to traffic. Who could imagine a world without traffic? To these parents, that would be as bizarre as a world without guns. But González was 12 when Sandy Hook happened. She and her fellow students have not learned to be hopeless. Nobody can tell them to lobby through the proper channels, because there are no working channels. So they have gone for the source. The tone of urgency, rage, hope and mocking disbelief in their resistance is one of the things that has been missing from this debate. America’s rate of gun death – seven children and teens a day, as well as about 80 adults – is an obscenity the nation has become accustomed to. It is not just the fact of their opposition but the tone that is thrilling. “Calling BS” on the political class and the NRA, facing down senators and lobbyists, they have acted independently of both political parties and a mostly white, middle-aged, suburban-led gun control movement that has little connection with the communities most acutely affected by gun violence. This is fantastic, but on its own it doesn’t go far enough. History has shown that young people have the ability to expose a crisis and challenge it, but rarely defeat or solve it unilaterally. They are more likely to be the spark for the broader struggles than the flame itself. The systemic threat from youth is one of contagion – that their energy and commitment will infect others. Of the victory against segregation in Birmingham, the historian Taylor Branch wrote: “Never before was a country transformed, arguably redeemed, by the active moral witness of schoolchildren.” That may have been the first time. Let’s hope it is not the last. The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 19 Comment&Debate Europe requires Germany to take a gamble Timothy Garton Ash The far right resurgence shows how urgently the continent’s centre politics needs fresh impetus, but a new German grand coalition won’t help S unday 4 March will be a turning point for Europe. On the same day as an important general election in Italy we’ll find out whether an internal referendum of German Social Democrat party members has produced a yes for the grand coalition government in Berlin, continuing its current partnership with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. Conventional wisdom says this would be a good result for Europe. I think the conventional wisdom is wrong. I spent two days in Berlin last week, and I’ve never encountered less enthusiasm for a prospective new government. This is supposed to be a wedding, but it feels like a funeral. That is also what it could prove to be: the funeral of the SPD, one of Europe’s oldest and most important parties of the centre left. In a shocking public opinion poll, the far right, nationalist-populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored 16%, half a point ahead of the Social Democrats. That may be a flash in the pan, but at 20.5%, the Social Democrats’ result in September’s general election was already an all-time low. We know from history that a grand coalition of the main centre left and main centre right parties tends to strengthen the extremes – and this has already happened. It was partly as a result of there having been this same grand coalition – or GroKo (for Grosse Koalition) – for eight of the previous 12 years that the AfD garnered the support of one in eight German voters last September. And remember that the AfD makes Ukip look moderate, and Silvio Berlusconi seem like a distinguished conservative gentleman. A crucial part of the response to the wave of antiliberal populism flooding across Europe must be a fundamental regeneration of the centre left. The French Socialists have virtually disappeared, and in the Italian election campaign Matteo Renzi’s Democratic party is doing almost as badly as the SPD. It is clearly impossible for the German Social Democrats to regenerate their party while locked in a joyless governing coalition with their main opponents. That is one reason why the Young Socialists, led by a man called Kevin Kühnert, are touring the country trying to persuade their older comrades to vote #NoGroKo. Conventional wisdom says that Europe badly needs a stable German government, and that government needs to give a positive response to Emmanuel Macron’s ambitious European proposals. After all, the year leading up to the 2019 European elections is meant to be a crucial one to put wind in the sails of a post-Brexit European Union. This is why European council president Donald Tusk tweeted: “German GroKo is good news.” I am not persuaded that you need a German GroKo in order to have the essential European coalitions of the willing, or that a GroKo would be better for the European project in the longer term. Play out a mildly pessimistic but entirely plausible scenario: the German economy falters in a couple of years, and at the same time eurozone arrangements put in place by the grand coalition – responding to Macron at the insistence of the Social Andrzej Krauze A minority government under Merkel probably would not last a full term. But that would not be the end of the world Democrats – result in Germany having to make financial transfers to a crisis-torn southern European state. Imagine the response among disgruntled German voters. Twenty per cent for the AfD? The worst argument for a grand coalition is the one produced as a clincher in my Berlin conversations: there is no alternative. But the elite politics of Merkel’s now famous alternativlos, is precisely what voters are rebelling against when they choose the AfD, or Donald Trump, or Brexit. Imagine that you’re an unhappy German voter. You voted last September to change something. Then absolutely nothing changes: same chancellor, same coalition, same woolly rhetoric, very similar policies. To be sure, new elections now, after five months of unprecedented political muddle, might produce an even larger protest vote for the AfD. But there is a better alternative, which the chancellor and federal president could agree to try if the Social Democrat party membership votes no: a Merkel-led Christian Democrat minority government. Minority government would be an innovation in the history of the Federal Republic. But it has been done in many other democracies, and there’s nothing in the German constitution that says you can’t do it. The mainstream opposition parties – Free Democrats and Greens as well as Social Democrats – would surely offer support on the main, consensual thrust of European or security policy, as well as budget and confidence votes. Yes, the minority government would lose some parliamentary votes on other issues, but as German historian Heinrich August Winkler points out, that would actually increase the importance of parliamentary debates and the work of select committees. Would that be bad for a parliamentary democracy? Quite the reverse. A minority government under Merkel probably would not last a full term, but that, also, would not be the end of the world. I’m a great admirer of Merkel, but we are definitely approaching the time for a change at the top. That, too, is democracy. An election in 2019 or 2020 with sharper opposition parties, and with a new, younger leader of the Christian Democrats, would hardly be worse than one forced on a stale and crumbling grand coalition. 20 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Comment&Debate EU faces a potential crisis in the Balkans Ivan Krastev T he second world war is over but the first world war is not yet finished.” Those were the words of a senior Turkish official I met recently in Ankara. He was speaking of the Middle East, but it was the sort of comment I might have heard in Moscow, in Kiev or in the Balkans, about the state of affairs on the European continent. The one place I couldn’t possibly have heard this is Brussels. That’s because the EU is still unprepared to live in a world where geopolitics has returned – in which governments, and much of the public, are obsessed with borders and territories, and tend to define success less by economic growth than by national pride. Last month the EU presented its new western Balkans strategy to encourage reform in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania, by renewing the prospect of membership. That Brussels institutions, which find themselves in the midst of a populist upsurge, now appear to have the courage to restate that membership promise is no small miracle. What the EU should be most afraid of is a repeat of the Ukrainian scenario, in which government support for European aspirations triggers a backlash from opponents of enlargement (for which, read Russia), rather than rallying European governments around the project. Many factors have brought the Balkans back to the fore – not least the recent refugee crisis, which deeply rattled the region. There’s now a growing momentum for greater Eva Bee Europe Now Promise of membership for states in the region could be undermined by rival ambitions in Russia, China and Turkey “ integration, after a period in which the EU had come to be known as an organisation that gave little money and with many strings attached. One encouraging, if little noticed, development has been the recent ratification of a friendship treaty between Bulgaria and Macedonia, two countries whose relations had long been fraught, mainly over minority issues. By achieving this breakthrough, they have signalled that the time has come to seek out solutions to some of the region’s woes. In 2003, when the EU first promised membership, there seemed little doubt that the region’s future would be European. Russia was looking to the Balkans primarily as a transit area for its energy exports to western European markets. Moscow’s ambition then was to preserve influence rather than to compete with Brussels. Fifteen years ago, Turkey was enthusiastic about its chances of joining the EU. As a result, it framed its Balkans policies so as to demonstrate its own strategic value to Europe. Back then, nobody spoke of China in the Balkans. Today, geopolitical competition is rife. China is set to become the No 1 foreign investor in Serbia this year. Plans to build a high-speed railway between the Greek port of Piraeus and Budapest, via Belgrade, are of immense value to China as it deploys its “one belt, one road” trade route between Asia and Europe. The Chinese hope the western Balkans will eventually be integrated into the European single market. The Balkan region is where Russia can work to destabilise the EU at very low political cost for itself, both in cash terms and in risking a confrontation with the US. So it’s up to European diplomacy to convince Moscow that escalating tensions would not be in its best interest. Is the EU ready for this? Then there’s Turkey, a country whose relations with the EU stand at a historical low. While Ankara is trying to build its influence among Muslim communities in the Balkans, Moscow is using its own leverage over Orthodox Christians. Could Russia and Turkey possibly coordinate their policies, just as they have attempted to do in Syria? If the EU is slow to wake up to these new geopolitical realities, its strategy for the Balkans will end in defeat. Ivan Krastev is chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, a Sofia-based thinktank More at theguardian.com/opinion Opinion In brief The alt-right world of a Trump fans’ dating site Setting sail in style, or cruising for a bruising I’m not normally in the habit of joining dating apps while already in a relationship, but last weekend I made an exception. The internet was abuzz with news of a website for Trump supporters and, well, the temptation to connect with the morally bankrupt fascist of my dreams was too hard to resist. I sat my girlfriend down and broke the news as best I could: “Sweetie, I love you, but I feel like joining Trump Dating is the alt-right thing for me to do. I hope you understand.” The site has been described as a sort of Ashley MAGAson, as you don’t need to be single to sign up. But it is important to believe in the sort of good old-fashioned family values the president so stalwartly represents. While married people are free to join Trump Dating, gay people aren’t. This was disappointing to discover, as I tend to lean There should be a new word in Australian English: boganfreude. It could describe the joy that arises after reading about anyone who gets sick drinking arak in Bali, or arrested for sex on a beach in Dubai. But the Big Kahuna of the boganfreude genre is cruise ship stories. Last month up to 23 members of an extended Italian family were reported to be behind brawls – or “bloodbaths” as one news site called them – terrorising passengers onboard the Carnival Legend. Remarkably, some passengers were underwhelmed by Carnival Cruise’s offer of 25% off their next cruise. We love to read about cruise holidays gone wrong. Remember the Sick Ship – a gastro outbreak last year that affected 200 people on Ovation of the Seas? Who hasn’t felt a spiteful shiver of delight in reading about people who spew non-stop lesbian. Nevertheless, I persisted and joined anyway. Maybe there would be a nice man on the site who would make heterosexuality great again, you never know. I have, thrillingly, already received one message. I’m rather impressed by this, as I didn’t upload a picture and put my height as 2.4 metres tall. Clearly, however, Gumby75 is a man who believes it’s what’s inside that counts. It’s also possible he’s a Russian bot. While Trump Dating may sound ridiculous, I regret to inform you that the site is not satire. Although someone needs to tell Ivanka that Jared Kushner is cheating on her. Also, I am delighted to announce that I am currently working on BrexitLovers.com. It’s still early days for the site, but I guarantee that if you join, you won’t want to leave. Arwa Mahdawi for a week on a mega-ship, or who have raw sewage seep into their cabin as they sleep? Maybe the fault is in cruise ships themselves – the way they are designed for excess, they way you are all trapped in there together. A brawl in these circumstances is not so much a surprise as an inevitability. Outside, the ocean is flat, beautiful and mesmerisingly monotonous. Inside the sensory load is overwhelming. To be on the cruise ship was aspirational in the early 2000s sense: in thrall to materialism but without bourgeois-approved taste, gorging on food and drink without moderation or restraint. It’s a snobs’ view. A more expensive holiday doesn’t make you a better sort of person. But it does mean there are fewer people around to film you brawl. Brigid Delaney The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 21 Comment&Debate In praise of … Muslims in English football Syrian forces launched a bloody assault on rebels in eastern Ghouta despite a UN ceasefire order Ben Jennings Brexit walls are closing in on May Rafael Behr Time is running out in Brussels. And lack of support in Westminster robs the PM of being able to do Brexit her way P olitics is like comedy in two ways: most of the people who think they would be good at it are wrong, and success depends on timing. With that in mind, Theresa May’s decisions last year to trigger article 50 and call a general election, in that order, look like a bad joke. Instead of choosing a destination and organising a strategy to get there, the prime minister went on a clown-car diversion, jettisoning her parliamentary majority and incinerating her reputation as a dependable leader. It now hardly matters how the cards might have been played better. May’s most precious commodity was time, and she misspent it. Yet time is still being frittered away. The government has postponed parliamentary debate on a bill to set the legislative framework for post-Brexit trade. It may not now come before the Commons for another two months. The reason is that MPs wanted to customise the law to enshrine contradictory Brexit preferences. The hard brigade want to expunge clauses that they see as gateways to retention of the EU’s customs union (or its restoration under another name). The soft squad would pass amendments to preserve such a union. Labour appears to be shifting towards that preference too. These are matters a cabinet subcommittee is supposed to have resolved at Chequers last Thursday. Ministers are reported to have agreed on “managed divergence” from EU rules. But even if the cabinet has found some elegant solution to its differences, there is no guarantee backbench MPs will go along with them. Abandoning the customs union is uniquely tricky because there is the political problem of Ireland, where border friction is another level of dangerous. In December the UK and the EU agreed that the frontier should stay invisible. They did not resolve how that can be done if May continued to insist that Brexit means leaving the single market and the customs union. And she does insist. That December deal is now being codified into a withdrawal agreement, of which a draft is to be published this week by the European commission. Since this text aims to be legally enforceable it will be less generous with Cut through the bigotry of a vocal minority, and there are some uplifting chants to be heard at English football matches nowadays. Popular at Liverpool is one dedicated to an Arab striker. It contains the lines: “If he’s good enough for you/ He’s good enough for me/If he scores another few/Then I’ll be Muslim too.” Those who revere Egypt’s Mohamed Salah – the subject of the song – are not just paying tribute to arguably the best player in the Premier League at the moment. They’re also adhering to a distinctly British tradition of tolerance and respect. Muslims at Manchester United include $125m midfielder Paul Pogba. At Leicester there’s Riyad Mahrez, and his old team-mate N’Golo Kanté is now at Chelsea. At Arsenal there’s Mesut Özil, at Manchester City Yaya Touré, Mamadou Sakho at Crystal Palace … the list goes on. I have spoken to many young British Muslims who are not only watching their heroes, but increasingly playing the game, too. Nabila Ramdani the Irish fudge. The window of vagueness in which May has so far pretended that her no-customs-union policy and her no-Irish-border policy are compatible might then close. That in turn means the demise of her pretence that Brexit can satisfy the European Research Group (ERG) caucus of hard-right Tories, and ex-remainer, moderate Conservatives at the same time. She may then realise that her reliance on the hardline Democratic Unionist party (DUP) for a majority in parliament and her desire for a “stable, orderly Brexit” pull in opposite directions. She can have the backing of the ERG-DUP, or she can have progress towards a constructive partnership with the EU. She can’t have both. And this is all before this month’s European council summit when a decision is supposed to be made about transitional arrangements and – maybe – the initiation of talks to settle the future relationship with the EU. Tick, tock. The walls are closing in on May from two sides. The negotiating timetable in Brussels is tight and so is the parliamentary arithmetic in Westminster. May was desperate to avoid having to negotiate Brexit with MPs as well as the EU. When she became prime minister in summer 2016 she took the referendum result as her mandate, the “will of the people”. Then, in the spring of 2017, she thought she saw a chance to convert that rhetorical mandate into legislative power. By sweeping up a vast majority, she would be able to enact whatever Brexit she saw fit. But the election she called had the opposite effect. The people’s Brexit instructions came out diffused and distorted. May’s legacy will be recorded as the collision of those two dramatic electoral events: the one that put her in charge of Brexit, and the one that robbed her of the means to do it her way. The Eurosceptic ultras brandish the 2016 result as licence to demand whatever they want. But parliament, elected a year later, has the authority to define Brexit in other, more moderate ways. In popular cultural terms, the referendum was the bigger deal. In constitutional terms, parliament is paramount. The contest between them is nearing its endgame and May looks more like a bystander than a player. 22 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Comment Slaughter in Syria Shaming failure at the UN The world has come to expect brutality from the regime of Bashar al-Assad. As Syria’s civil war enters its eighth year this month, the suffering of the besieged people of eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, is as extreme as anything seen since this conflict began. Less expected, perhaps, is the shaming inability, or unwillingness, of the international community to stop this latest surge in death and destruction. Its failure points to a bigger problem, with dire implications for global order. Last week saw an orgy of mudslinging at the UN security council over a modest proposal for a 30-day humanitarian ceasefire in Syria. The urgent aim of the resolution put forward was to halt the slaughter in Ghouta, where more than 500 people have died and thousands have been wounded by Syrian and Russian bombardments. Even this small mercy was too much for the Russians. Threatening a veto, Vladimir Putin’s government insisted on prior “guarantees” that Islamist fighters would abide by any ceasefire, before eventually agreeing to fivehour daily “humanitarian pauses”. In this war, there is no such thing as a cast-iron guarantee. Moscow has vetoed 10 previous Syria resolutions in furtherance of its policy of support for Assad. If the US and the European allies really want to deter Russian sponsorship of Assad’s war, it is their clear responsibility to apply the sort of asymmetric pressure Putin understands. Additional economic sanctions on Moscow, a switch to alternative energy suppliers and investigations into Russian abuses of the international financial system would be a good start. But the west did nothing to squeeze Putin last week. Donald Trump has also failed Syria, and Ghouta is one direct result. He cares not a fig for dying Syrians. But he does want to stay pals with his Russian buddy. Last week’s ineffectual wrangling over Ghouta should be a sobering moment for EU governments, too. European politicians responded tardily. Last Friday, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron personally appealed to Putin. The subsequent silence emanating from Moscow was crushing. Macron’s ambitious ideas about Europe as a powerful military and security force in the world should be measured against this reality. Other actors in Syria’s tragedy also share the burden of shame. Iran’s responsibility is too often underestimated. Tehran can be in no doubt that its actions in Syria, and its face-off with Israel across the Syrian border, weaken the hand of those in the west who seek normalised relations. And Turkey’s latest Syrian incursion, into Afrin, has made matters worse. The biggest crisis surrounds the UN itself. Like Ghouta, it is under siege. Its already battered credibility is on the line. The entire security council system, and its standing as the pre-eminent international forum, is under threat. There will be more wars and more Ghoutas. The future of collective global governance is looking bleak. Observer Neanderthals We were not alone The three human subspecies known to have hybridised to produce the present human population of the planet – Neanderthals, Homo sapiens and Denisovans – last had a common ancestor more than half a million years ago. Until now it has been assumed that the only branch of her descendants to think symbolically was us, Homo sapiens. But the discovery of palaeolithic art at four sites in Spain that dates from the time when the peninsula was occupied only by Neanderthals shows that they worked with symbols of stone and paint. We have no idea what these markings mean. But we know Neanderthals were anatomically equipped for speech; their use of painted symbols suggests that they could make audible symbols and not just visible ones. One of the effects of the discovery reported last month has been to push one of the standard tropes of science fiction 40,000 years into our past, when Homo sapiens met Homo neanderthalensis, another symbolically intelligent species. These encounters must have been reasonably peaceable, because Europeans and all other populations outside Africa carry some Neanderthal DNA. Pushing the emergence of language so far back is exciting enough. But the implications are dizzying. If Neanderthals and Homo sapiens developed the capacity for symbolic thought and language independently, the ground for it must have been prepared more than half a million years ago, when the ancestors of the Neanderthals first left Africa. If they did not develop it independently, then those ancestors, Homo erectus, must have had a capacity for symbolic thought far earlier than most scientists would think likely. Animals share almost all of the capacities once thought uniquely human. But only humans have symbolic language, so far as we know. Only humans form concepts and combine them as if they were physical tools and use them to shape the world. Now it seems that to be human in this sense is an older, stranger thing than anyone had dared to dream. Yes, there is a bridge over troubled waters Mark Rice-Oxley They are not a multibillion-dollar conspiracy dreamed up by Big Pharma Bond villains. They are not a futile cop-out from overextended family doctors. They are an effective treatment to alleviate symptoms of depression, a global scourge that affects as many as one in 20 people. Even the least effective antidepressants are better than placebos, the sugar pills dished out in trials. And placebos are better than nothing. The upshot of the study led by NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, the most intensive piece of meta-analysis ever conducted into antidepressants, is that the millions of people (including me) who take them – reluctantly, sceptically, hopefully – can continue to do so without feeling guilt, shame or doubt about their treatment. Moreover, doctors should feel no compunction about prescribing these drugs, though really they should be reserved for serious cases, and should be offered as part of a mix of interventions. Doctors might also consider changing the specific antidepressants they are dishing out: the league table that has emerged is fascinating to those on first-name terms with these medicines. The big surprises are that the two best known – Prozac (fluoxetine) and citalopram (mostly widely prescribed in the UK) – are relatively poor at their job. Of course, this is not the end of the story. The other big questions that have dogged antidepressants have not gone away: why they work for some and not for others (though this is the same with other medicines); why they take so damn long to kick in and how they work (the rather vague science is that they slow down the reuse of an important neurotransmitter, serotonin, deficiencies of which affect everything from mood and appetite to sleep and concentration). The other big question is what the long-term side effects are. Most people quit taking them within the first year. But an important minority take antidepressants as an openended treatment: they have tried life without and it doesn’t work. Who knows what the impact of a lifetime’s usage might be. But then again, something’s got to get you in the end. The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 23 Reply The cars and the stars • Our space race billionaires need to get a life. Why don’t they come to the rescue of our millions who are homeless and hungry? Ron Willis Perth, Western Australia Korean thaw ignores anger • Re: your recent leader comment (Korea’s Olympic thaw, 26 January). One of the most misguided and often neglected areas in our understanding of North Korea is that we are dealing with a country which has no parallel in its abuse of human rights and terrible record of provocations, mostly towards South Korea: not to mention numerous killings of innocent civilians and soldiers. The anger shared among many South Koreans, including younger generations, is that the current government is offering an olive branch of dubious nature despite the fact that the North is still threatening our country with nuclear weapons, and there is no progress at all on the major issues. When dealing with 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 PRE-FLOWN CAR SALES FROM $399,999,999 trade-in deals available Briefly Mopic/Alamy The front-page image on the 16 February edition (The billionaire’s space race) should give us pause. A Tesla car plus mannequin driver, helmeted, floats in space, dominating the moon or Earth in the background. What does this really tell us about our culture and Elon Musk? Once, such an image might have suggested, in the style of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a triumph of the human spirit. Now it tells us that Musk has pulled off the largest possible advertisement for the sale of his electric cars. It is a strictly consumer image. It tells us also of a kind of triumph for one of the most damaging technologies in human history, the private car. It also tells us literally of the backgrounding of our space environment, in the cause of sanctifying a shallow, hi-tech society that is rapidly losing the language and the imagery which might have helped us to retain a concept of nature and possibly, a fair part of nature herself. Denys Trussell Auckland, New Zealand time. These innocent people have been imprisoned for over four years, hostages who are even subject to people swaps with the US, that you report. Was any hostage crisis ever given less publicity? Only the Guardian Australia website and its reporter Ben Doherty do this violation justice. Stephen Langford Paddington, NSW, Australia countries like North Korea it is no use talking for the sake of talks, as modern European history with Nazi Germany amply demonstrates. The comparisons made with USChina, US-Soviet Union, and South Africa are misplaced in my judgment. Park Je-Geun Seoul, South Korea Journey to the Trump within After articles on Donald Trump by David Smith and Lauren Gambino, and Jonathan Freedland, in the 12 January issue, I felt the need to see him in a different light. Capricious, ego-driven and careless of public opinion, Trump is not stupid but neither is he smart enough to be a team player in the world of ethical politics. Instead, I see Trump’s appearance as a long-overdue wake-up call for all Americans, government leaders and the electorate to use Trump as a mirror to honestly recognise our own “Trumpisms” – where the government has gone wrong - and where each of us has our own “blind spot”. Mary MacMakin Kabul, Afghanistan Hostages, not detainees Thank you for continuing to track Australian abuse of refugees (World roundup, 23 February). Ian Rintoul and the Refugee Action Coalition you mention are stalwarts of the resistance here in Australia. The people on Manus and Nauru are, in truth, hostages, not “detainees”. Detention is for a short 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 • I note with interest the number of books written recently about death and dying (How death got cool, 9 February; and Books, 16 February). I am amazed at the way in which both the authors and reviewers regard the question of life after death as unworthy of serious consideration. I guess that a large majority of the world’s population have some faith or expectation of life after death, whether it be reincarnation or resurrection or whatever. If any of these believers are right, then nothing could be more important to consider than this. Martin Down Witney, UK • In praise of questions by Kenan Malik (23 February) was interesting, so some facts and a few questions. The universe is about 14bn years old, life appeared on Earth 3.8bn years ago, Homo sapiens appeared 200,000 years ago, and today we have approximately 4,000 religions, faiths, beliefs, and the sun will eventually consume the earth. Questions: is this a bad design fault as far as humans are concerned? If we do go to heaven for eternity what will we do to prevent boredom? And therefore time being so precious, is it worth listening to the president of the United States? Rhys Winterburn Perth, Western Australia • Oliver Burkeman (16 February) should stop his rationalising of the benefits of ageing with respect to youth. As the old saying goes, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Can’t do better than that. Robert Logan Carterton, New Zealand 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 2 March 1949 Forget the poetry. Follow that poet! We English, when it comes to literature, have always been more interested in Lives than in Works. To-day we gather our reward: the wealth of biographical gossip is by now so great that there is no need to waste one’s time on Works at all except for detective purposes. There they stand, the solemn ranks of Standard Works, but their sober dignity does not fool us any longer. We know now some of the things that went on behind those prim bindings. Did you hear the one about Wordsworth? The proper study of mankind is man and probably it would not be too difficult to get something quite new and really startling on Pope which would make reading him more comfortably irrelevant than ever. Not that we are out for scandal, necessarily. Oddities are always a good line in these jolly chats over the literary fence. Browning (did you know?) had one microscopic and one telescopic eye with the one he could watch things on the horizon, while the other was able to read small print by twilight (not, presumably, at the same time). This is the sort of thing we really like to know in order to avoid feeling out of touch.… Norman Shrapnel Corrections and Clarifications • An article about Freemasonry and parliament (P15, 9 February) conveyed a misleading impression. The lodges’ existence has been public for many years. The lodges meet at Freemasons’ Hall, Covent Garden, not at Westminster. The United Grand Lodge of England told the Guardian readers’ editor that no MPs are currently members of New Welcome Lodge, and that UGLE records do not show “lobby journalist” as the profession of any of its members but it cannot say with certainty that there are no lobby journalists who are UGLE Freemasons. UGLE said its chief executive believed that fewer than 10 current MPs were UGLE Freemasons. The Guardian Weekly’s policy is to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Please give the date, page or web link: guardian.readers@ theguardian.com or The readers’ editor, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, United Kingdom 24 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Eyewitnessed A seedling grows in cracked mud at Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa. Rainfall and water-saving measures have led the drought-hit city to push back to 9 July its “Day Zero” f Models backstage during Milan Fashion Week in Italy, where the Moschino show took inspiration from Jackie Kennedy’s 1960s look Tristan Fewings/Getty The northern lights seen near Strand, northern Norway. Brilliant swirls of colour appear when electrically charged particles from the Sun enter Earth’s atmosphere Martial Trezzini/EPA The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 25 forecast of when taps would need be turned off Mike Hutchings/Reuters Palestinians wait to enter Egypt from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing after Egyptian authorities opened it for four days, on 21 February, for humanitarian cases Said Khatib/Getty Stormzy performs at the UK music industry’s Brit Awards, in London, where the 24-year-old grime rapper won the best male artist and best British album awards Samir Hussein/WireImage Demonstrators stage a “lie-in”near the White House last week in support of gun control reform after the high school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead Zach Gibson/Getty 26 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Dubai’s big folly: why it’s A decade after it was scuppered by the ﬁnancial crash, the fantasy archipelago is back in business. But the seas around the project are still choppy, writes Oliver Wainwright I had the whole of Palestine to myself that day. It was only a short swim from Lebanon but, as I waded ashore out of the shallow, soupy water, it became clear that I was the only visitor the island had seen for some time. Clambering to the top of the hill, over a lunar landscape populated by the occasional piece of driftwood and the odd discarded beer bottle, I could see the sandy mounds of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia beyond, rising out of the sea like bobbing croutons. The gleaming spire of the Burj Khalifa twinkled through the haze on the distant horizon. A decade since it was dredged from the seabed, The World is a forlorn sight. It was the most ambitious plan of Dubai’s pre-crash bubble, topping the creation of peninsulas shaped like palm trees and the construction of the tallest building on the planet. In pursuit of the world’s attention, the oil-rich emirate would remake the world itself. “The Palm puts Dubai on the map,” proclaimed the marketing material at the time. “The World puts the map on Dubai.” Conceived in 2003, the project was to be an The vision collapsed just as quickly as computer renderings had been conjured exclusive offshore playground for film stars, royalty and celebrity tycoons: an artificial archipelago of 300 islands set three kilometres off the coast. Invitations to “Own the World” were sent to a targeted group of 50 potential buyers each year, offering tours of the site by yacht or helicopter, with prices for the islands ranging from $15m-50m. Richard Branson posed for photos on little Britain in a Union Jack suit; Karl Lagerfeld launched plans for a fashion-themed island; rumours swirled that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had acquired Ethiopia for their ever-expanding clan of adopted children. After five years of dredging, which saw 320m cubic metres of sand and 25m tonnes of rock hauled into place, the final stone in the breakwater was laid in January 2008 – on the eve of the global financial crisis. The vision collapsed just as quickly as the computer renderings had been conjured. Dubai World, the government investment arm in charge of the project, was revealed to have debts of $60bn. Surveying the barren spots of sand that dot the sea today – which, in aerial images, make it look The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 27 Under the skin Maverick immunologists at work → Books, pages 34-35 Financial folly … a graphic image of The World as it was originally envisioned Getty not the end of the The World as if the Gulf is suffering from a nasty case of acne – it’s hard to shake the sense of an Ozymandian ruin. Covering more than 5,000 hectares – almost seven times the size of Venice – and encircled by a 30kmlong breakwater, the remains of The World lie as a mind-boggling monument to the spectacular hubris of a moment in time when anything seemed possible. Overnight, billions of dollars in construction contracts evaporated in a puff of sand, leaving a trail of bankruptcies, lawsuits and unpaid debts. The owner of Great Britain, Safi Qurashi, was jailed, accused of bouncing cheques to the value of almost $70bn (for which he was later exonerated, after serving three years), and the owner of Ireland, John O’Dolan, killed himself in early 2009. After years of being hounded by irate investors wondering where their money had gone, the British co-owner of Thailand, Imtiaz Khoda, was recently jailed for an unrelated fraud. Dogged by associations with shell companies and criminal dealings, the whole project became toxic, damned by rumours of money-laundering, pyramid schemes and reports that the islands were sinking into the sea. Lebanon was the only island that opened to the public, and it still struggles on. For 200 dirham ($55), you can spend the day at its world-weary beach club, paddling in the pool and eating wagyu beef sliders on a faded fibreglass sun lounger. The island plays host to champagne-fuelled jamborees by night, as a venue for fashion shows, DJ parties and debauched corporate events. It seems like an appropriate place for a bit of end-of-the-world hedonism, surrounded by a scene of post-apocalyptic desolation. So it comes as some surprise to learn that construction is back under way. Standing on Lebanon’s beach alongside a small handful of other bewildered tourists, I see diggers in the distance, shifting sand beneath what looks like the frame of a substantial new building on the next island. Trucks are trundling from a concrete batching plant on Monaco over towards Sweden, where a series of villas are under construction, designed in collaboration with Bentley Home. On Italy, the Portofino Hotel is rising out of the sand, billed as the first familyoriented five-star hotel in the region. The ground is being prepared for the arrival of a sprawling Alpine-themed complex on the island of Switzerland, while a speedboat brings a couple of Emirati buyers to view a floating show home, and to marvel at the view from its glazed underwater bedroom. After a decade in limbo, The World is back – with more ambitious plans than before. “I am going to make it snow all year round,” says Josef Kleindienst. He is sitting in a white leather armchair in his office at the top of a tower in Dubai, from where he can survey the fronds of the Palm Jumeirah stretching out into the sea below. In the room next door stands an enormous model of his vision for the Heart of Europe, a fantastical concoction of Austrian castles, Swiss chalets, Russian palaces and, oddly, Polynesian huts set across a group of six islands, connected by meandering walkways and baroque bridges. “Rain and snow might not be so attractive if you live in northern Europe but, to someone in Dubai, they are magical things,” he says. “People here dance in the street when it rains.” Kleindienst explains how he has been working with scientists at the Fraunhofer Society in Germany to develop outdoor cooling technology using cold water. It has the same energy consumption and uses the same principle as conventional air conditioning, he says, except that the water will fall from a network of pipes in the form of rain. On a plaza in the Swiss-themed resort, the temperature will be cranked down a few notches to make snowflakes, which he says will settle on the ground thanks to cooling pipes buried beneath the surface. As a former police chief inspector in Austria, who set up his property development business in 1998 and moved to Dubai in 2002, Kleindienst makes an unlikely saviour of The World. He bought the island of Austria in 2006, before catching the bug and acquiring three more islands, then another three. Owners received access to their patches of sand from the master developer, Nakheel, in September 2008, one month before the full force of the financial crisis hit Dubai. “There was a chance, and there was a risk,” he says. “All the others saw the risk and left. We saw the chance and stayed.” As we walk around the Continued on page 28 → 28 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Weekly review ← Continued from page 27 big model, Kleindienst ticks off his countries and attractions. “St Petersburg is our honeymoon island,” he says, pointing out a blob of land that they have remodelled in the shape of a heart, dotted with thatched cabins, from which long piers extend to provide mooring posts for “Floating Seahorse” villas, on sale for 12-15m dirham. “Then we have the main Europe island, with our Ibiza party hotel and four city hotels – Munich, London, Amsterdam and Scandinavia, connected by a circular, glass-bottomed swimming pool on the roof – and the Ikaria wellness hotel, named after the Greek island where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else in the world.” It is a heady global smorgasbord, with little concern for geographical accuracy or architectural vernacular. Germany has been reserved for higher-end occupants – “the second or third homes of your average millionaire” – while Sweden is billed as the pinnacle of exclusivity, featuring 10 “palaces”, whose rooftops are modelled on the upturned hull of a viking ship. They come with infinity pools, private beaches and furniture branded with the winged B of Bentley. Kleindienst claims they have all been sold to members of the Gulf states’ ruling families, the last one for 75m dirham. Just as Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, gave one of The World islands to Formula One champion Michael Schumacher in 2006, as a ruse to encourage others to come here, so Kleindienst hopes to use the presence of royals as bait. “We know that where the royals are spending their summer vacation, many other people also want to be,” he says. But would privacy-seeking princes really want to relax anywhere near hundreds of other people holidaying in an Ibiza-themed resort? “One of our buyers could easily afford to buy a whole island of his own,” says Kleindienst, “but he wants to be part of our project so he can experience the snow plaza and enjoy all of the entertainment we will be laying on. We will have a restaurant from every country in Europe, and a different cultural festival each night.” With distances of just a few metres between the islands, it doesn’t feel like a particularly exclusive place. You’ll be able to wave at your neighbouring billionaire across a shallow channel. “We are working on floating landscaping for privacy,” says Kleindienst. “We have already tested floating palm trees.” Trees won’t be the only things bobbing in the water. Given the high premium on land, his company is developing plans for entire floating islands, beginning with Venice. Gondolas will weave between modern palazzos, set around a swimming pool proportioned to match St Mark’s Square, while underwater bedrooms and restaurants will provide views on to a new coral reef. He says they have already established a coral nursery on one of the islands, and plan to cultivate oyster beds too, with pearl-diving added to the list of attractions on offer. Wading through the murky water today, it is hard to believe the Photoshopped visions of people frolicking among shoals of exotic fish in a crystal-clear lagoon, lounging in their underwater lairs or playing in the snow. Kleindienst says the entire development and its 4,000 bedrooms will be completed in time for the Dubai Expo in 2020, which seems impossibly tight. He insists that most of the Floating Seahorse villas have been sold, promising investors a guaranteed yield of 8% over five years; but these figures are hard to take seriously when prime residential property yields in Dubai are about 5%. Nor might it be of particular encouragement to investors that one of Kleindienst’s structures recently sank after a New Year’s Eve party. For all the hype, industry insiders raise theireyebrows at the idea that The World is back on track. “When you go into these marketing suites, it feels like 2007 all over again,” says Dubai-based architect Sara Anwar, who was involved with Karl Lagerfeld’s plans for a fashion island, Isla Moda, before the financial crisis hit. The project, developed by Dubai Infinity Holdings, was to include a fashion resort, themed residential villas, haute couture boutiques and luxury hospitality facilities, all aimed at ultrahigh net worth individuals (or UHNWIs as they are known – an acronym that, when pronounced, sounds appropriately like “unwise”). “Every five minutes a bus would arrive at the sales office full of potential buyers, and people would fly here on their private jets for the most lavish launch parties imaginable,” Anwar says. “Everyone here on the ground had a real belief in what was happening, but there was definitely a sense of scepticism from outsiders when they arrived.” Others dismiss the new plans outright as a financial loser, but Kleindienst’s bullish attitude appears to be rubbing off. After a decade of despair, some other island owners have been buoyed by the company’s efforts. Seven Tides, an Emirati developer, announced in September that it planned to complete a 100-villa resort on one of its 10 islands in the South America cluster by the end of 2018. “This will be the first resort of its kind anywhere on The World,” said the company’s CEO, Abdulla Bin Sulayem. “The design is beautiful, which is important, because if we don’t have a ‘wow’ factor, there’s no point in doing it.” Commenting on the unlikely speed of the project, he added: “When you’re building lots of [similar structures], everything is like Lego,” which doesn’t bode particularly well for the quality of the plans. It’s not the first time Seven Tides has announced its intention to be the first to have a resort open on The World. In 2009, it promised a scheme of chalets on stilts would be “opening soon” on the islands of Buenos Aires, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and the Falklands, complete with swimming pools and tennis courts. Nothing has materialised. As if to complete the sense of deja vu, bringing back a touch of celebrity sparkle, the actor Lindsay Lohan, who recently moved to Dubai, has announced that she too is designing her own island on The World. “I have a lot of little projects [in Dubai] because I like to keep busy,” she told a US talkshow in January, describing her expansive range of branded enterprises, including “Lohan Island”. “I’m outtrumping Trump with the name Lohan!” These days there is no sign of The World in the sales office of Nakheel, the government-owned development company founded in 2000 to head up the offshore projects. I arrive at their complex of domed buildings set in a lush tropical garden, to be welcomed into a marketing suite beneath a roof recalling a bedouin tent, where polished steel palm trees tower over a model of the Palm Jumeirah. “People ask why we build new land in the sea when we have so much empty desert,” says Mohammed Rashed Bin Dhabeah, Nakheel’s managing director of development, adjusting his crisp white keffiyeh. A vitrine of miniature sports cars stands against one wall of his office, and a signed Lionel Messi football shirt hangs framed on another. “We only have 60km of beach running along the coast of the Emirates, but we have 14 million visitors a year who come here for the beaches. So we needed to create more beach.” It all began with the Palm Jumeirah, an idea credited to Sheikh Mohammed, who is said to have sketched out the form of the trunk and fronds as the most efficient shape to maximise the amount of beachfront. Each frond would be like a street, with a The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 29 Fantasy islands or a very warm version of American suburbia … clockwise from top, a model of The World in Josef Kleindienst’s offices; workers on the World travel back to the mainland; loungers on ‘Lebanon’ gaze across to ‘Palestine’ and the Dubai skyline; an underwater bedroom on the Floating Seahorse villa in 2018 Oliver Wainwright; David Levene row of properties on either side, backing on to their own stretch of private beach. It was a winning formula: the plots sold out in two days. Walking up the hard shoulder of the roaring highway of the Palm today (there is no pavement; everyone drives), the feeling is less one of an exclusive private enclave than that of a generic slice of American suburbia. The houses have been packed in, at three times the original planned density, leaving rows of McMansions looking across at each other between thin strips of stagnant water. In the sales brochures and news reports, this new form of Google Earth urbanism was intoxicating, especially given that much of the intended audience would never see it in reality. The media frenzy generated by the Palm was enough to convince Nakheel to plan a further two palm-shaped islands of even greater size: the Palm Jebel Ali, further south along the coast towards Abu Dhabi, and the gargantuan Palm Deira nearer Dubai’s old town centre, sevenand-a-half times the size of the original. Together, they would add more than 400km of coastline to the shores of Dubai, and provide an additional 6,000 hectares of land – an area larger than Manhattan. In a move that now seems like tempting fate, the Palm Jebel Ali was to feature a halo of calligraphically shaped islands, spelling out the lines of a poem written by Sheikh Mohammed: “Take wisdom only from the wise, / Not everyone who rides a horse is a jockey. / It takes a man of vision to write on water, / Great men rise to great challenges.” In this case, the challenge proved too great. The shape of Jebel Ali was formed, but the project has been on hold ever since. Meanwhile, Palm Deira got as far as the base of the trunk before the rest of the tree was cancelled, its sorry stump since rebranded “Deira Islands”. Caught up in a frenzy of shape-making, before the palms hit the buffers, The World was the obvious next step. “After the success of the Palm Jumeirah, people wanted their own private islands,” says Bin Dhabeah. “The World was a way of creating a place where each person could do their own thing.” On the corridor outside his office hangs a satellite view that shows not only The World and the three palms, but a cacophony of other swirly shapes that fill the entire area of sea between the mainland and the existing islands. There are moon-shaped crescents, cosmic starbursts and wiggling worms, arranged in an indiscriminate muddle, as if someone had spilt a bowl of spaghetti shapes across the map. This is The Universe, an aborted plan for an additional 3,000 hectares of fantasy islands shaped like the Milky Way and the solar system. It was announced in January 2008, just as The World was completed, but was swiftly sucked into the great black hole of the financial crisis. “We don’t talk about that one,” says the PR, chivvying me out of the office. Sitting at home in Miami, the architect of these crazed visions recalls a time when Nakheel couldn’t have been keener to shout its plans from the rooftops, recounting a rose-tinted era when nothing was deemed too outlandish. “They were totally unfazed by anything,” says Luis Ajamil, president of the architecture group Bermello Ajamil & Partners. “The Universe would have been longer than Miami Beach in its entirety. It even had its own airport, and would have needed 1 or 2 million people to make it successful. They said: ‘So what?’ If you said no to them, it was their trip to say: ‘OK then, we’ll do it.’” Ajamil did manage to bring a little bit of market sense to the madness. Before he got involved, The World had been planned solely with private owners in mind. “It soon turned out that there weren’t 300 people who wanted to buy an island for $30m,” he says, “so we changed the plan and increased the density to make it commercially viable, more like a city without cars. Imagine Venice on steroids.” His team developed a zoning plan, locating the more public, resort-style islands closer to the mainland, while the more exclusive areas for private estates were sited further back towards the Gulf. Antarctica was imagined as a big commercial hub, with rows of seven-storey hotels and a beach facing Dubai, creating a wall of development that would have essentially blocked the sought-after view of the mainland from the private islands behind. Ajamil says sales really took off when they demonstrated how owners could re-shape their islands, carving coves, inlets and marinas to create more saleable area. His practice worked on a number of the early schemes, including a plan to divide Moscow into two islands, connected by a five-storey glass box called Red Square, which would have glowed red by night. He also planned to slice the UK landmass in two, connecting the slivers with what he describes as “an abstract interpretation of Tower Bridge”. That wasn’t the only replica icon: “A lot of people were looking at recreating wonders of the world. At one point I counted seven Eiffel Towers.” The premise behind The World was fundamentally transformed from being a community of exclusive desert islands, with a villa on each, to thin strips of sand carved, stretched and squeezed to ensure the maximum commercial return. Bermello Ajamil’s design for the UK bears no relation to the outline of Britain, or to its architecture. Instead, it looks like a pair of mating caterpillars, upon which dozens of white modernist holiday homes have been packed side by side. The high-density rezoning paved the way for Kleindienst’s plans, which do their best to fill every bit of land and sea available, creating an atmosphere redolent of the Costa del Sol. But all of this planned terraforming was facing a more fundamental hurdle: they were running out of sand. “When they started building the first Palm, the dredgers just went out and scoured sand from a few hundred metres around the site and piled it up,” says Ajamil. “But as they built the next palm and The World, there was no sand left nearby. By the time The World was being finished, the ships were going out 20km or more. The costs were getting prohibitive.” And presumably the tangled knots of the Universe would have drastically reduced the value of the existing islands? “Absolutely,” says Ajamil. “But, by then, a lot of The World was already sold.” The speed of the sales, at the height of the bubble, was based on the fact that buyers would readily pay 100% cash up front, based on drawings alone. “You didn’t need to raise capital – that’s why things moved so fast,” he says. “Now it’s a model that requires risk and debt, and a lot of these developers are not equipped for that.” Still, he is optimistic that The World will be inhabited one day. “It will take a different mindset and a bit of focus from the Dubai government, but it’ll happen. There are billions of dollars of sales that have been made. That money is not just going to sit out there for ever.” Unless, that is, those billions have already been swallowed into the sea. 30 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Weekly review A correspondent’s life under Putin The Russia reported on by Shaun Walker has only ever had one man at the helm, but it has changed immeasurably W orking on one of my final stories as the Guardian and Observer’s Moscow correspondent last December, I took my seat at the Bolshoi Theatre for the premiere of Nureyev. The ballet told the story of superstar dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who defected from the Soviet Union to the west. The premiere had been postponed at the last minute some months previously, partly due to its gay themes. In the interim, the ballet’s director, Kirill Serebrennikov, known for his risque productions and political activism, had been placed under house arrest on embezzlement charges that most people thought were spurious. He’s still there and risks a long jail sentence. The Bolshoi’s gilded, celebrated auditorium was packed with the elite of Vladimir Putin’s Moscow. Theatre and television stars mingled with government officials and Putin cronies and they all sat through the powerful staging that dealt with the search for personal and artistic freedom under the oppressive Soviet regime. It did not require great leaps of thought to transpose the layers of history on to the present day. At the end of the performance, the cast came on stage wearing T-shirts and demanded that Serebrennikov be freed. They were applauded from the stalls by the representatives of the regime that had locked him away. The evening was a distillation of all the things that had first drawn me to Moscow. The coexistence of beauty and horror, hope and despair, glory and absurdity is frustrating yet alluring. Russia gets under your skin. For me, it’s been a particularly long journey. I first set foot on Russian soil as an 18-year-old in January 2000, a few weeks after Putin had first been made acting president by Boris Yeltsin. I leave, all these years later, with Putin about to be re-elected for another term. I saw the consequences of the Soviet collapse vividly on my first trip to Russia. Life in the decade since 1991 had progressed along the lines of a particularly implausible episode of a job-swap reality TV show: biochemists were now taxi drivers, market stallholders were CEOs. The criminals became the authorities and those who tried to stand up against them became the criminals. A few people had pilfered all the ladders, leaving the rest to be devoured by snakes. A few young business-oriented types saw it as a time of great excitement and opportunity, but most people seemed lost on some kind of existential level – plaintive, overwhelmed and alarmed by the chaos that a decade of “democracy” had brought. Two years earlier, a financial meltdown had meant that millions of Russians lost whatever paltry savings they had managed to put aside. Public opinion surveys from the time show that the majority of people were unimpressed with the new Russia. At the end of 2000, 75% of people said they regretted that the Soviet Union had collapsed. “Most of the population didn’t recognise the Russian Federation as a real thing,” I was told much later by Gleb Pavlovsky, an adviser to both Yeltsin and Putin. “They felt like they lived in some kind of strange offshoot of the Soviet Union. We had to ensure the handover, but we also had to create some sense of nation.” This, in the broadest terms, was Putin’s mission. At the end of 2003, after university, I returned to Moscow. I worked for an NGO for a year before taking up journalism. The city was slowly becoming more prosperous. Over the next decade, oil prices rose so high that, even allowing for the rampant corruption in Putin’s inner circle, money did trickle down and provide real benefits to people in the cities. In Moscow and other major settlements, abject squalor was disappearing from the central streets and a middle class began to develop. With it came coffee shops, wine bars and frequent flights to Europe. Many of my Moscow friends seemed to live life at a faster, more exciting pace than people I knew in London. Unsurprisingly, given the turbulence of the past decades, people tended to live in the moment and nobody thought about savings or pensions. Moscow life was turbulent, unpredictable and extremely fun. The journalism, too, could be fun. In what other region of the world would a top official mention as an aside during an interview that he had been abducted by aliens in a yellow spaceship? Where but in the former Soviet lands would a journalist get to meet a reclusive billionaire who had for years lived incognito in a glass castle among a collection of exotic pets, before deciding he wanted to become prime minister, and winning? (Those were the leader of the Russian region of Kalmykia and the leader of Georgia, respectively.) Over the years, I’ve met oligarchs and warlords, shamans and terrorists, mad scientists and musical prodigies. Of course, every corner of the globe is interesting, but I can’t help thinking that the former Soviet countries do this combination of depressing, inspiring and bizarre like nowhere else. Not all the reporting was fun and there was plenty to be depressed about in the suffocating crackdowns on civil society, the egregious inequality and the horrendous social problems. Putin’s goal has been to imbue this creaking nation with a new vitality and create a sense of national unity. For his first decade in power, the gradual economic improvements were enough to satisfy many Russians that things were gradually going to get better. Hard ideology was thin on the ground and the Kremlin spin doctors (or “political technologists” as they are called in Russia) who employed it often did so cynically. Russians had watched the once-rigid ideological constraints of the Soviet Union crumble and had then seen the lofty democratic slogans of the 1990s disintegrate in an orgy of stealing. It led to a The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 31 Swings and roundabouts … youthful Russians on a fairground ride near St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow; below left: a flag flying in celebration of Vladimir Putin’s 2012 election victory Grigory Dukor/Reuters; Alexander Nemenov/Getty situation where nobody really believed in anything at all. The Kremlin manipulated the political playing field, creating pocket opposition parties, liberals or nationalists, and removing them again if they grew too popular. I once visited a political technologist who was working on a campaign for a regional mayor who had been using “traditional values” rhetoric. He welcomed me to an office covered from floor to ceiling with Orthodox religious icons. I mentioned to him that the devout backdrop seemed at odds with his outfit, a black jumpsuit and a fluorescent orange bandana. “Oh, I’m not at all religious,” he told me with a laugh. “I just like to change my ideological surroundings every few weeks for inspiration.” One of the only narratives to rouse genuine feelings was the Soviet victory in the second world war, or the Great Patriotic War, as it’s still known. The book I’ve written about my time in Russia, The Long Hangover, is partly about Putin’s attempts to overcome the legacy of the Soviet collapse and restore a In what other region of the world would a top official mention that he had been abducted by aliens? sense of pride to Russians, particularly through the war victory. The victory of 1945 was the answer to the trauma of 1991. For a wounded nation that had few victories to celebrate in living memory, the war was a powerful rallying point. Almost every family had some connection to the war, in which the Soviet sacrifice was unimaginably huge, but gradually under Putin, the darker sides of the war effort and the Stalin regime that ran the country at the time were pushed to one side. The understandable search for national pride gave way to jingoistic chest-thumping. War rhetoric was also used to colour the present-day narrative; again, Russia alone faced a rapacious enemy – this time, the US. Of course, all countries have a selective approach to their histories but in Russia, the selective memory reached truly disturbing levels and the glorious war narrative became something akin to a civil religion, with its own saints, martyrs and unimpeachable truths. The logical conclusion of this increasing bellicosity came in 2014. The Maidan revolution was answered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and then the months of war in eastern Ukraine. Thousands were killed, including the passengers of flight MH17, almost certainly shot down by a Russian missile meant for a Ukrainian military plane. There were many reasons why Putin decided to annex Crimea and get involved in eastern Ukraine, but among them was the clash between two nations still attempting to create their new national identities after the Soviet collapse. The second half of my book is about the events of 2014 and its pages are filled with those who struggled to find new identities in the post-Soviet world. After 2014, anti-western sentiment in Russia rose and reporting on the Kremlin became more difficult. Putin’s inner circle shrank further and some of the few doors that had been ajar to me were slammed shut. The idea that the west was working for regime change in Russia, and that the foreign media were merely an arm of this policy, became more widespread. At one meeting with a reasonably high-placed official, whom I’d hoped to cultivate as a source, my interlocutor pounced on me: “You think we’re barbarians, don’t you?” “Of course not! That’s a ridiculous thing to say,” I said. He fixed his eyes on me: “Well, we are barbarians, OK? But it’s your fault. Why can’t you just leave us alone? Why can’t the west just stop interfering in our affairs? You did it in 1917, you did it in 1991, and now you are again trying to bring the country to a collapse and you will only succeed in making us more angry! We know things are wrong here, but we will fix them ourselves! Leave us alone!” The paranoid outburst was an insight into the curious duality so often present in the Russian psyche: aggression and insecurity. Russian patriotism is fixated on the west and often rooted in an inferiority complex. This is not that surprising given what Moscow lost when the Soviet Union collapsed. Much of Putin’s time in office has been about trying to restore this influence. Sometimes, he has succeeded: the intervention in Syria has reshaped the Middle East and forced the west to have Russia at the table, even if Russian casualties could become a problem for the Kremlin. At other times, he has overreached: the interference in the US election may have won Donald Trump a few votes and Putin some notoriety, but it has also made Russia a toxic subject across the western world. Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russians for election interference last month are one more sign that the scandal is not likely to abate soon. As the international political situation deteriorated over recent years, the quality of life in Moscow kept improving. Part of the response to protests against Putin in 2011 and 2012, largely driven by urban elites, was a beautification project designed to make Moscow nicer and distract people from politics. This process continued after 2014. Whether the plan to divert attention has worked is harder to gauge. For now, political apathy reigns both among the urban elite and the broader population and Putin is sure to win re-election. It will be strange for me to follow what happens next in Russia from outside its borders. While I’m ready to leave, I suspect that one day I’ll be back. Having seen nothing but Putin’s Russia in the 18year span of my time there, I’m fascinated by what post-Putin Russia will look like, whether we have to wait six or 26 years to find out. Shaun Walker was Moscow correspondent of the Guardian and Observer from 2013-2018. This month he takes up a new role as Central and Eastern Europe correspondent, based in Budapest 32 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Discovery China’s great leap forward in science Investment is paying oﬀ with serious advances in biotechnology, computing and space that are making western labs take notice, says Philip Ball I first met Xiaogang Peng in the summer of 1992 at Jilin University in Changchun, in the remote north-east of China, where he was a postgraduate student in the department of chemistry. He told me that his dream was to get a place at a top American lab. Xiaogang was smart and hardworking – but so, as far as I could see, were most Chinese science students. I couldn’t help thinking he’d set himself a massive challenge. Fast forward four years to when, as an editor at Nature, I publish a paper on nanotechnology from world-leading chemists at the University of California at Berkeley. Among them was Xiaogang. That 1996 paper now appears in a 10-volume compendium of the all-time best of Nature papers being published in translation in China. I watched Xiaogang go on to forge a solid career in the US, as in 2005 he became a tenured professor at the University of Arkansas. But when I recently had reason to get in touch with Xiaogang again, I discovered that he had moved back to China and is now at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou – one of the country’s foremost academic institutions. For Xiaogang, it seems that America was no longer the only land of opportunity. These days, Chinese scientists stand at least as good a chance of making a global impact on science from within China itself. The economic rise of China has been accompanied by a waxing of its scientific prowess. In January, the United States National Science Foundation reported that the number of scientific publications from China in 2016 outnumbered those from the US for the first time: 426,000 versus 409,000. Sceptics might say that it’s about quality, not quantity. But the patronising old idea that China, like the rest of east Asia, can imitate but not innovate is certainly false now. In several scientific fields, China is starting to set the pace for others to follow. Whereas once the best Chinese scientists would pack their bags for greener pastures abroad, today it’s comto mon for Chinese postdoctoral researcherss to n a leading lab in the get experience in west and then head ead home where rnment will help the Chinese government them set up a lab that will eclipse their western competitors. mpetitors. een lured back Many have been by the Thousand d Talents Plan, in which scientists ists aged under hinese citizens 55 (whether Chinese or not) are given n full-time positions at prestigious gious universites, with larger ties and institutes, than normal salaries aries and g resources. “Deng Xiaoping sent many Chinese students and scholars out of China to developed countries 30 to 40 years ago, and now it is time for them to come back,” says George Fu Gao of the Institute of Microbiology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing – who himself gained a PhD at Oxford before studying at Harvard. “The startup packages for researchers in good universities in China can be significantly higher than Hong Kong universities can offer,” says Che Ting Chan, a physicist at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology in what was previously China’s affluent and westernised neighbour. “They provide more lab space and can help settle the spouse.” That, he notes ruefully, “makes recruiting young faculty staff increasingly challenging here.” Other well-off east Asian countries, such as Singapore and South Korea, are feeling the competition too. The Chinese authorities are pursuing scientific dominance with systematic resolve. The annual expenditure on research and development in China increased from 1995 to 2013 by a factor of more than 30, and reached $234bn in 2016. The number of international publications coming out of China has remained in step with this rise. The ultimate aim is to develop a homegrown, innovative research environment, says Mu-Ming Poo of the Institute of Neuroscience of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai. “The government is beginning to recognise that big investment and recruitment of talent from abroad are not sufficient. We need to build infrastructure and mechanisms that facilitate innovation within China.” That’s not easy, and won’t happen fast. “Officially, government leaders say that taking risks is allowed, but the system of evaluating scientists and projects, and the philosophy and methods of instruction in university curricula, aren’t compatible with this policy.” China’s strength also comes down to sheer numbers, though. “There is always a certain fraction of talented people who are innovative,” says Chan. China has the advantage of h “China having a lot of people.” controver One of the more controversial ways Chinese institutions encourage enco ourage their researchers to publish high-prof high-profile papers is to offer cash incentives. inc One study that on average a paper found th in Nature Na or Science could earn the author a bonus of almost $44,000 in 2016. almo The highest prize on offer wa was $165,000 for a single paper, up to 20 times a pape typ typical university proffessor’s annual salary. According to quanttum physicist Jian-Wei Pan of the University of P Science and Technology in Hefei, as a relative latecomer to the global scientific stage, China needs such incentives as a way of maintaining enthusiasm. Chan adds that “the rewarding system is transparent, and the expectation of the senior administration is clearly spelled out. Most of my friends in China don’t see this as a problem – many feel that any formula, even if it’s simple and naive, is better than no formula.” But could it not tempt researchers to cheat, fabricate or cherrypick results so that they can claim a dramatic discovery? The 2016 study of cash incentives also reported a rise in plagiarism, ghostwritten papers and other dishonest attempts to get published. Poo says that, whatever the case, the practice of cash incentives is not widespread. “Only a few low-level research institutions are doing this, not the Chinese Academy of Sciences or top universities,” he says. He thinks that problems with scientific misconduct and fraud in China have more to do with poor quality control or lack of punitive measures. However, the pattern seems clear, and is worth heeding by other nations: despite China’s reputation for authoritarian and hierarchical rule, in science the approach seems to be to ensure that top researchers are well supported with funding and resources, and then to leave them to get on with it. Cloning, embryology and virology The recent news that a laboratory in Shanghai has succeeded in cloning macaque monkeys made world headlines not just because of the impressive The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 33 Headline advances … bottom left, cloned monkeys Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua in Shanghai; a rocket carrying cargo spacecraft Tianzhou 1, which docked with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory in 2017 Reuters; VCG/Getty – not for reproductive medicine but to examine the viability of the technique to edit a disease-causing gene variant, using IVF embryos that could not develop further. That work was refused publication in the leading journals Nature and Science on ethical grounds, although related work has now been licensed and conducted in the UK. China is taking great strides in other areas of biological science, too. The waves of deadly bird flu that have afflicted the country annually since it was first detected in 2013 supply a very urgent need for research in virology. Chinese researchers had already learned a lot about viral epidemics, says George Gao, after the outbreak of the particularly virulent form of influenza that caused Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2002-03, originating in Guangzhou. Gao’s work has focused on understanding how zoonotic viruses like bird flu, which cross from animals to humans, are transmitted across species. He has also looked at the structures and molecular mechanisms of the Sars, Ebola, Zika and Mers (Middle East respiratory syndrome) viruses, all of which potentially pose global threats. The government has invested heavily in this field, he says, but he has no illusions that China still has some catching up to do. “In my opinion we are yet far behind US science in general. And we need a better system to encourage businesses to develop basic research.” The quantum internet Illustration: Edward Tuckwell scientific feat but because of the implications for humans. While mammals from sheep (Dolly in 1997) to pigs, dogs and cows have been cloned before, primates have been a problem. Mu-Ming Poo and his colleagues cracked the problem by treating the monkey eggs into which the genetic material of the cloned individual had been placed with a cocktail of molecules that awaken the genes needed to promote development into an embryo. The Chinese team has so far only produced healthy baby monkeys by cloning cells taken from other monkey foetuses, not from adult monkeys. But Poo tells me: “I think cloning using adult cells will be accomplished soon, probably within one year.” Such experiments on our close evolutionary relatives raise ethical concerns, all the more so because there were many failures: only two live births out of 79 attempts. Nonetheless, the work makes human reproductive cloning look more feasible in principle. And despite the ethical issues surrounding such research (many countries ban it), the magnitude and cost of the work already undertaken reinforces a sense that if China sets its sights on a particular scientific or technological target, nothing will get in its way. It’s with good reason Poo asserts that China has become a world leader in stem-cell science and regenerative medicine. Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou created similar surprise and alarm when in 2015 they announced the first use of high-precision gene-editing in a human embryo In January, Chinese researchers announced that they had sent data securely encrypted using the rules of quantum mechanics via satellite to Vienna in Austria – a demonstration of the potential of a “quantum internet” that Dutch quantum physicist hnical University of Delft Ronald Hanson of the Technical ilestone towards future describes to me as “a milestone quantum networks”. Quantum information technologies harness ciples of quantum physthe counterintuitive principles rmation that are imposics to do things with information sible with the 1s and 0s off binary code in today’s puters can, for some devices. Quantum computers tasks, operate faster and d with more computational resources than ordinary inary computers, while ications network – the a quantum telecommunications quantum internet – could d employ data-encryption methods that are rendered dered tamper-proof by m laws of nature. The the fundamental quantum uantum cryptography principles of so-called quantum were worked out in the 1980s, but applying oded in light signals them to information encoded ission is an immense for long-distance transmission technical challenge. China’s approach here again exemplifies its vernment has begun can-do mentality. The government to install a fibre-optic network twork for quantum hing from Shanghai telecommunication stretching to Beijing. But for longer-distance -distance transmisood because the light sion optical fibres are no good signal eventually gets too dim as it passes along the fibre. Instead signals must be through the ct orbiting satellites air, using lasers to connect 016 with ground stations. In 2016 China initiated an internanaantional project called Quanace tum Experiments at Space Scale (Quess) and launched ed a satellite designed for quantum data handling, called Micius after the romanised name of the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi. The satellite work is being led by Jian-Wei Pan, who studied for his PhD in Vienna under Anton Zeilinger, one of the foremost scientists in the field of quantum information science. In 2009 Pan oversaw the task of constructing a “quantum communication hotline” for the military parade on the 60th anniversary of the Chinese communist state, and in 2012 he won the prestigious biennial International Quantum Communication award. Pan’s success in getting this technology up and running feels almost inexorable. Last year his team in Hefei drew more headlines by demonstrating the first “teleportation” of quantum objects (photons or “particles” of light) from the ground-based observatory at Ngari in Tibet to Micius, up to 1,400km away. The feat is not quite as science-fictional as it sounds – quantum teleportation, unlike the Star Trek version, does not involve any transmission of matter – but it could be an important trick for quantum telecommunications. The team also reported transmission of the “key” used for quantum encryption of signals between ground stations in China and Micius. The latest advance was to get such keys all the way from Beijing to Vienna. This meant sending a laser signal with the quantum information from the Xinglong observatory near Beijing to Micius as it passed over China, and then having Micius communicate another such message with a station in Graz as it traversed the night sky over Austria. The link-up between Xinglong and Beijing, and between Graz and Vienna, was made along local fibre-optic networks. In this way, a video conference held between the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Austrian Academy of Sciences (of which Zeilinger is president) in Vienna was conducted with the robust security of quantum encryption – a striking harbinger of what a quantum internet might provide. Pan says that the key to the success of Quess so far is coordination and collaboration within the immense pool of talent that Ch China possesses. “When researchers [in different disciplines] undertake joint research, they can ttruly innovate,” he says. is still important Acquiring skills abroad ab for Chinese researche researchers, says Pan, and will be for some time. But increasingly it’s workround. “In my laboratory ing the other way rou there are quite a few fforeign students from developed countries, and some of them are Chinese,” he says. even learning Chinese Space In June the Chinese space s agency plans to launch a lunar space mission to deliver a satellite that will gui guide a rocket in 2019 to the far (“dark”) side of o the moon, bearing a robotic lander vehicl vehicle. The satellite link is essential for relaying for relayin data from the rover back to Earth. It’s a all part of a campaign aiming at a manned moon mission in the 2030s. China is already alre regarded as a serious contender wit with the US, Europe and Russia for predom predominance in space . It has launched two prototype unmanned space stations in its Tiangong programme, a prelude to Tiangon Tiangong-3, which, if launched in the early 2020s, will w support a crew of three – potentially including astronauts from other UN member nations. China has even nati disc discussed building a moon bas base with the European Space Agency. Observer Spa 34 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Books Life-saving wonders that take place beneath our skin Mark Honigsbaum is intrigued by the mavericks who work on the human immune response The Beautiful Cure: Harnessing Your Body’s Natural Defences by Daniel M Davis Bodley Head, 272pp In 1989, Charles Janeway, a scientist at Yale University, had an epiphany that would revolutionise immunology. For 50 years, immunologists had subscribed to the dogma that vaccines worked by training the body to recognise molecules that were foreign to the body – “non-self” in immunological jargon. The usual way of doing this was to use vaccines to expose people to a dead or harmless version of a microbe, prompting the activation of antibodies that would be ready to swamp the germ should they encounter the alien entity a second time. But there were exceptions to the rule: sometimes, proteins separated from originating germs proved ineffective as vaccines; at other times, vaccines required the addition of an adjuvant, such as aluminium, to kickstart an immune response and no one could explain why. What if, wondered Janeway, the presence of something that had never been in your body before was not sufficient to trigger an immune reaction? What if a second signal was required? Today, that second something is known as a pattern-recognition receptor and it is understood that there are countless varieties of them, each equipped to detect specific types of germs and switch on the appropriate immune responses. Together with an alphabet soup of other specialised cells, hormones and proteins, they form part of our innate immune system, helping us to distinguish harmful bacteria and viruses from rom beneficial ones, such as gut microbes obes essential for digestion. For Daniel Davis, professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, they constitute a “beautiful cure” more powerful than an any product of a pharmaceutical al laboratory. Yet it is only in the pastt 30 years that immunologists such h as Davis and Janeway, who died in 2003, have begun to shed light on these “wonders taking place beneath the skin”. In the process, they have found new ways to treat cancer, diabetes, arthritis and other agerelated diseases. Immunologists are even beginning to understand d the way in which immune responses are dependent on emotional and psychological states and the role that stress and exposure to light play in fighting disease. Given this, you would have thought that research into the workings of the immune system would be a top scientific priority. But while billions have been poured into the pursuit of the Higgs boson, immunology lacks a similar programmatic call-to-arms. Instead, Davis argues, immunology has always been a curiosity-driven science, a matter of “a few individuals following their nose”. This is nowhere more true than in the case of interferon. A signalling protein involved in a host of immune responses, interferon owes its discovery to a chance meeting in 1956 between two scientists at the National Institute of Medical Research in Mill Hill, north London. At a time when their colleagues were focused on tthe epidemiology of flu, Alick Isaacs and Jean Lindenmann asked Isaac different question: a completely c namely, why was it so rare for somenam one to be infected with two different viruses at the same time? That viru observation went back at least as obse far as a Charles Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who commented he Erasm had n never seen a patient with measles also had smallpox, but until Isaacs who a no one had thought and Lindenmann Li to inve investigate the phenomenon. They found that by signalling genes produce proteins such as tetherin to to prod attack viruses, vi interferon played a crucial role in th this process. In an example of how in science scienc everything comes full circle, recent st studies even suggest interferon may help people stave off flu, explaining why people who lack a key interferon-stimulating gene are more likely to be admitted to hospital for the disease. This is important because if people who lack the interferon gene could be screened and prioritised Billions have been poured into the pursuit of the Higgs boson; immunology lacks a similar call-to-arms The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 35 The flaw in the mafia code is misogyny The Good Mothers by Alex Perry William Collins, 320pp Clare Longrigg Observer Prepare to repel … our ability to fight viruses can depend on emotional and psychological states as well as physical defences, recent research has shown PlrangGFX/Alamy for vaccination in the autumn, it could reduce the number of elderly patients hospitalised in winter. Davis is a sure and engaging guide to these developments. Beginning with Janeway’s prediction of pattern-recognition receptors, each chapter is devoted to a scientist, or often a pair of scientists, who, working outside the mainstream, thought to ask questions no one else was asking at the time and often had to endure years of scepticism and scorn before seeing their ideas accepted (unfortunately in Janeway’s case he died before the award of the Nobel prize to a colleague whose research was inspired by his theories). These mavericks include Ralph Steinman, the Canadian immunologist credited with the discovery of dendritic cells, and Jim Allison, whose discovery of “immune checkpoint therapy” is fast becoming an important adjunct to radiotherapy and chemotherapy for the treatment of cancers. In each case, Davis shows how these scientific thinkers overturned the previous dogma and progressively deepened the story of immunology. His message is that, although knowledge of the immune system has come on in leaps and bounds in the past 100 years, immunology still lacks a unifying theory. “We must not expect everything the immune system does to fit any one overarching principle,” he concludes. “The system discriminates between self and non-self, and it detects germs, and it responds to danger, and it does all these things concurrently – and messily.” Observer When Alessandra Cerreti joined the anti-mafia prosecutor’s office in the city of Reggio Calabria in 2010, she was convinced women were the key to breaking open the secret world of Italy’s most powerful mafia. Women, she believed, were more than victims. If they could be persuaded to talk, their knowledge could be devastating. There were precedents, though not many – the ’Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, is based on family groups ruled with a combination of loyalty and fear and, as its wealth and power have grown, it has proved extremely difficult to penetrate. Cerreti is tough, cool and striking, a brilliant investigator who came to Calabria after working on terrorism cases. Her husband is a carabiniere, and they live under armed guard – they have no children because their work makes them a target. In Calabria, Cerreti found she was up against not only the mafia’s violent and oppressive treatment of women, but also some of her male colleagues, who were reluctant to take female witnesses seriously. In about 2010, three women from different Calabrian crime families each made a desperate bid to escape from the mafia’s grip. They had all married young and suffered in violent relationships. For these women, whose entire families and social networks were rooted in the mafia, becoming a collaborator offered a way out, but not without collateral damage. The painful and dangerous process of these women’s rebellion against the family makes a gripping and heartbreaking narrative. Maria Concetta Cacciola had been a virtual prisoner in her own home for years when she walked into a police station and said she wanted to collaborate. Once Cerreti had established that she was serious, and had valuable information to give, she moved her to a safe place and interviewed her. To leave the mafia means much more than physically getting away from it. If you leave, the women are told, you cease to exist. You might as well be dead; you will have no place in your children’s lives. This emotional pressure can be annihilating. Cacciola went home, even though the family had threatened to kill her. In August 2011, Cerreti and her officers were waiting in their cars, phones in hand, ready to scoop up Cacciola and her children from her parents’ house, when they got news that she was dead. She had died from drinking hydrochloric acid. Her family insist it was suicide, but the authorities are convinced she was murdered. These stories are not neat and the actions of the people in them are not always reasonable and Perry does not try to tidy them up. Cerreti’s greatest breakthrough in the war against the ’Ndrangheta was achieved working with Giuseppina Pesce, who had been an active member of a powerful mafia family in Rosarno. Cerreti describes her first meeting with Pesce in prison. Even as she said she had information to give, she displayed the high-handed attitude of a boss’s daughter. She offered a couple of bits of information and demanded to be released into witness protection. “She looked at me with such loathing,” Cerreti said. “Such pride and resentment. I represented the state, which was ruining her life.” Pesce’s family fought a long campaign to turn their daughter against Cerreti. But in May 2013, Pesce’s help resulted in massive sentences and fines against her family’s clan and their allies. Her story shows that, when the authorities are intelligent enough to support them, women can be a powerful weapon against the mafia. Still an open wound White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht Chatto & Windus, 320pp Rowan Hisayo Buchanan George Orwell taught us that all writing is political: Mary Lynn Bracht’s debut novel is forthrightly so. White Chrysanthemum is the story of two Korean sisters separated by the second world war. Hana is dragged away by a Japanese soldier to a life of sexual slavery; Emi is left to grow up wondering what happened to her sister. Hana’s narrative covers the war years, while in Emi’s chapters it is 2011, and the elderly Emi is still looking for her sister. The language is blunt, with every page shouting of wrongs perpetrated. Bracht rejects the old mantra of show, don’t tell; her characters’ pain is shown, told, shown and told again. For example: “Anger and fear swarm through her body, radiating in hot waves to the soldier beside her. He stole her from her seaside home, from everything she knows and loves, and then raped her.” These events have already been described in detail, but Hana obsessively goes over them again in her mind. Indeed, the book forces us to confront the inescapability of these traumas. Hana’s miseries are echoed in Emi’s quieter moments of pain. Bracht describes her parents pushing a flower into the ocean in mourning for their lost Hana: “It was a chrysanthemum, a symbol of mourning for Koreans. The imperial seal of Japan was the yellow chrysanthemum, a crest symbolising the imperial family’s power. Emi had wondered which came first, the symbol of power or mourning.” In 2011, Emi still cannot enjoy flowers. It is a reminder of the way our conflicts and sufferings seep into the future, changing the meaning of the most innocent of objects. White Chrysanthemum gives glimpses of the suffering of others affected by the war – the Japanese soldier dehumanised by the starvation of his son and suicide of his wife, and the ageing Japanese “comfort woman” who is kind to Hana – but the bulk of the book’s attention and sympathy is for the Korean victims, the women whose stories are in danger of being lost for ever. This book is fighting a battle that didn’t end with the surrender of Japan in 1945. It was only in 1993 that the Japanese government acknowledged the existence of comfort women; this despite the fact that the United Nations estimates that 200,000 women were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese army. Most were Korean, although Japanese and Filipina women also suffered. In Continued on page 36 → 36 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Books Troubled minds ← Continued from page 35 2015, Japan’s government officially agreed to recognise its military’s use of comfort women and to set up a 1bn yen ($9.2m) fund to help them; it did so only on condition that the Korean government consider the issue resolved and that the Statue of Peace in Seoul, which features a comfort woman, be taken down. Yet in 2017, Japan and Korea were in talks reconsidering this deal. At the end of White Chrysanthemum, Bracht includes a timeline starting with the end of the Korean empire in 1905 and continuing to the present day. Following that is a reading list of 38 books relating to the struggle of the comfort women. The book is fictional, but its concerns are political. I suspect that the novel will affect readers differently, depending on their background and historical knowledge. Bracht has fashioned her own memorial to the comfort women. White Chrysanthemum is a timely and furiously felt book. Walking Wounded by Sheila Llewellyn Sceptre, 272pp Elizabeth Lowry Off the lead Afterglow (A Dog Memoir) by Eileen Myles Grove Press, 224pp Kate Kellaway Observer You may think, at least if you are not a dog lover, that the dog memoir is for a niche, non-literary readership. But some of the best memoirs I have read have been about dogs: JR Ackerley’s indispensable We Think the World of You soothed my broken heart as a teenager after a beloved dog had died, and Paul Bailey’s A Dog’s Life is a splendid memoir about the collie cross that took over his and his partner’s life. Even Virginia Woolf wrote a book about a dog: Flush (which is also a semifictional biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning). But Eileen Myles’s Afterglow belongs in a strange category of its own – it is unlike anything I have read and is a work of Joycean ambition. The dog is Rosie – a stolid, black-and-white pit bull terrier chosen by Myles from a New York street litter. We read early on about Rosie’s last trip to the vet aged 15 (and her last supper: carne asada). But Rosie’s end turns out not to be an ending and her afterlife is in playful hands. Myles, who started as a poet and performance artist in New York City, is now a professor in San Diego and is billed as a “queer feminist literary icon”, lets her imagination off the lead and feels no need to make runaway thoughts come to heel. This is not a dog elegy that, on the whole, tugs at the heartstrings, although h itss ending is comically moving, in its quaint way y.. Rum Ru um and random non-sequiturs flou floururish throughout (there is an academic footnote, on the he toothlessness of Native e Americans) and Rosie links ks all the eccentric synapses – she is regularly sighted and nd cited. She is even the pururported author/posthumous ous editor of a delightful chapter pterr in which she reveals her low w opinion of Myles’s earlier writwriiting efforts: “Afterglow is totally otallly a book with legs (four if I can be dumb) d Tale wags writer … Eileen Myles with Rosie, who led her memoir to Joycean heights so it will go a lot further than your earlier Eileenbased fictions.” Myles also raises the hilarious and sobering notion of the dog as ghostwriter: “Dog is travelling through you. I’m dead but you’re going to be dead.” And this leads to a nice aside on writers as ghosts: “All the vitality floods on to the page while her own existence grows wanner and thinner.” There is no missing Myles’s vitality as puppets interview Rosie or during the filming of dog moments, written up with the intensity of a detective or clairvoyant. And as Rosie’s voice is broadcast with droll authority – matter-of-fact, gruff, butch – you realise the dog is the ultimate alter ego: “I feel like a funeral director. Lots of funeral directors are dogs. The Grannan family in Arlington. Remember them. I think they were mainly terriers. Anyhow I knew their son. I don’t want to get distracted.” This is no run-of-the-mill anthropomorphism – Myles prefers the reverse traffic: the dog in us and in other people: “They cast their eyes up. They do a deep huh.” Dog is even experimentally promoted as God. And there is, throughout, the burden of guilt, the sense that Myles should somehow have been able to keep Rosie alive – the book is one way of doing it. There is a wonderful chapter about attending an AA meeting wit with th Rosie and feeling “up lighthouse in my head like a depressed d keeper in n cool c sneakers” (wonderfu derful ul image) and psychup to give an ing g herself h el eloquent loq confessional. But when Myles’s turn Bu B comes round, the worry ccom iss a about whether Rosie might have c rapped mig m on tthe floor – and she sayss sso. Everyone laughs. Posturing Postu uri goes out the window. F For For all its dog-leg turns, there iss n no putting down of or of this book. Rosie or off th This quietly self-assured first novel contains some of the most graphic descriptions of brain surgery likely to be found outside a medical textbook. Set in a military psychiatric hospital in 1947, Sheila Llewellyn’s tale of the psychological costs of war is an often nightmarish yet deeply touching interleaving of the stories of resident psychiatrist Daniel Carter and his newest patient, Burma campaign veteran David Reece. David has what was once known as “war neurosis”, or what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. When he is unable to reintegrate himself into civilian life, David is admitted to Northfield Military Psychiatric Hospital near Birmingham. At Northfield – “not so much a hospital, more a receptacle for army rejects” – he befriends other casualties of war, among them a deserter from the north Africa and Normandy campaigns called John Bain, who is also being treated by Daniel. But Daniel, too, has his battles to fight: this is the postwar heyday of psychosurgery and the vaunted quick fix of leucotomy (also known as lobotomy), when psychotherapy is regarded with suspicion by his colleagues. Their preferred approaches are electro-convulsive therapy or psychotropic drugs, and there is growing pressure at Northfield to adopt this experimental surgical intervention. Daniel is still haunted by having witnessed such a procedure, carried out on a depressed woman years earlier by a London surgeon called McKissock. Executed with a commendable lightness of touch, the book’s harrowing clinical scenes pose wider questions both about power and consent in the treatment of mental illness and the connection between the mind and the brain. Leucotomy is the atom bomb of treatments, an operation that promises to solve the problem of suffering by destroying the very landscape it aims to liberate: as Daniel protests, “I just don’t see how you mend an unquiet mind by taking a slice of it away.” Instead, he pioneers a series of talk-based sessions aimed at defusing traumatic memory. Llewellyn, a trained therapist who has brought her own experience of working with victims of PTSD to bear on the story, clearly knows the terrain well. The exchanges between Daniel and his patients are compelling, not least because in this subtle interplay of emotions it’s often unclear who is really helping whom. John Bain is the real name of the poet who wrote as Vernon Scannell. His poem Walking Wounded, with its recognition that the dead, if not mourned, “must bear arms again”, gives the novel its name. One wishes there had been more of Bain/Scannell in the book. It’s through him, even more than through the younger and less articulate David, that Llewellyn makes her central point: if therapy is an art, then all art is also therapy. Llewellyn’s restrained story, with its wounded healer and its damaged soldier-writers, invites comparison to Pat Barker’s magnificent Regeneration trilogy. While Llewellyn doesn’t have Barker’s savage inventiveness or wider anthropological vision, her novel is nevertheless a beautifully turned piece of work. The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 37 Books Reading beyond the stereotypes Disability runs through literature but its meaning changes, explain Clare Barker and Stuart Murray Device … disability in plays like Richard III and Moby-Dick can illuminate aspects of character and plot Nobby Clark K ing Richard’s soliloquy at the start of Richard III is one of the most dramatic openings of any piece of literature. From the play’s first lines, Shakespeare stresses that his central character is vengeful, vindictive and morally vacuous. Richard tells us that he is “determined to prove a villain”. But he spells out specific details that help us understand his hatred. He is, he observes, “rudely stamped”, “deformed, unfinished”, “scarce half made up” and “cheated of feature by dissembling nature”. Richard is disabled, and the fact of his disabled difference is given as an explanation for his desire to be “subtle, false and treacherous”. Many literary villains are disabled, providing a metaphorical shortcut to ideas of deviance, bitterness or desire for revenge. So Richard’s soliloquy is not actually signalling that the play is a text about a man with disabilities. Here an “unfinished” body is more about Richard’s character than any real sense of embodied experience. It is treachery, rather than disability, that his “deformations” signify. Disability is everywhere in literature, across all periods and genres, whether in medieval saints’ narratives, the sentimentality of the 19th-century novel, modernist obsessions with eugenics or contemporary preoccupations with mental health. Often in these stories disability appears in the same way as it does in Richard III, namely, as a narrative device that illuminates what appear to be more “important” elements of plot or character. Often it exposes the anxieties or preoccupations of the historical moment. So, for example, Tim Cratchit, the disabled child in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, facilitates that novel’s meditation on greed, wealth and charity even though he barely features. Likewise, Bertha Mason, Charlotte Brontë’s “madwoman in the attic” in Jane Eyre, has been read as expressing the outrage of gender- and race-based oppressions, while Rochester, who loses a hand and is blinded at the end of the novel, allows for the exploration of questions of romance and care. Captain Ahab’s prosthetic leg in Melville’s Moby-Dick is not simply the sign of a historical encounter with ningthe great white whale; it is far more meaningn ful as a marker of the mania and obsession that will lead Ahab to pursue his quarry to o the point of his own death. In these texts and others disability is fundamentally transparent, something to be looked through to discuss other concerns. The lens that disability provides might make readers think more about “being human”, or provoke ideas of shock, fear, deviance or pity, but at heart these are understood as “universal” ” issues rather than anything specific aboutt disability experience. In DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Clifford e Chatterley’s paralysis and wheelchair use are both a commentary on the barbarity of the first world war and the sterility of the Chatterleys’ marriage that licenses Constance’s explorations; Clifford’s actual experience of his wheelchair is less important than the wider contemplations it makes possible. But just as the end of the last century saw the rise of disability rights movements, so it heralded changes in the ways literature presented physical and cognitive difference. Life writing about disability and mental health formed a major part of the memoir boom of the 1990s, while fiction, drama and poetry embraced the narrative possibilities that came with disability viewpoints. Writing from within first-person disability perspectives is not a contemporary phenomenon: people with disabilities have always written about them – think of Milton or Joyce on blindness, and indeed the very shift in our thinking about literature that comes from seeing these two writers as having disabilities; while William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is a famous example of experimental disability writing from the 1920s. But it has h become a more common technique in the t last few decades. Arguably the best known kno text that uses cognitive difference shape its narrative viewpoint is Mark to sha Haddon’s hugely successful The Curious Had Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In The novel, recounted by its protagoTh nist, is full of alternative perspectives nis People with disabilities have always written about them – like Milton and Joyce and ways of seeing the world that autism, a condition seemingly beyond biomedical knowledge for most of the 20th century, is now understood to possess. In such writing, disability is conceived as difference and not deficit. In the best contemporary writing about disability, such difference is shown to be often mundane and ordinary. A disabled life is one among many. Representation matters. It is more important than ever to think about how disability is represented in our society: in the media; in fiction; in television and film; in political discourse and public policy. People with disabilities are frequently used as scapegoats. Media hysteria around the idea of benefit scroungers has fuelled a resurgence of Victorian ideas about the undeserving poor. In the spirit of nationalist pride, we are invited to celebrate the achievements of our “supercrip” Paralympians while (as many activist athletes in the UK point out) “ordinary” disabled people are losing their income and their housing to cuts. These ideas are not new. Literature gives context for understanding such confused and conflicting contemporary discourses. It helps trace where stereotypes and oppressions have come from and how they have evolved. Dominant ideas about disability don’t necessarily reflect the reality of lives and capabilities, but fit the political agendas of particular times and places. We can find in literature endless examples of the prejudices that surround disability, but we can also encounter the complexity of the world of people with disabilities and the rich and vibrant histories they make. Reading, as an engagement with imagined possibilities, makes for better understanding of the shades of human difference that disability highlights. The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability is published by Cambridge 38 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Culture Establishment figures embrace shock of the new Rolex is paying a fortune to pair up young artists with acknowledged masters across a variety of genres. But is there a catch, asks Alex Needham T he crowd wandering through Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie may look like any other bunch of gallery-goers on a Saturday afternoon. Seasoned culture vultures, however, would recognise that the lanky, shavenheaded man in an Adidas jacket is choreographer Wayne McGregor; that the Irishman in an overcoat is novelist Colm Tóibín; and that the energetic, white-haired woman in glasses is Joan Jonas, who this spring will show five decades’ worth of groundbreaking work in her first Tate Modern retrospective in London. Also in town are the likes of architect David Adjaye, cultural theorist Homi K Bhabha, theatre director Selina Cartmell, as well as the artist and opera director William Kentridge. Why are they all here? Well, most of them are currently looking at work by Thao-Nguyen Phan, a 30-year-old Vietnamese artist few, if any, will have previously heard of. Phan’s exhibition is the first of a weekend of events organised by Rolex, as part of its Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative. Every two years, after scouring the world for talent, the company pairs an established artist with an up-and-coming one, usually from a different country. An idea that would have been familiar to the old masters, the hope is that the younger artist can learn from – and perhaps collaborate with – the elder over the course of a couple of years. As well as those mentioned above, the current crop of mentors include Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón, composer Philip Glass, Mozambican writer Mia Couto, theatre director Robert Lepage, architect David Chipperfield and choreographer Ohad Naharin. Rolex’s only stipulation is that the artists spend a minimum of six weeks together. The company gives 100,000 Swiss francs ($107,000) to each mentor and 40,000 to the proteges. It also funds travel and expenses, which all adds up to a hefty sum, given the global nature of the enterprise. “It’s very open,” says Kentridge, who mentored the Colombian artist Mateo López in 2012. “If we’d said, ‘Actually we want to spend three weeks in the Antarctic on a cruise’, Rolex would have done that.” Kentridge, like the 100 or so other mentors and proteges who have participated in the scheme so far, gets invited back every couple of years for weekends like the one I am attending in Berlin. Here, mentors introduce work they and their proteges have made, or discuss how the process worked if there’s nothing that can be shown. The event concludes with a lavish dinner as the proteges are sent off into the world. Many have gone on to achieve considerable success. Ben Frost, mentored by Brian Eno in 2010, has taken his particular brand of extreme noise terror everywhere from Netflix’s Dark to an opera adaptation of The Wasp Factory. Naomi Alderman, mentored by Margaret Atwood in 2012, won the Baileys prize for fiction five years later. The previous arts weekend was in Mexico City, while 2012’s took place in Venice. Given that everyone is flown in from around the world and put up at a five-star hotel, it’s easy to see the appeal of returning. But there are also opportunities to meet old friends and strike up new collaborations – with the incentive that Rolex will stump up another 30,000 francs for a follow-up project. The Peruvian film-maker Josué Méndez in 2006 was mentored by Stephen Frears. “It’s a safe environment,” says Méndez. “There’s time, which is the most precious thing. They’re building this community. It’s a really nice family.” Though he has lost touch with Frears, Méndez is developing a TV script with the Colombian writer Antonio García Ángel, a protege who was mentored by the Peruvian Nobel-winner Mario Vargas Llosa. There’s no application form for the scheme: instead, experts amass a list of two dozen or so likely candidates in each genre, whittle this to three, then present the final trio to the relevant mentor, who spends time with them before reaching a decision. Cuarón stipulated that he wanted “a woman from the third world” to mentor, though he ended up with a man, the Indian film-maker Chaitanya Tamhane. Cuarón realised Tamhane was a better fit for his forthcoming film Roma, an arthouse black-andwhite work that contains plenty of Cuarón’s famed technical aplomb. “One film-maker was doing stuff in Super 8. Her stuff is fantastic – it’s just her arrival to a set, with all the toys and tools I’m working with, was going to be a bit irrelevant for her process.” What made Jonas choose Phan? “I thought her paintings were really beautiful and interesting,” she says, adding that she was also “very happy to give a woman the opportunity to show her work outside Rolex/Reto Albertalli Learning from one another … protege Thao-Nguyen Phan presents her exhibition Poetic Amnesia with mentor Joan Jonas at Kulturforum, Berlin Jonas says of Phan: ‘I think she has more energy and more creativity than me’ The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 39 Rolex/Reto Albertalli; Bart Michiels The old and the new … above, protege Pauchi Sasaki speaks with mentor Philip Glass. Left, Sasaki performs at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin Glass offered advice on ‘the practicalities of the music world, how to navigate the business part’ of Vietnam, to be exposed. I know from experience that young artists who are men have a slightly easier time than women.” Rebecca Irvin, Rolex’s head of philanthropy, says the project’s diversity is largely due to the mentors and the international nature of the programme. “Certain mentors will say, ‘I want to help young film-makers from Asia and Africa.’ We don’t have quotas, we’re not following some kind of political agenda, it’s happening organically.” Not everyone gets the memo, however: there are grumbles about the all-white, middle-aged and male panel led by Chipperfield to discuss urban planning, especially when, at the end, a woman in the audience gets up and it’s decided that there isn’t time to squeeze in her question. There’s also the question of what Rolex gets out of it. Palestinian film-maker Annemarie Jacir was mentored by Zhang Yimou in 2010 as he made The Flowers of War, which required trips to China and a translator, all provided by the company. Nonetheless, Jacir says that – even after further support for her film Wajib, Palestine’s entry for best foreignlanguage film at this year’s Oscars – Rolex’s money comes without strings attached. “With other companies that do this kind of thing,” she says, “it’s all about putting their name out there, about branding. I have not had that feeling with Rolex.” So the lead character didn’t have to wear a big Rolex? “Exactly!” says Jacir. “They don’t ask that I wear one everywhere. When they supported my film, they didn’t have any conditions. I put a thank you in the credits, but they didn’t ask. That is very unusual.” Other projects shown over the Berlin weekend include a four-screen reinvention of Macbeth by Argentinian theatre director Matías Umpierrez, starring his mentor Lepage; and a discussion between Mia Couto and his protege, the Brazilian Julián Fuks. The talks and performances conclude with the Peruvian musician Pauchi Sasaki, who emerges into the auditorium of the Deutsches Theater wearing a dress covered in speakers, after an introduction by Philip Glass. What did the minimalist musical pioneer advise her about? “The practicalities of the music world, how to navigate the business part – how do you make a living?” Glass said he wanted a protege as he himself had once been in such a role, when as a young man he had assisted sitar player and composer Ravi Shankar on a film score in the 60s: “He was very important to me.” It’s not only the prestige and generous budgets that appeal to the mentors – or, indeed, the watch Irvin says they may be given “if they do a good job”. It’s the opportunity to engage with a younger generation. As Cuarón says, to remain relevant as an artist, “you have to connect with the young masters who teach you the new lessons of cinema”. The older artists also produce work during the process: Jonas made a video while travelling with Phan in Vietnam, which will form part of an installation in her Tate show. Phan is 50 years younger than Jonas, though the Vietnamese artist says: “I think she has more energy and more creativity than me.” The two will continue to collaborate after the scheme: Phan is in a collective of Vietnamese artists, and Jonas will make a work with them to show in Pittsburgh. Sitting with Umpierrez, Lepage says the scheme provides a “fountain of youth” for older artists who have inevitably lost the bullishness of their hungry years. “We’re all full of doubt,” he says. “The more you know, the less you’re sure of. At a younger age, you know less but you’re more confident, and that’s very uplifting. That’s why you hang on to younger people who say, ‘Go all the way.’” 40 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Culture Mona Lisa of the middle ages France’s Lady and the Unicorn tapestries have travelled to Sydney, reports Brigid Delaney F or a mythical creature that is supposedly very shy, the unicorn sure is getting around. The white horse with a long horn and Bambi eyes is popping up everywhere from decals on children’s backpacks to T-shirts, key rings, flags, toys and tattoos, often accompanied by a little rainbow. The unicorn aesthetic has dominated music videos for the last few years. It’s been borrowed for queer raves and even as a descriptor for (usually) women who are the third party joining a couple in bed. These creatures – the mythical animals, that is – are nothing if not versatile: they’ve even been used in art as stand-ins for Jesus Christ. Now, the Art of Gallery of New South Wales is holding an exhibition of arguably the most famous piece of medieval art featuring the creature. The Lady and the Unicorn is a series of six wall-length tapestries that feature a medieval lady in a garden, sometimes accompanied by her handmaid, but always hanging out with a unicorn. The series, commissioned by a noble French family in the 1500s and created by unknown weavers, has been called everything from the Mona Lisa of the middle ages to a national treasure of France. The priceless works of art, which have been restored several times, have appeared in everything from the writings of George Sand to poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Facsimiles of them feature in the Harry Potter movies. They have been seen in Jean Cocteau’s drawings, and in sets and costumes for the Ballet Russes. They inspired Tracy Chevalier’s novel, Lady and the Unicorn, and Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things. The tapestries’ usual home is the Musée de Cluny in Paris and it is rare to get a glimpse of them outside France. They were acquired by the Cluny in 1882 after they had been hung in a municipal city hall. Previously, they were housed in the Château de Boussac. Over the course of several centuries they were exposed to damp and to rats, and rumours abound that the owners had cut them up for horse cart coverings and a foot rug. (Sand stayed in that chateau and became entranced with the tapestries. Her writing about The Lady and the Unicorn was the start of a movement to acquire and restore them.) During the second world war, to protect them from the Nazis, the tapestries were holed up in another chateau in the middle of a forest. To get to Australia, the tapestries each flew in a separate plane in case of a crash. They were draped over a stand in a crate and, when they landed in Sydney, a whole team of curators from the Cluny were there to supervise their hanging. The tapestries are remarkably robust for works so old but care must still be taken. Recently, they were painstakingly cleaned using a super-fine mist. Béatrice de Chancel-Bardelot, curator at Musée de Cluny, says the weavers who created the works were probably men from a local guild, and that creating the six tapestries would have kept them busy for several years. The family that commissioned the work was based in Lyon and had houses in Paris and a castle in Burgundy. “They were active in commissioning Meditative mystery … Mon Seul Désir – or My Sole Desire Michel Urtado/RMN-Grand Palais major works of art,” says De Chancel-Bardelot, and were as likely as rich as Medusa. Yet the artistic philosophy behind the works remains a mystery. For example, who is the lady? What is the significance of the unicorn? Why is it paired with a lion? The Art Gallery of NSW special exhibitions curator, Jackie Dunn, says the works remain enigmatic despite years of scholarship devoted to their story and origin. “Some people read the unicorn as a stand-in for a lover, in a take on courtly love. In medieval times it was also a stand-in for Christ.” In medieval times, people believed unicorns were real, Dunn says. In art they were depicted in brown “and looked like camels” while in Germany they were blue. “Everyone believed in them. Travellers came back to Europe – like Marco Polo – having reported seeing them in Jerusalem, in the deserts of the Middle East.” Walking through the gallery housing the tapestries was akin to visiting a chapel, with each tapestry reminiscent of a station of the cross. They are thick and substantial, giving the acoustics of the room a hush. They are immensely rich in detail and feature many aspects of the natural world, including holly bush and bluebells (one scholar has counted 40 species of plants), as well as birds and domestic and wild animals. All are in harmony. There is something of the Garden of Eden in the work: everything is in its rightful place. Maybe that’s why viewers are so drawn in. The peacefulness of the works radiates through time and space. To look at them is a kind of meditation. Richly imaginary … details illustrate smell and sound in two of the six tapestries The Lady and the Unicorn is at Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, until 24 June The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 41 Culture Reviews Music Kendrick Lamar Television Our Cartoon President B efore watching the new animated series Our Cartoon President, I thought I’d come down with a serious case of Trump Satire Fatigue, or TSF. But created by Stephen Colbert alongside Chris Licht, Matt Lapin, animator Tim Luecke, and RJ Fried, Our Cartoon President is actually a fantastic parody, a natural offshoot of the Colbert brand that’s based on a recurring segment from The Late Show. And it works mainly because it’s not trying to be trenchant, cautionary or even vaguely political. There’s an absurdity coursing through the teleplay and the animation that feels proximal to the political climate but not unnervingly so, and the show capitalises on the administration’s haplessness but doesn’t necessarily comment on it. The result is something like both The Simpsons and The West Wing. The show also owes some of its success to the personalities making up president Trump’s cabinet and inner-circle. There’s Jeff Sessions, Theodore Bilbo’s spiritual heir, who’s been imagined here as a diminutive, drunk grandpa. Goldman Sachs-er Steven Mnuchin suggests putting smallpox on pennies and is lovingly referred to as “Nuch Dog” by cartoon Potus. Ben Carson, brilliantly voiced by Zach Cherry, looks vaguely somnambulant all the time, and Classical & opera Principal Sound P rincipal Sound is three days of concerts devoted to the music of the last half century. It takes its title from the only organ work composed by Morton Feldman. The focus of attention at St John’s Smith Square, London, this year was the late music of Luigi Nono, the fragile, fragmented pieces he composed in the years up to his death in 1990. Four of them were included during the weekend. There was … Sofferte onde Serene..., for piano and prerecorded sounds, with its remembrances of Venice’s bells, played with wonderful authority and assurance by Siwan Rhys, and A Pierre, Dell’azzurro Silenzio, Inquietum from members of the Explore Ensemble, a tribute to Showtime A Stephen Miller takes the shape of a devilish, uppity golem. Generals Kelly, Mattis, and McMaster, each animated precisely by Luecke, act as wily lion-tamers. The man they must tame is, of course, Trump, brought to life here by Jeff Bergman, a 30-year voice-acting veteran. The first episode opens on Donald, in bed next to Melania, enjoying his “executive time”. He channel surfs before landing on the Fox & Friends trio of Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade, whose sycophancy is one of the show’s best running gags. “It’s 6am, Mr President. Rise and shine, and I love you,” cartoon Kilmeade breathlessly shouts through Trump’s television set. Later, when he gives a Trump speech a nine out of 10, Potus panics: “My God, I’ve lost Kilmeade.” The machinations parodied herein will remind most people tuned into our kneejerk news cycle of Michael Wolff ’s scorched-earth Trump exposé Fire and Fury, published in January. Our Cartoon President esident is a similar tale of palace intrigue and ineptitude, but one that can be consumed without out an analysis of reportorial rigour. What it is, essentially, ssentially, is a character study and workplace ce comedy that plays the narcissism and perfi fidy of the 45th president for laughs. Jake Nevinss Our Cartoon President ent is on Showtime in the US with a UK date to o be announced Boulez from 1985, in n which electronics blur the edges of the sonorities norities of bass flute and contrabass clarinet.. Most enigmatic of all was the last piece that hat Nono composed, “Hay Que Caminar” Soñando, ando, for two violins (Clemens Merkel and Alissa ssa Cheung from the Bozzini Quartet) responding g to each other in halting phrases or assertive e outbursts. Alongside this music, usic, the late Feldman pieces seemed almost ost straightforward. Three Voices pits a solo soprano against two recorded versions ons of herself to create a beguiling filigree around the words of a Frank O’Hara poem. oem. It’s a tour de force for any singer, ger, and Juliet Fraser’s performance ce seemed even more magical live than it did on her recording ing last year. Andrew Clements ents man garlanded with every honour going, from Grammy awards to a spot in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, Kendrick Lamar nevertheless seems a little taken aback by the response to his arrival in Dublin. “I heard y’all painted a picture of me on a wall,” he says. “No one’s ever done that before.” Indeed they had: no sooner had he landed than a vast mural of him appeared, towering over Aungier Street. Meanwhile, in the venue, the audience’s adoration is both rowdily intense and so word-perfect that when Lamar stops rapping and cuts the music during Humble, they carry an entire verse without flagging. In fairness, they have a lot to be excited about. Lamar’s live show avoids most hip-hop gig cliches – at no point are all the ladies in the house required to scream, nor are we subjected to the reliable lowlight that is the lengthy demonstration of the DJ’s turntable skills. Instead the performance is simultaneously understated and spectacular. Aside from the occasional brief appearance of a dancer or a man dressed as a ninja, there’s nothing to look at except for Lamar and a succession of films that seem more like edgy arthouse fare than anything you’d usually see at a sellout arena show. At one point, Lamar ends up stalking the stage in front of a disturbing loop of video that cuts between a human embryo, underwater fauna and flora and some pretty gruesome close-up footage of eye surgery. Occasionally, the films are funnier than you might expect. As is often the way with artists whose music is taken very seriously indeed – both as a creative force and a socio-political statement – you don’t hear much about Kendrick Lamar’s goofy sense of humour, but it’s there in the fake kung fu epic that intersects the show: Kung Fu Kenny Practises His Motherfuckin’ Skills. For all his critical and commercial success, Lamar’s music seems an odd fit for a gig this size: it’s not ostentatious or showy, showy it tends towards self-examination, the music iis complex and knotty, and his skills as a rapper rapp are technical and subtle. But if anything, the in inflation to arena scale turning a track such as seems to potentiate it, turnin Untitled 07 – wilfully scattered scattere and disjointed in its recorded form – into ssomething insistent sound is clear enough and anthemic. The soun to get across how dazzl dazzling his lyrical talent to a kind of can be and, relegated releg pit at the makeshift orchestra orch side of the stag stage, his band weave around the bea beats and samples, navigating the tricky not just naviga sonic twists an and turns of DNA, but actively magni magnifying them. The overall effect is punchy and relentless relentless. At the most gripping moments moments, they and he seem almost without pause, to perform alm one track after a another virtually each other: an segueing into ea opening sweep of songs that concludes with King Kin Kunta is breathtaking. Indeed, it’s so powerful that effect feels besides the odd special e the point, more d distraction than attraction. Alexis Petridis Kendrick Lamar’s European tour Berlin on 5 March concludes in Berli 42 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Diversions Notes & Queries Nature watch Shapwick, Somerset The river that will all too soon be swept away alone. Thank goodness a long-standing friend saw my unhappiness and gave me the courage to move on. Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia Where does time fly to? Why? Time does not always fly, it sometimes drags! The secret would be to find out how to make it fly at such times. Avril Taylor, Dundas, Ontario, Canada • My ballot when I voted strategically. Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada • My tongue. Adrian Cooper, Queens Park, NSW, Australia • Tempus fugit: Time doesn’t fly to – it flees from. It escapes us, and we it, at the last. RM Fransson, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, US • Time will not fly. Time past is gone, time future is at best a project, at worst an illusion. Time is the present, ticking. E Slack, L’Isle Jourdain, France • Bored by our myopic inattention, time flies, hiding behind the promise of tomorrow. John Geffroy, Las Vegas, New Mexico, US • It hides in the equation E=mc2. Speed of light squared, time flies, my energy wanes. Marilyn Hamilton, Perth, Western Australia • Time flies to the place where joy is perfection and we yearn for eternity. Charlie Bamforth, Davis, California, US • It lands at embarrassment to allow time for unease. David Ellis, Adelaide, South Australia • Time flies to somewhere immemorial to remind us mortals not to waste it. Richard Orlando, Westmount, Quebec, Canada • To be dishonest, I will say: “Nothing”. Jenefer Warwick James, Paddington, NSW, Australia Time on hold … Harold Lloyd in Safety Last • Flying time only leads to wrinkles. Stuart Williams, Lilongwe, Malawi Forget George Washington What is the least honest thing to have ever come out of you? As a teenager I lied to my parents about going away for the weekend with my boyfriend. My beloved grandfather chose to die that weekend and I was summonsed back after they tracked me down. This taught me that I would always be found out and has kept me honest. Margaret Wilkes, Perth, Western Australia • My unconscious biases. Paul Broady, Christchurch, New Zealand • Probably “... for better, for worse”. Ted Webber, Buderim, Queensland, Australia • Continuing in a soul-destroying relationship through fear of being Socks obey strange rules What happened to those lost socks? Socks are an alien species that travel inter-dimensionally at will. Charlie Pearson, Portland, Oregon, US • They will “a pair” when you least expect it. Jim Robinson, Bologna, Italy More Notes & Queries See additional answers online bit.ly/notesandqueries Any answers? Is the rule still “Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today”? Maurice Trapp, Le Vigan, France Document: What came first, the verb or the noun? Tracy Hickling, Rosebud, Australia Send answers to weekly.nandq@ theguardian.com or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Good to meet you Joanne Honeybone I was introduced to the Weekly in 1999 as a VSO volunteer, working in a South African township. The Weekly provided insightful development and human rights news that helped me understand my local township experience of poverty and discrimination within the bigger context. When I returned to the UK to do a master’s degree, the Weekly was an invaluable source of global development news. I then moved to India for three years to work as a South Asia adviser for an NGO. The Weekly came with me everywhere – up Himalayan mountains in Nepal, on trains across India, on boats to Maldivian islands and kept me going during endless hours in remote airports. Now back in the UK, I continue to work for NGOs and travel regularly to Asia, Africa and the Middle East for work. Living in the bubble that is London, it is easy to forget the other world out there, so I continue to In any other place a great white egret passing overhead would have commanded all our attention. The national breeding total for this species was just seven pairs in 2017. Here, however, at dusk it was an incidental detail, a stately white shape rowing quietly through the binoculars’ orbit, as we focused on something far more captivating. It was a flock of starlings, which doesn’t sound impressive; until you attach a number to them. The recent reports cite a figure of 750,000. Yet in conversation with a volunteer from a neighbouring reserve we learned that this estimate doesn’t square with his own photographic evidence. He processes the images using software that can calculate dots on screens very accurately and his own counts suggest a total for the whole Somerset Levels of around 1.5 million. Whichever figure is true, this roost of “shitlegs” is a wonder to behold, subscribe to the Guardian Weekly to ensure that I keep my life and work informed by the global context. I value the Weekly’s focus on ensuring that important issues in the world are reported, with headline news about environmental, conflict, development and human rights issues that rarely get more than a mention in daily newspapers. The Weekly has been a constant in my life: the same comforting yet challenging journalism, values – and Notes & Queries contributors! If you would like to appear in this space, send a brief note to firstname.lastname@example.org and for us the drama unfolded in several distinct phases. Initially we were entranced simply to see several thousand, spread evenly through the sky and moving in slow blizzard above the skeletal trees. The stillness of the winter wood, the chastening cold of dusk and the clanging notes of song thrushes at late choir were all part of the moment’s affecting mood. Then a sparrowhawk shot through and the loose flow tightened and folded upon itself, twisting and spiralling down, genie-like, into the mothering woods. Wonderful, we thought – until thousands became tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. Then we were struggling for words. They were birds reduced by distance and number to something like smoke in a long, globular unfolding that seemed as solid as the ground over which it flowed. There were such numbers as dreams are made of. Starlings turning like a tide; except that this tide flipped suddenly into itself to make a glorious nonsense of any metaphor. It was a kind of heaven in avian form. We felt uplifted merely to be there, immersed in a susurration that is blended from 2 million small wings working as one at end of day. Mark Cocker Read more Nature watch online bit.ly/naturewatch The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 43 Quick crossword 1 2 Cryptic crossword by Nutmeg 3 4 8 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 1 4 8 9 10 11 12 17 24 Across Work – party (6) Burrowing desert rodent (6) Dance – unexpected turn (5) Transmission (7) Began to wake (7) Set of exam questions (5) Sky (9) Of a number system with base eight (5) 19 Use economically – partner (7) 21 Train with berths (7) 22 (Pop group) not affiliated with a major record company (5) 23 Harry, Dennis or Beatrix? (6) 24 Free-flowing (6) Down 1 Most recent (6) 2 Sheriff ’s officer – landlord’s agent (7) 3 Absolute – speak (5) 5 Model (7) 6 Form of modern jazz from about 1940 (5) 7 9 13 14 15 16 18 Opulence (6) Mafia boss (9) Fall back (7) Stuff and nonsense (7) Tittle-tattle (6) Commercial (abbr) (6) River that joins the Ouse to form the Humber (5) 20 Not moving (5) P O T B E L L Y U M O I D I F F I E E D S S C A N O A T A P P Y T E R E W A S L O N O O U E S F L I S T T V E R Y T V E L D L E T R I P I A N A S C O F L A Y D A E Y P I R D I S E P O R O O V I I D E I D Last week’s solution, No 14,880 First published in the Guardian 23 January 2018, No 14,886 N G O N G O P A L A E Y B E A L O L Across Down 1 Update troops before attack (5) 2 An account traveller set, up providing support for climbers (7) 3,21 Liberal prone to adopting Conservative hairstyle (4,4) 4 Crowd security? (6,2,7) Futoshiki Hard ∧ > ©Clarity Media Ltd 3 > 2 < 4 ∧ 4 < 5 1 Last week’s solution 2 3 4 5 6 9 7 8 10 11 12 13 14 16 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 26 5 Case based on word of chap, or chaps, before I’m involved (6,2,7) 6 Treasury theatre put on old romance with current investment (10) 7 His friend has Hamlet’s first speech abridged (7) 8 Doctor gets a payment covering time he has to serve in US (7) 13 Tense liar added ridiculous nonsense (10) 16 Rebellious graduates wash thoroughly one day a week (7) 17 Injured Danes coming aboard in gloom (7) First published in the Guardian 24 January 2018, No 27,414 25 27 19 Abject drunk lives without ever losing heart (7) 22 What diver may do with bill, on cutting pound (5) 23 Employment from IT entrepreneur? (4) S U B M A P E B C A N N I B H C E M I G H T Y E O S I R I S U C S P Y G L A E O L B R O O K L H G Y Y E L L OW R E A G R O A D R I N E S O U L L A Y T V E R I T Y A L N E I E E L S I N O R E S D G A S E R G E A N T O C P E P P E R S S A E Y N R U B B E R G O B M R E V O L V E R I E E R R A N D A D D Y Last week’s solution, No 27,408 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 5 ∧ 2 < 3 ∧ 1 3 > 2 5 > 4 ∨ 2 < 4 5 3 1 ∧ 5 1 3 < 4 > 2 1 1 Check those printing religious tracts? (7) 5 Beaten revolutionary featured in flyer (7) 9 How sugar can be used, if at all? (3,6) 10 Chest protected by father’s waterproof (5) 11 Brought books back on approval (4) 12 Perseveres and catches a little bird (6,2,2) 14 Gulf national sounding full of cold (6) 15 Brexiteers asking for this defeat on polling day (7) 16 Bear from America digging into soil (7) 18 Most utter support after turning up (6) 20 Bloke gets the way things are done in small part of Cornwall (6,4) 21 See 3 24 Each individually at an advantage (5) 25 Sum up chapter cut from historic volume one’s penned (9) 26 Speeds up in speech, as ten strikes (7) 27 Oriental crane ultimately like seabird (7) ∨ > < > 2 ∨ ∧ < < ∧ > ∧ Fill in the grid so that every row, every column and every 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. We will publish the solution next week. Free puzzles at theguardian.com/sudoku > Last week’s solution 44 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Diversions Shortcuts KFC out of cluck over chicken deliveries It’s an upset that far outstrips the Nando’s shortage of 2014, and at a scale that makes last year’s dip in British hummus supply seem small fry: UK branches of KFC last month ran out of chicken. The $23bn company that has one job – to sell fried chicken – was unable to fulfil its culinary duties, citing issues in its outsourced distribution … wings. This resulted in the temporary closure of more than two-thirds of UK branches (646 of its 900 stores), while outlets that remained open struggled to keep up with demand. Fans took to Twitter to playfully riff off the events. Meanwhile, some turned to MPs for intervention and even the police to reportt these crimes against deliciousness.. KFC responded in a similar tone, saying g that the Colonel was looking into the matter and that the “chicken cken may have crossed the road … just not into [their] stores”. KFC said the issues were caused d by its new distributor, DHL. The contract for this job was previviously held by Bidvest, an estabablished food distributor that had worked with the fried chicken n brand for some years. GMB, the union representing ing Bidvest workers, said DHL won the contract because it had “undercut” the firm and was tryin trying ng to fulfil the contract on the cheap. heap. It says it even warned KFC that hat it risked distribution problems ms because of the new contract. The result: 255 job losses at Bidvest, est, the closure of a warehouse and nd no o chicken for anyone. Why did the chicken cross the road? It didn’t. Road crossing has been outsourced to carrier pigeons who, we are very sorry to say, have shat on your car. Coco Khan Bathrooms set to welcome back bidets Bathroom news from the US, where entrepreneur Miki Agrawal, who cofounded the period-proof underwear company Thinx, “wants America to embrace the bidet”. Agrawal stepped down from Thinx last year after she was accused of sexual harassment, but has returned with a new company, Tushy, which makes devices that convert toilets into bidets. So is it time to forsake paper for water? According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day – and about 10% of this is toilet paper. Globally, according to one environmental group, we use enough toilet paper to stretch around the planet every two minutes, or stretch to the sun and back every 10 days. Scientific American reports that switching to bidets “could save some 15m trees”. It would also be better for us. The US urologist Dr Philip Buffington says: “In the bidet v toilet paper matchup, the nod goes to the bidet. Bidets are healthier than toilet paper. They provide better personal hygiene.” Oscar Rickett Hate campaign ahead of Russian election First there were avocados with no stones stones; now we have bananas with edible edibl le skin, produced in Japan. “Itt was w created following research cond du conducted by Setsuzo Tanaka who worked work ke on this for a long time as a hobb by a spokesman for D&T Farm hobby,” said iin an email. “The motivation for it ts development was the fact its he wanted wa w to eat a banana that was del lic delicious and safe: people can eat the e peel because it is cultivated organically without chemicals.” org ga T The result is the fruit known as Mo on Mongee bananas, which roughly translates as Incredible bananas. tran ns Buye er are urged to wait for little Buyers b row wn spots to appear on the skin brown as a sign sig s that it is ready to be eaten – in itss entirety, e of course. has been produced in small It h b atch he so far and is only on sale in batches Japan n Customers who want to save Japan. themselves the bother of peeling them ms theirr bananas b will have to pay 648 ($6) per fruit. Daniel Hurst yen (($ Russians who don’t vote in this month’s presidential elections risk a very different future, a homophobic and xenophobic viral video has warned. The three-minute video was uploaded to social media last month and has been watched by millions of people. Set on 17 March, the eve of the presidential election, the video starts with a man mocking his wife, who wants to set an alarm to get up and vote. “As if they won’t elect someone without you,” he says. He then falls asleep and dreams that a military official, flanked by two soldiers, including a black man, attempts to conscript him into the army. “I’m 52,” he protests. “Excellent. The conscription age has been increased to 60.” He goes into the kitchen, where a tattooed gay man sits filing his nails. “Who’s this?” he asks his wife. “I’m a gay on a homestay,” the man tells him, as his wife reminds him that Russian families are now obliged to take in gay people who have been abandoned by their partners. Rushing into the toilet in shock, an intercom tells him “toilet time is restricted”. In the tradition of classic horror films, he apparently wakes up, to find himself in bed with the gay man. When he wakes up for real, he urges his wife to get to the polling station “before it’s too late!” Opposition journalists believe the video was produced by either Vladimir Putin’s campaign team or the government-controlled election committee. The Kremlin is eager to see a big turnout to underscore Putin’s legitimacy. Marc Bennetts Wordplay Same Difference Wordpool Identify this pair whose spelling differs only in the letter shown: ***** (writer) **O*** (number) Edible banana skins no slip-up in Japan Maslanka puzzless 1 Professor Pedanticus jibbed when he heard on the radio that “the Tiger’s chances of sur-vival are precarious.” Is that fair? 2 When unromantic Rosegarten left his girlfriend (he claimed he’d never promised her a Rosegarten) he sent her as consolation prizes roses red, white and blue. 247 were not red, 472 were not white and yet another permutation of 2, and 4 and 7 were not white. How many of each? 3 Wystan Rummy was beaten in the race to the south pole by his decision to also be the first person to get there by going south west. Can one ever reach the south pole by constantly going south west? 4 Prove that the number of positive integers is the same as the number of positive even numbers. 5 Cardinal Buchman places successive volumes of Pope Idol in the order 1, 2, 3 … on his shelf. But then when the ninth volume arrived he placed it between the fourth and the fifth volume. Was it an aberration? Or is there a rule? What was the next volume that he inserted somewhere into the sequence? 6 What date significant to the Englander results if we write down all the Roman numerals in order of decreasing size? Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka These are archive puzzles; Chris Maslanka was unwell this week In each case find the correct definition: PUL a) Siberian wildflower b) Estonian land-measure c) low-valued Afghan coin d) fermented sesame paste E pluribus unum Rearrange the letters of SATANIC INGOT to make a single word. Missing Links Find a word that follows the first word in the clue and precedes the second, in each case making a fresh word or phrase. Fish mix could be cake (fishcake & cake mix), bat man could be he (bathe & he-man) ... Cracker Barrel a) crying hound b) university mat c) noble cuts d) war talk e) quantum year f) garb discrimination Why did they make a pencil king? ©CMM2018. For solutions see page 47 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 45 Mind&Relationships Illustration by Michele Marconi; right, Lo Cole A letter to … My first love, 25 years on Oliver Burkeman Don’t knock Donald Trump for playing so much golf. He is showing us all how to enjoy the restorative power of nature S pending time in nature, as you’re surely aware by now, is good for your mental health. Like, really, really good. People criticise Donald Trump for whiling away so many hours on golf courses, but they’re wrong: imagine the damage he’d wreak if his rage and repressed self-loathing weren’t offset by the restorative benefits of all that greenery! So there’s nothing intrinsically surprising about a new study, led by Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, suggesting that natural environments improve people’s body image; after all, they improve everything. What remains debatable is why. One of the most beguiling answers – first given three decades ago by the US academics Rachel and Stephen Kaplan – is also maybe the most pleasingly named concept in psychology. In a world of relentless, aggressive demands on our attention, the Kaplans argued, nature does something different: it exerts “soft fascination”. Soft fascination has two crucial components. First, it’s effortless: you don’t need to “try to focus” on the wind in the trees, or a moor top blanketed in heather. Second, it’s partial: it absorbs some attention, but leaves some free for reflection, conversation or mind-wandering. The result is what the Kaplans called “cognitive quiet”, in which the muscle of effortful attention – the one you use to concentrate on work – gets to rest, but without the boredom you’d feel if you had nothing to focus on. This helps explain why nature’s benefits aren’t restricted to, say, trips to the Grand Canyon or Great Barrier Reef. Those places seize your whole attention, whereas your local park may seize just enough of it to let the rest of your mind relax. Think about attention like this, and it becomes clear how irresponsibly we usually treat our own supply of it. “To concentrate on a task, you need to block out distractions,” as the design and technology expert Richard Coyne has written – and “once that blocking function gets worn down by fatigue, you are more likely to act on impulse, to shirk tasks that prove too challenging [or] to become irritable.” But all too often, we respond to concentration fatigue by trying to concentrate Anyone who loves hiking knows part of the pleasure is in pondering k other matters as you walk g – rambling while rambling on something different: email, social media, TV – “things that are more engaging but less challenging”. It’s like taking a rest after lifting dumbbells by lifting different dumbbells. Nature, by contrast, lets us switch modes. There’s plenty of evidence for the soft fascination thesis. But for me, it’s personal o experience that makes it ring so true. To listen to some proponents of mindfulness, you might think nk the best way to engage with nature is being totally lly immersed in the scenery. Yet anyone who loves hiking knows part of the pleasure is in pondering g other matters as you walk – rambling while ram-bling. Countless famous thinkers – Darwin, Tho-reau, Wordsworth – swore by daily walks in nad. ture. But they were still thinking as they walked. email@example.com W e were at school. I remember being awestruck that someone would take an interest in me. But you did and we fell in love. We both came from challenging backgrounds, which probably fuelled the intensity of our relationship. What started as a playground romance became more serious – adult, even, when we moved in together. The next two years were spent playing at being grownups – far beyond the emotional capacity of two teenagers – but for a while it worked. Inevitably, our relationship became strained; my insecurity and jealously became unbearable. And we split up. You met someone else and moved on and away. The pain was unbearable, and I tried to take my own life. I tried to move on, but each relationship was a failure as I compared it with ours. Then I met my wife, went back to college, got a serious job. I thought I had finally got over you. And then, through an early social media site, we started chatting and agreed to meet. I wanted to get closure, but seeing you that night made me realise I was still in love with you. We met again and I wanted to tell you how I felt, but was unable to. We drifted apart once more. Years passed; I thought of you still. But I had travelled, had children. For the first time in my life, I had found peace with myself. Then I saw you on social media again and we spent a Saturday night chatting via WhatsApp. pp I asked if we were flirting. You said yes, and that you had never really left me. I was happy, scared. confused, excited, excit We spoke on the phone, and hearing your voice left me close to tears. I know I’m being se selfish, but I want more. More of you. You are with someone and I’m marrie married. We both have children. P Part of me hopes that time has h changed us to the point where w we don’t go But those feelany further. fu ings I had h for you are back. How do you feel about want to lose me? I don’t d I want to love you again. ag you and an be able to love you. I don’t know where this is g going. But I know I don’t want to lose you again. y 46 The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 Sport Chills and thrills from Pyeongchang Ester Ledecká, snow queen It was audacious that the 22-year-old Czech entered ski and snowboard competitions – a decision that made Winter Olympic history – but then she won a shock gold in the Super-G skiing before, a week later, storming home in the snowboard parallel giant slalom. It made Ledecká the first woman to win two separate events – and a bona fide star. Sean Ingle North Korean cheerleaders The appearance of 229 women in identical red snowsuits would ould have turned heads anywhere, but ut the presence of North Koreans singing in unison and d performing choreographed d routines often captured more ore attention than whatever event they were attending.. Reactions were mixed and the cheerleaders were largely seen as a novelty, another thing to take a selfie with, but they were definitely unique to the Pyeoyeongchang Games. Benjamin n Haas South Korea’s Garlic Girls The South Korean women’ss curling team known as the Garlic Girls, a nod to the famed export off their Uiseong hometown where they formed a team as high schoolers, became an overnight sensation during their run to the gold medal match, winning hearts around the world with their steely focus and quirky personalities en route to an improbable silver. Bryan Armen Graham Kenworthy’s kiss Gus Kenworthy kissing his boyfriend, just before his freestyle ski event, was seen around the world. He has been a champion for gay athletes at the Olympics and slammed Mike Pence leading the US delegation. This year’s Games included the most openly LGBTQ athletes with a total of 15, including Ireen Wüst, who became the most successful Olympic speed skater ever with 11 medals. BH Shirtless Tongan returns The shirtless and oiled Tongan g Pita Taufatofua, below, at the opening ope ceremony, but this time in sub-zero sub temperatures, delighted man many viewers. He had not seen snow un until two years ago but qualified for a ccrosscountry ski race in an effort to inspire others to dream big. Ni Nigeria’s women’s bobsled team, team a carried a first for Africa, also ca motivational messag message. BH Kim's halfpipe heroics he There are many g gold medallists but sstars are harder to ccome by. Chloe Kim Kim, 17-year-old the 17-year Korean-American Korean-A snowboarder snowbo entered who e these Olympics with the weight of two countries on her shoulders, placed herself squarely in the latter camp when she delivered with a transcendent run for Olympic halfpipe gold. She has a future of limitless promise. BAG Morgan’s medal trolley dash It seemed impossible that British snowboarder Billy Morgan would surpass partying with a toilet seat around his head in Sochi. But in Pyeongchang he claimed a brilliant bronze, before celebrating by being driven around the Olympic Village on a trolley. The 28-year-old former builder has cojones the size of breezeblocks – and is funny with it. SI Norway in dreamland over record medal haul Jon Henley For a fortnight every four years, Norway does not function with its customary Scandinavian efficiency. Phone calls go temporarily unanswered; conversations drift, midsentence, into silence; classrooms empty. “It’s normal, I think,” said Christina Nygard, a marketing manager in Oslo. “This is our moment, when we can show the world what we are. Although without boasting too much about it, of course. That wouldn’t be very Norwegian.” But when Marit Bjørgen stormed to victory in the women’s 30km cross-country on the final day of the Pyeongchang Games, Norway could be forgiven for boasting a little. Not only had Bjørgen, with her 15th medal, become the most decorated athlete in Winter Olympics history (the second and third on the list, biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen and the legendary 1990s skier Bjørn Dæhlie, are also Norwegian). Her win brought the country’s Pyeongchang tally to a remarkable 39 medals, topping the table, equalling – along with Germany – Canada’s record for golds won at a single games, and eclipsing the largest previous total medal haul of 37, held since Final table 1 Norway 2 Germany 3 Canada 4 United States 5 Netherlands 6 Sweden 7 South Korea 8 Switzerland 9 France 10 Austria G 14 14 11 9 8 7 5 5 5 5 S 14 10 8 8 6 6 8 6 4 3 B 11 7 10 6 6 1 4 4 6 6 Total 39 31 29 23 20 14 17 15 15 14 Selected others 13 OA Russia 16 China 19 Britain 23 Australia 26 New Zealand 2 1 1 0 0 6 6 0 2 0 9 2 4 1 2 17 9 5 3 2 US duo make history No American woman had ever won a medal in cross-country – much less a gold – until Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall overtook Sweden and Norway on the final lap to win the team sprint freestyle. The shock victory was especially sweet for 26-year-old Diggins, who had finished in the top six but off the podium in each of her first four events in a hectic Pyeongchang schedule. BAG Yarnold slides to gold again A week before the Winter Olympics Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold was a 28-1 outsider to retain her skeleton title due to various niggles and mixed performances. Worse still, she was 2010 by the US – whose population is more than 60 times Norway’s. The Nordic nation of 5.3 million people spent every Winter Games in something resembling “a kind of state of emergency”, said Vegard Einan, a leading trade union official, taking collective time out for the main medal events. A pre-Games poll found that nearly 25% of Norwegian employees expected to be able to watch at least the biggest races of the day while they were at work, with 12% saying they intended to defy any management order not to. There are reasons besides straightforward national pride for such allconsuming interest in the team’s performance: the vast majority of Norwegians either are or have been keen participants in many of the sports Sergei Bobylev/Tass via Getty; Reuters; NBC via Twitter From doubling up to breaking barriers, Guardian writers recall their favourite 2018 Winter Games moments The Guardian Weekly 02.03.18 47 Sport in brief also suffering from a brutal chest infection and at one point feared she would have to pull out. Yet, once again when the pressure was highest, Yarnold delivered – with gold. SI Canadians keep us guessing Canada’s self-professed platonic darlings Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir punctuated their brilliant careers with a second Olympic gold medal in ice dance – and record fifth medal overall – with a free skate of emotive resonance, technical precision and smouldering sexual intensity that managed simultaneously to eclipse and underscore the are-theyor-aren’t-they riddle at the heart of their mystique. BAG they were watching. The country’s policy of sport for all and its emphasis on fun rather than competition – until they are 13, children are not ranked in sports events – means nearly 93% of children and young adults are active members of one of the country’s 11,000 sports clubs. Camilla Larsen, an industrial designer, said there would be “huge celebrations” when the team returned home. “We’re not a big country,” she said, “so even if we were all born with skis on our feet, like the Norwegian saying goes, when we finish ahead of countries like the US and Russia and Germany, we are proud. But also I think very many of us know quite well, we feel, what the athletes have gone through. In that sense, they really represent us.” • Manchester City secured English domestic football’s first silverware of the season in comfortable style, with goals from Sergio Agüero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva delivering a 3-0 win in the Carabao • Justin Thomas won golf’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida on a sudden-death hole against his US compatriot Luke List to continue his stunning run of success, after both players finished at eight under par. It was Thomas’s sixth US PGA Tour title since the start of last year. There was to be no dream scenario for Tiger Woods on his third Tour start of the year. The 14-times major champion was a creditable 12th place but offered frustration at not adding an 80th Tour title to his CV. At the double … Scotland’s Huw Jones, left Cup final at Wembley. City manager Pep Guardiola was charged by the Football Association for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians, but that was only a minor blot on his horizon as his team are 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League and well set to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Premier League chasers Manchester United, meanwhile, consolidated their grip on second place with a 2-1 win over last year’s champions Chelsea. Chess • Ben Stokes’s return to England cricket colours was no celebratory occasion as New Zealand won an absorbing first ODI by three wickets in Hamilton. While the all-rounder was able to inspire England with the ball, the spoils belong to Ross Taylor, for a magnificent 113, and Mitchell Santner, whose blazing unbeaten 45 from 27 balls took the Black Caps to their target of 285. Santner’s cool head and long, nimble arms helped him to four towering sixes, the last of which finished the closest contest of the winter with four balls to spare. It was New Zealand’s ninth ODI win in a row. Maslanka solutions Leonard Barden 8 Moscow Aeroflot is one of the world’s great opens and vies with Tradewise Gibraltar for premier status. Gibraltar boasts GMs from the world top 10, almost all the best women players, a wide mix of nationalities, and a fine offboard social programme. Aeroflot targets the GMs from the top 50-200 with ambitions to reach the elite, and has an impressive array of junior talent, though its geographical mix is narrower. Andrey Episenko, 15, qualified as one of the youngest GMs, shone at the world rapid/blitz, and drew his first two games at Aeroflot against top seeds. The blitz specialist Vladislav Artemiev, 19, began with two wins. There was less favourable news for Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, who became the youngest ever IM at 10 and has since had his eyes on Sergey Karjakin’s record as the youngest ever GM at 12 years 7 months. The Indian prodigy still has only one of the three required GM results – time will run out for him on 10 March. North-east England is enjoying a sudden chess boom and Heaton, Newcastle, recently staged the Northumbrian Masters, the first international tournament in the 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 a b c d e f g h 3555 Lev Gutman v Berndt Feustel, Germany 1982. How did White (to play) escape Black’s threat to queen with check? region for years. Danny Gormally’s victory, below, looks smooth, but was aided by Black’s passive strategy. Danny Gormally v Iain Gourlay, Northumbrian Masters 2018 1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 g3 Bb4+ 5 Nc3?! dxc 4 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 bxc3 O-O 8 Bg2 Nd5 9 Qc2 f6 10 Nd2 Nb6 11 O-O Nc6 12 a4 a5 13 e4 Bd7 14 Ba3 Ne7 15 Bc5 Bc6 16 Rfb1 Rc8 17 Bxb6 cxb6 18 Nxc4 Be8 19 Nxb6 Rc6 20 Qb3 Bf7 21 d5 exd5 22 exd5 Nc8 23 Nd7! Qxd7 24 dxc6 bxc6 25 Qb7 1-0 3555 1 f7+ wins. If Kf8 2 Rh8+ Ke7 3 Re8+ Kd6 4 f8Q+ and Black will soon be mated. If Kg7 2 Rh7+! Kxg6 (if Kf6 3 f8Q+) 3 f8N+! Kf6 4 Rxd7 ends it. Ice magic … clockwise from main: Ester Ledecká on her way to double glory; Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue; Gus Kenworthy, above left, and boyfriend Matt Wilkas; Kim Eun-jung of South Korea’s Garlic Girls curling team • Scotland produced one of the biggest Six Nations rugby championship shocks of recent years with a thrilling 25-13 victory over defending champions England at Murrayfield. Making a mockery of pre-match predictions, the ebullient Scots ran in three first-half tries, two scored by Huw Jones, in a performance orchestrated outstandingly by their No 10 Finn Russell, to which England had no riposte. Nor did it feel a matter of England shrinking in hostile surroundings; their impressive hosts were sharper on the day both in thought and deed. As the England coach Eddie Jones concluded: “We lacked intensity and we’ve got to find out why.” The route to the title could now be opening up for Ireland, who produced an outstanding performance in Dublin to defeat Wales 37-27. France’s youthful evolution continued with an unconvincing 34-17 win over Italy in Marseille, their first victory in nearly a year. 1 Strictly speaking (as Pedanticus so often is) the chances cannot be precarious. The tiger’s situation can be (and they are). Adjectives are sticky. Be careful where you stick them. 2 The third perm must be odd. The only other possibility is 427. Double the number of flowers is 247 + 472 + 427. So there are 573 roses. By subtraction we have 326 red, 101 white and 146 blue. 3 Suppose he could. Then his path should be reversible by leaving the pole by going north-east! But there is only north at the south pole. So no. That doesn’t mean he can’t have got there by successive movements of 1 unit south and 1 unit west, so long as he chose the unit wisely.) 4 For each positive integer k there is exactly one even number 2k and vice versa. QED. 5 They were in the alphabetical order of the Roman numerals indexing their ordinal number. So IX comes between IV and V. Vol XIX is the next one out of numerical order. 6 You get 1666, the year of the Great Fire of London. (Ah those were the days!) Wordpool c) E Pluribus Unum ANTAGONISTIC Cracker Barrel ’Cause they couldn’t find a ruler Same Difference GO(O)GOL Missing Links a) crying/wolf/hound b) university/place/mat c) noble/savage/cuts d) war/baby/talk e) quantum/leap/year f) garb/age/discrimination Find much more online Quizzes, puzzles and our extensive crosswords archive → theguardian.com/crosswords 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 Farewell to Russia A correspondent recalls his posting under Putin Review, pages 30-31 George Monbiot One UK town has discovered a potent cure for illness – community. Frome’s dramatic fall in emergency admissions to hospital should be a lesson for all of us the gaps were, which they then filled with new groups for people with particular conditions. They employed “health connectors” to help people plan their care, and most interestingly trained voluntary “community connectors” to help their patients find the support they needed. Sometimes this meant handling debt or housing problems, sometimes joining choirs or lunch clubs or exercise groups or writing workshops or men’s sheds (where men make and mend things together). The point was to break a familiar cycle of misery: illness reduces people’s ability to socialise, which leads in turn to isolation and loneliness, which then exacerbates illness. This cycle is explained by some fascinating science, summarised in a recent paper in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. Chemicals called cytokines, which function as messengers in the immune system and cause inflammation, also change our behaviour, encouraging us to withdraw from general social contact. This, the paper argues, Children in orphanages died through lack of human contact. That can happen to anybody now Bill Bragg I t could, if the results stand up, be one of the most dramatic medical breakthroughs of recent decades. It could transform treatment regimes, save lives, and save health services a fortune. Is it a drug? A device? A surgical procedure? No, it’s a newfangled intervention called community, as results from a trial in the Somerset town of Frome show. We should be cautious about embracing data before it is published in the academic press, and must always avoid treating correlation as causation. But this shouldn’t stop us feeling a shiver of excitement about the implications, if the figures turn out to be robust and the experiment can be replicated. What this provisional data appears to show is that when isolated people who have health problems are supported by community groups and volunteers, the number of emergency admissions to hospital falls spectacularly. While across the whole of Somerset emergency hospital admissions rose by 29% during the three years of the study, in Frome they fell by 17%. Julian Abel, a consultant physician in palliative care and lead author of the draft paper, remarks: “No other interventions on record have reduced emergency admissions across a population.” Frome, in England’s south-west, is a remarkable place, run by an independent town council famous for its democratic innovation. There’s a buzz of sociability, a sense of common purpose and a creative, exciting atmosphere that feels quite different to many market towns, and for that matter, quite different from the buttoned-down, dreary place I found when I first visited 30 years ago. The Compassionate Frome project was launched in 2013 by Helen Kingston, a GP there. She kept encountering patients who seemed defeated by the medicalisation of their lives: treated as if they were a cluster of symptoms rather than a human being who happened to have health problems. Staff at her practice were stressed and dejected by what she calls “silo working”. So, with the help of the NHS group Health Connections Mendip and the town council, her practice set up a directory of agencies and community groups. This let them see where is because sickness, during the more dangerous times in which our ancestral species evolved, made us vulnerable to attack. Inflammation is now believed to contribute to depression. People who are depressed tend to have higher cytokine levels. But, while separating us from society as a whole, inflammation also causes us to huddle closer to those we love. Which is fine – unless, like far too many people in this age of loneliness, you have no such person. One study suggests that the number of Americans who say they have no confidant has nearly tripled in two decades. In turn, the paper continues, people without strong social connections, or who suffer from social stress (such as rejection and broken relationships), are more prone to inflammation. In the evolutionary past, social isolation exposed us to a higher risk of predation and sickness. So the immune system appears to have evolved to listen to the social environment, ramping up inflammation when we become isolated, in the hope of protecting us against wounding and disease. In other words, isolation causes inflammation, and inflammation can cause further isolation and depression. Remarkable as Frome’s initial results appear to be, they shouldn’t be surprising. A celebrated study in 1945 showed that children in orphanages died through lack of human contact. Now we know that the same thing can apply to all of us. Dozens of subsequent papers reinforce these conclusions. HIV patients with strong social support have lower levels of the virus than those without. Women have better chances of surviving colorectal cancer if they have strong connections. Young children who are socially isolated appear more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Most remarkably, older patients with chronic diseases do not have higher death rates than those who are not suffering from chronic disease – as long as they have high levels of social support. In other words, the evidence strongly suggests that social contact should be on prescription, as it is in Frome. But the silo effect, budget cuts and an atmosphere of fear and retrenchment ensure that precious little has been done.