A week in the life of the world | 16-22 March 2018 Stage set for a meeting of egos Can Kim and Trump bond?? Can’t find C the th words Dictionaries in D the th digital age Vol 198 No 15 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply Brixton’s record rd store legend Life and times of Blacker Dread d How children are exposed to cigarette adverts Sarah Boseley London Dan Collyns Lima Kate Lamb Jakarta Amrit Dhillon Delhi Schoolchildren around the world are being exposed on a daily basis to cigarette advertising and promotions by a tobacco industry that needs to recruit the young to maintain its vast profits. A major investigation in more than 22 countries across four continents by campaigners and experts has found cigarettes or promotions on display close to sweets, fizzy drinks or stationery in shops or in stalls just outside schools, and often at the eye line of children. There was often vibrantly colourful branding, “power walls” of products often near cashiers, and digital screens showing tobacco advertising. Banner ads bore the names of cigarette brands in letters sometimes larger than the name of the shop. Flavoured cigarettes were on sale and so were single sticks, which are more affordable for young smokers. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids compiled and analysed reports since 2014 carried out by a range of public health groups, NGOs and Johns Hopkins University. Marlboro cigarettes made by Philip Morris and British American Tobacco brands such as Pall Mall, Kent, Dunhill and Lucky Strike were being sold and promoted within 300 metres or closer to schools in nearly all the countries researchers examined in a series of studies. Brands made by Japan Tobacco and Imperial were seen near schools in a smaller number. In Peru, Guardian correspondents corroborating the findings saw single sticks apparently for sale in corner shops near schools in flavours attractive to children. In Indonesia they saw banner ads above stalls near a primary school. In India, they saw single cigarettes and tiny sachets of chewing tobacco for sale alongside sweets directly opposite school gates. Big Tobacco denies promoting its products to children; Philip Morris International (PMI) said it did not market to children anywhere in the world and British American Tobacco (BAT) said it has strict rules against targeting children. 10→ Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Research in more than 22 countries found tobacco sold and promoted near schools by an industry that needs to recruit the young to maintain profits 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 16.03.18 World roundup Mounties get their first woman leader Vancouver acts to tax empty homes 1 4 The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, appointed Brenda Lucki to lead the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the first permanent female head of the force, which has been dogged by accusations of discrimination and sexual assault. Lucki, who has been with the force for 31 years, will take over as commissioner in midApril, Trudeau told a televised ceremony last Friday at the RCMP’s training academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. The previous RCMP commissioner, Bob Paulson, retired last June after more than five years in the job. During his term of office, Paulson was obliged to make a tearful apology as the national police force reached a settlement agreement over a series of deeply embarrassing harassment, discrimination and sexual abuse claims. Thousands of homes in Vancouver were declared unused and liable for a new empty homes tax as part of a government attempt to tackle skyrocketing home prices and soaring rents. About 4.6% or 8,481 homes in the western Canadian city stood empty or under-utilised for more than 180 days in 2017, according to declarations submitted to the municipality by 98.85% of homeowners. Properties deemed empty will be subjected to a tax of 1% of their assessed value. Vancouver has rolled out measures to cool prices and improve housing affordability in the country’s most expensive real estate market. Greeks call for Turkey to free ‘hostages’ 6 Protesters took to the streets of northern Greece demanding the release of two Greek soldiers detained by Turkey. Greece’s defence minister, Panos Kammenos, described the pair as “hostages” and ordered border patrols to be stepped up. Sgt Dimitris Kouklatzis, 27, and Lt Angelos Mitretodis, 25, were seized on 2 March after allegedly being found in a “forbidden military zone” in Turkish territory. The soldiers say they strayed across the frontier in bad weather. Democrats out in force for Texas primary 2 Democratic party turnout soared in America’s most populous Republican state last Tuesday, as Texas held the nation’s first primary elections before November’s midterms. The Texas primaries were scrutinised for hints as to whether revulsion over Donald Trump and the rightwards swing of the Republicans could translate into a flurry of Democratic enthusiasm that gives the party a chance of retaking the House of Representatives in November. No Democrat has won a statewide election in conservative Texas since 1994. However, in early voting the Democratic turnout doubled from 2014 in a poll that saw Beto O’Rourke win the Democratic party’s nomination to stand against Ted Cruz for the US Senate seat. More US news, pages 4-5; 12-13 → Argentina’s Falklands dead identified 3 The relatives of 89 previously unidentified Argentinian soldiers killed during the 1982 Falklands invasion are to travel to the islands this month to put names on their graves. The identification has been made possible due to DNA testing and the humanitarian initiative of a British captain, who in 1982 gathered more than 120 dead soldiers, with their effects, and put them in graves marked with the words “Argentine soldier known only to God”. The testing of the bodies by the International Committee of the Red Cross was agreed by the UK and Argentina in 2016 after a campaign led by both British and Argentinian veterans. 4 1 5 2 Power struggle puts EU’s clocks back 5 Europeans who have been arriving late to work or school can blame a lag in the continent’s electricity grid that is causing some clocks to run too slowly. The problem is caused by a political dispute between Serbia and Kosovo that is sapping energy from the local grid, causing a domino effect across Europe’s 25-nation synchronised high-voltage power network spanning the continent from Portugal to Poland and Greece to Germany. The European power grid lobby group urged the two Balkan countries to resolve the dispute. “Since the European system is interconnected ... when there is an imbalance somewhere the frequency slightly drops,” said Claire Camus, a spokeswoman for the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E). The continental network had lost 113GWh of energy since midJanuary because Kosovo had been using more electricity than it generates. Serbia, which is responsible for balancing Kosovo’s grid, had failed to do so, ENTSO-E said. The Brussels-based organisation added that “this average frequency deviation, that has never happened in any similar way in the continental European power system, must cease”. The deviation from Europe’s standard 50Hz frequency has caused electric clocks that keep time by the power system’s frequency to fall behind by about six minutes since mid-January. More Europe news, page 6 → 3 Assad’s forces surround Douma 7 Syrian government forces surrounded the largest town in the besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta, in a prelude to a possible ground assault. Forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad split off Douma from the rest of eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a day after a Red Cross and UN aid convoy arrived in the town to unload food supplies to thousands of civilians in desperate need. Douma was once one of the largest cities in Syria. The report from the UK-based human rights group, which said both Douma and the smaller nearby town of Harasta were surrounded and cut off, was disputed by locals. More Middle East news, page 7 → The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures → Centre pages 24-25 Kenya rivals meet to heal divisions 8 The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, met the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, in public for the first time since last year’s disputed elections, with the pair promising to heal the country’s divisions. The surprise meeting at Kenyatta’s office in Nairobi ended with the symbolic appearance of the two men standing side by side to deliver a joint statement. Calling each other “brother”, they announced a plan for a programme to overcome deep and longstanding ethnic and political divides, but did not provide details. More Africa news, page 7 → Nepal plane crash kills at least 49 10 A Bangladeshi aircraft crashed while trying to land at Kathmandu airport in Nepal, killing at least 49 people. The US-Bangla Airlines plane made an unexpected turn while landing at around 2.18pm local time on Monday, clipping a fence and bursting into flames, according to the airport’s general manager, Raj Kumar Chettri. It came off the runway and fell down a slope, sliding for about 300 metres. There were 71 people on board. Of the passengers, 33 were Nepali nationals, 32 from Bangladesh and one each from China and the Maldives. More south Asia news, page 11 → PNG anger at slow aid after earthquake 12 Aid workers and government officials have been threatened by people in Papua New Guinea who are angry at the slow delivery of emergency help following a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the highlands on 26 February. Care Australia estimates half a million people have been affected by the quake, with 150,000 in desperate need of emergency supplies and more than 100 believed to be dead. Anna Bryan, Care’s programme director in the country, said frustration has grown in the worst-hit areas as aftershocks continued to strike, including one of 6.8 magnitude on 7 March. China abolishes presidential term limits 6 13 7 13 The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has succeeded in abolishing presidential term limits, a momentous political coup that paves the way for him to stay in power for years to come. Nearly 3,000 members of China’s National People’s Congress voted the highly controversial constitutional amendment through last Sunday at the Great Hall of the People – an imposing Mao-era theatre on the western fringe of Tiananmen Square. 14 10 11 8 12 9 Bono apologises for bullying at charity 9 The singer Bono apologised after claims were made that workers at a charity he co-founded were subjected to a culture of bullying and abuse. The U2 singer said he was left furious after the allegations surfaced in November last year. He admitted the One organisation failed to protect some employees at its Johannesburg office and said: “I need to take some responsibility for that.” The One campaign, created in 2004 to fight poverty and preventable diseases, launched an investigation after a group of former employees from its Johannesburg office tweeted allegations of management misconduct. The group told an internal inquiry into events between 2011 and 2015 that they were repeatedly ridiculed and belittled and were ordered to do domestic work at the home of a supervisor at weekends. End anti-Muslim riots, UN tells Sri Lanka 11 The UN’s political chief condemned anti-Muslim violence that has targeted mosques and businesses in Sri Lanka. After a visit to the country, the undersecretary general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, urged the government to bring the perpetrators of the violence and hate speech to justice. Feltman, who met Muslim leaders, “condemned the breakdown in law and order and the attacks against Muslims and their property”, a UN statement said. Sinhalese mobs attacked 11 mosques and at least 200 Muslimowned businesses, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency. At least three people have been killed and 20 wounded, while the police have been accused of failing to protect the island’s minority. Muslims make up 10% of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. The majority Sinhalese are largely Buddhist. Applause rippled through the auditorium as Xi cast his vote. A further 2,957 ballots were cast in favour of the change while three delegates abstained and two voted against, a small hint of the outrage the move has caused in some liberal circles. The identities of the five dissenters is a mystery. “I can now announce that the proposals to amend the constitution of the People’s Republic of China has passed,” an announcer proclaimed. More Asia Pacific news, pages 4-5 → School scandal worsens for Abe couple 14 Shinzo Abe acknowledged that new revelations in a cronyism scandal linked to the Japanese prime minister and his wife “could undermine trust in the entire government”. The prime minister had previously said he would resign if he or his wife were shown to be involved in slashing the price of public land sold to a rightwing school operator in Osaka. The finance ministry admitted it had altered official documents surrounding the decision to provide an 85% discount on the appraised value of the land. One document originally quoted the educational group Moritomo Gakuen as saying that Abe’s wife, Akie, had recommended the school project “move forward because it is a good plot of land”. However, this was removed in a version submitted to lawmakers investigating the sale. Japan world diary, page 9 → 4 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 International news Why Trump and Kim Jong-un share a dangerous delusion Both leaders think they are winning. A summit could be dangerous Analysis Julian Borger I f a summit between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un – as announced last Thursday – really takes place in May, it will count as one of the most remarkable pieces of theatre in diplomatic history. If that drama leads to a substantive peace agreement it would represent an extraordinary achievement. The Korean war never formally ended and the threat of a new devastating conflict has hung over the peninsula for decades. It is a prize on an epic scale, but so are the risks. Both leaders view the provisional agreement to meet as a personal triumph born of resolve. If each reckons he has the other over a barrel, there will be little room for compromise if and when they meet. The South Korean messengers who conveyed Kim’s invitation took pains to lay credit at Trump’s feet. White House briefers last Thursday night also went out of their way to tie the surprise development to the US president’s leadership qualities. Having invested so much personal capital in the meetings, there is a significant danger of a backlash from either or both men if they do not get their way under the glare of international attention. There is plenty of room for misunderstanding. Both leaders say they want the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but historically their governments have interpreted that to mean quite different things. While Washington sees it in terms of North Korean unilateral disarmament, Pyongyang envisions an end to the “hostile policies” of the US and the formal removal of the nuclear deterrent umbrella that has sheltered South Korea from its neighbour. There is no guarantee the summit will take place. Kim did not put his invitation down on paper. It was relayed orally by the South Korean national security chief, Chung Eui-yong. Since Kim met Chung and his delegation last Monday in Pyongyang, the North The president is convinced of his expertise in the art of the deal has remained silent on the contents of the offer and could seek to move the goalposts in the run-up to the high-stakes meeting. Trump could not contain his excitement over the developments. He appeared unannounced at the White House briefing room to tip off journalists about Chung’s planned press statement. He told one reporter he hoped to garner the credit for the breakthrough. He seemed unaware that Pyongyang had been seeking a one-onone meeting with a US president since the 1990s at least. In securing agreement, Kim can claim an achievement that eluded his father and grandfather – being treated in the eyes of the world as an equal by the most powerful man on earth. “To be clear – we need to talk to North Korea,” argued Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury institute of international studies at Monterey. “But Kim is not inviting Trump so that he can surrender North Korea’s weapons. Kim is inviting Trump to demonstrate that his investment in nuclear and missile capabilities has forced the United States to treat him as an equal.” Arguably neither Kim nor Trump deserve the principal credit for the sharp turn they have taken from mutual insults and rattled nuclear sabres. That credit is more reasonably attributed to the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, who found himself in the crossfire since coming to office last year, but has managed to leverage that position, through the hosting of the Winter Olympics, into an opening for dialogue. The timing has also been benign. The election of a pro-engagement president in South Korea has been followed by Kim’s declaration at the start of this year that his regime had attained its goal of building an arsenal of nuclear missiles. The Pyongyang regime now sees itself entering negotiations from a position of strength as a nuclear power. The White House narrative is entirely different. It portrays North Korea as cowed into talks by Trump’s determination and the unprecedented international sanctions regime that has been imposed since last September. However, any expectation Trump might have that Kim will trade his nuclear weapons for sanctions Unexpected theatre … Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un view the provisional agreement to meet as a personal triumph born of resolve EPA; Getty relief may be ill-conceived. Few observers believe the North Korean leader will bargain away lightly what he sees as a guarantee of his regime’s survival. Historically, major summits have followed months or years of carefully orchestrated lowerlevel negotiations. For this new Alarm over president’s vague stance on denuclearisation Jon Swaine Donald Trump faced criticism from Republican allies last Sunday after apparently agreeing to meet Kim Jong-un without demanding that North Korea start scrapping its nuclear programme. Senators from Trump’s own party expressed scepticism and urged him to set tougher preconditions, amid growing concerns over the administration’s chaotic approach to nuclear diplomacy. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said Trump should not meet Kim until North Korea produces proof it has begun reversing its years-long pursuit of a nuclear weapon. “What we have to hear more of is how we are going to get to those concrete, verifiable steps towards denuclearisation before this meeting occurs,” Gardner said. Trump’s team has given a series of muddled statements on that precondition. No mention of it was made during an abrupt announcement last Thursday that Trump was willing to hold a summit with Kim by May, in what would be the first-ever meeting of the two countries’ leaders. Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said last Friday Trump was “not going to have this meeting take place until we see concrete actions that match the words and the rhetoric of North Korea”. She later in effect retracted that statement in briefings to reporters. The president has offered little clarity. After tweeting about conversations with world leaders on the issue, he returned to it in a rambling speech to supporters in Pennsylvania last Saturday evening, saying of North Korean denuclearisation: “They are thinking about that – who knows what’s going to happen?” The uneven public statements followed an eccentric unveiling of Trump’s historic acceptance of Kim’s invitation. The decision was announced to journalists on the White House driveway by a South Korean official, shortly after Trump’s secretary The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 5 Man of steel Trump’s tariffs threaten trade war → Finance, page 12-13 White House ‘hollowed out’ as senior advisers walk away Analysis David Smith diplomatic opening to be successful, that order will have to be reversed. The question is whether Kim and Trump would settle for something less than a grand bargain. There are concerns over whether the Trump administration is equipped for complex talks. Its leading Korea experts have left and the state department has been excluded. Trump for now is flying solo, convinced of his expertise in the art of the deal. But his deal-making in the real estate business drove him to bankruptcy several times. The implications of an equivalent failure in nuclear summitry, and how he might react, are sobering. of state, Rex Tillerson, had said direct negotiations were a distant prospect. Having lambasted Barack Obama for what they deemed an overly conciliatory approach to Iran during nuclear talks, Republicans were left struggling to defend Trump’s position. “I don’t think anybody really believes that North Korea is prepared to denuclearise,” Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican critic of Trump, said. Democrats, too, expressed concerns. “I am very worried that he’s going to go into these negotiations and be taken advantage of,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said. Warren said Trump should urgently address a lack of senior diplomats who would probably be needed for successful negotiations. The US has no permanent ambassador to South Korea or assistant secretary of state for the region. That view was echoed by Ben Rhodes, a former senior aide to Obama, who was involved in the Iran deal and said the Trump administration appeared unprepared for discussions of similar gravity. “There’s nothing more complex than nuclear negotiations; there’s no place in the world more volatile than the Korean peninsula,” Rhodes told ABC. “You cannot just approach this like a reality show.” Leader comment, page 22 → Donald Trump was holding court in the east room of the White House, surrounded by chandeliers, gold curtains, mirrors and portraits. He had a message for the media: “You know, I read where, ‘Oh, gee, maybe people don’t want to work for Trump.’ Believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House … I could take any position in the White House, and I’ll have a choice of the 10 top people having to do with that position. Everybody wants to be there.” That was at about 3.45pm last Tuesday. Less than two hours later, the White House everyone wants to work for was struggling to explain its latest empty desk. Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser, had decided to walk away. There has never been such a rapid turnover of personnel in a US administration in modern times, raising fears of a “brain drain” that will leave significant jobs unfilled. “The White House is getting hollowed out and the number of people capable of doing things, of doing real things whether you agree or disagree ideologically, is getting smaller and smaller,” said Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate. Trump, former host of The Apprentice, has enjoyed pulling back the curtain to allow White House meetings to be televised. But he also appears to be copying reality-TV by eliminating a member of his administration or cabinet each week, leaving the audience in suspense: who’s next? Reports have suggested it could be HR McMaster, the national security adviser whose style is said to grate with Trump, or Rex Tillerson, the repeatedly marginalised secretary of state. John Kelly, the chief of staff once seen as a stabilising force, has been under pressure over his handling of allegations of domestic abuse against his aide Rob Porter. And Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, looks especially vulnerable after his security clearance was downgraded and the Russian collusion investigation closes in. This threatens to leave Trump in ever greater isolation, trusting his gut on policy rather than a dwindling band of advisers whom he relishes setting against each other. “I like conflict,” he said at a recent press conference, as the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Löfven, looked on with a poker face. A Democratic strategist, Robert Shrum, said: “In terms of modern presidencies, this is the most untethered we’ve ever seen. We’re being governed by the president’s impulses.” Despite a presidential tweet insisting “There is no Chaos, only great Energy!”, Shrum added: “Most major Republicans don’t want anything to do with the place. It’s a six months-to-a-year gig.” About 43% of top White House positions have turned over since Trump was inaugurated, according to Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. Two years into their In numbers 43% 7 Turnover of top White House roles since Trump’s inauguration Number of senior advisers who have resigned, been fired or reassigned. There are 12 in all terms of office, Barack Obama’s staff turnover rate was 24% and George W Bush’s was 33%. Seven of Trump’s 12 most senior advisers have resigned, been fired or reassigned. Porter, the staff secretary, was forced out after the domestic abuse allegations against him became public. The communications director Hope Hicks, labelled Trump’s “real daughter”, has resigned. Cohn’s departure suggests there could be a runaway effect. Only a handful of the old guard are left. The White House social media director, Dan Scavino, is the only aide who has been by the president’s side since he launched his campaign in June 2015. Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the president, and Kellyanne Conway, White House counsellor, who joined in 2016, have both proved their survival instincts. But staff will leave and become increasingly hard to replace. “Are there people always wanting to work in the White House and to suck up to power? Of course there are,” said Kurt Bardella, a columnist for HuffPost. “Are they highly qualified people? Absolutely not.” Jonathan Freedland, page 19 → 6 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 International news Votes mean prizes for weary Russians Officials look to prop up Putin’s legitimacy and experiment with raffles Andrew Roth Moscow In the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, political activists are raffling a car, while in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, the prize is an iPhone X. In Berdsk, the best selfie will be plastered across a billboard. The catch? To qualify for a chance to win, Russians must turn out to vote. There is little doubt that Vladimir Putin will win a fourth term as president in the election this coming Sunday, making him the first Kremlin leader since Stalin to serve two decades in power. But in an uncontested political field, the Kremlin is worried about turnout. And with concerns that Putin’s appeal alone may not be enough to attract voters on 18 March, officials across the country are experimenting with raffles, competitions and the occasional referendum – like one in Volgograd that asks voters whether they want to change time zones – all in an effort to ensure Putin wins with greater support than in 2012. “I think a good result for Putin would be him beating his 2012 results,” said Valery Fyodorov, the head of a leading state-owned polling agency, VCIOM, who regularly presents the results of his polling at the Kremlin. Sixty-five per cent of voters turned out in 2012, with 63.6% supporting Putin. “My understanding is that the administration wants to pull, not push, Dominant … there is little doubt that Putin will win a fourth term people to these elections,” Fyodorov said. “And that means not using punishments or threats, but bringing people out to vote with better messaging and, yes, some selfie contests and referendums to raise interest.” The 2018 election may already go down as one of Russia’s most bizarre and inert. The president can’t be bothered to star in his own campaign adverts; the Communist party’s candidate, Pavel Grudunin, is a millionaire and former member of the ruling party; some Putin opponents consulted the Kremlin before announcing their presidential bids; and the most prominent opposition politician in the country – Alexei Navalny – has been barred from running. At Putin’s first campaign event, at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium one Saturday earlier this month, organisers padded out the crowds with paid attendees. The country’s hockey league delayed its playoffs so that players could appear on stage with Putin. And yet, despite the obvious staging of elements of this campaign, insiders, pollsters, political commentators and opposition members say the government’s legitimacy is on the line. “Turnout is a measure of the public’s support,” said Evgeny Roizmann, mayor of Yekaterinburg, the country’s third-largest city. A rare public opponent of Putin in Russia’s heartland, Roizmann has said he will not vote. The Kremlin must walk a tightrope in this election: garnering enough support to confirm its validity, while avoiding the kinds of strong-arm tactics that prompted widespread antigovernment protests after parliamentary elections in 2011. And to achieve that, authorities aim to create a “holiday-like atmosphere” on voting day. Authorities are particularly worried about turnout among young people. A series of anonymously backed election material has targeted them on social media, including a YouTube clip warning that Russia could become gay-friendly if voters don’t vote. So far, however, the person who seemed least enthused by the campaign was Putin himself, who until the stadium rally this month had barely altered his routine of visits to factories and local governments around Russia. “He is not that interested in the campaign,” a person close to the Kremlin said. “He expects his subordinates to make sure that everything goes smoothly. And if it doesn’t, then they’ll shoulder the blame.” Editorial cartoon, page 21 → Abortion Irish expats urged to return for vote Up to 40,000 Irish citizens living abroad are being urged to return home to cast crucial votes in a historic referendum in May that could overturn the country’s ban on abortion. A campaign, Home to Vote, is calling on the Irish diaspora in the UK, Europe, north America and elsewhere to book flights and ferries to Ireland to exercise their democratic right. Three years ago thousands of Irish citizens returned home to vote on same-sex marriage legislation, boosting the remarkable two-thirds majority for changing the law. Campaigners now hope to repeat the feat. More than three-quarters of a million Irish-born people live in other countries – a significant number set against the resident population of 4.8 million. Only those who have been abroad for 18 months or less and intend to return to Ireland are eligible to vote. Those qualifying must register in advance and vote in person. The referendum will ask whether article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution – known as the eighth amendment – should be repealed. This gives a foetus the same rights to life as a pregnant woman, and has been in place since 1983, enshrining in the constitution a ban on abortion. If it is overturned in a referendum expected on 25 May, legislation giving women an unrestricted right to abortion up to the 12th week will be introduced. Since 1983 an estimated 170,000 Irish women have travelled to the UK to terminate their pregnancies, incurring high costs, logistical difficulties and emotional strain. In addition, up to 2,000 women a year end pregnancies by taking the abortion pill, illegally obtained online. Harriet Sherwood Photograph: Reuters Re-elected Le Pen looks to rebrand Kim Willsher Paris Marine Le Pen has been re-elected leader of the Front National and immediately proposed changing the far-right party’s name to Rassemblement National (National Rally), saying it must serve as a “rallying cry” to new voters. Le Pen said FN had moved from its roots as a protest group into opposition and was now ready to govern under a new name. “I have thought and consulted long and hard on the name. It must carry a political message and clearly indicate our political project for France. It must imperatively include the word ‘national’,” she told the party’s conference. “It must be more than a project; it must be a rallying cry.” Le Pen announced that party members would be asked to vote on the rebranding in the coming weeks. For a political leader whose primary objective in recent years has been to soften FN’s image and shed its antisemitic, jack-boot image, the proposed name had unfortunate echoes of the Rassemblement National Populaire (RNP), an extreme-right collaborationist group set up by Marcel Déat, a “neo-Socialist, during the German occupation of France between 1941 and 1944. The result of the poll of party members on the name change is not expected to be known until late April. The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 7 International news How Boko Haram tricked 110 schoolgirls Gone … the school where girls willingly boarded trucks of men who posed as soldiers there to save them Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters Dapchi pupils taken by kidnappers in belief they were being helped Isaac Abraak Dapchi Ruth Maclean Evening was falling and hundreds of students were preparing to break the fast observed every Monday at the girls’ boarding school in the small Nigerian town of Dapchi. Watching them get ready to eat reminded Usman Mohammed, a school security guard, that it was time for his evening prayers. It was a school night like any other. Until suddenly it wasn’t. “The food had just been served when we started hearing gunshots,” he said. He rushed to see what was happening. Girls were running in all directions. He could see men in army uniforms, carrying weapons. There were vehicles painted in military colours, but if you looked closely, you could see “Allah is great” inscribed in Arabic on the bonnets. “We immediately knew these weren’t soldiers,” Mohammed said. The strangers were trying to round up the girls. He remembered them shouting: “Stop, stop! We are not Boko Haram! We are soldiers, get into our vehicles. We will save you.” Habiba Jekana, who suffers from sickle cell anaemia and had been off school with a fever, believed them. She couldn’t walk to the truck, so a friend lifted her on to her back, carried her over and hoisted both of them in. The men were in fact members of Boko Haram, the violent group that calls itself Islamic while raping, murdering and kidnapping on a vast scale in north-east Nigeria. Some of the Dapchi girls had heard of the Chibok girls, 276 schoolchildren abducted by Boko Haram in 2014 to global condemnation, but they were not expecting the same to happen to them. Dapchi is in Yobe, another badly affected state, but the town had never been attacked before, and since Chibok, Nigeria had elected a new government that repeatedly claims Boko Haram is beaten and on the run. Since the 19 February attack, officials have contradicted each other about what happened. But the residents of Dapchi know. Sitting outside the market, local vigilante Mohammadu Mdada watched as two cars pulled up at around 6pm. Men with rifles got out, and asked tricycle taxi drivers to point out the soldiers, hospital and school. Duly directed, nine more cars sped past, fanning out towards the three targets. A wave of motorcycles followed. Motorcycles have been banned across the region, and that was how Mdada knew it was Boko Haram. At the school, the government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Hafsat Abdullahi had just got out of the bath when she heard shots. The 18-year-old and her friends assumed it was the school’s dodgy electricity transformer, but then she saw military men. “They said: ‘Come, let us help you, we are soldiers,’” she said. “We thought they were. A lot of students just jumped into their trucks.” One of those girls, she later discovered, was Fatima, her sister. A dormitory porter realised what was happening, Hafsat said. “He was shouting to us: ‘Don’t get into those vehicles!’ But the girls just kept jumping in. Then [the porter] turned round and drove some of us towards the fence. We jumped over it and headed into the bush.” Bullets flying around her ears, Hafsat sprinted from the school, three schoolmates running with her. “Allah helped us. None of the bullets hit us,” she said. Hundreds of girls hid out in the open that night. With 110 girls loaded into their trucks, Boko Haram drove out through the school gates. They went back past the vigilantes, who could do nothing, having only one musket between them. “The girls were shouting and crying: ‘Please help us! Save us,’” Mdada said. “The BH men had whips in their hands, flogging the girls.” While Habiba was being lifted into the kidnappers’ truck, her father was roasting meat back at his butcher’s shop. “I knew it was them and that this was trouble,” Mainama Jakana said. He heard gunfire from the school, but before he could get there he met the convoy loaded with captives. “I followed one of the trucks,” he said. “I pleaded with them to let my daughter go. I said she was a cripple. They told me to go home.” Four hours before, the vigilantes got a call from their friends in Guma, around 30km away, to say people in military fatigues were heading their way. Then they got a call from another nearby village, Turma. They were too scared of the police to report it. In any case, according to villagers, the district police officer left town that morning without telling his men. The military, meanwhile, was conspicuous by its absence. “There was not a single soldier around, none,” said Mohammed, the school security guard. Although it is not known which faction of Boko Haram was responsible for the latest kidnapping, it was doubtless attracted by the prospect of ransoms like those paid for the Chibok girls. The day after the kidnapping, as girls trickled back from the bush, their parents and the school started to work out who had been taken. For the abducted girls’ families, there is little to do but wait. “We came home and started praying day and night. That how it has been since,” Hafsat and Fatima’s mother, Jummei, said. “We implore the world to pray for us.” Generation of children at grave risk in Syria Martin Chulov Beirut A generation of Syrian children face psychological ruin and ever-increasing danger, with child deaths soaring by 50% last year and the number of young soldiers tripling since 2015. A report by Unicef found 2017 was the worst yet of the war for young Syrians, with 910 killed in a conflict that has taken a vastly disproportionate toll on the most vulnerable people. The figures undermine claims that the war, which will soon enter its eighth year, is losing steam. Those most at risk face escalating threats of being permanently maimed by fighting, or emotionally scarred by a litany of abuses including forced labour, marriages, food scarcity and minimal access to health or education. “There are scars in children and there are scars on children that will never be erased,” said Geert Cappelaere, Unicef’s director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The protection of children in all circumstances that was once universally embraced – at no moment have any of the parties accepted.” More than 13 million people inside Syria now need humanitarian assistance, more than half of whom are children, the UN says. Of the 6.1 6.1m The number of people internally displaced in Syria, roughly half of whom are children, according to UN figures million people internally displaced, roughly half (2.8 million) are children. Figures for last year show an average of 6,550 people were displaced each day in Syria. On almost every economic indicator, children in Syria experienced worse conditions last year than in 2016. The scarcity of food has soared across the country, with the young again suffering most for the lack of adequate nutrition. Up to 12% of young Syrians are considered to be acutely malnourished, the report says. 8 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 International news Fusion power to be ‘on grid in 15 years’ Super-magnets key to MIT project that could beat climate change Hannah Devlin The dream of nuclear fusion is near to being realised, according to a US initiative that says it will put fusion power on the grid within 15 years. A collaboration between scientists at MIT and a private company intends to use new high-temperature superconductors that they say will allow them to create the first fusion reactor that produces more energy than must be put in to get a fusion reaction going. Bob Mumgaard, CEO of the private company Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which has attracted $50m in support from the Italian energy company Eni, said: “The aspiration is to have a working power plant in time to combat climate change. We think we have the science, speed and scale to put carbon-free fusion power on the grid in 15 years.” Fusion’s promise is huge: a zerocarbon, combustion-free source of energy. But until now every fusion experiment has operated on an energy deficit, useless for electricity generation. Decades of disappointment have led to the joke that fusion is the energy of the future – and always will be. The timeframe normally cited is 30 years, but the MIT team believe that they can halve this by using new superconducting materials to produce ultra-powerful magnets, one of the main components of a fusion reactor. Fusion works on the concept of forging lighter elements together to form heavier ones. When hydrogen atoms are squeezed hard enough, they fuse to make helium, liberating vast amounts of energy in the process. Energy dream … a visualisation of MIT’s major new experiment to produce carbon-free fusion power Ken Filar, PSFC Research Affiliate However, this produces net energy only at temperatures of hundreds of millions of degrees Celsius, far too hot for any solid material to withstand. So scientists use magnetic fields to stop the hot plasma – a gaseous soup of subatomic particles – from contacting the chamber. A new superconducting material – a steel tape coated with a compound called yttrium-barium-copper oxide, or YBCO – has allowed scientists to produce smaller, more powerful magnets. This should reduce the energy needed to get the fusion reaction started. The experimental reactor is designed to produce about 100MW of heat. While it will not turn that heat into electricity, it will produce the power used by a small city. Prof Maria Zuber, MIT’s vicepresident for research, said: “If we succeed, the world’s energy systems will be transformed.” The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 9 Have your say Share your views with readers → Reply, page 23 International news Long road to recovery for the ghost towns evacuated after Fukushima Japan diary Daniel Hurst O kuma, on Japan’s east coast, used to host a community of 10,500 people. But today the houses stand empty. The town is one of the closest to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and – seven years after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a triple meltdown – it remains under evacuation orders with decontamination not yet finished. However, Okuma is not totally deserted. It is patrolled by Jijii Butai, or The Old Man Squad, retirees who keep watch over their former home. Tsunemitsu Yokoyama, 65, stands a few metres from a pickup truck, and is one of six retirees who formed the squad five years ago, partly to allay the concerns of homeowners about potential breakins and fires. He says the squad members are less worried about radiation exposure than the younger generation because “we don’t have many years ahead of us anyway”. Almost every day, they travel from their new homes one to two hours away and conduct volunteer patrols looking out for damage caused by wild boars, pick up rubbish that may have accumulated in the waterways and clear away fallen trees. “We belong to the same generation, we are around the same age, so we can understand each other pretty well in terms of sharing the same goal and also the objective and hope for this town,” Yokoyama says of the bond they’ve formed. In some parts of the town, residents are now allowed to check up on their homes – but they are not allowed to stay overnight. It’s clear, however, that it will be a difficult process to entice former residents back once decontamination is completed. Even Shuyo Shiga, the leader of the Okuma town recovery project, expects that the rest of his family will stay away once the situation has been put back to relative normality. Shiga’s property is part of a parcel of land earmarked to become an interim storage facility for nuclear waste. In addition, he says one of his three children suffered trauma from seeing their neighbours “swallowed up by the tsunami”. His children are now in their 20s. Deserted, not forgotten … exclusion zones remain but the Old Man Squad (below) patrol their former home Getty “I think a person that has that kind of difficult experience, it’s very hard for them to come back to Okuma,” Shiga says. “The children said they will not return … and my wife is talking about not returning, so I suppose it will be for me to return to Okuma as a single person – not with my family, not with my wife.” The town is starting its recovery with modest ambitions. Homes are being built for the 50 households that have said they want to return. Eventually, says Shiga, the town plans to build 100 detached houses. But this is a fraction of the pre-disaster population. It tends to be older residents who want to return, he adds. Elsewhere in Fukushima prefecture, the town of Namie is a stark example of the challenges of getting a former evacuation zone back on track. Authorities lifted the evacuation orders there on 31 March 2017, except for some districts. So far just 490 people have returned of its former population of 21,000. Yohei Aota, an official from Namie town government, reveals the figures as he looks out over the portside district of Ukedo – a lowlying area that was swamped by a 15.5-metre wave. His home was one of those destroyed. “Of course looking at the scenery reminds me of what happened,” he says from an elevated vantage point where the local elementary students successfully escaped the reach of the tsunami. Now the school building stands empty and most of the homes in the area have been demolished. “There used to about 1,900 people living here [in Namie’s Ukedo district] but 182 people died unfortunately from the tsunami,” Aota says. “And actually there are still 30 missing persons – no remains, no belongings have been found of these 30 missing persons.” Fukushima authorities are anxious to say that considerable progress has been made since May 2012 when the number of evacuees from across the prefecture peaked at 164,865. That figure has fallen below 50,000. But people are not in a hurry to move back. Rieko Watanabe, 65, who evacuated from Namie to Minamisoma, says everyone has their own reasons for not going back. She commutes from Minamisoma to run her business, which serves meals and bento boxes to residents and workers. Watanabe says that the people in Namie are shy about their plans for the future. “But they often look around and if they notice a friend or an acquaintance or a neighbour returning they might say: ‘Oh maybe it’s time for me to return as well and maybe I can do something’. We are praying every day and we are working hard every day so that this trend of people coming back to Namie would be strengthened and can be maintained.” She adds with a determined smile: “Never give up.” 10 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 International news ‘It’s the youngsters who like them most’ ← Continued from page 1 Lima Flavoured sticks Dotted across Lima, the capital of Peru, the Guardian found colourfully marketed flavoured cigarettes being openly advertised in corner shops often a stone’s throw from schools. Romina Castro said she was tempted by them to start smoking when she was 17. She liked the mint and lemon flavoured combination offered in a range of Lucky Strike cigarettes. “They don’t have the bitter flavour of normal cigarettes,” the 21-year-old university student said. “They just taste nicer.” Sold in packs of 10 or 20, the Lucky Strike cigarettes come in nine different flavours including mint, lemon, berry, grape or cinnamon and, more recently, feature flavour combinations. In another corner shop, the Guardian saw cigarette packets stacked among the sweets and snacks in a glass-fronted counter, at the eye level of a small child. Closer inspection showed open packets with some cigarettes missing. A likely indication – along with the lighter hanging on a piece of string by the door – that cigarettes were being sold individually, which is not only against Peruvian law but seen as a ploy to encourage premature smoking. BAT Peru said it strongly opposed the sale of single cigarettes and said it was unfortunate the practice happened. The firm denied flavoured products attracted young smokers. A spokesperson said: “On the contrary, the flavours only seek to deliver a different smoking experience to [well informed] adult smokers.” Delhi Laws f louted India has laws against the advertising and sale of cigarettes within 100 metres of schools, but in Delhi it appears to be flouted in many places. The day the Guardian visits, there is a tiny tobacco kiosk in Mayur Vihar less than 100 metres from Ahlcon International School in New Delhi. The vendor stocks cigarettes and tiny sachets of a chewable tobacco popular throughout India. Asked if he knows that the law prohibits him from selling his products within 100 metres of any school, the vendor replies: “No, I don’t know about that law but I do know that you shouldn’t sell tobacco to children. “No one wants children to get the habit so I refuse if any young person comes to me.” Nearby is ASN senior secondary school where two tobacco stands are situated directly opposite the main A young boy smokes at a kiosk in Yogyakarta, Indonesia after a day at elementary school Getty The tactics used 1. Cigarettes or promotions close to sweets, fizzy drinks or stationery, and often at the eye level of children Jakarta Free cartons 2. Colourful branding or 'power walls' of products near cashiers, and digital screens showing cigarette ads 3. Banner advertising with names of cigarette brands sometimes bigger than the shop name 4. Flavoured cigarettes on sale – like mint, lemon, berry or grape, plus menthol 5. Single sticks for sale – which campaigners say are more affordable to children gates, on the other side of the road. Wedged between a fresh fruit stall, a fruit juice stand, and food and flower stalls, they look normal and innocuous to the schoolchildren who pass the shops . The kiosks themselves stock sweets, lollipops and chewing gum alongside the tobacco products. A cigarette costs 10 rupees (15 cents). In theory, India has stringent antitobacco measures in place. In 2003, the country passed a law banning tobacco companies from advertising at shops and banning the sale of tobacco and cigarettes near educational institutions throughout India. But anti-tobacco activists, campaigning to ensure that young Indians do not start smoking and become addicted, have found the law being flouted in numerous places in the city. The Delhi high court is examining a petition filed by activists demanding that the authorities enforce the ban, but such court cases can take many years to reach any conclusion. Dr Suresh Kumar Arora, the chief tobacco control officer, said enforcement is not easy. “Children are immature, they are influenced by peer pressure and they like to experiment and so they are the target of tobacco companies who know they can be their future customers,” he said. The tobacco companies respond PMI said it complies with relevant regulations. “Preventing children from smoking is of the highest priority and we take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that we do not market to children anywhere in the world … [our guidelines] strictly preclude the use of materials deemed attractive to minors,” a spokesperson said. BAT said: “Under-age smokers are not, and will never be, our target audience, anywhere in the world … products and marketing should never appeal to, or engage under-age smokers. Across the world, we have very strict rules to ensure we do not have outdoor advertising within 100 metres of a school.” Imperial Brands said it sold products responsibly: “our product and brand communications are not aimed at, or made appealing to, people under the age of 18 or non-smokers, and that we operate in accordance with local laws”. Japan Tobacco and Imperial did not respond to a request for comment. The view from the turquoise entrance gates of SDN Ciater 4 primary school in Serpong, on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital, is a string of roadside stalls littered with tobacco ads. One features a picture of a sleek red race car with smoking tyres that reads: “Test your limits, go international.” It’s for a local clove brand, Gudang Garam. The adjacent banner, a plainer design with a single calligraphy style ‘A’, from the local Sampoerna brand, now owned by Philip Morris, merely advertises its low price: 20,000 rupiah [$1.45] per pack. “That?” said the stall owner, of the Sampoerna banner hanging outside her stall, which sells sweets alongside tobacco. “Someone from the cigarette company gave it to me. They gave me a carton of free cigarettes too.” Representatives from tobacco companies visit her stall about once every three months, she said, offering fresh new signs for free. The tobacco industry is big business in Indonesia. It has created some of the country’s richest men and contributes $10.5bn in taxes each year. Tobacco advertising is everywhere – at roadside stalls, on billboards and music concerts, late night on TV, and at sporting events. Jakarta has banned advertising on billboards around schools. Banners have instead been tacked to stalls, fences and trees. “There’s no monitoring, regulation or tax, and you can put up a lot,” said Lisda Sundari, from Yayasan Lentera Anak, an NGO focused on protecting children. Asked about the Sampoerna banner, Philip Morris International said it was committed to complying with regulations in each market it operates and for Sampoerna this meant “making every effort not to place any cigarette advertisements (shop signboards, billboards, and banners) inside or within 100 meters of educational facilities”. “Given the large number of retailers throughout Indonesia, mistakes can happen; however, we strive to make every effort to ensure that our communications are only directed at adult smokers.” It said the banners close to SDN Ciater 4 school had now been taken down. Indonesia manufacturers Gudang Garam and Djarum did not respond to requests for comment. The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 11 International news Arrival of the ‘love hotel’ divides India One short-stay company has made $3m but there is still outraged hostility Michael Safi Delhi Police swept through Mumbai hotels at about 3pm, going room to room, arresting more than 40 unmarried couples. All were charged. The college students were forced to call their parents and admit what they had done. Their crime was “indecent behaviour in public”, the police said. For couples without marriage certificates in India – especially those of different faiths – spending time in a hotel room together can still be a struggle. But where many Indians see immorality, others in the country’s digital startup industry see opportunity. “We have a guaranteed promise,” says hotel entrepreneur Blajoj “Blaze” Arizanov. “No knocks on the door, no weird stares, no questions asked.” For nearly three years Arizanov, a Macedonian, and his Indian co-founder, Sanchit Sethi, have been pursuing an unlikely goal: to bring a version of Japan’s short-stay “love hotels”, designed for urgent amorous encounters, to India. StayUncle, their company, added its 800th hotel partner in February and clocked up $3m in total sales. The startup is helping to drive a more couple-friendly attitude across the Indian hotel industry, even if society is still catching up. StayUncle started in 2015 as a hotel aggregator, selling half-day stays aimed at business people seeking a nap or somewhere to freshen up. But sales were slow. In the meantime, the website was being inundated with couples seeking privacy. “We got to know they were coming to us because they couldn’t book a hotel with local IDs,” Arizanov says. “It was a tragic thing, but maybe the opportunity we had been scouting for all this time.” Winning over hotels was the hardest step. Eight out of 10 dismissed the idea outright. Asking them to shed their old-fashioned ideas rarely worked. What did, however, was an Amorous encounter … a couple exchange confidences in a suburb of Mumbai NK Sareen/Alamy appeal to the hip pocket – and the rapid growth of Airbnb. “We told them, you can choose to be conservative, or you can open your eyes to the opportunity,” Arizanov says. “There are thousands of young people with well-earning jobs and lots of free money who want to have fun. And if you reject them Airbnb will take your piece of the pie.” Most hotels were satisfied when money started flowing. Many now approach StayUncle asking to be listed. But Arizanov says he “mercilessly” cuts at least 10 a month for being insufficiently discreet. Other hotels asked to be taken off the website after seeing StayUncle’s provocative marketing. When the company posted a picture on Facebook of two Hindu deities checking into a room, it got death threats. When Arizanov insisted on calling the website’s blog Naughty Sita, after another Hindu god, staff threatened to quit. (It was retitled Naughty Bharat, or Naughty India, last month.) StayUncle’s greatest threat may be competition. India’s largest network of budget accommodation, Oyo, recently introduced a “relationship mode”, listing hotels that have agreed not to hassle unmarried couples. 12 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Finance The war over US steel: Trump tips world trade into turmoil EU voices concerns over tariffs and spiral of economic retaliation Phillip Inman Observer Blast furnace B will fire up later this year in Granite City, Illinois, giving up to 500 steel workers a job and offering Donald Trump a fitting emblem for his campaign to put America first. Mothballed for several years by US Steel, the blast furnace will smelt iron made newly competitive by Trump’s decision to slap a 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% on aluminium, including from the UK and Europe. Within hours of the president first propounding his protectionist move, the European commission hit back with the threat of its own measures: extra tariffs on everything from orange juice to Harley-Davidson motorbikes. Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, said she wanted to avoid a tit-for-tat battle that could turn into a full-blown trade war. “A trade war has no winners. If it does not happen, all the better – then we can work with our American friends and other allies on the core issue of this problem: overcapacity,” she said. When he signed the presidential order last Thursday, Trump made it clear Mexico and Canada would be excluded from the plan. Australia last weekend also secured an exemption and and it was suggested “other countries” might also be spared. However, a trade war now looks inevitable because Europe appeared to remain firmly in his sights when he added that any retaliation by the EU would be met with a tariff on European car imports. Analysis History’s biggest protectionists For steel and aluminium read wool. For the US and China read England and the Low Countries. For Donald Trump read Edward III. There is nothing new about the use of protectionism as a policy tool. England in the 14th century was in a similar position to a “We’re going to be very fair, we’re going to be very flexible but we’re going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign,” said the president. “A strong steel and aluminium industry are vital to our national security,” he added. “Steel is steel. If you don’t have steel you don’t have a country.” Raoul Leering, head of international trade research at ING, said: “This is a dangerous development, even though the damage in the short term from steel and aluminium tariffs is limited. We have a president that doesn’t subscribe to the benefits of trade.” US presidents have adopted trade tariffs before in their frustration at US steel imports % of total Canada Brazil South Korea Mexico Russia Japan Germany Turkey China 19 10 8 7 6 6 5 4 Netherlands 3 3 Source: ING US aluminium imports % of total Canada China Russia UAE Mexico Germany Bahrain 37 16 7 6 5 3 Argentina 2 Qatar 2 Thailand 1 2 Source: ING poor developing country today. It produced a lot of a staple commodity – wool – which it exported across the Channel to be turned into cloth by Flemish weavers. Edward wanted a slice of this lucrative business so he imposed controls on wool exports – thus depriving the Low Countries of the raw materials they needed – and imposed a ban on imports of cloth. This was merely the start of five centuries of protectionism that ended only in 1860 when – with Britain’s manufacturers dominating the what they see as “dumping” by statesubsidised foreign competition. In 2002 George W Bush said he would impose 30% tariffs on steel products, using the pretext, like Trump, that the US’s national security was threatened by the decline of its steel industry. European leaders appealed to the World Trade Organi zation (WTO), which arbitrates in trade disputes, and won. Bush went ahead anyway, provoking Brussels to select a string of tariffs on goods made in congressional swing seats. It was said at the time that the threat of an import tax on Florida oranges brought the state’s governor, Jeb Bush, into conflict with his brother, the president. Within weeks, the tariffs were abandoned. If the impact on employment figures from effectively raising the cost of steel was uppermost in Trump’s mind, analysts say he would have considered the potential net loss of jobs in the car industry, the aviation industry and the countless other manufacturers that depend on cheap steel as a raw material. These companies are expected to pass on the extra cost to their customers and suffer the usual consequences – lower demand and a profit squeeze. “There is a cost to the domestic economy from protectionist measures,” said Ben May, head of global research at consultancy Oxford Economics. “A tariff that pushes up the price of imported steel in the US will have a negative impact on carmakers and every industry that uses steel. In the rest of the world, it will create oversupply and reduce the cost.” Most analysts argue that Trump is ignoring economic realities to make gestures to his voter base of blue-collar, disenfranchised workers before midterm elections in November. Tr ump’s economic adv iser, Gary Cohn, resigned after failing to world – tariffs were finally scrapped. In the intervening period, Henry VII and Elizabeth I took further steps to nurture the textile sector, and the Navigation Acts ensured that colonies could trade only with Britain. Protectionism worked for Britain. It put Flemish and Indian textile producers out of business and held back the growth of industry in the American colonies, which, as far as London was concerned, were there to provide the commodities that Britain would turn into goods. This approach was summed up by Pitt Fired up … analysts say Trump is ignoring economic reality to make gestures to blue-collar workers EPA persuade the president to drop his plan. Republican leaders, many on the libertarian and free-market wing of the party, have picked up the baton to argue that tariffs are a crude tool that will backfire on US businesses. Vicepresident Mike Pence and Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin are known to have voiced misgivings in private. However, Trump has pressed ahead with the support of prominent Democrat senators, steel union representatives, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and two advisers: economist Peter Navarro and trade representative Robert Lighthizer. Lighthizer and Navarro have persuaded Trump that China poses an existential threat to the American the Elder, who said in 1770 that the colonies should “not be permitted to manufacture so much as a horseshoe nail”. Once free of British rule, the United States took a rather different view. In 1791, the country’s first Treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, pictured, produced a report for Congress that made the case for supporting America’s “infant industries” against The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 13 US moves to relax rules on banks Lauren Gambino Washington and agencies economy and that the US is the victim of unfair free trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement. Navarro believes that closing the US trade deficit by restricting imports will help the economy grow. His critics point out that lower imports make no difference to GDP, which measures the production of US goods and services. By contrast, a rise in exports propels GDP higher. Economists and much of the Republican party subscribe to the idea that openness to trade makes US companies more efficient, and when they cannot compete, they should shift their efforts to making something with a comparative advantage. That said, figures from credit insurer Euler Hermes show 467 new protectionist measures were implemented worldwide in 2017, led by the US with 90 new measures that included import duties on foreign-made solar panels and washing machines. The UK is one of the top 10 economies for those introducing protectionist measures over the past four years – though this mostly involves subsidising UK businesses rather than punishing foreign rivals. Germany and Switzerland are ranked fourth and sixth worldwide for the same reason – using trade finance and other subsidies to promote domestic firms against rivals. Those figures suggest that Trump’s claim of state-subsidised foreign firms abusing free trade has some validity. The WTO should be the forum to settle these disputes, but Trump thinks the WTO is rigged against the US. When it rules that his tariffs are illegal under WTO rules – as it surely will – the president will say this justifies his view. And then the trade war will escalate. foreign competition. Hamilton was not just the founder of US protectionism: he proposed the first modern industrial strategy. Learning from Britain, he called for tariffs, bans on imports and curbs on exports of strategically important raw materials. But he also wanted patent protection for inventions, product regulation and investment in infrastructure. In the last decade of the 18th century, the US was not ready for this radical blueprint. But over the next 100 years, protectionism was ratcheted up. In the second half of the 19th century, when America was industrialising rapidly, tariffs on manufactured imports stood at 40-50%, higher than anywhere else in the world. By the end of the second world war the US had achieved, like Britain before it, global economic dominance. This necessitated a change of strategy in favour of liberalising global markets so that US producers could take advantage of being more efficient than rivals. Larry Elliott Observer Congress has forgotten the “devastating impact of the financial crisis”, Senator Elizabeth Warren said last week as Republicans moved closer to relaxing banking regulations implemented after the financial crash of 2008. A vote of 67-32, with support from a coalition of moderate Democrats, a number of whom are facing tough midterm elections, allowed the Senate to begin debating a bill that would scale back some of the 2010 laws, known as Dodd-Frank, meant to prevent future abuses in the financial system. The Senate was expected to pass the bill this week following the strong bipartisan vote. Lawmakers in the Republican-led House would still need to approve the measure before it becomes law. Republican leaders said the bill would boost small banks and businesses. Senior Democrats said it was an attempt to deregulate big banks that caused the 2008 crash, inviting similar disaster. “This bill seeks to right-size the regulatory system in our country and to allow our community banks and credit unions to flourish,” said senator Mike Crapo, chair of the Senate banking committee and the author of the legislation. The legislation would increase the threshold at which banks are subject to stricter capital and planning requirements. Lawmakers are intent on easing those rules for midsize and large regional banks, asserting that such a move would boost lending and the economy. Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who worked with the Obama administration on banking industry oversight after the 2008 crash, pledged to fight the bill, even if she faced long odds. “There’s Democratic and Republican support because the lobbyists have been pushing since the first day Dodd-Frank passed to weaken the regulations on these giant banks,” she said. She added: “People in this building may forget the devastating impact of the financial crisis 10 years ago – but the American people have not forgotten. The American people remember. The millions of people who lost their homes; the millions of people who lost their jobs … they remember and they do not want to turn lose the big banks again.” Finance in brief More online Latest business news and analysis → theguardian.com • The US added 313,000 new jobs in February – the strongest gain since July 2016 – as the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1%. The figures from the Labor Department smashed the 200,000 forecast from economists. But the recovery in wages, which sparked a sell-off on global stock markets, stalled again last month. In February, average hourly earnings rose just 0.1% a month earlier, below economists’ projections of 0.2% and January’s 0.3% rise. The US jobs market has now added an average of 242,000 jobs each month over the past three months. But the still slow growth in wages implies that while people who were on the margins are returning to work, the jobs being created are still lower wage. • House prices in parts of London that were once at the epicentre of the UK property boom have fallen as much as 15% over the past year in fresh evidence of the impact of the EU referendum. Figures from Your Move, one of the UK’s biggest estate agency chains, reveal that the average home in Wandsworth fell by more than £100,000 ($140,000) in value over the last 12 months. • There are almost four times more men than women in Britain’s highest-paid posts, according to “scandalous” figures that show the extent of the glass ceiling blocking women from top jobs. Government data reveals the huge disparity in the number of men and women with a six-figure income. There were 681,000 men earning £100,000 or more in 2015-16, according to HM Revenue & Customs. It compares with only 179,000 women. The latest figures show that 17,000 men earned £1m ($1.4m) in 2015-16, while only 2,000 women did so. Foreign exchanges Sterling rates Australia Canada Denmark Euro Hong Kong Japan New Zealand Norway Singapore Sweden Switzerland USA 12 Mar 1.76 1.78 8.38 1.12 10.87 147.78 1.90 10.79 1.82 11.43 1.32 1.39 5 Mar 1.78 1.78 8.34 1.12 10.81 145.62 1.91 10.78 1.82 11.39 1.29 1.38 14 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 UK news Salisbury poisoning A brutal calling card brings terror to a cathedral city Real-life spy drama that began on a town bench sparks a national outcry Luke Harding It is probably Salisbury’s ugliest corner, tucked away from the cathedral and market square. In the afternoon of Sunday 4 March, a few people were milling around the redbrick Maltings shopping centre. It has a bakery, a pharmacy and a bargain greetings card shop called G&T’s. Plus a bench. It was here passers-by noticed something odd: a grey-haired man in his 60s, slumped and unresponsive. Next to him was a woman in her 30s. Both were comatose. Police arrived at 4.15pm, saw it was a medical emergency and summoned backup. An air ambulance landed in the central car park. At 5.10pm it took off, ferrying the woman to Salisbury district hospital. The man went by ambulance. At first, the case seemed routine. Officers sealed off the spot – close to the river Avon, swollen by melting snow. They began collecting evidence. Journalists from the Salisbury Journal arrived at 5.43pm. It soon became evident this was no minor news item. The officers and paramedics who had gone to the bench reported itchy eyes and breathing difficulties. Meanwhile, the victims were in a critical condition in intensive care. The patients, police discovered, were Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, who was visiting from Moscow. Skripal was a former officer from Russia’s GRU military intelligence who, in 1995, began secretly working for MI6. He was arrested in 2004, convicted of treason and sent to a penal colony in Mordovia. Then in 2010 Skripal got out, less than halfway through a 13-year sentence. The FBI had captured a group of Russian sleeper agents in the US. In a scene full of cold war atmospherics, Skripal was swapped on the tarmac of Vienna airport. The sleepers went home to Moscow. Skripal’s destination was Salisbury in south-west England. Skripal and his wife Liudmila settled in an inconspicuous semidetached house, bought in 2011 without a mortgage. He made little effort to hide. True, the KGB and its successor, the FSB – at one point headed by Vladimir Putin – took an unforgiving view of traitors. But Skripal admitted his crime and received an official pardon. He was, logic suggested, safe. By last Monday, the horror hit. Scientists at the nearby government laboratory in Porton Down confirmed what hospital staff must have suspected: the Skripals were attacked with Novichok, a rare nerve agent. Typically, such substances paralyse the nervous system, inhibit breathing and bring a rapid, choking death. As counter-terrorism police took charge, Scotland Yard began with the thesis that someone had tried to kill the Skripals. Detectives started to examine CCTV cameras. The Skripals had arrived in the city centre at lunchtime. They ate salmon risotto at Zizzi’s restaurant and dropped into the Mill public house. To get to the bench area, they would have had to walk through a 100m tunnel, past a camera. The Metropolitan police’s assistant chief commissioner, Mark Rowley, confirmed that the police were dealing with attempted murder. How was the poison deployed? Had an assassin or assassins shadowed the Skripals? Could the agent have been remotely triggered? Did Skripal’s business activities in England hold clues? It was not difficult to guess which country would have the motive, the means and arrogance to carry out an assassination on British soil. The idea that a death squad might roam Salisbury’s streets seemed fantastical. Except Putin had sent one before. Britain believes that in 2006 two FSB-hired assassins, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, poisoned Alexander Litvinenko with a radioactive cup of tea. Litvinenko, an FSB officer who became a Putin critic, died in agony 23 days later. As home secretary, Theresa May refused his widow Marina a public inquiry. It eventually went ahead, concluding in 2016 that Putin had “probably approved” the hit. Former intelligence professionals were in no doubt Russia had struck again. Asked if the Skripal case was Litvinenko II, one said: “Yes indeed.” Another cited the “fuck you-ness” of the attack, done with no regard for who else might be poisoned or killed. Choosing nerve agent as a weapon was telling: it is the prerogative of states – and whoever used it knew it would be discovered. It was, therefore, a form of brutal calling card. On guard ... the scene of the possible murder attempt on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, both pictured left Finbarr Webster/Rex In Moscow, officials rubbished the idea of a Russian plot. Their denials were identical to those after Litvinenko’s murder, done with a bit of a wink. If Kremlin involvement hardens into fact, the government has few retaliatory options. Prince William will not attend this summer’s World Cup in Russia, but that will not upset the FSB, with one insider likening it to “hitting Putin with damp kitchen roll”. If the case against Russia is proved, why not charge Putin with Analysis Simon Tisdall The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal has shed uncomfortable light on Britain’s vulnerability to foreign threats against its sovereignty, security, citizens’ safety and laws. The brazen nature and public execution of the plot is disturbing for many reasons. It suggests respect for Britain, its values and its law enforcement capabilities is so diminished that it is seen as an easy venue for score-settling. Or was the plot intended, at least in part, to discredit and humiliate the British government? A handful of countries might have cause to do that. But only one or two possess the rare nerve agent, the sheer malice and ruthless audacity evident in this case. In 1850 Lord Palmerston, then foreign secretary, enunciated the principle of universal protection for British citizens everywhere. Nowadays not only is Britain incapable of protecting its citizens abroad – just look at the shameful case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, unjustly jailed in Tehran – it also struggles to protect British citizens on home soil, including foreign nationals taking refuge here. One cause of vulnerability is the perception that Britain is little more than a US satrapy. Even so, don’t look for help from Donald Trump. In dealing with modern-day authoritarian regimes, Britain is at an even greater disadvantage. At least the US broadly shares its democratic values. Chinese and Russian leaders suffer no such constraints. Xi Jinping has been consecrated de facto president for life. Vladimir Putin, in effect, already holds that position in Russia. Such unchecked power affords enormous freedom of action that British politicians lack. Past British bluster and prevarication weaken this country’s hand. After Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian defector, was murdered in London in 2006, politicians such as Theresa May, then home secretary, The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 15 Sowing the seeds of discord Solidarity needed to stand up to Putin → Leader comment, page 22 The poisoning sent shockwaves through the small community of Russian defectors living in the UK. One, who declined to be named, said Skripal’s poisoning meant there was now less likelihood Moscow would go after him in the near future. He thought Skripal would never have been targeted if the British government had reacted more forcefully when Litvinenko was killed. For Salisbury, the days sice the attack have been like something from a spy drama. A day or so after the poisoning, market traders turned up as normal 100 metres from the bench square. Then forensic officers piled into Skripal’s house, sealing off the road. Tents blocked neighbours’ view. Similar coverings appeared over the graves of Skripal’s wife and son, Alexander, in Salisbury cemetery. She died in 2012 of cancer; he died last year in St Petersburg, aged 43. It is not clear how. One theory is that Yulia flew to the UK from Moscow to mark the first anniversary of her brother’s death. There are flowers and the model of a small St Bernard dog on the grave. Whatever the cause, there is no doubt that in recent years Sergei Skripal has suffered multiple misfortunes. By last Thursday, the mood had turned military. Firefighters in green protective suits and wellingtons went back to the bench. The reason? Their incident tent had blown over. At another new crime scene, a vehicle recovery pound, officers donned biohazard suits. Last Friday 180 Royal Marines and air force personnel arrived to help remove evidence. Like the story of Litvinenko – which took a decade to puzzle out – the Skripal case looks set to become a major, long-lasting criminal inquiry. It has diplomatic dimensions and intelligence implications. Should MI6 have done more to protect Skripal? Can it guarantee other defectors’ safety? After Litvinenko, shouldn’t the agencies have seen this coming? Neighbours say Skripal used to meet a slightly younger man at the Côte Brasserie in Salisbury, in the same area as Zizzi. Skripal’s dining companion spoke Russian. There is speculation that the person was Skripal’s former MI6 handler, settled locally after a long career specialising in Russia and eastern Europe. The message emanating from Moscow seems clear. It goes like this: we can strike whenever and wherever we want. And there is little you can do about it. attempted murder? failed forcefully to pursue the statesponsored Russian perpetrators. The people who attacked Skripal may calculate that, as with Litvinenko, Britain will feebly shy away from open confrontation. May says that, if Russia is proved culpable in Salisbury, “full-spectrum” counter-measures will be applied. But she is badly short of ammo. Diplomatic expulsions are a two-edged sword. Sanctions are already being applied, related to Ukraine, without much effect. Further action of that kind can only happen via the EU. To pretend that bad feeling caused by Brexit will have no impact on future European cooperation in such cases is delusional. May could appeal to the UN, but would face a Russian veto. Targeting financial dealings, including alleged money laundering, might be a more promising avenue. But if the Kremlin really is to blame for this latest outrage, the best response is the simplest: charge Putin with attempted murder. Observer ‘Highly likely’ Moscow was behind attack, says May Guardian reporters Theresa May has ordered Vladimir Putin’s administration to explain how a former spy was poisoned in Salisbury, or else she would conclude it was an “unlawful use of force” by the Russian state against the UK. After chairing a meeting of the national security council on Monday, the prime minister told MPs that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. She warned that Britain would not tolerate such a “brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil”. In a statement to the House of Commons that triggered an angry response from Moscow, May said the evidence had shown that Skripal had been targeted by a “military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia”. Describing the incident as an “indiscriminate and reckless act”, she said that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had summoned the Russian ambassador to Whitehall and demanded an explanation. Russian officials hit back, with Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign minister, calling the remarks “a provocation” and describing the event as a “circus show in the British parliament”. Andrei Lugovoi, a Russian member of parliament who stands accused of the 2006 murder of the former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko, said May’s decision to point the finger at Moscow so quickly was “at a minimum irresponsible”. Ministers on the national security council were told that the nerve agent used was from a family of substances known as Novichok. “Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at Porton Down, our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so, Russia’s record of conducting statesponsored assassinations, and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” she said. The prime minister said that left just two plausible explanations: “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.” The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, went further, saying the nerve agent attack “clearly came from Russia” and would have consequences. He told journalists travelling with him in Africa that the Novichok agent was “only in the hands of a very, very limited number of parties” and said it was “almost beyond comprehension” that a state actor would use such a dangerous substance in a public place. May said the government would consider Russia’s response this week. She promised to return to the house with a full range of retaliatory measures. Her tough statement means that a major diplomatic row is looming between Moscow and London, with expulsions on both sides highly likely. The prime minister won strong support for her position from international allies . Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said: “ The use of any nerve agent is horrendous and completely unacceptable. The UK is a highly valued ally, and this incident is of great concern to Nato. Nato is in touch with the UK authorities on this issue.” Novichok: the USSR’s classified chemistry Novichok refers to a group of nerve agents that were developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s to elude international restrictions on chemical weapons. The most potent of the Novichok substances are considered to be more lethal than VX, the most deadly of the familiar nerve agents, which include sarin. And while the Novichok agents work in a similar way, by massively overstimulating muscles and glands, one chemical weapons expert said that the agents do not degrade fast in the environment and have “an additional toxicity”. “That extra toxicity is not well understood, so I understand why people were asked to wash their clothes, even if it was present only in traces,” he said. The chemical structures of Novichok agents were made public in 2008 by Vil Mirzayanov, a former Russian scientist living in the US, but the structures have never been publicly confirmed. The fact that so little is known about them may explain why Porton Down scientists took several days to identify the compound used in Salisbury. Ian Sample 16 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 UK news UK-Saudi deal called ‘national disgrace’ Britain closer to Typhoon fighter jet deal with Riyadh Joint aid plan for poorest nations overshadowed by rage at Yemen ordeal An aid deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia announced last Friday has been branded a “national disgrace”. Amid further outcry over Britain’s relations with the Gulf state, ministers signed the £100m ($138m) agreement with Riyadh to coincide with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to London last week. The government described the deal as a “new long-term partnership” to improve livelihoods and boost economic development in some of the world’s poorest countries. But the accord was greeted with fury by opposition MPs and the aid sector, with grave concerns expressed about Saudi Arabia’s role in the Yemen conflict. Kate Osamor, shadow international development secretary, said the agreement “made a mockery” of Britain’s reputation as a global leader in delivering humanitarian aid. “Theresa May implied she would lobby Mohammed bin Salman to stop bombing civilians and end the use of starvation as a weapon of war,” said Osamor. “Over 22 million Yemeni lives depend on permanent, full access for aid, food and fuel in Yemen. Instead, she has won no concessions and simply handed on a plate to Saudi Arabia a new humanitarian partnership and an endorsement from DfID [the Department for International Development], the world’s best aid agency. It will whitewash Saudi Arabia’s reputation and role in the war, and it is a national disgrace.” The partnership, pooling the development expertise of both countries, Will Oliver/EPA Karen McVeigh Hannah Summers Deal maker … Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Downing Street is the first of its kind between Britain and the Saudi Fund for Development. The aim, said DfID, would be to create vital infrastructure in drought- and conflict-stricken countries. Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said: “We are sharing the best of British expertise, and our collective efforts will help create jobs and livelihoods to support the poorest people to stand on their own two feet. This in turn will help to boost global prosperity, which is in all of our interests.” Mordaunt had previously said Saudi Arabia had no excuse for blocking aid to Yemen, warning that the use of starvation as a weapon was in breach of humanitarian law, but a DfID statement on the deal said the UK was “encouraged by the easing of restrictions into Yemen”. However, critics argue that the Saudi-led coalition is only permitting goods through ports on a month-by-month basis, dramatically limiting the efforts of NGOs, traders and shipping agents to get supplies into Yemen. Allan Hogarth, head of policy and government affairs at Amnesty International UK, said: “At a time when the UK is arming a Saudi-led military coalition that’s laying waste to homes, hospitals and schools in Yemen, this raises troubling questions.” Downing Street defended Bin Salman’s visit, saying trade deals worth £65bn had been agreed. Bin Salman’s three-day charm offensive included talks with May and the archbishop of Canterbury, and an audience with the Queen. Britain’s biggest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, has moved towards completing an order worth billions from Saudi Arabia for 48 Typhoon fighter jets. The announcement came at the end of the visit to the UK last week by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Although it could help save jobs, the proposed contract was denounced by arms campaigners concerned about Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen. The UK signed a memorandum of intent with the Saudis. The BAE chief executive, Charles Woodburn, described the news as “a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are committed to supporting the kingdom as it modernises the Saudi armed forces.” Typhoon sales have been slowing and BAE announced 1,400 job cuts in October. The prospect of a Saudi deal is a boost, coming on top of a £5bn ($6.9bn) order from Qatar for 24 Typhoons. Arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been dogged by scandal since allegations of illicit payments to land the al-Yamamah contract – Britain’s biggest arms deal, worth £43bn – surfaced soon after it was sealed in 1985. Both the Serious Fraud Office and the US justice department investigated. Andrew Smith, of the Campaign Against Arms Trade, said that since the bombing of Yemen began in 2015 the UK had licensed arms worth £4.6bn to Saudi Arabia, even before the latest “shameful” deal. BAE Systems says it employs about 5,000 people on the Typhoon project. Ewen MacAskill Millions of families face deepest benefit cuts in years Michael Savage Observer Families struggling to make ends meet will be hit by the biggest annual benefits cut for six years, according to a new analysis that exposes the impact of austerity measures on the low-paid. The latest public spending squeeze, due to come in at the start of the financial year in April, will see the second-largest annual cut to the benefits budget since the financial crash. According to new research by the Resolution Foundation thinktank, the changes will save around £2.5bn ($3.4bn) and affect about 11 million families, including 5 million of the “just about managing” families Theresa May vowed to help. More than 1.5 million workers will benefit from a 4.4% pay rise when the national living wage rises from £7.50 to £7.83 from April. But that is outweighed by the £2.5bn cuts to working-age benefits. This year’s squeeze will fall on lowand middle-income families. The new analysis suggests these families are set for an average loss of £190 this year alone; some will be far worse off. There are four key benefit cuts. Working-age benefits will be frozen for a third year, saving £1.9bn and affecting almost 11 million families. The 3% real-terms cut in workingage benefits will be by far the biggest of the freeze, set to last four years. A measure limiting benefit claims to a family’s first two children, costing up to £2,780 for a family having a third child, saves £400m this year and affects 150,000 families. Withdrawal of the family element of support for new tax credit and universal credit claims from families with children will cost families up to £545. It saves £200m this year and will affect 400,000 families. Finally, rollout of the universal credit system saves £200m because some claimants have lower entitlements compared with the existing system. A government spokesman said: “We are spending more than £90bn a year on working-age welfare, and this will continue to rise.” UK news Party like it’s 2500BC New theory on how Stonehenge was built The process of building Stonehenge – and having a party at the same time – may have been more important than the finished monument, English Heritage has said. Experts believe that choosing the stones, moving them and setting them up on Salisbury Plain may have been a way of bringing people together to socialise and celebrate. English Heritage’s senior historian, Susan Greaney, said: “In contemporary western culture, we are always striving to make things as easy and quick as possible, but we believe that, for the builders of Stonehenge, this may not have been the case. Drawing a large number of people from far and wide to take part in the process of building was potentially a powerful tool in demonstrating the strength of the community to outsiders. Being able to welcome and reward people who had travelled far, perhaps as a kind of pilgrimage, with ceremonial feasts, could be a further expression of the power and position of the community.” Research showcased at Stonehenge reveals that prehistoric people brought animals to the site from as far as north-east Scotland, more than 800km away, to take part in lavish midwinter feasts. Scientists examined some of the 38,000 bones and teeth (90% of them pig; 10% cattle) discovered at the site of a neolithic village called Durrington Walls, which lies about 2.5km north-east of the main stone ring. Durrington Walls was only settled for between 50 and 100 years, but it is believed to have housed the circle’s builders and the first visitors after the sarsen stones were put in place. Experts examined elements including strontium in the pig teeth found there. Because isotopes of strontium differ chemically according to the geology of the place where the young animal fed, it is possible to know where individual creatures came from. They concluded cows and pigs were herded hundreds of kilometres along ancient byways and may even have been brought by boat to southern England. It suggested that in 2500BC Stonehenge was known across Britain as a place of pilgrimage and celebration. Stonehenge experts have also studied evidence from societies who more recently have practised moving huge stones – such as on Sumba and Nias islands in Indonesia and in north-east India. Greaney said: “There are amazing photos from societies in Indonesia and parts of India within the last 100 years or so of people practising stone moving and raising. They show people in ceremonial dress, amazing feasts happening, hundreds of people coming together and having a good time. “As soon as you abandon modern preconceptions that assume neolithic people would have sought the most efficient way of building Stonehenge, questions like why the bluestones were brought from so far away – the Preseli Hills of south Wales – don’t seem quite so perplexing.” Steven Morris Photograph: David Goddard/Getty UN concern over Grenfell ‘human rights’ Patrick Butler The government may have failed to comply with its international human rights obligations over the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people and left hundreds more homeless, the UN’s housing investigator has said. Leilani Farha, UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, said she was worried that international human rights standards on housing safety may have been breached and could have been a factor in the tragedy last June. She said: “My sense is that in London there is an emphasis on the development of property to attract money and wealth to the city. My concern is that is overemphasised, and the standards and wellbeing of tenants in social housing are under-emphasised, and that is a structural issue.” Farha paid an informal visit to London last week to meet Grenfell survivors and local residents, who told her they had been excluded from decisions about safety before the fire and the authorities had not engaged with them “in a meaningful way” in its aftermath. Safety standards in the tower – from the cladding of electrical circuits and access for fire vehicles – may have breached human rights to safe and secure housing, she said. A government spokesperson said: “We were clear that the council had failed the residents of Grenfell, and so we have committed to supporting everyone affected in the years ahead – including by rehousing residents and offering mental health support.” News in brief The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 17 • Vice-chancellors’ pay at British universities has far outstripped that of their peers in senior public-sector leadership roles, according to research conducted by the Guardian. Analysis of the salaries of vice-chancellors at leading universities shows they are paid far above the chief executives of NHS hospital trusts and local authorities. The £185,000 ($255,000) pay of the chief executive of Birmingham city council – the largest local authority in Europe – was less than half that of the University of Birmingham’s vice-chancellor, Sir David Eastwood, who receives £378,000. • The number of people arrested for terrorism-related offences in Britain rose by 58% to a record 412 in 2017. The Home Office quarterly statistics published last Thursday show there were 412 arrests in 2017 compared with 261 in 2016. The director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, spoke in October of “a dramatic upshift to the highest tempo I’ve seen in my 34-year career”. • Paramilitary-style “punishment” shootings and beatings have surged again across Northern Ireland, with a 60% increase in such attacks over the past four years, according to the latest police figures obtained by the Guardian. News of the rise in dissident republican and Ulster loyalist assaults on people within their communities came as the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland revealed that some victims’ parents were drugging their loved ones or getting them drunk, before they were beaten or shot, to offset the pain. • Tributes were paid to Sir Ken Dodd, who died aged 90 just two days after marrying his long-term partner. The comedian and entertainer died in the house where he was born in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash, his publicist said. Dodd’s widow, Anne Jones, said: “I have had the supreme joy and privilege of working and living with him as partner for the past 40 years. The world has lost a most life-enhancing, brilliant, creative comedian, with an operatically trained voice, who just wanted to make people happy.” 18 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Comment&Debate Moderates must be ready for their day Andrew Rawnsley The centre-left may be struggling, but there is little to suggest voters are clamouring for statist socialism or a society of devil-take-the-hindmost T he past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. We can see just how alien the past can be by taking my time machine for a short spin back 20 years. In 1998, Amazon is a company struggling to convince people that there is a profitable future selling books online. Facebook doesn’t exist. Neither does the iPhone. The Russian intelligence service is run by Vladimir Putin. Some things haven’t changed then. Also in 1998 – and this will really surprise some people – Tony Blair is the most popular prime minister Britain has ever had. He and other centre-leftists of his type are dominant in the western democracies. Bill Clinton, a “new” Democrat, is in his second term at the White House. “New Labour” has recently surged to power with a parliamentary landslide in Britain. It will go on to win two further elections. The neue mitte – the word new is much loved by this generation of social democrats – has been a winner for the SPD’s Gerhard Schröder, who is embarked on the first of two stints as Germany’s chancellor. The moderate left is in government in two-thirds of the countries that are members of the European Union. Their successful offer is broad support for free markets combined with good public services, a decent welfare state, internationalism and social liberalism. This seems to be a magic formula both for the taking of power and the exercising of it. How archaic that sounds when we return to 2018. Just about everywhere you look, social democrats are being pulverised. The latest example has been furnished by the populist earthquake in Italy, where Matteo Renzi’s Partito Democratico was smashed down to less than a fifth of the vote and the centre-left came in third behind a rightwing bloc fronted by Silvio Berlusconi, who is banned from taking public office, and the Five Star Movement, which was founded by a man who is, literally, a comedian. An even more dismal fate befell the French Socialists when their candidate for president finished fifth with less than 7% of the vote. When Germany went to the polls last autumn, the SPD, for decades the most powerful centre-left party in Europe, recorded its worst result since the creation of the federal republic in 1949. It is true that centre-right parties have also been haemorrhaging support to the various insurgent brands of illiberal populists, demagogic nationalists and fascists. The troubles of the centre-right are scant Nathalie Lees Social democrats were too mesmerised by the power of globalisation and the dividends to be had from it consolation for the centre-left because its crisis looks much more existential. Social democrats neither head the government nor lead the opposition in Germany, Britain, France or Italy – Europe’s four largest economies. The centre-left was thrown out of power when Austria went to the polls and fell to a historical low in the most recent Spanish contest. In Scandinavia, the traditional heartland of European social democracy, they are in charge in just one country. There is one thing to be said for the bleak place in which social democrats find themselves. They have time to reflect on what went wrong. They were too often managerial and metropolitan, with the result that they lost connection with segments of traditional support that felt condescended to by a cosmopolitan elite. After the scarring electoral defeats at the hands of the right in the Thatcher-Reagan era, the centre-left overcorrected in its approach towards markets. They were too indulgent of the excesses of high finance in the run-up to the Great Crash of 2008 and have been duly punished since. They were too mesmerised by the power of globalisation and the dividends to be had from it; they paid too little attention to those who lost out or felt left behind. Stir in surges in immigration and it has been a perfect storm. S ome argue that it is even grimmer. Social democracy is not just in distress – it is defunct. Hegemonic in 1998, it has become essentially obsolete in 2018. It is contended that the “third way” of the Blair era was only viable in “good times”. The formula depended on strong and stable economic growth to satisfy the public desire to enjoy better services and welfare provision without paying too much more in tax. That formula doesn’t work when growth is anaemic, money is tight and choices are much more stark. Another gloomy view is that social democracy is the victim of a realignment that is replacing the traditional division between left and right with a politics more driven by identity and values. A split between “open” and “closed” views of the world is polarising population groups and opinion between nativist authoritarians and globalist liberals. This is agony for social democrats because it cleaves their historical voting coalition of the working class and middle-class liberals. There is a paradox about this crisis for social democracy. The broad formula of the centre-left still has appeal to many millions of voters. There is little evidence that the modern electorate wants to embrace the heavy-metal socialism of a super-statist society. Nor can we detect a great clamour to live in a state-shrunk society of unfettered markets and devil-take-the-hindmost. Many voters may have given up on social democrats, but they still like the idea of a regulated market economy with good public services and decent welfare protection. This is the western Europe that social democrats were so influential in creating in the decades after 1945. Progressive taxation, equality of opportunity and the idea that the strong have a responsibility towards the weak are basic tenets of the centre-left that have become embedded. It was so successful that it could make social democrats of Conservatives, as when Britain’s Tories accepted the Labour-created NHS. Social democrats have arguably had more influence over the development of western Europe than any rival political movement. They created a world that electorates have, by and large, come to take for granted. This may be part of their problem. Fewer and fewer voters are old enough to have memories of how ghastly some of the alternatives can be. When electorates get experience of what the snake oil peddled by the populists really tastes like, social democrats may be given an opportunity to be heard again. They had better be ready with attractive things to say and compelling leaders to articulate them. Observer The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 19 Comment&Debate Meet Trump’s twin: Israel’s Netanyahu Jonathan Freedland The longtime prime minister clings to power despite being mired in scandal, just like the US president. But they face very diﬀerent political systems E ach day brings a scandalous new revelation as investigators probe deep into the affairs of the leader and his inner circle. The inquiries range across multiple fronts, tangling politics and business and involving both the top man’s closest aides and his immediate family. On a big news day, the investigative authorities announce they’ve arranged a plea bargain with one of the key players, coaxing them to turn state’s witness against the man they once served so loyally. In response, the leader resorts to social media to denounce his tormentors, claiming a witch-hunt by once-trusted institutions – the media and the courts, even the attorney general he himself appointed – and casting himself as the victim of a liberal establishment that hates him and his supporters. To his opponents’ despair, the ploy seems to work. The base stays with him. But still, day after day, the legal net tightens. If that fairly sums up the situation of Donald Trump, it also works for the man the US president greeted so warmly in the Oval Office last week: his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. The two posed for pictures in matching dark suits and blue ties, flanked by their wives who also seemed to be colour-coordinated. Bibi and the Donald: they could almost be twins. I’ve spent a week in Israel and the West Bank, speaking to politicians, diplomats and observers of Netanyahu, and the parallels are starting to look uncanny. While special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russia affair has expanded into a wider exploration of Trumpworld, so Israel’s prime minister faces a police inquiry into no fewer than four separate allegations of serious corruption. Case 1000 centres on allegations of old-fashioned bribery: gifts of cigars, champagne and the like to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, from a pair of billionaire businessmen who, the PM admits, he helped out, including on “tax issues”. Case 2000 alleges that Netanyahu sought a deal by which he would use the law to hurt one newspaper in order to boost the economic fortunes of its rival, in return for warm coverage from the latter. Case 4000 is similar, an offer to a media tycoon to ensure state policy favourable to his telecoms company, in return for positive coverage of Netanyahu from a news website owned by the magnate. What could prove most serious is Case 3000, which accuses Netanyahu’s most trusted consiglieri of fraudulently profiting from Israel’s purchase of submarines from a German firm. For most politicians, a war on so many fronts would be overwhelming. But obituaries may be premature. Even his most bitter critics admit that Netanyahu dominates the political landscape, dwarfing all his rivals both inside and outside his party. In the PM’s chair for nine years, and having held that post for three years in the 1990s, he is the country’s longest-serving leader since its founder, David Ben-Gurion. Israelis now struggle to picture anyone else in the role. While outsiders see a terrible paralysis, with the occupation in its 52nd year and the conflict with the Nicola Jennings Both pose as the plucky champion of the excluded, persecuted by the elite that has kept the little guy down for so long Palestinians as far away from resolution as ever, most Israelis see stability, relative prosperity and, above all, quiet. But it’s his Trumpian qualities that are most striking. Trump was born into serious money, while Bibi was educated in a series of prestige institutions. Yet both pose as the plucky champion of the excluded, persecuted by the same permanent, snooty elite that has kept the little guy down for so long. “We are being attacked all the time, every minute and every hour,” Netanyahu complained last Thursday. “Listen to Israeli citizens who support us and who want justice.” Both men rely on those most powerful fuels: fear and hate. While Trump points an accusing finger at African Americans, whether athletes or war widows, Netanyahu knows how to play on Jewish Israeli fears of Palestinians, and not just those in the West Bank and Gaza but those fellow citizens living inside pre-1967 Israel. A bove all, what Trump and Bibi share is a toxic combination of selfishness and shamelessness. Trump thinks nothing of taking to Twitter to slam the FBI or the justice department, even if that means breaking Americans’ trust in vital institutions. All that matters is his own immediate self-interest. Netanyahu prefers posting videos on Facebook to tweeting, but the targets – and the effects – are the same. Both are brazenly incapable of embarrassment. They are without shame. The big difference is in their countries’ systems. Ultimately, the only real recourse against Trump is political, by bringing impeachment proceedings in Congress. But in Israel, as the attorney general clarified last week, the law demands that an indicted prime minister leave office, no matter how strong his political position. Netanyahu’s most likely move is to call early elections. He might then gain a boost from the country’s 70th anniversary celebrations in May and, if he wins, argue that the public renewed his mandate despite the various charges against him. It would be an act of outrageous nerve, but you can see him pulling it off – with Trump himself watching in awed admiration. 20 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Comment&Debate Women’s protest is stronger than ever Selma James Sébastian Thibault Begun in Iceland in 1975, the Global Women’s Strike has evolved into a worldwide movement with myriad demands O n the first day of the UN Decade for Women in 1975, the women of Iceland took the day off to demonstrate the importance of all their work, waged and unwaged, in the countryside and the city. Almost all women who were physically able came out of their homes, offices and factories, and even female television presenters were replaced on the screen by men holding children. Some 90% of women took part. They called it a day off but we at the International Wages for Housework Campaign called it a strike, and took as our slogan their placard that said: “When women stop, everything stops.” Iceland was not international but it was of international significance. What moved them to strike had to be moving in the souls of women everywhere. The question was: when would it manifest itself? In 1985, at the final conference of the UN decade in Nairobi, we had won the UN decision that unremunerated work at home, on the land and in the community, should be measured and valued. We called Time Off for Women for 24 October and a number of countries joined us. But we could not sustain international action. It was not until 1999 that Margaretta D’Arcy, a writer, anti-war activist and Irish nationalist, called for a national strike of women in Ireland on 8 March 2000 and asked the Wages for Housework Campaign to support her call. I wrote to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, telling them that if they called the Irish women out on strike, we would make it global. They didn’t, but we did. We launched the Global Women’s Strike with Margaretta and women from a number of other countries at the UN in New York in 1999. In most of the 60 countries where women went on strike it was a celebration, not a mobilisation. But we were making a variety of demands. The first was: “Payment for all caring work – in wages, pensions, land and other resources.” What was more valuable than raising children and caring for others? The more women went out to work, the harder it was to also be a carer, and what was most galling was the lower pay for doing a double day. Caring and pay equity have risen on the political agenda, as well as other injustices that women face, beginning with rape and domestic violence often going unpunished. Two years ago, two important movements manifested themselves. In Poland women went on strike to stop anti-abortion legislation. They succeeded in getting the government to back down. In Argentina, following police inaction after the rape and murder of a number of women, hundreds of thousands took to the streets with the slogan Ni una menos (not one less). Their call for an end to femicide swept across Latin America and beyond. As a result of Poland and Argentina coming together, the International Women’s Strike was formed last year. Women from more than 30 countries participated. But how can you strike if you can’t risk being sacked? This has always been the dilemma, especially of the carer on whom vulnerable people depend. The Global Women’s Strike is putting the family courts on trial for unjustly taking children from their mothers; cleaners are demonstrating for a living wage; there is a sex work strike for decriminalisation in London’s Soho; and a picket of Unilever in support of the Sisters of Rohingya’s call for disinvestment from Myanmar to end the rape and genocide there. In Germany, some 3.4 million members of the IGMetall union are winning the right to a 28- (instead of 35-) hour week for at least two years to care for children and elderly parents. This is what we can win when striking and care come together. Selma James is founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign More at theguardian.com/opinion Opinion In brief Why should we let the rich hog all the art? French have beer-goggles when it comes to wine Last month, London art adviser Harry Smith spent more than £110m ($150m) bulk-buying 13 works by Picasso on behalf of unnamed wealthy clients. Smith, the executive chairman and managing director of the art advisory firm Gurr Johns, also bought another nine at Christie’s. Is it pessimistic of me to fear that the bulk of these masterpieces will not end up in public museums? How I dislike people who hog great artworks. An investigation by the historian Sir David Cannadine found that museum collections in the UK are at risk of becoming “inert and lifeless” unless more money is invested for them to buy objects. Is this the future we face? A society in which only the super-rich get to bask in the beauty of humanity’s masterpieces? I don’t especially begrudge them their monopoly on vulgar yachts or tacky hotels, The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has admitted to drinking wine every day “with lunch and dinner”. “It is a danger to public health when young people binge-drink spirits or beer,” he added, “but wine isn’t the issue.” He then confirmed that his administration had no ambitions to make the Loi Évin, a law passed in 1991 putting restrictions on alcohol and tobacco, any stricter. You see, French people are civilised. They care about the food they eat and the bottles they carefully pick to go with it. They look down on anyone unsophisticated enough to suggest that their habits might not be as refined as they think. Sure, they might occasionally find themselves horizontal, but they don’t get drunk like the British do. Of course, data collected by the World Health Organization in 2015 but when they start stealing the art, I’m liable to start rocking back and forth while muttering “Full communism!” under my breath. “We are predicting that art will comfortably overtake wine as the best-performing asset class this year,” Andrew Shirley, a partner at Knight Frank and author of the luxury investment index, said last year, presumably to divert attention from the husk where his soul once was. Thank God for export bars, such as the one placed recently on Francesco Guardi’s painting Rialto Bridge with the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. But they are not enough, and as long as our galleries and museums remain chronically underfunded, more and more pieces will fall into the hands of the haves, who often lack the brains and the hearts to fully appreciate them. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett shows that French people drink nearly as much as their British counterparts, but this doesn’t matter. Every country has their very own national delusions and France is no exception. In a way, Macron embodies a lot of ours. He arrogantly charmed his way into the presidency, pontificates about philosophy, unashamedly talks about his love of classical novels and poetry, and is passionate to the point of absurdity about the French language. France isn’t, in reality, the France we know from the movies, and everyone knows it deep down. But it doesn’t hurt to pretend once in a while. However, deciding that wine simply isn’t a normal alcoholic beverage because it happens to be quintessentially Gallic is not harmless, and future generations might finally decide to put health before tradition. Marie Le Conte The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 21 Comment&Debate In praise of … China’s panda park Ahead of Russia’s presidential elections, the incumbent has little reason to be worried Andrzej Krauze Brexit hides EU’s need for reform Gary Younge Across the continent, faith in democratic institutions is faltering. But Britain’s petulance is obscuring that fact I considered voting for Brexit. My issue was democracy. I didn’t like the fact that the European parliament could not initiate legislation; that turnout for European parliamentary elections had fallen 30% since the first elections in 1979; the way countries that voted “the wrong way” on EU referendums were instructed to vote again and get it right; the fact that Greece’s democratic rejection of the terms of its bailout (2015) was treated with such contempt. It felt increasingly obvious that this institution had growing control over our lives even as it became less obvious how anyone beyond its ruling bodies could directly influence it. It’s never been obvious to me that the EU’s senior leadership could satisfactorily answer all of the late Tony Benn’s five essential questions for people of power, namely: What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you use it? To whom are you accountable? How do we get rid of you? To frame this as a matter of sovereignty felt too limiting. International capital would have the run of the planet whether we stayed in or out of the EU. So our leaving would not give us “back control” but leave us more isolated than independent. The question was less who had the power than whether that power was democratically accountable. Once the leave campaign was gripped by xenophobia and post-colonial delusion my voting choice became clear. Basic social democratic protections and open borders were the things I liked most about being in the EU. I’ve heard many remainers insist that people who voted to leave weren’t voting against the EU, but other things. Well so was I – I was voting primarily against bigotry. I feared a leave vote would strengthen an ugly, stubborn strain of British parochialism that needed no encouragement. That fear has proved well founded. So my vote to remain was not an endorsement of the EU. I wish we hadn’t left; I wish it were much better. There is no contradiction there. Indeed, I think if it had been better we would not have left and we should have only stayed with the proviso that we would work to make it better. The Bank of China has pledged at least 10bn yuan ($1.6bn) to create a vast panda conservation park in south-west Sichuan province by 2023, the Chinese forestry ministry has said. The park aims to bolster the local economy while providing an unbroken range in which pandas can meet and mate. The ministry said the park will measure 2m hectares, making it more than twice the size of Yellowstone national park in the US. Zhang Weichao, a Sichuan official involved in the park planning, told the state-run China Daily the agreement would help alleviate poverty among the 170,000 people living within the project’s proposed territory. Giant pandas are China’s unofficial national mascot and live mainly in the Sichuan mountains. An estimated 1,864 live in the wild, where they are chiefly threatened by habitat loss. Another 300 live in captivity. Associated Press Two years on, this distinction still matters because the Keystone Cops nature of Britain’s departure has diverted attention from an ever-urgent issue – the EU still needs to be democratised. The lack of accountability and transparency in its institutions leaves it susceptible to a vast array of haters and hucksters. Across the continent the institutions associated with the EU are more tolerated than loved, leaving the EU ruling more by ambivalence than consent. In short, it is only because Theresa May has made herself look so ridiculous that Jean-Claude Juncker is looking so good. There was a keener sense of this vulnerability early last year when the brazen idiocy of Britain’s negotiating strategy was not fully clear. Back then, the possibility of far-right victories in the Netherlands and France prompted fear of Brexit contagion. The far right did not win. And in the intervening time Britain has kept throwing down the gauntlet, only to pick it up itself, apologise for making a mess, and ask for another chance. This has forced the EU to negotiate with Britain like a parent negotiates with a petulant child. They have made clear the boundaries, only stepping in to prevent selfharm. So long as Britain acted as a tragicomic, cautionary tale, the EU’s legitimacy has appeared unassailable and longevity beyond doubt. Neither is true. While the far right did not win in France or the Netherlands it did gain ground, as it went on to do in Germany and Austria later in the year. Its parties don’t have to win to exert considerable influence. A Pew Research poll from last year shows there is widespread desire on the continent for referendums on EU membership – with significant majorities in France, Italy and Spain. And even if there is little backing for actually leaving at present, it is not difficult to see where more support might come from. Shortly before David Cameron announced there would be a referendum, Angela Merkel suggested he “couch the speech in an argument about Europe having to change” for the benefit of everyone. She was right. The fact that he failed to heed her advice is not just bad for Britain. It’s bad for Europe too. 22 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Comment Russian spy attack Sergei Skripal and the sowing of discord When Vladimir Putin was asked recently what historical event he would change if he had the power, he said he would undo the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was a timely reminder of what motivates Kremlin policy. Putinism embodies the feeling that Russia was robbed of its wealth and superpower status. The internal failings of the Soviet system are of little consequence in this account of history. The Russian president’s project is the reversal, at any cost, of a humiliating defeat by the west. The attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy who worked for MI6, and the credible suspicion of Kremlin responsibility must be seen in this context. The use of a sophisticated nerve agent points to an assassination attempt by a government actor. Moscow attacks such talk as “an anti-Russian campaign”. But commentary on Russian state television observed that “traitors to the motherland” are not safe on UK soil, alluding to the “strange deaths” of other Russians in Britain in recent years, not just the 2006 poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. If confirmed as a Russian action, the use of a chemical weapon on British soil would be an act of extreme hostility, suggesting Mr Putin is seeking to demonstrate a capacity to project aggressive power unimpeded around the globe. A similar message was conveyed by the Russian president’s recent speech boasting of new “invincible” nuclear missiles. Some of this is for domestic consumption. He will win the presidential election on 18 March: no other outcome is permitted. But he still likes to burnish his strongman credentials. And repressive regimes must always be advertising their ruthlessness to deter public dissent. The flaw in the neo-Soviet model is that, as with the USSR, it prioritises militarism over modernisation. Nationalist swagger cannot cover up economic stagnation and corruption for ever. That is why Mr Putin hates sanctions imposed after his annexation of Crimea – and why those sanctions are vital. Financial constraint is something Russia cannot ignore. That illustrates also a challenge for Theresa May in responding to the latest affront. Unilateral retaliations targeting Russian commercial interests are inevitable. But the UK also relies on the solidarity of its allies. In a speech last year, the prime minister accused Russia of actions that “threaten the international order on which we all depend”. Her point was that the Kremlin campaigns to undermine the rules by which democracies mediate their relations. Mr Putin would prefer a zero-sum “great game” approach where might is right. Sadly the current US president has instincts closer to Mr Putin on that front. Mr Putin is not as powerful as he looks. Russia has developed a capacity to sow discord abroad, but the western alliance has the nobler record of underpinning stability and spreading prosperity. Restoring that capability relies on solidarity among democracies. Trump and Kim Jaw-jaw, not war-war, but risks remain Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un appear to be overturning one of Marx’s famous dictums: this time, history is happening first as farce. The blustering, bouffant-haired leaders who attacked each other as a “dotard” and “little rocket man”, and threatened mutual obliteration, now say they will sit down to talk peace. Farce is preferable to tragedy, and after the warnings of fire and fury the chance to at least postpone a conflagration is welcome. Any further advance to a substantive peace agreement would be a true triumph. But it is hard to take such a prospect very seriously, and easy to see what could go very wrong. This is Pyongyang’s diplomatic coup, not Washington’s. For North Korea, the talks are the prize. Previous administrations did not want to hand that over for nothing. Mr Kim will be able to show his people that he has met the world’s superpower on equal terms. This is not Nixon in China. That feat took years of planning, masses of expertise and concentrated, high-level diplomacy. This appears to be a vain caprice, made with minimal or no discussion with the state department. Mr Trump is impetuous, unwilling to remedy his ignorance by listening to others, and loves to grandstand. The US does not even have an ambassador to South Korea. It dropped its choice, Victor Cha – an expert widely regarded as a hawk – for not being hawkish enough and warning against a “bloody nose” strategy towards the North. Professor Cha has warned that “this dramatic act of diplomacy … may also take us closer to war. Failed negotiations at the summit level leave all parties with no other recourse for diplomacy.” US allies are nervous: the risks are real. It isn’t hard to imagine the men giving or taking offence, or Mr Trump dropping US secrets or making a concession inadvertently, or goading the North in a post-summit tweet. Yes, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. But there is every likelihood that a summit will be at best a spectacle, and at worst could bring tragedy rather than peace one step closer. Despite the news, there is hope for our blue planet Fiona Gell I recently helped to organise an environmental meeting and found myself checking our video link by calling home. Beamed on to the screen was my four-year-old son. I asked him what message he would like to send. He said: “Why do people have to throw rubbish in the sea and hurt marine creatures?” His message was with me as I watched distressing footage of thousands of dead starfish and other creatures washed up on the UK’s east coast earlier this month. Conservationists believe freezing weather was behind the mass die-off. Like many people, my son is really anxious about the damage we are doing to our seas. He still loves exploring rock pools, and watches Blue Planet episodes over and over again. But I’ve realised I need to work to instil in him some optimism to counter his anxiety. Fortunately, there are good reasons for hope. I remember a 2009 conference in Washington DC, where the marine scientist Sylvia Earle gave a keynote address about “hope spots” – her term for special places around the world where conservation work has ecological, cultural or community importance. In the decade since then, Earle and others have taken this message around the world, as part of a wider movement to promote the idea that it is not too late to protect our global marine ecosystems. There are some great stories about how good science, international cooperation and community engagement have saved species and habitats. In 1979, for example, there were fewer than 100 Rodrigues fruit bats left on the Indian Ocean island that gives them their name. Thanks to decades of conservation efforts, there are now more than 20,000 in the wild. They symbolise real hope for those who are working to save species on the edge. We need to face environmental problems to be able to solve them, but despair doesn’t help. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the vastness of the task. We need stories about people working together to make a difference to inspire our own small steps. Fiona Gell is a marine conservation officer The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 23 Reply Our destructive behaviour descends to ever greater depths with every new technology. That there are associated benefits is not the point – didn’t those dark satanic mills provide jobs, and wasn’t industrially produced cloth cheaper? The warped notion of progress does indeed lie at the heart of our inability to oppose further madness. For example, both Larry Elliott (9 February) and George Monbiot (16 February) acknowledge the inevitable increase in joblessness and alienation that will result with further automation, but propose adapting to it rather than resisting it. Like Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, the technological imperative is, apparently, not to be interfered with. It therefore came as some relief to read Kevin McKenna’s We are turning space into a junkyard (16 February), which provided an antidote to the Guardian’s heroic account of Elon Musk’s megalomaniacal space venture (16 February). The late Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said that we must make a profession of being earthbound and get to know particular places. It’s very late in the day, but Neruda’s sentiment should be embraced. Ally Fricker Brady Creek, South Australia Trump’s mood-swing tariﬀs Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium aren’t the result of any reasoned decision. That would involve thinking about potential outcomes. Alarm bells would ring, for instance, that Europe would likely threaten US bikes, bourbon and jeans (9 March). But Trump wouldn’t have a clue about any of that. In his ignorance and bellicosity, he only knows how he feels at any given moment. Now Trump is threatening a trade war and his feelings are impervious to logic. We just have to ride out this madness, waiting for Congress to wake up. We can only hope, in the meantime, that another of his erratic mood shifts doesn’t launch the world into any other new war. Lawrie Bradly Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia 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 Rosie Roberts Virtues of being earthbound Praise for the Neanderthals Neanderthals were the first artists on Earth (2 March): not just that, but also the first agriculturalists. Notice that the photo of the rock painting accompanying your story showed the plan of three livestock pens. The bottom one is for cattle, and the top one shows another creature, possibly a pig. To the top left, near the pens, are tied bundles of feed, such as hay. At the bottom is a water trough or pond. The image on the top right is not so definite, but may be a person. It is high time that Neanderthals, my ancestors, should finally be given their correct designation of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Since they were obviously sapient and mated with us. Sam Nejad Geraldton, Western Australia Inequality of healthcare While I appreciate the intent of David Cox’s What’s causing inequalities in emergency hospital care? (23 February), this comes as no surprise. Why would racial bias mysteriously disappear in an emergency room? The idea is ludicrous. The indignation of the surgeon who said: “It is an insult to those who provide trauma care” is offensive to those of us who have to endure such racism. Yes, let’s do more research to combat this ignorance. But please don’t be shocked by what you discover. Christine Birbalsingh Toronto, Ontario, Canada 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 • NHS patients from poorer backgrounds are less likely to receive the best care. This would be consistent with a 1970s BBC broadcast of a study by two registrars. Surprised by the varying levels of courtesy that their consultant showed in handling his patients, they proved this to be related to the individual’s accent by using actors who affected differing ones. Here is the pecking order that they discovered in the study: people with upper-crust accents were handled best; followed by foreigners with impeccable English; then standard English; next distinctive regional brogues; and worst of all, a town accent. My Danish wife, with immaculate English, confirmed how attentively consultants managed her ailments. Anthony Walter Surrey, British Columbia, Canada Brieﬂy • Welcome back to the bidet (2 March). And for the right reasons. My first encounter was as a mid-teen in 1963 in a rundown Paris hotel. I thought it was for washing feet; the night-time cockroaches on the walls could have told me otherwise. I left after a week, feet clean. E Slack L’Isle Jourdain, France • I much appreciated Oliver Burkeman’s column of 26 January (Any one of us could be a jerk). I was reminded of a saying I heard some years back: “If you meet three jerks in one day, it’s not them”. Words to live by. Rayanne Dupuis Fontainebleau, France • Arwa Mahdawi writes (9 March), “Giving birth may add the equivalent of 11 years to a woman’s biological age.” My dear old mum had seven children: that makes, let me see … 77 years off what ought to have been her natural lifespan. Had she not had the children, then, she would have lived to 175. As it was, we had to bid her adieu prematurely at 98. Cut down in her prime. Bruce Inksetter Gatineau, Québec, Canada Or contact: UK, Europe and Rest of World email@example.com +44 (0) 330 333 6767 USA and Canada: firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free: +1-844-632-2010 Direct line: +1-917-900-4663 Australia/New Zealand: email@example.com Toll Free : 1 800 773 766 Direct line: +61 (0)2 8076 8599 From the archive 16 March 1973 Plastic macs give ‘Tango’ a miss “Rubbish” was the word most often used by audiences who saw the first public British showing of “Last Tango in Paris” yesterday. They looked more nonplussed than corrupted as they left the Prince Charles cinema in London, flaunting their furs and velvet collars, not a plastic mac in sight. Even the ticket touts, who had reckoned that five minutes of diverse sexuality in Bertolucci’s 129-minute film should be worth a bob or two, were complaining that business was bad. Not a soul admitted to being shocked. Certainly not 92-year-old Mrs Emily Tippett, of Midhurst, Sussex, who said as she was being helped up the step to watch her first sex film: “I want to see the muckiest film advertised. What I am interested in is a good bit of fun. You’re never too old.” Two hours later her verdict was: “rubbish.” She found the sex scenes “common.” Mr John Roman-Baker, a 28-yearold writer from Brighton, described the film as a masterpiece. “The whole point of the film is the search for God,” he revealed. Another writer, middle-aged, velvet-collared, put a contrasting view: “It’s a load of degradation, redeemed slightly by the performance of Marlon Brando.” Lord Longford, the campaigner against pornography, was eagerly awaited by a gang of photographers. “Oh, Ron,” said a heavily made-up lady. “Don’t go in yet - Lord Longford’s coming, let’s wait and see him.” And see him they did, dropped obligingly against a hoarding showing a nude scene from the film as the flash bulbs popped. He explained that he was very concerned about the showing of improper material and felt it his duty to see the film. Miss Esme Kaufler thought the film was a “load of rubbish.” But she went on: “I liked the music and hope it will revive the tango.” There was one “slightly stunned,” a middle-aged woman who added that the film was a breakthrough: one “bored,” Natalie Kent, a phlegmatic middle-aged actress, who had found herself saying “So what?” during the sex scenes: and one “disgusted,” a middle-aged East End company director “ashamed to have gone to see it.” He also thought it was degrading for an actor of Brando’s ability. “Not,” he added, “that I was disgusted from any prudish angle.” John Windsor 24 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Eyewitnessed Den, a 14-year-old girl from the Dinka tribe who works as a cattle keeper, cook and cleaner for her brother, poses at their camp in Mingkaman, South Sudan. During the dry season, pastoralists f Yvette Short with her whippet, Tease, who won this year’s Best In Show at Cruft’s. Some 21,000 dogs competed for a range of prizes at the show in Birmingham, UK Leon Neal/Getty Swimmers enjoy the Glenelg Beach waterslide as they cool off from the hot weather in Adelaide, South Australia Amer Ghazzal/Barcroft Images The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 25 from the highlands move their livestock to the lowlands, closer to the Nile Stefanie Glinski/Getty Staff members pose for a selfie during the opening session of China’s National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Mark Schiefelbein/AP An inmate at Tihar jail in Delhi, India, the largest complex of prisons in south Asia, makes decorations for an event to mark International Women’s Day Cathal McNaughton/Reuters A replica of the Venus de Milo with prosthetic arms is displayed in Paris to raise awareness of the thousands of amputees worldwide in need of a prosthesis Christophe Archambault/Getty 26 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Search for definition What is the future for lexicography when a connected world means it is an eternal struggle to keep up with the English language’s past and present, asks Andrew Dickson I n February 2009, a Twitter user called @popelizbet issued an apparently historic challenge to someone called Colin: she asked if he could “mansplain” a concept to her. History has not recorded if he did, indeed, proceed to man splain. But the lexicographer Bernadette Paton, who excavated this exchange last summer, believed it was the first time anyone had used the word in recorded form. “It’s been deleted since, but we caught it,” Paton told me, with quiet satisfaction. In her office at Oxford University Press (OUP), Paton was drafting a brand new entry for the Oxford English Dictionary. Around 30,000 such items are on the OED master list; another 7,000 more pile up annually. “Everyone thinks we’re very slow, but it’s actually rather fast,” Paton said. “Though admittedly a colleague did spend a year revising ‘go’.” Spending 12 months tracing the history of a twoletter word seems dangerously close to folly. But the purpose of a historical dictionary such as the OED is to give such questions the solemnity they deserve. “Well, we have to get things right,” the dictionary’s current chief editor, Michael Proffitt, told me. At one level, few things are simpler than a dictionary: a list of the words people use or have used, The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 27 Face value Job hunting and artifical intelligence → Discovery, pages 32-33 with an explanation of what those words mean, or have meant. At the level that matters, though – the level that lexicographers fret and obsess about – few things could be more complex. Who used those words, where and when? How do you know? Which words do you include, and on what basis? How do you tease apart this sense from that? And what is “English” anyway? In the case of a dictionary such as the OED – which claims to provide a “definitive” record of every word in the language from AD1000 to the present day – the question is even larger: can a living language be comprehensively mapped, surveyed and described? Speaking to lexicographers makes one wary of using the word “literally”, but a definitive dictionary is, literally, impossible. No sooner have you reached the summit of the mountain than it has expanded another hundred feet. Then you realise it’s not even one mountain, but an interlocking series of ranges marching across the Earth. (In the age of “global English”, the metaphor seems apt.) Even so, the quest to capture “the meaning of every thing” – as the writer Simon Winchester described it in his book on the history of the OED – has absorbed generations of lexicographers, from the Victorian worthies who set up a “Committee to collect unregistered words in English” to the OED’s first proper editor, James Murray, who spent 36 years shepherding the first edition towards publication (before it killed him). The dream of the perfect dictionary goes back to the Enlightenment notion that by classifying and regulating language one could – just perhaps – distil the essence of human thought. In 1747, in his “Plan” for the English dictionary he was about to commence, Samuel Johnson (pictured below) declared he would create nothing less than “a dictionary by which the pronunciation of our language may be fixed, and its attainment facilitated; by which its purity may be preserved, its use ascertained, and its duration lengthened”. English would not be merely listed in alphabetical order; it would be saved for eternity. Ninety years after the first edition appeared, the OED – a distant, far bulkier descendant of Johnson’s Dictionary – is embarked on a third edition, which involves overhauling every entry (many of which have not been touched since the late-Victorian era) and adding at least some of those 30,000 missing words, as well as making the dictionary into a fully digital resource. This was originally meant to be completed in 2000, then 2005, then 2010. Since then, OUP has quietly dropped mentions of a date. How far had they got, I asked Proffitt. “About 48%,” he replied. The dictionary retains a quiet pride in the lexical lengths to which it will – indeed, must – go. Some time in the late 1980s, Proffitt’s predecessor as chief editor, John Simpson, asked the poet Benjamin Zephaniah about the origins of the noun “skanking”. Zephaniah decided that the only way to explain was to come to the OED headquarters and do a private, one-on-one performance. Skanking duly went in, defined as “a style of West Indian dancing to reggae music, in which the body bends forward at the waist, and the knees are raised and the hands claw the air in time to the beat”. The tale touches something profound: in capturing a word, a sliver of lived experience can be observed and defined. If only you were able to catch all the words, perhaps you could define existence. The first English dictionary-makers had no fantasies about capturing an entire culture. In contrast to languages such as Chinese and ancient Greek, where systematic, dictionary-like works have existed for millennia, the earliest English lexicons didn’t begin to be assembled until the 16th century. They were piecemeal affairs, as befitted the language’s mongrel inheritance – a jumbled stew of old Anglo-Germanic, Norse, Latin and Greek, and Norman French. The language was perplexing enough, but in the mid-1500s it was getting ever more confusing, as political upheavals and colonial trade brought fresh waves of immigration, and with it a babel of recently “Englished” vocabulary: words such as “alcohol” (Arabic via Latin, c1543) and “abandonment” (French, c1593). Scientific and medical developments added to the chaos. In 1582, the schoolmaster Richard Mulcaster issued a frantic plea for someone to “gather all the wordes which we use in our English tung … into one dictionarie”. Such a book would stabilise spelling, a source of violent disagreement. Also, there would finally be rules for “proper use”. Johnson’s Dictionary, eventually finished in 1755, was a heroic achievement. He corralled 43,500-odd words – perhaps 80% of the language in use at the time. But in some eyes, not least the editor’s, the book was also a heroic failure. In contrast to the jaunty Enlightenment optimism of his 1747 Plan, with its talk of “fixing” and “preservation”, the preface to the published Dictionary is a work of chastened realism. Johnson explains that the idea of taming a fast-evolving creature such as the English language is not only impossible, but risible. Still, the dream lingered. What if one could get to 100% – lassoing the whole of English, from the beginning of written time to the present day? Numerous revisions or rivals to Johnson were proposed, though few were actually created. In November 1857, the members of the London Philological Society convened to hear a paper by Richard Chenevix Trench, the dean of Westminster, entitled On Some Deficiencies in our English Dictionaries. It was a bombshell: Trench argued that British word banks were so unreliable that the slate needed to be wiped clean. In their place, he outlined “a true idea of a Dictionary”. This Platonic resource should be compiled on scholarly historical lines, mining deep into the caverns of the language for ancient etymology. It should describe rather than prescribe, casting an impartial eye on everything from AngloSaxon monosyllables to the latest technical jargon (though Trench drew the line at regional dialect). Most of all, it should be comprehensive, honouring what Trench called – glancing jealously at Germany, where the brothers Grimm had recently started work on a Deutsches Wörterbuch – “our native tongue”. For the first two decades, the New English Dictionary, as it was called, looked as if it would go the way of so many previous projects. The first editor died a year in, leaving chaos in his wake. The second had more energy for young women, socialism, folksong and cycling. Only after it was taken over by OUP, who in 1879 were persuaded to appoint a little-known Scottish schoolteacher and philologist called James Murray as chief editor, did things begin to move. Murray’s masterstroke was to put out an “appeal” in newspapers and library books for volunteer readers to search for quotations, which would illustrate the ways words changed over time – a “corpus” of data that would make the dictionary as accurate as possible. More than 2,000 enthusiasts from across the world and all walks of life assembled some 5m quotations. Even when it became evident that it would all take far, far longer than scheduled – after five years they were still halfway through the letter A – Murray kept the dictionary going. “It would have been impossible without him,” says the lexicographer and OED historian Peter Gilliver. The first part was published in 1884, A to Ant, and instalments emerged at regular intervals for the next 40-odd years. Although Murray died in 1915 – somewhere between “Turndun” and “Tzirid” – the machine churned on. In 1928, the finished dictionary was published: some 414,800 headwords and phrases in 10 volumes, each with a definition, etymology and 1.8m quotations tracking usage over time. It was one of the largest books ever made, in any language. The publisher Continued on page 28 → 28 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Weekly review ← Continued from page 27 made the most of the achievement, trumpeting that “the Oxford Dictionary is the supreme authority, and without a rival”. Yet if you knew where to look, its flaws were only too obvious. By the time it was published in 1928, this Victorian leviathan was already hopelessly out of date. The A-C entries were compiled nearly 50 years earlier; others relied on scholarship that had long been surpassed. In-house, it was admitted that the second half of the alphabet (M-Z) was stronger than the first (A-L); the letter E was regarded as especially weak. Among other eccentricities, Murray had taken against “marzipan”, preferring to spell it “marchpane”, and decreed that the adjective “African” should not be included, on the basis that it was not really a word. “American”, however, was, for reasons that reveal much about the dictionary’s Anglocentric worldview. The only solution was to patch it up. The first Supplement to the OED came out in 1933, compiling new words that editors had noted in the interim, as well as original omissions. Supplements to that Supplement were begun in 1957, eventually appearing in four instalments between 1972 and 1986 – some 69,300 extra items in all. Yet it was a losing battle. At the same time, the ground beneath the lexicographers’ feet was beginning to give way. By the late 1960s, a computer-led approach known as “corpus linguistics” was forcing them to re-examine their deepest assumptions about the way language operates. Instead of making dictionaries the oldfashioned way – working from pre-existing lists of words/definitions, and searching for evidence that a word means what you think it does – corpus linguistics turns the process on its head: you use digital technology to hoover up language as real people write and speak it, and make dictionaries from that. The first modern corpus, the Brown Corpus of Standard American English, was compiled in 1964 and included 1m words, sampled from 500 texts including romance novels, religious tracts and books of “popular lore” – contemporary sources that dictionary-makers had barely consulted. The general-language corpora that provide raw material for today’s dictionaries contain tens of billions of words, a database beyond the wildest imaginings of lexicographers even a generation ago. For lexicographers, what’s really thrilling about corpus linguistics is the way it lets you spy on language in the wild. Collating the phrases in which a word occurs enables you to unravel different shades of meaning. Observing how a word is “misused” hints that its centre of gravity might be shifting. Comparing representative corpora lets you see, for example, how often Trump supporters deploy a noun such as “liberty”, and how differently the word is used in the Black Lives Matter movement. “It’s completely changed what we do,” the lexicographer Michael Rundell told me. “It’s very bottom-up. You have to rethink almost everything.” But while other dictionary publishers leapt on corpus linguistics, OED editors stuck to what they knew, relying on quotation slips and researchers in university libraries. When the OED’s second edition was published in March 1989 – 20 volumes, containing 291,500 entries and 2.4m quotations – there were complaints that this wasn’t really a new edition, just a nicely typeset amalgam of the old ones. The entry for “computer” defined it as “a calculating-machine; esp an automatic electronic device for performing mathematical or logical operations”. It was illustrated by a quotation from a 1897 journal. By astonishing coincidence, another earthquake, far bigger, struck the very same month that OED2 appeared in print: a proposal by an English computer scientist named Tim BernersLee for “a large hypertext database with typed links”. The world wide web, as it came to be called (the OED dates the phrase to 1990), offered a shining path to the lexicographical future. Databases could be shared, and connected to one another; whole libraries of books could be scanned and their contents made search able. The sum of human text was starting to become available to anyone with a computer and a modem. The possibilities were dizzying. In a 1989 article in the New Yorker, an OUP executive said, with a shiver of excitement, that if the dictionary could incorporate corpus linguistics resources properly, something special could be achieved. The fact that so much text is now available online has been the most cataclysmic change. Words that would previously have been spoken are now typed on social media. Lexicographers of slang have long dreamed of being able to track variant forms “down to the level, say, of an individual London tower block”, says OED consultant Jonathon Green; now, via Facebook or Instagram, this might actually be possible. Lexicographers can be present almost at the moment of word-birth: where previously a coinage such as “mansplain” would have had to find its way into a durable printed record, which a researcher could use as evidence of its existence, it is now available near-instantly to anyone. Anyone, and anywhere – when the OED was first dreamed up in the 1850s, English was a language of the British Isles, parts of North America, and a scattering of colonies. These days, nearly a quarter of the world’s population, 1.5bn people, speak some English, mostly as a second language – except, of course, that it isn’t one language. There are myriad variants and all of these Englishes are more visible now than ever, cross-fertilising others at ever greater speed. “The circle of the English language has a welldefined centre but no discernible circumference,” Murray once wrote, but modern lexicographers beg to differ. Instead of one centre, there are many intersecting subgroups, each using a variety of Englishes, inflected by geographical background or heritage, values, other languages, and an almost incalculable number of variables. And the circumference is expanding faster than ever. If OED lexicographers are right that some 7,000 new English words surface annually – brand new coinages and words the dictionary has missed – then in the time you’ve been reading this, perhaps two more words have come into being. In the time you’ve been reading this article, perhaps two more words have come into being The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 29 A dream never to be realised again … the original complete Oxford English Dictionary took 49 years to compile and was woefully out of date by the time of publication Richard Baker/Alamy Most people, of course, now never go near a dictionary, but simply type phrases into Wikipedia (used more often as a dictionary than an encyclopedia, research suggests) or rely on Google, which – through a deal with Oxford Dictionaries – offers thumbnail definitions, audio of pronunciations, etymology, a graph of usage over time and translation facilities. If you want to know what a word means, you can just yell something at Siri or Alexa. Dictionaries have been far too slow to adjust, argues Jane Solomon of Dictionary.com. “Information-retrieval is changing so fast,” she said. “Why don’t dictionaries respond to context, like figuring out that you’re searching for food words, and give you related vocabulary or recipes?” And not just words: “I’d love to include emojis. They’ve become a whole separate language. People sometimes need explanation; if you send your daughter the eggplant emoji, she might think that’s weird.” Some have dared to dream even bigger than polysemous aubergines. One is a computer professor at the Sapienza University of Rome called Roberto Navigli, who in 2013 soft-launched a site called Babelnet, which aims to be the dictionary to beat all dictionaries – in part by not being a dictionary at all. Described as a “semantic network” that pulls together 15 existing resources, it aims to create a comprehensive, hierarchical root map of not just English but of 271 languages simultaneously, making it the largest lexicon/encyclopedia/thesaurus/reference work on the web. Navigli told me his real aim was to use “semantic technology” to enable autonomous machine-reading of text. “This is the dream, right?” he said. “The machine that can read text and understand everything we say.” For lexicographers and Google alike, one linguistic frontier remains stubbornly inaccessible. Whereas it’s now easy to assemble written-text corpora and open a window on how language functions in a particular environment, doing so for spoken language has always been far harder. The reason is obvious: recording speech, then transcribing it and creating a usable database, is both time-consuming and hugely expensive. Speech corpora do exist, but are small and unrepresentative (it’s easy to work with court transcripts; far harder to eavesdrop on what lawyers say down the pub). If you could capture large samples of it – people speaking in every context, from playgrounds to office canteens to supermarkets – you could monitor even more accurately how we use language, day to day. “If we cracked the technology for transcribing normal conversations,” Rundell said, “it really would be a game-changer.” For the OED’s editors, this world is both exhilarating and, one senses, mildly overwhelming. The digital era has enabled Oxford lexicographers to run dragnets deeper through the language, but it has also threatened to capsize the operation. When you’re making a historical dictionary and required to check each and every resource, then recheck those resources when, say, a corpus of handwritten 17th-century letters comes on stream, the problem of keeping the dictionary up to date expands to even more nightmarish proportions. Adding to that dictionary to accommodate new words increases the nightmare exponentially. “It’s never-ending,” one OED lexicographer said. “You can feel like you’re falling into the wormhole.” Adding to the challenge is a story that has become wearily familiar: while more people are consulting dictionary-like resources than ever, almost no one wants to shell out. Sales of hard-copy dictionaries have collapsed. If you can get a definition by holding your thumb over a word on your smartphone, why bother picking up a book? Even if the infrastructure around lexicography has fallen away, some things stay pleasingly consistent. Every lexicographer I spoke to made clear their distaste for “word-lovers”, who in the dictionary world are regarded as the type of person liable to scrawl “fewer” on to supermarket signs reading “10 items or less”. The normally genial John Simpson writes crisply that “I take the hardline view that language is not there to be ‘enjoyed’”; instead, it is there to be used. But love is, most grudgingly admit, what draws people to spend their lives sifting and analysing language. It takes a particular sort of human to be a “word detective”: something between a linguistics academic, an archival historian, a journalist and an old-fashioned gumshoe. Though hardly without its tensions – corpus linguists versus old-school dictionary-makers, stats nerds versus scholarly etymologists – lexicography seems to be one specialist profession with a lingering sense of common purpose: us against that ever-expanding, multi-headed hydra, the English language. “It is pretty obsessive-compulsive,” Solomon said. “It’s always on the move. You have to love that.” There are other joys, too: the thrill of catching a new sense, or crafting a definition that feels, if not perfect, at least right. “It sounds cheesy, but it can be like poetry,” Rundell reflected. “Making a dictionary is as much an art as a craft.” Throughout it all, the OED churns on, attempting to be slightly more complete today than it was yesterday. The dictionary team now prefer to refer to it as a “moving document”. Words are only added; they are never deleted. These days it issues online updates four times a year; though it has not officially abandoned the notion of another print edition, that idea is fading. Seven months after I first asked how far they had got into OED3, I enquired again; the needle had crept up to 48.7%. “We are going to get it done,” Proffitt insisted, though as I departed Oxford, I thought James Murray might have raised a thin smile at that. If the update does indeed take until 2037, it will rival the 49 years it took the original OED to be created, whereupon it will presumably need overhauling again. A few days ago, I emailed to see if “mansplain” had finally reached the OED. It had, but there was a snag – further research had pushed the word back six months, from February 2009 to August 2008. Then, no sooner had Paton’s entry gone live someone emailed to point they had spotted “mansplain” on a May 2008 blogpost, just a month after Rebecca Solnit had published her influential essay Men Explain Things to Me. The updated definition, Proffitt assured me, will be available as soon as possible. 30 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Weekly review The record store owner who became Rob Walker meets veteran reggae guru Blacker Dread, a community kingpin who has helped countless south London kids stay out of jail H e has recorded with the biggest reggae artists of the past 50 years, performed for Nelson Mandela on his state visit to Britain, and for more than two decades ran a record store in Brixton, south London, that became a social hub and safe house for the city’s AfroCaribbean community. Yet the judge who sent him to prison in 2014 dismissed his life as a “failure”. Blacker Dread, real name Steve Burnett-Martin, is now out and so, too, is a feature-length documentary about his life by Molly Dineen, a Bafta-award winning film-maker. Being Blacker, which Dineen filmed over three years, is a close-up on Brixton’s Jamaican community and the man who unintentionally became its kingpin. “There was never a point when I said, OK, I’m going to be that person, that voice. It’s just something that happened,” says Blacker. Born in Jamaica, he moved with his family to Britain when he was nine, settling first in Bromley, south London, then later moving to Tulse Hill, close to Brixton – the heart of the Caribbean community. At 11 he gained entrance to a selective grammar school (he had to take the exam twice because it was assumed he had cheated the first time, he says). But Blacker never felt part of the crowd – he describes his schooling instead as the “ghettology” he learned on the streets. In his 30s, he opened a small record shop on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. It was to transform his life and the lives of all those around him. “People kept coming into my shop – mothers asking me to speak to their sons, people with problems wanting advice. I used to wonder to myself, what do I say? How do you advise people on their life? It became part of my daily routine. All I knew was that when people came in, I had to be there for them.” Twenty-five years on, the Blacker Dread Muzik Store is credited in the community with helping young people stay out of gangs, drugs and jail. Those in trouble with the police were encouraged “to go and see Blacker” – not for protection but to ensure that things “were done by the book”. “Young people say or do things that get them into more trouble, so I thought, let me try and keep as many of these kids out of police clutches as possible,” he says. Blacker speaks in calm, dulcet tones – a voice that many would recognise from his Caribbean reggae sound system gigs of the 1980s, where he made his name in festivals and street parties across the UK’s capital. He ended up as the record selector for Sir Coxsone, a frontrunner in the development of Britain’s sound system movement. Blacker himself, his devotees say, was pivotal to the music genre from which grime now traces its roots. Two of his sons – Blacker has 11 children – are leading grime artists in their own right: Ratlin and Shak Corleone. Blacker went on to become a music producer too, working with the likes of Jamaican reggae stars Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown. But Blacker’s musical success has almost taken a back seat to his binding role in the community. There is no masking the anger and frustration at what he calls the indifferent way the police have treated the community. Grief over the loss of his son, Solomon, gunned down on New Year’s Eve 2004 aged 24, weighs heaviest of all. No one has been convicted of the shooting, and Blacker says the officer leading the investigation never spoke to him. “It was devastating the way [the police] didn’t put any effort into trying to find out who killed my son,” Blacker says. “After a couple of weeks it’s like they didn’t want to know.” Brixton Splash, an annual non-profit street party – south London’s answer to the Notting Hill carnival – was founded by Blacker and Ros Griffiths. Blacker was involved for 10 years. “I just thought, this is ‘How do you advise people? All I knew was that, when they came in, I had to be there for them’ The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 31 a hero Brixton legend ... the highs and lows of Blacker Dread’s remarkable life have been chronicled in a new documentary film Molly Dineen going to be a tribute to my son, but it will be a silent tribute. There will be thousands of people coming for a big party but, as far as I’m concerned, they’ll be partying for my son.” As a young man growing up in London, Blacker had become increasingly politicised. Through his friendship with an exiled South African, he became a member of the ANC while Mandela was in prison. “We used to do fundraisers to send money to the cause – £500 [$700], £300, whatever we could make.” When Mandela announced his first visit to Britain in 1996 as South Africa’s president, Blacker wrote to him and invited him to visit Brixton. “It’s the heartbeat of black people in Britain,” he told him. Mandela not only obliged, but asked Blacker to meet with him on his arrival. “He asked me what black people in Britain wanted most. What things would we ask for, if we could? I remember saying, it’s not that we want ‘things’, we just want to be given a good chance. We want to be given an opportunity to make ‘things’ happen.” Blacker ended up with 30 VIP guest passes for the show in Brixton Recreation Centre. “So I gave them to my friends and made sure that real people had a presence in that hall,” he says. That day, Blacker played an eight-minute set with Jamaican reggae artist Freddie McGregor. “Even Prince Charles got up and was trying to shake a leg,” Blacker jokes. “It went down brilliantly.” It was to be one of the high points of Blacker’s life in Brixton, he says, bringing the “great man” to his beloved community. But as the area has become increasingly gentrified, so much of its community magic has gone, he says. “We have this little joke. We’ve taken the B off Brixton and we call it Rixton,” he says. “The B is for all the black people that had to move out.” Blacker had to move out, too, for a while, when he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for money laundering in 2014. It is a complicated story that Blacker doesn’t dwell on, but accepts his role in the affair. It was a bitter irony, captured powerfully in Dineen’s documentary. Blacker – the man who had helped so many stay out of jail – looks on powerlessly as his record shop of 25 years gets packed away and closed down. In prison, though, in true Blacker style, he became the go-to person for resolving what he calls “the little disputes”. He worked too as a DJ on National Prison Radio, which broadcasts to 107 prisons across the UK. “They had a reggae show called Bob and Beyond, but when I looked at the catalogue it was like 600 Bob Marley songs and nothing else,” he says. “So I helped them develop a massive catalogue of reggae music.” His liberty restored, Blacker, who turns 60 this year, says he plans to return to Jamaica to be with his youngest son, JJ. “I’ll miss the people,” he says. “But you have to be selfish at one point in your life.” Observer Being Blacker can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK and has selected release elsewhere Front and centre ... two of Legally Black’s posters which appeared on bus stops and billboards How Brixton activists took DIY route to getting black people into lead film roles S hiden Tekle and his friends became so frustrated about the lack of black actors in films and TV shows that they decided to recreate famous movie posters, including Titanic, Harry Potter and The Inbetweeners, with black people taking the leading roles. The posters, created in Brixton with the activism group Advocacy Academy, were only intended to line the bedroom walls of Tekle and his mates, but the subversive advertising organisation Special Patrol Group spotted the posters online, loved the concept and jumped in to give them a wider audience. Special Patrol Group, which has run “vandal advertising” campaigns targeting police corruption, printed out giant versions of the posters and stealthily placed them in bus stop billboards around Brixton, south London. “The first I knew about it was when I saw myself at the bus stop,” said Tekle, 18, who was cast as Jay in the remake of an Inbetweeners poster. “I was just ‘wow’.” He and his friends – Liv Francis-Cornibert, Kofi Asante and Bel Matos da Costa, all 17, who formed activist group Legally Black – decided to create the posters after coaches at the Advocacy Academy asked them what made them most angry and what they would like to change in society. “I’ve been racially abused since I was 12,” said Tekle, who is studying for A-levels in government politics, sociology and media studies. “And we are always looking at the media and never seeing any positive representations of black people. In big films, black characters are often playing criminals and drug dealers, and that quickly conditions people to believe that all black people are like that. “So, we decided to put black faces in the big movies, and challenge people’s perceptions and assumptions.” The four teenagers dragged friends and family along to pose for the posters, and a professional photographer and graphic designer gave up their time to help create the images. Tekle’s dad poses as James Bond in the reimagined poster for Skyfall and a friend’s mum stands in for The Doctor in a recasting of Doctor Who. The tagline on the posters reads: “If you’re surprised, it means you don’t see enough black people in major roles. Join us in our mission for better black representation in the media.” Research by the British Film Institute shows that black actors played only 218 lead roles in the 1,172 British films released between 2006 and 2016. There were 45,000 roles in total, which means black British actors played 0.5% of them. Special Patrol Group put up the posters one evening last month , so that those behind the concept would see them on their graduation from the Advocacy Academy. A couple of days later, most had been taken down and replaced with adverts for McDonald’s. JCDecaux, the advertising company that owns many of the bus stop billboard spaces, did not respond to requests for comment. Amelia Viney, the chief advocate at the Advocacy Academy, which aims to channel youth anger into political activism, said the teenagers came up with the idea and concept entirely by themselves and she “could not be more proud”. “They begged and they hustled so hard they got everything done for as little as £150 [$200],” she said. “They had copies made for them to keep, but then Special Patrol Group got in touch and their concept was quickly a real reality on the streets.” Viney, 30, said she started Advocacy Academy in 2014 to “encourage people who have a raw deal to take on the establishment and change things”. The group aimed to train young people who were “deeply passionate and deeply angry how to channel that anger into radical activism”. Rupert Neate 32 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Discovery AI recruiting takes the human out of HR Job hunters are screened relentlessly to measure their supposed value, finds Stephen Buranyi A ccording to Nathan Mondragon, finding the right employee is all about looking at the little things. Tens of thousands of little things, as it turns out. Mondragon is the head psychologist at Hirevue, a company that offers software that screens job candidates using algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI). Hirevue’s flagship product, used by global giants such as Unilever and Goldman Sachs, asks candidates to answer standard interview questions in front of a camera. Meanwhile its software, like a team of hawk-eyed psychologists hiding behind a mirror, makes note of thousands of barely perceptible changes in posture, facial expression, vocal tone and word choice. “We break the answers people give down into many thousands of data points, into verbal and nonverbal cues,” says Mondragon. “If you’re answering a question about how you would spend a million dollars, your eyes would tend to shift upward, your verbal cues would go silent, or turn to ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. Your head would tilt slightly upward with your eyes. The facial movement analytics would tell us you were going into a creative thinking style.” The program turns this data into a score, which is then compared against one the program has already “learned” from top-performing employees. The idea is that a good prospective employee looks a lot like a good current employee, just not in any way a human interviewer would notice. It sounds far-fetched. Approaches such as vocal analysis and reading “microexpressions” have previously been applied in policing and intelligence with little clear success. But Mondragon says their automated analyses line up with established tests of personality and ability, and that customers report better employee performance and less turnover. Hirevue is one of a slew of new companies selling AI as a replacement for the costly human side of hiring. Bath-based Cognisess specialises in games that predict various aptitudes. San Francisco’s Mya Systems offers a reactive, AI-powered chatbot that will conduct the entire interview process. Hirevue estimates the “pre-hire assessment” market is worth $3bn a year. According to Doug Rode, a managing director at the recruiter Michael Page, the past year has seen a marked increase in companies selling AI packages of widely variable quality. A study last year by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found an average of 24 applicants for an average low-wage job. Tesco, the UK’s largest private employer, received well over 3m job applications in 2016. As the number of people applying for jobs has increased, employers have removed human beings from the hiring side whenever possible, automating more and more of the decisions. This started more than a decade ago with simple programs that scanned text CVs for keywords about education, skills and past employers to flag them for recruiters. It has expanded to include a bewildering range of quizzes, psychometric tests and custom-built games that can be used to reject applicants before a human sees their application. This shift has already radically changed the way that many people interact with prospective employers. The standardised CV format allowed jobseekers to be evaluated by multiple companies with a single approach. Now jobseekers are forced to prepare ‘The tests are frustrating. You never know what you’ve done wrong. It leaves you feeling trapped’ for whatever format the company has chosen. The burden has been shifted from employer to jobseeker – a familiar feature of the gig economy era – and along with it the ability of jobseekers to get feedback or insight into the decision-making process. The role of human interaction in hiring has decreased, making a difficult process deeply alienating. Beyond the often bewildering and dehumanising experience lurk the concerns that attend automation and AI, which draws on data that’s often been shaped by inequality. If you suspect you’ve been discriminated against by an algorithm, what recourse do you have? How prone are those formulas to bias, and how do the multitude of third-party companies that develop and license this software deal with the personal data of applicants? And is it inevitable that non-traditional or poorer candidates, or those who struggle with new technology, will be excluded from the process? “It’s all these artificial barriers, it makes people feel the hiring process is impenetrable,” says Heather Davies, a retired HR coordinator and one Raven culture: how two species are becoming one Hannah Devlin Speciation, where one species diverges into two, is a well-known concept in the theory of evolution. But a study based on almost 20 years of research has revealed that “speciation reversal”, the merging of two previously distinct lineages, may also play an important role. Scientists have discovered that two lineages of common raven that spent between 1m and 2m years evolving separately appear to be in the process of such a consolidation. The findings raise intriguing questions about how science should define species – and whether the boundaries are really clear cut. “The bottom line is [speciation reversal] is a natural evolutionary process, and it’s probably happened in hundreds, or almost certainly thousands, of lineages all over the planet,” said Kevin Omland, professor of biological sciences at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and co-author of the new study. “One of our biggest goals is to just have people aware of this process.” Omland began studying the raven 20 years ago, after he began to suspect that two separate species could have been lumped together. He reported the existence of two lineages: one concentrated in the south-western US, dubbed California, and another found everywhere else (including Maine, Alaska, Norway and d Russia) called Holarctic. The latest paper, published in n Nature Communic ations, providess new intriguing details of the evolutionary ionary history of the two groups. A genetic netic analysis of 400 birds spanning the geographical range of the two wo populations suggests that the he California and Holarctic lineeages diverged between 1m and 2m years ago, but more recently have ve merged together again and have e been hybridising for at least tens ns of Dispatches The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 33 New evidence of shifting northern seasons The Arctic spring is arriving 16 days earlier than it did a decade ago, according to a study that shows climate change is shifting the season earlier more dramatically the further north you go. The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports, comes amid growing concern about the warming of Greenland, Siberia, Alaska and other far northern regions. The authors from the University of California, Davis, based the study on temperature records and 743 previous phenological studies looking at timings of bird migrations, flowers blooming and amphibians calling. The results showed a curve, with spring events occurring earlier further north of the equator. Five types of diabetes of the organisers of a Christians Against Poverty jobs club that meets weekly in a church hall in Muswell Hill, London. While there’s acceptance among attendees that increasing automation is inevitable (“it’s 2018 after all”), there’s real frustration at the hollowing out of human interaction. “It’s a bit dehumanising, never being able to get through to an employer,” says Robert, a plumber in his 40s who uses job boards and recruiters to find temporary work. Harry, 24, has been searching for a job for four months. In retail, where he is looking, “just about every job” has some sort of test or game, anything from personality to maths, to screen out applicants. He completes four or five tests a week as jobs are posted. The rejections are often instant. “It’s frustrating. You never know what you’ve done wrong; it leaves you feeling a bit trapped,” Harry says. Even among the groups where automated hiring is seen as the biggest success, there is some apprehension. Several professional recruiters told me that, at every job level, many candidates were put off by these systems, and that they failed to Algorithmic aptitude testing … the ‘pre-hire assessment’ market is estimated to be worth $3bn a year TongRo Images/Alamy thousands of years. yea The two populations now comprise pure Hol Holarctic ravens and a group that are hybrids of the th two original lineages (the pure California type no longer exists). Cal “The extensive genetic data reve veals one of the best supported examples of speciation speci reversal of deeply diverged lineages to date date,” said Arild Johnsen, professor of zoology and evo evolutionary biology at University of Oslo and anothe another co-author. “The biggest thing is the degree to wh which we’ve caught them in the act.” The genetic analysis also revealed that the mitochondrial D DNA of the hybrids and the Holarctics differed by abou about 4%, which the scientists said was twice as much as a would normally be seen for birds to be considered separate species. Despite bein being genetically distinct, though, the birds look the same, sound the same and behave the same – although it is possible that they were different before they started to merge into one group. The paper also notes that a third group of ravens – known as Chihuahuan ravens – which branched off from the California lineage, have remained separate and do not interbreed with the other two groups, despite their geographical ranges overlapping. Scientists are not sure why this is the case. “The Chihuahuan raven doesn’t want to play,” said Omland. “It stays by itself and doesn’t interbreed with the others.” The team is now investigating what prompted the merger between the two populations, including whether humans played a role. They are analysing genetic data from ravens that lived in the early 1900s to investigate whether the hybridisation has accelerated since then. engage “passive but talented” applicants. A survey by the recruiter Allegis Global Solutions found that 58% of north American job applicants said they were comfortable interacting with an automated program – an ambiguous statistic widely interpreted as a green light. An underground fightback of sorts against automation has emerged, as applicants search for ways to game the system. On web forums, students trade answers to employers’ tests and create fake applications to scope out their processes. The apex of this practice is perhaps the Walesbased company Practice Aptitude Tests, which collates information from jobseekers and former employees about recruitment tests and sells practice versions, as well as tips for navigating them. Guy Thornton, the head of the company, claims the service has been used more than 3m times. Diabetes that begins in adulthood falls into five distinct categories, research has revealed, with scientists suggesting it is time to ditch the idea that diabetes is split into two types. Researchers say all of the newly classified subgroups are genetically distinct and have numerous differences, including the age at which they tend to occur and different levels of risk for complications. “For the patient, I think it will mean a more individualised therapy [and] a better quality of life,” said Leif Groop, professor of diabetes and endocrinology at Sweden’s Lund University, who led the study. Seeing around corners A team of researchers have come up with a new laser-based system that efficiently produces images of objects that are hidden around a corner – a development they say could allow autonomous vehicles to see obstacles before they come into the line of sight. “There is this preconceived notion that you can’t image objects that aren’t already directly visible to the camera – and we have found ways to get around these types of limiting situations,” said Dr Matthew O’Toole, a co-author of the research from Stanford University. British geneticist dies The pioneering geneticist Sir John Sulston has died aged 75. Sulston led the UK side of the landmark Human Genome Project and founded the Wellcome Sanger Institute near Cambridge, one of Britain’s leading biomedical institutions. Sulston’s work on decoding the genome of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, which revealed how genes control cell division, won him the 2002 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine. The findings underpin the understanding of developmental growth and of how cancers emerge. 34 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Books Diﬀerent kinds of winners and losers Zoe Williams takes issue with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest social and political polemic Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb Allen Lane, 304pp Skin in the Game is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s fifth book. He presents it sometimes as part of a triptych with his earlier works The Black Swan and Antifragile, and at other times as a continuation, each book “just as Eve came out of Adam’s ribs”, seeding the central idea of the next. The Black Swan, a soaraway success praised for its prophetic power and intense relevance, looked – just before the financial crash of 2007 – at “high-impact, unexpected” events; at those disasters that result when you underestimate the complexity of systems and, at its simplest, when you assume that because you’ve never seen one, black swans don’t exist. Antifragile, which had more of a pop-philosophy feel, advised how to take advantage of modern randomness and volatility. Skin in the Game has more in common, in the way its ideas are structured and their application, with Black Swan. Yet a style runs strong and consistent through each of the three books, trenchant beyond all imagining, and is its own kind of wit. Every economist, journalist, book reviewer, professor, anyone who is not part of an “active and transactional life” is an inveterate idiot, unless he or she is one of a handful Taleb respects, who also seem to be his very close friends. “I am never bothered by normal people,” he says, though given the emphasis he puts on his “fuck-off ” wealth, the reader might be permitted to wonder how many normal people he engages with. Taleb is riotously discourteous and extremely thin-skinned, still taking issue in his footnotes with the negative review he received in this paper for Antifragile. The effect is arresting: it can be extremely good fun. The combination of fearlessness, self-belief and immodesty adds up to charisma on the page; Taleb is the festival messiah you’d follow into a river until the drugs wore off. The argument of the new book is also immediately attractive: if you have no skin in the game, you shouldn’t be in the game. “If you give an opinion, and someone follows it, you are morally obligated to be, yourself, exposed to its consequences.” Bankers are in the “Bob Rubin trade”, named after the former secretary of the US Treasury, who “collected more than $120m in compensation from Citibank in the decade preceding the banking crash of 2008. When the bank, literally insolvent, was rescued by the taxpayer, he didn’t write any cheque – he invoked uncertainty as an excuse. Heads he wins, tails he shouts ‘Black Swan’.” There are fools of randomness and crooks of randomness, but Taleb’s corrective is the same: they must have skin in the game. This is needed to ensure they think well, so that they learn from their mistakes, and because systems learn and species evolve by weeding out failure. Those who don’t succeed must face ruin, or death (this dances around a bit, as correctives will when you’re ranging freely in Pay the price … Taleb argues that the architects of the financial crash should suffer Cate Gillon/Getty your references between a lecture agent who once pissed you off and the ancient text of Hammurabi); whatever, something bad. So far, so appealing: most sensible people have agreed for some time that bankers need personal liability if they’re going to make responsible choices. Perhaps already it sounds too broad; yes, doctors have skin in the game, having professional pride and reputation, severe legal consequences for error, a deep understanding of complex systems and centuries of accrued ethical standards. But the proposition that bureaucrats, being separated from the consequences of their decisions (no skin in the game), are the ultimate social ill is hard to sustain; if you accept that systems are complex, then subsidiarity – devolving decisions down to the lowest civic level at which they can be made, where everyone’s skin is involved – can only be a partial solution. The statement that “the most egregious contributor to inequality is the condition of a high-ranking civil servant or tenured academic, not that of an entrepreneur” is very easily falsifiable by referring to the real motor of inequality: the distribution of profits between capital and labour, driven by chief executives and shareholders who want values maximised – people whose skin is very much in the game of driving down wages. There’s a case to be made for balance. You wouldn’t want homicide law to be written by the mother of a murdered child. It’s in this book’s details that the flaws reveal themselves. “Prince Andrew,” we learn, “took more risks than ‘commoners’ during the Falkland [sic] war of 1982, his helicopter being in the frontline. Why? Because noblesse oblige; the very status of a lord has been traditionally derived from protecting others.” If this gels with nothing you’ve ever thought or heard about Prince Andrew, it’s because it’s not true. He did fly a helicopter, so it was certainly more dangerous than not going to war at all; but the Argentinians had scant anti-aircraft capability. The ground was far more fraught with risk. A section on how a whole population can submit to the preferences of a tiny, stubborn minority is fascinating only from a great distance. Taleb hypothesises a family of four in which one member will only eat non-genetically modified food. It is easier for the whole family to go that way; soon, because of barbecues and whatnot, the neighbourhood starts to buy non-GMO to accommodate them, the shop starts to sell only that food, and so on. The least flexible dominate the most, because the former will only eat some The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 35 Bread, circuses, games and brown shirts Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August by Oliver Hilmes Bodley Head, 320pp Nikolaus Wachsmann things while the latter will eat anything. Then we learn that in the UK, “where the (practising) Muslim population is only 3% to 4%, a very high proportion of the meat we find is halal. Close to 70% of lamb imports from New Zealand are halal. Close to 10% of Subway stores carry halal-only meat (meaning no pork), in spite of the high costs of losing the business of ham eaters (like myself).” In fact, New Zealand produces halal lamb almost exclusively (98%), because of trade deals with the Middle East, and Subway’s halal stores are part of a policy since 2007 to take account of the local demographic when opening, resulting in 200-odd stores in north-east London, Birmingham and other places where the average Subway shopper is far more likely to be Muslim than 3%. Taleb’s conclusion – via some other observations on tolerance, religion and politics – that the “West is currently in the process of committing suicide” is just silly. More saliently, it goes against his own precepts: every idea that sounds as if it might work in the abstract fails in the particular, and more to the point, he has no skin in this game. He’s not the one who has to get on a bus wearing a hijab and be yelled at by some partially educated thug who didn’t want his rogan josh to be halal. In one section, Taleb reveals the best advice he ever received, which was not to have an assistant: it is slightly incongruous, neither reinforcing, exemplifying nor adding complexity to his argument. But it is enlightening in one sense: it might help if he got one. On a balmy summer evening on 16 August 1936, dozens of searchlights formed a vast dome of light above the new Olympic Stadium in Berlin. The spectacular effect, originally devised for the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg, marked the end of the 1936 Summer Games. Inside the arena, Hitler basked in the success of the games. As the historian Oliver Hilmes concludes in his lively book, which spans the 16 days of the Olympics, Hitler had “every reason to be satisfied”. Nazi leaders pulled out all the stops to wow visiting foreign notables, journalists and tourists. Around Berlin, buildings were repainted and adorned with flags; lest they spoil the effect, the city’s residents were banned from drying laundry on their front balconies. The Nazis also airbrushed out some ugly features of their rule. The German media was warned against “burdening reports on the Olympic Games with racial perspectives”, and the raving antisemitic rag Der Stürmer was briefly muzzled. The spotlight turned instead on lavish receptions for foreign dignitaries, as Nazi bigwigs upstaged one another with displays of pomp and power. As propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels helped to write the script for the “festival of joy and peace”, as he glorified the Olympics before his guests. Behind the scenes, he was furious about the feats of the African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who was, with four gold medals, the star of the games. “White humanity should be ashamed,” Goebbels fumed in his diary. And he was frank about the regime’s aims. Once the Olympics were brought to a “happy conclusion”, he noted, Germany could “get ruthless” in the Spanish civil war. Hitler, meanwhile, was demanding in August 1936 that his military be ready for full-blown war in Europe within four years. At the same time, the Brownshirts were itching to commit more antisemitic outrages, singing: “When the Olympics are through, we will batter the Jew!” There are more substantive histories of the Nazi Olympics, but Berlin 1936 is the most readable. Hilmes has a gift for storytelling. Each chapter covers a single day and offers vivid vignettes. The flawed hero is the US novelist Thomas Wolfe. At the start of the games he seems oblivious to the real Nazi Germany, relishing the trappings of literary fame. By the end of the event he sees a country where fear and terror permeated the air “like miasmic and pestilential vapors”. Hilmes does not dwell on the dark side, though. His book is part hipster guide to Berlin c 1936, taking readers on a whirlwind tour of hot clubs, bars and swanky restaurants. The city was not all drab conformity, Hilmes seems to be saying. Even under Nazi rule, there were cosmopolitan havens, such as the art deco Sherbini Bar, where you could dance to the latest hits from Hollywood musicals, played by the African-American jazz virtuoso Herb Flemming. All this fun and opulence might help to explain why so many foreigners were taken in by the Nazi Olympics. Yet by favouring anecdote over analysis, Berlin 1936 is ultimately more entertaining than revealing. There is plenty of high society tittle-tattle, but little about ordinary Berliners, who did not frequent fancy nightspots, and it skimps on the wider political context and the long-term significance of the games. In the end, this is a delicately crafted treat – delectable, fluffy and a little unfulfilling – not unlike the large slice of pyramid cake one of the book’s characters devours in the appropriately named Heil bakery. Too gentle a rebuke A Good Time to Be a Girl: Don’t Lean In, Change the System by Helena Morrissey William Collins, 272pp Gaby Hinsliff Observer Helena Morrissey is different. She stands out in ways that are obvious – she has nine children and works in the senior echelons of the City – and ways that are not. She is a Brexiter, in a profession that mainly voted Remain. Morrissey is unusual and her book is essentially about why that is a good thing; why people who don’t fit the mould should be valued for that, rather than forced to conform. Although only, perhaps, up to a point. Her book is pitched as a mild rebuke to the gungho American cult of “lean in” corporate feminism preached by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Why, Morrissey asks, should women “lean in” to an old-fashioned patriarchal system that’s no longer fit for purpose, when we could change the system instead? Women shouldn’t have to copy men to get on but should be free to succeed in their own way, perhaps working more flexibly (when Morrissey ran her own investment management company, she offered a four-day week to anyone who wanted it) or managing more creatively or just approaching issues differently. And all of that is a refreshing change from the niggling cult of female self-improvement, which starts from the premise that women are probably doing it all wrong. She casts a wry eye over all those “what successful women do” articles in which her name regularly appears, pointing out that they get cause and effect confused. As for how she does it all, she’s upfront about crediting her stay-at-home husband, Richard (who is interviewed in the book, along with the children), and plenty of help. Morrissey makes a compelling case, too, for why institutions need not just diverse but dissenting voices. In one meeting after the US election, a colleague wonders why the City hadn’t seen Brexit or Trump coming; why boards that had diversified in order to prevent group-think were still failing to spot upsets looming. Her answer is the tendency to achieve diversity in name only. Boards were willing to hire different faces, but only if the newcomers didn’t challenge the consensus. “The experience showed me rather painfully and personally that we had only reached the point where diversity of thought was welcome in theory; much less so in practice. I could see that my view made many people, including friends, feel very uncomfortable and even angry,” she writes. Continued on page 36 → 36 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Books Convivial constraints ← Continued from page 35 And angering people is not Morrissey’s style. Even her book’s title is printed in unthreatening lower-case letters and the initiative for which she is justly famous, the 30% Club, deliberately chose to campaign for a critical mass of women on company boards via voluntary change rather than by setting quotas. She won board chairs over by arguing that women add value by bringing in “empathy, social sensitivity, collaboration and gentleness”. And if alarm bells ring at the mention of “gentleness”, then you may ultimately struggle with this book. For Morrissey’s theory of how women are different leads into controversial waters – including a strictly partial defence of Google engineer James Damore, sacked for suggesting that biological differences rather than sexism might help explain his company’s lack of senior women – which may alienate some of the young women at whom this book is aimed. For women who want to smash down the boardroom door, this is a terrific read. But smashing the system? That, it seems, would be a step too far. The Fountain in the Forest by Tony White Faber, 320pp Sukhdev Sandhu A queen for all ages Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon by Joyce Tyldesley Profile, 240pp Kathryn Hughes Even with her blinded left eye, Nefertiti has come to epitomise female perfection. Unc annily symmetrical, and with the second most famous half-smile after the Mona Lisa, her image has been pressed into service to sell everything from key rings, T-shirts and, in a sinister turn, on adverts for cosmetic surgery. Recently a British woman paid $275,000 and underwent eight nose jobs and three chin implants in an attempt to sculpt herself into a simulacrum of ancient Egypt’s most famous queen. Nefertiti was first unearthed in 1912 when the archaeologists of the German Oriental Company went digging in the upper Nile valley. At Amarna they discovered the workshop of Thutmose, the court sculptor who around 1350BC was charged with producing a set of images of the reigning dynasty. By the time Ludwig Borchardt and his colleagues arrived there wasn’t much left of the assorted princelings and highnesses – an ear, a mouth, two feet and fragments of faces without ears. But there was a complete bust of the pharaoh Akhenaten’s Great Royal Wife, radiant in her blue flat-topped bonnet crown. “Really wonderful work,” an enraptured Borchardt wrote in his diary that night: “No use describing it, you have to see it.” Calling Nefertiti “it” might seem odd, but perhaps Borchardt was responding to the way that Thutmose had given the Queen a strong jaw and a hint of an Adam’s apple. Certainly, this nod to androgyny was enough to set off excited chatter among later scholars about how she might have ruled over Egypt in her own right following the death of her husband. The only problem with this theory, as Tyldesley points out, is that full-length statues of Nefertiti show her with the slackened breasts and rounded belly typical of a mature royal consort and symbolic mother to her people. And the fact that she was born a commoner meant she could High profile … Egypt’s most famous queen never have occupied the throne in her own right. As for the missing eye, Tyldesley has no truck with the fairytale that Thutmose wrenched it out to punish the beautiful queen who had spurned him as a lover. It is more likely that the sliver of crystal lens and black wax got ground underfoot during one of the workshop’s periodic lootings. But it’s when Nefertiti goes on public display in Berlin in 1924 that this book’s narrative crackles into life. The discovery of Tutankhamun’s lavish tomb two years earlier had turned the world’s attention on to Egypt. At a time when Europe was grieving the loss of its young men, the revelation that the pharaohs sent their dead off to the next life equipped with nice clothes, decent wine and loyal pets was something of a comfort. And then there was the way she looked. In an era in which society women were turning up to parties with jewelled scarabs and slicked-back hair, the Egyptian queen resembled the kind of film star you might see at a matinee in one of the new vaguely Egyptian art deco cinemas. Enticingly exotic but not off-puttingly foreign, Nefertiti occupied an appealingly indeterminate space where everyday womanhood could be turned into a performance of high style. Over the near century that Nefertiti has lived in the Neues Museum in Berlin, rumbles about colonial appropriation and possible reparations have never gone away. Tyldesley is of the firm opinion that the deal by which the Germans acquired the limestone bust was legal if a tad opportunistic: Nefertiti was offered to the Egyptian authorities, who couldn’t see the point of acquiring a painted plaster head of a mere queen consort. Still, that hasn’t stopped them wanting her back. In 1933, Hermann Goering was on the point of shipping her to King Fuad as a gesture of goodwill, until Hitler stepped in to nix the deal, declaring hysterically that he was in love with the Egyptian queen and wanted to keep her for himself. “I like detecting,” Gertrude Stein once wrote. “There are so many things to detect, why did somebody say what they said, why did somebody cut out a paragraph …” If, in some circles, crime fiction is still associated with mass-market mediocrity, Stein represents a countertradition – one that includes Jorge Luis Borges and William S Burroughs, Paul Auster and Thomas Pynchon – of highbrow and formally adventurous writers who have bent sinister, seeing this residually pulp genre as an ally in the war against a bland literary mainstream. The Fountain in the Forest is a rich, riveting example of this alternative lineage. It begins with the discovery of a noseless body hanging in a Covent Garden theatre. The chief suspect is an old pal of detective Rex King who, in trying to track him down, revisits half-forgotten episodes from British and European social history, among them 1985’s “battle of the beanfield”, in which more than 1,300 police officers prevented new age travellers from setting up a free festival near Stonehenge. Another section of the book follows English teenager JJ as he travels to the south of France and happens upon a group of artists, hippies and anarchists. Set in the 90 days between the end of the miners’ strike and the beanfield battle, White’s novel vividly reanimates this lost interregnum – a year before the big bang, which ushered in the deregulation of financial markets and imperial Thatcherism – as a period both of defeat and of dreams, of innocence and of dark enlightenment. Moving forward in time, there are references to the derailing of the Stalker inquiry, which had been investigating whether British forces had a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland; to undercover police infiltrating groups campaigning against the building of the Newbury bypass; to the Met’s Special Demonstration Squad targeting anti-racist groups supporting the family of Stephen Lawrence. This is history as secretly scripted, as occult malevolence. White’s innovation is to fuse his revisionist narrative with techniques associated with Oulipo, the group of writers and mathematicians, including Raymond Queneau and Georges Perec, who produced work according to sometimes baffling rules and constraints (Perec’s novel A Void featured not a single “e”). White forces himself to use all the words that comprise answers to the Guardian’s Quick Crossword from March to April 1985. Equally arresting are the chapter names (“Pissenlit”, “Mandragore”), which are taken from the French revolutionary rural calendar. An explanation of the calendar by the scholar Sanja Perovic is so crucial to a full understanding of White’s project that in his preface he urges readers to check out her book on the topic. More insecure writers would have laboured to show off their erudition and ended up producing drily conceptual fare. White is always convivial company, making ostensibly abstruse speculations seem common sense. The Fountain in the Forest is the opening salvo in a trilogy. I’m already awaiting the next. The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 37 Books Interview ‘It’s not just joyful – it’s also a place of pain’ T here’s a book my younger daughter asks me to read to her every night. Over the years I’ve recited The Gruffalo, voyaged with her to Narnia and opened the door to The Secret Garden. But this book is different, because when I put it down and turn off her light, she sometimes says: “I want to be in it.” It will come as no surprise that the book is Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, a collection of “100 tales of extraordinary women” that has become a publishing sensation. It is the most successful new title in the history of crowdfunding, has sold more than a million copies, been translated into dozens of languages and has prompted a slew of copycat efforts. Now Rebel Girls 2 is coming out in the UK, with a podcast scheduled for this month. The book was born of the frustration felt by Favilli and Cavallo at the lack of role models for girls in fiction and film. They decided to offer alternative fairytales to those of Cinderella and Rapunzel, who pine for their princes. So … once upon a time there were female scientists, judges, athletes, writers, musicians and politicians, all with remarkable stories. Rosa Parks shares the pages with Cleopatra, the pirate Grace O’Malley, Oprah Winfrey and Ada Lovelace. The preface of the first volume urges its readers, to build “a world where gender will not define how big you can dream”. When I meet them in Los Angeles, they mention a typical letter from a seven-yearold girl who had been talking to classmates about what they would like to be when they grew up. A surgeon, the girl said. To which a boy scoffed that no surgeons were women. “She wasn’t angry,” Cavallo points out, “but simply said: ‘I’m sure he hasn’t read Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.’” There are plenty of children’s novels featuring powerful female characters – from Madeline and Pippi Longstocking to Anne Shirley and Hermione Granger. But Favilli and Cavallo were concerned with the cultural life of younger kids. But they were determined not to assemble a worthy gallery of historical notables. In choosing the subjects, they sought “larger than life” moments. For example, “we researched the lives of many female chefs. But when we found out that Julia Child started her career as a wartime spy, cooking anti-shark cakes to Support network … Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s first Rebel Girls book was the most successful new title in the history of crowdfunding Andrzej Liguz/moreimages.net keep them away from bombs intended for German U-boats, we knew she was the right choice.” The selection makes the books alive and forwardlooking. Favilli and Cavallo are eager to showcase diverse women from all countries, “so every girl could find someone who reminded them of their own circumstances”. Elizabeth I is included, but so is Yusra Mardini, the Syrian Olympic swimmer born in 1998 who, as a refugee fleeing the civil war, pushed her leaking, crowded boat for hours in the Mediterranean to a safe shore. Volume two includes JK Rowling and Beyoncé alongside subjects suggested by supporters, including the Asian-American firefighter Sarinya Srisakul and Katia Krafft, the French volcanologist who dreamed of riding in a boat down a lava flow. Eline van Dam; Barbara Dziadosz; Paola Rollo; Penguin Random House Sexism led to Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo’s Rebel Girls series, explains Paul Laity Inspirations … clockwise from top left: Beyoncé, Beatrix Potter, Amna Al Haddad and JK Rowling Now in their mid-30s, they have been a couple for a decade and entered into a civil partnership in 2016. They began work on what became a children’s media company, Timbuktu Labs, and eventually won awards that sent them to San Francisco – the world of startups and Silicon Valley financing. At first, they were thrilled to be in the Bay Area, but the “bro culture” of Silicon Valley became oppressive: “We were always the only women in the room. We kept hearing that two girls alone will never raise serious capital.” In 2015 Favilli wrote an article on Silicon Valley sexism for the Guardian. She was shocked at many below-the-line comments and received a death threat on Twitter: “At first you think it’s nothing, but it’s not nothing … it’s scary.” The response to the article, Favilli says, “pushed me even more to think that our next project should target girls and give them a strong, empowering message”. The books are “definitely connected” to their Silicon Valley years: “We always say that Rebel Girls comes from a very personal place, but it is not just joyful and celebratory – it is also a place of pain.” Having failed to attract further investment in their startup, and unimpressed with traditional publishing, Favilli and Cavallo – by now in LA – turned to crowdfunding, and eventually raised $1m in pre-sales on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Not every reader has been smitten. Some criticised the inclusion in the first volume of Aung San Suu Kyi, given the Rohingya persecution, and Margaret Thatcher. Defending Thatcher’s inclusion, Cavallo stresses that they wanted to “stay away from saints”, religious or secular: “We study men in history even if they were far from perfect … girls are taught to be likeable at all times, and that is one of the strongest limits we place on the leadership of women.” The book, its authors feel, “captured a moment in history”. During its launch year, 2016, “something was building. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was, for us, a catalyst. We felt Rebel Girls was so needed, so timely.” Clinton was included in the first volume. (The politician has written to the authors to thank them for “fighting gender stereotypes”.) Rebel Girls is “bigger than us”, its authors insist – it takes its place “in a wider conversation” that includes the #MeToo movement. Among the protesters who took to American streets In January for the Women’s March (marking a year since the inauguration of President Trump) were some who held “Rebel Girls” signs. “We are proud that our book has become a symbol of resistance,” Cavallo says. For Favilli, seeing the protest signs had an even bigger effect: “Honestly, I was speechless. When people use your title as a hashtag to describe themselves, and then it’s displayed on signs on a march, it means your work has really become a part of the public imagination.” Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 is published by Timbuktu 38 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Culture ‘I have a chip on my shoulder about Hollywood’ James Cromwell’s activism has come to eclipse his acting career, explains Emma Brockes J ames Cromwell, veteran actor, Oscar nominee and star of LA Confidential and The Green Mile, is listing what he hates about Hollywood. “I don’t like the system,” he says. “I don’t like what it does to people. I don’t like the values. I don’t like the class system. I don’t like the disparity in pay, for men and women, and men and men.” He smiles. “I have a chip on my shoulder about Hollywood.” Cromwell, at 78, might be assumed to have shed any youthful inhibitions about speaking his mind. In fact, he says, he has always been awkward, particularly when starting out. “I had issues with authority and made myself fairly unpopular in almost every theatre.” Not only was he “terminally stupid”, he had a temper. On the set of 1997’s LA Confidential, Cromwell disagreed with the director Curtis Hanson over a line. “I cursed him,” he recalls. “I kicked dirt. I punched the car.” He has been married three times, and currently lives with his wife Anna in a cabin in upstate New York; when I visit it is blanketed in snow. Cromwell comes to the door – a towering two metres tall with the face of an Easter Island statue – says hi then turns to go and haul logs in for the fire. The thing people say to Cromwell in the street is: “Don’t tell me. What were you in? You’re that guy!” The last time Cromwell was in jail – he has been arrested many times for his activism, most recently for protesting against fracking – he says: “They all knew my face. ‘Hey, he’s the guy in The Green Mile!’ I was always ‘the guy’.” Much to his amusement, Cromwell’s best-known role is probably as Farmer Hoggett in 1995’s Babe, about a cute pig that wants to be a sheepdog. Made when he was 55, it became an unexpected hit. It was interacting with piglets on the set that started Cromwell thinking about animal rights, leading him to not only become a vegan, but to take up the fight for animals. More recently, he narrated Farm to Fridge, a 2011 documentary about the horror of the slaughterhouse, and in 2013 he was arrested for protesting against animal testing. He was also arrested in 2015 during a sit-in protest at a natural gas-fired power plant, spending three days in prison last year after refusing to pay a $375 fine for the incident. Shortly after the conclusion of his sentence, Cromwell was arrested again, this time for disrupting an orca show at Sea World. For many years now, acting has come second to his activism. While he will tell a wry story about crashing a Hollywood party and hanging out by the pool with Michael Caine and Sean Connery, he is happier explaining how fracking is being introduced across the US by stealth. The difficulty for Cromwell, and for any political activist, is that the vast majority of people would rather hear the one about the Hollywood party. Cromwell’s politics are rooted in his childhood. He grew up in Connecticut, where his family moved after his father, a Hollywood director who made more than 57 films, was blacklisted during the McCarthy era witch-hunts. His mother was an actor, but after his parents divorced she never acted again. His father, however, found a new footing in How the Tomatometer became film’s top critical banana T wenty years ago, the internet was a very different place. Google was a fresh rival to AltaVista and Lycos. Apple computers looked like boiled sweets, and we dialled up to “surf the net”. It was into this climate that Senh Duong launched Rotten Tomatoes. The idea was simple – to compile movie reviews – and it still drives Rotten Tomatoes. He was inspired by his love of Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies and would scour the internet looking for reviews of them. So why not put them in one place? Duong already had a full-time job, he says. “Rotten Tomatoes was a side project I worked on in the evenings.” He single-handedly designed and coded the site in just two weeks. “It was very laborious. Every page was manually assembled using HTML. Every review was manually searched for, read and quoted.” The “Tomatometer” separates movies into “fresh” or “rotten”. If at least 60% of a movie’s reviews are positive, it is graded “fresh”, signified by a ripe, red tomato. Less than 60% and it is “rotten”, signified by a green splat. Over 75% gets you a “certified fresh” logo. Today, movies supposedly live or die by the ripeness of that virtual fruit. With its dominance and prominence, Rotten Tomatoes is becoming the story – and not always in a good way. After Lady Bird got its 100% score, for example, one critic opted to lob a green splat into the mix, not because he hated the movie, but because everyone else liked it so much. “I had to consider nsider whether to cast Lady Bird as fresh or rotten ten in the context of a perfect score that people were using to trumpet Lady Bird as the all-time best-reviewed movie on RT,” Cole e Smithey tweeted. Duong left Rotten Tomatoes in 2007 to pursue other digital media projects. “When nI started it,” he recalls, “I was only thinking of its positive impact – that it could be really useful to film fans. And to studios: they could use The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 39 Ready for the fight … James Cromwell the activist, main and below; below left, as Farmer Hoggett in Babe Mario Anzuoni/Reuters the New York theatre world. “He never lost the best part of him, which was to be a member of an artistic community that supported each other and cared about the work. He never found that in the studio system. All my father’s friends cut him dead. They would pass him and not look at him.” John Cromwell, he points out, was not a communist, but a middle-of-the-road liberal. Young Cromwell’s first big test came when he joined a production of Waiting for Godot as it toured the segregated south. It was 1963 and the company played to mainly black audiences and were occasionally nally surrounded by armed guardss out of fear that white supremacists would firebomb mb their venue. Cromwell was first arrested d at a Vietnam warr protest in 1971. Given n his father’s blacklisting, sting, has Cromwell ever hesitated to join a protest because of how it might affect his career? He smiles and, after a long pause, says: “Once. Somebody approached me in LA to protect the Ballona Wetlands. They were going to develop them. One of the developers was Steven Spielberg, who wanted to put his studio out there. I went out and did a tour. It was incredible. The wetlands were magic. I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’” Next he received a call from an actor who asked: “Jamie, there’s probably no such thing as the blacklist any more. But supposing your name comes up at Spielberg’s DreamWorks and they say what about Jamie Cromwell for that part, and somebody goes, ‘Is he the guy who’s trying to block the building of our studio?’ “I thought, ‘Ah, shit. I’ve got all these kids and school and college.’ So I called them up and said, ‘I’ll give you money and come to the protests, but I can’t be your front man because my position in the industry is not secure enough.’ About a week later I see a news report: a celebrity has chained himself to one of the fences out there and it’s Martin Sheen. And I thought, ‘God damn it!’” How did he feel? “I felt like a horse’s ass – although Martin could get away with that because he was a huge star and The West Wing was at its height. I wasn’t and haven’t been. But I felt that I had flinched. And I said I’m never going to flinch again.” And he hasn’t. hasn Cromwell’s own star has risen steadily. In the last 20 years he’s appeared in The Artis Artist, Spider-Man 3, The Queen, Big Hero 6, 2 24 and, this summer, the sequel to The sick feeling he got from Jurassic World. Wo abandoning his principles never left him, abandonin though. When he and Anna – an actor he has been be married to for four years, although they have known each other thoug for 35 – moved to this cabin, the first thing Cromwell said to her was: “Do you want w to be involved?” He meant local activism because “there’s got to be issues – something out here”. Sure en enough they found their target: a power plant that tha activists suspected was being fuelled by frackin fracking, as part of a huge semi-covert system. “If you see a map of the country,” he for the 300 plants says, “with the infrastructure in they’re planning planning, it’s like a spider’s web over the United States. It isn’t benign.” And he’s off, eyes ablaze, ready for the fight. the Tomatometer to promote their good films. I wasn’t thinking at all about how they would react to the poorly reviewed ones.” The system favours safety and consensus. As well as movies, Rotten Tomatoes is grading g the critics: if a reviewer goes against the grain, the Tomatometer score is “proof” that they are ar “wrong”. “It’s self-censorship,” says Steven Gaydos, the executive editor of Variety. “Critics have trained themselves to [pretend “Criti to] take seriously movies that they don’t take seriously because the danger is not having a job and not being ‘relevant’, being aged out of the discussion.” Gaydos’s fear is that Rotten Tomatoes is replacing nuanced, thoughtful film writing. “We used to read Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael arguing, and now we’re looking at a picture of a green tomato or a red tomato. We have to see what we’ve lost here, people!” Film-makers have expressed similar sentiments. Martin Scorsese complained that sites such as Rotten Tomatoes have “absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism … The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer.” Others disagree. The New Yorker critic Richard Brody argued that Rotten Tomatoes “has the merit of putting reviews by critics who write for smaller outlets alongside those who write for more prominent ones, which is all to the good”. When Duong created Rotten Tomatoes in 1998, Hollywood released more titles than it does now, and they were reviewed by a handful of significant critics: major newspapers and magazines, syndicated critics such as Siskel and Ebert. The media elite, you could say. Today, the situation has flipped. Hollywood releases fewer movies and they are reviewed by hundreds, possibly thousands, of critics. You could see this as democratisation and diversity of the media, or the emergence of a cacophony of critical voices. Depending on how you look at it, Rotten Tomatoes either showcases organic, heirloom varieties like an upmarket grocery store, or it blends all difference into one easily digestible puree. The fruit is either half-ripe or half-rotten; it’s all a matter of taste. Steve Rose W its dominance With and prominence, an Rotten Tomatoes is Ro becoming the story bec 40 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Culture Oh, what a performance gender can be Extraordinary and mundane … portrait of CrunCrun, a burlesque comedian, taken in Avignon in 1900; two captured French soldiers pose in a German prisoner of war camp in 1915 Adrian Searle is transﬁxed by a new show that reveals a secret history of cross-dressing A girlfriend of mine once attended a drag-king workshop. I saw the photographs: her pasted- on moustache and sideburns, her breast-bindings, her plaid shirt, the prosthetic bulge in her leather trousers. “Seeing myself as a man,” she said, “made me realise how constructed my femininity was.” Her mother went, too. It was play but more than play. When I wear a skirt or paint my nails, it signifies resistance to a normative masculinity I have never wanted. It attests to something beyond the binary. What a performance gender is. There is an urgency to the 200 or so images in Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers, which is at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. These amateur images, taken between the 1880s and the 1980s, belong to the French director Sébastien Lifshitz, who put the collection together after making Wild Side (2004), a film about the life of a transsexual woman. “My classification was extremely simplistic,” Lifshitz wrote when the exhibition opened in Arles in 2016. “All individuals wearing the other gender’s clothes were put in the same box. I would later discover that things were much more complex than that.” One is certainly struck by the insufficiency of two genders. There is also the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of reading motives, because these images go beyond mere dressing up. They are to do with the self-creation of identity. Even at its most playful, this constitutes a stepping away from what one has been given. Today, the terminology proliferates in ways that would have been unimaginable to the subjects here. An entire spectrum of human Courtesy of Sebastien Lifshitz and The Photographers’ Gallery possibilities, however, is implicit among these images of male and female transvestites, trans men and women, the cisgendered and the genderqueer, straights, gays, lesbians, the pan-gendered, the gender-fluid and the gender-neutral. A housemaid and a young man – maybe a lad on an errand – fl irt before a vase of flowers. Both are women. So, too, is the bloke loitering with cigarette and walking cane in the park. The steps and urns behind him are a studio backdrop. Four other women pose as soldiers and their floozies. Another pair, both men, pose for a double portrait, looking like a pair of young women out for a walk in the country. They’re Frenchmen in a prisonerof-war camp in Germany in 1915. What is the story here? Why are they looking so serious? For all their everyday manners, their heads leaning together in this oval keepsake, how vertiginous and unknowable the image becomes. Indeed, while many of the photographs are celebratory, we can rarely glean what motivated any of the subjects, except to say they all find themselves in conflict with the norms, expectations and laws of their time. It may be play acting, entertainment, a temporary escape, a desire to put oneself in the place of the “other” – men as women, women as men, or somewhere less defined. There is a great deal of humour and pleasure in the images, which are mostly from France, Germany and the US. The ambiguities redouble the more one looks. Devoid of backstory, the images dare you to look at them, and the people in them look back with a mixture of self-consciousness and confidence – or they look elsewhere, pensive, as if caught unawares. Performing for themselves, for each other and for the camera, their roles are frequently stereotypical of their times. Some photos are souvenirs of dressing-up parties. Others are in the style of movie pin-ups, cabaret posters, or hand-coloured postcard vignettes. The camera affirms that these people exist, with their parasols and fabulous hats, at a transvestite hotel, wearing their 1950s industrial-strength lipstick. Alone at home or out on the porch, in their terrific and not so terrific makeup, all of them are just trying to be in the world. Whether convincing or unconvincing, they are almost always touching, astonishing, tender, melancholy, vulnerable and haughty. Some images are undoubtedly selfies, taken with a timer, while in others we imagine the photographer in the room or the studio, out by the barn or in some other outdoor setting, recording the acting out of the stories of these alternative lives. Some images have a real sense of necessity, an authenticity that needed to be claimed and marked. Looking at these amateur images (although the word amateur does not always seem quite right), we become implicated as soon as we begin to imagine their stories. These photographs celebrate lives and desires, possibilities and necessities. The images were made to be looked at, we imagine, by their subjects, giving their self-images a greater validation, affirmation and confirmation than the mirror alone can provide. The photograph is a mediation between the self and the world, as symbolic as it is a record of a moment and a state of being. Many of these are very ordinary portraits and group shots, the kind you’d pass over in a family album until you look more closely. How unremarkable these pictures are, until we realise how precise they are in their studied ordinariness. Even the captions – The new sweater I made; My new sewing machine and cabinet; Just got home from church with new yellow shirt – attest to a conventional life. She is recording herself, doing what ordinary women do. Is there a difference between posing and being? Convention, with all its trappings, is just another kind of performance. Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers is at the Photographers’ Gallery, London, until 3 June The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 41 Culture Reviews Stage The Best Man Television Flint Town A police car cuts through a bleak, frozen night-time cityscape. It’s beautifully and cinematically shot from above. Flashing lights and sirens are switched on; it’s responding to a shooting. We’re in Flint, Michigan which, since its boom in the 1950s and 60s, has suffered blow after blow. The decline of the auto industry and the withdrawal of General Motors, deindustrialisation, disinvestment, depopulation, urban decay, drugs, poverty, and a whole lot of crime. Not enough? Throw in a public health crisis as well. The water supply became toxic after a policy decision that was supposed to save money. Kick them when they’re on their knees. Well, slowly poison them, to be precise. Where better place to set an observational documentary series from the point of view of police? The force is at breaking point, with crippling cuts, soaring crime and a community that’s losing faith in them. There are nine cars to patrol the city, officers numbers are down from 300 to 98. There are some good characters among those 98 though. Bridgette Balasko saw her first stabbing on the first day in the job, her first homicide on day four. Now she can’t remember the last time she was bothered by a dead body. Robert Frost is there for exactly those reasons. “The Rock & pop First Aid Kit “ T his one’s a fuckin’ banger!” a gruff voice hollers from the belly of the Glasgow Academy’s sold-out hall. Scandinavian sisters First Aid Kit just introduced new song Fireworks and its swooning, 50s-inspired waltz through unpursued dreams is, admittedly, far from a party starter. But such is the showmanship of Johanna and Klara Söderberg. The sisters are professional people-pleasers, swigging the idiosyncratic Scottish soft drink Irn-Bru and chatting rugby scores in between an otherwise tightly rehearsed, slick show. The folk-pop duo’s fourth album, Ruins, is ostensibly a break-up album. In the four years since their last LP, Klara broke up with her partner, Netflix I attraction of Flint was this is where the action was, the violence,” he says. When Frost retires, he wants to be able to say: “Hell I lived it, I went through the worst and I survived.” Observational documentary is made by interesting characters, as well as by what’s going on. This has both. So much going on in the police force, in the city: a crisis meeting with the community who, as a police officer says, “don’t give a fuck about what our current union crisis is or pay or whatever, they need help”; a visit from Bernie Sanders; the police Christmas party; the election of a new mayor and a new police chief; a tracking dog, called Sonitrol after the security company that paid for it. They have to find innovative ways of doing things in Flint. And all of that in the first episode. Brutal, unflinching, real, Flint Town is so rich it’s almost impossible to binge. You need to pause between courses, to take it in, even if a lot of is hard to digest. Beautiful to look at though, the camera cruises slowly and past extreme urban dereliction. Not forgetting the crime, of course. A robbery and assault leaves a man needing 16 stitches. A reckless driver is pulled up, three times over the limit. And that shooting; now a young man lies lifeless in the snow. “He’s my son!” wails his distraught mother. Turns out he was 16. Sam Wollaston Flint Town is streaming on Netflix moved back to Stockholm and nd reunited with Johanna. On grandiose opener Rebel Heart, Klara lara sings with a clenched jaw about bout the bad habits that a heart can an still desire. And later, on To Live a Life, she stands solitary in the spotlight. otlight. “I’m alone now,” she shares, with an aura of real pain. For Emmylou, a fan favourite rite, a short film documents their sisteristerhood. As they sing for the room om it’s clear that really, they’re singing ng for each other. The Academy swells ells as 2,000 voices join the chorus. us. There’s rare power in a performance rmance this heartfelt. Katie Hawthorne ne Touring worldwide until August st t has taken Gore Vidal’s highly entertaining drama about US presidential politics, premiered on Broadway in 1960, a long time to reach the British stage. As a result, it seems both nostalgic and topical. It takes one back to the age of the well-tailored play and a time when political conventions were contests, rather than coronations. Yet, with its reminder that “to want power is corruption already”, it chimes with present-day cynicism about the political process. Vidal, who twice stood for office as a Democrat and was born into the political purple, writes with inside knowledge. His setting is a Philadelphia hotel during a party convention where two candidates are fighting to achieve the presidential nomination. The apparent frontrunner, Bill Russell, combines the sophistication of Adlai Stevenson, the 1950s Democratic candidate twice defeated by Eisenhower, with the womanising tendencies of JFK and the wit of Vidal himself. Russell’s opponent, Joseph Cantwell, is a selfeducated senator from the south who has made his name through chairing a McCarthyite committee that has supposedly destroyed the mafia through ruthless interrogation within New York’s Sicilian community. Both men, however, are bidding for endorsement by an ailing ex-president. Vidal’s sympathies are too palpably with Russell, who is presented as a man of flawed integrity. While acknowledging the importance of potential first ladies, the play also never fully explores the characters of the candidates’ wives: you wonder how much Cantwell’s wife knows about her husband’s ambivalent sexual past. Vidal captures well the machinations that are inseparable from politics – not only the backstairs manoeuvres but the hypocrisy that allows the agnostic ex-president to recall that, to woo the electorate, “you had to pour God over everything like a ketchup”. As the director, Simon Evans, points out, this is politics seen from the vantage point of what in Hamilton is called “the room where it happens”. Evans’s production also does its best to even out the contest between the candidates. Russell is obviously the more likable, but Martin Shaw, pictured with Maureen Lipman, invests him with a touch h of in intellectual condescension and, although althou he protests, “I am not suggests there are Prince Hamlet”, Ham limits to p principled vacillation. It is a performance well matched by strong pe Fahey, who plays Cantwell as a Jeff Fah street street-fighter who views the entitlem tlement of liberals with disdain. In a play generous in support porting roles, Jack Shepherd alm almost steals the show as the ex-president who shrouds his ex-p nativ native shrewdness under the guise o of a hick from the sticks. Lipman gives a hiAnd Maureen M larious display of frosty elegance committee as a vote-swaying vo who wields power like a chair w female Richelieu. Formally, this is an old-fashFor ioned play. But Vidal has a spiky awaren awareness of the brutality of politics. Michael Billington politic At tthe Playhouse, London, until 26 May un 42 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Diversions Notes & Queries Nature watch Claxton, Norfolk No matter what day I drive in, there is always awful traffic the sound of the birds singing again, the sight of the buds bursting and the feel of the sun on my face. Joan Dawson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Is the rule still “Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today”? On the contrary, the message is consume jam now, hell for leather, and deny existential threats like climate change. Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia • My rheumatics – which leave when it’s warm enough for the leaves to appear. Martin Bryan, Churchdown, UK • Here in Vermont it would have to be my hearing that alerts me to spring. The first bubbling calls of the red-winged blackbirds are a sure sign that warmer days are about to come. Doreen Forney, Pownal, Vermont, US • If we are talking traffic jams, it still holds true. John Benseman, Auckland, New Zealand • It’s still the rule for pessimists. Optimists say: “and jam today”. David Turner, Bellevue Heights, South Australia • Although there are those who continue to deny what we are doing to our world, we were in a jam yesterday, we are in a jam today and we will still be in a jam tomorrow. Margaret Wyeth, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada With lions, both are helpful Document: what came first, the verb or the noun? Children usually use nouns first and develop their speech with verbs later. David Tucker, Halle, Germany • “Verb” begins with “v” and “noun” begins with “n”, so it seems the noun always comes first. Avril Taylor, Dundas, Ontario, Canada • The noun: it’s best to think about things before we act. George Gatenby, Adelaide, South Australia We have it today ... jam • A moot question. Out on the early savannah, “Lion! Lion!” would have served just as well as “Flee! Flee!” John Geffroy, Las Vegas, New Mexico, US • “Verb” is a noun, and nouns can do nothing by themselves. Verbs and nouns have always needed each other, and came together. Edward P Wolfers, Austinmer, NSW, Australia • The noun. Chicken and egg are both nouns. Lawrence Fotheringham, Chatham, Ontario, Canada • The Romans used it first as a noun but didn’t document the fact. David Isaacs, Sydney, Australia I am relieved every year Which of the senses convinces you most strongly that it is spring? A cynical friend used to say it was the smell of the dog poo coming out of the melting snow. But I think it’s • My sense of relief. Victor Nerenberg, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, Canada • Smell: when the sticky buds of the balsam poplars quicken and send their perfume in the air, then it is spring. William Emigh, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada More Notes & Queries See additional answers online bit.ly/notesandqueries Any answers? Is it possible that honesty is not the best policy? E Slack, L’Isle Jourdain, France Is there a garden plant or shrub that is extra special for you? William Emigh, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada Send answers to weekly.nandq@ theguardian.com or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Good to meet you Bryony Harris I first discovered the Guardian Weekly in 1997 when I moved from England to Norway. Knowing that I had been an avid reader of the daily Guardian, my mother, whose political leanings were very different, risked her reputation in her conservative village by ordering me a copy of GW each week. Later she found that she could buy me a subscription, and my habit was established. Starting at the back I read it methodically from end to end, so it can take a while before I get to the news. As it is often disturbing, I delay the warm comfort of Maslanka and the puzzles page until last. As I try to pick out my favourites, I realise that every section gives me something. The depth and breadth of the articles keep me abreast of world affairs. Nature watch evokes my expat’s nostalgia for the English countryside, and I gain inspiration from the Culture and Books pages. Then there’s Oliver Burkeman’s It is one of the more subtle attractions of our parish but its seasonal window is brief. It is composed of four very commonplace elements, but their convergence is as special and unpredictable as the arrival of a rare migrant. It is the reflection of the reeds in the water, which doesn’t sound like much but if conditions are perfect it acquires great beauty. The reed has to be dead and bled entirely of any green hint so that it is pretty much the colour of African savanna. I often think of it as “lion-flank beige”. The second ingredient is a sky of winter sunshine so bright that the reflected water of Carleton Beck is ringing blue. Third, I need breeze – preferably a south-westerly that carries the water towards the riverbank and its reed lining. Yet any more than force two to three and the image is a clouded blue shattered by surface movement. Or the reflected colours of common sense and the clever and pithy answers sent in by the Notes & Queries contributors. Who would believe there could be so much in one thin paper package? Changes in the Norwegian postal system mean that my GW arrives later than it used to, but that just gives me more time to look forward to it. At first it was a lifeline as I adjusted to living in a new country. Now it has become a trusted friend, but I still feel a thrill when I find it in my postbox. If you would like to appear in this space, send a brief note to firstname.lastname@example.org the reed ride only on surface ripples and one has a banded image that is pretty but conventional. Conversely, if there is too little breeze one gets an exact version of the reeds but upside down. There is momentary pleasure in these tricks of the light but they cannot sustain you. What is needed is for all these three elements to coalesce precisely. Then the reflected reed stems wander and deliquesce so that the surface vision ceases to have any similarity to its sources. If the reed lining is thick enough to exclude the reflected sky, then it seems as if one is looking into a soon-setting reservoir of molten gold. Should sky and reed actually blend in the reflection then they acquire some of the appearance of Victorian marbled endpapers, or those globular, indefinable entities beloved of Salvador Dali: melted watches or whaleheaded dreamers propped on poles. The gold and blue interplay and fold suggestive forms into and upon themselves without end. Then I – for I am the fourth element – can share in the magic, impelled to try to capture it in words or photographs as the subliminal chromatic signature for this whole landscape. Mark Cocker Read more Nature watch online bit.ly/naturewatch The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 43 Quick crossword 1 2 3 8 Cryptic crossword by Picaroon 4 5 6 7 9 10 11 12 14 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 Across 1 Large cask (4) 3 Established (8) 8 Affected in mannerisms (4) 9 Close aerial combat (8) 11 Conveying a reprimand (10) 14 Escort in transit (6) 15 Llama relative, valued for its wool (6) 17 Slovakian capital (10) 20 First – novel (8) 21 US civil rights leader, assassinated 1968 (4) 22 Underground prisons (8) 23 Heap of combustible material for burning a body (4) Down 1 Fortuitously (2,6) 2 Personally speaking (2,2,4) 4 Small rented Scottish farms (6) 5 Requiring no physical or mental exertion (10) 6 Clothes (informal) (4) 7 Love beyond reason (4) 10 Clear off ! (slang) (2,4,4) 12 Disaster (8) 13 Diatribe (8) 16 Overwork – melody (6) 18 Stand-offish (4) 19 Big cat (4) T A K E S T H E V E I L C O U C T D Y O O O R N G A X P E I S M E R O R S T V R I R A G I U N A T L D O S T E C A L D I I N T G E R E S W N O E R T S H S C E A G O M A S N W I T H M A R A I N G D D E S K E N S E R P C Y E A H C I A I N E E F E S S Last week’s solution, No 14,892 First published in the Guardian 6 February 2018, No 14,898 Across 8 Reserve hotel with flower in cool place (8) 9 Ambassador, found with smut, is calm (6) 10 Wader’s good sense on westward track (6) 11 Slate masons remove (8) 12 Dash in road, back to the start (4) 13 Landlord’s stewed tripe scoffed by approving soldiers (10) 15 Vain fellow with sense to wear jacket of organdie (2,2,3) 16 Sulphur and more acid in dish (7) 18 Worn after study, lawyers must don article (10) 19 Russian front east of Iceland’s capital (4) 20 Problem around heroin, with opportunity to shoot up (8) 22 Bent lawman gets round the law (6) 23 Wife gets joint that’s beef (6) 24 Pretender wants pastry, having uncovered buffet (8) Down 1 Perspective from train, even if stopping regularly (6,2,7) 2 Supply inn with hogsheads, now disclosing plans (7,4,4) 3 Judge and posh tax Futoshiki Medium ©Clarity Media Ltd 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. 2 > 1 ∧ 4 5 ∨ 3 2 1 5 5 2 3 < 4 ∨ 1 3 4 5 ∨ 4 > 3 > 2 ∨ ∧ 3 1 < 4 > Last week’s solution > < < ∧ > ∧ ∨ ∨ 1 5 ∨ 2 2 3 4 5 8 6 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23 4 5 6 7 14 17 21 22 24 criminal sat next to one another (10) Potent smell’s caught that’s representative of pupils (4,3) In the current circumstances, fool takes one in (2,2) English run grim economy badly: things’ll get ugly! (2,4,2,4,3) 2, perhaps, means 6 (3,6,3,3) Scientist’s lady’s cross, oppressed by dull routine (10) Like some leaves having two buds? (7) Outstanding poet’s encouragement to unite (4) First published in the Guardian 7 February 2018, No 27,426 A T K I S W H O J O W H B A L P I N G L C O V E C A A G S S Q U E E T U O E E Z E M E R E B S W O R T H O R H U P D I N T C C T H R O O M W L E N A C O L A D N R U O K A R T C O W P A T R E U N S P A R K A S N T H I N K S E C E B O X Y L O S A U R S F A D O Z I N G E A G A I C E D T R R H E E R S Last week’s solution, No 27,420 Sudoku classic Hard > ∧ 1 ∨ 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 16.03.18 Diversions Shortcuts Apple boﬃns fall foul of futuristic glass doors Employees at Apple Park, Apple’s grand new spaceship-style headquarters in California, keep walking into glass doors and windows. Despite warnings from a building inspector that people would not be able to tell where the door ends and the wall begins, at least three Apple employees walked or ran into the ultra-transparent glass hard enough to require emergency medical treatment during the first month of occupation, according to recordings of 911 calls obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle. Apple Park is a gigantic, $5bn four-storey glass and metal circular building designed by Norman Foster, where the glass has been specially treated to achieve an exact level of transparency and whiteness. The doorways reportedly have perfectly flat thresholds because “if engineers had to adjust their gait when entering the building, they risked distraction from their work”, according to a construction manager talking to Reuters. Employees have reportedly been dealing with the problem since Apple Park first opened in a limited capacity last year. According to Bloomberg, distracted workers on their iPhones have been walking into glass walls around office spaces, resorting to sticking yellow sticky notes on the glass doors to help. The notes were reportedly removed, however, because they detracted from the building’s design. Instead, Apple has reportedly had to resort to putting rectangular stickers on some of the glass to try to avoid further injuries. Birds flying into large panes of glass is a fairly common hazard, but people doing the same in an office is not. Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Samuel Gibbs Proof that you can’t rush a good sandwich If there is an easy way to do something, Benjamin Carle does not do it. So when the Frenchman wanted a sandwich, he set out to make one from scratch. From sowing the wheat for flour, to baking the bread, to building a vegetable garden on a Paris rooftop and fishing for tuna, to raising chickens for eggs. Ten months later, Carle, 30, had his sandwich, which he insisted tasted better for the effort expended to make it. It is not the first time Carle has made life difficult for himself. In 2013, he set out to live using only French-made products as part of a From scratch … Benjamin Carle and the sandwich that took 10 months TV documentary. He was declared 96.9% “made in France” after judges found six Ikea forks, a Chinese-made guitar and wall paint of unknown origin in his Paris apartment. Carle believes the mass-produced sandwich, 2bn of which are eaten every year in France, is a “symbol of a loss of savoir faire and rampant consumerism”. Kim Willsher Observer Oldest message in bottle found on beach A school in Tokyo that hit international headlines for introducing an optional Armani-branded uniform has been forced to hire security guards after several students were harassed over the expensive kit. Taimei primary school, in the wealthy Ginza district, brought in professional guards after at least three of its pupils encountered abusive strangers who pulled their uniforms or asked if they attended the school, a local district spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse. Japan’s streets are very safe, and guards are rarely seen at schools. “Security guards are patrolling area streets that pupils use in the morning and when they go home,” the spokeswoman said. The school faced criticism over its decision to adopt the designer uniforms from April. A full set costs parents around 80,000 yen ($750). Since the decision was publicised, at least one pupil had been confronted by an adult who pulled the child’s uniform, and said: “Is this Armani?”, the spokeswoman said. In two other cases, strangers asked pupils if they were from the school. Agence France-Presse The world’s oldest message in a bottle has been found on a beach in Western Australia. Tonya Illman found the 132-yearold gin bottle in the dunes near Wedge Island in January. Her husband, Kym Illman, said she had initially thought it was rubbish but picked it up because it would be at home on their bookshelf. Inside, she found a roll of paper printed in German and dated to 12 June 1886, which was authenticated by the Western Australian Museum. “It was an absolute fluke. It won’t get better than this,” said Kym. The bottle had been thrown overboard from the German sailing ship Paula in 1886 as it crossed the Indian Ocean, 950km from the Australian coast, according to Ross Anderson, the museum’s assistant curator of maritime archaeology. German ships were conducting a 69-year experiment that involved throwing thousands of bottles into the sea to track ocean currents. Each message was marked with the ship’s coordinates, the date and the name of the ship. Details from the Illmans’ message matched Paula’s maritime records, and Anderson compared handwriting samples with captain’s entries in Paula’s meteorological journal. “Incredibly, there was an entry for June 12, 1886, made by the captain, recording a drift bottle having been thrown overboard,” Anderson said. His finding was confirmed by experts at the German Naval Observatory. The previous record for oldest message in a bottle was 108 years. Naaman Zhou Wordplay Same Difference Wordpool Identify the words, the spelling of which differs only in letters shown: L***** (cream) M***** (gesture) N***** (concept) P***** (draught) Students dangerously too cool for school Maslanka puzzles 1 I walked in on Pedanticus jumping up and down on an article by a contemporary philosopher; the old fellow was yelling “Illuminati dolt! Illuminati!” Having distracted him with an offering of kataïfi I managed to sneak a peak at the headline of the offending article: “Does u the Illuminati control the world?” Now what could be wrong with that? 2 A sailor stuck on a Desert Island with only a monkey for company rescued a number of potatoes from the ship as it sank beneath the waves. Each day he gave the monkey a potato and ate half the number of potatoes remaining. If on the nth day the monkey got a potato and the sailor got nothing how many potatoes had he rescued from the ship? 3 In the far gentler Snowflake Olympics two identical hoops of radius R roll past each other. Each is travelling with the same speed, u, relative to the ground and one and the same u picture will suffice to show their relative positions just before they pass, and just after they pass. How long between the two times? In your head now! 4 Show that if you have n(n + 1)/2 black socks and n(n – 1)/2 white socks (n a positive integer greater than 1) your chances of withdrawing a matching pair at random are 1/2. Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka In each case find the correct definition: OGANESSON a) recursor of the church organ b) part of the cell that coordinates processes c) synthetic element with Atomic Number 118 d) aerosol of attar of roses Dropouts Replace each asterisk with a letter so that the sentence make sense: The S*U*E*T was *G*O*A*T of G*O*E*R*. Missing Links Find a word to follow the first word in each clue and precede the second, making a fresh word or phrase. Eg fish mix = cake (fishcake & cake mix) a) stray point b) sea board c) crash light d) cricket man e) magnetic try f) pan dies ©CMM2018. For solutions see page 47 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 45 Mind&Relationships Illustration by Michele Marconi A letter to … My mother: where are you? Oliver Burkeman Awkwardness isn’t anything to fear – it discards the facade and shows off the flaws that make us who we are As awkwardness feels unpleasant, it’s natural to want to overcome it – and Dahl’s initial motivation for her book, she writes, was to surmount her own. But after a journey through various awkward experiences (improv classes, talking to strangers, reading from her adolescent diaries to a theatre audience), she makes a persuasive case for celebrating it. We live in an era with more opportunity than ever to burnish the image we’re projecting, and more pressure than ever to do so. We live in an era with more opportunity than ever to burnish the image we’re projecting – and more pressure to do so But awkwardness pierces that facade, exposing ng the imperfect life behind it. It creates, in the words of the philosopher Adam Kotsko, “a weird kind of social bond” – a solidarity arising from seeing that behind the fakery, we’re all just trying our best to seem competent. The awkward you, then, is the real you, the one without the defensive performance. Dahl even hints that taking a friendlier attitude toward ward awkwardness might help us make the connec-tions we’ll require if we’re ever to break out off the polarisation currently ruining politics. Put a Trump voter and a Trump hater in a room to-er gether for a conversation, after all – or a Brexiter and a remainer – and at least they’ll agree on one thing: they’ll both feel pretty awkward. email@example.com Illustration by Lo Cole I n the late 1960s, the anthropologist Edmund Carpenter arrived in New Guinea armed with mirrors, video and Polaroid cameras, and a mission: to blow the minds of members of the Biami tribe, who had never seen full reflections or images of themselves. “They were paralysed,” he wrote later. “After their first startled response – covering their mouths and ducking their heads – they stood transfixed, staring at their images.” Like any of us, the Biami carried an inner image of themselves, but unlike us, it was formed without mirrors or photos. Carpenter’s devices disrupted that inner image, triggering discomfort. But not for long. Within days, “they groomed themselves openly before mirrors … In an astonishingly short time, these villagers … were making movies [and] taking Polaroid shots of each other.” If they weren’t technically posing for selfies all day, it was only through lack of the right gadgets. As Melissa Dahl points out in her brilliant book Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, just published in the US, it’s unclear if the Biami were really as unfamiliar with mirrors as Carpenter thought. But in any case, what’s striking isn’t how strange their reaction seems, but how relatable. You know how it feels when you make an amiable remark in a lift, but nobody responds? Or when two people greeting each other misjudge whether to go for a handshake, hug or social kiss? That’s the same awkwardness: “self-consciousness tinged with uncertainty”, as Dahl defines it. It’s “the feeling we get when someone’s presentation of themselves … is shown to be incompatible with reality in a way that can’t be smoothed over”. Suddenly, I see I’m viewed not as a friendly conversationalist, but as some weirdo who talks in lifts. The horror I feel is “the dread of catching a glimpse of my looking-glass self”. I must have done something terrible. Why else would you move house without telling me where to? I am left to guess what gross act I have perpetrated that would cause you to simply stop communicating with me. What did I do? Are you dead? How would I know? I can only guess that this stems from my continued contact with my father, your ex-husband. Your divorce when I was in my 20s was a curious affair. You left home in small degrees, on the pretext of visiting your parents in another county. Unbeknown to Dad, you were setting up a new home there. Then there was some peculiar arrangement where no one was supposed to know you and Dad were divorcing, so we couldn’t talk about it in front of him. Some years later, you came to my wedding. I had a son and you congratulated us, but all the while I had this sensation that everything I did was a disappointment to you. The fact that I was still in touch with Dad was clearly a problem. Then I got a call from my brother: I should cease contact with Dad immediately, he said. But no indication of why. And that encapsulates the strange nature of our family. What did Dad do that was so terrible? What I do know is that, in the 70s, Dad disappeared for a year. I never knew why. One day two men turned up and took you into the kitchen. What news did they impart that made you look so desolate? Dad eventually came back and everything seemed to return to normal. On the rare occasion that I see him now, the last thing I want to do is ruin a visit by dredging up what is prob probably a painful episode. I am the only family member still in touch with him, so he enjoys my visits immensely; imm I feel that tackling this issue would be ungrac ungracious. I suppose I also fear tha that whatever answer he does g give may be something I don’t want to hear. You and I last spoke on the the phone ph 10 years ago. The last tim time I saw you, our son was a toddler. All I have left is is an email address, but nothin nothing I send there now is ackno acknowledged. You are still my mother and I still llove you. But you have chosen to edit yourself out of m my life. Even if we never spoke again, I would llike to understand why. 46 The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 Sport Ireland reboot after Six Nations victory Joe Schmidt sets sights on grand slam after 28-8 win over Scotland Rugby union Michael Aylwin Dublin They are Six Nations champions, but the real business awaits at Twickenham. Ireland went through that curious half-climax last Saturday of winning a title dressed in suits in a stadium, willing on others to secure them the booty. It is not quite the experience red of tooth and claw that players and fans crave, in the moment and on the field, but to complete the grand slam by beating England this weekend would be. A 28-8 victory for the Irish over Scotland, followed by France’s 22-16 win over England in Paris, confirmed Joe Schmidt’s side as champions. Given the circumstances the Ireland onfessed to the semicoach almost confessed ure of this latest trisatisfactory nature umph, a third Six Nations title m his tenure tenure.. As out of five from is first, the 2014 things stand, his championship, won on the field n O’Driscoll’s in Paris in Brian mains his last game, remains ory. favourite memory. bably, “It’s still probably, dare I say it, the ” he most special,” said. “We won it the moment we finished ished h guys the game, with on the pitch at the time. Since then, in 2015, 015, we were ng at Uini Atoin suits shouting nio to keep the e ball and not let it squirt outt of the ruck, ought England because we thought might score. We’re cheering on one team to beat another, and we have no control. Today it was similar. Same two teams, different result, but to give us that clear air, to go to Twickenham with the championship, it’s an incredible relief.” There would have been no screaming at the screen this time. England had to beat France in Paris with a bonus point to stand any chance of denying Ireland the title. It was clear from a fairly early stage that the requisite four tries were not going to be scored, however close England came to securing the win at the death. So Ireland would have known without knowing for the best part of an hour. No wonder if the experience was curiously flat. The real business for Ireland had taken place on the field, showing themselves to be too powerful and too direct for a Scotland team who played exactly as we knew they would. Where every outrageous pass had found its mark in victory against England two weeks ago, here h they went astray, disastrously so in the Horne’s cut22nd minute when Peter Ho out pass was intercepted by Jacob Stockdale for the game’ game’s first try, Scotland seemed just as Scotlan likely to bu build on the 3-0 lead they held at the time. tim Then it was agonisingly so, agonisi when H Huw Jones inexplica inexplicably failed Hogg to find Stuart Stu on his shoulder shou a few minutes later, or when Horne failed to find Jones or Blair Kinghorn Kingho on his after another bri brilliant passecond half. sage in the sec It seemed harder hard not to Flat out … Ireland beat Scotland to become Six Nations champions after England, led by Owen Farrell, below, were defeated by France in Paris PA score either of those, and had they scored either the game might have looked very different; had they scored both Scotland might even have won. Gregor Townsend was phlegmatic, encouraged by a performance he described as “miles ahead” of their capitulation in Cardiff in round one. Nevertheless, their failure to win a meaningful fixture on the road in the Six Nations continues. But increasingly it is looking as much a reflection on the benefits of home advantage in this competition as it is any fundamental failings on Scotland’s part. Which would make a grand slam for Ireland quite the achievement, were they to prevail at Twickenham. As it is, this 11th consecutive win since they lost against Wales in the champi- onship last season represents an Irish record. If Ireland want to beat and/ or emulate England, they might consider a grand slam ideal preparation for their three-Test tour of Australia this summer. Win all those, and the world record of 18 held by New Zealand and England will appear on the Standings P W D L F A B Pts Ireland (C) 4 4 0 0 136 67 3 Wales 4 2 0 2 105 70 3 England 4 2 0 2 87 68 2 France 4 2 0 2 95 80 2 Scotland 4 2 0 2 72 101 0 Italy 4 0 0 4 65 174 0 Final round fixtures: Italy v Scotland; England v Ireland; Wales v France 19 11 10 10 8 0 This World Cup conspiracy is one Mourinho should love Inside sport Paul MacInnes H aving seen José Mourinho slumped at a desk at Crystal Palace’s ground last Monday, looking as if he had been stuck on a coach for 72 hours at a ferry port, imagine my surprise when I got home and logged on to the RT YouTube channel. There the Manchester United manager was, clean shaven, in a fashionable fleece, and actually smiling. He was joining a broadcaster, that has rights to show precisely none of this summer’s World Cup, as a pundit. But why? One field in which the channel is an undoubted leader is in the peddling of conspiracy theory. Whether it be local matters, such as the Russian invasion of Crimea actually being perpetrated by patriotic Ukrainians, or international happenings such as whether the CIA invented Ebola, RT breaks the story and breaks it big. Mourinho has been known to talk of conspiracy himself. There’s the Uefa one that led to him having a man sent off pretty much every time his team were within reach of a European trophy. “I went to Inter and played a Champions League semi-final with 10 men against Barcelona,” he said in 2013. “I go to Real Madrid, I played again a Champions League semi-final with 10 men. Now I come back to Chelsea and played a Super Cup final with 10 men. Go to analyse the actions and make your conclusions. I’m unlucky. Just that.” The same applies to his theory that referees love to send him to the stands for mouthing off. “Yesterday one fourth official told a manager: ‘I enjoy very much your passion,’” he said last year. “Today I was told: ‘Sit down or I have to send you to the stands.’ Everything is different for me.” The Guardian Weekly 16.03.18 47 Sport in brief • Kagiso Rabada’s fourth 10-wicket match haul in only 28 cricket Test matches propelled South Africa to a six-wicket victory over Australia in Port Elizabeth, but it could prove to be his last action of the series. The 22-year-old claimed six for 54 in a furious second-innings return that ended Australia’s innings at 239, and 11 for 150 in the match overall. He left his side chasing only 101 for victory, and AB de Villiers top-scored with 28 as they knocked off the target despite losing four wickets. The series is now tied 1-1, but Rabada’s conduct throughout the second Test earned him two conduct breaches, and now he may be banned for the final two matches. In one-day cricket, England sealed a 3-2 series win in New Zealand after Jonny Bairstow’s century guided the tourists to a seven-wicket win in Christchurch. The sides now move on to a two-Test series beginning on 22 March. Meanwhile, on the scheduling of his team’s matches during the Christmas period: “You television companies make the decisions and we have to accept,” he said in January. “I believe you make the decisions but I also believe that some clubs, or some managers, have good friends in the right chairs and I don’t have them.” Yet José is going to Russia for only four days at the start of the World Cup. He will also phone in (literally) his thoughts on the final. In return he will get a reported £1.7m ($2.3m). Make no mistake, José is the beneficiary of this deal. Vladimir Putin and the Russian state come only second. second with fellow American Patrick Reed (68), who made an embarrassing bogey at the last when his first putt failed to make it up the hill and rolled all the way back to his feet. Casey’s 65, for a 10-under 274, was enough for his second victory on the PGA Tour. Even so, Woods’s performance has raised expectations for next month’s Masters. He is now among the favourites after being a 100-1 shot just a few weeks ago. Chess • The England striker Harry Kane was facing a prolonged period out of action and could miss the World Cup after sustaining an ankle injury in Tottenham Hotspur’s 4-1 Premier League victory at Bournemouth. Kane missed 14 matches last season having twice hurt the same joint. Maslanka solutions Leonard Barden 8 The world championship candidates tournament in Berlin this month will decide who becomes the challenger for Magnus Carlsen for the Norwegian’s world crown in London in November. Who will win? Levon Aronian is a popular choice, after the 35-year-old scored major successes in 2017. Vlad Kramnik is a former world champion, but at age 42 his game is more uneven than in his best years. Of the two Americans, Fabiano Caruana missed becoming the 2016 candidate only in the final round, but his recent form is less than convincing. Wesley So, at 24, is the youngest candidate and may need more experience. Shak Mamedyarov is the current world No 2, yet there is an impression that his style lacks soundness. Alex Grischuk has played in several candidates without winning. Ding Liren is the first candidate from China, and is reckoned the outsider. Beijing is hungry for global success, and Ding will have been prepared in depth for his big chance. Sergey Karjakin won the 2016 candidates, and had a real opportunity at one moment in the championship 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 a b c d e f g h 3557 Vishy Anand v Alex Grischuk, Tal Memorial, 2018. How did White win? match in New York to take Carlsen’s crown. Here he exploits the Israel No 1’s small errors. The fatal error was 20...Be4? (better Qh4). Sergey Karjakin v Boris Gelfand, Tal Memorial blitz 2018 1 b3 e5 2 Bb2 Nc6 3 e3 d6 4 c4 g6 5 Nf3 Bg7 6 Be2 Nf6 7 d4 O-O 8 O-O Bf5 9 h3 h6 10 a3 Re8 11 d5 Nb8?! 12 Nc3 Ne4?! 13 Nxe4 Bxe4 14 Nd2 Bf5 15 b4 a5 16 Bc3 Na6 17 Nb3 axb4 18 axb4 Qg5 19 Kh2 h5 20 Qd2 Be4? 21 f3! Bf5 22 e4 Qxd2 23 Bxd2 Bd7 24 c5! dxc5 25 b5! 1-0 3557 Ng5+! hxg5 2 Rxf7+! Qxf7 3 hxg5+ Kg7 4 Qh6 mate. horizon. Ireland’s autumn is still up in the air, but none other than New Zealand are confirmed visitors to Dublin on the third weekend of the window – which would represent game number 18 since that defeat in Wales last year. A fair bit remains to do till then, though. Ireland are so meticulous with the old one-game-at-a-time axiom, their focus is entirely on Twickenham. Johnny Sexton spoke of what a grand slam – even the Triple Crown – would mean to him, his eightyear quest for one coming to nought since he made his Test debut the autumn after Ireland won only their second grand slam, in 2009. Schmidt himself is wary of England. “They’ll be incredibly keen to deny us what we denied them last year,” he said. “They’ll know we’re coming, and they’ll be ready.” Victory number 12 will not come cheaply. • England’s Paul Casey surged to victory at the Valspar Championship in Florida as Tiger Woods finished one stroke behind in a tie for second. Woods, the 14-time major champion seeking his first victory since 2013, closed with 70 and had to settle for Fiery … Kagiso Rabada took 11 for 150 • European football endured a traumatic weekend as tensions spilled on to the pitch. In the English Premier League, West Ham United’s 3-0 home defeat by Burnley was marred by four pitch invasions, angry fans gathering in front of the directors’ box to vent their feelings, and the police receiving two assault allegations. In France’s Ligue 1, stewards restrained Lille fans from attacking players following a 1-1 draw with Montpellier. Meanwhile in Greece, a disallowed goal in a Superleague game between Paok Salonika and AEK Athens led to a pitch invasion by Paok’s owner Ivan Savvidis, who appeared to be carrying a gun. The game was called off, and on Tuesday the entire league was suspended. Deputy sports minister Giorgos Vasiliadis said: “It won’t restart unless there is a clear framework, agreed by all, to move forward with conditions and rules.” 1 It’s one Illuminatus, two Illuminati. The Illuminati are plural. Although we often switch between singular and plural with English collective nouns (the government are at each other’s throats; or the government is undecided) things are not so simple with Latin and Italian loanwords. You wouldn’t say an alumni. 2 There are many ways; here’s one which will be useful in more complicated problems. Here we have addition and multiplication in alternation and it is useful to split the N spuds into two heaps. This is because subtraction can take place “locally”, ie from any group of the spuds, but multiplication and division are distributive and affect each of the total number of spuds; so split the number of spuds into two groups: one of which is the set S from which the monkey gets his daily spud — and the rest of the spuds, R. This is always a possible move, but it is only useful because we can arrange for S to be constant over any number of cycles; that is, it stays the same when we subtract 1 and divide by 2. We do this by setting S = -1, and R = N + 1. Giving the monkey a potato from S leaves -2. Halving this (along with the rest of the potatoes) leaves S = -1 again. Then R is unaffected by subtraction but is affected only by halving. The number of spuds is thus: N = R + (-1) Now R has to be capable of being halved n times, so the general solution must be N = 2n – 1. 3 Ignore the rolling. Relative to the left one the right one travels 4R at a speed of 2u, and so takes a time of 4R/2u = 2R/u. 4 You either get a mixed pair or a matching pair. Total number of socks = n2. Chances of a non-matching pair are: 2[(n(n + 1))/2 X (n(n –1))/2]/[(n2). (n2 – 1)] = 1/2; so the chances of a matching pair are 1/2. Wordpool c) Dropouts The STUDENT was IGNORANT of GEOMETRY. Same Difference LOTION, MOTION, NOTION, POTION. Missing Links a) stray/bullet/point; b) sea/side/ board; c) crash/landing/light; d) cricket/bat/ man; e) magnetic/tapes/try; f) pan/dan/dies 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 Rebels return More stories to inspire next-generation girls Books, page 37 Gaby Hinsliff Don’t fall for the hype about empty nest syndrome. Young adults returning to live at the family home cause greater stress to their parents than those who leave small children, when bedtime frankly can’t come soon enough. To deny these feelings is to deny the thing that actually makes parenthood worth idealising, which is the herculean effort required to stick with it even on days when all you want to do is lock yourself in the loo and scream. The visceral longing to be with your children is equalled in its ferocity only by the longing, occasionally, for a break. No wonder so many boomerangers’ parents feel what the LSE researchers rather dramatically called a “violation in the equilibrium” when their overgrown babies come trailing back. For one suspects their resistance isn’t just about the longing to have a spare bedroom again, or take up a hobby, or even spend a bit more time at the office. (The payback for clinging on to work throughout the frazzled early years of motherhood, an older and wiser colleague once told me, is that it’s there for you when you need it later; it was her stay-at-home friends who struggled with The longing to be with your children is equalled only by the longing, occasionally, for a break fStop Images GmbH/Alamy N o more wet towels on the bathroom floor, and no more empty juice cartons drained, only to be carefully replaced in the fridge. No more doors slamming at 3am, no more coming home to a noisy crowd of strangers around the kitchen table. There’s nothing so eerily quiet, says a friend whose youngest has just moved out, as a family house that no longer has children in it. Absence is everywhere, even if all they did when they were there was disappear off to their rooms. But if adjusting to an empty nest can be tough, it seems there is one thing tougher: an empty nest that fills back up again. According to research from the London School of Economics, parents whose grownup children don’t actually manage to leave – who move out, only to bounce right back again – are less happy than those whose fledglings fly off without a backwards glance. At the risk of giving poor Generation Z yet another thing to feel guilty about, quality of life for parents of boomerang kids fell on average by about 0.8 points on the LSE researchers’ scale, or roughly the sort of drop you’d expect of someone diagnosed with an age-related disability. The idea that the end of hands-on parenthood might not actually be the end of the world – that it might even be liberating – still feels faintly taboo. For women in particular, it’s only one scary step away from acknowledging that motherhood is not necessarily the defining purpose of our lives; that much as we would die for our children, we are not solely defined by them and might eventually want or need something else for ourselves. It’s still so much more socially acceptable to talk about the heartbreak and the guilt and the hot tears shed on the first day of school than to acknowledge the mornings when closing the door on the domestic chaos felt like sweet relief. But if parenthood is a bittersweet process of watching the person you love most walk away and desperately pretending not to mind, then the sweetness as well as the bitterness should be more honestly acknowledged. The unvarnished truth is that there are days, particularly with a sense of emptiness when their kids left home, while she felt years of guilt lifting from her shoulders now that she no longer had to rush home.) It’s the sense that something fundamental is wrong. If good parenting is ultimately about making yourself redundant, and giving your squawking fledgling the means to fly off and make its own way in the world, then a grown child who fails to launch feels at some deep level like a failure for all concerned – even when it’s not a failure of their making. Like one of those nagging midlife pains that hints at underlying injury, this niggling parental anxiety hints at a deeper sickness: a society that is holding families back from doing what they were naturally designed to do. A quarter of young British adults now live with their parents, more than at any time since records began in 1966. But more shockingly, this is no longer just about the young. They may avoid mentioning it in the office, but around a quarter of a million people in the UK aged between 35 and 44 still live at home with their parents and the idea that it can all be blamed on helicopter parents making it too easy for their pampered little darlings not to grow up is grotesque. Midlife divorce, insecure work and plain poverty all play their part in driving what were once perfectly functioning grownups back to their teenage bedrooms and wonder what happened to their lives. Even among younger boomerangers, it’s not just the lure of getting their washing done that draws them home; it’s the cost of housing and the increasingly hand-to-mouth nature of working life that contrive to push them back. Boomerang kids are admittedly luckier than those for whom going back home is sadly not an option. But when choosing to live with your mum is the only feasible way of coping with an insecure job, or with the costs of renting in the city where all the jobs are, then that’s not much of a choice. As the old saying has it, home is still the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in. But a healthy and successful society shouldn’t be sending this many overgrown children scurrying back for refuge, nor should it leave quite this many parents feeling bad about it.