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The Guardian Weekly – November 24, 2017

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Vol 197 No 25 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply
A week in the life of the world | 24-30 November 2017
Mugabe’s long
rise and fall
From liberator
to dictator
Rewriting the
cinematic canon
Women in film
pick their classics
coalition crisis
Merkel fails to
form government
The anti-democratic alliance
Assange, Trump and Putin: disrupting liberal norms. Composite: Geoff Caddick/Jim Watson/Mikhail Metzel/Getty
In the digital era, radical
libertarians are joining
autocrats to undermine
liberal institutions. But
why, asks Julian Borger
t a time when
strange alliances
are disrupting once
stable democracies, the Catalan
independence referendum was a perfect reflection of a weird age. Along
with the calls for “freedom” from
Madrid’s control, the furore after the
vote unleashed some of the darker
elements that have haunted recent
turbulent episodes in Europe and
America: fake news, Russian mischief and, marching oddly in step,
libertarian activism.
From his residence of more
than five years in the Ecuadorian
embassy in London, Julian Assange
tweeted 80 times in support of Catalan secession, and his views were
amplified by the state-run Russian
news agency, Sputnik, making him
the most quoted English-language
voice on Twitter, according to independent research and the Sydney
Morning Herald. In second place
was Edward Snowden, another
champion of transparency, who like
Assange had little track record on
Spanish politics. Together, the two
accounted for a third of all Twitter
traffic under the #Catalonia hashtag.
At the same time, an EU counter-propaganda unit detected an
upsurge in pro-Kremlin fake news on
the crisis, playing up the tensions.
The same patterns were apparent
in the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s
shock victory, the Front National
surge in France, and the dramatic
ascent of the Five Star Movement
from the pet project of a comedian,
Beppe Grillo, to the second most
powerful force in Italy.
In all cases, libertarians opposed
to centralised power made common
cause with a brutally autocratic state
apparatus in Moscow, an American
plutocrat with a murky financial
record, and the instinctively authoritarian far right – all in the name of
disruption of government and liberal
norms in western democracies.
So why are the pioneering crusaders of total transparency and freedom of information lining up alongside the most powerful exponents
of disinformation and disruption?
This has not just been a marriage of
convenience. There are elements
of ideological bonding, too. In
direct Twitter messages during the
last throes of the US election campaign, released over the past week,
WikiLeaks, which US intelligence
has deemed a tool of Russian intelligence, attempted to woo Trump’s
eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, with
offers of secret collusion.
The messages from the WikiLeaks
account ask for a leak of the future
president’s tax return,
to soften the blow of its
eventual publication
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2 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
World roundup
Cult killer Charles Manson dies aged 83
Maduro opponent flees to Colombia
Charles Manson,
the pseudo-satanic
sociopath behind a
string of killings that
shocked California in
the late 1960s, died
last Sunday after
almost a halfcentury in
who died of
natural causes,
had been serving
multiple life sentences in
state prison in Corcoran,
California, for orchestrating the violence in
1969 that claimed the
lives of Sharon Tate, the
heavily pregnant wife
of film director Roman
Polanski, and six others.
Michele Hanisee,
president of the
Association of
Deputy District
Attorneys for
Los Angeles
County, said:
“Today, Manson’s victims
are the ones who
should be remembered and mourned
on the occasion of his
More US news,
pages 10, 11
The Venezuelan
opposition leader
Antonio Ledezma,
who was detained in
2015 on allegations of
coup plotting but had
been under house arrest
in Caracas, has fled over
the border to Colombia.
Colombian immigration authorities said last
Friday that Ledezma
entered the country
legally after crossing the
Simón Bolívar bridge.
Ledezma, 62, was the
best-known detained
opponent of president
Nicolás Maduro’s government after Leopoldo
López, who is also under
house arrest in Caracas.
Government officials
mocked Ledezma as “the
vampire” and at the time
of his arrest accused
him of having ties with
violent hardliners.
Spain willing to give Catalans tax power
Madrid is paving
the way for Catalonia to be given
the power to collect its
own taxes in an attempt
to defuse the crisis over
an illegal referendum on
Senior sources in the
Spanish government
have said that although
there remains intense
opposition within the
ruling People’s party to
any future referendum,
there is a willingness to
discuss a new fiscal pact
under which Catalonia
would have greater control of its finances.
More Europe
news, pages 6, 7
Keystone pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons
Corp’s Keystone
pipeline leaked
an estimated 210,000
gallons of oil in
north-eastern South
Dakota, the company
and state regulators
reported last Thursday.
Crews shut down the
pipeline and activated
emergency response
procedures after a drop
in pressure was detected
resulting from the
leak south of a pump
station in Marshall
County. Officials do not
believe the leak affected
drinking water.
More environment
news, page 7
Argentinian submarine goes missing
The search for a
missing Argentinian submarine
and its 44 crew entered
a critical phase this
week as the vessel
approached a probable limit of its oxygen
On Monday,
five days after
the last radio
contact with
the ARA San
Juan, the
weather in the
area of the South
Atlantic where it went
missing was too rough
for it to remain above
surface, and the outlook
for the crew appeared
increasingly bleak.
Enrique Balbi, an
Argentinian navy
spokesman, said that
although the vessel had
enough food and fuel
to survive 90 days on
the surface, it only had
enough oxygen
for seven days
The submarine had been
scheduled to
arrive at Mar
del Plata naval
base on Monday
after a 10-day journey
from Argentina’s southernmost city, Ushuaia.
More Latin America news, page 11
Saudis urged to lift Yemen blockade
Untold thousands
of innocent people
will die in Yemen
unless the Saudi-led military coalition unconditionally lifts it blockade
of the country’s ports,
the heads of three UN
agencies have warned.
In a powerful joint
statement, the heads
of the World Food Programme, Unicef and the
World Health Organisation said the cost of the
blockade was “being
measured in the number
of lives that are lost”.
Supplies including
medicines, vaccines
and food are waiting to
enter the country, the
agencies said. “Without
them, untold thousands
of innocent victims,
among them many
children, will die.”
The plea follows a
statement released
last Wednesday by the
UK Foreign Office that
called on all parties
to “ensure immediate
access for commercial
and humanitarian
supplies to avert the
threat of starvation and
disease faced by millions
of citizens”.
The Foreign Office
statement called
specifically for the
reopening of the rebelheld port of Hodeidah,
which is the entry point
for 80% of the aid
reaching the country.
Last Monday Saudi
Arabia announced it
would allow aid to enter
ports in areas controlled
by Yemen’s internationally recognised government – predominantly
Aden, Mocha and
Mukalla in southern and
western Yemen – but said
it wanted discussions
with the UN special
envoy, Ismail Ould
Cheikh Ahmed, on new
procedures at Hodeidah.
Leader comment,
page 22
Israel seeks anti-Iran link with Saudis
Israel’s military
chief has given an
interview to a Saudi
newspaper underlining
the ways in which the
two countries could
unite to counter Iran’s
influence in the region.
General Gadi Eisenkot
described Iran as the
“biggest threat to the
region”, and said Israel
would be prepared to
share intelligence with
“moderate” Arab states
like Saudi Arabia in order
to “deal with” Tehran.
It is the latest
dramatic twist in
weeks of turmoil in the
region, which followed
an unexpected purge
of Saudi princes and
officials by crown
prince Mohammad bin
Salman, who has also
increasingly locked
Saudi Arabia on a path of
confrontation with Iran.
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 3
The week’s events in pictures
→ Centre pages 24-25
Riyadh accused can pay for release
Authorities in
Saudi Arabia are
offering businessmen and members of the
royal family detained on
allegations of corruption
an opportunity to pay for
their freedom, according
to media reports.
Around 200 princes,
ministers, senior military
officers and wealthy
businessmen are being
held in five-star hotels.
Angola president sacks state oil chief
Quoting “people
briefed on the discussions”, the Financial
Times reported that the
Saudi government was
demanding up to 70% of
the individuals’ wealth
in return for their freedom. If settlements are
agreed, hundreds of billions of dollars would be
diverted into the country’s depleted coffers.
Angola’s president, João
Lourenço, has
sacked his predecessor’s
daughter, Isabel dos
Santos, as head of the
state oil company in a bid
to assert his authority.
Lourenço swept to
power as the ruling
party’s candidate in
August elections after
pledging to clean up
Angola’s endemic graft,
tackle nepotism and
revive its economy.
During the campaign
he vowed to distance
himself from José
Eduardo dos Santos, who
governed for 38 years
and who remains head
of the ruling People’s
Movement for the
Liberation of Angola.
Isabel became the
face of the family’s business empire during her
father’s presidency.
Deadly smog chokes city of Lahore
Parts of
Pakistan have
been enveloped
by deadly smog in recent
weeks, with the city of
Lahore suffering almost
as badly as the Indian
capital, Delhi.
Pictures and video
that show Lahore looking like an apocalyptic
landscape have left
people in shock. Some
residents have said
they can’t see beyond
their outstretched arm.
Flights have been cancelled, schools have shut
and major traffic jams
and accidents have gridlocked the streets.
At their peak,
Lahore’s levels of PM
2.5, the particles most
damaging to health,
were more than 30
times the World Health
Organisation’s safe limit.
Indonesia’s house speaker found
The search for
house speaker,
Setya Novanto, who
disappeared after
becoming the target
of an arrest warrant,
came to a dramatic end
last Thursday when he
was reportedly found
unconscious in hospital.
The high-profile
politician had been on
his way to meet anticorruption investigators
when his car collided
with an electricity pole
in south Jakarta, said his
lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi.
Novanto, who is parliamentary speaker and
Judges uphold Kenyatta poll victory
Kenya’s supreme
court has upheld
the victory
of President Uhuru
Kenyatta in October’s
controversial re-run of
presidential elections,
clearing the way for
the 55-year-old
leader to be
sworn in for
a second and
final term
next week.
hearing two
days of arguments,
a six-judge bench said
that two petitions
demanding the
cancellation of the polls
were “without merit”.
The ruling is unlikely
to end the worst political
crisis in a decade in east
Africa’s richest and most
developed economy,
which has seen more
than 60 people killed in
political violence in
three months.
Two people
were shot
dead on
between police
and supporters of
the opposition, which
immediately rejected
the court’s decision.
More Africa news,
pages 4-5
Pakistani police clash with protesters
Australian parliament session cancelled
Pakistani police
have clashed with
protesters and
arrested dozens in an
attempt to disperse an
anti-blasphemy sit-in
staged by a cleric, which
blocked a main entrance
to Islamabad.
Supporters of Khadim
Hussain Rizvi, leader of
the Tehreek-e Labbaik
Pakistan party, were
demanding that the
law and justice minister,
whom they accuse of
undercutting blasphemy
laws, resign.
head of the Golkar party,
has been dogged by allegations that he played
a central role in a massive corruption scandal
involving an electronic
identity card project.
It is alleged he is
among a group of legislators and businessmen
that siphoned off millions from the project.
After dodging calls
to be questioned by
Indonesia’s Corruption
Eradication Commission,
a warrant for his arrest
was issued. However,
he could not be found
until news of the car
accident broke.
The Australian
has cancelled
the penultimate sitting
week of the House of
Representatives, in a
move Labor and the
Greens have blasted as a
bid to shut down parliamentary scrutiny.
Opposition leader
Bill Shorten said Labor’s
shadow cabinet would
come to work on Monday
in Canberra regardless,
a call echoed by Greens
MP Adam Bandt and
independent MP Bob
Katter, who said they
should “sit on the garden
lawn”, vote, and “make
the laws of the land”.
The leader of the
house, Christopher Pyne,
said the government
had asked the speaker
to cancel the sitting
week beginning on 27
November, so the lower
house will now return on
4 December. Pyne said
the move was necessary
because a marriage
equality bill was unlikely
to pass the Senate
before 30 November.
More regional
news, page 8
4 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
International news Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe’s long march
from liberator to dictator
He gave his country
freedom from empire.
But it all went wrong
David Smith
Three questions have dominated
the 37-year rule of Robert Gabriel
Mugabe. One is the mystery of how
a giant of Africa’s liberation movement, an intellectual who preached
racial reconciliation long before Nelson Mandela emerged from prison,
could turn into a caricature of despotism. Second is what kind of future he has bequeathed Zimbabwe,
which has known no other leader
since gaining independence in 1980.
The last was how he would go?
The answer to this last question,
despite Mugabe having last week
been the subject of a military coup in
all but name, remained in doubt this
week after he refused to resign and
faced impeachment proceedings.
But for the other two questions
there are clues, but no easy answers,
to the making of this dictator. He
was abandoned by his father as a
boy; suffered the deaths of a threeyear-old son and a compassionate
wife; then there was his warped fascination with Britain. Mugabe was
awarded an honorary knighthood
by the Queen, then stripped of it, an
insult he never forgave.
Mugabe created Zanu-PF, the
ruling party, in his own image, and
sought to do the same with Zimbabwe. He rose with quiet determination and ruthlessness. Raised a
Catholic and educated at missionary
schools, he moved to South Africa
for the first of his seven degrees and
became a teacher in Ghana.
When he returned to what was
then Rhodesia in 1960, his activism
earned him a 10-year prison term for
“subversive speech”, after which
he fled to Mozambique to lead the
guerrilla forces of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) in a war
against Ian Smith’s government that
left 27,000 dead.
The 1979 Lancaster House agreement in London brought independence and Mugabe returned home
a hero. He announced a policy of
reconciliation and invited whites to
help rebuild the country. He initially
ran a coalition government with
Joshua Nkomo, his fellow freedom
fighter, but the pair fell out.
Then came the biggest counterargument to the notion that Mugabe
was a good man slowly corrupted
by power: Gukurahundi, or “the rain
that washes away the chaff before
the spring rains”. As early as 1982
his Fifth Brigade crushed an armed
rebellion by fighters loyal to Nkomo
in the province of Matabeleland. His
rival’s party, Zapu, was ethnically
largely Ndebele, while Zanu was
predominantly Shona. This divide
underlay ethnic cleansing in the mid80s, when at least 20,000 people died
in Matabeleland in a series of massacres classified as genocide by the
US-based Genocide Watch.
Few in the west noticed, or
wanted to. They focused on the
growing economy, as agriculture
boomed and Mugabe built clinics
and schools, turning Zimbabwe into
one of Africa’s healthiest, best-edu-
cated and most hopeful countries.
In 1997 Mugabe gave in to pressure from war veterans waging
violent protests for pensions. Trade
unions and political activists began
organising what would become
the first viable political threat to
Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). But it was
partly bankrolled by white farmers,
which allowed Mugabe to whip up
militancy against it.
In 2000 Mugabe began a land
reform programme, billed as an attempt to correct the colonial legacy
by giving white-owned farms to
landless black people. Many saw it as
a crude attempt to sideline the MDC,
which had wide support among farm
workers. Ensuing chaos shrank the
economy to half its 1980 size. The
“breadbasket of Africa” became dependent on foreign aid for food.
Schools and hospitals fell apart,
once-eradicated diseases returned
and life expectancy crashed from 61
to 45. Millions emigrated, a monumental flight of intellectual capital.
The political environment became hostile, with activists and
journalists persecuted, jailed or
murdered. The MDC claims that 253
people died in violence in the 2008
election. The party’s leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, seen as the vote’s real
winner, was forced to join Mugabe in
a power-sharing agreement.
Quite when, and why, Mugabe
changed will be debated for years.
Denis Norman, a white farmer who
became his agriculture minister
from 1980 to 1985, said: “I have
always maintained that his driving
force was the desire to control and
remain in power.”
Simba Makoni, who toured Europe with Mugabe in the late 1970s
and was one of his finance ministers,
said: “I know of two Mugabes: the
early Mugabe and the later Mugabe.
The first Mugabe of the liberation
struggle and the first 10, 15 years
of independence isn’t the Mugabe
we have today. I didn’t know him
to be cruel, I didn’t know him to be
uncaring in the early years.”
Makoni identifies three factors
In Harare, thousands march on ‘second independence
ce day’
Emma Graham-Harrison Harare
They came from all over Zimbabwe,
streaming into the streets of Harare
last Saturday in a carnival of protest
and celebration, determined to seal
the peaceful but incontestable end of
Robert Mugabe’s long rule.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans of every age, class, political
persuasion and skin colour turned
out, singing, chanting, dancing and
sometimes crying, all exhilarated at
the prospect of change, so fervently
hoped for and until now so painfully
elusive. Homeless squatters and street
vendors marched beside wealthy
entrepreneurs; Zanu-PF stalwarts
and war veterans mixed with white
farmers they had forced off their land.
“I can pretty much say this is our
second independence day – we have
waited for this a long time,” said Nyikayaramba, a 32-year-old IT worker.
“We have suffered, and I praise God
that this has finally happened. It’s a
great time to be Zimbabwean.”
The green, yellow, red and black
of the national flag dotted the crowd,
draped as capes, waved in the air,
printed on clothes and painted on
faces, on a day unmarred by violence.
As they marched through town, tearing down mementos of Mugabe’s rule,
from road signs to giant posters, each
step made it clearer that his iron grip
had finally loosened after nearly four
decades, even if he was still in office.
“We are making history today,”
said Teclar Mazanhi, who was born
in 1980, the year Mugabe came to
power. “We want a new Zimbabwe.”
It had been a week of excitement and
confusion, the oldest head of state in
the world abruptly toppled, then re-
appearing smiling
miling in
he miliphotos with the
tary officers who had
him under house
ouse arore disrest. Even more
concertingly,, he had
emerged to preside
over a graduation
ceremony last
Friday, as if
nothing had
marches to de-mand his finall
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 5
On the website
Latest news, comment and analysis
Army-backed Mnangagwa
sets out vision for future
Emma Graham-Harrison Harare
Left, Robert Mugabe inspects a
presidential guard of honour in
Harare, August 2017; top, saluting
supporters after returning from
exile in 1980 to fight the general
election; above, with his wife,
Grace Mugabe, in support of her
bid to become vice-president
Photographs: EPA; AP; Getty
that led to the change in character:
the accord with Nkomo that destroyed meaningful opposition; his
switch from prime minister to president in 1987; and the death of his
first wife, Sally, in 1992.
One man will for ever cast a
shadow across Mugabe. Nelson
Mandela’s life paralleled Mugabe’s
until the South African president relinquished power after one five-year
term. Mandela is revered as the great-
est statesman Africa has produced;
Mugabe, who clung on beyond his
time, is seen as its fallen angel.
Allister Sparks, a veteran South
African journalist, recalled a conversation with Mandela: “We got
to talking about Mugabe, whom he
really profoundly disliked, and I
think it was reciprocated. He said,
‘You know Allister, the trouble with
Mugabe is that he was the star – and
then the sun came up.’”
from power were planned
y the party machine of Mugabe’s
own Zanu-PF, and veterans of the
independence war. But they were
taken over by ordinary Zimbabweans
in a national outpouring of emotion.
One of the most extraordinary
of Mugabe’s fall has been how
fast and completely the party that he
controlled so tightly, for so long, has
turned on him. “We were the ones
who were with him in the bush, but
now he is going astray,” said Ticho
Njara, a 62-year-old war veteran and
Zanu-PF member. “He better surrenZan
der his power today.”
On the eve of the march, regional
party offices unleashed on Mugabe
the formal ritual of party procedure
that he had so often deployed against
rivals. All united to call for his resignation and the return of former vicepresident Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75.
In a country where for decades it
has been dangerous to challenge the
government, or even dream of change,
Zimbabweans were determined to
cele brate the power of a peaceful
population unleashed, and enjoy the
chance, finally, to speak their minds.
“We are fully aware of the possible
risks and pitfalls beyond this tipping
point,” Zimbabwean newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube said on Twitter.
“We are confident we will be equal
to the challenges. Yes, we remember
Egypt too. After 37 years of repression,
allow us to soak in this moment.”
Robert Mugabe’s most likely successor, the ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, broke more than a
week of silence on Tuesday to call for
the 93-year-old leader to “accept the
will of the people”.
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party
was expected to begin impeachment
proceedings in parliament this week
in an attempt to strip Mugabe of the
presidency, as the political crisis triggered by a military takeover moved
into a second week. Mugabe is accused
of allowing his wife, Grace Mugabe, to
“usurp constitutional power”.
Mnangagwa, a veteran of the
liberation war of the 1960s and 70s and
for decades Mugabe’s right-hand man,
fled into exile earlier this month after
being ousted from his position in government and Zanu-PF by a faction allied to the president’s wife. In a written
statement, which gave no clue to his
whereabouts, Mnangagwa said he had
fled Zimbabwe after he was warned by
security officials that “plans were underfoot to eliminate me”.
His supporters are widely believed
to be behind the military’s takeover
of power. Zanu-PF has named him as
the party’s new leader and nominee to
take over as president if Mugabe steps
down or is impeached.
Mnangagwa said he had spoken to
Mugabe, and told him he needed to
resign because huge demonstrations
in Harare last Saturday, and the party
vote against him, showed he no longer
had a popular mandate.
“Mugabe has always said that if the
people don’t want him he will leave
office, now that they have spoken he
must now accept the will of the people
and resign,” the statement said.
Mnangagwa also made what
appeared to be an appeal to opposition politicians and their supporters.
Other senior figures in the party had
insisted Mugabe’s departure was an
internal party matter that would be
handled by Zanu alone.
Laying out his vision for a “new
Zimbabwe”, Mnangagwa said it was a
national, not a party political project.
“In that new Zimbabwe it is important
for everyone to join hands so that we
rebuild this nation to its full glory. This
is not a job for Zanu PF alone but for all
people of Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa said he would return
home “as soon as the right conditions
for security and stability prevail”,
but did not give any further details of
when that might be.
Mugabe had been given a deadline
of noon local time on Monday to resign as head of state or face impeachment but he ignored the deadline and
instead called a cabinet meeting for
9am on Tuesday.
Adding to the confusion, Constantino Chiwenga, the army chief who
took power last week, held a press
conference at which he described
further consultations with “his
excellency president Robert Mugabe”
held in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Chiwenga said on Monday that
Mnangagwa would return to Zimbabwe shortly and was in touch with the
president. The general made no mention of the potential impeachment of
Mugabe, who has been was stripped of
his party offices by Zanu-PF.
A draft impeachment motion published by Zanu-PF said the 93-year-old
leader was a “source of instability”
who had shown disrespect for the rule
of law and was to blame for the economic tailspin over the past 15 years.
Mugabe had failed to resign as
expected in a televised speech last
Sunday night. Instead, his rambling
address offered no substantial concessions, leaving viewers stunned.
Comment, page 18 →
China rejects claims it had helped to oust Mugabe
Beijing has said speculation it had a
hand in efforts to dethrone Robert
Mugabe is an “evil” plot designed
to sully its reputation and derail
China-Africa relations.
A recent visit to Beijing by one of
the architects of last week’s slowburn coup stoked suspicions China
played some role in attempts to oust
its longtime ally.
Experts say Mugabe had
fallen from favour with China’s
Communist party leaders in recent
years, with Beijing particularly
alarmed at the prospect of his
wife, Grace Mugabe, succeeding
him. However, China issued a
forceful denial of any connection
to the political crisis on Monday,
calling such speculation “complete
nonsense, and purely fictitious”.
Its embassy in South Africa said:
“Some people are trying to link
China to the political crisis that is
taking place in Zimbabwe in order
to drive a wedge between China
and Africa.”
Such allegations were “illogical,
inconsistent and filled with evil
motives”. Tom Phillips Beijing
6 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
International news
German president urges return to table
Fresh elections possible
following collapse of
Merkel-led coalition talks
Philip Oltermann Berlin
The German president, Frank-Walter
Steinmeier, called on German political
leaders to reconsider their positions
after the collapse of coalition talks last
weekend pushed the country into its
worst political crisis in decades.
Coming out of talks with the chancellor, Angela Merkel, Steinmeier was
expected to meet all the party leaders
this week. He urged a rethink that could
allow them to form a government and
sought to avoid a minority government
under Merkel or fresh elections.
“There would be incomprehension and great concern inside and
outside our country, and particularly
in our European neighbourhood, if
the political forces in the biggest and
economically strongest country in
Europe of all places didn’t fulfil their
responsibility,” he said after the talks.
The pro-business Free Democratic
party (FDP) walked out of marathon
negotiations shortly before midnight
last Sunday, with its leader, Christian
Lindner, saying there was no “common basis of trust” between the FDP,
Merkel’s centre-right bloc and the
Greens. It was “better not to govern
than to govern badly”, he added.
The collapse is the most serious
threat to Merkel’s power since she
became chancellor in 2005.
“It is a day of deep reflection on
how to go forward in Germany,”
Merkel told reporters. “As chancellor,
‘A day of deep reflection’ … Angela
Merkel’s leadership is under threat
I will do everything to ensure that this
country is well managed in the difficult weeks to come.”
If coalition talks do not resume,
Merkel could seek to form a minority
government, either with the FDP or
the Greens, and gather support from
other parties on individual policy
votes. Steinmeier could dissolve parliament and call fresh elections. To get
there, however, he would need to first
set in motion a complicated process
involving a parliamentary vote.
Merkel has been trying to forge
a coalition between her Christian
Democratic Union, its Bavarian sister
party the Christian Social Union, the
FDP and the Greens following federal
elections at the end of September.
Lindner said last Sunday the parties
involved in the talks had missed
several self-prescribed deadlines to
resolve differences on migration and
energy policies, and had “no common vision for modernisation of
the country”.
The Social Democrat leader, Martin
Schulz, whose party has played junior
partner to Merkel in the German government for the past four years, on
Monday said it was “not available” for a
repeat of the so-called grand coalition.
He said it “was clear that the grand coalition had got the red card” and the SPD
would welcome fresh elections.
Merkel described the FDP’s walkout as “regrettable” and insisted the
parties would have been capable of
reaching a compromise, in spite of
their polarised views on migration.
In a month of talks, she has often
cut a passive figure as party representatives found themselves at loggerheads over issues such as the question of how many of the migrants now
in Germany would be allowed to be
reunited with their families.
Migration emerged as a contentious political issue in Germany following the refugee crisis, when 1.2
million migrants entered the country
in 2015-16. The backlash against Merkel’s decision to keep open Germany’s
borders has resulted in a far-right
party, Alternative für Deutschland,
entering the German parliament for
the first time in more than 50 years.
Analysis: the incumbent
chancellor’s power loosened
After exploratory talks to form Germany’s next government collapsed
in dramatic fashion, the culprit was
quickly found: Christian Lindner,
the cocksure leader of the probusiness Free Democratic party
(FDP), who had staged a wellorchestrated walkout, makes an alltoo-convincing villain of the piece.
But in the coming weeks
German media will have to ask
whether the real reason for the
political paralysis in Europe’s biggest economy ultimately lies with
another politician: Angela Merkel,
the incumbent chancellor.
Both a minority government or
fresh elections will first involve the
authority of Merkel’s chancellorship being tested in the Bundestag.
To engineer a no-confidence vote
that would trigger new polls, Merkel would first have to be formally
voted in as Germany’s chancellor. If she fails to gain a sufficient
majority, her loss of power will
come sharply into focus.
Yet even if there were to be new
elections in the new year, it is possible that Merkel could run again.
Seventeen years after she took
charge of Germany’s conservative
party, there are still no credible
candidates for a coup at the top,
nor candidates with her blessing that look ready to take over
the helm. For now, the only party
in Germany calling on Merkel to
go is the far-right Alternative für
Deutschland. PO
Poland’s far right bolstered by returnees from west
Christian Davies Warsaw
The presence of Islamophobic, homophobic, antisemitic and white supremacist chants and banners at last
weekend’s March of Independence in
Warsaw raised fears about the rise of
the far right in Poland.
But interviews with nationalist
and far-right leaders and their opponents reveal a more nuanced picture of a movement wrestling with
its public image while hoping to seize
the opportunities afforded to it by the
success of the ruling rightwing Law
and Justice party and popular opposition to immigration from Muslimmajority countries.
Far-right insiders described a
movement that has changed substantially in recent years – “more girls,
fewer skinheads”, said one – with a
marked increase in middle-aged and
highly educated recruits. “A decade
ago if you saw us in a bar you would
know we were from the far right, but
if you saw us now you would have no
idea,” said one insider.
One factor in this change, they
noted, was the influence on Polish
society of young people returning from
working abroad. “So many young people travelled to work in western countries, and then came back and told
their friends and families what was
going on in western Europe,” said Krzysztof Bosak, of the ultra-nationalist
organisation National Movement.
“They told them about the process
of exchange of population, by which
people of European origin are replaced by people from Africa and Asia,
and about Islamisation.”
Aleks Szczerbiak, a professor of
politics at the University of Sussex,
said: “It was long assumed that young
Poles would come to the west and
become more secular, multicultural
and liberal, and that they would reexport those things back to Poland.
But instead their experience of the
west seems to have reinforced their
social conservatism and traditionalism in many ways.”
The march’s organisers included
the National-Radical Camp, the successor to a pre-war Polish fascist
movement; All-Polish Youth, a farright youth organisation that has run
social media campaigns condemned
as racist; and the National Movement.
But the march also attracted thousands of people with little to no affiliation to nationalist or far-right groups.
Opponents argued that the presence of people with a range of political
views at the march earlier this month
amounted to a tacit acceptance of
far-right extremism. “They may not
all identify as nationalists, but they
are being united by the language of
nationalism” said Rafał Pankowski,
a professor at Collegium Civitas in
Warsaw and director of Never Again,
an anti-racism campaign group.
Timothy Garton Ash, page 20 →
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 7
International news
Climate summit
makes progress
Bonn lays groundwork
for implementation
of landmark Paris deal
Damian Carrington Bonn
The world’s nations were confident
they had made important progress
in turning continued political commitment into real world action, as the
global climate change summit in Bonn
closed last Friday.
The UN talks were tasked with converting the global agreement sealed in
Paris in 2015 from a symbolic moment
into a set of rules by which nations
can combine to defeat global warming. Currently, the world is on track
for at least 3C of global warming – an
outcome that would lead to severe impacts around the world.
The importance of the task was
emphasised by Frank Bainimarama,
Fiji’s prime minister and president
of the summit: “We are not simply
negotiating words on a page, but we
are representing all our people and the
places they call home.”
The Paris rulebook, which must
be finalised by the end of 2018, now
has a skeleton set of headings on how
action on emissions is reported and
monitored. Nations have suggested
detailed texts, but these are often
contradictory and will need to be
resolved next year. “The worst outcome would have been to end up with
empty pages, but that is not going to
happen,” said a German negotiator.
The final hours of the negotiations
were held up by a technical row over
climate funding from rich nations.
Poorer and vulnerable nations want
donor countries to set out in advance
how much they will provide and
when, so recipient nations can plan
their climate action. Rich nations
claim they are not unwilling, but that
making promises on behalf of future
governments is legally complex.
NGOs criticised slow progress in
delivering previous funding promises. Raijeli Nicole, from Oxfam, said:
“For the most part, rich countries
showed up to Bonn empty-handed.”
Coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel – has
had a high profile at the summit, with
the US administration’s only official
side-event controversially promoting
“clean coal”. But the momentum has
been against the fuel, with a new
coalition of countries pledging a
complete phaseout. This happened
outside the negotiations, a significant
move, according to Camilla Born at
thinktank E3G: “We have had the Paris
agreement living in the real world.”
Heavily coal-dependent Poland is
hosting the next UN climate summit in
a year’s time and has frequently held
up climate action in the EU. But last
Friday, apparently under heavy EU
pressure, it ended its holdout against
passing a climate commitment called
the Doha amendment which sets in
law pre-2020 climate action.
Germany, still stuck in domestic coalition building, was unable to commit
to phasing out its huge coal industry.
However, Barbara Hendricks, the outgoing German environment minister,
said last Friday: “The phasing out of
coal makes sense environmentally
and economically.”
Donald Trump’s decision to pull
the US out of the Paris deal had little
impact at the talks, according to
negotiators. Gebru Jember Endalew,
the Ethiopian chair of the 47-strong
Least Developed Countries negotiating bloc, said: “Unlike immigration,
you cannot protect your country from
climate change by building a wall.”
China and India did not use the
US move to try to gain advantage but
Level of global
warming under
current pledges.
The Paris
agreement sets
targets to keep
the rise to 2C
remain constructive players, insiders
say. Now attention moves to 2018 and
the tougher, final decisions that need
to be made then.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who as Peru’s
environment minister ran the 2014
climate talks and is now at WWF,
said: “The planet is at a crossroads.
The decisions we make today set
the foundation for 2018 and beyond.
Countries must increase their ambition
to put us on a path to a 1.5C future. “The
Poland summit [in 2018] will be tough,”
he said. “We expect to make progress,
but it is not going to be easy.”
L aurence Tubiana, France’s
climate ambassador during the Paris
deal and now at the European Climate
Foundation, said: “There is no time
to rest on our laurels, we are not on
track. If we are serious about tackling
climate change, everyone will need
to step up and put forward ambitious
climate commitments between now
and 2020.”
Weekly Review, pages 30-31 →
Is it for real? A ‘Leonardo’ sells for $450m
After breaking the world record as the
most expensive painting ever sold
at auction – for $450.3m at Christie’s
in New York to an unnamed bidder
last Wednesday – Leonardo da Vinci’s
Salvator Mundi is at the heart of a hot
debate about whether this painting of
Jesus was ever touched by Leonardo’s
brush. Some say it could have been
made by Giovanni Boltraffio, an Italian who worked as a pupil in Leonardo’s studio.
Many art experts who have laid
eyes on the Salvator Mundi spent last
week discussing its authenticity.
“I don’t believe the attribution to
Leonardo is correct,” said Todd
Levin, a curator and art adviser at
Levin Art Group in New York.
The painting had unknown
whereabouts from 1763 to 1900
before being acquired by art collector
Charles Robinson of Richmond,
near London, who thought it was
painted by the Leonardo follower
Bernardino Luini.
It sold at Sotheby’s for $60 in 1958,
was restored and then believed to be
an authentic Leonardo in 2011. It was
exhibited at the National Gallery in
London before Russian billionaire
Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5m.
The painting’s conservator, Dianne Modestini, started working on
Salvator Mundi in 2005. Modestini
stands by the artwork as a Leonardo.
Martin Kemp, a scholar who coauthored Mona Lisa: The People and
the Painting, attests that the painting
is a Leonardo. “There are no wellfounded doubts about Leonardo’s
responsibility for the picture,” he
said. Nadja Sayej Photo: Alamy
Prison death for mafia boss
Stephanie Kirchgaessner Rome
Lorenzo Tondo Corleone
Salvatore “Totò” Riina, who died in a
prison hospital bed last Friday at the
age of 87, was for nearly four decades
the “boss of bosses” of the Sicilian mafia. Nicknamed “the Beast” because of
his cruelty, Riina was an unrepentant
criminal who not only assassinated his
criminal rivals on an unprecedented
scale in the 1980s and 90s, but also
targeted the prosecutors, journalists
and judges who sought to stand in
his way.
In the end, it was Riina who was
defeated. The Sicilian mafia is far
weaker now, left in disarray by Riina,
who sought unsuccessfully to lead
it from his prison cell in Parma. The
crime syndicate still exists , but it
is a shadow of what it once was and
unable to regain its dominance of the
illegal drug trade.
Riina was serving multiple life sentences after convictions for ordering
150 murders, though experts believe
the true figure was much higher.
In his birth city of Corleone responses to Riina’s death were mixed.
While young people saw the death
as a chance for the town to escape its
corrupt reputation, elderly people recalled Riina with fondness, describing
the mafia boss as a gentleman.
A local priest said he agreed with
church authorities in Palermo, who
have already determined that Riina
would not be given a church funeral.
“I can understand the suffering of
Riina’s family with this loss. But he
was the head of the mafia and no sign
of redemption ever came from him,”
said Don Luca Leone.
8 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
International news
Health fears on Manus Island intensify
As makeshift wells are
tainted, many face
life-threatening illnesses
Ben Doherty Manus Island
The piercing pain in Joinul Islam’s
right arm keeps him from sleeping.
He can’t bend it to eat properly (to eat
with one’s left is considered unclean),
and there are precious few painkillers
to allow him to rest.
Four months ago, he was attacked
by a gang in Lorengau, his elbow was
sliced open with a machete and the
surgery to repair it did not work. He
was promised follow-up surgery, but
it never happened. Now, he waits and
hopes for more medical treatment.
In the meantime, he bears the pain
without assistance. He has been told
by Papua New Guinea authorities he
can get more painkillers, but only in
Lorengau, the island’s main settlement and the place where he was attacked. “I cannot go back there, I cannot go back. How can I go to Lorengau?
I need a safe place,” he says.
Islam says he feels under intense
pressure to quit the Manus Island
detention centre, even to abandon
his claim for protection altogether,
and risk returning to Bangladesh.
Islam’s case is barely remarkable
inside the condemned Manus Island
detention centre – formerly a key facility in Australia’s controversial and
much criticised immigration policy
– officially shuttered on 31 October,
with all essential services withdrawn.
There are few uninjured or healthy
people among the 400 who remain in
the camp, surviving on rainwater and
makeshift wells, smuggled food, and
solar panels powering phones that
give them a link to the outside world.
Inside the camp, the Guardian saw
United ... Manus Island detainees protest against their water supply being cut off EPA/Refugee Action Coalition
men who had stepped on nails that
had pierced their feet. Their infected
wounds wept pus as they walked. Others revealed open and infected sores
on their legs.
Weeks after the camp was formally
closed, the medical situation in the
condemned centre has reached a new,
even more dangerous stage. Even men
who appear healthy are battling diarrhoea and vomiting brought on by
drinking salty, contaminated water
pulled from makeshift wells.
Last Saturday, Australian Medical
Association members voted unanimously to call on the Australian government to grant access for doctors to
be allowed into the detention centre
to intervene in what the association
describes as “a worsening and dangerous situation emerging on Manus”.
“It is our responsibility as a nation
with a strong human rights record to
ensure that we look after the health
and wellbeing of these men, and
provide them with safe and hygienic
New Zealand seeks deal with Australia to resettle refugees
New Zealand says it will only
take refugees from Manus Island
detention centre with the cooperation of the Australian government.
A statement from the office of
the prime minister Jacinda Ardern,
indicating a shift in her position,
was issued last Friday after the
Australian immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said a move to
resettle the refugees could hurt the
countries’ diplomatic relations.
“New Zealand’s relationship
with Australia is strong. The offer
to take 150 refugees from Manus
Island and Nauru remains on the
table, but clearly it’s up to Australia
to take up that offer,” Ardern’s
spokesperson said.
The comments came after
Dutton said New Zealand and Papua
New Guinea could do a bilateral
deal to resettle people but warned
that it would have consequences
for diplomatic relationship with
Australia. Paul Karp Canberra
living conditions,” the AMA president,
Michael Gannon, said.
Periodically, Papua New Guinean
police and immigration officials – on
Australian orders, the Guardian was
told – enter and poison the wells, befouling them with dirt and rubbish
and making the water undrinkable.
David Yapu, police commander on
Manus, has said fear of a widespread
outbreak of potentially fatal illness was
very real. “The centre is unhygienic, it
is subject to illness such as typhoid,
cholera and dysentery,” he says.
Cholera, most often spread by unsafe water, is easily treatable with the
correct medication, but without it, the
infection can kill in hours.
There is a meagre and dwindling
cache of medical supplies inside the
camp but refugees fear what will
happen when these run out. Several
refugees have become the unofficial
medical officers of the camp, dispensing what medications they have.
“Everybody here is sick, they say we
are sent here for treatment but nothing
happens, we just get worse,” one refugee from Myanmar said. “Who knows
what our future will be.”
Australia’s PM wants marriage equality by Christmas
Guardian reporters
The Australian parliament must commit to delivering marriage equality
by Christmas, the prime minister,
Malcolm Turnbull, has said after an
“unequivocal, overwhelming” vote of
61.6% in favour of same-sex marriage
in a national postal survey.
As nationwide celebrations heralded a result that will give enormous
momentum to a final push to achieve
the social reform, Turnbull moved
to head off attempts from conserva-
tives in his ruling Liberal-National
Coalition to frustrate or delay the
legislative process.
Turnbull said the survey – which
had a participation rate of 79.5% –
meant Australians had “spoken in
their millions and have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality”.
“They voted yes for fairness, yes
for commitment, yes for love. And
now it is up to us here in the parliament of Australia to get on with the
job the Australian people asked us to
do,” he said.
A national vote was resisted by
marriage-equality advocates who
viewed it as an affront because it
determined the right to equality
before the law by a majoritarian vote;
but prominent LGBTI Australians
celebrated that the Australian values
of fairness and equality were reflected
in the outcome.
Large public gatherings in cities
including Sydney and Melbourne
saw marriage proposals, tears and
the popping of champagne corks as
Australia’s chief statistician, David
Kalisch, announced the result in the
capital, Canberra. In Melbourne,
5,000 people outside the State Library
of Victoria danced to Kylie Minogue.
In Sydney’s Prince Alfred park, the
Australian singer John Paul Young
reprised his 1978 hit Love Is in the Air.
Every state and territory voted for
marriage equality, with the national
vote 7,817,247 in favour and 4,873,947
against. The constituencies of central
Sydney and Melbourne saw the largest majorities in favour, at 83.7% each.
Comment, page 19 →
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 9
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Then Section
International news
The Caribbean island reduced to a
ghost settlement by Hurricane Irma
Barbuda diary
Kate Lyons
alking the
streets of
the small
island of
Barbuda on
a recent Friday afternoon, you are likely to see
more goats than humans. Dogs, cats
and horses, all of which roam freely
about the island now that fences
are down, also seem to outnumber
people. The streets are empty and
the houses – at least the ones still
standing – are abandoned. The island
is like a ghost town.
Barbuda, which covers only
160 sq km, was the first to feel the
force of Hurricane Irma. When the
storm made landfall on the night of
6 September, it hit Barbuda at about
300km/h. A two-year-old boy died
and an estimated 90% of properties
were damaged.
Two days later, fearing Barbuda
would be hit again, this time by
Hurricane Jose, the prime minister
ordered an evacuation. All 1,800
residents were ferried to Antigua,
Barbuda’s larger sister island, which
suffered only minor damage.
Jose passed without incident, but
the government warned that diseases caused by stagnant water and
issues with vermin had rendered
it unsafe for habitation, and it was
three weeks before residents were
allowed to return. Even now, weeks
after the evacuation order was
lifted, this island is eerily deserted.
“Barbuda is quiet, quiet, quiet.
It’s dead,” says Kendra Beazer, 24,
the youngest member of the Barbuda
council, the island’s ruling body.
Another councillor, Wayde Burton,
38, says that Fridays through to
Sundays were the quietest times for
the island as people come over from
Antigua early in the week and stay
a few days to clean up before going
back to Antigua for the weekend.
Burton says life is slowly
returning to the island, although
little more than a tenth of its population has returned. Two months
after the hurricane hit, a restaurant,
a bakery and a supermarket have
opened, though, as electricity is yet
to be restored, the businesses are
running off generators. But even at
its most occupied, Burton estimates
Flattened … Irma destroyed homes and businesses Salwan Georges/Getty
there are 250 people on the island.
Beazer and Burton travel back
and forth between the islands. In
Antigua, Beazer lives in a rundown
hotel, paid for by the government.
Some Barbudans are staying with
friends and family in Antigua or
abroad, others in shelters.
One shelter, at the Sir Vivian
People get here, they
walk around their
house, they pick up a
few things – then they
go back to their boat
Richards cricket stadium, is run by
stadium staff and overseen by Denise
Harris, the arena’s HR and accounts
manager. She recalls how her boss
was called by a government minister on the day of the evacuation.
“They said: ‘We are sending you 80
Barbudans.’ We had 197. We thought
it was just for two weeks or so, but
now it’s two months. They were just
brought here, nothing was in place.”
Harris says the stadium has
remained largely functional despite
the continued presence of 142 people,
but is adamant the situation cannot
continue. “Honestly, I don’t think
they can be here past the end of
December,” says Harris. “We have
[the England cricket team] coming
in February.”
She says it can be difficult to
accommodate the number of
supporters accompanying the
touring England team, with weeks of
preparation necessary. It would be
impossible with the buildings full of
people on camp beds.
Some aid agencies are operating
on Barbuda. Samaritan’s Purse is
among those on the island, and
has been providing equipment
and water treatment units. The
Red Cross has brought medical
kit, enabling the consulting and
emergency rooms at the Thomas
Hanna hospital to reopen.
Yet the rebuilding efforts seem
piecemeal. Burton cleans and repairs
houses with a group of friends. They
scrounge plywood and corrugated
iron from the wreckage to fix roofs.
On Dominica, a nearby island
devastated by Hurricane Maria, aid
organisations are out in force and
each night the military clears debris
from the streets. In comparison,
Barbuda feels almost abandoned.
The recovery effort has been challenging. Few people on the island
have house insurance and many rent
their homes; neither group is clear
about its role in the rebuilding process. But Barbudans agree the evacuation has made rebuilding slower.
“Lots of homeowners refuse to
come back home because they say
there’s nothing for me to come back
to,” says council leader Knacyntar
Nedd as she cleans out a building.
“We had to leave the next day [after
the hurricane], so people didn’t have
time to process the damage to their
homes. Now people are seeing the
magnitude of the damage. They get
here, they walk around their house,
they pick up a few things – and then
they go back to the boat.”
Damage from the hurricanes
has been compounded by absence.
Beazer’s house, which has a concrete roof, survived the storm in
reasonable shape. But the shutters
were blown off and the windows
broken. The evacuation order meant
he had to leave the island before he
could do repairs, and rain got into
his property.
Eli Fuller, an Antiguan businessman who runs a boat tour company,
has a bleak prognosis. “The Barbuda
as we know it died with that evacuation order,” he says. “They don’t
want to go back. How can they go
back? Why would they go back?”
If Barbuda is to have a chance of
recovery, it needs to be reinhabited.
“The more we stay away the more
we’re going to lose,” says Burton.
10 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Special report Break the Cycle
Finding hope in fight against gun deaths
Commentary: firearms reform
is far from a hopeless pursuit
Vigil … an anti-gun rally in Newtown, Connecticut, scene of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting Getty
Since Sandy Hook, many
US states have moved to
tighten laws and checks
Lois Beckett New York
Nearly five years after a mass shooter
murdered 20 children and six adults
at Sandy Hook elementary school, US
Republicans are still blocking tougher
federal gun control laws. But at state
and local level, the fight to prevent
gun violence is not over. Here are 10
victories since 2013 in the fight to prevent gun deaths – including a major
effort led by the gun industry itself.
1. At least 25 states have passed
tougher domestic violence gun laws
Laws to keep guns away from domestic abusers have advanced since 2013,
including in conservative states such
as Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, North
Dakota and South Carolina. In some
cases, the National Rifle Association
has quietly backed the legislation.
to invest in preventing gun violence
among young men of colour. The Live
Free Campaign argues that, in addition to tougher gun laws, violence prevention requires criminal justice reform, police reform and communitybased strategies. The campaign got a
$2m boost from
4. After family members failed
to stop a 2014 mass shooting,
California passed a new ‘gun
violence restraining order’ law
Weeks before he murdered six people
in a rampage across a California college town, Elliot Rodger was visited
by local law enforcement. His mother
had seen disturbing videos he posted
on YouTube and requested a welfare
check. Rodger noted later he had firearms hidden in his apartment. Later
that year California passed its new
law, which gives families and law enforcement a way to petition a judge
to temporarily bar a high-risk person
from owning or buying firearms.
2. Gun stores are leading an industryagreed movement to prevent suicide
In one week in 2009 a gun store in New
Hampshire sold three guns to people
who committed suicide. The store
owner teamed up with mental health
and suicide prevention experts to
develop the Gun Shop Project, an effort
to educate gun store workers and customers about what they can do to prevent gun suicide, which claims more
than 20,000 American lives a year.
5. Many states have added missing
mental health records to the US gun
background check system
In 2011 a gun control group analysed
the records in the national background
check system, and found that 23 states
had submitted fewer than 100 mental
health records to the federal database
– and some had submitted none at
all. This meant that high-risk people
disqualified from legally owning guns
were still able to buy guns. Today the
number of mental health records in
the database has nearly quadrupled.
3. Google is funding efforts to advance police reform and gun violence
prevention in communities of colour
In early 2013 the pastor Michael McBride led a group of black ministers
to Washington to press, unsuccessfully, for the Obama administration
6. New York City is investing millions
in ‘violence interrupters’ in a public
health strategy to cut gun violence
After a pilot programme funded by
the justice department, New York
City invested $12.7m in expanding
a strategy that uses neighbourhood
“violence interrupters” to defuse conflicts before they turn fatal. The city’s
shootings hit a record low in 2016.
7. Sandy Hook families set up a training programme on how to prevent
school shootings and other violence
Sandy Hook Promise, a not-for-profit
group formed by family members
of some victims of the 2012 shooting, has developed free training programmes to help schoolchildren and
adults recognise the signs of at-risk
behaviour and know how to respond.
More than 2 million have taken part.
8. Ten states have passed laws expanding background checks on gun sales
After Sandy Hook, parents of the
children murdered joined with the
Obama administration for a push to
close loopholes in background checks
on gun buyers. The legislation failed.
Since then 10 states have passed universal background checks or expanded
background check requirements, according to the Giffords Law Center to
Prevent Gun Violence.
9. Massachusetts bans bump stocks
“Bump stocks” are a dangerous toy
with zero self-defence value that
allows semi-automatic rifles to be
fired more quickly. After the Las Vegas
shootings, officials said the shooter
had multiple bump stocks. Massachusetts became the first state since the
Las Vegas shootings to ban the device.
10. Gun control advocates have
convinced some private retailers to
oppose gun-carrying in their stores
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense
in America has celebrated Starbucks,
Chipotle, Target and other stores for
asking customers not to bring guns
into their stores (with the exception
of law enforcement officers).
Travels in white America, page 26 →
Gun violence in America follows
a ritualised playbook. Shootings
happen, outrage is expressed,
debate ensues, preventive measures suggested. Then the backlash
begins. And nothing happens.
It’s clear that the cyclical way
the US media covers gun violence
is letting politicians off the hook.
The country seems to have reached
a settled view about gun violence:
the politics are too difficult; it is
impossible to bring meaningful
reform; and a mass shooting every
few weeks is becoming normal.
It’s time for a different approach. This month Guardian US
has launched Break the Cycle,
a new series to change the way
the media covers American gun
violence – and to challenge the
orthodoxy that gun reform is a
hopeless pursuit. The aim is to
take issue with the vested interests
who distort the terms of the debate
for their own benefit, to spotlight
progress that has been made, and
offer possible solutions.
To accept that America’s gun
violence is an intractable problem is an insult to the memory of
all of those who have died from
it. Research suggests that, while
Americans support the second
amendment right to bear arms,
large majorities are also open to
considering some measures of control. Partisan agendas are often out
of step with shifts in public opinion
that are happening on the ground.
Dismissing gun owners as
paranoid or irrational is one of the
errors of the debate. If we want to
save lives, we need to recognise
that gun owners and gun rights
advocates are important partners.
More than 36,000 people die
from gunshot wounds in America
each year – and more than 20,000
of those are suicides. To drive
change it is also necessary to examine domestic violence, accidental
killings, and the disproportionate burden of gun violence on
communities of colour.
Gun violence is an American
disease. The scale of gun ownership and deaths is unrivalled in any
other developed country. Millions
of Americans want to do something
about this and the aim is to show
them what’s possible. Guardian US
For more Break the Cycle coverage,
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 11
International news
Embattled Moore plays the God card
In Alabama, the Senate
candidate finds backing
despite sex accusations
David Smith Alabama
Two young boys in suits and ties, and
two young girls in dresses, sang about
the love of God. A woman turned to
the person next to her and asked:
“How can you look at these children
and not believe?” On the gym’s back
wall hung a huge Stars and Stripes;
at the front a sign proclaimed: “GOD
About 400 people had gathered for
the religious revival in Jackson, in the
countryside of southern Alabama, last
Tuesday night. US and Christian flags
were carried in as about 50 children
sang of faith from sea to shining sea.
The main act was Roy Moore, the
Republican candidate for the US
Senate in Alabama. Facing accusations
of sexual misconduct towards women
in their teens when he was a deputy
district attorney in his 30s, his name
is now anathema to the Washington
political establishment. Moore denies
the misconduct allegations. But here,
in a rural outpost of the faithful south,
he was seen as a martyr. “After fortysomething years of fighting this battle,
I’m now facing allegations, and that’s
all the press want to talk about,” said
Moore. “I want to talk about the issues.
I want to talk about where this country’s going, and if we don’t come back
to God we’re not going anywhere.”
The currents that swept Donald
Trump to victory by 28 percentage points in last year’s presidential
election here are keeping Moore afloat
too. It is a fusion of patriotism and
religion combined with contrariness,
grievance and desire to repudiate
Roy Moore … seen as a martyr by
some Republicans in his state
meddling elites. David Webb, pastor
of the Walker Springs Road Baptist
church, which hosted the event
with Moore, said: “We have faith, we
believe God, we believe our Bible and
we stand for truth. Just because somebody rises up, we get attacked and
people think that we’re hatemongers,
but we’re not. We hate sin, but we love
people and sometimes that gets misunderstood in society.”
Moore has taken a hit in the polls
but local Republican officials are
standing by him, giving him a fighting
chance of holding off Democratic rival
Doug Jones on 12 December. For many
here the maverick candidate, opposed
to abortion and homosexuality, represents a defender of values they regard
as under siege from the liberal classes.
William Wright, helping with logistics
at the church, said: “We see this as a
scapegoat, a group of people that
have come together because they’re
scared of what he’s going to do, and
that includes Republicans.”
Wright, 49, a former millwright,
had an appearance from central casting: long grey beard and checked
shirt beneath denim dungarees, finessed with a red carnation. Wright
voted for Trump and describes himself “ecstatic” at his performance so
far. His hardline interpretation of the
Bible did not shift when his daughter,
Laci, 28, came out as gay. “ You have
hopes and dreams for your daughter,
like marriage and children. She knows
I love her and will always support her.
I would die for my daughter in a split
second. I love her girlfriend but that
doesn’t mean we have to agree: I’m
totally against lesbianism and homosexuality and would oppose them getting married.”
Moore, 70, has long been a divisive
figure. He was twice ousted as chief
justice of the Alabama supreme court
for defying court orders, first in 2003
over his insistence that a Ten Commandments monument be placed on
the grounds of the state judicial building, and then last year for trying to
defy the US supreme court ruling that
legalised gay marriage. Even Trump
endorsed his rival, Luther Strange,
in the Republican primary. The
avalanche of sex allegations – including that he abused a 14-year-old girl
when he was a 32-year-old assistant
district attorney – has led Republican
central command to ostracise him.
Yet Alabama Republicans, some
local evangelicals and many vot-
ers there remain loyal. Last Friday,
his wife Kayla spoke at a “Women
for Moore” rally, describing the
Vietnam veteran as “an officer and a
gentleman”. Supporters have blamed
a witch-hunt and, drawing from
Trump’s playbook, sought to blame
the media. In a crude attempt to discredit journalists, a fake robo-caller
named “Bernie Bernstein”, complete
with Jewish New York accent, claims
to be a Washington Post reporter
seeking women “willing to make
damaging remarks” about Moore in
exchange for money.
It is a baffling business to much
of the nation and does little to challenge cliches of Alabama as redneck,
backward and bigoted. Indeed, in
the Trump era, the state has become
something of a punchbag for frustrated liberals. Ambrosia Starling, 45,
an Alabama drag queen whom Moore
named as his nemesis over LGBT
rights, said: “We have a lot of insecure
people who desperately need someone to look down on and they will support any politician who gives them a
licence to hate. Alabama’s problems
are indicative of America’s problems.
I’ve always said discrimination in
America will not end until it ends in
This state produced George Wallace
and Moore, but it also produced Harper
Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird,
set in the fictional “tired old town” of
Maycomb, Alabama. Barack Obama
cited the classic novel in his farewell
address as president earlier this year.
“If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of
us must try to heed the advice of one
of the great characters in American
fiction, Atticus Finch,” he said. “You
never really understand a person until
you consider things from his point of
view … until you climb into his skin
and walk around in it.”
Leftwingers send electoral shockwaves through Chile
Piotr Kozak Santiago
Chile, so used to geological upheavals,
faces a vastly changed political landscape after a progressive alliance
surged ahead in last Sunday’s general
election, and left conservative presidential frontrunner Sebastián Piñera
facing a fight in December’s runoff.
Piñera, a billionaire and former
president, had been widely expected
to cruise to victory – and possibly even
win outright in the first round. He still
took first place, taking 36% of the vote,
but faced a strong challenge from his
two main leftwing rivals who between
them won 43%.
Former TV news anchor Alejandro
Guillier, who heads a centreleft alliance, came second in the
presidential race, but the real political
earthquake was the emergence of a
new political force, the Frente Amplio
– or Broad Front – whose roots can be
traced to student protests that shook
the country in 2011.
Often compared to the Podemos
movement in Spain, Frente Amplio is
an anti-establishment alliance of leftliberal parties, ecologists, humanists
and grassroots organisations.
Among the movement’s demands
are the replacement of Chile’s neoliberal economic model together with
the Pinochet-era constitution; broad
changes to the country’s pension system; and major reforms in health, education, workers’ rights and wages. Led
by Beatriz Sánchez, a 46-year-old journalist who came third with 20% of the
vote, Frente Amplio will control 12%
of the 155-seat chamber of deputies.
Frente Amplio’s supporters now
face a choice: do they swing behind a
Guillier-led coalition, which includes
some of the parties in the current
coalition government led by Michelle
Bachelet, or do they carry on as radical
independents and focus on building a
popular base?
Last Sunday’s election was also
marked by a high level of voter abstention, continuing a trend witnessed in
presidential elections four years ago
when just under half of the electorate
turned out to vote.
12 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
International news
Strange allies in the disruption games
← Continued from page 1 and to give
WikiLeaks the appearance of impartiality, given it had already released
a trove of documents hacked from
the Democratic party (by Russia,
according to US intelligence). Donald
Jr only replied occasionally to the
WikiLeaks emails, but appears in
some cases to have acted on them.
His father once tweeted a reference
to WikiLeaks 15 minutes after it had
been in touch.
WikiLeaks grew bolder in its proposals, urging the Trump campaign
not to concede on election night if
he lost but to challenge the result
as rigged. In mid-December, when
Trump was president-elect, it suggested he should push for Assange
to be made Australian ambassador
to Washington. Assange also backed
the Brexit vote in the UK, an intervention that again does not appear
to be incidental. It earned him an
unannounced visit in March from
Nigel Farage, the Brexit leader and
Trump’s closest British ally.
It has become clear Brexit was
another arena in which Assange and
Moscow were in step. Last week
researchers at the University of
Edinburgh identified more than 400
fake Twitter accounts apparently run
from St Petersburg, which published
Brexit-related posts in the run-up to
the UK vote, some aimed at stirring
anti-Islamic sentiment.
“The radical libertarians and
the autocrats are allied by virtue
of sharing an enemy, which is the
mainstream, soft, establishment,
liberal politics,” said Jamie Bartlett,
director of the centre for the analysis of social media at the Demos
thinktank. “Most early, hardline
cryptographers who were part of this
movement in the 1990s considered
that democracy and liberty were not
really compatible. Like most radical
libertarians – as Assange was – the
principal enemy was the soft democrats who were imposing the will
of the majority on the minority and
who didn’t really believe in genuine,
absolute freedom.”
That meant odd bedfellows could
become useful allies. “They have
been able to forge a convenient marriage with other enemies of liberal
democracy,” said Bartlett, “who in
every other sense imaginable are
completely at odds, but they do
share that common hatred of establishment, western, soft, democratic
politics as they see it.”
Snowden’s worldview also had
libertarian roots. He was a supporter of the rightwing maverick US
presidential candidate Ron Paul, and
opposed the Obama administration’s
Ideologue … Trump ally Steve Bannon admires Putin’s nationalism AP
endorsement of gun control and
affirmative action. He turned against
his employers in the US security
apparatus and stole their secrets in
the name of transparency. His defection has left him in exile in Moscow,
at the mercy of a government that
does not observe such western
niceties. But Snowden, unlike
Assange, has been increasingly
critical of the Kremlin.
Western libertarians share with
Moscow a distaste for the EU, seen
as an epitome of centralisation and
liberal social norms. “This libertarian
hatred of political correctness, that
everyone has to follow this social
democratic view on gender, welfare,
progressive politics and immigration
… libertarians can’t stand that, as
degrading the idea of individual liberty,” Bartlett said. “So I think you’ll
find quite a lot of people on the
libertarian right who think that Russia has become the only real counterbalance to that philosophy.”
The meeting of minds is embodied in the man long seen as Trump’s
chief ideologue, Steve Bannon. He
is another libertarian for whom the
contradiction between opposing
restrictions on individual liberties at
home and backing Russian authoritarianism is subsumed beneath
an admiration for Vladimir Putin’s
muscular nationalism.
In the summer of 2014, Bannon
explained the attraction of Putin for
“traditionalists” to a meeting of conservative Catholics through a Skype
link to the Vatican. “One of the
reasons is they believe that at least
Putin is standing up for traditional
institutions, and he’s trying to do it
in a form of nationalism – and I think
that people, particularly in certain
Kushner ‘failed to disclose emails sent to Trump team’
Jared Kushner shared emails
within Donald Trump’s team about
WikiLeaks and a “backdoor overture” from Russia during the 2016
election campaign and failed to
turn them over to investigators, it
emerged last Thursday.
Senators Charles Grassley and
Dianne Feinstein said a disclosure
of files to their committee by Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior
adviser, “appears to have been incomplete” and was missing “documents that are known to exist but
were not included”.
They said in a letter to Kushner’s
attorney, Abbe Lowell, that they
knew of emails received and sent
on by Kushner during the campaign
that appear relevant to inquiries
into alleged collusion between
Moscow and Trump’s team. Lowell
said Kushner had been “responsive
to all requests” by investigators.
The Senate judiciary committee
is conducting one of several investigations into Russian meddling
in the US election. Grassley and
Feinstein disclosed in their letter to
Lowell that Kushner was refusing
to turn over certain documents that
he believed “might implicate the
president’s executive privilege”,
which allows Trump to withhold
some information from Congress.
Kushner is also refusing to give
material he submitted as part of his
application for high-level security
clearance, according to the letter.
Jon Swaine
countries, want to see sovereignty
for their country, they want to see
nationalism,” he said. “They don’t
believe in this kind of pan-European
Union or they don’t believe in the
centralised government in the US.”
For Farage, too, reverence for Putin’s
boldness has outweighed doubts
about his rule. Asked in 2014 which
world leader he most admired, he
said: “As an operator, but not as a
human being, I would say Putin.”
Investigation into the Russian
involvement in the Brexit vote is
only now getting started. Russian
journalist Alexey Kovalev argues
Moscow’s influence has been overstated. Pointing to the minimal audience for Russia’s English-language
TV channel, he wrote: “Russian trolling operations seem less like pouring
gasoline on fire and more like pouring a bucket of water into the ocean.”
Kadri Liik, an expert on RussianEuropean relations, said: “Some fake
news may have influenced the Brexit
vote, but these fake news were manufactured by the British tabloids and
the leave campaign.”
In Catalonia, Russian bots and
their fake news output were pushing on a door already swinging open
because of other circumstances.
However, the long-term effect
of Russia’s use of disinformation to
break down trust in western institutions is hard to measure. What is
clear is that it is continuing with the
assistance of political movements
who trade in disillusion and resentment and have found a natural home
on the internet.
In Italy the Five Star Movement (M5S) combines its antiestablishment stance at home with
close alignment to Moscow’s line
in foreign policy. Its web guru,
Gianroberto Casaleggio, who claims
that M5S is pioneering “a new,
direct democracy that will see the
elimination of all barriers between
citizen and state”, has established
news sites that circulate conspiracy
theories, many cross-posted from
Russian outlets. One story suggested
the US was covertly funding the flow
of immigrants from Africa. It linked
back to a story on Sputnik Italia.
The libertarian political movements believe that “the state will
wither away and power will be
redistributed in some fundamentally democratic revolution that
they thought would be embedded
within the internet”, said Franklin
Foer, a US journalist and author of
World Without Mind: the Existential
Threat of Big Tech. “It’s fairly naive,
because power always reasserts
itself.” Observer
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 13
UK news
to public projects
Then a short
here like this
→ George
Then Section
and page
Ireland pessimistic over May’s
progress on EU border issue
Taoiseach wants written guarantee before he backs Brexit trade talks
Jessica Elgot
Ireland’s prime minister, L eo
Varadkar, issued a stark warning that
progress in the Brexit negotiations
was at risk of even further delays,
during a tense day for Theresa May of
sideline meetings with EU leaders at a
Swedish summit last Friday.
The taoiseach emerged from a
frosty bilateral meeting with May at
the European social summit and said:
“I can’t say in any honesty that [any
agreement] is close – on the Irish issue
or on the financial settlement.”
Varadkar said he would not be prepared to back progress of the Brexit
negotiations on to trade talks at the
summit in December without a formal written guarantee there would be
no hard border in Ireland. Britain, he
said, wanted “a divorce, but an open
relationship the day after”.
At the summit in Gothenburg, the
president of the European council
gave the UK government an ultimatum that progress needed to be made
on the Irish border and the financial
settlement. Donald Tusk also hit back
at suggestions by the Brexit secretary,
David Davis, that the UK needed to see
more compromise from Brussels. “I
appreciate Mr Davis’s English sense
of humour,” he said.
May spoke to several European
leaders on the fringes of the social summit. Government sources admitted it
was clear from the meetings that more
work was needed. The prime minister
told reporters: “But we are clear and
I am clear that what we need to do is
move forwards together and that’s
how we can ensure that we are going
to get the best deal for the UK and for
the EU,” she said.
Tusk said he had told May in an
earlier bilateral meeting that progress
on the two matters of concern needed
to happen “at the beginning of December at the latest”. The EU was ready to
move on to the second phase of the
Brexit talks, which will discuss the future trade relationship and transition
period, he said. These are due to begin
at its next summit in Brussels starting
on 14 December. He told reporters he
was “cautious but optimistic”.
Downing Street said May’s meeting with Tusk was due to take place
in Brussels at the Eastern Partnership
summit this week.
No return … a protest at Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly against a hard border with the Irish Republic Getty
Varadkar’s warning was the most
blunt, though the EU is likely to take
the lead from Ireland when it assesses
whether enough progress has been
made on the issue of the border with
Northern Ireland, one of the three
topics that must be agreed before talks
move to trade.
Leaving the summit several hours
later, Varadkar said he was not satisfied with the progress. “After 40 years
of marriage, most of them good, now
Britain wants a divorce, but an open relationship the day after,” he said. “We
have heard now for 18 months … that
the UK does not want a hard border
in Ireland. But after 18 months of the
right language we need to understand
how that can be achieved in law.”
Varadkar said that even though this
was “not a problem of our creation”,
the Irish government had proposed its
Government ups EU divorce offer to £40bn – but with strings
Theresa May’s cabinet is prepared to
increase its financial offer to the EU
in an attempt to break the deadlock
in Brexit talks, but will make clear
that any figure is contingent on the
final deal, including the shape of a
future trading arrangement.
The prime minister’s new Brexit
subcommittee agreed to a calculation of the divorce bill that would
result in a larger payment. But the
leading ministers, including key
Leave campaigners Boris Johnson
and Michael Gove, agreed that the
government should be prepared to
withdraw the divorce bill offer if
they were unhappy with the final
Brexit deal.
Some sources claim the final figure could reach £40bn ($53bn), but
no specific figure was discussed in
the meeting.
Sources made clear that May also
expects reciprocity this December
with the EU moving discussions
on to trade talks and on Monday
repeated her new Brexit mantra
that the EU and the UK “should
move forward together”.
Anushka Asthana
own solution, which would require the
UK to commit to retaining the same EU
rules and regulations across Ireland,
in effect keeping Northern Ireland in
the single market and customs union.
“We don’t have a counter-proposal
from the UK government yet which
makes any sense, but we would certainly welcome one,” he said.
A UK government source said it
had been clear from the outset there
would “be no hard border”.
Boris Johnson, backed by other
cabinet Brexiters, has been arguing
for the government to refuse to make
a firm offer to settle Britain’s EU liabilities before receiving assurances about
the outlines of a trade deal. Johnson
regards the financial settlement as a
strong negotiating card.
Anand Menon, director of the
thinktank UK in a Changing Europe,
said: “This is for the birds. The EU
has made quite clear that there’s a
sequence.” Even once talks on a future
relationship are under way, the EU is
determined there must be a “firewall”
between trade negotiations and talks
on the final details of the Brexit bill.
Leader comment, page 22 →
14 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
UK news
Grenfell Tower fire claimed 71 lives
Police conclude search
for victims as blaze
investigation continues
Kevin Rawlinson
Harriet Sherwood
Vikram Dodd
The Grenfell Tower fire claimed the
lives of 71 people, police said last week
after recovering what they believe to
be the last of the bodies. Five months
after fire tore through the west London tower block, officers investigating
the disaster said that they had identified the final victims as 71-year-old
Victoria King and her daughter, Alexandra Atala, 40.
“We were devastated to hear of
our sister Vicky’s fate and that of her
daughter, Alexandra, in the Grenfell
Tower tragedy,” their relatives said
in a statement. “Some comfort can
come from the knowledge that she
and Alexandra were devoted to one
another and spent so many mutually
supportive years together. They died
at each other’s side and now they can
rest together in peace. We will remember them always.”
Scotland Yard does not expect to
find any more victims. Those who
died included a family of six and at
least three families of five, and ranged
in ages from a stillborn baby boy to an
84-year-old woman. Local faith leaders
said the police statement marked an
important moment. “The expectation
of many people in the community was
that the death toll was in the hundreds.
So in a way this is good news, although
every single death was and is a painful
loss,” said Abdurahman Sayed, of the
Al-Manaar mosque.
Rev Mike Long, minister of the Notting Hill Methodist church near the
foot of the tower, said the past five
months had been an appalling ordeal
for the bereaved. “The news that all
those who so tragically lost their lives
have now been recovered and identified marks a significant stage. Hopefully this will help in the long healing
process and establishing confidence
among the community.”
He said that the “difficult and
demanding work of the recovery and
forensic teams has been remarkable,
and their efforts need to be acknowledged”.
Stuart Cundy, the Metropolitan
police commander over seeing the
investigation, said: “The human cost
and terrible reality of what took place
at Grenfell Tower affects so many people. Our search operation and ongoing
investigation is about those people.”
The Met is conducting a criminal
inquiry and officers have told survivors there are “reasonable grounds”
to suspect Kensington and Chelsea
council and the organisation that
managed the tower block of corporate
Members of 320 households affected by the fire are still living in hotel
accommodation, including more than
200 children. An independent report
published by the Grenfell Recovery
Taskforce, said council staff dealing
with survivors needed to display “a
greater degree of humanity”.
The search, which is nearing its
conclusion, included a fingertip
search by specially trained officers,
who examined 15.5 tonnes of debris
on each floor. They were supported by
forensic anthropologists, archaeologists and odontologists.
Cundy said: “It was vital that our
search and identification operation
was undertaken in a manner that families and loved ones could have complete confidence in,” adding that specialist teams “pushed the boundaries
of what was scientifically possible to
identify people”.
Chaos and confusion fed local
distrust of initial official count
In the fraught days after the Grenfell Tower fire in June, controversy
over the official number of dead
worsened already tense relations
between officials and residents.
A day after the fire, the death toll
released by the police stood at 17,
and the next day it jumped to 30,
at a time when a quick count of the
photographs of the missing stuck
to the walls and fences surrounding the building suggested the real
number was much higher.
Among the crowds of traumatised residents waiting for news,
there was anger that officials were
apparently not being upfront about
the real scale of the tragedy.
The police announcement will
largely quell lingering unease over
the figures, but mistrust of officials
is so potent among relatives of the
dead and survivors that even now
there remains residual scepticism.
In the absence of clear information, rumours quickly took hold.
Groups of grieving survivors took
to the internet to research and compile independent death tolls, coming up with far higher numbers.
The local Labour councillor Robert Atkinson said difficulties were
intensified because the council
did not appear to have clear lists of
who was living in the block, amid
concern over illegal subletting.
“It is an indication of how much
chaos and confusion there was in
the aftermath that these rumours
were allowed to spread,” he said.
“People started to try to count the
dead themselves and numbers got
double counted. It was absolutely
Amelia Gentleman
Final victims identified … Grenfell Tower Tolga Akmen/Reuters
Austerity burden falls hardest on already disadvantaged
Patrick Butler
Disabled people, single parents and
women have been among the biggest
losers under seven years of austerity,
according to a report by the equalities
While the poorest tenth of households will on average lose about 10%
of their income by 2022 – equivalent
to £1 in every £8 of net income – the
richest will lose just 1%, or about
£1 in every £250 of net income, the
study carried out for the Equality and
Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
David Isaac, the EHRC’s chairman,
said the study showed the poorest
households faced a “bleak future”,
and called on ministers to review
their plans. “The government can’t
claim to be working for everyone if
its policies actually make the most
dis advantaged people in society
financially worse off.”
The study modelled the cumulative impact on UK households by 2022
of all tax, social security and public
spending policies carried out since
2010, including universal credit, VAT
and the national minimum wage.
Some groups were worse-hit than
others. Ethnic minority households
will be more adversely affected than
white households; the average loss for
black families is 5% of income – more
than double that for white families.
Lone parents will lose about 15% of
their net income on average, equivalent to almost £1 in every £6.
The study found that households
with the most serious disabilities
stand to lose most as a result of tax
and benefit reforms, most notably
as a result of cuts. Women, who will
lose about £940 ($1,245) on average
from the reforms, lose more than men
(£460 on average) at every income
level. The study says this is because
women are more dependent than men
on benefits and tax credits.
The EHRC said the government
had refused to carry out a cumulative
impact assessment of its policies, but
this study showed that such an exercise was both possible and necessary.
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 15
UK news
First Greek camp child for UK
Syrian boy had London
council offer last year
but officials did not act
Mark Townsend
More than a year after the UK government pledged to transfer hundreds of
child refugees from Greece, the first
unaccompanied minor from there
was due to arrive in London this week.
However, the 15-year-old Syrian
has been described by experts as profoundly traumatised because of the
delay and has recently attempted to
take his own life. Fourteen months
have elapsed since the boy was first
identified by the Home Office as especially vulnerable and eligible for
immediate transfer.
It has also emerged that Hammersmith and Fulham council in west
London told the Home Office a year
ago it had a place for the teenager, but
officials did not act on the offer – a decision charities say has caused “irreversible damage” to the child, who has
lost contact with his family in Syria.
Giannoula Kefala, the council’s
principal social worker, said that last
December she told the Home Office
of her intention to travel to Greece to
assess the boy. “It is absolutely clear
from my visit that the long delay has
caused this child terrible harm, and
that it has been apparent for a long
time that the available resources in
Greece cannot cater for this child’s
needs. Recent hospital records make
clear the ongoing uncertainty is
Waiting … Syrian children queue for food in a Greek refugee camp Getty
having a devastating impact.” The
teenager is on heavy psychiatric
medication, believed to be necessary
to prevent a fatal outcome.
Until last Monday the youngster
was being detained in a police cell
with no access to medical professionals and forced to sleep on a mattress
on the floor. During his detention the
teenager has spent more than 380
days in psychiatric clinics, 124 days in
shelters for unaccompanied minors
and six weeks in police detention.
Almost 300 unaccompanied minors in Greece were identified last
year as eligible to be moved to the UK
under the Dubs amendment to the
Immigration Act, passed in April 2016
following a campaign to bring 3,000
lone refugee children stuck in camps
to Britain. Yet changes introduced by
the Home Office in March reduced the
number of those eligible to come to
the UK to about 40. Only four eligible
child refugees have been identified in
Greece since April, despite data showing 9,700 unaccompanied children
had entered this year, most having
fled Syria. Aside from the situation in
Greece, 11,186 unaccompanied minors
are known to be in France, along with
13,867 in Italy.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
“We remain committed to transferring
480 children from Europe to the UK
under section 67 of the Immigration
Act. We have accepted further referrals this year and transfers are ongoing. We will continue to work closely
with EU partners and local authorities to transfer eligible children here
quickly and safely.”
After 669 years, a woman is Black Rod
Peter Walker
The Queen has appointed Sarah
Clarke, a former director of the Wimbledon tennis championships, as
Black Rod. It is the first time a woman
has held the largely ceremonial parliamentary post in its 669-year history.
Clarke, who will formally be known
as Lady Usher of the Black Rod, will
take over early next year from David
Leakey, who has been Gentleman
Usher of the Black Rod since 2011.
Originating from a role created in
1348 by Edward III to guard the door
outside meetings of his advisory council, the Order of the Garter, Black Rod
is now a senior official in the House of
Lords. The post is most visible at the
annual state opening of parliament,
when Black Rod is sent from the Lords
to the Commons to summon MPs for
the Queen’s speech. The ceremony involves the door to the Commons being
slammed in Black Rod’s face. A staff is
used to knock three times on the door
to gain admittance.
Black Rod also organises other ceremonial events, and is responsible
for “business resilience and continuity planning” for the House of Lords.
Their department includes Black
Rod’s deputy, the yeoman usher, and
the House of Lords doorkeepers.
Black Rod is also officially responsible for royal sections of parliament,
such as the robing room and the royal
Before organising the Wimbledon
championships, Clarke worked for
the 2012 Olympic Games, the London
marathon and UK Sport. She said she
was “deeply honoured and delighted”
to be offered the post. “I am truly looking forward to starting work.”
The Speaker of the House of Lords,
Lord Fowler, said: “I am very pleased
to welcome Sarah Clarke to the role of
Black Rod. As the first woman to take
on the role, this is a historic moment
for the house. The Lords has a great
record of women taking on senior political roles. Five of the last seven leaders of the Lords and the current leader
of the opposition have been women,
as well as both my predecessors as
Lord Speaker.”
Currently both the Tory and Labour
leaders in the Lords are women: Lady
Evans and Lady Smith.
News in brief
Kicker here like this
Then a short description here like this
• Philip Hammond claimed
“there are no unemployed
people” in the UK in a major
slip-up as the chancellor prepared to fight for his political
life in this week’s budget.
The gaffe came as he made
the case on the BBC’s Andrew
Marr Show that driverless
cars will not necessarily lead
to more unemployment. In
fact, there are about 1.42 million unemployed people in
the UK and many more who
are underemployed.
• Gerry Adams has announced he is stepping down
as Sinn Féin president after
34 years heading the Irish
political party once closely
linked to the IRA. Adams also
confirmed he will not seek
re-election to the Irish parliament, the Dáil, in the next
general election. The 69-yearold republican played a pivotal role in shifting the IRA to
a permanent ceasefire in the
1990s and nudging Sinn Féin
towards power sharing with
its former unionist enemies in
Northern Ireland.
Comment, page 22 →
• Official reviews will clear
MI5 and the police of making
serious mistakes that allowed
terrorists to strike Britain in
four attacks this year, the
Guardian has learned. But
they will also make recommendations to minimise the
chances of missing future
attackers, including a new
computer algorithm to detect
behaviour that could indicate
involvement in terrorism. The
inquiries were carried out
by MI5 and the police themselves, overseen by a barrister. Nothing in the reviews
shows that clear chances were
missed to stop any of the attacks that killed 36 people.
• Jeremy Corbyn strengthened his grip on the Labour
party after Scottish members
elected a leftwing trade unionist, Richard Leonard, as
their seventh leader in the
past decade. Leonard defeated Anas Sarwar, a former
Scottish deputy leader, after
a contest between the party’s
left and right wings. But the
victory was overshadowed
by a party row over the decision by Kezia Dugdale, former
Scottish Labour leader, to
take time out of her parliamentary role to be on the reality-TV show I’m A Celebrity
… Get Me Out Of Here!
16 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Finance Interview
‘Donald Trump has fascist
tendencies. It is disturbing’
The Nobel prize-winning economist deplores the US president’s divisive
tactics, and worries that he will push the nuclear button, writes Larry Elliott
arry Truman once
demanded to be
given one-handed
economists because he
became so frustrated
with his advisers meeting every demand for answers with
“on the one hand, on the other hand”.
Truman would have liked Joseph
Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning
economist who worked for a later
Democratic president, Bill Clinton,
and who does not mince words
when talking about the current
incumbent of the White House,
Donald Trump.
Stiglitz says that for the past six
or seven years he has been growing
increasingly disturbed by America’s
growing inequality and the
simmering anger it has caused.
“I began to say ‘if we didn’t fix
this problem we are going to have
a political problem’ and historically
a Trump figure, a fascist kind of
figure, arises.”
Asked whether he really thinks
Trump is a fascist, Stiglitz says:
“I certainly think he has those
tendencies. He is restrained by our
institutions and every day those
institutions work we feel relieved.
We don’t know what the bounds
are and we don’t know how far he
would push those bounds.
“A couple of things are most
disturbing – the attack on the press
and the attack on the foundations
of knowledge which goes beyond
the press.
“We have never had a president
who day after day lies and is
unaffected by it. Normally everybody
you deal with is tethered by a sense of
responsibility and truth, but not him.
“I think the other thing you have
seen with some of these fascist
leaders is using ‘us versus them’
as a way of dividing society.” Stiglitz
says Trump is using racism and
misogyny to divide America. “To me
it is deeply, deeply disturbing.”
A couple of things are
disturbing … We have
never had a president
who day after day lies
and is unaffected by it
Stiglitz had his differences with
Clinton, for whom he worked as
chairman of the council of economic
advisers, and Barack Obama,
criticising both for not doing enough
to ensure that the fruits of growth
were more evenly shared.
But he sees Trump as not just
misguided but dangerous – a man
who has difficulty telling the truth,
whose word is not to be trusted and
who might even respond to being
thwarted in his plans by pushing the
nuclear button.
He gives as an example the
president’s determination to rip
up the North American Free Trade
Agreement (Nafta), which created
a free trade zone between the US,
Canada and Mexico a quarter of
a century ago.
Trump thinks the agreement has
been bad for America but is running
into strong opposition from big
business. “What I worry about is
that when Trump is confronted with
the reality that he can’t do on Nafta
what he wants to do he will strike
out like a little kid and do something
dangerous – like putting his finger
on a button he shouldn’t be putting
his finger on.”
Would Trump really put his finger
on the nuclear button because
he was thwarted over Nafta? “We
don’t know. There is a discussion in
Congress to restrain his ability to put
his finger on that button.”
Trump’s victory over Hillary
Clinton in the 2016 presidential
race has encouraged Stiglitz to
update and expand his 2002 book,
Globalisation and its Discontents.
The original book, written in the
wake of the violent protests on the
streets of Seattle, Prague, Washington DC and Genoa, assumed that
globalisation’s discontents were in
poor countries. The new book charts
how the unhappiness has spread
from the developing to developed
world and led to Trump, Brexit and
growing support for extreme parties
in continental Europe.
Stiglitz attributes Trump’s
election to globalisation, rising
inequality and the legacy of the
2008 financial crisis.
“This is a global phenomenon.
Part of it is growing inequality and
the way people have come to understand that inequality. They see the
world doing better and they see that
they are not getting better off. They
Paris sets out its stall in race to cash in from Brexit:
Angelique Chrisafis
Cranes dot the skyline of Paris’s La
Défense business district as drills
clatter away on the building sites of
future skyscrapers containing acres
of new office space. Marie-Célie Guillaume proudly walks the route of the
guided tours she gives to companies
drawing up Brexit contingency plans
and considering moving jobs from
London after the UK leaves the EU.
“The uncertainty opened up by
the Brexit vote is growing even bigger today,” she says as she takes a lift
up France’s highest office building
to inspect a luxurious new designer
workspace, with treadmill desks and
meditation rooms. “We have no clarification of the full timeframe or the
conditions of Brexit – and if there’s one
thing companies hate, it’s uncertainty.”
Guillaume, chief executive of
Defacto, which manages this vast
business district that nudges up
against the west of Paris, was behind
last year’s tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign to lure companies to
France post-Brexit: “Tired of the fog?
Try the frogs!” Since then she has
seen a growing number of inquiries
from international firms about the
Hop to it … an advert for Paris La
Défense aimed at British firms
practicalities of a potential move of
staff from London.
La Défense, Europe’s largest business district, happens to be in a building boom just as Paris itself races to
construct new office buildings amid a
massive extension of the public transport system. The business district is
ready with hundreds of thousands
of square metres of comparatively
cheap office space for any company
that might decide to relocate staff,
particularly if Brexit means the loss
of London’s “passporting rights”,
which allow international financial
firms access to EU markets.
Joseph Stiglitz ... ‘Trump is not fit to
be president’ Martin Godwin
don’t want to say it’s because of
what I’ve done, it’s because of what’s
happened to me. Something that
Trump said captured what a lot of
people think: the system is rigged.
“Part of this is a legitimate anger
relating to the crisis of 2008 and
how we handled it. We saved the
banks, we saved the bankers and we
saved the shareholders; we didn’t
do much for homeowners and the
workers who were losing their jobs.”
Stiglitz says he told Obama before
he became president that the focus
should be on helping ordinary Americans. “But the dominant influence
were the bankers in Wall Street.”
The rules of the US economy
were rewritten in the 1980s in ways
that weakened labour and watered
down anti-trust and other competition laws, Stiglitz says. He believes
discontent would have surfaced even
without the 2008 crisis. “But I think
it worsened it, crystallised it.”
He added: “The crisis of 2008
made things much, much worse.
Millions of Americans lost their
homes and the way things were
managed was grossly unfair.”
The reason neither developed
nor developing countries are happy
with globalisation, Stiglitz says, is
that trade agreements were written
by and for corporations and against
ordinary workers in both places.
Stiglitz was born in Gary, Indiana,
in 1943. Then a booming steel town,
Gary has become one of the places
in the midwest that has come to
symbolise America’s rust belt decay.
Stiglitz says he understands the anger
that turned Indiana into Trumpland
because for the poorest Americans
wages adjusted for inflation had not
increased for six decades.
The US economy has been growing at a reasonable pace in the year
since the presidential election, with
unemployment falling, consumer
confidence strong and the stock
market rising. So does Stiglitz thinks
Trump’s economic strategy will work?
“There is no way ... that it will
raise living standards. The reality
is that the standard of living will go
down if he succeeds in doing any significant part of what he is proposing.
“He is proposing deglobalisation,
breaking up the efficient supply
chains that have been created and
raising costs. If manufacturing jobs
do come back to the US they will
be done by robots in hi-tech parts
of the country rather than the rust
belt states.”
The updated Globalisation and its
Discontents sketches out three possible ways forward: doubling down on
the current model of globalisation,
the new protectionism or a fairer globalisation. More of the status quo is
not politically feasible, he says, and
wouldn’t work anyway, while Trump
is the manifestation of the new protectionism. “It means going back
into yourself, ignoring all the advantages of trade such as specialisation.
It’s dishonest populism. We have to
make globalisation work, stop more
than 100% of the gains going to the
people at the top.”
But is fairer globalisation any
more politically feasible given the
likely push back from the 1%. “There
is going to be resistance. But we
are democracies. I don’t think we
can have democracies that work
where most of the people are not
benefiting economically.”
Stiglitz says Bernie Sanders
would have beaten Trump. Instead
America is led by a man Stiglitz says
should not be in the White House.
“He is not fit to be president. He
does not have an understanding of
the issues, the political process. He
is used to making one-time deals.
You can cheat your contractors
when you buy a real estate property
and fix it up. Reputation doesn’t
matter. For the president of the
United States reputation does matter. The reputation of the United
States does matter. We are dealing
with countries all over the world.
They want to know if your word is
good. Trump’s word is not good.”
Globalisation and Its Discontents
Revisited: Anti-Globalisation in the
Era of Trump, and The Euro: And
its Threat to the Future of Europe by
Joseph E Stiglitz are both published
by Penguin on 28 November
‘I think we can gain 10,000 jobs’
London businesses and financiers
are playing a waiting game on the
exact terms of Brexit, and are under
pressure to take decisions early next
year. But Guillaume is looking to the
east to win business from London too.
She recently travelled to South Korea
and Japan to make the case for Paris.
“Until now Asian firms setting up
in Europe immediately chose London
without a moment’s thought. Now it’s
clear that they are hesitating between
Germany and France.”
Paris has markedly stepped up its
pace in the race among European cities
to corner the “Brexit relocation” sector.
Valérie Pécresse, the head of the Île
de France region that surrounds Paris,
spoke to business leaders in London
during several cross-Channel relocation roadshows. She brought a vast
team of technical experts to answer
companies’ precise questions – from
tax to labour laws, visas or the price
of office rents – as businesses enter a
new, more urgent phase of preparing
detailed Brexit contingency plans and
making decisions early next year.
“Our first target is French banks,”
Pécresse says. “With France’s changes
to legislation, French banks no longer
have reason to put their workers in
London.” The ultimate target for
the Paris region was to bring 10,000
direct jobs from London by 2019. “Of
course, everything depends on the
negotiations in Brussels,” she says.
“If the negotiations lead to the withdrawal of financial passporting from
the UK, I think Paris can gain 10,000
direct jobs … France is reformable and
there is a new state of mind.”
Jean-Louis Missika, the Paris
deputy mayor in charge of economic
development, said Brexit is “a slow
earthquake – it started the day of the
vote and it continues very slowly, but
with earthquake effects”.
Finance in brief
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 17
• The Norwegian central bank, which runs the
country’s sovereign wealth
fund – the world’s biggest
– has told its government it
should dump its shares in oil
and gas companies, in a move
that could have significant
consequences for the sector.
Norges Bank, which manages
Norway’s $1tn fund, said
ministers should take the
step to avoid the fund’s value
being hit by a permanent
fall in the oil price. The fund
was built on the back of Norway’s hydrocarbon wealth,
and around 300bn krone
($36bn), or 6%, is invested in
oil and gas companies. The
Norwegian government said it
would consider the proposal,
but a decision should not be
expected until next year.
• Airbus has landed the aerospace industry’s biggest-ever
deal by number of planes,
with an agreement to sell
430 jets worth up to $50bn
to budget airlines. The preliminary deal for A320neo
narrowbody jets was signed
at the Dubai airshow and
offers a major boost to Airbus,
which has lagged behind its
rival Boeing in deals this year.
• The European commission is to push for a quota for
women on company boards to
address the slow progress to
gender equality in the senior
ranks of publicly listed businesses. Under the proposals,
companies whose nonexecutive directors are more
than 60% male would be
required to prioritise women
when candidates of equal
merit were being considered
for a post. Previous attempts
by the EU’s executive to set a
40% goal for women in boardrooms have been blocked by
Germany, the Netherlands
and Sweden over fears that
Brussels was overreaching
into domestic policy.
Foreign exchanges
Sterling rates
Hong Kong
New Zealand
20 Nov
13 Nov
18 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
is ready to
thrive after
Ranga Mberi
Most Zimbabweans
have known no other
leader, and we now
hope that this young
nation can finally
realise its potential
ast Friday an office worker at a government building took down President Robert
Mugabe’s portrait to dust it, as she has done
every day for years. Then she paused, unsure whether to put it back up. The portrait
is everywhere, from supermarkets, offices
and banks. There he is – Mugabe, sitting
stiffly in his dark suit, peering down through thickrimmed glasses, as the stern father looking down at us.
Much like the portrait, Mugabe has been an everpresent influence in every Zimbabwean’s life. But as
strangers hugged and stopped to dance with each other
when I made my way to an anti-Mugabe rally, it seemed
that he was finally leaving, with Zimbabweans looking
to the future with a mix of anxiety and hope.
Everyone has imagined what they would do the day
Robert Mugabe goes. They have replayed it in their
minds. They would go into the streets, sing and dance
and honk their car horns. They would, over a beer, toast
the end of a rule that has denied opportunity to an entire generation. But his end has not been that sudden.
The last days of Mugabe have, instead, been something
of a soap opera. Is this really how it is all going to end,
we’ve asked each other in recent days.
Many of us have known no other leader. He was sold
to us as the father of the nation. Our guardian. The one
who led our struggle for independence and protected
us from imperialists. Watching the reign of such a dominant figure end in such a farce is not what we imagined.
The military action against him was made in plain
sight. Zimbabweans stared at their phones as incredible
pictures of army vehicles rolling into Harare flew around
social media. Last Tuesday night, few slept. The army
had taken over the state broadcaster, someone said. No.
It was all fake news, we said. But then, in the early hours
of last Wednesday, two men in military uniform appeared on the screens. We are here just for the criminals
around Mugabe, they said. This is not a coup.
For a full day, there were no further updates. We
scrolled through the foreign news channels desperate to
find out what was happening in our own country. In the
vacuum we did what we do best. We created memes online and joked away the anxiety. Soon we grew tired of
the jokes. For years, state media had sold us the image
of an invincible man. Now we watched, mouths agape,
as the young ZBC presenter said the words we never
In the west, Mugabe
has often been touted
as the good leader who
somehow turned bad
midway. Zimbabweans
know better
Ellie Foreman-Peck
thought we would hear on national television: “ZanuPF has asked President Mugabe to step down.” This was
when we knew we had to start thinking of life without
him. He has built for himself the image of a father figure
who the country cannot do without. Many Zimbabweans had even come to see him as the country, and now
wonder what life will be without him.
In the western media he has often been touted as the
good leader who somehow turned bad, especially when
he started taking over white-held land. Only after the
land takeovers did the world start to see him as an ogre.
Zimbabweans know better. As Mugabe himself
told an interviewer in 1981: “What I was, I still am.” In
the 1980s a military brigade that reported directly to
Mugabe killed thousands of civilians in the south of the
country. Through the 1990s Mugabe expelled party officials who opposed his plan to establish a one-party state
and make himself leader for life. Protests by unions
were brutally crushed as the economy collapsed.
Now, a generation that has lived under no other
leader must dare to hope. Zimbabwe is often portrayed
as the standard African banana republic. We face-palm
when we read distorted western portrayals of the country we live in; we side-eye the talking heads on CNN
as they call us a failed state. Zimbabwe has suffered
greatly, but we remain a young nation still bursting with
unrealised potential. We are relieved, but cautious. The
changes are a chance to start over, even though we are
not quite sure what change exactly this is. Despite all
the years of decline, Zimbabwe’s infrastructure – from
roads to communications – is largely intact. Banks are
without cash, but the financial sector is modern.
he population is young, well educated and
desperate to use its skills. From the rolling
hills in the east to the game parks in the
west, Zimbabwe has some of the best tourist attractions in Africa. The country is rich
with minerals, from gold to lithium, with
demand for the latter growing as it is used
in rechargeable devices.
Last Friday, before Zimbabweans marched for
Mugabe’s resignation, I went to the place where it all
began for him. Stodart Hall is in Mbare, Harare’s oldest township. There was nothing there to suggest it is a
place full of history. The light bulbs had been stolen and,
at the entrance, there was a sign announcing the start
times for the next prophetic healing service.
On Pazarangu Avenue, which runs past the hall, jobless youths sat on piles of bricks and prop their feet up
on boxes to avoid the slime flowing from a broken sewerage pipe. Across the road, at what used to be a sports
complex, a crew was preparing for a show later that
night of Kinnah, a popular artist of the dancehall music
that has become the refuge of many poor urban youths.
Nothing said that this was where Mugabe, almost 60
years ago, began his political career when a fiery speech
he made sparked weeks of protest. Mugabe has come
back to Stodart Hall frequently, but only to preside over
the funerals of his dead war comrades. At the National
Heroes Acre, the burial place for heroes of the struggle,
a sculpture of Mugabe stands fixed to a towering wall.
Many who lie here sacrificed more, but it is Mugabe
alone who stands immortalised in bronze, chest thrust
forward, flag fluttering behind him.
On one visit, Kingston Kazambara, the curator,
looked up at the massive piece of North Korean art and
gushed: “That’s none other than His Excellency, Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, majestically, triumphantly,
bravely guiding his flock forward to a new future.”
Now we must imagine a new future without him, and
without the portraits of a big man looking down on our
every move.
Ranga Mberi is a Harare-based journalist
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 19
It’s time for us to rethink our fidelity to marriage
Arwa Mahdawi
It’s great that Australia voted yes
for equality. But a more heartening
sign of progress would be an equal
form of partnership for everyone
t’s been a busy few weeks for ticking things off
the Gay Agenda. First, Starbucks launched an ad
campaign with lesbians in it and then, in almost
as momentous news, Australia said yes to samesex marriage. Almost 80% of Australians voted in
the historic national postal survey, with 61.6% of
people in favour of treating gay people like everyone else, and 38.4% against. Unlike a result of, say, 52%
versus 48%, that’s a pretty unambiguous indicator
of what Australia wants and what it values. As prime
minister Malcolm Turnbull said, the country “voted yes
for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that
Australia voted for marriage equality. Being of a
homosexual persuasion, I’m all for gay people having
equal rights. They tend to come in very handy. And I’m
certainly all for fairness, commitment and love. But I’m
just not sure that marriage, as an institution, has anything to do with fairness, commitment or love. Quite the
opposite, in fact; marriage has long been about power,
property and control. It has traditionally been a way of
commoditising women and regulating female sexuality
and, in many ways, it still is.
We’ve moved on, of course, from the days of coverture when, as William Blackstone describes in Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), marriage meant
that “the very being or legal existence of the woman
is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under
whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every
thing”. We’ve moved on from the days when raping your
spouse was totally fine under the law – although it’s
worth remembering that it wasn’t until 1991 that marital
rape became a crime in England and Wales. Nevertheless, marriage still hasn’t been properly modernised. In
the UK, marriage certificates still have only the names
of the couple’s fathers, not their mothers, for example,
although there have been numerous efforts to change
this recently.
The traditions we’ve established around marriage
also reinforce outdated gender norms. The diamond
engagement rings; the white dresses; the father walking
the bride down the aisle; the fact that it’s still considered unusual for a woman to propose. I’m surprised by
how many strong, smart, feminist women I know seem
to have one foot in the 1950s when it comes to marriage.
Not to mention that heterosexual marriage still largely
benefits men. Studies show that while tying the knot
seems to reduce the chances of men kicking the bucket
early, unmarried women don’t experience the same
negative health effects as single men.
As for marriage encouraging commitment … Well,
I’m sorry to say it, but straight people have diluted the
institution of marriage. The great and the good of the
heterosexual world all seem to treat marriage like an
impulse purchase. The president of the United States,
for example, has had three wives. Kim Kardashian,
the unofficial president, has had three husbands – her
second marriage to Kris Humphries famously lasted
Peter Hermes Furian/Alamy
only 72 days. Which, to be fair, is longer than Britney
Spears’s 55-hour marriage. This, perhaps, is down to
the burgeoning wedding-industrial complex and the
fact that, in many ways, marriage has become more a
celebration of consumption than of commitment.
I’m just not sure
that marriage,
as an institution,
has anything to
do with fairness,
commitment or love
ou don’t have to participate in all that,
you might say. It’s perfectly possible to
get married without spending a fortune
on a diamond ring or having a traditional
wedding. It’s perfectly possible to have
an equal relationship and stay married for
longer than 55 hours. Of course. And I’m
glad that Australia voted yes for marriage equality. It’s
a heartening sign of progress. But what I think would
be even more heartening is if more of us voted no to
marriage and if society normalised a more inherently
equal form of partnership; one that isn’t permeated by
old-fashioned ideals. I don’t often say this, but the French
are an inspiration in that regard. France created a system
of civil unions in 1999 – the pacte civil de solidarité or
Pacs – as a stepping stone to gay marriage. As it turns out,
it was embraced by heterosexual couples who weren’t
enamoured with traditional marriages and wanted an
alternative way to formalise their relationship.
In the UK, gay couples can have a civil partnership
but heterosexuals can’t, despite the fact that many
straight couples are eager for a more modern alternative
to marriage and have been fighting for a change in the
law. Earlier this year, Charles Keidan and Rebecca Steinfeld, a couple from London, lost their court of appeal
battle to be able to choose a civil partnership over a
marriage. I don’t normally feel sorry for straight people
claiming “heterosexual discrimination”, but in this case,
they’re absolutely right to be angry. Extending civil partnerships to everyone in the UK is vital if we want to call
ourselves an equal, progressive society.
So now that Australia has put gay marriage equality
to the vote, perhaps it’s time for the UK to put straight
partnership equality to the vote. After all, who doesn’t
love a referendum?
Arwa Mahdawi is a writer and brand strategist based
in New York
20 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
We can halt
the rise of
the global
far right
Timothy Garton Ash
Matt Kenyon
The nationalist march
in Poland is part of an
alarming international
trend. It is up to all of us –
not just politicians –
to stop it from spreading
very journalism school should show its
students the video clip of the moment this
month when a chirpy Polish state television reporter asked a man decked out in red
and white national colours what it meant
to him to participate in a march celebrating
Poland’s independence day. “It means,” replied the man, “to remove from power … Jewry!”
Since Poland is governed by the rightwing populistnationalist Law and Justice party (PiS), the obvious next
question is: who do you have in mind as Jewry’s current
representative in power? The PiS party leader, Jarosław
Kaczyński? The prime minister, Beata Szydło, perhaps?
Or do you mean someone who is in power elsewhere:
Donald Trump or Theresa May, or the Jews on Mars?
Throwing away this rare journalistic opportunity to
interview an antisemite, the flustered reporter turned
to a nearby woman, asking what it meant to be a patriot
taking part in the march. When she agreed with the
previous speaker, and said she was proud to be there as
a Pole among Poles, the reporter turned back to camera
saying cheerily: “This is pride, pride that one may be a
Pole, pride that one is a Pole!”
Call yourself a journalist? Actually, he’s a hack working for the public TV channel TVP Info, now degraded
into a PiS propaganda conduit, and he was desperately
sticking to the party line that this is just one great,
warm, patriotic pride parade. The clip is a brilliant
58-second lesson in how not to be a journalist.
I’ve turned my lens on the journalist rather than the
antisemite because, faced with a global mainstreaming
of far-right ideas from Charlottesville to Moscow, the
crucial question is: how should we respond?
First, we have to understand what’s going on. In
every case, there’s a combination of unique local and
generic transnational features. This 11 November “independence march”, which has been an annual event
in Warsaw for some years, is organised by homegrown
rightwing groups, and has steadily grown in strength.
Whereas nationalists in the past tended to be national, there is now an international network of far-right
xenophobic activists. These thoroughly modern reactionaries make skilful use of social media. A report from
the Institute for Strategic Dialogue shows that some
of the most popular trending hashtags favouring the
populist-nationalist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD)
in the German election in September were successfully
promoted by far-right activists.
With the AfD set to be the second-largest opposition
party in the Bundestag, Germany is another example of
a dangerous blurring of the line between conservative
nationalism and far-right extremism. We also see this in
Trump’s America. And a recent tweet from the official
account of Leave EU described the 15 Tory MPs opposed
to enshrining the Brexit date in UK law as “the cancer
within their party and traitors to their country”.
In the popular front that needs to be formed against
this mainstreaming of far-right ideas, three things are
especially important: online platforms, public figures
and everyday neighbours. What we need from the
platforms is more transparency. Twitter, Facebook and
others need to understand more quickly how their own
platforms are being abused.
Public figures need to speak up whenever the outer
boundary of legitimate political debate is crossed. The
Polish government has just spectacularly failed to do
this: minister after minister talking dismissively of
minor “incidents” or “provocations” in an otherwise
“beautiful march”.
And then there’s you and me. We are all neighbours
of people susceptible to such views. Every time we hear
them expressed, whether in the pub or the cafe, at the
football ground or on Facebook, we need to speak up.
More at
Opinion In brief
I spoil my grandchildren. And I’m OK with that
Board games bring out the worst in us
Since I became a grandad, the
sounds of Friday night have been
markedly different. Running feet,
cupboard doors being wrenched
open, the plunk of the lid coming
off the biscuit tin followed by frantic
scrabbling, presumably aimed at
finding the ones with the most chocolate on them. Then there’s the tearing of crisp packets, then silence will
fall for a while, only to be shattered
by the restarting of an Xbox until the
next sacking of my kitchen.
Of course, I know I’m doing
wrong. Just last week, research
from Glasgow University revealed
that overindulgent chain-smoking
grandads and grannies are allowing
children to slob about, eat what they
like, fry their brains, and never take
exercise because we’re all too old
and slow to run after them.
The research may well be right.
But can’t I be left with just a few il-
It has always astonished me that
there are people in the world who
are prepared to professionally devote themselves to board games,
because, after growing up in a
household in which every child had,
at times, behaved like Steven Seagal
in a pool hall, but with Scrabble
tiles, I cannot comprehend the focus
and calm that must be required to
succeed in that world.
So in some ways, I’m not surprised to learn that the Association of British Scrabble Players has
banned one of its leading players
following allegations of a serious
When I’ve cheated – and I have
cheated – it’s because I’ve been so
bored by the board game that I’ve
longed to bring things to a conclusion. I’ve taken advantage of distracted Monopoly players by taking
my turn and not saying, “Oooh, who
lusions? Whatever happened to that
charming notion that grandparents
are the “safe” generation? The one
above the parents who can easily
be confided in and told things that
Mum and Dad can’t be trusted to
know. The comforting ones who
always keep madeira cake in the tin,
homemade lemonade in the larder
and an inexhaustible supply of peppermints in a jar. That we are the
providers of a place where children
can enter their own dream world
without being constantly pursued
with rules and regulations.
It could be that we are, in fact, the
generation that first let the brakes
off a bit, then bred a generation that
let them off even more. And now
we’re all reaping the whirlwind.
I’m interrupted in this reverie
by a sound from the kitchen. There
goes the biscuit tin again.
Peter White
owns Park Lane?” I may not have secretly refreshed my unused Scrabble
tiles, but I have sworn that Qxatt is
a word. I’ve even broken wind unapologetically to mask the noise of
the telltale buzz in Operation.
I admit that I’m unscrupulous,
but this is born out of a healthy disrespect for the rules. Even though
those rules are enforced by my family members in a painful way.
Once, when I was flagging after
three hours of Monopoly, and trying to make my escape, one of my
sisters said: “In Victorian times, a
man went to prison for abandoning
a game.”
Board games can produce the
strangest, least reasonable behaviour from the most unlikely people.
If tensions are already running high
and everyone has had some Baileys,
Scrabble should come with a trigger
warning. Daisy Buchanan
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 21
In praise of ...
A Sistine soprano
As Zimbabwe’s army took control of the government in Harare, Theresa May faced pressures of her own in the UK
The ties
that bind us
can unravel
George Monbiot
Public projects such as
the NHS and BBC define
the UK as a nation.
Without that cohesion,
we risk authoritarianism
o what is this United Kingdom we are asked
to love? This might once have been an easy
question. National identity was built around a
range of institutions, considered to represent
the national interest. Rebellion against them
was characterised as treason. But one by one,
these institutions have been subverted from
within. Look to the top to see treachery at work.
The most obvious – and most trivial – example
is the way in which the crown has used investment
vehicles based in offshore secrecy regimes to enhance
its wealth. The Paradise Papers show that both the
Queen’s investors (the Duchy of Lancaster) and Prince
Charles’s private estate (the Duchy of Cornwall) have
been conducting their affairs beyond the view of
government. If the crown mocks its own agencies in this
way, why should anyone else respect them? But this, by
comparison to other recent revelations, is froth.
Former international development secretary Priti
Patel’s engagements in Israel, which included discussions about a plan to divert British aid money to the
Israeli army for “humanitarian operations” in the
occupied Golan Heights, raised the question of whose
national interests she was representing, the UK’s or
Israel’s. The governments of Saudi Arabia and the US
seem to benefit from British decisions that seem more
attuned to their interests than to ours.
Brexit is likely to exacerbate this tendency. We were
promised that in leaving the EU we would regain our
sovereignty. But in abandoning an association based
on equal standing, we expose ourselves to coercion by
other nations. Our relationship with the US, especially
under the stewardship of the trade secretary Liam Fox,
is likely to look like that of servant and master.
Fox, preposterously, is now the only official member
of the UK’s board of trade. The new trade bill would
grant him Henry VIII powers, enabling him to create
laws without parliamentary approval. He will, in effect,
be given a licence to do whatever he wants.
We know where his inclinations lie: he was forced
to resign from his previous job as defence secretary for
For the past 500 years, sacred music
has echoed up towards Michelangelo’s sublime ceiling frescoes
in the Sistine Chapel, performed
exclusively by male choirs.
Now, in a development that
will delight both music lovers and
reform-minded Catholics, one of the
church’s gender taboos has finally
been broken. Cecilia Bartoli, one
of Italy’s most celebrated classical
singers, has become the first woman
to perform inside the chapel with
the all-male Sistine Chapel Choir.
Last Friday night the mezzosoprano joined the 20 men and 30
boys who make up the choir, among
the oldest choral groups in the
world, to sing Beata Viscera, by the
Renaissance composer Pérotin.
A few days before, the five-time
Grammy award-winner told the
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera
that she was “in seventh heaven”
about the prospect of performing in
the chapel.
“It’s a huge privilege,” she added.
Angela Giuffrida
blurring the boundary between official business and
corporate interests. Fox allowed a corporate lobbyist,
Adam Werritty, to attend official meetings. But Werritty
also ran the UK office of the organisation Fox founded,
the Atlantic Bridge. This group sought to strengthen
the ties between neocons in the UK and US, partly by
working with corporate-funded US lobby groups.
Already, Fox has suggested that our food standards
could be lowered to facilitate a trade agreement with the
US. But this is just the beginning of what threatens to
become a full-spectrum assault on our sovereignty. It is
hard to see how the UK, even if so inclined, could easily
resist US demands for the most extreme form of investor-state dispute settlement – offshore tribunals run by
corporate lawyers, through which corporations can sue
nation states for compensation for lost assets.
These tribunals offer no representation for third
parties and no right of appeal. The result is a curtailment
of parliament’s ability to pass laws protecting the public
interest. Sovereignty and democracy lose their meaning.
So what remains, to which we might attach ourselves? In the UK as a whole and England in particular,
almost every cultural reference point is poorly defined,
weak and contested. All that remain as widely shared,
commonly accepted sources of national pride are
our public services: the NHS, the BBC, the education
system, social security, our great libraries and museums.
But all have been gutted, disciplined and undermined
by those who roundly assert their patriotism.
When the enabling state, providing robust public services and a strong social safety net, is allowed to wither,
what remains is the authoritarian state, which must coerce and frighten. As the enabling state shrinks, the flags
must be unfurled, the national anthem played, schoolchildren taught their kings and queens, and more elaborate pieties offered to dead soldiers, because nothing
else is left with which to hold us together. National
pride becomes toxic, and is used as a weapon against
anyone who seeks to express their love for the country
by reforming it. The institutions charged with defending
the national interest become its deadly enemies.
22 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Brexit and the Irish border
Britain’s dereliction
Conservative Brexiters have shown that they
simply could not care less about Ireland. In
the referendum campaign, few gave even
a passing thought to the impact of a leave
vote on the relationship between Northern
Ireland, the rest of the UK and the republic.
When the vote went their way – though they
lost in Northern Ireland – the Brexiters then
gave bland assurances that the decision would
make absolutely no difference to the island’s
soft border, the legacy of the peace process, or
north-south and east-west cooperation.
This was, and is, nonsense. The Irish government warned immediately that serious difficulties had been created by the vote and by
Theresa May’s wish to leave the single market
and customs union. In practice, though, this
warning was not taken seriously in London.
The peace agreements had been the fruit of
long years of cooperative work. But the neighbourly mentality that made them possible has
gone missing in London.
The truth is that the Brexit wing of the Tory
party does not take Ireland into account. This
failure is compounded by Mrs May’s foolish
pact to construct a majority with the votes of
the Democratic Unionist party. Once again, no
thought was given to the effect on relations
with the republic and the European Union.
The bland assurances have continued right up
to the present, even though the EU has made
absolutely clear that “sufficient progress” on
the Irish border issue was one of the three
preconditions to permit the next phase of
talks on future relations.
If good neighbourliness, a feeling for the
history of these islands and a clear understanding of the UK national interest truly informed the government’s approach, Mrs May
would have said from the outset that Britain
should remain in the EU customs union. This
would have benefited manufacturers and
jobs, and would have largely solved the Irish
border problem. Above all, the civic healing
between the republic, the north and Britain
would continue uninterrupted. This is still
what should happen.
The moment of truth will be at the December EU council. In marked contrast to the Irish
government, which has warned that the governments are diverging not converging, the
British government position still lacks political or moral seriousness. This is a disgrace.
To much of Europe, Brexit appears to be
an exercise in British self-harm, which it is.
But in Ireland Brexit is potentially lethal too.
If the UK government’s policy is followed, the
border between north and south will become
hard, not soft; guarded, not unguarded; controlled, not free. The consequences of this
change could be deeply destructive to the
peace process. But, even more than that,
they would be a gratuitous act of hostility
towards the Irish economy and people. Even
if the history did not matter, that would be
A shameful catastrophe
Twenty years ago, Tony Blair acknowledged
the British government’s responsibility for the
Irish famine that killed 1 million people. Now
we are on the brink of another famine – perhaps the worst for decades, says a UN aid chief
– and Britain must again bear blame. The UN
called Yemen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis even before Saudi Arabia decided to
blockade the country earlier this month. Now
the heads of three key agencies have warned
that millions are on the brink of starvation.
Unicef fears that 150,000 children could die
by the end of the year. Twenty million people,
more than two-thirds of the population, are in
urgent need of humanitarian supplies.
An impoverished country has been destroyed by what is both a civil and a proxy
war. Houthi rebels, allied to Iran, drove out
the internationally recognised president,
Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, allying with his
predecessor, who had been ousted in the Arab
spring. Since then 10,000 lives have been lost,
many to heavy bombing by the Saudi Arabian-
led coalition, with arms and military support
from the US, UK and others. The blockade
has taken this terrible, futile conflict to a new
depth. It seeks to starve a population into
submission – a crime against humanity horrifically familiar from its ongoing use in Syria
as well as elsewhere. Britain’s staunch support
for Riyadh makes it complicit.
The ultimate solution is political, of course.
But prospects for a deal look even further away
than they did a year ago. Players on the ground
are profiting from the war, while others starve.
Saudi Arabia’s rivalry with Iran is intensifying
and expanding. Britain is resolute in its longterm alliance with Saudi Arabia and its determination to shore up arms exports – £4.6bn
($6bn) worth of weapons sales to Riyadh have
been licensed since the war in Yemen began –
especially with Brexit pending.
Britain should stop selling arms to Riyadh
and shout out the need to end the blockade.
To do anything less is wrong and shameful.
History will not be kind.
The departure
of Gerry Adams
may not matter
Malachi O’Doherty
The maxim that all political careers
end in failure will not apply to the
retiring Irish Sinn Féin leader Gerry
Adams. He has managed his departure in such a way as to avert any
demand from the party that he go.
No one in Sinn Féin was thought
likely to step forward as a challenger; this is not a party that caters
for the dissenting voice. Adams was
seen as having stayed on too long
and lost his focus. The prospects of
the party governing in coalition were
undermined by his leadership.
So all sides understood it was
time for Adams to go. But this had to
be managed in such a way that the
party could be assured he really was
stepping down without it appearing
to turn against him.
Adams has been stepping back
in recent months. But he has also
been politically busy in Northern
Ireland, where he pulled down the
institutions and stirred the party
into action. Ostensibly, it was the
decision of Sinn Féin’s Northern
Ireland deputy first minister Martin
McGuinness to crash devolution by
resigning and forcing an election.
When Adams came north to embolden the party, the issue suddenly
became deeper and wider. It became
about the Democratic Unionist
Party’s inability to accord equality
to republicans, to Irish-language
speakers, to victims of the security
forces, as well as its record on gay
and lesbian rights. Battles long lost,
or paused, were resumed.
A March election brought Sinn
Féin almost level with the DUP in
the Northern Ireland Assembly. Despite the greatest advance in republican politics in the North, Adams
chose to prolong negotiations to
force a DUP humiliation.
Sinn Féin is a party fostered by
the IRA and that for most of its history took instructions from the IRA.
But now there is to be a procedure
for replacing Adams as president, we
will see how transparent that process is, or if it really is so unnaturally
coherent as a political party that no
alternative vision exists within it.
Adams’s ultimate achievement
may be to have shaped Sinn Féin in
his image so firmly that his departure will make no difference.
Malachi O’Doherty is the author of
Gerry Adams: An Unauthorised Life
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 23
One wonders where Natalie
Nougayrède has been hiding all her
life, after reading her piece Russian
cyberwarfare threatens democracy
itself (10 November).
After reading for decades about
US support for coups around the
world, the training of murderous
dictators at the US-based School of
the Americas, the handing of lists
of thousands of communist sympathisers and civil rights activists
to Indonesian murderers for execution in the 1960s, and working to
ensure the demise of democratically
elected rulers it dislikes, such as
Chile’s Salvador Allende, she claims
some Russian ads on Facebook and
the revelation of Hillary Clinton’s
emails may have huge “ramifications … The US and the UK … may
have had their political integrity
compromised by hostile foreign
meddling … If that turns out to
be true, then we are looking at an
entirely new world.”
The “new world” that she
envisions is simply one where a few
sneaky computer manipulations,
which at the most hoped to “sow
discord and confusion”, lead to
horrific outrage, while our support for and training of murderous
campaigns and the destruction of
civic society is seen as a paragon of
democratic integrity.
I wonder what term George
Orwell would use to describe this?
Richard Abram
Sydney, Australia
• It is surprising that none of the
articles in the Guardian Weekly that
discuss the Catalan referendum
(3 November) refer to that classic
of the Spanish civil war, Homage
to Catalonia by George Orwell.
Relevant to today’s issues, the
hospitality of the Catalan people
should be noted, as well as the rigours and pointlessness of the battle.
Louise Joy
Heathcote, Victoria, Australia
• Natalie Nouygayrède’s
commentary on the Russians
using social media to influence
not only the US election but also
the Brexit referendum matches
Andrew Simms’s back-page essay
(10 November) on using folktales
and myths to “guide us out of the
dark woods” that such clandestine
sleights of hand can lead us into.
Simms mentions in this regard “the
charismatic trickster”, a familiar
figure in shamanic mythology
who has the power to manipulate
and fool others to achieve his own
sinister ends.
Sound familiar?
Richard Orlando
Westmount, Quebec, Canada
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Guardian Weekly, Kings Place,
90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK
Gary Kempston
The real threat to democracy
Let’s talk about immigration
Both Carlos Lozada’s review
(3 November) and the book he was
reviewing, Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s Go Back to Where You Came
From, perfectly, if unwittingly, show
us why many voters are now turning to xenophobic far-right parties.
These voters are overwhelmingly
ordinary people who are not themselves xenophobic or rightwing but
are fearful for themselves, their
families, their communities and
often their jobs. And where else can
they go but to those extreme parties,
when no one in positions of power
on the centre or centre-left will take
their fears seriously?
Not for a moment, in either the
review or the book, is the possibility seriously considered that they
might have a point. That immigration might need to be controlled for
the good of those who are already in
the UK and to help prevent the decline of general conditions – welfare,
employment, infrastructure and
(not least) the environment – not
only for natives but for immigrants
too. That there is a genuine discussion to be had about all this, whose
conclusions are not already foregone, as they clearly are for Lozada
and Polakow-Suransky.
Merely pretending to listen, as
the latter recommends, isn’t going
to fool anyone. So if xenophobia
does become mainstream, step
forward, self-satisfied upholders
of enlightened correctitude! You
will have done your bit.
Patrick Curry
London, UK
To contact the editor directly:
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Or manage your subscription at
• The excellent article by Fintan
O’Toole on disparities in wealth
(27 October) reminds me of a quote
from Plutarch, “An imbalance
between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all
The level of inequality between
the “haves” and “have nots” seems
to be increasing at an exponential
rate, in terms of income and wealth.
How fitting that this article should
appear just days before the release
of the Paradise Papers.
It would seem too many of our
republics are suffering from this
ailment. But will it prove fatal?
George Hanna
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
• I do not consider the
commemoration of two world
wars via Remembrance Day to be
wallowing in the past and meaning
it is time to move on, as Simon
Jenkins suggests (17 November).
We are also remembering those
who continue to be maimed, killed
and starved in ongoing wars.
We can stop wallowing in the
past when our present stops killing
men, women and children and
when millions of refugees no longer
have to flee for their lives.
Susan Watson
Jurbise, Belgium
• Regarding Theresa May’s political woes, first Michael Fallon went,
then Priti Patel had to also go (17
November). I feel Oscar Wilde might
have observed that “to lose one
cabinet minister may be regarded
as a misfortune; to lose two looks
like carelessness”.
Alan Williams-Key
Madrid, Spain
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From the archive
24 November 1960
Wedgwood Benn
renounces his title
Mr Anthony Wedgwood Benn – as he
prefers to call himself – has formally
executed an instrument of renunciation of the Stansgate peerage and
has returned the letters patent to the
Lord Chamberlain at Buckingham
He plans to petition the House of
Commons asking it to consider new
arguments why he should not be
disqualified from remaining a member of the Lower House. Yesterday,
at a press conference, he objected
to the description being given to
him, “the reluctant peer,” and said
he much preferred “the persistent
Mr Benn distinguishes his case
from those of previous MPs who
have inherited peerages in that
no one before has ever tried to renounce his peerage in order to stay
in the Commons. In fact it was quite
normal to try to renounce titles until
1678 when the House of Lords laid it
down that no peer could renounce
his title but mainly on the grounds
that the Crown was trying to bring
pressure to bear on certain individuals to do so. Now there can no longer
be that excuse.
Mr Benn is not anxious to have
the right of sitting in the Commons as a peer. This was what Lord
Hailsham proposed, to Lord Attlee,
when he succeeded to his title. Naturally Mr Benn would not refuse the
opportunity to stay in the Commons
as a peer. But he would much prefer
to renounce his title.
If the Government takes a rooted
objection to Mr Benn’s stand then
it can quite easily thwart any of his
proposals, but the important point
about them is that they are argued
closely along constitutional lines.
[The Peerage Act 1963 allowed Benn
to disclaim his peerage for life]
Corrections and
• A closed-down Toyota plant
mentioned in a piece about Australian Holden cars (3 November) was
in Altona, Victoria, and not Geelong
as we stated.
The Guardian Weekly’s policy is to
correct significant errors as soon as
possible. Please give the date, page
or web link: guardian.readers@ or The readers’
editor, Kings Place, 90 York Way,
London N1 9GU, United Kingdom.
24 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Work nears completion on a massive underground cemetery beneath Jerusalem. Tunnels stretching more than a kilometre in length beneath the city’s main cemetery have been excavated to m
A tide mark left by flash flooding in a house in central Greece. At least 20 people were killed
by the floods as the Athens government announced emergency aid measures AP
Riot police in Nantes are splattered with paint as protesters clash with officers during
a demonstration against the French government’s economic and social reforms Reuters
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 25
make room for 22,000 graves. The project is scheduled for completion next year AP
Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, looks on at the Asean-European Union summit in Manila
amid growing concern over the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state Reuters
A woman pauses for a selfie in China’s futuristic new Tianjin Binhai library, which has
floor-to-ceiling shelving, media rooms and 1.2m books on display Fred Dufour/Getty
A field worker extracts raw opium from poppy buds in Afghanistan. The United Nations Office
on Drugs and Crime says the country’s opium production increased by 87% in 2017 EPA
26 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
My travels in
white America
On a trip from Maine to Mississippi,
former US reporter Gary Younge
found a land of anxiety, division and
pain – fertile territory for the far right
eff Baxter’s enduring memory, from
childhood, is the glow. Coming down
over the hill overlooking the coke plant
in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the molten
iron would make itself known – both as
a vision and an aspiration. “It’s like the
sun landed there,” says Baxter, a burly, bearded
retiree, who achieved his boyhood dream of
becoming a steelworker.
Today the plant, like the one Baxter worked in
for 30 years, stands derelict – a shell that represents
a hollowing out not just of the local economy
but of culture and hope – as though someone
extinguished Baxter’s sun and left the place in
darkness. Buildings in the centre of town that were
once testament to the industrial wealth produced
here stand abandoned. More than 40% of the
population now live below the poverty line; 9.1%
are unemployed.
Cambria County, where Johnstown sits, was once
a swing county. Al Gore won it in 2000; George W
Bush took it in 2004; it went to Barack Obama in
2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 – each time by fairly
narrow margins. Last year Donald Trump won it in
a landslide.
‘I voted for
Trump and
what’s he
done so far?
He hasn’t
Baxter, who once backed Obama, voted for
Trump, the first time he had ever voted Republican.
“I liked [Obama’s] message of hope, but he didn’t
bring any jobs in … Trump said he was going to make
America great. And I figured: ‘That’s what we need.
We need somebody like that to change it.’”
Over at the century-old Coney Island Lunch, this
once-bustling institution famous for its chilli dogs
and sundowners is virtually empty. “A lot of people
have left town,” says Peggy, who has been serving at
the diner for nine years. “There are no jobs. If you’re
going to have a life or a steady income, you know,
you need to get out of here, because there’s nothing
here. I expect a lot of towns go this way. You know,
when the steel mills died and the coal died. It’s sad,
it’s very sad.”
Across from the counter, Ted sits in a T-shirt emblazoned with a Native American in full headdress.
He thinks white America is getting a rough deal
and will soon be extinct. “There’s not many white
Americans left. They’re a dying breed. It’s going
to be yellow-white Americans, African-American
white Americans, you know what I’m saying? The
cultures are coming together,” he says, with more
than a hint of melancholy. “Blending and blending,
and pretty soon we’ll just be one colour.”
Ted also voted for Trump. “I liked him on TV. I
voted for him, all right, but it was because he was
supposedly going to make America great, and
what’s he done so far? He hasn’t done anything.”
Two days after I spoke to Ted and Peggy, Coney
Island Lunch closed down.
In the 12 years I reported from the US I saw no end
of white journalists opine on black America. This
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 27
A dish best not served at all?
How revenge can leave you cold
→ Discovery, pages 32-33
Privileged? the Trump House in Youngstown,
Pennsylvania, left. Below from top: a derelict
steel plant in Johnstown; the opioid-hit city of
Williamsport; a heroin user in Philadelphia.
Inset, neo-Nazis in Charlottesville Getty
summer I took a trip through white America, driving
from Maine (the whitest state) to Mississippi (the
blackest), to flip the script. Talking only to white
people, I attended a white supremacist conference,
accompanied an emergency health worker who
sought to revive people who had overdosed, and
went to a comedy club in the French Quarter of New
Orleans to see the “Liberal Redneck” perform. I was
told the Ku Klux Klan were liberals (they weren’t),
that Confederate general Robert E Lee didn’t own
slaves (he did) and that I could not be British because I’m black (I am).
It was a few weeks before the disturbances in
Charlottesville, when a mob of white supremacists,
including neo-Nazis and Klansmen, converged
on a college town in Virginia, terrorising protesters and leaving one dead and many injured. Just
seven months after the US had bidden farewell to
its first black president, his successor said there
were “some very fine people” marching with the
neo-Nazis who chanted: “Jews will not replace us.”
A poll shortly afterwards showed that almost half of
white Americans thought they were “under attack”
and one in three thought the country needs to do
more to preserve its white European
n heritage.
Any reckoning with how the US got to
this point, politically, demands some
interrogation of how white America
got to this place economically and
culturally; that takes into account
both their relative privilege and
their huge pockets of pain.
White Americans make up a
majority of the country. Compared
with other races, they may enjoy an
immense concentration of wealth and
power. But these privileges are nonetheetheless underpinned by considerable anxiety.
Their health is failing (white people’s life expectancy has stalled or dipped in recent years), their
wages are stagnating (adjusting for inflation, they
are just 10% higher now than they were 44 years ago)
and class fluidity is drying up (the prospects of poor
white Americans breaking through class barriers are
worse now than they have been for a long time).
Out-traded by China (in 2016 the trade deficit with
the country was $347bn); soon to be outnumbered
at home (within a generation white people will be a
minority); and outmanoeuvred on the battlefields
of the Arab world and beyond (neither of the wars
launched in response to 9/11 have ended in victory),
these vulnerabilities are felt at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter protesters are in the
streets over police brutality, football players are taking a knee and the movement to bring legal status
to large numbers of undocumented people grows.
White Americans feel more pessimistic about their
future than any other group. Almost two-thirds of
white working-class people think the country has
changed for the worse since the 50s.
I covered the last presidential election from
Muncie, Indiana, once seen as the archetypal US
town thanks to the Middletown project, a sociological study first published in the 20s. Many of
the white working-class areas on the south side
of Muncie were similar to Johnstown. The head of
Middletown studies at the city’s Ball State University, James Connolly, told me this was the area he
had found most difficult when it came to finding
contacts. Whereas African Americans in the northeast of the city had strong churches and campaigning organisations, he explained, the poorer white
areas had few champions.
“Nobody speaks up for the poor,” said Jamie
Walsh, a white working-class woman who grew up
in Muncie, explaining Trump’s appeal to those she
grew up with on Muncie’s Southside. “There is systemic racism, but black people have advocates. Poor
white people don’t. They’re afraid. They’re afraid
that they’re stupid. They don’t feel racist, they don’t
feel sexist, they don’t want to offend people or say
the wrong thing. But white privilege is like a blessing and a curse if you’re poor. The whole idea pisses
poor white people off because they’ve never experienced it on a level that they understand.
“You hear privilege, and you think ‘money and
opportunity’, and they don’t have it. I understand
how it works but I don’t think most people do. So
when Trump says stuff, they can understand what
he’s saying and he speaks to them in a way other
people don’t. And then you’ve got people calling
them stupid and deplorable. Well, how long do you
think you can call people stupid and deplorable before they get mad?”
For many white Americans, their racial privilege increasingly resides not in positive benefits of
work and security but in the sole fact that it could
be worse – they could be black or Latino. In other
words, their whiteness is all they have left. In few
clearer than the opioid epidemic,
areas is this cl
which is disproportionately affecting
white America. Wander down Oxford Street, home to one of the main
shelters in Portland, Maine, and
you can see people, distraught,
disoriented and desperate,
openly struggling with their ado
diction long into the night.
“In the past we might go
months and not have an overdose
call,” said paramedic Andrea Calvo, as
we drov
drove around the city. “And we had
a day, not to
too long ago, when I think we did
14 overdoses … the majority of people, certainly in
this area in this state, probably in the country, are
somehow affected by addiction issues.”
A member of her family struggles with addiction.
She constantly worried that one day she would be
called to assist her.
Andrew Kieszulas was a 22-year-old sports star
from a middle-class family when his doctor first prescribed opioids for a back injury. With his thick neck
perched on top of mountainous shoulders, he had
the air of an all-American boy from an all-American
family. But behind the facade things had started to
go wrong. “Very quickly, the prescription drugs
were removed and I was left with an emotional
addiction, a mental addiction and a very physical
addiction to the opiates – and, very quickly, I transitioned over to street drugs,” he said.
Kieszulas has had to struggle hard to remain
sober these last five years. His achievements are his
own. But he would be the first to tell you that being
white helped. When black America was blighted
by the crack epidemic, it was understood as a crisis
of culture and treated as a problem of crime. African Americans were locked up in unprecedented
numbers, leaving more Americans in prison than
had been incarcerated in the Soviet gulags at their
height and more African Americans in prison than
had been enslaved in 1850.
“If you are white and middle class, it’s much easier to remove the negative consequences of a use
disorder,” Kieszulas said. Continued on page 28 →
28 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Weekly review
← Continued from page 27 “You’re less likely to go to
jail, less likely to have any kind of negative criminal consequence. I myself don’t have a criminal record. I did some very interesting things to support
my habit and to find relief. And transitioning out of
that without a criminal record at all? I think it speaks
for itself.”
Thanks to contamination through needle sharing, the opioid epidemic is also turning into an HIV
crisis, which is particularly acute in rural white areas. Of the most vulnerable 5% of counties at risk of
an HIV outbreak, almost all voted for Trump.
In late October Trump called it a “public health
emergency”, while offering little in the way of
new funding. When your privilege equates to this
amount of pain, no wonder you can’t see it. But just
because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
If there’s one thing that 200 years of slavery and
100 years of segregation did for African Americans, it was to temper their investment in the myth
that the US is a meritocracy. The notion that if you
worked hard and kept your nose clean, you would
get on was always stymied by the grim realities
of racial barriers. “America was never America to
me,” wrote the Harlem renaissance poet Langston
Hughes in 1935’s Let America Be America Again.
“There’s never been equality for me / Nor freedom
in this ‘homeland of the free’.”
What’s new is that Trump
has emboldened the
bigots in a fashion not
seen in modern times
But for many white Americans the expectation
that each year would be better than the next and
each generation healthier and wealthier provided
the core for optimism. However, with those assumptions being eroded, the mood is now more
reminiscent of a post-colonial country. People are
looking back for a sense of hope. Ask Trump voters
when they would like to go back to if they wanted to
make America great again and they will give you a
date. Jeff Baxter wants to go back to the glow of the
60s, Ted to the 80s, others to the 50s and beyond.
There are, of course, many white Americans
looking forward, fighting for their place in a more
equal and just multiracial future. Heather Heyer, a
32-year-old paralegal, was killed while protesting
against the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville when
Violent struggle ... injured counter-protesters
at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville
a car, allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi sympathiser,
ploughed into the crowd. “She wanted equality,” her
father, Mark Heyer, said. “And in this issue of the
day of her passing, she wanted to put down hate.”
Her mother, Susan Bro, refused to take the
president’s condolence call. “I’ve heard it said that
the murder of my daughter was part of making
America great,” Bro said. “The blood on the streets
… is that what made America great? Attacking
innocent people with a vehicle … is that what made
America great?”
When American Renaissance, a white supremacist group straining to put a veneer of intellectualism and respectability on its bigotry, came to
Montgomery Bell state park near Nashville in the
summer, they were met by a crowd of mostly white
protesters, chanting: “No Klan, no hate, no racists
in our state.”
One told me that Trump’s election had shaken
some white people out of their complacency. “We
were asleep at the wheel,” she said. “We can no
longer find comfort in silence. We have to dig up
all the courage we have, to take a stand for what’s
morally right.” On the journey back to Nashville I
stopped at a secondhand shop on the roadside, selling Confederate paraphernalia, owned by Nikki who
had a complicated relationship to the stars and bars.
“I’m a proud southerner,” she said. “But you and I
both know the [American] civil war’s basically about
slavery,” she told me. “Thank God we lost, thank
God … but it doesn’t mean that we still don’t wanna
honour our dead.”
Trump did not create this anxiety nor this
division. References to the civil war and the
Klan illustrate for just how long white America
has been riven by its sense of moral purpose and
material privilege. What is new is that Trump
has emboldened the bigots and channelled their
thinking in a fashion not seen in modern times. A
president who draws a moral equivalent between
neo-Nazis and anti-fascist protesters, who baits
black athletes and black journalists, brands
Mexicans rapists and Muslims terrorists.
One of those to whom he has given confidence is
Richard Spencer, the intellectually unimpressive,
historically illiterate huckster who rallied the far
right in Charlottesville. Spencer, who wants to create an “ethno-state” for white people, claims to have
coined the term “alt-right” – a sanitised word for the
extreme right. In July last year Trump’s former chief
strategist, Steve Bannon, boasted that his website
Breitbart News was a “platform for the alt-right”.
When I encountered Spencer at Montgomery Bell
park, he emerged carrying a glass of what smelled
like bourbon and an entourage of adoring bigots
soon surrounded me in the car park. More odious
troll than eloquent polemicist, he claimed, among
other things, that Africans had benefited from white
supremacy and that, despite having been banned
from 26 European countries, Europe would always
be more his home than mine. “If Africans had never
existed, world history would be almost exactly the
same as it is today,” he claimed. “Because we are the
genius that drives it.” Like a vulture preying on the
anxiety, and with few alternatives on offer – as much
as people cited Trump as the problem, few offered
Democrats as the solution – he felt confident.
“People are now aware of the term ‘alt-right’ …
I don’t think Trump shares the ideal of the ethnostate … But he wouldn’t have run the campaign
that he ran if he didn’t feel some sense of loss, that
America has lost something,” he said.
He felt he was gaining influence. This was one of
the few accurate things he actually said. And by far
the most chilling.
civil rights
back to
the streets
Amid growing US anxiety,
one preacher is reviving
older tactics to raise hope,
writes Oliver Laughland
he Rev Dr William Barber stands
at the pulpit where Martin Luther
King Jr preached 50 years ago, issuing an impassioned call to arms, his
deep baritone filling the church. “It’s
time for a breakthrough,” he calls,
almost howling, sweat dripping from his brow, as an
organist punches frantic chords in accompaniment.
“We’ve got to break through the silence. We’ve got
to break through the hate. A breakthrough until
every poor person has a guaranteed income.”
“Hallelujah!” the 600-strong congregation cries.
The walls of the Stone Temple Baptist church almost
seem to shudder. “A breakthrough until voting
rights are secure, until we are truly one nation,” he
calls, hurling his notes from the lectern and hauling
his almost two-metre frame across the stage.
The oration is infectious, Barber’s brand of liberation theology fusing constitutional politics and biblical principles of love and mercy. It makes not just
the hairs on your neck stand on end, but your whole
body sway. The 54-year-old pastor from North Carolina is not just here to preach
h – this is the start off
what he hopes will be a nationwide
nwide movement
to complete the work that King
ng could not. It is
the first organised campaign of civil disobedience in the Donald Trump era. Its aim? To
bring about a “moral revival across the US”.
Chicago was the eighth stop on the pastor’s exhaustive tour of 14 states,
ates, laying the
foundations for a new Poorr People’s
Campaign – the last movement
ment of
the civil rights era, which eff
ffectively ended after King’s death.
The 1968 campaign attempted
to push Congress into passsing an economic bill of rightss
including a package of guaranteed income, equitable
housing and funds for poorr
communities. But this time
around, with the new campaign
in its infancy, the aim is broader:
der: to
unite the disenfranchised groups
oups in the
US – across the spectrums of race and
sexuality – under a common cause. “We
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 29
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have to remember that the civil rights movement
did not just end,” says Barber before the evening
service. “It was assassinated by killing the leaders, it
was assassinated through division. Throughout our
trips, what we’re finding is there is still a need for
that coalition that Dr King talked about in 68 in coming together to address the evils of racism, militarism, systemic poverty and ecological devastation.”
We were driving through the streets of Chicago’s
West Side as the sun was setting, and Barber’s point
was perhaps best made simply by looking out of the
window on to some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods. Fifty years after King came to Stone Temple
Baptist church as part of his campaign against slum
housing, some areas here still have a poverty rate of
60%. In a neighbourhood a few kilometres from the
church, the life expectancy is just 69 years. “Some
issues are not about left and right, Republican and
Democrat – they’re about our deepest moral values,” says Barber. “And we believe that you have to
have a campaign, a movement, that seeks to reshape
the moral narrative.”
the past four years as the
The pastor has spent th
ackbone of the Moral Mon
Mondays campaign in North
disobedience movement that balCarolina, a civil disobedien
of state voter suplooned after fighting a series
pression laws, which disproportionately
poor people of colour. The movement now covers
progressive issues. The sustained
a broad range of progressiv
campaign began commanding
national attention
when, every Monday,
Monda scores of protesters
the state capitol building
started entering th
and laying their bodies down for arrest.
More than 900 people were arrested
the campaign; Barber has
throughout th
lost count of how
many times he was
placed in ha
The movement
scored major
culminating in a
suprem court decision ruling
state v
voter laws unconstitutional,
tional and the unseating of
the R
Republican governor Pat
McCrory in 2016.
Barber – who cocchairs the campaign with
Demonstrators at a Moral Monday protest,
above; right, William Barber arrested again;
bottom left, Barber campaigning
Main photograph Martha Waggoner/AP
the Rev Dr Liz Theoharis, a pastor from New York
City – hopes to sign up 1,000 people in 25 states and
DC for a season of civil disobedience in the spring.
Protesters will stage sit-ins at state capitols and
Congress under a “moral agenda” encompassing
issues from LGBT and voting rights to immigration
reform and access to healthcare. The campaign has
partnered with dozens of local groups across the
country. It is perhaps the most ambitious civil rights
campaign since the 60s.
A few days after the service in Chicago, Barber is
back at the Greenleaf Christian church in Goldsboro,
North Carolina, where he has led the congregation
since 1993. Despite the campaign’s rigorous schedule, he tries to come back for Sunday service every
weekend, tending to his flock in one of North Carolina’s most racially segregated cities. These days,
he is no longer just preaching to the 200 or so in the
pews, but tens of thousands online. In 2016, he gave
an electrifying speech at the Democratic national
convention, calling for “moral defibrillators of our
time” to “shock this nation with the power of love” –
it was an address that thrust an already well-known
civil rights leader on to the global stage.
That morning he gives a sermon titled: “How
can I love those who are doing things that I cannot
like?” This was the day after Trump told the Voter
Values Summit, an annual meeting of conservative
activists, that he was “stopping cold the attacks on
Judeo-Christian values”. The president went on
to renew a pledge to “step by step” remove Barack
Obama’s signature healthcare legislation that offers
insurance to millions of low-income Americans.
‘I do not have deep hatred
for the president … but you
can’t boast about taking
people’s healthcare’
Barber is at his magnetic best again, offering a
thundering rebuke. “Their values are cash and not
Christ. Greed and not grace. But I do not have any
deep hatred for the president, because there is so
much potential for good. I love him as a human
being. But I can’t like, because what the president
did was irreligious and irreverent. You can’t go
boasting about taking people’s healthcare. That’s
not Christian.” The congregation applauds. “You’re
right pastor,” they shout. “Amen.”
Barber views this new movement not just as a
challenge to the extremist Republicanism embodied by Trump’s presidency, but also to what he
describes as “white evangelicalism and its connection to white nationalism”. This hardline Christianity has arguably been the dominant religious
force in US rightwing politics for decades. White
evangelicals are the religious group most likely
to vote Republican, holding substantial voting
blocks in swing states such as Florida, and voted
overwhelmingly for Trump, following a string of
high-profile endorsements from denomination
leaders who were buoyed by his commitment to
rolling back access to abortion and protecting the
second amendment. Barber, a mainstream Protestant, brands it a “heretical form and presentation
of faith to cover up for people’s greed and desire for
power”. The Bible, after all, he says, contains little
on abortion, but has thousands of passages on how
to treat the disenfranchised.
30 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Weekly review
Turning the tide
on global warming
The battle to avert catastrophic climate change
looked lost, but coordination of seven megatrends
offers experts hope, says Damian Carrington
verybody gets paralysed by bad news
because they feel helpless,” says Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate
chief who delivered the landmark
Paris climate change agreement. “It is
so in our personal lives, in our national
lives and in our planetary life.”
But it is becoming increasingly clear that it does
not need to be all bad news: a series of fast-moving
global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to
avert the worst impacts of global warming. From
trends already at full steam, including renewable
energy, to those just now hitting the big time, such
ic cars, to those just emerging,
as mass-market electric
such as plant-based
alternatives to meat,
these trends show that
greenhouse gas emissions
can be halted.
g linear
“If we were seeing
y good,
progress, I would say
but we’re not going to
o make it
s, now the
in time,” says Figueres,
on 2020 iniconvener of the Mission
hat the world
tiative, which warns that
has only three years to get carbon
emissions on a downward
ward curve and
on the way to beating global warming.
e seeing progress
“But the fact is we are
that is growing exponentially,
entially, and that is what gives
or hope.”
me the most reason for
No one is saying the battle to avert catastrophic
climate change – floods, droughts, famine, mass
migrations – has been won. But these megatrends
show the battle has not yet been lost, and that
the tide is turning in the right direction. “The
important thing is to reach a healthy balance where
we recognise that we are seriously challenged,
because we really have only three years left to
reach the tipping point,” says Figueres. “But at the
same time, the fact is we are already seeing many,
many positive trends.”
Michael Liebreich, the founder of Bloomberg
New Energy Finance, agrees. “The good news is
we are way better than we thought we could be. We
are not going to get through this w
without damage.
But we can avoid the worst. I am optimistic, but
there is a long way to go
Also cautiously hopeful
is climate
economist Nicholas
Stern at the
London School of Economics.
“These trends
trend are the start
of somethin
something that might be
enough – tthe two key words
are ‘star
‘start’ and ‘might’.”
He sa
says the global
climate negotiations,
w h i c h r e c e nt l y
ttook place in
Germany, and
aiming to implement the Paris deal, are crucial:
in the Paris
“The acceleration embodied
agreement is going to be critic
2 Renewable energy Time to shine
Production costs for solar panels and
wind turbines have plunged – by 90% in
the past decade for solar, for example –
and are continuing to fall. As a result, in
many parts of the world they are already
the cheapest electricity available and
installation is soaring: two-thirds of all
new power in 2016 was renewable.
The International Energy Agency’s annual projections have anticipated linear
growth for solar power every year for the
past decade. In reality, growth has been
exponential. China is leading the surge
but in Germany earlier this month, there
was so much wind power one weekend
that customers got free electricity.
In the US, enthusiasm for green energy has not been dented by president
Donald Trump committing to repeal
key climate legislation: $30bn has been
invested since he signed an executive
order in March.
1 Methane Getting to the meat
Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the
main greenhouse gas, but methane and nitrous
oxide are more potent and, unlike CO2, still rising.
The major source is livestock farming, in particular belching cattle and their manure.
The world’s appetite for meat and
dairy foods is rising as people’s in-comes rise, but in the last year, a
potential solution has burst on to
the market: plant-based meat,
which has a tiny environmental
footprint. What sounds like
an oxymoron – food that looks
and tastes just as good as meat
or dairy products but is made
from plants – has attracted heavy
investment. In the US, Bill Gates has
backed two plant-based burger compaompanies and Eric Schmidt, formerly CEO of Google,
believes plant-based foods can make a “meaningful dent” tackling climate change.
Perhaps even more telling is that major meat
and dairy companies are now piling in with investments and acquisitions, such as the US’s biggest meat processor, Tyson, and multinational giants Danone and Nestlé. The Chinese government
has just put
pu $300m (£228m) into Israeli
companies producing lab-grown meat,
which could also cut emissions.
“We are in the nascent stage,”
says Alison Rabschnuk at the US
nonprofit group the Good Food Insstitute. “But there’s a lot of money
moving into this area.”
Plant-based meat and dairy produce is not only environmentally
friendly, but also healthier and avoids
animal w
welfare concerns, but these benemake them mass-market, she says:
fits will not m
“The products themselves need to be competitive
on taste, price and convenience – the three attributes people use when choosing what to eat.”
3 King coal Dead or dying
The flipside of the renewables boom is the death
spiral of coal, the filthiest of fossil fuels. Production appeared to have peaked in 2013. The speed
of its demise has stunned analysts. In 2013, the
IEA expected coal-burning to grow by 40% by
2040 – today it anticipates just 1%.
The cause is simple: solar and wind are
cheaper. In pollution-choked China, there are
now no provinces where new coal is needed, so
the country has just mothballed plans for 151
plants. Bankruptcies have torn through the US
coal industry and in the UK it has fallen from 40%
of power supply to 2% in the past five years.
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4 Electric cars In the fast lane
Slashing oil use – a third of all global energy
– is a huge challenge but a surging market for
battery-powered cars is starting to bite, driven
in significant part by fast-growing concerns
about urban air pollution.
China, again, is leading the way. It
is selling as many electric cars every
month as Europe and the US
combined, with many from
home-grown companies such as
BYD. US-based Tesla is rolling
out its more affordable Model 3
and in recent months virtually all
major carmakers have committed to
an electric future, with Volvo and Jaguar Land
Rover announcing that they will end production
of pure fossil-fuelled cars within three years.
“We have a domino effect now,” says Figueres.
These cars are “now being made for the mass
market and that is really what is going to make
the transformation”.
“I don’t think it is going to slow down,” says
Viktor Irle, an analyst at EV-volumes.
com. Drivers can see the direction
of travel, he says, with a stream of
cchoked cities and countries from
Paris to India announcing future
bans on fossil-fuelled cars.
It is true that global sales of electric
liftoff, quadrupling in
cars have now achieved
the past three y
years, but they still make up only
1.25% of all new car sales. However, if current
growth rates continue, as Irle expects, 80% of
new cars will be electric by 2030.
5 Batteries Lots in store
Batteries are key to electric cars and, by storing energy for when the
sun goes down or the wind stops blowing, they are also vital when it
comes to enabling renewable energy to reach its full potential. Here
too, a megatrend is crushing prices for lithium-ion batteries, which
are down 75% over the past six years. The International Renewable
Energy Agency expects further price falls of 50-66% by 2030 and
a massive increase in battery storage, linked to increasingly smart
and efficient digital power grids. In the UK alone, government
advisers say a smart grid could save billpayers £8bn a year by 2030,
as well as slashing carbon emissions.
‘We could
power down
energy use
by about 40%
in around
10-15 years’
Warming Images/Rex Shutterstock
“Last year, I said if Asia builds
what it says it is going to build,
we can kiss goodbye to 2C” – the
internationally agreed limit for
dangerous climate change – says
Liebreich. “Now we are showing
coal [plans] coming down.” Still, a
second tipping point is needed. That
will occur when renewables are cheaper
to build than running existing coal
al plants,
meaning the latter shut down. If renewable costs continue to fall as expected,
cted, this
would happen between 2030 and
d 2040.
6 Efficiency Negawatts over megawatts
Just as important as the greening
of energy is reducing demand by
boosting energy efficiency. Good
progress is being made in places
such as the EU, where efficiency
in homes, transport and industry
has improved by about 20% since
2000. Improving the efficiency of
gadgets and appliances through
better standards is surprisingly important: a
new UN Environment Programme
report shows it
makes the biggest
impact of any single action bar rolling out wind and solar power.
Prof Kevin Anderson at the University of Manchester says: “We
could power down European energy
use by about 40% in something
like 10-15 years, just by making the
most efficient appliances available
the new minimum.” In countries
with cool winters, better insulation is also
needed, particularly
as natural gas currently provides a lot
of heating.
7 Fores
Forests Seeing the wood
The race against time
The destruction
of forests around the world
ranching and farming, as well as for
for ra
timber, causes about 10% of greenhouse gas
emissions. This is the biggest megatrend
not yet pointing in the right direction: annual
tree losses have roughly doubled since 2000.
This is particularly worrying as stopping
deforestation and planting new trees is,
in theory at least, among the cheapest
and fastest ways of cutting carbon
emissions. But it is not getting the support
it needs, says Michael Wolosin at Forest
Climate Analytics. “Climate policy is
massively underfunding forests – they
receive only about 2% of global climate
finance.” Furthermore, the $2.3bn committed to
forests by rich nations and multilateral institutions
since 2010
201 is tiny compared with the funding for
the sectors
secto that drive deforestation.
Will things move fast enough
to avoid the worst of climate
change? Anderson says it remains
possible, but is pessimistic that
the action will be taken. “We’re
pointing in the right direction but
not moving [there]. We have to
not just pursue renewables and
electric vehicles, we have to actively close down the incumbent
fossil fuel industry.”
Stern is cautiously optimistic:
“There are some tremendous
developments so I am very confident now we can do this. Will we
have the political and economic
understanding and commitment
to get there? I hope so.”
32 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Revenge is
a dish better
left unmade
The urge to get even
may be natural but it
won’t make you feel
better, explains Jennifer
Breheny Wallace
colleague steals your idea and then
undermines you in front of the boss.
It’s human nature to want revenge.
But will getting even make you feel
better in the long run? People are
motivated to seek revenge – to harm
someone who has harmed them – when they feel
attacked, mistreated or socially rejected. Getting
an eye for an eye, Old Testament-style, is thought
to bring a sense of catharsis and closure. A growing
body of research suggests it may do the opposite.
While most of us won’t engage in the type of
vengeful displays that grab headlines or warrant
prison time, our everyday lives often include small
acts of retaliation such as gossiping about a neighbour who snubbed you, lashing out online after
poor customer service or engaging in the endless
Twitter tit for tat typified by certain elected officials.
Evolutionary psychologists believe we are hardwired for revenge. Without laws and prisons, our
earliest ancestors relied on the fear of retaliation to
help keep the peace and correct injustices. “Acts of
revenge not only sought to deter a second harmful
act by a wrongdoer but also acted as an insurance
policy against future harm by others, a warning
signal that you’re someone who will not tolerate
mistreatment,” says Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami.
In modern life, betrayal and social rejection
hurt. The desire to repair that pain and improve
our mood may be one of the things that motivates us to seek revenge, according to six studies
published this year in the Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology.
In one experiment, researchers asked 156
college students to write a short essay that would
Winemaking ‘goes back at least 8,000 years’
Ashifa Kassam and Nicola Davis
A series of excavations in Georgia has uncovered
evidence of the world’s earliest winemaking, in the
form of telltale traces within clay pottery dating
back to 6,000BC – suggesting that the practice of
making grape wine began hundreds of years earlier
than previously believed.
While there are thousands of cultivars of wine
around the world, almost all derive from just one
species of grape, with the Eurasian grape the only
species ever domesticated.
Until now, the oldest jars known to have contained wine dated from 7,000 years ago, with
six vessels containing the chemical calling cards
of the drink discovered in the Zagros mountains
in northern Iran in 1968. The latest find pushes
back the early evidence for the tipple by as
much as half a millennium.
“When we pick up a glass of wine and put it
to our lips and taste it we are recapitulating that
history that goes back at least 8,000 years,” said
Patrick McGovern a co-author of the study from
the University of Pennsylvania museum of archaeology and anthropology, who also worked on
the earlier Iranian discovery.
The find comes after a team of archaeologists and
botanists in Georgia joined forces with researchers
in Europe and North America to explore two villages
about 50km south of the capital Tbilisi.
The sites offered a glimpse into a neolithic culture
characterised by circular mud-brick homes, tools
made of stone and bone and the farming of cattle,
pigs, wheat and barley.
Researchers were particularly intrigued by fired
clay pots found in the region – likely to be some off
the earliest pottery made in the Near East. Indeed,
one representative jar from a nearby settlement is
almost a metre tall and a metre wide, and could hold
more than 300 litres. What’s more, it was decorated
with blobs that the researchers say could be meant
to depict clusters of grapes.
You’re only hurting yourself … revenge does not
lead to sustained emotional satisfaction, but
rather to negative feelings Imagebroker/Alamy
be submitted for comments. The essays were
randomly assigned to receive either positive feedback (“great essay!”) or negative ones (“one of the
worst essays that I have EVER read!”). Afterwards,
all participants were given a test that measured
their emotional state, and then offered the chance
to retaliate by sticking pins into a voodoo doll that
represented the grader of the essay.
Researchers found what we might suspect:
getting revenge felt good. After sticking their dolls,
the vengeful participants, whose moods slumped
after they read their negative feedback, reported a
rise in their moods to a level on par with those who
had received the positive comments.
In another experiment, 167 participants were
invited to play a video game where some players
were snubbed by others. Rejected players were
given the chance to seek revenge by increasing the
volume in the other players’ headphones. But before
they could retaliate, some received what they were
told was a cognition-enhancing drug (actually, a placebo) that would steady their mood for 60 minutes.
While most wronged players turned up the
volume, those who took the placebo – and presumably thought they wouldn’t get a mood boost for
doing so – were less likely to retaliate, supporting
the notion that we choose revenge because we think
it will make us feel better, explains David Chester,
a Virginia Commonwealth University assistant professor who studies the psychological and biological
processes involved in human aggression.
Revenge may provide a lift, but the positive
effects appear to be fleeting, according to research
by Chester. “Revenge can feel really good in the
moment,” he says, “but when we follow up with
people five minutes, 10 minutes and 45 minutes
later, they actually report feeling worse than they
did before they sought revenge.”
Seeking revenge can backfire – but not for the
reasons you may think. University of Virginia
psychology professor Timothy Wilson and
colleagues conducted a study in 2008 on the “paradoxical consequences” of revenge.
Study participants played an investment game
where they were told that they could earn money if
they all cooperated but that if one player betrayed
the group, that person would earn more and the
other players would earn less, an experimental
construct known as the “free-rider paradigm”.
Researchers staged the game so that players were
double-crossed and some were given the chance
to retaliate. When asked by researchers how they
imagined they would feel after seeking revenge, the
players predicted it would make them feel better.
But when surveyed , those who had retaliated
reported feeling worse than players who didn’t get
the opportunity to punish and so had “moved on”.
Seeking revenge may remind us of the pain we
experienced when we were wronged and can make
an event appear even larger in our minds, Wilson
theorises. “By not retaliating, we’re able to find
other ways of coping, like telling ourselves that it
wasn’t such a big deal,” he says.
Ruminating about getting even – stewing over
what the person did to you and what you would
like to do in return – can interfere with day-to-day
wellbeing and happiness.
“When someone persists in revenge fantasies,
over time they can develop anxiety and remorse,
as well as feelings of shame,” says Californiabased psychotherapist Beverly Engel, who treats
clients who have been abused and often struggle
with vengeful thoughts. These feelings can also
take up important cognitive resources, depleting
you of time and energy that could be better spent
on healthier ways of dealing with anger, such as
learning to accept the injustice, putting yourself
in the other person’s shoes or acknowledging that
you, too, may have hurt someone in similar ways,
says Engel, author of the book It Wasn’t Your Fault.
Research suggests that when it comes to valuable relationships, “what the angry mind ultimately
wants is a change of heart from the transgressor”,
McCullough says. He points to studies showing
that when a victim receives an explanation and an
apology, the desire for revenge weakens.
It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes
the most helpful thing a wronged party can do is to
create conditions that make it easier for the person
who hurt you to be honest about what they did and
to take responsibility, McCullough says.
“You’re not giving the person a free pass,” he
says, but it may be in your best interest “to stay open
to an apology” and “to help pave a road” that would
allow the offender to make it up to you.
Take this year’s baseball World Series, for example, in which Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish
was the victim of a racially insensitive insult and gesture by a Houston Astros player. Instead of retaliating, Dervish accepted the player’s apology, tweeted
that “no one is perfect” and asked fans to “stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger”.
“Revenge may make you feel better for a
moment,” McCullough adds, “but making the effort
to repair a valuable relationship can pay bigger
dividends over a lifetime.” Washington Post
To explore whether winemaking
p of life in the region, the team
was part
focused on analysing fragments of
pottery from two neolithic villages,
as well as soil samples. Radiocarbon
dating of grains and charcoal
nearby suggested the pots date to
about 6000–5800BC.
The team then used a variety
of techniques to explore whether
the soil or the inner surface of the
vessels held signs of molecules of the
correct mass, or with the right chemical
signatures, to be evidence of wine.
The res
results, published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences,
reveal th
that for eight of the fragments,
including the two previously unearthed,
the team found traces of tartaric acid – a substance
found in grapes. Tests on the associated soils largely
showed far lower levels of the acid. The team also
identified the presence of three other acids linked
to grapes and wine. Other evidence indicating the
presence of wine included ancient grape pollen
found at the excavated sites – but not in the topsoil
– as well as grape starch particles, the remains of a
fruit fly, and cells believed to be from the surface of
grapevines on the inside of one of the fragments.
The findings suggest the sites were home to
the earliest known vintners, besting the previous
record held by the traces of Iranian wine found just
500km away and dated to 5400-5000BC.
Davide Tanasi, of the University of South Florida,
said the results of the study were unquestionable
and that the findings were “certainly the example
of the oldest pure grape wine in the world”.
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 33
Even one Facebook ‘like’
can lead to targeted ads
Online ad campaigns created by
academics in Britain and the US have
targeted millions of people based on
psychological traits perceived from a
single “like” on Facebook – demonstrating, they say, the effect of “mass
psychological persuasion”. More than
3.5 million people, mostly women in
the UK aged 18-40, were shown online
adverts tailored to their personality
type after researchers found that
specific Facebook likes reflected
different psychological characteristics.
The bespoke campaigns boosted
clicks on ads for beauty products and
gaming apps by up to 40% and sales
by as much as 50% compared with
untargeted adverts, according to the
researchers. The work, carried out for
unnamed companies, was designed to
reveal how even the smallest expressions of preference online can be used
to influence people’s behaviour.
Breast milk and eczema
Breastfeeding could reduce the risk
of eczema in children, according to
research into the impact of programmes
designed to support new mothers in
feeding their babies. The World Health
Organisation recommends that babies
should be fed just breast milk for six
months to help protect them from
infection, prevent allergies and provide
nutrients. Experts say the latest study
highlights the benefits of breast milk,
finding that children whose mothers
attended a hospital where a breastfeeding support programme was implemented had a 54% reduction in the risk
of eczema as teenagers.
New DNA test for Down’s
Doctors have developed a more accurate DNA test for Down’s syndrome and
two rarer genetic disorders. According
to a report in Genetics in Medicine,
the new procedure detected 101 of 106
pregnancies affected by the disorders,
or 95%, compared with 81% for the
conventional test used in hospitals.
Compared with regular screening, the
new procedure avoided 530 invasive
tests to diagnose the disorders.
Australian frog app
The Australian Museum has teamed
up with IBM to count the country’s
native frog population via an app that
records their calls and sends them to
experts for identification. FrogID will
give the public the chance to carry out
Australia’s first such national count
and is intended to support efforts
to save endangered native species.
Australia has 240 named native species
of frog, but the museum wants to identify what it believes are dozens more.
34 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Oppression’s child sails
into the heart of darkness
Joseph Conrad’s life gave him
a unique insight into a globalised
world, writes Patrick French
The Dawn Watch
by Maya Jasanoff
William Collins, 400pp
The Dawn Watch will win prizes, and if it doesn’t,
there is something wrong with the prizes. Is this a
biography of Joseph Conrad? Not entirely. Although
it follows the chronological form of his life, there are
elisions and diversions. Is it literary criticism? No,
though Maya Jasanoff gives bravura renditions of
the novels, laying down a story, quoting lines, revealing their essence and showing the links to Conrad’s own experience. Is it a study of globalisation,
a historical commentary on our times? Yes, but this
is done so deftly that you barely notice. The links to
the present are not stated, just left there fizzing like
a late 19th-century anarchist’s bomb.
Conrad’s early life was unbearable, the sort of
personal tragedy that is happening now to families
in countries such as Syria or Myanmar. His parents
were devoted to each other, and their love extended
to a shared, romantic nationalist dream of liberating
Poles from the Russian yoke. “My soul yearns for
that ‘Young Poland’ of our dreams, which you will
create, rouse to life, and lead into the future,” wrote
wife to husband as he made his revolutionary plans.
Instead, the local tsarist police chief “appeared in
disguise, without ringing the bell, at the gate of
Terechowa, and questioned people in the stables”.
We are in the world of Conrad’s Under Western
Eyes, a novel oddly absent from The Dawn Watch.
For Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski this was normal life. An early piece of writing has him thanking
his grandmother, “who helped me send pastries
to my poor Daddy in prison”. In 1862 a military tribunal convicted his father and they were all sent
into internal exile. Soon afterwards an uprising in
Poland was quashed by Russian troops. Uncles and
aunts had been killed, arrested or exiled. His mother
died of tuberculosis. “The little mite is growing up
as though in a cloister; the grave of our Unforgettable is our memento mori,” wrote his broken father.
Then Daddy’s lungs gave up too, and the 11-yearold orphan could be seen heading a procession of
Catholic mourners through the streets of Krakow.
To say Conrad ran away to sea is too simple.
Placed in the care of a pragmatic and didactic uncle, he escaped a life of service to an oppressed,
landlocked country by leaving to see the world.
After getting into debt and shooting himself in the
chest in Marseille, he reversed into Englishness,
seeing Britain as a land of political freedom where
he might make his way. He mastered the language
and began to write in a way that became all his own.
For some, this was not enough. As with Nabokov,
his outsider’s interrogation of the English language
made his originality possible. “I don’t know what
would have become of me if I had not been a reading
boy,” he wrote. The odd, correct locution (“a reading
boy”) is characteristic Conrad.
Not yet 21, he found himself on the Duke of
Sutherland, a ship bound for Australia, in the company of Barbadians, Swedes, Canadians. Jasanoff
uses shipboard life as the ideal liminal space to
examine the melding of worlds and peoples. Conrad described himself as “a Polish nobleman cased
in British tar”, and wrote: “I had thought to myself
that if I was to be a seaman, then I would be a British
seaman and no other.”
He spent 20 years in the merchant navy, eschewing as far as he could the new technology of steam
in favour of sail and tradition, usually finding work
that was below his professional status, a captain
forced to be a second mate as he dipped and dived
across the oceans. What was the alternative? He had
nowhere to go back to. It was not until July 1914,
by now accompanied by his wife and two sons
and with a financial security that had previously
eluded him, that he returned to Poland. History
blithely reappeared in the form of a troop of Austrian cavalry and the outbreak of the first world war.
The Conrad family were trapped among refugees in
central Europe, far from home.
In a globalised world, Conrad’s writing has a
new applicability; he writes about quandaries that
we know. Over-influential in the development of
others’ opinions of distant lands – and Africa and
south-east Asia in particular – his critical reputation
‘If I was to be a seaman,
I had thought to myself,
then I would be a British
seaman and no other’
was eclipsed in the 1970s with Chinua Achebe’s
attack on the racism in Heart of Darkness. The racial
distancing in Conrad’s prose is undeniable, but
equally his critique of imperialism as it played out in
remote jungles and riverbanks is, for want of a better
word, savage. His English seaman narrator, Charles
Marlow, sees a group of labourers “were dying
slowly – it was very clear. They were … nothing
but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying
confusedly in the greenish gloom.” As the European
scramble for overseas colonies accelerated in the
lead-up to the first world war, so the spread of
progress became more terrifying. An imperial
venture exchanged “rubbishy cottons, beads, and
brass-wire” for ivory, and in the name of the king
tore treasure out of the bowels of the earth, “with
no more moral purpose at the back of it than there
is in burglars breaking into a safe”.
His writing was implicitly political, but he had
seen too much on his travels to put much faith in
politics. As the United States grew in stature, Conrad
believed “material interests” would supersede idealistic liberal imperialism and determine the fate of
the new nations that were in the process of emerging in the early 20th century. As Jasanoff notes: “The
real question for the world’s future, in Conrad’s theory, wasn’t what would happen. It was when and
how.” The global settlement that he foresaw may
still be coming into view, in all its complexity.
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 35
From Telemachus
to Harvey Weinstein
Women & Power: A Manifesto
by Mary Beard
Profile, 128pp
Rachel Cooke
World traveller …
Conrad eschewed
new technology of
steam in favour of
sail and tradition
Lebrecht Music
and Arts Photo
This book is a mere slip of a thing,
small enough to fit into the most diminutive of bags or even the pocket
of an overcoat. But size, in this instance, is irrelevant. There are two
things you need to know about it.
The first is that what Mary Beard has
to say is powerful: here are more
than a few pretty useful stones for the slingshots
some of us feel we must carry with us everywhere
we go right now. The second is that most of its
power, if not all, lies in its author’s absolute refusal
to make anything seem too simple. Even as she tries
to be concise and easy on the ear – the book is
adapted from two lectures, one given at the British
Museum in 2014, and the other earlier this year –
Beard knows that the matters with which she is
concerned are extremely complicated. Before she
arms you, then, she makes you think. In this sense,
if no other, Women & Power deserves to take its
place alongside Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics, the
text that first suggested literature as a medium for
Beard’s primary subject is female silence; she
hopes to take a “long view on the culturally awkward relationship between the voice of women
and the public sphere of speech-making, debate
and comment”, the better to get beyond “the simple diagnosis of misogyny that we tend a bit lazily
to fall back on”. Calling out misogyny isn’t, she
understands, the same thing as explaining it, and
it’s only by doing the latter that we’re likely ever to
find an effective means of combating it. The question is: where should we look for answers? Beard
acknowledges that misogyny’s roots are deep and
wide. But in this book, she looks mostly (she is a
classicist, after all) at Greek and Roman antiquity, a
realm that even now, she believes, casts a shadow
over our traditions of public speaking, whether we
are considering the timbre of a person’s voice, or
their authority to pronounce on any given subject.
Personally, I might have found this argument a
bit strained a month ago; 3,000 years lie between
us and Homer’s Odyssey, which is where she begins, with Telemachus effectively telling his mother
Penelope to “shut up”. But reading it in the wake
of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it seems utterly,
dreadfully convincing. Mute women; brutal men;
shame as a mechanism for control; androgyny and
avoidance as a strategy for survival. On every page,
bells ring too loudly for comfort.
Through the example of Telemachus we learn
that silencing the female was once an essential
part of growing up as a man – though shouting at a
woman was only one way of achieving it. In Ovid’s
Metamorphoses, Io is turned by Jupiter into a cow,
and Echo’s voice reduced to a mere instrument
for repeating the words of others. Beard urges us
not to see this “muteness” simply as a reflection
of women’s more general disempowerment in the
classical world. Their exclusion from public speech
was, she writes, “active and loaded”. Their voices
were subversive, a threat to the state.
What I relish about Beard’s approach is that once
she has told us all this she doesn’t simply sink down
into disapproval and hand-wringing (the fatal flaw
of so many recent feminist texts). She wants to
know: how can we be heard? And her answers are
radical. Why should we settle only for exploiting
the status quo – for instance, by training our voices,
as Margaret Thatcher did? Progress, if it is ever to
happen, will require a fundamental rethink of the
nature of spoken authority, “and what constitutes
it, and how we have learned to hear it where we do”.
Frontiers of glory
Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime
of Discovery
by Scott Kelly
Knopf, 387pp
Marcia Bartusiak
Washington Post
For many of us, the childhood fantasy never went away. We grew up
glued to our grainy black-and-white
TVs, watching with awe as Alan
Shepard and John Glenn rocketed
into space in blazing glory. It was
easy to imagine that, someday in the
future, we’d have the same chance.
Few have gotten that opportunity, but Endurance,
astronaut Scott Kelly’s memoir (written with Margaret Lazarus Dean) of his record-setting year on the
International Space Station (ISS) in 2015, offers
Earthlings an informative and gripping look at the
adventures and day-by-day experiences of living in
a metal container that is orbiting Earth at 2,800km/h.
Yet at the same time, Kelly brings our dreams
crashing down to Earth. It’s not all beautiful views
of our planet and restful floats in zero-g. There’s the
mould and dust, the never-ending hum of equipment, the build-up of carbon dioxide when the
scrubbers sporadically malfunction. “If we are going to get to Mars,” Kelly writes, “we are going to
need a much better way to deal with CO2. He and his
colleague, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko,
were human guinea pigs, hoping to learn the longterm effects of space isolation on mind and body.
Given Kelly’s history growing up, the book’s biggest surprise is that he even made it into space. He
was about to flunk out of college until he came upon
Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff. He was immediately
drawn to the book’s “young hotshots catapulting off
aircraft carriers, testing unstable airplanes, drinking
hard, and generally moving through the world like
badasses”. Almost overnight, he knew he wanted to
join them. In 1995 he was accepted into the largest
astronaut class in Nasa’s history: 44 in all, including
his twin brother, Mark. Within four years, Kelly was
in space, aboard the space shuttle Discovery sent
out to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Piloting
the space shuttle had been Kelly’s sole ambition.
But when asked, he served. He reluctantly agreed
to stay on the station for six months in 2010-11. That
experience made him especially qualified for a repeat performance, but this time for an entire year,
with his personal quarters on the station no bigger
than an old-fashioned phone booth. Upon opening
the Soyuz hatch to enter the ISS, Kelly senses something familiar: “A strong burned metal smell, like
the smell of sparklers on the Fourth of July. Objects
that have been exposed to Continued on page 36 →
36 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
← Continued from page 35 the vacuum of space have
this unique smell on them, like the smell of welding – the smell of space.”
During his year in space, three unmanned supply ships exploded after launch, forcing the station
inhabitants to ration for a while. More horrific is
the space junk, the myriad debris and old satellites
that buzz around the Earth. Most are tracked, and
the ISS’s engines are fired to move the station out of
the way. But sometimes there is too little time. All
aboard once took shelter in the Soyuz capsule for
10 excruciating minutes. “I realize that if the satellite had in fact hit us,” Kelly writes, “we … would
have gone from grumbling to one another in our
cold Soyuz to being blasted in a million directions
as diffused atoms, all in the space of a millisecond.”
But every astronaut and cosmonaut willingly
accepts such challenges for a reason: to secure the
future of spaceflight. “It will be very, very difficult,
it will cost a great deal of money, and it may cost
human lives,” stresses Kelly. “But I know now that
if we decide to do it, we can.”
Blown away
by Marion Rankine
Melville House, 176pp
Alexandra Harris
Among the Japanese yokai, or monstrous spirits, one of the most prominent forms of apparition is the kasaobake: the umbrella ghost. It is always an old umbrella, well used and
long ignored. One moment
ment it is quietly rolled in the hallway
ay stand, the
next it is leaping and leering
eering. From
among the folds a single eye gleams with sinister
life. An 18th-century haiku by Yosa Buson
uson catches
the mood: “Oh, the winter rain/On a moonlit night/
When the shadow of an old umbrella shudders.”
I must say, I’ve never felt haunted by
y an umbrella,
but I wouldn’t open one indoors, and Marion Rankine’s tour through umbrella culture suggests how
widely this apparently simple accessory
ory has been
regarded with reverence, superstition
n and fascination. If you’re surprised by the thought
ught of a
whole book on the subject, be assured
d that
there is already a substantial reading
list. The story of ancient ceremonial ussage, of sky gods, of Thomas Coryat’s return to England with news of the Italian
sunshade – all this has been much retold
and refined. The histories on the bookokshelf are joined by social analyses, such
as Dickens’s inquiry into the conditions
of umbrella manufacture, and contemmporary studies of sartorial sign language.
And this is before we open the floodgates
to painting, poetry and fiction.
Rankine is a thoughtful anthologist
ist. Not
content for her book to be merely quirky,
y, she mixes
her brolly facts with strong feelings about shelter,
containment and changefulness. She is drawn, she
says, to the umbrella’s “everyday actss of transformation”. The change is simple and complete:
mplete: from
furled to unfurled and back again, open
pen to closed.
“Like a flower”, she suggests, which iss a little fanciful, though it’s pleasing enough to imagine
agine a street
of jostling brollies as a vase of giant blooms
The umbrella can become, in an instant, a walking cane or a defensive weapon. Only Mary Poppins
can make it fly, but anyone forcibly lifted from the
ground on a windy day will know why early aeronauts were interested. Joseph-Michel Montgolfier
experimented in 1779 by putting a sheep in a basket
attached to an umbrella-style canopy. He pushed
the whole assemblage off a tower at the Palais des
Papes in Avignon and watched it float safely to the
ground. The parachute was born and the hot air balloon would not be far behind.
For most of its long history, the umbrella has
been a protection from the sun. For centuries it has
shielded faces in China, Japan, Spain and Italy. Its
name in English still recalls its origins as a small
shadow, but in this country it is almost always a
shelter from the wet. The French name parapluie
tells the truth of umbrella use in a northern climate.
It was cumbersome, leaky, only for women, and
remained an object of uncertain ridicule into the
19th century. But by the 1850s it was a much valued accessory for all, and when steel ribs arrived it
became ubiquitous. Once lost they can become altogether more interesting. In EM Forster’s Howards
End, Leonard Bast’s umbrella may be “appalling …
all gone along the seams”, but he can’t afford a new
one and must visit Helen Schlegel’s house to reclaim
his own. Nietzsche left a note among his papers saying only: “I have forgotten my umbrella.”
Today’s cheaply produced and easily broken
varieties are rarely worth a journey across town to
recover them. Millions of near-identical black brollies are swapped and swapped again – on trains, at
cloakrooms, at bars and concerts. Yet something of
the old intrigue remains. Rankine has taken a series of photographs of abandoned umbrellas lying
limp in gutters and at kerbsides, spokes jutting out,
coloured canvas slicked with mud. One feels, for a
moment at least, her attraction to the sad, soaked
relic of what was once a welcoming shelter, or to the
near-animate presence of a handle protruding from
a bin. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that the Japanese
imagined old umbrellas to have lives of their own.
Luminously beautiful
by Ali Smith
Hamish Hamilton, 336pp
Stephanie Merritt
Think of a classic winter tale, and
Dickens’s A Christmas Carol might
be the first to mind. It’s clearly one
of the models for the second part of
Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet, a novel
of great ferocity, tenderness,
righteous anger and generosity of
spirit that you feel Dickens would
have recognised. Sophia Cleves is a Scrooge for our
time, a retired businesswoman whose work always
took precedence over family. Now holed up in her
15-bedroom house in Cornwall, she is, as her
estranged sister Iris observes, “an old miserly
grump who had nothing in the house for your son
and his girlfriend for Christmas except a bag of
walnuts and half a jar of glacé cherries”.
But Sophia has not been alone; as the story
opens she is chatting to a child’s disembodied
head that bobs cheerfully around her like the dancing light of Christmas past. Like Scrooge’s ghosts,
the head is a shape-shifter, at times taking on the
form of the Green Man of legend, at others appearing more like a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth,
one of the novel’s other tutelary spirits. Midnight
chimes over and over for Sophia on Christmas Eve,
as the narrative cuts between past and present as
if being shown to the reader in a vision (“Let’s see
another Christmas …”).
Names are freighted with meaning and irony
here. Iris, “the wild one”, a former Greenham
Common protester and lifelong activist recently
returned from helping refugees in Greece, is nickret
named “Ire”. Wisdom is the one thing Sophia lacks,
and must learn. Her son, Arthur, in this Cornish setan
ting recalls England’s once and future king, except
that we are told on the opening page that “romance
was dead. Chivalry was dead.” Instead, he is known
as Art, offering plentiful wordplay; he fancies himself as a nature writer, but his blog, Art in Nature, is
made of fabricated memories and journeys (“Fake
Art”), and his day job involves destroying artists by
reporting them to a multinational corporation for
copyright infringement.
Into this fragmented family arrives the enigmatic
Lux, a Croatian student, whom Art meets at a bus
stop and hires to impersonate his girlfriend over
Christmas so that he won’t have to tell his mother
they’ve split up. Her name recalls St Lucy, whose
day used to coincide with the winter solstice, pad
ttron saint of light in darkness. As in Smith’s novel
The Accidental, it is the stranger in their midst with
a licence
to speak the truth who shines a light on a
family’s faultlines and brings healing.
And over the whole story falls the long shadow of
the EU referendum, as it did with her Man Bookerth
shortlisted predecessor, Autumn; there’s a painsh
fully accurate comic portrait of a Christmas lunch
fraught with tension between family members on
different sides. Lux’s faux-naif pronouncements on
migration can feel a little like a manifesto, though
heartfelt. “Smith is engaged in an extended process
of mythologising the present state of Britain, and
Winter is at its most luminously beautiful when the
news fades and merges with recent and ancient hisne
tory, a reminder that everything is cyclical.
38 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Got a list of great films?
Rip it up, and read on
Movies seen as classics are largely made by men. But with
Hollywood in turmoil, Melissa Silverstein says it’s time to
rewrite the canon. We asked women for their suggestions
or as long as most of us have been
around, the canon – those books, plays,
films and television series anointed as
the most important of their kind – has
been defined by a singular commonality: most of it was created by white
men. When I entered graduate school in theatre
management and producing in the 1990s, we were
required to read a series of books entitled Famous
American Plays of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s etc.
Everything I was assigned, except for two plays –
Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding and
Lillian Hellman’s The Autumn Garden – was by men.
Sadly, it hasn’t changed. When I spoke to female
film students at the University of California, Los
Angeles a couple of years ago, they said the films
on their curriculum were virtually all by white men.
These students were made to believe, through the
films they studied, that women – our experiences,
thoughts, decisions, passions and ideas – don’t rate.
Women’s lives are pushed from centre stage into a
corner. It is pretty full in the corner, because half the
world is stuck there.
This is an all-pervasive problem. It is about how
most of the critics are men. It is about how nearly
all the talking heads on television are men. If you
can’t get the attention, the critical reception, the
accolades, you can’t rise to the next level of recognition. So you are stuck with a group of privileged,
white, mostly men, who continue to rise to the top
and become the purveyors of the culture.
In the early days of the film business, women
thrived. The first acknowledged female director is
Alice Guy-Blaché, and the most prolific and highest-paid screenwriter in the 1920s was Frances
Marion. Women were successful across the industry until the rise of the studio system, when men
imposed their rule and pushed women out. Look
at the Motion Picture Production – or Hays – Code,
which was in effect from 1930 until, technically,
1968 (when the MPAA started its ratings system)
and required stars to conform to a series of morality clauses. These rules were used to neuter women
and their sexuality as well as to enforce other forms
of censorship and moral policing.
There were decades where nary a female director is to be seen. By the 70s, when the term auteur
had become more widely used, male directors such
as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, who still
dominate our landscape, rose to prominence. They
became stars themselves and their films became
those that everyone wanted – and wants – to emulate. These are the films taught to students because
these are the films that their teachers, who are still
mostly men, learned are the ones that mattered.
But no more. Women and people of colour are
demanding the canon be rethought, since it was not
based on our shared culture, but on the experiences
of one group that became the dominant voice. The
allegations against Harvey Weinstein have caused
the floodgates to open. Let’s use this opportunity
– a time when people are searching for change – to
create at least one positive outcome: a new and
inclusive canon for the future.
Howards End (dir James Ivory,
screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala)
Period drama fans know Merchant Ivory, but just
as important to the success of their movie-making
powerhouse was Ruth Prawer Jhabvala – the novelist
who penned many of the scripts, including this adaptation of EM Forster’s Howards End, for which she
won the second of her two Oscars.
Yentl (dir Barbra Streisand)
Streisand directs, co-writes, sings and, of course,
stars as a Jewish girl who must live as a man in order
to receive the education she deserves.
Suspense (dir Lois Weber)
A 10-minute-long thriller that Weber directed
with her husband, Phillips Smalley. She stars as a
woman alone at home with her baby when a tramp
attempts to break in.
Selected by
Pamela Hutchinson
Critic and historian of silent film
An ingenious home-invasion thriller by
one of the great directors of the silent
era. Weber went on to make far more
ambitious films. But this still raises the
blood pressure a century after it was made.
Selected by
Amma Asante Director of A United Kingdom
3-yearYentl had a profound impact on me as a 13-yeary
old. I knew who Streisand was because my
dad was a big fan of her music and, subd
sequently, so was I. So, when I discovered
she was directing a movie that she had
also co-written and was starring in, I was
blown away. Yentl might be the first movie
directed by a woman that hit me, in a world
where I ha
had learned that such
a thing was very rare. It was
epic with enormous themes,
beautifully drawn characters
and performances, and stununnin
ning production values. But
it w
was important because itt
showed what a woman could
achieve, given the opening.
Jingan Young Playwright and journalist
Growing up in Hong Kong, I was inspired to
pursue a career as a writer by Howards End.
German-born Jhabvala’s Jewish émigré backgr
ground and life in India undoubtedly affected
her writing, which expertly and intricately
weaves the political beneath the emotional.
Without her, there would be no Merchant Ivory.
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 39
Lost in Translation (dir Sofia Coppola)
Coppola became just the third women to be
nominated for the best director Oscar with her
dreamy valentine to Tokyo, starring Scarlett
Johansson and Bill Murray.
Selected by
Melanie Lynskey Actor, Heavenly Creatures
I saw it in the theatre when I was 26, and it was
the first time I’d seen an older man/younger
woman narrative told from a female perspective.
It felt empowering, romantic and sexy. There’s
something about the way the camera takes in
Johansson in that movie that feels undeniably
feminine. The film balances a lot of complicated
things delicately
and with complete
honesty. Plus it’s
hilarious.. I love it.
Monster (dir Patty Jenkins)
She’s now best known for Wonder Woman, but Jenkins’s 2003 portrait of serial killer Aileen Wuornos
presented a very different version of female power.
Denis’s spellbinding ballet of a film provides a
woman’s take on men-only environments. It’s set
mostly on a French Foreign Legion outpost in east
Africa, aand Denis Lavant is the grizzled sergeant major
recalling the events that led to his court martial.
Selecte by
Lynne Ramsay
Director of We Need to Talk About Kevin
The darker
side of masculinity, immaculately
realised. Man’s dance between life and death
and resignation, so many emotions. Denis is a
master, one of the world’s best film-makers.
The Ascent
(dir Larisa Shepitko)
Selected by
Penelope Spheeris
Director of Wayne’s World
Such a tough subject matter, so brilliantly
handled by Jenkins. She told me quite a few
years back that she was determined to make an
“action movie”, even though we ladies aren’t
allowed. That wonder woman is unstoppable.
Soviet director Shepitko’s fourth and
final film is a haunting war drama,
following two starving partisans
across the frozen wastes of Belarus
in 1942.
Monsoon Wedding
(dir Mira Nair)
director Nair said that she
wanted to make a Bollywood film her
way – and she hit the jackpot with
this big-hearted boisterous wedding
movie, which swept along audiences
around the globe.
Selected by
Gurinder Chadha
Director of Bend It Like
Entertaining, deeply steeped in
the cultural specificity of its char-acters and searingly political in addvocating social change to make the
depicted characters’ lives better.
Daughters of the Dust (dir Julie Dash)
Recently rediscovered as an inspiration for Beyoncé’s
Lemonade, this is a visually sumptuous, narratively
distinct family saga about African-American womanhood on a South Carolina island.
Selected by
Nadia Latif Writer and director
Dash’s much-loved but little-seen 1991 gem was,
horrifyingly, the first film directed by an AfricanAmerican woman to gain theatrical release.
Based in par
part on Dash’s own family
the film is mainly written
history, th
in Gullah creole. Watching it forces
abandon how you ordinaryou to aba
understand film, and makes
ily under
you submit
subm yourself to something
primal. Maybe it’s OK to not
more prim
understand everything, to let go. It’s
a joyous celeb
celebration of black womanhood in all its forms, and a total escape
from the broken
black bodies one is
used to
t seeing in mainstream
western cinema.
Beau Travail (dir Claire Denis)
Selected by
Sally Potter Director of The Party
Shepitko – who died in a car crash
after making this – took on one of
the most difficult subjects for Russians: war’s catastrophic effects
on individual psyches – explored
without limits and directed with
aesthetic precision and daring.
The Babadook
(dir Jennifer Kent)
First-time director Kent
transforms themes of maternal
exhaustion and isolation into the
cult horror
horro of the decade. A sleeper
hit that
th t leaves
l l
you sleepless.
Selected by
Emily V Gordon Screenwriter of The Big Sick
The Babadook is a gorgeously told female-focused
story of grief, longing, loneliness and what
mourning can become. And it has one of the most
iconic monsters of any movie in the past 20 years.
Red Road (dir Andrea Arnold)
Vagabond (dir Agnès Varda)
A young drifter (Sandrine Bonnaire) wanders though
southern France in winter, meeting various people
before continuing her travels. Is this a freedom to be
envied? Or feared?
Selected by
Pratibha Parmar Producer, director and writer
Vagabond is a stunning, austere cinematic poem
and belongs in cinema’s universal canon. Centred
on the story of a young woman, a vagrant and
an outcast, Varda’s brilliant weaving of fiction,
documentary and musical set pieces is a work of
sublime grace going beyond story and into the
crevices of the human condition.
With her debut effort, Arnold announced herself
as one of British film’s biggest talents – taking
social realism and thickening it with something
deeper and darker. A drama of obsession and
revenge, it stars Kate Dickie as a Glasgow CCTV
operator with a dark secret.
Selected by
Sarah Solemani Actor and activist
Red Road by Andrea Arnold is
undoubtedly the most masterful
thriller I’ve ever seen. Every
beat of the film meticulously
builds the mystery towards
a dazzling plot twist, making
Hitchcock look like panto. It’s
muscular, powerful, disturbing
and female to its core.
40 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
The unlikely return of PP Arnold
Once the darling of the swinging
60s, the soul great is back with
a lost LP, writes Alexis Petridis
meet PP Arnold in the top-floor restaurant of
a hotel in London’s West End. The windows
offer a panoramic view of central London,
which turns out to be perfect for illustrating
her conversation. You can see Regent’s Park,
where Mick Jagger took her for a walk after
lunch in 1967 and convinced her to leave her job as
a backing vocalist for Ike and Tina Turner and become a solo singer. Over there is Soho, where Arnold
recorded umpteen sessions, gradually notching up
one of the most extraordinary CVs in pop.
Arnold is back in London from her home in Spain
to promote a new solo album, which in itself seems
astonishing. The last time she released one, it was
1968 and she was, as the slogan had it, The First Lady
of Immediate, author of a string of Summer of Love
hit singles: The First Cut Is the Deepest, Angel of the
Morning, If You Think You’re Groovy. To complicate
matters further, the “new” album she’s promoting
is actually 47 years old. Recorded in 1969 and 1970,
but shelved as a result of what she describes with
a sigh as “politics, politics, politics”, The Turning
Tide is fantastic, blessed with a supporting cast that
gives you an idea of the regard Arnold was held in
by the era’s rock aristocracy. Half of it was written
and produced by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, the
rest by Eric Clapton, with the nascent Derek and the
Dominoes as her backing band; the Stones’ touring
saxophonist Bobby Keys performs on it, as do Elton
John’s sometime backing band Hookfoot.
After it was shelved, she says, she spent years
trying to track down the master tapes and attributes
its eventual appearance, at least in part, to taking up
meditation. Hang on: meditation? She nods. “I was
thinking about retiring, I was getting stressed out
with work. So I stopped and I just worked on myself.
I really got into meditating and doing affirmations.
And then it seemed like that all those affirmations,
I suddenly became them – I started being more positive and started attracting positive things and here
I am, you know?”
If all this seems extraordinary, pretty much
everything about PP Arnold’s career is extraordinary, not least the fact that she never intended to
become a singer. At 17, she was already a wife and
mother of two, working two jobs and trapped in an
abusive marriage in California, when two friends
called and asked her to accompany them to an
audition for the Ikettes. “She goes: ‘Pat, you gotta
help us, the third girl’s dropped out.’ I said, straight
away: ‘I can’t go, my husband won’t let me.’ They
came anyway, and the next thing I know I’m at Ike
and Tina’s house and we’re singing Dancing in the
Streets. Tina says: ‘Right, you got the gig.’ I’m like:
‘Oh no, not me, I’ve got to go home, my husband
doesn’t know I’m here, he’s gonna kick my butt.’
Tina said if I was going to get my butt kicked
for nothing, I might as well ride up with them to
Fresno and see the show that night. So I went, and
it was amazing, and I didn’t get home until six the
next morning. My husband was waiting for me at
the door. Soon as I walk in, it’s: Bam!” – she mimes
throwing a punch – “and it was like he knocked
some sense into me, really. I thought: ‘This morning
I didn’t have a way out, I was praying to God to show
me a path out of this hell I’d created for myself, and
now I’ve got a way out.’”
She left her children with her parents and went
on the road in 1964, touring the chitlin’ circuit at a
time when the south was still segregated – “It was
eye-opening: bathrooms for coloureds only; we
couldn’t stay in Sheratons or Hiltons, no one would
get off the bus when we stopped at a gas station” –
and experiencing what she tactfully calls “the pros
and cons” of life as an Ikette: “The music was great
– the shows, the musicians – and even though he
was who he was, Ike was an amazing bandleader.
But Tina had kind of saved me from my scene, and
I had no idea that she was living the same thing. Ike
had all these women and there was physical abuse.
Watching her go through that was really hard,
because I had already been a victim.”
The revue fetched up in the UK, supporting the
Rolling Stones, with whom Arnold quickly became
friends – “I was the one everybody least expected
to do that, because I was so shy and introverted,
but I hadn’t had a teenage life, because I had kids
real young, and I just decided to have fun” – and
who encouraged her to stay in the UK.
Within six months, she had sent for her children to join her: she was a star and a fixture
‘I was getting stressed
out with work. So
I stopped and got
into meditating’
on the London music scene, nicknamed PP by hip
photographer Gered Mankowitz, collaborating with
everyone from Rod Stewart to the Small Faces.
But after her label folded and Barry Gibb and
Clapton’s manager Robert Stigwood blocked the
release of The Turning Tide, her career floundered.
She spent the 70s trying and failing to get new
musical projects off the ground while doing sessions as a backing vocalist. She worked on some
incredible albums, not least Nick Drake’s Bryter
Layter, but her solo career became a mass of frustrating dead ends, exacerbated by personal tragedy: her eldest daughter Debbie was killed in a car
crash in 1977. It was a similar story in the 80s: she
appeared in Starlight Express and sang with Peter
Gabriel, but another car accident left her temporarily unable to walk.
By the end of the decade, she had developed an
unlikely sideline singing on house and hardcore
hit singles – everything from Altern-8’s E-Vapor-8
to the Beatmasters’ Burn It Up and a succession of
tracks with the KLF, whose name causes her face
to cloud over: “The deal was that if they used my
solo bits for anything, I got 5%, then they went
and burned up all that money before they paid
me my 5%.”
It took Britpop’s obsession with the 60s to really
reinvigorate her career. Leaving a Birmingham theatre where she was appearing in a musical one night
in the mid-90s, she found the members of Ocean
Colour Scene waiting at the stage door to pay homage. “They had all these flowers with them,” she
says. “They wanted me to come with them to their
studio around the corner. It was truly a beautiful
thing.” The band’s guitarist Steve Cradock is currently producing a solo album for her, to be
called The New Adventures of PP Arnold;
Paul Weller is among the contributors.
For someone thinking of retiring not
that long ago, everything seems to be
happening again: this old album, that
new album, a forthcoming autobiography, a tour. It has always been like that,
she laughs, from the moment
her girlfriend rang telling her to
come to Ike and Tina’s house.
“The unexpected always rules
in my life,” she says. “Destiny
takes over. I just put it in
God’s hands and the unexpected brings some kind
of situation that’s good
for me.”
PP Arnold, past and present ... ‘The unexpected always
rules my life’ Sandra Vijandi/Handel & Hendrix Museum
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 41
Culture Reviews
Kicker here like this
Then a short description here like this
→ Then Section and page XX
Paddington 2
am normally wary of people ransacking the
movie archive to make plays, but this version
of the Oscar-winning Network is an almost
total triumph. Lee Hall has kept the best of
Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 script while excising its
excesses. Bryan Cranston, pictured, best known
for the hit series Breaking Bad, brings a wiry
magnetism to the role of the TV news anchor,
Howard Beale. Ivo van Hove and his designer, Jan
Versweyveld, have also transformed the National
Theatre’s Lyttelton stage into an extraordinary
blend of television studio and restaurant.
The most obvious point to make about the
Chayefsky script is how uncannily prophetic it
seems. It is famously based on the idea of a veteran newsman experiencing a public breakdown.
Having first threatened to kill himself on air, he
launches a series of on-screen jeremiads, which
turn him into a pop Savonarola and rescue a failing network by achieving astronomical ratings.
As a satire it hits several targets dead centre.
But Beale’s success lies in articulating public
rage and persuading people to open their windows and shout: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not
going to take this any more.” Even if the internet
has now replaced network television as the new
reality, Chayefsky foresaw how power could
be achieved by tapping into popular anger.
Taylor Swift Reputation
ome versions of the sixth Taylor Swift
album come complete with a sleeve note,
penned by the 27-year-old singer-songwriter. It opens with some general thoughts
on social media, moves on to the pressures of life
in the glare of the media’s spotlight and offers a
swift rebuke to those who might attempt to interpret Swift’s songs as being about her personal
life. Certainly, if your thing is songs that leave you
wondering who or what they might be referencing, then Reputation is the album for you.
At their best, these songs have a fizzing, pugilistic energy that recalls Britney Spears’ brilliant,
screw-you-all 2007 album Blackout. At their
least appealing, they’re still decent pop songs.
Jan Versweyveld
While preserving the original’s insights, Hall has
subtly altered the balance of the story. He keeps
the focus strictly on Beale and downplays the
subplot, always the weakest part of the movie,
about the affair of an ageing colleague, Max,
with Diana, an ambitious TV exec.
If this is very much Beale’s play, it is also
because of Cranston’s haunting presence. With
his seamed features and troubled integrity, constantly seen in closeup, he actually looks like
a plausible news anchor. But even when Beale
turns into a raging TV prophet, Cranston avoids
rant and suggests the words are being painfully
wrung from him. His achievement is to suggest
that there is an element of residual sanity to
Beale’s apparently demented diatribes.
It’s a tremendous performance enhanced by
the decision of Van Hove and Versweyveld to
treat the stage as if it were a studio. Tal Yarden
deserves credit for the video design and even
the decision to put a real restaurant on stage,
initially distracting, pays off in that it gives
Beale a visible audience to whom he can play.
But the success of the show, which runs for two
hours without interval, lies in its capacity to use
every facet of live theatre to warn us against
surrendering our humanity to an overpowering
medium, whether it be television or invasive
technology. Michael Billington
At the National Theatre, London,
on, until 24 March
But at the heart of Reputation lies a
sequence of songs that chart the
he rise,
fall and fallout of a fleeting relationship
and offer a masterclass in pop songwriting along the way. Gorgeous, Getaway Carr
and King of My Heart are filled
d with fantastic melodies. Meanwhile, Dancing With
Our Hands Tied fruitfully returns
rns to the
AOR-inspired sound of 1989, while
the closing New Year’s Day proves
oves an
exception to the general rule that
the piano ballad is the low point
of any pop album, and exposess
musical roots that Reputation
conceals elsewhere: you don’tt
get anywhere on Music Row unnless you know how to knock out
ut a
romantic weepie that hits them
m where it
hurts. Alexis Petridis
his year’s Christmas treat has arrived
early, and Paddington Bear has incidentally shown us that Blade Runner isn’t the
only film around capable of giving us an
exciting and impressive sequel.
This is the follow-up to the first Paddington
movie of 2014 and it’s a tremendously sweetnatured, charming, unassuming and above all
funny film with a story that just rattles along,
powered by a nonstop succession of Grade-A gags
conjured up by screenwriters Paul King (who also
directs), Simon Farnaby and Jon Croker. Their
screenplay perfectly catches the tone of the great
master himself, Michael Bond, author of the
original books.
The film is pitched with insouciant ease and
a lightness of touch at both children and adults
without any self-conscious shifts in irony or
tone: it’s humour with the citrus tang of topquality thick-cut marmalade. There’s a sight-gag
involving the spurious breaking of a valuable
vase that I particularly enjoyed. And although
one could say its work on diversity is not complete, the film has a fair bit of material – now
more pertinent than ever – about the way a confident, happy nation welcomes immigrants. The
DayGlo primary-coloured design gives the movie
a storybook feel, at some places a little like Wes
Anderson. The uproarious finale, meanwhile, has
something of Mel Brooks.
It may be bad form to begin with any character
other than the young ursine hero himself, but
Hugh Grant completely pinches this, with an
outrageously scene-stealing turn as the appalling
villain, Phoenix Buchanan. He has just moved
into this elegant west London neighbourhood,
which is more or less as it was when Grant was
here for Richard Curtis’s Notting Hill in 1999:
picturesque, and evidently not yet the preserve
of the super-rich.
Meanwhile, the Brown family are tootling
amiably along as ever. Ben Whishaw is excellent
voicing Paddington himself: curious, puzzled,
innocent, but with a clear sense of right and
wrong. Hugh Bonneville is the paterfamilias Mr
Brown, experiencing a midlife crisis. Sally Hawkins is quietly excellent in the unpromising role of
Mrs Brown, and the same goes for Julie Walters
as the housekeeper
p Mrs Bird, a job description
that announces, like nothing else, that PaddingComedy age. Sanjeev
ton originated in an Ealing C
Bhaskar is a forgetful neighbour
and Richar
Richard Ayoade is an eccentric forensic
forensi scientist.
unspeakable Phoenix
The unsp
steals a pop
pop-up book from Mr
Gruber’s sh
shop: a book that contains coded clues to where a
fabulous cache
cac of treasure may be
found – and he frames Paddington for tthe crime. In prison,
Paddington, pictured, finds
solace in friendship with
the prison’s
cook, Knuckles, played
by Brendan Gleeson.
Together, they are to
plan a daring escape.
It’s very silly, but very
able, the kind of thing
that looks easy, but really isn’t.
Peter Bradshaw
42 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Notes & Queries
Nature watch
Rio Almonte, Spain
If I didn’t take a photo of the
Taj, then was I really there?
• Great tension. Who’s going
to win?
Pat Phillips,
Adelaide, South Australia
Would people travel as much if they
could not take pictures?
Probably, plus a boon for us who
stay home: there’s only so many Taj
Mahal snaps we can handle.
Marilyn Hamilton,
Perth, Western Australia
Meditating upon chess
What most useful skill would serve
well when carried into old age?
Maurice Gauthier,
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
• If you visited a new place and
didn’t have a selfie showing
yourself there, would you really
have been there?
David Isaacs, Sydney, Australia
• Yes, for they would collect other
Philip Stigger,
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
• I’m sure that the refugees of the
world are not transient for the sake
of selfies.
Neil Johnson, Birmingham, UK
• The ability to enjoy one’s
own company.
Ann M Altman,
Hamden, Connecticut, US
Say cheese … tourists in Paris
• Yes, but there would be fewer
requests for cheese.
Roger Morrell,
Perth, Western Australia
• Listening to others.
Bob Barton,
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
• Chess.
Adrian Chaster,
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Afghanistan is the real loser
• Balance.
Adrian Cooper,
Queens Park, NSW, Australia
• I remember travelling with someone whose mother was blind and
who wrote wonderful descriptive
accounts of her trips. A picture may
be worth a thousand words, but a
detailed written journal is priceless!
Avril Taylor,
Dundas, Ontario, Canada
What makes a great game?
A formidable opponent.
R De Braganza, Kilifi, Kenya
• I can’t picture it.
Malcolm Campbell,
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
• Sportspersonship.
Charlie Bamforth,
Davis, California, US
What’s the difference between a pal
and a friend?
Donna Samoyloff, Toronto, Canada
• Yes. They’d be less distracted and
more mindful of what they came for.
Richard Orlando,
Westmount, Quebec, Canada
• This was the term given to British
meddling in Afghanistan in the
1830s; things have gone downhill.
Joan Dawson,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
What was your favourite childhood
Christmas decoration, and why?
William Emigh,
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
• Probably, but they mightn’t remember so well where they’d been.
Lawrie Bradly,
Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia
• The constant possibility of a
sudden change of fortune.
David Kettle,
Northcote, Victoria, Australia
• Fair play.
Avril Nicholas,
Crafers, South Australia
More Notes & Queries
See additional answers online
Any answers?
Send answers to weekly.nandq@ or Guardian
Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way,
London N1 9GU, UK
Good to meet you David Hannis
I first came across the Guardian
when I was a paper boy in Bristol,
England, almost six decades ago.
I was 12 years old. Every morning
I would drag myself out of bed
and ride my bike to the paper shop
before beginning my deliveries. On
a good day the weather was fine and
the newspaper train arrived on time.
The vast majority of the
papers I stuffed through letter
boxes were of the tabloid/mass
circulation type. Occasionally I
would glance at a front-page story
but generally I went about my
deliveries with few distractions.
There was one exception: the
Manchester Guardian. This paper
There were all sorts of exciting birds
overhead, including vultures in
elegant spirals and clusters of crag
martins spooked up by a hunting
sparrowhawk. Yet the group’s attention had been called to a hole in the
ground by the picnic table.
The hole was 4cm across and had
an untidy circlet of dead grasses
arranged in a silk-knotted perimeter.
By chance I had just read about the
occupant and how it could be lured
into view with a grass stem drooped
into the burrow entrance like a
fishing line. Sure enough, within
seconds, book learning was turned
into startling experience.
Amid a volley of involuntary
expletives, there, suddenly, we
could see camel-haired legs, an array
of black eyes, a pair of beautiful
marmalade-coloured palps, about
50 young spiderlings and the largest
pair of spider jaws you’ve ever seen.
intrigued me and I would spend
as much time as I dared reading it.
From then on I was hooked.
In 1975 I moved to the Canadian
prairies and for four decades I endured Alberta’s harsh winters with
the Guardian Weekly as my constant companion. As a social work
educator I often shared stories from
the Guardian with my students.
Nowadays I live in a cohousing
community on Vancouver Island
where I am able to pass along my
Guardian Weekly to my neighbours.
I appreciate the fine analytical
writing as well as the short
informational items. The photos
are a welcome break and I enjoy
doing the quick crossword. The
diversity of writers on the back
page is also appealing. The Guardian
Weekly is a gem.
If you would like to appear in
this space, send a brief note to
A fellow diarist, Matt Shardlow,
informs me that it was a Lycosa hispanica, but let’s not split hairs. It was
a tarantula: the Spanish form of L
tarantula, which is, oddly, unrelated
to its larger, hairier namesakes of the
new world and is actually a member
of the wolf spider family.
The French entomologist JF Fabre
(1823-1915) found its venom fatal
to sparrows and moles, but it is
relatively harmless to humans.
Yet the creature still inspired an
extraordinary cultural history,
partly, one surmises, because of its
shocking appearance.
Tarantism, named after the
southern Italian city of Taranto, was
a malaise that has passed in waves
around the Mediterranean from the
11th century on. Individuals, sometimes whole villages, would fall
victim to lethargy, depression and
bodily pain brought on, so it was
said, by the tarantula’s bite.
Most remarkable of all was the
prescribed cure – vibrant music and
dance that has steadily morphed
into a distinctive Italian folk song,
the tarantella. All this from a spider
that makes of its broad back a
papoose for its offspring and is so
curious of callers it can be lured
harmlessly on to an out-stretched
palm. At least, by those that have
the nerve for it. Mark Cocker
Read more Nature watch online
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 43
Quick crossword
Cryptic crossword by Pasquale
Salad plant (10)
Robbery at gunpoint (5-2)
Scatter (5)
Smell strongly (4)
Fatal – tram line (anag) (8)
Satellite of Neptune – minor
sea god (6)
Zorba’s land (6)
Cut (8)
Woodwind instrument (4)
Be jubilant (5)
Ardent (7)
Antibiotic (10)
Chess player moving first (5)
Capture (4)
Torn (6)
Culinary herb (8)
Peculiar (7)
Writing desk (10)
Gnu (10)
English Pre-Raphaelite poet
and painter, d. 1882 (8)
14 Encompass (7)
16 Russian wolfhound (6)
19 Labour PM, b. 1951 (5)
20 Tumble (4)
Last week’s solution, No 14,804
First published in the Guardian
25 October 2017, No 14,810
1 Our backers who
watch over us to
keep us safe? (8,6)
2 Hold back material
about German police
force (7)
3 Who is upset, first to
cry, a bit cowardly? (9)
Futoshiki Easy
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.
©Clarity Media Ltd
3 < 4
2 < 3 <
3 > 2
2 < 3
Last week’s solution
2 <
4 State of a girl halfcut, having obtained
two degrees (7)
5 Learner-driver and
vehicle flipping over
in river – disaster! (7)
6 Republicans want it
done away with – an
audible torrent? (5)
7 Dance follows final
game (7)
8 Theresa is repeating
bid to sort out
national problem (7,7)
14 Cheerful end to
negotiation after
manoeuvring – an
impossible treat? (4,5)
16 Dig in Derby maybe,
having turned up in
a shawl (7)
17 Muscular problem
the old man has
to fight against
endlessly (7)
First published in the Guardian
31 October 2017, No 27,342
18 Thief who can be
heard going through
papers (7)
19 Some from Provence
with piano tune
conveying gloom (7)
21 Be enthralled by this
person’s contribution
to framework (1-4)
Last week’s solution, No 27,336
Sudoku classic Hard
4 > 3
1 Merseyside singer,
fellow associated
with Parisian
group, getting a
fiddle (14)
9 Everyone out of bed,
mum brought round
flask (7)
10 Skin problem
requiring British
surgeon (7)
11 What’s thrown game
– his handling of the
ball? (5)
12 Like jargon about
final aim that’s
gaining influence (9)
13 Four in a car sleep
when it’s warm (9)
14 Son in Brittany
collects English
records (5)
15 A desire that a
cockney may
initially lack? (5)
17 Thus the dinner
was complete, as
forecast? (9)
20 Awfully large lad
is losing energy in
dances (9)
22 Combat zone held by
royalist supporters (5)
23 See one taking
rest – unfortunately
doesn’t get on with
it (7)
24 Insect in road
nibbling end off a
plant (7)
25 The anthem’s
roar disturbed
this writer with
centuries of
meditations (6,8)
9 8
3 6
6 3
4 7
5 4
1 3
5 8
9 6
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
Last week’s solution
44 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
China’s leader idolised Mattel unveils Barbie
for planting a tree
wearing a headscarf
Tributes to the man now seen as
China’s most powerful ruler since
Mao have come in myriad forms:
Xi Jinping tapestries, oil paintings,
pop songs, exhibitions, university
departments even.
Now he has received a hardwood
homage with reports that senior
Communist party officials have
made a pilgrimage to a tree
honouring their country’s increasingly supreme leader.
Following what Donald Trump
termed Xi’s “extraordinary
elevation” at last month’s party
congress, officials in Henan province
decided to express their allegiance
by gathering around a Paulownia
tree planted by their chief back in
April 2009.
As the cadres, including the
provincial party chief, Xie Fuzhan,
gazed up at its branches earlier this
month, “they were immersed in
thought, filled with deep emotions”,
a local propaganda report described.
“The tree is big, verdant and
tall,” the author of the story gushed.
“[Locals] warmly call it the Xi
Paulownia tree.”
An accompanying video
showed a group of almost entirely
male leaders being escorted
towards the arboricultural accolade
by a female hostess. “Eight years
have passed [since Xi’s visit] and
the tree has grown enormous and
leafy,” she says.
The Xi tree is the latest exhibit
in what some see as a mounting
body of evidence suggesting a
nascent Mao-style cult of personality is being built around China’s
leader. Tom Phillips
Mattel, the maker of Barbie, has just
unveiled its 10th doll in the Shero
collection, designed to create a
fuller representation of humanity
and offer greater aspirations to its
impressionable young customers.
The 10th Shero is the first Barbie
to wear a hijab. She is modelled on
Ibtihaj Muhammad, the fencer who,
last year, became the first American
to compete and win a medal in the
Olympics wearing the hijab.
“Today, I’m proud to know that
little girls who wear a hijab and,
just as powerfully, those who don’t,
can play with Barbie in a headscarf,”
says Muhammad. “I know that the
more diverse dolls are offered, the
many more inspiring stories girls
will be able to tell.”
Muhammad, pictured below, was
presented with the first doll off the
line by Ashley Graham, the plus-size
model and activist who was the basis
for last year’ss Shero, number nine.
The very first
first Shero was a
one-off, created
ted for Zendaya
Coleman after
er she wore
her hair in dreadlocks
eadlocks to
the 2015 Oscars
ars and the
presenters off the Fashion
Police show caused outrage
by commenting
ing that they
must smell “of
of patchouli or weed”.
”. Six
more dolls folollowed, including
ones for the
actor Emmy
Rossum, Tony
Kristin Chenoweth and
director Ava
DuVernay. The last – which had the
dreadlocked director clad in her customary polo neck, jeans and trainers
and sitting in her director’s chair –
created such a demand that Mattel
put it into production. It sold out
online within minutes. Lucy Mangan
The crab’s behaviour of
actively hunting and killing a large,
vertebrate animal has never been
witnessed before and has significant
implications for how the crabs may
affect their island ecosystems.
Anna Livsey
Coconut crabs seen
feasting on seabird
New Zealand chatbots
are foiling scammers
A large, land-dwelling crustacean
known as a coconut or robber crab
has been seen hunting and killing a seabird, the first time such
behaviour has been observed.
The phenomenon was witnessed
by a researcher, Mark Laidre of
Dartmouth College, while he was
studying the giant crabs in the
remote Chagos Islands in the Indian
Ocean, New Scientist reported.
According to Laidre, the crab
climbed a tree and attacked the
seabird in its nest situated on a
branch close to the ground. The
crab broke the bird’s wing, causing
it to fall out of its nest and then
took to the bird with its claws,
breaking its other win
wing and
leaving it incapacitat
Other coconut cra
crabs arrived
and pulled the bird a
apart in
described as
scenes Laidre descri
“pretty gruesome”. Coconut
crabs are the la
largest landdwelling invertebrate.
They can weigh up
to 4kg a
and grow
up to one metre
wide. They
are common
in coral atolls across
the Indian
and Pacific
Thousands of online scammers
around the globe are being fooled
by artificial intelligence bots
posing as New Zealanders and
created by the country’s internet
watchdog to protect it from
“phishing” scams.
Chatbots that use distinct
New Zealand slang such as “aye”
have been deployed by Netsafe
in a bid to engage scammers
in protracted email exchanges
that waste their time, gather intelligence and lure them away from
actual victims.
Programmers at Netsafe spent
more than a year designing the bots
as part of their Re:scam initiative.
Within 24 hours of launch this
month 6,000 scam emails had been
sent to the Re:scam email address
and there were 1,000 active conversations taking place between
scammers and chatbots.
So far, the longest exchange
between a scammer and a chatbot
pretending to be a New Zealander
was 20 emails long. The bots use
humour, grammatical errors and
local slang to make their “personas” believable, said Netsafe CEO
Martin Cocker.
He says if scammers aren’t astute
or paying attention, the exchanges
could go on for a “very, very long
time”. Eleanor Ainge Roy
a) bombardment with gas canisters
b) early form of lemonade
mentioned in the works of Dumas
c) Gascon processional dance
d) grandiose form of boasting
a) Ukrainian lute
b) knotted handkerchief
c) bullet belt
d) Russian politician
Maslanka puzzles
1 “Fulsome you ignoramus! Or are
you being devious, you sacked
minister?” This was the anguished
yell accompanying the trampling
of yet another cute little DAB radio
under the hob-nailed boots that
Pedanticus has taken to donning
before The World at One. Why was
he full – and then some – of rage?
2 The average of the digits of
the two-digit number ab (yes,
in base 10) is equal to a.b. What
is the number?
3 A pair of minimalist dividers
having legs of identical
length meet a line as
shown. The angle between
the legs is θ. Show
that there is another
angle the legs can make so that
the area of the triangle included
by the legs and the line has the
same area, except for one angle.
Which angle? What value of θ
maximises the area?
Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka
In each case find the correct
a) cunning alien
b) mimic
c) rough and scaly
d) type of fungus
Same Difference
Identify two words where the spelling
differs only in the letters shown:
********* (what the letters are as yet?)
**DI******* (“atomic”— as originally
Rearrange the letters of …
… to make another word.
Missing Links
Find a word that follows the first
word in the clue and precedes the
second, in each case making a fresh
word or phrase. Eg the answer to fish
mix could be cake (fishcake & cake
mix) and to bat man it could be he
(bathe & he-man) ...
a) bank mop
b) barn leader
c) ten keys
d) town gent
e) imp house
f) limpid cute
©CMM2017. For solutions see page 47
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 45
Kicker here like this
Then a short description here like this
→ Then Section and page XX
Oliver Burkeman
This column will change your life
Feeling lonely and unpopular?
The truth is, we’re all in a similar
situation, only we can’t see it
sychologists are regularly berated for
spending their workdays reaching
blindingly obvious conclusions about
the world – an accusation that isn’t
entirely unwarranted. (My favourite
recent finding comes from the journal
Psychological Science: “Depressed
individuals may fail to decrease sadness.”) At first
glance, it’s tempting to respond that way to a new
study from the University of British Columbia,
explaining why people tend to assume that their
friends have more friends, and lead less solitary
lives, than they do. Can you guess? That’s right:
because every single time we see our friends,
they’re socialising. By definition.
Assuming you don’t spy on your friends via
telescope from treetops, you never see them
at home alone in their pyjamas, eating comfort
snacks while watching the X Factor and feeling
sorry for themselves. You’re never there when
they wake in the dark at 3am, wondering where
their lives are headed. Or, likewise, consider
those happy throngs you glimpse through the
windows of the bar you pass each day on your
way home from work: doesn’t it seem like they’re
always meeting friends at the bar?
In fact, it’s a mathematical oddity that your
friends do have slightly more friends than you do,
on average. (Essentially, this is because people
with large circles of friends are more likely to have
you as a member of theirs.) But the main culprit,
this new study confirms, is an observability bias.
The more instances of something we encounter,
the more significant we naturally assume it to be
– and though we encounter our own solitude frequently, we never encounter other people’s. The
distorted judgments we reach as a consequence
have real emotional effects, the researchers
Illustration by Michele Marconi; right, Lo Cole
What I’m really thinking
The mother of a redhead
found, leaving people with lower wellbeing and
less of a sense of belonging. So, yes, the fact that
we only ever experience loneliness when it’s happening to us is blindingly obvious, I suppose. But
blindingly obvious in an almost literal sense: it’s
so self-evident, we barely ever see it.
And the bias isn’t limited to loneliness. It’s
at the core of impostor syndrome: you assume
you’re the only one with a constant inner voice of
self-doubt, because you never hear anyone else’s.
Assuming you don’t spy
on your friends, you never
see them at home alone
in their pyjamas, eating
comfort snacks
It’s also probably why other people’s problems
seem so much easier to solve than our own: we
see only the main features of theirs, in outline,
whereas we see every tiny complicated detail
of our own, so they seem unique and therefore more challenging.
This bias may be too fundamental an aspect
of our experience for us ever to overcome
completely. Still, when faced with almost any
distressing problem, it’s worth asking what you
might be missing not through stupidity, or error,
but because you’re systematically denied certain
kinds of information, as a result of being you,
rather than anyone else. At the very least, it’s
something to ponder on those evenings you so
often seem to spend on your own.
My son and I are frequently stopped
by strangers who comment on his
appearance and make assumptions
about his character. Why? Because
he is ginger.
This happens almost every time
we leave the house.
“Oh, look! He’s a ginger knob.”
“Where does he get his hair from?”
“Does he have a temper?”
Mostly, these are followed by:
“My aunt’s stepson’s cat is ginger.”
As if being related to a redhead
legitimises their prying into my
child’s genetics.
While these comments are
often well-meaning, they highlight
his difference, and I worry what
effect this repetitive “othering”
will have on a four-year-old who
would ordinarily have no reason
to consider his appearance.
You could argue that these people
are just being friendly or making
conversation. But I would disagree.
Take the lady who chased me across
a car park to tell me about her
ginger daughter’s heartbreak when
none of her four children was born
red-headed. Or the midwife present
at his birth whose first words were:
“Look, he’s ginger.”
My son never gets comments
on his good behaviour, he never
has the privilege of choosing his
own topic of conversation, because
the go-to subject is his hair. It isn’t
considered ableist or racist. We are
not supposed to be offended. Yet if
you replace ginger with any other
unusual body part, it suddenly
seems less acceptable.
Only 1-2% of the world’s population have red hair. It makes my son
special, unique and beautiful. But it
does not define him.
Tell us what you’re really thinking
46 The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17
Care’s cameo helps
England to soar
Lions beat Australia
30-6 and look promising
in lead-up to Six Nations
Rugby Union
Robert Kitson Twickenham
It is just over two years since Australia
beat England 33-13 in London to knock
the hosts out of the Rugby World Cup.
Since then it has been entirely different: played five, won five at an average
of just under 35 points per game. The
squad floored by the Wallabies in 2015
has bounced back with a vengeance.
As Eddie Jones is well aware, there
remains further scope for improvement. But this was a highly significant win psychologically, despite the
fact that the 30-6 scoreline – a record
English margin of victory – disguised
the tightness of the contest. Even New
Zealand do not have a more consistent recent record against the Wallabies and, if Samoa are put away on
Saturday, England will have won 22 of
23 games under Jones’s stewardship.
As well as enhancing their selfbelief it also ensures they remain
the world’s second-ranked team,
tucked in behind the All Blacks with
power to add in 2018. As the lock Joe
Launchbury, having enjoyed one of
his more satisfying games at this level,
said afterwards, the players are convinced there is more to come. “To get
to where we want to get to you can’t
afford to just sit in the shirt and put out
mediocre performances,” the Wasps
captain said. “If we want to be the best
side we can be, we have to beat these
teams around us.”
On a damp, difficult afternoon
England were indeed in a higher gear
than they managed against Argentina,
defensively right up for it and sharper
with the ball in hand. Among the great
unanswered questions, however, is
what would have unfolded had the
Wallabies been awarded one or both
of the contentious non-tries which,
along with the first-half yellow cards
for Michael Hooper and Kurtley Beale,
fundamentally shaped the contest.
Imagine if a more experienced and
intuitive referee such as Nigel Owens
had been in charge or footage of the
ball clearly brushing the touchline
whitewash had been available before
Elliot Daly’s match-turning 54thminute try. There is every chance
Owens would have awarded Marika
Koroibete’s try on the basis that
Stephen Moore’s obstruction of Chris
Robshaw was minimal or, at the very
least, pinged England for an earlier
offside. Hooper’s disallowed score
was also marginal as the flanker made
at least some attempt to stop and play
himself back into an onside position.
Beale’s binning for a supposed deliberate knock-down might have been
only a penalty on another day.
All were fractional calls and could
easily have gone either way. Rather
than being 13-6 ahead with 10 minutes
left England could have been 20-6
behind with Michael Cheika purring up
in the stands. Would they have scored
three tries in the last nine minutes
under more pressurised circumstances? If they had done so, it would
have been the finish to end them all.
In their five successive wins against
Australia under Jones, England have
scored five first-half tries to the Wallabies’ six. After the interval they have
registered 12 tries to Australia’s five.
Regardless of a touch of good fortune
here or there, England are regularly
finishing stronger than their opponents, one of Jones’s non-negotiables.
Smart thinking … ‘You get in the contest in the first 20 and then you win
the contest in the last 20,’ says coach Eddie Jones Nigel French/PA
Scotland run All Blacks close
The other autumn internationals
saw Scotland run New Zealand
close in Edinburgh. In a game
where the home side never looked
outclassed, it took a brilliant lastplay tackle by Beauden Barrett on
Stuart Hogg to seal a 22-17 victory.
Wales ground out a 13-6 win in
Cardiff over a Georgia side seeking
to further claims for inclusion in
the Six Nations. In Dublin, Ireland
needed two late penalties to beat
Fiji 23-20 after the visitors fought
back from 17-3 to draw level. South
Africa, meanwhile, scored a win
for the southern hemisphere with
an 18-17 win over France in Paris.
“We trained to finish that last 20
minutes hard, whether it was the
starting guys or the finishing guys,”
the head coach confirmed. “You’ve
just got to go through New Zealand’s
record in the last five or six years; how
many Test matches they’ve won in the
last 20 minutes. That’s when it counts.
You get in the contest in the first 20 and
then you win the contest in the last 20.”
The only caveat when a replacement performs as outstandingly as
Danny Care, whose deft kicking set
up late tries by Jonathan Joseph and
Jonny May before he scored one himself, is that maybe England would win
games earlier if one or two of them
started occasionally. Jamie George,
Harry Williams, Sam Simmonds – all
have put in enough hard work this
Bravo, France, but at what cost to rugby’s integrity?
Inside sport
Robert Kitson
t is worth keeping in mind on
these occasions that rugby union usually strikes gold with its
World Cup hosting decisions.
Australia proved a runaway success
in 2003 despite New Zealand’s deselection as co-host, France staged
a grand tournament four years later,
an entire nation of rugby-mad Kiwis
rose to the logistical challenge in
2011 and the record sums generated
by England 2015 were matched only
by the intense interest levels.
Japan will be next up in two years’
time, offering Asia a deserved slice
of the action. And now, in 2023, it
will be France once again. Plus ça
change. The verdict will not go down
well in South Africa or Ireland – and
that is a major understatement. No
one doubts France will put on a good
show but at what cost to rugby’s
reputation for transparency and
integrity? The lure of more dosh, not
for the first time, appears to have
trumped all else.
It is a deeply uncomfortable outcome, too, for World Rugby’s high
command, whose formal recommendation of South Africa was not
ratified by its own council. Some of
the lobbying behind the scenes put
even the Eurovision Song Contest’s
partial voting patterns in the shade.
Somebody had to lose – and all
three bids had their merits – but
what on earth was the point of the
whole in-depth independent technical assessment if voters were ultimately too blinded by self interest
to worry about the nitty-gritty? And
where does that leave South African
sporting morale, with both the 2022
Commonwealth Games and a Rugby
World Cup now having been offered
only to be snatched away?
The emotional favourite would
have been Ireland, but France was
The Guardian Weekly 24.11.17 47
Sport in brief
• Tributes were paid to the former
Wimbledon women’s tennis champion Jana Novotna, who died from
cancer aged 49. The Czech player
won the 1998 singles title at the All
England Club. The WTA chief executive officer, Steve Simon, said:
“Jana was an inspiration both on
and off court to anyone who had
the opportunity to know her. Her
star will always shine brightly in the
history of the WTA.” In the men’s
game, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov
won the season-ending ATP World
Tour finals in London, defeating David Goffin 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. It was Dimitrov’s fourth title of the year, adding
$2,549,000 to the $3m he had already gathered from 44 match wins,
and 1,500 ranking points to lift him
three places to No 3 in the world.
presented as the sensible fiscal
choice. More money for all, but at
what price? The last thing World
Rugby wanted was to be bracketed
with Qatar, awarded the 2022 football World Cup despite numerous
concerns. No one is suggesting any
Gallic impropriety but rugby does
seem increasingly keen to follow, so
to speak, in football’s slipstream.
Bravo, France, but rugby cannot allow naked self-interest to run
Winner … Jana Novotna in 1998
Heather Knight’s side in the multiformat series. “It is a great feeling,”
Rachael Haynes, the victorious Australian captain, said. “One of a little
bit of relief and one of excitement as
well for our team.”
• West Bromwich Albion became
the latest English Premier League
club to jettison their manager, sacking Tony Pulis after a 4-0 home
defeat by Chelsea. Gary Megson was
set to take charge on a temporary basis. Elsewhere, Chris Coleman quit
Leonard Barden
The Four Nations Chess League
(4NCL) began its new season this
month at Telford where it left
off, with a new demonstration of
Guildford’s supremacy. The Surrey,
England team, replete with grandmasters, took its opening matches
by 8-0 and 7.5-0.5, and has now won
46 matches in a row in a sequence
stretching back to 2012-13.
The German Bundesliga is a
much stronger competition, where
several teams field 2700-rated elite
GMs. Even Anatoly Karpov played,
but the former world champion is
now 66 and lost rather tamely to
China’s Li Chao.
Another Bundesliga top board
is the English IM Lawrence Trent,
best known as a prolific online
commentator, who hopes for his
first GM norm. However, he became
a victim of a fast-rising young
Russian when an opening blunder
cost a piece.
Daniil Dubov v Lawrence Trent
1 Nf3 Nf6 2 g3 g6 3 b3 Bg7 4 Bb2 d6
5 d4 O-O 6 Bg2 c5 7 c4 cxd4 8 Nxd4
d5 9 cxd5 Nxd5 10 O-O Nb4 11 Na3
Bxd4 12 Bxd4 N8c6 13 Bc3 Qxd1
14 Rfxd1 Bg4?? 15 Bxb4 1-0
• In the Rugby League World Cup,
England moved into the semi-finals
with a flattering 36-6 quarter-final
win against Papua New Guinea.
There they will face Tonga, who
narrowly held off Lebanon. Hosts
and hot favourites Australia trounced
Samoa 46-0 to set up a semi-final
against Fiji, who stunned New Zealand with a 4-2 quarter-final success.
• Tommy Fleetwood finished top
of the European golf Tour’s order
of merit after Jon Rahm won the DP
World Tour Championship event in
Dubai. The outcome was affected by
a late collapse from a hitherto nerveless Justin Rose. The Englishman’s
back nine score of 38 meant a share
of third place and the handing of the
European tour leadership to Fleetwood by 58,821 points.
Maslanka solutions
3521 How can White (to move) win this
Richard Reti endgame?
An early Guildford win showed the
strength of a routine GM strategy:
develop the c1 bishop outside the
pawn chain, keep a closed centre,
and attack with the f pawn. Nick
Pert makes it look simple.
Nick Pert v Kevin Bailey
1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 Nc6
5 Nbd2 e6 6 c3 Bd6 7 Bg3 0-0 8 Bb5
cxd4 9 exd4 Qc7 10 Qe2 Bd7 11 Bd3
Ne7 12 Ne5 a6 13 0-0 b5 14 a3 Rab8
15 Rac1 Bc6 16 b4 Nd7 17 Nb3 Bxe5
18 dxe5 Nb6 19 f4 Nc4 20 Nd4 Bd7
21 f5 Nc6 22 f6 g6 23 Rf4 1-0
3521 1 Rf3! g2 2 Bf1! g1Q 3 Rh3 mate.
autumn to merit a prominent role
against Samoa, particularly if Jones,
as he probably will, decides to cut his
Lions players some slack.
Come the Six Nations, either way, selection will be fascinating. Mike Brown
does not need telling that competition in the back three is intensifying,
Launchbury is now a successful Test
lineout caller and an increasing driving
force all round, Courtney Lawes is
undroppable, as is Maro Itoje. Billy
Vunipola should be back from injury,
along with the Lions Ben Te’o, Jack
Nowell and Kyle Sinckler. If Lawes
or Itoje switches to six, that leaves
Robshaw, Sam Underhill and Simmonds competing for one place, with
Hughes also rumbling off the bench.
With the whole squad now reassured that their hard training-ground
work is paying off, their opponents
should be wary.
• As one Ashes series got under
way between England and Australia’s Test cricketers in Brisbane
this week, another was resolved.
The Women’s Ashes will remain
in Australia, the hosts romping to
a six-wicket victory with 25 balls
to spare in their first of three T20
internationals against England. The
tourists’ bowlers badly misfired in
what was a must-win encounter for
the Wales manager’s job after failing
to take his country to the World Cup
finals. Coleman has opted to take
over at Sunderland, who are bottom
of the English second-tier Championship. Italy’s Gian Piero Ventura
also lost his job as national coach
after the Azzurri’s humiliating failure to reach the World Cup finals in
Russia next year.
1 A full apology is not the same thing as a fulsome apology. Fulsome means “slimy,
brown-nosy, arse-licking, Uriah-Heepish,
insincere, flattering”. “Ah,” you reply, puffing
out your chest — “but there is no central
authority; and language changes.” Both are
true, but irrelevant. There is authority in language. There is good use and bad use. Or else
why pay editors? Why have dictionaries? Why
suppose one author to be better than
another? And just because something
changes does not imply that it must change for
the better. Johnson said it well (ie, not
badly!): “Tongues, like governments, have a
natural tendency to degeneration; we have
long preserved our constitution, let us make
some struggles for our language.”
2 Let the two-digit number be ab; then (a +
b)/2 = a.b > (10a + 10b)/2 = 10a + > (5a +
5b) = 10a + b > 5a = 4b; so a/b = 4/5. But a
& b are digits, so a = 4, b = 5.
3 We reflect the diagram in the horizontal
line. Then it is easy to see that the
area of the upper triangle APB is
the same as triangle PAP’; so the
triangle with angle <APB
= θ is equal to that with
angle <PAP’ = (180° 2(θ/2)) = (180° – θ). For θ = 90°
the corresponding angle is the
same, and the area is a maximum.
(How do you know?)
Wordpool d), (from Greek, chytridion =
little pot; from the shape of the structure
releasing the zoospores); d), a)
Same Difference INVISIBILITY,
Missing Links a) bank/roll/mop
b) barn/dance/leader c) ten/don/keys
d) town/plan/gent e) imp/ale/house
f) limpid/prose/cute
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.
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Put a pin in it
Why revenge is never
the best solution
Discovery, pages 32-33
Owen Jones
We should all work a four-day week.
Ending excessive hours will improve
our health, boost the economy
and help fight climate change
magine there was a single policy that would
slash unemployment and underemployment, tackle health conditions ranging from
mental distress to high blood pressure, increase productivity, help the environment,
improve family lives, encourage men to do
more household tasks, and make people
happier. It sounds fantastical, but it exists, and it’s
overdue: the introduction of a four-day week.
The liberation of workers from excessive work
was a pioneering demand of the labour movement. From the ashes of the civil war, American
trade unionism rallied behind an eight-hour day,
“a movement which ran with express speed from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New England to
California”, as Karl Marx put it. In 1890 hundreds
of thousands thronged into London’s Hyde Park
in a historic protest for the same demand. It is a
cause that urgently needs reclaiming.
Many of us work too much. It’s not just the
37.5 hours a week clocked up on average by
full-time UK workers; it’s the unpaid overtime
too. According to the TUC, workers put in 2.1bn
unpaid hours last year – that’s an astonishing
£33.6bn ($44bn) of free labour.
That overwork causes significant damage. Last
year, 12.5m work days in the UK were lost because
of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The
biggest single cause by a long way – in some 44%
of cases – was workload. Stress can heighten the
risk of all manner of health problems, from high
blood pressure to strokes. Research even suggests
that working long hours increases the risk of
excessive drinking. And then there’s the economic
cost: over £5bn a year, according to the Health and
Safety Executive. No wonder the public health
expert John Ashton is among those suggesting a
four-day week could improve Britain’s health.
So the renewed call for a four-day week from
Autonomy Institute is very welcome. “We want
to shift people’s perspectives, to better work and
less work,” says the thinktank’s Will Stronge.
Indeed, a deeply unhealthy distribution of work
scars our society. While some are working too
much, with damaging consequences for their
health and family lives, there are 3.3 million
or so “underemployed” UK workers who want
more hours. A four-day week would force a
redistribution of these hours, to the benefit of
everyone. This will be even more important if
automation in sectors such as manufacturing,
administration and retail creates more poorly paid
work and more underemployment.
A four-day working week could also help tackle
climate change: as the New Economics Foundation thinktank notes, countries with shorter
working weeks are more likely to have a smaller
carbon footprint. This is no economy-wrecking
suggestion either. German and Dutch employees
work less than the British but their economies are
stronger. It could boost productivity: the evidence
suggests if you work fewer hours, you are more
productive, hour for hour – and less stress means
less time off work. Indeed, a recent experiment
with a six-hour working day at a Swedish nursing
home produced promising results: higher productivity and fewer sick days. If those productivity
A campaign could
encourage men to use
their new free time to
balance household labour
gains are passed on to staff, working fewer hours
doesn’t necessarily entail a pay cut.
Then there’s the argument for gender equality.
Despite the strides made by the women’s
movement, women still do 60% more unpaid
household work on average than men. An extra
day off work is not going to inevitably lead to
men pulling their weight more at home. But, as
Autonomy suggests, a four-day week could be
unveiled as part of a drive to promote equal relationships between men and women. A campaign
could encourage men to use their new free time to
equally balance household labour, which remains
defined by sexist attitudes.
It is heartening to see the resurrection of one
of the great early causes of the labour movement.
Germany’s biggest union, IG Metall, is calling for
a 28-hour week for shift workers and those with
caring responsibilities.
That said, on its own the demand is not enough.
Now that socialism is re-emerging as a political
force that can no longer be ignored or ridiculed,
the struggle for more time for leisure, family and
relaxation should be linked to broader fights.
Increased public ownership of the economy
should be structured to create more worker selfmanagement and control. If technology means a
further reduction in secure work, a universal basic
income – a basic stipend paid to all citizens as a
right – may become ever more salient.
Sure, work can be a fulfilling activity for some.
It strikes me, though, that few would disagree
with the notion that we should spend more time
with our families, watching our children grow,
exercising, reading books or just relaxing. So
much of our lives is surrendered to subordinating
ourselves to the needs and whims of others,
turning human beings into cash cows rather than
independent, well-rounded individuals.
Our social model means economic growth all
too often involves concentrating wealth produced
by the many into the bank accounts of the few,
without improving the lives of the majority.
Growth should deliver not just shared prosperity
and improved public services, but a better balance
between work, family and leisure.
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