Vol 197 No 19 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply A week in the life of the world | 13-19 October 2017 Into heart of Isis’s capital Hunting down Raqqa’s jihadis ‘Sleep should be prescribed’ Health benefits of bedtime Equality fight on campus India’s female students protest The alarming rise of antibiotic resistance Scientists warn current practices must be halted if the world is to avoid a major medicinal crisis Robin McKie Scientists attending a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported they had uncovered a highly disturbing trend. They revealed that bacteria containing a gene known as mcr-1 – which confers resistance to the antibiotic colistin – had spread round the world at an alarming rate since its original discovery 18 months earlier. In one area of China it was found that 25% of hospital patients now carried the gene. Colistin is known as the “antibiotic of last resort”. In many parts of the world doctors have turned to its use because patients were no longer responding to any other antimicrobial agent. Now resistance to its use is spreading across the globe. In the words of England’s chief medical officer, Sally Davies: “The world is facing an antibiotic apocalypse.” Unless action is taken to halt the practices that have allowed antimicrobial resistance to spread and ways are found to develop new types of antibiotics, we could return to the days when routine operations, simple wounds or straightforward infections could pose real threats to life, she warns. That terrif y ing prospect was the focus of a major international conference due to be held in Berlin this week. Organised by the Wellcome Trust, the UN and several national governments, the meeting was attended by scientists, health officers, pharmaceutical chiefs and politicians. Its task is to try to accelerate measures to halt the spread of drug resistance, which now threatens to remove many of the major weapons currently deployed by doctors in their war against disease. At present about 700,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections. However, this global figure is growing relentlessly and could reach 10 million a year by 2050. The danger, say scientists, is one of the greatest humanity has faced in recent times. In a drug-resistant world, many aspects of modern medicine would simply become impossible. An example is provided by transplant surgery. During operations, patients’ immune systems have to be suppressed to stop them rejecting a new organ, leaving them prey to infections. So doctors use immunosuppressant cancer drugs. In future, these may no longer be effective. Or take the example of more standard operations, such as abdominal surgery or the removal of a patient’s appendix. Without antibiotics to protect them during these procedures, people will die of peritonitis or other infections. The world will face the same risks as it did before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. “Routine surgery, joint replacements, caesarean sections and chemotherapy also depend on antibiotics, and will also be at risk,” says Jonathan Pearce, head of infections 13→ Abu Dhabi AED14.50 Bahrain BHD1.90 *Cyprus €2.50 Czech Rep CZK145 Denmark DKK39 Dubai AED14.50 Egypt EGP49 *Greece €3.95 Hong Kong HKD52 Hungary HUF950 *Republic of Ireland €3.30 Japan JPY900 Jordan JOD2.90 Kuwait KWD1.45 Latvia €5.50 Lebanon LBP6000 *Malta €2.20 Norway NOK52 Oman OMR1.65 Pakistan PKR385 Poland PLN14 Qatar QAR14.50 Saudi Arabia SAR15.50 Singapore SGD8 South Africa ZAR49.90 Sweden SEK55 Switzerland CHF9 Turkey TRY14.50 2 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 World roundup Canada payout for forced child removals EU rules out tax on consumer plastics 1 4 Canada will pay up to C$750m ($598m) in compensation to thousands of aboriginals who were forcibly removed as children from their families decades ago. The move is the latest attempt by the government to repair ties with Canada’s indigenous population, which says it has been the victim of systemic racism for centuries. Welfare authorities took about 20,000 aboriginal children from their homes between the 1960s and 1980s and placed them in foster care or allowed them to be adopted by non-indigenous families. The compensation package is designed to settle lawsuits launched by those affected, who say the forced removal deprived them of their heritage. More Americas news, page 10 The EU ruled out penalties on single-use plastic products, in favour of raising public awareness of the damage consumer plastics are doing to the world’s oceans. Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European commission, said a tax would “not be sustainable”. “The only sustainable method is to create recyclable plastic and take out microplastics,” he said. “You can’t take out microplastics with a tax. You need to make sure things are reused, and not put in the ocean.” Karmenu Vella, environment commissioner, pledged that the EU’s plastics strategy would be published by the end of the year. Polish police raid women’s groups 6 Women’s rights groups denounced police raids on their offices in several Polish cities that resulted in the seizing of documents and computers, a day after women staged antigovernment marches to protest at the country’s restrictive abortion law. The raids targeted two organisations, the Women’s Rights Centre and Baba, which help victims of domestic violence and participated in last week’s antigovernment protests. More Europe news, pages 6, 7 → → Cost of global obesity to top $1.2tn a year 2 4 1 5 2 The cost of treating ill health caused by obesity around the world will top $1.2tn every year from 2025 unless more is done to check the epidemic, according to estimates. Obesity and smoking are the two main drivers behind the soaring numbers of cancers, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes worldwide. They are the biggest killers. Over the next eight years, the experts say, the US will spend $4.2tn on treating obesity-related disease, Germany will spend $390bn, Brazil $251bn and the UK $237bn if these countries do not do more to prevent it. The new figures come from the World Obesity Federation, which says there will be 2.7 billion overweight and obese adults by 2025 – a third of the global population. Brazil detains Italian leftwing guerrilla 3 Brazilian police detained Cesare Battisti, an Italian writer and former leftwing guerrilla who was convicted of murder in his home country and has been on the run for decades. Battisti was apparently trying to leave Brazil after Italy reportedly asked Brazil’s government to revoke his asylum status and extradite him to serve his prison sentence. He was stopped as he was about to cross the border in a Bolivian taxi and was held for possession of a “significant” quantity of undeclared foreign currency, the Brazilian police said. Battisti faced life in prison in Italy, where he was convicted of four murders committed in the 1970s. After escaping prison in 1981, he went on the run, living in secret before being arrested in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. He was released in 2011 and given permanent residency in Brazil. Company tells Harvey Weinstein to go 5 Harvey Weinstein was fired from the Weinstein Company after new information emerged regarding his conduct, the company’s board of directors said. Weinstein – the Hollywood mogul who produced films including Pulp Fiction and Gangs of New York – was on a voluntary leave of absence after a number of sexual harassment allegations emerged last week in a New York Times exposé. An attorney for Weinstein did not immediately comment. Last week it was alleged that Weinstein had reached at least eight settlements with women he had sexually harassed, and that he would invite women to his hotel room under the guise of work, then greet them naked or ask them to massage him or watch him shower. Among Weinstein’s accusers are the actors Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, with the latter allegedly reaching a $100,000 settlement over an incident of misconduct that happened when she was starring in Scream. Weinstein’s allegedly inappropriate behaviour has been referred to as an open secret in Hollywood. Dozens of Democrats moved to sever ties with Weinstein, donating his past campaign contributions to women’s charities. Weinstein has given more than $1.4m since 1992, virtually all to Democrats. More US news, page 8 → 3 Egypt launches LGBT crackdown 7 Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Egypt are living in fear following a wave of arrests and violence. Rights groups say dozens of people have been detained in the crackdown, which began after rainbow flags were waved at a rock concert on the outskirts of Cairo last month, prompting a furious reaction in the Egyptian media. The spike in arrests is part of an ongoing climate of repression. Homosexuality is not illegal under Egyptian law, but homosexual acts in public are. Euphemistic charges, such as “debauchery”, are often used by the authorities. More Middle East news, pages 4-5 → The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures → Centre pages 24-25 India’s high court bans Diwali fireworks 8 India’s supreme court has banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi during the upcoming Diwali festival, hoping to prevent the usual spike in toxic air pollution. Last year’s Hindu festival of lights left the city sheeted in toxic smog that forced the closure of schools and power stations. The increase in airborne pollution to levels up to 29 times higher than World Health Organisation standards led the supreme court last November to ban the sale of fireworks in the Indian capital. That ban was overturned after a challenge by fireworks manufacturers, but the court has reinstated it. US decides to lift sanctions on Sudan 10 The US eased sanctions against Sudan in a major step towards normalising relations with a designated terrorism sponsor whose leader has been indicted on war crimes charges. The move is a milestone in the rehabilitation of a state that earned international opprobrium for its hospitality towards extremists such as Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal in the 1990s, and its more recent involvement in war crimes against its own people. The decision was widely expected after the Trump administration removed Sudan from its list of countries whose citizens’ travel to the US is severely restricted. 6 Kim Jong-un gives sister politburo post 12 Kim Jong-un promoted his younger sister to North Korea’s secretive politburo, consolidating her position as one of the country’s most powerful women. Kim Yo-jong, pictured above right, has been made an alternate member of the decision-making body, North Korean state media reported. The move indicates that she has replaced their aunt, Kim Kyong-hee, who was a key decisionmaker when their father, the former leader Kim Jong-il, was alive. Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol, two of the three men behind Kim Jong-un’s missile programme, were also promoted amid a wider reshuffle. Japan approves nuclear reactor restart 12 7 13 13 8 10 11 9 14 Poisoning denial by Grace Mugabe 9 The wife of Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old president of Zimbabwe, publicly denied that she was behind an attempted poisoning of the biggest rival to succeed her husband. Grace Mugabe, pictured, said any idea that she had acted against one of Zimbabwe’s vice-presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was “nonsensical”. Though the incident in August, which Mnangagwa said led to him being airlifted to hospital in South Africa, was widely reported in Zimbabwe’s media, Zanu-PF officials had largely refrained from commenting on it. But the weakness of Robert Mugabe, who gave a rambling speech on a visit to South Africa last week, seems to have intensified the bitter contest for power. Mnangagwa, 75, has long been considered Mugabe’s likely successor. Kagame opponent faces jail term The operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was given initial approval to restart the reactors at another atomic facility, marking the first step towards the firm’s return to nuclear power generation more than six years after the March 2011 triple meltdown. Japan’s nuclear regulator approved an application from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to restart two reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa – the world’s biggest 11 Rwigara was detained on 24 September and faces a lengthy jail sentence. Kagame won the election in August with more than 98% of the vote, securing a third term and extending his 17 years in power. → New Zealand heads for coalition rule 14 Prosecutors in Rwanda charged Diane Rwigara, pictured, the accountant who tried to challenge Rwandan leader Paul Kagame in elections this year, with inciting insurrection and forgery. nuclear power plant – even as the utility struggles to decommission Fukushima Daiichi. The process will involve reviews and consultations with the public, and the restart is expected to encounter strong opposition. The Nuclear Regulation Authority ruled that the No 6 and No 7 reactors, each with a capacity of 1,356 megawatts, met tough new safety standards introduced after the Fukushima disaster. More Asia Pacific news, page 13 The counting of the final block of votes in the New Zealand election left neither major party with enough votes to form government. Counting of the 17% of ballots considered “special votes” showed the incumbent National party has lost two seats while Labour and the Greens have picked up one each. Neither the National party, headed by a revitalised Bill English, nor the Labour party, led by Jacinda Ardern, have been in a position to take office after the 23 September election ended in a stalemate. On election night the ruling National party won 58 seats and Labour 45 – both short of the 61 needed to form a government in the 120-seat parliament. Both major parties have been forced to woo New Zealand First’s Winston Peters, an unpredictable populist who has been left as the kingmaker after winning nine seats. 4 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 International news Middle East Last jihadis hunted down in devastated capital of cruelty In a deadly urban game of hide and seek, Isis snipers try to hold out Martin Chulov Raqqa Abu Awad, a stalwart fighter of the Islamic State terror group, was unsettled. His battered men, who had taken shelter in the rubble of bombed-out buildings, were running low on supplies, and were losing patience – and discipline. “Abu Osama,” he said on a radio frequency that his pursuers were monitoring two streets away, from the other side of the frontline of the brutal battle for Raqqa. “We don’t have water for ablutions, and we don’t have enough medicine to treat our injured.” “Cleanse yourself with dirt and I will get some to you in the morning,” a man replied in a tired voice. A young Kurdish rebel listening on a handheld radio recognised the voice. “He’s Syrian,” he said, as others from his unit crouched in the courtyard of a commandeered home. “That’s their leader, Abu Osama. One time [Isis] told us [on the same frequency]: ‘We will burn you, then bury you.’ There was no point replying.” About 300 Isis fighters are all that are thought to be left in the city, clinging to a corner of the capital of their socalled caliphate, which five months of battle has shrunk to three annihilated neighbourhoods. The Old City mud wall that had stood for more than a millennium flanks one side of the battleground, and a wasteland that was once an industrial area stands on the other. Smoke from burning buildings mixed with grey dust from airstrikes shrouds the landscape. The extremists who have stayed have nowhere to go. Their fate is almost certain to be sealed in the apocalyptic ruins of the city where it all began for Isis in Syria more than four years ago. What remains of the fight for Raqqa is concentrated on a maze of ruined streets and homes that lead towards Clock Tower Square, where severed heads were placed on stakes after killings by Isis that residents were summoned to witness. The simple ringed roundabout has, since 2013, been scorched into the global psyche as an emblem of Isis’s menace. In the eyes of many, its looming loss will seal the terror group’s demise. Bricks and scorched, twisted metal cover two empty boulevards leading to the square. Isis snipers line either side. Capturing it will symbolically destroy the group’s hold on territory it conquered and has been losing for the past year. Through a hole in a wall used by a Kurdish sniper team, the square and its towering clock can be seen just under 500 metres away. While Isis used the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul to lay claim to be a group inspired by faith, Clock Tower Square showcased its naked savagery and intimidation. “There were around 13 killings a month,” said a local pharmacist, Ismael, who fled the city six months ago and joined a US-backed coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “They used to line the roundabout wearing masks, and go around the streets with a loudspeaker ordering people to watch. If you were a spy they cut your throat Turkey Mosul Aleppo Raqqa Syria Homs Iraq Palmyra Lebanon Damascus Jordan 100 km 100 miles from the front. The same if you were a blasphemer, or murderer. Magicians were beheaded from the back. Women were always shot.” Fighters speak matter-of-factly about events that would have been unfathomable before the Isis reign. “They came to get my brother from our home,” said Moussa, 21, pointing at the ruins of a building down the road. “They cut his head and hung his body on a crucifix near Aleppo. We weren’t even allowed to ask why.” Rami, another Arab fighter from Raqqa, also lost a brother to Isis members who came to his home. “They were Syrian, from among us, or else they wouldn’t have worn masks,” he said. “They also killed my mother at a checkpoint.” The fighters based themselves in a three-storey building just over 1.6km south of the clock tower. A toppled articulated lorry blocked one entrance to the base, sand walls closed another. On the second floor, Hazam, 28, a Kurd from Kobani, barked instructions into a radio held in his only hand. His left hand had been lost to a mortar in the fight for his hometown two years ago, and when he pointed the stub of his wrist to direct his men, it seemed to have extra effect. Just past a graveyard, in which Isis had shattered every tombstone, six young fighters had been sent the night before to outflank the jihadis, but their position had been exposed. Two had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and the rest of the unit had been sent to rescue them. Hazam paced across a balcony as airstrikes thumped into Isis positions ahead. Shortly afterwards, there was a message on his radio. “Send the Hummer. We have two martyrs,” a man shouted. “And injuries. Four of them.” An hour later, the US-supplied armoured Jeep – the only one the unit had – roared up the street, the legs of the dead dangling out of the back, the wounded crammed up front. A utility truck backed towards the Hummer, and the two bodies were lifted on to blankets and transferred to the open canopy. The wounded climbed in beside them. One wounded boy rested his head on a corpse as the truck set off for a clinic, past an overturned lorry and abandoned homes. Not a single civilian was left in east Raqqa. On both sides of the front, men and women from around the world have lined up to fight. Members of global leftist groups – Americans, Turks, Germans and Spanish, among others Rescue … a wounded fighter is assisted by Syrian Democratic Forces troops Achilleas Zavallis – flesh out the ranks of Kurdish and Arab fighters. And, within the SDF, minorities from around the region have taken prominent positions. At a medical centre, two Yazidi girls from Iraq – in their late teens, but looking older – hosed and swept a courtyard where the two dead fighters had been brought a few hours earlier. Their four wounded colleagues squatted nearby. The clinic’s doctor, Akif, a Kurd from the Turkish mountains, quickly dismissed their injuries. “They are just clumsy lads who need vitamins,” he said. “They can go back and fight.” Akif held rank at the clinic, as did Turkish Kurds in two other frontline areas – where Hazam was based, and further away in the Samra suburb of Raqqa, where Hevda, a woman in her late 30s, ran a small but sensitive base. She swept the floors, cooked meals, kept guard, and held court whenever she wanted. Kurds and Arabs in the base deferred to her, as they did to Dalil, from the Turkish city of Batman, who sat alongside Hazam in the forward base. “The problem with Turkey is that it’s an intersection of capitalism and totalitarianism,” he The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 5 A family lost to revolution Iranian artist on death and renewal → Review, page 31 Europe’s leaders bypass Trump to salvage Iran deal Julian Borger Washington said. “They have played an unfortunate role in the region.” Using a pejorative term for the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, he added: “The sultan’s time is ticking.” Arab volunteers, many of them locals, are prominent on the frontlines and recruiting local men has fired the battle with a sense of personal vengeance. Near the frontline, with an Isis radio in one hand and a device to talk to his own men in the other, Elyas, 25, from Hasaka, said the role of the Raqqa ranks had been instrumental in the gains so far, as had precision airstrikes by a US-led coalition. “[Isis] know we don’t torture them if we catch them. I don’t even hate them,” he said. “They are ignorant people. They have been brainwashed. If we treat them like they treat us, we become like them.” Elyas led his men through a hole blown in a wall near the front, then more holes smashed into adjoining homes, through which both the extremists and their pursuers move. A bicycle stood amid the wreckage of war in one room. Clothes and Islamic books covered the floor in another, beside rotting food. On the rooftop, Arab fighters crouched behind a wall, as a rocket from a fighter jet crunched into an Isis position. Smoke from the blast drifted over nearby grain silos and silhouetted the graveyard. “I love the feeling of battle,” said Elyas, as the sky darkened. “It’s delicious.” As Isis withdrew, it burrowed underground to avoid the jets above. Tunnels are found most days, and nearly all have been booby-trapped. The stench of death lingered where both a tunnel and an improvised bomb had been found. An Isis man had been discovered there the day before, and his body had been buried nearby. As the terror group tires, the men hunting them down say the fall of Raqqa has galvanised them. Commanders believe the city will fall within three to five weeks, and there is increasingly nowhere left to hide for the extremists in the rubble and tunnels of what was once the centre of their rule in Syria. The overwhelming destruction of Raqqa speaks of a place that has been through more than just warfare. The shattered psyche of the city hangs heavily over the battlefield. “Everything is broken,” said Ahmed Issa, a 25-year-old student. “My parents will never come back here. And I won’t let my sisters come. We are haunted by bad spirits here. Something needs to cleanse us.” Additional reporting: Mohammed Rasoo European governments were last week looking for other ways to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal after it appeared that a concerted effort to persuade Donald Trump to continue to certify the two-year-old agreement had failed. Last Friday several media outlets confirmed what has been suspected in Washington and foreign capitals for some time: that Trump will overrule top national security aides and will not certify the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, on the grounds that it does not serve US security interests. European lobbying efforts have focused on Congress, which would have two months to decide – in the absence of Trump’s endorsement – whether to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions. Fresh sanctions could in turn trigger Iranian withdrawal and a ramping up of its now mostly latent nuclear programme, taking the Middle East back to the brink of another conflict. When Trump threatened to withhold certification by a congressional deadline of 15 October, the UN general assembly in mid-September was seen by the European signatories of the agreement – the UK, France and Germany – as the last best chance to convince Trump of the dangers of destroying it. But according to the accounts of several diplomats involved, the effort got nowhere. In a postmortem teleconference late last month, the political directors from the foreign ministries of the UK, France and Germany agreed to plan for the worst and marshal European political resources for a potential rearguard action lobbying in Congress. “The E3 [the three European states] are keen not to make it all about the president’s decision,” a diplomat said. Asked about administration policy last Wednesday, secretary of state Rex Tillerson said: “We’ll have a recommendation for the president. We are going to give him a couple of options on how to move forward to advance the important policy towards Iran.” One possibility was that Trump would wound the deal by refusing to certify it, but not push for a restoration of sanctions. The state department was reported to be talking to Congress to amend its legislation so that Trump did not have to certify the deal every 90 days, a political embarrassment. The Senate has appeared delicately balanced on the issue, with almost all Republicans and Democrats likely to vote by party line. The majority leaders in the Senate and the House, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, are reluctant to get bogged down in debate on an issue they believe the president should decide. However, the hand of the congressional leadership could be forced by hardline opponents of the deal, who are seeking to make it a test of conservative credentials for senators wary about defying Trump. One of the most vociferous critics of the Iran deal in the Senate, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, urged Trump not to certify the deal in order to clear the way for a period of “coercive diplomacy” and to persuade European governments, Russia, China and Iran to open the agreement for renegotiation. However, the defense secretary, James Mattis, has backed the nuclear deal. His intervention is likely to make it harder for Trump to withhold certification, and could swing votes in a Senate decision on sanctions. Saudi king’s Russia visit heralds shift in global power structures Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened a historic four-day visit to Moscow last week by signalling a new era of cooperation with Russia, but demanding that Iran, an ally of the Kremlin, end its “interference” in Middle East politics. King Salman called for any peace settlement in Syria to ensure that the country remained integrated, but he did not repeat the longstanding, and now shelved, Saudi call for the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to stand aside. The visit to president Vladimir Putin was the first by a ruling Saudi monarch to Moscow, and is widely seen as a potential turning point in Middle East politics, and even in the conduct of world oil markets. More than 15 cooperation agreements worth billions of dollars were signed, leading the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, to claim the visit marked the moment when Saudi-Russian relations “reached a new qualitative level”. In one of the most remarkable deals, the Saudis said they would purchase the Russian S-400 missile defence system. Russia pulled out all the diplomatic stops to welcome the Saudi king, although there was a glitch when the golden escalator due to help him from the plane broke down. Patrick Wintour 6 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 International news Catalonia’s ‘silent majority’ find its voice Analysis: no easy way out for either Barcelona or Madrid Counter-protest march reveals depth of regional support for Spanish unity Sam Jones Madrid Stephen Burgen Barcelona and agencies Barcelona was a city accustomed to protests even before the independence referendum earlier this month that has provoked Spain’s biggest political crisis in 40 years. Every 11 September for the past five years, hundreds of thousands of people have thronged its streets on La Diada de Catalunya – Catalonia’s national day – to call loudly but peacefully for independence. But until last Sunday morning, one group had been conspicuous by its absence – the Catalans who want to remain part of Spain. “We have perhaps been silent too long,” said Alejandro Marcos, 44, one of the so-called silent majority who gathered in Barcelona to protest against the Catalan government’s decision to push for independence. “It seems that the one who yells the most wins the argument. So we have to raise our voices and say loud and clear that we do not want independence.” The organisers of the demonstration, which was addressed by the Nobel prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, put the turnout at more than one million. The police were more conservative, counting about 350,000 participants. Whatever the total, the proliferation of Spanish, Catalan and European flags – not to mention the cries of “Don’t be fooled, Catalonia is Spain” and the chants of “Viva España! Viva Catalonia!” – made their point. Javier Pérez, a 36-year-old teacher, said: “I joined the demonstration today because I believe there’s a problem Loud and clear … calls for unity, not independence Pau Barrena/Getty between official Catalonia and those it silences, that doesn’t consider Spanish -speakers here as real Catalans. “I went to say stop ignoring us, we’re Catalans like you, talk to us, don’t negotiate in the name of Catalans when you are only speaking for your Catalans. I went because I want to stop being treated as a second-class citizen.” Others had come from farther afield to show their solidarity as the prospect of a unilateral declaration of independence this week by the Catalan government loomed. Juan Gil-Casares, who works in Madrid but had come to Barcelona with his family, said he had felt compelled to make the journey. “We decided to come and support our compatriots and show them that they are not alone,” he said. Vargas Llosa accused the Catalan government of trying to execute a coup d’état. He told the crowd that nationalism “has filled European history – and that of Spain and the world – with war, blood and corpses”. Josep Borrell, the former president of the European parliament, waved an EU flag. He attacked some of the rhetoric used in the independence campaign. “Catalonia isn’t like Lithuania, Kosovo or Algeria,” he said. “It’s not an occupied or militarised territory.” Alex Ramos, the vice-president of Societat Civil Catalana, the pro-unity group that called the rally under the slogan “Let’s recover our common sense”, said that it had been an long overdue expression of the feelings of the majority of Catalan society. “What we’ve seen today has been a social escape valve,” he said. “It’s been a cathartic expression, with people saying: ‘Look, enough! Stop dividing us.’ “Let’s get back our common sense. We can’t have a social and political relationship if one sector is imposing something on another. There has to be a negotiation. If we’re going to decide the future, we need to decide it together.” Last Sunday “Silent Catalonia” finally found its voice. The question was whether the opponents of the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, had left it too late. Many explanations are offered for why, if most Catalans do not want a break with Madrid, the separatists have come so close to their goal. Both the disrupted 1 October referendum and an earlier, non-binding vote in 2014 saw the percentage backing independence peak in the low to mid-40s. Unionist forces are divided. The conservative People’s party, led by Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, is unpopular in Catalonia. The Socialists, the main national opposition, have suffered leadership splits. The Catalan Socialist party is loth to be seen siding with Rajoy. Many Barcelona residents say an atmosphere of intimidation took hold in the run-up to the vote, with activists accusing those who disagreed with them of harbouring fascist sympathies. Now the “silent majority” has taken to the field, Puigdemont this week faced a real dilemma. If he went ahead with a declaration of independence, his biggest problem might not be with Rajoy, the Guardia Civil and direct rule from Madrid, but with many of his Catalan constituents. Rajoy, however, should not mistake last Sunday’s demonstration as support for his inflexible stance. His best course may be to use his constitutional powers to insist on fresh regional elections, which could result in the pro-independence coalition losing control of the Catalan assembly. Simon Tisdall Seven months later, Dutch voters get new government Jon Henley Nearly seven months after they voted in an election on 15 March, Dutch voters are to get a new government after the leaders of four parties agreed on a centre-right policy programme. The prime minister, Mark Rutte, this week presented a rocky fourparty coalition to his MPs, 208 days after his liberal VVD party won the March polls. The negotiations have been the longest to form a new government in modern Dutch history and were officially presented to parliament on Tuesday, when the process of appointing ministers began. “I am very happy,” said Rutte, who will form his third ruling coalition. “Precisely on the day that this [government] formation is overtaking the longest previous formation we have … a negotiators’ agreement.” However, cementing a stable marriage between Rutte’s businessfriendly VVD, the progressive D66 and two Christian parties – the relatively moderate CDA and the far more conservative Christian Union – may prove challenging. D66 is pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights and pro-EU, and wants pioneering Dutch euthanasia laws extended. The Christian Union is opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia, and has in the past argued that the Netherlands should pull out of the eurozone in its present form. Nonetheless, agreement on the government’s key policies – on tax, sick pay, welfare payments for refugees, and defence and education spending – has reportedly been reached. The D66 leader, Alexander Pechtold, said that after years of austerity, the new government will reward voters with lower taxes. “We are coming out of crisis, so we can invest, taxes can be lowered,” he told reporters. The coalition will have a majority of just one in the fragmented 13-party, 150-seat Dutch parliament and its ability to survive a four-year term is likely to prove the toughest test yet of Rutte’s consensus-building skills. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 7 International news Macron remarks cause more unrest French president filmed accusing workers of stirring up ‘bloody chaos’ Angelique Chrisafis Paris The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has been criticised after he was filmed accusing disgruntled workers of preferring to stir up “bloody chaos” rather than find jobs, weeks after he called critics of his labour reforms “slackers”. Macron, who according to his entourage did not know he was being filmed on a visit to a struggling company in south-west France, made the comments while clashes were occurring outside the premises between police and workers protesting against his economic policies. “Instead of kicking up bloody chaos, some of them would be better off going to see if they can get a job over there,” he said, alluding to an aluminium factory in the region that was seeking new workers. “Some of them have got the qualifications to do it,” he said. “It’s not that far for them to go.” Macron made the remarks to a regional official, Alain Rousset, who had mentioned the aluminium foundry’s difficulties in finding workers. Critics on all sides seized on the comments, keen to cast Macron, a former investment banker, as out of touch with ordinary people and a “president of the rich” because of his proposed cuts to France’s wealth tax. Clémentine Autain, of the leftist France Unbowed party, said: “It shows a great class contempt. He can’t stop coming out with unfair comments targeting the masses.” Others said Macron’s “uncouth” language was resonant of the tetchy Divisive … Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating is around 32% former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who never quite recovered from his famous comment “Sod off, you prat”, uttered to a man who refused to shake his hand at an agricultural fair. Macron runs a tightly controlled communications strategy from the Élysée Palace and often berates journalists and commentators for dissecting his style rather than the content of his message. But the comments overshadowed his announcements about economic reform. A government spokesman, Christophe Castaner, defended Macron, saying: “A president should be able … to use the words that we all use all the time.” The Élysée was quick to insist the comments had been taken out of context and sought to bat away any accusations of class contempt or of targeting local protesting workers. But Macron has often been unapologetic about choosing hard language as he seeks to style himself as a probusiness reformer. Last month, days before a union-led protest against his overhaul of French labour laws, he said in a speech that he would not back down “to slackers, cynics and extremists”. The remark became a rallying cry, with protesters coining slogans such as “Slackers of the world, unite!” In July, visiting a tech startup centre in a converted rail depot, he talked about how at a station it was possible to meet different people – “those who succeed and those who are nothing”. In 2016 while he was economy minister, Macron was confronted by angry trade unionists and was recorded telling one young man: “You don’t scare me with your T-shirt. The best way of paying for a suit is to work.” When he pleaded for a cut in the cost of getting a driving licence and used as an example female workers at a Brittany abattoir, many of whom he said were “illiterate”, he apologised in parliament and said he had not meant to cause offence. Macron’s popularity has fallen since his election in May, with his approval rating standing at 32% in a YouGov poll released last Thursday. His supporters maintain that a fall in popularity was inevitable in the current climate and that he would rather enact reforms quickly than chase poll ratings. Macron was criticised at the start of his presidency for comparing his new role to that of Jupiter, king of the Roman gods, and he has recently sought to get out and talk more to people on the ground. Comment, page 20 → Peace prize Nobel signals to nuclear states The head of the anti-nuclear campaign group awarded the Nobel peace prize has chided Donald Trump for ramping up a nuclear standoff. Speaking last Friday in Geneva after the Norwegian Nobel committee made the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) its 2017 laureate, Beatrice Fihn, the group’s executive director, said Trump “puts a spotlight” on the dangers of nuclear weapons. Fihn (pictured) said the award sent a message to all nuclear-armed states that “we can’t threaten to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians in the name of security”. The chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, said the award had been made in recognition of Ican’s work “to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”. The award underlined the mounting danger of nuclear conflict between the US and North Korea and the vulnerability of the Iran nuclear deal. It also amounts to a reprimand to the world’s nuclear-armed powers – the US, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – all of whom boycotted negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons approved by 122 non-nuclear nations in July. The Nobel committee said the peace prize was also a call to nucleararmed states “to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world”. Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Jon Henley Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Comment, page 22 → Iceland bank fallout rumbles on Jon Henley The current prime minister of Iceland sold almost all his remaining assets in a major Icelandic bank’s investment fund on the day the government seized control of the country’s collapsing financial sector at the peak of the 2008 crash. According to leaked documents, Bjarni Benediktsson, then an MP on the parliament’s economy and tax committee, sold several million króna of assets in the Glitnir bank’s fund before an emergency law placed Iceland’s failed financial institutions under state control. The documents suggest Benediktsson, whose name appeared in the Panama Papers offshore scandal that toppled Iceland’s previous prime minister, talked to senior Glitnir executives on 6 October 2008, as the country’s banking bubble was on the point of bursting. While he denies any wrongdoing and the Guardian has seen no evidence he broke any laws, the revelations could be embarrassing: Benediktsson faces elections on 28 October after his coalition collapsed last month over an alleged attempt to cover up a scandal involving his father. 8 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 In US gun debate, bias beats logic Mass shootings bring calls for action – and then political paralysis follows Analysis Lois Beckett After the mass shooting in Las Vegas on 1 October in which gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel casino, killing almost 60 people and injuring hundreds more, Americans have spoken out in outrage and grief, demanding action. They have asked, again: why can’t the US pass any gun control laws? At the same time, just as they did after Sandy Hook and San Bernardino and Orlando, these advocates have endorsed some gun control laws with very little evidence behind them. The great bipartisan gun control victory of this year may be new restrictions on “bump stocks”, a “range toy” used to make a semi-automatic rifle fire more like a fully automatic rifle. That won’t do much to reduce America’s more than 36,000 annual gun suicides, homicides, fatal accidents and police killings. Why does the US feel paralysed every time there is a new attack? Jon Stokes, a writer and software developer, said he is frustrated after each mass shooting by “the sentiment among very smart people, who are used to detail and nuance and doing a lot of research, that this is cut and dried, this is black and white”. He watches otherwise thoughtful friends suddenly embrace one gun control policy or another, as if it were a magic bullet. “Some kind of animal brain kicks in, and they’re like, ‘No, this is morally simple.’” Even to suggest that the debate is more complicated “just upsets them, and they basically say you’re trying to obscure the issue”. In 2013, a few months after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school, a Yale psychologist created an experiment to test how political bias affects our reasoning skills. Dan Kahan was attempting to understand why public debates over social problems remain deadlocked, even when good scientific evidence is available. He decided to test a question about gun control. Kahan gave study participants – all American adults – a basic mathematics test, then asked them to solve a short but tricky problem about whether a medicinal skin cream was effective or ineffective. The problem was just hard enough that most people jumped to the wrong answer. People with stronger maths skills, unsurprisingly, were more likely to get the answer right. Kahan ran the same test again. This time participants were asked to evaluate whether a law banning citizens from carrying concealed firearms in public made crime go up or down. The result: when liberals and conservatives were confronted with results that contradicted their political assumptions, the smartest people were barely more likely to arrive at the correct answer than those with no maths skills. Political bias had erased the advantages of stronger reasoning skills. Kahan concluded that, presented with a conflict between holding to their beliefs or finding the correct answer to a problem, people simply went with their tribe. It was a reasonable strategy on the individual level – and a “disastrous” one for tackling social change. When it comes to guns, Americans want it both ways. A recent Pew study found that just over half want stronger gun laws. Even stronger majorities also believe most people should be allowed to legally own most kinds of guns – and allowed to carry them in most places. There is room for thoughtful gun control within these constraints. But the extreme polarisation of America’s gun debate obscures how symbolic and marginal some of the most nationally prominent gun control measures are. Observer Gary Younge, page 18 → Handguns on display at an outdoor products trade show John Locher/AP Bump-fire stocks sell out as enthusiasts fear ban on devices The National Rifle Association broke its silence four days after the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history to call for “additional regulations” on bump-fire stocks, which the Las Vegas shooter used to turn his semi-automatic rifles into rapid-fire weapons. But alongside the rare concession, the NRA also suggested it was time for further relaxation of laws permitting Americans to carry concealed firearms. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, the group’s two leading figures, said in a joint statement. The NRA pair called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law”. The NRA’s suggestion comes after Republican lawmakers indicated they might support a ban on the devices. Bump stocks were selling out as fear of an impending ban sent many gun enthusiasts hoarding. “I want to get one before there is a push to make them illegal,” one commenter posted on the Facebook page of Bump Fire Systems, a major US manufacturer of the devices. The company’s website had been down for more than two days citing “high traffic volume”. Guardian reporters US news in brief International news • The Trump administration has issued a list of hardline immigration demands that includes funding for a wall along the southern border and a crackdown on Central American minors as part of a deal to allow young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers to stay in the country legally. Democrats immediately rejected the administration’s priorities as “far beyond what is reasonable”. • The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, denied he has considered resigning and pledged loyalty to Donald Trump in the wake of a report that he had called the president a “moron”. “I’m here as long as the president thinks I can be useful to achieving his objectives,” Tillerson said at a hastily arranged press appearance last Wednesday. He shrugged off the report on NBC News – that he had derided Trump as a “moron” – as “petty nonsense”. • Donald Trump’s fractious relationship with the Republican establishment reached a bizarre new level last Sunday when Senator Bob Corker described the White House as an “adult day care centre” and warned that the president risked setting the US “on the path to World War III”. An extraordinary exchange between Trump and the chair of the Senate foreign relations committee began when Trump claimed Corker, who is retiring, “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election. In response, Corker tweeted: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care centre. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” • Rebuffing the Trump administration, a federal judge last Wednesday ordered the Interior Department to reinstate an Obamaera regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. The order by a judge in San Francisco came as the Interior Department moved to delay the rule until 2019, saying that it was too burdensome to industry. The action followed an effort by the department to postpone part of the rule set to take effect next year. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 9 Revival of a Soviet Zion Kicker here like this Town its Jewish heritage Then acelebrates short description here like this → Review, page and 30 Page XX Then Section International news Are decades of political repression making way for an ‘Uzbek spring’? Tashkent diary Joanna Lillis T here is one word on everyone’s lips in Uzbekistan these days: change. “Things are changing, life is getting better!” enthused Akrom Abdurahimov, a twentysomething resident of the capital, Tashkent. “Every day you wake up and something is different,” said Nodira Ilhamova, a young professional sipping tea on the terrace of a trendy cafe in the autumn sunshine. “We’ve seen so many changes in the country in the past year,” said Pulat Ibrahimov, a middle-aged businessman lunching in a restaurant packed with office workers. There is also one name that keeps recurring: Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the president of this central Asian state. Mention him and you’re as likely as not to get a big thumbs-up. Since Mirziyoyev came to power a year ago following the death of his Soviet-era predecessor Islam Karimov, one of the world’s harshest dictatorships has lightened up – though not enough for true openness (interviewees’ names have still to be changed to protect identities). Mirziyoyev, a greying 60-year-old who was Karimov’s prime minister for 13 years, is an unlikely poster boy for dynamic transformation, but he has embraced some eye-catching reforms. He has released some political prisoners, welcomed international human rights campaigners who were persona non grata for years, loosened the screws on the media and recalled thousands of people forced to go and pick cotton instead of doing their regular jobs. Most radically, he has pledged to listen to, and govern for, the people. The change sweeping through this country of 34 million people who lived under political repression and economic stagnation for 27 years of Karimov’s rule has sparked excited chatter about a political thaw. Is there an “Uzbek spring” in the air? Is Mirziyoyev really bringing democracy to totalitarian Uzbekistan? Mirziyoyev says he is. He intends “to build a democratic state and a just society”, he declared recently, making the case that he is transforming Uzbekistan, a land of ‘Life is getting better’ … in Tashkent, some residents detect change in the air Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters mountains, deserts and ancient Silk Road cities into a democracy based on “people’s power”. Startling words since, under Karimov, Uzbekistan became a byword for despotism, torture and worse. Anyone who protested risked the fate of demonstrators in the city of Andijan, hundreds of whom were gunned down by security forces in 2005. “This is a moment of hope for Uzbekistan’s people,” wrote Steve Swerdlow and Hugh Williamson of Human Rights Watch recently, but “it’s time to follow words with action”. They recently visited Uzbekistan, and the sight of Uzbek ministers glad-handing the rights Make no mistake: Mirziyoyev is no democrat. He’s an autocrat in every sense of the word campaigners they recently shunned was an astonishing sign of the changing times. On the streets of Tashkent there is a new spirit of optimism – and plenty of goodwill towards Mirziyoyev. “He wants to show that with his arrival things are going to be different,” said Ibrahimov. “He’s changing many things because people need it. Businesses need more freedom, which will create more jobs.” Tashkent was abuzz with talk of the black market – or rather its disappearance. The dodgy dealers who used to hang around Tashkent’s bazaars swapping dollars for wads of Uzbek sum disappeared in early September when Mirziyoyev embraced currency reforms. This dynamism is creating a feelgood factor, though it has yet to translate into jobs. And political change may take longer than economic liberalisation. Mirziyoyev was, after all, a loyal foot soldier of Karimov’s repressive regime and came to power in a sham election in which he won 89% of the vote. “Make no mistake: Mirziyoyev is no democrat. He’s an autocrat in every sense of the word,” Bakhtiyor Nishanov, an analyst from the Washington-based International Republican Institute, said. Mirziyoyev’s priority is economic growth, he said; as for democracy and human rights, he will reform the “bare minimum” to support his ambition of lifting Uzbekistan out of the economic doldrums. Hence the headline-grabbing initiative such as recalling doctors, teachers and students from the cotton fields; allowing the BBC to reopen its long-shuttered Uzbek bureau, and freeing a handful of the thousands of political prisoners. But observers fret that this is mere cosmetic tinkering – and the detention last month of Uzbek writer Nurullo Otahonov on his return from Turkish exile, suggests a well-placed concern. Otahonov was released after four days. For all the hype about Mirziyoyev and his reforms, some Uzbeks are frustrated by the pace of change. “Things are changing at the top, but it will take a long time to flow down,” said Ilhamova. “It’s good that changes are taking place, but let’s see in 10 years – then we can talk about it. Or maybe 50.” 10 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 International news Hurricane-hit Dominica pleads for aid Pummelled US Virgin Islands marginalised in disaster crisis Destruction … a debris-littered street in Roseau, Dominica, the day after Hurricane Maria swept through Getty Island recovers slowly after roofs were swept away and crops ruined Ashifa Kassam Aid workers and officials in Dominica said last week that much of the island remain ed without power or water and cut off from communications after Hurricane Maria battered it with winds of nearly 260km/h and stripped it of vegetation. The island of 71,000 people was the first to bear the brunt of the category 5 hurricane when it struck in mid-September. “My roof is gone,” Roosevelt Skerrit, the island’s prime minister, wrote on Facebook. “I am at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding.” Skerrit, who was rescued shortly after, described the storm damage as “mind-boggling”, adding that winds had swept away the roofs of almost everyone he had spoken to. “We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.” His appeal was followed by silence. Dominica’s communication towers snapped as the storm crossed the island, cutting it off from the world as it struggled to cope with destruction left by its strongest storm on record. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team arrived on the island, hours after the storm had passed. “We saw everything totally destroyed,” said team leader Sergio Da Silva. Cars were flipped over on the streets and lush farmland, planted with bananas and sweet potatoes, decimated. Debris from trees and roofs littered the streets. Da Silva said: “We flew over the island, and this island that used to be all green with leaves and trees was totally brown. All the trees were on the ground, there were no leaves left any more.” Officials in Dominica said the hurricane left 27 people dead and more than 50 missing. About 90% of structures on the island have been damaged or destroyed. Amid shortages of food and water, the number of thefts across the capital, Roseau, began to rise, prompting the government to impose a nationwide curfew from 4pm to 8am. Things are slowly improving, said Da Silva. Power has been restored to critical buildings such as the hospital. But many parts of the island still lack electricity and running water, while destroyed bridges and washed-out river valleys have left rescuers unable to reach remote communities. Assistance from around the world has enabled authorities to distribute nearly 200,000 litres of water, along with 5,000 tarpaulins and 17 tonnes of high-energy biscuits. But more is needed, said Chamberlain Emmanuel, of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. The unusually active hurricane season has left its mark across the region. Some 95% of houses in Barbuda were affected by the hurricanes, while electricity remains down in many parts of Anguilla. Skerrit told the UN general assembly in the days following Hurricane Maria: “I come to you straight from the frontline of the war on climate change.” Warmer air and sea temperatures, he said, were supercharging small storms into a devastating force. “We as a country and as a region did not start this war against nature … The war has come to us. While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action, and we need it now.” If Irma hit like a right hook, then Maria was the sucker punch, battering islanders while they were already down. Around a month after the first of two deadly hurricanes collided with the US Virgin Islands, the recovery is still in its infancy. Power lines droop over the main roads in Charlotte Amalie, the territory’s capital. More than half of the roof of Saint Thomas’s commercial airport no longer exists, replaced with tarps. All the schools have been closed. About 90% of the territory has no power and most people no drinking water. While the plight of neighbouring Puerto Rico, hit hard by Maria, prompted an outcry in the face of a slow federal recovery effort, the crisis on the US Virgin Islands, home to 100,000 US citizens, has had less focus. The White House blamed “difficult logistics” for Donald Trump not stopping there on his trip to Puerto Rico last week. But last Friday vice-president Mike Pence flew into the territory’s second island of St Croix, where Maria hit hardest. He said the administration “will be with you every day until the US Virgin Islands comes all the way back”. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), the government agency responsible for disaster management, has begun to roll out inspection teams. But, said agency spokeswoman Renee Baffles, it had been “very difficult” to reach all the remote communities. More than 14,600 islanders have so far registered for help with Fema. Oliver Laughland Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands Protecting indigenous people ‘helps climate battle’ Matthew Taylor Global leaders must do more to protect indigenous people fighting to protect their land and way of life if the world is to limit climate change, according to UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. Speaking ahead of climate talks in Bonn next month, she urged politicians to recognise that indigenous communities were the most effective custodians of millions of hectares of forest that are “the world’s lungs”. She said: “Indigenous people’s rights need to be protected in the best way possible, not just for them but because they are also able to provide solutions to many of the world’s problems from climate change to biological diversity. It is in the self-interest of states and even corporations, in the medium and long term, to protect and listen to these people – the question is, will they realise this in time?” A recent study found that a quarter of the carbon stored above ground in tropical forests is found in the collectively managed territories of indigenous peoples and local communities. In Brazil, deforestation in indigenous community forests from 2000 to 2012 was less than 1%, compared with 7% outside those areas. Indigenous people are locked in fierce conflicts with mining, logging and agricultural companies and their security firms from Indonesia to Brazil. Last year was the deadliest on record for land rights defenders, with about 200 people killed in conflicts in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Tauli-Corpuz spoke in Stockholm at the launch of the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility, which aims to help communities protect their land resources as well as fight climate change. It is funded by Sweden, Norway and the Ford Foundation, a US charity. The project aims to boost forest land titled to indigenous peoples by 40m hectares within a decade. Organisers say this would prevent deforestation of 1m hectares and release 500m tonnes of CO2. 12 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 International news Women at Indian university fight back Students in Varanasi call for end to ‘Eve-teasing’ and acts of molestation Michael Safi Observer The first time Shivangi Choubey missed the curfew at her student hostel was a night in late September. It was not the only rule she broke that day. Women students at Banaras Hindu University are not supposed to protest. Many are made to sign a contract that spells this out explicitly. Men are not required to sign anything of the kind. Nor, at many hostels on campus, are women served meat, permitted to speak on the phone after 10pm, or allowed out in the evenings when their male counterparts still roam the campus on sputtering two-wheelers or cram into the library to study. So it was especially shocking – and unprecedented in the university’s 100-year history – when Choubey led 200 women through the gates of their college to join hundreds of others assembled outside Lanka gate, the campus’s bustling entrance. “Nobody ever misses a curfew,” she says. “That’s something very big for us. But we were so agitated, because these things keep happening to us.” The day before, an undergraduate student said she had been sexually assaulted by two men on a motorbike. Campus security guards had been sitting on plastic chairs about 20 metres away but did nothing, the woman said. She told others that the warden at her college had dismissed the incident, Action … a police baton charge on female demonstrators sparked anger telling her: “They just touched you. They didn’t do anything serious.” “These comments were a spark on already burning logs,” says Dhriti Dharana, a psychology student living at the same college as the alleged victim. “We thought, ‘To hell with everything. We’re going to protest.’” The demonstrations that followed have brought one of India’s most prestigious and conservative universities to its knees. Its vice-chancellor is on indefinite leave. The head of security resigned. Colleges were emptied of students – “evacuated”, one said – days earlier than a scheduled holiday after footage of police using batons against young women went viral, drawing national condemnation. Banaras Hindu University, sprawling across hundreds of hectares in the holy city of Varanasi, is generally quiet and an unlikely site for a rebellion. The university is a magnet for the brightest students from impoverished regions such as Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, often the first in their families to attend college, eager for a foothold in the Indian middle class. Students laugh when asked if anyone drinks on campus. “Only in secret,” says Dharana, grinning. “We take a birthday cake down the Ganga [Ganges] ghats. That’s how we party.” In part, this conservatism reflects many of the students’ own values. But it is also rigorously enforced. “It is scary, very scary, to be a woman here,” says Choubey, 21. “Eve-teasing” – a south Asian euphemism for sexual harassment – is rampant on campus, she says. “It happens to everyone. Boys go about on their bikes and they touch your dupatta [shawl], they grab your clothes.” Inside their residential hostels, women students see a different side of the patriarchy – the one claiming to protect them. Starkly divergent rules for men’s and women’s hostels are a fact of life at many Indian universities. Such discrimination has sparked a national protest movement called Pinjra Tod – “Break the Cage” – as well as a supreme court challenge. When reports that a student had been sexually assaulted on 21 September began to spread, Dharana, 23, said women were angry, but did not initially plan to protest. “Every girl at the university has been Eveteased, molested, from the second she stepped on campus,” she says. It was when they heard the security guards and hostel staff had failed to act – and worse, apparently shrugged off the incident – that the campus ignited. “These people are supposed to look after us, but they are against us,” Dharana says. “That is what erupted this thing.” By the second night of protests, more than 1,000 people had massed outside Lanka gate and the vice-chancellor’s residence, most of them students, and a majority of them women. The vice-chancellor, Girish Chandra Tripathi, said he was trying to meet with students to contain the unrest when people started throwing petrol bombs and stones. (The students say their protests were peaceful and any violence was perpetrated by outsiders.) At some point, police elected to charge the crowd several times with batons, corralling the students into their colleges and shutting the gates, injuring several in the process. By the next day, footage of male police officers striking women was being broadcast across the Indian media. Since the protests, Banaras Hindu University has appointed a new head of security – the first woman to hold the job. She has promised to relax women’s curfews and restrictions on food, alcohol and clothing. Psychology student Mineshi Mishra and her peers welcome the appointment, but caution: “What we are fighting for is not complete. The fear which was inside our heads – that broke up. And that was the best thing about the movement.” UN ‘suppressed’ Myanmar report Emanuel Stoakes Oliver Holmes International Tender Announcement (REF: CW/IRQ/TR003594/0917) Concern Worldwide is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing suffering and ending extreme poverty. Concern invites tenderers to bid for the “establishment of a framework agreement for Hygiene Kits” for one of its multi-donor funded programmes in the Syria. Item speciﬁcations are detailed in the Tender Documents, available from: Web: www.concern.net/about/supplies/tenders Deadline for submission is: 1700 hours (GMT + 3) on October 29th 2017 The UN commissioned and then “suppressed” a report that criticised its strategy in Myanmar and warned it was ill-prepared to deal with the impending Rohingya crisis, sources have told the Guardian. The review, submitted in May, offered a critical analysis of the UN’s approach and said there should be “no silence on human rights”. The report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, predicted a “serious deterioration” in the months following its submission and urged the UN to undertake “contingency planning”. “It is recommended that, as a matter of urgency, UN headquarters identifies ways to improve overall coherence in the UN’s system approach,” wrote independent analyst Richard Horsey, the report’s author. Security forces would be “heavyhanded and indiscriminate” in dealing with the Rohingya, said Horsey – a prediction that rang true when Rohingya militants attacked dozens of outposts on 25 August, prompting a massive military crackdown. Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The UN is going to have to acknowledge their significant share of blame in letting this situation descend this far, this fast.” The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 13 International news Japan forced to face brutal work culture Journalist suﬀered heart attack after 159 hours of overtime in one month Justin McCurry Tokyo Japan has again been forced to confront its work culture after labour inspectors ruled that the death of a 31-year-old journalist at the country’s public broadcaster, NHK, had been caused by overwork. Miwa Sado, who worked at the broadcaster’s headquarters in Tokyo, logged 159 hours of overtime and took only two days off in the month leading up to her death from heart failure in July 2013. A labour standards office in Tokyo later attributed her death to karoshi (death from overwork) but her case was only made public by her former employer last week. Sado was found dead in her bed, reportedly holding her mobile phone. “My heart breaks at the thought that she may have wanted to call me,” her mother told the Asahi Shimbun. Sado’s death is expected to increase pressure on Japanese authorities to address the large number of deaths attributed to the punishingly long hours expected of many employees. The announcement comes a year after a similar ruling over the death of a young employee at Dentsu advertising agency prompted a national debate over Japan’s attitude to work-life Doctors sound alarm over the prospect of ‘antibiotic apocalypse’ ← Continued from page 1 and immunity at the UK Medical Research Council. “Common infections could kill again.” As to the causes of this growing threat, scientists point to the widespread misuse and overuse of antibiotics and other drugs and to the failure of pharmaceutical companies to investigate and develop new sources of general medicines for the future. Western doctors are overprescribing antibiotics to patients. In many countries, both land and fish farmers use antibiotics as growth promoters and indiscriminately pour them on to their livestock. In the latter case, the end result is antibiotics leaching into streams and rivers with alarming results, particularly in Asia. “In the Ganges during pilgrimage season, there are levels of antibiotics in the river that we try to achieve No let-up … Tokyo commuters in the rush to work Iain Masterton/Alamy balance and calls to limit overtime. Matsuri Takahashi was 24 when she killed herself in April 2015. Labour standards officials ruled that her death was caused by stress brought on by long working hours. Takahashi had been working more than 100 hours’ overtime in the months before her death. Weeks before she died on Christmas Day 2015, she posted on social media: “I want to die.” Another message read: “I’m physically and mentally shattered.” Her case triggered a national debate about work practices and forced the prime minister, Shinzō Abe, to address a workplace culture that often forces employees to put in long hours to show their dedication, even if there is little evidence it improves productivity. The government proposes to cap monthly overtime at 100 hours and impose penalties on companies that let employees exceed the limit. Dentsu was last week fined 500,000 yen ( $4,438) over Takahashi’s death. While the token fine drew criticism, Takahashi’s lawyer, Hiroshi Kawahito, described the ruling as a “historic” event. “It is very meaningful that a company has been punished,” the in the bloodstream of patients,” says Davies. “That is very, very disturbing.” The creation of these antibioticladen waters and banks of drugsoaked soils is ideal for the development of “superbugs”. Rare strains that are resistant to antibiotics start to thrive in farm animals and emerge as highly potent infectious agents that then spread across the planet with startling speed. Examples of these include tuberculosis, which was once easily treated but which, in its modern multi-drug-resistant form, claims the lives of 190,000 people a year. Another even more revealing example is provided by colistin. “Colistin was developed in the 50s,” says Matthew Avison, reader in molecular biology at Bristol University. “However, its toxic side-effects made it unpopular with doctors. So it was taken up by vets and used in animals. But as resistance – in humans – to other antibiotics has spread, doctors have returned to colistin on the grounds that it was better than nothing.” But the antibiotic’s widespread use as a growth promoter for poultry and pigs in Asia had – by this time – encouraged the evolution of resistant strains and these have now spread to humans. Bans on the agricultural use of antibiotics are being imposed in Asia but have come far too late to be effective, a problem acknowledged by Lord Jim O’Neill, whose report to the UK government on antimicrobial resistance was published last year. “When we were putting our report together, colistin resistance was considered to be a problem that would not affect In the Ganges during pilgrimage season, there are antibiotics levels in the river that we aim for in patients Nikkei business newspaper reported him as saying. “Dentsu’s crime has been confirmed.” In its first white paper on karoshi last year, the government said one in five employees were at risk of death from overwork. More than 2,000 Japanese killed themselves due to workrelated stress in the year to March 2016, according to the government, while dozens of others died from heart attacks, strokes and other conditions brought on by spending too much time at work. According to the white paper, 22.7% of companies polled between December 2015 and January 2016 said some staff logged more than 80 hours of overtime a month, the level at which working hours start to pose a serious risk to health. Research shows that Japanese employees work significantly longer hours than their counterparts in the US, Britain and other developed countries. Japan’s employees used, on average, only 8.8 days of their annual leave in 2015, less than half their allowance, according to the health ministry. That compares with 100% in Hong Kong and 78% in Singapore. In the UK the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. us for some time. Now we find it has already spread all over the place.” The report put forward proposals to stop antibiotic resistance from overwhelming health services. In particular, it argued that drug companies should foot the bill for the development of new antibiotics and that patients should not be allowed to get them without a test to ensure they are needed. The proposal is popular, although Professor Alastair Hay of Bristol University counsels caution. “It is a very good idea, but … a new type of diagnostic test like this will also add time and work for our already overburdened health service,” he points out. Then there is the issue of travel, one of the biggest problems we face over the spread of antimicrobial resistance, according to Davies. Tourism, personal hygiene, farming, medical practice – all are affected by the issue of antibiotic resistance, and it will be the task of the conference to highlight the most effective and speedy solutions to tackle the crisis. Observer 14 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Brexit angst at North Sea ports In Belgium, concerns are growing over the impact of UK’s exit from the EU Jennifer Rankin Zeebrugge Observer Gridlock at the border, vast motorway car parks, jobs lost across the country: British ports have been vocal about the risks of a hard Brexit. But across the North Sea, continental ports are also worried about the great unknowns of Brexit. One of the most exposed is the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, which does 45% of its trade with the UK. “We are vulnerable if something happens to the trade from the UK to the continent,” port chief executive Joachim Coens said. “So what I mainly hope is that we could continue having a good trade relationship with the UK … as we have been doing for centuries.” The port’s UK traffic dropped 1% in the month following the Brexit referendum, a sudden slip after months of steady growth. More than one year on, it has rallied but not quite returned to the June 2016 peak. Zeebrugge, (literally “Bruges on Sea”), describes itself as a bridgehead for the British economy. Every week 64 container ships and ferries leave Zeebrugge bound for Tilbury, Tyne, Sheerness, Southampton and other UK ports, laden with goods for British shops and warehouses. A daily ferry still crosses from Zeebrugge to Hull, with 800,000 passengers disembarking at the Belgian port each year. This sprawling port complex on Belgium’s coast is a hidden link in Britain’s just-in-time, everythingon-demand economy. More than 1m cars go to and from the UK through Zeebrugge. If a British supermarket in Glasgow orders a pallet of washing-up liquid from Zeebrugge’s distribution hub before lunchtime, it will be at the shop the next day. Every bottle of Evian and Volvic water on British shop shelves travels from France via Zeebrugge. In the worst-case scenario – of nodeal – the port would be hit by the resumption of WTO tariffs – 10% on cars to 25-30% on orange juice. This kind of “fighting divorce” would be “bad news for the port, but mainly for our producers and exporters”, says Coens. Around 5,000 jobs at the port are linked to trade with the UK. For the industry, the outlook can appear as murky as an overcast day on the North Sea. “Nobody knows what Brexit will be, what will come after it,” says Isabelle Ryckbost, the Finance in brief Finance • Amazon has been told to repay €250m ($293m) in illegal state aid to Luxembourg, as the EU continues its campaign against sweetheart deals. The European commission also announced last Wednesday that it planned to take the Irish government to the European court of justice over its failure to collect €13bn in unpaid taxes from Apple, in relation to an earlier ruling. Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition, said Luxembourg’s “illegal tax advantages to Amazon” had allowed almost threequarters of the company’s profits to go untaxed. Leader comment, page 22 → Vital economic link … the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium Alamy secretary general of the European Sea Ports Organisation. “What we know is that you will have to reorganise your port to do the border checks,” she says. “It is not very clear how important these additional checks will be. Will there be an agreement between a UK port and an EU port to facilitate these checks? Then you have phytosanitary checks [on plants and plant products] – will the legislation be different?” Swirling in the choppy waters is anxiety about the fortunes of Flanders, Belgium’s largest and most prosperous region. Belgium and the Netherlands are among the countries that will be hardest hit by Brexit, with only a few others, including Ireland, expected to do worse. A recent study from the University of Leuven found that Belgium could lose 2.35% of GDP under a hard Brexit. The researchers warned that the impact on the EU27 had been underestimated, although the UK remained the biggest loser. “Higher tariffs on the UK are the last thing we want,” the minister-president of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois, has said, citing the port of Zeebrugge and region’s exportdominated economy. Zeebrugge is, however, less concerned about the resumption ‘We are vulnerable if something happens to the trade from the UK’ of customs checks – “I think we can handle that,” says Coens. Meanwhile, Zeebrugge is fasttracking the development of apps and scanners to further reduce paperwork. It is developing a UK-specific programme for every stage of the logistics chain, which would allow goods to clear customs, even when lorries are far away from the port. Coens also hopes Brexit will push the UK government to do more to help manage migrants. From an open port 10 years ago, Zeebrugge is now fenced off, with advance police checks required to access certain areas. “We are not doing a lot of controls – public and private sector together – for the Brits,” says Coens, saying he would like to see the British government doing more, whether that means moving the border back to the UK or getting British officers on Belgian soil. It was a message he passed on to the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, who paid a visit in July. Coens is optimistic , citing Zeebrugge’s increasing traffic with Ireland, as well as countries further afield, including Turkey and Iran. In July, the first cargo train from China – loaded with Daqing-made Volvo cars – chugged into Zeebrugge, making it a final stop on the silk road. “Nothing c an really replace the importance of the UK,” Coens adds. “The Brits are going out of the European Union, so it cannot be the same as before … but if the Brits had never been part … you would want as the E U to have the best agreement possible.” • The US jobs market stalled in September, losing 33,000 jobs, as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma took their toll. It was the first time in seven years that the US monthly total had recorded a fall. The US economy had added an average of 176,000 new jobs a month this year but as the labor department had predicted, the storms – which caused severe damage in Texas and Florida – slowed hiring. The loss in jobs was far worse than the 80,000 new jobs most US economists had expected would be created. It ends the longest stretch of uninterrupted jobs growth in US history. This was the first loss in jobs since 2010. • A Seattle-area startup backed by the venture capital arms of Boeing and JetBlue Airways has announced plans to begin selling a hybridelectric commuter aircraft by 2022. The small plane is the first of several planned by Zunum Aero, which said it would seat up to 12 passengers and be powered by two electric motors, dramatically reducing the travel time and cost of trips under 1,600km. Foreign exchanges Sterling rates Australia Canada Denmark Euro Hong Kong Japan New Zealand Norway Singapore Sweden Switzerland USA 9 Oct 1.69 1.64 8.32 1.12 10.23 147.78 1.85 10.48 1.79 10.65 1.28 1.31 2 Oct 1.71 1.67 8.45 1.13 10.41 150.54 1.86 10.67 1.82 10.90 1.29 1.33 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 15 UK news Labour’s biglike opportunity Kicker here this Corbyn can ride political here sea change Then a short description like this → Larry Elliott, page 21 XX Then Section and Page Axe old guard to advance new stars, senior Tories tell May Shake-up urged after a traumatic conference week for the PM and her party Michael Savage and Toby Helm Observer Theresa May must appoint a new generation of MPs to top jobs to breathe new life into the Conservative party and rescue her premiership, donors, ministers and grandees have warned. Senior Tory figures said that, while May has no long-term future as prime minister, she can secure a legacy of “restarting the party” by going ahead with a bold but risky ministerial clearout in the coming weeks. The plan is being widely supported by figures opposed to a Boris Johnson takeover. They believe May can deprive the foreign secretary of reaching No 10 by staying in post and placing talented younger MPs in the shop window. The prime minister is being pressed to trigger the shake-up immediately after the latest round of Brexit talks with EU leaders later this month. Downing Street said any talk of an imminent reshuffle was “speculation”. Party whips have told the prime minister’s office there is significant support for the move. It comes after an attempt last week by former Tory chairman Grant Shapps to garner support for May’s removal, and an Opinium poll for the Observer suggesting the Conservatives are seen as more divided than Labour for the first time since Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership win. Almost half (47%) think the Tories are divided, up from 40% before the party conferences, while 42% think Labour is split, down from 48%. Tory rebels have long been critical of May, but were spurred into action after her party conference speech last Wednesday was marred by mishaps. A prankster handed her a fake P45 (end of employment) form, she struggled to speak because of a cough and there were problems with the backdrop as letters fell off the wall. While many Tory MPs sympathised with that, they were alarmed by the lack of ideas from senior figures. Others were concerned by “Labour-lite” policies on council housing and an energy price cap. However, a major reshuffle is risky, with some fearing those sacked will help agitate for May’s early removal. Allies of Johnson are confident he will not be sacked or moved, believing his interventions on Brexit have made him impossible to shift. Mishaps … Theresa May’s conference speech was spoilt by a prankster, a cough and falling backdrop letters Main image: Peter Byrne/PA One major Tory backer said that an immediate change of leadership was “the last thing” most Conservatives wanted. “If we can get some time to find a completely new candidate like we did with [David] Cameron, that would easily be the most sensible way to restart the party. She desperately needs a reshuffle to get some exposure to the public on who they are. The recent intakes have been quite good.” A senior minister also said May should “be quite brutal”, moving out several of the old guard, including Johnson. A former cabinet minister added: “[Later this month] we have an important European council meeting. Perhaps immediately after that she needs to have a proper reshuffle and promote the young bloods, bring them forward to see what they are like. It shows confidence.” Lord Heseltine, deputy prime minister to John Major, publicly urged May to “go down fighting” and waste no time in appointing a new generation of MPs, despite the dangers. “We have a relatively short window until the next election – I think two years,” he said. “The idea that Mrs May can lead us through Brexit and have a new leader in time for the next election is fanciful. She should create the opportunity for the party to choose not just a different singer, but a different song.” Among the modernisers looking for a likely new leader there is admiration for Amber Rudd, the home secretary, but also lingering doubts about her ability to lead when she has such a precariously small majority in her Hastings and Rye seat. Johnson and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, are seen as the most likely leaders should Johnson disowns attacks by ‘friends’ on prime minister Boris Johnson has urged his “socalled friends and allies” to stop briefing newspapers against Theresa May, saying he does not know who the people are, and insisting they do not speak on his behalf. The foreign secretary’s intervention, in a message to a WhatsApp group of Conservative MPs, follows an article in the Telegraph in which unnamed backers of Johnson said he might refuse to move if May tries to demote him in a reshuffle. One supposed ally told the paper that moving Johnson would go down “like a bucket of cold sick” with pro-Brexit voters. But in his message Johnson said he did not support such briefings. “Folks I have seen yet more stuff in the Telegraph and the Sun purporting to come from so-called friends and allies of mine,” the message reportedly read. It added he was “frankly fed up to the back teeth with all this” and did not know if the comments came from allies or “some sinister band of imposters”. It follows a Tory party conference before which Johnson wrote a 4,000-word Brexit manifesto for the Telegraph and told the Sun any transition period for Brexit should not last “a second more” than two years. Peter Walker May go early. While party whips were sure Shapps did not have the support of the 48 Tory MPs required to trigger a leadership contest, May’s tenure is far from safe. She now faces delicate EU talks, a difficult budget and a cabinet clash over Britain’s future EU relationship – any of which could hasten her departure. Former prime minister John Major was scathing about those agitating for a change in Tory leadership behind the scenes. Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: “The country has had enough of the self-absorbed and, frankly, disloyal behaviour we have witnessed over recent weeks. It is time for the individuals concerned – both in parliament and in government – to focus their minds instead on the needs of the British people, rather than on their own personal ambition.” 16 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 UK news School built in nine weeks opens doors Temporary site created for students displaced by Grenfell Tower fire Sally Weale On a former military parade ground once used to exercise cavalry horses, “the fastest school ever built” has opened its doors to students displaced by the fire at Grenfell Tower. Until the terrible events of 14 June, Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA) was a pristine £26m ($34m) school with state-of-the-art facilities and a bold new ethos. Its location at the foot of the tower tied its fortunes to the disaster, which left an estimated 80 people dead. Today the original building is a ghost school. It escaped serious damage but has remained out of bounds since the fire. KAA’s 960 pupils now have a brand new home just over a mile away – a temporary school created out of portable, prefabricated buildings and erected in nine weeks. Dubbed KAA2, it is squeezed into a site on the edge of an area of open land known locally as the Scrubs. There are two other schools within a stone’s throw; the park, which also boasts the Linford Christie outdoor sports centre and a model aircraft runway, leads towards Wormwood Scrubs prison. More than 200 workers from Portakabin and the construction company Mace worked tirelessly to be ready to open to pupils on 18 September. There are none of the soaring atriums or capacious theatres of many modern academies. In the Portakabins, however, are eight science labs and two design and technology workshops; there’s a food technology room, two music rooms, two IT suites with 30 computers in each, two libraries and two studios, one for drama and one for dance. “It fully replicates the curriculum structure of the original school,” says KAA’s principal, David Benson. “We made a commitment to parents and students about the courses we were going to offer and the quality of the teaching, and we’ve honoured the commitment.” Many in the school were affected by the fire – four KAA pupils and a fifth who had recently left the school died – but the school reopened just 48 hours later, with pupils receiving lessons for the final weeks of the summer term in two neighbouring schools. More remarkably, even as the fire still burned through the tower, 56 KAA students turned up on the morning of 14 June to sit their maths AS-levels in a hastily rearranged exam hall. “Quite quickly after the fire,” says Benson, “our instincts were that we need to bring the students together so we can address what’s happened, so we can start to lift their spirits and refocus them on their academic ambitions.” The school’s impressive AS level results in August, which were KAA’s first set of national exams, put the school in the top 10% in terms of “valueadded”, with students getting on average a grade higher than national expectations. “We’ve just got on with things,” says A-level student Harry Robbins. “We’re not dwelling on the past. It’s showing that the school has resilience. We’ve come together and pushed forward.” Grenfell Tower is expected to be finally covered and the area made safe by March but the school will wait until next September to move back. “It will be good to be home,” says Benson. Ministers ‘refusing to pay for fire safety measures’ Councils have said the government is failing to release funds to improve the fire safety of dozens of tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower disaster despite promising that a lack of financial resources should not stand in the way of essential works. Ministers have said building owners are responsible for funding safety measures, but town hall leaders complain that they are “washing their hands of their responsibilities” and are being “dismissive”, four months after the blaze at the Kensington tower block, which claimed about 80 lives. The government has said it will consider help “where works are essential”, but has so far resisted bids for support to retrofit sprinklers in towers despite the London Fire Brigade (LFB) saying this must happen. Dany Cotton, commissioner of the LFB, has said retrofitting sprinklers in tower blocks “can’t be optional, it can’t be a nice-tohave”. Since 2007 they have been compulsory in new-build highrises over 30 metres tall in England, but those building regulations do not apply to older blocks. The Department for Communities and Local Government argues that an appropriate level of fire safety can be achieved without the need to retrofit sprinklers, and fitting them is a matter for landlords to consider for themselves. A recent study of 677 fires where sprinklers were activated found they controlled or extinguished the fire in 99% of cases. Robert Booth Kensington Aldridge Academy’s temporary home Alicia Canter Fall in rail journeys comes after decades of growth Gwyn Topham The number of rail passenger journeys in Britain fell sharply in spring this year, after two decades of virtually constant growth since privatisation. Analysts and industry observers said the figures were concerning, while Labour said it raised serious questions about the viability of franchises. Figures from the Office of Rail and Road show that the total number of journeys was 407.5m from April through to the end of June, a decline of 4.6% compared with the same period last year. Journeys by passengers using season tickets fell by almost 13% year on year, with many switching to advance purchase tickets. 4.6% The fall in total journeys between April and June 2017, compared with the same period last year Commuter journeys in London and the south-east fell by 6.5%, including a drop of 8.8% on South West Trains (now South Western Railway), 5.3% on the troubled Govia Thameslink Railway (owner of Southern rail), 7.4% on Southeastern and 16.9% on London Overground. The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said: “This substantial fall in rail usage reflects passenger frustration at the cost and inflexibility of the ticketing system and direction of the railway more broadly.” Average fares have risen 27% since 2010, far faster than wages, while another 3.6% rise is due in January. McDonald added: “The decline in patronage … raises serious questions about the government’s rail franchising programme which is based on ever-increasing rail patronage. I don’t believe the current model can sustain a downturn.” Industry sources said it called into question the sums paid for recent franchises. One said: “At a time when firms have paid massive premiums, they have got to be worried.” The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 17 International news Subject UK news Ivory trade Government extends ban to help end elephant poaching The UK government has bowed to campaigners and will ban the sale of ivory regardless of age, according to a new consultation. The UK is the biggest exporter of legal ivory in the world, and shutting down the trade will help prevent illegal ivory being laundered by criminals. More than 50 elephants are killed by poachers each day on average and the population of African elephants plunged by a third from 2007-14, leading to warnings that the entire species could become extinct. The international trade in ivory has been illegal since 1990, but currently the UK law allows trade in “antiques” carved before 1947 or items worked before 1990 that have government certificates. In September 2016, the then environment secretary, Andrea Leadsom, pledged to ban the sale of items carved before 1990 but not before 1947, yet no progress was made on implementation. The new ban, put forward last Friday by Leadsom’s successor, Michael Gove, will prohibit the sale of pre1947 ivory. This comes as a surprise – the Conservatives removed a pledge on ivory from their 2017 general election manifesto in June that had been in the 2015 manifesto. Gove said: “The decline in the elephant population fuelled by poaching for ivory shames our generation. The need for radical and robust action to protect one of the world’s most iconic and treasured species is beyond dispute.” The government was put under pressure by a wide range of campaign groups and prominent individuals, including the former Conservative leader William Hague, the primatologist Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking and Ricky Gervais. Within the Tory party the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and the former environment secretary, Owen Paterson, have pressed for a complete ban. The proposed ban does suggest a number of exceptions for antique ivory items, including musical instruments, items of significant cultural value and those containing only a small amount of ivory, which the government says do not contribute to the poaching of elephants. The government’s move was welcomed by John Stephenson at the Stop Ivory group. “The unprecedented crisis we face – with Africa’s natural heritage being destroyed and communities put at risk due to poaching by illegal armed gangs – will only stop when people stop buying ivory,” he said. Damian Carrington Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Scottish government outlaws fracking Severin Carrell The Scottish government has banned fracking after a consultation found overwhelming public opposition and little economic justification for the industry. Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish energy minister, told MSPs that allowing fracking would undermine the government’s ambitions to cut carbon emissions, and would lead to unjustifiable environmental damage. Although Scotland needs natural gas for heating and its chemical industries, economists with KPMG had estimated that allowing unconventional coal and gas extraction to take place would increase Scotland’s GDP by only about 0.1%, but would cause environmental ruin in areas where it took place. A public consultation on fracking attracted more than 65,000 responses, with about 65% of those from communities in former coalmining areas of central Scotland targeted by the fracking industry. Of those, 99% of respondents opposed it, Wheelhouse said. It would cause “long-lasting negative impacts on communities”, he said, damaging public health, the environment and Scotland’s climate goals. A longstanding moratorium in Scotland on allowing planning permission would be made permanent, Wheelhouse added, until Holyrood was given the powers to control licensing of oil and gas exploration. “We have a moral responsibility to tackle climate change and an economic responsibility to prepare Scotland for new low-carbon opportunities,” he told the Scottish parliament. Mary Church, the head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “This is a victory for the environment and for local communities fighting fracking.” The Scottish government’s decision will be put to a vote later this year. It is expected to win comfortably. News in brief Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and Page XX • Wiltshire police investigated allegations of sex attacks made by 40 individuals against Edward Heath and concluded that, had the former prime minister still been alive, seven were serious enough to merit questioning him under caution. The earliest allegation dates back to 1956, when Heath was an up-and-coming backbench MP; the last to 1992 by which time he would have been one of the best-known political figures in Britain, albeit one whose premiership ended in 1974. Of the seven alleged offences deemed most credible by police, the victims were five boys and two men. • Sir John Major has called for an urgent change of tone from the Conservative government, including a review of universal credit, which he described as “operationally messy, socially unfair and unforgiving”. The former prime minister said his party needed to “show its heart again, which is all too often concealed by its financial prudence”, if it hoped to fight off a Labour resurgence in the next general election. • Britain’s biggest defence contractor, BAE Systems, is to cut nearly 2,000 jobs in a huge blow to the UK manufacturing sector. The company, which makes the Eurofighter Typhoon jet and Britain’s nuclear submarines, said up to 1,400 jobs would go at its military, air and information business, along with a further 375 in maritime services and 150 at its applied intelligence business. BAE employs more than 83,000 people worldwide, including 34,600 in the UK. • Black, Asian and minority ethnic people face a significant jobs gap and pay a “penalty” despite an increase in the number obtaining degrees, a study has shown. The proportion of working-age people with degrees had increased across all ethnic groups, from 12% in 1996-99 to 30% in 201417, according to the Resolution Foundation, a leading thinktank. But it said there was a long way to go before progress on educational attainment fully fed through to the labour market, with graduates of all BAME groups facing a jobs gap compared with white people with degrees. 18 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Comment&Debate Americans will not give up their guns Gary Younge The United States needs new laws to regulate firearms. But first it must shed the myths that sustain its reliance on such deadly weapons A round 3.30am on 23 November 2013 a stray bullet shattered the window of an apartment in Indianapolis where a couple watched television while their two-month-old baby slept. The man called 911, with panic in his voice. “I need to get out of here,” he told the dispatcher. “Can you get a car so I can get out of here?” “I think there’s several officers already over there,” the dispatcher replied, calmly. The 911 recordings reveal the man breathing heavily as he talks to his partner. “Put the stuff in the baby bag. Find it tomorrow. We’ll carry it to a hotel.” He urges the dispatcher to hurry up and rescue them until she loses her patience. “They’ll be there as soon as they can, all right?” she says. “As. Soon. As. They. Can. OK? Just stay inside your apartment. Do not go out. We’ll get an officer to you.” Four months later, in the same city, the country’s main gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, held its annual convention with the slogan “Stand and Fight”. In a speech demagogic and apocalyptic, the CEO, Wayne LaPierre, evoked a nation in peril. “There are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and carjackers and knockout gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers … I ask you: do you trust the government to protect you? We are on our own … The things we care about most are changing … It’s why more and more Americans are buying firearms and ammunition.” The horrific incident in Las Vegas was the 273rd mass shooting in America this year. The enduring question of why America continues to maintain such lax gun laws when such atrocities are so commonplace can be answered by this frightened man’s call and LaPierre’s dystopian response. The connection goes beyond the weapon itself to some of the country’s most cherished myths and pervasive pathologies. When the national narrative is a story of conquering, dominating, force and power, an atavistic attachment to the gun can have more pull than a rational case against it. In a society that fetishises self-reliance, the gun speaks to rugged individualism – each person should be responsible for saving themselves. In a political culture that favours small government, the gun stands as a counterpoint to a lumbering and inefficient state – defend yourself, because by the time the police get there you’ll be dead. It underpins a certain sense of masculinity and homestead – a real man should be able to protect his family and home. The dispatcher told him Most people who are killed by guns kill themselves. People who have a gun in the house are far more likely to be shot dead Gary Kempston to sit and wait; the NRA told him to stand and fight. These claims for the gun are of course nonsense. Most people who are killed by guns kill themselves. People who have a gun in the house are far more likely to be shot dead than those who don’t. If more guns really made you safer, America would be one of the safest places in the world. It would be easy to blame all of this on the NRA. The gun lobby has been central to stonewalling even the most basic commonsense reforms. Its capacity to lobby and fund politicians, locally and nationally, is unparalleled. It is because of the NRA that people on the no-fly list can still buy guns and there is no government funding for research into how to prevent gun deaths. Yet while the NRA should not be underestimated, its role should not be exaggerated either. Even as it wins votes in Congress a consistent majority of Americans polled this year believe gun laws should be more strict, that it’s too easy to buy a gun and that if more people carried guns America would be less safe. The NRA has far more power in the polity than influence outside it. But it has been able to tap into many of the core themes of the American narrative in a way that guncontrol advocates have not. There is nothing inevitable about this. When a gunman shot children in Dunblane in 1996 Britain tightened its gun laws; when a shooter ran amok in Port Arthur that same year Australia did the same. That’s what mature and responsive democracies do. But in America, appeals to freedom, masculinity, small government and individualism, even when they are flawed, have more purchase than arguments for weapons bans, even when those arguments are right. T he problem goes all the way to the top. With the largest military in the world by far, raw power was a central tenet of American foreign policy before Trump promised to unleash “fire and fury” on Kim Jong-un. When accused of abdicating America’s role on the world stage, Barack Obama (who had a “kill list”) responded like a mafia don. “Well, Muammar Gaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment,” he said. “Or at least if he was around, he wouldn’t agree with that assessment.” At home the gun is invoked as a cornerstone of America’s founding story and a safeguard against tyranny. “It’s about independence and freedom,” David Britt, a gun owner, said to me at the NRA convention in 2012. “When you have a democratic system and an honourable people then you trust your citizens … In Europe they cede their rights and freedoms to their governments. But we think government should be subservient to us.” These myths are, of course, partial. In a nation that became possible through genocide and slavery, the gun was central to a particular notion of racial power. If gun enthusiasts were concerned about state tyranny, they would have been marching alongside Black Lives Matter demonstrators protesting police shootings and calling for the mass armament of poor, black neighbourhoods. That’s not the kind of tyranny they object to. But the myths are also powerful. What the gun lobby lacks in breadth of support it makes up for in depth of commitment. In 2013 – after the Sandy Hook shootings – gun advocates were far more likely to have contributed money to a pro-gun group or contacted a public official about guns than those who support gun control. Guncontrol advocates, for the most part, want to change laws. Gun-rights advocates, by and large, believe they are preserving “essential truths” that make the country what it is. They have proved themselves more motivated because long after those distressing scenes from Vegas are a memory, these myths will remain vivid. Americans need new gun laws. But in order to get them they will have to start telling themselves a new story about the country. Their lives depend on it. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 19 Comment&Debate In Europe, history’s wounds have not healed Natalie Nougayrède In Catalonia and the former East Germany, the shadow of 20th-century traumas still falls on EU citizens, and blights the future of the continent H istory is back in Europe. The Catalan referendum and the German election illustrate this spectacularly. The scale of the far-right vote in what was once East Germany and Catalonia’s apparent march towards independence may look like they happened on separate planets, but they both have to do with pent-up frustrations. Citizens who feel that they have been insulted have gone to the ballot box, and in some cases taken to the streets, to protest. In both situations there is a vivid historical backdrop, with memories of Europe’s 20th-century nightmares playing an important role: in Catalonia, the fight against fascism and Franco; in the east of Germany, the experiences of Nazism and Soviet communism. In Leipzig and the nearby small town of Grimma, I was told about how citizens felt their self-esteem had been trampled on. German reunification has not led to a shared sense of community. Rather, it’s compared to colonisation: “westerners” took over everything – regional administrations, courts, education and the economy. Everything about life in the Communist state – the way people dressed, what they ate, what they learned in school, how they decorated their homes, what they watched on TV – became an object of scorn. It’s not that life isn’t better now. There is freedom. And living standards have improved immensely. But many eastern Germans feel their identity has somehow been negated, as if they were being asked to forget about it. Speaking with Catalan friends in recent days, I heard similar qualms: “We were waiting for a sign that our voice would be heard, but as the years passed nothing was changing” … “Our cultural difference isn’t being acknowledged as it should be”. These were common sentiments, even from people not altogether enthusiastic about breaking away from Spain. Identity isn’t just about power, rights and institutions. Former East Germans aren’t asking for secession, nor a special status. Catalonia is deeply divided on the question of independence. Nor can identity be boiled down to purely economic factors – wages, income, jobs, social class. It’s true that regions covering the former East Germany have higher unemployment (7.1%) than western ones (5.1%), but the malaise reflected in the east German far-right vote went beyond material circumstances. Catalonia’s economy has thrived in recent decades – that hasn’t prevented protests. A generation has passed since German reunification in 1990; and Spain joined the European club in 1986. It’s hard to exaggerate the benefits. Anyone who visits Leipzig, with its beautifully restored facades and the modern architecture of its university, will struggle to spot traces of the poverty that once characterised eastern Europe. Catalonia’s transformation has also been stunning. I have spent many summers in the Pyrenees, crossing into Spain from France. And over the years I have seen roads improved, hotels built and prosperity spread – a region shedding the drabness left by the Franco years. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics celebrated that success. Andrzej Krauze Yet these accomplishments don’t necessarily translate into people’s minds. The European project is built on the idea that economic ties and social improvement bring people together and help them overcome the traumas of history. In recent years, much has been said about how nationalism, populism and anti-establishment sentiment are a response to globalisation and inequality. Less has been said about a more specifically European ingredient: the shadow cast by 20th-century traumas born of war and totalitarianism, and the difficulty – which still persists – of dealing with that legacy. I It is history that sets continental Europe’s populist convulsions apart from the forces that have driven Brexit and Trump t is this history that sets continental Europe’s populist convulsions apart from the forces that have driven Brexit and Trump. Britain and the United States never experienced life under fascism or behind a version of the iron curtain. Across Europe, populism and extremism, whether of left or right, plunges its roots into 20th-century political battles and references. Catalan nationalism, I think, is different from Scottish nationalism in this way also: it can quickly reignite memories of oppression still vivid within families – stories of life and death in one’s own country. When crowds in Barcelona start singing old songs of resistance against the Franco regime, history is back. It is also back when 22.5% of voters in the former East Germany cast their ballots for a party – Alternative für Deutschland – whose platform rejects everything Germany’s western-built democracy has stood for. Last month’s German election was a clear demonstration that the Wall has survived in people’s minds. Germany and Spain today find themselves confronted by ghosts of the past – not just to do with problems related to social cohesion and integration, or how to preserve a constitutional order. Yes, politicians exploit polarisation. But it is striking to see how, over a generation after democracy was anchored in countries that had experienced the worst of the 20th century, so many citizens feel that so much has still been left unaddressed. Isaiah Berlin once wrote that nationalism feeds on a sense of wounded pride. As Europe tries to sort itself out and prepare for the future, it would do well to pay closer attention to those wounds left by history. We thought that they had healed – but they really haven’t. 20 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Comment&Debate Macron’s appeal has already worn thin Gabriel Bristow Bill Bragg Despite careful image management, France’s youngest president looks like the old guard after just six months as his ratings plummet E mmanuel Macron has been called a saviour: of Europe, of liberalism and indeed of “progressives” the world over. The hallmarks of his campaign have been well documented: an insurgency from the centre-ground, a party built from scratch that managed to win a sweeping majority and a slick communications strategy to consolidate a polished image. But the “saviour” image he has conjured among neoliberal centrists the world over is one-dimensional. The dimension missing from this account is crucial: namely, the way in which Macron’s domestic image has changed since becoming president – both because of, and in spite of, his calculated communications strategy. His victory marked an abrupt turning point. Gone were the chummy interviews with journalists and the down-to-earth friendliness of the campaign trail – President Macron’s inauguration was marked by an icy, authoritative look that was here to stay. This new image is what Macron himself has described as the “Jupiter” model. Keen to mark himself out from his predecessor François Hollande, Macron’s communication team opted for Jupiter, the Roman sky god, as the symbol of the new president’s style: all-powerful, aloof, removed from the daily cut-and-thrust of politics. The aim, according to the president himself, is none other than to found “a new form of democratic authority” based on a “universe of symbols” that can stand in for France’s traumatic loss of a monarchic head of state. Key messages are diffused via carefully staged setpieces in which Macron refuses to answer any journalistic questions outside the topic of the day – which is, of course, the topic of his choice. Access to the Élysée and interviews are meted out sparingly. Lengthy communication is kept to a minimum – an image, so the cliche goes, is worth a thousand words. Hence tweets of the strapping young president being winched from a helicopter on to a nuclear submarine or the seemingly never-ending handshake with Donald Trump. Despite this supposedly fresh Jupiterian branding, such micro-managed communication is nothing new. It places Macron in a long line of dashing saviours of late capitalism: from Tony Blair to Barack Obama, both of whom controlled their image to the letter. And yet, much has changed in politics. In an era of social media, as argued by sociologist William Davies, politicians cannot control their images with such precision. Rather than diffusing their messages through staged set-pieces, they are subjected to a constant scrutiny online. In such an environment authenticity rules. Figures such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn (and Trump, in a markedly different way), who have long, welldocumented histories of campaigning for social justice, emerge victorious. Robotic performers are exposed. Macron’s careful presentation is indeed wearing thin. His defiance in the face of opposition to his neoliberal labour law reforms – manifested most jarringly in his live televised signing of the executive orders to push these reforms through – looks at best anachronistic, at worst arrogant. The desire to be seen as a serious reformer cannot hold under the weight of contradiction contained in simultaneous cuts to public spending and plans to scrap a tax on the assets of the wealthiest 350,000 households, worth €5bn ($5.8bn) a year. It took six years for Blair to lose the sheen of youthful popularity. It has taken Macron less than six months: his approval rating dropping more steeply than any French president since Jacques Chirac in 1995. Clearly, the established truths of spin doctor wizardry no longer hold, leaving France’s youngest president already looking like the old guard. Gabriel Bristow is an activist and writer based in Paris More at theguardian.com/opinion Opinion In brief Why have job titles become so complicated? I can’t let it go: Disney has gone too far The BBC has decided to slim its profusion of elaborate job titles, to close the gap between the thesaurusstretching array that currently exists and everyday reality. The Daily Mail took some pleasure in holding up some of the present labels to ridicule. It’s fair to say most of us would struggle to describe what an “identity architect” is. The same might be said of “service desk subject matter expert” or “thematic research manager”. It might be comforting to believe that we should be able to get by with a much smaller and simpler list of job titles. But modish and baffling job titles emerge in part because the world is changing. Jobs are not all the same as they used to be. Some new titles are going to be needed. The UK civil service is filled with “permanent secretaries”, “principal private secretaries” My two-year-old twins came back from pre-school last week singing the chorus to Let it Go. For those fortunate enough not to know, Let it Go is the torch song at the heart of Frozen, the Disney movie of 2013. I was taken aback. The TV rules are pretty relaxed in my house. I don’t set quotas, nor do I fret about the quality of what they watch, as long as it is roughly age-appropriate. But after they begged me to load the video for Let it Go on YouTube, I found myself having a very un-fun parental reaction. I’ve seen the film before, but that was before I had kids, and while it struck me as annoying at the time – the nakedness of its drive to be considered uplifting is as grim and depressing as that tone always is – I didn’t think much about its presentation of women. Now, in my living room, I have two avid two-year-olds and so on. “Do they all type?” Jim Hacker once asked in the TV political satire Yes Minister. “No,” Sir Humphrey replied. “Mrs McKylie types. She’s the secretary.” In one job I had the words “director of strategy” on my business card, although I can’t honestly say I was very strategic during that time, or displayed a particularly strong sense of direction. I am now, among other things, a “visiting professor”. I do at least visit quite regularly. What people do is more important than what they are called. So we should probably all lighten up a bit about job titles. The crucial thing is to be able to understand what someone does without referring to a dictionary. And if you don’t take my word for it, write in and complain to the customer interface (content) lead curator (comment zone). Stefan Stern trying to climb into the television to get nearer to Elsa. And what on earth is Elsa doing in the Let it Go scene? She’s dancing in the snow, complaining of how hard it is to conceal her inner self. She climbs the mountain. She sets up the ice palace. Then she raises her tiny, heart-shaped face to the heavens and bellows out the climax of the song, a moment of self-actualisation that the animators represent by having her bust her out of her dowdy village clothes and into … an evening gown, with a slit up the side all the way to her thigh and a bridal-like train dragging behind her. Meanwhile, the boys are watching dogs in hats rescue puppies on Paw Patrol. I think banning things often backfires, but in this case I don’t care how much they complain: no one is going to Halloween as Elsa. Emma Brockes The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 21 Comment&Debate In praise of … centrist dads Prime minister Theresa May’s ill-fated conference speech had some Tories calling for her removal Labour can now seize its moment Larry Elliott Britain is experiencing a once-in-a-generation political sea change, and the Tories know it only too well J im Callaghan would have had some sympathy for Theresa May. Back in 1979 when Margaret Thatcher was on the brink of power, the Labour prime minister summed up what it was like to feel authority slipping away. “There are times, perhaps once every 30 years, when there is a sea change in politics,” Callaghan said. “It then does not matter what you say or what you do. There is a shift in what the public wants and what it approves of.” This was not the parallel with the late 1970s that the Conservatives were hoping the public would recognise. Indeed, all the old favourite tunes were sung lustily at their conference: runaway inflation, overmighty union barons, the run on the pound, the bailout from the International Monetary Fund and of course the Winter of Discontent. Speaker after speaker warned voters of what would await them should they be daft enough to elect Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. Much to the horror of Tory ministers, as they sought to conjure up memories of a dystopian 1970s, however, Corbyn seems to better articulate the new mood than they do. The attacks on Labour, coupled with the cherrypicking of some of the opposition’s policies – from building more council houses to a cap on energy prices – were a compliment to Corbyn, who is taken far more seriously by the Tories than he was before the general election. In Brighton, the mood was upbeat. By contrast, the Conservatives in Manchester acted as if they had lost. Which, in an important sense, they have. The free-market thinktank Legatum published the result of a poll testing public attitudes, and was horrified to find that voters – including Conservative supporters – strongly support nationalisation of rail, water, electricity and gas. When the preferred adjectives to describe capitalism are “greedy”, “selfish” and “corrupt”, it is easy to see why Legatum concludes that the capitalist brand is in crisis. Against that backdrop, branding Corbyn a 1970s Marxist throwback or banging on about his support for Venezuela is not going to cut it. Historically, there is nothing surprising about the current discontent. There have been three colossal You may have heard the term “centrist dad” lately as it crests on the wave of mainstream exposure. Baffled by the ascent of Jeremy Corbyn, centrist dad’s tone is that of a bitterly disappointed parent lecturing his children on their political failings. The most notable thing about the centrist dad, other than the fact that a large part of his prefrontal cortex remains in 1997, is that he also shows himself to be condescending. This man is forever on the internet telling people, particularly young women, that they are wrong. But be warned: centrist dads bruise easily. And right now, they are hurting. A cult has taken over their Labour party, and they may never regain control. The pain of seeing the neoliberalism they so lovingly embraced rejected by the younger generation is making them crabby. But forgive the centrist dad, for they know not what they do. And, as the left knows only too well, it’s mighty chilly and lonely out there in the wilderness. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett economic shocks in the past 100 years, and each has led to a political shift. Postwar welfare states in the UK and elsewhere were the result of the Great Depression. The privatisation and liberalisation agenda of the new right emerged from the wreckage of social democracy, overwhelmed by inflation in the mid-1970s. Then in 2008 global capitalism had its near-death experience, and only survived because governments used taxpayers’ money to bail out the banks. The failings of a model built around deregulation, debt and a shift in economic power from labour to capital were brutally exposed. The final piece of the jigsaw was provided by Brexit. Had the vote gone the other way in June 2016, Cameron would still be prime minister, the Conservative party would have remained united and the fundamental weaknesses of the UK economy could have been papered over for a little longer. As it is, the referendum vote has done Labour an enormous political favour by unleashing resentment at a rigged economic system. Brexit will also mean facing up to the long-term problems of the economy: a chronic balance-of-payments deficit, the concentration of growth in one corner of the country, the dearth of investment and a growing productivity gap with other developed countries. There are parallels with the events of 25 years ago, when Britain crashed out of the exchange rate mechanism on Black Wednesday. The ill-fated experiment lasted only two years and resulted in a scramble to fill the policy vacuum. Filling the current vacuum is not going to be easy because the financial crisis and Brexit have shattered the assumptions on which UK economic management was based: that free markets always deliver, and that Britain’s future was as part of the EU. Both left and right face the challenge of how to fill the void. Labour’s response to Black Wednesday was to move to the right under Tony Blair, symbolically ditching nationalisation and accepting the disciplines of the global market. Corbyn has moved to the left, confident that this is a once-in-a-generation moment when the country is ready for radical ideas. The Tories, judging by the way they are behaving, think he is on to something. 22 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 theguardianweekly Comment The Balkans Hold out a helping hand The European Union’s task of enlargement remains starkly incomplete: the bloc’s southeastern flank is largely in limbo. Almost 20 years after the Balkan wars ended, there’s a gaping hole on the map, bounded by members including Croatia, Romania and Greece. In 2015 the refugee crisis exposed how swiftly nationalist passions could return to the region. As hundreds of thousands of people trekked northwards, volunteers helped provide food and clothing to desolate refugees. But tensions flared among governments, and troops were even deployed at some borders. Two years on, the Balkan route is mostly closed, but the region’s problems are still vivid. The question of how to stabilise the Balkans, anchor democracy there, and bring the region closer to EU institutions remains an immense challenge, given insufficient attention. Balkan civil society activists are increasingly concerned about unemployment, corruption and a brain drain as young, educated people leave for jobs elsewhere in Europe. They say it is crucial to reboot the prospect of EU membership for Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro, to encourage much-needed reforms. They are right. The Balkans matter to Europe not just because of the migration issue, but also for energy routes, security and the fight against organised crime. Little has been done to address underlying problems. The good news is that awareness of this seems to be growing. The president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said recently that, if the EU wants to ensure more stability in its own neighbourhood, “then it must maintain a credible enlargement perspective for the western Balkans”. In 2018 the UK is due to host a special summit on the western Balkans – an initiative presented by the government as evidence that “Britain is leaving the EU but not Europe”. For the Balkans question is as much about broader international competition as it is about values. The EU is confronted with strong competition from external powers seeking to secure footholds on its doorstep and capitalise on the region’s weaknesses. Russia plays on Orthodox and Slavic ties, and Turkey seeks to promote a “neo-Ottoman” vision. But more distant actors, including China and Saudi Arabia, are increasingly active. One civil society activist in Belgrade describes this as “an unbelievable geopolitical game that would have been unimaginable in 1989”, when the communist bloc started crumbling. As the EU speaks of reinvigorating its 60-year-old project, it needs to build a stable regional architecture for the Balkans. More EU funds should be directed towards the region as enticement. Churchill once said that “the Balkans produce more history than they can consume”. If left unaddressed, bad governance and old feuds could backfire on everyone. Taxing the digital economy Crunch time The EU’s faltering progress towards a common system of taxing the huge revenues of the new digital giants lurched forward last week as Margrethe Vestager, the EU commissioner in charge of competition, declared that Amazon had received unfair state aid from Luxembourg through its tax arrangements and demanded that it pay €250m ($293m) in back taxes. At the same time Ms Vestager announced that the European commission would haul Ireland up before the European court of justice for its failure to demand €13bn of unpaid tax from Apple. The two events illustrate the gulf between the commission, together with some of the EU’s largest economies, and smaller members such as Ireland, Luxembourg and the Baltic state of Estonia, which hosted a summit on the digital economy recently. Both Ireland and Luxembourg defend their tax arrangements. Ireland in particular welcomes the thousands of good jobs that the tech giants bring and has no desire to find ways of extracting more tax from them in case it drives them away. The Irish government also insists that taxation is a sovereign matter, not for EU interference. Others are under pressure from voters who are outraged that any company can make so much profit in their country and pay so little tax on it. Revenue from Facebook’s UK operations, it has emerged, nearly quadrupled last year to £842m ($1.1bn); its corporation tax bill crept up from £4.2m to £5.1m. The US inland revenue service is also keen to find transparent ways of taxing the new digital economy, and is watching jealously as the European commission draws up its plans, suspicious of any move that might be used by the tech giants to offset their US tax bills. Already companies such as Google and Amazon hold billions of dollars in offshore funds, where they are out of reach of the taxman. The US defensiveness about its own tax revenues points to the need for a global rather than a merely European solution to the question of how to tax the digital economy. Why don’t women win more Nobel prizes for science? Hannah Devlin All the science recognised in last week’s Nobel prizes is awe-inspiring (see Discovery, page 33). So it seems almost churlish to point out that this year has seen yet another glory parade of “stale white males”. The science speaks for itself – does it really matter who did it? Perhaps if this were a one-off, it would be easier to shrug and move on. But the last time a woman won a Nobel prize for science was in 2015 when Tu Youyou was recognised for discoveries that led to a treatment for malaria. And you have to go back a full 54 years to find the last female Nobel laureate in physics. This scarcity of women is often put down to the time lag between work being carried out and being rewarded with the highest accolade in science. The awards, it is argued, reflect the makeup of academic institutions way-back-when. Others argue that the awards purely aim to recognise outstanding science – whoever happens to have done it. However, the Nobels are not handed out by a divine authority, but by a group of people. The choice is always subjective, there are always politics at play and there is little to guard against bias or lobbying. The decision to reward the physics prize to an American trio whose careers had been devoted to fruit fly research – a field that Sarah Palin once singled out for criticism – was seen as a subtle rebuke to the current US administration for its assault on basic science funding. This quiet nod to politics was widely celebrated by scientists. This year’s Nobel prizes shine a light on incredible scientific achievements, ones that are bound to inspire a new generation of scientists, regardless of gender or race. And the importance of role models can be overstated – as British physicist Athene Donald told me recently: “We don’t all want to be Marie Curie.” But when, year after year, the demographic of winners perpetuates an entrenched stereotype of old white men being the only heroes in science, it seems reasonable to ask whether this is really the image the Nobel committee wishes to project. Hannah Devlin is the Guardian’s science correspondent The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 23 Reply At last we have an account of the effects of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that does not dwell on the subsequent nuclear accident at Fukushima but instead focuses on the tragedy of lives lost (The school beneath the raging wave, 29 September). The story is heartbreaking in its description of how the children of Okawa elementary school died in the tsunami and tells how the local authorities were heavily criticised for failing to protect the schoolchildren and were penalised in a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Tepco, the owners of the nuclear plant, continue to be criticised for having a sea wall that was too small to stop the “raging wave” and safety systems that were inadequate to prevent the release of radioactivity. Still, no one died at Fukushima, and the damage and personal loss the accident have caused look insignificant besides the 18,000 or so people who died from the tsunami, all no doubt having tragic stories of their own. Why, then, do the inadequate sea walls and poor warning systems at those inundated coastal communities excite so much less attention than the nuclear plant? Why do we agitate for plants around the world to be shut down because of the dangers from tsunamis, however unlikely, yet neglect to push for sea walls to be built? Why do we never seem able to balance the risks? Derek Lister Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada Stop worshipping Apple I’ve read some unusual articles in the Guardian Weekly over the years, but not one as unusual as that by John Harris about Apple, committing heresy as an iPhone user, by admitting that Apple devices might not always be perfect (22 September). I have always thought of Apple owners (who include close friends and my partner) as belonging to some quasi-religious cult, with their deity Steve Jobs, who laid down the original gospel for Apple worshippers. Their creed that Apple is the greatest manifestation of digital Letters for publication firstname.lastname@example.org Please include a full postal address and a reference to the article. We may edit letters. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms Editorial Acting editor: Graham Snowdon Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, United Kingdom Gary Kemptston The tragedy of the tsunami and gardens, playing the piano, listening to the BBC, meditating, tending the garden and speaking to hundreds of supporters over the fence: it sounded like a retreat to me. I recall reading of the “deprivation” she suffered as the old house she lived in could not be repaired, while countless democracy campaigners in that benighted land suffered horrendous torture and years of solitary confinement in abysmal conditions in Insein prison. What happened to those poor folk? Richard Abram Marrickville, NSW, Australia We must rescue the UN technology, and that their products should be worshipped, is absolutely unaffected by the fact that Apple is among the biggest tax avoiders in the US and Steve Jobs was no philanthropist like Bill Gates. Yes, there are other huge IT companies that avoid tax but not at the same scale as Apple, thus depriving many nations of revenue that could be put to good social use. Even those who maintain the highest moral code by being vegetarians or social activists are in thrall to the cult of Apple. John Harris, join the rest of us who refuse to be iSheep. Nigel Hungerford Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia • It was with commiseration, not schadenfreude, that I smiled reading John Harris’s critique of Apple’s latest iPhone. For many years my kids have cheerfully regarded me as an idiot (I entered my dotage in my 40s) because of my frustration about and incompetence with iPhones. The photo of Harris accompanying his column shows he is about the same age as my kids, making me smilingly confident that they too will soon join the Apple Frustration Club. Commiseration, with a twist of “Now you know what it feels like”. Bob Walsh Wilton, Connecticut, US Many suﬀered in Myanmar In discussing human rights in Myanmar, I never understood the sole focus on Aung San Suu Kyi (George Monbiot, 15 September). Under house arrest in her palatial home To contact the editor directly: email@example.com On social media facebook.com/guardianweekly Twitter: @guardianweekly Subscriptions You can subscribe at subscribe.theguardian.com/weekly Or manage your subscription at subscribe.theguardian.com/manage We need to go beyond “cherishing” the United Nations, as your leader column suggests (29 September). When we cherish things we tend to put them on a pedestal, tie them up with ribbon or stick them in a display cabinet. The UN demands a far more radical kind of love. We as global citizens have allowed hubristic politicians to manipulate the UN so that its fundamental purpose, to engender and maintain peace through cooperation, is all but emasculated. We need to find a way of renewing its mission, enabling it to rid itself of ideological posturing that has become the norm and of which Donald Trump is just one example. Which countries will have the courage to challenge the status quo to ensure that everyone can thrive in an eternally uncertain future? Neil Blackshaw Barbizon, France Brieﬂy • “A decade ago … the worst recession in living memory”, says your short piece about the US Federal Reserve (Finance, 29 September). Excuse me, whose “living memory”? Though your young writers may not believe it, I and many others born in the 1920s are still living and still have memories of something worse: the Great Depression of the 1930s, memories that include homeless and jobless men knocking at the back door to beg our mothers for something to eat. Patricia Clarke Toronto, Ontario, Canada Or contact: UK, Europe and Rest of World firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 330 333 6767 USA and Canada: email@example.com Toll Free: +1-844-632-2010 Direct line: +1-917-900-4663 Australia/New Zealand: firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free : 1 800 773 766 Direct line: +61 (0)2 8076 8599 From the archive 13 October 1972 Students jeer and shout at Queen The Queen was heckled and jeered by students and had to be protected by Special Branch detectives and police during a visit to Stirling University yesterday. It was probably the most hostile and rowdy reception she has ever experienced in Britain. There was, however, a substantial counter-demonstration by other students who cheered the royal party and waved “welcome” placards. Sir Derek Lang, university secretary, said he understood the Queen was not unduly distressed, and left the university “laughing and having enjoyed herself immensely.” During the early part of her visit, the Queen unveiled a plaque in the university’s Queen’s Court and went to lunch with the Principal, Professor Tom Cottrell. But, when she started to tour the campus she was met by a crowd of about 400. The entourage and police cordon were jostled as students waved their fists, chanted “Queen out,” shouted obscenities, and sang ribald songs. A police spokesman in Stirling described the conduct of the demonstrators as “disgusting,” and said he was appalled at the lack of control shown by the University authorities. The whole affair was “nasty” and the police had difficulty in getting the Queen’s car away at the end. One student said the protest was made over the expense of the visit. The administration had ignored students’ welfare while planning the visit and the cost – officially £1,200 though there were rumours that it would be between £7,500 and £15,000 – could have been better spent on books and equipment. Sir Derek said: “The Palace reaction to the visit is that the Queen had a very interesting and very good day, and she was not unduly distressed.” John Kerr Corrections and Clarifications • A leader article on 6 October stated that 2 Sisters Food Group processes 6m chickens a year. The correct figure, as reported in that edition’s news coverage, is 6m a week. The Guardian Weekly’s policy is to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Please give the date, page or web link: guardian.readers@ theguardian.com or The readers’ editor, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, United Kingdom. 24 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Eyewitnessed A stockbreeder in the highlands of Van, Turkey, takes a break from herding sheep to check his phone. Stockbreeders take their animals to high altitudes every year to try to find better grassland Dead fish are collected from Hyderabad’s Gandi lake. Authorities said 75% of the lake’s fish died after chemicals were released from an industrial estate during heavy rains Noah Seelam/Getty Angela Merkel arrives at Christian Democratic Union party headquarters in Berlin. As she begins coalition building, the German chancellor has agreed to a cap on migrants Kay Nietfeld/DPA/AP The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 25 d; their journeys home can take up to 45 days Ozkan Bilgin/Getty A visitor to London’s Frieze art fair in Regent’s Park, an annual shopfront for contemporary art that is also regarded as a major cultural event Nick Harvey/Rex/Shutterstock A plane passes in front of a harvest moon – the full moon closest to the northern hemisphere autumnal equinox – above Golfe-Juan, France Lionel Urman/Rex/Shutterstock Spanish Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of McLaren-Honda in practice for last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, where he finished 11th overall Diego Azubel/EPA 26 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 ‘Sleep should be prescribed’ Neuroscientist Matthew Walker has spent his life’s work researching how sleep loss increases our risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s. Rachel Cooke ﬁnds out what we can do about it M atthew Walker has learned to dread the question “What do you do?” At parties, it signals the end of his evening; thereafter, his new acquaintance will inevitably cling to him like ivy. On an aeroplane, it usually means that while everyone else watches movies or reads a thriller, he will find himself running an hours-long salon for the benefit of passengers and crew alike. “I’ve begun to lie,” he says. “Seriously. I just tell people I’m a dolphin trainer. It’s better for everyone.” Walker is a sleep scientist. To be specific, he is the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, a research institute whose goal – possibly unachievable – is to understand everything about sleep’s impact on us, from birth to death, in sickness and health. No wonder, then, that people long for his counsel. As the line between work and leisure grows ever more blurred, rare is the person who doesn’t worry about their sleep. But even as we contemplate the shadows beneath our eyes, most of us don’t know the half of it – and perhaps this is the real reason Walker has stopped telling strangers how he makes his living. When Walker talks about sleep he can’t, in all conscience, limit himself to whispering comforting nothings about camomile tea and warm baths. It’s his conviction that we are in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic”, the consequences of The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 27 Getty/Science Photo Library DNA in the dock Question marks over genetic evidence → Discovery, pages 32-33 which are far graver than any of us could imagine. This situation, he believes, is only likely to change if government gets involved. Walker has spent the last four and a half years writing Why We Sleep, a complex but urgent book that examines the effects of this epidemic close up, the idea being that once people know of the powerful links between sleep loss and, among other things, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and poor mental health, they will try harder to get the recommended eight hours a night (sleep deprivation, amazing as this may sound to Donald Trump types, constitutes anything less than seven hours). But, in the end, the individual can achieve only so much. Walker wants major institutions and lawmakers to take up his ideas, too. “No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation,” he says. “It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families. But when did you ever see an NHS poster urging ‘We chastise people for sleeping what are only normal amounts. We think of them as slothful’ sleep on people? When did a doctor prescribe, not sleeping pills, but sleep itself ? It needs to be prioritised, even incentivised. Sleep loss costs the UK economy over £30bn [$40bn] a year in lost revenue, or 2% of GDP. I could double the NHS budget if only they would institute policies to mandate or powerfully encourage sleep.” Why are we so sleep-deprived? What has happened? In 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people is. The reasons are seemingly obvious. “First, we electrified the night,” Walker says. “Light is a profound degrader of our sleep. Second, there is the issue of work: not only the porous borders between when you start and finish, but longer commuter times, too. No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead. And anxiety plays a part. We’re a lonelier, more depressed society. Alcohol and caffeine are more widely available. All these are the enemies of sleep.” But Walker believes, too, that in the developed world sleep is strongly associated with weakness, even shame. “We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: ‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. They’re convinced that they’re abnormal, and why wouldn’t they be? We chastise people for sleeping what are, after all, only sufficient amounts. We think of them as slothful. No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say ‘What a lazy baby!’ We know sleeping is non-negotiable for a baby. But that notion is quickly abandoned [as we grow up]. Humans are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.” In case you’re wondering, the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population and rounded to a whole number, is zero. The world of sleep science is still relatively small. But it is growing exponentially, thanks both to demand and new technology, which enables researchers to have what Walker describes as “VIP access” to the sleeping brain. Walker, who is 44 and was born in Liverpool, has been in the field for more than 20 years, having published his first research paper at the age of just 21. “I would love to tell you that I was fascinated by conscious states from childhood,” he says. “But in truth, it was accidental.” He started out studying for a medical degree, but having discovered that doctoring wasn’t for him he switched to neuroscience, and after graduation, began a PhD in neurophysiology supported by the UK’s Medical Research Council. It was while working on this that he stumbled into the realm of sleep. “I was looking at the brainwave patterns of people with different forms of dementia, but I was failing miserably at finding any difference between them,” he recalls now. One night, however, he read a scientific paper that changed everything. It described which parts of the brain were being attacked by these different types of dementia: “Some were attacking parts of the brain that had to do with controlled sleep, while other types left those sleep centres unaffected. I realised my mistake. I had been measuring the brainwave activity of my patients while they were awake, when I should have been doing so while they were asleep.” Over the next six months, Walker taught himself how to set up a sleep laboratory and, sure enough, the recordings he made in it subsequently spoke loudly of a clear difference between patients. Sleep, it seemed, could be a new early diagnostic litmus test for different subtypes of dementia. After this, sleep became his obsession. “Only then did I ask: ‘What is this thing called sleep, and what does it do?’ I was always curious, annoyingly so, but when I started to read about sleep, I would look up and hours would have gone by. No one could answer the simple question: ‘Why do we sleep?’ That seemed to me to be the greatest scientific mystery. I was going to attack it, and I was going to do that in two years. But I was naive. I didn’t realise that some of the greatest scientific minds had been trying to do the same thing for their entire careers. That was two decades ago, and I’m still cracking away.” After gaining his doctorate, he moved to the US. Formerly a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, he is now professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California. Does his obsession extend to the bedroom? Does he take his own advice when it comes to sleep? “Yes. I give myself a non-negotiable eight-hour sleep opportunity every night, and I keep very regular hours: if there is one thing I tell people, it’s to go to bed and to wake up at the same time every day, no matter what. I take my sleep incredibly seriously because I have seen the evidence. Once you know that after just one night of Continued on page 28 → 28 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Weekly review ← Continued from page 27 only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70%, or that a lack of sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast, or even just that the World Health Organisation has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinogen, how could you do anything else?” There is, however, a sting in the tale. Should his eyelids fail to close, Walker admits that he can be a touch “Woody Allen-neurotic”. When, for instance, he came to London earlier this year, he found himself jet-lagged and wide awake at 2am. His problem then, as always in these situations, was that he knew too much. His brain began to race. “I thought: my orexin isn’t being turned off, the sensory gate of my thalamus is wedged open, my dorsolateral prefrontal cortex won’t shut down, and my melatonin surge won’t happen for another seven hours.” What did he do? In the end, it seems, even world experts in sleep act like the rest of us when struck by insomnia. He turned on a light and read for a while. Will Why We Sleep have the impact its author hopes? I’m not sure: the science bits, it must be said, require some concentration. But what I can tell you is that it had a powerful effect on me. After reading it, I was determined to go to bed earlier – a regime to which I am sticking. In a way, I was prepared for this. I first encountered Walker some months ago, when he spoke at an event at Somerset House in London, and he struck me then as both passionate and convincing. The evidence Walker presents, however, is enough to send anyone early to bed. Without sleep, there is low energy and disease. With sleep, there is vitality and health. More than 20 large-scale epidemiological studies all report the same clear relationship: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. To take just one example, adults aged 45 years or older ‘No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead’ who sleep less than six hours a night are 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime, as compared with those sleeping seven or eight hours a night (part of the reason for this has to do with blood pressure: even just one night of modest sleep reduction will speed the rate of a person’s heart and significantly increase their blood pressure). A lack of sleep also appears to hijack the body’s effective control of blood sugar, the cells of the sleep-deprived appearing, in experiments, to become less responsive to insulin, and thus to cause a prediabetic state of hyperglycaemia. When your sleep becomes short, moreover, you are susceptible to weight gain. Among the reasons for this are the fact that inadequate sleep decreases levels of the satiety-signalling hormone, leptin, and increases levels of the hunger-signalling hormone, ghrelin. “I’m not going to say that the obesity crisis is caused by the sleep-loss epidemic alone,” he says. “It’s not. However, processed food and sedentary lifestyles do not adequately explain its rise. Something is missing. It’s now clear that sleep is that third ingredient.” Tiredness, of course, also affects motivation. Sleep has a powerful effect on the immune system, which is why, when we have flu, our first instinct is to go to bed: our body is trying to sleep itself well. Reduce sleep even for a single night, and your resilience is drastically reduced. If you are tired, you are more likely to catch a cold. The well-rested also respond better to the flu vaccine. As Walker has already said, more gravely, studies show that short sleep can affect our cancer-fighting immune cells. A number of epidemiological studies have reported that night-time shift work and the disruption to circadian sleep and rhythms that it causes increase the odds of developing cancers including breast, prostate, endometrium and colon. Getting too little sleep across the adult lifespan will significantly raise your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The reasons for this are difficult to summarise, but in essence it has to do with the amyloid deposits (a toxin protein) that accumulate in the brains of those suffering from the disease, killing the surrounding cells. During deep sleep, such deposits are effectively cleaned from the brain. What occurs in an Alzheimer’s patient is a kind of vicious circle. More amyloid, less deep sleep; less deep sleep, more amyloid, and so on. (In his book, Walker notes “unscientifically” that he has always found it curious that Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, both of whom were vocal about how little sleep they needed, both went on to develop the disease; it is, moreover, a myth that older adults need less sleep.) Away from dementia, sleep aids ‘Sleep will come to be seen as a preventative medicine’ … neuroscientist Matthew Walker, and, top, brain waves during REM sleep Saroyan Humphrey; Deco/Alamy The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 29 Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX our ability to make new memories, and restores our capacity for learning. And then there is sleep’s effect on mental health. When your mother told you that everything would look better in the morning, she was wise. Walker’s book includes a long section on dreams (which, says Walker, contrary to Freud, cannot be analysed). Here he details the various ways in which the dream state connects to creativity. He also suggests that dreaming is a soothing balm. If we sleep to remember, then we also sleep to forget. Deep sleep – the part when we begin to dream – is a therapeutic state during which we cast off the emotional charge of our experiences, making them easier to bear. Sleep, or a lack of it, also affects our mood more generally. Brain scans carried out by Walker revealed a 60% amplification in the reactivity of the amygdala – a key spot for triggering anger and rage – in those who were sleep-deprived. In children, sleeplessness has been linked to aggression and bullying; in adolescents, to suicidal thoughts. Insufficient sleep is also associated with relapse in addiction disorders. A prevailing view in psychiatry is that mental disorders cause sleep disruption. But Walker believes it is, in fact, a two-way street. Regulated sleep can improve the health of, for instance, those with bipolar disorder. I’ve mentioned deep sleep in this (too brief) summary several times. What is it, exactly? We sleep in 90-minute cycles, and it’s only towards the end of each one of these that we go into deep sleep. Each cycle comprises two kinds of sleep. First, there is NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movement sleep); this is then followed by REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When Walker talks about these cycles, which still have their mysteries, his voice changes. He sounds bewitched, almost dazed. “During NREM sleep, your brain goes into this incredible synchronised pattern of rhythmic chanting,” he says. “There’s a remarkable unity across the surface of the brain, like a deep, slow mantra. Researchers were once fooled that this state was similar to a coma. But nothing could be further from the truth. Vast amounts of memory processing is going on. To produce these brainwaves, hundreds of thousands of cells all sing together, and then go silent, and on and on. Meanwhile, your body settles into this lovely low state of energy, the best blood-pressure medicine you could ever hope for. REM sleep, on the other hand, is sometimes known as paradoxical sleep, because the brain patterns are identical to when you’re awake. It’s an incredibly active brain state. Your heart and nervous system go through spurts of activity: we’re still not exactly sure why.” ‘No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation. It sinks into every nook and cranny’ Does the 90-minute cycle mean that so-called power naps are worthless? “They can take the edge off basic sleepiness. But you need 90 minutes to get to deep sleep, and one cycle isn’t enough to do all the work. You need four or five cycles to get all the benefit.” Is it possible to have too much sleep? This is unclear. “There is no good evidence at the moment. But I do think 14 hours is too much. Too much water can kill you, and too much food, and I think ultimately the same will prove to be true for sleep.” How Sleep in numbers • Two-thirds of adults in developed nations fail to obtain the nightly eight hours of sleep recommended by the World Health Organisation. to be involved in a crash. If you drive having had four hours, you are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident. • An adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention. • A hot bath aids sleep not because it makes you warm, but because your dilated blood vessels radiate inner heat, and your core body temperature drops. To successfully initiate sleep, your core temperature needs to drop about 1C. • A 2013 study reported that men who slept too little had a sperm count 29% lower than those who regularly get a full and restful night’s sleep. • The time taken to reach physical exhaustion by athletes who obtain anything less than eight hours of sleep, and especially less than six hours, drops by 10-30%. • If you drive a car when you have had less than five hours’ sleep, you are 4.3 times more likely • There are now more than 100 diagnosed sleep disorders, of which insomnia is the most common. • Morning types, who prefer to awake at or around dawn, make up about 40% of the population. Evening types, who prefer to go to bed late and wake up late, account for about 30%. The remaining 30% lie somewhere in between. is it possible to tell if a person is sleep-deprived? Walker thinks we should trust our instincts. Those who would sleep on if their alarm clock was turned off are simply not getting enough. Ditto those who need caffeine in the afternoon to stay awake. “I see it all the time,” he says. “I get on a flight at 10am when people should be at peak alert, and I look around, and half of the plane has immediately fallen asleep.” So what can the individual do? First, they should avoid pulling “all-nighters”, at their desks or on the dancefloor. After being awake for 19 hours, you’re as cognitively impaired as someone who is drunk. Second, they should start thinking about sleep as a kind of work, like going to the gym (with the key difference that it is both free and, if you’re me, enjoyable). “People use alarms to wake up,” Walker says. “So why don’t we have a bedtime alarm to tell us we’ve got half an hour, that we should start cycling down?” We should start thinking of midnight more in terms of its original meaning: as the middle of the night. Schools should consider later starts for students; such delays correlate with improved IQs. Companies should think about rewarding sleep. Productivity will rise, and motivation, creativity and even levels of honesty will be improved. Sleep can be measured using tracking devices, and some farsighted companies in the US already give employees time off if they clock enough of it. Sleeping pills, by the way, are to be avoided. Among other things, they can have a deleterious effect on memory. Those who are focused on so-called clean sleep are determined to outlaw mobiles and computers from the bedroom – and quite right, too, given the effect of LED-emitting devices on melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Ultimately, though, Walker believes that technology will be sleep’s saviour. “There is going to be a revolution in the quantified self in industrial nations,” he says. “We will know everything about our bodies from one day to the next in high fidelity. That will be a seismic shift, and we will then start to develop methods by which we can amplify different components of human sleep, and do that from the bedside. Sleep will come to be seen as a preventive medicine.” What questions does Walker still most want to answer? For a while, he is quiet. “It’s so difficult,” he says, with a sigh. “There are so many. I would still like to know where we go, psychologically and physiologically, when we dream. Dreaming is the second state of human consciousness, and we have only scratched the surface so far. But I would also like to find out when sleep emerged. I like to posit a ridiculous theory, which is: perhaps sleep did not evolve. Perhaps it was the thing from which wakefulness emerged.” He laughs. “If I could have some kind of medical Tardis and go back in time to look at that, well, I would sleep better at night.” Observer Why We Sleep is published by Allen Lane 30 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Weekly review Rebirth of Zion in deepest Siberia Birobidzhan – a Soviet construct – wants its Jewish identity to thrive, discovers Shaun Walker I n front of Birobidzhan’s railway station, loudspeakers blast out ballads in Yiddish while hundreds of schoolchildren in ersatz folk costumes dance circles around the menorah monument that dominates the square. Across town, labourers are building a kosher restaurant, the city’s first. A two-storey building under construction next door will house a mikvah, the ritual pool in which religious Jews must bathe. The Jewish renaissance in Birobidzhan is the latest chapter in the surreal tale of this would-be Siberian Zion. Nestled on the border with China, seven time zones east of Moscow and a six-day journey away on the Trans-Siberian railway, the region was first settled en masse during the 1930s as part of a plan to create a Soviet homeland for Jews under Stalin. Its story since then has reflected the vicissitudes of Soviet and then modern Russian history. The population of the area, still officially called the Jewish Autonomous Region, is barely 1% Jewish, but the authorities are trying to cultivate the memory of Jewish customs and history among the residents and even hope to attract new Jewish migrants. Eli Riss, Birobidzhan’s 27-year-old rabbi, said the local Jewish community currently numbered 3,000 at most, and only 30 were regulars at the synagogue. His parents emigrated to Israel but after religious schooling he returned to his birthplace as a rabbi. “We are a long way from Israel here and a long way even from Moscow, where there are big Jewish communities,” he said. “My task is for people to understand what it means to be Jewish.” When the area was officially established as the Jewish Autonomous Region in 1934, 14 years before Russia Birobidzhan China Vladivostok Beijing Japan 500km the foundation of Israel, it was the first explicitly Jewish territory in modern times. By 1939, 18% of the population was Jewish and Birobidzhan had a Yiddish theatre and Yiddish newspaper. The work of the police department, courts and city administration was carried out at least partially in Yiddish. Some historians have suggested the Birobidzhan project was tainted with antisemitism from the start, creating a “dumping ground” for Jews. But in the 1930s many Jewish intellectuals promoted the project with vigour. Jews travelled to Birobidzhan from inside the Soviet Union, western Europe and even farther afield – infected with a revolutionary fervour that gave a Jewish flavour to the utopianism that characterised many of those involved in the early Bolshevik project. The optimism was short-lived. During Stalin’s purges, much of the local party leadership was executed and expressions of Jewishness were discouraged. After the second world war, the region saw A long way from Israel … Birobidzhan is on Russia’s border with China Shaun Walker a new influx of Jews who had escaped the Holocaust and had no homes to which to return. A new wave of antisemitic purges was followed by decades of diminished interest in Jewish identity. Then, when the Soviet Union collapsed, many Jews left for Israel to escape the economic misery. Iosif Brener, a local historian, estimates that 20,000 Jews left Birobidzhan in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the majority for Israel. Alexander Levintal, the region’s governor, said Birobidzhan was still suffering from the effects of mass Jewish emigration. “When the Soviet Union collapsed and the borders opened, about 70 families of Jewish doctors left, and medicine in the region has still not fully recovered,” he said. Riss, the rabbi, said that among those who remained there was little Jewish cultural identity. “Our community has lost the understanding of what it means to be Jewish.” Birobidzhan Stern, the town’s Yiddish-language newspaper, is now published in Russian but has two pages in Yiddish each week. The editor, Elena Sarashevskaya, although not Jewish herself fell in love with Yiddish as a child, studied it at university and now writes the Yiddish pages. She intends to go on publishing the Yiddish pages even though most people in the city cannot read them. “Yiddish is imbued with a real life-force; maybe it’s linked to the suffering of the Jewish people,” she said. “People are always pronouncing Yiddish dead but it’s still very much alive, it’s always finding new ways to survive.” In Birobidzhan street signs use both Russian and Yiddish, and one school still offers Yiddish lessons, although the university Yiddish faculty shut a few years ago. A Jewish cultural festival held last month in the city featured a concert from a cantor of Vienna’s main synagogue and the opening of an exhibition on the city’s history featured Russian, American and Israeli artists. Archive photographs in the exhibit show the enthusiasm with which many Jews took to the project, including shopfronts with Yiddish signage and the first years of Valdgeym, a Jewish collective farm established just outside the city. However, religious Judaism was alien to Soviet atheism and thus frowned upon. The local museum contains leaflets in Yiddish warning locals not to celebrate Passover. With so few Jews now living in Birobidzhan, the massed Yiddish dances and mannequins that welcome visitors to the Jewish cultural centre give the impression of a Jewish Disneyland rather than of a thriving community. If the local government gets its way, more Jews would come to the region, especially some of those who left in the early 1990s. Rostislav Goldstein, the senator for the region in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said Birobidzhan’s proximity to China could provide advantages for Israeli businesses wanting to crack the Chinese market. He said he wanted to create a local version of the Aliyah, the name given to the process of attracting Jews from the diaspora to Israel. “We have one big advantage over Israel, and that’s that there are no Arabs shooting here,” he said. Levintal, the local governor, was more circumspect. He said his chauffeur had emigrated from Birobidzhan to Israel in the early 1990s but recently returned as he could not get used to the mentality there. “If the economic situation here improves then more people will want to return,” he said. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 31 Weekly review Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Refugee crisis … Parastou Forouhar says she finds ‘healing in repetition’ through her art Courtesy of the artist Family, death and the failed revolution The daughter of Iranian dissidents tells Saeed Kamali Dehghan how their murders informed her art E very autumn, the Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar returns to Tehran from Germany to hold a memorial service for her murdered parents. Dariush Forouhar, a secular politician, and his wife, Parvaneh, were two of Iran’s most high-profile political activists when they were stabbed to death in their home on 22 November 1998. The killers placed her father’s body in a chair facing towards the Qibla, the direction of Mecca. Forouhar, 55, remembers receiving a call from a BBC reporter asking when she had last spoken to her parents. “I called a close friend of my parents in Paris and he was crying,” Forouhar says. “I thought, it mustn’t be just an arrest. We were used to [arrests]. I said, is Dad killed? He said, it’s not just your dad.” Every year since, Parastou has gathered with close relatives to light a candle and pay tribute to her parents’ secular democratic values. The public are routinely blocked from attending by security officials. “They won’t let people in for the ceremony [but] it gets media coverage and it becomes an act of protest,” says Forouhar, whose work was recently exhibited at Pi Artworks in London. Forouhar says regularly revisiting the suffering she has endured for nearly 20 years has helped to heal the wounds of her past. “When I work, I also have pain, you want to move on but also reproduce the pain at the same time,” she says. “Sometimes I can’t distinguish: is it art or pain? It’s really like finding healing in repetition. For me, the way to deal with pain is to reproduce it in art.” The murder of Forouhar’s parents shone a spotlight on the killings and disappearances of other Iranian dissident intellectuals in the 1990s and created an atmosphere of fear that helped put the brakes on the reformist agenda of President Mohammad Khatami. In a rare admission in 1999, Iran’s ministry of intelligence took responsibility for the killings, saying it had “committed these criminal activities … under the influence of undercover rogue agents”. Saeed Hajjarian, a reformist politician and journalist involved in revealing the “chain murders”, survived an attempted murder the following year but was left severely disabled. Forouhar studied art at Tehran University after the 1979 Islamic revolution and says it was the failure of the revolution that made her the artist she is today. “We thought, we’ll build a better life, we thought it was possible, but then we realised those who hijacked the revolution are suppressing the segment of the society that did not approve of revolutionary policies,” she says. “The streets turned unsafe and the arrests and the executions followed.” She left for Germany in 1991, graduating with a master’s from Offenbach am Main and holding her first exhibition at her university in 1994. Forouhar established a portfolio of works that she defines as being between “abstraction and the formation of metaphors”, drawing on what she learned in Tehran, when students expressed dissent through highly coded and alternative methods. “I use ornaments as a structure in my work – I like the structure of repetition, of harmony and congruity,” she says. “Ornaments have similarities with totalitarian regimes. They want to make everything harmonic, and anything that doesn’t confirm has to be eliminated.” Butterflies feature prominently, but they are composed of human bodies in agonising pain. ‘This is a turning point for Europe – its response to refugees drowning will define its future identity’ “In Persian poetry, butterflies are often described as being in the height of aesthetics, but often also shown as dying. It has a paradox inside it. And it’s also the name of my mother [Parvaneh means butterfly in Farsi]. Every time I produce one, it’s as if I’m producing an image of my mother.” Her works are about “simultaneity of beauty and harm” and “the ambivalence of their co-existence”. She has previously said she wants to encourage viewers to “give up their distances, ambivalent positions, and rethink their presumptions – to recognise and respond to these contradictions and contrasting emotions”. Her recent work, Written Room, which featured in a group exhibition in Paris last month, shows giant Farsi calligraphy covering the surfaces of gallery spaces. Her other fascination has been with the influx of refugees to Europe in recent years, and recent work shows migrants drowning at sea on paper she made herself. “This is a turning point for Europe, to see how it will react – its response to refugees drowning will define its future identity.” Forouhar also has an installation in progress, called Documentation. It first went on show in 1999 in Frankfurt and features a room full of documents pinned to the wall or stored in boxes. It includes every piece of correspondence she has had with human rights organisations, Iran’s judiciary, Germany’s parliament and other officials, regarding her parents’ murder. A photocopier sits in the middle and viewers are invited to make copies of the documents and take them home. Every year, she updates the work with new correspondence. Though the moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani was re-elected as Iran’s president in a landslide victory in May, Forouhar does not believe his terms in office will bring a new dawn. “His election marks the total retreat of the whole society from the demands it had during the Green movement [of 2009],” she says. “It’s a reconciliation between the government and the people, and the people gave in, as if the people have become accomplice. This is all an illusion.” 32 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Discovery DNA is no longer the magic bullet The relevance of genetic evidence in criminal trials is coming under scrutiny, says Nicola Davis F or David Butler, it began with a knock on the door seven years ago. When he opened it, officers from the Merseyside police were standing on his doorstep. The retired taxi driver was being arrested for murder. The police said they had evidence connecting Butler to the death of Anne Marie Foy, a 46-year-old sex worker who had been battered and strangled in Liverpool in 2005. Butler’s DNA, it turned out, had been logged into the UK national database after a 1998 investigation into a break-in at the home he shared with his mother. A partial match had been made to DNA found on Foy’s fingernail clippings and cardigan buttons. This, combined with CCTV evidence of a distinctive taxi seen near the scene, led the prosecutor to tell the jury in Butler’s trial that the DNA information “provides compelling evidence that the defendant was in contact with Anne Marie Foy at the time immediately before she died”. The case seemed conclusive. Yet Butler was adamant: he had not met Foy. “You do see an assumption being made that a DNA profile is evidence of contact – case closed – whereas it is actually a lot more complicated than that,” says Ruth Morgan, the director of the Centre for the Forensic Sciences at University College London. “We are only beginning to realise quite how complex it is.” Since DNA was first used in a police investigation 31 years ago, to solve the murder of Dawn Ashworth, a 15-year-old schoolgirl who was raped and strangled in Leicestershire, the technique has attained an aura of being bulletproof. Certainly, in some cases, evidence of a DNA match to a suspect can be powerful. “There will be times when you get a really clear [DNA] profile, and it is very clear how that material got to the crime scene. And it is [also] very clear that it was during the course of an illegal activity,” says Morgan. “The classic [example] would be semen on the clothing of someone who is underage.” Questionable evidence … Anne Marie Foy’s death triggered a controversial trial But Butler’s case is just one of many that highlight growing questions in the world of forensic science: what exactly are fingermarks, DNA or gunshot residue actually evidence of – particularly now that even tiny traces can be detected? The answer may have profound consequences. According to research published by Morgan and her colleagues, rulings for 218 successful appeal cases in England and Wales between 2010 and 2016 argued that DNA evidence had been misleading, with the main issues being its relevance, validity or usefulness in proving an important point in a trial. In a seminal paper from 2005, the neuroscientist Itiel Dror and colleagues revealed that, in the case of ambiguous marks, those examining the evidence could be swayed in their conclusions by the context of a case, with a match more likely to be made when the crime had been depicted as harrowing. After initial resistance, the impact of such work has been dramatic. “Fingermarks are now presented in court in a completely different way – it is really, really rare that you get someone saying unequivocally: ‘This is an identification,’” says Morgan. But with technology allowing the recovery of minute traces of DNA, new challenges have arisen. Not only is it often unclear whether trace DNA is from skin cells, saliva or some other body fluid, but such DNA samples often contain material from multiple individuals, which is difficult to tease apart. What’s more, working out when the DNA was deposited, and for how long it might have been present, is an enormous problem. “If you get a mixed profile on an item of clothing, is the major profile the last person who wore it, or is it somebody who regularly wore it?” Morgan asks. And it gets more complicated. “In different scenarios, some people leave DNA and some people don’t,” she says. Indeed, studies from several groups have looked at a number of factors affecting how much DNA is left behind, which can be influenced by such things as how long it was since somebody washed their hands. And some people simply shed more. To Butler, such issues proved pivotal. The DNA samples from Foy’s nails were a complex mixture of profiles and only a partial match was found with Butler’s DNA. Further analysis of the initial examination notes also revealed that Foy had been wearing glittery nail varnish. “That is going to retain more DNA for a longer time because there is more opportunity; more things for it to stick to,” says Sue Pope, a DNA expert who worked on the case, and is now co-director of Principal Forensic Services Ltd. And there was another significant factor: Butler had a condition which led to him having flaky skin. “He was depositing a lot more cells that you might expect from a single touch,” says Pope. The findings, argued the defence, meant that Butler’s DNA could have found its way on to Foy’s hands and hence her clothing by entirely innocent means – for example by Foy handling coins that had previously been touched by Butler. After eight months on remand, Butler was acquitted. The question of how and when DNA can be transferred, and its implications for the justice system, was thrown into sharp relief by the murder of the British exchange student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy in 2007. Among the evidence was the fact that DNA from Raffaele Sollecito – the boyfriend of Kercher’s flatmate, Amanda Knox – was found on the clasp of Kercher’s bra. While it was argued that the DNA cropped up as a result of contamination, Morgan points out that when people are under the same roof there are multiple opportunities for transfer. Yet just how much DNA is transferred, and in what circumstances, remains unknown. The upshot is that, although the technology is more powerful than ever, the presence of trace DNA is far from a magic bullet. Georgina Meakin, an expert in DNA analysis, also based at UCL, says that public understanding is another thing lagging behind advances in technology. One potential area of confusion is just what DNA analysis involves. Rather than sequencing the whole genome, only certain areas of the DNA are ‘You do see an assumption that a DNA profile is evidence of contact when it is a lot more complicated’ Nobel science prizes The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 33 A celebration of inner and outer space Physics Three US physicists won the Nobel prize in physics for the first observations of gravitational waves. Rainer Weiss was awarded one-half of the 9m Swedish kronor ($1.1m) prize. Kip Thorne and Barry Barish will share the other half. All three played leading roles in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Ligo, experiment, which in 2015 made the first historic observation of gravitational waves triggered by the violent merger of two black holes a billion light years away. The Ligo detections confirmed Einstein’s century-old prediction that during cataclysmic events the fabric of space-time itself can be stretched. Medicine examined. Since 2014, in England, it has generally been at 16 sites, plus an additional marker that indicates whether the sample is from a man or woman. “These [sites] consist of repeating sequences of DNA, and we are interested in the number of repeats that are present; it is the number of those repeats that can differ between individuals,” says Meakin. But, she stresses, trace DNA is often far from conclusive, with analysts often having to turn to statisticians to unpick mixed profiles. It’s a situation that some have sought to commercialise, among them Cybergenetics – the company behind an algorithm-based technology known as TrueAllele which claims to be able to untangle mixed profiles and “produce accurate results on previously unsolvable DNA evidence”. It has been used in hundreds of cases in the US. But there is a hitch: experts have argued that neither they, nor the defendants, have been allowed access to the system’s source code – meaning, among other things, that it is difficult to know what assumptions are built into the technology. “There is a lot of concern,” says Morgan. “People aren’t happy that it is essentially a black box.” But the company puts the case that both defence and prosecution are welcome to test the software on their own data, adding that the maths behind the system has been disclosed. Nonetheless, Pope argues that independent validation of software for DNA analysis is crucial. “A courtroom setting is not the best place for looking at really detailed questions about how statistics have been done.” And, even if the technology is accepted as being reliable, questions remain. It “tells you ‘Our ability to analyse may outstrip our ability to interpret’ … gathering evidence after a bombing in Belfast Peter Muhly/Getty something about the potential source of the DNA, but nothing at all about the activity involved in the DNA coming to be where it was found”, she says. That became apparent in the case of the Massereene barracks murders – the shooting of two British soldiers in Antrim, Northern Ireland, in March 2009. Among the evidence were findings from TrueAllele, which included a match between mixedprofile DNA taken from a mobile phone found in the getaway car and one of the suspects, Brian Shivers. As Mark Perlin, founder of TrueAllele, testified, the DNA on the phone was 6bn times more likely to be that of Shivers than it being a coincidence. Together with other DNA evidence, the finding proved pivotal. Shivers was found guilty and sentenced to at least 25 years in jail. Yet in 2013, there was a retrial. The reasoning hung not on the evidence, but on its interpretation. Shivers’s DNA, the judge concluded, might have turned up on the phone and on other evidence from an innocent touch, or even a handshake. “Have the prosecution eliminated other possibilities than the guilt of the accused? Am I satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused?” he asked. The answer was clear. No. Shivers was acquitted. Take on the role of a forensic investigator, in our latest virtual reality experience, Crime Scene – visit theguardian.com/vr The Nobel prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to a trio of US scientists for their discoveries on the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms – the 24-hour body clock. The team identified a gene within fruit flies that controls the creatures’ daily rhythm, known as the “period” gene. This gene encodes a protein within the cell during the night that then degrades during the day. Jeffrey C Hall, 72, has retired but spent most of his career at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where fellow laureate Michael Rosbash, 73, is a faculty member. Michael W Young, 68, works at Rockefeller University in New York. Chemistry The Nobel prize in chemistry has been awarded for developing a technique to produce images of the molecules of life frozen in time. Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson developed a technique called cryoelectron microscopy that has allowed the structure of biomolecules to be studied in high-resolution. Henderson, a Scottish scientist and professor at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, succeeded in using one of these microscopes to generate the first three-dimensional image of a protein at atomic resolution. Frank, a Germanborn professor at Columbia University in New York, made the technology more generally applicable. Dubochet, who is Swiss and an honorary professor at the University of Lausanne, refined a vitrification technique that allowed biomolecules to be rapidly frozen while retaining their natural shape. 34 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Books All at sea in a sieve Robert McCrum is moved by an account of a gay writer’s torment concealed by surreal wordplay Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense by Jenny Uglow Faber, 598pp If ever there was an English national literary treasure, he must be Edward Lear. In polls The Owl and the Pussycat is often voted the nation’s favourite poem. Anyone who has ever doodled a limerick, of any tone or topic, pays homage to his genius. As well as timeless nonsense such as The Jumblies, there’s also his art – brilliantly studied paintings of exotic creatures; luminous desertscapes; antic sketches of men with birds in their beards – work that puts him in a class of his own as an important Victorian artist. Edward Lear is one of those English one-offs who are treasured because they seem to suggest that there are no more important things to do than paint or write, and who embody a benign, provisional and above all amateur spirit. Lear himself, slyly complicit, summarised his place in the English cultural landscape with a teasing, encrypted self-description: How pleasant to know Mr Lear! Who has written such volumes of stuff ! Some think him ill-tempered and queer, But a few think him pleasant enough. He was born in London in 1812, the same year as Charles Dickens, one of at least 17, or was it 19 (his mother lost count; there were infant deaths)? Young Edward was both swept up in, and set apart from, this brood. With good reason: he always felt different. By the age of five, he was not only a boy among many sisters, but also diagnosed as epileptic, a lifelong terror he shared with Lewis Carroll. Epilepsy would be one of the secrets that made him solitary, while his atrocious eyesight “formed everything into a horror”. Lear’s nonconformist parents hardly compensated for these childhood traumas: both were largely absent. His City broker father was remote; his “shadowy” mother rejected him. Jenny Uglow declares at the outset that she wants to “follow his life straightforwardly”. In this, she’s echoing the discreet and magisterial example of Vivien Noakes, who pioneered this elusive subject in 1968 in Edward Lear: The Life of a Wanderer. But Uglow goes much further than Noakes. This, quite rightly, is the half-life of a gay man in a society that had neither language nor tolerance for homosexuality. By chapter two, on top of his other troubles, young Edward is grappling with some mysterious abuse, “the greatest evil done to me in my life”. What, exactly, this was remains unclear, though Lear recorded the date of the “greatest evil” every year in his diary. Uglow, whose focus on Lear and his confused sexuality is unflinching, is too good a biographer to indulge in reckless speculation here. Clearly, for “pleasant” Mr Lear, nothing would ever again be “straightforward”, especially once he and his beloved sister Ann began to escape into a parallel universe of exquisite botanical drawing. Nonsense verse soon followed. From boyhood, Lear was “three parts crazy”, but “wholly affectionate”. He would only get more like himself. There were few intrusions on his adolescent solitude, apart from birds, especially parrots, his favourites. Some early zoological work inspired his vocation as an artist. Eventually, he would rival Audubon. Parrots also brought him a patron, Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby, whose teeming family exposed Lear to a new audience for his gifts as an entertainer. As an artist, Lear was supposed to remain below stairs with the servants, but Stanley liked to have his protege upstairs to amuse his guests. Where Carroll had Alice and the Liddell family, Lear had the Knowsley nursery, where the Stanley children, their friends and nursemaids, kept riotous company. Unlike Carroll, he did not sentimentalise little girls, betraying no hint of the paedophile. Rather, Lear loved the mayhem of childhood to which nonsense was the only answer. Nonsense was infantile, rude, eccentric and grumpy, as children are. Nonsense could celebrate surreal violence and ghoulish accidents. As a roving landscape painter, Lear could be exquisite. Through his crazy wordplay, he could express his inner torment as a homosexual single man in Victorian England. Abroad, in Rome or Corfu, he could be “as happy as a hedgehog” and was free to fall in love with other artists. At home, he had to present himself, half ironically, as a man in need of a wife: “I anticipate the chance of a Mrs Lear”, he wrote, “in 40 years hence.” Unlike some gay Victorians, who went native overseas, it was Lear’s respectable hope that he was “always an Englishman” abroad. “Mr Lear” was certainly a weird bird. As he grew older, this myopic court jester, and nomadic artist, unable to reconcile his sexual with his social self, morphed into his mature, eccentric persona. This was the closet homosexual who, in the summer of 1846, came to teach drawing to Queen Victoria. “How did you get all these beautiful things?” he exclaimed, on first seeing the famous royal collection. “I inherited them, Mr Lear,” replied the Queen. It’s at this point that Uglow diverges most completely from the narrative line hewn by Noakes. Uglow’s interest in Lear’s court life is finite. And yet Windsor did do something for Lear, which was give an awkward, gay man renewed self-confidence. Thus, 1846 also saw the publication of A Book of Nonsense. Uglow is good on Lear’s verse, attributing just the right amount of consequence to its surreal caprice: There was an Old Person of Rhodes, Who strongly objected to toads; He paid several cousins, To catch them by dozens, That futile Old Person of Rhodes. On his travels again – now to the Holy Land – Lear fell in love with a younger man, Frank Lushington, who would eventually compound Lear’s inner torment. Uglow shows that the life of the Victorian gay man, even in progressive circles, was excruciating. Only abroad could Lear and Lushington enjoy a semblance of marriage – as Uglow puts it – “without the sex”. In middle age, Lear’s wordplay had become quasi-Joycean, writes Uglow, “alive, protean, ever evolving, and finding new endings, like new limbs”. English one-off … Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat, one of the country’s favourite poems Culture Club/Getty/Hulton Archive This is the Lear beloved of Auden and Eliot. He was, says Uglow, “an eerie, queery, sometimes weary, sometimes cheery Edward Lear”. When “cheery”, he enjoyed moments that were “splendidophoropherostiphongious”, but there was always a terrible sadness, too, that only nonsense could assuage. In 1861, Lear published a new Book of Nonsense, a huge success that would establish him as a classic. Four years later, Lewis Carroll published Alice in Wonderland, a very different kettle of fish. These two Victorian giants never met, and Lear read Alice “without comment”. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 35 The future is coming but not as we think it Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark Allen Lane, 384pp Yuval Noah Harari Lear’s world, unlike Dodgson’s Oxford idyll, was provisional, nomadic and fraught. Lushington got married and Lear tortured himself with matrimonial fantasies. He would be “forever roaming with a hungry heart”. Finally, the gaiety and sadness of Lear’s life expressed itself in his four greatest poems: The Owl and the Pussycat, The Dong With a Luminous Nose, Some Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly, and The Jumblies, warbling their “moony song”. He might recognise that he had gone “to sea in a sieve”, but he admonished his diary that “the morbids are not allowed”. This extraordinary Englishman died in selfimposed isolation in San Remo aged 75. Uglow has written a great life about an artist with half a life, a biography that might break your heart. Observer If you hear a scenario about the world in 2050 and it sounds like science fiction, it is probably wrong; but if you hear a scenario about the world in 2050 and it does not sound like science fiction, it is certainly wrong. Technology is never deterministic: it can be used to create very different kinds of society. In the 20th century, trains, electricity and radio were used to fashion Nazi and communist dictatorships, but also to foster liberal democracies and free markets. In the 21st century, AI will open up an even wider spectrum of possibilities. Deciding which of these to realise may well be the most important choice humankind will have to make in the coming decades. This choice is not a matter of engineering or science. It is a matter of politics. Hence it is not something we can leave to Silicon Valley – it should be among the most important items on our political agenda. Unfortunately, AI has so far hardly registered on our political radar. Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 tries to rectify the situation. Written in an accessible and engaging style, the book offers a political and philosophical map of the promises and perils of the AI revolution. Instead of pushing any one agenda or prediction, Tegmark seeks to cover as much ground as possible, reviewing a wide variety of scenarios concerning the impact of AI on the job market, warfare and political systems. Life 3.0 does a good job of clarifying basic terms and key debates, and in dispelling common myths. While science fiction has caused many people to worry about evil robots, for instance, Tegmark rightly emphasises that the real problem is with the unforeseen consequences of developing highly competent AI. In Tegmark’s words, “the real risk with artificial general intelligence isn’t malice but competence. A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.” Naturally Tegmark’s map is not complete, and in particular it does not give enough attention to the confluence of AI with biotechnology. The 21st century will be shaped not by infotech alone, but rather by the merger of infotech with biotech. AI will be of crucial importance precisely because it will give us the computing power necessary to hack the human organism. Long before the appearance of superintelligent computers, our society will be completely transformed by rather crude and dumb AI that is nevertheless good enough to hack humans, predict their feelings, make choices on their behalf and manipulate their desires. It might be apocalypse by shopping. Yet the real problem of Tegmark’s book is that it soon bumps up against the limits of present-day political debates. The AI revolution turns many philosophical problems into practical political questions and forces us to engage in “philosophy with a deadline” (as the philosopher Nick Bostrom called it). Philosophers are patient people, engineers are impatient, and hedge fund investors are more restless still. When Tesla engineers come to design a self-driving car, they cannot wait while philosophers argue about its ethics. Consequently Tegmark soon leaves behind familiar debates about jobs, privacy and weapons of mass destruction, and ventures into realms that hitherto were associated with philosophy, theology and mythology, taking things beyond our own planet. This can hardly be avoided but I fear that many of his prospective readers will not follow him there. Our political systems, and indeed our individual minds, are just not built to think on such a scale. History in the eating The Hungry Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World by Lizzie Collingham Bodley Head, 400pp Kwasi Kwarteng Saturday 18 July 1545 was fish day on the Mary Rose. The crew ate on the cramped gun deck, sitting wherever they could find room. Fish days were not popular, but on this Saturday the meal provided a welcome respite from frantic activity, as all 185 soldiers, 30 gunners and 200 mariners on board were readying the ship for war. The next day a chance gust of wind caused the vessel, overloaded with artillery, to keel over and sink. No more than 40 men survived. In the face of the tragedy, Henry VIII is supposed to have exclaimed: “Oh my gentlemen! Oh my gallant men!” He could hear the cries of the drowning sailors as he watched from the shore in Portsmouth. In the wreckage, archaeologists have discovered the vertebrae of cattle and pigs, as well as thousands of fish spines, strewn among the remains of the wicker baskets that once held them. These were the residue of the ship’s stores of beef, pork and cod. Such evidence has shown the extent to which England was trading across Europe and beyond, even in the 16th century. Lizzie Collingham’s book, The Hungry Empire, is an energetic and refreshing account of a little-considered aspect of British history. By examining what people ate, Collingham skilfully provides an account of complex connections. She constructs her book around 20 meals: each chapter tells a slightly different story about the empire, centred on a particular dish. It’s hard to think of a more ingenious way of treating imperial history. Chapters deal with the Chinese opium trade, the colonisation of New Zealand and the diet of 18th-century labourers in rural Lancashire. The range is dazzling. Purists may raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of several recipes, including “Nellie Husanara Abdool’s pumpkin and shrimp curry”, though budding chefs may well find the prescriptiveness useful: “Add curry powder, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another 15 minutes. Add 250ml of water and cook for 20–25 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.” Yet The Hungry Empire, it should be clear, is supported by meticulous historical research. Using food as a way of understanding empire is highly effective. Food knows no barriers of race, gender or even time. The recipe for jollof rice, a speciality of west African cuisine, has probably not changed across the centuries. Michel Jajolet de la Courbe, a French Continued on page 36 → 36 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Books ←Continued from page 35 explorer and slave dealer, described a rice dish from west Africa in the late 17th century, in which he defined chillies as “a green or red fruit, shaped like a cucumber, and with a taste resembling that of pepper”. No account of food in the empire can avoid references to the slave trade. The Africa-America sea route opened a channel whereby “a host of American plants and foodstuffs entered west African agriculture”, particularly maize and manioc (cassava). In the early days maize was even known as “white man’s grain” in the Gold Coast. Of all the meals that represented British culture, perhaps none captured the imagination more than the Christmas pudding. It was the Victorians who fixed the traditional plum pudding as a festive dish. “The author of the Book of Christmas,” Collingham writes, “personified the plum pudding as a ‘blackamoor who derives his extraction from the spice lands’.” In the book’s illustration, it even appeared as a portly black figure, clothed in medieval costume. The pudding was thought of as a national dish precisely because of the foreign nature of its sugar, spice and dried fruits: “an emblem of our commercial eminence”. This book’s treatment of food in the empire is innovative and exciting; to bring such vibrancy to an old topic is a remarkable achievement. Hot on the trails Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife With Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti Norton, 174pp Priyanka Kumar Washington Post We’ve come a long way from the days when Aristotle believed that storks winter on the moon. Now GPS tags, DNA sequencing, satellites and phone networks allow scientists to track animals across vast stretches of land and through sky and sea. eographer James In Where the Animals Go, geographer Cheshire and Oliver Uberti, a former ormer design editor for National Geographic, raphic, ormashowcase some of the latest information on animal movement gleaned ned from these new technologies. es. d Through colourful maps, detailed graphics and explanatory essays, the book presents in intimate detail the comings and goings off guars, species from ants and bees to jaguars, ks. baboons, vultures and, yes, storks. ull of Where the Animals Go is full unexpected information. When geese fly over the Himalayas, for example, mple, mes their hearts beat at up to 500 times a minute. “Some geese crossed ed n the Tibetan plateau in less than a day at record-breaking climb rates of 2.2 kilometers per hour,” e Cheshire writes. “That’s like e ascending from sea level to the summit of Mount Everest in four ur Fast fliers … but white storks don’t on’t really reach the moon hours. What’s more, they do so without acclimatisation, rest, or help from the wind.” Other chapters demonstrate the risks animals face as they try to make their way to food and water and to mate. By monitoring the speed and direction of elephants, for example, researchers can determine whether they have been harassed by armed herders. In a fascinating essay, The Elephant Who Texted for Help, Uberti describes how the GPS collar of a Kenyan elephant alerted researchers that the animal had been shot; watching from a researcher’s living room, scientists followed its tracks on screen, all the way until the moment it sadly succumbed to its wounds. This and other chapters demonstrate how human intrusion has disrupted animals’ movement and in some cases put their very existence in peril. Tracking devices and genetic analysis have shown, for example, that mountain lions in the Santa Ana mountains near Los Angeles have become “effectively marooned on an island, surrounded by freeways and ever-encroaching human development”. Since 2001, the authors report, “only one tagged lion ... has managed to cross Interstate 15 in either direction, but he was killed 25 days later for preying on a rancher’s sheep”. The long-term effect is stark: “Without the ability to breed with other gene pools, the Santa Ana population is in jeopardy.” GPS and other technology make such discoveries possible, but tagging animals is itself risky. The simple act of “catching an animal is about the most horrible thing that can occur to it”, says bio-logging pioneer Rory Wilson. Even if you “catch it and let it go, it’ll have the heebie-jeebies for weeks”. A GPS collar can compromise the “100% intact fur barrier” otters need to protect them from cold. Because a puncture in their fur could mean death, scientists use internal tags on otters instead. With such precautions, says Iain Douglas-Hamilton, the founder of Save the Elephants, “stress can be minimised” so that the “risk is outweighed by the enhancement of the [animal’s] survival chances that comes from what we learn through the tracking”. Cheshire and Uberti write about billions of data points being collected – some by citizen scientists – and their ravishing maps put this information to good use, but what’s missing here is a deeper discussion of habitat loss, which is already changing the ways animals move. Storks, as Cheshire and Uberti now; it’s easier point out, don’t always migrate mig to feed on garbage du dumps. The habitat to have now is conversation we need n about how urban environments are an underutili underutil sed resource and our backyards can rewilding o offer sorely needed rest stops for small migrating b birds. Mapping anima animal migrations can help government officials to draw park boundaries more strategically stra to protect animals such as o oilbirds, who have a wider range than th was previously understood. Cheshire writes, understoo “In order ord to fully understand why something stan happens we often h need to know where it happens.” Cheshire and Uberti, and the scientists whose work they the have interpreted, show us with precision an and clarity where the will give, say, mounanimals go. Whether we w tain lions the corridors they the need to cross our freeways wit without getting hit is matter. another ma Only connect Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck translated by Susan Bernofsky Portobello, 286pp Eileen Battersby Displacement has moved beyond a literary theme; for millions, it is reality. The notion of war has been overtaken by upheaval, which forces desperate people to flee without hope of a final destination, allowing history to repeat itself, relentlessly. This is the humanising lens through which Jenny Erpenbeck, Europe’s outstanding literary seer, views our world. Previously she had looked to the layered history of her own country, Germany, in dazzling metaphysical fictions such as Visitation and The End of Days. As a Berliner born in the former East Germany in 1967, her early experience was dominated by living in a divided city within a fractured country; her work suggests that she believes human understanding resides in memory. Her new novel resonates with an unexpected simplicity that is profound, unsettling and subtle. The prose, as before astutely translated by Susan Bernofsky, has relinquished theatricality in a conventional, calm and at times wry narrative. It follows Richard, a self-contained widower and newly retired academic, as he discovers empathy through delving into the individual ordeals of a group of African asylum seekers in Berlin whom he gradually befriends and tries to help. As the novel opens, the former classics professor is dealing with the prospect of retirement. His selfabsorption dictates his daily routines; he is Everyman minding his patch. It is only when watching the evening news that he realises he had walked by 10 African men staging a hunger strike. “Why didn’t Richard see these men at Alexanderplatz?” When the anonymous protest is ended, he regards it as a pity. “He’d liked the notion of making oneself visible by publicly refusing to say who one is. Odysseus had called himself Nobody to escape from the Cyclops’s cave.” From the opening pages, Erpenbeck makes clear that this cultivated academic knows little about Africa. “Where is Burkina Faso?” he wonders, and is surprised to learn that there are 54 African countries. The book could easily have become a wellintentioned polemic, but Erpenbeck combines her philosophical intellect with hours of conversations conducted with refugees to tell a very human story about a lonely, emotionally insulated man slowly discovering there is a far wider, urgent world beyond him through his meetings with extraordinary, vividly drawn migrants, each with a story to tell. Richard helps the men, responding to their interests, contrasting individual cultures and specific dilemmas, whose agonies make him recall tales from the Brothers Grimm. The refugees have nothing except their memories and their mobile phones – their sole links with family, friends and who they once were. Great fiction doesn’t have to be real, but it does have to be true. Erpenbeck’s powerful tale, delivered in a wonderfully plain, candid tone, is both real and true. It will alert readers, make us more aware and, it is to be hoped, more human. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 37 Why US writers should back away from the Man Booker This prize used to be a chance for Americans to hear about other authors, laments Ron Charles N othing shatters the mystique of the floating city like seeing a McDonald’s in Venice. But such deflating sights have been the norm for years. American colonisation of the world’s economy is complete. Earlier this year in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, we listened to music under a sun-blocking billboard for Netflix’s Glow. That moment came back to me when I read the list of finalists for the Man Booker Prize. For the first time, half of the nominees for Britain’s most prestigious literary award are Americans: 4321 by Paul Auster (US) History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (UK-Pakistan) Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) It’s not that American novelists are suddenly writing better books. No, this US invasion is the result of a controversial adjustment to the prize’s eligibility rules. In 2014, the Booker judges opened their doors to include anyone writing a novel in English. (The prize had previously been limited to novels by authors in the Commonwealth.) After that change, two Americans immediately made the shortlist. The next year, Marlon James, a Jamaican writer living in Minnesota, won the prize. In 2016, the American writer Paul Beatty won. This year, an American has a 50/50 chance of being announced the winner on 17 October. Some British writers, notably Booker winner AS Byatt, have complained about the way this rule change dilutes the prize’s identity and creates an impossible task for judges. With no criteria except “written in English”, the Booker prize sinks into an ocean of titles that no panel of readers can credibly survey. But that’s for the Brits to worry about. As Americans, we should be more concerned about the loss of cultural diversity, about the closure of yet another avenue for us to experience something beyond our own borders. It’s no criticism to say that this year’s finalists by Auster, Fridlund and Saunders are all distinctly American novels. But for any serious reader of fiction in the US, the Americanisation of the Booker prize is a lost opportunity to learn about great books that haven’t been widely heralded. As flattering as it is for US novelists to be invited into the UK arena, Americans don’t need any encouragement to trumpet their own books. As a nation, the US is already depressingly xenophobic when it comes to our reading choices. And besides, American novelists already have prestigious awards reserved just for them, including the Pulitzer prize in Fiction and the National Book Awards. Opening the Booker up to any work of fiction written in English comes perilously close to creating another bloated monster like the Nobel Shortlisted for words, not nationality … from top: Mohsin Hamid, Ali Smith, George Saunders prize in literature, an award with such broad standards that it stands for nothing at all. But literary prizes are conflicted organisations. They want to promote literary excellence, of course, but they also want to promote themselves. In a universe of ever-escalating awards and ever-diminishing attention, every prize is fighting for recognition. What better way to garner more press than to sprinkle some beloved American names among the finalists. But that’s a competition with diminishing returns. The Brits need to admit that they made a mistake. For the good of the Commonwealth – and the United States – the Booker prize administrators need to stage a literary Brexit. Washington Post Ron Charles is the fiction editor of the Washington Post On literature Books Ishiguro is a Nobel winner for our times John Mullan A few years ago in a panel discussion at a literary festival I was asked to name a recent British novel that readers and critics would still be talking about in a hundred years’ time. On the spur of the difficult moment I plumped for Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. Only as I tried to explain my choice did I realise why I had given this answer. It was not just a novel I enjoyed and admired, it was also a novel that enacted something elementary and elemental: a human’s need to imagine his or her origins. The Swedish Academy has made some dubious decisions in recent years but, in awarding Ishiguro the Nobel prize in literature, this year its 18 voters have got it right. Ishiguro’s novels step aside from contemporary mores and pressing social issues. Audaciously, sometimes bewilderingly, they abstract us from our times. How brilliant it is that Never Let Me Go opens with a page that says only “England, late 1990s”. Narrated by a young woman who is a clone, created to provide organs for those requiring transplant surgery, it takes place in a version of Britain both cosily provincial and utterly strange. The countryside, the liberal boarding school, the English seaside town have never made for such a disturbing backdrop. Similarly, the novel that made him famous, The Remains of the Day, took a character familiar from a hundred English books and films – the butler in a country house – and gave him a narrative of painstaking evasiveness. For all the teasing period detail, it was a novel about human self-denial and selfdeception at any time and in any place. While stylistically austere or self-limiting, Ishiguro’s fiction revels in literary allusion and generic playfulness. Often he takes a well-known fictional subgenre and transforms it. With Never Let Me Go it is dystopian science fiction. His most recent work, The Buried Giant, perplexed many with its rewriting of the rules of fantasy fiction. Imagining Britain in the dark ages, it creates characters who have lost track of history and cannot even remember the important events of their own lives. It is a fable for all times. It is because he writes for all times, using such carefully controlled means, rigorous yet utterly original, that Ishiguro is such a worthy winner. 38 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Culture ‘In some ways I feel I haven’t fulfilled my true potential’ Steve Buscemi’s barfly persona suits his roles as oddballs or killers but at heart he is an enthusiast and a team player, discovers Aaron Hicklin L ike Tommy, the aimless barfly he plays in Trees Lounge, the melancholic 1996 indie film he also wrote and directed, Steve Buscemi found himself in a spiral of hopelessness after leaving school, jumping from one part-time job to another: cinema usher, ice-cream seller, petrol station attendant. There were many long nights in bars. “I really had difficulty there [on Long Island] in my last couple of years because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “I felt my life was going nowhere.” His father had pushed all four of his sons to take a civil service exam, in Buscemi’s case as an avenue to a career with the fire service, where he would work for four years. Although he knew he wanted to be an actor, he had only a dim notion of how to realise his dream. It was also his father who suggested he apply for drama school, ostensibly as an interlude until the fire department came calling. At his interview for the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York, Buscemi was asked why he wanted to be an actor. He casually parroted his dad’s well-meaning advice that acting classes would stand him in good stead for whatever path he chose in life. “I remember her telling me: ‘Well, we really want people who want to be actors,’” he recalls. “In that moment, I felt I really blew it.” He didn’t, as it happens, but it taught him not to be so cavalier about the thing he was most passionate about. Buscemi told the story of his Lee Strasberg interview as we sat in a quiet neighbourhood bar in Park Slope, Brooklyn, not far from the brownstone he shares with the artist and film-maker Jo Andres, his wife of 30 years. Like the bar itself, his demeanour was low-key and unassuming. With a beer in his hand, he talked quietly but grew more animated as he spoke about his early days as one half of comedy duo Steve & Mark, with Mark Boone Jr. Their shtick was a kind of stream-of-consciousness situation comedy that introduced them to New York’s thenvibrant performance art scene. Downtown legend Rockets Redglare, famously the first person to enter Sid Vicious’s room at the Chelsea Hotel after the murder of Nancy Spungen, took the young Buscemi under his wing, helping secure gigs and introducing him to the scene. That version of New York disappeared in the 1990s, vanquished by rising rents, Rudy Giuliani and the devastation of Aids. His breakout role in 1986 was as a musician dying of Aids in Parting Glances – a bold choice for an actor launching his career. “When I played that character I only knew one person who maybe had Aids,” he recalls. “This was right smack in the middle of all that fear and anxiety: ‘Could you get it from somebody by just being in the same room?’ Of course, later, so many of my friends died of Aids. We lost so many good people in their prime.” He talks poignantly of Ethyl Eichelberger, a drag performance artist who dominated the 1980s scene before being diagnosed with HIV and taking his life in 1990. Most of those people have faded from public consciousness, but they hang on in Buscemi’s memory as the mentors and guides of his career. You feel their animating spirit in his own projects, populated as they are by oddballs and outsiders. He summons a quote by Frank Capra to the effect that every character in his Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, is worthy of his or her own film. “I tried to keep that in mind as I wrote Trees Lounge,” he said. “I thought I was being careful not to romanticise the life of someone who hangs out in a bar all the time, and yet I do find these characters romantic, and I still find bars really alluring.” He was touched when the owner of the bar they were set to film in changed his mind at the last minute. “He said: ‘I don’t think I can close my bar for a week and let you guys film here,’ and we said, ‘Why?’ and he said: ‘Where are my regulars going to go? What are they going to do?’” In 2005, Buscemi went back to his old high school in Valley Stream, a predominantly IrishItalian neighbourhood, to receive an award. Talking to students he recalled his anxious youth. “I still get scared,” he told them. “I try to live with it, and you keep going.” In Park Bench, Buscemi’s charming, littlewatched web-only talkshow, a telling moment comes during a conversation with the Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA. The rapper recalls his childhood inspirations, including Don McLean and Neil Sedaka, prompting an elated Buscemi to offer a formative experience of his own. “I went to the mall and bought some 45s. I ran into a bunch of girls from my school and they reached into my bag and pulled out Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” he says. “I could tell they were embarrassed for me, and I thought: ‘I don’t care, I like this song.’” Something about his response to being shamed for his dubious musical tastes – “I don’t care” – captures the animating spirit of an actor. Buscemi is among the least pretentious actors you will find, as comfortable working with Adam Sandler as with the Coen Brothers. When he describes Sandler as an Tremblin’ in the Kremlin: The Death of Stalin Fear rises like gas from a corpse in Armando Iannucci’s brilliant horror-satire The Death Of Stalin. It’s a sulphurous black comedy about the backstairs Kremlin intrigue that followed the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, adapted by Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin from the French graphic novel series by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin. Faced with the unthinkable demise of the revered Stalin, these Soviet dignitaries panic, plot and go in and out of denial: a bizarre, dysfunctional hokey cokey of the mind. Iannucci shows their reaction as akin to the casting or lifting of a spell. All these ageing courtiers and sycophants have suddenly been turned into a bunch of scared and malicious children. The Death Of Stalin is superbly cast, and acted with icy and ruthless force by an A-list lineup. There are no weak links. Each has a plum role; each squeezes every gorgeous horrible drop. Michael Palin is outstanding as Molotov, the pathetic functionary with the kindly, Popular and hip … Steve Buscemi as gangster Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire; below, as Nikita Khrushchev Sportsphoto/Allstar unhappy fac face who has long since sacrificed his self-respect self-resp on the altar of Stalinism; Steve Buscemi is a nervy Khrushchev, who morphs from uneasy court jester into a Soprano-esque player; Andrea Riseborough is compelling as Stalin’s daughter Svetlana, driven to a b borderline-Ophelia state of trauma and dread. d Jeffrey Tambor is hilarious as the vain Malenkov, and so is Rupert Rup Friend as Stalin’s deadbeat boo boozer son, Vasily. Jason Isaacs gets sle sledgehammer laughs as the truculent war hero Zhukov, to whom he le g gives a muscular northern accent: a down-to-earth man of action w carries out the final, brutal who c coup. And the first among equals is Si Simon Russell Beale as the toadlike secret pol police chief, Beria, who oozes evil. Stylishl plugging into the classic SovietStylishly era mode of subversive satire, and melding it with his own, Iannucci has returned to his great th thematic troika of power, incompetence an and bad faith. Like the spin-doctors o his TV satires The Thick of It and aides of t and Veep, these Soviet rivals scurry around in an eterna eternal headless-chicken dance whose purpose is to make sure that someone gets the Pete Bradshaw blame. Peter “auteur” he is not doing it to be funny or contrary; he means it. “We just really hit it off when we did Airheads,” he says, referring to their first film together, pithily reviewed by Time Out in 1994 as a movie “about airheads, and for them, too”. Bad reviews, the few there are, glide off Buscemi like water off a duck’s back. As a rule, it’s not Sandler’s movies that fans think of when they picture Buscemi. That honour is more likely to go to his Atlantic City kingpin, “Nucky” Thompson, in HBO’s mafia origins epic Boardwalk Empire, or to his memorable date with a wood chipper in the Coen Brothers’ snowbound masterpiece, Fargo. His tip-kvetching Mr Pink in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs transformed both the director and his ensemble cast into touchstones of a new era in independent film-making. That film defined a 1990s cinematic “cool” that would have impressed those girls in the mall – if Buscemi cared about such things. It’s partly because he doesn’t care, you suspect, that he manages the tightrope walk along the line of popular and hip, equally at ease in bubblegum fare like Con Air as in cult films like Coffee and Cigarettes. Buscemi is one of the industry’s busiest actors, with more than 125 films to his name, and an equally impressive résumé in television, from The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire to cameos in The Simpsons (as himself), 30 Rock (as a private detective-turnedlesbian drama teacher), and the new series, Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams – in which he falls in love with a self-advertising robot in a dystopian vision of marketing gone rogue. Buscemi has been a name for more than 20 years, yet through a combination of humble origins and insecurity he exhibits almost no ego. When I marvel at his direction of the Pine Barrens episode of The Sopranos – in which the show’s acute combination of menace and burlesque is on full display – he shrugs off the compliment, insisting that any director would have done the same. He tips his hat instead to the writers. This is typical of the way Buscemi views his craft, in which his emphasis is almost always on collaboration, rather than individual genius. “He’s the opposite of an asshole,” says Armando Iannucci, who cast Buscemi in his satirical new movie, The Death of Stalin. “On set he’s very generous and he’s not taking up anyone’s time. He’s almost apologetic when he comes up with a thought.” Buscemi plays Nikita Khrushchev, stealthily coming from behind to take over the sudden vacancy created by Stalin. Iannucci recalls how, during rehearsals, Buscemi would observe and watch but rarely chip in. “He’ll only ask little questions, but you can see him going away and just thinking through each moment, and knowing when to turn it up a tiny notch, and then another tiny notch, and then another tiny notch, so you don’t notice the shift at any one point,” he says. “It’s just when you stand back to look at the whole thing you can see how delicately and cleverly he’d gradated that transformation.” Buscemi talked fondly about his father’s belief in reincarnation and the afterlife. As a child, he would come home to find visiting psychics communing with the dead. One year the young Buscemi sought out a psychic, and confided his hopes of being an actor. “He said: ‘I don’t really see acting so much as writing – writing is what I see for you,’” Buscemi recalls, his brow furrowing. “So, in some ways I feel that I haven’t fulfilled my true potential.” Observer On Film The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 39 Savour the images and ditch the talk Caspar Salmon T here is a disease in the heart of cinema, and that disease is the Q&A. More cinemas are putting them on than ever, partly as a response to the rise of online streaming, in order to “add value” to their offering – and audiences are lapping it up. Q&As with directors and cast sell out in minutes to people consumed with a burning impulse to ask why there are no nice characters in the movie, or what it was like to film all those hot scenes. Why? There’s good reason other art forms don’t enact the same depressing, bathetic rituals as film-makers do with the Q&A. Imagine if, at the end of a gig, the lights came up and Dave Grohl and the rest of Foo Fighters came back on stage to sit on stools and take a few softball questions about lyrics and feedback from a tame interviewer, before a microphone was passed into the crowd for concert-goers to ask why I’ll Stick Around was omitted from the setlist, or if the band have any words about the passing of David Bowie. The Q&A is a sorry staple of literary festivals, of course, but imagine if everybody in the audience had only just finished reading the book, at exactly the same time, with no intervening period in which to formulate a decent, critical response to the work. The Q&A is that rare addition to the filmic experience that diminishes it wholesale. A film’s director is perhaps the last person we should be asking about their film. Not to put too Barthes a point on it, but the director’s intentions are always irrelevant to the film’s success, and asking about them occludes a proper critical analysis of the work. Similarly, do actors really have any insights into the film’s artistic merit? The Q&A removes the spectator from the very particular dream space that only films can occasion. The succession of images that are still floating about as so many evanescent moments and memories in your mind at the end of a movie will always be catastrophically disrupted by an earnest discussion about the audition process. The answer should be, I think, to start more film clubs in order to generate discussions. But, as long as Q&As keep making money for cinemas and film-makers, the disastrous pretence that they are interesting will continue. 40 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 On Music Culture Hare Squead and the rise of Irish rap Tom Petty found heart of American rock Alexis Petridis Dublin’s music scene is being transformed by global-facing hip-hop, finds Harriet Gibsone W D own a dingy industrial backstreet, a queue forms outside Hangar, a former shirt factory in the heart of the creative quarter of Dublin. Guests, unperturbed by the rain, are gathered for a regular rap, trap and R&B club night. Inside, there is a welcome lack of posturing and posing. Three men in particular – one holding court on the dancefloor with his top off, the other two behind the decks – are orchestrating the mood of the club. Jessy Rose, Tony Konstone and Lilo Blues, otherwise known as Hare Squead, are a local group who are about to go global. Squead are pioneers of a creative boom in Dublin. Their music is a contemporary fusion of trap, rap, R&B, pop, jazz and electronics. They have Ed Sheeran’s business savvy and compositional expertise plus chiselled jaws and puppyish enthusiasm. So much so that, when we meet Rose, he tries to insist we go trampolining rather than do the interview. We meet in a pub in Tallaght, the suburb where Konstone and Blues grew up. Their childhoods weren’t easy. “I could have easily sold drugs. I won’t even lie,” Konstone says. “That would have been quick money for me, especially where I’m living.” Rose first met his two childhood friends in Temple Bar Square in the centre of the city. He was drawn to them immediately, surprised to see two black kids with skateboards. He thought he was the only one. “There were a couple of black people around me [growing up], but they were different to the way I am because I was into Fall Out Boy and skating. I was comfortable being around white people, but they always saw me as goofy and different. I never really fitted into one group.” Forming in 2014, they put their song If I Ask – a Tinie Tempah-like creation – on SoundCloud, and soon there was a lot of interest. They eventually signed to Columbia and have since seen their fanbase change from mostly men to “85%” women, perhaps due to 2016’s Herside Story, a soulful love song that turned them into teen heartthrobs. The band’s burgeoning popularity has nudged the industry gaze towards the Irish capital. Driven by an independent spirit, artists such as Erica Cody, Simi Crowns, Jafaris, Charlotte Headon and the Neomadic crew, among others, are reconfiguring what it means to make Irish music – a term formerly ‘I don’t know any girls who play fiddle in Irish bands. There probably are some but I haven’t met one’ Ready for leap to the global stage … Hare Squead associated with indie, folk, rock and bodhránthrumming ceilidhs. Dublin rapper Rejjie Snow has made a significant dent in the US, and recent documentaries Broken Song and Irish Rappers Revealed have explored the northside of Dublin and its mostly white, working-class rap scene. But it’s Hare Squead’s accessible charm that has put Dublin – primarily multicultural Dublin – at the centre of future-facing mainstream music. Fachtna O Ceallaigh, Sinéad O’Connor’s former manager who now looks after Hare Squead, believes this new generation of musicians are a sign of Ireland’s evolving society. Not long ago, it was insular, “agricultural, rural and contentedly Catholic” – now it’s a bustling, “outward-looking” place. “I think that is what we’re beginning to experience here now, as manifested by Hare Squead, is music that mixes hip-hop and R&B, an African feel and diverse influences like Nirvana, Panic at the Disco and Feist,” he says. A key launchpad is Diffusion Lab, which functions as a label and studio, and enlists writers, musicians and in-house producers. ucers. Jafaris is one of its core acts: his song If You Love ove Me is a cavernous blast of emotion that Beyoncé cé might fall for. He was born in Zimbabwe but now w lives in Tallaght, a place he describes as “a mixture of the hood and the suburbs. I was kind of exposed to a lot of robbing, a lot of shooting, but I stayed away y from all of that.” Unlike fellow Irish exports who wear their heritage overtly, these artistss are globalsounding. Comments on Hare e Squead’s YouTube videos often raise the e absence of their Irish accents in their vocals. cals. “I love Ed Sheeran’s music and I love the ideas and stuff, but it’s just painting a stereotype of Ireland,” Blues says. s. “I don’t know any girls who play a fiddle le in an Irish band. There probably are some, but I haven’t met one.” “I’ll take you to Grafton Street – you won’t see one girl playing the fiddle,” adds dds Rose. hen Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers first emerged, they cut anomalous, even anachronistic figures in US rock. It was 1976, the year of the Eagles’ Hotel California and Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive!: not, on the surface, the ideal time to launch a band audibly obsessed with smart, snappy 60s pop, whose big idea appeared to be fusing the 12-string jangle of the Byrds with the tough swagger of the mid-60s Rolling Stones. Their eponymous debut album more or less sank without trace in America, thought it attracted more interest in the UK. But the closing track, American Girl, turned out to be the first of a string of songs that demonstrated the ability of Petty both to tap into something fundamental at the heart of US rock and to write melodies that sounded timeless and instantly familiar: Don’t Do Me Like That, You Got Lucky, Here Comes My Girl, Don’t Come Around Here No More, I Won’t Back Down, Free Fallin’. Indeed, so timeless and familiar were his melodies that other artists kept subconsciously stealing them: two years ago Petty and co-composer Jeff Lynne were given a cut of the songwriting royalties for Sam Smith’s Stay With Me, thanks to the latter song’s closeness to I Won’t Back Down. Petty, pictured, was always generous about other artists borrowing from him. On the one hand, he could afford to be. By the time of his death, he’d sold something like 80m albums and had long been part of the rock aristocracy, palling around with the kind of artists who had inspired inspire him as a kid – Lynne, Bob Dylan, Geor George Harrison and Roy Orbison – as the Travelling Wilburys. But perhaps his h generosity had more to d do with the sense that Petty was a music fan as Pet mu much as he was a musician, aware that his success was based at least in part on smartly sy synthesising the sound of artists he h loved into somehis own. thing entirely enti The artists arti who led the tributes his death, aged 66, from to him after h a heart attack last week were from generations after his: Ryan Adams, members of Vampire Weekend and Kings Of Leon. Leo If you wanted proof of the way Pe Petty’s music rang down the ages, there the it was. The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 41 Culture Reviews Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Rock & pop The National AP W Film Blade Runner 2049 W ith this visually staggering film, director Denis Villeneuve brings us to a kind of Ozymandias moment. It just has to be experienced on the biggest screen possible. Blade Runner 2049 is a narcotic spectacle of eerie and pitiless vastness, by turns satirical, tragic and romantic. This is the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic, directed by Ridley Scott and based on Philip K Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, starring Harrison Ford as a “blade runner”, a futureworld cop whose job is to track down and kill disobedient almost-human androids known as replicants. The 2017 follow-up simply couldn’t be any more of a triumph: a stunning enlargement and improvement. Blade Runner 2049 is co-scripted by the original screenwriter, Hampton Fancher, and riffs on the first film. There are poignant themevariations on memory and crying in the rain and a cityscape full of signs in different languages, ghostly VR advertising avatars and flashing corporate logos. It alludes to the first Blade Runner but references also reach further back, to the Kubrickian hotel-bar and spaceship, and to the desolate final moments of Planet of the Apes. The setting is Los Angeles, 30 years on from the first film’s 2019 setting. The corporation Theatre B A s part of The Royal Court’s international programme, B by the Chilean Guillermo Calderón is about people we loosely dub “terrorists”. He introduces us to two hapless anarchists, Marcela and Alejandra, who can’t even lie convincingly to their neighbour, Carmen, and who seem nervous about undertaking their first mission. But the stakes are raised with the arrival of the veteran José Miguel, who not only supplies the women with the vital bomb but who also exposes their naivety. For much of the action, all three characters are hooded, but once they abandon their disguise we quickly grasp that they are driven by contradictory purposes. that once manufactured the replicants, whose spartacist uprising was the original theme, has been bought out by an agribusiness empire owned by one Niander Wallace (Jared Leto), a grotesque figure brooding on how to create replicant-workers on a scale sufficient for his imperial plans. Ryan Gosling plays LAPD officer K, a limited-lifespan replicant whose task is to track down and destroy those first-gen models. K has a virtual-reality girlfriend, quibblingly named Joi (Ana de Armas), with whom he believes himself to be in love, though he understands that both she and he are constructed artefacts. K embarks on a dangerous mission, and both his LAPD boss Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) and Wallace are very interested in what he might discover. Wallace despatches his assistant, named Luv and superbly played by Sylvia Hoeks, with an unnerving habit of crying when her face appears to show no human emotion at all. It is all leading to a mysterious encounter with Rick Deckard himself, the outsider cop from the first film, played with haggard misanthropy by Harrison Ford. The production design by Dennis Gassner and cinematography by Roger Deakins are both delectable, and the score by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer provides a kind of aural neon. This film’s scale is extraordinary. It places the acid tab of cinema-pleasure on your tongue. Peter Bradshaw Calderón successfully conveys the self-aggrandising absurdity that often lies behind terrorist acts. The three activists here speak in code so that the four-letter word “bomb” is either known as “B” or “the cheese”. One of the women is even asked to defecate into a can to make the nails surrounding the bomb lethally infectious. This, in turn, reveals the gulf between the two women who want to make a non-violent, anticapitalist protest and José Miguel who seeks to perpetuate his war on society. The problem is that, having revealed his characters’ muddled intentions through action and dialogue, Calderón suddenly ith their recent seventh record inspiring an avalanche of respectful raves, it feels like the National and their abiding sense of emotional seriousness are finally being ushered into rock’s platinum club of all-time greats. On the first of two sold-out nights in Edinburgh, the veteran Ohio band certainly signal their faith in the new album Sleep Well Beast by rolling out 10 tracks from it. They include, in a brooding opening quartet, the surprisingly ear-splitting The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, a forceful clatter of tom-toms and abrupt guitar barbs. Two songs in, and usually lugubrious frontman Matt Berninger is suddenly attacking the chorus with such intensity he seems in danger of blowing out his voice. Combining artfully arranged angst with occasional afterburner blasts of volatility is what gives the National such a moreish charge. Now with almost two decades on the clock, they are a band tightly bound and driven by familial connections, with the Dessner twin brothers on guitars (and occasional keyboard) and the Devendorf non-twin brothers on bass and drums. Perhaps so as not to feel left out, Berninger composed the prickly, dysfunction-plumbing lyrics of Sleep Well Beast with his wife Carin, tonight hymned in Carin at the Liquor Store, a last-orders, dive-bar piano shanty that references John Cheever, someone else who knows a thing or two about exquisitely sketched vignettes of suburban unease. Radiohead have often seemed like a useful reference point, and not just because both bands feature virtuosic brothers on guitar. The National similarly have no fear of the occasional tricksy time signature (the rueful, wrong-footing I Should Live in Salt is an early highlight) while their recent Kid A-style skittering beats have invited even more comparisons with the world’s reigning post-rock tragedians. But the mumbled, profane epiphanies of new song Walk It Back also bring to mind Arab Strap’s mix of gutter poetry and slithering electronics. The minor-key spiral Afraid of Everyone generates a seemingly unlikely moment of singalong community. On their way to a righteous four-song encore – climaxing with the agitated gospel of Terrible Love – the National wring every last drop of catharsis from their forlorn, furious canon. Graeme Virtue Touring Europe and North America to 13 December, then US, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand in 2018 gives them long monologues resembling confessional arias. Aimee-Ffion Edwards and Danusia Samal clearly establish the strange innocence of the self-styled anarchists in contrast to the fury of Paul Kaye, pictured, as the bombmaker, and Sarah Niles is suitably ambivalent as the neighbour. But while Calderón’s play, translated by William Gregory, is enlightening about the varied impulses behind violence, it spells out its intentions too vociferously. Michael Billington At the Royal Court theatre, London, to 21 October 42 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Diversions Notes & Queries Nature watch Claxton, Norfolk I’d like to think I would be philanthropic, but maybe not • When the person concerned begins to shine. Avril Taylor, Dundas, Ontario, Canada If you won the lottery, what would you do with your millions? Keep very quiet about them. Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia • When David took on Goliath. Rhys Winterburn, Perth, Western Australia • Stick it in the bank until I’d recovered from the shock. Joan Dawson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada • When the lunatics who have taken over the asylum present themselves with honorary doctorates. Neil Johnson, Birmingham, UK • Buy more lotto tickets. Meg Sutton Benseman, Auckland, New Zealand • I’d like to say I’d be philanthropic but I’d probably find a discreet tax haven and be phillips-thropic. Pat Phillips, Adelaide, Australia • Buy a house. George Gatenby, West Croydon, South Australia • I’d stuff it in that old cushion! James Rogers, Wuppertal, Germany • If you live in the US, pay a large percentage to the Internal Revenue Service. Heddi Lersey, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada Honorary doctorates for all! At what point does madness become brilliance? Look to skits by the Marx Brothers, Monty Python and, as the French say, Le Grand Jerry Lewis. Richard Orlando, Westmount, Quebec, Canada • The link between madness and genius tends to be exaggerated. People who have psychotic illnesses In it to win it ... the lottery may be ordinary or brilliant, and they usually improve with treatment. Not all madmen are geniuses and not all geniuses are mad. David Isaacs, Sydney, Australia • When a goalkeeper dives head first at the feet of a rampaging attacker and grabs the ball. Charlie Bamforth, Davis, California, US • At the same point where brilliance ceases to be sane. That is, if you conceive of intelligence as a line, and it would be madness to do so. Bryan Smith, Sweaburg, Ontario, Canada • When it has an apparently beneficial impact upon others. Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada • As Einstein pointed out, the only difference between genius and insanity is that genius has its limits. Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia • When, like Christopher Smart, you consider your cat Jeoffry. E Slack, L’Isle Jourdain, France We all want to live it up Will there ever be a time without construction sites? Certainly – the week your contractor is meant to start! Mac Bradden, Port Hope, Ontario, Canada • No, because we all like living it up. David Tucker, Halle, Germany More Notes & Queries See additional answers online bit.ly/notesandqueries Any answers? Do childhood thrills like riding escalators wear off ? Aoife Hanley, Kiel, Germany How far can you make it without reading? R De Braganza, Kilifi, Kenya Send answers to weekly.nandq@ theguardian.com or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Good to meet you Stewart Devitt My first contact with the Guardian Weekly was in the Belfast warehouse of the Irish print retailer Eason, sorting through the bundles of newspapers and magazines brought back from the docks. It often meant clambering into the back of the van to pull out the sought-after copies to ensure timely delivery. Failure to do so could trigger an irate phone call from my boss, Miss Marshall. She owned a local newsagency and prided herself on stocking any newspaper or periodical a customer wanted. A missed deadline therefore had the potential to lead to a major crisis. Maybe this experience accounted for my own behaviour when I transferred over to the retail side of the business: dealing with customers wanting their copy of the Guardian Weekly, and wanting it on time. This guardianship of the paper continued from Belfast to Dublin to Sheffield and it was automatic to watch out for copies and have them on the shelves on the right day. When I left the newspaper trade I may have thought the romance was over. How wrong could I have been! Finding myself in Auckland, New In natural history, it is easy to notice a first for the year, but to be mindful of the last is more difficult. I know that the house martins are gone, yet their going from our village entailed an unremarkable dwindling of sights and sounds, but slowly, like a loss of moisture in a puddle. I did have one memorable sighting last week in the Yare valley. Over Blackwater, about 40 were pooled above a poplar plantation and in and out of their midst swirled a single lost swift. The martins were smaller, busier, each one with a swept-back wing silhouette, which, depending on the way it turned, was shaped like a broad smile, or frown. They were feeding in a manner that entailed much even soaring, then passages of wing beats of about 15 flickering strokes in bursts of 1-3 seconds. In those moments of intensity, the birds would steeple higher, catch their fly, and then fall, resuming the steady-state evenness of the glide. I estimated 40, but only a dozen birds were visible at any moment and the rest were implied by an elastic net of dry buzzing notes that are the perpetual atmosphere in which house martins pass their lives. Zealand, where Radio NZ covers local and world news in about 10 minutes, the Guardian Weekly became a lifeline to world events. Great as this was, frustrations set in with the delay in me getting copies. Subconsciously I must have realised that Miss Marshall would never have accepted this so I took the only sensible option and became a subscriber. She most likely is looking down at me now, proud of the little role she played in strengthening my link with the Guardian Weekly. If you would like to appear in this space, send a brief note to email@example.com It seemed to me that it was the outriders that vocalised most, reassuring themselves of contact, but providing the loose, mobile web of calls with which all could keep company. And this sound, as simple as dried grass and as modest as insect stridulation, is the thing they take with them to Africa, and which I shall miss most. Since this bird eats only invertebrates, it is a call made of insects, but it is also much more. For house martins eat what is known as aerial plankton and the birds will return to Europe from Africa only when these tiny airborne organisms reach a critical mass in the air above our country. As the light diminishes, as warmth fades, as our hemisphere turns at an angle of 23.4 degrees away from the sun, so the calls go south. Think, then, of the house martins’ warm envelope of dry notes as nothing less than the music of our planet turning in space. Mark Cocker Read more Nature watch online bit.ly/naturewatch The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 43 Quick crossword 1 2 Cryptic crossword by Vlad 3 4 Across 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Across 1 Rich man with a much younger partner (5,5) 7 Female character in The Rivals who uses words wrongly (8) 8 Drooping cheek (4) 9 Ditch (4) 10 Factory for casting metal (7) 12 State of weightlessness (4,7) 14 Satirise (7) 16 Crow (4) 19 Persuade (4) 20 Horse race, first run in 1780 (3,5) 21 Any of the 99 numbered points that divide a set into 100 equal parts (10) 6 Standard typewriter keyboard (6) 11 Doubter – coatings (anag) (8) 12 Person militant about a cause (6) 13 From Nazareth? (7) 15 Sprite (5) 17 Part of a wall under a ridged roof (5) 18 Sharp (4) H O R R I F I C A W R E E S N T L C E R S Q C R U A A M E D Down 1 Piece of broken glass (5) 2 Syntax etc (7) 3 Unusual (4) 4 Blessing (8) 5 French mustard city (5) K L P E R A A G M B A T C I S I T L A C Q U M M E N E E N G O F I S A T S V E A N E Z Z U M E L L A N X E E G R T I P O S X I N D E C Z U R K E A S O T Y A J C O D S H P L U R Y S Last week’s solution, No 14,772 First published in the Guardian 18 September 2017, No 14,773 Down 2 Carnal desire chap satisfied ultimately, maybe watching one (3,6) 3 Finally become nurse to May’s new pals (3,2) 4 Visiting Bergen? That’s not right, not at all! (2,2,3) 5 Shady literary hero is hot but fairly dull (7) 6 Clearly states they’re fast (9) Futoshiki Hard Fill in the grid so that every row and column contains the numbers 1-5. The “greater than” or “less than” signs indicate where a number is larger or smaller than its neighbour. ©Clarity Media Ltd 3 2 ∧ 4 > 1 5 4 ∨ 2 < 3 ∧ 5 4 3 1 ∧ ∧ 1 5 > 4 > 2 < ∨ 2 < 3 1 5 Last week’s solution 2 ∧ 3 ∧ 4 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 18 16 19 21 17 20 22 24 23 25 26 7 River current stops her swimming (5) 8 Parting thought about term Lord applied to serial non-believer? (6,7) 9 Counter problem with explosive force and discover what 8 didn’t say, OK? (6,7) 15 Allowing 10 out one time to fish (9) 17 Run into bit of hassle over fine – don’t count on support here (2,4,3) 19 Pass ecstasy round stage school (7) 20 On the contrary, in Domino’s I never have meat (7) 22 Positive toilet’s the same as before (3-2) First published in the Guardian 19 September 2017, No 27,306 23 Hit in belly, American retired (5) P A N A C A O H L A U D A S S S S T L O I A S S I S S T E T A R M A U I N C A N N I B U P S H O T E R E N D I N H E C Q N U M V I F E P B R O A T A N C E W A C O D S W K D E S C E N H T J E T S G S L O N D O M P O A I R G I N A K U T H E R S E N C N O R W E I A L L O P N S T N T A T S B L A C K E N I E I G H T Last week’s solution, No 27,300 Sudoku classic Hard 5 ∨ ∨ < ∧ ∧ ∧ < > ∧ ∨ 5 6 ∨ 1 5 1 1 Liberal leader then – big shot! (8,5) 10 Gall bladder finally removed in folly (9) 11 10 about you grabbing old soldier abroad (5) 12 Plod catch male breaking in (5) 13 Couple involved with grass – one’s chicken (5,4) 14 Insecure stack yet to be fixed (7) 16 Debate is hard one to call (4,3) 18 Scoundrel in Clapton famously unpredictable (7) 20 I call it sunscreen, externally applied (7) 21 Latched on to jockey – it’s eventful! (9) 23 King pair (Vlad’s) (5) 24 Boredom caused by working, we heard (5) 25 Head off in temper – it’s over a lost key (9) 26 Get union involved with 10? It’s not serious (6-2-5) > ∨ ∨ 4 2 9 6 4 7 8 4 3 2 8 9 3 6 3 2 1 1 2 3 5 4 9 7 2 Fill in the grid so that every row, every column and every 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. We will publish the solution next week. Free puzzles at theguardian.com/sudoku 6 9 3 7 1 2 5 8 4 2 4 7 8 6 5 9 1 3 8 1 5 4 3 9 7 2 6 3 7 2 6 4 1 8 9 5 5 6 1 3 9 8 4 7 2 9 8 4 5 2 7 6 3 1 Last week’s solution 1 2 6 9 8 4 3 5 7 4 5 9 2 7 3 1 6 8 7 3 8 1 5 6 2 4 9 44 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Diversions Shortcuts Victories threaten club’s record for losing The Brazilian football club Íbis Sport hadn’t won a match for two years. Now the self-styled “worst team in the world”, which plays in the lowest division of the Pernambuco state championship, has three consecutive victories. But far from welcoming this sudden reversal of fortune, some fans claim the club’s roots and identity are at stake. Following a recent 1-0 victory against Ferroviário do Cabo, fans stormed a local bar where the players were enjoying a barbecue to demand: please stop winning. “This is destroying our history,” said protest leader, Nilsinho Filho. Other fans went on social media to complain, or call for resignations. “This is a worrying situation in the long term. To stop being an icon and to be just another winning team. It’s the coach’s fault,” read a typical tweet. Between 1980 and 1984, the team went three years and 11 months without winning a game, and entered the Guinness Book of Records as “the worst club in the world”. The club’s former midfielder, Mauro Shampoo, boasts that he scored just one goal in 10 years, and has also criticised the recent victories. “If we keep winning, we are going to lose our brand,” he said. Nilsinho Filho claimed that even if the club is promoted, Íbis Sport has claimed its place in history. “Even if we go on to win the Brazilian championship one day, no one will ever be able to take our title as the worst team in the world,” he said. Sam Cowie Bon appétit … a swarm of moon jellyfish “Jellyfish is a real issue over here and when I started cooking with it I realised it was also a really good product,” says Brown. Because of Ministry for Primary Industries restrictions Brown is unable to serve local jellyfish at his restaurant, and has to import it from South Korea. Brown says the MPI restrictions are “crazy” and says on some days he is barely able to swim in Wellington harbour because the ocean is clogged with jellyfish. “Some people go ‘yuck, no way’ and those are the people I really want to target and change their perception,” Brown said. Eleanor Ainge Roy Salvage firm targets New Zealand chef puts Atlantic gold wrecks jellyfish on the menu An environmentally minded New Zealand chef is selling plates of imported jellyfish after becoming frustrated that the seafood is being wasted in his homeland. Mass jellyfish landings are an increasingly common occurrence in New Zealand, with scientists saying warming sea temperatures, a decline in predators and nutrientrich oceans are contributing factors. Jacob Brown, an awardwinning chef from Wellington’s The Larder restaurant first started experimenting with jellyfish a couple of years ago, and says the seafood has ballooned in popularity as diners look for more sustainable proteins in their meals. Brown now sells around 150 jellyfish meals a week to his customers, and would like to expand his menu to include local possums, wasps, ants and wild Canadian geese. insurance records discovered by one of its senior researchers. “He came across a document written by an adviser to wartime chancellor of the exchequer Reginald McKenna, in a box of wills of deceased sailors. “It clearly indicated gold movements made on behalf of the government on requisitioned merchant liners, which were named, with values of gold and when they sailed.” “It’s a massive jigsaw to piece together and it took decades to do so,” he said. Rob Davis Germany has its first same-sex wedding A transatlantic salvage operation will put to sea to recover some of the estimated £125bn ($166bn) worth of gold and other precious metals sunk by German U-boats while being shipped to the US to pay for Britain’s first and second world war efforts. Britannia Gold, a UK firm that has spent 25 years analysing cargo lost at sea, will set sail in secret to explore the first cluster of shipwrecks it hopes will yield treasure. If successful, the company will take the loot to a secure location, from which it will negotiate a price with the UK government for its return. The company plans to explore dozens of shipwrecks stretching from the north Atlantic to the Caribbean, believing it can recover around 2,000 tonnes of bounty. Will Carrier, operational director of Britannia Gold, said the company had an unrivalled opportunity thanks to painstaking analysis of As they entered the golden room of Schöneberg town hall to the strains of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, Bodo Mende and Karl Kreile were only doing what tens of thousands of others had done before – tying the knot in front of friends and family in the southern Berlin district. But they were also making history as the first same-sex couple able to marry in Germany, after a new law came into force on 1 October. “After 38 years together, this is a day we’ve waited a long time for,” 59-year-old Kreile said. Mende, 60, said it was a “huge honour” for the couple to be the first in Germany to marry. “I remember the shame we felt when we were turned away from a registry office 25 years ago when we confronted the registrar as part of an organised protest. They made us feel like secondclass citizens.” Germany has now become the 14th European country to legalise gay marriage, and the 23rd worldwide. Kate Connolly Wordplay Same Difference Wordpool Identify the two words, which differ only in the letters shown: ****** (bad type) GAR****** (murderously bad type) Maslanka puzzles 1 This week Pedanticus’s ire was triggered by the word “biopic” on an arts programme on the radio. What might the problem have been there? 2 In The Cheeseparers of Turin, Count Nipcheese cuts off and consumes a triangle similar to the original shape of the cheese, leaving behind a triangle similar to the original shape. The original cheese is a 3-4-5 triangle, and he effects his “abscission” with each cut by dropping a perpendicular from the right-angle on to the (cur5 3 rent) hypotenuse. What fraction does he cut off at 4 each stage? Prove that infinite repetition consumes the whole cheese. 3 Sheriff Einstein challenges Gullible Gus to the following game: Gus will roll a die. If the score is a 5 or a 6, Einstein wins. Otherwise Gus will win. Clearly Gus’s chances are here 2⁄3. Now: if the same game is played with 3 dice and if the highest score on any die is a 5 or a 6 Sheriff Einstein wins, what are Gus’s chances? Endyce asks: what if we used n dice instead? 4 The probability of winning a single game is 90%. If you play it n times the chances of winning it every time falls below a half. What is the smallest n can be? Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka Find the correct definitions: GLABROUS a) rough b) like a reptile c) smooth d) slab-faced SAIM a) hogsfat b) older version for “Siam” c) oriental hut d) extinct herbivore E Pluribus Unum Rearrange the letters of GREAT ORDER to make a single word. Missing Links Find a word which 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) … a) fell dead b) fire walker c) car hate d) fool’s leaf e) blood tree f) solar point ©CMM2017. For solutions see page 47 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 45 Kicker here like this Then a short description here like this → Then Section and page XX Mind&Relationships Oliver Burkeman This column will change your life Do we need therapists? Research says self-help exercises could be better for you than cognitive behavioural therapy “ R esearchers say you might as well be your own therapist,” the website Quartz proclaimed recently, in light of a new study that found a vanishingly small difference between seeing a cognitive behavioural therapist and just doing various selfhelp exercises on your own. Naturally, this sort of thing is liable to make therapists angry. (The correct response is to nod compassionately and ask: “Now, why do you think that makes you so angry?”) As Mark Brown, a blogger on mental health, has written in the Guardian, we should be wary of any finding that seems to suggest governments could save money by telling people to sort themselves out. But the self-help route has another limitation worth bearing in mind: what makes you so confident you even know what your problems really are? Typically, self-help works like this: you’re troubled by some issue – procrastination, commitment-phobia, depression – so you seek a book to fix it, just as you’d seek a spanner or screwdriver if the legs on your kitchen table started wobbling. But minds aren’t like wobbly tables. There’s no reason to assume – actually, there’s much reason to doubt – that we’re in touch with our deepest anxieties and hang-ups. Rather than productivity techniques, maybe you need to face the fact that your job provides no meaning. Maybe accusing yourself of “commitment-phobia” is how you rationalise the subconscious awareness that your partner doesn’t love you. Maybe your depression is best understood not as the result of “automatic thoughts”, but as a sign that you’re living life to serve your parents’ agenda, instead of your own. Or maybe not: probably, some problems are exactly what they seem. But the question is so personal that the best book in the world can’t Illustration by Michele Marconi; right, Lo Cole What I’m really thinking The adult with autism help but miss the mark, whereas another human at least stands a chance of hitting it. And if CBT is truly no better than self-help, maybe the right conclusion isn’t that therapists don’t matter, but that CBT isn’t necessarily the apogee of therapy? Crucially, the point isn’t that therapists are wiser, thus better placed to tell you what your problems are. Rather, a good therapist will throw up roadblocks to your attempts to swiftly define the problem before hurrying on to fix it. This is the There’s no reason to assume – actually, there’s much reason to doubt – that we’re in touch with our deepest anxieties kernel of good sense in the cliche of the Freudian shrink who does nothing but rephrase his patient’s comments as questions: he’s refusing them the comfortable option of a one-size-fits-all solution, forcing them toward self-understanding. Therapy isn’t the only way to do this: journaling, meditation, even some books are among the others. What they all share is that they throw you back on yourself, blocking the easy but inauthentic alternative of using someone else’s secondhand answer. As Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, though he didn’t: “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem.” Plus, when it comes to psychology, there’s a bonus: half the time, a problem truly understood stops being a problem at all. firstname.lastname@example.org Last year I took some tests at my local adult autism centre and it emerged that I tick all the boxes for Asperger’s. I am in my 40s, and I am not alone. There has been a huge surge in adults, especially women, tested in the last five years. Why was it not noticed sooner? I was a very odd child: I rarely played with or talked to other children in my early years, out of choice, and spent most of my teens ostracised as I didn’t understand others’ social rules. But it was the 1970s, I was a girl, and autism was never mentioned; indeed, the diagnostic criteria until recently were based on presentation in boys. Do I wish I’d been identified sooner? Yes and no: I’d have liked some help, but not to have been limited by the label. I haven’t done badly in life. I have a degree and a good job, a partner, a house and a small but valued social circle. Now I have to come to terms with having what other people call a “disability”, a “mental disorder”, a “syndrome”, and which some people would like to see “cured.” I don’t want a cure: I value the unique insights, talents and attention to detail that Asperger’s has given me. The public at large still believe autism is found mainly in little boys. I can’t “come out” at work for fear of being thought of as either stupid or Rain Man. It’s much harder than coming out as gay, which I did in my 20s. Thank goodness for the online community, my local autism theatre group and Autscape, a conference I recently attended run by and for autistic people. There I could cou proudly say I’m identified as neuro-diverse. neur Autism rights have a long way to go, and I’d like to think I can, way, be a in a small w pioneer for neurodiversity. diver Tell us what you’re really y tthinking at mind@ theguardian.com thegua 46 The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 Sport Leeds’s McGuire finishes on a high Rhinos captain bows out after 24-6 Grand Final success over Castleford Rugby league Aaron Bower Old Trafford As part of the pre-match entertainment for the 20th instalment of the Super League Grand Final, the sellout crowd was treated to a northern soul medley to whet the appetite for kick-off. In hindsight it might have been wiser to plump for Motown because, as the Four Tops sang way back when, it’s the same old song once again for Leeds and their opponents in Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium. For the eighth time in 14 seasons the Super League title belongs to the Rhinos. This time – achieved with a 24-6 triumph over Castleford Tigers – may feel extra special given their exertions of 12 months ago when they were battling against relegation but, as they have done so many times in the past, Brian McDermott’s club showed that whenever they reach Old Trafford it takes something very special to beat them. Since they first lifted the Super League trophy in 2004 against Bradford Bulls, only one side – the Bulls the following year – have managed to find the formula to beat the Rhinos at Old Trafford. Wigan, St Helens, Warrington and now Castleford have felt the might of Leeds’ timehonoured ability to perform in the season’s finale. Most of them have also experienced the supremacy of Danny McGuire at one time or another; Castleford were no exception here. His performance was one that Leeds’s legendary leader, Kevin Sinfield, would have been proud of. For all the talk of Castleford’s fairytale season after decades of struggle, McGuire, finishing on the ultimate high here, was clearly in no mood to let his glittering career with his hometown club finish with a whimper. Next season will bring a new challenge at Hull Kingston Rovers for McGuire but, perhaps fittingly, his last performance in a Leeds shirt was one of the finest of his 424 displays. “Magic Mags”, said his team-mate, Stevie Ward, after the game. McGuire agreed things could not have gone to plan better. “It’s a fairytale,” he said. “I went to bed on Friday night and dreamed of the fairytale finish. A new challenge will be good for me but I was determined my Leeds career would finish on a positive note, and it couldn’t have gone any better. I said it was the right thing for the club and myself and I stick by it.” Leeds may not have been the best team this season but they are the champions. And that, as the curtain falls on another Super League season, is all that really matters. “To get here was an achievement,” said McDermott, nodding to the turmoil of 2016. “To win it? That’s where I get lost for words.” Ultimately, Leeds warmed to the task amid a flurry of handling errors – one of the more eye-catching Old Trafford finales this was not. But Tom Briscoe’s try from a McGuire kick, followed by a drop goal from the latter right on half-time, opened up a two-score lead which, given how out of sorts Castleford looked, always seemed a significant advantage. It was evident that the first try of the second half would be crucial. Castleford simply had to score it; they ‘Fairytale finish’ … Danny McGuire inspired Leeds Rhinos to their eighth Super League Grand Final win in 14 seasons Michael Steele/Getty Hardaker fails drugs test The England international Zak Hardaker has apologised for making “an enormous error of judgment” after being provisionally suspended by the Rugby Football League for failing a drugs test. Castleford dropped the full-back for the Super League Grand Final for what they called a breach of club rules and the governing body later revealed the player tested positive for cocaine following his club’s win over Leeds on 8 September. “I have let everyone at the club down,” said Hardaker, who has also been left out of England’s World Cup squad. AB did not. Instead it was Leeds who went further ahead, with McGuire again involved as he seized upon an error from Eden to put the Rhinos further ahead. Leeds would not stop there. Briscoe’s second preceded another party piece from McGuire and Leeds, the half-back touching down for his second try before he added another drop-goal to extend their lead to 24. Not all fairytales have happy endings. Pre-match, the story was all about Castleford, and all eyes were on the Tigers. In the end it had been largely forgotten that when the Grand Final rolls around and Leeds are involved, it is almost always their night. By full-time they had done a fairly decent job of reminding their Super League rivals of their virtues. England are going to the World Cup, but don’t hold your breath Inside sport Barney Ronay P ut out more flags. Dust down the red and white jester’s hat. Root out the gumshield, the crumpled Yekaterinburg metro map. And prepare to head once more into that strangely gruelling territory between bruised and fearful cynicism and the eternal quiver of tournament hope. England’s footballers booked their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia after surely the most meandering, flaccid qualification victory yet devised by any England team. Slovenia were beaten by Harry Kane’s late goal last Thursday but make no mistake – this was both a dreadful game of football and a numbing spectacle. Victory may have sealed qualification, but it deflated any realistic expectations of what might happen when England get there. This should concern the Football Association. There are only so many times even England fans will be prepared to pay £40 ($53) for the pleasure of throwing paper aeroplanes at the pitch. The challenge now for England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, is to produce a team that people actually want to watch. In their current guise, watching England is like watching a 12-round undercard split decision wrestle-off between a pair of ponderous overweight taxi drivers. Success for this team would involve simply playing with a little freedom, exploring their own limits and refusing to leave the competition until they have at least been beaten by a demonstrably superior team. Score some goals. Produce at least one performance that lets everyone feel giddy and stupid and deluded for four days in June. There is a wider issue here about international football itself. When England’s away fans in Malta last The Guardian Weekly 13.10.17 47 Sport in brief • Iceland’s footballers sealed their place in next year’s World Cup finals in Russia after a 2-0 victory against Kosovo in Reykjavik, becoming the smallest nation ever to qualify for a World Cup finals. Victory over Group I’s bottom side guaranteed top spot and an automatic qualifying place. “This is really odd, I don’t know what to say. I mean … Pelé, Maradona, Aron Einar Gunnarsson,” the Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said, referencing the Cardiff City midfielder at the heart of his side. They joined hosts Russia, champions Germany, plus Brazil, Belgium, Costa Rica, England, Egypt, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea and Spain as confirmed qualifiers for Russia, with the remaining places due to be resolved in the coming weeks. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland both advanced to qualifying play-offs, the latter at the expense of Wales after a tense 1-0 win in Cardiff. Scotland narrowly missed out after a 2-2 draw with Slovenia. month sang “we’re fucking shit” they weren’t angry or incensed or spoiling for a fight. They were taking the mickey out of the whole thing: England, us, them, the enduring disjunct between a domestic league of such screeching urgency and a national team who have withered in its shadow. Take note, Gareth. It is when they stop booing you really want to start worrying. England will travel to Russia with hope. But not much of it. Finals fantasy … Iceland fans celebrate plus a spark plug failure that forced his rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, to retire after only four laps, means the Mercedes driver holds an almost insurmountable points lead going into the final four races of the season. Hamilton had entered the race with a 34-point advantage over Vettel and leaves 59 ahead, with 100 available. If Hamilton wins at the next round in the US on 22 October and Vettel finishes below fifth, the 32-year-old will take the title and become Britain’s most successful racing driver, with Chess Leonard Barden Magnus Carlsen has seen off his rivals, at least for the moment. Following his early elimination from the World Cup in Tbilisi, the 26-year-old champion made the bold decision to travel to Douglas for the chess.com Isle of Man Open. Carlsen captured the £50,000 ($66,000) first prize with an unbeaten 7.5/9. It was the Norwegian’s first victory in a classical tournament for more than a year. The world No 1’s lead in the live ratings has now jumped from a meagre 10 points a few months ago to a healthy 36 ahead of his closest rival, the World Cup winner Levon Aronian. Fabiano Caruana had beaten Gawain Jones by finding a nuance at move 19 in a sharp variation of the Ruy Lopez. Carlsen opted for 14... Re8 and a more solid approach, was surprised by 15 g4!? and worked out the counter 15...Qe7 and 16...Nd8. As played, Caruana stood slightly better against Carlsen but began to lose the thread with 22 Bc2?. Soon the weak a5 pawn dropped while Carlsen’s powerful 26...d5! and 27... Bb8! opened up the game. Short of time, Caruana collapsed as 32...Ng5! • The man in charge of last year’s Rio Olympics was arrested last Wednesday as it was alleged 16 gold bars worth $2m that were stored in a bank in Switzerland were among his hidden assets. The investigation into corruption within the International Olympic Committee escalated as Carlos Nuzman, the head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, was detained amid claims he was a key figure in a bribery scandal that led to Rio de Janeiro being awarded South America’s first Olympics. Nuzman was arrested on suspicion of corruption, money laundering and participating in a criminal operation after Brazilian prosecutors alleged his estate increased in value by 457% between 2006 and 2016. They claimed not to have been able to locate any evidence of increased income. Leonardo Gryner, former chief operating officer of Rio 2016, was also arrested on the same charges. Maslanka solutions 3515 Fabiano Caruana v Magnus Carlsen, Isle of Man 2017. What is black’s winning move? prepared the decisive tactic that is featured in this week’s puzzle. Fabiano Caruana v Magnus Carlsen 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O b5 6 Bb3 Bc5 7 c3 d6 8 a4 Rb8 9 d4 Bb6 10 a5 Ba7 11 h3 O-O 12 Be3 Ra8 13 Re1 h6 14 Nbd2 Re8 15 g4!? Qe7 16 Nf1 Nd8!? 17 Ng3 c5 18 Qd2 c4 19 Bc2 Nh7 20 b4 cxb3 21 Bxb3 Be6 22 Bc2? Rc8 23 Bd3 Nb7 24 Rec1 Qd8 25 Qb2 Nxa5 26 Nd2 d5! 27 Re1 Bb8! 28 exd5 Bxd5 29 Bf5 Rc6 30 Qa3 Nb7 31 Rad1 exd4 32 Bxd4 Ng5! 33 c4 Rxe1+ 34 Rxe1 Be6 35 Qe3? see puzzle diagram 3515 35...Bf4! when if 36 Qxf4 Nxh3+ and Nxf4 or 36 Qd3 Bxd2 37 Qxd2 Nf3+ wins the queen. • Bradford Bulls became the first winners of the Women’s Super League Grand Final after they beat their West Yorkshire rivals Featherstone 36-6. Played at the Manchester Regional Arena as a curtain-raiser for the men’s Grand Final at Old Trafford, the Bulls were far too good for Featherstone as they ended their domestic season unbeaten, adding the league to their Challenge Cup success. Led by the outstanding Lois Forsell, tries from Kirsty Moroney and Forsell herself put Bradford ahead and, while Georgia Roche replied for Featherstone, that was as good as it got for them. Charlotte Booth scored to open up a commanding lead before half-time and second-half tries from Claire Garner, who also kicked four goals, Amy Hardcastle, Charlene Henegan and Haylie Hields rounded off the victory. • Lewis Hamilton is within touching distance of a fourth Formula One world championship after his victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. His fifth win in the past seven races, one more F1 championship than Sir Jackie Stewart. “I could only have dreamed of having this kind of gap,” Hamilton said. “Ferrari have put on such a great challenge all year long. I have to put it down to my team. They’ve done a phenomenal job.” 1 Oh the perils of gabbling for a living! Presenters get stuck on transmit and stop listening to their own output. With the depressing regularity, you hear presenter after presenter pronouncing bio-pic (a snappily welcome abbreviation for biographical (moving) picture) to rhyme with myopic— from my-opia, from µυω = I close, and opia, from ops, or eye (for those with the cultural benefit of a bit of Greek) because sufferers peer at everything. What can I say? Don’t! With thanks to Martin Constantinides of Ely, for sending in this bugbear. 2 With each 1.8 “abscission” he cuts of 0.36 of the 3 2.4 3.2 cheese, leaving 1.92 0.64 of it. Doing this an infinite 1.44 2.56 number of times consumes: 0.36[1 + 0.64 + 0.642 + 0.643…] = 0.36/(1 - 0.64) = 100% of the cheese. 3 For one die, Gus wins with probability 2⁄3; with two, 4/9; with 3, 8/27. For n dice: (2⁄3)n. 4 Raising a proper fraction to an integral power greater than 1 shrinks it. (.9)6 ~ 0.53…; 0.97 ~ 0.47…; so n = 7. Wordpool c), a) EPU RETROGRADE Same Difference ROTTER, GARROTTER Missing Links a) fell/walking/dead b) fire/dog/walker c) car/pet/hate d) fool’s/gold/leaf e) blood/money/tree f) solar/power/point Guardian News & Media Ltd. All rights reserved. Published by Guardian News & Media Ltd., Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK. Acting editor: Graham Snowdon. Printed by GPC. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Annual subscription rates (in local currencies): UK £120; Europe €196; Rest of World £192; US $240; Canada $240; Australia $312; NZ $392 Quarterly subscription rates: UK £30; Europe €49; Rest of World £48; US $60; Canada $60; Australia $78; NZ $98 To subscribe visit gu.com/subscribe/weekly Blade Runner 2049 ‘A narcotic spectacle of eerie and pitiless vastness’ Culture reviews, page 41 George Monbiot The suﬀering and ecological destruction inherent in livestock farming can no longer er be justiﬁed. The growth of the artiﬁcial meat eat industry oﬀers a sustainable alternative W hat will future generations, looking back on our age, see as its monstrosities? We think of slavery, the subjugation of women, judicial torture, the murder of heretics, imperial conquest and genocide, the first world war and the rise of fascism, and ask ourselves how people could have failed to see the horror of what they did. What madness of our times will revolt our descendants? There are plenty to choose from. But one of them will be the mass incarceration of animals, to enable us to eat their flesh or eggs or drink their milk. While we call ourselves animal lovers, and lavish kindness on our dogs and cats, we inflict brutal deprivations on billions of animals that are just as capable of suffering. The hypocrisy is so rank that future generations will marvel at how we could have failed to see it. t. The shift will occur with the advent of cheap artificial meat. Technological change has often helped to catalyse ethical change. The $300m deal China signed last month h to buy lab-grown meat marks the beginning of the end of livestock farming. But it won’t happen quickly:: the great suffering is likely to continue ontinue for many years. The answer, we are told by celebrity chefs and food writers, ters, is to keep livestock outdoors: s: eat free-range beef or lamb, not battery pork. But all this does iss to swap one disaster – mass cruelty uelty – for another: mass destruction. ion. Almost all forms of animal farmarming cause environmental damage, mage, but none more so than keeping ing them outdoors. The reason is inefficiency. Grazing is not just slightly inefficient, it is stupendously ly wasteful. Roughly twice as much of the world’s surface is used for grazing as for growing crops, yet animals fed entirely on pasture produce just one gram out of the 81g of protein consumed per person per day. A paper in Science of the Total Environment reports that “livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss”. Grazing livestock are a fully automated system for ecological destruction: you need only release them on to the land and they do the rest. Their keepers augment this assault by slaughtering large predators. In the UK, for example, sheep supply around 1% of the nation’s diet in terms of calories. Yet they occupy around 4m hectares of the uplands. This is more or less equivalent to all the land under crops in the country, and more than twice the area of the built environment (1.7m hectares). The rich mosaic of rainforest and other habitats that once covered the UK’s hills has been erased, the wildlife reduced to a handful of hardy species. The damage caused is out of all proportion to the meat pr produced. Replacing the meat in our diets with soya spectacularly d reduces the land area required re per kilo of protein: by 70% in the of chicken, 89% in the case of case o pork a and 97% in the case of beef. One study suggests that if the UK’s population were all to switch to pop a plant-based p diet, 15m hectares of land in Britain currently used for farming could be returned to nature. Alternatively, the country na could feed 200 million people. cou An end to animal farming would be tthe salvation of the world’s wildlife, natural wonders and wild magnificent habitats. magn Gr Grazing is not just sli slightly inefficient, it iis stupendously wa wasteful Understandably, those who keep animals have pushed back against such facts, using an ingenious argument. Livestock grazing, they claim, can suck carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil, reducing or even reversing global warming. In a TED talk watched by 4 million people, the rancher Allan Savory claims that his “holistic” grazing could absorb enough carbon to return the world’s atmosphere to pre-industrial levels. His inability, when I interviewed him, to substantiate his claims has done nothing to dent their popularity. A recent report by the Food Climate Research Network, called Grazed and Confused, seeks to resolve the question: can keeping livestock outdoors cause a net reduction in greenhouse gases? The authors spent two years investigating the issue. They cite 300 sources. Their answer is unequivocal. No. As the final argument crumbles, we are left facing an uncomfortable fact: animal farming looks as incompatible with a sustained future for humans and other species as mining coal. That vast expanse of pastureland, from which we obtain so little at such great environmental cost, would be better used for rewilding: the mass restoration of nature. Not only would this help to reverse the catastrophic decline in habitats and the diversity and abundance of wildlife, but the returning forests, wetlands and savannahs are likely to absorb far more carbon than even the most sophisticated forms of grazing. The end of animal farming might be hard to swallow. But we are a resilient and adaptable species. We have undergone a series of astonishing changes: the adoption of sedentarism, of agriculture, of cities, of industry. Now it is time for a new revolution, almost as profound as those other great shifts: the switch to a plant-based diet. The technology is either here or just around the corner. The ethical switch is happening already: even today, there are half a million vegans in the land of roast beef. It’s time to abandon the excuses, the fake facts and false comforts. It is time to see our moral choices as our descendants will.