A week in the life of the world | 25-31 May 2018 Modern Markle le A wedding that celebrated blackness A of anger Age Are we in A tthe midst of a gglobal red mist? Vol 198 No 25 £2.90 €5.50* Exclusions apply Lines of duty y Thandie Newton ton on a golden run of roles Roberto Salinas ‘We just want to go home’ Stories from Bidi Bidi, the world’s largest refugee camp. Page 4 → Abu Dhabi AED14.50 Bahrain BHD1.90 *Cyprus €2.50 Czech Rep CZK145 Denmark DKK39 Dubai AED14.50 Egypt EGP51 *Greece €3.95 Hong Kong HKD52 Hungary HUF950 *Republic of Ireland €3.30 Japan JPY900 Jordan JOD2.90 Kuwait KWD1.45 Latvia €5.50 Lebanon LBP6000 *Malta €2.20 Norway NOK52 Oman OMR1.65 Pakistan PKR385 Poland PLN14 Qatar QAR14.50 Saudi Arabia SAR15.50 Singapore SGD8 South Africa ZAR50.34 Sweden SEK55 Switzerland CHF9 Turkey TRY16.50 2 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 3. Catalonia Torra sworn in as president amid xenophobia claims World roundup 1 3 13 11 4 2 10 7 5 9 6 12 8 Quim Torra has been sworn in as the 131st president of Catalonia amid growing pressure over the “xenophobic” and anti-Spanish tone of his past writings and comments. Torra, a hardline Catalan nationalist handpicked by the region’s deposed president, Carles Puigdemont, was elected by 66 votes to 65 and assumed office at a low-key ceremony in Barcelona last Thursday. Since his appointment the 55-yearold lawyer and editor has been dogged by accusations that he is Puigdemont’s puppet and that his long history of anti-Spanish comments makes him unfit to lead a government. Six years ago, Torra wrote an article in which he described those who opposed the use of the Catalan language and objected to expressions of Catalan culture and traditions as “carrion-feeders, vipers and hyenas”. 1. Worldwide Number of billionaires soars, with Bezos topping the list 4. Brazil Baby delivered on island where births are banned A record 357 new billionaires were minted last year as the already very wealthy saw their combined fortunes soar to an all-time high of $9.2tn. The number of billionaires worldwide increased by 14.9% to 2,754 in 2017 as the wealthy benefited from the “remarkable performances in equity markets and global economy”, according to a report by ultra-rich research firm Wealth-X. The Wealth-X billionaire census 2018 found a “dramatic improvement” in billionaires’ assets, with their combined wealth increasing by $1.8bn – or 24% – to $9.2tn, as the very rich streak further away from the general population. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon (pictured), is the world’s richest person. His fortune has increased by $34.2bn in the past year to take his net worth to $133bn. In one day last month, his fortune increased by $12bn, after Amazon reported higher than expected profits. A remote Brazilian island has welcomed its first baby in 12 years after a local woman broke the rule against giving birth there. The baby girl born on the Atlantic outpost of Fernando de Noronha last Saturday came as a surprise to everyone – including the parents. “The mother, who does not want to be identified, went into labour at home,” the island’s administration said in a statement carried by O Globo newspaper. “The family says it wasn’t aware of the pregnancy.” Fernando de Noronha – a tiny archipelago famous for its wildlife preserve and with a population of just over 3,000 – doesn’t authorise births because there’s no maternity ward. Expectant mothers are told to travel to the mainland, where the nearest big city is Natal, 365km across the ocean. The unidentified mother has another child who was born on the mainland, but said that she “didn’t feel anything” during this pregnancy. 2. East Asia Banned ozone-destroying chemical detected A sharp and mysterious rise in emissions of a key ozone-destroying chemical has been detected by scientists, despite its production being banned around the world. Unless the culprit is found and stopped, the recovery of the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from damaging UV radiation, could be delayed by a decade. The source of the new emissions has been tracked to east Asia, but finding a more precise location requires further investigation. CFC chemicals were used in making foams for furniture and buildings, and in aerosols. But they were banned under the global Montreal protocol after the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica in the 1980s. Since 2007, there has been essentially zero reported production of CFC-11, the second most damaging of all CFCs. The rise in CFC-11 was revealed by Stephen Montzka, at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Colorado, and colleagues who monitor chemicals in the atmosphere. “I have been doing this for 27 years and this is the most surprising thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I was just shocked by it.” “We are acting as detectives of the atmosphere, trying to understand what is happening and why,” Montzka said. “When things go awry, we raise a flag.” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said: “If these emissions continue unabated, they have the potential to slow down the recovery of the ozone layer. It’s therefore critical that we identify the precise causes of these emissions and take the necessary action.” The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 3 Eyewitnessed The week’s events in pictures → Centre pages 24-25 11. Cuba Plane crash kills over 100 More than 100 people were killed when a Boeing 737 crashed soon after taking off from Havana in what appeared to be Cuba’s worst air disaster in nearly 30 years, officials and state media have said. The passenger plane, which was on a domestic flight to Holguín in eastern Cuba, crashed last Friday. There were 105 passengers, including five children, plus crew members, state media reported. Five of the passengers and the crew were foreign, according to media reports. Two Argentinian citizens and an unspecified number of Mexicans were among the dead, the Argentinian and Mexican governments said. Cuba declared an official period of mourning from 6am last Saturday to 12pm last Sunday, during which flags were flown at half-mast outside state and military institutions. The cause of the crash is being investigated. 5. Burundi President wins new powers 7. India Karnataka gains boost Modi 9. China Journey to dark side of moon 12. Malaysia Former PM Najib investigated Voters in Burundi overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, the country’s electoral commission said on Monday, ushering in changes that could see President Pierre Nkurunziza remain in power until 2034. In last week’s referendum, 73% voted in favour of extending the presidential term from five to seven years and allowing Nkurunziza to seek two more terms, beginning in 2020. Commission chairman Pierre Claver Ndayicariye said 96% of registered voters cast ballots in what rights groups described as a climate of intimidation. Opposition leaders say the changes will allow Nkurunziza – whose party has given him the title Supreme Eternal Guide – to be above the law. Prime minister Narendra Modi’s party has snatched a fragile victory in a state election outside its political heartland, boosting momentum for the Hindu nationalist leader a year before India’s national polls. Though the final result is still uncertain, analysts said the surge in support for the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in Karnataka state showed that its national appeal was still growing while its strongest foe, the secular Congress party, declined. The BJP won 104 of 224 seats in southern Karnataka state, the most of any party but eight short of governing outright. China is one step closer to being the first country to land on the dark side of the moon. At 5.28am on Monday, the Queqiao relay satellite was launched from Sichuan province, according to Chinese state media. With Queqiao in place, China will be able to send a lunar probe to the side of the moon that never faces the Earth. No space programme has ever reached that part of the lunar surface because of communications difficulties. The satellite will enter the moon’s orbit, about 455,000km from Earth. Queqiao – which means “Magpie Bridge” and comes from a Chinese folk story – will act as a bridge between ground stations and the lunar probe. Malaysia’s former prime minister Najib Razak was interviewed by anticorruption investigators as he came under renewed pressure over claims that he looted state funds when in office. Najib faces the possible reopening of a years-long scandal involving kickbacks and at least two other allegations of criminal wrongdoing. The government, headed by new leader Mahathir Mohamad, is seeking answers to how billions of dollars disappeared from the $250,000 state fund that Najib founded. Last Friday, Malaysian police seized 284 boxes of designer handbags, and 72 bags of cash, jewellery and watches belonging to Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, as part of the investigation. 10. Gaza UN oﬃcial criticises Israel 13. United States North Korea coin ridiculed The UN’s senior human rights official has castigated Israel, saying there is little evidence that its armed forces attempted to minimise casualties during p protests by Palestinians last wee week, during which dozens of demonst demonstrators were killed. s As a special session of the UN human rights council voted to set up com a commission of inquiry into the viol violence, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein sa that, while 60 Palestinsaid ia were killed and thousands ians inj injured , on the Israeli side one so soldier was wounded by a sstone. “The stark contrast in ccasualties on both sides is … suggestive of a wholly disproportionate response,” he said. → Comment, page 18 A coin to commemorate Donald Trump’s planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been criticised as premature. The commemorative piece was minted by the White House Military Office, which typically designs coins for Trump’s trips abroad, before the expected summit between the two leaders in Singapore on 12 June. However, Trump has said repeatedly since the meeting was scheduled that he may pull out. Many observers are worried that the coin may send the wrong message. 6. Cambodia Dam could ‘kill’ Mekong river A Chinese-backed plan to build Cambodia’s biggest dam could “literally kill” the Mekong river, according to a confidential assessment seen by the Guardian which says that the proposed site at Sambor is the “worst possible place” for hydropower. The report, commissioned by the government in Phnom Penh, has been kept secret since it was submitted last year, prompting concerns that ministers are inclined to push ahead regardless of the dire impact it predicts on river dolphins and one of the world’s largest migrations of freshwater fish. In its findings the report notes: “The impact on fisheries would be devastating.” The stakes are high for a country where 80% of Cambodians count on fish as their main source of protein. 8. Chile God made you gay, pope says A survivor of clerical sexual abuse, Juan Carlos Cruz, has said Pope Francis told him that God had made Cruz gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church. Cruz spoke privately with the pope about the abuse he had suffered at the handss of one otorious of Chile’s most notorious paedophiles. Juan “He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope s. loves you like this. appy You have to be happy e,’” with who you are,’” Cruz said. 4 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 International news Fleeing … about 3.5 million people have become refugees since South Sudan’s civil war began Roberto Salinas ‘Everyone around us was dying’ South Sudanese refugees reveal what drove them to a vast Ugandan camp Patience Akumu ‘Where is the money?” Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, asks his deputy, Riek Machar. “I bought guns,” Machar says. “Where are the guns?” Kiir insists. “I will show you,” Machar’s reply is sarcastic. Kiir is vexed. “I will remove you.” “We shall meet in the bush,” Machar says, his ego bruised. “We shall meet in the bush,” Kiir retorts. Gunshots ring out. People are killed. And so begins South Sudan’s civil war, as interpreted in a play by a class of primary school children. This is how they explain why their lives have been uprooted, why they have been forced to flee their homes, and why they have ended up here, in Bidi Bidi in north-west Uganda, the largest refugee settlement in the world. For the last five years, South Sudan has been riven by civil war since President Kiir accused his deputy of launching a coup. Since then, around 300,000 people have died and about 3.5 million have become refugees, with nearly half fleeing to neighbouring countries. Many of them have come south into northern Uganda into refugee camps. Bidi Bidi is the largest, home to more than a quarter of a million people. Here, the assertion that Uganda is the most welcoming country for refugees comes to life. During the day, adults till land that the government and community provide free of charge. Some volunteer with the numerous NGOs. Others own some of the small businesses that are transforming the forest, once infested with snakes and scorpions, into a mini-city. The children go to school to prepare for a future they hope will be far better than the life they fled. To reach the camp, many of the children had to walk long distances through thick forests – with their parents, if they were lucky, but more often alone. They jumped over dead bodies. They hurried to bury their loved ones in shallow graves, going against their culture. They traded their possessions to pay for rides . They crossed rivers and lakes in rickety canoes. They survived. At the peak of fresh fighting in South Sudan in 2016, Bidi Bidi received thousands of refugees every day. Now a few trickle in every so often. The settlement has swelled to the size of a large city, covering more than 250 sq km. The winding murram (gravel) roads and villages stretch to the horizon and you could spend all day trying to find a single place. Lush green patches and imposing rocks surround the mostly grass-thatched houses. Only the creative use of tarpaulins from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency – for roofing and carpeting to building makeshift shops and fenc ing homesteads – reminds you that this is a refugee settlement. As evening draws in, the kitchen fires of Bidi Bidi start to die down, some still hot and luminous in the gloaming. Betty Dawa’s fire is lukewarm, having been used to prepare the only meal of the day – posho (dried mashed maize) and beans – for her two children and husband, Julius Wani, who volunteers with Fahard, a local South Sudan Bidi Bi Bid di refugee camp DRC Uganda Kampala 200 km 200 miles Tanzania Kenya NGO that partners with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. They sing about the past and God’s goodness, dancing in circles and ignoring the whiff of beef cooking in the neighbour’s kitchen. “We do not have much but we have a lot. We have love and we have our culture,” Wani says. He addresses Emmanuel Atilio, an 18-year-old struggling to fit into the Ugandan school that put him three classes down when he arrived two years ago. “Would you like to leave Bidi Bidi one day?” Atilio thinks for a moment. “What is in Bidi Bidi?” he asks. “Even though you play football like Lionel Messi, even though you sing like Chris Brown, nobody will know, if you stay here in Bidi Bidi.” The men nod. Atilio’s words hang with undeniable importance. While the girls of Bidi Bidi are still in school, they study, dance and sing, but once they leave school, there are expectations. They will probably marry, have children and dedicate their entire lives to raising a family. This culture is hard to question, according to Christine Onzia Wani, who was working as a journalist in South Sudan when the war broke out. Onzia says it is strange being a refugee when she once covered stories about refugees. Sex. Menstruation. Rape. These are all taboo topics. Here, the stigma The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 5 On the website More coverage on global migration → theguardian.com January 2011 South Sudan breaks away from Sudan following a referendum. Italy’s populist coalition takes aim at immigration 9 July 2011 South Sudan declares independence. Angela Giuffrida South Sudan: a brief history December 2013 Civil war breaks out after South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, dismisses his deputy, Riek Machar, lifts his immunity to prosecution and accuses the vice-president of trying to overthrow the government. March 2016 Fresh fighting breaks out between the forces of Kiir and Machar. August 2016 The Bidi Bidi refugee settlement is opened in northern Uganda to host the thousands of refugees pouring over the border. August 2017 The UN reports that the number of refugees in Uganda has passed the 1 million mark. of being a woman who does not walk the straight path of chastity and obedience is heavy. “They raped a woman who went to collect firewood. Her friends saw her being raped but when the police came, she denied that she was raped,” Onzia says. “She ran away from Bidi Bidi because she could not live with everyone knowing.” Those taboos are only broken under the cool tarpaulins woven together to build Baraka, a shelter for women and girls. The women gather here on Wednesdays for counselling. On other days they come to talk, to encourage each other and to sell their craft bags and mats. Some saw their husbands being killed. Others were raped on the way. Many are still routinely raped by husbands who believe a woman must never say no. “I come here and listen to their stories and I say I am a little better,” says Lucy Ateyi, who translates what the women say to Celia Akankwantsa, a Ugandan counsellor. Before Ateyi came to Uganda, she was an accountant. She narrates her escape to no one in particular, almost as if in a trance: “It was a hard journey and I am happy to be alive, but this is not what I am used to.” Soldiers turned her away twice when she tried to reach Uganda. The third time, with her elderly mother-in-law, sick husband and three children in tow, she wailed in fear and frustration. “They said: ‘Why are you leaving South Sudan? Why do you want to go to Uganda?’ ” Ateyi says. “Everyone around us was dying and I cried because I could not take it any more. I know there were many in my situation but I had reached my limit.” Her voice is full of remorse for being the one who got away. At Baraka she found a group of women battling demons even worse than hers. Demons they have replaced with drawings of flowers and positive messages on the wall. “When I asked for money for soap, my husband told me: ‘This is a camp. Your husband is the UN now,’” says Sandia, a regular at Baraka. Her friends break into giggles. “Then in the night he said: ‘I need you.’ He was dirty and smelling and he had not bathed for days. I said no and he raped me.” “No situation is permanent,” Akankwantsa counsels the women. “We are empowered.” It is a cry for the women to remain hopeful. “What a man can do a woman can do.” But Herbert Wani, Onzia’s husband, thinks that the women of Bidi Bidi need more than a counselling centre. The refugee women are raped when they go to collect firewood because the community is angry and resources are shrinking, he says. Women have long been pawns during conflict. But Wani and Onzia say they love their life and are content to stay in the camp until the war ends and they can return to South Sudan. “We just want to go home. Not to Europe. Not to America. Why should we go there to wash dirty plates when there is so much land for farming?” Onzia says. “We shall one day go home.” Observer Patience Akumu was a guest of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Italy looked set this week to name a law professor without any political experience as the next prime minister. The country’s two populist parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), and the antimigrant League, Lega – announced a joint agreement naming Giuseppe Conte, 53, a lawyer and M5S member, as the next leader of the eurozone’s third largest economy after Matteo Salvini of Lega, and Luigi Di Maio, of the M5S, ruled themselves out. Conte required the approval of the country’s president, Sergio Mattarella, who held talks with Salvini and Di Maio earlier this week. The agreement, which Lega and Five Star vow would bury traditional politics for good, was endorsed by 94% of M5S members in an online vote. It was also put to Lega supporters and then submitted to Mattarella. M5S is the larger of the two parties but Salvini’s popularity has strengthened since the elections. Support for Lega stands at around 25%, according to the most recent opinion polls, up Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no political experience, was proposed as Italy’s next prime minister from 17% in March. The 45-year-old pledged to put “Italians first” during the election campaign and in the midst of the alliance’s negotiations said a new administration would begin only if Lega was given free rein at cracking down on “the business” of illegal immigration. “If I go into government, I want to do what I promised to do,” Salvini said. The two parties captured more than 50% of the vote between them in the elections on 4 March. That could herald an administration with the toughest line on immigrants in Italian postwar history. With Salvini tipped to be named as interior minister, Izzedin Elzir, imam of Florence and president of the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy, was worried. “Open, transparent mosques are an integral part of our urban, social and cultural fabric,” he said. Di Maio, 31, was quieter on immigration during the election campaign, but with M5S still garnering around 32% in polls, voters seem to be indifferent towards the party teaming up with a political force that has not only exploited the migration crisis but is also one Di Maio previously insisted he would never ally the party with. Voters appear unperturbed by the malice towards foreigners that emanated from Lega during the campaign, including a claim by Attilio Fontana, who was elected president of Lombardy, that the migrant influx threatened to wipe out “our white race”. In February, a far-right sympathiser injured six African migrants in a racially motivated shooting spree in Macerata. And on the morning after the elections, Idy Diene, a Senegalese street vendor who had lived in Italy for more than two decades, died after being shot at six times as he sold his wares on Florence’s Vespucci bridge. His killer was Roberto Pirrone, a 65-year-old white Italian who told police he had planned to commit suicide. When he couldn’t pluck up the courage to kill himself, he said he shot the first random target. A racist motive was ruled out, prompting fury among the city’s Senegalese community. Adnan Husein, a 28-year-old from Ghana who arrived in Italy by boat in 2016, said Diene’s murder had revived the same fears he felt at home. “They say they don’t want migrants, but over history so many Italians have migrated, especially to America, because they had to,” he added. “I understand that it wasn’t easy for them, either. Whether a person is white or black, we are all equal, all afraid and all trying to survive.” The deal between the parties to nominate Conte for prime minister came after weeks of intense negotiations between Salvini and Di Maio. The joint policy document, unveiled last Friday, contains plans to build more detention centres to accelerate the deportation of an estimated 500,000 illegal immigrants and review migrant rescue missions at sea after they arrive on Italy’s shores. The agreement also calls for a renegotiation of the Dublin refugee treaty, and for “unregistered” Roma camps to be shut down. The document calls for imams to be registered. Unauthorised mosques will face “immediate” closure while proposals for new ones and their funding will be scrutinised. Imam Elzir concedes immigration has become a “true” problem for Italy because of previous governments’ failure to manage it. “So I invite those in the new government to manage immigration, which means respecting the rules and showing solidarity. The electoral campaign is over – they now need to be more responsible instead of creating more fear in our society.” Observer 6 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 International news How a year of the Trump-Russia inquiry marginalised the fight for social justice Obsessive coverage by cable news leaves little room for other concerns How might the investigation play out for the president? It’s important to note that the work of the special counsel is secret, and the public has no way of knowing for certain what charges prosecutors may be weighing against the Trump team or, in what would be an extraordinary development, against the president himself. The president has denied all wrongdoing. Five key factors will define Trump’s predicament: Analysis David Taylor O ne of the greatest political spy dramas of the age has been playing out daily for 12 months in the US, with the former FBI chief Robert Mueller at its centre and an audience of millions around the world playing amateur detective. Mueller, appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, has spent the past year diligently pursuing a complex web of money and influence – or, as Donald Trump would have it, engaging in a “$10m witch-hunt”. So far Mueller has brought charges against, or reached plea agreements with, 19 people and three Russian entities. Among them, Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, campaign aide Rick Gates and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have entered plea deals. The former election campaign chairman Paul Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, tax fraud, failure to register as a foreign agent and other charges. As the investigation encircles Trump, Mueller’s team have questioned some of his family, his closest friends and White House officials. Meanwhile, as the inquiry has expanded and dominated the news agenda, it has been accompanied by obsessive cable television coverage. Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, said that while print and digital news media had mostly done a good job of lifting their gaze, cable news had struggled to escape a constant daily focus on Mueller and the Trump scandal. “The Mueller investigation really boils down the partisan approach of cable news,” he said, with MSNBC on the left and the conservative Fox News on the right. “My own reading is that both sides are losing credibility – you can only tell me so many times that this is the beginning of the end and it not happen for me to start turning it off.” Saturated … Trump appears on monitors at Nevada University Reuters The latest cable news audience figures from Nielsen suggest some evidence of what Pope calls viewer “burnout”. Fox News is still top, but primetime figures have slipped 13% in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the first three months of the Trump presidency, when the channel set records. By contrast, the Trump obsession burns strong for viewers of MSNBC – at 1.85 million viewers it is smaller than Fox, but up by 30% year on year. While CNN, Fox News and MSNBC viewers stagger from one Trump scandal to the next, America’s deep social challenges have not gone away. Teachers have gone on strike, highlighting stagnant salaries and impoverished schools; tax cuts have been rammed through for the wealthiest; the Fight for $15 continues to campaign against longer hours and low pay; a litany of cases reveals a justice system marred at every stage by inherent racial bias; the opioid crisis is worsening. I want to hear more about our crumbling cities, about race, about drug addiction, about schools Pope said: “I don’t turn on cable news and say: ‘Hey, I wonder what happened in the world.’ It’s more like: ‘What happened today in the Mueller investigation?’ They have almost just embraced the idea that it’s the Robert Mueller show and that’s it. I want to know about our crumbling cities, I want to know about race, I want to know about drug addiction, I want to know about schools.” The challenge for politicians trying to raise issues more relevant to people’s everyday lives is that they struggle to compete. Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic legislative campaign committee, told the Daily Beast she was dropped at the last moment three times from an MSNBC show as Trump news broke. “It’s difficult to break through with stories about teachers’ strikes or assaults on voting rights because there’s a new bad thing that Trump has done,” Post said. For some politicians the answer has been to establish their own platforms and even stage their own events. Bernie Sanders has led the way, creating ing a Facebook account with more than 7 million followers, ers, where audiences of more than a million have tuned in for livestreams of town hall events vents covering issues such uch as income inequality ality and governmentntfunded health-care for all. The 2020 election The most likely price Trump would pay, if he were perceived guilty of wrongdoing, would be a 2020 re-election loss. He can’t afford to lose many supporters and expect to remain in office. Any disillusionment stemming from the Russian affair could make the difference. His average approval rating has hung in the mid-to-upper 30s. Every president to win re-election since the war did so with an approval rating in the 49%-50% range or better. Congress As long as Republicans are in charge, Trump is not likely to face impeachment proceedings or to be removed from office. A two-thirds majority in the Senate is required to remove a president from office through impeachment. Public opinion If this swings precipitously against the president, however, his grip on power could slip. At some point, Republicans in Congress may, if their constituents will it, turn on Trump. Criminal charges Trump could, perhaps, face criminal charges, which would (theoretically) play out in the court system. But it’s debatable whether a sitting president can be pursued in this way. Other findings Robert Mueller is have Trump’s tax believed to h returns, an and to be looking at the Trum Trump Organization as well as Jared J Kushner’s real estate co company. It’s possible that wrongdoing wro unrelated to the ele election could be uncov uncovered. The president, and Kushner, deny w wrongdoing. G Guardian reporters The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 7 International news Women to the fore in US election race Prayer time … Santa Fe citizens mourn the high school dead Jonathan Bachman/Reuters Lauren Gambino Every once in a while, a voter approaches Amy McGrath, a first-time candidate for Congress in Kentucky and a retired Marines fighter pilot, to tell her they can’t support her. The reason? McGrath’s three young children need her at home. “I always point out that the incumbent who serves in the seat has young children the same ages as mine,” McGrath said, adding: “I can’t imagine they would say that if I was a man.” Exchanges like that are rare but they show the challenges female candidates face on the road to Washington, as record numbers prepare to run. McGrath (below), a Democrat, is part of a trailblazing crop of women aiming for Congress this year, especially for seats in the House of Representatives. There are 408 Democratic and Republican women still running for the House, compared with 167 in 2016 and 159 in 2014, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Many, like McGrath, are spurred by rage over losing a presidential election to a candidate with a history of berating women, and emboldened by #MeToo. “For years, women have had to walk this fine line between being capable and being likable,” said Erin Loos Cutraro, chief executive of She Should Run, a nonpartisan body that seeks to increase the number of women in elective office. “But with this massive groundswell we’re seeing women from all backgrounds run as themselves.” At least two women running for governor – Kelda Roys in Wisconsin and Krish Vignarajah in Maryland – have run ads featuring them breastfeeding. This month Grechen Shirley, mother of two, won Federal Election Commission approval to use campaign funds for childcare. Whatever happens in November, the quest for a more representative democracy will be far from realised. Women comprise 19% of the House and 23% of the Senate,, shares unlikely to swing ng signifielebrate cantly. “Let’s celebrate the women on the he ballot but let’s also look k at who’s traro not there,” Cutraro said, noting a lack of Republicans and ur. people of colour. “This is just the he e beginning – we h still have so much more work to do.” ” Santa Fe shuns Parkland path School shooting took 10 lives but ‘evil’ is blamed, not lack of gun control Tom Dart Santa Fe, Texas Amid the grief after the Parkland high school massacre, a powerful student activist movement emerged with stunning swiftness. It laid the foundation for nationwide demonstrations and a push for gun law reform. But following the fatal shooting of eight students and two teachers at a Texas high school last Friday, it seems doubtful this conservative, deeply religious small town will generate similar calls. In a place of 13,000 residents and more than a dozen churches, the focus has been on prayers and siting the shootings in the context of a biblical battle between good and evil, rather than framing it as an avoidable result of policy failures in a country with a unique gun culture. “Possibility, maybe. I’m not sure,” said David Sustaita, an 18-year-old student at Santa Fe high school, when asked if a Parkland-style youth movement could emerge. He suggested relatively uncontroversial measures that do not rile gun rights advocates. “ Metal detectors, better security, more cops. Like airport security.” According to the authorities, a 17-year-old student, Dimitrios Pagourtzis,, hid a shotgun and revolver g in a trenchcoat, tthen opened fire in an art class at the school, about 56km south-east of Houston. Hou So far the most mo vocal demands have come ffrom outside Santa the Houston Fe. Art Acevedo, Ace wrote on Facepolice chief, chi book: “P “Please do not post anything about guns aren’t the prob problem and there’s little we can do … This isn’t for prayers, a time t and study and inaction, it’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing).” Dan Patrick, the Texas lieutenant governor, was derided by liberal critics for proposing “door control” after telling reporters: “Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe he would have been stopped.” Evidence suggests a higher rate of gun ownership is linked to a higher rate of gun homicides. But it would be awkward for Patrick and other senior Texas Republicans to recommend any measure that reduces access to weapons. They spend much of their time trying to loosen gun regulations. Republican senator Ted Cruz told a Santa Fe massacre vigil nobody knows why there is evil in the world In recent years the Texas legislature – which meets in Austin, 1.5km from the site of the first mass shooting on a US college campus – has made it easier to bring guns into many public spaces, including universities. Texas teachers are allowed to be armed in some school districts, an idea embraced by Donald Trump after the deaths of 17 people in Florida in February. Another mass shooting occurred in Texas last November, at a church service in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs near San Antonio, with 26 killed and 20 injured. For many gun rights supporters it was in one respect a success story because the perpetrator was chased and shot by a civilian, Stephen Willeford. At the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas this month, feted as a hero, Willeford couched his encounter with the killer in religious terms. “I yelled out and the only reason I can explain it is the Holy Spirit calling out the demon that was in him,” he told NRATV. Like Trump, Greg Abbott, the Texas governor, and Ted Cruz, the US senator, gave speeches in Dallas. Abbott said the answer to gun violence is more weapons. “The problem is not guns, it’s hearts without God,” he said. In 2015, Abbott tweeted: “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans @NRA” Cruz and Abbott also spoke at a prayer vigil in Santa Fe last Friday attended by several hundred people, many wearing T-shirts with Christian messages. One man sported a handgun in a belt holster, taking advantage of an “open carry” law for licenceholders that went into effect in 2016. Abbott promised discussions with politicians, parents and school officials. He has suggested he would support a quicker background check process. “None of us knows why there’s evil in the world,” Cruz sermonised. Many demands for action postParkland have centred on banning assault-style firearms. But last Friday the shooter did not use an AR-15 rifle – the favoured weapon in many of the mass shootings – and he appeared to have taken the guns from his father, who purchased them legally. Brandon Santell did not sound willing to settle for acceptance of the status quo. “I honestly believe our president should do something. I’m not going to [take] sides but he needs to come down here and help us out,” he said. The 15-year-old was close to tears; one of his best friends died last Friday. “Evil thoughts cause all this and I don’t think anyone can actually stop an evil thought, but weapons that are available to people, that just makes it easier to cause all this harm.” Cartoon, page 21 → 8 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 International news Anger blooms over green street plan Dutch council offers residents chance to free streets from cars Daniel Boffey The Hague It seems a straightforward offer: swap your resident’s parking permit for a bit of greenery in the freed-up space, a lawn, a sun deck or somewhere for the children to play. However, if any further proof was needed of the west’s destructive love affair with the car, the reaction to a pilot project in one of the Netherlands’ biggest cities has been telling. Streets have been divided, angry complaints made and Walter Dresscher, the organiser of the council-backed scheme in The Hague, given a verbal going-over during a fiery public meeting. However, Dresscher’s determination remains undimmed: “We can’t go on like this. This has been a great success already because people are thinking.” The arguments are over a proposal by The Hague to allow residents in six streets in Segbroek, a suburb in the west of the city, to voluntarily swap their parking permit for six months and replace it with something green and pleasant on their street. Their vehicles would be stored in a car park for free, and those participating could choose how to use the vacant space. The long-term aim is to encourage people to use car-sharing schemes or switch to public transport and bicycles. Globally, most cars are said to be parked 95% of the time. Dresscher, an architect by training, said opposition from many residents in the selected areas illustrated how deeply people were attached to their cars, even in the Netherlands, which is often a pioneer in terms of green transportation. “The idea was to get people together but it didn’t. Why? If there Far from tranquil … drivers have hurled abuse at early adopters Judith Jockel is one that is very angry and starts mobilising the whole street then you have a problem. “But if you don’t want to participate, don’t participate. But physically a car is getting out of the street. Nobody is losing anything.” Dresscher insisted the initial hostility has abated but, as yet, only six householders have signed up to the scheme that starts next month. Two residents have, however, pre-empted that date by putting flower-filled tow-carts in front of their homes, to the irritation of some. Drivers have been known to shout abuse as they drive by. Dresscher, who has €60,000 ($70,000) of funding from the council and charities, is still confident that more people will come round to his thinking, and is glad that a debate has been started. Rembrant Frerichs, 40, and, Wolfert Brederode, 44, both pianists, and neighbours on Newtonstreet, said they believed it was an important first step in changing the nature of their road, but were yet to decide how to use the space in front of their homes. Brederode said:“People have this belief that they have a right to have a car, a right to have a parking space. A car is like a second home to people but it isn’t rational.” The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 9 International news Ebola vaccine on trial in DRC outbreak Analysis: Congo has seen virus before, but this is diﬀerent Rapid eﬀorts to prevent spread of lethal virus in city of 1.2 million people Jason Burke and agencies Health authorities and NGOs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began administering an experimental Ebola vaccine on Monday in Mbandaka, a north-western city of 1.2 million people. The campaign aims to “ringfence” a DRC outbreak. The risk of Ebola spreading within DRC is very high and the disease could move into nine neighbouring countries, the World Health Organization has said. On Monday at least 27 deaths had been reported, including a nurse in Bikoro, the rural epicentre of the outbreak. It was hoped that the disease’s spread in Mbandaka, a busy traffic corridor on the Congo river and an hour’s flight from the capital, Kinshas a, could be contained. On Monday, Oly Ilunga, the DRC minister of health, reported 49 haemorrhagic fever cases: 22 confirmed as Ebola, 21 probable and 6 suspected. Earlier, Ilunga said the vaccine would initially target “the health staff, the contacts of the sick and the contacts of the contacts”. Developed by Merck, the vaccine is not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in west Africa, where the biggest recorded outbreak of Ebola killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016. More than 4,000 doses are in DRC and more are on the way, according to officials. In Mbandaka, medical staff have been issued with infrared pistol thermometers to check travellers for high temperatures, as well as soap, basins of water, and logbooks for recording Safety … health staff prepare to deal with Ebola in Équateur province Getty visitors’ names and addresses. Schools in Mbandaka are instructing students not to greet each other by shaking hands or kissing. Soap dispensers were put outside some businesses so people could wash their hands before entering. Meat sales at riverside markets fell, traders said, because of the fear of eating contaminated bushmeat, which can pass Ebola on to humans. Towns across Equateur province were put under surveillance, as were centres of population upstream and downstream of the outbreak. But last weekend the WHO had stopped short of declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, saying there should not be restrictions to international travel or trade. Ebola, which can cause internal and external bleeding, has been recorded nine times in the DRC since the disease first appeared near the northern Ebola river in the 1970s. There is “strong reason to believe this situation can be brought under control,” said Robert Steffen, who chaired the WHO expert meeting last week. But without a vigorous response the situation was likely to deteriorate,he said. Nahid Bhadelia, an expert in highly communicable infectious diseases at the Boston University School of Medicine, with experience of the 2014 outbreak, warned against complacency. She said: “The vaccine is a powerful tool but you still need other tools. You still need to find the contacts. This outbreak has multiple epicentres that are some distance apart and include a big city … Then you need some kind of infrastructure to follow up.” The Democratic Republic of the Congo has contained and ended two outbreaks of Ebola in recent years, but this one looks different. Last year and in 2014, in contrast to the huge epidemic in west Africa, Ebola was swiftly extinguished by the Congolese, who have experience of dealing with it. There have been eight outbreaks since 1976 in DRC and 811 deaths. In the three west African countries where Ebola had been unknown before it took off in 2014-15, there were more than 11,000 deaths. There have been 44 reported cases so far in DRC, according to the World Health Organization, whose director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has flown in to visit. He went to the rural epicentre in the Bikoro health zone, where villages are hard to reach in the current rainy season. But it is confirmation of one case of the virus in Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million located 130km from Bikoro, that is causing alarm. Ebola haemorrhagic virus spreads by contact with bodily fluids. The family and carers, including hospital staff and burial workers, are at risk. Tracing contacts is crucial to containing Ebola. In Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, families were taken to isolation centres and villages quarantined. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the DRC had coped well with Ebola in rural areas, but it is in the city that the vaccine would have an important place in control. Sarah Boseley Opponents denounce Maduro’s election win as ‘fraud’ Tom Phillips Venezuela ’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has shrugged off international condemnation and allegations of vote-buying and electoral fraud to claim a second six-year term at the helm of his crisis-stricken nation. Addressing supporters outside the presidential palace in Caracas last Sunday night, he hailed the “impeccable electoral process” that returned him to power with 67.7% of the vote. The election board put turnout at just 46.1%, way down from the 80% registered at the last presidential vote in 2013, due to a boycott by the mainstream opposition. Tibisay Lucena, head of the electoral commission, told reporters Maduro had received more than 5.8m votes compared with the 1.8m of his nearest rival, Henri Falcón. But even before Maduro’s victory speech, opponents and much of the international community were denouncing the election as a “fraud foretold”. Falcón claimed vote buying and electoral irregularities meant the election was “illegitimate”. He told reporters: “We do not recognise this electoral process as valid. As far as we are concerned, there has been no election. There must be new elections in Venezuela.” Luz Mely Reyes, a prominent Venezuelan journalist, tweeted: “Today is a sad day for democracy. The government clings on and manipulates, the opposition is divided and lacking a strategy. And voters are without guides or leadership.” The US mission to the UN indicated it would reject the result. “Today’s socalled election in Venezuela is an insult to democracy ... It’s time for Maduro to go,” it tweeted. Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, said his country, “like the majority of democratic countries”, would not recognise the vote. “Venezuela’s elections do not meet the minimum standards for a true democracy.” Maduro dismissed such criticisms in his victory address and vowed to work swiftly to stabilise the economy, which shrank by 13% last year and has seen more than a million people flee abroad since 2015. “You have put your trust in me and I will pay back this infinite, loving trust,” he said. Leader comment, page 22 → The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 11 ‘The fight will never truly be over’ The global threat to abortion access → Leader comment, page 22 International news ‘It felt impossible to get this going’ – inside Beirut’s LGBT safe haven Lebanon diary Saeed Kamali Dehghan T ucked away in a quiet neighbourhood of Beirut, Helem, the first community centre for LGBT people in the Arab world, opens every day from midday to evening. Everyone is welcome. Inside, Wael Hussein, a 24-year-old gay man, is chatting with Naya, a transgender woman. “This is my other home, I consider people here as my family,” says Hussein. “Many come to find friends – outside, they find it difficult to be accepted.” Compared with other countries in the Middle East, Lebanon has a relatively thriving LGBT community. During a recent dinner at Em Nazih, a trendy cafe in Beirut’s Gemmayze district, stereos blared the indie rock band Mashrou’ Leila, whose frontman is Muslim and openly gay. But life is not without its hazards. Hadi Damien, the organiser of Beirut Pride, the only event of its kind in the Arab world, announced the festival had been suspended after he was threatened with prosecution. For those still facing discrimination, obstruction and even violence, Helem is a lifeline. “I’ve been coming here for a year now. I’m alone and I come here to talk to people,” says Suzy, a 41-year-old trans woman with a bruised left eye. “I was in the disco. Two people riding on a motorbike stopped and punched me in the eye, stole my bag, money and my phone.” Hussein joined Helem (which means “dream” in Arabic) two-anda-half years ago as a volunteer before becoming one of only three paid staff seven months ago as a case worker, dealing mainly with those who have fallen foul of Lebanon’s infamous article 534, which criminalises “unnatural sexual acts”. He carries a mobile phone that serves as a 24-hour emergency hotline. But the work is not all about crises. Hussein also runs makeup workshops. “Some people have just found out about their gender identity, and they are intrigued to use makeup to intensify it, like trans women,” he says. “It makes me smile. When they see themselves in the mirror, their eyes start shining.” ‘We’re family here’ … Wael Hussein (left) a case officer at Helem, chats with a regular visitor Adib Chowdhury Helem was set up as an underground movement nearly 20 years ago and its reputation has spread throughout the Arab world. Several similar organisations have been set up, including the NGO Shams in Tunisia, fighting for decriminalisation of homosexuality. Afsaneh Rigot of British human rights group Article 19 said Helem was “an LGBTQ oasis in the Middle East and north Africa” and “a refuge for some of the most marginalised people in Lebanon”. But progress has not been straightforward. When Samhat, 31, joined four years ago, the organisation was almost moribund. Her It makes me smile. When they see their makeup in the mirror for the first time their eyes start shining arrival coincided with a Lebanese security forces raid on a local bathhouse, the Hammam al-Agha, which resulted in the arrests of 36 people. “When I joined, it was a trial to see if things would work again or not. Helem had lost its community centre, its offices, all of its funds. It had zero dollars in its bank account,” says Samhat. “It felt impossible at one point to get this going again, but the raid was my first incident with such an arrest file … and it was a major push to try to do something about it.” Most of the people rounded up in the raid were sent to the Hbeish detention centre, and Helem’s ensuing work highlighted torture there. Such physical mistreatment appears to have stopped. At least 17 people are currently detained in Hbeish, mostly transgender people. “Trans people face the most discrimination – they’re visible,” Samhat said. “They were mostly arresting trans women who never ever got the opportunity to find a job, who were kicked out of their family houses, who dropped out of school because they were bullied. We believe in personal freedoms and if people choose to be sex workers, it’s their right and we will defend them, but we do have to realise a lot of people do it out of survival reasons.” Naya, 21, heads Helem’s sevenmember trans committee and says it is serving as an umbrella that makes people like her “feel stronger and lets us do things we couldn’t do before – like offering hormones”. The organisation also provides more essential help. There are places to sleep, a bathroom and a kitchen with a fridge, a gas stove and a washing machine. Its sister organisation, the sexual health clinic Marsa, provides free HIV tests, and charges $100 for comprehensive screening that includes chlamydia and gonorrhea. Nearly 260 people visit Marsa each month – of whom two or three on average test positive for HIV. “A lot of people don’t seek medical assistance, because they can’t tell doctors [about their sexual orientation]. If they look effeminate, they’d get humiliated, kicked out of hospital,” says Diana Abou Abbas, 36, who runs Marsa. “Marsa is a safe place, free of judgment and discrimination, people can talk about their practices without worrying that they would be judged.” 12 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 International news Backpackers challenge low wages, bad lodgings and abusive employers Anne Davies Martin Hand knew something was wrong as he watched his fellow backpacker stagger down the road in the searing heat of a Queensland summer. Hand, a British traveller, had been picking pumpkins on a farm near Ayr, a small town 10km from the coast, with other young backpackers including Olivier “Max” Caramin, a 27-year-old Belgian. The day was hot – the temperature had reached 35C – and the field where they were working was in a bowl with no breeze. There was no shade on the trailer used to take the boxes of pumpkins to the shed. “It was really hard to cool down,” Hand says. “We told [Max] to get into the shade of the trailer, but then Max ran past me. His complexion was completely different from when I last saw him, his eyes were cross-eyed and he was running like a newborn deer, with his arms and legs all wobbling. I said: ‘What’s going on?’ I knew it was serious.” Caramin died in Townsville hospital hours after collapsing on that day last November. The coroner is still to report. Caramin had been on the property for three days, undertaking farm work as required by the Australian government in order for young foreigners to extend their working holiday visa by a year. Designed to provide seasonal workers for farms and other industries, the 88-day rule requires that backpackers spend time in specific jobs such as fruit picking and packing, trimming vines, tree farming, or working in mining or construction. While most say working on a farm enriched their Australian experience, Caramin’s death comes amid a growing list of complaints by young backpackers in rural Australia about sexual harassment, substandard living conditions, breaches of workplace safety laws and financial exploitation. The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), which covers fruit pickers and farm labourers, says the incentives inherent in the scheme make backpackers vulnerable. They are on remote farms as temporary workers and there is little reason for farmers to train them, says the AWU’s national organiser, Shane Roulstone. “And because the backpackers’ top priority is to get their paperwork signed, they are likely to put up with illegal wages and poor conditions.” In rural towns, poor treatment of backpackers and incidents of exploitation are an open secret, as the Guardian discovered during a trip along the Murray river with a British student, Katherine Stoner, who, following her own experiences as an 18-year-old, returned to make a documentary on the 88 days policy. Routine underpayment, the crowding of backpackers into rundown accommodation, and sexual harassment were openly discussed by temporary workers. Stoner and the Guardian travelled to Mildura, a town of 30,000 people in the southern state of Victoria. It is a green oasis of fruit growing in the dry Australian outback and a magnet for backpackers trying to complete the required farm work. The former mayor Glenn Milne, now a councillor, says he’s aware of breaches of workplace safety, wage exploitation and unscrupulous hostel owners who are often also the labour hire contractor. “There are contractors and owners of properties that have a very bad reputation. Our own council has been involved trying to take every action they possibly can, and we continue to do that,” he says. Stoner came out to Australia straight after school. “I saw a problem in the system,” she says. “The farmers don’t treat you very well. Some do. But in my experience some of the farmers were rude, sexist. There was some sexual harassment – and it was just accepted.” One farmer suggested that she and her friend Elle, also 18, might like to pick peaches naked because it was such a hot day. The two girls, just out of school and on an isolated farm, were terrified, especially when the farmer returned 20 minutes later. This type of sexual harassment pales in comparison to other reports of sexual exploitation. Milne says he has heard of farmers offering to sign off young women’s paperwork in return for sex. More commonly, the problems Power to the people: New Zealand budgets for happiness Eleanor Ainge Roy Dunedin The first Labour government in close to a decade has pledged to make New Zealand a kind and equitable nation where children thrive, and success is measured not only by GDP but by its people’s lives. Finance minister Grant Robertson said the Labour coalition government didn’t want to “manage” issues such as child poverty and homelessness – it wanted to end them. Although the 2018 budget was focused on rebuilding public services – particularly the healthcare sector – Robertson said next year’s budget would be the first in the world to measure success by wellbeing. “We want New Zealand to be a place where everyone has a fair go, and where we show kindness and understanding to each other,” said Robertson. “These changes are about measuring success differently. Of course a strong economy is important but we must not lose sight of why it is important. And it is most important to allow all of us to have better lives … the government is placing the wellbeing of people at the centre of all its work.” Ahead of the budget, the government repeated the message that before embarking on its ambitious social policies such as ending child poverty, tackling climate change and housing every New Zealander, it first had to invest in upgrading health and education services. Labour’s first budget was viewed as restrained and fiscally cautious, with Robertson forecasting a NZ$3bn ($2bn) surplus this year, increasing to $7bn in 2020. The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said her government was not focused on the election cycle, but generational improvement in New Zealanders’ lives. “Rebuild what?” said Ardern, Jacinda Ardern: ‘If we’re not here for kids and the future of the country they live in, then why are we here?’ Amanda Hughes/Alamy; Facebook; Anne Davies Exploited, exposed – cost of Australia’s seasonal visa rule The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 13 The Belgian town where the mentally ill lodge with locals Old Flemish tradition is finding new advocates, says Jennifer Rankin M Clockwise from left … payment by results bypasses the minimum wage; Olivier ‘Max’ Caramin, who died; an advert for farm labourers in Mildura encountered by backpackers relate to financial exploitation. In Mildura, the Guardian met three young women living in the caravan park on the edge of town. They had lost their jobs and been evicted from a hostel in nearby Red Cliffs after querying their pay and conditions. Sophie Etheridge, a 23-year-old law graduate from the UK who had been harvesting almonds, said it was impossible to earn a decent wage, as the backpackers were paid for the amount they gathered rather than the hours they worked. She says that for six days’ work she was paid A$550 ($415). When she complained, she was given just three hours to pack her things and leave the hostel. A survey of 4,322 temporary migrants – which included backpackers, students and people on temporary work visas – found that underpayment was widespread. Almost half the participants reported being paid A$15 an hour or less, when the minimum wage at the time was A$21.15. A spokesman for the Australian Department of Jobs and Small Business said it took the issue seriously. defending her budget and rounding on the opposition leader, Simon Bridges. “Well let’s start with New Zealand’s reputation shall we? We are rebuilding a government that thinks about people. I want my child to look back on the history books and judge me and this government favourably, rather than deciding to change their name. “If we’re not here for kids and the future of the country they live in, then why are we here? And if our budget isn’t about people than what is it for? And on both counts, this government is happy to be judged.” Major announcements in the budget include a $3.2bn increase in health spending, a commitment to build an extra 1,600 properties for public housing every year, cheaper doctor’s visits for half a million people (and free for those under 14), $450m for new schools, and $300m to recruit police officers. The education sector was also a priority, with early years education receiving an extra $590m over four years, $284m for children with special needs and spending on new classrooms and schools and teachers totalling $394m. “Every child, regardless of how wealthy their parents are, what language they speak or their ability to disability, has a right to a world-class education,” Ardern said. aria Lenaerts was seven when she came home from school to find a stranger at the kitchen table. It was September 1942 in Nazi-occupied Belgium. The young man looked afraid. He did not say a word to her. “He was sitting at the table like this,” she recalls, hiding her head in her arms. “He didn’t understand anything.” This was her first encounter with Jefkae Harbant, then an 18-year old with a learning disability and no place to call home. He was born in the French-speaking part of Belgium and did not speak a word of Dutch. Neither Maria nor her parents knew any French. Despite the language barrier, Maria’s parents, who were cattle farmers in the Flemish lowlands, had decided to take the young man in. This was not only an act of wartime charity, but came from a centuries-old tradition. Seventy-six years later, Harbant, 94, still lives with Lanaerts and her husband Jules Teunkens. For hundreds of years, residents in the town of Geel have been giving a home to strangers with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Many stay with the same family for years, often decades. Somehow a tradition from the age of Chaucer has survived and evolved into part of Flanders’ state healthcare system. In 2018, 205 people are Geel boarders, although home care is now only for those with mental health problems, not learning disabilities. In an age that is more aware of the crushing toll of mental illness, the homecare system has made this small town near Antwerp a curiosity. Geel’s model has stirred interest around the world. The town traces its boarding tradition to the 13th century, when people with all kinds of illnesses made a pilgrimage to the local Saint Dymphna’s church. According to legend, Dymphna was an Irish saint who was murdered in Geel. Pilgrims travelled long distances to her church, searching for miracle cures. When there was no more room in the sick bay, local people gave them a place to stay. The Geel homecare tradition was incorporated into the state in the 19th century, eventually ending under the umbrella of the Psychiatric Care Centre (OPZ). Most boarders have severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or personality disorders. “They have a long history of disease and referrals. They are not capable of living alone,” says Mieke Celen, a psychiatrist at OPZ, who oversees the matchmaking between foster families and patients. Foster families are never told the patient’s diagnosis, although they are warned about behaviour that they might expect: can they live with someone who smokes or walks around the house during the night? Few relationships break down. For advocates, Geel’s forte is seeing the person, not a bundle of stigmatised labels. Boarders are given responsibilities in the household, says Wilfried Bogaerts, an OPZ psychologist: “They take care of the dog, go to the shop, do the dishes … so patients are needed and wanted.” Lenaerts would recommend taking in boarders, yet she doubts that the system fits with how people live now. “It won’t last,” she says. “People have a lot of activities and recreation – they don’t have time.” Home … Jefkae Harbant, centre, with Maria Lenaerts’ family Judith Jockel 14 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Finance US and China act to avert trade war World view … technology has solved problems for Africa while also creating new dilemmas Getty Graeme Wearden Is big tech bad for Africa? Economic gains may be outweighed by issues such as data control Phillip Inman African countries should be nervous about the big technology companies sweeping through their economies, knocking out established businesses and crushing startups before they have had a chance to blossom. That’s the message from the anti-poverty charity Global Justice Now in a report that warns of an “e-pocalypse” across the southern hemisphere, as western firms keen to sell digital services use their muscle to outmanoeuvre businesses in poorer nations. Africa is seen as vulnerable after decades of underinvestment. “Tech companies like to project a modern, progressive image to the world. But, under the surface, companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and Uber are pursuing an agenda that could hand them dangerous levels of control over our lives and profoundly harm economic development in the global south,” the report says. Industry bodies deny there are moves to establish global rules that would force-feed western technology to developing-world countries. They say e-commerce liberates small and medium-sized businesses to export goods they could never previously afford to sell. They also say that states’ attempts to keep data in local servers prevents tech firms benefiting from economies of scale by housing data in vast hubs across the globe. Christian Borggreen, a researcher at the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the lobby group for Facebook, Netflix, BT, Amazon, eBay and others, says: “Forced data localisation is on the rise globally. Since the year 2000 the number of national requirements grew from 15 to 84.” There is a risk, he says, that countries demanding data localisation “do this for protectionist or censorship reasons”. He is thinking of Russia and China. There is also a risk of damage to productivity from throwing sand in the wheels of global tech. The International Monetary Fund said last month that half the productivity gains in the developing world came from globalisation, and much of that comes from the adoption of western technology. Nick Dearden, head of Global Justice Now, however, says it is essential that developing countries retain their citizens’ data within their borders to avoid the core of their economies being prey to the whims of foreign businesses. “Without [keeping data local] it’s so much more difficult for countries to regulate and tax industries, for them to get really any benefits out of investment with no skills, jobs or technology transfer, or to nurture infant industries. It’s the central problem with the way trade deals operate.” Susan Aaronson, a digital trade expert at George Washington University, Washington DC, says fighting international rules to protect local data privacy is the wrong approach. She argues that developing world countries “could say to tech firms ‘you need to pay for our data and you ‘More than 100 countries have no privacy laws at all – this isn’t addressed’ need to be transparent about how you use it’. They haven’t so far. They’ve accepted the Facebook model.” Nick Ashton-Hart, a trade expert who used to work at the CCIA, says the report should consider data separately from e-commerce. Dearden sees trading platforms such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba as rent-seeking operators sucking money out of the economy, but Ashton-Hart says they give small businesses in developing countries access to global markets. Allowing them, with Facebook, Google and others, to store data where they wish would create huge efficiency savings. Governments can set rules for their citizens’ online privacy and do not need to do it by demanding that global firms maintain relatively small local databases. “The bigger issue is that more than 100 countries have no privacy laws at all, according to Unctad [the main UN body dealing with trade, investment and development issues], but this isn’t addressed at all,” says Ashton-Hart. “If developing countries want to protect their nationals, that’s where to start, and NGOs should be calling them out for not doing it.” The issue has come into sharp focus with the EU’s plan to impose new data protection rules in Europe that force companies to win users’ consent before storing personal data online, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It becomes law this week, and is causing anxiety in the tech sector and small firms that rely on customer databases for new business. Technology is seen as solving huge problems for developing countries, from corruption to poor healthcare, but the issue of democratic control is unlikely to go away – and is likely to prevent an international agreement being reached soon. Observer America has pulled back from launching a trade war with China that could have destabilised the global economy, by agreeing to put proposed tariffs on Chinese imports “on hold”. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said last Sunday that negotiations with Chinese officials had borne fruit, meaning Washington and Beijing could step back from imposing punishing tariffs on each other’s exports. The breakthrough came after two days of talks between Mnuchin and China’s vice-premier, Liu He, in Washington last week. Mnuchin (pictured below) said the US has won commitments that should cut America’s trade deficit with China ($375bn in 2017). Beijing has not agreed, however, to cut the deficit by a particular amount, despite the Trump administration pushing for a $200bn reduction. In a statement, the two sides said: “To meet the growing consumption needs of the Chinese people and the need for high-quality economic development, China will significantly increase purchases of United States goods and services.” Xinhua, China’s news agency, said the statement amounted to a vow “not to launch a trade war against each other”. Last month the US and China announced tit-for-tat tariffs that could have triggered a full-blown trade war. The US announced 25% tariffs on more than 1,000 Chinese products – from robots and depleted uranium to aircraft parts and dishwashing machines. China hit back with proposals for tariffs of 25% on 106 US goods, including soybeans, cars and chemical products. This could have hurt US farmers and manufacturers in the “rust belt” – two key election battlegrounds. None of these tariffs have yet come into effect, meaning China and the US can step back from a conflict over trade. But Tai Hui, JP Morgan’s chief market strategist for Asia Pacific, warned: “Historical precedents suggest the US could re-engage with China on trade issues if it sees China dragging its feet on fulfilling its pledges.” The US is fighting several trade battles. It has already imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, with EU countries seeking an exemption. Donald Trump also wants a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 15 Have your say Readers on Facebook and privacy → Reply, page 23 UK news Britain turns screw on Russian oligarchs in visa crackdown Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich among those facing wealth scrutiny Heather Stewart Patrick Wintour The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has hinted that Britain could seek to take tougher action against Russian oligarchs in the wake of the poisoning of the former spy Sergei Skripal, saying he is looking closely at the approach taken by the Trump administration. Asked about the news of an apparent delay in processing Roman Abramovich’s visa, which kept the Chelsea football club owner away from last Saturday’s FA Cup final, the foreign secretary said it would be “totally wrong” for him to comment on individual cases. Commenting on the White House’s more stringent approach to Russian oligarchs, Johnson said: “The truth is actually that I think the effect of some of those sanctions, particularly on some individuals, has been very marked and I’ve noted that, but we have our own systems and our own approach and we have to do it in accordance with the law and accordance with the evidence.” Britain pledged to review the long-term visas of rich Russians in the aftermath of the attack on Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury in March. Johnson, speaking while on a visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, said: “There is a broader question about what the UK can do to crack down on people close to Putin who may have illicit or ill-gotten wealth. As you know, we have statute that allows us to use unexplained wealth orders against them, but we live under the rule of law so whatever happens must be done in accordance with the rules and the law.” The House of Commons foreign affairs committee said in a report on Monday that it was too easy for wealthy Russians with close links to the Kremlin to use London as a “laundromat”. Moscow pushed back angrily, acc using the British politic al class of being “Russophobic”. Responding to the reports of the delay to Abramovich’s visa, Moscow claimed Russian businesses often encountered “unfair and unfriendly” actions when applying to visit the UK. Sidelined … Abramovich (centre) missed Chelsea’s FA Cup final win due to a visa delay Carl Court/Getty Clampdown firmly rooted in Salisbury Analysis Luke Harding T here is a compelling, two-word explanation for why Roman Abramovich is apparently having difficulties renewing his UK visa: Vladimir Putin. His private jet has not been back to the UK since 1 April, and it is uncertain whether the oligarch’s visa woes are temporary and soon to be resolved, or something more permanent akin to a de facto ban. Abramovich has declined to comment. His representatives have said merely that the process is taking a little longer than usual. Either way, the delay appears to be the result of a new, tougher stance against Russian nationals by the British authorities in the wake of the attempted murder in March of the Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. The government signalled it was reviewing tier 1 investor visas, given to nearly 700 wealthy Russians between 2008 and 2015. Abramovich is one of them. He is vulnerable to British retaliation because of his proximity to President Putin. Abramovich was one of Putin’s early supporters. He recommended him for the top Kremlin job to Boris Yeltsin, when Russia’s ailing leader was looking for a successor. According to the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky in evidence to the high court in London, Abramovich enjoyed significant political influence in Moscow from the second half of the 1990s. In October 1999, he attended Putin’s birthday party. Soon afterwards, Abramovich allegedly bought Putin, then prime minister, a $50m yacht. “The request came from Mr Putin,” Berezovsky said in evidence. utin (below) became When Putin n 2000, Abramovich president in ey role in shaping played a key the new government, vernment, Berdded. Abramovezovsky added ich selected d members of inet, he claimed. Putin’s cabinet, h had the power Abramovich to open and d shut crimind to initiate nal cases and ons investigations and arrests, it d. He was alleged. rt, a was, in short, big Kremlin player, albeit one who operated behind the scenes. Abramovich defeated Berezovsky in a subsequent London civil court case and dismisses most of the claims. Still, there is no doubt that Abramovich has friendly relations with Putin. In 2003, Abramovich bought Chelsea football club for £140m. Two years later, he was involved in a larger transaction when he sold a three-quarter stake in his oil company, Sibneft, to state-run Gazprom. He got $13bn. Roman Borisovich, a Russian anticorruption campaigner, described the visa reviews as a “clever and delicate way” of hitting back at Moscow. Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, has suggested Russian businessmen may now take legal action in the British courts. Borisovich predicts this won’t happen: “The The last thin thing these guys want is to have a public h hearing in the UK. They would have h to answer questions like ‘h ‘how did you make yourr money’ money’ and an ‘are you the real owner of your a assets?’” The quest question facing Abramo Abramovich now is wheth whether he decides to toug tough out the latest peri period of political turb turbulence. Or sell Ch Chelsea and retreat to Moscow. 16 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 UK news UN fears Brexit will wreck green agenda In a spin … the environment secretary has promised to deliver a ‘green Brexit’ Reuters Gove asked to ensure environment will not suffer after UK departure Michael Savage The United Nations has warned the government that Britain’s reputation is at risk over plans that would significantly weaken protections for the environment after Brexit. In a stern intervention, Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN’s environment programme, called on the environment secretary, Michael Gove, to honour his promise to deliver a “green Brexit” and ensure that the environment would not suffer from Britain’s EU departure. The warning comes after proposals to protect the climate after Brexit were dismissed as “toothless” by green campaigners. Under the plans, the new post-Brexit watchdog would not have the power to take the government to court over breaches of environmental standards. At the moment, the government is answerable at the European court of justice (ECJ), which often forces ministers to act. Campaigners have warned that the current plans would leave Britain with a weaker system for enforcing environmental safeguards than those maintained in the United States by Donald Trump. Solheim said it was “incredibly important that the UK keeps the environmental standards it has had under the European Union”. “Michael Gove promised that would happen – that there would be no reduction of standards of any sort,” he said. “He even added that any change would be to better standards. There was a strong commitment to that from the government. Some of the opponents of the government had doubts about such statements, but that is the stated position from the government and it is a very good one. Any dilution and the UK reputation would be damaged. People in government need to make sure that does not happen. We need to make sure they have those standards or improve them, or meet the ones under the European Union.” His intervention comes amid a Whitehall battle over the future of Britain’s environmental rules. While Gove (left) has been pushing to give the new environmental watchdog all the powers currently enjoyed by the European commission, the Treasury is said to have resisted the idea because of its potential impact on post-Brexit growth. Senior Tories have concerns about the weakness of the plans. Some Tory peers joined a Lords rebellion that attempted to force the government to keep all environmental protection in place under Britain’s EU membership. The UK and five other nations have recently been referred to Europe’s highest court for failing to tackle illegal levels of air pollution. The ECJ has the power to impose large fines. Under current proposals, however, Britain’s new watchdog would have only the power to publish “advisory notices”. Mary Creagh, the Labour chair of the Commons environmental audit Support for Brexit plummets in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland would vote overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in the EU if a second referendum was held, a survey has found. In 2016, the region voted 56% to remain and 44% to leave, but support for leaving the bloc has fallen 13 points to 31%, undermining the Democratic Unionist party’s continued staunch backing for Brexit. The survey commissioned by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast also showed significant levels of support for illegal or extreme protests against any northsouth border checks, particularly among Catholics, who dominate border communities. Lisa O’Carroll committee, said the case proved that the new watchdog “needs enforcement powers not advisory notices”. Solheim said: “The European Union has common standards all around Europe and of course the legal structure has contributed to that. “These issues are up to the political conversation and for the people in the UK mobilised for environmental protections. We want to see a UK, if it is outside the EU, that can even go further in that direction.” He called on Britain to keep working with the EU on green issues after Brexit. “We need global leadership. Europe and China are the most likely sources for that leadership, so working together on this will be very important,” he said. “The UK has historically had a global perspective as a result of its colonial heritage. The global perspective is stronger in London and Paris than any other capital. So it is very important that the UK continues to be engaged. We are about to start negotiating a global pact for the environment, which has been initiated by president Macron [of France]. There should be no sliding back on the progress.” Observer Hundreds of homeless people fined and imprisoned Patrick Greenfield and Sarah Marsh Growing numbers of vulnerable homeless people in England and Wales are being fined, given criminal convictions and even imprisoned for begging and rough sleeping, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal. Despite updated Home Office guidance at the start of the year, which instructs councils not to target people for being homeless and sleeping rough, the Guardian has found more than 50 local authorities with public space protection orders (PSPOs) in place. Homeless people are banned from town centres, routinely fined hundreds of pounds and sent to prison if caught repeatedly asking for £105 Fine for begging received by a homeless man in Carlisle after a child dropped £2 into his sleeping bag money in some cases. Local authorities in England and Wales have issued hundreds of fixed-penalty notices and pursued criminal convictions for “begging”, “persistent and aggressive begging” and “loitering”. Cases include a man jailed for four months for breaching a criminal behaviour order (CBO) in Gloucester for begging – about which the judge said: “I will be sending a man to prison for asking for food when he was hungry” – and a man in Carlisle fined £105 ($140) after a child dropped £2 in his sleeping bag. Data obtained by the Guardian through freedom of information requests found that at least 51 people have been convicted of breaching a PSPO for begging or loitering and failing to pay the fine since 2014, receiving CBOs in some cases and fines up to £1,100. A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are clear that PSPOs should be used proportionately to tackle antisocial behaviour, and not to target specific groups or the most vulnerable in our communities.” The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 17 Beached Wales Coastline outdoes rest of Britain in Blue Flag stakes The Welsh coastline outshines the rest of the UK when it comes to clean beaches, boasting more Blue Flags than any other stretch of the British coast. Forty-seven Welsh beaches, including Dinas Dinlle (above), were awarded Blue Flag status in this year’s awards, which are given to beaches that comply with a number of criteria, including water quality, environmental management, safety and services. Wales has also received 83 Seaside Awards, which recognise beaches that achieve the highest standard of beach management and, for bathing beaches, also meet the required standards for water quality. The announcement comes as Wales celebrates 2018 as its “Year of the Sea”. Next month the Volvo Ocean Race will come to Cardiff, while this year also marks 30 years of the Blue Flag programme in Wales. In England, 65 Blue Flags and 125 Seaside Awards were awarded, with the south-west receiving 26 flags plus 50 Seaside Awards, with Great Western beach in Newquay being awarded a Blue Flag for the first time. Will Coldwell Photograph: Peter Lane/Alamy India Club loses historic listing battle James Tapper To enter the India Club on the Strand in London is to encounter an authentic version of post-colonial India. Everything is much as it was when the club – whose founding members included Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, and Countess Mountbatten, wife of the last viceroy – moved to the premises a few years after independence in 1947. The lounge bar, with its original stools, is almost a facsimile of Delhi’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club. Portraits of the first British Indian MP, Dadabhai Naoroji, Mahatma Gandhi and Krishna Menon, the independence campaigner who became the first Indian high commissioner to the UK, hang in the restaurant. The only modern touch is the cash register. This piece of living history is under threat, however. The freeholders, Marston Properties, plan to refurbish the six-storey building, part of the Strand Continental Hotel. The owners, Yadgar Marker and his daughter Phiroza, had hoped that Historic England would give the building listed status, but this month the decision went against them. “We were shocked and also very saddened,” Phiroza Marker said. “We think they failed to realise the significance of the India Club. We do feel like Venerable and vulnerable: after an application for listing was refused, the India club is set to be refurbished an injustice is being served because they were very selective about what part of history they think is important.” Historic England rejected the application because the India Club was originally established at the other end of the Strand, at 41 Craven Street. That building is already listed. “What makes London special is places like the India Club – the memories are soaked into the walls,” Marker said. Other places try to recreate history and manufacture it. We’ve just left it as it was. If the building goes, everything the club represents will be lost for ever.” So far 22,000 people have signed a petition supporting the India Club. Shashi Tharoor, the Indian MP whose father Chandran helped set up the India Club, described the decision not to list the building as “deplorable”. News in brief UK news • Almost a year after the Grenfell Tower fire, the first substantive hearings of the inquiry into the disaster opened on Monday with tributes from friends and relatives of the 72 victims. The family of Mohamed Neda, a Kabul-born chauffeur played a harrowing audio clip of his last recorded words on the first day of the long-awaited public inquiry into the disaster. The testimonies from relatives will continue through the week before evidencecollecting begins on 4 June. • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian woman serving a five-year jail sentence in Tehran, has been told to expect another conviction after she went to court to face new charges, her husband has said. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 39, who has been in prison for two years, was taken to court last Saturday for “spreading propaganda against the state”. She was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport when she and her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, were about to return to the UK after a family visit. During her first trial, Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, was accused of running “a BBC Persian online journalism course” and seeking a “soft overthrow” of the Islamic Republic. • Former London mayor and Labour MP Ken Livingstone has announced his resignation from the Labour party, saying the issues around his suspension for alleged antisemitism had become a distraction. Livingstone said he was leaving the party he first joined 50 years ago with “great sadness” but would continue to work for a government led by Jeremy Corbyn. Livingstone, 72, has been suspended since 2016 after he made comments linking Hitler and zionism. • London is trailing behind other major European capitals in its effort to create a clean, affordable and safe transport system, according to a new report. The study of 13 EU cities found London has the joint third worst air quality after Moscow and Paris, as well as the most expensive public transport. 18 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Comment&Debate US-Israeli relations aren’t what they seem Michael H Fuchs Behind the facade of smiles and shared interests, extremism in both countries threatens to fracture their mutual support T he split-screen images of Israeli and US officials smiling at the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem, while Israel killed Gazans just miles away, reflected a striking indifference by leaders in the United States and Israel to the consequences of the occupation of Palestinian territories. And, despite the paeans that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, paid to the strength of the ties between the two countries, those images highlighted a rot eating away at the US-Israel relationship. Even before the violence in Gaza and the embassy opening, on my recent trip to Israel, the duality of the US-Israel relationship was stark. As I stood in the Golan Heights on the border with Syria, it was easy to see the value of the partnership. Just one day earlier, the Iron Dome missile defence system (developed jointly by the US and Israel) had protected Israel from rockets fired from Iranian bases in Syria. A few days before, as I stood in an Israeli settlement in the Palestinian city of Hebron, it was difficult to understand how the United States can provide support for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that protect Israelis committing illegal acts in taking Palestinian land – in some cases acts that are condemned even by Israeli courts. These two experiences were emblematic of two vastly different versions of the US-Israel relationship trying – and increasingly struggling – to coexist. One version of the US-Israel relationship is all sunshine and rainbows: deep political and military bonds between governments, extensive trade, special ties between peoples, and America’s backing for the historical justice of safeguarding a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. The other version of the relationship is one of deepening polarisation in both countries: the rightwing Israeli government cozies up to US Republicans and pursues extreme policies, while American views of Israel are increasingly divided along partisan lines. Israel wants to be judged on its democracy and economy, for which it deserves credit. But one cannot ignore Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza where a combined almost 5 million Palestinians live. Government-supported settlements in the West Bank are expanding, slowly taking over Palestinian land in what appears to be a creeping annexation. In America, views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are more partisan than they’ve been since 1978, according to one study, which revealed that 79% of Trump is backing Netanyahu’s government with hardly a critical word of Israeli activity towards Palestinians Isis Ixworth/Alamy Republicans say their sympathies lie more with Israel than with the Palestinians, while only 27% of Democrats are more sympathetic to Israel. Another study revealed that, while a large majority of Democrats see Israel as a strategic asset, 55% of Democrats also see Israel as a strategic burden, and 60% of Democrats believe the United States should impose sanctions or take serious action in response to Israeli settlements. The political fight in the United States over the Iran nuclear deal illustrates the partisan divide. In 2015 there was a Democratic uproar when the Republicans invited the Israeli prime minister to speak to Congress in opposition to the Iran nuclear deal being pushed by a Democratic president. This growing link between Israeli and American rightwing parties was reinforced by Netanyahu’s recent presentation supposedly showing Iran’s previous nuclear ambitions, which was just days later referenced by Donald Trump as justification for violating the deal. The same goes for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump is backing Netanyahu’s government with hardly a critical word of Israeli activity towards the Palestinians. The embassy move is a case in point – it gains nothing for the United States, makes it impossible for the Palestinians to view this administration as a neutral mediator for peace talks, and stoked violence. I srael has genuine security concerns, and the second intifada left deep scars on the Israeli psyche. For Israelis who remember wondering each day if their children were going to be killed by a suicide bomber on the way to school, the occupation allows Israelis to keep the Palestinians out of sight and out of mind. This is no small part of the reason why rightwing parties promising security have run Israel for almost two decades. But Israel cannot remain a democracy in the long run while continuing to rule millions of Palestinians who do not have any say in their governance. As I stood in the settlement in Hebron next to a young Israeli soldier guarding Israeli settlers, it was clear that while Israel is good at solving short-term problems it is not good at figuring out long-term solutions, such as preventing Israel from becoming a perpetual occupier. On my trip, I repeatedly heard the claim that fewer American Jews support Israel because they are moving away from Judaism, not because of Israeli policies towards Palestinians. As an American Jew who strongly supports Israel, but not necessarily Israel’s policies, this deeply offended me. Instead of criticising American Jews for how they choose to live their personal lives, Israelis should recognise that, whatever the reason, falling support for Israel among a younger generation of American Jews will fracture the US-Israel relationship. Fuelling the fire in America are radicals such as Sheldon Adelson, who funds the largest Israeli daily newspaper Israel Today to support a rightwing agenda, and who has offered to pay for the new US embassy in Jerusalem. The Trump administration chose Pastor Robert Jeffress as one of the speakers at the opening of the Jerusalem embassy – the same Jeffress who once said: “Mormonism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism – they lead people to an eternity of separation from God in hell.” There are no obvious perfect solutions. But if the United States and Israel don’t work together to confront longer-term trends, the relationship could become unrecognisable, with a hyper-partisan segment of America supporting an Israel that has lost much of its claim to democracy. That would be devastating for both countries. Michael H Fuchs is a contributing opinion writer for the Guardian US. He is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 19 Comment&Debate Royal wedding was a celebration of blackness Afua Hirsch Meghan Markle had a choice: to downplay her heritage or wear it with pride. Thankfully she chose the latter – this was no pageant of tradition S ometimes Twitter is capable of poetry. In this case, I read it between the lines, on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Windsor, in the juxtaposition of two separate trending phrases. #RoyalWedding and #BlackExcellence are not unusual on their own. But to see the two together, in a combination that would once have been unthinkable, speaks volumes about what has just changed. The setting is unlikely. The place – Windsor Castle – is the oldest inhabited castle in the world. The ritual – a wedding of the Queen’s grandson – is full of arcane and ancient British tradition: heraldry, knights of the garter, a choir that has been in continuous existence since the 13th century. But that is not what this royal wedding will be remembered for. When Oprah Winfrey entered the chapel at Windsor Castle, one TV anchor joked that for some people, it was the moment the real queen arrived. Winfrey’s attendance was a reminder that, between her and Meghan Markle, the bride whose wedding she had come to watch, perhaps the two most famous women in the world today are of African heritage. Also present were tennis great Serena Williams, actor Idris Elba with his fiancee Sabrina Dhowre, and Markle’s fellow Suits star Gina Torres. At this royal wedding, talented black people were more than adornment. The sermon, delivered by the Episcopalian church leader the Rev Michael Curry, began with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr before enlightening the congregation on the wisdom of spirituals – traditional African American music rooted in the experience of slavery – and casting Jesus as a revolutionary. If there had been any doubts about what cultural experience Curry would bring to the service, they were swiftly and decisively answered. And as the cameras took in the facial expressions of guests in the chapel, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the British royal family and aristocracy in attendance had ever had an experience like this before, one in which they were showered, generously, in the particular emotion of the rousing, rumbling rhetoric of a powerful black pastor. Zara Phillips – much to the enjoyment of regular black churchgoers on social media – was visibly in a state of shock. “A black reverend preaching to British royalty about the resilience of faith during slavery, 10000000% not what I thought I was waking up for,” wrote Elamin Abdelmahmoud, a black journalist based in Toronto. “The royal wedding is good.” Markle used her wedding to introduce her new peers to blackness. The teenage cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason was framed by flowers as he revealed the depth of talent that made him the first black person to win BBC Young Musician of the Year award. The Kingdom gospel choir sang soul classic Stand By Me: a love song, yes, but one that first rose to fame in the midst of the civil rights movement, becoming a soundtrack to protest and unity in the face of racial injustice. Matt Kenyon For people used to being part of the majority, these may be symbols they don’t easily see. But for those who relate to Markle’s situation – a person of colour entering perhaps the whitest and most exclusive of spaces in the world, the British royal family – they speak to an everyday sense of being the first, of bringing a heritage that changes the atmosphere, of having to decide whether to downplay it or wear it with pride. M I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the British royal family and aristocracy there had ever had an experience like this arkle’s choice was clear, and people responded. The wedding transformed Windsor itself – a town only 30km from London but which, in its lack of visible diversity, can feel culturally thousands of kilometres away – that was suddenly full of people of colour. The day before the wedding, I saw African American women dressed in white lace dresses, some wearing tiaras, others wearing Meghan Markle masks. For all the talk about whether Markle is really black, for all the critique of her being “white-passing” or ambivalent about her black heritage, there are certainly black women in America who feel one of their own has entered British royalty. Since Markle’s father could not be there, commentators were speculating that, by arranging for Prince Charles to accompany her towards the altar, the royal family were making a statement of their acceptance of the newest family member. I like to see it differently. By choosing Prince Charles, Markle was making a statement that she embraces them. For a woman of her background, this is not an easy thing to do. Not everyone feels it’s a step forward. At least by allowing her wedding to be not just a pageant of tradition, but also a celebration of blackness, she’s started as I hope she means to go on. The world’s view, page 23 → 20 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Comment&Debate Canada’s apologies are starting to wear thin Linda Besner Gillian Blease/Ikon Images/Alamy Even in a country where ‘I’m sorry’ is a second national anthem, such words lose all meaning in the face of actions that accompany them C anada’s sorriest prime minister is getting on people’s nerves. “What else does he do, besides apologise for things that happened years and years ago?” Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu asked earlier this month. The news that occasioned Gladu’s remark was Trudeau’s statement that he would be issuing a formal apology for Canada’s refusal to let the MS Saint Louis land in Halifax in 1939. The 907 Jewish men, women and children fleeing Germany had already been turned away by Cuba and the US. But as an immigration official of the period remarked, when it came to Jews entering Canada, “none is too many”. The ship was turned back to Europe, where 254 of its passengers died in concentration camps. Trudeau is sorry about Canadian history. He or his ministers have previously apologised for abuse in Canada’s residential schools for indigenous peoples, the relocation of Inuit communities, the relocation of the Sayisi Dene in Manitoba, the systematic expulsion of LGBT workers from the public service, the hanging of six British Columbia Tsilhqot’in chiefs, and for turning away hundreds of Sikh passengers on the Komagata Maru. Even in Canada, where “I’m sorry” is a second national anthem, some wonder if the words are losing their meaning. Canada’s racist and homophobic policies have destroyed lives over many generations, and affected communities deserve to hear that Canada is ashamed. But it’s hard not to see Trudeau’s penchant for penitence as a particularly Canadian form of self-aggrandisement – humble-bragging about how bad you feel. Congratulating ourselves for feeling guilty makes us feel good again, and the praise we lavish on ourselves for our honesty is warmly received – by us. Trudeau is the embodiment of the new man of feeling, who’s not afraid of emotion. He wells up when talking about his father, residential school survivors, Syrian refugees and the death of a Canadian pop star. For some, it’s a feminist victory. For others, it’s exasperating to turn on the TV and see the prime minister with his beautiful face awash in tears. Apologies are becoming part of our national myth. In the past few years, as details of Canada’s broken treaties with indigenous peoples have come to mainstream attention, settler Canada has been spinning through a cataclysmic shift in self-image. The cycle of apology can come off as the cheapest way to hold on to our sense of ourselves as one of the “good” countries. These actions must be aberrations, because Canada is a fundamentally honourable place. But Canada’s epiphanies about its shameful behaviour in the past would be more convincing if that behaviour had truly ceased. Trudeau is committed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, despite opposition from indigenous nations whose lands it would cross. And Trudeau’s representatives are currently in Lagos, quietly negotiating with officials to prevent more Nigerians seeking asylum in Canada. In combination with religious persecution and homophobic violence, the actions of Boko Haram, a militant group that has abducted, raped and killed tens of thousands over the past decade, have created hundreds of thousands of refugees. Some of these asylum seekers are walking into Canada, and Trudeau’s government would prefer to be able to turn them back at the US border. Becoming a just country is more than slapping an “I’m sorry” bumper sticker on the ship of state and hoping no one notices as you continue to smash into things. For some in Canada’s Jewish community, this apology helps to heal one historical wound. But in the Jewish tradition, atonement is a complex process, requiring a commitment to future actions that depart from the wrongdoing of the past. By this light, it’s not at all clear that Canada is sorry. More at theguardian.com/opinion Opinion In brief The bonfire of male literary reputations All hail Ms Marvel, today’s Muslim superhero It has been easy, in the last few years, to reread Tom Wolfe and find him horribly dated. After the announcement of his death, I went back to my copy of The New Journalism for the first time in a decade and found myself tutting in annoyance, or as Wolfe himself might have put it, going tskkkkuhfnmmm-ught. All those made-up words and jaunty phrases; the testosterone; the punctuation. Lord, the punctuation. And then I thought of where I was when I first read Wolfe and felt my heart crater. Time is generally less kind to writing than to music styles, and that vintage of American male journalist hasn’t aged well. Wolfe was different: grander, more outrageous, less inclined to censor himself. He was that strange combination of When news circulated last week that Marvel was going to bring a Pakistani-American 16-year-old girl, Kamala Khan (aka Ms Marvel), into its much-loved cinema universe, I was pleased on a number of counts. I was pleased for myself, to now have a reference for when people ask me how to spell my name, other than “like Genghis”. I was pleased for all my Pakistani actor friends who finally have parts to audition for that aren’t “wife of terrorist No 3”. But mainly I wass pleased for the world, because e the world needs this movie. For far too long Muslims have been portrayed with suspicion, pic i ion, ligned a threat, much-maligned d. Now, and misunderstood. finally, a Muslim is the heroine in a mainestream, going-to-bewatched-by-millions ns above-it-all with his white suit and cane, and elbow-deep in the mud and the hustle. I had wondered if the obituaries would be unkind. Looked at through the lens of today’s sensitivities, much of what he wrote is completely unacceptable. But the tone was largely affectionate, as people paid tribute not only to him but to the memory of themselves when they read him. The Bonfire of the Vanities was the first book I read after taking my A-levels. I was 18, haven’t read it since, and can still unspool whole scenes in my mind, including the phone doughnut and the master of the universe furiously trying to get a leash on his dog. It was worth putting up with a few silly sound effects for that. Emma Brockes blockbuster. And a Muslim girl for that matter, a demographic often silenced; spoken about and not spoken to, and battling not only Islamophobia, but misogyny from outside their community and within. The stakes are high. People will see the film through a diversitychecking window, and even though the comics do an outstanding job of creating nuanced, funny and kickass characters, a Hollywood project ruining a fresh, original work is always a possibility. p After all, it’s easy to fall b back on sensationalism tto seek mass appeal. Just ask the person who designed Call of D Duty: Modern Warfare 2, se setting a level in Karachi, and tthen putting all the street ssigns in Arabic, not Urdu, because it seemed i more Muslim-y (read: terrorist-y). (read: te Coco Khan The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 21 Comment&Debate Ten people were killed during a mass shooting at Santa Fe high school, Texas. There were 22 such incidents in 20 weeks at US schools this year Nicola Jennings Eta ends but conflict continues Arnaldo Otegi The dissolution of the Basque group does not mean the end of the struggle. Spain must now transform its democracy O n 2 May, the armed Basque organisation Eta issued a historic statement declaring a definitive end to its armed struggle, after six decades of political conflict. It was the last step of an internal process that had started years before, with crucial milestones along the way, including a statement whereby it recognised the suffering caused, accepted that it bore direct responsibility for years of violence, showed its respect to all affected – and expressed it was “truly sorry”. The Basque conflict was deeply violent, with hundreds of killings, thousands of detainees tortured, hundreds of prisoners. As spokesman for Bildu, the second-largest coalition of parties in the Basque country, I recognise all victims and their equal suffering, with no exception. We as a political party have stated that we apologise if, by words or attitude, we have caused suffering to any victim of this conflict. I wish all this had never happened. I wish we had been able to resolve the conflict earlier. The Spanish authorities will not apologise because that would be to admit there was a deeply rooted political conflict. They prefer to talk of a criminal gang being defeated by the security forces, even though they know this story is not true. Obviously Eta was weakened over recent years by Spanish and French police operations, but the internal debates carried out by Eta show they were not defeated. There were other reasons for Eta to end. On the one hand, the vast majority of Basque people wanted peace; and on the other, the internal debate process recognised the need for a strategic overhaul and to move to an unarmed, peaceful political strategy to achieve our goal of self-determination. This debate was the main reason Eta ended the armed campaign. Yet the Spanish government was much more comfortable operating in an “anti-terrorist” scenario. It has always preferred the reason of force to the force of reason. This was clearly proven in the case of Catalonia. Spain told us for years that, with no violence, everything would be possible. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba used to repeat: “Bombs or votes.” Then when the Catalans went to vote peacefully, they found the response was police brutality. And there, just as in the Basque case, the Spanish government insists there is no political conflict. This leads us to the real problem, which is not Catalonia or the Basque country, but Spain and its lack of capacity to deal with the national question, and its weak democratic history. The Spanish Spain never recovered from the frustrations of losing its empire, an empire that started shrinking with the loss of the Spanish Netherlands in the 17th century and did not stop shrinking until the loss of Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea in the 20th. A state that answered its existential crisis with a bloody war and a brutal fascist regime for 40 years. A dictatorship that was able to control its transition with Franco leading it, and appointing the then Prince Juan Carlos as his successor. The aim of this transition was to give the appearance of change, but nothing more. A smooth transition where the deep state remained untouchable, but where the main institutions and the people in charge of them were not removed. This is the only way to understand the ongoing use of shoot-to-kill policies, the connections between drug dealers and police officers, the systematic use of torture during the Basque conflict or the actions of the state and the judiciary system towards Catalonia. A deep state behind the thin skin of formal democracy. So Eta is no more, but political conflicts remain. Until this authoritarian Spain transforms itself into a truly democratic state, where the democratic aspirations of nations such as Catalonia or the Basque country can be addressed peacefully and politically – as has happened in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Canada – political conflict will remain in the heart of Europe. Arnaldo Otegi is general coordinator of the Basque proindependence progressive coalition, Euskal Herria Bildu 22 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Abortion rights This is no time for complacency During his eight years in the White House, one of the themes President Obama often reflected on in speeches was the non-linear nature of social progress. “Progress doesn’t travel in a straight line,” he told Rutgers students in his commencement address in 2016. “It remains uneven, and at times for every two steps forward, it feels like we take one step back.” Those words feel particularly apt in relation to women’s rights. In the last year the #MeToo movement has seen women globally assert their right to live and work without the threat of sexual assault and harassment. But in the world’s wealthiest democracy, women’s reproductive rights are more imperilled than they have been in 30 years. Last Friday, President Trump’s administration confirmed it would be reviving the “gag rule”, introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1988 but rescinded by Bill Clinton before it was implemented. Under this rule, health clinics offering reproductive health services that either provide or refer women to abortion services are barred from receiving any federal funds. This rule will be subject to legal challenge. But if implemented, it would have the effect of further limiting women’s access to abortion in the US. Trump’s intervention also follows several states introducing new limits on abortions that contravene Roe v Wade, in a deliberate attempt to get the supreme court, which has a conservative majority, to reopen the issue. It is difficult to overstate what is at stake. Women’s progress in the workplace and in society has been reliant on the realisation of their reproductive rights. But 80,000 women still die every year worldwide as a result of unsafe abortions, while more than a billion women live in countries where abortion is banned unless her life is at risk. The only consequence of restriction is that more women die as a result of seeking abortion in dangerous settings. Their deaths should be a blight on the conscience of all anti-abortion campaigners. It’s not just the US where women’s rights are at risk. In Europe, even as Ireland holds a historic referendum on the legalisation of abortion, the rise of the far right in countries such as Poland represents a threat. There, the ruling Law and Justice party is pushing for further restrictions on abortion, already banned in most circumstances. Complacency in the UK would be misplaced. British law remains stuck in Victorian times: abortion is still a criminal offence and a woman is only permitted to have an abortion if two doctors confirm that continuing with the pregnancy poses a greater risk to her physical or mental health, or that of her existing children, than terminating it. Two steps forward, one step back. That step backwards causes pain and ruins lives. It’s not inevitable, but preventing it means never taking progress for granted or banking it and moving on. The fight for social change will never truly be over. Observer Venezuela Change is needed, not a sham poll Is the Trump administration fomenting a military coup in Venezuela? It would not be the first time the US has been implicated in attempts at regime change there. In April 2002, the elected president, the late Hugo Chávez, was briefly deposed by the army, before supporters rescued him. The Bush administration denied involvement, but independent investigations suggested “senior officials in the US government” were not only aware of the plot but privately assured its organisers of support. Concern that history may repeat itself has surfaced in connection with last Sunday’s presidential election, which Chávez’s less able successor, Nicolás Maduro, won with a contested 67.7% of the vote. US hostility to the Bolivarian socialist revolution led by Chávez and perpetuated, in theory, by Maduro, has not diminished. Concern that Trump may intervene has grown following remarks in February by Rex Tillerson, the then US secretary of state, who noted: “The military is often times the agent of change in the history of Venezuela and South American countries [when] the leadership can no longer serve the people.” While there are good reasons for wishing Maduro gone, a putsch is the last thing Venezuela needs. What Tillerson forgot to say is that coups in Latin America generally make matters worse. Maduro, president since 2013, lacks the vision and energy of his predecessor while sharing some of his vices. During his tenure, Venezuela’s economic fortunes have declined disastrously. Maintaining the undeclared war with Washington, Maduro increasingly looks for support to China and Russia. It seems plain Venezuela needs another revolution. If ever a country required a fresh start, this is it. But this time the emphasis should be on building an inclusive, open democracy. If Maduro cannot bring the country together, he must step aside, regardless of the election “result”. Hardline socialism and capitalism have both failed Venezuela. A different political path is required. The answer is certainly not a military one. Observer From the archive 25 May 1982 Fairytales from New York Maurice Sendak’s first job was drawing the puffs of dust that show how fast the characters in Mutt and Jeff strip cartoons are moving. It was wartime, he was too young for the forces, it was a great chance for a promising lad. All the same, he rues the memory, up to a point. His talk these days is of William Blake and Samuel Palmer, Rowlandson and Cruikshank, the later mastery of Titian and Wagner. And of Prokofiev. And if this seems to be sending up an artist whose earliest extant drawing is of Mickey Mouse, remember that at the age of 15 Sendak illustrated Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, which quite likely has some bearing on his current project. For Maurice Sendak is at Glyndebourne, supervising the working of his designs for Prokofiev’s fairytale opera, L’Amour des Trois Oranges. Sendak is a first-generation Brooklyn Jew whose parents emigrated from Poland to found their fortunes in the New World. He has never had children of his own: his work draws on memories of his own childhood. The wild things of the drawings that disturb some parents are the monsters of his childhood fears. People, he says, grow up into an ersatz adulthood and forget that children are real people, really afraid of life. If Sendak hates anything about success, it is being typecast, being welcomed wherever he goes as the author/illustrator of Where The Wild Things Are. Nearly 20 years later, that book is still his best-known work. It gave him his independence, yet he resents it as one might resent an over-possessive mother. In the United States popular and classical culture are much more openly interactive than in Europe. It is natural for the man who has made Mickey Mouse his patron saint to work on opera productions with Frank Corsaro. Indeed, though Glyndebourne chose Corsaro for Three Oranges, Corsaro chose Sendak. For Sendak this is the summit of his ambitions in opera. He can afford to pick and choose, in fact he can’t afford not to. A few years ago he had a coronary. He hadn’t been over-eating or drinking or smoking heavily, coronaries simply run in the family. So now he proposes to do what he wants and nothing else. After Glyndebourne, nothing is precisely what he does propose, until, that is, 1983, when he will do a Nutcracker in Seattle. Michael McNay The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 23 Reply The problem with Facebook Business school scrutiny A ruthless self-seeking gaming ethos, the MBA hallmark, is exposed by Martin Parker (11 May), although we could question his “bulldoze the business school” advocacy for being a bit over-the-top. The problem he identifies is that business schools advocate outrageously, if tacitly, risk-taking, resource-plundering and insider opportunism. Academic programmes in medicine, law, engineering and planning are guided by professional practice codes. These disciplines uphold specialised expertise under the watchful scrutiny of practitioner guilds. Business school graduates should be required to pledge and adhere to an ethical code: to uphold societal wellbeing and environmental virtue, and to never lie, cheat or steal in their service to client and society. Robert Riddell Helensville, New Zealand 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: http://gu.com/letters-terms Editorial Editor: Will Dean Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Alamy I was deeply troubled by your report about the use and abuse of Facebook in Sri Lanka and India (11 May). While we in the west fret about the use and abuse of our “private data”, people are being killed as a result of fake news and other digital manifestations. Ironically the solution to this problem is not more protection of our privacy, but the reverse. All Facebook accounts should be registered in a way that is subject to regular inspections by an authority – the police if necessary. This registration should supply detailed information about the address and occupation of the account holder. Those in the west who find such registration intrusive have a simple solution: close their account. I find it paradoxical that the mainstream media, whose dedicated task is to expose malpractice and its perpetrators, is calling for greater protection of Facebook privacy. There is nothing private on Facebook. It is a marketing tool. Mark Zuckerberg is being duplicitous when he says Facebook has failed its account holders by not protecting their privacy. Val Wake Lodeve, France I hope, when the renovations are done, Big Ben doesn’t have a huge digital readout. Keith Stotyn Edmonton, Alberta, Canada • Regarding the future of analogue clocks: UK schools are replacing them with digital ones. As far as wristwatches are concerned, the analogue variety will survive; try taking someone’s pulse rate while observing digital seconds tick by and you will understand why. Anthony Walter Surrey, British Columbia, Canada Briefly Alarming past and present What is disconcerting about the abuse of Auschwitz museum staff is a merging of the genocidal past with the potentially atrocious present in Poland (11 May). And what is equally alarming is that this is being driven by what are essentially the same dark forces for both periods. This contrasts with the situation in France, where thought is being given in the Vichy Tourist Office to illuminating what happened in that locality in the early 1940s so as to present this darker aspect of French history in a proper perspective. The time has come to confront this uncomfortable aspect of French history. We must ensure that nothing like it ever happens again. Terry Hewton Adelaide, South Australia Value of analogue clocks Reading an analogue watch face may be a complex cognitive task, but I can’t remember not being able to do it (Leader comment, 4 May). Once mastered, it greatly simplifies many tasks. Say you have to be somewhere in 15 minutes. Check your analogue watch, shift your view forward a quarter-turn of the minute hand, and you have a visualisation of the time and distance you need to get there. A digital watch requires a computation to do the same thing, and all you end up with is a disembodied number. The value of an analogue timeface is more than just a link to our heritage – it is useful. 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 The world’s view on … The marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle • I share Oliver Burkeman’s confusion (4 May) about the meaning of the expression “move the meeting forward”. Do we meet sooner or later? I understand that in India, it is accepted to use the word “preponed”, as the opposite of the more familiar word “postponed”. It is a useful and unambiguous coinage and should be generally adopted. David Josephy Guelph, Ontario, Canada • In your article about Cape Town’s water crisis (11 May), you compare the city’s per capita water use with California. It would have been more appropriate to compare water use with another city, say San Francisco, rather than California as a whole, where most water is used to irrigate the desert that makes up the Central Valley. Kenneth B Alexander Auckland, New Zealand • In Death by sex and television (11 May), Marina Hyde writes “despite maintaining ‘one position’ during sex with Stormy [Daniels], Trump has now adopted several conflicting ones on the payment”. This is where Donald Trump got it the wrong way around. During sex, he should have had many positions and afterwards, when talking about it, he should have adopted one position: the position of telling the truth. But telling the truth has never been Donald Trump’s strong side. Thomas Klikauer Sydney, Australia 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 Sydney Morning Herald ‘Game changing’ “The image of Meghan Markle leaving Cliveden House with her dreadlocked mother Doria Ragland was spine-tingling. To see this strong, proud black woman accompanying her confident, warm, accomplished bi-racial daughter to her wedding was game changing. Meghan and Doria are living testament to the mantra ‘strong women – may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them’. In an era where we fetishise mindless, hyper-sexualised female celebrities, what a tonic it was to see a mother and daughter exude elegance, poise and dignity. Their story will do so much to inspire young women from disadvantaged backgrounds and show that you can rise to the top without being born into wealth, privilege and power.” Ayesha Hazarika Washington Post ‘One performance only’ “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding went off with nary a glitch. It was professional, well-produced, secure, one-performance-only global entertainment, meant not only to join man and woman, till death do them part … but also to propagate the royal brand and introduce viewers to the next act in the long-running drama known as the House of Windsor.” William Booth Le Monde ‘Who will change first?’ “Previously Meghan Markle said she never wanted to be ‘a woman who has lunch, but a woman who works’. In Windsor, she began her new career brilliantly in a family where she is supposed to loosen the stifling protocol. But already, the question is asked: “Who will change first, Meghan or the royal family?” Philippe Bernard 24 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Eyewitnessed Meghan Markle and Prince Harry kiss on the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following their wedding. The couple are to be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Danny Lawson/ An Indonesian performer prepares for a parade in Jakarta to celebrate the lead-up to the Asian Games, which will take place in August and September Adi Weda/EPA Paraguayan navy officers march with snakes wrapped around their necks in a military parade marking the Independence Day celebrations in Asunción Jorge Saenz/AP The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 25 /Pool via Reuters Aerial view of gaping cracks on a road in Hawaii, resulting from the intrusion of magma into the lower east rift zone of the Kilauea volcano following its recent eruption USGS/EPA A road crossing adorned with the colours of the rainbow flag in Périgueux, France as part of events An adult Vojvodina blind mole rat near Albertirsa, Hungary. The critically endangered rodent marking International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia Georges Gobet/Getty lives in isolated populations in the Carpathian basin Sandor Ujvari/EPA 26 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 27 Th I f you have been wearing glasses for years, like me, m it can be surprising to discover that you perceive the world thanks to a few giant companies that you may never have heard com of. Worrying W about the fraying edge of road lighting while driving at night, or words light that slide on the page, and occasionally spending a fortune at th the opticians is, for many of us, enough to think abo about. And spectacles are unusual things. It is hard to think of another object in our society which is bot both a medical device that you don’t want and a fashion fashio accessory which you do. Buying tthem, in my experience anyway, is a fraught, somewhat som exciting exercise that starts in a where you contemplate the blurred darkened room, ro letters and tthe degeneration of your visual cortex, and ends in a bright, gallery-like space where you than you were expecting, and look forpay more th inhabiting a new, slightly sharper version ward to in of your e existing self. The $100bn $ eyewear industry is built on feelings such as this. In the trade, the choreography that takes you from the consulting gra roo room to the enticing, bare-brick display of frames is known as “romancing the product”. The number of eye tests that turn pro into sales is the “capture rate”, which most opticians in Britain set at around 60%. Duropt ing the 20th century, the eyewear business wo worked hard to transform a physical deficiency into a statement of style. In the procie ces cess, optical retailers learned the strange fact that for something that costs only a few dollars to make (even top-of-the-range fram frames and lenses cost, combined, no more than about $40 to produce), we are happy, happ happier in fact, when paying 10 or 20 times “The margins,” as one veteran of that amount. a the sector sec told me carefully, “are outrageous.” The co-founder coof Specsavers, Mary Perkins, is Britain’s first self-made female billionaire. Almos Almost everyone wears glasses at some point in their liv lives. In developed countries, the rule of thumb is that th around 70% of adults need corrective lenses tto see well. In Britain, that translates million people. But it’s hardly a topic to some 35 m of national conversation. To the casual observer, the optical market also presents a busy and confusing sight. sight In Britain, thousands of independent optician opticians rub alongside a few big retail chains Specsavers, Vision Express and Boots. The such as Spec displays in even a small optician hold several wall display hundred frames, fra while posters advertise a range of lenses with sciencey-sounding properties – freephoto-fusion, reflex vision – and names so form, photo b bland land they are a hard to remember even when you are looking straight at them. But what we see masks the underlying structure of the g global eyewear business. Over the last generation, two companies have risen above all dominate the industry. The lenses in the rest to d my glasses – and yours too, most likely – are made b by y Essilor, a French multinational that controls almost half hal of the world’s prescription lens business b business and an has acquired more than 250 other companies iin the past 20 years. There is a good chance, meanwhile, that your frames are made by Luxottica, an Italian coman unparalleled combination of factopany with a ries, designer design labels and retail outlets. Luxottica pioneered tthe use of luxury brands in the optical business, and one of the many powerful functions b usiness, an of names such s as Ray-Ban (which is owned by Luxottica) o or Vogue (which is owned by Luxottica) glasses are made by Luxottica) or Prada (whose (w ‘A crac cracking adventure’ Solo: A Star Wars Story reviewed →P Peter Bradshaw, page 37 You’ve been framed One company plans to dominate the way the whole world sees. By Sam Knight or Oliver Peoples (which is owned by Luxottica) or high-street outlets such as LensCrafters, the largest optical retailer in the US (which is owned by Luxottica), or John Lewis Opticians in the UK (which is run by Luxottica), or Sunglass Hut (which is owned by Luxottica) is to make the marketplace feel more varied than it actually is. Between them, Essilor and Luxottica play a central, intimate role in the lives of a remarkable number of people. Around 1.4 billion of us rely on their products to drive to work, read on the beach, follow the board in lessons, type text messages to our grandchildren, land aircraft, watch old movies, write dissertations and glance across restaurants, hoping to look slightly more intelligent and interesting than we actually are. Last year, the two companies had a combined customer base that is somewhere between Apple’s and Facebook’s. No-one is exactly sure why, but across the world, we are becoming a species wearing lenses Now they are becoming one. On 1 March, regulators in the EU and the US gave permission for them to form a single corporation: EssilorLuxottica. The new firm will not technically be a monopoly: Essilor currently has around 45% of the prescription lenses market, and Luxottica 25% of the frames. But in seven centuries of spectacles, there has never been anything like it. The new entity will be worth around $50bn, sell close to a billion pairs of lenses and frames every year, and have a workforce of more than 140,000 people. EssilorLuxottica intends to dominate what its executives call “the visual experience” for decades to come. The creation of EssilorLuxottica is a big deal. It will have knock-on consequences for opticians and eyewear manufacturers from Hong Kong to Peru. But it is also a response to an unprecedented moment in the story of human vision – namely, the accelerating degradation of our eyes. For several thousand years, human beings have lived in more or less advanced societies, reading, writing and doing business with one another, mostly without the aid of glasses. But that is coming to an end. No one is exactly sure what it is about early 21st-century urban living – the time we spend indoors, the screens, LED lighting, or ageing populations – but across the world, we are becoming a species wearing lenses. The need varies depending where you go, because different populations have different genetic predispositions to poor eyesight, but it is there, and growing. In Nigeria, around 90 million people, or half the population, are now thought to need corrective eyewear. There are actually two things going on. The first is a largely unreported global epidemic of myopia, or shortsightedness, which has doubled among young people within a generation. For a long time, scientists thought myopia was primarily determined by our genes. But about 10 years ago, it became clear that the way children were growing up was harming their eyesight, too. The effect is starkest in east Asia, where myopia has always been more common, but the rate of increase has been uniform, more or less, across the world. At the same time, across the developing world, a slower and more complex process is under way, as populations age and urbanise and move indoors to work. The history of eyewear tells us that people do not start wearing glasses because they notice everything has gone a little out of focus. It is in order to take part in new forms of entertainment and labour. The mass market in spectacles did not emerge when they were invented, in 13th-century Italy, but 200 years later, alongside printing in Germany, because people wanted to read. In 2018, an estimated 2.5 billion people, mostly in India, Africa and China, are thought to need spectacles, but have no means to have their eyes tested or to buy them. “The visual divide”, as NGOs call it, is one of those vast global shortcomings that suddenly makes sense when you think about it. Across the developing world, myopia and presbyopia (longsightedness) have been linked with everything from high road-deaths to low educational achievement and poor productivity in factories. Eye-health campaigners call it the largest untreated disability in the world. It is also a staggering business opportunity. Essilor and Luxottica know this. It was Essilor that worked out and first publicised the 2.5 billion statistic, in 2012. “For 2,000 years people were living mainly outside,” said Hubert Sagnières, Essilor’s chairman and chief executive, when we met recently in Paris. “Suddenly, we live inside, and we use this.” He tapped his mobile phone on the table. The legal and technical details of the EssilorLuxottica merger will take a few years to iron out, but Sagnières was transparent about its mission: to equip the planet with eyewear over the coming decades. “I am driving a very profitable company,” Sagnières told me. “You know, between 2020 and 2050, governments will not solve all the problems of the world.” The looming power of EssilorLuxottica is the subject of morbid obsession within the eyewear world. Everyone knows the new company is poised to have a profound impact. “Forgive me,” said one longtime entrepreneur in the sector. “But it is nothing short of control of the industry.” One investor described the new corporation as a “category killer”. In many conversations, people described its arrival as both extraordinary and somehow inevitable at the same time. That struck me as the kind of contradiction you come across more often in a person than in a business. And it is true of EssilorLuxottica and, to some extent, the business of vision itself, because it is – to an amazing degree – the legacy of a single man. Continued on page 28 → 28 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 ← Continued from page 27 Leonardo Del Vecchio is the patron, legend and haunting spirit of the global eyewear business. He is its Citizen Kane and its Captain Ahab. His father died before he was born; his mother was poor; and he was raised in an orphanage in wartime Milan, where he went out to work as a metal engraver at the age of 14. In 1961, Del Vecchio opened a workshop in Agordo in the Dolomite mountains. He was 25, and starting out on his own. The valley around Agordo was emptying out because of the closure of a mine, and the town was giving away land to companies that were willing to move there. Del Vecchio asked for 3,000 sq metres on the riverbank to build a factory to make parts for spectacles. He had a young family, and in time, he built a house next door to the workshop so he could step from one to the other, starting his day at 3am. Over the next half century, Del Vecchio grew his company into the world’s greatest maker of glasses frames. In an industry that was traditionally fragmented and small-scale, the totality of Del Vecchio’s ambition took his rivals by surprise. He sought to control every element in the business, from the metal alloys of the hinges to the stores where eyewear is sold. “Never assume that you have arrived, or look at the world as your only point of reference,” he liked to say. In a series of audacious takeovers, Del Vecchio acquired brands such as Ray-Ban , Oakley and Persol, and signed contracts with Armani, Ralph Lauren and Chanel. He built factories in China, acquired vision insurance schemes in the US and retail chains on four continents. Since 1994, Del Vecchio has been Italy’s highest individual taxpayer and second-richest man. A few years ago, people thought his career had run its course. But in January 2017, at the age of 81, Del Vecchio announced the greatest deal of his life, in which he also secured the final missing part for his frames – the lenses – when Luxottica agreed to merge with Essilor. “He wants to do this merger,” a former colleague said, “thinking he will leave behind this great company that will last for 100 years.” D el Vecchio built the empire of Luxottica on two ideas. The first was to do everything itself. After the company’s initial progression from parts to frames in the 1970s, it set out to control the entire process of making and selling glasses, from acquiring the raw materials to selling its own products in its own stores. No one had done this before. “There is a simplicity to him,” one former colleague told me. “To him it is a very simple equation: I make the best stuff, why doesn’t everybody buy it?” For 25 years, Luxottica stayed on the wholesale side of the industry, selling its glasses through opticians to the public. In the 1990s, however, Del Vecchio decided he wanted a retail network too. First, he got Luxottica listed on the New York stock exchange, an almost-unheard of move for a midsized Italian business. “A lot of big experts said it was impossible,” said Roberto Chemello, the chief executive at the time. Luxottica later estimated the listing to have been worth around $100m in advertising in the US – and it laid the ground for Del Vecchio’s hostile takeover of US Shoe, a conglomerate that owned LensCrafters, the country’s largest optical chain, in 1995. On paper, the deal appeared outlandish. US Shoe was five times larger than Luxottica, and its board did not want to sell. Having its own shops would also put Luxottica in direct competition with the thousands of optometrists it had been supplying for decades. “You have to be not only courageous,” said Chemello, of the transaction, “but a little bit crazy.” Luxottica bought US Shoe for $1.4bn. Once the deal was done, Del Vecchio broke up US Shoe, whose roots went back to 1879, until all that was left were the LensCrafters stores that he wanted in the first place, which he proceeded to fill with Luxottica frames. “That is exactly the formula they have used ever since,” said Jeff Cole, the former chief executive of Cole National Corporation, an even larger optical retailer that sold out to Luxottica in 2004. “When they buy a company, they spend a little time figuring it out and kick out all the other suppliers.” The formula means that when you or I walk into a LensCrafters, or a Sunglass Hut, or a David Clulow, or an Óticas Carol in Brazil or a Xueliang Glasses in Shanghai, or a Ming Long in Hong Kong, around 80% of the frames on display will be made by Luxottica. Having its own designers, engineers, factories, supply depots and retail outlets – Luxottica currently has almost 9,000 stores and contracts with a further 100,000 opticians around the world – means it can bring products to market faster and in greater quantities than any of its rivals. As a result, it keeps a larger proportion of its profit. In the factory in Agordo, I saw robots pinning together the front and temples of Ray-Ban Wayfarers, and basket after basket of metal frames being dunked in a series of chemical baths to coat and colour them. Glasses involve between 180 and 230 manufacturing stages to produce. With its own designers, lasers and machines, Luxottica can take a pencil sketch to global production in about three weeks. “We are in a closed loop,” said Giorgio Striano, the operations chief. Taking into account all the different colours and face shapes (Japanese noses are not the same as Latino noses), Luxottica has around 27,000 models in production at any one time. Its plants turn out 400,000 pairs of frames per day. I asked Striano if any other company came close. “I think nobody,” he said. Del Vecchio’s second great insight is the one that changed the optical business – and that was to combine it with the fashion industry. Although designers such as Pierre Cardin and Christian Dior had been experimenting with frames since the 1960s, Del Vecchio saw a way to take their ideas, and more importantly, their labels, to a mass market. In 1988, he signed a licensing deal with Giorgio Armani, another self-made tycoon. The deal transformed the glasses game. Until then, consumers in Europe and America who wanted fancy spectacles had to rely on staid, industry names such as Zeiss, Rodenstock or Silhouette. After the Armani deal, they could buy Prada, Gucci and Chanel, and were willing to pay for it. “It created something,” as one Luxottica manager artfully told me, “to make the needs where probably they are not.” The transformation of glasses from a medical device to a means of self-expression has been a source of joy for millions of people. But it has also obscured their original purpose, and complicated efforts to distribute them as easily as, say, mosquito nets or aspirin. When I mentioned this to senior product Over the coming decades, EssilorLuxottica will have the power to decide how billions of people will see Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters; Jean-Christophe Verhaegen, Giuseppe Cacace, Chris Ratcliffe, Stefania D’Alessandro/Getty; DPA, Richard Levine/Alamy Weekly review The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 29 Ways of seeing … (far left, from top) the Luxottica name reflected in a pair of sunglasses; an Essilor factory in Ligny-en-Barrois, France; Luxottica’s HQ in Milan; (centre) Essilor lenses being mounted into a frame; (left, from top) Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses; Giorgio Armani and Leonardo Del Vecchio; Luxottica brands Oakley and Ray-Ban share a store in Times Square, New York City manager Mario Mollo, he recalled a recent trip he had taken with Luxottica’s corporate social responsibility programme, conducting eye tests and distributing glasses in rural China. “They were so happy having the possibility to see. They were hugging us. It was really not for fashion,” he said. “Then they started, you know, looking at themselves” – Mollo paused for a second – “and the fashion moment arrived.” My last stop in Agordo was Luxottica’s sample room, a carpeted space looking out over the river. The room contains every current Luxottica design, arranged on various tables and ranked in order of sales. The system has been in place since the plant was built in 1972, and during that time, it has been the domain of Luigi Francavilla, Luxottica’s deputy chairman, who is now in his early 80s. “Glasses are beautiful,” he said, pausing among the hierarchies of Ralph Lauren, Valentino and Bulgari models. “Especially the ones that sell the most.” One of the first things Francavilla did was to take my glasses off my face to identify the tortoiseshell acetate, which is known as Havana. His own glasses were a pair of rimless Ray-Bans with pink carbon-fibre temples. Luxottica bought Ray-Ban from Bausch + Lomb, one of the 20th century’s great optical companies, in 1999. At the time, the label was washed up. You could buy a pair of Aviators at a petrol station for $19. “It was a train smash,” a former senior Luxottica executive told me. “They were selling Wayfarers at Walmart.” Del Vecchio paid $645m for Ray-Ban. During the negotiations, he promised to protect thousands of jobs at four factories in the US and Ireland. Three months later, he closed the plants and shifted- production to China and Italy. Over the next year and a half, Luxottica withdrew Ray-Ban from 13,000 retail outlets, hiked their prices and radically improved the quality: increasing the layers of lacquer on a pair of Wayfarers from two to 31. In 2004, to the disbelief of many of his subordinates, Del Vecchio decided that Ray-Ban, which had been invented for American pilots in the 1930s, should branch out from sunglasses into optical lenses, too. “A lot of us were sceptical. Really? Ray. Ban. Banning rays from the sun?” the former manager said. “But he was right.” Ray-Ban is now the most valuable optical brand in the world. It generates more than $2bn in sales for Luxottica each year, and is thought to account for as much as 40% of its profits. Francavilla joined the company in 1968. I asked him how a man with a small workshop in the Dolomites had come to bestride the global eyewear industry. “L’appetito cresce con il mangiare,” said Francavilla. The appetite grows with eating. H ow did just two companies – one in frames, and one in lenses – come to dominate something as generic, as obvious, as glasses? The conditions that have allowed for the rise of Essilor and Luxottica are rooted, deep down, in the way spectacles are sold. Until the end of the 19th century, you could buy a cheap pair of glasses – for reading or for distance – out of a rack in Woolworth’s, or from a jewellery shop, or a guy in the street. Eyewear was a craft of tinkerers and inventors. “I this evening did buy me a pair of green spectacles,” Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on Christmas Eve 1666, “to see whether they will help my eyes or no.” (They didn’t; Pepys’ failing eyesight forced him to give up his journal three years later.) It was the birth of the optometry profession, around 1900, that changed things. This was a new breed of sober, respectable spectacle-sellers who wanted to standardise eye tests and to restrict the sale of glasses to licensed professionals. Their aim, for the most part, was to raise standards. Eyeglass pedlars in the 18th and 19th centuries were notorious for scams and faulty lenses. But there was also another compelling reason to take a cheap, widely available product and put it in the hands of a few authorised sellers – and that was to make money. But the new professionals persevered and, in a way, the story of optometry for much of the 20th century was of finding new ways to protect their patch. Across Europe and in the US, optometry laws and regulations were passed to control the prescription and selling of eyewear. Limiting the number of glasses sellers gave the largest optical manufacturers opportunities to try to corner the market. As early as 1923, the US government was investigating a scam to fix prices of the nation’s best-selling Kryptok bifocal lenses. After the second world war, investigators at the US Department of Justice uncovered a vast kickback scheme – thought to amount to $35m a year, and to involve some 3,000 eye doctors – in which the American Optical Company and Bausch + Lomb effectively bribed practitioners to prescribe their lenses. In 1966, after another scandal, the two companies, which at one time manufactured around 60% of the glasses sold in the US, were banned from opening new retail and wholesale outlets for 20 years. This was when Essilor came on the scene. In 1972, Essel and Silor, two French optical companies, merged and began sell aggressively into the US market. Essilor specialised in plastic lenses, which were replacing glass, and it also had a magical product: “Varilux”, the world’s first progressive lens, invented by an Essel engineer, Bernard Maitenaz, in 1959. Progressive lenses allow people who are both long- and short-sighted – typically older customers – to combine their prescriptions into a single, graduated lens. Varilux lenses were probably the most important innovation in eyewear since the invention of bifocals around the time of the French revolution. The company set out to make sure that Varilux and the rest of its products (Essilor’s current sales manual runs to around 400 pages) were sold in every optometrist in the world. Lenses are the pixie dust of the optical business. Barely anyone knows what they are made of, how they are constructed and, especially at the high end, exactly how they work. The profit margins within the optical business are a closely guarded secret, but insiders explained to me that while opticians might sell frames for two, or two-and-a-half times, their wholesale price, it is the lenses where they make the most money, charging markups of 700% or 800% to their customers. The largest margins of all are on complex progressive lenses and protective coatings – for scratch resistance, or to cut out blue light – features that cost Essilor a few cents to make, and which opticians sell Continued on page 30 → 30 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Weekly review ← Continued from page 29 for between $30 and $70 a pop. Even Luxottica executives are awed by this. “Ray-Ban did a good job of saying Ray-Ban would cost $150, £150, €150 and the equivalent across the world. A little bit like the Big Mac, right?” one former marketing manager told me. “But lenses? Nobody knows how much lenses cost. The consumers don’t know. Nobody knows.” Some opticians call Essilor “The Big E”. The company boasts of supplying between 300,000 and 400,000 stores around the world – three or four times as many as Luxottica. “The strategy has to be absolutely global,” Sagnières, the chief executive, told me. “Not just for the rich or poor.” The company has not restricted itself to lenses. If Luxottica has spent the last quarter of a century buying up the most conspicuous elements of the optical business (the frames, the brands and the high-street chains) then Essilor has busied itself in the invisible parts, acquiring lens manufacturers, instrument makers, prescription labs (where glasses are put together) and the science of sight itself. The company holds more than 8,000 patents and funds university ophthalmology chairs around the world. In deals that rarely make the business pages, Essilor buys up Belgian optical laboratories, Chinese resin manufacturers, Israeli instrument makers and British e-commerce websites. Within the industry, the Big E is generally considered less rapacious than Del Vecchio’s Luxottica; people regard it instead as a kind of unstoppable, enveloping tide. O ver the coming decades, EssilorLuxottica will have the power to decide how billions of people will see, and what they can expect to pay for it. Public health systems are always likely to have more urgent problems than poor eyesight: until 2008, the World Health Organization did not measure rates of myopia and presbyopia at all. The combined company can choose to interpret its mission more or less however it wants. It could share new technologies, screen populations for eye problems and flood the world with good, affordable eyewear; or it could use its commercial dominance to choke supply, jack up prices and make billions. It could go either way. Right now it is EssilorLuxottica’s putative rivals in developed markets, such as the US and Europe, that are most anxious about the power of the new company. “It is always better if there is more diversity in the market,” said Prof Kovin Naidoo, who runs the Brien Holden Vision Institute, about the impact of the merger. “I don’t think anyone can argue with that.” In 2013, Naidoo was one of the authors on a groundbreaking paper that forecast that half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050 – almost 5 billion people. In the course of a single generation, across the world, from Inuit communities in Alaska to secondary-school students in Northern Ireland, researchers have recorded a rough doubling in the number of people who become short-sighted as children. Vision campaigners forecast that the myopia epidemic will put enormous strain on health systems across the developing world, which are already unable to equip their populations with a medical device that has been around since the Middle Ages. “We are barely managing in healthcare systems to provide eyecare,” said Naidoo. He corrected himself. “Not barely. We are not managing. Can you imagine, when those numbers are doubling and tripling, what is going to happen?” Naidoo was reluctant to criticise EssilorLuxottica, however. In part that is because Essilor Foresight … 2.5 billion people are said to need spectacles but have no means to acquire them is the world’s leading commercial funder of research into eye health, and a prominent force in improving access to corrective lenses. (Naidoo sits on the board of the company’s Vision Impact Institute in Paris.) Essilor’s €200m R&D budget is three times the size of the rest of the industry combined, and it has a division called 2.5 New Vision Generation, named for the 2.5 billion people who currently need glasses but don’t have them. The company is investing in schemes such as mobile optometry (putting eyehealth workers on motorbikes in Indonesia), a network of around 4,000 village-level optical stores in India, door-to-door salespeople in the favelas in Brazil, and working with the Liberian health system to get its products to what it calls the “base of the pyramid”. Last month, Essilor pledged to provide 200m pairs of free ophthalmic lenses to the estimated 900 million people living in the Commonwealth without access to glasses. No one at Luxottica was willing to speak in detail about its plans for the merged company. It was a different story when I visited Essilor’s global headquarters, on a quiet street in Charenton-le-Pont, in south-east Paris. The company’s senior executives are, as a rule, noticeably more nerdy and less welldressed than their Italian counterparts, but they are much more comfortable in their role as titans of the global optical industry. Sagnières, the company’s 63-year-old chief executive and chairman, had the guileless glee of a high-school geography teacher whose class had just aced their exams. “I won!” he said, describing the deal with Luxottica. “Anything can happen. I won already. You won. Your kids won! Seriously, this is how it is.” A groundbreaking 2013 paper forecast that half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050 Sagnières told me that the company has calculated – on the basis that a simple pair of glasses costs €5 ($5.89) – that the world can be supplied with eyewear for around $590m a year for the next 30 years. Just as importantly, any investment that EssilorLuxottica ploughs into the bottom end of the market is likely to pay off in the end. “We know that in three or five or 10 years, one day their life will have changed that much that they will afford to pay $50 for a better lens or $50 for branded frames,” said Sagnières. “I am fine with that.” A few days later, I visited one of Essilor’s research facilities . In a room full of brightly coloured furniture and signs that said things like “How can boomers enjoy their vision in all light conditions?” I met Dr Norbert Gorny, the company’s head of R&D. Gorny is a German veteran of the optical scene, who explained that Essilor has spent much of the last decade expanding what it calls “the acuity corridor” on its progressive lenses, to help people read digital devices as they move around, compared to the more static way we used to read books and newspapers. But the company is increasingly keen to reach what it calls its “Next Generation Consumers” – people in the developing world who don’t wear glasses yet. Gorny called them “The Uncorrected”. “We do things for the 2.5 billion uncorrected,” he said. “But we also do things for needs that are not already expressed.” During the afternoon, he showed me rooms where researchers put on motion sensors to measure the depth of vision required for everyday tasks. Gorny also talked teasingly about new lenses that the company is developing with tech companies to supersede Google’s failed Google Glass project. This time, the idea is to project information from the internet – maps, messages, and Twitter, I suppose – directly on to the back of people’s eyes. “You can read easily – always sharp – information about where to go, the email that you did not want to miss,” said Gorny. “I leave it to your fantasy.” It was possible, listening to Gorny and thinking of the teenagers of Seoul, urbanising populations in Africa, and people walking through European cities with their eyes fixed to their phones, to imagine a point where more or less the whole of humanity is watching the world through intermediating screens on their eyes. I asked Gorny whether he thought the 21st century, with its demographic changes, myopia epidemic and urge for digital information, would bring about a second optical revolution, in the manner of Germany’s printing presses in the 15th century. Will EssilorLuxottica become the Facebook of seeing? “I don’t know whether we are starting a revolution, witnessing a major change like we witnessed 500 years ago,” Gorny said. “What I believe is we are in the right industry at the right time.” The question is whether there is anyone, beyond its shareholders, able to hold EssilorLuxottica to account. The next few years might be rocky, as the new company grapples with its size and attempts to find a new leader who can define the corporation and its ultimate goals under the fading shadow of Del Vecchio. But after that, the field is open and the fundamentals are clear. On my way back to London, Gorny gave me a lift to the station. “There is nothing close to that firepower once the combination is done,” he said. “You have the global footprint. You can play all the courts.” And I thought about how one of the telling aspects of wearing glasses is that they help you notice everything else – and for the most part, see the world as it actually is – but it is only occasionally, through a chance reflection, or when you stop and look, that you see what is sitting on the top of your nose. The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 31 Diversions Man climbs Everest after losing both legs g bot egs A Chinese mountaineer taineer who lost both feet trying to reach the summit of Everest st 43 years ago and then had his legs amputated due to cancer hass successfully climbed the mountain untain on his fifth attempt.. Xia Boyu reached the top of the world’s highest peak last Monday with a group roup of 13 others more than han four decades after hiss first try. Xia, 69, was part art of a 20-man Chinese se team that tried to scale e the 8,848-metre peak ak in 1975. About 200 metres es from the top, the climbers bers were forced to turn back ack due to high-altitude storms. orms. They were descending g in difficult conditions when n Xia, then aged 26, gave up his sleeping leeping bag to an ill climber, according to Chinese media. He discovered the next morning he had frostbite in his feet, requiring both to be amputated. Xia used prosthetic limbs to begin climbing small mountains around Beijing and going on long hikes, but learned in 1996 he had contracted lymphoma and would need both legs amputated below the knee. By 2014, Xia was ready to tackle Everest again, but his attempt was undone by ice avalanches. Another climb the following year was aborted after the Nepal earthquake. In 2016, he came within 100 metres of the peak but again had to turn back due to poor weather. His attempt this year was nearly derailed by the Nepal government, which in December banned double amputees and blind people from climbing Everest. The Nepal supreme court said the order was discriminatory and stayed it in March. Speaking from the summit last week, Xia was quoted by the People’s Daily telling a friend he had been preparing for the moment for 43 years. “It’s not been easy for me to reach the peak of Mount Everest, which I’ve dreamed of,” he said. Michael Safi Gap sorry for shirt short-changing ging China US retailer Gap hass ing a apologised for selling T-shirt showing what hat ect it called an incorrect ing map of China, adding it would implement nt ” to “rigorous reviews” ng again. prevent it happening The apology came after a Fifth time lucky … Xia Boyu’s Everest ascent was nearly scuppered by the government Prakash Mathema/Getty; Alamy person posted pictures of the T-shirt on Chinese social media network Weibo saying that Chinese-claimed territories, including south Tibet, the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea, were omitted. The user said the photo of the T-shirt was taken at an outlet store in Canada. “Gap Inc respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We’ve learned that a Gap brand T-shirt sold in some overseas markets failed to reflect the correct map of China. We sincerely apologise for this unintentional error,” it said in a statement posted on its Weibo account last week. It added that the products had been pulled from the Chinese market and destroyed. Guardian staff and agencies Sit tight – being sucked from planes is still rare To lose one passenger through a plane window, as in the tragic case last month of Jennifer Riordan, who died when she was half sucked out of a window on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas, is disconcerting. When something similar happens to a pilot, “sucked halfway out” of a broken cockpit window on a passenger flight in China, as happened this m month, you start to wonder whether storylines common in airlin airline dramas are be are becoming a little too litt fre frequent in rea real life. Riordan Ri died of iinjuries sustained after she was su sucked through a window (below) that had shattered when an engine fan blade broke loose. What caused the cockpit windscreen on the Airbus in China to crack has not yet been ascertained. As with all aircraft accidents, the implications are troubling, but aviation consultant David Haward says serious decompression incidents caused in this way are rare and that each accident tends to be different. “This is not a frequent danger,” he says. “A lot of research work was done in the 40s and 50s to make sure it wasn’t a danger – double-skinned windows and precautions like that.” He also points out that the emotive phrase “passenger sucked out” is wrong. “The fuselage is pressurised, so they are being pushed out.” Whether that is any consolation is questionable. “These incidents are very rare,” Haward says. “There have been occasional incidents of doors being ripped off, but none recently. When I take flights, I always choose a window seat.” Stephen Moss Canine robot close to creeping round homes Former Google robotics outfit Boston Dynamics, famed for its advanced humanoid and canine automatons, has announced that it will begin sale of its headless robotic SpotMini (top) next year. At a robotics conference in California, the company’s founder Marc Raibert announced it was currently in pre-production and scheduled for large-scale production and general availability from middle of 2019. The 30kg quadruped can operate up to 90 minutes between charges and is capable of being driven semi-autonomously, but also able to navigate fully autonomously using its series of cameras. “SpotMini’s development was motivated by thinking about something that could go in an office or accessible place for businesses purposes, or a home eventually,” said Raibert on stage at TC Sessions: Robotics at UC Berkeley. The robot’s main frame has a quick-disconnect battery, stereo cameras in the front, side cameras and a “butt cam”, but it can also be upgraded with a series of attachments on the top, including an articulated arm (pictured above). Wheeled security robots are already in the wild, with mixed results. Raibert thinks that wheeled platforms can only go so far and that legs are the answer to most human environments. “There are lots of applications for legs, such as going up the stairwells in skyscrapers checking for things that shouldn’t be left there,” said Raibert. Samuel Gibbs Free rides for all as bus drivers strike in Japan Instead of forming a picket line, protesting bus drivers in the Japanese city of Okayama have been completing their routes – but not taking fares from passengers. The dispute between workers and the Ryobi bus company reportedly began after a rival bus service launched in April, offering cheaper fares. Worried drivers called for more job security, according to Japanese media. When that wasn’t agreed, they covered the ticket machines on buses and refused to take fares from passengers. It’s not the first time transit workers have taken this kind of action. Last year in Sydney, bus drivers from 12 depots conducted a “fare-free day”, turning off card machines as part of a dispute over government plans to privatise services. Brisbane bus drivers tried a similar tactic last July, leading farefree days as part of action calling for increased wages, improved safety on buses and better rosters. Naomi Larsson 32 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Weekly review Spikes of rage occur roughly every 50 years – are we in the middle of a global red mist, wonders Zoe Williams A neighbour objected to a young couple from Newcastle being naked in their own home. “We are sick of seeing big bums, big boobs and little willy,” was the core message of the note, crescendoing to: “We will report you both for indecent exposure.” It is such a small thing, banal, without consequence. It connects to no wider narrative and conveys nothing but the bubbling discomfort of human beings living near each other. Yet when Karin Stone (one of the nakeds) posted the note on Facebook, 15,000 people pored over it. An Australian radio show interviewed her. I have got to be honest, I am heavily emotionally invested in the story myself and I do not regret a second of the time I have spent reading about it. There is a through-line to these spurts of emotion we get from spectatorship: the subject matter is not important. It could be human rights abuse or a party-wall dispute; it does not matter, so long as it delivers a shot of righteous anger. Bile connects each issue. I look at that note, the prurience and prissiness, the mashup of capital and lower-case letters, the unlikeliness that its author has a smaller bum or a bigger willy, and I feel sure they voted for Brexit. The neighbours are delighted by their disgust for these vigorous, lusty newlyweds, I am delighted by my disgust for the neighbours, radio listeners in Australia are delighted. We see rage and we meet it with our own, always wanting more. There was the mean note left on the car of a woman out shopping with her disabled daughter (“I witnessed you and your young able-bodied daughter … walk towards the precinct with no sign of disability”); the crazed dyspepsia of the woman whose driveway was blocked briefly by paramedics while they tried to save someone’s life. This month, Highways England felt moved to launch a campaign against road rage, spurred by 3,446 recorded instances in a year of motorists driving straight through roadworks. Violent crime has not gone up – it has, but this is thought to reflect better reporting practices – but violent fantasies are ablaze. Political discourse is drenched in rage. But what exactly are we looking at? Does any of this have a wider social meaning? Does it place us at a perilous point on the curve of history, on the tinderbox of a grand explosion? Or is it that some things – cars, social media – are really bad for our mental health? There is a discipline known as cliodynamics, developed at the start of the century by the scientist Peter Turchin, which plots historical events by a series of mathematical measures. Some are obvious – equality – and some take a bit of unpacking. These measures yield a map of history in which you can see spikes of rage roughly every 50 years: 1870, 1920, 1970. Cycles of violence are not always unproductive – they take in civil rights, union and suffragette movements. Indeed, all social movements of consequence start with unrest, whether in the form of strike action, protest or riot. Some situate economics at the heart of the social mood: the Kondratiev wave, which lasts between 40 and 60 years, describes the modern world economy in Why is everybody so ANGRY? The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 33 cycles of high and low growth, where stagnation always corresponds with unrest. David Andress is a professor of history at the University of Portsmouth and the author of Cultural Dementia, a fascinating account of how the slash-and-burn rage of the present political climate is made possible only by wilfully forgetting the past. He counsels against what could become an indolent understanding of history – if everything is a wave and the waves just happen, what is there to discover? – but he allows that “everything has to come back to economics unless you’re rich. Economics is about scarcity and insecurity turns very quickly into anger and scapegoating.” “As a historian and as a teacher, I’m always trying to get people to understand that societies in general are violent and hierarchical places,” he says. “People like you and me have wanted societies to be less violent and hierarchical and we have worked at that. We’ve never actually succeeded. We’ve managed to persuade people to take their foot off other people’s throats, when they felt secure enough.” Anger is remarkable not in and of itself, but when it becomes so widespread that it feels like the dominant cultural force. What is notable to Andress is the counterfactual – the periods in history not marked by fury. “Antagonism never goes away. That is what has made the postwar project quite exceptional, the EU project quite exceptional.” The psychotherapeutic perspective would not reject these economic factors, nor argue that anger is a new phenomenon. But there are elements of the human emotional journey that are novel and ‘Unprocessed anger pollutes the political sphere. Every outburst legitimises the next’ ILLUSTRATIONS BY BEN BOOTHMAN are driven by modern conditions. Aaron Balick, a psychotherapist and the author of a perceptive and surprisingly readable academic account, The Psychodynamics of Social Networking, says: “I think for sure anger is more expressed. What you see of it is a consequence of emotional contagion, which I think social media is partly responsible for. There’s an anger-bandwagon effect: someone expresses it and this drives someone else to express it as well.” Psychologically speaking, the important thing is not the emotion, but what you do with it. We are in an age where the trigger event can be something as trivial as a cranky git who does not like nudity. Thanks to Facebook, 15,000 people can get a righteous thrill of expressed rage. Wherever we are on the Kondratiev curve, ours is a materially different life experience to one in which you would only come together in fury for something serious, such as destroying a ploughshare or burning a witch. “Hysteria is not a particularly politically correct term any more, because it’s kind of misogynist, but it does have a technical meaning,” says Balick. “A hysterical emotional response is when you’re having too much emotion, because you’re not in touch with the foundational feeling. An example would be office bitching. Everybody in the office is bitching and it becomes a hysterical negativity that never treats itself; nobody is taking it forwards.” This has the hammer thud of deep truth. I have worked in only a couple of offices, but there was always a gentle hubbub of whinging, in which important and intimate connections were forged by shared grievance, but it was underpinned by a deliberate relinquishing of power. You complained exactly because you did not intend to address the grievance. Social media has given us a way to transmute t th thatt anger ffrom th the workplace k l – which hi h often ft we do not have the power to change – to every other area of life. You can go on parenting sites such as Mumsnet to get angry with other people’s lazy husbands and interfering mother-in-laws; Twitter to find comradeship in fury about politics and punctuation; Facebook for rage-offs about people who shouted at a baby on a train or left their dog in a hot car. These social forums “enable hysterical contagion”, says Balick, but that does not mean it is always unproductive. The example he uses of a groundswell of infectious anger that became a movement is the Arab spring, but you could point to petitions websites such as 38 Degrees and Avaaz or crowdfunded justice projects. Most broad calls for change begin with a story that enrages people. To distinguish “good” anger from “bad” anger – indeed, to determine whether anything productive could come of a given spurt of rage – it is worth considering the purpose of anger. “Its purpose is to maintain personal boundaries. So, if somebody crosses you, gets in your space, insults you, touches you, you’re going to get angry and the productive use of anger is to say: ‘Fuck off,’” Balick says. The complicating feature of social media is that “someone might be stepping on our identity or our belief system”. So, the natural sense of scale you get in the offline world – a stranger could run over your toes with a shopping trolley but, being a stranger, would find it hard to traduce your essential nature – is collapsed in the virtual one. In the act of broadcasting who we are – what we believe, what we look like, what we are eating, who we love – we offer up a vast stretch of personal boundary that could be invaded by anyone, even by accident. Usually it is not an accident, though; usually they do it on purpose. However, if it gives you a fillip to lie in bed checking whatever news feed nourishes you, then experience a short thrill of indignation, is that a bad thing? Like any stimulant, anger has addictive properties: you become habituated to it and start to look for things to make you angry. Rage has an illusion of power, the way the Incredible Hulk takes peculiar pride in the destructive potential of his strong emotion. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” is such a curious catchphrase; the only logical response is: “I don’t like anyone when they are angry.” But it manages to make sense on a deeper, primeval level. The important consequences are not for your own health, but rather for that of society as a whole. Unprocessed anger pollutes the social sphere. Every outburst legitimises the next. And we have landed – I like to think by accident – on a technology that perpetuates it and amplifies it, occasionally productively, but more often to no purpose at all. Writ large on a world stage – take Trump or Viktor Orbán, the prime minister of Hungary, venting unmediated fury for political effect – we can see how denaturing it is, how it gates off all other, less exhilarating responses, such as empathy. 34 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Discovery Down to the bare bones It’s a golden era for dinosaur discovery and we’ve e’ve got Jurassic Park to thank, star palaeontologistt Steve Brusatte tells Andrew Anthony I hate this idea that because dinosaurs are old, they’re out of touch, they’re out of tune, they’re failures. That’s ridiculous,” says Steve Brusatte, a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh and author of a new Jurassic blockbuster, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World. To say that Brusatte, a fresh-faced 34-yearold American from Illinois, is enthusiastic about dinosaurs doesn’t really capture the depth of his passion. Ask him a question about these beasts that colonised the world for over 150m years and the words come pouring out of him like a burst dam. The book, a gripping read in the best traditions of popular science, sets out to bring the reader up to date with the latest thinking and theories on dinosaurs. It also aims to correct some common misconceptions. As he writes: “I was taught that dinosaurs were big, scaly, stupid brutes so ill-equipped for their environment that they just lumbered around, biding their time, waiting to go extinct. Evolutionary failures. Dead ends in the history of life … But these stereotypes are absurdly wrong.” “The first thing I would say,” says Brusatte, in a pub on a cold and wet day in the village of Carlops in the Scottish Borders, “is that we’re all guilty – I am too – of talking about dinosaurs going extinct. But you know the small ones that had feathers and wings and could fly survived as birds.” Birds excepted, dinosaurs existed between two great catastrophic events on Earth. The first took place about 252m years ago at the end of the Permian period, when activity deep within the Earth’s mantle led to great outpourings of molten rock, massive lava flows that went on for hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of years. The results – an extreme greenhouse effect, acidification of the sea and various other apocalyptic developments – led to the disappearance of more than 90% of the Earth’s species. It was after things calmed s calmed ce was down and some kind of ecological balance rance. restored that the dinosaurs made their entrance. They grew to be remarkably successful. “There were probably billions of them, living t,” says all across the world on every continent,” Brusatte. “Some were burrowing, some were re living in trees, some were flying around and some ome were shaking the Earth as they walked.” That was the scene for 150m years until ntil about etaceous 66m years ago, when at the end of the Cretaceous shed into period an asteroid about 11km wide crashed the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Cue earthquakes, hquakes, e whole hurricanes, devastating tsunamis, the panoply of existential cataclysm, and the rapid departure of dinosaurs from the land. hat near Why a pub in Carlops? It turns out that Carlops, there is a rocky valley that is rich in fossils. Not dinosaur fossils – there are none in Scotland other than on the Isle of Skye – but of tiny ny little creatures like miniature clams that lived in these me parts over 400m years ago, when it was some kind of subtropical lagoon. This is where re s. Brusatte takes his students on field trips. And it’s where he took me to get a sense of what palaeontology involves. ok about There are many descriptions in his book the hard graft, often in difficult terrain, that is required to unearth and study fossils. And certainly after a day spent in the howling wind and rain of the Scottish interior, I felt a greater respect for this particular endeavour. Brusatte has done his time in the field. He has discovered 13 species of vertebrate fossil since he was a graduate student, at the rate of about one a year. Unbeknown to the world at large, which tends to think of palaeontology, if at all, as a kind of quaint backwater of prehistory, we are currently living through a golden age of discovery. “People are finding new species of dinosaur once a week on average, which is nuts,” says Brusatte. “I mean, 50-odd new species a year! That’s not a new bone, that’s not a new skeleton, that’s a totally new species that nobody knew existed.” Which is about 10 or 20 times the rate that new dinosaurs were being discovered 20 years ago. What’s changed? Three things. One is that palaeontology used to be a strictly western field, and quite Scientists to grow ‘mini-brains’ using Neanderthal DNA Hannah Devlin Scientists are preparing to create “miniature brains” that have been genetically engineered to contain Neanderthal DNA, in an unprecedented attempt to understand how humans differ from our closest relatives. In the next few months the small blobs of tissue, known as brain organoids, will be grown from human stem cells that have been edited to contain “Neanderthalised” versions of several genes. The lentil-sized organoids, which are incapable of thoughts or feelings, replicate some of the basicstructures of an adult brain. They could demonstrate for the first time if there were meaningful differences between human and Neanderthal brain biology. “Neanderthals are the closest relatives to everyday humans, so if we should define ourselves as a group or a species it is really them that we should compare ourselves to,” said Prof Svante Pääbo, director of the genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, where the experiments are being performed. Pääbo previously led the successful international effort to crack the Neanderthal genome, and his lab is now focused on bringing Neanderthal traits back to life in the laboratory through sophisticated gene-editing techniques. The lab has already inserted Neanderthal genes for craniofacial development into mice (heavy-browed rodents are not anticipated), and Neanderthal pain perception genes into frogs’ eggs, which could hint at whether they had a different pain threshold to humans. Now the lab is turning its attention to the brain. “We’re seeing if we can find basic differences in how nerve cells function that may be a basis for why humans seem to be cognitively so special,” said Pääbo. The research comes as the longstanding stereotype of Neanderthals as gormless and 5 metres 5.1 e 11.7 7 metres metr e Progress on a large scale ... a rendering of a T rex compared to a human Anamaria Stanley anglophone. “A lot of professors were, you know, kind of old, kind of privileged. It was a grey-beard white guy’s game.” Not any more, says Brusatte. It’s now gone global. Part of the reason for this is the second cause: the influence of the film Jurassic Park. “So many of my colleagues, people of my age, my generation, would tell you point-blank that Jurassic Park made thuggish is being rewritten by emerging evidence that they buried their dead, produced cave art and had brains that were larger than our own. In 2010 Pääbo’s team reassembled the code of the Neanderthal genome ffrom heavily degraded samples taken from fr four females who lived in Europe Europ tens of thousands of years ago. The genome genom revealed Neanderthals interbred interbre with our ancestors – non-Afric all non-Africans today carry 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA. And since people Neandertha acquired sli slightly different genes, collectiv collectively about a third of the Neanderthal genome is still Nean floa oating around. T The latest work focuses on differences in three them want to be a scientist, and it’s true that a lot of museums and a lot of universities started to hire palaeontologists right after that film, because dinosaurs exploded.” The other big change is technology, in particular the use of computers. “Until the 90s,” says Brusatte, “there just wasn’t the computational power to do basic things like build family trees of dinosaurs. That’s a big part of my research, studying the anatomy of dinosaurs, looking at their skeletons, seeing how they differ, making these big lists of characteristics and then feeding that into computer algorithms to build a family tree that unites dinosaurs together in this hierarchical pattern.” Nowadays, he says, it’s vital that palaeontologists are able to code. Another major breakthrough has been the use of computed tomography or CT scans. “That really has been a big deal because there’s so much information that’s hidden inside of bones and inside of skeletons that you just can’t get at by looking at them from the outside, and that’s especially true of the brain, the ears, the sinuses. Those things are vital to how an animal actually behaves, how it senses its world, how it interact with its environment and other species. CT scans also allow us to see details of their bones down to almost the cellular level, to count growth rings without chopping up bones. Growth rings, just like a tree trunk, tell us how old that dinosaur was when it died.” “We don’t know of a single T rex that lived to be more than 30,” says Brusatte. “I would be dead now if I were a T rex.” Animation is another handy tool used by palaeontologists. “Scanning in entire skeletons, we use animation software to see what is and isn’t plausible,” says Brusatte. “How could this dinosaur stand, how could it move, could it run? Could it reach its neck up that way? Could it flap its arms to fly? So all of that’s becoming possible with animation software very similar to what animators use.” Dinosaurs tell us something about our own place in the grand scheme of things. Homo sapiens has been around for less than 300,000 years. Dinosaurs lasted 150 million. “There should be something humbling there. I think that should tell us, well, if this could happen to the dinosaurs, could it happen to us? It tells us that even the most successful, dominant, amazing, iconic, well-adapted species can suddenly go extinct.” Observer The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte is published by Macmillan genes crucial for brain development. Using the editing technique Crispr, changes have been introduced into human stem cells to make them closer to Neanderthal versions. “You start the organoid growing and leave it for nine months and see what happens,” said Gray Camp, a group leader at the institute who is overseeing the organoid experiments. The scientists will compare the Neanderthalised organoids and the fully human ones to assess the speed at which the stem cells divide, develop and organise into three-dimensional brain structures and whether the brain cells wire up differently. “A dream result would be that the [genetic] changes make for longer or more branched neuronal outgrowth,” said Pääbo. “One would say it would be a biological basis for why our brain would function differently.” Dispatches The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 35 Progress in tackling common cold virus Researchers say they have taken a step forward in the quest to tackle the common cold, which is predominantly caused by the rhinovirus. Attempts to thwart the pathogen by vaccination or antiviral drugs face a number of difficulties – the virus comes in many forms and can mutate rapidly, leading to drug resistance. The trick, the authors say in the journal Nature Chemistry, is to develop drugs that interact with one of the enzymes within our cells. “Viruses hijack the host to make more copies of themselves. This enzyme is one of the host enzymes that the virus hijacks,” said Roberto Solari, visiting professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, and a co-author of the study. Wrong kind of exercise Men who work as labourers or in other physically demanding roles have a greater risk of dying early than those with more sedentary jobs, researchers say. The finding, from scientists in the Netherlands, reveals an apparent “physical activity paradox” where exercise can be harmful at work but beneficial to health when performed in leisure time. Pieter Coenen, a public health researcher at VU University medical centre in Amsterdam, said the reason for the disparity is unclear, but he believes it may reflect the different types of exercise people get at work compared with those in their free time. Moods and rest patterns People who experience disrupted 24-hour cycles of rest and activity are more likely to have mood disorders, lower levels of happiness and greater feelings of loneliness, research suggests. The authors say the findings highlight the importance of how we balance rest and activity. “Because people have these 24-hour patterns of living nowadays and because by 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities where circadian disruption is much more likely, it is quite a big public health issue,” said Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and lead author of the research. Leprosy is European Leprosy may have originated in Europe rather than Asia, according to the largest study to date on ancestral strains of the disease. The study has revealed that more leprosy strains than expected were present in medieval Europe, prompting scientists to reconsider the origins and age of the devastating disease. The findings are published in the journal PLOS Pathogens. 36 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Culture ‘We were in an industry built on Thandie Newton is on a roll thanks to Westworld and now Star Wars. She tells Jane Mulkerrins how she rose above Hollywood’s dark side T as a woman who has been similarly, psychically, devastated by oppression. “Women can be the most dangerous allies to the patriarchal system,” she continues. “Because of what they have to deal with to get into positions of authority. And, just as a side note, I don’t believe that the patriarchal system has been built by men; it’s been built by fear. It’s not gendered.” This is what talking to Thandie Newton is like: you start out having a seemingly straightforward discussion of a TV drama, and then find yourself deep into social anthropology – in which she has a degree from Cambridge University – and existentialism. Her role in Westworld is just as layered. Set in a western-themed adventure adve park, where wealthy guests can indulge their most visceral fantasies, robot “hosts “hosts”, including her character Maeve, are the vi victims of rape and violence, endlessly patche patched up and reprogrammed. The high-conc high-concept, big-budget drama spins complex narratives n across multiple timelines, and poses p questions about the nature of consciou consciousness and the notion of free will, while its androids have gained sentience and gone rogue. sentienc “The first season was all about empow empowerment, and the second, for Ma Maeve, is about grief,” says Newto Newton. The character is searching for her daughter, who may be a figm figment of her imagination, a leftove leftover fragment from a previous “scrip “script” of her android incarnation. “ “And she gives no fucks this season season; she’s got nothing to lose, which is very powerful.” Sin Since its launch in the autumn of 2016, 20 Westworld has felt terrifyingly prescient, raising terri unco uncomfortable ideas about tech technological manipulation long before most of us had lon hea heard of Cambridge Analytica. “Th “The parallels were nuts,” Newton says, shaking her head. Newt ‘A good run’ … (above) Newton as Val in Solo: A Star Wars Story; (left) with Nicole Kidman in Flirting; (below left) as Maeve in Westworld; (right) in Jefferson In Paris with Nick Nolte; (above right) as Roz Huntley in Line of Duty But the result is some spectacular television. One episode in the latest series belongs almost entirely to Newton, with themes of female solidarity and resistance, more pertinent than ever, given the context of #MeToo. “It’s so beautiful, and it’s all such a metaphor for the used and abused in our world, who are treated like they are nothing,” says Newton. Some have been shocked by the extent to which the culture of sexual abuse in Hollywood has been revealed since the movement began last autumn. Not Newton. “I’ve been talking about sexual harassment and rape in our industry for 20 years, and no one was ready to take it on,” she says, matter-of-factly. She told CNN five years ago that when she was 18 a Hollywood casting director asked her to sit with her legs apart while he filmed up her skirt, and directed her to touch herself and “think about the person I was supposed to be having the dialogue with, and how it felt to be made love to by this person”. Some years later, a producer boasted to the director Ol Parker, by then Newton’s husband, that he’d seen the video. The unnamed director would play it at parties. In retrospect, is she angry that nobody listened to her about harassment? “I have been … frustrated,” she says, after a pause. “But what I realised is that they weren’t able to. We were in an industry built on favours, and it was an unspoken way of life: that you would need to communicate with co-stars, or with men of power, in a flirtatious way. Sex was, Allstar/Cinetext/Warner Bros; Lucasfilm Ltd; HBO; World Productions/BBC/Des Willie handie Newton is, by her own admission, “having quite a good run at the moment”. Over the past 18 months, she has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Maeve Millay, a robot madam in the HBO series Westworld, and a TV Bafta nomination for playing DCI Roz Huntley in the BBC drama Line of Duty. And now with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, in which she plays Val, she has been inducted into one of the biggest film franchises of them all. She’ll probably get her own figurine. Not bad for a woman who admits that she wasn’t really into sci-fi and westerns, or even that keen on doing television. “I just didn’t see television as being reflective of stories I was interested in,” she says. “But I wanted to be home more, and TV was changing, and my agent said: ‘If you want to work in British TV, this is it – Line of Duty.’” Her desire to be home more is a major motivation, albeit one she is still struggling to fulfil. We meet, initially, in a hotel in Los Angeles, but so jet-lagged is Newton, off the back of appearances at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, that we agree to speak instead when she’s back home in London. On the day we Skype – me from New York, her from her kitchen – it’s just a few weeks later, but she has already been across the Atlantic and back again, and is about to set off for Miami, LA again and then Cannes. She has previously described scribed her time in the police drama as “a career highlight”, but today seems unsure. “I have had a funny relationship with Line of Duty,” she says. “I ly because it is so am very proud of it, partly unlike me, so it was a reall performance. But so many people stop me in n the street and say: urts me every time, ‘Roz is such a bitch.’ It hurts because I felt real compassion ion for her.” Her character – who was even rs as their hailed by the show’s creators “most devious characterr ever” – went to extraordinary lengths ngths in w. the fourth series of the show. e of her “I was distraught at some betrayals,” admits Newton. n. “But een so she is a person who has been ent, by oppressed by her environment, the sexism and harassment, which o libershe uses in the end to try to ate herself. She’s had to sacrifi rifice so much in fighting her way to the top, che.” and that can twist your psyche.” She likens Huntley to Winnie Mandela: “Ever ything hing she went through when herr husband was in prison – how she e was tortured and abused – and the crimes d herself, that she then committed reprehensible things. I think hink of Roz favours’ ‘I was coerced into doing some projects that I didn’t want to do. I feel a sense of gratitude now’ and is, the currency, and everyone’s complicit.” But the penalty for saying that, as a young woman at the start of her career, was severe. “It affected my friendships, it affected my career; I was definitely less hireable.” She sighs, and rubs her eyes. Much of Newton’s time is now spent campaigning on behalf of women in developing countries, with Eve Ensler’s V-Day charity. “And playing Maeve is one of the first times in my career that I feel like I’ve been able to actually reflect the harrowing truth of what people go through in the world,” she says. Born in London and raised in Penzance, Cornwall, by her Zimbabwean mother Nyasha and white British father, Nick, Newton made her film debut aged 16, in Flirting alongside Nicole Kidman. She has worked steadily ever since, mostly in the US. “I love being here, but I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call the Midwife,” she previously told the Sunday Times. “I went where the work was,” she shrugs today. But even some of that work she now views with a level of regret. “There are certain projects that I now look at as being too naive in terms of addressing and exploring the stories of African people in the United States.” Two projects early in her career postFlirting – Interview With the Vampire and Jefferson in Paris – involved her playing slaves. “I was also coerced into doing some projects that I didn’t want to do,” she continues. “I feel a sense of gratitude now. [It made me] build a strength and a resolve. But it took a long time, because I was totally brainwashed.” Her role in Solo represents a major milestone. While recent instalments have been more inclusive, featuring non-white actors such as John Boyega and Riz Ahmed, we have not yet seen a woman of colour in a leading role. “I am the first dark-skinned woman in a lead role in the Star Wars legacy, which is both great, that it is finally a correction, and awful, that it’s taken this long.” So now Newton wants to play it by her own rules. “I don’t feel like I’m an actress for hire any more, in the way that I used to be. I am not a person for hire.” She has two film scripts of her own in development, and plans to direct both too. One is set in the US, one in the UK (much of which she wrote on the set of Solo), and both, she says, are “very personal human stories. I really want to get to the fucking core of why we do what we do. I certainly don’t think that I know, but I love stories that are really trying to find out.” Both, she says, will feature female protagonists. “I am obsessed with the female experience. I don’t actually think I could write as a man,” Newton says. “And that is everything we have in cinema; that is how our identities have been fed back to us – from a male perspective.” I mention the steadily growing number of other A-list British female actors who are now writing, producing or directing, including Emily Mortimer, Gemma Arterton and Emma Thompson, and we conclude that this would not be a conversation we could have had 20, or even 10, years ago. “What’s happened?” Newton asks, with a wicked glint in her eye. “We’ve all short-circuited, and now we’re going rogue.” Review The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 37 Another fun reshuffle of the origin myth Film Solo: A Star Wars Story T his is a cracking adventure which frankly deserves full episode status in the great franchise, not just one of these intermittent place-holding iterations. Ron Howard was born to direct it. There’s a terrific ensemble castdynamic and an effortless channelling of the spirit of Episodes IV to VI from father-and-son screenwriting team Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan who should really be allowed to get their teeth into the stories’ daddy issues and Freudian anxieties. Solo: A Star Wars Story also has a glorious origin myth meet-cute in one of cinema’s greatest bromances: the stoic wookiee Chewbacca and insolently handsome Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich’s Han is a handsome scallywag, oppressed on a tyrannised planet. He is in love with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and they plan to escape. Han makes it, Qi’ra doesn’t, but he swears to come back and find her someday. In the meantime, he’s become a brilliant pilot who has been booted out of the imperial fleet for insubordination, and has made common cause with a notorious thief, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who with his associate Val (an underused Thandie Newton) works for a terrifying crime boss, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). And Han also chances across a charismatic smuggler, gambler and flier called Lando Calrissian, a very funny performance from Donald Glover, who bets his beloved Millennium Falcon on a hand of cards with the wily Han. Phoebe Waller-Bridge has an entertaining voice role as Spartacist droid L3-37. Most importantly, Han has his first encounter with the prototypical Allied resistance against the Empire. Then to his astonishment, Han comes face-to-face with Qi’ra again – of all the interplanetary cocktail events in all the galaxy she had to walk into this one. But the main event is the meeting of Han and Chewie, at this stage 190 years old and condemned to eternal youth. Han has been thrown into a pit to die at the hands of a chained “monster”. Their staged fight is a beguiling moment as Han fixes to break Chewie free. Solo: A Star Wars Story reshuffles the accepted component myth-parts in a way that some find overfamiliar, but with Howard at the controls, it is a funfuelled entertainment. Peter Bradshaw 38 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Culture Queering a Greek tragedy, Korea-style Euripides’s Trojan Women is retold through the medium of pansori, explains Corrie Tan I n 1991, Ong Keng Sen directed Euripides’s Trojan Women in a granite quarry in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning. He chose Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1965 adaptation, a fiery indictment of the Indochina wars, which styled French colonialists as the conquering Greeks and the Vietnamese as bereft Trojans, facing the death and destruction of their people. He cast expatriates to Singapore as the Greeks and Singaporeans as the Trojans. More than 25 years later, the Singaporean director – who made a name for himself reinventing western classics through Asian performance – is once more remixing this ancient Greek tragedy about the suffering of women in the aftermath of war. This time, for a show that will be staged at London’s international festival of theatre, he has chosen to use the Korean pansori, the beloved genre of musical storytelling performed by a solo singer and drummer that stretches back to the 17th century. The Korean opera form of the changgeuk incorporates the pansori style of singing. Its sound is guttural and husky, making use of the voice’s lower registers. “Think of your natural voice when you wake up in the morning,” says the globetrotting Ong, speaking via Skype from Charleston, South Carolina, where he has another show opening at the Spoleto festival this month. Ong’s fascination with the pansori began in 1998, on a trip to South Korea. “Usually in Asian cultures, there’s a kind of lodestone of cultural heritage and of performance that could take various forms. For example, in Kerala, it’s kathakali and koodiyattam, the performing arts forms that influence everything else, from ritual to everyday life, from high performance to low performance,” he says. “In Korea, I felt it was music.” There, he attended a performance by pansori superstar Ahn Sook-sun, one of the country’s “national living treasures”. How wonderful, he thought, to direct a changgeuk one day. “But I was in my 30s and it felt quite far away – it was more like wishful thinking and I shelved it.” The dream has since come off the shelf: the National Changgeuk Company of Korea approached Ong to collaborate with them in 2013. He quickly decided that he would not stage one of the few extant pansori. There are only five surviving full-length pansori pieces in existence, and seven fragments. “I knew there was going to be some kind of controversy if we reinvented one of them because there are only five, and it’s very precious. Imagine rewriting Handel, for instance, and calling it Handel’s music.” Carrying the music of the homeland with them ... Trojan Women National Theatre of Korea A classic story seemed to be good neutral territory on which to construct Ong’s experiment. “I felt there was a lot of synergy between Greek theatre and Korean traditional forms. Greek theatre is epic, the emotions and passions are huge – they are not daily life emotions. You can imagine Medea, for example, being sung in changgeuk and pansori,” he says. He suggested Trojan Women because so much of Korean culture is about the ajummas – “the Korean mamas and Korean women”, who “suffer but at the same time … are extremely passionate”. Ong’s goal was that this new changgeuk would eventually become part of the canon, something South Korea could lay claim to. He invited playwright Bae Sam-sik to adapt the play in a way that “reverberates with a Korean consciousness [and] doesn’t feel like a translation”. Ahn, whose voice captured Ong so many years ago, composed the pansori for Trojan Women orally, with a dedication to perfection that made her “cough up blood”: rupturing the blood vessels in her vocal cords from singing every line repeatedly until she had the melodic nuances just right. Ahn’s work is complemented by that of composer Jung Jae-il, whose music for the chorus draws on ‘The thing that was attractive is that they didn’t see K-pop as something far away’ K-pop. Ong says: “The thing that was attractive about the whole thing to me is that they didn’t see K-pop as something far away from pansori.” This blend of high and low musical forms serves a deeper function. Ong was interested in the idea of these chorus women, taken as slaves, carrying within them the music of their homeland. He thought of how music from Africa moved across to the Americas with the slave trade, of the hymnals and the rituals that slaves were prohibited from singing and conducting, but preserved in private. Ong connected this with the tragedy of Korean women in war, and the history of “comfort women”: women and girls forced into prostitution during the second world war by the Japanese army. While attempting to build a canonical work, Ong has also managed to subvert it by queering the role of Helen of Troy. Ong wanted to situate Helen as an outsider, vilified by the Trojan women, the survivors of the war. Helen ought to have a transgressive quality, he felt, as a character caught between two worlds. The role is played by male performer Kim Jun-su, who is something of a pop icon in pansori and often takes on Romeo-type characters. Ong’s translator whispered to him as they prepared for the premiere in Seoul, where the show was extraordinarily well received: “It’s amazing that you’re doing this in the National Theatre of Korea – to have a male singer singing Helen.” Trojan Women by National Theatre of Korea is at the Southbank Centre, London, 2-3 June The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 39 Culture Reviews Television Patrick Melrose Film BlacKkKlansman S pike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a broad satirical comedy of the 70s American race war, and a parable of passing for black and passing for white – based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, the black Colorado police officer who masterminded the infiltration of a KKK chapter by posing as a white bigot by phone and sending in white officers for face-to-face work. With Lee’s knockabout treatment, this stranger-than-fiction story lights up like a pinball machine, pinging and flashing with N-bombs, blaxploitation tropes, strategic anachronisms and premonitions of the New Trump Order. It’s a rephrasing gag-tactic that means that at one point someone talks about finding “the means for America to reclaim its former greatness”. The movie, which premiered at Cannes last week, kicks off with a shrill, harrumphing cameo from Alec Baldwin playing a white-power extremist. But the film’s acrid, patchily maintained comedy finally gives way to direct rhetoric as Lee replaces his period drama with video footage of present-day Charlottesville far-right violence, and the president’s later claim to detect “very fine people” in activists’ ranks. John David Washington (pictured) plays Ron, a young black man in Colorado Springs who joins the police. He is moved to undercover work, Classical Ligeti in Wonderland F ew composers have undergone such a radical change of stylistic direction mid-career as György Ligeti. The music he composed in the 1960s and 70s is remarkable for its rejection of prevailing musical dogma and its delight in the sheer beauty and sensuality of sound. What emerged from the early 80s until his death in 2006 is as remarkable in an utterly different way, absorbing elements from a huge range of traditions, from Europe, Africa and the new world, to create music that remains unclassifiable. Ligeti in Wonderland, the London Southbank Centre’s festival curated by artist-in-residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard, focused on these marvellously strange works. Almost all the major scores Focus Features T where he has to spy on a Black Power meeting, wearing a wire, and hating himself. The experience humiliates him, but inspires him to use the tactic in a new direction. Using his strange talent for mimicking the sonorous voices of white men, and with a need to confront his colleagues with what their unconscious racism sounds like when said out loud, Ron calls the KKK chapter, pretending to be a bigot and uses his real name. The police feel they might as well give Ron’s KKK-infiltration plan a try and send in a Jewish officer Flip (Adam Driver) to win their trust. Flip is hardly less conflicted than Ron. There are moments that do not hesitate to create significant contrasts. As the hour of a planned terror outrage against black people draws nigh, Lee intercuts between a scene in which Harry Belafonte has a cameo and a sequence in which the KKK hold a creepy sub-Masonic ceremony to induct new members. It concludes with explicitly juxtaposed cries of “White power!” and “Black power!” It’s an implied equivalence that makes the drama very self-conscious. Lee hits his targets effectively enough – again and again. Serious and funny clash like wrestlers, but the brilliant tonal balance in something like Jordan Peele’s satire Get Out leaves this looking a little exposed. Yet it responds fiercely, contemptuously to the crassness at the heart of the Trump regime and gleefully pays it back in its own coin. Peter Bradshaw from this final phase of Ligeti’s career were included, for which Aimard was joined by violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, horn-player Marie Luise Neunecker and, in the finale, the Aurora Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Collon. With performances as fine as anyone could have hoped for, it was full of wonderful things – confirmation, if any was needed, of Ligeti’s place among the greats of 20th-century music. The Aurora programme contained the three late concertos for piano, violin, and horn. Collon prefaced them with a reminder of the enchantment of Ligeti’s earlier soundworld in a glittering performance of his 1970 Chamber Concerto. Poème Symphonique, for 100 metronomes, was a reminder of Ligeti’s delight in the absurd. Andrew Clements he phone rings A stripy-shirted arm reaches for it. “Hello?” says a voice – deep, aristocratic, lugubrious and woozy, but unmistakably Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured below). Sad news from New York: his father has died. Patrick Melrose, Cumberbatch’s character, sinks slowly towards the floor, but not in grief. He has dropped something; a syringe. There is a tell-tale blood spot on the shirt, too. Melrose’s face very slowly transforms. His eyes close, the corners of his mouth twist into a smile, because heroin is now flooding his brain cells and because of another kind of release – from the abusive relationship and trauma that was instrumental in getting him mixed up with serious drugs. “Old bastard’s only gone and died,” he says to one of the women in his life. He is thinking of giving up drugs, he tells another. Then he Concordes across the Atlantic, where he fails spectacularly to give up drugs (to heroin add amphetamines, quaaludes, valium and alcohol) and very nearly fails to pick up his father’s ashes. He only just fails to kill himself, too. Patrick Melrose, adapted by One Day writer David Nicholls from the autobiographical novels of Edward St Aubyn, could have been ghastly – messed-up toff throws money at people and takes a lot of drugs in 1980s New York, because his messed-up toff daddy wasn’t nice to him. It is a triumph, though. Each episode has a distinct character that has a lot to do with where and when it is set, yet they nod to each other and belong together. The dialogue is sharp; this is tight, intelligent adaptation. The director, Edward Berger, who did Deutschland 83, does excellent New York 82 too. There are so many glorious scenes in the first episode. At the funeral parlour where Melrose goes into the wrong room, a Jewish wake, before finding the right one and unwrapping his father like a birthday present (“Is it Dad? It is! It’s just what I wanted!”). A disastrous date with an ambitious socialite who doesn’t want a quaalude. Another drink with a woman who witnessed some of Patrick’s tragic childhood. During this one, a quaalude hits and everything slows down, as if all the batteries have suddenly gone flat – Patrick’s voice, the movement of the camera … until he does a line of speed in the loo. It is an immersive experience: not just watching Melrose, but kind of being him as well. Which brings us to the man who has thrown himself into Melrose. There are other fine performances: Sebastian Maltz, haunting as young Patrick; Hugo Weaving as his monster father; Jennifer Jason Leigh as his wasted, spaced out mother. But this is the Cumberbatch show and it has come to town. He hits just the right note: hilarious, but also tragic, irritating, exasperating. It is addiction personified, sympathetic without being celebratory or glamorised. He is, and it is, brilliant. Sam Wollaston Showing on Sky Atlantic in the UK; Showtime in the US and The Movie Network in Canada 40 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Books Revolution from the brink of Armageddon Daniel Beer on a compelling account of Russia’s nuclear disaster and its political fallout Ruins revisited … a tourist in an abandoned kindergarten in the ghost village of Kopachi, near the Chernobyl plant; below, a helicopter ‘bomb run’ on the damaged reactor No 4 in May 1986 With both radiation readings and the demand for information in western Europe rising, and Ukrainian hospitals admitting hundreds of patients suffering from radiation sickness, the Kremlin finally broke its silence almost three days after the accident. The public clamour for detailed information about the threat to health quickly proved unstoppable. On the brink of glasnost, Chernobyl helped prise open Igor Kostin/Sputnik These days, European travel agencies offer trips to Chernobyl for as little as €500 ($590). Tourists are promised safety, comfort and the ghoulish thrill of visiting the site where, at 1.23am on 26 April 1986, an explosion at the nuclear plant’s reactor No 4 created the largest peacetime nuclear disaster in history. The adjacent city of Prypiat, which grew up around Chernobyl, is a latter-day Pompeii. It has remained uninhabited since the Soviet authorities belatedly ordered the evacuation of its population 36 hours after the plant first began spewing lethal radiation into the atmosphere. When, in 2015, the Ukrainian parliament ordered the removal of all Communist party statues from the country’s streets and squares, Prypiat and the 25km radius exclusion zone around Chernobyl became a “time capsule” and a “communist preserve”. There, Lenin and co still gaze down triumphantly on the desolation. In this compelling history of the disaster and its aftermath, Serhii Plokhy presents Chernobyl as a terrifying emblem of the terminal decline of the Soviet system. The turbine test that went catastrophically wrong was not, he argues, a freak occurrence but a disaster waiting to happen. It had deep roots in the party’s reckless obsession with production targets and in the pliant nuclear industry’s alarming record of cutting corners to cut costs. Plokhy’s well-paced narrative plunges the reader into the sweaty, nervous tension of the Chernobyl control room on the fateful night when human frailty and design flaws combined to such devastating effect. Men with dozens of years’ experience in the nuclear industry were confounded when they found themselves unable to arrest the rising temperature in the reactor and an enormous explosion rocked the plant. After crucial hours passed in confusion and denial, they acknowledged that the core of the reactor was on fire and that it was emitting radiation into the night sky through a gaping hole in the roof. The authorities’ subsequent attempts to contain the fire were a signature Soviet mix of improvisation, heroism and ineptitude. Exposing themselves to lethal levels of radiation, helicopter crews made repeated flights over the burning reactor, dropping 5,000 tonnes of sand, clay and lead in an ultimately successful bid to extinguish the fire. In so doing, they prevented the very real possibility of a second much larger explosion that might have rendered the entire European continent uninhabitable. Woefully misjudging the scale of the disaster, the Kremlin insisted that the Ukrainian authorities go ahead with the organisation of the May Day parade in central Kiev just as radiation levels in the city were spiking. Crowds lined the streets to cheer the achievements of Soviet socialism while their leaders, who knew of the explosion only 125km away, looked down on families oblivious to the danger. Sergei Supinsky/Getty Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy by Serhii Plokhy Allen Lane, 432pp the vice of Soviet censorship, forcing the regime to publicly confront its failings and their dreadful consequences for the country. If the Soviet command economy was the ultimate villain at Chernobyl, it came into its own in the Herculean clean-up operation. Close to 600,000 Soviet citizens, many of them army reservists, were mobilised at great personal risk to gather up radioactive debris scattered by the explosion, demolish irradiated villages and move contaminated soil. The military buried the “Red Forest”, a 10km-square expanse of pine trees that had turned red after absorbing radiation. The cleanup was crowned by the construction of a metal and concrete “sarcophagus” over the entire reactor. Plokhy gives a balanced and sympathetic account of the experiences of the senior scientists, engineers and politicians who extinguished the reactor fire, organised the evacuation of the region and contained the radioactive contamination. Yet the firefighters, reservists, teachers, farmers, doctors and schoolchildren caught up in the disaster have only walk-on roles in his narrative. The Belarusian The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 41 Contradiction that lies at the heart of a nation Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream by Sarah Churchwell Bloomsbury, 384pp Robert McCrum Observer Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s harrowing symphony of interviews about the disaster, Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future, contains a rich trove of sources that here go mostly untapped. Plokhy’s most penetrating chapters deal with the political fallout. Attempts by Moscow to downplay design flaws in the reactor and to make scapegoats of a handful of managers and operators failed to reassure public opinion in a new era of open discussion. Chernobyl, Plokhy writes, “ended one era and initiated another”. It helped to transform the slow-burn of Soviet environmental protests into an explosive form of eco-nationalism. Where Ukrainian intellectuals had once embraced nuclear power as an emblem of modernity, they now shunned it as a baleful symptom of Soviet imperialism. The poet Ivan Drach, one of the leaders of the democratic movement Rukh, later recalled that “Chernobyl roused our souls, showing us in real terms that we were on the edge of an abyss.” The only way to safeguard Ukraine from a repeat of the disaster was independence from Moscow. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was powered by a wave of popular revolts in the non-Russian republics. The catalyst of the Ukrainian revolt was reactor No 4. Long before the revolution, there were two Americas, implicitly at odds. The first, sponsored by Walter Raleigh, was fiery, maverick and piratical, based in Virginia. These freebooters would open up the frontier to the south and west. The second America was inspired by New England’s Puritan settlement. In 1630, its ideologue John Winthrop declared this new society should shine as a beacon of hope – “a city upon a hill”. Almost four centuries of conflict between the Raleigh and the Winthrop Americas reached a bizarre climax on 16 June 2015, when presidential candidate Donald Trump declared “the American dream is dead” and proceeded to run a campaign promising to put “America first”. Sarah Churchwell explores the latest disruption through an examination of the two loaded phrases exploited by Trump: “America first” and “the American dream”. Her tale will probably upend what we thought we knew about the US. Behold, America tells a story of outrageous bombast braided with the most violent arguments about capitalism, democracy and race. It’s a ripping yarn that puts Trump and Trumpism in a category that is perhaps less sinister than we might have feared and more intelligible than we might have imagined. Churchwell comes to her subject via an acclaimed study of The Great Gatsby, perhaps the supreme articulation of “the American dream”. Her chapters on an idea that was not even invoked as an expression of the American creed until the late 19th century make for fascinating revisionism. She shows that this “dream” is really about a fierce argument about the nature and practice of US democracy. The American dream was not to be found, for instance, on the lips of Woodrow Wilson, a great Democrat idealist. Wilson, surprisingly, was the first to appropriate “America first” as the slogan that expressed the ambitions of a self-confident society on the brink of world war. The interwar iteration of “America first”, an angry isolationism, became fused with the new ideal of a “100% Americanism”. It appealed to the old nativist element of US society, now exemplified by DW Griffith’s notorious 1915 movie The Birth of a Nation. When the Ku Klux Klan and widespread lynchings followed, the American dream might have rallied blue-state Americans appalled by the coarsening of their society, but America first was in the ascendant. Soon, it would be Charles Lindbergh’s quasi-fascist “Americans! Wake up!” that offered the greatest threat to the dreamers and it’s Churchwell’s achievement to demonstrate that this was less a horrifying anomaly, more a belated liberation of America’s dark side. By the 1940s, ideals of liberty and equality were morphing into a justification for selfishness and greed. That dream had shrunk to a vague, intermittent corrective within the national conversation. Once the war was over, it seemed as if the visceral side of the American psyche had overwhelmed its softer, more idealistic alter ego. But when the unresolved race question burst on to the nation’s consciousness with the civil rights movement, the old rhetoric came roaring back. “I have a dream,” declared Martin Luther King. America’s internal debate about itself was – and still is – alive. A society made of words had not forgotten the power and consolations of language. Thus the fearsome inarticulacy of George W Bush was answered by the eloquence of Obama, who was trumped by … Trump. Behold, America is an enthralling book. Much of its force derives from the echoes of the present it finds in the past. It is a document of our times and a thrilling survey of a neglected dimension of the American story – a tale now being told by an idiot. The joy of facts How Britain Really Works: Understanding the Ideas and Institutions of a Nation by Stig Abell John Murray, 416pp Gaby Hinsliff Many people are sure they understand parliamentary process, how a customs union works, or what goes on in schools, but find such things curiously hard to explain. What happens at a bill’s second reading? When would a person sit their Sats? Answers to such questions are surprisingly helpful in putting news in its proper context or simply understanding how the country ticks. To say that How Britain Really Works fills in some of these gaps runs the risk of making it sound dull when it’s a wry, readable, even whimsical book. Stig Abell’s aim was to come up with a modern, adult version of children’s encyclopedias, a sort of Schott’s Miscellany of Britain. But while there’s an endearingly old-fashioned air to the idea of a book containing actual facts, rather than grand provocative theories about Britishness, it takes on an interestingly new light in an era of fake news. The combination of people who don’t know what they don’t know – and so may be dangerously overconfident about their ability to tell truth from fiction in the context of the type of mendacity seen during the referendum campaign – along with a torrent of maliciously misleading information on social media, has not been a happy one. This book pulls off the difficult trick of being a potted primer to deeper issues behind the news without being patronising or assuming too much knowledge. It doesn’t dig deep on any topic, dispatching two centuries of British political history in not much more than half a chapter, and current affairs junkies won’t find much in it they didn’t know (or didn’t think they knew). And since it’s written from the carefully even-handed viewpoint of a classic centrist dad, it’s not one for the radical in your life. But it’s rather soothing to read something that isn’t angrily trying to sell you a big idea and then cherrypicking its facts to suit the polemic. If Abell has a grand theory of Britishness, it would be that it’s all a bit of an agreeable muddle; a series of polite fictions and happy or unhappy accidents that produce something that defies easy labelling. Oddly enough, it is a pretty good description in some ways of Abell himself, whose Continued on page 42 → 42 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Books To the ends of oneself ← Continued from page 41 journalistic career spans high and lowbrow and has taken him from running the Press Complaints Commission to working as managing editor of the Sun, before becoming editor of the Times Literary Supplement. The sharpest chapter is perhaps the one on education. Abell’s uncompromising prescription is to whack VAT on private schools, scrap grammars, abolish GCSEs in favour of one final exam at 18 and bring back maintenance grants for poorer students. Elsewhere, he is more tentative. Abell had a ringside seat on the Leveson inquiry, having testified before it while at the PCC, and the chapter on the media is fascinating and emotional. But many readers will feel he still doesn’t address the perceived cosiness of the relationship between press and regulator, or woeful inability of the media to police itself. Yet the book remains a smart execution of an idea that is more important than it sounds – in a world convulsed by polarising ideologies and white-hot feelings, there is a lot to be said for having a rough idea of what you’re talking about. I wish it luck. Brother in Ice by Alicia Kopf, translated by Mara Faye Lethem And Other Stories Publishing, 251pp Lauren Elkin Not what we seem Shapeshifters: On Medicine and Human Change by Gavin Francis Wellcome Collection, 304pp Brian Dillon Lycanthropic … David Naughton shifts shape in American Werewolf in London Everett/Rex “My aim is to sing of the ways bodies change.” Ovid, in The Metamorphoses, provides one of six epigraphs to Gavin Francis’s ambitious book on the same theme. He might also have invoked John Berger’s 1967 study of the work and life of a country doctor, A Fortunate Man. Writing about that book a few years ago, Francis noted that a sensitive physician “is rewarded with endless opportunities for experiencing the possibilities inherent in human lives”. Shapeshifters is an effort to inventory some of that potential, glad and malign. It bristles with insight into human bodies and the ways they remake themselves, or undo their owners. Change may seem a broad category inside which to corral the infinitely detailed ways our bodies work, don’t work, develop and decline. But feeling, or appearing to be in some way altered is surely the fundamental experience of being embodied. There is no static corporeal condition in life, or in death. Francis, who works as a GP in Edinburgh, is interested in physical changes wrought by time, illness and accident – hormonal slumps and rages, anorexia’s chilling progression, the fantastical inventions of a florid psychosis – but also in the bodily metaphors that have “preoccupied poets, artists and thinkers for millennia”. In a consideration of the ambiguities of human gender, Francis turns to TS Eliot’s Tiresias, “throbbing between two lives”. Poetry, myth and fiction connect easily with some of the more extravagant transformations Francis considers – though it is sometimes hard to say which came first: the symptom or its abstraction into word and image. Take the werewolf. As Francis reminds us, the first transformation described by Ovid is of man into wolf. It seems that 70% of mental-health professionals today think the full moon influences certain of their patients, but there is no credible evidence for the belief. He describes the illness (porphyria) that may well account for legends of lycanthropy and lunar transfiguration; he links such tales (and contemporary cases) to Virgil’s Eclogues, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and the long tradition of humanised animals in children’s literature. In medicine and imagination, we are never quite ourselves: Francis recalls being introduced, as a medical student, to a patient who had a 5cm horn growing out of her forehead. He is well schooled in the literature of medical curiosities, from Galen to Sir Thomas Browne and beyond. But Shapeshifters is at its best, and strangest, when dealing with mundane translations: puberty, pregnancy, menopause, the not-so-simple facts of our being sexed beings. Francis has an engaging way with medical-cultural history, drawing us close, for example, to Leonardo’s depiction of the moment of conception, a picture complete with conjectured channels from breasts to womb, and an obscure duct connecting brain, spine and penis. Shapeshifters is never less than intellectually energetic. I would love to read Francis at greater length on sleep, the scalp, jet lag, bonesetting, prosthetics and gigantism. But the brevity of many chapters contrasts with moments when he conveys something profound and complex about his patients. If he doesn’t exactly attain the simple intensity of Berger in A Fortunate Man, the task is similar: to recognise that in each case, behind each array of presenting symptoms, there is a whole world of feeling and a style of understanding. At times, these embodied ways of seeing can appear delusional. In other cases, Francis captures his patients’ anxieties, as with a young woman unexpectedly pregnant: “The lilt of her accent rose up and down … like a needle on a running stitch.” Towards the end of the book he attends an autopsy, and describes the creamy grey brain flopping into the corners of a metal tray – a gripping description of our final transformation. Catalan artist Alicia Kopf’s Brother in Ice came about unusually for a work of fiction: it was generated via a series of exhibitions , Àrticantàrtic, an “exploration of exploration” in which Kopf pursued the pursuers of the white places on the Earth. The novel – if that’s what we can call it – integrates these preoccupations, but contextualises them within the life of a young woman living in Barcelona, whose brother, M, is autistic, though the doctors cannot identify where on the spectrum to place him. The human body itself is an unknowable landscape within which doctors can only diagnose through approximation and calculation. We meet M in interludes between research notes, illustrations (taken from Kopf ’s gallery shows), mini-essays on explorers’ journeys, and the narrator’s diary entries. Kopf describes M as a “man trapped in ice”: alive beneath it, looking out at the world, he is both “there” and “not there”. This finds an unexpected echo in the author’s preoccupation with polar explorers, people such as Louise Boyd, who had already led seven expeditions by the time she became the first woman to fly over the Earth’s rotational axis in 1955, aged 68. On a journey to the Arctic through Norway, she said of the ice she could glimpse in the distance: “I want to be there, looking out, instead of here, looking in.” Kopf frequently juxtaposes science with the metaphysical, or with quotidian banality. Set against the growing body of “facts” and “documents” that preoccupy the narrator, the status of the personal material is less certain; is it fiction or non-fiction? The narrator herself is obliquely acknowledged to be a fictional invention: at one point she identifies herself as Alicia Kopf, who is, of course, the author of the book we’re reading, but Alicia Kopf is the pseudonym of Imma Ávalos Marquès, whose name is on the copyright page. “I’m not an author,” Kopf writes, “just an explorer of my limited textual possibilities.” A writer, she shows us, is a kind of polar explorer: both are driven by an obsession with abstraction; both are “seeking out something in an unstable space”. From the outset the narrative establishes its twin points of reference: the north and south poles, in a recurring reference to the dispute over who truly “conquered” them. About a third of the way into the novel, Kopf quotes a speech made by the Catalan oceanographer Pepita Castellví, which itself concludes with a quote from Ernest Shackleton: “The Polar regions leave a profound mark on those who have struggled in them, which is difficult to express to men who have never left the civilised world.” This seems like an apt summary of what it means to be an artist or a writer. Brother in Ice is finally about the tension between having a creative life that allows us to escape our everyday lives and responsibilities to our loved ones. The dialectic between home and away collapses in the polar whiteness of the creative process, which Kopf describes as a “territory” that is “not yet visible to me”: “If it were, I wouldn’t write.” But then, Kopf notes, “It’s much easier to get to the Arctic than to reach certain areas of one’s self.”. The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 43 Mind&Relationships A letter to … My daughter’s stepmother Y Among other things, this has implications for the way we talk about “privilege”. Some people have advantages over others thanks to their gender, race or class. But if it’s true that luck swallows everything, there is also a sense in which differing degrees of privilege are the only n is thing there is: your social situation our a matter of luck, but then so are your underlying skills and character. ty We should fight to make society less sexist and racist. But the result won’t be a world in which accidents of birth matter less; it will be a less sexist and racist society in which accidents of birth still account for everything. I realise that plenty of people don’t buy this view of free will at all. I’ve never been able to find a flaw with it, though. It’s dizzyingly ly uck. unsettling, but that’s my tough luck. Oliver Burkeman m email@example.com What amounts had they started with? What other numbers would work? 3 Garabaggio’s design for the stained glass window of Saint Wobbly on the Wold seems a simple enough design. It was obviously based on a 5 x 5 square 1 and I managed to measure some 4 of the segments 4 around the edge before the Vicar caught me at it. It is 1 now a leisurely task to work out the areas of each of the panels. Well? Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka Wordplay Cryptic Wordpool Key to an apartment? (1, 4) Find the correct definition: TERGIVERSATE a) flip on one’s back like a turtle b) cause to gel c) corrugated d) equivocate Missing Links Illustrations by Michele Marconi; Lo Cole intelligent. What if that intelligence is down to nurture, not nature? Again, luck: you didn’t choose your parents or most of your teachers; and you might not have been gifted with the self-discipline to learn from them. On and on it goes: whatever your station in life, you got there by following some course of action. But even if that course were wholly your doing, you still had to be the kind of person able to pursue it; and even if you became that kind of person by the sweat of your brow, you still must have already been the kind of person who could raise that sweat … Eventually, working backwards, you will reach some starting point that can’t have been your doing. The troubling conclusion is that the person born in poverty, who finally achieves success through ceaseless suffering, owes their triumph no less to luck than, say, Eric Trump does. Or, as Strawson pithily puts it: “Luck swallows everything.” ou came into my daughter’s life when she was seven. You accepted, from the start, that she was part of the deal; your relationship with her dad would always be shared. Sometimes when frazzled from battling with her, I’d call her dad for respite. You could have resented it, but you welcomed the opportunity to help. You took her home to Poland with you, where your family embraced her as their own. When you married my daughter’s dad, you made sure she felt included. You bought her a beautiful dress and had your hair and makeup done together. You navigated the difficult teenage years. I know at times it tried your patience, especially when she questioned your authority, yet you held in there and strengthened your bond through unswerving support. When you became pregnant, you invited her to your scan and included her in choosing names. When the twins were born, she was the first at your bedside. You told me that there w was a Polish term that mean meant “patchwork family”. You said sa that was us. It’s 10 yea years since you came into her life. steered You have h your relationship r with p patience and kindn kindness, earning your place in her heart. She didn’t hear need another moth mother; you knew that, and you shap shaped your own role iin her life. For that, I will always be grateful. You’re a success? Well, lucky you T he philosopher Galen Strawson has a knack for translating big, abstract questions into puzzles so personally troubling I can’t continue with my day until I’ve figured out where I stand on them, or at least been distracted by a sleepless baby or enticing cheeseburger. He does this repeatedly in his new book Things That Bother Me (which, incidentally, would be the title of many more books, and most opinion columns, if we all had his candour). For example, take the conundrum of “free will”, or rather one specific part of it: for which of my accomplishments am I entitled to claim credit? We’d surely all agree that some Trumpish child of privilege deserves no credit for striking it rich. But, as Strawson demonstrates, the matter goes deeper than that. What if you’re super-rich but got there thanks to your intelligence? You were just lucky to be born Maslanka puzzles 1 Pedanticus heard someone remarking that he’d been “to the ATM machine but had forgotten his PIN number” and at once went into a spin. What had set him off this time? 2 Two pilgrims shared the contents of a purse containing gold coins. They noticed that they now had a different odd number of coins; so Pilgrim A gave Pilgrim B what B already had; then B gave A what A already had. They went through this cycle seven times and then each had the same amount as the other. What is the least number of coins there could have been in the purse? Dropouts Each asterisk represents a missing letter. Identify the words. C*O*S[*]Y (adjective) C*O*S*Y (adverb) Find a word that follows the first word in the clue and precedes the second, in each case making a fresh word or phrase. Eg the answer to fish mix could be cake (fishcake & cake mix) and to bat man it could be he (bathe & he-man) ... a) early jar b) next stop c) ice root d) internal grinder e) spare piece ©CMM2018. For solutions see page 47 44 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Diversions Notes & Queries Nature watch Aigas, Highlands Swimming with the tide, or changing its direction the time when I am flying overseas. Airport security is not half safe. David Isaacs, Sydney, Australia What is the difference between a populist and a demagogue? A populist seeks to spit the sweetest game, while a demagogue seeks to be the deplorables’ loudest mouthpiece. R De Braganza, Kilifi, Kenya • A demagogue is a populist on steroids. Both should support the interests and concerns of ordinary people, but for current examples, the verb is not support, but rather exploit. Margaret Wyeth, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada • The word populist gets more coinage today because the word demagogue sounds draconian. But the actual difference between the two seems to be getting narrower. Richard Orlando, Westmount, Quebec, Canada • The populist swims with the tide; the demagogue tries to persuade us that only he can turn the tide. David Tucker, Halle, Germany Pastry fork? That won’t fly • Air travel is safe, except in terms of causing climate change. Luc Lebon, Lausanne, Switzerland Tomato soup and England Populist or demagogue? Marine Le Pen presumably could have done more damage had I been inclined to break it and use it as a weapon. Avril Taylor, Dundas, Ontario, Canada • It must be. When was the last time you heard of an airport being stolen? Ron Lowe, Hope Valley, South Australia • Against the obvious, yes. Philip Stigger, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada How does a certain drink conjure up a place, season or time of day? A glass of Kir always takes me back many years to a small hotel in Burgundy, inappropriately named the Hotel Moderne, where an ancient retainer in a red waistcoat from a bygone age escorted us to our room. The restaurant overlooked a little river, the food was superb and they made the best Kir in the world. Joan Dawson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada • Tomato soup from a Thermos – childhood in England, and all those wet car picnics. John Caryl, Orillia, Ontario, Canada For more than 90 minutes we’d sat until cold air quieted the wood and the day thinned into the long shadows of the trees. By 10.30pm we were centred in an arc of artificial lamp glow. There was just the sound of a last robin across the loch, its spindly song an analogue for the vanishing day. The silent theatricality of the moment was thus complete when the creature strolled into our vision without the merest hint of drama. Its step was sprightly, its acceptance of the lamp instantaneous. It brought a touch of night in its sharp black muzzle and in the big silent dark-stockinged feet – and every now and then it paused from eating to stare hard at its own route through the trees, reassuring itself of solitude – but otherwise we were all at ease with the mutual encounter. For 10 minutes there were no sounds but the crunch of nut and the click of camera. More Notes & Queries See additional answers online bit.ly/notesandqueries Any answers? Is airport security safe? It is made as safe as possible via security patrols, metal detectors, ID and luggage checks, x-ray systems and cargo checks. But 100% safety can’t be guaranteed because of the ingenuity of human malefactors. Ursula Nixon, Bodalla, NSW, Australia • At Heathrow, I was told that I could not take a set of pastry forks on board a plane but was allowed to proceed with a crystal plate, which • Fingers crossed, I’m flying out tomorrow. Marilyn Hamilton, Perth, Western Australia • Generally speaking, yes. Although the sniffer dogs and fertiliser tests can be a bit alarming. George Gatenby, Adelaide, South Australia • I have two artificial hips. I think of them as canaries to test metal detectors, which go off less than half When did you first accept that you were in fact mortal? John Geffroy, Las Vegas, New Mexico, US How does a fiddle stay fit? RM Fransson, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, US Send answers to weekly.nandq@ theguardian.com or Guardian Weekly, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK Good to meet you Yvonne Cohen My introduction to the Guardian Weekly was quite different from other people’s – not only because it only occurred only two years ago in Melbourne. My then tweenage son complained that because I “wouldn’t let” him watch the news on TV during dinner time, he didn’t know what was going on in the world. What a terrible parent I was! Hence, my search for a decent newspaper that covered world news, was accurate and also tweenage – and adult-friendly – began. I found the Weekly. We all loved the paper immediately; all four of us reading different sections in different orders, with the occasional argument about who gets a turn. The paper lasts all week, until the next one arrives. We have as much family discussion as possible about the issues raised. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that writers to the Good to meet you section don’t discuss the life cycle of their paper. Once the Weekly has been read by all, the centre picture gets removed by teen one (the original tween now being teen two) to put up on the wall of our holiday hut. Staples are removed and our chickens get a “read” as their beds are layered with the paper. Next, the paper goes to the compost bin for the worms. The final step in our Weekly life cycle is the veggie patch. Thanks for educating me, my family, the chickens and worms, and finally for the fruit and vegetables that help to nourish us. If you would like to appear in this space, send a brief note to firstname.lastname@example.org This is the cold killer widely accused of wiping out the chicken coop in one night. This is the surefooted predator who can race through the canopy to snatch a squirrel in full flight from a topmost twig. This is the invader well able to steal shadow-like into an occupied house and den in the attic. Yet the things I noticed most were the dewdrops beaded on its luxuriant fur, the pinkness of the pointed tongue, the relish with which those carnassials ground up nuts. It could so easily have been someone’s pet. It snuffled under our gaze for each final morsel, it tricked along a birch beam to slurp at dribbles of honey. Its route back to ground was as careless and assured as the ascent, and there was one extraordinary moment when its hind claws clipped it to a branch and down it dangled as if in a harness of loose fur, as if it had momentarily forgotten those rear legs bound above its head, as if gravity were just another plaything. It extracted a last dewdrop of sweetness. Then without sound, without more ado, it vanished and we were alone with the silent thrill of a pine marten. Mark Cocker Read more Nature watch online bit.ly/naturewatch The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 45 Quick crossword 1 2 Cryptic crossword by Nutmeg 3 8 4 5 6 Across 1,6 Tailor claims T-shirts to be what kids send Santa (9,4) 8,9 Naive type acquitted by foreign court? (8,6) 10,11 Comic butler needed no words to tickle audience (6,8) 12 Crushed ice pack not quite what the doctor ordered? (6) 15 I, for one, pressed into backing art galleries … (8) 16,19 … gallery on its own, ignoring the odds, gets what’s left (8,6) 21 Guardian’s eclipsed by broadsheet – by 3 points, or 2 after lunch (8) 22 Rich little woman behind rector in church (6) 24,25 Sponsors usually have it, dressed to catch the eye (6,8) 26,27 Princesses had mysterious source of funds (4,9) 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Across 1 Modest (6) 4 Grieves (6) 8 Evil spirit (5) 9 Kitchen utensil (7) 10 Picks (7) 11 Stressful (5) 12 Achiever (4-5) 17 Brown in front of a fire (5) 19 Greenery (7) 21 Small strongly-flavoured food fish (7) 22 Scandinavian – vegetable (5) 23 Everything one owns (6) 24 Robber (6) Down 1 Work out (6) 2 Gigantic – extinct animal (7) 3 Encircles (5) 5 Obviously (7) 6 French sculptor of The Kiss, d. 1917 (5) 7 Water ice (6) 9 In a shy and timid manner (9) 13 Clear off ! (3,4) 14 Run into another vehicle from behind (4-3) 15 Relaxed (2,4) 16 Discover (6) 18 Racecourse near Windsor (5) 20 Bewildered (2,3) H A T C H E T S E E M W I S Y S A U R Y A F P R O E U S I L L G D T E S B O L C A T D I O E N R O U S T W R I T T P L A R G A D C E A D E I R M C A T D I T M I S L R S T R R U E L A M P P T O S L I T H E E R E P S T L L E I U S U A R E R D Last week’s solution, No 14,952 First published in the Guardian 17 April 2018, No 14,958 Down 1 Ready to get stuck in lavatory? Repeat that (3-2) 2 Like a lozenge doctor introduced to stricken choir (7) 3 Retreating, for one European, is offensive in wartime (5) 4 Uplifting piece of text set to music for annual exhibition (1,1,1,4) 5 Discontented social worker knowing one’s inclined to appear thus (9) Futoshiki Hard ©Clarity Media Ltd 3 > 2 ∧ 3 < 4 < 5 1 < 4 1 2 1 ∧ ∧ 4 > 3 > 2 ∧ 1 5 3 5 4 > 2 ∨ 2 1 3 < 4 < 5 Last week’s solution 2 3 4 8 16 6 7 9 10 12 5 11 13 14 17 15 18 21 20 22 24 26 19 23 25 27 6 Magnificent Medici traditions unknown in number (7) 7 A means of getting up tail first, possibly (5,4) 13 He turned on blokes breaking dad’s spectacles (9) 14 Alleged Tory dissent finally resolved (9) 17 Jail sentence to get longer (7) 18 Plant-based food cooking almost silently (7) 20 Case of teachers embracing core non-scientific subjects (3,4) 22 Tasty dish that is served with chip topping? (5) First published in the Guardian 16 April 2018, No 27,484 23 One ponders on problem while climbing (5) B L U F F E O S R S W A M I O B E M A L I N G Y E D A L E I E C S T O O L P Y C L A X O N B L S T A S S I S T D A A E N L A R G R P R U R P O O L E S E R E D C C G U I R T I G E O M E F O R W X A N T V E E R A O P H E T A A R T A B L E H I S S T E P U A I N N E S S S S A N S Y H A E H A N D V I O E R R O R N D E T I O N S Last week’s solution, No 27,478 Sudoku classic Easy > Fill in the grid so that every row and column contains the numbers 1-5. The “greater than” or “less than” signs indicate where a number is larger or smaller than its neighbour. 5 1 ∨ ∧ 4 > ∨ > ∧ ∨ > > Fill in the grid so that every row, every column and every 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. We will publish the solution next week. ∨ Free puzzles at theguardian.com/sudoku < > 4 ∨ > Last week’s solution 46 The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 Sport Viva Las Vegas! A miracle on ice in the desert The new NHL team from Sin City’s run to the Stanley Cup finals is a feat worthy of Leicester City, says Joshua Kloke A n improbable goal-scorer lifted an improbable champion into the Stanley Cup finals. Ryan Reaves’ tiebreaking goal in the second period last Sunday helped the Vegas Golden Knights to edge the Winnipeg Jets 2-1, clinching the Western Conference title for Vegas in their first season of existence. A roster consisting almost entirely of other teams’ castoffs will meet either Tampa Bay Lightning or Washington Capitals for the Stanley Cup. The NHL wasn’t supposed to work in Las Vegas: The city was a “nontraditional hockey market” and their roster cobbled together. But it has worked, and it’s now become impossible for both locals and the hockey world as a whole not to be swept up in the kind of sport story that is on par with the implausible English Premier League football title won by Leicester City in 2016. Sin City has been transformed into a hockey city. Thousands line up outside the T-Mobile Arena on the Strip to watch road games on giant screens. s. Hockey schools and camps are popping up across the city. How did this happen? Many balked when hen Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said the new franchise se would win a Stanley Cup up by year six. Ahead ad of their first NHL L season, the Golden den Knights were given ven the worst odds by bookmakers in their own city y to win the Stanley ey Cup; they’re now w four wins away. “Everybody’ss extremely happy,” y,” said Golden Knights’ veteran Deryk Engelland, “but still not satisfied.” Engelland (pictured below with the Western Conference play-off trophy) was a rare bird among the expansion team. The Edmontonborn 36-year old has spent his summers in Las Vegas for over a decade and was an integral part of the team’s roster building. He felt an inherent level of civic pride when the city welcomed its first-ever team from one of North America’s four major professional sports leagues. It was a horrific tragedy, however, that hastened the connection between the Golden Knights and the city itself when, on 1 October last year, a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Fifty-eight people were killed and 851 injured in the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Players began texting Engelland: How could they help? A $300,000 donation was made from the team to the victims and their families. Players went out into their communities to show their support. “That helped to bring guys together on a personal level, instead of just going to the rink,” said Engelland. The Knights played their first regular season game on 6 October in Dallas, winning 2-1. After the game, Engelland stepped up in the team’s dressing room to read texts he’d received from local firefighters: Knights they wanted the Golden Knig to know that just playing a ho hockey game for a grieving city helpe helped many people to cope. “We weren’t winning for ourselves,” said E Engelland. “We were we winning for ever everyone in the city that ected by was affect that traged tragedy.” Nine days day after shooting, the the shooting Golden Knigh Knights held their first home h opener. “We felt, bec because we were on a m major platform now, w we had to be the commu community hub and have a memo memorial Stick it to them … Erik Haula (centre) scored 29 goals this season; (below) Golden Knights fans take in a game on the big screen Ethan Miller/Jason Halstead/Getty that was respectful and help this community grieve, heal and persevere,” said Golden Knights general manager George McPhee. First responders escorted players on to the ice ahead of puck drop and 58 seconds of silence were held, one second for each victim of the shooting. The Knights would go on to beat the Arizona Coyotes, 5-2. That began a seven-game home stand, during which the Knights won six games. The process of implanting the team into the city’s psyche, in the eyes of Engelland, was fast-tracked. All along, every player picked up by the Golden Knights in an expansion draft found a purpose in their career once again. Take forward Erik Haula, formerly of the Minnesota Wild, whose career high in goals was 15. With the Knights, he scored 29 goals this season. And William Karlsson, affectionately known as “Wild Bill”, went from scoring six goals with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season to finishing third in goalscoring across the NHL with 43 goals. “The guys that were left unprotected [made available in the draft by their former teams] coming in knew there was a lot of opportunity to play a bigger role than they had and play to their full potential,” said Engelland, who was not protected by the Calgary Flames. “Guys kind of just ran with it.” That stretched to the front office. Head coach Gerrard Gallant had been fired by the Florida Panthers in November 2016 and McPhee had been fired by the Washington Capitals in 2014. “Everyone here has been rejected in one way or another,” said McPhee. The team referred to themselves as the Golden Misfits. As the regular season wore on, what seemed like a jokey moniker turned into serious results. With a 51-24-7 record, the Golden Knights became the first modern-era true expansion team in North America’s four major professional sports leagues to finish first in its division in its inaugural season. Even as they entered the NHL The Guardian Weekly 25.05.18 47 Sport in brief • Chelsea put a gloss on a poor season by beating Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup Final. Eden Hazard’s penalty gave the west London team their eighth win in the tournament. In Scotland, Celtic completed the domestic treble with a 2-0 win over Motherwell. It was manager Brendan Rodgers’ second treble in a row – a first in Scottish football. Meanwhile Eintracht Frankfurt scuppered Bayern Munich’s treble ambitions with a 3-1 win in the DFB-Pokal final in Berlin. Manager Niko Kovač won the Frankfurt club’s first trophy for 30 years in his last game before he leaves for Bayern. In Italy, Inter secured a Champions League place by beating Lazio 3-2, after the Roman club collapsed from 2-1 up at the half-time. • Spanish football fans bade farewell to two greats. Barcelona’s Nou Camp honoured Andrés Iniesta – the 34-year-old who is leaving the club after an extraordinary 22 major titles. The midfielder also won a World Cup and two European Championships with Spain. Iniesta’s former international team-mate Fernando Torres also departed Atlético Madrid in style, with two goals in a 2-2 draw with Eibar. Farewell … Barça fans’ Iniesta tribute • English Premier League club West Ham United appointed Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager. The Chilean has signed a three-year deal after the east London club parted company with David Moyes last week. Arsenal, meanwhile, looked set to appoint former Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery as their first new manager for 22 years, replacing Arsène Wenger. • Rafael Nadal returned to form on clay at the Italian Open in Rome, Chess • A Sierra Leonean sprinter who absconded from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and was found sleeping rough on the streets of London has been granted leave to remain in the UK after a long legal battle. After three years of attempts by the Home Office to force Jimmy Thoronka out of the country under its “hostile environment” policy, a court ruled in his favour last month. In a psychiatric report seen by the Guardian, Thoronka was said to be in a chronic traumatised state exacerbated by the lengthy legal process and having discovered that Ebola had killed his mother and four siblings since he left his home country. Meanwhile, in Australia, almost 200 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for various visas, with another 50 people staying on illegally. Maslanka solutions Leonard Barden 8 Cuba’s Capablanca Memorial has been staged annually with a few small breaks since 1962, and is now in its 53rd year of an evocative history. Ostensibly it honours José Raúl Capablanca, world champion 1921-27 and one of the greatest natural players of all time, but in reality it is also a tribute to Che Guevara, who away from revolutions was a keen chess fan and provided state funds for the first few lavish events in the series, as well as for the 1966 Havana Olympiad, probably the bestorganised of all world team contests. Sam Shankland is the top seed, an inspired invitation by the Cubans made before his US championship victory at St Louis ahead of America’s elite trio of Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura. Shankland soon took the initiative, but his Cuban opponent stayed in the game until he went passive with 22...Qb7 when Rab8! 23 Qxc5 Qxc5 24 Rxc5 Bb6 with Rfc8, giving up a pawn for activity, was best . His next turn Bxf3? (h6! 24 Nd6 Qe7) compounded the error as the US champion swiftly established a game-winning passed b-pawn. 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 a b c d e f g h 3567 White mates in three moves (by Fritz Giegold, 1965). Samuel Shankland v Yusnel Bacallao Alonso 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 dxc5 e6 5 Nf3 Bxc5 6 a3 Ne7 7 b4 Bb6 8 Bd3 a5 9 b5 Nd7 10 O-O Ng6 11 Bb2 Qc7 12 Re1 a4 13 Nbd2 Nc5 14 Bxg6 fxg6 15 Qe2 O-O 16 Bd4 Ba5 17 Rec1 b6 18 c4 Qe7 19 Qe3 Bb7 20 cxd5 Bxd5 21 Bxc5 bxc5 22 Rab1 Qb7? 23 Nc4 Bxf3? 24 gxf3 Rxf3 25 Qxc5 Qe4 26 Nxa5 Rf4 27 h3 Qf5 28 Rb4 Qg5+ 29 Kh2 Rf3 30 Rc3 Rxc3 31 Qxc3 Rxa5 32 b6 1-0 3567 1 Qa4! If c3 2 Qe8 c2 3 Nh3 mate. But 1...cxb3 2 Bg1! Kxf4 3 Be3 mate. playoffs, many in the hockey world believed the Golden Knights’ luck would run out. But then they dispatched the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champions, Los Angeles Kings, in a four-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs. Their second round series win over the San Jose Sharks required only two more games. Now, as fans of Leicester City know all too well, the conversation has shifted. The Knights aren’t just happy to have been invited to the dance. The question is, can this team win a championship? McPhee bristles at the notion. He hasn’t had time to pause. The relentless work he put in to building the squad hasn’t yet halted. “We’re working in silos,” McPhee said. “We’re working away and we don’t get to absorb what’s going on around us, outside of the building. There’s little time to reflect on things.” Well, that’s only partly true. McPhee might be unaware of what’s being said about his organisation around the world, but he knows what a difference his club has made in the city he now, rather unexpectedly, now calls home. “We can’t go anywhere without being recognised,” McPhee said of himself and his players. “This has pulled the city together,” added Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman. “Everything about the Golden Knights is about today but also for the future.” beating the world No 3 Alexander Zverev. The young German had been a break up in the deciding set before a rain break and a Nadal comeback ended his challenge. The 21-year-old will be seeded second at next week’s French Open. In the women’s draw Elina Svitolina beat Simona Halep 6-0, 6-4 to retain her title. 1 PIN is the acronym for Personal Identification Number so saying number after it is redundant; ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine; so the word machine is redundant. This habit of repetition is jokingly called RAS syndrome (redundant acronym syndrome syndrome). But of course if you don’t know (or don’t remember) in the first place what the acronym stands for it is no longer redundant but a help in tethering the meaning. Other examples are HIV virus and LCD display. Have you spotted more? 2 256 gold coins. A started with 171 and B with 85. The successive states are: (171, 85); (86, 170), (172, 84), (88, 168), (176, 80), (96, 160), (192 64) and (128, 128). [Note that at after the nth cycle of two exchanges the number each has is divisible without remainder by 2n. Why?] Other starting numbers would be (171k, 85k), where k is any odd integer. 3 This is easy, and there are more ways than of doing it. Next week: a slightly harder one. 7 1 16-C 9 1 1 C 7 1 Wordplay: Wordpool d) Dropouts CHOOS[E]Y, CROSSLY Cryptic A FLAT. Missing Links a) early/night/jar; b) next/door/stop c) ice/cube/root d) internal/organ/grinder e) spare/time/piece 16-C Guardian News & Media Ltd. All rights reserved. Published by Guardian News & Media Ltd., Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU, UK. Editor: Will Dean. Printed by Reach Printing Services Ltd, Watford. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Annual subscription rates (in local currencies): UK £120; Europe €196; Rest of World £192; US $240; Canada $240; Australia $312; NZ $392 Quarterly subscription rates: UK £30; Europe €49; Rest of World £48; US $60; Canada $60; Australia $78; NZ $98 To subscribe visit gu.com/subscribe/weekly Global glasses game How two firms converged into one spectacular superpower o Review, pages 26-30 R Jack Latimore From mountains and bays to cities and public spaces, it’s time to restore First Nations names to Australia’s landmarks T he decision to scrap the European names of two mountains in central Queensland and return their titles to traditional Aboriginal names should be the impetus for extensive change in the way contemporary Australia identifies its landforms and places. But why settle there? The nation’s manmade markers should all be given Indigenous names too. Earlier this month, “Mount Wheeler” and “Mount Jim Crow” were consigned to the dustbin and the official titles for both mountains – located between the city of Rockhampton and the coastal township of Yeppoon – will revert to their respective traditional names of Gai-i and Baga. In the first instance, the move reflects the bond that has existed between the Darumbal traditional owners and the culturally and spiritually significant sites over tens of thousands of years. However, it is also a welcome gesture of recognition from broader non-Indigenous Australia that so much more needs to be done to acknowledge and reconcile the present nation’s short, violent past with this continent’s long and enduring First Nations history. The move follows numerous calls for other well-known places to do away with the names assigned to them in the recent past. Perhaps the best known is Uluru, which fully reverted to its Yankunytjatjara name in 2002. Elsewhere, the Wilpena Pound in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges was in 2016 co-named with the Adnyamathanha word, Ikara, which means, “meeting place”. As with Uluru, after a transition period, popular reference to the location will likewise experience an outright preference for its First Nations identity. In Victoria, a low mountain situated between Hamilton and Portland in the state’s western districts reverted to its real name of Budj Bim – meaning High Head – in 2017. The Gunditjmara nation have had a continuous association with the site since they witnessed its formation after a volcanic eruption around 30,000 years ago. This event is depicted in Gunditjmara Yakinitj stories to the present day. The Budj Bim cultural landscape, which contains 6,600-years old sophisticated aquaculture systems engineered by the Gunditjmara, as well as evidence of permanent settlements in the form of stone structures, will soon be added to the World Heritage List. Tasmania and New South Wales have also made submissions for places to be returned to titles that reflect their true cultural traditions. The Nomenclature Board in lutruwita (Tasmania) has received submission from the state’s pakana centre to have the names of 11 locations returned to their original place words. The centre has drawn on palawa kani, a revived Aboriginal language, and colonial documents to have culturally sensitive sites such as Murder Bay reverted to luwuka, and Victory Hill returned to timuk. Back in Queensland, the department of natural resources has received a raft of proposals for place name reversions. Among the wellsupported bids is Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast to revert to Jellurgal; Mount Stapylton, which sits between Brisbane and the Gold Coast to return to Bookinburra; Fraser Island’s Great Sandy National Park to have its traditional name of K’gari reinstated; and the Lamington national park to change back to Woonoongoora, its original Yugambeh name, meaning quiet and timeless. There is also an unofficial push to have the state’s capital city of Brisbane renamed Miguntyun. A local federal member for It is a welcome gesture of recognition from broader non-Indigenous Australia that more needs to be done Geographical reconciliation … the western name for Uluru was officially removed in 2002 Alamy Miguntyun, Terri Butler, recently told Nine News that a name change for the city shouldn’t be ruled out. A similar preference in referring to Melbourne as Naarm – the traditional Boon Wurrung word for the nearby bay – is also gaining in popular usage. In many cases, local policies generally prefer the adoption of a dual naming system. Similarly, these boards stipulate that dual naming will not apply to existing features such as roads, bridges, localities and towns, although they do favour Indigenous names for places that have not been officially assigned a foreign title. In the interests of true recognition, these policies – like the western names that have been imposed on our continent’s places and landforms – need to be cast aside. New provisions within naming policy outlines could then include not only restoring Aboriginal language names to our cultural landscapes and sacred sites, but also the ability to rename in Indigenous languages towns and cities, communication towers, transport systems, places of knowledge, learning and faith, and all public spaces and memorials. If contemporary Australia is truly being honest with itself it will appreciate that these gestures of recognition could be significant steps forward on the modern nation’s path towards a meaningful reconciliation.