close

Вход

Забыли?

вход по аккаунту

?

The Guardian Weekly – May 25, 2018

код для вставкиСкачать
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
weekly.letters@theguardian.com
Please include a full postal address and
a reference to the article. We may edit
letters. Submission and publication of
all letters is subject to our terms and
conditions, see:
http://gu.com/letters-terms
Editorial
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:
editorial.feedback@theguardian.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
gwsubs@theguardian.com
+44 (0) 330 333 6767
USA and Canada:
gwsubsus@theguardian.com
Toll Free: +1-844-632-2010
Direct line: +1-917-900-4663
Australia/New Zealand:
gwsubsau@theguardian.com
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
oliver.burkeman@theguardian.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
guardian.weekly@theguardian.com
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.
Документ
Категория
Журналы и газеты
Просмотров
16
Размер файла
60 369 Кб
Теги
the guardian, newspaper
1/--страниц
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа