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The Week Middle East September 16 2017

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The plight of
the Rohingya
The Louvre Abu Dhabi
liberates F rance
16-22 SEP 2017 | ISSUE 176 | AED 15
Blair’s big idea
Stopping Brexit at the border
Page 21
RO 2.00 BD 2.00 KD 1.5 SR 20.00
A Motivate Publication
The main story…
What happened
Battling over Brexit
Britain’s departure from the EU came a step
closer this week when the Government’s flagship
Brexit bill cleared its first parliamentary hurdle.
Labour had threatened to lead a successful revolt
against the legislation, but in the event, Theresa
May cleared a second reading of the EU
(Withdrawal) Bill by a comfortable majority of
36 votes. There was no Tory rebellion, and seven
Labour MPs defied their party whip by voting
for the Bill. Formerly referred to as the Great
Repeal Bill, the legislation ends the supremacy of
EU law in the UK, while at the same time
transposing all existing EU laws onto Britain’s
statute book to ensure there are no gaps in
legislation on Brexit day.
What the editorials said
Winning a vote by a majority of 36 is a decent result for a
minority administration, said The Daily Telegraph. But this
was just the “opening skirmish of what will be
a bruising series of set-piece clashes in both the
Commons and the Lords”. MPs have already
tabled a raft of 157 amendments. The “key
battle” is likely to come at the end of this
process, with “Labour pressing for any deal
with the EU to be implemented through an act
of Parliament”. In the meantime, Labour’s
cynical blocking tactics are “undermining the
chances of getting a good deal”.
Labour has every right to challenge the
Government’s Brexit plans, said The Observer.
Besides, if anything is disrupting and slowing
An exercise in cant?
this process down, it’s infighting among the
“inept” Tories. Thanks to the incoherent stance of their Brexit
negotiators, there is now “almost no chance” that next
May heralded the Commons vote as a “historic decision to
back the will of the people”, and said it would give clarity and month’s EU summit will agree that sufficient progress has been
made in the Brexit talks to progress to the next stage. Little
certainty through the Brexit process. But critics called the Bill
more than a year will then remain to renegotiate all aspects of
a “naked power grab”, arguing that it gave ministers too
Britain’s relationship with the EU. Such are the “insuperable
much leeway, under so-called Henry VIII powers, to amend
practical difficulties” of leaving the EU, said The Independent,
laws without consulting MPs. The Bill will now receive linethat we’re likely to abandon the plan in the end. “The Great
by-line scrutiny in its committee stage, which will start when
Repeal Bill may one day itself have to be repealed.”
MPs return to Parliament after their party conferences.
What happened
Irma’s trail of destruction
on Sunday, where an astonishing 6.3 million people had been
evacuated to shelters and safe areas both inside and outside
the state. The Florida Keys bore the brunt of the storm: 25%
of homes in the low-lying archipelago were destroyed, and
65% were damaged. But Irma had
weakened, from a maximum category five
to a category three storm, by the time it
reached the Florida mainland. Its path also
avoided Miami and the heavily developed
Atlantic seaboard. Nevertheless, heavy rain
and storm surges brought flooding in
Miami and Jacksonville, and some 60% of
homes in Florida were left without power.
It wasn’t all bad
Britain’s Arctic tern population is
booming, thanks to intense
conservation efforts. In 2016,
only two of the birds that
hatched in one of their largest
breeding grounds, on the
Northumberland coast, left their
nests: the rest fell victim to high
tides, marine pollution and
predators. But last year, the
National Trust bought a further
200 acres of land, at Tughall Mill.
Rangers set up tents on the site,
monitored the birds around the
clock – and this year, 500 left
their nests unscathed.
A 13-year-old who died of a brain
aneurysm has helped save a record
number of lives by donating her
organs. Just two weeks before she
suddenly collapsed in 2012,
Jemima Layzell (pictured), from
Horton in Somerset, had told her
parents that were she to die, she
would want to donate her organs.
Her organs had eight recipients,
five of whom were children.
According to the NHS Blood and
Transplant Unit, no donor in the
UK has helped more people:
typically, a donation results in one
or two transplants. “Everyone
wants their child to be unique,” said Jemima’s mother, Sophy.
“This, among other things, makes us very proud.”
A crater on Pluto has been
named after the British woman
who christened the dwarf
planet, 87 years ago. The Burney
crater honours Venetia Burney,
who was 11 when her
grandfather, an Oxford librarian,
mentioned that the newly
discovered planet still didn’t
have a name. Venetia, who died
in 2009, suggested to him that
Pluto, the god of the underworld,
would be an apt fit for such a
dark and remote place. He
passed the idea to an Oxford
astronomer, who in turn sent a
telegram to Clyde Tombaugh,
the discoverer of Pluto.
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful ever
recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, swept
through the Caribbean and into the
United States last week, leaving a trail of
destruction behind it. The storm, which
reached peak intensity in the middle of
last week with sustained winds of more
than 185mph, killed at least 55 people,
and caused damage expected to run into
the tens of billions of dollars. The islands
The UK Government allocated £32m in aid
of the northeast Caribbean were worst
A flattened building in St Martin
to the British territories affected, and 1,250
hit, among them the British Virgin Islands
troops were deployed from warships to help with the relief
and Anguilla, another British overseas territory. Nearby
effort and to maintain order; around 100 “very serious”
Barbuda was left “barely habitable”, according to its prime
prisoners escaped from jail on the British Virgin Islands. The
minister Gaston Browne; 90% of structures on the island
UK response was criticised by the shadow foreign minister
were destroyed. There were similar levels of damage on the
Emily Thornberry as “too little and too late”. On both French
French island of St Barts and on St Martin, which is split
Saint-Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten, widespread looting was
between Dutch and French control.
reported, in the face of severe food and water shortages. The
territories’ respective governments stepped up their relief
Last Friday, Irma raked the north coast of Cuba, where it
efforts in response.
killed at least ten people, before making landfall in Florida
…and how it was covered
What the commentators said
What next?
Spare me all the “cant” about Henry VIII clauses, said Iain Dale on
Labour MPs are suddenly aghast at the thought of being bypassed, yet the whole purpose of
this Bill is “to repeal a single giant Henry VIII clause”, the European Communities Act of 1972,
which implemented our membership of the Common Market, and which, for the past 44 years,
has allowed EU law to become binding on UK citizens without Parliament having any right to
amend or reject it. But MPs are quite right to be worried about the scope of the executive
powers in the new Bill, said Nick Dearden in The Independent. Such powers would enable
ministers not just to make minor technical changes, but also, potentially, to dilute workers’
rights or environmental standards. The Government has promised not to scrap any such laws,
but you “don’t have to scrap them in order to render them useless”.
May is reportedly preparing
to make a major speech on
Brexit next Thursday, says
BBC News Online. The media
have dubbed it Lancaster
House 2.0, in reference to the
speech she made in London
in January. In that address –
widely regarded as the Tories’
Brexit blueprint – she
confirmed the UK’s intention
to leave the single
market and
customs union.
Ministers will almost certainly have to give some ground to get this Bill through
committee stage, said James Forsyth in The Spectator – indeed, they’ve already
indicated that they’re open to amendments curtailing the Henry VIII powers. But a
leaked letter from some Tory MPs last week, warning against a transition deal that
kept the UK in the EU “by stealth”, is a reminder that if May gives too much
ground to supporters of a soft Brexit, “she’ll have trouble on her right flank”.
Labour is also vulnerable. For months, it has been able to maintain a studied
ambiguity on Brexit. But it will now be attacked for voting against leaving the EU.
Tory officials have
also signalled that
May will use a
“robust” Tory
conference speech
Britain’s politicians face a gruelling 18 months of late-night Brexit votes, said
in Manchester on 4
George Parker and Robert Wright in the FT. Tories have taken some heart from
October to reassure
“We weren’t warned
the fact that “Labour’s own divisions on the issue are starting to show”, but they
that voting Brexit would activists that she
mean talking about it
have few other reasons for cheer. Labour has opted for “attritional tactics”,
remains committed
for EVER!”
suspending the informal “pairing” system that allows politicians from rival parties
to making a clean
to sit out votes, thereby cancelling each other out and giving both an evening off. © MATT/DAILY TELEGRAPH
break from the EU.
What the commentators said
What next?
Hot on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, Irma ought to “kill any doubt that climate change is
real”, said Michael E. Mann in The Washington Post. Hurricanes are increasing in strength
because of the changing climate. Cyclones get their energy from warm ocean waters, and the
oceans are warming because of the greenhouse gases released by burning hydrocarbons. “Over
the past two years, we have witnessed the most intense hurricanes on record for the globe, both
hemispheres, the Pacific and now, with Irma, the Atlantic.” Actually, the science is not all that
clear-cut, said Matt Ridley in The Times. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is on
record as stating that there has been no recent increase in the frequency of tropical cyclones: in
fact, Harvey and Irma have ended a historic 12-year hurricane drought for the mainland US.
Climate change may have made hurricanes “slightly fiercer”, but adequate preparation for
extreme weather more than compensates for this. When Galveston, Texas, was hit by a
hurricane in 1900, 10,000 people died. By contrast, the death toll for Harvey and Irma has
been spectacularly low. “Adaptation is and always will be the way to survive storms.”
The Atlantic hurricane
season runs from June to
the end of November, says
The Weather Channel, but
we are “now past its
climatological peak”. The
frequency of storms reaches
its statistical maximum
point on 10 September. The
later months can occasionally produce “impactful
storms”, but conditions are
usually calmed by autumnal
cold fronts.
The problem with adaptation is that it costs a lot of money, said Susan Matthews on Slate.
Sceptical Republicans “may refuse to believe the science on climate change, but they will pay
attention to the fiscal costs of these events”. Congress is planning to spend at least $15.3bn
dollars on relief following Harvey, which dumped an unprecedented amount of rain on Texas.
In time, such numbers may make them willing to think about “climate change mitigation”. As
for the British Government, its aid package for the affected territories is “derisory”, said Rupert
Jones in The Guardian. Is £32m all it can afford, from its £12bn foreign aid budget, for this
“enormous” reconstruction effort? Schools, hospitals and airports have all been flattened. If
this had happened to the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar would the response have been the same?
In this age it is an article of faith
that apparent differences in
aptitudes and inclinations between
men and women must be artefacts of cultural conditioning. A
Google employee has been given the sack for the heresy of doubting
it. And when what appeared to be an innate gender difference in
proficiency at Scrabble recently came to light – the best players are
men even though more women than men play the game –
researchers at once set about bringing this anomaly to heel. The
equality doctrine isn’t “women = men”. It’s “women ≥ men”. Warner
Bros. failed to grasp the point. Far from being lauded for making an
all female film of Lord of the Flies, it has been damned on Twitter for
daring to suggest that girls marooned on an island would end up
killing each other in the way the boys do in Golding’s novel. Women,
Jolyon Connell
it failed to see, are better than that.
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Estimates for the damage
caused in the US by Irma
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considerably less than the
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Controversy of the week
Boring but important
The politics of integrity
“These are odd times in British politics,” said Philip Collins in The
Times, and above all in the Tory party. It always used to make “good
sense and survival” its priority – and with that in mind made sure to
attract liberals into its fold. But now “everything solid has melted into
air”. In a survey of Tory members last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg
emerged as clear favourite to be the next party leader. This is a man
who denies climate change, who was a big fan of Donald Trump, and
who, in a TV interview last week, declared he was against marriage
equality. As if infected by “a Corbynism of the right”, the Tories seem
to be opting for “ostentatious integrity” over stable leadership.
Pay cap lifted
Rees-Mogg: core family values
Rees-Mogg’s views sparked outrage among those who’d earlier seen him as a loveable caricature of
Britishness, said Holly Baxter in The Independent. What did they expect? He’s never pretended to be
anything but “a relic of a bygone era”: he happily admits to never having changed a nappy for any of
his six children. Why assume his reactionary nature stops “at the aesthetics”: the accent, the nanny, the
Mayfair abode? Why, indeed, asked Suzanne Moore in The Guardian. He isn’t a “charming uppercrust throwback”. He’s a “thoroughly modern, neoconservative bigot” who uses his Catholic faith to
excuse “appalling” anti-women views. He was happy to be guest of honour at the annual dinner of the
Traditional Britain Group, an outfit that wants to return black people to “their natural homelands”.
Sure, he later sought to distance his views from theirs, yet he still went ahead and spoke at their do. I
don’t agree with Rees-Mogg’s views, said Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail, but I salute him as a man of
principle. He doesn’t tailor his ideas to ingratiate himself with “fashionable feminists”. He doesn’t
apologise for his belief in “core family values”. He appeals to people precisely because “he possesses
something that too many politicians do not: authenticity”.
There’s something disturbing about this new tendency to admire the Corbyns and Rees-Moggs of
this world just because they stick to their principles, said Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph.
Why applaud them for the courage of their convictions if their convictions are inflexible and
unpleasant? Would we say of Ayatollah Khomeini: he may not have been “politically correct in
hanging prisoners from cranes, but at least he stood for something. At least he was authentic?” I
think not. We should be wary of moral certainty. “Give me a politician with doubts,” not conviction.
Don’t fret, said Janan Ganesh in the FT. Rees-Mogg is history: right or wrong, his views “are being
eclipsed by the passage of time”. In Britain, 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds claim to have no religion, and
they are increasingly liberal in their attitudes to gender and immigration. Demographics, social and
cultural mobility – the impersonal processes that underlie attitudes over time – are all ranged against
traditional conservatism. The general trend, here in Britain, is “away from Rees-Moggery”.
Spirit of the age
Students’ handwriting has
become so illegible that
Cambridge University is
considering letting
undergraduates use laptops
in exams. The university has
launched a consultation,
following complaints from
examiners that a reliance on
computers has left young
people unable to use a pen.
“We have been concerned
for years about the declining
handwriting problem,” said
historian Sarah Pearsall.
For a decade, four flower
baskets have hung outside
The Pantry café, in the
Highland town of Cromarty.
But now, a council official
has deemed them a safety
hazard – on the grounds
that they are too low – and
ordered the café’s owner,
Jean Henderson, to remove
them or face a £1,000 fine.
“The whole thing is
laughable,” said Henderson.
Good week for:
Apple, with the much-anticipated launch of its latest iPhone.
Released on the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone, the £1,000
iPhone X has several striking features, including a large edge-toedge screen, and sophisticated facial recognition technology, so
that the user need only hold the phone up to his or her face to
unlock it. It is supposed to be 20 times more secure than the
previous Touch system. At the launch, it proved a little too secure,
however: the phone remained resolutely locked.
Boarding times, after Ryanair announced that it is going to start
charging passengers to carry wheelie bags on board, and cut the
cost of putting luggage in the hold. It said people trying to stuff
large bags into small overhead compartments were holding up
flights, and that in future passengers will only be allowed to bring
one small bag onboard unless they pay £5 for priority boarding.
Bad week for:
Thames Water, with the discovery of a 250-metre-long, 130tonne “fatberg” blocking a Victorian era sewer in East London.
Engineers described the fatberg, made up of wet wipes, sanitary
towels and solidified cooking fats, as a “total monster”.
Farrow & Ball, which was forced to change the recipe for its
paints, in response to long-standing complaints that it is hard to
apply and requires extra coats to get proper coverage. Many
decorators now charge clients extra for using the premium brand.
The NHS, with warnings that it could be facing the worst flu
season in its history. Hospitals in England have been told to
empty thousands of beds over the next six weeks in preparation.
The 1% cap on public sector
pay rises in England and
Wales has been lifted,
ministers have announced.
Public sector wages were
frozen for two years in 2010,
then capped at 1%. Now,
police officers have been
given a 2% pay rise – half in
the form of a one-off bonus –
and prison officers an
average rise of 1.7% (see
page 48). From next year,
ministers for other
departments will also be able
to breach the cap. However,
unions said that – with
inflation at 2.9% – the rises
still amounted to a cut in real
terms. Several unions have
threatened industrial action
in favour of higher rises.
Stonehenge tunnel
Controversial plans to build a
road tunnel past Stonehenge
have been given the goahead. However, the route
has been shifted 50 metres,
in response to complaints
that it passed too close to the
ancient site. Ministers say
diverting the A303 into a
1.8-mile-long tunnel will
enhance Stonehenge –
restoring its tranquillity and
easing congestion, but
archaeologists are opposed
to the move. The project, they
say, could compromise the
World Heritage Site, parts of
which have never been fully
Poll watch
Democrats embrace
single-payer health bill
At least 15 Democratic
senators, most of them
presidential hopefuls, lined
up to support Sen. Bernie
Sanders (I-Vt.) this week as
he introduced legislation
that would expand
Medicare into a universal
health insurance program.
Sanders has introduced
single-payer health
legislation three times
before, but he has never
had a co-sponsor.
56% of British men over 65
consider themselves to be
completely masculine.
Among men aged 50 to
64, the figure drops to 32%
– and to just 2% among
18- to 24-year-olds. 59% of
women over 65 consider
themselves completely
feminine, as do 14% of
women aged 18 to 24.
Middle East at a glance
Cairo, Egypt
18 killed: At least 18 policemen have been
killed in an attack on a convoy in Egypt’s
Sinai peninsula according to security sources.
Militants detonated a roadside bomb near the
town of el-Arish, reportedly destroying three
armoured vehicles and incapacitating a fourth
with signal-jamming equipment. They then
opened fire with machine guns at survivors of
the blast. The interior ministry confirmed
there had been an attack and that several
policemen had been killed or injured. The
attack appears to have been the deadliest on
security forces in Sinai since July, when at
least 23 soldiers were killed in a suicide car
bombing that targeted a checkpoint near the
Gaza border. Daesh claimed it was behind the
attack via its news agency Amaq. The attack
came a day after the interior ministry said
security forces had killed 10 suspected
militants in Cairo.
Damascus, Syria
Baghdad, Iraq
the Syrian army advanced in separate
offensives against Daesh in eastern Syria,
piling pressure on shrinking territory the
group still holds in oil-rich areas near
the Iraqi border. Syrian government
forces fought their way to an air base on
the outskirts of Deir al-Zor city that had
been besieged for years by the terrorists.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a
US-backed alliance of mostly Arab and
Kurdish fighters, meanwhile launched
attacks against Daesh in the north of Deir
al-Zor province in an operation to
capture areas east of the Euphrates river.
The advances against Daesh are another
blow to control over territory it held for
years as part of a self-declared caliphate.
It will also likely bring US-backed forces
and the Syrian government side, backed
by Russia and Iran, into closer proximity.
must be prepared to face the consequences
if they unilaterally declare independence
and find implementation more difficult
than they expected, Iraqi Foreign Minister
Ibrahim al-Jaafari said at an Arab League
summit in Cairo. Kurds are set to hold the
referendum on September 25 but Baghdad
opposes it, with lawmakers voting to
reject it. Iraq’s neighbours – Turkey, Iran
and Syria – also oppose the referendum,
fearing it could fan separatism among
their own ethnic Kurdish populations.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu supports the establishment of
a Kurdish state. Israel has maintained
discreet military, intelligence and business
ties with the Kurds since the 1960s,
viewing the minority ethnic group – whose
indigenous population is split between
Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran – as a buffer
against adversaries.
Territorial gains: US-backed militias and
Kurdistan struggle: Iraqi Kurdish leaders
Tehran, Iran
Power deal: Iran signed deals with
Damascus last week to repair Syria’s power
grid, state media said, a potentially
lucrative move for Tehran that points to a
deepening economic role after years of
fighting in the Syrian conflict. Shunned by
Western powers, the Syrian government is
looking to friendly states such as Iran,
Russia and China to play a major role in
rebuilding the country, as the war heads
toward its seventh year. Since at least 2012,
Iran has provided critical military support
to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s
government, helping it regain control of
swathes of the country. Iran experts say
Tehran is now looking to reap a financial
dividend. In January, Iran’s government
and entities close to Iran’s elite
Revolutionary Guards signed major
telecommunications and mining deals
with Damascus.
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Terrorists foiled: Saudi Arabia said last
Tuesday it had foiled a Daesh plot to
bomb its defence ministry headquarters
and also said it had arrested several
people suspected of carrying out espionage
in the kingdom on behalf of foreign
powers. The would-be bombers were
identified as two Yemeni nationals living
under aliases in the kingdom who were
detained along with two Saudi citizens also
suspected of involvement in the attack
planned for the capital Riyadh. The
assailants were training in the use of
explosive belts, while authorities said they
also seized grenades and firearms during
the operation to foil the attack. Saudi
Arabia has previously been hit by deadly
bombing and shooting attacks by Daesh
militants targeting security forces and
Shi’ite Muslims. The investigations are
continuing in the case, according to the
Saudi Press Agency.
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Visa rules relaxed: The UAE cabinet
approved a decision last week to grant visas
on arrival to Indian passport holders who
have UK and the European Union residence
visas. The decision is aimed at improving the
long-term strategic partnership between the
UAE and India and promoting political,
economic and trade interests between the
two countries. The latest move comes after
the UAE began granting visas on arrival
to Indian nationals with a valid US visa
or a green card from May 1. The only
condition is that the validity of the
passport as well as the US visa or green
card must be for at least six months. The
on-arrival visa costs Dhs100 for a period
of 14 days, and can be renewed for a
similar period for the same cost.
Dubai, UAE
Green fuel: Dubai-owned Emirates
National Oil Company has announced the
introduction of a new green fuel product
for diesel engines. Biodesel 5 is produced
from vegetable oil, waste cooking oil and
animal oil and fats. It is claimed to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon
monoxide, black smoke and unburnt
hydrocarbons and can be pumped, stored
and burned like petroleum diesel. ENOC
said the product launch was in line with the
UAE’s 2050 clean energy plan and it would
mainly be used by companies in the
commercial and industrial segment for
existing trucks and heavy construction
equipment. It has been tested in the UAE
and can used without upgrading engines
and fuel storage facilities. The UAE is
planning to increase the contribution of
clean energy in the total energy mix to
50% by 2050.
The world at a glance
San Francisco, California
Monkey case settled: A British
wildlife photographer has reached
a settlement with the animal rights
group Peta, ending a two-year legal
battle concerning the copyright
over a photograph of a monkey.
While working in Indonesia in
2011, David Slater encouraged a
group of crested macaques to press
the shutter of his camera: the
resulting “selfie” (pictured) attracted global attention. In 2015,
however, Peta sued Slater on behalf of a monkey called Naruto,
arguing that since Naruto had taken the picture, the monkey
owned the copyright. Last year, a San Francisco judge dismissed
Peta’s case, on the grounds that animals cannot own copyright,
and this week the group dropped its appeal – after Slater agreed to
donate 25% of future proceeds from the photo to conservation.
Washington, DC
Clinton’s account: Hillary Clinton has published a new memoir,
giving her account of her failed presidential campaign, and a
forthright assessment of the man who defeated her. In What
Happened, she describes President Trump as a “clear and present
danger to the country and the world”; compares his authoritarian
“war on truth” to an Orwellian dystopia and to Soviet Russia;
and argues that the ongoing Trump-Russia inquiry is “much more
serious than Watergate”. She also describes Trump’s inauguration
speech as a “cry straight from the white nationalist gut”. Clinton
apologises for using a private email server, but says the issue was
blown out of proportion by the media, and cites the “dramatic
intervention of the FBI director” – when the then-chief James
Comey reopened the long-running inquiry just before the election
– as the crucial factor in her ultimate defeat.
Washington, DC
Trump sides with Democrats: President Trump
astonished and angered Republican leaders in
Congress last week by supporting a Democrat plan to push back
a crucial deadline for raising the so-called “debt ceiling” – the
amount that the US government can legally borrow. The row is
the latest sign of the fracturing relationship between the
Republican president and his party: House Speaker Paul Ryan
had called the Democrats’ plan “ridiculous”. In his first TV
interview since quitting as Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon
accused the “Republican establishment” of trying to “nullify the
2016 election”. “They do not want Donald Trump’s populist,
economic nationalist agenda to be implemented,” he said.
Plano, Texas
Barbecue massacre: Eight people were shot dead during a
“cookout” at a house in a quiet suburb in Texas on Sunday,
where a group of friends had gathered to watch a Dallas Cowboys
game on TV. The gunman – who was shot dead by police – was
identified as Spencer Hight, the estranged husband of the party’s
host. Meredith Lane Hight, 27, had recently filed for divorce.
Spencer, 32, is believed to have crashed the party at around 8pm,
opening fire and killing his wife and seven of her friends, the
youngest of whom was 22. “I think he saw our comfort, ease and
happiness, and her embracing a new life, and resented it to the
maximum and responded the way he did,” Meredith’s mother,
Debbie, told the press.
Juchitán de Zaragoza, Mexico
Killer quake: At least 96 people
were killed last week when Mexico
was hit by its biggest earthquake
for more than a century. The
epicentre of the magnitude 8.1
quake was about 50 miles off its
southern Pacific coast. It destroyed
thousands of homes, prompted
mass evacuations amid fears (in the
event unrealised) that it would trigger a tsunami, and left 2.5
million people in need of some kind of assistance. The worst
affected state was Oaxaca, which is one of the poorest in
Mexico: dozens of people died in the city of Juchitán de
Zaragoza, as churches, hospitals and buildings were flattened.
Hundreds of miles away in Mexico City, people fled swaying
buildings in panic, but there were no reported casualties.
On Monday, Mexico – which was also struck by Hurricane
Katia last week – rescinded its offer to send aid to Texas for
victims of Hurricane Harvey, so that its emergency services
could focus their efforts on people affected by the earthquake.
President Trump didn’t acknowledge Mexico’s initial offer, or
express concern regarding the quake; however, the White
House later scheduled a condolence call for Tuesday.
Caracas, Venezuela
“Crimes against humanity”:
The Venezuelan security forces
may have committed “crimes
against humanity” in their treatment
of anti-government protesters, according to the UN human rights
chief. Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein had already accused the Maduro
government of violating human rights by using excessive force to
crush demonstrations – and has now called for a criminal
investigation. Hussein said his office had received new evidence of
arbitrary detentions and the torture of detainees, and warned of a
further escalation in tensions. Venezuela’s foreign minister, Jorge
Arreaza, dismissed Hussein’s claims as “baseless”, and said his
report was “riddled with lies”. More than 120 people have been
killed in protests in Venezuela since April.
The world at a glance
Masyaf, Syria
Israel strikes “chemical weapons facility”:
Israeli jets bombed a Syrian government
military facility in the northwest of the
country last week, which is believed to be
crucial to the Assad regime’s Iran-backed
chemical weapons programme. Israel has
largely stayed out of the Syrian conflict,
limiting its role to targeting weapons
shipments en route to Hezbollah (the
Lebanese Shia militia which is a key ally
of Assad). Analysts say last week’s strikes
signal a more proactive strategy by the
Israeli government as the prospect of an
end to the Syrian war draws closer. Israel
fears that a settlement in Syria could result
in Iran (or Hezbollah) being given bases in
the country from which they could launch
attacks. Israel has also just conducted its
biggest military exercise in 19 years on its
border with Lebanon.
Republic of
the Congo
Cholera sweeps
the country: At
least 528 people
have died so far in
the cholera epidemic
sweeping the DR
Congo, according to the World Health
Organisation (WHO), with the situation
expected to deteriorate further because of
the widespread breakdown in security in
the vast country. Cholera is common in
Congo, owing to a lack of sanitation and
access to clean water in many areas. But
this year’s epidemic – which has already hit
ten towns and cities including Kinshasa –
is likely to be made worse than usual by
the separatist and sectarian violence in
the Grand Kasai region. With some 1.4
million people displaced, the area is
particularly vulnerable to the disease.
To date, there have been 24,000 suspected
cases in 20 of the country’s 26 provinces.
Rakhine state, Myanmar
“Ethnic cleansing”: The UN’s top human rights official has
warned that the “cruel military operation” against the
Rohingya minority in western Myanmar looks like a
“textbook example of ethnic cleansing” – and has urged
Myanmar’s government to end it. Since 25 August, when the
current wave of violence was triggered by attacks on border
posts by Rohingya militants, more than 370,000 Rohingya
Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape what the
Burmese call “clearance operations”. Rakhine state is closed
to journalists, but satellite images reveal burning villages
across the north of the state, and survivors report
widespread atrocities – including villages burnt to the
ground and civilian massacres, committed by the Burmese
army and Buddhist nationalist mobs and militias. Bangladesh has condemned the
wave of violence against the Rohingya as “genocide”.
Aung San Suu Kyi (pictured), the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is now
Myanmar’s leader, has defied intense international pressure to speak out against the
atrocities, and continues to deny that systematic abuses have even taken place.
North Korea
New sanctions: The UN
Security Council has
unanimously agreed fresh
sanctions on North Korea
in response to its recent
nuclear weapons test. The
measures, restricting oil
imports and banning
textile exports, are
intended to starve the
North of fuel and income
for weapons programmes.
Even harsher sanctions,
blocking all oil imports
into the North, had been
opposed by China and
Russia. Pyongyang vowed
measures” would
see the US suffer
“the greatest
pain” in
its history.
PM’s wife facing
charges: Israel’s
attorney general
has formally
notified Sara
Netanyahu (left),
wife of PM
Netanyahu, that
she is facing
potential criminal
charges for using
more than $100,000 of state money on
lavish meals at the couple’s official
residence. The announcement, which
follows a two-year investigation, is a major
blow to the Netanyahus, and is expected
to be the first step in a protracted legal
battle. Meanwhile, several of the PM’s
close associates have been arrested on
suspicion of corruption in a separate case.
Selected, not elected: Singapore got its first
female president by default this week, after
the four other candidates were disqualified.
Halimah Yacob, 63, is a former speaker of
the city-state’s Parliament. Singapore
recently changed the eligibility rules for the
presidency: Candidates must be ethnic
Malay, and they must have either held a
high elected office for at least three years
or been head of a private company with
more than $370 million in market
capitalisation. Dissent is rare in Singapore,
but there were a few gentle murmurs of
dismay over the lack of competition, with
one opposition politician saying it
detracted from the president’s “moral
authority.” The presidency, a six-year term,
is largely ceremonial, but it does confer the
power to veto some government decisions.
Europe at a glance
Paris, France
Angry “slackers”: Emmanuel Macron has
faced the first big anti-government protests
of his presidency. Demonstrations against
his labour market reforms took place in
cities across France this week, and
thousands of workers took part in strikes
called by the hard-line CGT union. The
protests were given added impetus by a
speech Macron gave last week, in which he
appeared to describe his opponents as lazy.
“I am fully determined and I won’t cede
any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics,
nor hardliners,” he said. The protesters
responded by carrying placards reading
“too lazy to think up a slogan” and
“slackers on the move” – a play on the
name of Macron’s centrist “Republic on
the Move” party. Organisers said they
would be holding more demonstrations in
the coming weeks; the next one is
scheduled for 23 September.
Tapa, Estonia
War games commence: The head of Nato,
Jens Stoltenberg, has warned that the
world is at its most dangerous point for a
generation, owing to the number of
converging threats – including that posed
by weapons of mass destruction in North
Korea, and a “more assertive Russia”. His
warning came as Moscow prepared for
large-scale military exercises on the EU’s
eastern border – potentially the biggest
since the end of the Cold War. The Zapad
2017 (“West 2017”) exercises, due to begin
this week in western Russia, Belarus, the
Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad, officially
involve 13,000 personnel from Russia and
Belarus. However, intelligence analysts say
the true number taking part is closer to
100,000. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko
described the build-up to the exercises as
“preparations for an offensive war on a
continental scale”.
Moscow, Russia
Surprise breakthrough for opposition:
A “United Democrats” coalition of liberal
opposition parties won a series of surprise
victories in local council elections in
Moscow last weekend, taking 11 out of 12
seats in Tverskaya, a wealthy neighbourhood close to the Kremlin, and all 12 seats
in the Gagarinsky district, where President
Putin cast his vote. Overall, Putin’s United
Russia remained firmly in control, taking
around three-quarters of all seats.
However, the vote was a rare success for
the liberal opposition, whose candidates
are often barred from standing. In separate
elections across Russia for regional
governors, some opposition-friendly
candidates were kept off the ballot, and
United Russia won all 16 polls.
Palma, Mallorca
Fake sickness
scam: A heavily
pregnant British
suspected of
organising a
£10m fake
holiday sickness
scam, has
appeared in court
in Mallorca for
an initial hearing. Laura Joyce (pictured),
28, who runs a bar and nightclub on the
island, is alleged to have managed a team
of touts who targeted British tourists and
encouraged them to submit fraudulent
food poisoning claims against local hotels.
Four fellow Britons accused of
involvement appeared alongside her in
court. None has yet been formally
charged, and all were released on bail.
Livorno, Tuscany
Tuscan floods: At least seven people were
killed on Sunday when a violent rainstorm
lashed the Tuscan coastal town of Livorno
(aka Leghorn), causing devastating flash
flooding. Four of the dead were members
of the same family. When their building
was flooded, Roberto Ramacciotti, 65,
who lived in a separate apartment above
that of his children and grandchildren,
rushed downstairs and dived into the flood
waters to save them. He was able to rescue
his three-year-old granddaughter, Camilla,
but lost his life during his repeated
attempts to bring out her brother. The
children’s parents, whose garden flat was
inundated as they slept, also drowned.
“The situation is... critical. The city is on
its knees,” said local mayor Filippo
Nogarin. The heavy rains affected much of
Tuscany and other parts of Italy. In Rome,
underpasses flooded and seven metro
stations were shut.
Figueres, Spain
Dalí not the dad:
DNA tests have
shown that
Salvador Dalí was
not the father of a
61-year-old tarot
reader who had
brought a
paternity suit
against his estate.
María Pilar Abel
Martínez (pictured) claimed her mother
had an affair with Dalí in 1955, and
described herself as the spitting image of
her surrealist father. In June, a court
ordered the exhumation of Dalí’s body
from its burial place in his hometown of
Figueres for paternity tests – which have
come back negative. Dalí and his wife Gala
did not have children. He was rumoured
to be horrified by the female anatomy; and
claimed to be impotent, saying “you’ve got
to be impotent to be a great painter”.
Barcelona, Spain
Rally ahead of planned vote: Up to a
million Catalans marched in Barcelona
on Monday to show their support for
secession from Spain, ahead of an
independence referendum planned for
1 October. The Spanish national government in Madrid insists that any such vote
would be illegal under Spain’s constitution,
and last week the constitutional court in
Madrid suspended the referendum
legislation passed by the Catalan
parliament. However, separatist leaders
have vowed to go ahead, even at the risk
of being prosecuted for civil disobedience.
Yet it’s not clear how much popular
support there really is for the referendum,
or independence. An opinion poll recently
published in El País found that only 38%
of Catalans believe that the vote would be
valid and legal; some 56% do not. Other
polls have shown that only around 41% of
Catalans are in favour of independence.
online now
How Sharon forgave Ozzy
It is exactly a year since Sharon
Osbourne threw her husband
Ozzy out of the house, after
discovering that the Black
Sabbath singer had been having
a four-year affair with his
hairdresser. In truth, it wasn’t
his first transgression. “There
wasn’t just the one woman.
There were six of them,” she
told Celia Walden in The Daily
Telegraph. “Some Russian
teenager, then a masseuse in
England, our masseuse out here
[in LA], and then our cook. He
had women in different
countries. Basically, if you’re a
woman giving Ozzy either a
back rub or a trolley of food,
God help you.” Nevertheless,
she has taken back her errant
husband. Ozzy is now in
treatment and, after 35 years
together, the pair have renewed
their marriage vows. “Oh, I’m
never going to divorce him,”
she admits cheerfully. “What
on Earth for? He’s nearly 70!”
The best beard in cricket
Moeen Ali – known to fans as
“the beard to be feared” – has
the most luxuriant facial hair
seen in English cricket since
W.G. Grace. The Birminghamborn all-rounder is proud to
wear this outward symbol of
his devotion to Islam, especially
as he came to the faith relatively
late. “My family weren’t
religious,” he told Andrew
Anthony in The Times. But
then he met a
to Islam
him to
with his
faith by
that Ali was
religion with culture. At 18
– the year he made his
first-class debut – Ali became
a practising Muslim; praying,
fasting and devoting his life to
Allah. His England teammates,
he says, have always been
touchingly respectful of his
faith. For example, after they
won this summer’s series
against South Africa, there was
a photocall with champagne.
“Cookie [Alastair Cook, the
former England captain] said,
‘Let’s do a picture without
champagne first and make sure
Moeen’s in it, then he can walk
away.’ Things like that you
appreciate. It’s great to be in
that environment where we all
get along, no matter what
background you have or what
you look like.”
Brand’s new mission
Russell Brand has taken a step
back from political rabblerousing, says Miranda Sawyer
in The Guardian. The
comedian – who hogged the
headlines during the 2015
election, urging young people
not to vote and issuing
half-baked diatribes – admits
now he was out of his depth.
“Yes. I’m on the edge of the
community – a trickster, a
joker, a playful person – I
don’t need to be working out
how the Metropolitan Police
force should be run.” He is
also trying to live a better,
calmer life – which means not
pandering to his own hunger
for attention. “I still have this
tremendous ambitious drive,
but I know now, if I give that
drive to my ego to contend
with, it wreaks havoc.”
Indeed, he has written a book
– Recovery: Freedom From
Our Addictions – to help
others achieve this humility
and self-awareness.
True, it has a giant
picture of Brand
on the front – but
the message is
sincere. “I know
I’m narcissistic.
I know I’m no
different from
anyone with ego
showing off,
going, ‘Love me, love
me, adore me, give
me attention’, but it
ain’t just that. It’s
something else. And
that thing, I’ve got
to do something
with it.”
Robbie Williams is the most successful British solo act in history,
but it hasn’t made him happy. The 43-year-old pop star suffers from
depression, anxiety and agoraphobia. It runs in the family, he told
Krissi Murison in The Sunday Times. But “I don’t know if I’d be this
mentally ill without fame. I don’t think it would be as gross or as
powerful if it hadn’t have been for fame. You get a magnifying glass
in the shape of the world’s attention and your defects will obviously
magnify too.” He can’t help reading what people say about him on
the internet, for example. “And it crushes the soul. If there’s ten
good comments and one bad one, I concentrate on the bad one.
I’m addicted to stuff that makes me feel, full stop.” For a while,
Williams sought comfort in vices and women – but now, as
a married father of two, his only vice is food. “I have a sleepwalking
and eating problem that’s happening – every night,” he confesses.
“Last night I ate everything in the [hotel] minibar. Nuts, mainly, and
a quarter pack of Pringles.” As a result, he tends to look like an “out
of shape doorman”, instead of the skinny rock god he would like to
be. “I love food and I want to eat, so whenever I look slightly good
or my shirt’s fitting in my trousers, it’s a horrendous time for me
because I’m thinking about food all day. I’m either thin and
depressed or fat and ashamed. There’s no middle ground.”
Political pets
“My distrust of President Macron
grows. Just when his popularity
ratings plummet he obtains a dog.
Not just any mutt but one that
appears, like everything he does, to
have been exhaustively focusgrouped. Nemo was obtained after
staff scoured French rescue centres;
he’s an adorable, classy black
Labrador but, to appear inclusive,
not pure-bred. Macron does not even
have Obama’s excuse of placating his
children. Nemo is a furry distraction,
a humanising force, rather like the
Downing Street cats, something the
president can raise with journalists
and voters to make them melt. A dog
not for life but for photo ops.”
Janice Turner in The Times
Sir Edward du Cann,
Buoyant chairman of the
Conservative Party who
suffered a dramatic fall
from grace, died 31
August, aged 93.
Sir Peter Hall, Founder
of the RSC and National
Theatre director, died 11
September, aged 86.
Kate Millett, American
feminist whose Sexual
Politics book challenged
western patriarchy, died
6 September, aged 82.
Don Williams, country
singer famed for his
ballads on the enduring
power of love, died 8
September, aged 78.
Desert Island Discs returns on 17 September
The plight of the Rohingya
Since August, an estimated 270,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar (formerly Burma)
Who are the Rohingya?
That’s a vexed question. They are a
Muslim ethnic group over a million
strong who live mostly in Myanmar’s
western state of Rakhine, bordering
Bangladesh. But their identity and their
origins are fiercely contested. They claim
to have lived in the region for centuries,
while Myanmar, which is
overwhelmingly Buddhist, regards them
as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,
and denies them citizenship. The state
officially refers to them as “Bengalis”: the
term Rohingya is forbidden. They are the
world’s largest group of stateless people,
and have often been described as one of
the world’s most persecuted minorities.
on 9 October last year, in which nine
officers were killed. It was blamed on the
Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa),
and the army launched a large-scale
counter-insurgency operation.
What are conditions like today?
Conditions for Rohingya are atrocious at
the best of times. Even those outside the
camps are subject to laws restricting their
movement, marriages and how many
children they can have; they are barred
from education, healthcare, voting and
civil service jobs. But the latest UN report
describes the abuses suffered in recent
months at the hands of the security
forces and state-backed Rakhine mobs.
Summary executions are common:
Where did they come from?
Rohingya crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border people are shot from helicopters or at
close range; children and adults have
There has been a Muslim community in
their throats slit in front of their families. Women are routinely
Rakhine, also known as Arakan, since at least the 18th century,
gang-raped. Homes and food supplies are burnt. Large numbers
but it grew greatly during colonial times. Muslim workers from
of men of fighting age have been taken away. “Now is the worst it
the Chittagong area of Bengal were brought in to work the rice
has ever been,” said one interviewee. The report concluded that it
fields when Burma was part of British India, mostly settling in the
was “very likely” crimes against humanity were being committed;
north of the state; between the 1880s and the 1930s, Rakhine’s
Muslim world leaders have called it genocide.
Muslim population grew from 13% to 25% of the total. Today,
the Rakhine or Arakanese ethnic group, who are Buddhist, make
What can be done to improve the situation?
up around 60% of the state’s population; they greatly resent the
An independent commission appointed by Myanmar’s elected
Rohingya, the second largest group. There was serious violence
leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and chaired by Kofi Annan, recently
between the two communities during the Second World War, when
reported. Its findings give some idea of the scale of the problem. It
the British armed the Rohingya, and the Rakhines sided with the
Japanese. Before independence, some of Rakhine’s Muslim leaders recommended, inter alia: giving Muslims in Rakhine citizenship
rights and political representation; closing the state’s camps and
tried to join East Pakistan (Bangladesh), then fought for
allowing displaced people to return home; ending restrictions on
autonomy from Burma, created in 1948. They were unsuccessful.
movement; ensuring access to education, healthcare and
government jobs; promoting “inter-communal dialogue”; opening
How did they fare after independence?
In the 1950s, the Rohingya were acknowledged as one of Burma’s up the state to the media and humanitarian groups; and ensuring
that the security forces respect human rights, and enforce the rule
ethnic groups. But after the military coup in 1962, the ruling
of law. It also pointed out that Rakhine is one of Myanmar’s
generals established themselves as guardians of a Buddhist
poorest states, and is in desperate need of development.
socialist state, and ruthlessly suppressed minority insurgencies in
the borderlands. From the 1970s, the Rohingya were denied full
Why hasn’t Aung San Suu Kyi done more?
citizenship, and faced systematic persecution. In 1978, the
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner whose National
military reacted to a low-level Rohingya insurgency with a brutal
League for Democracy in 2015 won
operation which led 200,000 people
The virulence of Buddhist nationalism the country’s first free elections for
to flee into Bangladesh. This set the
half a century, has been much
pattern for recent decades. In 1982,
Since feudal times, Buddhism and the Burmese state
new citizenship laws entrenched the
have been closely intertwined. And the liberalisation of criticised for failing to tackle
politics in Myanmar since 2011 has been accompanied
well-documented abuses. Last week,
Rohingya's status as foreigners. From
by a surge in extreme Buddhist nationalism. As
a post on her Facebook page blamed
1991-92, another 250,000 fled into
authoritarian controls were lifted, new media gave
“terrorists” for the violence, and
Bangladesh, fleeing forced labour,
voice to old grievances – many dating from the
railed against a “huge iceberg of
rape and persecution at the hands of
colonial era, when large-scale Indian (and particularly
misinformation” on the issue. In her
the army. (They were later repatriated
Muslim) immigration was a cause of great public
defence, it has been pointed out that
under a UN agreement.)
anger. These are particularly focused on Rakhine state:
she is part of a power-sharing
it is regarded as the country's "western gate",
government in which the army
Why is there a crisis now?
protecting Myanmar – and Buddhist Southeast Asia –
controls defence, and is effectively
The current cycle of misery began in
from incursion by large numbers of Muslims. Local
2012, when rioting between Rakhines media coverage of the crisis hinges almost exclusively above the law. In addition, there are
on the violence committed by Rohingya militants.
only votes to be lost on Rohingya
and Rohingya led to nearly 200
rights amid a wave of Buddhist
deaths, mostly of Rohingya. Muslims
The most prominent manifestation of Buddhist
nationalist fervour is the Association for the Protection
nationalist feeling in the country (see
were largely driven out of the cities.
of Race and Religion, known by its Burmese acronym
box); and she is facing a tough
Tens of thousands fled to Bangladesh;
Ma Ba Tha, and led by charismatic monks who have
election in 2020, against the USDP,
130,000 were confined to squalid
condoned and incited violence against Muslim
the army-backed opposition party.
camps inside Rakhine state. In 2015,
minorities. Linked to Ma Ba Tha is the 969 Movement,
Nevertheless, her failure to denounce
around 25,000 sought to travel by sea
led by Ashin Wirathu, a monk dubbed "Burma's Bin
indiscriminate state violence – or the
to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,
Laden", which has been particularly vocal in spreading
army’s current blocking of UN aid to
with hundreds dying en route. The
rumours about Muslim plots to take over the country,
Rakhine – scarcely befits her status as
spark for the immediate crisis was an
and about rapacious Muslim men.
a symbol of resistance to tyranny.
attack on police outposts in Rakhine
Best of the Arabic language articles
Corruption and
building trust
in Jordan
Dr. Marwan Moasher
Who was
defeated in the
Syrian war?
Wael El Sawah
The Louvre
Abu Dhabi
liberates France
Sawsan Alabtah
Asharq Al-Awsat
Khomeini ideology
challenged by
Moqtada al-Sadr
Kafi Ali
Al-Arab London
Corruption cases have lessened since the start of 2011,
with several prime ministers reporting no corruption cases
during their tenure. Nevertheless Jordan’s ranking has not
improved in the Corruption Perception Index, which is
based on opinion polls within the countries themselves.
Rather the country’s ranking declined from 37 in 2003 to
66 in 2013, improving only slightly in 2016 to 57. There
are three logical explanations for this. The first is loss of
confidence in the government – people do not trust the
measures taken by the government, even if new cases of
corruption are not discovered. This is a dangerous issue
that has been addressed by many – including myself – as
the decline in trust is met with government inaction. The
second explanation is that people have recently begun
experiencing corruption of another kind; an increase in
small and medium-sized bribes and nepotism. As a result, no one is convinced that financial or
administrative corruption is on the decline. The third and perhaps most important explanation
is that people do not feel there is a real will within the government to fight corruption as no
legislative measures have been drafted to nip corruption in the bud.
Speaking in fascism’s tongue a few weeks ago, the president of the Syrian regime announced
the victory over his people by saying that Syria has gained a “more healthy and harmonious
society” as a result of his devastating war. The question is: who was defeated by who, and who
are the winners in this Syrian tragedy? We all know that the president’s speech is a joke. There
is no doubt that both the regime and the opposition were defeated. Not only because Syria was
destroyed, and is now a place filled with fear, murder and displacement, but also because both
projects failed. Assad failed to keep his iron fist on the Syrians and the opposition failed to
overthrow Assad and create the Syria it aspires to. If we were to accept what many leaders and
analysts say, then Syria was a proxy war where the greatest victors to date are the Russians and
the Iranians. The biggest losers are the US administration, along with its prestige and global
status, and its allies. But among the losers are also those who dreamt of a new democracy in
this part of the world. At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, there was a golden opportunity
to remove historical misunderstandings between Syrians and the US administration, and to
achieve a historic reconciliation between both sides. It could have also resulted in a lasting and
genuine peace between Syria and Israel. But this opportunity was lost. First because of the
reluctance of Obama’s administration, and then again after President Trump failed to change
US policy toward Syria. Today, Iran is in the heart of Damascus and at the gates of Israel.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is no longer a source
of concern for the French, but rather it has
become a source of pride. This is good news
after all the anger and musings when this
project was first announced 10 years ago.
French newspapers now compete to write
about this “achievement”, and images
and information about the museum are
continually leaked in the media. When the
museum finally opens on November 11, the
Louvre Abu Dhabi will be one of the most
striking museums in the world, if not the most striking – according to Jean-Luc Martinez,
current president of the museum in France. Since he took office, this project has been a top
priority for him, particularly after several predecessors, deliberately or ignorantly, slowed
the project down. The final results required a great deal of effort and sophistication. France
was proud of exporting “Francophonie” and the country is proud now of exporting its
“Louvre” and its “Sorbonne”. And this is only the beginning. Architect Jean Nouvel, a
genius of our time, completed a masterpiece on Saadiyat island; one which will remain a
“jewel” in the history of architecture. The dome alone, inspired by Islamic heritage and
covering the main building, is a piece of art. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the result of Abu Dhabi’s
aspirations to become a cultural hub, and France’s decade-long inner struggle to emerge from a
closed mindset and excessive protectionism that no longer works.
The disagreement between Iran and Moqtada al-Sadr is no longer limited to the resentment of
the latter and his followers towards Iran’s interference in Iraq’s affairs. The visit to Saudi Arabia,
combined with Moqtada urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, and his
condemnation of Hezbollah’s deal with Daesh, opened new possibilities for al-Sadr’s return to the
political front. Not only in Iraq but in the region. The old Iranian concerns regarding al-Sadr’s
family and their influence on Shiite Arabs in the region was reawakened due to Moqtada’s new
policy that has distanced itself from the Iranian project. Today there are quarrels in Shiite circles
about Khomeini’s doctrine and the legitimacy of the rule of the Faqih (jurists). But what is
Moqtada al-Sadr's role in this conflict as the legitimate heir to his father’s legacy and followers?
It is difficult to bet on Moqtada’s ability and steadfastness, but the endorsement by Najaf’s
religious authority of his project could be a way out of Iranian guardianship and a return to his
Arab identity – an identity that sits on the Arabic tongue of 80% of his people.
Best articles: International
The “messenger of God” now behind bars for rape
rest of Indian society denies them.
You’d have thought the conviction
Low-caste women, in particular,
of an Indian guru for the brutal
would flock to him to escape the
rape of two female followers
drudgery of their “unending
would have opened the eyes of his
servitude”, and to break “the
tens of millions of devotees to
stranglehold of social structures
what a terrible man he really was,
and cultural strictures governing
said The Hindu (Chennai). Not a
their everyday lives”. Where we
bit of it. When news broke that
see a narcissist who allegedly,
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh,
in a weird ritual, would make
spiritual leader of the Dera Sacha
his female followers “submit
Sauda sect, had been sentenced
to his lust” in return for godlike
to 20 years in jail, all hell broke
forgiveness, these women see
loose. Tens of thousands rioted
a genius with “supernatural
in India’s northern states, burning
powers”. No wonder he could
cars and buildings and viciously
prey on them so easily.
attacking security personnel.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh: the self-styled “baba of bling”
At least 38 people died in the
The other thing to bear in mind, said Srinivasa Prasad on
mayhem. The bearded 50-year-old guru wailed that he was
First Post (Mumbai) is that gurus like Singh are hugely
innocent as the sentence was read out; but lawyers for the
powerful politically. In Haryana, where electoral outcomes are
victims believe he is guilty of raping many more women at his
often decided by a few thousand votes, he could make or
compound in the north Indian state of Haryana.
break political careers. Political leaders flocked to him. India’s
ruling party, the Hindu nationalist BJP, owes its victory in
To non-devotees, the self-styled “baba of bling” came across
Haryana to the “messenger of God”.
as ridiculous, said The Indian Express (Mumbai). Decked out
in rhinestones and sequins, encircled by Kalashnikov-wielding
At least four other Indian gurus have been accused of rape in
guards wherever he went, and given to leaping around in
recent years, said Sharanya Gopinathan, in the same paper.
multi-coloured costumes, Singh in his heyday was not just
One of them, Asaram Bapu, who was jailed in 2013 for
a holy man – he was an entertainment industry. He has
sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl on the pretext of
released six albums of high-energy pop, the most recent of
“exorcising evil spirits”, ran more than 400 ashrams in India
which, Highway Love Charger, sold three million copies in
and abroad. These “godmen”, as they call themselves, “exist
three days. His movies – in which he credits himself as writer,
director, actor and musician – portray him as part motorcycle- at the intersection of religious fervour, political power, public
support and, often, massive wealth”. They groom their
riding action hero, part divinity. Even when not acting, he
followers as child-sex predators do, until their victims believe
calls himself “messenger of God” and his sprawling sect
“they are being gloriously singled out for preferential treatheadquarters is “like a township”, with dorms, factories, even
ment from the leader”. Later, the raped women are afraid
a hospital. And all are run by his followers.
to tell anyone, and for good reason: accusers and their
supporters have been murdered. The journalist who first
But don’t mock those devotees, said Mani Shankar Aiyar on
exposed Singh was shot dead outside his home in 2002, (New Delhi). People from “the backward classes”
months after reporting the rape allegations. The predatory
(those deemed by orthodox Hinduism to be outside the caste
guru is behind bars, but how many more are still running their
hierarchy), find in gurus like the “baba of bling” someone
own private harems?
who provides them with the “dignity and social support” the
How did the
monitors get it
so wrong?
(New York)
The hounding
of a Danish
Kenya’s recent elections were so badly flawed, they’re having to be re-run, says Abdi Latif Dahir. As
five million ballots turned out to be unverified, the supreme court had to annul the poll and overturn
the victory of the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta. So why did former US secretary of state John
Kerry, speaking for international observers from the EU and elsewhere, endorse the vote as “free, fair
and credible” save for a few “little aberrations”? Days earlier, the official responsible for security in
the new electronic voting system had been found strangled, and on election day the system broke
down. Totals from many voting stations were sent by text message instead, many lacking serial
numbers, many coming from non-existent polling stations. This was no isolated case: international
monitors have endorsed past elections that many Kenyans believed were rigged, and have failed to
denounce election chicanery in countries such as Uganda and Rwanda. It’s not enough to look for
voter intimidation and ballot box stuffing: the cheating in Kenya occurred in transmitting the results.
The monitors argue that they simply didn’t have enough staff; but if so, they should have refrained
from making any endorsement at all. No wonder they’re increasingly distrusted across Africa.
It’s been obvious for some time that something’s rotten in the royal house of Denmark, says JyllandsPosten. Queen Margrethe’s 83-year-old consort, Prince Henrik, tired of being ranked number two,
has been voicing his resentment. He thinks he should have been made king on their marriage in
1967, even though he’s just a French commoner. But he also says he doesn’t wish to be buried next to
his queen in Roskilde Cathedral when he dies, and that “she has been making a fool of me”. His
petulance has been much mocked. Media pundits contrast his behaviour with the dignity shown by
the Duke of Edinburgh, who has never moaned about being upstaged by his wife. Maybe he should
seek therapy, some have suggested. But now we learn why Henrik has been behaving so erratically
– he’s suffering from dementia. Rumours have long swirled about his mental health, so it’s amazing
he hasn’t been given a thorough examination before now. If only those around him had acted sooner,
he’d have been spared the journalists’ “cynical persecutions”. But that doesn’t excuse the media
commentators’ rush to judgement. It now befits them to reflect on their atrocious behaviour.
Don’t let the
religious tide
engulf Britain
Janice Turner
The Times
is built on
national pride
Rupert Cogan
How student
digs are ruining
our cities
Oliver Wainwright
The Guardian
The pleasure
principle is
making us sad
Robert H. Lustig
The Observer
Best articles: British
Across the world, from India and Turkey, to Hungary and the
US, a tide of religious zealotry is on the rise, says Janice Turner.
Britain – ignoring the hardline views of Jacob Rees-Mogg –
seems one of the few places to have escaped the trend: the
British Social Attitudes survey shows that for the first time
non-believers are in a majority (53%). But don’t let’s be
complacent about the encroachment of religion into the public
sphere. It’s occurring here too, and our leaders are doing
nothing to resist it. The Left has “abandoned Enlightenment
principles for the fractured discourse of identity politics”, and
indulges “those who cry racism at every challenge to religious
rule”. It stays silent about courts that discriminate against
women. The Tories have let faith schools proliferate to please
their Catholic and Anglican base. Theresa May wants to
overturn even the modest requirement that selection by religion
be capped at 50%. We must stand up for our secular values.
“That we will hold together can never be taken for granted.”
Warnings about resurgent nationalism come thick and fast these
days, says Rupert Cogan. Frans Timmermans, first vicepresident of the European Commission, denounced it in a recent
speech, arguing that true patriots are Europeans. The
international lawyer Philippe Sands did likewise in an article
that linked neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Daily Mail and
Brexit to the “poison of slow-burning nationalisms”. What’s
striking about such diatribes, beyond their occasionally
hysterical tone, is the way they conflate bigotry and extremism
with national pride, as if fondness for one’s country of birth is
inherently dubious. “Statehood,” wrote Sands, is the “most fake of
constructs.” To him, maybe. For most of us it is the basis of
popular democracy, the “only framework powerful enough to
handle the big issues” – defence, taxation, infrastructure – in a
responsive manner. To support or acquiesce in collective projects,
people need to feel a sense of shared culture with the others
involved. They do feel that at a national level; they don’t, whatever
the liberal elite may like to think, at a European one.
Huge eyesores are sprouting across our university towns, says
Oliver Wainwright. They look like prison blocks with their
“cliff-faces of tiny square windows”, but they’re actually PBSA:
purpose-built student accommodation. PBSA is immune from
many of the codes that govern residential dwellings, from space
standards to daylight and acoustics, and developers have rushed
to exploit this by building a mass of “mean-spirited, pile-’em-high
cells”, often on land originally allocated for housing. The growth
of such blocks is also being fuelled by a surge of money from rich
foreign investors looking for a decent return on their capital after
the slowdown of the high-end residential market: Singapore alone
invested £1.2bn in PBSA last year. And to lure well-heeled overseas
students, the developers are “applying a thin veneer of ‘luxury
living’ to their cheaply-built shells”. They boast swimming pools,
gyms and a 24-hour concierge service; bedrooms come with
40-inch smart TVs. Thus are these carbuncles not only blighting
our cities, but “destroying the very experience of being a student”.
These are unhappy times, says Robert H. Lustig. Rich countries
are suffering an alarming growth in addiction, anxiety and
depression. And few more so than the UK, where antidepressant
prescriptions have more than doubled in the past decade, and
which is the scene of almost a third of Europe’s drug overdoses.
All manner of individual factors are behind this trend, but the
root cause is that people’s sense of well-being is being undermined
by their “incessant quest for pleasure”. Modern life offers endless
opportunities for people to enjoy little fixes of dopamine – the
“reward” neurotransmitter that tells the brain: “this feels good,
I want more” – thanks to the ubiquity of triggers such as sugar,
tobacco and social media. Yet the evidence suggests that all this
dopamine, particularly when combined with stress, drives down
levels of serotonin, the “contentment” or happiness
neurotransmitter that tells our brain: “this feels good. I have
enough. I don’t want or need any more”. Popular culture tells us
that pleasure and happiness are the same thing. It’s not true:
chasing the former restricts our ability to enjoy the latter.
I read it in the tabloids
A memory champion has
proved her mettle by
memorising the 328-page
Ikea catalogue. Yanjaa
Wintersoul, 23, spent a week
poring over the catalogue;
she can now recall all 4,818
products in it, along with
their descriptions, and the
page they appeared on – as
well as the sets they were
featured in. Asked in a test to
recall pages 92-3, she replied:
“It’s a kitchen... there’s a
chequered floor and a giant
trash can... there’s a citrus
plant near the window.”
A Japanese company is
marketing a $1,000 robot dog
that will tell owners whether
their feet smell. If the feet
smell fresh, Hana-chan will
wag its tail; if there’s a pong,
it will bark; and if they stink,
it will fall over in a dead faint.
A woman had to be rescued
after climbing out of a date’s
window – to retrieve a poo.
The woman, an amateur
gymnast, had gone to the
toilet at Liam Smith’s house
after a date – and found that
it wouldn’t flush. Panicking,
she decided to throw the
faeces out of the window.
But it didn’t land in a
garden. It became wedged
in a tiny space between two
non-opening windows. So
she decided to climb in, head
first, to get it out – and got
stuck too. Eventually, Smith
– a student at Bristol
University – called the fire
brigade. He posted the
photo (above) to raise
money to cover the cost of
fixing the window. As for
their future as a couple:
“It’s too early to say if
she’s the one,” he said. “But
we got on very, very well –
and we’ve already got the
most difficult stuff out of
the way.”
Best of the American columnists
An unhappy time for America’s “Dreamers”
Obama himself admitted that he
They call them the “Dreamers” – the
didn’t have the constitutional
undocumented children who entered
authority to grant an amnesty to
America illegally with their parents
nearly a million illegal immigrants.
and, through no fault of their own,
Trump has rightly returned the issue
face growing up in a land where they
to Congress, and given lawmakers
can never become legal residents. They
another chance to put a new regime
acquired their name after the Dream
on a sound legal footing.
Act, a law first proposed in 2001 that
was set to give them a path to
Since when has Trump given “a fig for
citizenship, but which repeatedly failed
constitutional niceties”, asked
to get through Congress. However, in
Michael Gerson in The Washington
2012 Barack Obama came to their
Post. There is a theme to his
rescue by enacting the Deferred Action
presidency, but it’s not “respect for the
for Childhood Arrivals (Daca)
rule of law”; it’s the stirring up of
programme. Nearly 800,000 Dreamers
A Dreamer protesting at a rally in New York
racial resentments. Still, given that the
now live and work openly in the US
Supreme Court would most likely have struck down Daca at
thanks to Daca. But for how much longer, asked the Los
some point, Congress might as well get on with fixing it. And
Angeles Times. Last week, in “an act of pure cruelty”, Donald
fortunately, there’s clear room for a compromise deal between
Trump said that he was rescinding Daca. All those people, who
Republicans and Democrats: “stronger border enforcement
registered their details in good faith, are now at risk of being
(though not the surpassingly silly wall) in return for a new
deported to lands they barely know.
version of Daca”. Don’t count on it, said Jennifer Rubin in the
same paper. The GOP caucus is filled with hardliners who
Relax, said Rich Lowry in the New York Post. Nobody is being
erroneously claim that Dreamers are stealing US jobs. How
deported any time soon. Trump has simply announced that the
likely is it that Republicans, who can’t even pass bills high on
system will be phased out in six months’ time, and has
their agenda, such as repealing Obamacare, are about to write
challenged Congress to replace it. Before he introduced Daca by
into law the immigration policy of the president they detest?
executive order (as what he called a “temporary stopgap”),
police just
invite trouble
Adam Bates
You’re wrong
about Muslims,
Mr President
Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
Let’s celebrate
our “mongrel
Bari Weiss
The New York Times
One of President Obama’s better decisions, says Adam Bates, was banning the federal government
from distributing surplus military equipment to local police forces. The move followed the riots in
Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, where the police were condemned for their heavy-handed military
response. The bad news, though, is that the Trump administration has now rescinded that ban,
freeing the police once again to stock up on high-calibre firearms, grenade launchers, bayonets and
camouflage uniforms. The all too predictable consequence will be more violence and more casualties.
A study earlier this year unambiguously showed that, after receiving military gear, police
departments were more likely to kill civilians (as well as dogs). Law enforcers always justify their
need for this kit by citing rare cases such as terrorist attacks and mass murders, but the problem is
that they inevitably resort to them in other situations, too. Witness the way that Swat raids have
“ballooned from hundreds per year to tens of thousands”; or the way officers have slipped into using
mobile phone trackers, bought with counter-terrorism grant money, for everyday police work. “It
turns out that having a hammer really does make everything look more like a nail.”
Ever since 9/11, many Americans “have come to regard Muslims with fear or suspicion”, says Jeff
Jacoby. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump “fuelled that animus”, calling for “a total and
complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration, and alleging that many Muslims harbour “great
hatred toward Americans”. Nothing could be further from the truth. A new Pew Research Centre
poll reveals that, in reality, Muslim immigrants “adopt American values, reject fundamentalism”
and assimilate very well. A heartening 92% of them say they’re “proud to be American”, and only
36% say all or most of their friends are fellow Muslims – “far less than the 95%” global average
calculated by Pew. The poll shows that US Muslims are even more opposed to terrorism than the
general population: 76% of them say killing civilians for a political or religious cause “can never be
justified”, compared with only 59% of Americans overall. Nearly two-thirds of US Muslims also
believe that there is room for “multiple interpretations” of their religion. The good news here is that
our tradition of freedom, religious tolerance and pluralism continues to have great power.
“Immigrants of every faith still come to America, and become Americans.”
The “increasingly strident Left” has some strange notions, says Bari Weiss. Perhaps the silliest is its
current obsession with stamping out “cultural appropriation”. In Portland, Oregon, activists have
created a blacklist of “white-owned appropriative restaurants” to boycott, because Caucasians
apparently have no right to make tacos or dosas. The University of Michigan is hiring a “bias
response” worker to “enact cultural appropriation-prevention initiatives”. Is there a more unAmerican idea than this? Our country’s “mongrel culture” is so wondrously vibrant because it
blends food, music, art, languages, clothing and sensibilities from all over the world. This is not
“stealing”, but “syncretism” – creating something new by mixing old ideas “in revelatory ways”.
The US is a nation where the Russian-born Jewish immigrant Irving Berlin wrote “God Bless
America”, where the black Southern singer Jessye Norman is famous for her Wagner repertoire,
and where even our national symbol, Lady Liberty, was made in France. Yet the dour enforcers of
the cultural appropriation ban would have us “remain in the ethnic and racial lines assigned to us
by accident of our birth”. No, thanks. “Culture should be shared, not hoarded.”
Health & Science
What the scientists are saying…
The agony going undiagnosed
Doctors are failing to diagnose a
condition that can leave women in
crippling pain, and lead to infertility, the
NHS watchdog has warned. As many as
one in ten women of reproductive age
suffer from endometriosis: in some cases
the pain is so acute, they cannot work. Yet
many are told it is “normal”, and on
average, patients wait seven or eight years
before they get a diagnosis, during which
time the condition can become harder to
treat, according to the National Institute
for Clinical Excellence (Nice). “The
condition is difficult to diagnose as
symptoms vary and are often unspecific,”
said Professor Mark Baker, of Nice.
“However, once it has been diagnosed
there are effective treatments that can ease
[the] symptoms.” Nice’s new guidelines
state that GPs should refer women for
scans if they suffer from one of a list of
symptoms that includes pelvic pain, severe
period pain, pain during intercourse, and
chronic tiredness; and that even if the scans
come back normal, they should not rule
out the condition. Delayed diagnosis of
endometriosis – which is caused when
tissue similar to the lining of the womb
starts appearing elsewhere in the body –
is believed to be a worldwide problem.
The bold Bronze Age travellers
The idea of independent women striking
out in the world, while men stay at home,
might be thought to be a relatively modern
one, says The Daily Telegraph. But new
archaeological research has suggested that
during the Bronze Age, women were great
travellers, spreading ideas and culture,
whereas men tended to stay where they
were. A team from Munich examined the
remains of 84 people buried in what is
now the Lech Valley, in Germany, between
Wild dogs: democratic habits
2500BC and 1650BC. By examining
chemical signatures in their teeth, they
established that although they had been
buried according to local custom, two
thirds of the group of women had travelled
a considerable distance from their place of
birth – between 180 and 300 miles. By
contrast, the men appeared to have lived
and died in that region. According to study
leader Professor Philipp Stockhammer, the
findings cast new light on human mobility
in the late Stone Age and early Bronze Age.
“It appears that at least part of what was
believed to be migration by groups was
based on an institutionalised form of
individual mobility,” he said.
Wild dogs sneeze to vote
Democracy isn’t only for humans. African
hunting dogs also make decisions as a
group – with sneezes acting as votes, a
study has found. Scientists have in the past
observed that the highly sociable animals
“Zero carb” diet helps mice live longer
Mice fed a “zero carb” diet have been
found to live longer and perform better
in physical and mental tasks than those
fed a normal diet. “These are pretty
profound effects,” said molecular biologist
Eric Verdin, CEO of the Buck Institute for
Research on Ageing in California. “The
older mice on the [zero carb] diet had
a better memory than the younger ones
[in the control group].” The extension
to their lifespan was equivalent to seven
years in humans. On the downside, the
diet led to significant weight gain that would eventually have left them obese.
The zero carb or ketogenic diet fools the mice’s bodies into thinking they are
starving – with the result that the body shifts to burning fat instead of glucose. At the
same time, the liver starts producing (from fatty acids) molecules known as ketone
bodies; a particular type of those, BHB, are thought to boost energy production, and
to have a protective effect against the free radicals that damage cells. However, even
if the diet had the same benefits for humans, it might still lead to health problems: it
is 90% fat. And it would be very hard to stick to. For that reason, the team are now
hoping to find drugs that mimic its effects.
sneeze a lot, but assumed they were merely
clearing their airways. But when a team
monitored them more closely, in the
Okavango Delta of Botswana, they noticed
that when the dogs gather for rituals
known as “social rallies”, they appear to
decide whether to go hunting – or simply
to go back to sleep in the shade – on the
basis of how many of them sneeze. They
found that the more sneezes there were,
the more likely the dogs were to go off and
hunt for impala. However, the number of
sneezes required to trigger the decision
seemed to depend on whether or not the
top dogs had initiated the rally. “When the
dominant male and female were involved,
the pack only had to sneeze a few times
before they would move off,” said Reena
Walker of Brown University. “However,
if the dominant pair were not engaged,
more sneezes were needed – approximately
ten – before the pack would move off.”
That they have a quorum is particularly
interesting as, in other respects, the dogs
seem to live under an autocracy: the top
dogs eat first, and the dominant female’s
puppies – fed and babysat by subordinate
dogs – are the only ones allowed to survive
until adulthood.
Sick notes for stress and anxiety
One in three “sick notes” handed out
by GPs are now for mental health
problems, an NHS report has shown.
That makes psychiatric ill-health the
most common reason for people taking
time off work, ahead of back pain and
other musculoskeletal problems. There
was a 14% rise in fit notes (as sick notes
are now called) for anxiety and stressrelated conditions between 2015-16 and
2016-17, from 503,000 to 573,000. More
than one in five psychiatric sick notes were
issued for longer than 12 weeks.
The strongest X-ray laser
The world’s largest and most powerful
X-ray laser has opened in a s1bn facility
near Hamburg, reports The Guardian.
The machine – in a two-mile tunnel deep
underground – is capable of generating
ultrashort X-ray flashes 27,000 times
per second, a billion times brighter than
conventional radiation sources. Among
other things, scientists will be able to
use the flashes generated by the
European X-ray Free Electron Laser
(XFEL) to map the three-dimensional
structure of biomolecules and other
biological particles with more detail than
has previously been possible. The idea is
that by using incredibly fast cameras
with a frame rate of 4.5MHz – 4.5 million
pictures per second – chemical reactions
and biological processes will be
captured as they occur. These images
will be stitched together to create film
sequences, giving a far more complete
picture than ever before.
Startups: The wild world of
‘coin offerings’
exchange for their
“You know a market frenzy
work. The hope among
has turned surreal when
cryptocurrency fans is
Paris Hilton joins in,” said
that ICOs will allow
Jacky Wong in The Wall
promising companies
Street Journal. The hotel
and technologies to
heiress recently followed
avoid the laborious
billionaire Mark Cuban
process of attracting
and boxer Floyd
real-world venture
Mayweather in hyping a
capital, said The
new finance fad called
Economist, and that
initial coin offerings (ICOs),
Even Paris Hilton is getting
these digitally funded
which is a way to fund
in on the game.
startups “could one day
startups using the
disrupt the tech giants.” Filecoin, which
technology behind bitcoin. Instead of
recently raised $250 million via an ICO,
buying stock in a company, “investors walk
would allow miners to earn tokens for
away with virtual coins.” Depending on the
offering, the digital coins can be used to buy providing storage space or retrieving data
for users – thus making a run at Dropbox or
the company’s future products or services,
Amazon. “ICOs may indeed be a bubble, but
or will entitle the owner to royalties down
perhaps a mostly healthy one, generating
the road. Investors can also buy or sell the
much innovation.”
coins on exchanges. The ICO market has
boomed in recent months, with sales
The problem is that the market is basically
reaching nearly $2 billion this year, up
unregulated, said Rhett Jones in Gizmodo.
from $256 million last year. But skeptical
com. With an initial public offering (IPO),
governments are increasingly concerned
about swindlers preying on naïve investors. you might be making a bad investment,
“but you can trust that a certain number
Just hours after Hilton tweeted that she’d
of precautionary checkboxes have been
be participating in an upcoming ICO,
marked,” thanks to strict rules. But with
“Chinese regulators put a damper on the
ICOs, pretty much anything goes. Plenty of
fun,” banning the offerings outright.
ICOs are “downright predatory,” said Elaine
Ou on While some tokens
“Don’t feel bad if you’re still wondering,
‘What the hell is an ICO?’” said Mike Orcutt enjoy astronomical gains, about 60% wind
on These token sales up dead or dormant. “Curbing token sales,
though, won’t be easy.” The blockchain’s
are a little like a crowdfunding campaign,
decentralized nature makes the market hard
except they use blockchains to verify
to manage or monitor, because there is no
transactions. Blockchains are encrypted
single point of control. “How can any
ledgers powered by a decentralized network
government control a phenomenon that
of computers all over the world, whose
transcends national borders and rules?”
operators, known as miners, receive bitcoin
We’re about to find out.
or other cryptocurrencies as payment in
Innovation of the week
Static electricity
could help robots
finally conquer
the fashion
industry, said
Marc Bain on While
robots can deal
fairly easily with
the mostly uniform and rigid materials
that go into cellphones and automobiles,
they have trouble handling the wide
variety of soft materials needed to
make footwear and clothing. “A
vacuum may pick up pieces of leather,
for instance, but it can’t deal with
mesh.” As a result, the apparel industry
has been slower to automate. That
could change with the Stackit robot,
which “uses electroadhesion –
basically the cling of static electricity –
to let robots pick up and handle
objects of all kinds.” Stackit’s makers
say the device can manipulate
everything from an egg to soft fabrics
to a 50-pound box. “The firm has Nike
convinced.” The shoemaker is installing
Stackit robots in about a dozen of its
factories this year.
Bytes: What’s new in tech
Unmasked by artificial intelligence
It won’t be long before facial recognition software can figure out who you are even if
your face is covered up, said James Vincent in A group of researchers
based in the UK and India say they’ve trained an algorithm to identify people even
when they are wearing disguises. The results are “far less accurate than industry-level
standards”; for instance, the system can correctly identify someone wearing a cap, sunglasses,
and scarf only 55% of the time. But the research shows how quickly facial recognition
technology is progressing, meaning “staying anonymous in public will be harder than ever
before.” Facebook can already recognize people based on their hair, body shape, and posture.
Zello to the rescue
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a “digital walkie-talkie” named Zello
“became the go-to app for rescuers working to save thousands of people trapped
by floodwaters,” said Peter Holley in The Washington Post. The free app
“relies on cellphone data plans or WiFi and is designed to operate in places
where signals are weak,” helping volunteer groups coordinate search-andrescue efforts. Volunteers monitoring social media used Zello to feed information to rescue
boats patrolling flooded neighbourhoods. As Hurricane Irma bore down on the Florida
coast last week, Zello surged to the top download spots on Google Play and the Apple
App Store. The app has 100,000 users worldwide, and is particularly popular with Hong
Kong taxi drivers, as well as people in countries like Egypt and Venezuela “where
government services struggle to meet demand.”
Pick of the week’s
When Meghan Markle first
began dating Prince Harry,
she wasn’t well known in
this country. But Howard
Hodgkin knew exactly who
she was. The late artist’s
partner, Antony Peattie, has
revealed that after a long
day in the studio, there was
nothing the great abstract
painter liked to do better
than settle down in front of
an episode (or four) of Suits
– the preposterous but
entertaining legal drama in
which Markle stars. Suits
“was addictive”, Peattie told
The Times. “We would
watch two or three or four
episodes. Oh, the
shimmying walk of the
women down the corridors.
And of course we knew
about Meghan Markle first.”
Talking points
University vice-chancellors: too much gravy?
much less in the private sector.
When I left Oxford 17 years
As for Richardson’s obserago, the university’s vicevation that footballers earn far
chancellor was paid £100,000
more, that’s a classic example
a year in today’s money, said
of Lynton Crosby’s “dead cat”
Ben Chu in The Independent.
strategy, said Sonia Sodha in
Today, its vice-chancellor
The Guardian – a distraction
– Louise Richardson – earns
to divert attention from the
£350,000. That’s a 250% real
real issue: is she value for
terms increase. And she’s not
money? Universities like to be
even the UK’s highest paid
opaque about their finances,
university boss: the head of the
but since it’s taxpayers who
University of Bath earns
fund research and underpin
£451,000 a year. Over the
student loans, we’ve a right to
same period, salaries paid to
know where the money’s
junior academics have gone up
going. Universities Minister
in line with average pay – in
Jo Johnson is now rightly
the region of 10%. “Why the
discrepancy?” Richardson uses Richardson: the “dead cat” strategy demanding that universities
reveal how many of their staff
an argument that has become
are paid over £100,000 – and that they justify, in
all too familiar in relation to soaring executive
writing, any salaries above £150,000.
pay: there is, she says, a “global marketplace”
for people capable of running large institutions.
Even if vice-chancellors are paid a bit less, said
If Oxford didn’t pay her so well, she’d sell her
Joanna Williams in The Daily Telegraph, it
talents elsewhere. Really? It’s far more likely this
won’t lead to lower tuition fees or higher pay
salary inflation at the top reflects a change in
for academics. But then this row has little to
attitudes among the people who sit on
do with struggling students, and a lot to do with
remuneration committees. Once, they had a
both Tories and Labour’s Blairites feeling they
sense of restraint; now, it seems, anything goes.
must “do something” to lure the youth vote
away from Jeremy Corbyn. And they’re right,
Richardson is right that top US colleges pay far
said Martin. Under the current system of high
more, said Iain Martin in The Times. But that
fees and high interest rates, graduates may end
doesn’t mean Harvard would come over here to
up paying £100,000 for a course that cost a
poach, say, the man who runs the University of
fraction of that. Voters under 40 feel they are the
Bolton (£220,000pa). Most VCs (who tend to
victim of a rigged system. Their anger is
be from academic, not business, backgrounds)
perfectly legitimate. It needs to be addressed.
would struggle to find better-paid jobs abroad,
Race and justice: are the courts biased?
Katie Holmes has finally
confirmed rumours that she
is in a relationship with
Oscar-winning actor Jamie
Foxx (pictured, with Holmes).
The pair were first seen
dancing together at a party
in 2013, but until now, they
have always strongly denied
being an item. Why?
According to rumours, it’s
all down to Tom Cruise (who,
as it happens, co-starred
with Foxx in the 2004 thriller
Collateral). It is alleged that
when Cruise and Holmes
divorced in 2012, the
famously controlling star
stipulated – as a condition
of the financial settlement –
that his former wife should
do nothing to embarrass
him for five years. And
publicly dating another man
was supposedly one
example of things that
might embarrass Cruise.
“In my 50 years [of practice]
I’ve seen everything,” said
celebrity lawyer Raoul
Felder. “But [if true], this
is unprecedented.”
In her first public statement as Prime Minister,
Theresa May vowed to fight injustice. If you are
black, she noted, you are “treated more harshly
by the criminal justice system than if you’re
white”. This was “hardly a revelation”, said The
Guardian. But if proof were needed, the Labour
MP David Lammy’s comprehensive review of
the treatment of black, Asian and minority
ethnic (Bame) individuals in the criminal justice
system, which was published last week,
highlighted the problem starkly. Bame people
make up 14% of the population of England and
Wales, but 25% of its prison population. Black
people make up 3% of the population, but 12%
of prisoners (and 20% of young offenders in
custody). For every 100 white women handed
custodial sentences at crown courts for drug
offences, 227 black women are jailed. Ethnic
minorities, Lammy concluded, still face bias and
“overt discrimination” in the justice system.
Lammy found plenty of evidence of “racial
disparities” in the system, said David Green on
his Spectator blog. The problem with his review
is that it assumes any such disparities “must be
the result of discrimination”. Prejudice, he
stated, “has declined, but still exists in wider
society – it would be a surprise if it was entirely
absent from criminal justice settings”. Yet in
fact, he found no compelling evidence for that:
successive studies have shown that juries in
England and Wales deliver equitable results
regardless of race. And as Lammy admitted,
there are many other likely reasons for the
disproportionate figures, such as high levels of
lone parenthood and poverty among ethnic
minority people. Lammy suggested that some
Bame people’s prosecutions should be deferred
or dropped, to even up the numbers, said Rod
Liddle in The Sunday Times. “I suppose another
solution might be to jail random white folk who
haven’t committed crimes.”
His proposals “are not easy sells politically”,
said The Guardian. But it is vital to tackle the
“lack of trust in the system” among Bame
people, which discourages them from pleading
guilty and means that many lose the chance of
the reduced sentence that comes with a guilty
plea. Improving minority representation among
judges and prison staff would help. So too
would deferred prosecutions: a pilot scheme in
the West Midlands, allowing charges to be
dropped if offenders receive rehabilitation, has
cut reoffending rates by 35%. Lammy’s review is
well-intentioned, said The Daily Telegraph. “But
the Government must proceed with caution”
and bear in mind that “our police and courts
exist primarily to uphold law and order”, not to
deliver politically correct statistics.
Talking points
Tony Blair: getting tough on migrants
wash at a time “when
“It’s tempting simply to laugh
people in full-time work
at Tony Blair’s latest
cannot afford to feed their
intervention in the Brexit
children, let alone to buy or
debate,” said Paul Goodman
rent a decent home”. I
don’t question Blair’s
As PM, he unleashed a flood
motives, said Matthew
of EU immigration in 2004
d’Ancona in The Guardian,
by waiving restrictions on
but I can’t see the EU
entry for workers from ten
agreeing to his immigration
new member states. His
curbs. David Cameron was
government predicted that
“handed his hat when he
13,000 people would head to
asked for considerably
the UK from Eastern Europe;
less from Brussels before
in the event, over a million
the referendum”.
did. But now that the horse
has bolted, Blair is desperately
The irony, said Jenni
flapping at the stable door.
Flapping at the stable door?
Russell in The Times, is that
His grandly named Institute
the UK has long had many
for Global Change has called
for tougher border controls, including mandatory powers to control free movement that it hasn’t
bothered to use. Not only did our leaders waive
registration for entrants and an emergency brake
the right to restrict migration from new EU
on EU migration if numbers require it. Such
members for seven years; they also removed exit
measures could satisfy public concerns about
checks in the 1990s, only reapplying them in
immigration, Blair argues, perhaps obviating the
2015. Under current rules, new EU migrants can
need for us to pull out of the EU.
already be sent home after three months if they
have no job or other means of support. Belgium,
Blair bears a heavy responsibility for the Brexit
which registers every visitor, is increasingly strict
vote, said Matthew Norman in The
about enforcing these rules. Germany is
Independent. His administration encouraged
rampant immigration, having allowed the lure of clamping down on the employment of
Romanians and Bulgarians in the construction
“economy-turbocharging cheap labour to blind
industry, arguing that they are not covered by
it to the possible consequences when the
pay-bargaining deals. Having neglected to use
economy stagnated or crashed”. Now that the
the tools at their disposal, our leaders are now
predictable backlash has happened, Blair
suggests the situation can somehow be magically proposing harsh new controls that risk
alienating our EU allies. “What a miserable,
fixed. While such “glib vagaries” served him
well in the “mid-1990s boom times”, they won’t avoidable mess.”
The 2016 election: How Russia used Facebook
“As if we needed more evidence that
Facebook influenced the election,” said
Christine Emba on Last
week, the social media giant admitted that it
had sold more than $100,000 in ads between
2015 and 2016 “to a Kremlin-linked ‘troll
farm’ seeking to influence US voters.” The
ads – which Facebook refused to release –
contained divisive messages on hot-button
topics “from LGBT matters to race issues to
immigration.” Russia’s election meddling didn’t
end there, said Scott Shane in The New York
Times. An investigation by the Times reveals that
the Kremlin deployed “a legion of Russiancontrolled impostors” to target Democrat Hillary
Clinton. These impostors set up sophisticated
fake Facebook accounts, pretending to be
ordinary Americans with names like “Melvin
Redick” and “Katherine Fulton,” and used those
accounts to post thousands of anti-Clinton
attacks, which Russian bots and real people then
passed along on Facebook and Twitter. These
efforts represent “an unprecedented foreign
intervention in American democracy.”
By using Facebook’s sophisticated algorithms
and precision ad targeting, said Donie
O’Sullivan on, Russia’s troll
campaign “could have reached millions of
American voters.” Want to target women ages
22 to 45 or African-Americans who live in a
swing state like Wisconsin, and give them
reasons not to vote for Clinton? For just
$1,000 a day, a Russian troll farm could reach
up to 35,000 of them. Another $1,000 could
provide motivating propaganda to that number
of possible Donald Trump voters.
Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was
an outrageous act of “information warfare,”
said Fred Kaplan on We have to get
better at defending ourselves – starting by
forcing Facebook and Twitter to demand real
human IDs, so that a Russian troll can’t
pretend “to be a housewife in Ohio.” It’s also
time to ask some “hard questions,” said Will
Bunch in Did Kremlin trolls tip the
election to Trump? Why did some Democrats
in North Carolina and other swing states find
when they went to the polls they couldn’t vote,
because poll records were mysteriously altered?
In Wisconsin, don’t forget, Trump won by only
22,748 votes. These questions demand answers
– and yet the Trump administration seems
determined to look the other way. It’s as if they
“don’t really want to know whether Moscow’s
interference was so great that it actually
decided the race.”
Wit &
“If I am selling to you, I
speak your language. If I am
buying, dann müssen sie
Deutsch sprechen.”
Willy Brandt, quoted
in The Times
“We are what we
pretend to be, so we
must be careful about
what we pretend to be.”
Kurt Vonnegut, quoted in
The Guardian
“The past is never dead.
It’s not even past.”
William Faulkner, quoted
in The Sunday Times
“Always tell the truth.
It’s the easiest thing
to remember.”
David Mamet, quoted on
The Browser
“It is a game which the
English, not being a
spiritual people, have
invented in order to give
themselves some conception
of eternity.”
Lord Mancroft’s
definition of cricket,
quoted in The Times
“If you’re going through
hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill, quoted
“I never travel without my
diary. One should always
have something sensational
to read in the train.”
Oscar Wilde, quoted in
The Sunday Telegraph
“I wonder how
many chameleons snuck
onto the Ark.”
Adam Hess at the
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
“Inspiration usually
comes during work,
rather than before it.”
Novelist Madeleine L’Engle,
quoted on International
Business Times
Statistics of the week
There are 59 theatres at
London’s private schools;
there are 42 in the West End.
The Sunday Times
Only 20% of Muslims of
working age in England and
Wales are in full-time work,
compared with 35% of the
overall population.
The Guardian
Cricket: Anderson joins the 500 club
“In the end, the West Indies simply could not live
with Jimmy Anderson,” said Lawrence Booth in
The Mail on Sunday. On Friday evening, in the
second innings of the third Test, the 35-year-old
became the first England bowler to take 500 Test
wickets; then, the next day, he took seven wickets
for 42 runs – the best figures of his extraordinary
career. England’s batsmen “ensured Anderson’s
artistry” did not go to waste, securing a ninewicket victory and a 2-1 series win “that has been
harder work than anyone imagined possible”. At
the end of his first season as captain, Joe Root
managed to avoid an upset, and could take pride
in “a pair of series triumphs”. And he owed much
of that success to Anderson, whose 39 Test wickets
this summer – a tally beaten by only one England
cricketer, Jim Laker in 1956 – put him back on top
of the world rankings, and proved that he is “the
greatest swing bowler the game has known”.
Having settled, early in his career, on a technique
“he could trust”, he has resisted the urge to
meddle with it unnecesarily, relying on a smooth
action that “takes relatively little out of him”
physically. And he has avoided the mistakes of
those bowlers who “bulk up in the gym with
mindless weights training”, taking years off their
careers; instead, he makes the most of his “lean,
athletic” physique, and understands that “rest and
recovery matter just as much as sweat and tears”.
Anderson wasn’t the only bowler who thrived this
summer, said Jonathan Liew in The Daily
Telegraph. This is “Test cricket’s most bowlerfriendly year in a generation”: there have been
fewer runs and fewer centuries than in any year
Anderson: bowling “artistry” since 2000. In this Test, for instance, wickets “fell
faster than the pound” – 23 of them in the first
two days – while just two batsmen scored half-centuries. Local
factors have played a part: in England, a wet summer has offered
encouragement to seam and swing bowlers; in Bangladesh and
By their mid-30s, most cricketers are in decline, said Scyld Berry
India, “vicious turning wickets” were prepared for Australia’s
in The Sunday Telegraph. Not Anderson: he just “keeps on
batsmen. What’s clear, though, is that cricket is emerging from
getting better and better”. He has always been an astonishingly
“a golden age of Test batsmen”: of the eight highest run-scorers in
reliable bowler, taking at least 40 Test wickets in eight of the last
cricket history, seven have retired in the last five years. After the
ten years. Yet he has been at his most deadly this summer, consport’s longest period of “batsman-dominance”, the bowlers are
ceding just 15 runs per wicket. What’s the secret to Anderson’s
“finally fighting back”.
“glorious longevity”, asked Ed Smith in The Sunday Times.
Cycling: Froome’s historic double
suited to four legs than two wheels” – and Froome
prepared by cycling up “goat tracks” in the Alps. For
all his success, however, he remains unloved in
Britain, said Matt Dickinson in The Times. That’s
partly down to his “mixed nationality”: he grew up
in Kenya and South Africa, and lives in Monaco.
Cycling for Team Sky doesn’t help either: the team
are still dogged by questions over the mysterious
“Jiffy bag” delivered for Bradley Wiggins during a
2011 competition. But Froome has benefited from
Sky’s huge resources, said William Fotheringham in
The Guardian. In France and Spain, they fielded two
almost completely different line-ups of riders, both of
Froome’s double “bears comparison with the
Froome: a superior athlete “virtually equal strength” – ensuring that in the
Vuelta, at a time when many rival teams were
achievements of any British athlete”, said Matt
“racing on fumes”, Froome could rely on fresh back-up. “Love
Lawton in the Daily Mail. The Vuelta might not be as prestigious
them or loathe them,” Sky certainly know how to manage a
as the Tour de France, “but the climbs are steeper and more
Grand Tour: they are “the supreme practitioners of their art”.
frequent”. Competitors must ascend “dusty dirt roads better
At the start of July, many people wondered whether
Chris Froome’s best days were behind him, said Tom
Fordyce on BBC Sport online. Two months on, it’s
clear that the 32-year-old is not, in fact, the rider he
once was. “He is a superior one.” After bagging his
fourth Tour de France in the summer, he has become
the first British cyclist to win the Vuelta a España –
and only the third cyclist in history to win the
double. Froome’s triumph required monumental
physical and mental exertion: across the two Tours
he raced for more than 4,200 miles, through six
countries, “in blazing heat and pouring rain”.
The power vacuum in women’s tennis
Sporting headlines
Men’s tennis appears to be stuck
recent decades”: just six weeks
in a time warp, said Mike Dickson
ago, following a long absence
in the Daily Mail. Between them,
while she recovered from foot
the veterans Roger Federer and
surgery, she had dropped down
Rafael Nadal have “carved up”
to No. 957 in the world.
all four of this year’s Grand
In Williams’s absence, the
Slams, taking two each – with
more experienced players on the
Nadal crushing Kevin Anderson
tour had a chance to “capitalise”,
on Sunday to claim the US Open
said Stuart Fraser in The Times.
title. In women’s tennis, by
Yet no one has been consistent
contrast, the youngsters are
enough to be considered “a new
cleaning up. Since April, when a
Stephens: an “unlikely winner” dominant force”. In the past four
pregnant Serena Williams
months, three different players
announced that she was going to miss the rest
have held the No. 1 ranking – Angelique Kerber,
of the season, the three Grand Slams have
Karolína Plíšková and now Muguruza – but
“thrown up three different winners aged 24 or
“never by virtue” of having won the most recent
under”: Jelena Ostapenko, Garbiñe Muguruza
Grand Slam. Stephens certainly made “a
and Sloane Stephens, who won the US Open
significant breakthrough” last week, but
last week. The 24-year-old American’s victory
Williams won’t feel threatened by her – nor by
made her one of the “most unlikely winners of
anyone else in the sport.
Football Crystal Palace sacked
Frank de Boer after just 77
days as manager. Man City
beat Liverpool 5-0. In the
Champions League, Chelsea
thrashed Qarabag 6-0. Man
Utd beat Basel 3-0.
Rugby union Bath beat
Saracens 31-21. Northampton
beat Leicester 24-11.
Golf Matthew Fitzpatrick won
the European Masters,
defeating Scott Hend in a
play-off. At 23, he is the
youngest English golfer to
win four European Tour titles.
Tennis Jamie Murray and
Martina Hingis won the US
Open mixed doubles title.
Book of the week
Based on his experiences scanning
the brains of PVS patients, Owen
estimates that “as many as a fifth”
Into the Grey Zone
may be conscious, said Helen
by Adrian Owen
Rumbelow in The Times. There
could, in other words, be
Guardian Faber 320pp £16.99
“hundreds” such patients in the UK,
and “thousands” in the US. Their
plight must be hellish: the “modern
equivalent of being accidentally
The author of this “fascinating”
buried alive” – except that they are
book is a British neuroscientist
“buried in their own bodies”. And it
renowned for his work scanning the
“gets worse”: one apparently
brains of supposedly “vegetative”
vegetative woman, who later
patients, said Helen Davies in The
recovered, was “played a Celine
Sunday Times. Unlike victims of
Dion album on repeat for months”.
“locked-in” syndrome, who can
(On recovery, she told her mother:
“talk” by moving their eyes, those
“If I ever hear that Celine Dion
in “persistent vegetative states”
album again, I will kill you.”) “I
(PVS) are awake but physically
loved this book,” said Rumbelow: it
unresponsive – which once led
is an honest and moving account of
doctors to assume that they couldn’t
an astonishing discovery.
be conscious. However, in a series of
Owen’s discoveries are certainly
experiments that made “medical
“remarkable”, and he writes with
history”, Owen found evidence to
“evangelical fervour”, said Henry
suggest that many are, in fact,
An MRI scan of a conscious brain
Marsh in the New Statesman. Yet his
conscious. In 2006, he became the
book should be treated with “some care”. At times, he comes
first doctor to “communicate” with a vegetative patient, when
close to making it sound as though most vegetative patients are
he asked a young car accident victim to imagine two separate
scenarios – playing tennis and walking around their home – and “potentially wide awake but locked in” – when all he has really
shown is that a minority have “some kind of inner life”. Not
watched as her scans “lit up” exactly like those of a “fully
everyone in this field agrees with Owen that demonstrating
conscious person” would. This was Owen’s “eureka moment”:
awareness is “the same as having a conscious sense of self”.
an ability to follow instructions is a hallmark of consciousness.
Consciousness is a complex phenomenon, “not simply a matter of
This absorbing book, written with “infectious” enthusiasm,
on or off”. The truth is that, despite his efforts, “we cannot know
should be “required reading” for “caregivers, doctors, ethicists,
what these patients are experiencing”.
lawyers and philosophers”.
by Sigrid Rausing
Hamish Hamilton 208pp £16.99
“The bare facts are gruesome, and well known,”
said Craig Brown in The Mail on Sunday. In July
2012, Hans Kristian Rausing, the heir to the
Tetra Pak fortune, was arrested in London for
erratic driving. When the police (who had
discovered drugs in his car) searched his “vast”
Belgravia home, they found, wrapped inside a
tarpaulin in a sealed off room, the rotting corpse
Eva and Hans Rausing
of his wife, Eva. Two months earlier, she had died
of an overdose, and Hans, who described himself as “unable to confront the
reality of her death”, had tried to act as if nothing had happened. Since 2007,
the couple’s four children had been in the care of Hans’s elder sister Sigrid –
who, in this “very literary sort of memoir”, sets out to “tell her own version of
events”. Unfortunately, Mayhem is written in an irritatingly “arch” style and
“revolves almost entirely around” its author. Frustratingly, Rausing leaves key
questions “unanswered” – such as what she now thinks of her brother (who has
subsequently overcome his addiction and remarried), and what he and his
children think of her book.
I disagree, said Lara Feigel in The Guardian: this is a “beautifully structured”
memoir of “astonishing power”, and Rausing’s “scrutinising” of her own
motivations is part of its appeal. She acknowledges that, at times, she could have
done more to help her brother – though she is adamant that her decision to take
his children into care was done “solely out of the urge to protect”. Readers
hoping for “lurid details” will be disappointed by Rausing’s “cooly observant”
approach, said Lucy Hughes-Hallett in the New Statesman. However, while this
is an “awkward” and “tentative” book, it’s “also a brave one, lit up by its
author’s remarkable candour”.
Novel of the week
My Absolute Darling
by Gabriel Tallent
Fourth Estate 432pp £12.99
Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel – proclaimed a
“masterpiece” by Stephen King – looks set to be
this year’s literary sensation, said Robbie Millen
in The Times. Turtle Alveston, its 14-year-old
protagonist, is a “solitary waif” who lives in
rural California with her survivalist father
Martin, a “fiercely intelligent” man who, when
he isn’t quoting David Hume, is abusing his
daughter “violently”. When Turtle meets Jacob,
a local teenager who introduces her to a more
normal life, the novel becomes a “‘will she,
won’t she?’ escape drama”. My Absolute
Darling may tell an “old story”, but it feels
“original and full of youthful power”.
Tallent writes with “courage” about Turtle’s
abuse, showing that, for all Martin’s viciousness,
there is “intimacy and love between the isolated
pair”, said Claire Lowdon in The Sunday Times.
This is a “compelling exploration of a
complicated case of Stockholm syndrome”. At
the same time, a few things – Tallent’s often
“overdone” prose, his “implausibly” precocious
teenagers – prevent it from being “great”. For all
its merits, this isn’t a truly “grown-up novel”.
Music and lyrics:
Stephen Sondheim
Book: James Goldman
Director: Dominic Cooke
Olivier Theatre,
National Theatre,
South Bank, London SE1
Until 3 January
Broadcast in cinemas on
16 November
Running time:
2hrs 10mins
(no interval)
A Brief History
of Women
Written and directed by:
Alan Ayckbourn
The Stephen
Joseph Theatre,
Until 7 October
Running time:
2hrs 30mins
(including interval)
The score is so rich that “no
In showbiz circles, Stephen
sooner has one number
Sondheim is revered said Matt
registered as a favourite, another
Trueman in Variety. And
comes along to supersede it”:
watching this “divine” revival of
Losing My Mind (shatteringly
his masterpiece, Follies – a paean
delivered by Staunton), to take
to the lost world of old
one example; or I’m Still Here
Broadway, and a profound
(movingly, fiercely, defiantly sung
“philosophical meditation on the
by Tracie Bennett).
passage of time and the agonies
For me, the most moving of
of ageing” – one begins to
all, said Sarah Hemming in the
understand why. Here, given a
FT, is Josephine Barstow’s
lavish, inordinately stylish
“quavering duet” with her
production – with a “frankly
younger self, One More Kiss.
extraordinary cast” headed by
And the male leads are brilliant
Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee –
too, said Paul Taylor in The
Follies is “to the average West
Independent – both Philip Quast
End song-and-dance show what
Shakespeare’s sonnets are” to the Imelda Staunton: “shattering” and Peter Forbes giving
beautifully judged, matchlessly
trashiest of trash TV, said
sung performances. The costumes are exquisite,
Andrzej Lukowski in Time Out. Unbelievably,
the music is perfection and the choreography is
this is Dominic Cooke’s debut as a musical
“giddily pleasurable”. In sum, this first full
theatre director; his achievement – and that of
staging of Follies in London for 30 years
the National Theatre – is “towering”.
“surpasses all your wildest dreams for this
Follies – which requires a vast cast plus an
show”. It is “jaw-droppingly great”.
orchestra – is a notoriously expensive show to
stage and a hard one to get right, said Matt Wolf
in The New York Times. But in my decades as a
The week’s other opening
critic, I don’t think I have ever seen a production
One Day, Maybe King William House, Hull
“that carries the punch” of the National’s. The
( Until 1 October
setting for the show is a reunion-cum-wake for a
This “technically miraculous” play – about
consumerism, political unrest and technology –
grand Broadway theatre marked for demolition,
is dazzlingly performed by a 30-strong Korean
to which one-time impresario Weismann has
cast in a Hull office block and car park. Thoughtinvited the Follies showgirls of his glory years –
provoking and deeply moving (Observer).
and theirs – to share memories and music. And
“as ever with this show, one listens in wonder”.
1965, it’s an arts centre, where
At 78, Alan Ayckbourn is having
he comforts the betrayed wife
“another prolific year”, said
of a pantomime dame. And in
Mark Shenton in The Stage. The
1985, he is the retired manager
Divide, a dystopian six-hour epic
of Kirkbridge Manor Hotel,
in two parts, met with a muted
welcoming back the 98-year-old
response from Edinburgh critics.
Lady Caroline. The play gets
But with this, his second
richer as it goes on – alighting
premiere of 2017, the playwright
on moments of real connection
is back on “more familiar and
amid the “bickering teachers,
satisfying territory”. A Brief
the gossiping toffs, the selfHistory of Women is a “beauinvolved theatrefolk” – and
tifully mapped memory play”,
reaches its “tear-inducingly
charting with “delicacy, verve
tender” conclusion.
and wit” the life of one ordinary
Part of the fun is to observe the
man – and some of the women
mutating “character” of an
in his life – across 60 years.
English country house across the
Antony Eden plays the man –
decades, and “the changing
Spates – at each stage of his life,
mores of men and women” with
“with eagerness, dignity and
Antony Eden (right) as Spates
it, said Dominic Cavendish in
grace, while the other five actors
The Daily Telegraph. It’s an interesting, though
create multiple characters with “chameleon-like
hardly earth-shattering, conceit, and this noncleverness”. The play’s “elegiac, reflective tone
vintage “late Ayckbourn” does not rank with his
proves both moving and liberating as it reaches
finest. But it is “worth seeking out” nonetheless.
an ending of haunting beauty”.
As the piece moves through its four acts, all of
them set in the same grand country house, it
CD of the week
becomes “progressively more funny, more
Nick Mulvey: Wake Up Now Fiction £9.99
tender, more Ayckbourn”, said Dominic
This follow-up to the Mercury-nominated First
Maxwell in The Times. We begin in 1925, when
Mind is “suffused with a sense of reawakening
Spates is a 17-year-old footman who steals a kiss
and acceptance”, and the lilting, folk-tinged
from the lady of the house after saving her from
arrangements (with shades of Cat Stevens and
Paul Simon) add to the sense of peace.
her husband’s violent rage. By 1945, the house
“A wonderful album” (Sunday Times).
has become a girls’ school where Spates is a
teacher involved in a clandestine romance. In
Stars reflect the overall quality of reviews and our own independent assessment (4 stars=don’t miss; 1 star=don’t bother)
Wind River
Dir: Taylor Sheridan
1hr 47mins (15)
Engrossing thriller
with Jeremy Renner
Dir: Andrés Muschietti
2hrs 15mins (15)
Pennywise is back
God’s Own
Dir: Francis Lee
1hr 45mins (15)
A touching love story set
in the Yorkshire Dales
If you like your thrillers “lean and mean”, you won’t
want to miss Wind River, said Joshua Rothkopf in
Time Out. Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan,
whose script for last year’s Hell or High Water
earned him an Oscar nomination, this “gripping,
unusually wise” film is set in a Native American
reservation in the wilds of Wyoming. A woman is
found dead in the snow, barefoot and raped. On the
trail of her assailant is Elizabeth Olsen as a fish-outof-water FBI agent, and Jeremy Renner as a gruff
animal tracker with demons in his past. A classic
failing of writer-directors is to be self-indulgent with
dialogue, and Sheridan is no exception, said Tom Shone in The Sunday Times. When Renner
squints into the distance, and murmurs, “You can’t steer away from the pain”, I found myself
thinking: is that really true? Nevertheless, Sheridan excels at ratcheting up the tension in some
“blistering” action set-pieces, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. Always engrossing, and
beautifully acted, Wind River confirms him as “a rising star”.
“It was never going to be easy” to convert Stephen
King’s 1,000-page horror novel into a two-hour
movie, said Kevin Maher in The Times. And if that
wasn’t enough of a mountain to climb, the filmmakers had to “erase” memories of the 1990 TV
miniseries, in which Tim Curry was chilling as
Pennywise, a demon in clown form who terrorises
children by conjuring their worst fears and then
eating them. Here, Pennywise is “nightmarishly
incarnated” by Bill Skarsgård, complete with “leering
grin” and “creepy chuckles”, said Nigel Andrews in
the Financial Times. Unfortunately, after a disturbing
opening, the film “collapses into junk”. We get Gothic houses, fountains of blood and all the other
tired horror tropes. But it works a treat as a coming-of-age story, said John Nugent in Empire. The
juvenile cast, which includes Jaeden Lieberher as the sensitive hero and Sophia Lillis as the tomboy,
are uniformly excellent. All told, this is “among the better” adaptations of a King story; and that,
when you remember that the category includes The Shining and Stand By Me, is “no small praise”.
Coming to our cinema screens already garlanded with
praise from the film festival circuit, God’s Own
Country looks set to be “one of the big British hits of
the year”, said James Luxford in Metro. Some have
compared it to Brokeback Mountain, but it’s far more
than “a retread”. Josh O’Connor (known for playing
Lawrence Durrell in ITV’s The Durrells) is Johnny, a
dour Yorkshire farmer with a drinks problem. That
changes with the arrival of Gheorghe (Alec
Secareanu), a Romanian farmhand who comes to
help at lambing time, and has all the sensitivity, with
animals and people, that Johnny lacks. The men’s
relationship is portrayed in a way that is “muddy and vigorous”, said Robbie Collin in The Daily
Telegraph. Meanwhile, the film works its magic, drawing you towards its emotional centre. Alas,
towards the end, God’s Own Country becomes as “mushy” as the “fields the farmers tramp
through”, said Geoffrey Macnab in The Independent. Still, it’s a “highly impressive debut feature”,
with “very fine performances from its two young leads”.
Scrap the torture manuals: how the CIA keeps Hollywood in line
Why was there never a sequel to Top Gun? The
insist on changes. This is what happened, for
surprising answer, said Matthew Alford in The
example, with the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents, in
Independent, is that there was going to be one –
which the prospective father-in-law (Robert De Niro)
a script was, in fact, in the pipeline; but it got
is a former CIA agent. In an early draft, Ben Stiller’s
blocked by the Pentagon, which took against some
character comes across torture manuals in De Niro’s
controversial plot elements. That’s just one of the
possession. To the CIA, this wasn’t on and had to be
discoveries that Tom Secker and I made while
cut. In other instances, as with Top Gun 2, the entire
researching our book National Security Cinema, said
project may have to be binned if found unacceptable.
Alford. We found – after trawling through thousands
This sort of thing has always happened, but has
of documents obtained under the Freedom of
recently gone into overdrive, thanks to the modern
Information Act – that US national security agencies
preoccupation with the secret state: of the 1,100 TV
have played a remarkably active role in influencing
shows made with Pentagon backing, 900 were in the
Hollywood’s output from its earliest days.
past 12 years. And, as many files are still withheld by
The way it works is this: if you want the Pentagon’s
security services, said, it’s likely
or the CIA’s help in making a film – which you often
the interference is even more widespread. So next
No sequel for Maverick
do for logistical reasons, or to check authenticity –
time you see a film or TV show featuring US military
you approach their entertainment liaison officer, who draws up a
and/or intelligence, keep your wits about you. Chances are its
contract. That then gives them the right to read your script and to
content “may have been fiddled with by the US secret state”.
Exhibition of the week Folkestone Triennial
Various locations across Folkestone, Kent (01303-760740, Until 5 November
that the art itself isn’t up
The “faded bucket-andto much. Gormley’s
spade resort” of
contribution – three
Folkestone has seen
metal casts of his own
better days, said Skye
body positioned beneath
Sherwin in The
the pier – consists of
Guardian. It was once a
“works that are already
prosperous holiday
overexposed in all
town, but its economy
senses”; while six
collapsed with the
“brightly coloured
decline of the local
house-shaped boxes” by
tourist industry in the
Richard Woods, located
1970s, and has never
in various places around
really recovered. Ever
the town, are little more
since, it has been
than “a mildly amusing
blighted by
comment on the housing
crisis”. The “nadir” is
“empty shops” and
David Shrigley’s effort,
“social tensions”.
for which he asked a
Recently, however,
friend to recreate one of
there have been signs of
Folkestone’s Edwardian
a revival, the most
lamp posts after
obvious manifestation
Woods’ Holiday Home (2017): a “mildly amusing comment on the housing crisis”
studying the originals
of which is its triennial
for just 40 seconds. It “seems to embody a contempt for the
art festival. This autumn sees the fourth instalment of the event,
intellectual level of the general viewer”.
an exhibition in which work by major international artists is
displayed in venues across Folkestone’s “dramatic landscape”
Nevertheless, there is much to admire, said Nancy Durrant in The
with the aim of fostering regeneration through culture. There are
Times. HoyCheong Wong has bolted a temporary facade onto
many “unexpected delights”, from a pavilion created in the shape
Folkestone’s Islamic Cultural Centre, making it look like a
of a “vintage jelly mould” by Turner Prize contender Lubaina
“shimmering” Muslim monument; while a usually inaccessible
Himid, to a number of Antony Gormley’s signature “iron men”.
Baptist burial ground hosts a “magical” choral work by composer
In a town which can often feel like a “petri dish of Split Britain’s
Emily Peasgood that is activated by a visitor’s presence. Besides,
problems”, the impulse behind the triennial seems “necessary”
“there’s nothing wrong with filling the streets of a rather tired
and “laudable”.
town with art in the hope that someone will come and look at it”.
When I visited, it was raining heavily – and it is “a tribute to the
At best, this year’s Folkestone Triennial makes for a “pleasantly
charm of this peculiar art festival that, despite becoming halfquirky trail through this interesting town’s nooks and crannies”,
soaked, I didn’t mind”.
said Mark Hudson in The Daily Telegraph. What a shame, then,
Where to buy…
A life portrait?
The Week reviews an
exhibition in a private gallery
Jim Moir
at Grosvenor Gallery
It’s unlikely that many readers will
have heard of the painter Jim Moir –
but under his alias Vic Reeves he is
known as one of the most original
voices in British comedy. Once you
know the work in this intriguing show
is connected to such pioneering
programmes as Shooting Stars and
House of Fools, it’s hard to look at it
dispassionately. Nevertheless, it’s
tremendous fun. With titles like Idris
Elba runs from the Storm with his
Kestrals (said depiction bears next to
no resemblance to the eponymous
actor) or Luftwaffe Love School, the
paintings here are very much an
extension of Moir’s dadaist on-screen
persona. The bulk of these works are
a curious and explicitly referential mix
of Bacon-ish composition and Robert
Delaunay-informed patterns, yet even
Jamaican Pub Fight (2017), acrylic
on canvas, 120cm x 80cm, £12,000
the most jaded of art-world habitués
will struggle to stifle a giggle at the
bizarre propositions in front of them.
Prices range from £350 to £12,000.
35 Bury Street, London SW1 (0207484 7979). Until 22 September.
One of the three
shortlisted entries
for the prestigious
Taylor Wessing
portrait prize this
year “features a
clear-skinned young
woman gazing out
of the frame with a
slight smile”, says
The New York
Times. “Her name
is Erica, and her
secret is that she is not human.” She is an
android, made at Osaka University’s Intelligent
Robotics Laboratory in Japan, and designed to
converse and move like a human. The Finnish
photographer Maija Tammi was given half an
hour at the laboratory to take her picture.
Technically, the photo – One of Them Is a
Human #1 (above) – breaks the prize’s rules,
which stipulate: “all photographs must have
been taken by the entrant from life and with a
living sitter”. But the National Portrait Gallery in
London, which runs the prize, stated: “It was felt
that the subject of this portrait, while not
human, is a representation of a human figure
and makes a powerful statement as a work of
art in its questioning of what it is to be alive.”
The List
Best books… Yotam Ottolenghi
Chef and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi picks his favourite books about food.
He and Helen Goh will be talking about their book, Sweet, at the Stratfordupon-Avon Literary Festival on 22 September (
WWII’s Great Escapes: The
Freedom Trails In this four-
A New Book of Middle
Eastern Food by Claudia
Roden, 1985 (Penguin £25).
This is one of my “book end”
books: the book on my shelf
which holds everything
together. Claudia was the
person who got me out of the
library and into the kitchen.
Her books showed me – and
constantly remind me – of the
links between food, recipes
and cooking on one hand, and
history, geography and politics
on the other.
The Flavour Thesaurus by
Niki Segnit, 2010 (Bloomsbury
£18.99). This book could have
been big and baggy – it takes
one ingredient at a time and
then points to all sorts of ways
it can be combined with other
ingredients – but it is brilliantly
taut and precise. And funny!
It delights and informs in
equal doses.
How to Eat by Nigella
Lawson, 1998 (Chatto &
Windus £18.99). This is a
book I constantly return to, as
reference in the kitchen or just
to read for the sheer pleasure
of Nigella’s writing. There are
so many people telling us how
to eat these days that this
book, ironically, feels like an
un-dictatorial return to
common sense.
How To Cook A Wolf by
M.F.K. Fisher, 1942 (North
Point Press £12.50). Fisher’s
collection of columns can be
read again and again. Her
writing is crystal clear and
knowing, but also wise and
warm. She cuts through
whatever she’s examining as
though her knife has just been
sharpened, letting all the
ingredients be seen in a slightly
new light.
The Third Plate by Dan
Abacus, 2014 (Penguin
£10.99). A must-read for
anyone interested in food and
the future, and the relationship
between the two. Dan examines
the big issue of how we can
keep good food on our plate in
a way that’s sustainable longterm. The subject is big but
Dan’s writing is accessible
enough to really let everyone
in and believe in the reality
of the vision.
Your guide to what’s worth seeing and doing
by What’s On magazine
over a three-course menu and a
free cup of sake.
DoubleTree By Hilton, JBR,
Dubai, 1pm, Dhs99. Tel: (04)
5595300. Tram: JBR.
The singer songwriter famous for
his Zulu/Western pop fusion
appears in Dubai with his band
for a final bow.
September 20, Dubai Opera,
Downtown Dubai, Dubai, 8pm,
Dhs250. Tel: (04) 4408888. Metro:
Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.
Behind the Oscar-winning song ‘A
Whole New World’ from Disney’s
1992 animation, Aladdin, is Lea
Salonga. She is the very first
Asian woman to ever win a Tony
for a Broadway performance;
she’s a pioneer; she’s a musical
legend and, in her spare time,
she’s a Disney princess. She
performs a solo concert at Dubai
Opera this weekend.
September 22 & 23, Dubai Opera,
The Opera District, Downtown
Dubai, Dubai, Fri and Sat 8pm,
Dhs255. Tel: (800) 36227. Metro:
Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall.
Make it a long business lunch on
Thursdays from 1pm at
Ramusake. You and your
colleagues can plan the weekend
Here’s a brilliant deal: For only
Dhs150, ladies receive six free
drinks at Nikki Beach Resort &
Spa, bites at Soul Lounge, and
50% off selected Nikki Spa
treatments every Monday. If you
fancy staying over at the resort,
you’ll receive 50% off room rates,
with F&B vouchers starting from
Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai,
Mon noon to 9pm. Tel: (04)
3766000. Taxi: Nikki Beach.
parter, Monty Halls meets
some of the perpetrators of
the War’s most daring
escapes, and retraces their
extraordinary journeys. Sat
16 Sept, C4 20:00 (60mins).
Letters from Baghdad
Acclaimed documentary about
the charismatic explorer and
diplomat Gertrude Bell,
featuring (an unseen) Tilda
Swinton reading from the
letters Bell sent home from the
Middle East after WWI. Mon
18 Sept, BBC4 21:00 (90mins).
Bad Move New six-part
comedy series about a couple
who make the big move to the
country – and regret it almost
instantly. With Jack Dee and
Kerry Godliman. Wed 20 Sept,
ITV1 20:00 (30mins).
Fugitives Walter Presents
screens this pacy crime drama
series from Chile. Four drugs
mules find themselves on the
run after a failed attempt to
transport huge quantities of
narcotics across Bolivia. Wed
20 Sept, C4 22:35 (60mins).
Electric Dreams Star-
studded, ten-part series based
on science-fiction writer Philip
K. Dick’s short stories. The first
episode, The Hood Maker, is
set in a dystopian 1970s
London and stars Holliday
Grainger. Sun 17 Sept, C4
21:00 (70mins).
The King of Comedy (1982)
Martin Scorsese’s satire about
celebrity features Jerry Lewis,
who died last month, in a rare
straight role. Robert De Niro
co-stars. Sun 17 Sept, Film4
00:50 (135mins).
The Two Faces of January
(2014). A stylish adaptation of
Patricia Highsmith’s thriller,
starring Viggo Mortensen and
Kirsten Dunst. Mon 18 Sept,
Film4 19:05 (115mins).
New to Netflix
Strong Island Yance Ford’s
award-winning documentary
examines the racially charged
murder of his 24-year-old
brother, William, and the
killer’s acquittal by an all-white
jury. Streaming now.
Narcos Season three of the
ultra-violent war-on-drugs
drama continues to grip despite
the demise of kingpin Pablo
Escobar. Streaming now.
Best properties
UAE Properties
Dubai: This
luxury fivebedroom villa in
Meadows 1 is
located in a
cul de sac at
Emirates Living
Community and
boasts stunning
views of the
Jumeirah Lake
Towers skyline.
Built on a large
open-plan layout
the ground floor
offers dining and
sitting rooms with marble flooring. The first floor comprises
of four bedrooms and the master suite leads to a closed
terrace. The 16,377 sq ft plot is diamond shaped and designed
by Bel Hasa with an award winning swimming pool, garden,
barbecue area, outdoor seating and spa area. Maintained to a
very high standard it can only be fully appreciated after
viewing. POA. Luxhabitat. (+9714-550 8335)
Houses designed by well-known architects
▲ Pembrokeshire: Ffynone, Newchapel. A Grade I mansion designed by John
Nash, who is famous for London’s Regent’s Park terraces. Master suite with
dressing room, 12 further beds (4 en suite), 3 further baths, 2 kitchens, 2 receps,
library, music room, billiards room, utilities, 2 three-bed flats, 1 five-bed flat,
outbuildings, grounds of 34.84 acres. £1.75m; Savills (020-7016 3780).
Hampshire: The
Saltings, Hayling
Island. A Grade II
modernist waterfront
property, designed in
the 1930s by the
acclaimed Connell,
Ward and Lucus,
who were themselves
inspired by Le
Corbusier. It has
Italian marble
throughout, and
a large roof terrace.
Master bed with
balcony and dressing
area, 3 further beds
(1 with dressing
area), 2 baths,
2 receps, kitchen,
garage, garden.
£1.3m; Henry Adams
on the market
Dubai: This brand new
villa on Palm Jumeirah is
one of five that form a very
private gated residence at
the very tip of Frond M.
Designed with a beach
lifestyle in mind it has
impressive floor to ceiling
windows to harness the
amazing views of the beach
and Dubai Marina skyline.
The villa also boasts six
en-suite bedrooms
including a very large
master suite, walk in closet,
formal sitting and family
rooms, two kitchens with
high-class finishes, large
balconies, private pool,
BBQ area, three external
sitting areas, private lift
serving all floors, parking
for up to five cars and
much more. AED85m.
James Hatton, Core Savills,
(+97156 712 1822)
Farnham. Finished
to a high standard
by the awardwinning architect
James Gorst, this
impressive family
home comes with
wonderful views
over the River Wey.
Master suite with
dressing room, 4
further beds (2 en
suite), kitchen/
breakfast room, 2
receps, study,
library/family room,
garage, swimming
pool, outbuildings,
gardens; 1 acre.
£2.5m; Savills
The Old Vicarage,
Stow cum Quy,
Designed by William
White, this Grade
II* property is a rare
example of a
structurally unaltered
Victorian vicarage.
Master suite with
dressing room, 4
further beds, cinema/
bed 6, 2 further
baths, study, dining
room, reception,
family room,
kitchen, scullery,
pantry, library, cellar,
patio and landscaped
gardens. £1.895m;
Savills (01223347147).
Hawkley Hurst,
Hawkley. In the
South Downs
National Park, amid
woodland with fine
views of the famous
“Hangers”, sits this
Grade II mansion
(divided into wings)
designed by the
Victorian architect
Samuel Sanders
Teulon. 2 suites,
2 further beds,
family bath, study,
dining room,
drawing room,
kitchen; private
and communal
gardens, garaging.
£995,000; JacksonStops & Staff
▲ Buckinghamshire: Roughwood Farmhouse, Chalfont St. Giles. A
handsome Grade II Victorian farmhouse, which incorporates a 1902 wing
designed by Charles Voysey. Master suite, 6 further beds, family bath,
kitchen/breakfast room, dining room, cellar, music room, garage, 3-bed
cottage, gardens, paddocks, pool; 6.8 acres. £3m; Savills (01494-725636).
Food & Drink
What the experts recommend
onion soup”. Blackened sea bass fillet
came with burnt apple sauce and “dribbles
of verjus”. But the real “showstopper”
was dessert, or rather The Dessert, as it is
“boosterishly billed”. As it turned out, The
Dessert was three or four rather good
desserts, “artfully strewn” across a big
ceramic tile, surrounded by fruit coulis and
“chocolate soil” – and with a cup full of
dry ice pellets at its centre that drew
“animated oohs and aahs” when activated
at the table by a “sploosh” of fragrant rose
tea. Wildly over the top and a bit
ridiculous? Possibly. But it was splendid
nonetheless. Dinner for two around £150.
Zahira The H Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Road,
Dubai (04-501 8606)
“This is too pretty. I just can’t eat it.”
That’s a phrase “we said several times” at
Zahira reports What’s On. Yet “we’d
expect nothing less from Greg Malouf,”
who heads up the kitchen. The AustralianLebanese celeb chef has taken “meticulous
care” over the detailed menu, which offers
an “ultra-modern take” on traditional
Middle Eastern cuisine. If you’re a cheese
fan, you “have to order the halloumi and
cheese” fondue, which is “wonderfully
rich”. The homemade Ma’hani sausages
are a “nice meaty alternative”, and we
“loved” the sweet yet spicy harissa potato
salad. For mains, we had the lahem
meshwi. The lamb loin itself was
“perfectly cooked”, generously seasoned
and with “just enough fat on the bone to
add flavour”. The Wagyu beef was
another “satisfyingly meaty dish”, crisply
seared and pink in the middle. If you have
room for dessert menu, we recommend the
“pretty” knife and fork ice cream with
chocolate and honey molten truffles.
Price Dhs 250 upwards
Restaurant 27 27a South Parade,
Southsea, Portsmouth (023-9287 6272)
There is “plenty to like” about Restaurant
27, says Keith Miller in The Daily
Telegraph. The staff are “charming and
patient and skilful”. And the food is
imaginative and “immaculately sourced”
(I loved two “spectacular” Isle of Wight
cheeses). We enjoyed an amuse-bouche of
smoky little red pepper croquetas with
burnt onion mayonnaise, then a “prestarter” of a “sweetish, nurturing white
A chef’s guide to Birmingham
Birmingham, where I have lived all my
life, used to be “the worst place in the
country for food” but is now one of the
finest, says chef Glynn Purnell in the FT.
For culinary inspiration and sourcing
great ingredients, I would suggest heading
to Wing Yip oriental grocers, which sells
everything from “dehydrated squid to
mooli”, and to the Bull Ring Indoor
Market. “We turn up at George Smith’s
shellfish stall first thing and wait for the
van to arrive from the coast.” For street
food, I’d recommend the Digbeth Dining
Club, each Friday and Saturday night. My
favourite stall is Andy Stubbs’ Low ‘n’
Slow, specialising in slow-cooked meats:
the brisket and ribs are consistently
superb. For dining out, my very favourite
place to eat in Birmingham is Sushi Passion.
And University College Birmingham has
two “award-winning restaurants that are
close to my heart”; under the guidance of
lecturers and food experts, the student-run
Atrium and Brasserie offer “creative flair,
top-quality seasonal produce and
outstanding value for money.”
Recipe of the week
Always use fresh seafood for this dish, says Gennaro Contaldo. Prawns and crab make a great combination but if you prefer not to use
crab, just substitute extra prawns. If you find it difficult to extract the crab meat from its shell, ask your fishmonger to do it for you.
King prawns and crab with garlic and chilli
Serves 4 2 large fresh crabs (ask your fishmonger to prepare for you
and reserve the shells) 175ml extra virgin olive oil 12 fresh, raw king
prawns, shell on 4 garlic cloves, sliced lengthways 2 red chillies, sliced
lengthways into strips 2 handfuls of fresh parsley leaves 250ml white
grape 1 lemon, cut into quarters, to serve slices of bread, to serve
salt, to taste
• Heat the olive oil in a large
frying pan, add the prawns
and cook for 1 minute over a
high heat.
• Turn them over and cook the
other side for another minute.
• Add the garlic, chillies and
crab chunks, season with salt,
then reduce the heat and cook
for 2 minutes with the lid on.
• Add the parsley, increase
the heat and pour in the grape
and any reserved juices
from the crab.
• Bubble until evaporated,
then serve immediately, with
lemon quarters and lots of bread
to mop up the juices.
Taken from Gennaro’s Passione: The Classic Italian Cookery Book by Gennaro Contaldo, published by Pavilion at £20.
The best… electric bikes
E-bikes keep getting better, thanks to improved designs and lighter batteries that last longer and recharge more quickly.
Volt Pulse Designed for use both in
cities and on off-road routes, the
Pulse is very comfortable to ride.
It has a range of 60 or 80
miles, depending on
which model you go
for – but at almost
23kg, it is quite
heavy (from £1,499;
Haibike XDURO Trekking 4.0
This rugged mountain bike from
respected German brand Haibike is
designed with longdistance riding in mind:
it can travel up to 100
miles on a charge. A
weighty 24kg, it has
an 11-speed
gear system and
lightweight brakes
(£3,200; www.
Tips of the week... how to
look after your cactus
● Keep your cactus in a spot that gets
plenty of light and sun. Too much sudden
exposure to bright light can cause damage,
though, so if you’re moving your plant to a
brighter area do it slowly.
● During the winter, however, it should also
be kept cool, with a temperature of between
8°C and 10°C.
● To ensure there’s sufficient water
drainage, try to avoid packing the compost
too densely.
● From spring to autumn, water the cactus
regularly, but not so much that the compost
gets soggy (good drainage is key).
● In winter, water only sparingly, allowing
the soil to dry out.
● By mimicking the natural conditions of
the seasons, you’ll encourage your cactus
to flower in the spring and summer.
● Don’t give it too much attention, though,
or it won’t flower. You’re more likely to
overwater a cactus than to underwater it.
Tern Vektron An electric bike
that folds up, the Vektron
has an impressive Bosch
battery that can reach
20mph and has a range of
up to 60 miles. It weighs
a not-inconsiderable
22kg, though, so
commuters may
find it too hefty
(£2,949; www.e-bike
Budnitz Model E At just 13kg, the
titanium-framed Model E is the world’s
lightest e-bike, and has an impressive
range of 100 miles. It is custom-made
according to your height
and you can control
the motor on your
phone, which is
mounted on the
(£3,100; www.
Juicy Roller With a top speed
of 25mph, the Roller is
a very powerful bike:
just the lightest touch sends
it surging forwards. It
copes well with hills,
but the range (33 or
50 miles,
depending on the
model) is on the
short side (from
£1,585; www.
Carrera Crossfire-E If you’re looking
for a relatively cheap all-rounder, the
Crossfire-E is a decent bet. The
battery can last up to 60 miles; it has
a top speed of 15.5mph per hour
– and a built-in
mini-USB port
so you can
charge your
phone while
you cycle
(£1,200; www.
And for those who
have everything…
A 3D printer for children, the Toybox 3D
produces toys and plastic figures.
Youngsters can choose from 500 options
– or use the app to design their own. It’s
available for pre-order until the end of next
week, and will be dispatched in January.
Apps... for science and
nature enthusiasts
Quantum offers a relatively accessible
introduction to quantum theory. It covers
the different particles, from quarks to
bosons, and uses graphics and a
manageable amount of text (free; Android).
Oceans looks at the effect of human activity
on the world’s seas, suggesting ways we
can make it more sustainable. There are
stunning full-screen photos of marine life
(which you can zoom in on) as well as
interactive diagrams (free; iOS).
Stephen Hawking’s Pocket Universe, based
on A Brief History of Time, covers six topics,
from the Big Bang to black holes. It’s less
intimidating than the book, though, with
superb illustrations and a glossary that lets
you look up any terms (£5; iOS).
EarthViewer shows you how the planet
has been transformed over the past 4.5
billion years. You can follow a city or
continent, seeing how its position has
shifted, and monitor the way sea levels
have changed (free; Android, iOS).
This week’s dream: a botanical wonderland in the mid-Atlantic
land, 800 miles away. Charles Darwin
Isolated in the mid-Atlantic just south
visited, as did the botanist Joseph
of the equator, Ascension is one of the
Hooker, who planted trees, trapping
world’s most remote and unusual
moisture and gradually transforming
islands, says Matthew Teller in the FT.
the island into a “smorgasbord” of
A UK Overseas Territory used largely as
plant life. Climb Green Mountain –
an RAF base, it emerged above the
the island’s main peak, at 859m –
waves only a million years ago, the
to see the best of this “botanical
“cragged, forbidding” summit of an
wonderland”, and enjoy “stupendous”,
undersea volcano. “Contorted” flows
360-degree views of the rest. You’ll see
of black lava ring its coast, red cinder
satellite dishes and radar arrays on
cones stud its interior, and among them
every hilltop – the island is one of four
lies the world’s only man-made cloud
global nodes in the GPS navigational
forest, planted in the 19th century.
system – as well as the Nasa station
The surrounding seas are rich in life.
(now defunct) that received the news of
Adventurous tourists may well enjoy
Neil Armstrong’s moon landing.
a visit – but be warned: the island’s
Ascension: has a “smorgasbord” of plant life
The island has golden beaches, and
runway is out of action, so the only way
offshore, its reefs teem with colourful
to get here is on a cruise ship, or by
fish, but you might also see Galapagos sharks: swimmers and
boat from Cape Town, a journey of ten days.
divers are advised to exercise extreme caution. RMS St Helena
When humans first spotted Ascension in 1501, it was home to
(020-7575 6480, has return fares from Cape
nothing but seabirds, turtles, and a few tiny ferns. The Royal
Town from £1,670. For entry permits and information on the
Navy garrisoned it in 1815, fearing French efforts to spring
island, see
Napoleon after he was exiled to St Helena, the nearest speck of
Hotel of the week
Getting the flavour of…
Skiing in South America
The Pheasant, Berkshire
A former drovers’ inn with fine
views of the Berkshire Downs,
The Pheasant has been given a
revamp by its new owner, jockey
Jack Greenall. It’s now “smart and
sophisticated” in racing green and
red, says Condé Nast Traveller, with
a “cracking” atmosphere in the
lively bar, and “intimate corners
for quiet feasts”. Chef Andy Watts
produces “superior pub grub” –
unusually good Scotch eggs, saltbaked saddle of lamb to share,
Dover sole and “fabulous”
puddings. The 11 bedrooms are
“immaculate” and great value,
with rich colours, eye-catching art
and beds with Egyptian cotton and
duck-down duvets, as well as
plenty of books.
Doubles from £110 (01488-648284,
If you visit Chile during the British summer,
it’s possible to tour the country’s great
sights (the Atacama Desert, the glaciers of
Patagonia and so on) and fit in a bit of
skiing. It feels odd to be out on the snow at
this time of year, says Tom Chesshyre in The
Times, but rather wonderful – especially for
guests at the Hotel Portillo, a “marvellous”
five-star lodge set high in the Andes, with
exclusive access to some of South America’s
best slopes. Dating from 1949, and still run
by the family who took over in 1961 – the
Purcells – it is popular with the continent’s
“social set” and has regular visits from the
US ski team. The off-piste runs are devilishly
challenging, but there’s plenty for beginners
too – including great pisco sours at Tio Bob’s
café, which has “stupendous” views over the
waters of the Laguna del Inca. Scott Dunn
(020-3553 1327, has a
ten-night trip from £4,200pp, incl. flights.
Italy’s forgotten riviera
The tourist hotspots of Liguria – the Cinque
Terre and “swanky” Portofino – lie east of
Genoa. Head west instead and you’ll come
to Alassio, a small seaside town that was
beloved by British holidaymakers until the
1930s – then all but forgotten. It’s a
charming place, says Mary Novakovich in
The Guardian, with one of the loveliest
urban beaches in Italy, lined with “romantic”
restaurants and “rustic-chic” cafés. In the
pine-covered hills above it perch beautiful
villas built by the British in the 19th century,
including the Villa della Pergola (now a
luxury hotel), whose former guests include
the Edwards Lear and Elgar. All around lie
lovely villages, such as Laigueglia, which has
its own “pretty” beach, and Cervo, a hilltop
hamlet with “sweeping” Mediterranean
views. The “pleasant” Hotel Eden (00 39
0182 640 281, has
doubles from s90 b&b.
Galicia’s ancient vineyards
It was the Romans who started making
vintages in the green hills of Galicia in
northern Spain, carving “cascading terraces”
into the vertiginous slopes to cultivate grapes.
Working these steep plots is “backbreaking
and dangerous”, says Lauren Mowery in
The Independent – but in the past two
decades, some vitners have revived the
practice, largely abandoned almost a century
ago. The remote canyons of the Ribeira Sacra
region, which yield light, “elegant” reds from
the mencia grape, are spectacular. But the
gentler countryside of Valdeorras is also well
worth a visit. Its “rich, round” whites made
from godello grapes are a little-known
delight, as are its charming villages. For a
place to stay, try the Parador de Santo Estevo
( or the Pazo do Castro
Last-minute offers from top travel companies
Picturesque Sussex stay
Unwind at Deans Place Hotel
in Alfriston for 3 nights, with
breakfast each morning and
cream tea on arrival. From
£123pp. 0845-070 7090,
Arrive 23 October.
Green Heart of Antwerp
Superbreak is offering 3 nights
at the high-rise Crowne Plaza
Antwerp on a b&b basis. From
£308pp, incl. Eurostar from
Ebbsfleet. 01904-717362, Depart
9 November.
Lakeside in Italy
With superb scenery and a long
promenade along Lake Garda,
the Du Lac et Du Parc Hotel
offers a 3-night, half-board
stay from £729pp, incl. flights.
01483-345659, www.inghams. Depart 25 October.
5-star Balinese luxury
The Conrad Bali, set in acres
of tropical gardens with
waterfalls, offers a 6-night,
full-board stay from £1,562pp,
incl. Glasgow flights. 01204821984, www.destinology. Depart 3 December.
WhatsOnDubai WhatsOnAbuDhabi #WOawards
Vote Processing Partner
Presented by
Courageous young spy who warned Britain about the V2
Rousseau, then 19, agreed to act as interpreter
As a young woman in
for the mayor, and made it her business to chat
Occupied Paris, Jeannie
to the officers she met. In September 1940, she
Rousseau worked as an
was asked, by an unnamed visitor, if she’d
interpreter for an association
share what she learned. “I said, ‘What’s the
of French businessmen, representing their
point of knowing all that, if not to pass it on?’”
interests, and helping them to negotiate
contracts with the Germans, at their HQ in
In fact, she passed on so much intelligence,
the Hotel Majestic. Attractive, vivacious and
the Germans realised there must be a spy in
fluent in German, she was well liked by the
Dinard, and in January 1941 she was arrested.
Nazi officers – and was invited to their parties,
Employing her usual ingenuity, however, she
where they chatted blithely about their work.
persuaded her interrogator she couldn’t be an
But the woman they knew as Madeleine
agent – and was released, on the condition that
Chauffour was not the naïf she seemed, said
she left the coast. Returning to Paris, she
The New York Times. On the contrary, she was
secured her job with the business association,
a French Resistance agent – using her charm
and resumed her intelligence-gathering. Soon
and guile to winkle out their secrets. “I teased
after, on a night train, she ran into an old friend
them, taunted them, looked at them wide– Georges Lamarque. Talking in the corridor,
eyed,” she told The Washington Post’s David
he told her that he had a “little outfit” she
Ignatius, decades later. “I insisted that they
might like to join. She passed him the basic,
must be mad when they spoke of the
astounding new weapon that flew over vast
“One of the most remarkable women” commercial intelligence that she had already
gathered; then began work on military secrets.
distances, faster than any aeroplane. I kept
saying, ‘What you are telling me cannot be true!’ I must have said
In 1944, the British decided that she should come to the UK to be
that a hundred times.”
debriefed. En route, however, the French agent helping to arrange
her passage was captured; her cover was blown, and she was
Eventually, one of the Germans decided to prove to her that he
arrested. She ended up in Ravensbruck, then at an even harsher
was telling the truth – and showed her the plans for Peenemünde,
camp in Königsberg, where she was tortured and starved. By the
an experimental station by the Baltic Sea where the V1 and V2
rockets were being tested, and drawings of the rockets themselves. time she was liberated by the Swedish Red Cross in 1945, she was
near death. Recovering in a sanitorium in Sweden, she met and
Rousseau didn’t have the expertise to understand everything she
fell in love with Henri de Clarens, a fellow patient and Auschwitz
saw, but she had a photographic memory – and was able to relay
survivor, who became her husband. In later life, she worked as a
the information in astonishing detail. Her report about this
translator. They once tried to tell their children about their
“stratospheric” new weapon found its way to the British physicist
experience in the camps, but “it was too hard”. Nor did she talk,
and miltary intelligence expert Reginald Jones – and landed up on
in public, about her Resistance work. “The curtain came down on
Churchill’s desk. Based on it, the Allies bombed the plant,
my memories, she told Ignatius. “What I did was so little... I was
delaying the implementation of the V2, and saving thousands of
one small stone.”
lives. When Jones asked who had compiled the report, he was
told only that her code name was Amniarix, and that she was
Nevertheless, she was made a member of the Legion of Honour
“one of the most remarkable women of her generation”.
in 1955 and a grand officer in 2009. She was awarded the
Resistance Medal and the Croix de Guerre, and at a ceremony
Born in 1919, Jeannie Rousseau excelled at languages at school,
in 1993, she and Jones were both honoured by the CIA for their
and graduated top of her class from the elite Sciences Po
“momentous” contribution to the Allied war effort. Asked why
university in Paris in 1939. When war broke out, her father –
she’d done what she did, she seemed puzzled by the question.
a civil servant – moved the family to Dinard, in Brittany, hoping
“I just did it... It wasn’t a choice. It was what you did. At the time,
it would be beyond the reach of the advancing Germans. But the
we all thought we would die. How could I not do it?”
occupiers arrived in their thousands, and when they did,
The theatre director who wrote The Knack
Ann Jellicoe, who has died aged 90,
was a “linchpin” of the English
Stage Company based at the Royal
Court theatre in the 1950s, said
Michael Coveney in The Guardian, and wrote two
plays that are now part of its “legendary canon”. The
Sport of My Mad Mother, a drama about teenagers in
East London that largely relied on noise, dance and
music in place of dialogue, proved too experimental
for its first audiences: it lasted just 14 performances.
But The Knack was a huge hit. It made Jellicoe’s name
and turned Rita Tushingham – who had the lead role
in the original stage production – into a star.
Ann Jellicoe
Born in Middlesbrough, and brought up in Saltburn, Ann Jellicoe
(above) knew her future was in the theatre at the age of four, said
The Times, and enrolled at the Central School of Speech and
Drama after leaving school. She spent time acting in rep, then
founded the Cockpit Theatre Club in London, where she staged
works by Ibsen and Strindberg. She wrote The Sport of My Mad
Mother as an experiment in directing, and was shocked
when it came third in an Observer competition for new
playwrights in 1956. Although it flopped, the Girl
Guides Association then commissioned her to write a
work with a cast of 1,000. “Write anything,” they said
– inadvisably. Jellicoe produced The Rising Generation,
in which girls were urged to reject men and leave Earth
to colonise a new planet. The Guides wanted nothing
to do with it. “For some insane reason, somebody in
the Guides got the idea that I write nice, safe plays for
teenagers,” remarked Jellicoe. The play was eventually
staged, successfully, with a cast of 150 children.
In the mid-1970s, she left London with her family for Dorset –
where she found her real calling when her local comprehensive
asked for her help in staging a play. The production expanded
until it involved the whole town, and a new career in community
theatre was born. In 1978, she set up the Colway Theatre Trust,
producing 40 pieces over the next few years, including new works
by the likes of David Edgar and Howard Barker.
Join the
cancernity event for
A 24 hour com
ndraiser for
cancer comes to th
17th - 18th November
Let’s relay
For more information and registration please visit
Companies in the news
...and how they were assessed
Hurricane finance: Irma takes mercy
The world’s reinsurance giants “are breathing a huge sigh of relief”, said Ambrose EvansPritchard in The Daily Telegraph. Had Hurricane Irma “smashed into the metropolis of
greater Miami” – with five million people and a GDP equal to South Africa’s – “it would
have ravaged the capital base of the global reinsurance industry”, already reeling from
Hurricane Harvey. Shares in all the big reinsurers including Beazley, Everest Re, Munich
Re and Swiss Re surged once it became clear that Irma “didn’t take the expensive route”.
There may be a further silver lining for insurers “if alarm boosts premiums”. The
catastrophe modelling firm Air Worldwide has halved its estimate of Irma’s insured
damage to a range of $20-$40bn, said The Wall Street Journal: “still painful for the
smaller Florida-focused primary insurers”, but the losses look “manageable”. Hurricanes
Harvey and Irma have actually done us a favour, said Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail.
They have highlighted the potentially toxic nature of opaque “cat bonds” – high-yielding
securities designed to share the risk of catastrophes. Meanwhile, despite being flattened
by Irma, the British Virgin Islands swiftly declared its Financial Services Commission
open for business. “Amid tragedy and devastation, the wheels of commerce turn.”
Trinity Mirror/Northern & Shell: room in the lifeboats?
Unions fear the loss of hundreds of jobs “in the biggest shake-up to hit Britain’s
newspaper business in more than a decade”, said Robin Pagnamenta in The Times.
Trinity Mirror has confirmed it is in talks to buy Richard Desmond’s Express titles. The
media tycoon’s Northern & Shell group, whose assets include the Express and Star
newspapers and the celebrity magazine OK!, is holding talks with unions to discuss the
proposed sale. Any deal, thought to value the titles at around £100-£130m, would also
have to be cleared by competition authorities. A sale would signal “Dirty Desmond’s”
exit from publishing after 43 years. Having earned his initial fortune in pornographic
magazines, he acquired the Express titles in 2000 for £125m. “Since then, he has
extracted hundreds of millions in profit by aggressively cutting costs.” Does this takeover
make any sense, asked Peter Preston in The Observer. Not politically (it would unite the
right-wing Express with the left-leaning Mirror); and maybe not commercially either.
Trinity Mirror, unlike the Express titles, is still profitable, but both groups are in fast
decline: “think lifeboats tossed in tumultuous seas”. Doubtless there will be all manner of
“efficiencies” to play with, but this deal looks “only as good as next year’s bottom line”.
Saudi Aramco: IPO delay?
Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing contingency plans for a possible delay to the
biggest IPO in history, the listing of state oil giant Saudi Aramco. Bloomberg cited
sources as confirming the government was still aiming for an initial public offering in
the second half of 2018 but due to the tight timetable it could be pushed back into
2019. Aramco told the publication the IPO “remains on track” and the process was
“well underway”, echoing assurances to investors on September 9 after it was reported
the kingdom was scaling back its economic reform efforts. However, several major
decisions have yet to be taken that could limit the ability for the company to sell shares
before the end of next year.
Seven days in the
Square Mile
The pound hit its highest level against
the dollar this year, and also rebounded
by 7% against the euro, following a
stronger than expected jump in CPI
inflation to 2.9% in August. Currency
markets are betting that the surprise
figure, way over the Bank of England’s
2% target, could mean more pressure
for an interest rate hike. The rising
pound subdued the FTSE 100 during a
buoyant rebound on Wall Street, where
the Dow Jones posted its biggest oneday gain since March, climbing back up
above 22,000, as fears eased about
North Korea and Hurricane Irma.
The scandal-ridden PR firm Bell
Pottinger was put into administration
after last-ditch efforts to find a buyer
failed. The firm’s Asian and Middle
Eastern arms will continue trading as
independent entities; Bell Pottinger
Asia has rebranded itself Klareco
Communications. The fallout from the
South African scandal also threatened to
embroil KPMG, auditor to companies
owned by the controversial Gupta
family. Shares in the credit-monitoring
company Equifax dropped sharply
after it suffered one of the largest US
cybersecurity breaches on record;
some 143 million Americans are
affected. A management shake-up at
builder Carillion saw a mass autumn
clear-out of senior executives.
Transport for London called time on
the Chinese-backed Uber rival Taxify
after just three days: it didn’t have an
operating licence.
Goldman Sachs: vampire minnow targets Britain
“The squid has grown a new tentacle,” said
Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail. Eighteen
months after throwing open its doors to the
mass-market in America, Goldman Sachs, the
so-called vampire squid of global finance, is
extending its reach into UK retail banking.
From next year, it will begin offering online
savings accounts, under the brand name
Marcus. As part of its British push, Goldman
has also injected £100m into a local loan startup, Neyber, said City AM. The outfit, founded
by two Goldman alumni, lends cash to
individuals via their employers (repayments
are deducted from the borrower’s salary).
Existing customers include Bupa, the NHS,
London City Airport and the police.
Financial Times. In July, Goldman’s market
capitalisation slipped below that of Morgan
Stanley, its closest rival, for the first time in
more than a decade.
“Given the limp returns currently on offer in
investment banking”, Goldman’s new career as
a banking “minnow” is certainly worth a shot,
said John Foley on Reuters Breakingviews. And
being “fashionably late” to the UK market may
be an advantage: unlike established rivals,
Goldman starts free of “legacy issues” such
as decrepit IT systems and mis-selling
scandals. There’s another advantage too.
Lloyd Blankfein: branching out
Because the UK bank is buried in a group with
$907bn of assets, shareholders won’t know exactly how it is
performing until CEO Lloyd Blankfein “chooses to tell them”, or
The moves reflect Goldman’s “steady march from Wall Street to
until it becomes a significant size. “In other words, Marcus can
Main Street” as its traditional business lines struggle, “crimped
nurse losses for a good while without investors getting twitchy.
by new rules on risk-taking”, said Ben McLannahan in the
Not many banks can do that.”
Talking points
Issue of the week: all power to windpower?
Cheap renewable energy is no longer the stuff of fantasy. Should Britain rip up its current energy strategy?
in the UK without subsidy”. Costs are
It was billed as “a huge step forward in
forecast to fall even further in the coming
the energy revolution”, and for once the
years as technology improves – particuhyperbole wasn’t out of place, said
larly in battery power storage. The big
Alistair Osborne in The Times. News
problem, as the nuclear lobby is quick to
that the cost of subsidies for Britain’s
note, is that “renewable energy is heavily
offshore windfarms has halved in two
intermittent”: you can’t rely on wind to
years – making wind energy cheaper
provide the “baseload power” Britain
than electricity from new nuclear power
needs. All the more reason to create a
for the first time – prompted a euphoric
new electricity system “designed with
reaction from renewables fans. Not even
flexibility in mind”. Renewable power
the greenest Green had expected quite
may be unpredictable, but the Governsuch “a dizzying drop”. Following the
ment can still have “a predictable energy
latest auction for government subsidies,
policy”. We badly need one to manage
in which the lowest bidder wins, the
these big changes in power provision.
guaranteed price for wind energy from
Subsidies for offshore wind have halved in two years
two big contracts will fall to £57.50 per
megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2022-23. That compares with subsidies Successive governments “swallowed the line” that Hinkley Point
C represented a plausible answer to the UK’s threefold energy
of £92.50/MWh for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power
conundrum: “keeping the lights on, reducing carbon emissions
plant. Opponents of wind farms point to the harm they cause
and producing the juice at affordable prices”, said Nils Pratley in
seabirds, but surely “there’s an even bigger casualty in the animal
The Guardian. Yet it’s becoming ever clearer that the costs
kingdom than our feathered friends... nuclear white elephants”?
involved are “obscene”. There are surely limits on how far the
“Sceptics have always denied that renewable energy could be cost- nuclear industry can push the argument that “we must pay up for
reliable baseload supplies” – with wholesale energy prices below
competitive with old-fashioned fuels,” said Juliet Samuel in The
£50/MWh, gas can provide baseload power far cheaper than
Daily Telegraph. But the industry is “clawing its way into
nuclear. Last year, Theresa May “bowed to pressure” from
contention, moving ever faster towards a day when it will no
Hinkley’s supporters to give the project the green light, said James
longer require a subsidised price”. Onshore wind is already “costMoore in The Independent. “Reversing that decision won’t prove
competitive” (though understandably unpopular with those who
easy,” but she should bite the bullet and admit she was wrong.
have to live near it); and “some solar farms are already operating
Making money: what the experts think
equities and private equity
are still all the rage: they
Just 4% of the world’s
now comprise 27% and
richest families lost money
20% of the average family
last year, “thanks to booming
office’s investment portfolio.
stock markets and money“The benefits of this bolder
spinning private equity
approach” were evident in
deals”, said Rupert Neate in
this year’s strong returns,
The Guardian. Indeed, the
said Sara Ferrari of UBS.
average return generated by
And, looking to the future,
“family offices” – which
most family offices are still
invest and manage rich
risk-on. In gung-ho style,
people’s fortunes – came in at
60% plan to maintain their
7%. That compares rather
investment in “developing
favourably with “the average
market” equities; and 40%
interest rates of just 0.35%
intend to allocate more to
offered by instant access
The super-rich get richer
private equity funds or
high-street bank accounts”.
invest directly in companies themselves.
Or, indeed, with the measly 0.3% returns
Private equity is now so in vogue – and the
generated by family offices in 2015, when
stock markets “were in turmoil”. 2016 was competition for plum deals so intense –
that the chief headache facing many family
“absolutely, no question, a marked
offices is sourcing the right investment.
performance” for the fortunes of the
wealthy, said Dominic Samuelson of
● A force for good?
Campden Wealth, which researched the
Family offices “were pioneered by the
report with the Swiss bank UBS.
Rockefellers in the late 19th century to
“Irrespective of the economic challenges,
preserve their wealth for future genergreat wealth is continuing to be generated
ations”, said Neate. The average office in
across the globe.”
the survey has an average $921m assets
under management, and last year gave just
● Private preoccupations
$5.8m to philanthropic causes. Still, they
The study offers a fascinating insight into
may become a greater force for good, as
the current investment preoccupations of
younger generations get more involved,
the super-rich, said Lucy White in City
AM. They appear to have lost their zest for said White. Firms are reportedly increasing
hedge funds and property – both are seeing allocations to “impact investments” seen
as environmentally and socially sound.
“a gradual decline in take-up”. But
● The super-rich march on
London pride
London has, at least temporarily, defied
fears that the City will become less
attractive for financiers in the wake of
Brexit, said the FT. The City has retained
its place as the “world’s top financial
centre”, according to the Z/Yen Global
Financial Centres Index, which ranks 92
financial centres globally. “Interestingly,
despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations,
London only fell two points, the
smallest decline in the top ten,” noted
the report. That means it extended its
lead over New York and also left top
EU centres in the dust. Both Frankfurt
and Dublin’s scores rose this year:
Frankfurt’s by a credible 12 points. But
they are still ranked at 11 and 33.
Talk to any bank chief about Brexit
“and the conversation quickly turns to
the practical difficulty of persuading
senior employees to move to
Frankfurt”, said Nils Pratley in The
Guardian. As the RBS chairman Sir
Howard Davies observes, it’s often
because they “don’t like the schools”.
True believers in the City’s post-Brexit
future might count this as “another
demonstration of London’s
superiority” in matters beyond
financial. “But if the biggest concern
is education, London needs to watch
out.” As Davies suggests, “a shortage
of overpriced schools for the offspring
of overpaid bankers sounds like a
problem the market can fix”. His
tip: invest in any company
planning to open international
schools in Frankfurt.
Brexit: the
lessons from
David Smith
The Sunday Times
Hammond is
blind to the
coming crisis
Phillip Inman
The Guardian
How Warren
Buffett broke
US capitalism
Robin Harding
Financial Times
Time to throw
in the towel,
Alex Brummer
Daily Mail
The Brexit process is proving so slow and difficult, says David
Smith, that many yearn for what’s sometimes called “the first
Brexit”: Britain’s abrupt ejection from the European Exchange
Rate Mechanism (ERM), 25 years ago this week. That debacle,
which scuppered plans to join the euro, “destroyed the Tory
Party’s reputation for economic competence”; but it’s now mostly
remembered as the start of “the longest period of continuous
economic growth in our history”. No wonder there’s nostalgia for
it. Couldn’t we reap similar advantages today by making a clean
break? Alas, “liberation from the ERM and departure from the
EU are very different animals”. The first Brexit “provided an
opportunity” to slash interest rates deeply and quickly. No such
monetary stimulus is available now. Moreover, within weeks of
Black Wednesday, the government had devised “an alternative
policy framework”, paving the way for the eventual independence
of the Bank of England. Again, no such “gamechanger” is in sight
today. History may yet repeat itself: if Theresa May succumbs to
backbench pressure for a cliff-edge departure, it would likely as
not prove “toxic” for the Tories. And they’d fully deserve it.
News that police and prison officers will get a pay rise has been
billed as the end of one of the Government’s most contentious
austerity measures. Yet it would be “premature” to assume the
current 1% pay cap on public sector workers is “in jeopardy
across the board”, says Phillip Inman. The Treasury has seen to
that. Britain might be enduring “the longest period of earnings
stagnation for 150 years”, but Chancellor Philip Hammond
refuses to abandon the Government’s latest attempt to balance the
books. The pressure, though, is mounting. Private sector pay is up
by 2.3% this year, and the gap to public sector pay is predicted to
widen this Parliament. The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts a
recruitment and standards crisis if the 1% cap remains in place, or
if any pay rise is funded from within existing budgets. Hammond
sees himself as a strategist, who must help the economy “bridge
the Brexit gap” and spend carefully on long-term projects. For
him, that means resisting calls to relax pay and welfare caps.
“Few outside the Treasury believe it is a tenable position.”
“Growing up, I admired nobody more than Warren Buffett,” says
Robin Harding. With “nothing but wisdom and charm”, the
greatest ever investor made $75bn beating the market. Buffett still
wields vast influence on US business and finance, much of it good.
But it “has a dark side”. The secret of Buffettism, celebrated in a
thousand investment books, “is to avoid competition and to
minimise capital investment in the real economy”. And it’s ripping
the heart out of US capitalism. Buffett is upfront about his desire
to reduce competition: “widening the moat” is the folksy name he
gives it. And if he’d just bought a few unusual companies on the
cheap, rather than “buying into monopoly profits” – if his acolytes
hadn’t taken his methods “economy-wide” – then maybe it would
not matter. But it does. We can’t easily solve the malaise he helped
create, though better antitrust enforcement would help. But we
can decide “who to admire”. Buffett “doesn’t start companies or
gamble on new ideas”. The US is full of entrepreneurs who do.
“Celebrate that kind of business. It is the kind America needs.”
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is on the back foot once
again in its ongoing quest to secure the 61% chunk of broadcaster
Sky that it doesn’t already own, says Alex Brummer. The latest
setback is that Culture and Media Secretary Karen Bradley “has,
in effect, overruled regulator Ofcom”, and is preparing to refer
the deal to the Competition and Markets Authority on grounds of
“media standards”. The CMA is already probing the £11.5bn bid
on competition grounds, but the Murdoch clan had hoped to
avoid a second investigation. Fox has certainly faced serious
criticism in both the US and Britain over “allegations of sexual
harassment and perceived political bias”. But politicians such as
the former Labour leader Ed Miliband, and Lib Dem leader Vince
Cable, have whipped this up into a “sustained campaign” to
scupper the deal, which now appears to be bearing fruit. “There
must be a real chance now” that James Murdoch, Fox’s chief
executive, decides “that the hassle of dealing with Britain’s
political pygmies has become too much, and pulls the offer”.
City profile
Keith Hellawell
As chairman of controversial
retailer Sports Direct, Keith
Hellawell has become “a
lightning rod” for share­
holder concerns about
corporate governance, said
BBC Business online. Yet
once again, the former chief
constable of West Yorkshire
police has “narrowly
survived an attempt to oust
him”. At last week’s AGM,
independent shareholders
voted 53% in Hellawell’s
favour – defying a concerted
attempt by several big
institutions to bring about
his removal. As was the case
last January, Hellawell, 75,
“survived by the skin of his
teeth”, said Royal London’s
Ashley Hamilton Claxton. He
lives to fight another day.
Hellawell “is nothing if not a
survivor”, said the Daily Mail.
His childhood featured “a
sadistic aunt who made him
walk to school in the snow
barefoot” and a “louche­
sounding” mother who
“shackled him to a table leg
when she went out dancing”.
After five years down a coal
pit, he went on to a glittering
police career in which he
revelled in his tough guy
image. “Tall, broad­
shouldered with a gimlet­
eyed gaze, his soup­strainer
moustache bristled with
pent­up aggression.” He then
did a stint as New Labour’s
“drugs tsar”.Yet his
reputation as a boardroom
“enforcer” has been far from
stellar, and some “gamey
employment practices”
forced a parliamentary
enquiry. “Some suspect him
of being little more than CEO
Mike Ashley’s appointed
stooge.” Most top­flight
chairmen claw their way to
the top after a long career in
executive roles, said
Management Today, “but
there’s a lot to be said for
alternative experience.” Or
possibly not.
Who’s tipping what
The week’s best buys
Directors’ dealings
Medica Group
Floated in March, Medica
provides teleradiology services
and consultant radiologists to
the NHS to help provide early
diagnosis of diseases. Growing
rapidly, thanks to strong
demand and lack of supply.
Buy. 210.2p.
Randgold Resources
The Mail on Sunday
Geopolitical tensions have
driven up the price of gold
– as Kim Jong Un flaunts his
nuclear prowess – and shares
in Randgold. Pricey, but the
miner is a “solid gold stock”
with an “enviable reputation”.
Buy. £81.25p.
Charles Taylor
The Times
Charles Taylor provides
technology solutions to the
insurance industry. It has
suffered accounting write-offs
after acquisitions, yet there’s
plenty of potential, including a
possible Lloyds contract. Yields
4.5%. Buy. 240p.
Micro Focus International
The Times
After a “wildly erratic share
price” this summer, the
purchase of Hewlett-Packard’s
software arm is complete – and
fears seem overdone. Margins
have improved from 17.8% to
24.9%, and the rating is
undemanding. Buy. £23.36.
Investors Chronicle
The appetite for new homes is
driving Redrow’s profits and
earnings. Completions are up
15%, selling prices up 7%.
Margins are rising and the
order book is a record £1.1bn.
“There’s more to come.”
Buy. 639.5p.
Dixons Carphone
7 directors
buy 206,384
After shares plummeted 30%
on a profit warning, board
members moved to show that
prospects are good. CEO Seb
James and CFO Humphrey
Singer each invested £44,500.
Chairman Ian Livingston
bought £99,472-worth.
…and some to hold, avoid or sell
Form guide
Gym Group
Investors Chronicle
The low-cost gym group is
opening 20 new sites and
trialling a “premium”
membership. But increased
competition could impinge on
growth, and shares are highly
rated with little room for error.
Sell. 206p.
Investors Chronicle
The drug-maker, which majors
on treatments for opioid
addiction, remains impeded
by legal battles and patent
disputes. Rising competition
for its flagship drug Suboxone
could “knock two-thirds off
the top line”. Sell. 292.8p.
Sophos Group
The Times
Shares in the cybersecurity
specialist have reached their
highest point since floating in
2015 as customer billings
increase, giving strong forward
visibility. But the high
valuation is worrying: take
profits. Sell. 521.5p.
Halfords Group
Investors Chronicle
The car and cycling products
retailer has had decent results.
But there’s no relief to the
downward momentum, nor
improvement on margin
guidance, and the CEO Jill
McDonald is leaving to go to
Marks & Spencer. Sell. 323p.
Investors Chronicle
This high-growth semiconductor supplier has posted
a 2% decline in operating
profit and a 10% drop in cash
generation. There are fears that
demand for its “much vaunted
VCSEL wafers” was slower
than expected. Sell. 146p.
The Times
A tax cut, due to a Government
scheme to encourage innovation,
sent shares in the plastics
specialist soaring. But
Hurricane Harvey will hit
demand from US oil refineries,
and it faces a new rival in
Georgia. Take profits. £22.20.
Shares tipped 12 weeks ago
Best tip
Watkin Jones Group
The Daily Telegraph
up 18.23% to 214p
Worst tip
JD Sports Fashion
Investors chronicle
down 15.49% to 383.27p
Market view
“That North Korea didn’t do
anything, on a weekend they
knew the US was going to be
in flux because of hurricanes,
is the primary reason we’re
seeing this big rally.”
J.J. Kinahan of TD Ameritrade
on Wall Street’s rebound.
Quoted in WSJ
Market summary
Key numbers
numbers for investors
FTSE 100
FTSE All-share UK
Dow Jones
Nikkei 225
Hang Seng
Brent Crude Oil
UK 10-year gilts yield
US 10-year Treasuries
Latest CPI (yoy)
Latest RPI (yoy)
Halifax house price (yoy)
12 Sep 2017
2.9% (Aug)
3.9% (Aug)
+2.6% (Aug)
$1.328 E1.108 ¥146.026
Best and
and worst
worst performing shares
Week before
2.6% (Jul)
3.6% (Jul)
+2.1% (Jul)
Change (%)
Micro Focus Intl.
Provident Financial
Ashtead Group
% change
Barratt Developments
Associated Brit.Foods 3142.00
Randgold Resources
Empyrean Energy
Jersey Oil and Gas
Source: Datastream (not adjusted for dividends). Prices on 12 Sep (pm)
Following the Footsie
6-month movement in the FTSE 100 index
Card Factory
Investors Chronicle
This greetings card retailer
holds a market-leading
position and is growing
impressively with 30 new
stores, and another 50 due.
Cash-generative, yields 7.7%,
and analysts expect special
dividends. Buy. 337p.
The last word
“Once this Pandora’s box is opened,
it will be hard to close”
Driverless cars, robot bricklayers and killer drones are just the start, says John Arlidge – artificial intelligence is about
to transform human civilisation. But do we really want to live in a world run by robots?
deaths will fall to near zero,
Las Vegas is where you go
carmakers predict. Autofor old-fashioned fun, but
mation will also help to cure
I’ve got an appointment with
us if we are one of the
the future. It’s 7am and the
unlucky few who do still
Sun is beginning to rise over
crash our cars or simply
faux Paris, New York, Venice
fall ill. Bots study X-rays,
and the Egyptian pyramids
MRI scans, medical research
when a silver BMW pulls up
papers and other data, and
on the Strip to pick me up.
pick up signs of disease that
I’m going to take Frank
doctors sometimes miss.
Sinatra Drive to Interstate
Lord Darzi, the surgeon
15, but I won’t be driving.
who pioneered keyhole and
No one will. The car will do
robotic procedures, tells me
it itself. I get into the
robots can also perform
“driver’s” seat, press the blue
better surgery than humans
button on the steering
– and he’s one of the best.
column that “engages
“Robots are more precise,
personal co-pilot” and take
have greater range of
my hands off the wheel and
movement in keyhole
my feet off the pedals. The
surgery and no hand tremor,
car, a prototype, stays
which makes delicate
perfectly central in its lane
stitching easier,” he says.
and about 40 yards behind
A robo-doc can perform better surgery than a human
the truck in front, at a steady
55mph. It is – remarkably – not at all scary, so I set a course north Since we’re all going to be living longer, it’s a good thing that bots
will help many of us get richer. By reducing labour costs – robots
for Seattle, the second stop on my tour of the future.
work tirelessly and don’t demand raises – automation will make
existing companies more profitable and help spur the creation of
I arrive at the Amazon Go store on the corner of 7th Avenue and
new ones, techno-optimists predict. Consultants at the accountancy
Blanchard Street in the downtown area. It looks like any other
giant PwC say AI could boost the British economy by 10% over
supermarket you might duck into to pick up dinner. There are the
“We prep, you cook” meal kits, jumbo jars of anything you might the coming decade, adding an extra £232bn to GDP by 2030 and
creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Automation will
fancy and, this being America, a “no weapons” sign at the door.
also make many existing jobs
But there’s one thing missing.
more fulfilling. No one actually
Checkouts. I will soon be able
“Humanity could split into a small class
wants to answer the phones in
to walk in and out again with
a call centre.
dinner but without paying –
of ‘superhumans’ who run the AI, and
or fear of arrest. Sensors and
a huge underclass of ‘useless’ people”
These benefits, great though they
cameras will monitor what I
are, are only the beginning.
pick from the shelves, and my
Andrew Salzberg, head of transportation policy and research for
Amazon account, activated via my iPhone when I walk in, will be
the taxi app Uber, believes that automation will make cities,
charged before I’ve even reached the next block. The store is due
where most of us now live, greener and more pleasant lands. Uber
to open any day now.
has collected so much data from the hundreds of millions of rides
its users have taken that it knows how and when we travel. That
Thanks to huge leaps in machine learning, speech recognition,
means it can anticipate when and where we will need to go and
mapping and visual-recognition technology, artificial intelligence
make sure there are autonomous cars available. Salzberg argues
(AI) is, at last, walking off the pages of sci-fi books and into
that, soon, rides will be so abundant and – with no driver to pay
our lives. It’s not just robot cars and robot shops. Those
– so cheap, there will be no need to own a car at all. He says the
Facebook photos you’re tagged in? That’s AI. So are our Netflix
number of cars on the road could fall by more than 90%. Most
recommendations, Spotify playlists, and Google and Skype
of those that remain in fleets such as Uber’s will be electric. If
translators that enable us to talk to anyone in the world in any
that happens, it will not only reduce congestion and improve the
language. AI is spreading so fast, it will soon be integrated into
air we breathe, it will transform how and where we live. “Some
almost everything we touch, kick-starting what many call the
20%-30% of city centres are devoted to parking,” Salzberg
“fourth industrial revolution” – the first being steam engines,
explains. “If you don’t need parking, streets can change. We can
the second oil and electricity and the third computers. The only
have more park spaces, instead of parking spaces.”
difference, analysts say, is this new revolution is likely to be ten
times faster, 300 times the scale and have 3,000 times the impact.
It sounds like the latest self-serving Silicon Valley woo-woo.
After all, he has – shock! – forgotten to mention Uber stands to
AI offers some big advantages to the human race. For one thing,
benefit to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. But then I
it will help us live longer. Traditional carbon life forms make
take an Uber to the San Francisco neighbourhood of Parkmerced,
lots of mistakes. More than 90% of the 1,810 people who die
between downtown and San Francisco airport, and find out that
annually on Britain’s roads (1.25m globally) do so at the hands
what Salzberg is talking about not only works in theory, but is
of malfunctioning humans. Remove the nut behind the wheel and
The last word
happening. Parkmerced is the most highdensity new housing development in any
Western city – 9,000 homes are being built
for 30,000 residents, most of whom will
dump their cars. They have no choice. The
developer, Maximus Real Estate Partners, has
scrapped parking. To make sure buyers can
still get around, residents get Uber credits,
with car-share vehicles from Zipcars available
for longer rentals. Urban planners and
developers in other cities are following San
Francisco’s lead. Moda Living is investing
£1bn creating 6,000 rental-only homes in
London, Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh,
Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool, where
tenants will get up to £100-worth of Uber
credits a month if they agree not to have a
parking space.
proposes something radical: universal basic
income. The idea is that governments would
hugely increase the welfare state using tax
revenue – much of it derived from the highly
profitable tech firms that politicians would
have to force to cough up their fair share, not
dodge it, as they now try to. Everyone would
receive the minimum they need to live,
regardless of whether they have a job. So, if
you lost your job or simply did not want one,
you could do something else. “Imagine six to
ten billion people doing nothing but arts and
sciences, culture and exploring and learning.
What a world that would be,” enthuses the
Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen.
Free cash and a future where work is
optional does sound great. It has gained
support here. Labour has set up a working
The next step in the automation of war?
group to examine it. But is there a catch?
But there’s a snag to automation. With tech,
I decide to ask Steve Hilton. He used to advise David Cameron
there always is. And it’s the problem innovation has raised ever
before moving to California to set up his own tech firm,
since the Luddites began smashing up automated weaving looms
Crowdpac, and co-write a book, More Human, in which he
in northern mill towns 200 years ago. Jobs. Despite all the
argues we should use technology to create “a world where
economic growth and employment opportunities proponents say
AI will generate, few doubt it will also spell redundancy for many. people, not Silicon Valley, come first”. The idea of universal
basic income makes Hilton so angry, he practically spits out his
A new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research in
tea when we meet in a café. “Doing meaningful work and being
the US argues that jobs are already being lost to AI and are
rewarded for it is a basic human need. Depriving people of that
unlikely to come back. Between 1990 and 2007, the addition of
each robot into US manufacturing resulted in the loss, on average, is morally evil,” he says. “It’s revoltingly patronising for the
‘great geniuses’ of Silicon Valley to say, ‘We can continue our
of 6.2 human jobs. You’ll soon see this happening on your local
fascinating work and earn vast incomes, so we can live in our
building site. Robots called Sam (semi-automated mason) are
gated communities guarded by robots and drones. But, sadly,
already beginning to replace brickies in America and will arrive
you won’t. Don’t worry, though: we’ll pay you not to work.’”
here any day now. They can lay up to 3,000 bricks a day,
He has a point. We go to work so we can take care of ourselves
compared with the human average of 500.
and our families. But jobs also enable us to learn new skills,
make friends and, for many of us, find our life partner. Home
John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, estimates that almost
brew and poetry only go so far.
a third of existing UK jobs may be automated away over the next
15 years. That’s a lot – and it’s not merely “routine” jobs.
Surely, though, all of us will benefit from having more time, more
Professional jobs, once considered immune from the ravages of
space, and living in the greener cities promised by men such as
AI, are also threatened. Automated services such as SimpleTax,
Uber’s Andrew Salzberg? Don’t bet on it, says Christian Wolmar,
KashFlow and Rocket Lawyer, which prepare annual accounts
a leading transport analyst. He acknowledges fleets of self-driving
and tax returns and do simple legal tasks, are putting human
cars could lead to cleaner, more sustainable cities. But they could
lawyers and accountants out of work. Job losses could herald
just as easily do the opposite.
a new era of unprecedented
“Why not live 90 minutes away
inequality. Humanity could
“Robots working for big companies will be from the office and work on the
split into a small class of
way there and back?” Already,
“superhumans” who control
turned against their employers – spying on
New Yorkers are taking so many
the AI that will run the lives of
them or disrupting production lines”
Uber and Lyft rides that the
the huge underclass of “useless”
number of people using the
people, says the historian Yuval
subway is falling for the first time since the financial crisis, and
Noah Harari. If that happens, social revolt won’t be far behind.
traffic gridlock is increasing.
Silicon Valley usually turns a blind eye to the havoc its products
Smart machines have plenty of other downsides, too. Automated
wreak on traditional industries and communities. Monetise first,
cars have been hacked, and the hackers have taken control of the
moderate later, is their mantra. But amid all the scandals
brakes and the steering. The cyber-security experts IOActive
surrounding hacking, trolling, hate speech, fake news, advertising
predict that robots working for big companies will be turned
scams and murders streamed live on Facebook, tech firms are on
against their employers – spying on them or disrupting production
the defensive. The last thing they want is to be blamed for job
lines. A hacked robo-doc in an operating theatre would be even
losses and inequality far greater than anything wrought by
more dangerous. And that’s before you get to the really scary stuff
globalisation. So they are already trying to persuade us that AI
will be what they would call “net positive”. First, they echo PwC’s about machines ganging up on us, Terminator-style. Drones can
shoot bullets and launch grenades. What would happen if a drone
work, arguing that AI will create far more new jobs than it will
were hacked? Tech pioneer Elon Musk has said that the rise of
destroy. They cite the example of telecoms. Sure – each advance,
machines smarter than us poses humanity’s “biggest existential
from fixed lines and telex through fax to mobile phones and
threat... With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the
email, displaced some types of workers. The typing pool is
demon.” Last month, Musk and the founders of 115 technology
a distant memory. But the increase in new jobs has more than
companies signed an open letter to the UN calling for a ban on
made up for those lost. Today, millions of people work as app
killer robots, warning of conflicts on an unprecedented scale if
developers, virtual-world designers, ride-sharing drivers, social
an arms race to build autonomous weapons continues. “Once this
media marketers – jobs that would have been difficult even to
Pandora’s box is opened,” they warned, “it will be hard to close.”
imagine ten years ago, before AI took off.
In the short term, however, few dispute that many ordinary
workers are likely to be left behind. For them, Silicon Valley
A longer version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Times
© The Sunday Times Magazine/News Syndication.
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Clue of the week: Red Cross is in the market (7, first letter M) The Times
Solution to Crossword 174
ACROSS: 1 Hugo 3 Adolescent 9 Gum tree 11 Tripoli 12 Prognosticate
14 Infringe 16 Drill 18 Sprog 19 Colorado 21 Up to the minute 24 Spartan
25 Unhitch 26 Freeholder 27 Rear
DOWN: 1 High priest 2 Gumbo 4 Dressage 5 Let rip 6 Spit and
polish 7 Esoterica 8 Trim 10 Running stitch 13 Altogether 15 Fortunate
17 Home Rule 20 Atonal 22 Untie 23 As if
Clue of the week: Quantities served in pubs and bars (8, first letter M)
Solution: MEASURES
Sudoku 176
A poignant tale of destiny
and polygamy – and one man’s
personal struggle to come to terms
with his two wives and two lives.
Fill in all the squares so that
each row, column and each
of the 3x3 squares contains
all the digits from 1 to 9
Solution to Sudoku 228
Solution to Sudoku 175
Charity of the week
UAE Dolphin Project
The UAE Dolphin Project is a non-profit initiative dedicated to investigating
the dolphin population along the UAE coastline to provide scientific
information and to support the conservation of these local marine species.
This is done through the implementation of a research programme, as
well as running a media campaign and educational programmes involving
the public and private organisations. The ultimate goal is to promote the
conservation of dolphin species and the local marine environment.
To find out more visit
Available in all major bookstores
and at
Журналы и газеты
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journal, The Week
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