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This week in Tortoise: Escape from the Amarula

This week in Tortoise: Escape from the Amarula

This week’s Slow Newscast reports on the attack on Palma, a story that flickered in and out of the news in March and, since then, has largely been forgotten. It is called Left to die: Escape from the Amarula. Basia Cummings has spoken to survivors to discover what happened when the jihadist terror group Al-Shabaab set upon the town in Mozambique. Among them, people who were abandoned at the Amarula Hotel, ignored by the helicopters that came to evacuate local politicians and hotel managers (and their dogs), and then had to fend for themselves. It is a story of corruption and courage, power and fear. It is told in three parts, starting today. Please do listen; when you hear it, you won’t believe that it hasn’t got more attention.

As you may have noticed if you read last week’s Tortoise Take or picked up my Editor’s Voicemail, we fear that we all missed the story at the G7 Summit in Cornwall: the richest countries of the world had one job above all others, namely to set out a plan to vaccinate the world by the end of next year – and they failed. They came up with just 1 billion of the 11 billion jabs needed. And so we are trying to work out how we bring people together to support a campaign for jabs for all by the end of 2022.

We’re trying to go about that campaign differently and openly, starting with the planning of it. So we’re embarking on something of an experiment this week. We’ve tried doing our weekly Open News meetings on Twitter Spaces before now, but now we’re trying them daily – on Twitter Spaces, for half an hour, at 8.30am every weekday. To join in, just open the Twitter app at the right time each morning and click the link at the top of your feed. We’ll talk through our plans on the vaccines campaign – and anything else you think should be in the news. And do, of course, let us know what you think on memberhelp@tortoisemedia.com.

And we’ll also be doing some ThinkIns in the usual style – on Zoom.

  • This evening, at 6.30pm BST, we consider the origins of Covid-19 and ask one of the simplest, most important questions of the moment: what do we know? Is the lab-escape theory actually plausible? Or should we be looking elsewhere?
  • Stonewall has been at the forefront of the fight for gay, lesbian and bisexual rights for 30 years, but today the organisation is at the centre of a battle over its recent focus on transgender equality. We wonder: are gay people better off without Stonewall?
  • On Wednesday, following on from last week’s Tortoise Education Summit, a question about schooling in the Covid era: should Boris Johnson announce a national education emergency?
  • We’ve published three rounds of Slow Reviews so far: our attempt to celebrate the books, films, albums, paintings and other artworks that changed the culture around them. On Thursday evening, it’s our first ever Slow Reviews Live ThinkIn, at which we’ll be joined by guests from the Primadonna Festival, including Catherine Mayer and Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu.
  • And the cultural theme continues on Friday lunchtime, with the latest edition of Creative Sensemaker Live: is classical music boring and elitist?

Please do listen in, weigh in, join in.  It’s going to be an interesting week.


James Harding
Editor & co-founder