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This week in Tortoise: A place for Elliott

This week in Tortoise: A place for Elliott

I ’ve never had anyone get in touch before to say they want the next episode in a series and they want it now. But it happened last week, several times. We needed a couple of extra days to follow up on a new lead in the Sweet Bobby investigation. So, those of you have been waiting, thank you for your patience. It dropped at 6am and I think you’ll soon hear why it was worth waiting. On Monday 6 December we’ll be holding a special Sweet Bobby ThinkIn, where we’ll go behind the scenes of the story, meet some of the characters involved and ask the uncomfortable question: could any of us be catfished?

There are 32,000 disabled people in the UK who have not been able to be vaccinated. This week’s episode of the Slow Newscast was originally meant to be an investigation as to why – a story about people whose story has gone untold. But after spending time with the family of Elliott – a profoundly disabled teenager – we came to recognise it was a story that was more complicated than a simple question of the system failing to care; in fact, it’s a story about family, joy and resilience. Saba Salman reports this week’s episode of the Slow Newscast: A place for Elliott.

If you speak to people about the big risks we face, they tend to be unsettled by three questions. One, Covid, what now? Two, is China uninvestable? Three, what’s happening with inflation? At Tortoise, we’re going to try to get a better understanding of all three this week.

Giles Whittell’s Sensemaker is going to be examining the patterns of infection of the Omicron variant. Meanwhile, Matt d’Ancona and Lara Spirit are continuing our campaigning effort #TheArmsRace – if you’d like to sign up to our weekly letter on the race between the vaccines and the variants, please do email here.

For some weeks now, I’ve been lucky enough to be tucked in the podcast studio talking to people about China for the second series of ThinkIn with James Harding. The subject this time is: The China Problem. My real break as a reporter was to be sent by the FT to be Shanghai Correspondent in the 1990s. I loved my time there, the friends I made, the pace and spirit of change. But that was a different time. President Xi Jinping’s autocratic rule has forced China’s old friends to ask whether it’s now time to step back or even stand up to China. It starts today with TikTok, the unlikely frontline in an increasingly chilly tech war between the US and China. Human rights in Xinjiang, Apple Daily and the rule of law in Hong Kong, the truth about Covid, the possibility of war for Taiwan – these are all to follow.

At tonight’s ThinkIn at 6.30pm London time, we will try to understand the new politics of inflation. Rising prices, the prospect of higher interest rates, what will all this mean for inequality, for government spending, for house prices, for the old and the young?

Tomorrow is a triple-ThinkIn special: at 1pm GMT we’ll be spending lunch chewing over what’s stopping us hitting the accelerator on the UK’s transition to electric vehicles; at 3pm GMT we’ll be asking whether the UK’s SMEs are falling behind; and in the evening at 6.30pm Tortoise journalists and members will come together to discuss the latest Covid news and what beckons at Christmas at our weekly Open News meeting.

By the middle of the week, we have a ThinkIn that’s going to be fascinating – it’s in partnership with the Washington Post to investigate the 6 January attack on the US Capitol. Together with the Post’s senior team, we’ll be looking back at the warning signs that were missed, and looking forward to the future of American democracy, its survival prospects, and the long shadow that the events of that day have cast over it. 

And, as if that’s not quite enough brain food, then there’s an open buffet of future thinking on Thursday to mark the release of the third edition of the Tortoise Global AI Index – a ranking of nations on their capacity for artificial intelligence – we’ll be holding the Global AI Summit 2021. From 12-6pm GMT we’ll be holding sessions on everything from smart money to AI’s role in the green transition. We’d love you to join us.

Have a very good week. It’s a busy one, hope you’ll find plenty to chew on.


James Harding
Editor & co-founder