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Culture
Society, identity and belonging

1 july 2022

Xi takes Hong Kong
Xi Jinping went to Hong Kong to mark 25 years since its handover by the UK, and said 1997 was when true democracy took hold there. Night is day. Black is white. Two plus two equals five and another tyrant turns reality on its head. Do follow the Hong Kong Free Press and its fundraising campaign on Twitter. It accurately describes itself as one of the last uncensored voices in Hong Kong, and is running out of money.

30 june 2022

Nato’s big update 
Remember 2012? Putin was mere prime minister of Russia under Dmitry Medvedev, his then congenial stooge. China was inextricably bound into western capitalism by bonds of trade and mutual academic interest, or so it seemed. And London was world capital of happiness as host of the Olympics. Ten years on, Nato has just completed its most important summit in decades, opening up membership to Finland and Sweden while closing ranks against Russia as “the most significant and direct threat” to alliance security; and warily inviting China to drop its “coercive challenges” to the international order. As David Herszenhorn notes, in its last ten-yearly “strategic concept”, Nato called Russia a strategic partner and made no reference to China. Progress is not a given.

29 june 2022

He was the f***ing president 
In the week before the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol, President Trump knew what was coming and wanted to be there, according to the – by any standards – sensational testimony yesterday of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff. In fact, he wanted to be there so much that when the day came he told his Secret Service detail, as Hutchinson put it, “‘I’m the effing president, take me to the Capitol now’.” He then tried to grab the steering wheel of his armoured SUV and when told to let go went for the driver’s “clavicles”, ie neck. What a charmer. 

An equally substantial note from the annals of democracy’s fight for survival comes in the form of a landmark speech by General Sir Patrick Sanders, newly appointed Chief of the General Staff in the UK. He plans to mobilise the British army for one overwhelmingly important task: fighting and winning a land war in Europe against Russia. “This is the moment to defend the democratic values that define us,” he told an audience of (mainly) fellow soldiers. “This is our moment. Seize it.”

28 june 2022

Violent clashes at Melilla
More than 2,000 migrants tried to breach the perimeter fence that separates Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Melilla. There were violent clashes between Moroccan police and Spanish security forces. Morocco said 23 of the migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, died. Many more were injured. More than 140 mostly Moroccan police officers were injured. It’s the most serious incident at the enclave, which together with another enclave on the coast called Ceuta, attracts thousands of African migrants looking to enter Europe. Human rights groups have called for an investigation. An Amnesty International spokesman said most of the migrants were fleeing conflict in South Sudan.

27 june 2022

Ash plays golf
Wimbledon starts today, but the best player in the women’s game isn’t there. She’s playing golf, preparing for a tournament in the US next weekend in which she will team up with Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City FC manager, and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur, against an American team comprising the boxer Oscar de la Hoya and the swimmer Michael Phelps, among others. Ash Barty won the Australian Open in January, then quit pro tennis aged 25, worrying about burnout. Japan’s Naomi Osaka has also put her mental health ahead of the chance of trophies and won’t be at Wimbledon either. After winning $24 million in tennis prize money, Barty’s first golf win after leaving the game came with a pot of $21.

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