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Culture

Society. Identity. Countries. Beliefs. Arts.

latest from sensemaker

The prince and the press

Room 76 at the high court in London is unadorned and unassuming. But yesterday it was graced with unexpected stardom. Prince Harry sat a couple of metres away from the press; Sir Elton John sat on a red plastic chair in the public gallery, occasionally stifling a yawn. They are two of seven claimants, also including campaigner Baroness Doreen Lawrence, who accuse Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Daily Mail, of “abhorrent criminal activity and gross breaches of privacy”, including phone tapping and the payment of police officials for sensitive information. Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) strenuously denies the allegations. In this week’s preliminary hearings, ANL will seek to stop the case going to trial, with lawyers arguing that the claims are “stale”. Yesterday, the Daily Mail publisher successfully used the Human Rights Act to stop media organisations naming 73 journalists and executives mentioned in the claims at least as until Mr Justice Nicklin rules on its strike out application. On day two of the hearing, Prince Harry is again in Room 76.

Bibi links

Will Israel’s judiciary be subject to the whims of an unstable parliament and the increasingly polarised coalitions it produces? Or will it retain the distance from day-to-day politics that hundreds of thousands of citizens believe it needs? Those citizens took to the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities yesterday after Benjamin Netanyahu sacked his defence minister for daring to criticise judicial reforms that would subordinate the judiciary to the Knesset and the government and allow judges to be appointed by politicians. Netanyahu was under pressure to put the reform process on hold this morning after Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, appealed to him to come to his senses “for the sake of the unity of the people of Israel”. Netanyahu faces charges of fraud and bribe-taking for which he could be tried even while serving as prime minister.

Bordeaux blaze

On Wednesday France’s Emmanuel Macron did a television interview to publicly defend his unpopular pension reforms, which his government pushed through last week without a parliamentary vote. The goal, aides said, was to “calm things down”. It didn’t work. Yesterday huge protests and strikes took place across the country: around a million people marched nationwide, according to government figures (unions put the number at 3.5 million), with some protests turning violent. Around 400 police officers were injured; 1,000 rubbish bins were set on fire; more than 400 people were arrested. The main entrance to Bordeaux’s town hall was set on fire days before a scheduled visit to the city by King Charles. This morning the Elysée said the state visit had been postponed.

Warrior king

A court in Chad has sentenced 465 rebels to life in prison over the killing of President Idriss Déby. For decades, he was the West’s go-to strongman in Africa. Want to beat jihadists out of Mali or rein in Colonel Gaddafi’s regional ambitions without putting boots on the ground? The wiry general and his fierce desert army (drawn from his own tribe) was the answer. But in 2021 the 68 year-old leader was mysteriously killed. The official account casts it as a glorious end: the warrior king was shot in the chest while he was leading a convoy into battle against rebels near Libya. But the details are sketchy. Could it have been an assassination or a palace coup? The rebels had links to the Wagner group and had fought on both sides of Libya’s civil war. Western intelligence memos may need to be declassified before anything becomes clear.

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Making sense of Pride, with Liz Moseley

What is the point of Pride? A protest, a parade, or just a month of pinkwashing? The origins of Pride are relatively well-known, at least within the LGBT community. All social justice movements evolve over time, hopefully as they help to achieve what they’re fighting for. But what, and who, is Pride fighting for (and against) now? On whose behalf does it speak? These are key ideological questions, but there are structural and institutional ones too, such as who runs Pride — globally, nationally and regionally? Where does the money go? Is anybody measuring whether Pride has an impact? Does any of that even matter? Join us for a ThinkIn to share what Pride means to you, and help us make sense of what Pride is for.  editor and invited experts Liz MoseleyEditor Christopher Joell-DeshieldsExecutive Director, Pride in London Debbie BrixeyChair of Oxford Pride and VP Members Services at InterPride

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Sack the leaders: are young people the answer to a net-zero future?

Young people are no strangers to activism. Several young climate activists — Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate and Alexandria Villaseñor to name a few — have led protests that have gathered momentum globally. From platforming the voices of young people fighting for their futures to becoming influential climate champions, young people are at the forefront of the campaign for climate justice. Despite this,  their voices often don’t reach the upper echelons of climate governance conversations.Critics argued that youth participation at COP26 amounted to inviting “cherry-picked young people to meetings like this to pretend that they listen to us”, whilst world leaders simultaneously failed to commit to the drastic action necessary to protect the lives of young people and future generations.So, how can young people turn their activism into impactful action, when it’s often a struggle just to get their voices heard? What evidence is there to illustrate that having young people around the negotiating table makes a meaningful difference in climate governance? And, is this narrative of old versus young helpful?  editor and invited experts Ellen HallidayEditor Emily VernallCOP26 Youth Delegation

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Does British democracy work for you?

How can we improve British democracy? It’s a question that doesn’t just concern our parliamentary elections, or even elections at all – but asks we consider the full slate of opportunities available to citizens. Who has the power to change Britain for the better, and where? Why is political power so unequally distributed, and how can it really change? It concerns our representatives, yes, but also our public services: from our education and healthcare systems to our police and regulators. And, in this series on British democracy, it asks us to go to the very root of our social contract – a social contract severely broken, perhaps irreparably. This ThinkIn series will ask how to fix it.  editor and invited experts Matthew d’AnconaEditor Councillor Tim WyeBristol Green Party Councillor, Ashley Dr Ceri DaviesDirector of the Centre for Deliberative Research, NatCen Louise TickleJournalist and Reporter

thinkin

Does British Democracy Work For You?

How can we improve British democracy? It’s a question that doesn’t just concern our parliamentary elections, or even elections at all – but asks we consider the full slate of opportunities available to citizens. Who has the power to change Britain for the better, and where? Why is political power so unequally distributed, and how can it really change? It concerns our representatives, yes, but also our public services: from our education and healthcare systems to our police and regulators. And, in this series on British democracy, it asks us to go to the very root of our social contract – a social contract severely broken, perhaps irreparably. This ThinkIn series will ask how to fix it.  editor Matthew d’AnconaEditor

thinkin

Does British democracy work for you?

How can we improve British democracy? It’s a question that doesn’t just concern our parliamentary elections, or even elections at all – but asks we consider the full slate of opportunities available to citizens. Who has the power to change Britain for the better, and where? Why is political power so unequally distributed, and how can it really change? It concerns our representatives, yes, but also our public services: from our education and healthcare systems to our police and regulators. And, in this series on British democracy, it asks us to go to the very root of our social contract – a social contract severely broken, perhaps irreparably. This ThinkIn series will ask how to fix it.  editor Matthew d’AnconaEditor

thinkin

Making sense of Boris Johnson’s Conservative party, with Lara Spirit

Local elections are done but Boris Johnson’s fate is far from clear. Join reporter Lara Spirit to chew over what the results really mean for the Prime Minister — and who in his party might be compelled to move against him off the back of them.  editor and invited experts Lara SpiritReporter John McTernanPolitical Strategist; Former Political Secretary to Tony Blair Peter KellnerJournalist and Political Commentator

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Should the UK leave the Commonwealth?

The Commonwealth of Nations is home to 2.6 billion people and comprises 54 member states, most (but not all) with links to the former British Empire. The Queen has been head of the Commonwealth for more than seven decades, and Prince Charles has been agreed, in principle at least, as her successor. But as the UK considers the next chapter of the monarchy, would the Commonwealth be better off without the UK in it? Only 9% of UK trade is with the Commonwealth – despite all the talk of it being a major trading opportunity post-Brexit. With our greater understanding of the long-term impact of colonialism, is our continued involvement in the Commonwealth just an attempt to paper over the cracks caused by Britain’s imperial past, or do we still have a responsibility to be involved? editor and invited experts Jeevan VasagarClimate Editor Dr Sue OnslowDirector & Reader in Commonwealth History, Institute of Commonwealth Studies Kojo KoramLecturer at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London Lord HowellFormer President of the Royal Commonwealth Society; Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies

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Should we ban private schools?

To their critics, private schools are the engines of inequality which privilege 7% of UK children at the expense of everyone else. To their supporters, private schools prepare children for the top jobs in politics, law, media and business. Private education is also a booming sector: fee paying schools contribute around £13bn to the UK GDP. Solutions for reform begin with the removal of charitable status and stripping tax benefits, and end with full integration into the state system. Could the state system cope with an extra 600,000 students? How much would it cost the taxpayer?Is elitism really that bad when it comes to education, or should parents be allowed to invest in their children’s future – even if the results aren’t guaranteed? In the era of diversity and inclusion awareness, does the old public school tie still count for much? editor and invited experts Liz MoseleyEditor Fiona MillarJournalist and Education Campaigner Lisa KerrPrincipal, Gordonstoun School