March 2019


21 March 2019

The Chimanimanis before Idai

Diana Stone

Before the cyclone, there was a drought in Zimbabwe. People prayed for rain; and then the rain came, and it was not at all what was wished for. It seems brutally unfair: to have lost so much, in so brief a time, at the ordinance of the sky.


19 March 2019

The Noise of Life

Adam Shatz remembers Okwui Enwezor

In December, Okwui Enwezor wrote to me from Munich. He had leukemia. ‘What I miss most,’ he said, ‘is the noise of life humming out there. It’s much too quiet here.’ He died last Friday, aged 55. Since then it’s felt very quiet, both for those who knew him personally, and for the many people who admired his work as a curator and writer. Okwui had a deep, booming voice, and a purposeful one. When he spoke, you listened. It’s hard to imagine not hearing it.


19 March 2019

Day of the Locusts

Oliver Miles

Last month the Food and Agriculture Organisation issued a warning of a possible threat of locust swarms to crops and food security in the region from west of the Red Sea – Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea – across Arabia and into southern Iran.


15 March 2019

How an act of mass murder is turned into a global spectacle

Daniel Trilling

Far-right terrorist ‘manifestos’, like the one apparently published by one of the Christchurch shooters, are a kind of Rorschach test, inviting the reader to finish the job by finding meaning in the incoherent and contradictory ideas it contains. An act of mass murder is turned into a global spectacle by the use of real-time social media networks. Traditional media organisations and individuals online are drawn into repeating, arguing over and sharing the claims and images made by the perpetrator.


13 March 2019

The canvas went blue

Eleanor Birne

In the early 1970s, Sargy Mann was diagnosed with cataracts. He continued to paint, but he had to look much harder than most people. Eventually he went completely blind, but kept on painting.


11 March 2019

‘Algeria is a Republic’

Hugh Roberts

The Algerian state is in crisis. The popular refusal to accept a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has immense constitutional implications and confronts the army commanders with a massive dilemma. Public opinion is not repudiating Bouteflika personally; it is indignantly rejecting the suggestion that, in his permanently crippled, wholly incapacitated condition, he should be considered eligible for another five years in office. The Algerian people are defending the constitution, not violating it. Article 102 clearly defines the procedure to be followed ‘whenever the President of the Republic, because of serious and enduring illness, finds himself unable to exercise his functions’. This should have been set in motion long ago.


8 March 2019

Labour and Antisemitism

Eliane Glaser

I’m an opinionated Jew with a PhD in the history of antisemitism, but I find it daunting to weigh in on the debate about antisemitism in the Labour Party. To describe the accusations as disproportionate is to risk being branded an antisemite. But while genuine instances of antisemitism should be tackled, there is no more of it in Labour than in other parties. The sustained offensive by the Labour right and by Conservatives is not only unfairly damaging the party and the left in general, it also unthinkingly reinforces antisemitic motifs.


7 March 2019

Europe and the ‘Migration Crisis’

Daniel Trilling

The European Commission says the ‘migration crisis’ is over. It has published a fact sheet aimed at countering both the far right, who tell lies about migrants and refugees, and humanitarian campaigners who point to Europe’s complicity in the imprisonment and torture of people in Libyan detention camps. It acknowledges that some ‘structural problems remain’.

But what is over, and who is it over for?


6 March 2019

What’s wrong with chlorinated chicken?

Hugh Pennington

‘Chlorinated chicken’ is pejorative. Chlorine gas doesn’t come into it. The meat isn’t bleached. Poultry carcasses are washed with dissolved antimicrobials such as sodium chlorite, chlorine dioxide and trisodium phosphate. The EU banned it in 1997, not because the washes leave the meat dangerous to eat but because it might incentivise poultry producers and processors to give hygiene a lower priority. This argument was used in the 1930s by opponents of milk pasteurisation.


5 March 2019

Fetishised Bravery

Tom Stevenson

The reporter Marie Colvin was killed in Homs in February 2012. A Private War, Matthew Heineman’s movie based on her life, begins with archival footage of Colvin being asked by an interviewer what she would want a young journalist to know about being a war correspondent. Her answer comes in two parts: first, that you should care enough to write in a way that makes others care; second, some tough-sounding advice on not acknowledging fear until the job is done.


1 March 2019

Next Door to Mar-a-Lago

Paul Levy

For the third year in a row, I am spending a good chunk of the winter in Palm Beach, Florida, as a guest of a friend who rents an extravagant two-storey, marble-floored gaff four doors down from Mar-a-Lago. When our preposterous president is in residence, the Secret Service and local sheriffs are stationed in our drive.