Carlsen’s Fortress

Bafflement reigned in the press room last night at the end of the final scheduled game in the World Chess Championship. Magnus Carlsen, the reigning champion, appeared to let his challenger off the hook by offering a draw from a position of strength. Well behind on the clock, Fabiano Caruana swiftly accepted. Carlsen’s comments after the game indicated that he had less confidence in his chances than the watching grandmasters with access to supercomputers. More »

E. coli strikes America (again)

Romaine lettuce in the US is currently under the cosh of a Food Safety Alert: don’t eat it, whether head or heart or baby; don’t sell it; and don’t eat ready-mixed Caesar salad, which contains it. Contamination with E. coli O157:H7 is the reason. An outbreak started in October, with 50 cases across 11 states, as well as in Ontario and Quebec, with 13 in the US admitted to hospital. The lettuce may have been grown in California, unlike the produce that caused the first romaine outbreak this year, which was grown in Yuma, Arizona. That outbreak lasted from March to June, and was the biggest E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the US for many years, with 201 cases (96 hospitalised) and five deaths. More »

Out of Stock

Canada legalised marijuana last month. On the way home from the optician on legalisation day, I decided to call into the Sunshine Wellness pot shop I’ve been visiting for the past few years to stock up on CBD oil. Pure CBD oil has no THC (the ingredient that makes you high) and is very useful for inflammation, pain, insomnia and dismay. More »

Climate Rights

Earlier this month, the Republic of the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights held public hearings in London for its inquiry into the responsibility of the ‘carbon majors’ (Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell etc) for global warming. The petitioners are Filipino citizens and civil rights organisations who claim that the effects of the carbon dioxide and methane emissions for which the carbon majors are responsible violate their human rights.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines five years ago. It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, with maximum sustained winds of more than 145 mph as it made landfall over Eastern Samar in the early hours of 8 November 2013. It killed 6201 people, injured more than 27,000, and displaced nearly four million. The Philippines are hit by more than twenty tropical storms a year. More »

Mélenchon’s Decline

‘La République, c’est moi!’ Jean-Luc Mélenchon shouted, face-to-face with a police officer blocking the entrance to his office as it was being raided last month. ‘Kick down the door, comrades!’ he declared. The raids – on Mélenchon’s and his associates’ homes as well as the headquarters of his party, La France insoumise – were part of an investigation into the finances of his 2017 presidential campaign. More »

The People We Want to Look After

Last Friday, Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, finished his visit to the UK. In his end-of-mission statement, he savaged the government’s performance on poverty. Key concerns included shortcomings in the functioning of universal credit, the dismantling of the broader social security net through wide-ranging cuts to services, and the disproportionate impact of fiscal austerity on socially vulnerable groups. More »

In Donetsk

After we crossed the second checkpoint in Marinka, the taxi driver told me the clocks had gone forward. Donetsk time is Moscow time. It isn’t far from the frontline, but Donetsk city centre is calm at the moment. You could almost forget there’s a war going on. More »

Forty Days in My Father’s House

Day 1: I taste year-still air. Although this is not my home, everything is exactly as it was.

Day 2: Secrets fell out of a book this morning. Photos of my father, young. He grins by a statue in some old courtyard, hunches over in an armchair peering at papers. There were love letters dated last year to a woman I didn’t know. For the rest of the day I traced clues, dates on receipts, his last path around the apartment. I wore his hat and his shoes. More »

Trump Cleaners Inc.

My father used to be a dry cleaner. In 1964, after selling a small store in Nassau County, Long Island, he hoped to open something new. Working with a broker, he found an excellent location in a shopping centre in an apartment complex that was going up in Brooklyn, right off Neptune Avenue, a few blocks from Coney Island. In those years Coney Island was being superseded by more daring, more modern theme parks, the beach was unclean and the perception that New York had become unsafe was amplified in the outer boroughs. The new middle-income construction, subsidised by the State of New York, promised to anchor the neighbourhood.

The seven-building complex was called Trump Village. More »

An Exercise in Forgetting

Amid the poppies, the parades, the TV programmes on military themes, the commemorative art works springing up in towns and villages across the country, Theresa May said last week that she would be laying a wreath at the graves of British soldiers in France on the centenary of the Armistice to commemorate ‘every member of the Armed Forces who gave their lives to protect what we hold so dear’. More »

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    • Andrew McGettigan on Carlsen’s Fortress: To provide a little more detail for the diagram. The position is taken before White's 67th move. 67 Bd5-c4 would keep the black knight from e2 (and fr...
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