Bill and Melinda Gates have asked for privacy after their divorce announcement, but a storm of attention seems more likely. Interest in their marital arrangements isn’t merely prurient. They are public figures and their personal lives have political ramifications. The urgent question in global health circles is what will happen to their powerhouse foundation in the wake of their split. Large amounts of funding hang in the balance.
Disarray has been spreading among Republican Party leaders. Right-wing opposition to Donald Trump is no longer confined to Reagan-era fogeys and nostalgic neo-cons. Since the Capitol riot of 6 January, toadies of long standing like Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell, disappointed to learn that Trump enthusiasts hoped to make America great again by lynching them, are acting as though the president they propped up for four years is someone else’s problem. Among the rank and file, confusion is even more acute. A poll taken just before Trump left office found that Republican-leaning voters disapproved of his presidency more than ever before (though that still left 60 per cent crediting him with doing a good job).
Grass Valley is a small town in the California Sierra Nevadas, and every year the Grass Valley Charter School Foundation holds a fundraising fair, the Blue Marble Jubilee, that celebrates planet Earth with folk music and activities for children, such as making paper butterflies and egg carton caterpillars. This year’s Jubilee was scheduled for 11 May.
Twenty-five people died in Kiev last night. Before it started, when the day was still bright and my main thoughts were about dealing with my feverish four-year-old twins over half-term, I sent a message to a friend who also writes about Russia (I’d put the twins in front of a cartoon). ‘Just had an odd thought,’ was the gist of what I wrote (it was in a social media shorthand). ‘But what if all the stuff the Kremlin has been doing the last few months – destroying the relatively free RIA Novosti, taking TV Rain off the airwaves, pressuring radio Ekho Moskvy, ramping up the anti-Americanism and traitor-hysteria – is not just a case of a general "turning the screws", not a reaction to social change, but actually active preparation for a huge operation in Ukraine. They want their informational bases covered. They’re planning something.’ ‘Ummm. Maybe,’ my friend wrote.
It's hard to know what to make of Lord James of Blackheath's bizarre speech in the House of Lords on Monday night, in which he said that he'd been approached by an anonymous and unfeasibly wealthy international organisation, Foundation X, which was offering billions of pounds to the British state to help it through the financial crisis. Mention of the Vatican's gold reserves and laundering money for the IRA under the approving eye of the Bank of England didn't make his story sound any more plausible. It's been suggested that he's either 'barmy' or the victim of a particularly audacious hoax.