Hot News on 25/11/2021

Analysis: experts say emphasis on the west and international diplomacy obfuscates the original allegation

Despite endless speculation from international press in recent weeks, there has been barely a mention of tennis star Peng Shuai’s bombshell allegation against Zhang Gaoli, the country’s former vice-premier, in domestic news coverage. Outside the country, the event was initially referred to by the editor of the official nationalist tabloid Global Times, Hu Xijin, only as “the thing people talked about”.

“For some years now, China has responded to negative global attention either by giving an unconvincing explanation, or by stoically pretending the criticism isn’t there,” Zhang Ming, a retired professor of politics at Renmin University told Reuters this week.

Officials are focused on exiting the arrangement swiftly as the energy supplier’s ‘unsustainable’ business model comes under scrutiny

The government has begun to count the cost of Bulb Energy’s collapse as many begin to wonder whether it is a fair price to pay for policymakers’ failure to spot a looming market breakdown.

The life-support scheme set up to allow Bulb to keep supplying gas and electricity to its 1.7 million customers through the winter months could cost taxpayers up to £1.7bn according to a court application to hand the company to a special administrator.

Plays such as Maryland, written in the wake of the killings of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, are rallying points for protest

If you’re a survivor of male violence, reading Lucy Kirkwood’s “howl of a play” Maryland is a visceral experience. To hear it out loud, I imagine even more so – the Observer’s theatre critic Susannah Clapp described the experience of attending a reading at the Royal Court as “only the second time in 20 years in the stalls that I and another critic (female) have clutched each other in fright”. Maryland was written in two days after the killing of school teacher Sabina Nessa, months after Sarah Everard had been raped and murdered by a police officer and in the year that two Metropolitan police officers pleaded guilty to misconduct after sharing photos of the murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry on a Whatsapp group. The officers have now been sacked.

Maryland is 30 minutes of pure anger. And what woman hasn’t felt angry this year, about the continued toll that male violence takes upon our lives? Maryland’s chorus of Furies (at least three, but 100 is better, the script advises) could be any one of us. “Not all men,” they chant, “but … if I gave you a box of 10 Maltesers and told you two of them weren’t Maltesers, they were very small balls of human shit, would you feel a bit anxious while you were eating or would you just crack on?” The word “rape”, meanwhile, is obscured by a scarcely human scream, an “unbearable noise”, a metaphor for the unspeakable pain and fear it wreaks on so many women’s lives.

Maryland sold out when it was performed in an extended run at the Royal Court in October. Usually with contemporary drama, that would probably be the end of it for a while, but Kirkwood has waived performance rights for November, meaning anybody can perform it this month, with the result that, amazingly, Maryland is being performed all over the country, from Cardiff to Edinburgh, Manchester to Brighton, Newcastle to north Wales, its furious words spoken by many different women, its message ricocheting and resonating across the land in a startling act of resistance. Donations towards survivors’ charities are encouraged in a way that resembles how benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues have been performed globally.
Feminist theatre has always had radical potential, prompting as it does what used to be called “consciousness raising”, the hope being that audience members leave a performance determined to enact change, committed to speaking out. “Look how the play has galvanised theatre makers all over Britain,” Bridget Foreman tells me – she is directing the play for York’s Riding Lights Theatre Company, which is staging readings this Friday at the Friargate theatre. “We want to shout, to protest. We want audiences to go out and do the same in their way: in their families, workplaces, friendship groups. We want far more than ripples of applause. We really believe that this play can stir people to change how they think about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour, and what they can do about it.”

Maryland’s furious echoes are a powerful argument for relaxing rights to works that confront social issues, so that they can be seen by diverse and geographically diffuse audiences. At the heart of Kirkwood’s play is an understanding of how male violence and the experience of it can manifest differently among women, with certain lines being reserved for women of colour, such as: “Because if your bruises don’t show like a Caucasian, you are not believed like a Caucasian” and “If I was attacked and left for dead I cannot guarantee that the police would not take photographs/selfies with my dead body.”

From its beginnings, feminist theatre appreciated the importance of first-person testimony (Kirkwood says that everything in the play is based on real-life events). In the 1980s my mother was part of the feminist theatre group ReSisters (no relation to the current campaigning group of the same name embroiled in the trans rights debate), a multicultural co-operative of women who used personal experience of male violence to create shows, including with women in refuges. (Some of the self-defence she learned with ReSisters she passed on to me, and in the autumn of 2010, when I was attacked, it saved my life; proof, if you need it, of how such groups can affect change in our lives.)

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is a Guardian columnist and author

Luton assistant manager has been overwhelmed by support since prostate cancer diagnosis and is ready for ‘big fight’ ahead

“I don’t really want the interview to be about me,” says Mick Harford, almost by way of introduction. It underlines why he is such a popular personality in the game and beyond. “It is all about ‘Prostate United’ and Prostate Cancer UK. Obviously, you’ll have to say a little bit about me but I just want to concentrate on all the help I’ve been getting and the way people have been around me, going out of their way to support me in my illness.”

It is almost 12 months since the Luton assistant manager and chief recruitment officer was diagnosed with prostate cancer and four since he started radiotherapy. This month staff at the Championship club, its academy and community trust signed up to the Prostate United fitness challenge to show support for Harford and raise money for Prostate Cancer UK, which funds research to enhance treatments for the most common cancer in men. It kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK. Harford wants to raise awareness and his openness has already had a meaningful impact.

Democrats were once able to count on wave elections to win back key statehouses. Republican gerrymandering is making that all but impossible.

The jury reached the right verdict – even as the criminal justice system did everything it could to exonerate the three men

It’s shocking that Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan were found guilty of murdering Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia. Yet the shock doesn’t stem out of any miscarriage of justice. On the contrary, the jury in Glynn county deliberated and reached the correct decision. Stalking an innocent Black man, chasing him, cornering him, and then killing him must come with criminal consequences in this country, and each of the three murderers now faces the possibility of a life sentence.

But the shock is that justice was served in a case where it seemed the criminal justice system and substantial portions of media coverage were doing all they could to exonerate these men. In fact, everything about this case illustrates how difficult it is to get justice for Black people in this country, starting with how often Fox News and other media outlets referred to the case as “the Arbery trial”, as if Ahmaud Arbery were the perpetrator here and not the victim.

In a remote southern Australian area famed for its forbidding landscape and unsolved mysteries, the couple had set out for a weeklong trip and were never seen again.

Reconstruction after Covid: a new series of long reads

Despite Thatcher and Reagan’s best efforts, there is and has always been such a thing as society. The question is not whether it exists, but what shape it must take in a post-pandemic world

In March 2020, Boris Johnson, pale and exhausted, self-isolating in his flat on Downing Street, released a video of himself – that he had taken himself – reassuring Britons that they would get through the pandemic, together. “One thing I think the coronavirus crisis has already proved is that there really is such a thing as society,” the prime minister announced, confirming the existence of society while talking to his phone, alone in a room.

All this was very odd. Johnson seemed at once frantic and weak (not long afterwards, he was admitted to hospital and put in the intensive care unit). Had he, in his feverishness, undergone a political conversion? Because, by announcing the existence of society, Johnson appeared to renounce, publicly, something Margaret Thatcher had said in an interview in 1987, in remarks that are often taken as a definition of modern conservatism. “Too many children and people have been given to understand ‘I have a problem, it is the government’s job to cope with it!’” Thatcher said. “They are casting their problems on society, and who is society? There is no such thing!” She, however, had not contracted Covid-19.

Although Harper’s law sets out to protect emergency service workers, it will do little to change their lived realities

Harper’s law is named after PC Andrew Harper, killed in pursuit of three quad bike thieves in 2019. It introduces mandatory life sentences for anyone whose crimes result in the death of an emergency service worker, and is expected to take effect at the start of 2022, after a successful campaign by Harper’s widow, Lissie. The pair were newlyweds when the police officer was killed.

Some crimes and their subsequent prosecution demand systemic change; others feel simply unresolved by the legal outcome, and it’s hard in the moment to distinguish between the two. Harper’s killers, Henry Long, then aged 18, and Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 17, were all cleared of murder and convicted of manslaughter. Their sentences weren’t insignificant – Long’s was 16 years; Cole and Bowers were both sentenced to 13 – but their conduct was unrepentant, chilling. It emerged after the trial that the jurors had been given extra security amid fears of potential intimidation by supporters of the defendants. It was understandable to perceive, as Lissie Harper did, that rather than facing justice, Long, Cole and Bowers had slipped through its technicalities and niceties, that their punishment was insignificant compared with the harm they had caused.

Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist

The Biden administration has called on major companies to help fight the pandemic. Big chains want to get past the holiday staffing crunch first.

The songwriter’s fractious relationship with his parent led to them becoming estranged for almost a decade – but after her transition, Miranda is reconnecting her son, who has written a song for her

A north London pub, walls dripping vinyl. Fingers white on an acoustic guitar, spittle roared on to microphone. For folk-punk star Frank Turner, it’s a gig like hundreds he has played on his 17-year path from squat parties to arenas. The song, though, is unlike any he’s performed before.

“My father is called Miranda these days,” he sings. “She’s a proud transgender woman and my resentment has started to fade …”

  • The player will not be available for the immediate future
  • Mal Brannigan: ‘Priority is Charlie’s health and wellbeing’

The Wigan Athletic forward Charlie Wyke is being treated in hospital after collapsing during training earlier this week.

The club confirmed Wyke was taken for medical treatment before Tuesday’s League One game with Cambridge and that he will not be available for selection for the immediate future. “Charlie is in a stable condition and in communication with his family, hospital staff and the club’s medical team,” read a club statement.

FBI advises employees on how to respond if they show signs of mysterious ailment which manifests as a brain injury

The FBI has warned its employees about Havana Syndrome, a mysterious ailment that appears to have affected US diplomats and spies in several countries in recent years and manifests as a brain injury.

More than 200 US officials, from the state department, CIA and national security council (NSC), have suffered from some form of symptoms – including dizziness, nausea and headaches. The phenomenon was first identified in Cuba but has happened elsewhere.

Holiday shopping over the past 80 years as chronicled in photos from The New York Times archives.

Analysis: The deaths of 27 refugees have prompted both sides to revert to centuries-old sniping – but neither dares go too far

Writing in Le Monde this week Julian Barnes, the novelist and chronicler of British French relations, said both sides found it “easy to slip into the role of accuser or affronted victim”, often trading on decades or even centuries-old outdated stereotypes of one another.

After 27 people died in the Channel, those stereotypes are in full view, and however much each side says it will rise above the blame game, or in Emmanuel Macron’s phrase “instrumentalise” the migrant crisis, it is almost impossible to resist sniping. The possibility that the simmering, adjacent, dispute about post-Brexit fishing licences will finally explode with a blockade of Calais this weekend only adds to the sense that this is a relationship on the edge of nervous breakdown.

Ana María Wahrenberg and Betty Grebenschikoff, whose families fled Vienna in 1939, each feared the other had died in the Holocaust

Childhood best friends Ana María Wahrenberg and Betty Grebenschikoff said goodbye to each other in a German schoolyard in May 1939.

Now the school pals, who were separated aged just nine when their Jewish families were forced to flee the Nazis, have hugged each other in person once again after spending more than eight decades fearing the other had died in the Holocaust.

Sharbat Gula left Afghanistan after Taliban takeover that followed US departure from country

National Geographic magazine’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” has arrived in Italy as part of the west’s evacuation of Afghans after the Taliban takeover of the country, the Italian government has said.

The office of the prime minister, Mario Draghi, said Italy organised the evacuation of Sharbat Gula after she asked to be helped to leave the country. The Italian government would help to get her integrated into life in Italy, the statement said on Thursday.

Emmanuel Macron has stressed the need to develop 'stronger and responsible' partnerships with Britain and Europe after at least 27 people, including women and children, died on Wednesday trying to cross the Channel on an inflatable boat.

Speaking on Thursday, the French president said: 'When these men and women reach the shores of the Channel, it is already too late.'

British and French leaders have traded accusations after the tragedy

Analysis: Moscow presents Washington with a no-win situation: capitulate on Ukrainian sovereignty or risk all-out war

Joe Biden is preparing for a virtual summit with Vladimir Putin with the aim of fending off the threat of another Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The summit has been previewed by the Kremlin while the White House has not confirmed it, though spokesperson Jen Psaki noted ​​”high-level diplomacy is a priority of the president” pointing to the teleconference meeting with Xi Jinping 10 days ago.

Officials hope three-day weekend will help reduce toxic pollution levels in country’s second largest city

Pakistan has ordered private offices and schools to remain closed on Mondays in Lahore in the hope that a three-day weekend will help reduce toxic levels of smog in the country’s second-largest city.

The directive, issued by Punjab relief commissioner Babar Hayat Tarar, aimed to act “as a preventive and speedy remedy” during the winter smog season and will last until 15 January.

Even with cause for concern, retreats in countries like Costa Rica and Jamaica, as well as in the United States, have been popping up for more than a decade.
Even in the best of times, social gatherings can be overwhelming. If you’re feeling less-than-festive, here’s how to ease into the season.

Fraudsters aim to exploit shoppers’ desire to save money, but follow these tips before splashing out

Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t only on shoppers’ and retailers’ radars – scammers take any opportunity they can to exploit our eye for a bargain, and last year used the busy shopping days to defraud consumers in the UK of £2.5m.

According to the banking trade body UK Finance, theatre tickets and e-scooters are targeted by criminals – but it adds “whichever gift you might be seeking a deal on, it’s likely fraudsters are looking to exploit it”.

Andy Smith, who documents his travels on YouTube, estimates task will take ‘best part of 25 to 30 years’

When Andy Smith moved from the Lincolnshire countryside where he grew up, to Rotherham, he immediately longed for a return to his rural life.

“For the first 24 years of my life I lived in a village, and living in a town is a big difference,” said 37-year-old Smith, who was born in Saxilby. “It made me miss village life. So I thought, how can I combine the missing of village life with my passion for geography?”

One of northern England's best-known restaurants has been engulfed in flames after its thatched roof caught fire. More than 40 firefighters were called to the Michelin-starred Star Inn at Harome, North Yorkshire. 'It's been a long night so far ... I'm afraid we won't be open for a while as we are reduced to ashes,' said chef Andrew Pern, who tweeted footage of the fire. The 14th-century inn has regularly been cited as one of the best in the UK since the arrival of Pern 25 years ago

Breathe: 2022 by Dryden Goodwin will pay tribute to Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah of Lewisham

Public artwork that pays homage to Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, whose exposure to air pollution contributed to her death at the age of nine, will go on display close to her south London home next year.

Breathe: 2022 by Dryden Goodwin will appear at sites close to the South Circular road, which runs within 25 metres of the house where Ella lived. The artwork – a centrepiece of events marking Lewisham’s year as London borough of culture – revisits Goodwin’s 2012 creation Breathe, which depicted his five-year-old son inhaling and exhaling.

Mone repeatedly denied any association with firm it has since emerged she recommended to government

Labour is calling for an investigation into the conduct and honesty of Conservative peer Michelle Mone after she repeatedly denied any association with a PPE company it has since emerged she recommended to the government.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) recently revealed that Lady Mone referred the company, PPE Medpro Ltd, as a potential supplier during the coronavirus pandemic.

The continent is now the centre of the global coronavirus pandemic – again. As countries from the Baltic to the Med brace for harsher winter measures, the Guardian's Jon Henley looks at the reasons behind the fourth wave

The home secretary said it was up to France to stop refugees crossing the Channel in small boats, after 27 people, mostly Kurds from Iraq or Iran, drowned trying to reach the UK in an inflatable boat.

Making a statement to MPs, Patel said that while there was no rapid solution to the issue of people seeking to make the crossing, she had reiterated a UK offer to send more police to France.

Patel told the Commons she had just spoken to her French counterpart, Gérald Darmanin, after the disaster in which 17 men, seven women and three adolescents – two boys and a girl – drowned

Covid is finally starting to recede into the background to join all the other risks we accept as part of living our lives

One of the hardest things about adjusting to life in late-stage Covid has been the making and seeing through of plans. A sniffle – or, more probably, a child’s sniffle – can get you out of anything and, far from looking like an excuse, still be presented as selfless deference to public health. I have been out twice this week, to Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera, and on both occasions have had to fight the urge to cancel at the last minute. Now it’s Thanksgiving and 53 million Americans – only a fraction fewer than pre-pandemic numbers – are expected to be on the move. It’s a celebration, a reunion, and given the atrophied state of our social muscles, also kind of a drag.

For many of us it is strange, simply, to have plans. On the morning of Thanksgiving, my kids and I are travelling 45 minutes north of our home in New York for lunch with friends and extended family. My dad has flown in from London. Other guests are travelling from the midwest, and returning from college campuses. It is the first time we will have attended a party in someone’s house for almost two years, and in the days running up to it, figuring out the rules – or rather, remembering there are rules to figure out – has been hard. Last year, no one was vaccinated. This year, most of the adults present will have had three vaccinations and even the six-year-olds have had one. We’re over the line. Aren’t we?

Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist

Cross-border differences, religion, Scottish independence, immigration: can two strangers find common ground over dinner?

Click here to take part

Anne, 72, Argyll

Occupation Psychotherapist and writer

In Sydney, something changed. I embraced the uncertainty of the sea, following my children into a culture of volunteer lifesaving.

Airlines report more than 5,000 incidents involving passenger behaviour on flights this year

The US attorney general Merrick Garland has directed the swift prosecution of federal crimes on commercial flights as officials face a large increase in the number of investigations into passenger behaviour.

Airlines and their unions have pressed the US government to push more aggressively for criminal prosecution. Airlines have reported more than 5,000 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, with more than 3,600 of those involving people who refused to wear face masks.

Since 2017 the contract – now worth $1.6bn – has been amended seven times without competitive tender

A Brisbane construction company had $8 in assets and had not commenced trading, when it was awarded a government contract – ultimately worth $1.6bn – to run Australia’s offshore processing on Nauru.

The contract was awarded after the government ordered a “financial strength assessment” that was actually done on a different company.

Roman Rain Tree has tried to convince local officials to do away with a name that ‘memorializes sexualized and genocidal acts’

In September, the popular Lake Tahoe ski resort Squaw Valley announced it would change its name, recognizing that the term was “derogatory and offensive”. It became official with a press release and a new sign.

But that’s not the end of the name in California. Hundreds of miles south in Fresno county, near Kings Canyon national park, there is another Squaw Valley. The central California town of about 3,500 people dates back to the 19th century, and is one of nearly 100 places in California to use the controversial term in its name.

A Juergen Teller monograph, mezcal with a mission — and more.
  • Rangnick is Lokomotiv’s head of sports and development
  • He wants guarantee of consultancy role for at least two years

Manchester United are in advanced talks with Ralf Rangnick over becoming their interim manager until the end of the season. Rangnick, a former head coach at clubs including RB Leipzig and Schalke, is Lokomotiv Moscow’s head of sports and development.

United are continuing negotiations with Lokomotiv, where the German signed a three-year deal in July, and Rangnick will accept the post only if guaranteed a consultancy contract from May until 2024 or 2025.

Discontent has long simmered over a perceived unequal distribution of resources and the central government’s decision to switch allegiances to China from Taiwan.

For Bashir Khan Ahmadzai, threatened with deportation to Afghanistan, promises of ‘patience and care’ leave a bitter taste

On the final Saturday night in August, the last RAF plane left Afghanistan. On board were any remaining British diplomats and soldiers, escaping a country in murderous chaos. Outside the base, Taliban militia were roaming Kabul’s streets, while the previous evening a suicide bomber had got to the airport gates and set off an explosives belt, killing at least 183 people.

As the UK’s largest evacuation mission since the second world war ended, Boris Johnson praised his officials and troops: “They have expended all the patience and care and thought they possess to help people in fear for their lives.”

Good morrow one and all and welcome to the real football factories another fascinating night of Europa League behaviour. I’m afraid, though, that our opening task must be to deal with some housekeeping, so please bear with me.

This season, there is no round of last 32. Rather, the eight group winners proceed to the round of last 16, while the eight runners-up meet one of the eight third-placed Champions League rejects in a two-legged playoff, the winners of each to move on. I don’t suppose it’s very fair, but then it wasn’t already, and this should give us greater DRAMA, NARRATIVE and MONEYMONEYMONEYMONEYMONEYMONEY, so here we are.

Commission says unrestricted travel between states should apply to those who get booster 9 months after jabs

People living in the European Union who want to travel around the bloc without being tested or going into quarantine should get a Covid booster jab nine months after their original vaccination, the European Commission has proposed.

The EU’s executive body said there should be a standard nine-month acceptance period for vaccines across the bloc, in an attempt to do away with a confusing mix of rules across the 27 member states.

The Atlanta rapper will answer your questions – ranging across his three-decade career – as he prepares to release his new album, The Big Sleepover

One of the American south’s greatest ever rappers returns. Big Boi’s new album The Big Sleepover is released next month and to mark it, he will be answering Guardian readers’ questions about the record and anything else in his long career, which you can post in the comments section below.

The Big Sleepover pairs the Atlantan born Antwan Patton not with his most famous partner – André 3000 in Outkast – but another longtime foil, the vocalist and producer Sleepy Brown. Their collaborations stretch back to the early days of Outkast, when Brown sang the chorus to their breakthrough 1993 hit Player’s Ball. The track showcased what would become the signature Outkast sound, that would in turn influence an entire region: funk-driven, somewhat psychedelic, sometimes laidback, but absolutely rooted in the crisp, alert percussion of hip-hop.

The R1T can haul five tons, conquer brutal off-road trails and sprint to 60 miles an hour in a blink. And about that Camp Kitchen tucked inside …
Rangnick, an architect of the Red Bull soccer empire, will take over as United’s manager while the club pursues a permanent replacement for Ole Gunner Solskjaer.

Sweden’s first female prime minister, the Social Democrat Magdalena Andersson, has resigned less than 12 hours into the job when her coalition collapsed. Andersson said a decision by the Green party, the junior party in the coalition, to quit had forced her to resign from the post. 'I have asked the speaker to be relieved of my duties as prime minister,' Andersson said. 'I am ready to be prime minister in a single-party, Social Democrat government.'

  • Morgan led team to promotion from Women’s Championship
  • ‘This club has been part of mine and my family’s life for 12 years’

Leicester City have sacked their manager Jonathan Morgan after losing all eight of their Women’s Super League games so far this season.

Morgan, who helped lead the team to promotion from the Women’s Championship last season, leaves alongside assistant Michael Makoni and first-team coach Holly Morgan.

Chinese companies dominate mining, battery and manufacturing sectors, and amid human rights concerns, Europe and the US are struggling to keep pace

Think of an electric car and the first name that comes to mind will probably be Tesla. The California company makes the world’s bestselling electric car and was recently valued at $1tn. But behind this US success story is a tale of China’s manufacturing might.

Tesla’s factory in Shanghai now produces more cars than its plant in California. Some of the batteries that drive them are Chinese-made and the minerals that power the batteries are largely refined and mined by Chinese companies.

Analysis finds those who have been jabbed are no more likely than unvaccinated to suffer stillbirth or premature births

Health leaders are urging thousands of unvaccinated pregnant women to get vaccinated after the first official data from England found Covid jabs are safe and effective.

The analysis of more than 350,000 deliveries by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows women who have had a Covid vaccine are no more likely than the unvaccinated to suffer stillbirth, premature birth or have babies with low birthweight. It reinforces international evidence that the jabs have a good safety record in pregnant women.

Pregnant women and three children were among 27 people who drowned trying to cross from France to UK on Wednesday

At least 27 people have drowned in the Channel while trying to cross from France to the UK on Wednesday.