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Freddy Gray

Superbad: Joe Biden’s plummeting presidency

Who can blame President Biden for nodding off at the COP26 summit on Monday? It was an astronomically boring session — opening statement after opening statement, pompous speaker after pompous speaker, insisting that the time for words on climate change is over. Now is the time for… zzzzzzzzzzzz. It’s a miracle the jet-lagged, 78-year-old leader

The enduring power of Japan’s doomsday cults

 Tokyo It is now 26 years since the doomsday cult known as Aum Shinrikyu (‘supreme truth’) carried out the worst domestic terrorist attack in Japanese history. Led by their leader Shoko Asahara, Aum released sarin gas on to the Tokyo subway, killing 13 and injuring 6,000. It remains the only time a weapon of mass

The urgent case for net zero

Earlier this year, a report from climatologists around the world made it clear that climate change is happening now and that it is almost entirely a result of human behaviour. This is not a controversial conclusion and it is not hard to explain how the report’s authors arrived at it. First, independent observations — from

Net zero is a disastrous solution to a nonexistent problem

Human folly is all too common. But in a long life I have never come across anything remotely as bad as the current climate scare. The government’s COP26 targets are ambitious (and eye-wateringly expensive). Amid the debate, one important question seems to be missing. Are we really facing an existential threat? Or might the climate

Are we ready for the metaverse?

Facebook has rebranded itself as Meta and last month chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the creation of 10,000 jobs to help build the ‘metaverse’ — a concept so radical nobody yet knows what it really is. People in the media tend to describe it as ‘a 3D version of the internet’. Facebook describes it rather

How we rediscovered the charms of haiku

One of the more encouraging developments of the past year and a half has been the number of us who, instead of turning to drink, have been turning to haiku. Haiku hashtags have been popping up on social media since the start of the pandemic. It turns out that 17 syllables in that classic five-seven-five

Out of nowhere: Viktor Orbán’s new challenger

Hungarian politics has a lot to offer: sex tapes, offshore bank accounts, police-dodging MEPs hanging off drainpipes, supposedly left-wing parties cheerfully backing anti-Semitic parliamentary candidates. Nevertheless, most observers would admit that there has been stagnation in the past few years. Hungary’s politics have become a stale exchange of insults between familiar faces. Thank goodness, then,

Are banking apps luring young people into debt?

Last month, my bicycle got a flat tyre. ‘Both of those tyres are gonna need replacing and you’ve knackered your sprockets,’ huffed the bike man. The bill came to £230. It’s the kind of irritating expense that means I run out of beer money a week before payday. I’ve always assumed I’m a reasonably normal

Notes on...

In defence of bagpipes

Many people love to hate bagpipes. Everyone from William Shakespeare to Alfred Hitchcock has held them in contempt. For some, they are almost a form of punishment. Last week, a frustrated motorist blasted bagpipe music in the faces of Insulate Britain protestors on the M25 before he was stopped by police. Most pipers will tell