16/05/2020
16 May 2020

League of nations

16 May 2020

League of nations

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Features
Fredrik Erixon
League of nations: the race out of lockdown

Uppsala Last week, Europe started its liberation from lockdown — and it all feels like a study in national political identity. Belgium took its first step towards ‘deconfinement’ but no one seems exactly sure what that means. France is opting for complexity rather than simplicity. Italy’s national plan for the easing of its lockdown is more convoluted still, but few regions bother to follow it anyway. Spain, goes a national joke, went more slowly and started with a reopening of the siesta.

League of nations: the race out of lockdown
Jayanta Bhattacharya & Mikko Packalen
Lives vs lives – the global cost of lockdown

‘There have been as many plagues in history as there have been wars,’ wrote Albert Camus in The Plague, ‘yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.’ So it was this time. The arrival of a new coronavirus blindsided governments of most advanced nations as they reached for a tool that few had ever really considered before: lockdown. It all happened too fast for a proper discussion about the implications.

Lives vs lives – the global cost of lockdown
Alexander Pelling-Bruce
Lockdown, foot down: driving in the time of Covid

After the post-apocalyptic fall-off in traffic at the start of lockdown, cars are now slowly starting to return to the roads. Well, if you’ve seen a smug git cruising through north Perthshire in a 1989 Atlantic Blue BMW 320i convertible, that’s me. I’m rediscovering the love of the car. I started lockdown in London, hurtling down Edgware Road blasting out ‘Ghost Town’ by the Specials. Having decamped to the Highlands (in defiance of the SNP edicts to stay away), I now chug along at 20 miles per hour below the speed limit, with a gentle accompaniment of Hall & Oates.

Lockdown, foot down: driving in the time of Covid
Aidan Hartley
Another plague is enveloping the world – locusts

As if 2020 hasn’t already scared the hell out of us all, a plague of locusts is upon us. When I first witnessed a swarm swirling across my farm in Kenya, it was hard to see them in the nightmarish way they’re depicted in Exodus or the Book of Revelation. They were millions of pink and golden Tinker Bell fairies, flying in a halo around the sun, filling the air with the sound of rustling skirts. But the breeding cycle of a locust is only a few months and they are growing in numbers exponentially.

Another plague is enveloping the world – locusts
Katy Balls & James Forsyth
The MP demanding a new approach to China

Six years ago, Neil O’Brien was working for George Osborne when the then chancellor was enthusing about a ‘new golden era’ in Sino-British relations. But now O’Brien, who became the Conservative MP for Harborough in 2017, is one of the founders of the new China Research Group, a group of Tory MPs who are pushing for the government to take a tougher line with Beijing. His best-case scenario is one where the UK and its allies ‘manage to restrain some of the worst behaviours of the Chinese government’.

The MP demanding a new approach to China
John R. Bradley
Oil on troubled waters: the US-Saudi alliance is crumbling

Donald Trump said in October 2018 that the Saudi royal family ‘wouldn’t last two weeks’ without American military support. Last week, on the back of the collapse of the US fracking industry, he finally acted on his long-standing anti--Saudi instincts. He ordered the immediate withdrawal of two patriot air defence batteries, sent to defend the kingdom’s oil infrastructure in September after a missile attack blamed on the Iranians.

Oil on troubled waters: the US-Saudi alliance is crumbling
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