‘Keep America Great’ is President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election slogan and it sounds off. The phrase doesn’t have the same ring as Make America Great Again, the mantra that Trump pinched from Reagan and repeated to victory in 2016. As an acronym, KAG is uglier than MAGA. The words particularly jar when America’s cities are burning, homicide rates are spiking, almost 180,000 Americans have died of or with Covid, and the country is reeling from the largest economic shock of all time.
No one should fool themselves about the nature of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vision for Turkey. It’s an imperialist project that would see Turkey’s hegemony stretch from the Mediterranean Sea and Libya all the way to Iran.
Erdogan’s plans for his country’s expansion are evident in the current stand-off in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece. Turkish frigates are accompanying a research vessel, the Oruc Reis, as it enters disputed waters to carry out a seismic survey in search of natural gas.
Within the next year or two, I could go bankrupt. My mistake: to join a government-backed affordable housing scheme and purchase a one-bedroom flat in east London. For the past four years, it has been my pride and joy — not to mention my savings, my pension and my financial future. I was grateful for the government’s help in getting a foothold in the city. But now another government policy is hurtling towards me, against which I have no defence.
These past five Covid-buffeted months have shone a spotlight as never before on the choices we as a nation make about and around food. We are quite confused when it comes to eating. The government’s two recent messages on the subject are in conflict with each other: it’s our civic duty to ‘eat out to help out’, we’re told, but also we need to lose weight to protect the NHS. These muddled messages were evidenced by the somewhat mad poster advertising ‘eat out to help out’: after listing the practical terms of the scheme, the optimistic last line reads ‘Look out for better health choices’.
It has to be seen to be believed: a pool party attended by thousands, with the young bodies packed so tightly that you could barely see the water. There was a DJ, neon lights and outlandish acrobatics from performers on water jetpacks. The scenes, captured on video and sent around the world, were all the more extraordinary because the party was in Wuhan.
It wasn’t long ago that the same people were locked down in their millions.
I was on a train from Sussex to London, my first since lockdown, when I realised I like my commute. The thought worried me a little. What kind of weirdo have I become? A commute is a psychological hurdle, something to be endured, not enjoyed. What’s next? The giddy thrill of waiting in a queue? A root-canal fan club? There are some aspects to commuting I don’t enjoy — the expense of a season ticket, of course, and frustrating delays — but overall, yes, I do like it.
What have we been witnessing these past few months? A worldwide crisis caused by the arrival of a new virus of exceptional virulence — or a crisis of awareness, in which incomplete information led to a wildly disproportionate reaction? Have lockdowns, face coverings and the rest saved millions of lives worldwide? Or have they had relatively little effect on the course of the pandemic, and ended up causing more harm than good? And why, so far, is Britain not seeing the surge of Covid-19 infections reported in Spain and France? What are we missing?
We still know a lot less about Covid-19, and about viruses in general, than you might have been led to believe.
Now that we must all wear face masks, it is hardly surprising that they have started to become a fashion accessory. An Israeli jeweller has created a gold and diamond-encrusted mask that is said to be worth $1.5 million. According to the designer, the man who commissioned the extravagant mask — which weighs nearly 100 times as much as a typical surgical mask — had two demands: that it be completed by the end of the year and that it be the most expensive mask in the world.