Hunterston’s closure is the nuclear accident no one noticed

So farewell, Hunterston B, the nuclear power plant on the Firth of Clyde that shut last week after 46 years’ service. It will be followed this summer by Hinkley Point B in Somerset and in 2024 by Hartlepool and Heysham, leaving the UK with just four nuclear stations boasting five gigawatts of generating capacity between them — when they’re not suffering extended ‘outages’ for maintenance and repair. That compares with 15 stations and 13 gigawatts, meeting a quarter of UK electricity demand, at the UK’s mid-1990s nuclear peak. Meanwhile, the 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley Point C, developed by EDF of France and due on stream in 2026, ‘may be delayed after

Haunted: the spectre of revolution is stalking Putin

A spectre is haunting the former Soviet Union — the spectre of people power. Every time it appears, Vladimir Putin leads an unholy alliance of all the reactionary autocrats of the former Soviet space to try to exorcise it. Last week, Putin sent 3,000 Russian paratroopers to Kazakhstan at the request of its president to crush a sudden revolution that left at least 160 protestors and 12 security officers dead. For the time being, it looks like Putin’s timely intervention — as well as an internet shutdown that paralysed protestors’ ability to coordinate — has successfully quelled the flames. Kazakhstan 2022 has not joined the list of ‘colour revolutions’ that

Was the Kazakhstan uprising an attempted Jihadi takeover?

The Kazakh uprising is over. The stench of burnt-out vehicles and bombed out buildings in Kazakhstan’s most populous city and former capital, Almaty, has begun to dissipate. Life is returning to normal. Banks have reopened. Salaries and pensions are being paid. The internet is up and running again. Almaty airport is expected to reopen today. As the fog of war lifts some clarity about these events is beginning to emerge. Officials have reported that 100 businesses and banks were destroyed along with 400 vehicles. Seven policemen died and hundreds more were wounded; 8,000 people have been arrested. Some 164 civilians were killed. The government of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has survived

Is Kazakhstan capable of transitioning to democracy?

In the dramatic ‘reveal’ of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, the lead character, private dick Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) violently extracts the identity of the young girl hidden in the house of Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway). Evelyn, after being beaten and thrown across the room by Gittes, explains, ‘She’s my sister and my daughter’. The penny drops and Gittes realises that Evelyn has had a daughter by her father. Incest is shocking enough in a film. When incest allegedly involves Nursultan Nazarbayev, the former president of Kazakhstan, and his daughter Dariga, the speaker of Kazakhstan’s Senate, the revelation is jaw-dropping. The reveal of this hard-to-believe accusation was even more extraordinary. It was

A bailout for the arts is good – but reopening would have been better

The government’s £1.57 billion lifeline for the cultural sector was bigger than most practitioners were expecting — and drew a chorus of approval from arts panjandrums lined up to offer quotes on the end of the DCMS press release. A nifty media exercise, then, and a smart deployment of the Hank Paulson ‘big number’: when the US treasury secretary unveiled his $700 billion bailout package in 2008, a staffer admitted the number had been pulled out of the air simply because it sounded huge. So it is with this deal, within which the real sum available for grants to be spread across a large number of threatened theatres and other