Podcasts of the Week: Partridge, celebrity interviews and history


Alan Partridge podcast

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Alan Partridge podcast

Needless to say, Alan Partridge has had the last laugh


Review

The Week Staff

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 2:41pm

If Alan Partridge really existed, he is “exactly the sort of person” who would have his own podcast, said James Marriott in The Times. And now he does. In the first episode of From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast, the TV host turned DJ explains that the idea came to him after he asked himself: “What medium allows me to communicate publicly without Ofcom regulations?” Each episode has a skeletal plot: Partridge is “going on a date/for a walk/practising personal grooming”, and so on. But mainly, From the Oasthouse is an excuse for Steve Coogan to “monologue in character” – and he does it brilliantly. There is an extra treat, however, in the form of spoof adverts for other podcasts. “Recall! Very much one for fans of Chernobyl or Watergate, Recall! follows in minute detail the lead-up to and fallout from the 1972 recall of the Triumph Toledo. [Dramatic pause.] Narrated by John Stapleton.”

For a celebrity podcast featuring a real person (and real celebrities), try David Tennant Does a Podcast With…, said Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. I’ve been sniffy about this one in the past. Tennant can be a bit “too lovely-luvvy” for my taste, and “celebs who interview other celebs rarely bring much insight”. Yet having listened to this new series, I “must reluctantly concede that Tennant is a good interviewer – knowing when to shut up and when to interject – listening hard and giving his interviewees space”. In particular, I was struck by his show with George Takei, in which the actor (Star Trek’s Lieutenant Sulu) opens up about his “astonishing life”, including his LGBT activism and his family’s internment in a Second World War camp. It is “just great”.

History, with its endless scope for “great storytelling”, is naturally fertile ground for podcasts, said Amelia Heathman in the London Evening Standard. One series that justifiably tops the history favourites lists is Lore. “Each episode looks at the darker side of history so it’s almost a true-crime podcast, with a side sharing of mysterious creatures and nightmares.” Another favourite is Dan Snow’s History Hit: Snow covers everything from Genghis Khan and the Peterloo Massacre to the legacy of John F. Kennedy. Travels Through Time is a wonderfully escapist listen in which a historian or writer talks about a point in time they would most like to “visit”. Recent episodes have had Professor Simon Hall on a trip to 1960s America, and archaeologist Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes “going back to Neanderthal times”. Also recommended is the BBC World Service podcast Witness History, about specific moments in recent history, as described by people who were there.

The Week Unwrapped podcast: Sporting genes, Colombia and orcas



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Steven Yang and Sonny Vu discuss COVID-19’s impact on tech manufacturing


Like most of the rest of the world, COVID-19 hit the manufacturing sector by surprise. That China — which continues to comprise the vast majority of electronics manufacturing — was the first global epicenter of the virus certainly didn’t help the industry sufficiently brace for the impact of a pandemic on a scale the world has not seen for more than a century.

“Nobody had a great reaction,” Anker founder and CEO Steven Yang concedes during our Disrupt interview. “I think this all caught us by surprise. In our China office, everybody was prepared to go on vacation for the Chinese New Year. I think the first reaction was that vacation was prolonged the first week and then another several days. People were just off work. There wasn’t a determined date for when they could come back to work. That period was the most concerning because we didn’t have an outlook. They had to find certainties. People had to work from home and contact supplies and so forth. That first three to four weeks was the most chaotic.”

The impact of the earliest days of the pandemic continues to have knock-on effects that have sent shockwave throughout the global hardware industry. In early 2020, it was easy enough for many throughout the globe to write off the novel coronavirus as the latest in a string of outbreaks that didn’t move too far beyond select pockets. Ultimately, however, it would bring much of the world to a screeching halt.

Manufacturing, in particular, suffered first from a workplace depletion. Soon,  the hamstringing of its supply was outpaced in lowered demand. Economic recessions and skyrocketing unemployment have — and in many sectors continue to —torpedo consumer demand for a number of electronics. While it’s true that some categories  — like PCs — ultimately benefited for the shift in lifestyles, an overall decreasing in disposal income has had a profound impact on the industry.

On the manufacturing side, COVID-19 has served to propel existing trends. “I feel like it’s accelerated this depolarization to some extent,” Arevo CEO Sonny Vu explains. “We’re seeing across the board soft goods, hardware.” Vu, who spends much of his time in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, notes that the advent of COVID-19 has increased the appeal of manufacturing sites outside of China. Areas like South East Asia and India, which are continuing to increase in popularity as manufacturing hot beds, are becoming increasingly appealing for those looking to diversify sites to help prepare for similar issues in the future.

Robotics and automation is an other key category seeing increased potential acceleration, as manufacturers look toward streamline processes that can’t call in sick or increase transmission of human viruses.

“It’s our firm belief that automation will not only be efficient, but effective. We have invested heavily in robotic automation,” says Yang. “It’s to a certain point — because if you were to take a certain wire and push it through a hole, the cost of a robot that does that is still, I don’t know, 20 years of a single worker’s salary. It’s very challenging to take an entire assembly line and replace it with robots.”



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How France is handling its coronavirus spike


Paris, France

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PM Jean Castex and other ministers are facing legal action over virus policy following record-breaking rise in Covid cases

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Paris, France

PM Jean Castex and other ministers are facing legal action over virus policy following record-breaking rise in Covid cases


In Depth

Gabriel Power

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 1:32pm

The French government is facing calls to take urgent action to stem a spike in coronavirus cases that has triggered fears of so-called second wave of infections.

France’s Health Ministry reported a 10,593 new Covid cases on Thursday – the highest daily tally since the pandemic began – “prompting officials to urge people to limit social gatherings and maintain handwashing and other protective measures”, says Paris-based news agency AFP.

But despite the surge in outbreaks, President Emmanuel Macron and other leading politicians are reluctant to reimpose a national lockdown, saying that citizens must instead “learn to live with” with the virus.

What are the figures?

Alarm bells began to ring last Saturday, when the French authorities confirmed that the daily tally of confirmed new coronavirus infections had soared to 10,561 – marking the first time that thecountry has passed the 10,000 mark in a 24-hour period.

And this record was broken again yesterday, with the total number of cases in France now standing at almost 455,000, while the tally of Covid-related fatalities has climbed to more than 31,100, according to latest figures.

The confirmation of the latest hikes came as “a group of people who have recovered from coronavirus and the families of Covid-19 patients” filed a lawsuit against Prime Minister Jean Castex “for allegedly overseeing dangerous and contradictory management of the outbreak”, says the London Evening Standard.

Several other ministers are also facing legal action over their perceived poor handling of the crisis, including Health Minister Olivier Veran, who this week acknowledged that the virus “is again very active”, the BBC reports.

And the response to the latest outbreaks?

Two of the hardest-hit French cities, Marseille and Bordeaux, have announced tougher restrictions this week, after the PM Castex demanded that both cities enact new laws “to stem their growing numbers of infections, which were putting pressure on regional health services”, reports Euronews.

The authorities in Bordeaux have banned gatherings of more than ten people in public parks, beside the city’s river and on beaches. The new rules also limit the size of large public gatherings to no more than 1,000 people, well below the national permitted limit of 5,000 people.

The regional government in Marseille, France’s second-biggest city after Paris, has announced similar restrictions, along with the “cancellation of an 11-day international festival” and a pledge to “quickly close down bars and restaurants that don’t observe an overnight curfew and that serve clients who stand up”, says the news site.

Meanwhile, the government is ramping up coronavirus testing. Earlier this month, health officials announced plans to open 20 new testing centres in the Paris region, amid soaring demand as a result of la rentree – the operation to reopen workplaces and schools.

And the government has vowed to implement further measures this week to avoid a national lockdown, after Prime Minister Castex admitted that the situation is “obviously worsening”, adding: “For the first time in many weeks, we are noting a substantial increase in the number of hospitalised people.”

But are these pledges enough?

Not according to Bloomberg, which says that the recent surge in cases is “a grim postscript to [the government’s] decision to cut the required quarantine for positive cases in half to seven days”.

The opening of the “testing floodgates” has also caused backlogs in labs, with “tales of waiting as long as eight days for a result in France”, says the news site.  

And France reportedly “fails the coronavirus test” too, with the average number of contacts traced per positive case falling from 4.5 in the week ending 19 July to 2.4 in the week ending 23 August.



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Instant Opinion: Hitachi ‘failed its nuclear test’


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Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 18 September

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Hitachi Wales

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Friday 18 September


Analysis

Gabriel Power

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 2:01pm

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Simon Jenkins in The Guardian

on misplaced priorities

Hitachi failed its nuclear test. If only it had the vanity of HS2

“What has been intriguing about HS2, like Hinkley Point, is its political invulnerability. From now on it will be charging British taxpayers over £100m a week for the scheduled 20 years of the project. The sums are so stupefying as to have an inverse effect. They are taken as a sign of political machismo, of ‘build, build, build’. Opponents have included even Johnson and his svengali, Dominic Cummings. Other ministers are only too aware that £100m a week cannot avoid impacting on their projects.”

2. Paul Waldman in the Washington Post

on a muddled message

Trump can’t decide whom he should tell people to hate

“It’s almost as though the idea that Joe Biden is responsible for violence that occurs while Donald Trump is president makes about as much sense as the idea that Biden should have implemented a national mask mandate. The public, whose ability to rationally weigh evidence and logic is sometimes limited, seems nonetheless to have grasped that Trump’s claim to be the guarantor of order made little sense.During his convention speech, Trump said ‘No one will be safe in Biden’s America.’ But the fear of chaos and societal dissolution should Biden be elected doesn’t seem to have taken hold.”

3. Fionola Meredith in The Belfast Telegraph

on backstabbing your fellow citizens

Snooping, squealing and snitching is the wrong remedy

“Snitching. It sounds so innocent doesn’t it? Harmless schoolyard stuff. Running to tell teacher that Micky was the one who drew a rude picture on the blackboard, that kind of thing. But if your memory stretches back as far as your schooldays you’ll recall that the kids who routinely “told on” others for minor instances of wrongdoing were never popular. That’s because trying to get other people into trouble while burnishing your own standing as a virtuous upholder of official authority is deeply unattractive behaviour. Most children know this instinctively. But there’s always a few who don’t.”

4. Julia Hurst in Politico

on Rio Tinto’s rampant destruction

Why Australia fails to protect its heritage

“Rio Tinto knew the site was of international significance and held evidence of 46,000 years of continuous human occupation across a changing climate, including the last Ice Age. Archaeologists had salvaged more than 7,000 artifacts – some more than 40,000 years old – from the area. One of the artifacts was a 4,000-year-old plait of human hair, which represented a precious genetic link to present-day Traditional Owners. In regular meetings with Rio Tinto, they had tried to stop the destruction of the caves from proceeding, reminding the company that the site was ‘one of the most sacred sites in the Pilbara region’. And yet, on Australia’s National Sorry Day – which remembers the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities – Rio Tinto went ahead with its plans.”

5. Bryan Knight in Al Jazeera

on a nuanced history

The pitfalls of glamorising Black Power activism

“‘Black Power!’ was an utterance popularised by radical Black activists in the 1960s and 1970s. Although often ignored ideologically, the iconography of Black Power continues to be circulated in popular culture – without a thorough engagement with the politics that led to its creation. The glamorisation of Black Power imagery is a phenomenon that stretches as far back as the 1960s. However, with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is time that we move beyond our obsession with revolutionary aesthetics and engage with its politics.”



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Books of the Week


Books of the Week

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Books of the Week

JFK Volume 1: 1917-1956, Men Who Hate Women, Summerwater


Review

The Week Staff

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 1:50pm

This week’s must-read titles include the first volume of Fredrik Logevall’s biography of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Laura Bates’s “brilliantly fierce” Men Who Hate Women and Sarah Moss’s Summerwater, a tale which expertly captures the “agonised tenderness of family life”.

Book of the week
JFK Volume 1: 1917-1956 by Fredrik Logevall 

This book – the first of a two-volume life of John Fitzgerald Kennedy – is “the most compelling biography I have read in years”, said Max Hastings in The Sunday Times. It offers a peerless portrayal of a man of prodigious intelligence and charm who was “always in a hurry”. Born in 1917, JFK was the second of nine children fathered by the “horrible” Joseph Kennedy, a Wall Street tycoon-turned-ambassador who became notorious in the late 1930s for arguing that Britain was “not worth saving” from Hitler. As a boy, John was sickly and “academically lazy”, and at first his “much less intelligent” elder bother, Joe Jr, was “earmarked to become the Kennedy president”. But when Joe Jr was killed during a wartime bombing mission (one of four Kennedy siblings to meet violent early deaths), Joe Snr transferred his ambitions to his next son. 

The Second World War takes up a large proportion of this volume, and rightly so, because it “made JFK who he was”, said Andrew Preston in The Spectator. As aide to his father in London, he witnessed the “Nazis’ march to war” and was “in the Westminster gallery” to hear the defiant speeches of his hero, Winston Churchill. The War also offered evidence of his extraordinary physical courage, said David Runciman in The Guardian. Having signed up, despite his father’s objections to the conflict, JFK was in charge of a motorised torpedo boat that was sunk by the Japanese in 1943, killing two crew members. To find help, he “set out on his own in shark-infested waters” and eventually brought all ten survivors back alive. This incident, “much burnished in the retelling”, provided a launchpad for his entrance into politics. Logevall’s book is a “riveting” portrait of a life propelled by “valour”, as well as “vanity and greed”. 

Although Logevall makes his subject “amiably human”, he can be “lenient” in his judgements, said Peter Conrad in The Observer. He lets JFK off lightly for “some shocking marital truancy” – such as the time in 1956 when, with his wife Jackie pregnant, he went sailing on the French Riviera with a “flotilla of bikini-clad nymphets”. Even when Jackie suffered a stillbirth, he insisted on remaining on holiday, only “scuttling home” when an adviser told him: “If you want to run for president you’d better get your ass back to your wife’s bedside.” Logevall ends his narrative “at a cliff edge”: JFK’s decision that same year to aim for the White House in 1960. I hope a second “massive” volume follows soon: it is “bound to be enthralling”.

Viking 816pp £30; The Week Bookshop £23.99 (incl. p&p)

Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates 

In this “brilliantly fierce and eye-opening book”, Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, investigates the “cult of male supremacy”, said Steven Poole in The Guardian. Her research takes her into some truly “hellish” pockets of the internet – places where it’s considered normal to glorify rape and murder. The “manosphere”, as Bates discovers, consists of several distinct, but interrelated, communities. Perhaps “most sinister” are “incels” – or “involuntary celibates”, said Mia Levitin in the FT. Enraged at being denied the sex which they consider their due, they “propose controlling women’s sexual autonomy through rape, sexual slavery or sex redistribution”. More “socially accepted” are Men’s Rights Activists, who are interested in “battling women” by seeking, for example, to defund domestic violence shelters. Then there are MGTOW (“Men Going Their Own Way”) who eschew women altogether because of feminism’s effects; and “Pick-Up Artists”, who use psychological tricks to “seduce” women.

It’s often assumed that groups such as these are made up entirely of “random weirdos”, said Lucy Pavia in the London Evening Standard. In fact, Bates argues, the cult of male supremacy is “bigger and more organised” than we might think. It has helped inspire terrorist atrocities – incel ideology has inspired several mass shootings – and teenage boys are increasingly coming under its sway online. Bates herself has observed this latter trend, during talks she regularly gives at schools. At one “prominent public school”, a boy in the front row “calmly puts up his hand to tell her men are more likely to be victims of rape than women”. Although at times a hard read, this “compellingly argued” book illuminates a phenomenon our society needs to pay attention to.

Simon & Schuster 368pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99

Novel of the week
Summerwater by Sarah Moss 

“Summer breaks have never been much fun in Sarah Moss’s fiction,” said Peter Kemp in The Sunday Times. In Night Waking (2011), a family in the Hebrides finds a baby’s skeleton in the garden of their rented home; Ghost Wall (2018) describes a camping trip that “escalates into horror”. In Summerwater, an “even grimmer holiday experience unrolls” in a cabin park by a Scottish loch, where we follow 12 characters over a single rainy day. All are in some kind of crisis – from a doctor who senses that his wife is succumbing to Alzheimer’s to a teenager who narrowly avoids drowning. While it “sounds a cheerless scenario”, Moss’s “imaginative versatility” makes this a rewarding read.

Moss excels at portraying the “fleeting” thoughts of her characters, said Melissa Harrison in The Guardian: the woman distracted from sex with her boyfriend by the “thought of a bacon bap”; the mother who, given an hour’s break from her children, can’t think of a better way to use it than cleaning behind the taps. Written in “simple, pellucid prose”, these portraits expertly capture the “agonised tenderness of family life”.

Picador 200pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99 



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German space agency reveals an autonomous, electric urban mobility prototype for use right here on Earth


The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has debuted a prototype of what it calls ‘U-Shift,’ an urban mobility vehicle designed for multiple uses. U-Shift is a fully electric vehicle, designed for autonomous operation, and could serve in a number of capacities including as an on-demand shuttle, a bus, a mobile distribution center for package delivery, or even as travelling salesroom.

As you can see from the images, the base of the U-Shift itself is pretty simple, containing the wheels, drive system and batteries. DLR envisions a modular top component that can be swapped out depending on usage needs, with various add-on units depicted, including an airy, all-glass bus, and a more barebones cargo capsule.

This modularity could help the U-Shift better address the varied needs of city-based transportation, with the flexibility to shift modes relatively easily depending on what’s going on at the time. You could easily see how a fleet like this could be repurposed for on-demand package and grocery delivery during lockdowns like the ones that have been required during the COVID-19 pandemic, when personal transportation is less needed.

This prototype is functional, but it’s not autonomous – it’s remote-controlled instead. The top speed also isn’t that high, but it is capable of operating continuously for 24 hours when necessary. The primary purpose of this prototype is to test the system that swaps out the cargo/passenger capsules in order to chart a path towards production with companies who will be supplying those, and to study its user interface, including things like how the doors open and how accessible it is.

DLR plans to use all the information it gathers from testing of this prototype to help develop a second, fully automated version that can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (just under 40 mph) by 2024. That next prototype should be much closer to any potential production version, and there will be more focus then on business opportunities and commercialization as well.



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Albums of the Week: three new releases


Albums of the Week

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Albums of the Week

AngelHeaded Hipster – The Songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex, Peter Grimes and American Head


Review

The Week Staff

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 1:29pm

This week’s best new releases include various artists singing the songs of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, a new recording of Benjamin Britten’s 1945 opera and the latest record by The Flaming Lips.

Various: AngelHeaded Hipster – The Songs of Marc Bolan & T. Rex (BMG £13)

Marc Bolan was the “platonic ideal of a pop star – glamorous, impish, lovable yet elusive”, said Tim de Lisle in The Mail on Sunday. Now, 43 years after his death, he receives “one of the biggest compliments known to songwriters” – a tribute by Hal Willner, the great producer who sadly died earlier this year of Covid-19, soon after completing work on this wonderful album. Willner’s special gift was for matching material and artist, and here a starry array of Bolan fans – including U2 with Elton John, Joan Jett, Nick Cave, Peaches, and Marc Almond – deliver beautifully realised covers of some of his best songs. 

There are moments when Bolan’s “defiantly gibberish” lyrics feel exposed, said Neil McCormick in The Daily Telegraph. “I got giraffes all up in my hair and I don’t care,” croons Father John Misty on Main Man. But in fact, it scarcely matters. With its “intriguing cast, exotic songs and dazzling arrangements”, this treat of an album is a “loving, rich, strange and rewarding delight”. My advice: “Bang a gong, and get it on.”

Britten: Peter Grimes (Chandos; £23)

This superb new recording of Benjamin Britten’s breakthrough 1945 opera, by the Bergen Philharmonic under Edward Gardner, is up there with the “finest” ever, said Erica Jeal in The Guardian. It was made last year following several semi-staged performances and acclaimed concerts – and the recording is thus “extraordinarily well run-in”. Even in audio only, it registers as a “genuine music drama”. The music “leads us through the story in one urgent, vital sweep”, the sound is “huge and thrilling”, and there’s “sparkling interplay between singers and orchestra”. 

This “outstanding” Peter Grimes is one to “cherish”, agreed Hugh Canning in The Sunday Times – and it preserves Stuart Skelton’s “immense incarnation” of the title role. His Grimes is “brutish” in his treatment of the apprentice, yet “heart-breakingly vulnerable” in the mad scene. Erin Wall and Roderick Williams provide fine support, and the Bergen choruses (with singers from the Royal Northern College of Music) “share the honours with Gardner’s superlative orchestra”.

The Flaming Lips: American Head (Bella Union; £10)

Recent Flaming Lips albums have been “gimmicky or unlistenable”, said Will Hodgkinson in The Times. But on American Head, they rediscover “what they do better than anyone, which is a dreamy, richly melodic take on psychedelic rock containing stories culled from experience”. Their best album since 1999’s The Soft Bulletin, it’s a strangely moving “hallucinogenic epic about the other side of the American dream”. Harmonies and melodies “unfold with ease” and crescendo before breaking into “musical Technicolor” and there is a luxurious, Beatlesque quality throughout. Just wonderful.

This is an album about memories of childhood and adolescence, said Elisa Bray in The Independent. The sound is “accessible, tender and surreal”. Many of the songs are augmented by backing vocals from Texas country star Kacey Musgraves. And the bucolic tone throughout “conjures flashbacks with wide-eyed wonder”, especially in the “melodic gem” Dinosaurs on the Mountain. Evocative and beautiful, the album is a thrilling return to peak form.



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TikTok and WeChat will be banned in the U.S. from Sunday


The Commerce Department announced this morning that it will require mobile app stores to remove popular social media apps TikTok and WeChat. New users will not be able to download these apps, and while existing users will still be able to use their existing apps installed on their phones, new updates will not be allowed to be installed. In addition, the Commerce Department is also banning any payment transactions through WeChat within the United States.

The bans will go into force Sunday, September 20.

Those decisions are in line with an executive order signed by President Trump on August 6, which put ByteDance and Tencent, the respective owners of TikTok and WeChat, on notice of the government’s intention to block access to their products over purported concerns about national security.

That executive order precipitated the last few weeks of feverish dealmaking to avoid a shutdown of TikTok, discussions that remain on-going and are not finalized. As of today, Oracle and what looks like Walmart are still negotiating with the White House, Treasury Department, and ByteDance to come to a deal that will be acceptable to the president. China also has authority to approve a sale of TikTok.

Over the last few weeks, the administration has promoted a policy known as “Clean Network” designed to eliminate foreign interference in applications and cloud infrastructure that powers American technology. That policy calls for the removal of certain apps, data sovereignty to onshore American user data to the United States, mobile network infrastructure built from “clean” equipment, and a host of other measures to create a “clean” computing environment for U.S. citizens. While those policies are generally written broadly, their clear target has been China, based on speeches from administration officials.

TikTok and WeChat are not the only app removals announced over night. In India, one of the most popular payment apps in the country — Paytm — has been removed from Google’s Play Store for “repeat policy violations.” The app has tens of millions of monthly users. In late June, the country also announced a list of 59 apps developed by Chinese companies that would be banned, including TikTok.

Such national fights over the future of technology have increasingly come to a head as tech drives a larger segment of the global economy and increasingly becomes intertwined with competing national interests.



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The Week Unwrapped podcast: Sporting genes, Colombia and orcas


What does Caster Semenya’s latest defeat say about gender? Is Colombia slipping into conflict? And are killer whales turning against us?


Analysis

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 11:46am

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

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To get six free issues of The Week magazine and a moleskine notebook visit theweek.co.uk/offer and enter promo code: POD25
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In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Gender and genes

The double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya has lost her latest attempt to compete as an athlete without having to lower her testosterone levels, after a ruling by the Swiss Federal Tribunal. The judgement has been fiercely criticised as being discriminatory and infringing Semenya’s human rights, as well as being arbitrary and unenforceable. So what does the science say? Can competition ever be truly fair? And what could Semenya do next?

Colombian violence

Four years on from a historic peace agreement between the government and rebel fighters, violence has returned to Colombia in 2020 with factional fighting and massacres happening on a near-daily basis. With FARC out of the picture and a “law-and-order” president in charge, how has the country’s delicately balanced peace come crashing down?

The orca fightback

Over the past couple of months, a pod of orcas living in the Straits of Gibraltar appears to have been targeting shipping. In one case nine killer whales attacked a 46ft boat, breaking off its rudder, disabling its engine and turning it around. Several other incidents have been reported. While researchers don’t know exactly why this is happening now, some have suggested the whales resent the return of boats to their waters after lockdown.

You can subscribe to The Week Unwrapped on the Global PlayerSpotifyApple podcastsSoundCloud or wherever you get you get your podcasts.



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Quiz of The Week: 12 – 18 September


Venus

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Venus

Have you been paying attention to The Week’s news?


One-Minute Read

Gabriel Power

Friday, September 18, 2020 – 11:09am

Boris Johnson has had another tough week tackling the double whammy of coronavirus and Brexit, with critics lining up to take aim at the government. 

The prime minister faced a Tory rebellion over his controversial Internal Market Bill, which effectively breaks international law by overriding parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, but managed to secure victory in a Commons vote on Monday to push the legislation through to a second reading. 

But Johnson had no time to celebrate, as nationwide shortages of coronavirus tests hit the headlines, with a total dearth of testing supplies in England’s top ten Covid hotspots. Amid reports that Downing Street was planning to crack down on “frivolous” tests, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it “beggars belief ministers didn’t use summer to build up testing capacity in time for children back at school and many returning to the workplace”.

In further Covid chaos, speculation grew that the government was planning a two-week nationwide lockdown, in the wake of claims that England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty had advised the PM to implement the tough measure. As ministers jumped to dismiss the reports, Johnson told MPs that another national shutdown “would be completely wrong for this country” and that his government was “doing everything in our power to prevent it”.

To find out how closely you’ve been paying attention to the latest developments in the pandemic, and other global events, put your knowledge to the test with our Quiz of The Week:

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Need a reminder of some of the other headlines over the past seven days?

Experts are struggling to explain a mystery mass die-off of migratory birds in the southwestern US that biologists have described as “devastating”.  Some experts believe the West Coast wildfires may be to blame, with other weather events linked to global warming also suggested as possible explanations. 

Back in the UK, meanwhile, Confederation of British Industry (CBI) director-general Carolyn Fairbairn urged the government and businesses to seize the opportunity to create green jobs and boost the economy by becoming a “global leader” in the fight to tackle climate change.

The country’s film and tourism industries are already set to get a much-needed shot in the arm, with Pinewood Studios announcing plans to build a £450m development called “Screen Hub UK” featuring a visitor attraction for film fans. The company says the new complex, to be located on a 77-acre site located to the south of the world-famous film and television studio in Buckinghamshire, will create 3,500 new jobs and generate £230m a year for the economy.



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