The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
Passing through the maze of lounge chairs at the beach or pool this summer, one best seller and its sequels appear like spots under beach umbrellas; black-sheened paperbacks in the hands of plenty of reclining, rapt women.
Anything that resembles narrative or character in the Fifty Shades series, which starts with the title novel Fifty Shades of Grey, is forgone to get to the meaty stuff; that is, the sex. Our heroine, who is at times compared to the naïve beauty from Tess of the D'Urbervilles (a solitary well-employed allusion in the series), chooses the chiseled, sexy, young Christian Grey for her first, but definitely not her last, sexual experience. Skip to the revelation about Grey’s preferences in the bedroom, and within a hundred pages she is tied up, roped down, spanked, lashed and beaten in the pursuit of Grey’s satisfaction.
It is little surprise, then, that in the craze to read Fifty Shades, women have opted for the e-book version almost as often as they have for the paperback. In the U.S., the book has sold about 10 million copies in each category, passing the 20 million sales mark in July. But are people – women, especially – actually enjoying the book, or is the title simply enjoying a short-lived period of wild popularity? Within these questions another, older, question is buried: What makes a woman want to read a novel?
It is difficult to gauge who among the readers of the Fifty Shades novels are actually fans. The bad writing, the transgressive sex, and even the length of the books are points of many casual reviews on the Internet. Others see qualities to like in the novels. Roxane Gay, who wrote about them for The Rumpus, calls the series “a modern fairy tale with a dark, erotic twist.” So much has been said (a cursory search of the Huffington Post for “Fifty Shades of Gray” turns up thousands of pages of content) that it is difficult for anyone not to have a vague notion of the book’s content by now.
By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.
Standard Chartered is the latest UK-based bank that seems to be getting it in the neck from our friends across the water. Firstly, there was Barclays and the Libor scandal, then there was HSBC which was fined for allowing drug-trafficked money from Mexico to go through its system and now there is Standard Chartered which is charged with “wilfully misleading” the New York Department of Financial Services and clearing $250 billion of Iranian transactions through its U.S. operation.
Two can be a coincidence, but three in as many months? Since the news on Standard Chartered broke there has been a torrent of investors, politicians and even some in the media who have queried whether this is just an attempt by Washington to discredit London and re-establish New York as the world’s financial centre.
Andrew Hammond is an Associate Partner at Reputation Inc, and formerly a UK Government Special Adviser and Senior Consultant at Oxford Analytica. The opinions expressed are his own.
With London 2012 proving a once-in-a-generation global showcase for Britain, a key uncertainty nonetheless remains over whether a substantial, meaningful legacy can be secured in future years from hosting the games. Given that the official public cost of the Olympics is some 9.3 billion pounds (a figure Parliament believes is nearer 11 billion pounds, and Sky News estimates to be a staggering 24 billion pounds) this is a key question, especially as Britain languishes in a double dip recession.
By Laurence Copeland. The opinions expressed are his own.
It will be a long road back to respectable standards in our schools, but for making a start, Michael Gove deserves our respect and gratitude. It takes a lot of bravery to confront Britain’s education establishment.
However, there is one critical issue which I never hear mentioned in any of the fractious debates on education. It hides behind a number of aliases: continuous assessment, assignments, projects, and no doubt many others. Whatever form it takes, the common factor is the incorporation into public qualifications of grades based on work completed outside exam conditions – at home, in the library, in the shopping mall, anywhere except under the eye of an objective invigilator.
** This post is part of AlertNet’s special report on water: The Battle for Water
Bob Sandford is the EPCOR Chair in support of the United Nations Water for Life Decade in Canada and a member of the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy. He is also an advisor to RBC’s Blue Water Project. The opinions expressed are his own.
Because of its small population, large area, extensive agricultural regions and relatively high per capita availability of water, Canada is considered to be among the world’s most important food-producing nations.
–Nicholas Rutherford is the Director of AidEx. The opinions expressed are his own.–
South-South Cooperation is currently and correctly being cited as a route to cutting poverty and increasing food security in the developing world, with recent plaudits including Ban Ki-moon and Amina Mohamed. The premise is that two or more developing countries achieve goals through mutual cooperation and exchanges of knowledge, skills and resources.
Steven Heywood is a programme assistant, specialising in the human impacts of climate change at the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva. The views expressed are his own.
“Countries have not tended to go to war over water,” Ed Davey, the UK’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change recently noted, “but I have a fear for the world that climate instability drives political instability.”
Despite widespread knowledge of how the AIDS-causing virus HIV is transmitted, and how to prevent it, the disease is still spreading. An estimated 34 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS in 2010, according to the World Health Organization. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worldwide epicenter, with 22.9 million people living with HIV/AIDS, but epidemics and areas of high concentration abound elsewhere, including in Western Europe and the southern United States. Now, an emerging concept known as treatment as prevention – where patients are given medication for the primary purpose of stopping new infections – is gaining favor as a way to decrease the spread of HIV, if not end it altogether.
Eran Feitelson is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The opinions expressed are his own.
Water is essential for life. This is a basic premise underlying the water discourse in all arid and semi-arid regions. Nowhere is this perception better acknowledged than the water-scarce Middle East.