Egypt has opened a second lane to the Suez Canal amid much fanfare. The US$8 billion dollar expansion adds 35km of new channels to the existing canal and another 35km where existing bodies of water were dredged to make way for larger ships. This will supposedly increase capacity from 50 transits a day to 97 and cut waiting times from 18 to 11 hours, which the Suez Canal Authority claims will more than double annual revenue to US$13.2 billion by 2023.
The House of Lords has voted to delay the government’s plans to cut tax credits. The cuts form a significant component (more than a third) of the Conservative government’s plans to reduce the UK’s welfare bill by £12 billion. But George Osborne failed to sufficiently make the case to the upper house that they were part of a wider plan to create an economy that rewards “hard-working people”.
Politicians have turned their sights on encryption once more following terrorist outrages in Paris and San Bernardino, California. A country that once welcomed encryption, France is now considering outlawing it in the wake of the massacre in its capital. In the US, politicians and law enforcement have made similar demands, as has the British prime minister, David Cameron.
Prince Charles is accompanying his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, to the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta this year. This is not the first time Charles has attended the biennial gathering of the 53 Commonwealth nations, but his appearance is deeply significant.
As the world waits to see the outcome of negotiations between the Greek government and its creditors, our attention has been drawn to the fragility of money by the ATM queues in Greece. The euro project, which has long been under strain, may soon start to irrevocably crack.
When what Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt intended as an after dinner speech was made public he suffered the consequences, as have several others before him, including the loss of his positions at UCL and the Royal Society.
In the film Elysium, the ultra-rich have left an apocalyptic Earth ravaged by global warming and overpopulation. Their utopian colony orbits high above Earth which festers below. Science fiction, but Silicon Valley techno-utopians also dream of rising above the planet’s problems.
The recent passing of a new addition to the British statute books, which will come into effect on April 6th, is the latest in a long line of poorly drafted drug laws. The new law, to act in parallel with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, effectively bans all substances – with the exception of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine – with a “psychoactive effect” on “normal brain functioning”. The awful irony of a UK government exempting two of the most individually and socially harmful substances has not been lost on concerned commentators.
Research has found that the rate of violent crime is 60% higher than official statistics suggest. The Crime Survey for England and Wales is the only source of official statistics on violent crime in the UK. Yet the number of violent crimes published by the Office for National Statistics is capped at five per victim form – even if many more offences were recorded by the survey.
Orange is the New Black is about to return for a third season. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s time to sit up and take note: the Netflix programme looks set to become a classic of feminist television.