The full devastation wreaked by Germany’s cataclysmic floods has emerged slowly. As the waters subside, survivors have cautiously waded back through the mud and rubble to salvage what is left of their communities. Last week an unusual zone of low pressure trapped between two areas of high pressure meant that two months’ rain fell in 48 hours. The Ahr, Erft, Swist, Trierbach and Volme, usually less than a metre deep as they wind through small towns and villages on their way to the Rhine, were transformed into fierce and destructive torrents.

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22 July 2021

Who does he think he is?

Jude Wanga

In his interview with Laura Kuenssberg on Tuesday evening, Dominic Cummings described a battle for control over Boris Johnson between himself and Carrie Symonds, now the prime minister’s wife. He lost. We know he lost because to the victor the spoils and to the loser a 7 p.m. interview on BBC2.

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21 July 2021

One-Sided

Daniel Finn

The British government has faced strong criticism in recent years for its unseemly partisanship in dealing with Northern Ireland’s political actors, as manifested in the confidence-and-supply agreement between Theresa May and the Democratic Unionist Party after the 2017 election. But Boris Johnson and his Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, have now united all of the region’s main parties, from Sinn Féin to the DUP, in opposition to their amnesty plan for Troubles-related killings.

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20 July 2021

Messi’s Triumph

Andrew Downie

The moment Lionel Messi lifted the trophy after Argentina beat Brazil in the final of the Copa América on 10 July was a landmark in football history, almost as significant as Pelé’s breaking all records to win his third World Cup with Brazil in 1970.

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19 July 2021

Against Common Sense

Samuel Earle

On 11 May 2020, as Britain reeled from the first wave of the pandemic, Boris Johnson urged the public to use ‘good, solid British common sense’ to navigate the risks posed by Covid-19. One year and 120,000 deaths later, the prime minister’s advice to the nation was the same. ‘It’s about basic common sense,’ he said on 11 May 2021. Now, as Britain lifts all Covid restrictions while recording nearly as many cases as the entire European Union, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, who tested positive at the weekend, has told the Commons it is time to ‘start a new chapter based on the foundations of personal responsibility and common sense’.

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16 July 2021

The Price of Bread

Layli Foroudi

In Tunisia in the early 1980s a standard loaf of white bread cost 80 millimes (0.08 dinars). But the price was set to more than double in 1984: the government had decided to cut wheat subsidies to meet loan conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund. The town of Douz on the edge of the Sahara was the first to rise up against the decision in late December 1983, in what would become a national revolt. ‘It was a big difference!’ Mohamed Fekih Chedly told me. ‘We acted impulsively, we didn’t have twenty millimes and they were going to make the bread 170.’ 

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15 July 2021

Seeing Red

Forrest Hylton

In Salvador, the protest march on 19 June snaked in a wave of red T-shirts and banners from Campo Grande through Vitória and Graça to Porto da Barra in the south of the city, and from there to the white lighthouse of Farol da Barra, surrounded by the deep blue of the Baía de Todos os Santos. The march on 3 July took a different route, down Avenida Centenario and past the Morro de Cristo, to the same destination. Both were reasonably large, loud, diverse, young and festive, with several left-wing political parties and movements, as well as competing PA systems and drummers with chants, rants, music and dancing. Afro-Brazilians of all ages were well represented. There were no robocop riot police: hardly any police at all, in fact, except to direct traffic. Some older residents unfurled red PT flags from their windows. As the event headed towards closing, people sat on the hillside to watch the sun set in a marbled sky.

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