Ed Harriman, who has died at the age of 77, wrote half a dozen pieces for the London Review between 2004 and 2007, reporting on the waste and corruption that followed the US-led invasion of Iraq. An award-winning documentary film-maker as well as a print journalist, who had worked for Granada TV’s World in Action during the 1980s and Channel 4’s Dispatches since 1991, he went to the Middle East in 2003 to make Secrets of the Iraq War for ITV. His previous films included investigations of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, of the mismanagement of nuclear waste by both the US and Russia, the handover of Hong Kong, and new houses in Britain built on contaminated land.

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5 May 2021

Broken Bargains

Anne Orford

The TRIPS Agreement came into effect in 1995 as part of a broad new suite of trade agreements resulting from the Uruguay Round of multilateral negotiations that led to the creation of the WTO. The agreements were treated as a ‘single undertaking’. States had to sign up to all of them if they wanted to join the new organisation. On its own, the TRIPS Agreement was a strikingly bad deal for most states, especially in relation to the expanded patent regime it established.

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4 May 2021

The People v. Bill Gates

Linsey McGoey

Bill and Melinda Gates have asked for privacy after their divorce announcement, but a storm of attention seems more likely. Interest in their marital arrangements isn’t merely prurient. They are public figures and their personal lives have political ramifications. The urgent question in global health circles is what will happen to their powerhouse foundation in the wake of their split. Large amounts of funding hang in the balance.

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30 April 2021

Out of Oxygen

Skye Arundhati Thomas

A man in New Delhi rolls an oxygen cylinder after waiting more than eight hours for it to be refilled. Photograph © Ishan Tankha

A tanker carrying medical oxygen from the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand to central Madhya Pradhesh was halted after it crossed the border into Uttar Pradesh on 25 April. India registered more than 350,000 new Covid-19 cases that day. The vehicle was on a tight deadline; patients on ventilators were urgently awaiting its arrival. The driver alleges that police commandeered the tanker at Varanasi and took it further off course into the state, to Jhansi. When the oxygen did not arrive at Sagar as scheduled, state chief ministers got involved. The UP government reluctantly parted with the tanker, but has since denied the incident ever took place. As India is overwhelmed by a second wave of the virus, the country has run out of oxygen.

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29 April 2021

Biomass and Other Dubious Renewables

Arianne Shahvisi

Part of the trouble is the idea that trees are just wood, wood is carbon, and carbon is fungible. Most of the wood pellets burned in the UK are imported from Canada and the United States, where mature forests which underwrite vast, complex ecosystems are being felled to meet the growing European demand for ‘renewable’ energy. The official line is that pellets are made from offcuts from the timber industry, but scientists and environmentalists report that trees are being felled to go straight to biomass.

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28 April 2021

Rather be Humpty

Alex Abramovich

Shock G was the Donald Fagen of hip hop: a piano player, most comfortable behind his instrument, thrust into the role of a front man. His birth name was Gregory Edward Jacobs, and most of his audience knew and remembered him as Humpty Hump – a sign of how uneasy he was in his skin, with even his onstage persona hidden behind other personas.

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27 April 2021

Saving Football

Ben Walker

When the president of Real Madrid talks about ‘saving football’ he means as a business not a sport. A number of elite clubs have made untenable financial decisions in recent years (mostly regarding player contracts) that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Juventus, for example, use a fifth of their annual revenue to pay a single player: Cristiano Ronaldo.

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