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My allotment was once a casual hobby. Since lockdown, it's become a lifeline | Alice O'Keefe

11 juillet, par Alice O'Keeffe[ —]

Growing our own potatoes is fun – but the pandemic and looming trade deals have exposed Britain’s fragile food security

Smugness is a well-documented side-effect of having an allotment, and at this time of year, with raspberries, gooseberries, currants, new potatoes and other goodies ripening and making it to the table, the condition becomes particularly acute. “Notice anything about these spuds?” I can’t help myself asking, faux-casually, over dinner. “And how about the chard? Particularly delicious, no?” To which the only acceptable answer, clearly, is a chorus of: “Oh yes, I noticed that immediately, I’ve never tasted such magnificent chard in my life.” (For some reason, this is not a response that comes naturally to my children.)

Many plot-holders will be even more insufferable this year, as we’ve had so much more time than usual to spend tending our plots. Allotments have been open throughout lockdown, designated as safe spaces for daily exercise. I nearly gave mine up before the pandemic, as I was too busy working and socialising to keep the weeds at bay. Boy, am I glad I kept it: as a mother of two energetic boys without much outdoor space at home, our plot has been a lifeline.

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The Guardian view on stop and search: police people, don’t terrorise them | Editorial

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10 juillet, par Editorial[ —]

London’s top police officer is in denial about a counterproductive stop-and-search policy

Cressida Dick, the commissioner of London’s Metropolitan police, appears to be in denial about the extent of institutional racism in the force she leads. The evidence that some of her officers and policies do discriminate is hiding in plain sight. Black people in the capital are four times more likely to be Tasered than their white peers. During the coronavirus lockdown, her officers were more than twice as likely to issue fines to black people as to white people. Perhaps if her force resembled the city it policed, such disparities would shrink. London cannot wait for this to happen. At the current rate of recruitment, the Met will be disproportionately white for a century.

There is a pressing need for reform. Ms Dick said last year that the Met had won the war against racism in the ranks. She has been wilfully blind about the failure of her force to treat black and white people alike. Her apology for the “distress” suffered by two black athletes who were pulled over in their car and handcuffed in a stop and search that turned up nothing but their three-month-old baby in the back seat is no turning point. It was an attempt to deflect mounting criticism for the way stop and search has been applied in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. During the coronavirus lockdown, when crime rates fell, stop and search continued for the sake of it. In May alone, one in eight young black males in London were stopped and searched.

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The Guardian view on arts freelancers: they must not be forgotten | Editorial

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10 juillet, par Editorial[ —]

The government has stepped in to protect the UK’s cultural infrastructure, but has neglected the people who make the art

The £1.57bn rescue package for the arts that the UK government announced on 5 July was both absolutely necessary and rightly welcomed. The funds ought to be sufficient to sustain Britain’s artistic and cultural infrastructure until the spring. Had they not materialised, institutions such as the Royal Opera House would have faced collapse by Christmas.

Yet theatres, concert halls, opera houses and arts centres are only the pipes through which art flows. While it is clearly important to keep this infrastructure functioning, it is of absolutely no use on its own. Indeed, the purely physical infrastructure is, by and large, the problem in terms of Covid-19, since it presents the issue of mass gatherings indoors. It is the work – art made by freelancers – that matters, and that audiences pay to see.

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Donald Trump is a hypocrite on China – but China deserves to be condemned | Jonathan Freedland

10 juillet, par Jonathan Freedland[ —]

Beijing is crushing human rights in Hong Kong, and is accused of genocide against the Uighurs. The world cannot stand by

Donald Trump taints everything he touches. If he supports a cause, he damages it. If he takes a stance, the instinct of most self-respecting liberals is to rush to the opposing side. So when Trump rails against China, a favourite bete noire, it can make a progressive pause.

That’s especially true when the US president lurches so easily into casual bigotry – referring to the coronavirus as “kung flu” – and when his hypocrisy is so rank. Thanks to his former national security adviser, John Bolton, we know that, for all his talk, Trump begged Beijing to meddle in this year’s election in his favour, breezily granting US blessing to what Amnesty International calls the “gulag” of camps in Xinjiang, in which China holds a million Uighur Muslims against their will.

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Scottish independence and Westminster politics | Letters

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10 juillet, par Letters[ —]

Lyn Jones, Mairianna Clyde and Jan Dubé react to an article by Rafael Behr on an impending crisis

Rafael Behr (A Scottish independence crisis is on its way – and English politics is in denial, 8 July) gives a shrewd overview of the constitutional tussle, noting the impact of Nicola Sturgeon’s qualities of humility and sincerity during the Covid-19 crisis, to which may be added competence and due caution. Boris Johnson displays their polar opposites – self-promotion, dishonesty, incompetence and gesture politics. How is it that in Westminster such a person rises effortlessly, while Scottish politics rewards someone so different?

England does not lack people of integrity and ability, but in Westminster these count for little. Fantasies of past grandeur encourage MPs to adopt the style and illusions of another age. In this unreal world, Johnson’s claims of a “world-beating” response to Covid-19 fall within the norms of Westminster speech. In Scotland, they sound risible.

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Myths around further education policy and student targets | Letters

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10 juillet, par Letters[ —]

David Blunkett reacts to Gavin Williamson’s comments about graduates in non-graduate jobs. Philip Knowles points out that the target was for 50% of young people to go into higher education, not just university

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has taken what is now a familiar sideswipe at British higher education, while quite correctly lauding the importance of developing further education (FE) and vocational skills (Ministers to ditch target of 50% of young people in England going to university, 9 July).

His assertion, in his speech on FE reform, that graduates taking non-graduate jobs resulted in “filtering down” and therefore displacing jobs that would have been taken by less-qualified students repeats a commonplace myth.

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Women still face a medical minefield | Letter

10 juillet, par Letters[ —]

Jan Millington of the campaigning group Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure is saddened that women are still not receiving proper care, support and attention to complex needs

Baroness Cumberlege, who chaired the review into vaginal mesh, hormonal pregnancy tests and an epilepsy medicine that harmed unborn babies (Denial of women’s concerns contributed to decades of medical scandals, says inquiry, 8 July), was involved with my campaigning group Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure back in the early 1990s.

After a Guardian article in 1991, it was found that hundreds of women were suffering devastating injuries from breast and pelvic radiation. We had much media exposure and over the years interacted responsibly with the Department of Health, the legal profession, charities and royal colleges, as well as providing advocacy and support to our members.

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Looking through a foggy lens darkly | Brief letters episode download
10 juillet, par Letters[ —]

Face mask problems | Chris Grayling | Quick crossword | Brentford FC

Like Nicholas Worsley (Letters, 8 July), I also wear hearing aids, so masks that attach behind the ears are useless as they keep pulling them off. I solved the problem by replacing the ear elastic with one piece of elastic sewn to the top bit to go round my head, and two ties at the bottom to go round my neck, thus making them much more comfortable.
Gay Viinikka
Worthing, West Sussex

• The reusable cotton masks I bought (with profits going to the NHS) have a channel where a pipe cleaner can be inserted to fit the bridge of the nose. Put on the mask, pinch the pipe cleaner: no more steamed-up specs.
Maggie Butcher

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It's clearer than ever that black history is everyone's history episode download
10 juillet, par Joseph Harker[ —]

From slavery to Windrush, the stories of yesterday still impact on our lives. That’s why the Guardian is publishing a free wallchart series

History isn’t about the past. More and more, it’s about the present. And black history isn’t about faraway people. It’s about our own country.

Britain’s Black History Month has been running for more than 30 years. Yet it took the toppling of the statue of a 17th-century Bristol slave trader for most people to discover that the legacy of slavery runs deep throughout the entire country – in its banks and its major cities. Indeed, the “compensation” paid to slave owners after abolition was so vast that it took until 2015 for Britain to finish paying the bill.

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