Despite a backdrop of budget cuts and civil unrest, Rio 2016 was an Olympic Games to remember – for all the right reasons. Looking back on an eventful summer of sport in DG #24, we dug into Olympic history to see how it compared with Games gone by.
The evacuation of eastern Aleppo got underway at noon on Thursday 15th December with the departure of 13 ambulances and 20 green buses. The most severely injured went first, along with their families and other civilians. By the end of the day, about 3,000 civilians had been moved out of the devastated Syrian city. As the operation began, Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian adviser for Syria, estimated the total number of citizens requiring evacuation at 30,000.
The Ailuropoda melanoleuca, or giant panda, is a complete design failure. A carnivore by taxonomic designation, it has chosen to exist by eating 99 per cent bamboo – a diet so low in nutrition that it must be consumed almost constantly, with up to 14kg a day shovelled in just to achieve basic sustenance.
The limited energy supplied by this diet requires the panda to avoid exercise of any kind. So, despite the fact that its natural habitat is disappearing fast, it cannot, of its own volition, go off in search of a better environment. Estimates of the wild population of pandas range from 1,500 to 3,000, clustered in the dwindling mountain countryside of a nation (China) with a fairly hefty population (1.3 billion people) that’s becoming increasingly industrialised and urbanised. The panda contents itself with eating a bit more bamboo, and defecating up to 40 times a day.
Remember phone-hacking? The drama that followed explosive revelations in July 2011 that the British newspaper the News of the World had illegally accessed the voicemail messages of a murdered 13-year-old girl rapidly spiralled into a scandal as shocking and sensational as any the tabloid had itself covered during its 168-year history.
In 2011, Tom Watson MP – now deputy leader of the Labour party – was a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which was examining allegations about the illegal practice of breaking into private voicemail accounts carried out by members of the UK press.
Three months after the most outrageous example came to light – in which the News of the World was caught having hacked into the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler – Watson spoke to Delayed Gratification about the moment the story broke, and the emerging scandal that would come to engulf the shamed tabloid and appal the nation…
On 4th June 1989, the name Tiananmen Square became synonymous with the ruthlessness of the Chinese government. The brutal crackdown on the protestors who assembled at the Beijing landmark to call for reform and freedom of speech was the defining event of recent Chinese history. And yet, type “Tiananmen Square”, “Tinananmen Massacre” or “June 4th” into a search engine anywhere in China and the results will be unrelated to the event (a Google Images search bizarrely turns up a picture of a grinning Michael Phelps) or blocked entirely.
Public gatherings to commemorate those who died in the massacre (unofficial estimates of the dead range from several hundred to thousands) are strictly forbidden. Everywhere, that is, but Hong Kong.
How do momentous events and policy disasters affect political fortunes? In DG #11 we charted the fluctuating approval ratings of one of the most controversial British prime ministers in living memory. Since the Iron Lady’s 11-and-a-half years in Number 10 also makes hers the longest unbroken premiership since 1827, Margaret Thatcher is a case study in the ups and downs of political popularity during turbulent times.
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