Our news highlights from 12 months past, for your weekly dose of Slow Journalism perspective…
“This is where we go to find bodies,” says David Garcia. The desert spreads out, vast and silent, all around us. Jagged mountain ridges rise in the distance. “There are lots of them out there.”
In January 2017 the world got an unnerving glimpse into its automated future when a San Diego broadcaster uttered these five fateful words into the camera – and, overheard by a number of Amazon Echo devices in viewers’ homes, inadvertently triggered a rush on children’s toy residences.
The residents of Eden returned to real life in March 2017. As participants on the Channel 4 show they had been assigned the task of building a community from scratch in the remote Ardnamurchan peninsula of the Scottish Highlands. Cut off from the world, they will have been surprised to learn about the geopolitical turmoil of the past year and – maybe most shockingly – Eden’s cancellation in August 2016, after only four episodes.
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…
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