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The Xi files: how China spies

Most states spy. In principle there’s nothing to stop them. But China’s demand for intelligence on the rest of the world goes far beyond anything western intelligence agencies would typically gather. It encompasses masses of commercial data and intellectual property and has been described by Keith Alexander, a former head of America’s National Security Agency,

Hyper-history: why did politics go crazy?

On the day Theresa May signed her Brexit withdrawal agreement with Brussels, Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, resigned. She tried to dragoon Michael Gove, a leader of the Brexit campaign, into taking the job. Dominic Cummings, the erstwhile campaign director of Vote Leave, persuaded Gove to resign rather than take the job. It was mayhem.

How the Jilly Cooper Book Club turned toxic

The Jilly Cooper Book Club was set up about a decade ago by two friends who’d had enough of book groups where someone would insist, ‘We really must do Dostoevsky this year.’ Members of the JCBC, in a co-founder’s words, just wanted to get together to ‘drink champagne and shriek about Jilly’. ‘Book clubs are

Why were Germany’s Covid files redacted?

There are two kinds of long Covid. One is a medical syndrome, the other manifests as a healthy obsession – an urge to shed light on what happened during the pandemic crisis. Too many questions remain unanswered: why did Sweden come out of the pandemic better than other countries without having endured a lockdown? Why

Has the C of E got its reparations bill all wrong?

Reparations have a troubled history, and rightly. The word itself, in its familiar sense, seems to have been a euphemism thought up by lawyers after the first world war. President Woodrow Wilson had promised a peace ‘without indemnities’. So no indemnities: ‘reparations’ instead. It sounded less objectionable. It was further agreed that liability should cover

Notes on...

Men, step away from the trainers

What is it with men and trainers? Or rather, men of a certain age and trainers. I’m still trying to banish the horror-show image of Rishi Sunak wearing Adidas Sambas in No. 10 in an interview to promote his tax policies. Has western civilisation really come to this? Are we destined to succumb to rubber-soled