Thursday briefing: Who is antibacterial the blast band again?

Hello, it’s Warren Murray with the news formatted to fit your morning.

Scientists have detected a mysterious and “shocking” rise in the world’s atmospheric levels of CFCs, the gas banned since the 1980s because it attacks the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

Chlorofluorocarbons were used in making foams for furniture and buildings, in aerosols and as refrigerants. But they were banned after the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica. Experts at the NOAA science agency in the US say they have ruled out the expected leaks of CFC-11 from those historical sources, or other atmospheric factors, in trying to explain the sudden sharp increase. “You are left with, boy, it really looks like somebody is making it new,” said Stephen Montzka at the NOAA.

Since 2007, there has been essentially zero reported production of CFC-11. The source of the new emissions has been tracked to east Asia, but finding a more precise location requires further investigation. Failing to do so could set back the ozone layer’s recovery by 10 years or more, say experts. Hopefully, says Montzka, “somebody who was maybe doing it purposefully will realise – oh, someone is paying attention – and stop doing it”.

Grenfell report – A review of building regulations due to be published today is not expected to include an outright ban on flammable cladding and insulation. Instead, it is predicted Dame Judith Hackitt will argue for fire testing and building certification to be toughened up so that contractors and architects are not able to use such materials. Grenfell Tower, where 71 people died in a fire, was clad in aluminium panels with a combustible plastic core, backed by insulation that also burned. So far, 158 social housing towers have been found to be wrapped in combustible cladding. Theresa May has announced the government will pay at least £400m towards it being taken down and replaced. The public inquiry into the Grenfell fire starts on Monday.

‘Dehumanising’ – Home Office mistreatment of immigrants goes far beyond the Windrush scandal and affects thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, says the charity Refugee Action. By the end of 2017, more than 14,306 people had waited for a decision on their asylum claim for more than six months, a 25% increase from 2016, despite fewer applications. Incorrect refusals dog the system: people denied asylum by the Home Office had the decision overturned on appeal in 35% of cases. Today we report how a champion boxer has been caught in the immigration dragnet. Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, trafficked to Britain as a child, was raised in state care and rose through the boxing ranks until he stood to compete at the London Olympics. But, targeted for deportation as a criminal, over offences that earned nothing more than community service, he remains in limbo.

‘Difficult problem to fix’ – Staying fit and active may prevent the onset of dementia, but an exercise programme won’t necessarily slow it down once it takes hold, according to researchers. “I was disappointed by the results, although I probably wasn’t completely surprised,” said Prof Sarah Lamb, lead author of a paper in the British Medical Journal. In a study of nearly 500 people, those assigned to a serious regimen of gym and home exercise became fitter, but did worse on cognitive tests, than participants receiving usual care. That should not stop people with dementia going for walks, swimming or doing other gentle activities, said Lamb. “But if you think of exercise as a drug, it is certainly not worth the NHS investing in that type of treatment for people.”

Nuclear nuance – Donald Trump says he will “see what happens” after Kim Jong-un’s regime raised doubts about upcoming talks. “We haven’t been notified at all” that the North Koreans are cancelling, said the US president. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, has thrown a spanner in the works by using the words “Libya option” to describe the goal of North Korean denuclearisation. A foreign minister for the North called it an “awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq, which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers”. Not to mention the messy ends met by Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. There have been moves to reassure the North Koreans, including a US clarification that nuclear-capable B-52 bombers are not being used in military exercises with South Korea.

They didn’t flip – Ukraine has alleged its crack team of military-trained dolphins starved themselves to death rather than defect to the other side when the Russians annexed Crimea in 2014. “The trained animals refused not only to interact with the new Russian coaches, but refused food and died some time later,” said Boris Babin, the Ukrainian envoy in Crimea.




Ukraine’s military kept a squad of trained dolphins.


“Many Ukrainian soldiers took their oath and loyalty much less seriously than these dolphins.” Russia has attempted to blow holes in the claim, saying some of the dolphins were sold off while others died of natural causes.

Lunchtime read: Bowled over, or over bowls?

Serving food in a bowl has gone from Instagram craze to Meghan and Harry’s menu. But is this foodie cult about the look of your meal, the taste, or something else? “Some find the lack of cutting and sometimes chewing in bowl food infantile,” Tony Naylor writes, “but ambitious chefs embraced this vehicle of delivery long before the clean-eating crew.




Company of Cooks bowl food


“Bowls have liberated dish design and are able to accommodate more liquid than plates, so you can bring in influences from dishes such as noodle soups and broths.” And according to the Oxford food psychologist Charles Spence, a warm bowl in your hand makes you to feel content, while its weight and the perception of a large portion size may encourage you to eat less. Naylor has compiled an excellent potted history of bowl food – so dig into it.

Sport

There was widespread pride in the UK Sport hierarchy as they presented the results of their “culture health check”, but whistleblowers’ fears were revealed, and the management’s delight could not obscure the more grim findings, notably that almost one in three athletes had experienced or witnessed unacceptable behaviour.

Antoine Griezmann fired Atlético Madrid to another success for Spain in the Europa League; eight of the past nine winners of European competitions have been Spanish – and Real Madrid could made it nine out of 10 in Kiev next week. Having confirmed England’s World Cup squad, Gareth Southgate has largely remained true to the principles he set out just after his appointment as manager. Newcastle Falcons’ achievement in reaching this season’s title play-offs has been rewarded with two major accolades – Vereniki Goneva has been named player of the season while Dean Richards picked up the best director of rugby award. And world No 5 Karolina Pliskova lost her cool over a line call and went into meltdown after suffering a defeat by Maria Sakkari at the Italian Open, smashing a hole into the umpire’s chair with her racquet.

Business

Japan is considering imposing $400m tariffs on US goods in retaliation for the Trump administration’s steel and aluminium import levies. Asian shares were unperturbed by the news and rose in line with Wall Street’s strong showing on Wednesday. Nor did reports that Italy’s prospective new rulers will ask creditors for €250bn debt forgiveness do much to dent the euro, which actually rose against the US dollar. It dipped slightly with the pound to €1.146, while sterling buys $1.355 this morning.

The papers

The Telegraph’s splash headline: “May ‘outguns’ Brexiters with plan for customs ties after 2021”. It says objections from Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were overruled when the “war cabinet” agreed to the plan if needed to keep the Irish border open. Here’s our take on that and all the latest Brexit manoeuvrings. The Guardian paper splash is that proposed new building regulations won’t include a ban on combustible cladding, even after Grenfell. The Sun says Thomas Markle remains “alone, ill and afraid” in hospital with the wedding coming up.




Guardian front page, Thursday 17 May 2018


The Mail alleges that Labour would allow a “free-for-all on migrants” by loosening immigration controls. “Plan to arm rural police,” says the Times, detailing how officers might be equipped with firearms because anti-terror squads are too far away. The armed police story fronts the digital Independent too. The FT reports the “Big Four” accountancy firms – KPMG, EY, Deloitte and PwC – are planning for their breakup after the Carillion collapse, which threw the spotlight on how they act as both auditors and consultants for the UK’s largest companies. “Killed by a coward in her own home” is the front-page headline in the Express, which covers the manhunt following the murder of widow Rosina Coleman, 85. The i and the Scotsman report on the renationalisation of East Coast Rail.

Sign up


The Guardian morning briefing is delivered to thousands of inboxes bright and early every weekday. If you are not already receiving it by email, make sure to subscribe.

For more news: www.theguardian.com