Thomas Cook, founded in 1841, collapsed yesterday, stranding 150,000 people and causing the largest repatriation effort in British history:
The Civil Aviation Authority announced at 2am on Monday morning that the world’s oldest holiday company had gone into administration and that all flights and bookings had been cancelled.
The official administration was timed for the early hours when the largest number of the 94-strong fleet of planes were on the ground.
The tour operator is understood to have made a number of proposals, including asking lenders to reduce a £200m demand for extra funding and for credit card companies to release about £50m of cash they are holding as collateral against Thomas Cook bookings.
A couple planning to get married next weekend, having booked the whole thing through Thomas Cook, are among the disappointed.
A few good reads today:
Haven't decided what to eat for lunch yet...
Let's see, where to begin?
Finally, RawStory has a collection of responses to the President's Sharpie-altered weather map. (This is not, however, the first time the Administration has tried to make one of its Dear Leader's errors be true.) Enjoy.
It's hard to believe that I started my MBA program in London 10 years ago. Wow.
As our planet warms to global average temperatures not seen in over 125,000 years, a pair of long-range studies has concluded the unique way or climate is changing right now, as opposed to the rest of history:
“The familiar maxim that the climate is always changing is certainly true,” Scott St. George, a physical geographer at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said in a written commentary about the studies. “But even when we push our perspective to the earliest days of the Roman Empire, we cannot discern any event that is remotely equivalent — either in degree or extent — to the warming over the last few decades.”
One of the studies, published in the journal Nature, shows that the Little Ice Age and other natural fluctuations affected only limited regions of the planet at a time, making modern warming the first and only planetwide warm period in the past two millennia. The other study, published in Nature Geoscience, shows that the rate of modern warming has far outpaced changes that occurred before the rise of the industrial era.
For the Nature Geoscience study, the researchers charted global temperature averages over time, and then compared the data to a set of climate simulations to figure out what might have driven the changes. Neukom and his colleagues found that the fastest warming in the last two millennia occurred during the second half of the 20th century.
The researchers also found that the main cause of temperature fluctuations changed over time. Prior to 1850, fluctuations were mainly linked to volcanic eruptions, which cooled the planet by spewing sun-blocking ash into the stratosphere; after 1850, greenhouse gas emissions took the wheel.
As if to underscore that, today London saw temperatures over 37°C while France and other parts of Europe set new all-time heat records, with a reading of 42.6°C in Paris today.
Unlike the Woody Donald Trump thrust into the Court of St James's, the UK's ambassador to the US, Sir Kim Darroch, has been a model of Britain's diplomatic civil service. Even his leaked cables (ask: who benefited from the leaks?) show a certain level of restraint that, as a professional diplomat, he didn't need to show.
Contrast that with the behavior of our diplomats overseas, let alone the guy who appointed them:
In Berlin, one U.S. ambassador openly undermines the government; another in Amsterdam became a laughingstock for refusing to answer journalists’ questions, and yet another in Jerusalem openly shows bias in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. From Kenya to New Zealand, the ambassadors appointed by Trump have offended their hosts.
Ultimately, the rot comes from the top.
It took mere hours for Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, to offend his hosts in May with a tweet that appeared to give an order: “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” A month later, Grenell gave an interview with the conservative news site Breitbart in which he said he wanted to “empower” hard-right conservatives in Europe.
Meanwhile, David M. Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel and Trump’s former lawyer, often appears much too cozy with his host government — and only interested in talking to one set of people in the Israeli and Palestinian territories. ... Along with Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the closure of its consulate in East Jerusalem and much more, it was yet another sign that the United States had picked a side.
The UK knows a thing or two about squandering good will in the world. And they still haven't completely recovered, despite (or perhaps because of) how much Russian money has flowed into London. So here we are, bankrupting ourselves diplomatically nearly everywhere we go. It's not so far from where we are today to two vast and trunkless legs of stone standing in the desert.
I mentioned earlier that President Trump had insulted the Mayor of London. Here's what Khan wrote to make Trump so angry:
Praising the “very fine people on both sides” when torch-wielding white supremacists and antisemites marched through the streets clashing with anti-racist campaigners. Threatening to veto a ban on the use of rape as a weapon of war. Setting an immigration policy that forcefully separates young children from their parents at the border. The deliberate use of xenophobia, racism and “otherness” as an electoral tactic. Introducing a travel ban to a number of predominately Muslim countries. Lying deliberately and repeatedly to the public.
No, these are not the actions of European dictators of the 1930s and 40s. Nor the military juntas of the 1970s and 80s. I’m not talking about Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un. These are the actions of the leader of our closest ally, the president of the United States of America.
I am proud of our historic special relationship, which I’m certain will survive long after President Trump leaves office. The US is a country I love and have visited on many occasions. I still greatly admire the culture, the people and the principles articulated by the founding fathers. But America is like a best friend, and with a best friend you have a responsibility to be direct and honest when you believe they are making a mistake.
History teaches us of the danger of being afraid to speak truth to power and the risk of failing to defend our values from the rise of the far right. At this challenging time in global politics, it’s more important than ever that we remember that lesson.
A farmer in Scotland tweaks American tourists:
A cheeky farmer is winding up American tourists by spray-painting her sheep tartan – and claiming it’s caused by the animals drinking popular Scottish soft drink, Irn-Bru.
Owner Maxine Scott, 62, used her skills with a spray-can to brighten up ewes April and Daisy.
Scott puts up a sign pretending that the sheep turn bright orange naturally and that their fleeces are then used to make tartan wool for kilts and blankets.
The sheep live on Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, Comrie, Perthshire, and are decorated using marker spray, used by farmers to identify sheep during lamb numbering.
I wonder what clan they're in?
Whether you prefer "shooting oneself in the foot" or "circular firing squad" as your metaphor, the UK's flailing with just a week left to go before crashing out of the EU has disappointed many people in Europe:
For politicians, diplomats and officials across the continent, the past two-and-a-half years of the Britain’s fraught, seemingly interminable and increasingly shambolic departure from the EU have proved an eye-opener.
Some have responded with humour. Nathalie Loiseau, France’s Europe minister, said recently that if she had one, she would call her cat Brexit: “It wakes me up miaowing because it wants to go out. When I open the door, its sits there, undecided. Then it looks daggers at me when I put it out.”
Others have found it harder to laugh. To the shock of many, ;Brexit has revealed a country they long looked up to locked in a narrative of its own exceptionalism, talking mainly to itself, incoherent, entitled, incapable of compromise (with itself or its neighbours), startlingly ignorant of the workings of an organisation it has belonged to for nearly 50 years, and unrealistic.
Only, Britain has been here so many times before. Crashing out of India so hard that the country hasn't had a day of peace in 70 years? Check. Getting rolled by the Soviets after putting a Soviet spy in charge of rooting out Soviet spies? Check. Appeasing a fascist regime bent on European hegemony? Check.
And now, it seems, Russia has rolled them again, as no country stands to gain more from Brexit than they. And still they're flailing about, going through the worst Constitutional crisis (self-inflicted!) since the 17th Century.
It's really sad.
The House of Commons voted 391-242 this evening to reject PM Theresa May's slightly-revised Brexit deal, further throwing the country's prospects after March 29th into chaos:
Because of this defeat, tomorrow Commons will vote on whether to leave the EU without a deal, and if that vote fails, there will be a vote Thursday on whether to extend Article 50. If that vote fails...holy mother forking shirtballs, the UK is forked.