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Writing Worth Reading

The Kremlin’s Kiev Connection

Impressive investigation shedding much light on Putinism, Gazprom and Ukraine. In brief: the Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom sold gas cheaply to a Ukrainian straw man called Dmitry Firtash, who sold the gas on to Ukraine at a $3bn profit. Russian banks lent Firtash a further $11bn to buy up Ukrainian petrochemical plants. Firtash then bankrolled the rise of a pro-Russian president for Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich (3,700 words)

Obituary: Frankie Fraser

“Frankie Fraser, who has died aged 90, was a notorious torturer and hitman for the Richardson gang of south London criminals in the 1960s; he spent 42 years behind bars. His nickname ‘Mad Frank’ derived from his violent temperament which caused him to attempt to hang the governor of Wandsworth prison (and the governor’s dog) from a tree, and to be certified insane on three separate occasions” (2,120 words)

The World In 2050 And Beyond

If we even get that far. The biggest dangers are the ones that we pose to ourselves. “Our Earth is 45 million centuries old. But this century is the first when one species – ours – can determine the biosphere’s fate.” We just missed nuclear Armageddon in the Cold War. Now we’re juggling geo-engineering, AI and biotech. “The bells that toll for mankind are like the bells of Alpine cattle. They are attached to our own necks” (6,860 words)

Virginia Woolf On Movies

Condescending but prescient note on the future of film. Woolf sees the cinema of the 1920s as technically accomplished but artistically stunted, devoted mainly to dramatising novels badly. Film needs a language of its own. “When some new symbol for expressing thought is found, the film-maker has enormous riches at his command. The exactitude of reality and its surprising power of suggestion are to be had for the asking” (2,220 words)

One Year Later: Frozen

Big songs and big emotions give Frozen the staying power of a classic musical. One year on it “practically still seems like a new release”. The script is witty without being snarky. The plot creaks, but Anna and Elsa soar above it. “It’s there for kids now and, like the best Disney films, it’ll still be there for them when they get older, ready to pass on to their own kids. It’s built to last whatever the weather” (1,980 words)

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