Dirk Campbell was shocked when his 26-year-old daughter said she was going to join Kurdish forces in Syria. Following her death in action, he talks about her journey from idealist to freedom fighter
When Anna Campbell told her father of herplan to join Kurdish forces fighting Isis, hemade a joke that he will forever regret. It was May last year, and the 26-year-old had travelled from her home in Bristol to his, in Lewes, East Sussex, to break the news.
By then, I knew enough to know that it would imperil her life, says Dirk Campbell, 67, but all I could think of to say was: Well, Anna, its been nice knowing you. I think I was trying to be funny, but she just looked miffed. I think she wanted me to engage with it and either go, Oh, how wonderful, or to try to argue her out of it. But I sort of just accepted it. Tenmonths later, she is dead.
Anna Campbell died on 15 March when her position was struck by a Turkish missile as she and five other female soldiers helped to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Afrin in northern Syria. She was one of eight British nationals killed fighting alongside the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) since the first foreign volunteers arrived in the autumn of 2014.
People have called Anna a hero and a martyr, her sister Sara says. But whats really difficult for the public to fathom is that she was also this big walking bundle of love: idealist, activist, dedicated bookworm, lover of insects, storyteller, creator of everlasting childhoods
The long read: Decades of research proves that chemicals used to make bacon do cause cancer. So how did the meat industry convince us it was safe?
There was a little cafe I used to go to that did the best bacon sandwiches. They came in a soft and pillowy white bap. The bacon, thick-cut from a local butcher, was midway between crispy and chewy. Ketchup and HP sauce were served in miniature jars with the sandwich, so you could dab on the exact amount you liked. That was all there was to it: just bread and bacon and sauce. Eating one of these sandwiches, as I did every few weeks, with a cup of strong coffee, felt like an uncomplicated pleasure.
And then, all of a sudden, the bacon sandwich stopped being quite so comforting. For a few weeks in October 2015, half the people I knew were talking about the news that eating bacon was now a proven cause of cancer. You couldnt miss the story: it was splashed large in every newspaper and all over the web. As one journalist wrote in Wired, Perhaps no two words together are more likely to set the internet aflame than BACON and CANCER. The BBC website announced, matter-of-factly, that Processed meats do cause cancer, while the Sun went with Banger out of Order and Killer in the Kitchen.
The source of the story was an announcement from the World Health Organization that processed meats were now classified as a group 1 carcinogen, meaning scientists were certain that there was sufficient evidence that they caused cancer, particularly colon cancer. The warning applied not just to British bacon but to Italian salami, Spanish chorizo, German bratwurst and myriad other foods.
Health scares are ten-a-penny, but this one was very hard to ignore. The WHO announcement came on advice from 22 cancer experts from 10 countries, who reviewed more than 400 studies on processed meat covering epidemiological data from hundreds of thousands of people. It was now possible to say that eat less processed meat, much like eat more vegetables, had become one of the very few absolutely incontrovertible pieces of evidence-based diet advice not simply another high-profile nutrition fad. As every news report highlighted, processed meat was now in a group of 120 proven carcinogens, alongside alcohol, asbestos and tobacco leading to a great many headlines blaring that bacon was as deadly as smoking.
The WHO advised that consuming 50g of processed meat a day equivalent to just a couple of rashers of bacon or one hotdog would raise the risk of getting bowel cancer by 18% over a lifetime. (Eating larger amounts raises your risk more.) Learning that your own risk of cancer has increased from something like 5% to something like 6% may not be frightening enough to put you off bacon sandwiches for ever. But learning that consumption of processed meat causes an additional 34,000 worldwide cancer deaths a year is much more chilling. According to Cancer Research UK, if no one ate processed or red meat in Britain, there would be 8,800 fewer cases of cancer. (That is four times the number of people killed annually on Britains roads.)
The news felt especially shocking because both ham and bacon are quintessentially British foods. Nearly a quarter of the adult population in Britain eats a ham sandwich for lunch on any given day, according to data from 2012 gathered by researchers Luke Yates and Alan Warde. To many consumers, bacon is not just a food; it is a repository of childhood memories, a totem of home. Surveys indicate that the smell of frying bacon is one of our favourite scents in the UK, along with cut grass and fresh bread. To be told that bacon had given millions of people cancer was a bit like finding out your granny had been secretly sprinkling arsenic on your morning toast.
Vegetarians might point out that the bacon sandwich should never have been seen as comforting. It is certainly no comfort for the pigs, most of whom are kept in squalid, cramped conditions. But for the rest of us, it was alarming to be told that these beloved foods might be contributing to thousands of needless human deaths. In the weeks following news of the WHO report, sales of bacon and sausages fell dramatically. British supermarkets reported a 3m drop in sales in just a fortnight. (It was very detrimental, said Kirsty Adams, the product developer for meat at Marks and Spencer.)
But just when it looked as if this may be #Bacongeddon (one of many agonised bacon-related hashtags trending in October 2015), a second wave of stories flooded in. Their message was: panic over. For one thing, the analogy between bacon and smoking was misleading. Smoking tobacco and eating processed meat are both dangerous, but not on the same scale. To put it in context, around 86% of lung cancers are linked to smoking, whereas it seems that just 21% of bowel cancers can be attributed to eating processed or red meat. A few weeks after publishing the report, the WHO issued a clarification insisting it was not telling consumers to stop eating processed meat.
Meanwhile, the meat industry was busily insisting that there was nothing to see here. The North American Meat Institute, an industry lobby group, called the report dramatic and alarmist overreach. A whole tranche of articles insisted in a commonsense tone that it would be premature and foolish to ditch our meaty fry-ups just because of a little cancer scare.
Nearly three years on, it feels like business as usual for processed meats. Many of us seem to have got over our initial sense of alarm. Sales of bacon in the UK are buoyant, having risen 5% in the two years up to mid-2016. When I interviewed a product developer for Sainsburys supermarket last year, she said that one of the quickest ways to get British consumers to try a new product now was to add chorizo to it.
And yet the evidence linking bacon to cancer is stronger than ever. In January, a new large-scale study using data from 262,195 British women suggested that consuming just 9g of bacon a day less than a rasher could significantly raise the risk of developing breast cancer later in life. The studys lead author, Jill Pell from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Glasgow University, told me that while it can be counterproductive to push for total abstinence, the scientific evidence suggests it would be misleading for health authorities to set any safe dose for processed meat other than zero.
The real scandal of bacon, however, is that it didnt have to be anything like so damaging to our health. The part of the story we havent been told including by the WHO is that there were always other ways to manufacture these products that would make them significantly less carcinogenic. The fact that this is so little known is tribute to the power of the meat industry, which has for the past 40 years been engaged in a campaign of cover-ups and misdirection to rival the dirty tricks of Big Tobacco.
How do you choose a pack of bacon in a shop, assuming you are a meat eater? First, you opt for either the crispy fat of streaky or the leanness of back. Then you decide between smoked or unsmoked each version has its passionate defenders (I am of the unsmoked persuasion). Maybe you seek out a packet made from free-range or organic meat, or maybe your budget is squeezed and you search for any bacon on special offer. Either way, before you put the pack in your basket, you have one last look, to check if the meat is pink enough.
Since we eat with our eyes, the main way we judge the quality of cured meats is pinkness. Yet it is this very colour that we should be suspicious of, as the French journalist Guillaume Coudray explains in a book published in France last year called Cochonneries, a word that means both piggeries and rubbish or junk food. The subtitle is How Charcuterie Became a Poison. Cochonneries reads like a crime novel, in which the processed meat industry is the perpetrator and ordinary consumers are the victims.
The pinkness of bacon or cooked ham, or salami is a sign that it has been treated with chemicals, more specifically with nitrates and nitrites. It is the use of these chemicals that is widely believed to be the reason why processed meat is much more carcinogenic than unprocessed meat. Coudray argues that we should speak not of processed meat but nitro-meat.
Residents in Puerto Rico and the Virgin islands, Houston and the Florida Keys talk about this years challenges shelter, electricity and good cheer to make the best of the holidays
For seven weeks in autumn, images of homes in ruins, trees stripped bare and people wading through floodwaters dominated the news as hurricanes devastated the American south and Caribbean.
The US had never been hit in one hurricane season by storms as strong as Harvey, Irma and Maria, according to modern records, and the areas hit hardest by those intense storms are still far from recovery.
In Houston and the Florida Keys, thousands of people still dont have homes. In Puerto Rico, full electricity services have not been restored and those that have power know it can go out at any moment. At least 200 people were killed on the US mainland in the storms and the death toll in Puerto Rico is expected to be hundreds of people higher than the 64 reported by the islands government.
Other islands in the Caribbean were also badly hit.
These catastrophic events unleashed death and destruction but also an outpouring of support from people with no connection to the regions affected. As the holiday season approaches, nonprofits leading the recovery continue to see significant donations that will help provide food, water and shelter to those still in need.
Three months since the trio of storms unleashed life-threatening rain and winds, the Guardian spoke with people on the frontlines of the recovery.
The long read: Davon Mayer was a smalltime dealer in west Baltimore who made an illicit deal with local police. When they turned on him, he decided to get out but escaping that life would not prove as easy as falling into it
On a humid summer day in 2004, Davon Mayer stepped out of his house on Bennett Place in the heart of Baltimore. Sixteen years old, Davon was short, plump and baby-faced, still more of a kid than an adolescent. Like many other boys in his neighbourhood, he had long since stopped going to school and was dealing drugs full-time.
On any other day, Davon would have been busy by this hour, trading vials of crack for cash on the pavement, keeping an eye out for the police. But this morning, he was on his way to meet with a narcotics detective named William King. Weeks earlier, the detective had arrested Davon after catching him selling drugs. He had taken Davon to the police station and then let him go, asking that Davon call him. When Davon failed to call, King had paid him a visit to let him know he wasnt playing around.
As Davon walked to a nearby strip mall where King had arranged to meet, his mind was weighed down by anxiety. What could a city detective possibly want from a small-time drug dealer such as himself? The only answer Davon could think of was that King wanted him to become an informant. The more Davon dwelled on that possibility, the more panicked he got. Where he came from, there was nothing worse than helping the police. To snitch on fellow drug dealers was to invite death.
He got to the malls parking lot and saw Kings pickup truck. King was sitting behind the wheel, dressed in sweatpants and a T-shirt. He asked Davon to get in the back seat and turned on the engine. I have been watching you, King said, as they drove around. I like the way you do business.
Growing up, Davons parents werent around much. His father, Marvin Bunk Nutter, spent much of his sons childhood in jail on robbery and murder charges. Davons mother, Tonya, spent some of those years in jail, too, for drug possession, and the rest on the streets, sustaining her crack addiction with prostitution. Davon reserved the word Ma for his grandmother, Norma, who had raised him, along with his sister and a cousin.
Norma was a small woman with a big presence, a matriarch to the entire block. She had fought her own battle with drug addiction when she was younger; at one point, her kids had been taken away by social services. When she finally overcame her addiction, she committed herself to discipline and order, toiling from morning till night to take care of her husband, a factory worker, and three grandkids. The entire block could be dirty and dishevelled but the front of 947 Bennett Place was always spick and span.
What Davon didnt know at the time was that Norma couldnt remain insulated from the world of drug dealing herself. Even though her husband earned enough for her to be able to feed and clothe the kids, she struggled to find the money to take care of their wants toys for Christmas, gifts on birthdays, an occasional afternoon out to the movies. And so she had to make a few bucks on her own. There were drug dealers in the neighbourhood who trusted Norma to keep their money safe for them, to provide a place where it wouldnt be stolen or discovered in a police raid. Dealers usually paid her a small amount for the service.
Mirzakhani, who had breast cancer, died on Saturday, the university said. It did not indicate where she died.
In 2014, Mirzakhani was one of four winners of the Fields medal, which is presented every four years and is considered the mathematics equivalent of the Nobel prize. She was named for her work on complex geometry and dynamic systems.
Mirzakhani specialized in theoretical mathematics that read like a foreign language by those outside of mathematics: moduli spaces, Teichmller theory, hyperbolic geometry, Ergodic theory and symplectic geometry, the Stanford press announcement said.
Mastering these approaches allowed Mirzakhani to pursue her fascination for describing the geometric and dynamic complexities of curved surfaces spheres, doughnut shapes and even amoebas in as great detail as possible.
Her work had implications in fields ranging from cryptography to the theoretical physics of how the universe came to exist, the university said.
Mirzakhani was born in Tehran and studied there and at Harvard. She joined Stanford as a mathematics professor in 2008. Irans president, Hassan Rouhani, issued a statement praising Mirzakhani.
The grievous passing of Maryam Mirzakhani, the eminent Iranian and world-renowned mathematician, is very much heart-rending, Rouhani said in a message that was reported by the Tehran Times.
Irans foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said her death pained all Iranians, the newspaper reported.
The news of young Iranian genius and math professor Maryam Mirzakhanis passing has brought a deep pang of sorrow to me and all Iranians who are proud of their eminent and distinguished scientists, Zarif posted in Farsi on his Instagram account.
I do offer my heartfelt condolences upon the passing of this lady scientist to all Iranians worldwide, her grieving family and the scientific community.
Mirzakhani originally dreamed of becoming a writer but then shifted to mathematics. When she was working, she would doodle on sheets of paper and scribble formulas on the edges of her drawings, leading her daughter to describe the work as painting, the Stanford statement said.
Mirzakhani once described her work as like being lost in a jungle and trying to use all the knowledge that you can gather to come up with some new tricks, and with some luck you might find a way out.
Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne said Mirzakhani was a brilliant theorist who made enduring contributions and inspired thousands of women to pursue math and science.
Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrk, and daughter, Anahita.
Facts are the science worlds stock-in-trade, but in an era of fake news it is ever more important to build public trust by avoiding exaggerated claims and jargon
One of my most cherished possessions is a handmade cherrywood salad bowl thats never held a leaf of lettuce. It is 25 years old and gets more beautiful every year. The bowl was a gift, carved by a widower who was left to raise his daughter alone when his wife died under my care as an oncologist. My patient, who Ill call Erica, had the most challenging form of breast cancer and I didnt have the tools to save her life. Ive always felt undeserving of the gift, despite doing everything I could.
Five years later, I participated in the development of a medicine for Ericas type of cancer, Herceptin. While regretting that it had not come fast enough for Erica, I am deeply grateful for the scientific advances that mean better care for patients like her today.
Now, at the helm of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I see how scientific breakthroughs, such as new vaccines and hardier crops, are helping to make the world safer, healthier and more equal. Life is better because of science, and in the next few decades more discoveries will further improve the human condition.
But the scientific community is nervous. Science and specifically the scientific method is at risk in an era of fake news, anti-expert feeling, and science denialism. Healthy scepticism is at the heart of the scientific method and scientists believe in challenging todays knowledge to best uncover truth. But denialism is different. Denialism is the refusal to accept established facts.
The Oxford English Dictionary declared post-truth as the 2016 word of the year, defining it as circumstances in which objective facts are less influential than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Today, there is fear among scientists that even the best innovations will have less resonance if policies and decision-making arent influenced by evidence, truth and facts.
We need to argue against this in a post-fact, post-truth era. Scientists must participate effectively in the public dialogue around facts and truth. And there are three aspects of the debate that I believe are crucial for the scientific community to address so that we remain relevant: consequences, confidence and credibility.
The countrys first female-run radio station was looted and its staff persecuted but, despite the risks, women in the media are making their voices heard
When Radio Shaista goes silent, you know the Taliban are close. The female-run radio station was looted and wrecked when the group captured Kunduz, Afghanistans embattled northern city, in 2015, sending journalists fleeing. Even after the Taliban were routed, female journalists have been on guard, if they ever returned, that is.
Zarghoona Hassan, Radio Shaistas director, fled after armed militants knocked on her door at home. They accused her of converting listeners to Christianity and announced a date for her execution.
She says the Talibans anger was fuelled by talk of empowering women. The radio broadcast discussions with religious scholars about womens rights and called on mothers of Taliban combatants to prevent their sons from fighting.
We had conversations about women studying, and talked about female pilots, says Hassan.
Hassan now splits her time between Kunduz and the capital, Kabul. Since 2015 she has shut down her radio station twice in fear of Taliban advances.
A vibrant media is one of the great successes of post-2001 Afghanistan. However, womens position in it is fragile. For many Afghan families, when security worsens, protection of women overrides most other concerns.
[When we started], women flocked to the radio to work, even for free. But when the Taliban came closer, around 2012, peoples attitude changed, says Hassan, who founded two other radio stations in Kunduz. Many women in Kunduz want to work in media but their families wont let them.
This anxiety highlights the complexities around western endeavours to empower Afghan women, particularly outside liberal, urban classes. And when efforts to promote human rights do make Afghan women visible, they are usually cast as victims.
One magazine is hoping to change that. In May, the first issue of Gellara, Afghanistans first womens lifestyle magazine, hit the newsstands.
Until now, the media mostly focused on women facing violence, baad [compensating for a crime by giving a woman away in marriage], and women who had their faces cut, says Fatana Hassanzada, 23, the magazines founder and editor. We want to portray other faces of women.
Modelled on international magazines like Vogue, Gellara addresses Afghan women as consumers of fashion and culture, as book readers and as love seekers. As human beings, says Hassanzada.
The cover of the first monthly issue, 2,000 copies of which were printed at offices in Kabul, features Canadian-Afghan singer Mozhdah Jamalzadah, her hair unveiled. Inside, articles on breast cancer and yoga follow pieces on Iranian film and beauty.
We want to show that a woman can have a pretty face and be well dressed. We are trying to teach society not to be shocked by these things, says content editor Aziza Karimi.
Perhaps most controversial, in a country where arranged marriages are still widely enforced, is an introduction to the dating app Tinder.
When asked how that would go down in conservative rural areas, Hassanzada laughs. We try to target everyone. There is something for the cities and something for the villages, she says, while recognising that many rural women would probably only see the magazine if their husbands brought it home.
Former associate dean of students Nicole Eramo wins case over discredited gang rape story that cast her as a villain
Jurors have awarded a University of Virginia administrator $3m for her portrayal in a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article about the schools handling of a brutal gang rape a fraternity house.
Eramo sued the magazine for $7.5m, claiming it cast her as a villain who sought to discourage the woman identified only as Jackie from reporting her alleged assault to police. A police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackies rape claims.
Jurors heard testimony on Monday about the extent to which the story has damaged Eramos life and reputation before they began deliberating to decide how much to award her in damages.
Eramo told jurors that after the storys publication, she had trouble sleeping, feared for her safety and struggled with how to explain what was happening to her then-seven-year-old son. One day, she crawled under her desk and contemplated suicide as she felt her world come crashing down around her, she said. Her husband testified that she told him: I dont know that I can live anymore.
I just wanted to disappear, said Eramo, who cried throughout much of her testimony. I didnt know how it was going to be OK.
She claimed the article prompted the university to move her out of her job as an associate dean into a different administrative role that she doesnt like as much because she rarely works with students. When the article was published, she was also preparing to undergo a double mastectomy for breast cancer. Eramo and her attorneys suggested that the stress she was under could have contributed to a post-surgery infection that led to a hospital stay.
Even the strongest people have a breaking point, said Tom Clare, an attorney for Eramo.
The story roiled the University of Virginia campus, prompted calls for Eramos resignation and sparked a national conversation about sexual assault at elite institutions. Jackies story quickly fell apart after reporters from other outlets started asking questions and determined that Rolling Stone never spoke to the womans alleged attackers or even verified their existence before going to print.
Because the judge determined that Eramo was a public figure, she had to prove Rolling Stone made statements with actual malice, meaning it knew that what it was writing about her was false or entertained serious doubts about whether it might be true.
Jurors found that the magazine and its publisher, Wenner Media, acted with actual malice because they republished the article on 5 December with an editors note after they knew about the problems with Jackies story. The jury also found that Erdely acted with actual malice on six claims: two statements in the article and four statements to media outlets after the story was published.
Jurors awarded $2m to Eramo for statements made by Erdely and $1m for the republication of the article by Rolling Stone and Wenner Media. Rolling Stone could appeal the verdict.
Rolling Stone has agreed to pay Erdelys legal costs and the damages levied against her.
Rolling Stones attorneys argued throughout the three-week trial that while it may have been a mistake to trust Jackie, their portrayal of the university and Eramo was fair and accurate.
On Monday, attorney David Paxton told jurors that the magazine was heartbroken by Fridays decision and urged them not to be tempted to award a large sum of damages in order to send a message to the magazine and the media. Theyve already done that with their verdict, Paxton said.
This was tough medicine to receive, Paxton said.
Paxton apologized to Eramo, but stressed that Eramo not only kept a job at the university after the article was published, but she received a pay raise.
In their damages defense, attorneys for Rolling Stone showed jurors just one exhibit: A 2015 Office of Civil Rights report that criticizes the universitys handling of sexual assault complaints and specifically mentions that Eramo helped to create a hostile environment for victims on campus.
Rolling Stone also faces a $25m lawsuit from Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity where Jackie claimed her assault took place. That case is schedule to go to trial late next year.
American Cancer Society and Lancet studies point to devastating increases, mostly in poorer countries, with breast cancer diagnoses set to almost double
Two reports have warned of an explosion in cancer deaths among women, with a toll, mainly from breast cancer, of around 5.5 million a year by 2030 roughly the population of Denmark.
This represented a near 60% increase in less than two decades, said an analysis conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), released on Tuesday at the World Cancer Congress in Paris.
As the global population grows and ages, the highest toll will be among women in poor and middle-income countries, it said, and much of it from cancers which are largely preventable.
Most of the deaths occur in young and middle-aged adults, placing a heavy burden on families and national economies, said Sally Cowal, senior vice-president of global health at the ACS, which compiled the report with pharmaceutical company Merck.
A second report, published in the Lancet medical journal on Wednesday, said the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer alone could almost double to 3.2 million a year by 2030 from 1.7 million in 2015.
For cervical cancer, the number of diagnoses could rise by at least 25% to over 700,000 by 2030, mainly in low- and middle-income countries, said a statement from the Lancet.
Cancer is already killing one in seven women around the world, said the ACS report the second highest cause of death after cardiovascular disease.
All four of the deadliest cancers breast, colorectal, lung and cervical cancer are mostly preventable or can be detected early, when treatment is more successful.
In poorer countries, a much smaller proportion of cancer cases are diagnosed and treated than in rich ones, while a much bigger group dies. The relative burden is growing for developing countries as people live longer due to better basic healthcare.
Women in these countries are also increasingly exposed to known cancer risk factors associated with rapid economic transition, said Cowal, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity, and reproductive factors including postponing motherhood.