TIME Books

U.S. Authors Snag 4 Spots on Man Booker Prize Longlist

Simon & Schuster

But Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch didn't make the cut

The longlist for the 2014 Man Booker prize was announced Wednesday and in the first year the prestigious British award changed its criteria to consider writers from all over the world, a whopping four novels by American authors made the cut.

Previously awarded to English-language works written by citizens of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe, this year marks the first time the judges of the literary prize were able to consider works from writers across the globe, so long as they’re written in English and published in the UK.

The four American books to make the cut — We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and Orfeo by Richard Powers — make up nearly a third of the 13-title longlist. Somewhat surprisingly, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch wasn’t selected, though it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

When the new criteria for the Booker prize were announced last September, it caused a minor controversy as some literary insiders complained that the rule change could lead to an American domination of the prize.

“Although it appears to let in lots more good fiction, it risks diluting the identity of the prize,” John Mullan, a former Booker Prize judge, told the BBC last year. “It’s going to be Toni Morrison versus Hilary Mantel, or Jonathan Franzen against Ian McEwan, and I think that’s really unfortunate.”

American authors didn’t dominate the longlist — the Brits still hold that claim with five titles making the cut — and the final winner will be announced on Sept. 9.

The 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist:

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (US)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Australia)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (US)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (US)
J, Howard Jacobson (UK)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (UK)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (UK)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (India)
Us, David Nicholls (UK)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Ireland)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (US)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (UK)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Ireland)

TIME royals

Prince George Hangs Out at the Natural History Museum With Will and Kate

BRITAIN-ROYALS-GEORGE
Prince George during a visit to the Sensational Butterflies exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, July 2, 2014, in a photo released on July 19 to mark Prince George's first birthday. John Stillwell—AFP/Getty Images

The young royal Prince George celebrates his first birthday Tuesday

The world’s most powerful baby celebrates his first birthday on Tuesday, and parents Will and Kate have decided to grace the world with new photos of their little Prince George. The apple-cheeked heir has had a busy first year, filled with public playdates, a magazine cover, his very own currency and a serious friendship with family dog Lupo.

The United Kingdom Press Association released a new photo of the Buckingham baby on Saturday, from an earlier visit to the “Sensational Butterflies” exhibition at the Natural History Museum with his parents. The Duchess of Cambridge Catherine is a patron of the museum. Two more photos of the royal family are expected to be released Monday.

TIME uk

Church of England Votes in Favor of Women Bishops

LONDON (AP) — The Church of England has voted to allow women to enter its top ranks as bishops.

The Church’s national assembly, known as the General Synod, approved the historic measure at its meeting in York in northern England Monday.

The measure had the support of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The vote comes two years after similar legislation failed to reach a two-thirds majority among the General Synod’s lay members, despite approval from bishops and clergy.

The Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion, which has the largest Christian denomination in Britain and a presence in more than 160 countries.

TIME royals

Prince George Lands Vanity Fair Cover

Prince George on Vanity Fair
BY MARK STEWART/CAMERA PRESS/REDUX

Everything you need to know about the royal toddler's first year

At just shy of a year old, Prince George has snagged his very own Vanity Fair cover. The magazine’s August 2014 issue is filled with all the juicy details about the royal’s first year, including tidbits from “palace insiders” about George’s celebrity status, sleep schedule, “permanently hungry” beginnings, colic and more.

On July 22, it will have been a full year since the world spent an entire day constantly refreshing this page while waiting on Royal Baby updates. In that time, as Vanity Fair’s Katie Nicholl reports, much has happened to little George Alexander Louis. He has moved on to solid foods, received a new nanny and enjoyed endless attention from the public as he toured New Zealand and Australia with his famous parents.

TIME

UK Facing ‘Major’ Sperm Shortage

Clinics are turning to imported sperm—much it from the US

British fertility doctors are warning of a serious sperm shortage in the UK that may prompt risky insemination practices.

Sperm donations appear to have fallen after donors’ right to anonymity was removed in 2005. The rules surrounding donation now mandate that children be allowed to know the identity of their genetic parents when they reach 18, the BBC reports.

In order to make up for a shortfall, clinics are relying on imported sperm, and may be lowering standards for sperm donors.

In addition, doctors say, the decreased sperm supply may lead people to conduct risky insemination practices like do-it-yourself insemination with a friend’s sperm, or seek fertility treatments in countries with less regulation than the UK.

“We do still have a major sperm shortage in the UK,” said British Fertility Society chairman Dr. Allan Pacey. “The worry is clinics might decide to change the quality of sperm they are willing to accept in order to get donors through the door and I think that’s a very dangerous road to go down.”

In 2010, one quarter of the UK’s sperm samples were imported from abroad, much of it from Denmark and the United States.

[BBC]

TIME politics

British Women Feel Less Safe After Local Budget Cuts

Pregnant Working Woman
A pregnant working woman is shown. Kristian Sekulic—Getty Images

Recent reductions in local funding in the U.K. are causing women more anxiety than men

A new study reveals that recent local budget cuts in the United Kingdom make some women feel less safe and provide less support for childcare services.

According to a survey administered to 7,550 women by the British trade union Unison, more than a third of British women fear for their safety now that funding to parks and roads has declined, resulting in fewer active street lamps.

More than a quarter of the women surveyed said the budget cuts had proven a disadvantage in finding a job. This could be linked to the 70 childcare centers that have closed in the U.K. since 2010 due to lack of local funding.

One single mother at Unison’s annual conference talked about her struggle to keep the local Sure Start childcare center open so that she could continue to work.

“The scale of the cuts in local services is having a disproportionate impact on women’s lives,” said Unison’s General Secretary Dave Prentis, “making them feel unsafe, isolated from their communities and preventing them from having a social and professional life.”

TIME intelligence

WikiLeaks Teases ‘Very Important Secret Document’ Release

Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 14, 2013. Anthony Devlin—AFP/Getty Images

While Julian Assange gives journalists some World Cup predictions

Two years after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walked into Ecuador’s embassy in the U.K. seeking asylum, his whistleblowing group says it is set to release new classified documents pertaining to “international negotiations.”

WikiLeaks offered little detail on its forthcoming release except to say it contains information pertaining to around 50 countries, including Canada.

In a conference call with journalists from the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Wednesday, Assange — who remains publisher of the secret-spilling group — offered no indication that he intends to travel to Sweden to submit himself for questioning by prosecutors over allegations of sexual misconduct made roughly four years ago.

Prosecutors have declined offers to meet with Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in the U.K., his attorney said Wednesday. According to WikiLeaks, “new information” pertaining to the Swedish investigation will be revealed next Tuesday, though the group would not offer further details.

Assange has not been guaranteed safe passage to Ecuador, which has granted him asylum amid a presumed U.S. Department of Justice investigation into WikiLeaks, and has spent two years confined to Ecuador’s British embassy.

Assange’s supporters say the U.K. has spent about $10 million just on policing the embassy in order to apprehend Assange should he leave its confines. He admitted to journalists this week that he had managed to watch the World Cup from his embassy home.

“The reception in this building is quite difficult, but perhaps it makes it a bit harder for the bugs to transmit through the walls as well,” he said, apparently referring to surveillance devices. Assange said his sporting loyalties now lie with his hosts, unsurprisingly. “Of course, Ecuador undoubtedly deserves to win the World Cup and has a pretty decent team,” he said. “But I think there’s such prestige riding on the issue for Brazil that they are the most likely victors.”

In his comments Wednesday, Assange called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to drop any investigation into WikiLeaks or resign. He also said he believes Edward Snowden’s asylum in Russia will be renewed should the NSA leaker reapply.

TIME Iran

UK Plans to Reopen Embassy in Iran

Iranian Demonstrators Break In To British Embassy In Tehran
A large number of protesters prepare to break in to the British Embassy during an anti-British demonstration on November 29, 2011 in Tehran, Iran. FarsNews/Getty Images

Foreign Secretary William Hague said "circumstances were right" to reopen Britain's embassy in Tehran some two years after Iranian protesters ransacked the building

The UK foreign secretary said Tuesday that the country would re-open its embassy in Tehran as a sign of “increasing confidence” in Iran’s new administration.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said that “circumstances were right” to restore full diplomatic relations with Iran. Britain evacuated its embassy in Tehran and suspended full diplomatic relations with Iran after hardline protesters raided the building in November 2011, the BBC reports.

But bilateral relations between the two countries have improved since the election of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, the arrangement of an interim nuclear deal and most recently, the makings of a fragile alliance against a common enemy, extremist Sunni militias flooding into Iraq.

“Iran is an important country in a volatile region, and maintaining embassies around the world, even under difficult conditions, is a central pillar of the UK’s global diplomatic approach,” he said in a speech before Parliament.

Hague rebutted critiques that Britain was “softening” its approach to Tehran, saying that he would continue uphold its demands on Iranian leaders to “cease support for sectarian groups across the Middle East and reach a successful conclusion to nuclear negotiations.”

[BBC]

TIME uk

Court Blocks UK’s First Secret Terror Trial

Plans to hold a terrorism trial completely in secret have been overturned by the UK's Court of Appeal, following a media challenge

Judges at the UK’s Court of Appeal have ruled that a proposed secret terror trial must be heard partly in public, though the core of the case can be held in private, the BBC reports. The swearing in of the jury, some of the prosecution’s introductory comments, the laying out of the case, verdicts and possible sentencing will all be heard in public.

Justice Nicol made the unprecedented decision in May that the case would be heard in secret and the defendants not named. Until Thursday, the accused, Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar, were known only as AB and CD.

Nicol’s ruling prompted a joint challenge from a number of media organizations. On June 4, the Court of Appeal ruled that the media could report on their challenge. Prior to this, news outlets couldn’t even mention the trial’s existence.

The Crown Prosecution Service, who are prosecuting the two men, said the trial had to be held in private for reasons of national security. They added that were the trial to be made public, they might have to drop it.

In their ruling, the appeal court judges stated that they had “grave concerns” about holding criminal trials in secret and not releasing the identities of defendants. They also added that though the core of the trial would be heard in private, a small group of journalists would be in attendance and their notes held until the end of the trail.

The two defendants were arrested in October 2013 in what were described as “high-profile circumstances.” Both are charged with collecting information useful to terrorism. Incedal was further accused of preparing for terrorist acts whilst Rarmoul-Bouhadjar is alleged to have possessed false identity documents.

[BBC]

MONEY online shopping

Boycotting Amazon: A Brief History

140603_EM_Amazon_Grinch_1
Amazon employees in Germany staged a strike over wages and working conditions during the holiday shopping season of 2013. UWE ZUCCHI—AFP/Getty Images

Throughout its history, Amazon has been the target of attempts to get you not to shop there. Here's a look at past boycott efforts against the retailer, and how they fared.

The recent rallying cry for a boycott of Amazon.com is hardly the first of its kind. It’s also not the first time the world’s largest e-retailer has been accused of using bullying, unfair, tone-deaf business practices.

To put the current “boycott Amazon” campaign—as promoted by The Stranger, Reuters, Gawker, and others—in perspective, here’s a brief retrospective of previous efforts to put Amazon in place by not giving it any of your money.

1999
The Free Software Foundation urged a boycott of Amazon because the site claimed a patent on one-click purchasing—something of a novelty at the time—and was suing other e-commerce companies (including BarnesandNoble.com) that used a one-click purchasing process. “Amazon has sued to block the use of this simple idea, showing that they truly intend to monopolize it,” a widely circulated e-mail that called for the boycott stated. “This is an attack against the World Wide Web and against e-commerce in general.” A couple years later, Amazon seemed less inclined to bother using its patent to threaten competitors, and the boycott was dropped.

2007
Around 2007—the year that NFL quarterback Michael Vick was suspended and sent to jail for running an illegal dogfighting ring—animal lovers began loudly calling for a boycott of Amazon because the site sold videos, magazines, and books about dogfighting and cockfighting. At least two of the titles described as “torture guides” by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are still available for purchase on Amazon.

2010
In late October 2010, a self-published e-book went on sale at Amazon with extremely disturbing subject matter, summed up in the title: The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct.

At first, despite massive protests online and calls for a broad boycott of Amazon, the e-retailer refused to remove the item from the site. The company released a statement with its justification to keeping the e-book for sale, explaining, “Amazon.com believes it is censorship not to sell certain titles because we believe their message is objectionable.” Within a few days, however, Amazon relented and stopped selling the pedophilia book.

2010
After U.S. political leaders pressured Amazon to block Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website known for leaking classified security documents, Amazon relented, and stopped hosting the site. Free speech advocates including Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers, promptly called for a consumer boycott of Amazon.

2011
For several years, Amazon was in the habit of spending millions of dollars lobbying various states to cut off local efforts to start charging sales tax on online purchases. To small business owners, the fact that sales tax was not automatically charged for e-commerce purchases gave e-retailers such as Amazon an unfair advantage—customers could easily save 7% or whatever the local sales tax rate was simply by purchasing online. (Sure, those consumers were later supposed to pay the sales tax they owed to the state, but almost no one did that.) In 2011, while California approved the installation of a sales tax on online purchases but hadn’t yet put the policy in practice, Amazon was actively trying to get the law overturned. The company’s efforts were met with a call to (surprise, surprise) boycott Amazon.

The boycott never really gained steam, and as of mid-September 2012, the campaign was totally moot, as Amazon began charging sales tax in California. Amazon customers in many other states who once could skip out on sales tax are now automatically charged sales tax on e-commerce purchases as well.

2011
In the fall of 2011, reports spread about deplorable worker conditions at Amazon warehouses and shipping centers around the country. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Morning Call showed employees at the Amazon warehouse in the Lehigh Valley enduring sweatshop-like conditions, including indoor temperatures so hot (over 100 degrees during summer heat waves) that the company arranged for ambulances to parked outside, waiting to treat workers for dehydration or other heat-related issues.

“Workers said they were forced to endure brutal heat inside the sprawling warehouse and were pushed to work at a pace many could not sustain,” the Morning Call reported. “Employees were frequently reprimanded regarding their productivity and threatened with termination, workers said.”

After consumer and worker groups got wind of Amazon worker complaints, a boycott was called for during the 2011 winter holiday shopping season. Some 12,600 consumers pledged to boycott Amazon for the holidays, if not indefinitely. If nothing else, Amazon stated that it has since installed much-need air-conditioners in warehouses, when appropriate.

The U.S. isn’t the only country where Amazon workers have voiced gripes against the company. In late 2013, for instance, Germany’s Amazon.com workers went on strike and staged protests outside the company’s Seattle headquarters due to “low wages, permanent performance pressure and short-term contracts.” Many have called for a boycott of Amazon among German consumers because of the company’s treatment of workers.

2012
Calls for a consumer boycott Amazon, as well as Starbucks and Google, throughout the UK started spreading in 2012, continued through 2013, and gained more traction in spring of 2014, with Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee in the UK, personally calling for consumers to avoid doing business with these companies.

Why? Due to a range of strategies employed by the companies, they pay relatively little in corporate taxes. Amazon, for instance, paid £4.2m in UK taxes in 2013, or 0.1% of its UK revenues. “It is an outrage and Amazon should pay their fair share of tax,” said Hodge. “They are making money out of not paying taxes. I no longer use Amazon. We should shop elsewhere.”

2013
In September, Boston-based author Jaime Clarke launched an odd website to help sell his new novel, Vernon Downs. The site’s url was PleaseDontBuyMyBookonAmazon.com. Clark said he was motivated to create the site because he wanted help independent publishers such as Roundabout Press, which published Clarke’s book.

“Most indie publishers rely on Amazon to sell their books, and to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald, the price is high,” Clarke said in a Q&A with CNET. “Indie publishers realize a fraction of the purchase price and are at the mercy of Amazon’s discounting policies.”

What’s more, Clarke just so happens to be the co-owner of Newtonville Books, which just so happens to be an independent bookstore—the ranks of which have been depleted during Amazon’s rise to power. “Independent bookstore owners loathe Amazon and its bald-pated founder, Jeff Bezos,” a Boston Globe story on Clarke explained.

2014
The most recent boycott Amazon push is related to the company’s ongoing battle with the Hachette Book Group. Essentially, Amazon wants to sell Hachette e-books at a lower price than the publisher wants, and to get its way, Amazon has stopped selling preorders of Hachette books, and it has slowed down the process of customers buying and shipping other Hachette books. For many, this clash epitomized the view that Amazon has too much power, is verging on a monopoly, and is perhaps just plain evil. And for many, this clash is what finally makes them feel that it is time to buy stuff elsewhere.

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