Relations between Beijing and Washington fell to a new low last week when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. The decision to include Taipei in his trip to the wider region, described as “reckless” by his critics at home and “provocative” by China, had immediate repercussions. Our regional correspondent Helen Davidson looks at China’s military response, while Washington bureau chief David Smith discusses his motivation for making the trip. More alarm bells were rung with China’s decision to end cooperation with the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Environment journalist Oliver Milman explains why it is so vital that these two economic powerhouses work together on measures to tackle climate change.
The cost of living crisis is worrying many in the UK as domestic fuel prices look set to cost the average household nearly $4,500 a year. With Boris Johnson keeping a low profile in his final month as prime minister and the two candidates vying to succeed him as Conservative leader full of campaign hot air but offering little concrete hope for the country, a former prime minister is asking an emergency budget to address the pending crisis. Observer policy editor Michael Savage explores why Gordon Brown and the current Labor leadership are calling for action so strongly. We also report a growing movement among some everyday consumers to register their anger at sky-high prices and possibly the only way to survive this winter is to not pay their energy bills.
Puzzles are at the heart of our features this week. Hard math in the form of algebra, which Alec Wilkinson struggled with at school despite considering himself a fairly bright student, was the mystery he decided to crack. After a career as a writer at the New Yorker, he discovered at age 65 that learning how to learn solves a large part of the problem. And our top Culture feature does some digging with comedian-turned-debut crime writer Frankie Boyle and genre veteran Denise Mina, who discuss how to write a good murder. Andrew Anthony brought them in for questioning and got testimonials from several other authors about their favorite mystery and thriller reads.
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