Economics of Migration

Are the British people worse off because of the immigrants? When in 2013 the Royal Statistical Society did a survey and asked people to name a percentage of the United Kingdom population that are not born in the UK, the average response was 31%, more than double the actual number – 12.5%. The talk starts with a description of change in migration levels and attitudes to it in the UK and other countries then focuses on the labor market impact of immigration. Do not wish for clear-cut answers!

The Department of Economics at LSE

British Airship R 101

Airships and the Future that Never Was

They are hulking, but graceful — human-made whales that float in the air. For over a century, lighter-than-air vehicles have captured the public imagination. In these visions, cargo and passengers traverse the globe in smoothly gliding aircraft, then dock elegantly at the mooring towers on top of Art Deco skyscrapers.

Today, blimps are mostly just PR gimmicks, but for 100 years, lighter-than-air crafts were seriously considered as the perfect design solution for all kinds of problems, at least in theory. And despite setbacks and failures, people just wouldn’t give up on the promise of airships.

The most promising, and most opulent, rigid airship of the 1920s era was Britain’s R101 and its rise and dramatic fall is the primary subject of engineering expert Bill Hammack’s new book about Britain’s last great airship, called Fatal Flight. In this podcast he evokes futures that might have been.

99% Invisible


How Many Murders Can a Police Informer Get Away With?

Last year Northern Irish paramilitary Gary Haggarty pleaded guilty to hundreds of violent crimes, including five murders; five attempted murders; one count of aiding and abetting murder; 23 conspiracies to murder; four kidnappings; six charges of false imprisonment; a handful of arson attacks, including burning down a pub; five hijackings; 66 offences of possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life (the weapons included two Sten submachine guns, an Uzi, 12 Taurus pistols and two AK47s); 10 counts of possession of explosives; 18 of wounding with intent and two charges of aggravated burglary. Haggarty was a serial killer, sadist, kidnapper, drug dealer, racketeer: a one-man crime tsunami. He was also a member of a Protestant militia, the Ulster Volunteer Force, fighting against the IRA and other Irish republican forces to keep Northern Ireland under British rule.

He got away with his crimes for so long because he was, in addition to these things, a servant of the British state. He was a police informer.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

The American Bombs Falling on Yemen

On the afternoon of 8 October 2016 the US and UK backed Saudis bombed a funeral gathering in Sana’a, Yemen.  The mayor of Sana’a, Abdulqader Hilal al-Dabab, was killed, and the country lost a bright hope for peace. Hilal was a politician with a long record of mediating disputes in a notoriously fractious and dangerous country. Nicolas Niarchos talks with Hilal’s son about his father’s fate and what it says about the country’s future.

Saudis are spending somewhere around 5 billion dollars a month on war in Yemen, and much of that ends up in the United States of America – in the hands of American defense contractors or British defense contractors in London.

Bear in mind that Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. Over 8 million Yemenis are on the brink of starving. It has over 1 million suspected cholera cases. That is the largest cholera outbreak on record in modern history. During the three years of war the richest countries in the world are bombing the poorest country.

The New Yorker

Channel Island of Jersey

The Fall of Jersey: How a Tax Haven Goes Bust

Jersey bet its future on finance but since 2007 it has fallen on hard times and is heading for bankruptcy. The government is left with a “black hole” in the annual budget. “Filling it will take the equivalent of shutting down every school in the island, laying off every teacher, letting the parks turn into overgrown jungles and having our roads literally fall apart.” Who are the winners?

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

Richard Branson, cross-dressed as a woman, serves as a flight attendant on AirAsia’s flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur Richard Branson, cross-dressed as a woman, serves as a flight attendant on AirAsia’s flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur

Richard Branson Reveals His Way of Leading a Company

BRANSON: Well, I’m quite badly dyslexic. And really bizarrely, it was on my 50th birthday that I was having a meeting with a group of executives. And I asked the question, “Is that good news or bad news?” when some figures were given to me. And one of the executives took me outside of the room and he had already prepared himself for this: he had a — some coloring pencils and he had a blank sheet of paper. He colored in this piece of paper blue, and then he put a net — a fishing net amongst it. And he put little fish in the fishing net. And he said, “Richard, I don’t think you know the difference between net and gross, and let me simplify it for you. The fish in the net are your profit. And the — all the fish that are not on the net are your gross turnover.” And hey, presto, I got it.

Freakonomics Radio

Annihilation of Raktabija by Goddess Durga and Kali Annihilation of demon Raktabija by Goddess Durga and Kali

The East India Company: the Original Corporate Raiders

How East India Company headquartered in one small office, in London, subjugaed and plundered vast tracts of south Asia. In many ways the EIC was a model of corporate efficiency: 100 years into its history, it had only 35 permanent employees in its head office. Nevertheless, that skeleton staff executed a corporate coup unparalleled in history.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

Offshore in Central London: the Curious Case of 29 Harley Street

The house No 29 on Harley Street is currently home to 2,159 companies, for which it operates as a large, ornate and prestigiously located postbox and answerphone. A company named Formations House, which, since it was founded in 2001, has made a business out of conjuring corporate vehicles from the West End air. Why has this prestigious address been used so many times as a centre for elaborate international fraud?
Written and read by Oliver Bullough, produced by Simon Barnard.
Illustration by Michael Kirkham.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 6th May 2016

The British Hacker’s Fight for His Life

Lauri Love is charged with masterminding a 2013 attack by Anonymous on US government websites. He has not protested his innocence – he only points out that, without seeing the evidence, which the US Department of Justice refuses to reveal until he is on US soil, he cannot say one way or the other. But he had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out the crimes of which he stands accused. Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US – a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Had Love been allowed to stand trial in the UK following his initial arrest, and had he pled guilty to every charge, he would have spent a maximum of 18 months in prison. Four years after his initial arrest, Love has nearly exhausted his legal options. His extradition to the US is now perilously close. In September 2016, a district judge refused to block Love’s deportation.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

Britain Divided: 1642-2016

The perils of politics in Britain. In his latest book, “The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics”, David Goodhart looks at the new division: between the mobile ‘achieved’ identity of the people from Anywhere, and the more marginalised, roots-based identity of the people from Somewhere. For the last few decades Anywhere interests have dominated in everything from mass higher education to mass immigration and the EU. Tables are turning.

The playwright Richard Bean reaches back to another time of internal conflict, the beginning of the English Civil War, and finds humour in the desperate attempts of one man to retain power. Teach them a lesson.

Machiavelli is associated with unscrupulous scheming, but his latest biographer Erica Benner argues that, believe it or not, he was a man devoted to political and human freedom.

Start the Week – BBC Radio 4