Brooke Masters: UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s struggle to find the right response to the poison attack on a former double agent in the English cathedral city of Salisbury highlights an age old struggle,writes Tony Barber: how best to deal with Russia.The UK blames Russia for the use of a rare Soviet-era nerve agent on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, so it has expelled 23 Russian diplomats alleged to be spies, cancelled a visit to London by Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, and scrapped plans to send members of the royal family to the football World Cup in Russia.
But in truth, there is only so much the UK can do. Some some sort of relationship with Russia is unavoidable. But the health of the relationship is tied to Russian domestic conditions, which swing from secretive, autocratic truculence to relatively liberal openness and back again. Western countries can do very little to affect this cycle of change.
Banking triumphant: The apparent victory of David Solomon in the race to succeed Lloyd Blankfein as chief executive of Goldman Sachs has reignited an old debate at the Wall Street firm about the relative importance of banking versus trading. William Cohan observes that Mr Solomon, a career banker, probably bested Harvey Schwartz, a trader, because he understands risk taking and how the various pieces of Goldman fit together into a powerful whole.
Hawking’s example: Scientist Stephen Hawking, who died this week, had much to teach us, and not just about his academic speciality of physics, according to Tim Harford. Hawking’s immense curiosity and enthusiasm made him a master of persuasion. Unlike some public intellectuals, Hawking was not very interested in conflict for the sake of it. Experts who hope to follow in his footsteps should remember that curious people are less subject to the temptations of partisanship and more willing to abandon cynicism towards unwelcome information.
"Bloody Gina": Donald Trump’s pick to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, is a 30 year veteran of the agency who is widely respected for her political skills as well as being a big fan of singer Johnny Cash, writes Katrina Manson in a profile. But her nomination has already run into opposition because of her part in the war on terror after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She personally oversaw an American black site in Thailand at which captives were tortured, allegedly earning herself the moniker “Bloody Gina”. Later, at the request of a supervisor, she drafted a cable directing dozens of videotapes to be consigned to shredding. – Financial Times