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The Week Unwrapped: Truckers, sewage and Friends in China

Why has Canada declared a national emergency? What can we do to clean up Britain’s rivers? And what did Ross and Rachel do to upset Beijing?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters.

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In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Protests in Canada

The Canadian government has invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time, in response to protests by truckers against compulsory vaccinations – which have spread to include a large group of other anti-lockdown and anti-government demonstrators. The most controversial measures introduced by the emergency legislation include an instruction to banks to freeze the assets and close the accounts of groups and individuals involved in the protest – a penalty that can be imposed without any court order. How likely is it that these protests could spread to other countries, and what response will they provoke?

Sewage costs

The UK has some of the dirtiest rivers in Europe, in large part because water companies so often allow sewers to overflow and pollute them. Now the head of the regulator is floating the idea that executive pay in the privatised utilities could be linked to pollution levels. There are worries that making the water companies clean up rivers could lead them in turn to jack up bills, just as taxes and energy bills are creating a cost-of-living crisis. But critics of the government and the water companies say the real problem is too much profit-taking and too little investment.

Friends in China

The US sitcom Friends, which had been abruptly removed from Chinese streaming services, was restored this week – but only after all gay references had been removed. For Chinese audiences, Ross’s ex-wife is no longer a lesbian and Chandler is no longer worried about being thought gay. The move reflects an increasing Chinese paranoia about sexuality and gender roles: the government has recently directed TV companies to reinforce traditional ideas about masculinity, and several male singers and presenters have revised their looks accordingly.

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