Speakers in the news 13th April
1) Joe Townsend
- Joe Townsend is a Former Royal Marine who lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008. From February 2008, he spent five and a half months at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, 6 weeks of which was spent in intensive care. After being moved in July 2008 to the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court in Surrey, Joe spent the best part of three years in rehabilitation and racking up over 50 surgical operations to date. Unsatisfied with leading a life entirely dissimilar to that which he experienced with the Royal Marines, Joe endeavoured to gain back the fitness levels he had enjoyed as a Commando. He got into triathlon when he completed the Ironman UK triathlon in Bolton in July 2011. He has since completed at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, where he finished second in the disability category in a time of 11:35:52 (2012) and has established himself as one of the best PT1 paratriatheltes in the world. He competed for ParalympicsGB in Rio in September 2016. Joe’s positivity and determination has led him to achieve some remarkable feats of endeavour and make him an inspiration for others overcoming adversity.
Joe Townsend won Commonwealth gold in the men’s and women’s Para-triathlon as the home nations’ Para-cyclists dominated. He became the first Commonwealth Para-triathlon champions as the sport made its Games debut. Joe said,“I found myself in the lead coming out of [transition two] and I knew others in the field couldn’t push past me,”. “It seems narrow-minded but I know what my strengths are and it was a dream finish for me.” BBC
2) Jennifer Zhu Scott
Jennifer Zhu Scott is the co-founder and principal of Radian Blockchain Ventures and Radian Partners, a private investment firm for family offices and UHNWIs focusing on Artificial Intelligence, the Blockchain, and renewable energy. Prior, she was head of business development and strategy in APAC for Thomson Reuters and led the firm’s speech-to-text, deep search, video-indexing projects. She co-founded one of the first education companies in China and exited before moving to the UK as a senior advisor to the education subsidiary of Daily Mail & General Trust.
- Jennifer wrote a brilliant article this week about data rights and value in the post-Facebook era. She says ‘For Facebook users furious about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, there are currently two options to protest and protect your data: stay and have little control over your data privacy, or leave and forfeit the convenience and connectivity social media brings. But what if there was a third option? What if the companies profiting from user-generated data had to pay you for it? What if each user got to decide whom to sell their data to, and at what price?It is time to discuss individual data ownership—the most fundamental digital-property right.’
3) Anne McElvoy
- Anne McElvoy is Senior Editor and former Public Policy Editor at The Economist. She has been a Political Columnist for the Evening Standard since 2001. She is also the presenter of the BBC Radio 4 Shows the Moral Maze and Free Thinking. After graduating from Oxford with a degree in German and Philosophy, Anne studied for a year at east Berlin’s Humboldt University, specialising in East German literature and the effects of censorship. She joined The Times in 1988 and became a foreign correspondent, reporting from Eastern Europe during the fall of the Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany and the break-up of Yugoslavia. She was the Times Bureau Chief in Germany, Yugoslavia, and Moscow from 1992-1996. In 1996 she became Deputy Editor of The Spectator and in 1998 moved to The Independent as Associate Editor. She joined the Evening Standard as Executive Editor in 2002, where she also wrote a weekly column. She has been Public Policy Editor of The Economist since 2011. Anne is also a broadcaster, frequently appearing on television programmes such as Newsnight, Newsnight Review, Question Time and BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze. She is author of two books: ‘The Saddled Cow: East Germany’s Life & Legacy’ (1992) and ‘Man Without a Face: The Autobiography Of Communism’s Greatest Spymaster’ (2003 with Markus Wolf).
- In this week’s Evening Standard article, Anne argued populists are consolidating – and progressives need to rethink how to take them on. She debated how we should respond to populist trends, identity concerns and demands for a new style of political representation in an entertaining but reponsible way.
4) John Sawers
- Sir John Sawers GCMG is the former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI6). During his tenure, he modernised the Service and led it through major changes in operations, technology, and public accountability. The first outsider to be appointed to SIS in decades, he draws from his experience in managing the most challenging foreign and security policy issues of the last 20 years, including the rise of China, the evolution of Russia, the threat of terrorism and cyber attack, the changes in the Middle East, and the nuclear negotiations in Iran.With a total of 36 years working for the British government, Sawers is a diplomat with close ties to Downing Street and the foreign policy establishment. He was previously the UK’s permanent representative to the UN in New York (2007-09), political director of the UK’s Foreign Office (2003-07), special representative in Iraq (2003), ambassador to Cairo (2001-03), and foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister (1999-2001).
- This week, John hit out at Donald Trump for using Twitter to conduct critical diplomatic communications with Russia ahead of a potential conflict in Syria. He suggested Mr Trump’s use of social media would not provide the clarity of message to Moscow needed, as the world’s superpowers squared up following the alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma. The ex-British intelligence chief’s call for better lines of communication to the Kremlin came after the President took to Twitter on Wednesday, to tell Russia to “get ready” for missiles to hit Syrian Government targets. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir John said the West was back to a level of danger in relations with Russia not seen since the Cold War, and that Western leaders now had to be perfectly clear in communications with Moscow.