The Week Unwrapped: Elk arrests, bootleg gas and self-curing HIV

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:

Russian dissent

The arrest of the leader of the Moscow branch of Russia’s Communist Party has prompted allegations that Vladimir Putin is attempting to stitch up a prominent political rival. Valery Rashkin faces the loss of his political career over allegations of illegal hunting, but his arrest comes to the backdrop of wider efforts to clamp down on dissent. The Kremlin has been busy labelling everyone from journalists to pollsters “foreign agents”. So is Russia entering a new era of repression?

Gas smuggling

An undercover investigation has found that criminal gangs are smuggling hydrofluorocarbons – a group of highly potent greenhouse gases – into the UK and selling them out of car boots. While heavily regulated and therefore expensive in the UK, they can be cheaply produced in China. And while demand for these HFCs, which are used in fridges and air conditioners, is relatively niche, this is a problem that may become more mainstream as environmental bans are extended to petrol, diesel, gas boilers and other products in the coming decades.

HIV eradication

Aids researchers are poring over the case of an Argentinian woman, who has become only the second person known to have rid herself of the HIV virus without medical intervention. It is believed that she has an unusually adapted immune system, which was able to quarantine HIV cells and stop them replicating, before gradually destroying them. Scientists now looking into how they may be able to replicate the effect in other people’s immune system, perhaps paving the way for a cure.



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