Former IRA commander McGuinness dies, Macron’s debate victory and the benefits of a hot bath

Legacy of ex-Northern Ireland political leader remains divisive

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Former IRA commander-turned-peacemaker Martin McGuinness has died at the age of 66 after a period of ill health. His transformation — from one-time second-in-command of the Provisional IRA in Derry (also known as Londonderry), whom British officials say was responsible for some of the group’s bloodiest tactics, to one of Northern Ireland’s most effective and thoughtful political leaders as it emerged from three decades of strife — was profound. In the words of Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “Martin will always be remembered for the remarkable political journey that he undertook in his lifetime.”

But his legacy remains divisive. Former Conservative minister Norman Tebbit, whose wife was seriously injured by the IRA bombing of a party conference in 1984, described him as a “coward” who never confessed his sins or atoned for his crimes. (FT, Irish Times, Telegraph) 

In the news

UK inflation jumps The UK inflation rate outstripped expectations in February, hitting 2.3 per cent and rising above the Bank of England’s inflation target for the first time since 2013. The higher than expected increase, after a fall at the start of the year, meant the year-on-year figure also beat forecasts of a 2.1 per cent rise. The British pound jumped 0.85 per cent, to $1.2460, immediately after the figures were released. (FT)

Macron’s moment Initial polls show that French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was the winner of the country’s first presidential debate. During three hours of often fiery exchanges Mr Macron and fellow frontrunner Marine Le Pen clashed over issues including Islam’s place in society and campaign funding. Keep up with the latest campaign news with the FT’s poll tracker. (FT) 

Planetary upheaval The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. One scientist described Earth as "a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere”. (Guardian)

Google staff boost Google has said it will boost staff numbers and overhaul its policies after several major brands deserted it for failing to keep their adverts off hate-filled videos. The company says it has struggled to monitor the 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. It hopes that hiring significantly more staff will help speed up the process of removing ads from hateful and offensive content that attacks people based on their race, religion or gender. (Reuters)

Check your laptop New travel regulations from the Trump administration bar airline passengers from eight Middle Eastern nations from carrying laptops and other large devices such as iPads into the main cabin. The new edict sowed confusion because of a lack of specific information — for example whether the crew were included in the ban. (FT, Guardian)

SoftBank drops $100m investment in iPhone rival The Japanese group scrapped its plans to invest in the start-up Essential Products — founded by the creator of Google’s Android software — partly because of its own close relationship with Apple. To understand the motives of Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s chief executive, it is worth looking at the insights he draws from two unlikely sources: salmon roe and horseracing. (WSJ, NAR)

It's a big day for

Abe and the EU Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe visits Brussels in a bid to seal a new trade deal with the bloc before the end of the year. (Politico)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.

Food for thought

Passive resistance Traditional asset managers face an epochal battle against the rise of passive investing. Now they are fighting back against the index trackers taking over the industry. (FT)

Doomed to co-operate The future of our world heavily depends on relations between the US, a young country and the incumbent superpower, and China, an ancient empire and a rising superpower, writes Martin Wolf. Making these relations particularly challenging have been the election in the US of Donald Trump, a populist xenophobe, and the ascendancy of Xi Jinping, a centralising autocrat, in China. (FT)

Syria’s problem with chlorine Despite the removal of 1,300 tonnes of sarin nerve gas from Syrian government stocks early in the civil war, chemical attacks by regime forces persist, largely in the form of chlorine, which has emerged as the most heavily used chemical weapon in the war. Not only is the gas horrific for the victims, but its use undermines one of the strongest bans on any weapon in international humanitarian law. (Jazeera)

Why you can’t escape cockroaches A study from Japan’s Hokkaido University offers a hint at why the pesky bugs are so hard to get rid of — females can breed for years and reproduce dozens of times without ever mating with a male. (WSJ)

The benefits of a hot bath Many cultures swear by the benefits of a hot bath. But scientists are only just beginning to understand how passive heating (as opposed to getting hot and sweaty from exercise) improves health. (The Conversation)

Video of the day

Abe’s kindergarten crisis Leo Lewis looks at how the political scandal over Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's alleged donation to a nationalist kindergarten could affect Japan's stock market. (FT)

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