The Week Unwrapped: Hostage policy, time poverty and squirrels

How should Britain deal with state-sponsored hostage-taking? Why do we all feel like we have less free time? And will a vaccine save red squirrels?

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. With Holden Frith, Arion McNicoll and Emma Smith.

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State hostages

The Foreign Affairs Committee published a report on Tuesday calling on the British government to improve the way it deals with hostage situations, particularly in cases where UK citizens are being held by foreign governments. It said the current approach has prolonged the period of captivity for some hostages and exacerbated the uncertainty and pain felt by hostages and members of their families. The MPs also called for a more proactive approach to dealing with hostage-takers – but could that encourage them to capture more British citizens?

Time poverty

The think tank Onward has analysed four decades of data and discovered that Britons are now spending less time seeing our friends, eating at restaurants, going out, exercising and volunteering. The problem, it suggests, is not that we’re working longer hours. Instead, it’s the rise of what it calls “time confetti”: the fragmentation of leisure time into small, unsatisfactory scraps. Is there anything we can do to reverse this trend and make better use of our leisure time.

Red squirrels

Campaigners warned this week that red squirrels face extinction in the UK unless a vaccine is developed for a deadly pox which has decimated the population, especially in Wales. Almost 11,000 people signed a petition calling on the Welsh government to fund vaccine research. But is this a good use of money – or even a viable approach to protecting Britain’s remaining red squirrels.

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