We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: Why are orcas targetting sailboats off the coast of Spain and Portugal?

Settle down in a comfy chair with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked some of the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Paul Shrader shoots down Taxi Driver 2

original-film-title-taxi-driver-english-title-taxi-driver-film-director-martin-scorsese-year-1976-stars-robert-de-niro-credit-columbia-pictures-album De Niro in Taxi Driver, 1976. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Legendary Hollywood screenwriter and director Paul Shrader sat down with IndieWire to discuss his new film at Cannes and what he thought of Robert De Niro’s suggestion of a sequel to his most famous work, Taxi Driver. 

(IndieWire, approx 15 mins reading time)

About 10 years ago Robert De Niro said you’d tried approaching a ‘Taxi Driver’ sequel. I’m curious if a) that’s true; b) what that might have entailed.

It’s not true. Robert is the one who wanted to do that. He asked Marty and I. Now, I don’t want to slag De Niro, but a lot of his decisions sometimes have financial motivations. I’m sure someone had said to him, “You know, if you do ‘Taxi Driver 2,’ they can pay.” So he pressed Marty on it and Marty asked me and I said, “Marty, that’s the worst fucking idea I’ve ever heard.” He said, “Yeah, but you tell him. Let’s have dinner.” So we had dinner at Bob’s restaurant and Bob was talking about it. I said, “Wow, that’s the worst fucking idea I’ve ever heard. That character dies at the end of that movie or dies shortly thereafter. He’s gone. Oh, but maybe there is a version of him that I could do. Maybe he became Ted Kaczynski and maybe he’s in a cabin somewhere and just sitting there, making letter bombs. Now, that would be cool. That would be a nice Travis. He doesn’t have a cab anymore. He just sits there [laughs] making letter bombs.” But Bob didn’t cotton to that idea, either. [Laughs.]

2. Photographing women               

Author Anne Enright pens the introduction to this series of photographs in The Guardian that shows 38 photos that “changed the way we see women (for better or worse)”.

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time) 

I have seen only three photographs of my father’s mother. In each she is neatly dressed and proud of her son, who is the reason the picture was taken. There are perhaps 10 images of my granny on my mother’s side; half are studio photos, a few more casually posed. These are images of people making a picture of themselves for future eyes, including mine, and their hopefulness makes me nostalgic. My granny is also accidentally included in a portrait of my mother’s dog, taken out in the garden. There she is in the background, scrubbing away at something in a zinc tub. Her sleeve is rolled up and the bare arm is shocking, though not indecent. Very thin and working hard, its whiteness shows how rarely her skin was in the sunshine. It looks so real.

3. Orcas vs. Humans

this-is-can-opener-ca60-his-mother-one-of-two-huge-males-that-are-arguably-the-largest-in-whole-of-the-california-coastline Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Orcas have been attacking sailboats in the Iberian Sea since 2020 and one man is making it his mission to stop them.

(Rolling Stone, approx 25 mins reading time) 

He heard a crash. The boat shook, and Drion lost his balance. “What happened?” he shouted up to the others. There was banging on the hull from the outside. The crew looked over the side and saw black fins breaking the glassy surface. Five killer whales, each more than half the length of the boat, their glossy skin shining in the sunlight, were taking turns swimming into the back of the sailboat, ramming the rudder with their heads. With each crash, the boat jolted into a new direction. 

The crew shut down the electronics and hauled in the mainsail. Speeding off, they thought, could be an invitation to chase. The animals were faster. Better to stay put, quiet and still. They sat without talking for almost an hour, drifting in open ocean. The only sounds were the deep steady blows of orca breath, the clicks and whistles of killer whale language, the crunch of several tons of marine mammal — the boat weighed about the same as one adult male — against their rudder. 

4. Irish resurgence in cockfighting

An investigation by Noteworthy has found illegal matches and breeding for the blood sport are widespread across the country.

(Noteworthy, approx 13 mins reading time)

Cruel cockfighting – where roosters are placed in a ring to fight until one is seriously injured or killed – is taking place in secret duels up and down the country, with a significant number of younger men involved in the illegal matches.

Footage obtained by Noteworthy shows some of the brutal battles being held in backyards, as well as purpose built ‘cockpits’ where some birds fight until collapse.

Those involved in the sadistic sport range in ages and backgrounds, and include animal breeders, a member of the Irish Defence Forces and a foreign government official based in Ireland.

The illegal matches have become so competitive that punters – who gamble huge amounts of cash on the brutal bouts – are paying to import more aggressive breeds from as far away as Pakistan.

5. ‘The fatherless ones’

london-uk-5th-dec-2023-contaminated-blood-protest-outside-the-cabinet-office-london-uk-credit-ian-davidsonalamy-live-news Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The infected blood scandal in the UK has claimed the lives of over 3000 people, with many more still suffering as a result. This week, the UK government has apologised and promised compensation to the victims. But who has been left behind? 

(The Conversation, approx 19 mins reading time)

Gradually, haemophilia communities on both sides of the Atlantic noticed some among them were getting sick from a mysterious new virus. The first death of a person with haemophilia from Aids occurred in the US state of Florida in January 1982. The following year, both the Lancet medical journal and the World Health Organization published recommendations that people with haemophilia should be warned of the new health risks they faced – which also included infection with hepatitis C, a potentially deadly virus that affects the liver. Yet no such warnings were given.

6. Brooklyn: The Sequel

Author Colm Tóibín has released a new novel – the sequel to his much loved novel Brooklyn. 

(The Atlantic, approx 10 mins reading time)

America’s conception of itself as a nation has always been built on the aspirations of the immigrant. But to immigrate to this country can be dehumanizing—can demand, to some degree, the erasure of one’s previous identity. In many cases one is expected to undergo a homogenizing process, smoothing away any prickly individualities: names, languages, sometimes entire systems of belief. The French writer Georges Perec, describing Ellis Island in the 1970s, likened it to “a sort of factory for manufacturing Americans, a factory for transforming emigrants into immigrants; an American-style factory, as quick and efficient as a sausage factory in Chicago.”

Long Island, the Irish writer Colm Tóibín’s new novel, is the follow-up to his popular 2009 book, Brooklyn, a coming-of-age story about a young woman named Eilis Lacey who leaves Ireland and tries to make a life in New York. The sequel picks up in the 1970s, 20 years after the events of that earlier story, and begins with a betrayal.


labour-party-supporters-celebrate-the-uk-election-victory-on-the-night-of-1st2nd-may-1997-outside-the-royal-festival-hall-in-london Labour Party supporters celebrate the UK election victory on the night of 1st/2nd May 1997, outside the Royal Festival Hall in London. Edward Webb / Alamy Stock Photo Edward Webb / Alamy Stock Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

Last year, journalist and filmmaker Ed Gillett provided an excerpt from his book ‘Party Lines’, in which he argues that House music, rather than Britpop, helped Tony Blair’s Labour party on its path to electoral victory in 1997. So with Rishi Sunak’s election announcement being drowned out by ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ this week, it seemed a good time to dig this one out.

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time)

First released in 1993, but only lightly grazing the Top 40 on its initial foray into the charts, a poppier remix of D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better spent four weeks at No 1 the following January. Two years on from that, it was co-opted for the launch of Labour’s five “pre-manifesto” pledges, written largely by Tony Blair himself. Something in the song’s message clearly resonated with Labour apparatchiks, or tested well with the party’s army of focus groups: by the time the election came around in May 1997, Things Can Only Get Better had displaced The Red Flag as New Labour’s election anthem, the feelgood sonic backdrop to rallies, photo opportunities and campaign adverts alike.

Note: The Journal generally selects stories that are not paywalled, but some might not be accessible if you have exceeded your free article limit on the site in question.

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

David MacRedmond and Emma Hickey
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel