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Opinion | The Guardian

Latest opinion, analysis and discussion from the Guardian. CP Scott: "Comment is free, but facts are sacred"

Published: Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:44:00 GMT2018-01-17T22:44:00Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018

The American far-right is crashing after its Trump victory high | Cas Mudde

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:00:52 GMT2018-01-17T11:00:52Z

While radical-right discourse dominates US politics, far-right leaders haven’t seized this moment

When I assessed Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office for my book The Far Right in America, I concluded that “the Trump administration is a chaotic beehive of various factions, which are isolated from and opposed to each other, and all vie for the attention of the president”. In essence, little has changed, even if many of the personalities have since moved on. And the reason is simple: this is how Trump likes it!

Within the White House, the far right has been practically decimated. With Steve Bannon’s departure, and recent excommunication, the Breitbart faction has become marginalized. Clowns like “Dr” Sebastian Gorka have been kicked out, while others, including his wife, Katharine Gorka, work under the shadow of being purged, too. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has fallen out of Trump’s favor, but remains influential within the Department of Justice and a continuing threat to the rights and protections of minorities.

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Trump’s judges threaten reproductive rights for generations to come

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:00:52 GMT2018-01-17T11:00:52Z

The decisions that these zealots make will affect the lives of millions of women decades from now

I was 19 years old when I first visited a Planned Parenthood health center. It was 1973, the same year the supreme court recognized a constitutional right to abortion in the landmark Roe v Wade decision. Decades later, who possibly could have thought that my daughter’s generation would still be fighting for the legal right for women to control our own bodies?

Anti-choice activists and lawmakers have been systematically chipping away at reproductive freedom at all levels of government, and too often doing so under the radar so that few will notice. In my travels I have met educated, successful women who have no idea of the restrictions being enacted in their own states. I’ll never forget a woman I met in Houston who, after I mentioned that Texas had passed a mandatory waiting period for abortions, responded: “No, I would know that.” But we don’t always know – and that’s part of the success of the anti-choice movement.

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The poorly reported Aziz Ansari exposé was a missed opportunity | Jill Filipovic

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:16:17 GMT2018-01-16T14:16:17Z

We can – we must – wade into the messy, complicated nature of sex in a misogynist world. But this celebrity exposé doesn’t do the job well enough

It was bound to happen. In the midst of women sharing stories of harassment and assault via the #MeToo movement, and a brewing backlash of hand-wringers wondering if women have perhaps gone too far, it was only a matter of time before a publication did us the disservice of publishing a sensational story of a badly behaved man who was nonetheless not a sexual assailant. The publication: The man: Aziz Ansari. The story: a coercive, dehumanizing sexual interaction.

It’s a shame. Not because these stories shouldn’t be told – if anything, we need to talk more about how pervasive power imbalances benefit men and make sex worse for women. But instead of telling this particular story with the care it called for, it was jammed into a pre-existing movement grounded in the language of assault and illegality.

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#MeToo isn’t enough. Now women need to get ugly | Barbara Kingsolver

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:00:27 GMT2018-01-16T19:00:27Z

‘Don’t say that to me, don’t do that to me. I hate it.’ I armed my daughters with these words to deal with harassment. Let’s no longer mollify powerful men

In each of my daughter’s lives came the day in fifth grade when we had to sit on her bed and practise. I pretended to be the boy in class who was making her sick with dread. She had to look right at me and repeat the words until they felt possible, if not easy: “Don’t say that to me. Don’t do that to me. I hate it.” As much as I wanted to knock heads around, I knew the only real solution was to arm a daughter for self-defence. But why was it so hard to put teeth into that defence? Why does it come more naturally to smile through clenched teeth and say “Oh, stop,” in the mollifying tone so regularly, infuriatingly mistaken for flirtation?

Women my age could answer that we were raised that way. We’ve done better with our daughters but still find ourselves right here, where male puberty opens a lifelong season of sexual aggression, and girls struggle for the voice to call it off. The Mad Men cliche of the boss cornering his besotted secretary is the modern cliche of the pop icon with his adulating, naked-ish harem in a story that never changes: attracting male attention is a woman’s success. Rejecting it feels rude, like refusing an award. It feels ugly.

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Finding your museum doppelganger is fun – but the science behind it is scary | Arwa Mahdawi

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 15:11:56 GMT2018-01-16T15:11:56Z

Facial recognition technology allows Google to find the artwork you most resemble – but it also supports the rise of the surveillance state

Worried you’re no oil painting? Well, there’s an app for that! The internet is obsessed with a new feature in the Google Arts & Culture app that finds your museum doppelganger. You take a selfie, then Google trawls a database of art to find the museum portrait you most resemble. It is an irresistible proposition for everyone’s inner narcissist; I downloaded the app immediately. Unfortunately, my inner narcissist was in for a nasty shock. Apparently, my face closely resembles an engraving of Leopold I, a man with a massive moustache, and a portrait of Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, a man with a rather genteel goatee. OK, Google, I take the hint. I’ve made an appointment to get threaded!

Now, if you’re rushing to download the app to see which hirsute Habsburg you look like, please note that this feature is currently only available in the US. But perhaps its limited reach is no bad thing. The app may be good fun, but it is also fundamentally frightening: Google’s latest experiment, you see, says less about art than it does the burgeoning science of facial recognition technology.

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Has #MeToo gone too far, or not far enough? The answer is both | Laura Kipnis

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 07:00:52 GMT2018-01-13T07:00:52Z

What is at stake in Catherine Deneuve’s recent letter in Le Monde attacking the feminist movement? It’s a question of where you draw the line

After the 10th or so person sent me the stunningly silly anti-#MeToo letter signed by Catherine Deneuve and a hundred other French women (the actual authorship of which we’ll get to), informing me that I’d love it because finally someone was standing up for sanity, I considered a form letter response: “If the question is whether #MeToo has gone too far or not far enough, the answer is obviously BOTH. Putting yourself on one side or the other is politically obtuse.”

The innovation of the Deneuve statement is to enumerate a new right for men (as if they didn’t have enough already) – “the right to bother” – which is regarded by the signatories as indispensable to sexual freedom. I understand why my correspondents might have thought this would appeal to me. I recently wrote a book about overblown sexual accusations on American campuses, in which I too deployed the language of witch hunts.

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America is spiritually bankrupt. We must fight back together | Cornel West

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 09:00:23 GMT2018-01-14T09:00:23Z

The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled racial hatred and contempt

We live in one of the darkest moments in American history – a bleak time of spiritual blackout and imperial meltdown. Exactly 25 years ago, in my book Race Matters, I tried to lay bare the realities and challenges to American democracy in light of the doings and sufferings of black people. Back then, I reached heartbreaking yet hopeful conclusions. Now, the heartbreak cuts much deeper and the hope has nearly run out.

Related: Has #MeToo gone too far, or not far enough? The answer is both | Laura Kipnis

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Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires | Bernie Sanders

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 19:33:58 GMT2018-01-14T19:33:58Z

If we stand together against powerful special interests we can eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy and tackle climate change

Here is where we are as a planet in 2018: after all of the wars, revolutions and international summits of the past 100 years, we live in a world where a tiny handful of incredibly wealthy individuals exercise disproportionate levels of control over the economic and political life of the global community.

Difficult as it is to comprehend, the fact is that the six richest people on Earth now own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population – 3.7 billion people. Further, the top 1% now have more money than the bottom 99%. Meanwhile, as the billionaires flaunt their opulence, nearly one in seven people struggle to survive on less than $1.25 (90p) a day and – horrifyingly – some 29,000 children die daily from entirely preventable causes such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia.

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I am American, Jewish and banned from Israel for my activism | Medea Benjamin

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 13:00:03 GMT2018-01-15T13:00:03Z

I support nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in order to support Palestinian rights. The move to ban me and others will backfire

This month, the Israeli government announced that activists affiliated with 20 organizations, including my organization Codepink, would be banned from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories because of our support for the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.

Related: Israel’s BDS blacklist is straight out of apartheid. The UK can’t condone it | Asad Rehman

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What happens when the jobs dry up in the new world? The left must have an answer | John Harris

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 06:00:17 GMT2018-01-16T06:00:17Z

We need to address the questions raised by rapid automation, and find new ways to redistribute power

If modern Britain has a defining problem, it boils down to an across-the-board failure to leave the past behind. Brexit, self-evidently, is a profoundly retrogressive project, helmed by Tory politicians split between continuity Thatcherites and devotees of a supposed one-nation Conservatism who still yearn for a quiet, sepia-tinted England. The latter are personified, in her own shaky way, by the prime minister. Labour, meanwhile, has a clear set of moral responses to an obvious social crisis, and the first stirrings of a convincing programme for government. But it, too, has a tendency to take refuge in fuzzy dreams of yesteryear: 1945, old flags and banners, the idea that a dependable job in a factory is still a byword for emancipation.

Related: Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires | Bernie Sanders

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The Guardian view on China’s spreading influence: look in the gift horse’s mouth | Editorial

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:20:44 GMT2018-01-17T18:20:44Z

There is growing concern about Beijing’s attempts to shape the thinking of politicians and the public overseas

The arrest of a former CIA agent this week is the stuff of a classic murky spy tale. Though he is charged with unlawfully retaining national defence information, the US reportedly suspects that he leaked the names of informants. An earlier report alleged that China imprisoned or killed multiple US sources between 2010 and 2012. Both countries have plans for tackling espionage. But analysts, intelligence agencies and politicians are now debating how to handle the subtler challenge of Chinese influence activities: a “magic weapon” neither cloak-and-dagger nor transparent.

China says it does not interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs. Yet all nations seek to sway foreign governments and citizens towards their own priorities, interests and perspectives. The question is how they do so, and how far they go. (No one should pretend that western nations always act above board.)

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The Guardian view on returning the Rohingya: a bad deal, worsened by haste | Editorial

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:09:12 GMT2018-01-16T18:09:12Z

Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to repatriate the 650,000 refugees who have fled violence in Rakhine state within two years. Many are concerned – and rightly so

The 650,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled what the UN human rights chief has called “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing” must have the right to return to their homes in northern Rakhine state, Myanmar. To say otherwise would be to concede to those who forced them out – the security forces and militias who have raped and beaten civilians, burned houses and killed even infants. Authorities say the campaign is directed against militants who attacked police, but the civilian toll speaks for itself. Despite this, some of the Rohingya now living in wretched conditions across the border in Bangladesh have said they wish to go back.

It is equally clear that refugees must not be forced to return. Many more of them, according to NGOs supporting them, are determined never to go back or are terrified of doing so without guarantees of their security, property, livelihoods and freedom of movement. Some were persuaded to return after escaping previous waves of violence, only to find their lives in peril again. Previous episodes of displacement and return “do not inspire confidence”, the House of Commons international development committee has warned, noting the failure to consult refugees and expressing its grave concerns about plans to send them back.

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The Guardian view on Egyptian democracy: it would be a good idea | Editorial

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:00:02 GMT2018-01-15T18:00:02Z

Within months Egyptians will get a chance to elect a president. The result is not in doubt. The country’s future is

Earlier this month Egypt’s authorities announced the dates for the nation’s next presidential poll. Yet before the starting pistol has been fired, the winner seems not in doubt. The country’s current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, will almost certainly be his nation’s next president. A growing list of potential candidates have either withdrawn their bids or have seen them blocked. The man with the best chance of tapping the discontent in the Arab world’s most populous nation had been Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general who narrowly lost the country’s only free presidential election in 2012. His lawyer took to Twitter to claim that the government had forced him to pull out.

This is a profoundly depressing but wholly expected turn of events in Egypt. Now the main threat from within the establishment is a former military chief of staff, though doubts linger over whether he will end up on the ballot. The army is reported to be secretly buying up private media groups to back a Sisi presidential run. All the signs point to the election being little more than a rerun of the 2014 poll, when Mr Sisi won 96% of the vote. Ludicrously, Mr Sisi’s opponent in that two-person contest finished third behind the spoiled ballots. Mr Sisi, a former head of the army, is coy about running again but everyone expects he will.

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All the signs in the Russia probe point to Jared Kushner. Who next? | Jill Abramson

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 06:00:02 GMT2017-12-04T06:00:02Z

The investigation is taking a new twist, as Donald Trump appears to be distancing himself from his son-in-law

Game of Trumps is about to get really bloody. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moving ever closer to President Trump himself, it looks like someone inside the family is about to be sacrificed.

With Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, pleading guilty last week to the charge of lying to the FBI, much more about the Russia scandal is now coming into focus. The Flynn flip was by far the most dramatic event so far in the investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016’s US presidential race. Flynn’s evidence can only lead up the chain of power towards Trump.

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If Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, politicians would denounce him | Steven W Thrasher

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:00:01 GMT2018-01-15T11:00:01Z

Modern day Republicans and Democrats often speak as if they love King, even as they excoriate the real heirs to his legacy

Today is the day when many American politicians pretend to care about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, one of the wisest souls who attempted to save this sorry nation. Don’t fall for their scams.

While King did care about black and/or poor people in the United States and around the world, he was no American exceptionalist. “Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world,” King once said.

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Paul Krugman got the working class wrong. That blunder had consequences | Thomas Frank

Wed, 10 Jan 2018 08:00:42 GMT2018-01-10T08:00:42Z

One of the most influential commentators in the US now recognises that white working-class voters have shifted en masse to the Republicans

On New Year’s Day, the economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman issued a series of tweets in which he proclaimed as follows:

The central fact of US political economy, the source of our exceptionalism, is that lower-income whites vote for politicians who redistribute income upward and weaken the safety net because they think the welfare state is for nonwhites.

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The week in patriarchy: women are strong when we stick up together | Jessica Valenti

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:00:01 GMT2018-01-13T15:00:01Z

This week reminded me that #MeToo isn’t going anywhere, and that anyone who tries to punish the leaders will be stopped

What a week it’s been. Between the Golden Globes and Times Up, Oprah and the slew of new allegations against powerful men … it’s a lot. But I have to say that this week gave me hope.

In particular, the quick and furious response of feminists online when Harper’s magazine was said to be outing the creator of the Shitty Media Men list. Notorious anti-feminist and backlash opportunist Katie Roiphe was said to be writing the piece, and so within hours women online coordinated to protect the anonymous woman’s identity.

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‘Shithole countries’? Words worthy of a racist-in-chief | Richard Wolffe

Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:20:07 GMT2018-01-12T11:20:07Z

Donald Trump has made no secret of his bigotry. The sad truth is his comments about Haiti and Africa reflect the US’s historic racism

Donald Trump knows a thing or two about “shitholes” – the label he apparently bestowed on El Salvador, Haiti and various African nations during an Oval Office meeting about immigration. His own father was reportedly so ashamed of coming from Germany – widely considered to be a “shithole” by Americans fighting in two world wars – that he pretended for most of his life that he was Swedish.

These Aryan dreams glowed all blond and bright through Trump’s seminal book, The Art of the Deal, in which he claimed his father arrived as a child from Sweden like some kind of Nordic dreamer.

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