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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: Sat, 24 Mar 2018 06:30:03 GMT2018-03-24T06:30:03Z

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

John Bolton is a hawk itching for war – and few are there to stop him | Walter Shapiro

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 12:20:33 GMT2018-03-23T12:20:33Z

The new national security adviser is an uber-hawk who comes equipped with a war-fighting capacity that goes far beyond mere words

The good news first: Jared Kushner will not be replacing HR McMaster as Donald Trump’s third national security adviser. Nor will the clueless education secretary, Betsy DeVos. But that is about the only ray of sunshine surrounding Trump’s anointing former UN ambassador John Bolton and his Neville Chamberlain moustache.

The explosive Bolton – who is the kind of uber-hawk who will always choose conflict over conciliation – now steps into the most important national security job in government that does not require Senate confirmation.

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The 3 lessons Jeremy Corbyn's movement can teach US progressives | Adam Klug and Emma Rees

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 10:00:01 GMT2018-03-23T10:00:01Z

It’s going to take everyone to transform the Democrats into a true party of the people. This is how we did it with Labour …

An existential question confronts US progressives: how to win again in the age of Trump. It seems daunting, pitfalls haunting every possible move. But there is a path to revitalising your movements and, ultimately, power.

Nearly three years ago, British progressives faced similar challenges. In May 2015, the Labour party lost – and lost badly – an election it really should have won. The establishment narrative was that Labour’s mild resistance to soaring inequality and insecurity led to electoral oblivion. The party, so we were told, had to accept austerity, corporate control and anti-migrant and anti-social security rhetoric to confront those very evils.

The conditions in the US are ripe for a wholesale revival of the Democrats as a true party of the people

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Delete Facebook? That’s as hard as giving up sugar | Dean Burnett

Fri, 23 Mar 2018 12:36:26 GMT2018-03-23T12:36:26Z

Plenty of people say they’re going to do it, but in the end can’t. So why do social networks have such a hold?

The recently exposed Cambridge Analytica scandal, where intrepid Observer journalists revealed that more than 50 million Facebook profiles were harvested without consent for political ends, has shaken the worlds of media, politics, even international relations. Facebook itself has also taken quite a hit, with its share value dropping considerably, and many people, even the co-founder of WhatsApp, joining the #DeleteFacebook movement.

Related: The Cambridge Analytica saga is a scandal of Facebook’s own making | John Harris

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The hard truth about back pain: don’t rely on drugs, scans or quick fixes | Ann Robinson

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 16:20:21 GMT2018-03-22T16:20:21Z

Most treatment is wasteful, wanton and wrong, says the Lancet. The key is to try to keep walking and working

Back pain is the biggest cause of disability globally, and most of us will have at least one nasty bout of it. But treatment is often wasteful, wanton and wrong, according to a series of papers in the Lancet . “Worldwide, overuse of inappropriate tests and treatments such as imaging, opioids and surgery means patients are not receiving the right care, and resources are wasted,” it says.

It’s perfectly understandable to want a quick-fix solution to make the pain go away and maybe a scan to set your mind at rest. But there isn’t a reliable instant solution. Scans don’t make you better, and painkillers can be harmful. The vast majority of low back pain is musculoskeletal – caused by damage to ligaments, joints and muscles surrounding the spine. A tiny percentage is due to a serious or dangerous underlying cause that needs specific diagnosis and intervention – such as cancer, infection or a fracture.

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Mohammed bin Salman's talk of reform is a smokescreen | Moustafa Bayoumi

Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:35:52 GMT2018-03-22T12:35:52Z

The true purpose of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia’s US visit is to buy more weapons to prosecute the war in Yemen

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has arrived in Washington. Jared Kushner must be very excited!

Prince Mohammed and Kushner are said to be very close, though plotting the future of the Middle East during late-night gab sessions – behavior the two thirtysomethings have been reported to engage in – must be much harder now that Jared has been stripped of his top-secret security clearance.

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The Facebook breach makes it clear: data must be regulated

Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:17:10 GMT2018-03-19T13:17:10Z

Companies use our personal information to enrich themselves. Regulation of this practice is long overdue

The Observer reported on Saturday that Cambridge Analytica acquired 50m Facebook profiles from a researcher in 2014. This appears to have been among the most consequential data breaches in history, with an impact that may rival the breach of financial records from Equifax.

Related: No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more | Ellie Mae O’Hagan

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The corporate media ignores the rise of oligarchy. The rest of us shouldn't | Bernie Sanders

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:34:57 GMT2018-03-16T14:34:57Z

We need to hear from struggling Americans whose stories are rarely told in newspapers or television. Until they are, we must tell these stories elsewhere

The rapid rise of oligarchy and wealth and income inequality is the great moral, economic, and political issue of our time. Yet, it gets almost no coverage from the corporate media.

How often do network newscasts report on the 40 million Americans living in poverty, or that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major nation on earth? How often does the media discuss the reality that our society today is more unequal than at any time since the 1920s with the top 0.1% now owning almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%? How often have you heard the media report the stories of millions of people who today are working longer hours for lower wages than was the case some 40 years ago?

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Why the real defenders of the second amendment oppose the NRA | Corey Brettschneider

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 08:00:28 GMT2018-03-17T08:00:28Z

The students of Stoneman Douglas, Florida, are the fiercest opponents the NRA has seen in some time. They are the ones truly standing up for the US constitution

In any debate about guns in America, there’s one aspect that’s seemingly inescapable: the moment when the National Rifle Association (NRA) or other defenders of an anything-goes gun policy recite the second amendment from memory.

Perhaps no subsection of a political movement is so passionately animated by a clause of the US constitution. As many a gun enthusiast is eager to say, gun regulation is a non-starter; the second amendment is the law of the land, so the government can’t tell me what to do with my guns.

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Rex Tillerson was disastrous for the US. Mike Pompeo may be worse | Michael H Fuchs

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 08:00:02 GMT2018-03-14T08:00:02Z

The new secretary of state appears much more willing than Tillerson to toe Trump’s line – and that’s a very dangerous prospect

Rex Tillerson will go down as one of the worst secretaries of state in US history. And yet, with his departure and replacement by CIA director Mike Pompeo, things could get a whole lot worse for US national security.

Donald Trump made clear his disdain for diplomacy from day one of his presidency, and that he views foreign policy as an endeavor for the military, not the state department. He proposed enormous increases in the military budget while attempting to slash the state department budget by roughly a third. Trump appointed generals to be secretary of defense, national security advisor (twice) and White House chief of staff, while appointing as secretary of state someone with no diplomatic experience.

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Pennsylvania election: three key takeaways for Democrats

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:28:53 GMT2018-03-15T15:28:53Z

Conor Lamb’s apparent victory points to the usefulness of ideologically diverse candidates – and fuels predictions of a coming ‘blue wave’

Americans have become obsessed with interpreting elections. Special elections have become especially engrossing, as they offer symbolic indicators without the high stakes of national contests. Political observers stayed up late on Tuesday night, only to find that Pennsylvania’s race was too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning in the US, it appears that the Democratic candidate Conor Lamb has won a narrow victory in a red district that will cease to exist soon because of a court-ordered redrawing of Pennsylvania districts. Control of the legislature does not hang in the balance. Yet this victory illustrates the symbolic importance that special elections have taken on in the Trump era.

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Trump is on path to full-scale trade war: first China, then Europe

Sun, 18 Mar 2018 11:54:25 GMT2018-03-18T11:54:25Z

US protectionism is in accord with the spirit of the times – but it won’t have a happy ending

Much to the delight of Hollywood, Donald Trump wants to open a new front in his trade offensive by punishing China for theft of America’s intellectual property rights.

The US entertainment industry is not awfully keen on Trump, having strongly backed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, but is even less keen on its movies and TV shows being ripped off by the world’s most populous country.

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The Guardian view on disappearing rhinos: protect other species to protect ourselves | Editorial

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 17:19:25 GMT2018-03-21T17:19:25Z

Animal populations are being wiped out without us even noticing. Can the death of a single creature help prompt us to safeguard others?

A 45-year-old died this week after an unremarkable life, yet earned the headlines usually reserved for the great, the good or the especially wicked. Sudan was notable only as the last of his kind: a male northern white rhino, kept in captivity for his own protection. Now the survival of the subspecies rests upon his daughter and granddaughter, and the hope that an international team can develop new reproductive technology. In death, he looms large as the symbol of human folly, and its cost to the natural world. But while we frantically attempt to undo what we have done in this case, many more species near the end each day without us paying heed. The loss of northern whites is distressing. The loss of 10,000 species a year is a disaster – yet receives far less attention. We worry about the pandas and elephants; the charismatic megafauna. We don’t even notice the disappearance of unattractive bugs and grasses.

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The Guardian view on the gender pay gap: enough excuses; time for action | Editorial

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 18:47:53 GMT2018-03-20T18:47:53Z

The duty for organisations to publish figures on hourly earnings and employment by quartile could be a gamechanger – if it results in concrete action

With only a fortnight left before the deadline, not even a third of companies, charities and public bodies have met their legal requirement to publish figures on their gender pay gaps. There was plenty of notice that all with more than 250 employees would need to do so. The slow pace indicates the low priority afforded to such concerns and, perhaps, a hope that embarrassing figures will be buried in a late rush of filings. It seems probable that many organisations will not comply, and it is unclear whether and how they will be punished. They should be.

The figures are not perfect. The refusal of law firms to include the earnings of (mostly male) partners, for example, produces technically accurate but misleading results. Nonetheless, the data published so far is powerful. Few if any women will be surprised that male colleagues outearn them per hour. But cold statistics have real force when they show disparities as stark as these: men at the UK wing of Goldman Sachs International earn more than twice the mean hourly pay of women. The impact is potentially reminiscent of #MeToo, if so far more muted. Such figures demonstrate to each woman that the problem is not an isolated case, but structural. They are not alone. Now they can prove it.

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The Guardian view on artist Tacita Dean: epic, intimate and in touch with history | Editorial

Sun, 18 Mar 2018 18:08:25 GMT2018-03-18T18:08:25Z

Contemporary art is often seen as having brutally abandoned tradition. But the best work of the present is in conversation with that of the past

This is the artist Tacita Dean’s year: she is the focus of four major British exhibitions. Two have just opened: Portrait, at London’s National Portrait Gallery, which focuses on her films of human subjects, including choreographer Merce Cunningham, and the artists David Hockney and Cy Twombly; and Still Life at the National Gallery next door, a delicate, two-room exhibition for which she has assembled works of art from the present alongside paintings from the past. In May comes a retrospective at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. In July, an exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh looking at performance in her work.

Dean’s art has been regularly shown in the UK over the years – she occupied Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2011, and that same year had a glorious little exhibition at the Common Guild in Glasgow, among many others. But it has never before seen on this scale in her home country – with which she has a complicated relationship. Long ago the Canterbury-born artist found Berlin, and more recently Los Angeles, more conducive places to live and work than the UK, a fact that reflects ill on the continuing British cultural suspicion of contemporary art. She once said of Berlin: “There’s a quality of seriousness about being an artist here that is so un-British. If you say you are an artist here, that’s a valid thing. In the UK it’s laughable – you are a freak.” She describes herself, firmly, as “a British European artist”.

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The Seth Rich lawsuit matters more than the Stormy Daniels case | Jill Abramson

Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:28:26 GMT2018-03-20T12:28:26Z

The president causes mayhem in a deliberate ploy to distract us from even more serious news stories

When I hear the name Stormy Daniels, and that’s a lot lately, I have the same vision inside my head. It’s Donald Trump, right before the presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in St Louis on 9 October 2016. At the time, I, along with just about everyone I knew, mistakenly thought Trump was finished because the notorious Access Hollywood tape had just come out.

But there he was sitting next to three women with far less memorable names – Paula, Kathleen and Juanita – who had accused Bill Clinton of past sexual harassment and assault. Trump had claimed, without offering evidence, that Hillary had brutalized and threatened the women in order to silence them. He brought them to St Louis to rattle Clinton. (This was also the debate in which he loomed over Clinton, Frankenstein style).

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When injustice leads to death, protest is an appropriate way to mourn | Steven W Thrasher

Sat, 24 Feb 2018 12:00:18 GMT2018-02-24T12:00:18Z

As students organize after the Florida school shooting, they are honoring their classmates’ lives by building a better future

The powerful should never tell relatively powerless people who are protesting for their very lives how they should be behaving.

That’s what was happening when a conservative pundit criticized Parkland students for organizing the March for Our Lives. It was, she said, “quite interesting that the children survivors haven’t even buried their friends, grieve, get over shock but have had the time to plan for a march, come up with a creative hashtag, get their story to all media outlets all in such a short amount time”.

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The hysteria over Russian bots has reached new levels | Thomas Frank

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 10:00:02 GMT2018-02-23T10:00:02Z

Pundits and Democrats ascribe to a handful of bargain-basement Russian trolls all manner of ability – including orchestrating a coup d’etat

The grand total for all political ad spending in the 2016 election cycle, according to Advertising Age, was $9.8bn. The ads allegedly produced by inmates of a Russian troll farm, which have made up this week’s ration of horror and panic in the halls of the American punditburo, cost about $100,000 to place on Facebook.

A few months ago, when I first described those Russian ads in this space, I invited readers to laugh at them. They were “low-budget stuff, ugly, loud and stupid”, I wrote. They interested me because they cast the paranoid right, instead of the left, as dupes of a foreign power. And yet, I wrote, the American commentariat had largely overlooked them.

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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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The evil genius of Cambridge Analytica was to exploit those we trust most | Richard Wolffe

Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:26:30 GMT2018-03-21T16:26:30Z

We trust our friends far more than any institution – a vulnerability Cambridge Analytica exploited via Facebook. But we won’t be so trusting again

How on earth did Donald Trump win the presidency when he lost the popular vote by such historic margins?

To put this in perspective: John Kerry lost the popular vote in 2004 by almost the same number of votes as Donald Trump 12 years later.

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