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Preview: The Guardian newspaper: Comment & debate | guardian.co.uk

Opinion | The Guardian



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



Published: Tue, 27 Jun 2017 05:50:15 GMT2017-06-27T05:50:15Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
 



Trump doesn't want Muslims in the US. That's OK with the supreme court | Moustafa Bayoumi

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:33:01 GMT2017-06-26T18:33:01Z

The supreme court has upheld parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. By doing so, it has legitimised blanket discrimination against a religious group

The US supreme court has decided that parts of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban can take effect, lifting lower court injunctions on his executive order and noting that it would hear the case in October. Days earlier, Trump’s White House broke with decades of tradition by refusing to host a traditional dinner, an iftar, for Muslim Americans during the holy month of Ramadan.

Related: Trump travel ban Q&A: what happens next?

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Trumpcare isn't about health. It's a tax cut for the 1% | Robert Reich

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:01:41 GMT2017-06-26T11:01:41Z

If enacted, the bill would be the largest single transfer of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history

The Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act is not a healthcare bill. It’s a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by a dramatic reduction in healthcare funding for approximately 23 million poor, disabled, working and middle-class Americans.

America’s wealthiest taxpayers (earning more than $200,000 a year, $250,000 for couples) would get a tax cut totaling $346bn over 10 years, representing what they save from no longer financing healthcare for lower-income Americans.

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Men still die before women. Is toxic masculinity to blame? | Haider Javed Warraich and Robert Califf

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 10:00:02 GMT2017-06-26T10:00:02Z

Many assume that shorter male lifespans are driven by biological factors. Yet the health consequences of traditional male identity cannot be overestimated

For much of recent history, men have tended to die earlier than women, though this was not always the case: for many centuries, the perils of childbirth effectively nullified any advantage women had over men. But modern medical care has dramatically reduced maternal death, and women in most countries now have a consistent advantage in life expectancy compared with men.

According to the most recent US data, the average American man dies five years before the average American women, and even wider gaps are seen among different racial and ethnic minorities: for example, Asian American women live 16.5 years longer than African American men on average.

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Grand Canyon is our home. Uranium mining has no place here | Carletta Tilousi

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 11:25:12 GMT2017-06-26T11:25:12Z

The Havasupai resided in and around Grand Canyon for many centuries. This region is sacred – that is why we oppose the pollution of our land and water

The Havasupai – “people of the blue-green waters” – live in Supai Village, located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Today our lives and water are being threatened by international uranium mining companies because the US government and its 1872 mining law permit uranium mining on federal lands that surround the Grand Canyon.

In 1986, the Kaibab national forest authorized a Canadian-based uranium company to open Canyon mine, a uranium mine near the south rim of Grand Canyon national park. The Havasupai tribe challenged the decision but lost in the ninth circuit court of appeals. Miners were just starting to drill Canyon mine’s shaft in 1991 when falling uranium prices caused the company to shut it down for more than two decades.

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Civil war is raging inside the Democratic party

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 23:13:50 GMT2017-06-24T23:13:50Z

Last week’s defeat in a high-profile congressional contest sparked a tough fight over the heart of the Democratic party. Heather Cox Richardson, Jean Hannah Edelstein and Michael Cohen look at what the future might hold

America is in the middle of a major political realignment. While the focus is on the Republican party’s internecine fight among corporate realists, political ideologues and the wild-card president, it is a mistake to assume that the Democrats are going to sweep into office in 2018 and 2020 to replace the corroding Republicans. The Democrats are also in a profound struggle over their future.

The 2016 election marked the end of a political era. Just as Republicans expecting an easy nomination of Jeb Bush in 2016 were blindsided by the rise of charismatic outsider Donald Trump, so too were Democrats expecting the easy nomination of Hillary Clinton surprised by a powerful challenge from elderly Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders. Both Trump and Sanders ran on powerful populist messages, slashing at politics-as-usual and bemoaning that Washington served the wealthy. Democratic primary rules put in place after the party’s disastrous nomination of South Dakota senator George McGovern in 1972 meant that, unlike Republicans leaders who were incapable of stopping Trump, establishment Democrats could hold off the Sanders surge. But the insurgency opened a rift in the party.

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Glastonbury is more evidence: Corbyn’s appeal crosses classes | Owen Jones

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 09:46:40 GMT2017-06-26T09:46:40Z

The Labour leader has proved his critics wrong. Far from having a narrow support base, both working-class and middle-class voters back him

The left will never win over the middle class, or so the argument used to go: now the left is accused of winning over too many middle-class voters. Four in 10 British voters opted for Labour’s most leftwing manifesto since 1983. That socialist ideas could attract such support – and leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour with a “straightforward” path to victory, according to psephologist John Curtice – is in defiance of political gravity. At least, that’s the belief of those who base their entire political creed on the idea that leftwing policies will invite only electoral Armageddon. And so arrives the argument that the Labour voters who delivered a historic upset were the wrong voters: too affluent, too middle class. But socialism offers emancipation for middle class and working class alike: indeed, that is Labour’s only possible winning electoral coalition.

Related: 'It's bloody brilliant!' Michael Eavis on bringing Jeremy Corbyn to Glastonbury

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Democrats love bashing Trump. But that alone won't help them win again | Zachary Karabell

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:00:22 GMT2017-06-23T10:00:22Z

Democrats are bent on bringing down Trump rather than proposing an agenda to address widespread and legitimate needs

As the wheels of Trumplandia continue to spin, it’s been easy to overlook one glaring reality: Democrats in Congress are doing almost nothing other than finding new and creative ways to resist the Republicans. As a political tactic, that may be smart, but it leaves the public and voters with no clear or viable alternative as attention slowly begins to turn to mid-term elections in 2018.

The attempt of Democrat Jon Ossoff to stage an upset in the special Georgia House election may have floundered in part because he offered scant policy specifics. For the Democrats as a whole, becoming the new Party of No does nothing for a public that across the spectrum demands actual solutions to real problems of income, healthcare, jobs and some coherent vision for the future.

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A clumsy liberal’s guide to saying the right thing | Kevin McKenna

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 23:04:13 GMT2017-06-24T23:04:13Z

Navigating the minefield of everyday conversation without treading on toes is almost impossible. But the well-meaning man must try…

A rare carouse in a louche Glasgow wine bar one night last week was enchanted briefly by a nervous proposition. The stranger had approached me gingerly from the side and asked if I was gay, straight or bi. He was young, beautiful, immaculately groomed and thin as a packet of condoms. “I’m straight, as a matter of fact,” I answered in what I felt was my deepest Glaswegian timbre.

“I hope you don’t mind me asking,” he added politely. “Absolutely not; you’ve made my night,” I replied. “May I ask you a question in return?” I asked. “Go right ahead,” he replied.

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American healthcare is at a crossroads. Where is the Democrats' bold vision? | Ross Barkan

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:57:14 GMT2017-06-20T15:57:14Z

Republicans are promising to make healthcare worse for the people who need it most. Democrats are left with a mealy-mouthed defense of the status quo

How close the Senate Republicans are to repealing the Affordable Care Act is anyone’s guess. The same holds what for a replacement bill will truly look like. Negotiations, to the horror of anyone with a half-functioning conscience, are occurring in secret, and no Republican will reveal what sort of punishment is in store for the most vulnerable Americans.

Democrats in the Senate, unlike the House, hold some leverage. Republicans can afford to only lose two votes and still pass a bill, and there are enough moderates from swing states to balk at any radical restructuring of American healthcare. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, would like to hold a vote before the 4 July recess, doing Donald Trump’s dirty work before vacation time.

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Trump's silence after the London mosque attack speaks volumes | Christian Christensen

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:37:46 GMT2017-06-20T17:37:46Z

The US president clearly thinks Muslims injured by a non-Muslim man are not worthy of attention because they do not serve his agenda

When something terrible happens in the world, we turn to those we respect to hear sage words of advice. To give us level-headed analyses. To blow away the fog of bias and provide a sense of clarity. These individuals act as our moral, ethical and intellectual compasses.

And, just as we have those in our lives who show us the right direction, we have the inverse: those who, without fail, manage to show us the wrong direction. The trick, of course, is to be able to find out who these people are, recognize their ineptitude and bigotry for what it is … and then do the opposite.

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Victories against Trump are mounting. Here's how we deal the final blow | Rebecca Solnit

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:06:21 GMT2017-06-18T18:06:21Z

The judiciary, legislative and media have all helped keep Trump in check. But it’s the residents of the United States whose response will matter most in the end

In this moment, populist intervention is everything, not as hate and attack but as an expression of popular will and power. Or as love, since we defend what we love. It is an extraordinary moment, an all-hands-on-deck emergency in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didn’t previously think they were activists. It is saturated with possibility, as well as with danger.

Of course there are also people residing in the US who love the dismantling of healthcare, education, environmental protection and the bill of rights, but they are an increasingly small minority. The most recent Gallup poll found nearly twice as many people – 60% disapprove of the president – than approve (36%).

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Authoritarianism is making a comeback. Here's the time-tested way to defeat it | Maria J Stephan and Timothy Snyder

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 10:00:55 GMT2017-06-20T10:00:55Z

Tyrants’ tactics require the consent of large numbers of people. The first lesson, then, is not to obey in advance

After the spread of democracy at the end of the 20th century, authoritarianism is now rolling back democracy around the globe. In the US, supporters of democracy disarmed themselves by imagining an “end of history” in which nothing but their own ideas were possible. Authoritarians, meanwhile, keep practicing their old tactics and devising new ones. 

It is time for those who support democracy to remember what activists from around the world have paid a price to learn: how to win. 

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Otto Warmbier's death is a tragedy. But war with North Korea would be, too | Isaac Stone Fish

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:13:43 GMT2017-06-20T17:13:43Z

Responding to the passing of Warmbier by provoking or attacking North Korea goes against American interests – and would cause other tragic deaths

With the death of the 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier, American officials are calling for revenge. “The United States cannot and should not tolerate the murder of its citizens by hostile powers,” Senator John McCain said in a statement. That evening, Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “North Korea must be held accountable for its brutality.” And Donald Trump said in a statement: “Otto’s fate deepens my Administration’s determination to prevent such tragedies from befalling innocent people.”

Warmbier allegedly tried to steal a propaganda poster in Pyongyang on New Year’s 2016; the regime sentenced him to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016. Last week, Pyongyang released him, in a coma – probably caused by injury to the brain – and he died six days later.

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Democrats need to win over young voters. Here's how they can do that | Sean McElwee and Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 13:25:14 GMT2017-06-19T13:25:14Z

The recent Labour surge in the UK provides some hints at a path to success for the Democrats

The 2007 financial crisis foreclosed a future of financial stability for today’s young people, and required nations to take on austerity measures whose burdens are disproportionately borne by youth. As a result, across the OECD countries, political parties on the left are increasingly relying on young voters to voice their discontent at the ballot box.

In Britain and France, age is a key predictor of voting behavior. The increasingly progressive bent of young people offers important potential, since voting and partisanship tend to be sticky and today’s youth will eventually become a central voting bloc. At the moment, however, the growing reliance of progressive parties on the youth vote carries immense political peril, because young people tend to vote at lower rates than the key constituencies for conservative parties.

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America will regret helping Saudi Arabia bomb Yemen | Medea Benjamin

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 14:07:04 GMT2017-06-19T14:07:04Z

Selling weapons to Saudi Arabia has consequences. The intense anti-US sentiment in Yemen should be a wake-up call for Americans

“USA Kills Yemeni People”, screams graffiti plastered on walls in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. The Yemeni people who have been on the receiving end of US bombs dropped by Saudi pilots know all too well that the United States is complicit in their suffering.

The intense anti-US sentiment in Yemen should be a wake-up call for Americans: if you don’t care about the millions of suffering Yemenis, you might think about the future blowback.

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Ivanka 'I'm a saint' Trump is on a comeback tour. Don't buy the spin | Arwa Mahdawi

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 10:00:35 GMT2017-06-17T10:00:35Z

She recently graced the cover of US Weekly with the headline ‘Why I Disagree with My Dad’. It was a clear ploy to try and score some points with liberals

I hope you have taken some time this week to quietly thank Ivanka Trump for her tireless service and reflect on how just how much the mom, daughter, wife, entrepreneur, and White House employee is sacrificing for the good of America.

We are, you see, coming to the end of Workforce Development Week in the White House—an initiative that could also be described as Quick, Deflect Attention From ComeyGate and Improve Ivanka’s Image Week.

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Why did this powerful church group struggle to denounce white supremacy? | Daniel José Camacho

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 10:00:35 GMT2017-06-17T10:00:35Z

The Southern Baptist Convention stumbled during what should have been a simple resolution condemning racism. There is a reason for that

Condemning white supremacy and the alt-right movement shouldn’t be hard. But the Southern Baptist Convention – the nation’s largest Protestant denomination– had its doubts about whether to do so this week.

During the annual meeting, they initially declined to pass a resolution doing just that. Chaos ensued at the denomination’s annual meeting and a firestorm of criticism quickly followed. Delegates eventually passed a modified version of the resolution – originally drafted by one of its black pastors – but the damage had been done.

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Trump's infrastructure plan is a pillar of his agenda. It also isn't very smart | Mariana Mazzucato

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:36:51 GMT2017-06-18T13:36:51Z

Infrastructure should not be seen as a quick fix, and it should equally not be seen as an opportunity for the private sector to make a quick buck

After years of austerity economics, talk of big infrastructure projects are back in vogue. Trump has made fixing America’s crumbling infrastructure a pillar of his Make America Great Again agenda. But the Trump administration is missing the bigger picture when it comes to what makes a smart infrastructure investment – and what doesn’t.

Infrastructure isn’t all the same. Depending on what it is, it impacts the economy in different ways. If infrastructure is simply about more bridges and roads, it will steer the economy in a emissions-heavy direction. If the infrastructure is electric trams in cities and battery storage facilities for electric vehicles, this could pave the way towards a low carbon future. This is the future that was imagined in the Paris agreement, which the US tragically pulled out of.

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America risks one-party rule if gerrymandering isn't stopped | Russ Feingold

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 10:00:06 GMT2017-06-16T10:00:06Z

A bedrock of our democratic legitimacy could rise or fall with the US supreme court’s decision whether to hear a case on hyper-partisan gerrymandering

As we are all experiencing, every day there’s some new shock from the Trump-Pence administration. Much of it is disgraceful. Yet we cannot let the tragedy of Donald Trump’s presidency distract us from the broader fight to restore and protect the legitimacy of our democracy.

That legitimacy comes from the voters, and their influence is being systematically devalued by gerrymandering. A bedrock of our democratic legitimacy could rise or fall with the US supreme court’s decision as to whether to hear a case and finally rule on the constitutionality of hyper-partisan gerrymandering.

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Muslims today face a deep malaise. We must confront it | Nabil Echchaibi

Sat, 17 Jun 2017 15:08:18 GMT2017-06-17T15:08:18Z

We have to yank our faith from the darkness of intolerance and the lull of tradition. Suicide bombs must be countered with the promise of moderation

My existential crisis as a Muslim man haunts me to the core of my being. Amid the horrendous nihilism of Isis, the dull orthodoxy of self-proclaimed custodians of Islam and the culture of fear in the west which sees everything Muslim as pure evil, I seek an answer to a simple and unasked question: how does it feel to be Muslim today?

Instead, you ask me to denounce – even apologize for – the horrors of Manchester, Nice, Orlando, Paris and Berlin, as if I were a silent accomplice cheering softly behind the garb of my faith. You mistake my silence for duplicity, my shock for deceit, and my choking inability to comprehend for disloyalty. But have you asked me how I feel instead of how you feel about me?

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He voted for Trump, she voted for Clinton. Neither voted for Medicaid cuts | LeeAnn Howell and Richard Dituri

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 10:00:06 GMT2017-06-16T10:00:06Z

We’re uniting across party lines to protect our healthcare. Perhaps Congress should take a cue from people like us and put political ideologies aside

Our names are LeeAnn Howell and Richard Dituri. We have a lot in common. We’re both healthcare workers – a nurse working at a nursing home center from Washington County, Pennsylvania, and a home care worker from Tulare County, California, respectively. We’re both active members of the Service Employees International Union. Yet, as a Democrat and a Republican, we voted for two different candidates in the 2016 presidential election.

Our choices in November – Clinton versus Trump – reflect the divide fracturing American communities nationwide. But there’s one thing that unites us. The House’s terrible healthcare bill – which would rip away coverage from 23 million Americans and slash Medicaid funding by $834bn over the next decade – must be stopped.

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If the Trump administration gets its way, say goodbye to accessible birth control | Kathleen Turner

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:39:14 GMT2017-06-16T14:39:14Z

In just the first five months of this administration, the threats to contraception access have come one after another. It is an all-out attack

Donald Trump has spent the better part of his life bragging about sexual exploits with women. As president, he is showing women the same lack of respect as his administration wages an all-out attack on access to birth control – which is also an attack on women’s freedom to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children.

In just the first five months of this administration, the threats to contraception access have come one after another. Trump overturned protections for the millions of low-income people who rely on the Title X family planning program. He filled top Department of Health and Human Services spots with people who are committed to making birth control as inaccessible as possible.

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Flint officials may face jail for water crisis. That's bittersweet news | Douglas Williams

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 16:31:02 GMT2017-06-15T16:31:02Z

The water supply of an entire city was poisoned. None of this had to happen – and true justice is a long way off

The news that several state officials in Michigan have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to a death in the Flint water crisis is bittersweet. The thought that there might be some measure of justice in one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern American history is only matched by the sense that none of this had to happen in the first place.

Rick Snyder, Michigan’s Republican governor, was not among those listed in the indictments. That’s a crime itself.

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Trump can stack the judiciary for years. That's why Republicans stick with him | Corey Robin

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:56:59 GMT2017-06-15T14:56:59Z

They truly are in it for the long game. Control the supreme court, stack the judiciary, and you can stop the progressive movement for decades

Throughout Trump’s time in the White House, I’ve been wondering, like many others, what would it take for the Republican party to break with Trump. I never thought for a moment that they’d break with him over a question of law or constitutional principle or democratic norms or political propriety.

My working assumption, for most of this time, was that if they felt their tax cuts were in jeopardy, they might jump ship, tax cuts being the one thing that unites the party and that they know how to do. But things aren’t looking good for the tax cuts, and I see no signs of any break.

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Are you unable to afford decent housing? Welcome to the club | Ijeoma Oluo

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 10:00:37 GMT2017-06-15T10:00:37Z

Some of us have been dealing with the housing crisis for decades. Now, the problem is working its way up the income ladder to the middle class

The affordable housing crisis is becoming inescapable. We have now reached the point where a minimum-wage worker can only afford to live in about a dozen counties in the entire nation. Even those with college degrees and wages above minimum wage struggle. This problem doesn’t just impact countless poor Americans any more. Now it hits middle class families, too.

For many, it’s outrageous that this crisis is no longer is confined to the bottom of the income ladder. ‘What do you mean that someone earning $20 an hour in LA wouldn’t be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment?’ gasp those in the middle class.

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Trump's planned EPA cuts will hit America's most vulnerable | Mustafa Santiago Ali

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:22:12 GMT2017-06-15T14:22:12Z

The road the Trump Administration is taking us down puts us full-speed in reverse to a time when rivers caught fire and air pollution darkened the skies

The Trump administration is using a deliberate and systematic approachto undermine, weaken and disempower America’s most vulnerable communities. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed budget cuts are a clear-cut example of this attack. The cuts will gravely reduce the ability to enhance communities across the United States – including low-income communities made up of white, black, Latino, indigenous and Asian Americans, in urban and rural settings alike.

As Trump’s appointed leader of the EPA gets set to testify on Capitol Hill on Thursday, it is important to understand the consequences of the actions they want to take. The bottom line is that real people will get sick and many will prematurely die. Communities, particularly our most vulnerable, will greatly suffer if these cuts happen.

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Emperor Trump's sycophantic cabinet meeting stinks of Beijing-like obeisance | Isaac Stone Fish

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 15:42:35 GMT2017-06-13T15:42:35Z

In a shift in political culture, Trump’s cabinet, staff members and even some Republican lawmakers seem increasingly required to praise him publicly

The ancient Chinese act of kowtowing required touching the ground with one’s forehead in deference to the emperor. The modern American act of kowtowing requires absurdly praising President Donald Trump.

“We thank you for the opportunity and blessing,” the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said at a cabinet meeting on Monday, “to serve your agenda.” The health secretary, Tom Price, remarked on “what an incredible honor it is” to lead his department “at this pivotal time under your leadership”.

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Puerto Rican statehood is sold as a cure-all. That's a pipe dream | Susanne Ramirez de Arellano

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 10:00:24 GMT2017-06-14T10:00:24Z

The backers of the recent referendum trafficked in a misconception: that statehood was indeed an immediate possibility and that it would cure all our ills

Puerto Ricans went to the polls last Sunday in yet another attempt to find a solution to the dilemma that has plagued the island for more than two centuries of colonial rule: should the US territory put all its eggs in one basket and seek to become the country’s 51st state?

The 11 June plebiscite status vote was the fifth since 1967. All of them were nonbinding referendums that sought to find a permanent solution to the status of the island – a US colony since 1898. None of them pushed the needle forward at all. It is doubtful that this latest incarnation will.

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Jeff Sessions: a poor, misunderstood man exempt from normal rules | Richard Wolffe

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 10:13:27 GMT2017-06-14T10:13:27Z

Pity the amnesiac attorney general. The Senate intelligence committee is not the first time his good name has been tarnished by ‘appalling lies’

Jeff Sessions is an oft-misunderstood man. Time and again, he has found himself the innocent victim of dishonorable accusations that he, a plainly honorable southern gentleman, should never have to suffer. Time and again, he has been afflicted by mysterious memory loss that renders him incapable of recollecting important facts about his own honorable conduct.

Related: Jeff Sessions calls accusations of Russia collusion an 'appalling lie'

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We need to get corporate America and police units out of Pride marches | Steven W Thrasher

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 13:55:44 GMT2017-06-12T13:55:44Z

At the Capital Pride Parade in Washington DC on Saturday, the No Justice No Pride group interrupted the march to protest the way it’s being co-opted

Even the worst corporations and institutions want to label themselves as LGBT allies these days. Why? Corporate America thinks it’s good for PR and the bottom line. But this weekend those companies were told loud and clear: you have no place in our community.

At the Capital Pride parade in Washington DC over the weekend, radical queer people from No Justice No Pride repeatedly interrupted the corporate sponsored march on several occasions to protest the participation of police contingents and certain anti-LGBT corporations in the parade.

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Trump is scared Brits will be mean to him? Classic strongman fragility | Moustafa Bayoumi

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 17:41:44 GMT2017-06-12T17:41:44Z

Trump told Theresa May he won’t go to the UK if there are large protests. Like the autocrats and dictators he’s pals with, he’s running away from dissent, too

Donald Trump is reportedly delaying an official state visit to London because the British people will be mean to him. According to an adviser to UK prime minister Theresa May, Trump recently told her in a phone call that he does not want to the visit Britain if large-scale protests would greet him there. Rather than being aghast at Trump’s cowardice, I find myself feeling envious of the British people.

For Trump not to be met with protests in Britain would be almost impossible. Back in February, more than half of British adults already said they expected Trump to be an awful or below-average president. His ludicrous attack on London mayor Sadiq Khan after the terrorist attack on London Bridge seemed to evince their sentiments. Trump’s behavior was a brazen illustration of his bad leadership, and a craven attempt to redirect global attention to himself. But if just the threat of popular protest is enough to stop Donald Trump, I would like to ask the British public to keep up their good work.

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If Trump testifies under oath, any lies would be perjury. Does he know that? | Austin Sarat

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 10:00:24 GMT2017-06-12T10:00:24Z

Trump has accused former FBI director James Comey of lying and said he is willing to testify about his claims. But will the president be able to be honest?

In another strange and unsettling performance, Donald Trump used Friday’s press conference with the Romania’s prime minister to accuse James Comey of lying to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Three times, the president contradicted Comey’s sworn testimony and denied telling him that he hoped he would let the investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn go.

But what made headlines from the press conference was this: ABC newsman Jonathan Karl pointed out to Trump that the former FBI director had made his statements under oath and asked the president whether he would be willing to do the same. The president responded: “100%.”

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Rural Appalachia is facing a healthcare crisis. I fear it's going to get much worse | Jessika Bohon

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 14:28:00 GMT2017-06-12T14:28:00Z

If the Republican party throws up its barriers to Medicaid, there will be many victims of that decision. Including my own friends and family

My family lives in central Appalachia, in places too tiny to be called towns. These rural “hollers” are the heart of this beautiful but hardscrabble mountain region. Roads are so difficult to navigate here that medicine is delivered by drones. So when the Republican party throws up its barriers to Medicaid, it will be rendered useless to many rural people in the region. Work requirements, co-payments, cancellation of transportation services and lockouts to coverage will cause people that I love to lose their health insurance.

My cousin William could be kicked off right away if Medicaid is tied to a work requirement. A few years ago he quit one of the good and only jobs in rural Appalachia, cashiering at a large retail store, because he refused to work off the clock. His mom died shortly afterwards from her third bout of cancer, and then his dad died six months later on. Homeless in the blink of an eye, he started to sell bootleg DVDs at flea markets. The FBI caught him, and now he is a felon who cannot find a job. Next week he may also lose his access to preventative healthcare for his genetic predisposition to cancer.

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The Bernie Sanders-wing scares Democrats. But they'll lose without it | Ross Barkan

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 16:15:15 GMT2017-06-12T16:15:15Z

If the Democrats want to build a serious, dominant party, they must proffer more than Clinton-era platitudes and neoliberal gut-punches

The newest idea circulating among the very smart people who report and commentate on American politics is that the Democratic party, so enfeebled in the age of Donald Trump, might be in danger of veering too far left. While Bernie Sanders tries to foment his revolution across the country, many Democratic elected officials and operatives are wary that candidates too steeped in socialism will blow it in the more moderate and conservative-seeming precincts of the country. They point to the losses of Sanders-backed candidates, fretting that the party’s fiery wing will burn away the real voters they need.

For most Democrats aligned with the establishment, the dream is Jon Ossoff. A 30-year-old first-time candidate running in a special election for a suburban Georgia congressional district once held by Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, Ossoff has shattered fundraising records and holds leads in the polls over his Republican opponent.

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Scam alert: Trump's $1tn 'infrastructure plan' is a giveaway to the rich | Robert Reich

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 15:43:37 GMT2017-06-10T15:43:37Z

America’s infrastructure is in dire need of investment. But nothing Trump is proposing will do anything to help

At a roundtable discussion with state transportation officials on Friday, Donald Trump said America’s ageing roads, bridges, railways, and water systems were being “scoffed at and laughed” at. He pledged that they “will once again be the envy of the world”.

This seems to be a core theme for Trump: America’s greatness depends on others envying us rather than scoffing and laughing at us.

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So a Trump-like Caesar was killed on stage. But Republicans spill real blood | Jamie Peck

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 15:12:59 GMT2017-06-13T15:12:59Z

The same oligarchs currently pushing through a healthcare bill that will kill more people each year than gun homicides want to cry foul over Shakespeare?

The conservative media is losing its collective marbles over a “provocative” production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Staged by the Public Theater in New York City, the play depicts a suspiciously Trump-like Caesar getting gruesomely assassinated by a group of women and minorities who decide he’s fired.

In a Fox & Friends segment that identified the production simply as “tax-funded play” (at least in the clip that ran online under the similarly vague headline “NYC Play Appears to Depict Assassination of Trump”), host Ainsley Earhardt clutched her pearls over how the production could inspire copycat crimes in those “who may be on the verge of a violent act”. I’m sure the makers of Call of Duty will be happy to pawn off responsibility for the next school shooting on a guy who’s been dead for 400 years.

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Why Despacito is the perfect summer song in Trump's America | John Paul Brammer

Sat, 10 Jun 2017 10:00:23 GMT2017-06-10T10:00:23Z

Latino culture is being embraced despite the vitriol in our political landscape. The success of the song is a reminder that America is more diverse than ever

Walk down the streets, and it can feel like the same song is blasting out of every sound system: Despacito. The catchy new reggaeton-pop mega hit from the Puerto Rican artists Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee is set to be one of the big hits of the summer. It is also the first song primarily in Spanish to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Macarena in 1996.

Having a Spanish song top the charts is no small thing for Latinos. I remember the first time I was disciplined for speaking Spanish was my senior year in high school. I was speaking with a friend of mine. Imperfectly, I might add, as I was still learning the language. My teacher approached us and said bluntly, “In this country, we speak English.”

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We were told Corbyn was ‘unelectable’. Then came the surge | Gary Younge

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 05:00:14 GMT2017-06-06T05:00:14Z

His critics wrote him off with the certainty of scientists – but forgot that it’s voters who decide

At a drinks party in central London, not long after Jeremy Corbyn had been elected leader of the Labour party first time round, a young journalist talked me through the facts as she saw them.

“He’s already lost the election,” she said.

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The Guardian view on Murdoch’s Sky plan: a blow to media plurality | Editorial

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:59:25 GMT2017-06-26T18:59:25Z

We need to recover faith in the scrutinising pressure of a truly independent, diverse media. Concentrating more power in the hands of a rightwing billionaire won’t helpElected politicians traditionally shied away from picking fights with wealthy media moguls, wary of those who could spill barrelfuls of ink in defence of their arguments. There was a tendency for governments to raise little more than an eyebrow when media takeovers were proposed. This was a bad thing for democracy, leading to a concentration of power in the hands of a few very rich men. This process has been exacerbated in recent years by a digital revolution which has undermined traditional forms of media. All this should have changed with the revelations of phone hacking and the exposure by the Leveson inquiry of the unhealthily close relationship between politicians and the media. The test of just how different things are will come this week when culture secretary Karen Bradley announces what should happen to the proposed purchase by media conglomerate 21st Century Fox, effectively controlled by the Murdoch family, of the remaining 61% of Sky, the pan-European broadcaster, that it does not already own.Mrs Bradley should at the very least refer the £11.7bn bid to the Competition and Markets Authority to allow for a six-month investigation to take place into media diversity. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom identified the need to promote “plurality and preventing undue influence by any one media owner”. If this deal went through then the Murdochs would control a third of the paid-for newspaper circulation, one of two 24-hour news channels, a sizeable amount of radio news and a popular news website. Linking Fox content to Sky’s distribution network – which encompasses set-top boxes, a landline broadband and mobile network – it will have a storehouse of personal data and the ability to understand what its users are viewing on television, online at home and when out roaming. The door is being opened to shape the media consumption habits of millions of Britons without them probably ever knowing about it. With such power, one would expect, comes responsibility. Instead the Murdoch empire undermines the BBC and describes vital impartiality rules as “an impingement on freedom of speech”. There’s enough evidence to contradict Rupert Murdoch’s assertion that he has “made it a principle all my life never to ask for anything from any prime minister”. As his own lieutenants have made clear over Brexit, Mr Murdoch’s media is about power. Continue reading...[...]


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The Observer view on the housing crisis | Observer editorial

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 23:05:13 GMT2017-06-24T23:05:13Z

Government must be prepared to build when private initiatives fail

As we report today, research by Shelter shows that by 2020 more than a million households are likely to find that their housing benefit doesn’t cover the rent they pay to private landlords. The consequence will be hardship, eviction and, for many, homelessness. They will be victims both of high private rents and of government restrictions on benefit, both of which stem from the failures of housing policies for more than 30 years.

Rents are high because housing is scarce and property values high, and because millions excluded from both owning homes and living in social housing have nowhere to go but the private rental sector. Benefit is being restricted not only because of generalised austerity but also because the total housing benefit bill has been pushed up by the reduction of publicly-owned housing, thanks to the right-to-buy policy introduced under Margaret Thatcher and by restrictions on local authorities’ ability to replenish their stock.

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The Guardian view on al-Jazeera: muzzling journalism | Editorial

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:55:08 GMT2017-06-23T17:55:08Z

In the Arab world, freedom of speech is being curbed to stop old and new media from raising questions about the way in which countries are run. This is wrong

In the conservative autocracies of the middle east, Qatar, a wealthy gas-rich emirate, has built up a reputation as a maverick, epitomised by its ownership of the al-Jazeera satellite television channel, which has often infuriated many Arab leaders. Since the TV station gave voice to the Arab spring, many autocrats no doubt wished it would be taken off air, permanently. Al-Jazeera, which arrived long before the internet in the region, broke the mould by reaching directly into Arab living rooms. Along with social media, al-Jazeera has in recent years stirred public opinion in ways Arab governments could not ignore. But now Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates think they can silence it with a blockade of Qatar that will only be lifted if al-Jazeera is shut down.

This is ridiculous. Qatar’s neighbours want to gag media that raises questions about the way these nations are run. Al-Jazeera is not perfect. Its Arabic outlet has been accused in the past of being antisemitic and partisan. It rarely criticises Qatar’s absolute monarchy. However, Qatar abolished formal censorship two decades ago. By comparison, in 2012 the UAE demanded David Cameron rein in adverse BBC coverage or it would halt lucrative arms deals. Abu Dhabi is a regional media player. The UAE’s deputy prime minister owns Sky News Arabia, along with Rupert Murdoch’s broadcaster. According to observers this station put out fake news about Qatar’s ruler.

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The Guardian view on plutocratic Mars missions: escape velocity | Editorial

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 17:51:07 GMT2017-06-23T17:51:07Z

The race between wealthy tech billionaires to get to Mars is a distraction from mortality

For science fiction writers ranged across the astronomical distance that separates Edgar Rice Burroughs and Kim Stanley Robinson, Mars has been a theatre of dreams, variously realistic. Now the tech billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are competing to see who will make it first there in reality. Bezos is spending a billion dollars a year out of his Amazon stock to keep his project going; Musk has announced he wants the first manned private flights to set off by 2026. He hopes that the price can be brought down from around $10bn to $200,000 and that reusable spaceships will ferry a million people to Mars over a period of decades until they can start a self-sustaining civilisation there. This, of course, is only the beginning: once the technology of reusable spacecraft fuelled by methane made from raw materials found at their destination has been mastered, Musk foresees no limit to their explorations.

Related: Life on Mars: Elon Musk reveals details of his colonisation vision

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The Guardian view on the UK’s workers: divided and conquered | Editorial

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 19:01:50 GMT2017-06-22T19:01:50Z

The Bank of England’s chief economist is right to say a casualised, de-unionised and atomised labour market has weakened workers’ ability to bid up wages. He’s wrong to say it may be time to raise interest ratesLife is getting interesting at the Bank of England. Next month will mark the 10th anniversary of the last time the technocrats of Threadneedle Street raised the official cost of borrowing, but the chances of an interest rate rise are higher than they have been for some while. Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, thinks the time is not yet ripe for a tightening of policy. He used his delayed Mansion House speech in the City of London this week to voice concerns about the negative impact of higher inflation on consumer spending and the uncertain effects of Brexit negotiations on the economy. But three of the eight members of the Bank’s monetary policy committee took a different view, and they were almost joined by a fourth, the Old Lady’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, who said the time was fast approaching when he would vote for an increase. Mr Haldane’s intervention was significant, not just because he has hitherto been seen as one of the MPC’s most prominent “doves”, nor because his intervention came little more than 24 hours after that of his boss. Rather, it was because the bombshell was dropped at the end of a speech that seemed to argue the opposite.For years, the Bank of England has been trying to find the answer to a puzzle: why is wage growth so weak even though unemployment keeps coming down? Britain currently has its lowest jobless rate since the mid-1970s, but there has been no sign of an acceleration in earnings growth. Quite the contrary, in fact. At least part of the answer, according to Haldane’s analysis, stems from structural changes in the labour market: a decline in union membership; more self-employment; more zero-hours contracts and more part-time and temporary work. The clock has been turned back not one century but three, so that the world of work in 2017 bears more than a passing resemblance to Britain as it was before the Industrial Revolution. There were no trade unions. Most people were self-employed or worked in a small business. The Uber drivers of that era were the agricultural workers hired only when there were cows to be milked or crops to be harvested. In those pre-industrial days, the relationship between wages and unemployment was strikingly similar to the one seen since the recession of 2008. Continue reading...[...]


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The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia’s crown prince: the age of ambition | Editorial

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:59:39 GMT2017-06-22T18:59:39Z

At 31, the country’s new heir could have a long reign ahead of him. The reverberations are likely to be felt far beyond its borders

Everyone knew Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman was a young man in a hurry. Every step necessary for his advancement had been made in the two years since his father assumed the kingdom’s throne. Some judged him to be already the country’s de facto ruler. But at 31 his public triumph has come perhaps a little more quickly than anticipated. This week King Salman made him crown prince, supplanting his vastly more experienced cousin Mohammed bin Nayef. The new heir’s elevation has erased the kingdom’s image as a cautious, rather dull gerontocracy (the horizontal system of succession has passed rule from brother to brother; even his former rival looked young at 57).

Change is long overdue, and some have applauded the new crown prince as an energetic reformer. But it is clear he has no plans to meddle with the country’s nature as an absolute monarchy intolerant of dissent, let alone challenge the foundational partnership between the House of Saud and conservative Wahhabi clerics. Saudi’s religious leadership – according to reports – has been vocal in recent days about protecting autocracy from democracy. And the dramatic economic and foreign initiatives he has spearheaded have had dismal results.

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The Guardian view on Uber after Kalanick: only window dressing? | Editorial

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 17:47:55 GMT2017-06-21T17:47:55Z

The board finally acted to force the chief executive’s resignation. But the change may only be superficialThe resignation of Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick is a victory for everyone who cares about the way businesses are run, about the duty of corporations to obey the law and of employers to respect and treat fairly their employees. It is a win against the Silicon Valley cult of the genius-founder. It is a triumph for years of brave and determined investigation by a group of journalists who never stopped exposing the ride-hiring platform’s corporate culture even in the face of a $1m counteroffensive from Uber. And it is vindication for the Uber software engineer, Susan Fowler, who precipitated the final crisis when she described her experience of sexual harassment, a claim that provoked more than 200 other similar complaints. It is a belated exercise of power by the Uber board and investors. It will end a particularly nasty iteration of runaway executive authority. It is even a small step in the fight against the gig economy. But it is not the end either of a feeble form of corporate governance, nor of the employment model on which Uber and many other tech businesses depend.Mr Kalanick embodied the extreme autocracy – sometimes referred to as the asshole strategy – that sometimes appears to be the hallmark of tech businesses, a culture of sharp elbows, “toe-stepping” and, in Uber’s case, what it called “principled confrontation” with regulators. It broke Apple’s privacy rules by writing its own code. Its so-called self-employed drivers are offered car-leasing arrangements that tie them into onerous obligations; their complaints are poorly handled and many end up earning less than the minimum wage. Although the chief executive’s personal behaviour finally energised an investors’ revolt and forced his decision to turn a leave of absence into resignation, it is not axiomatic that the company’s unbridled appetite for the fight has been dulled in any way. Renaming the war room the peace room, as Uber has, doesn’t cut it. The best that can be said is that the influence of Mr Kalanick’s behaviour as a model endorsed by success has been weakened. Continue reading...[...]


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The Guardian view on the fall of Raqqa: the deadliest phase | Editorial

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 19:15:04 GMT2017-06-20T19:15:04Z

The noose is tightening around Islamic State at a time when the Middle East is in tumult. Miscalculations or accidental incidents could easily spark a wider conflagration, whose spiralling effect no one could then control

The rush to Raqqa, Islamic State’s capital on the banks of the Euphrates in Syria, marks the beginning of a new and perilous phase in one of the world’s most dangerous battle zones. The capture of the capital of Isis’s self-declared caliphate would be partly symbolic – the end of a fountainhead of terror – and partly material: Raqqa would provide a treasure trove of information about the workings of Isis. What is clear is that when Isis is routed, there’s a race to control vacated territory. The jostling between forces means care is required to ensure trigger-happy troops on the ground or in the air do not allow impatience to cloud good judgment.

Syria is a battlefield between a regime and an armed opposition, regional powers, Russia and the west. And it is entering an ominous phase in the almost six-year-old, multifaceted and evolving war that has devastated an entire country. Of the many battles between proxies, perhaps the most worrying are the clashes between forces supported by the US along with its coalition partners, and Iranian-backed groups acting in support of the Assad regime – with Russia as a powerful ally. And there are signs that five months into Donald Trump’s presidency, the risk of an overt confrontation between the US and other actors grows day by day.

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The Guardian view on digital giants: they farm us for the data | Editorial

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:04:44 GMT2017-06-18T18:04:44Z

We are neither the customers nor even the product of companies like Google, but we turn our lives into the knowledge that they sell

An astonishing project is under way to build a “digital time machine” that will show us in fine detail the lives of ordinary Venetians across a thousand years of history. It is made possible by the persistence of the republic’s bureaucracy, which, when Napoleon extinguished the Republic of Venice in 1797, left behind 80km of shelving full of records of births, deaths, trades, building, land ownership, private letters, ambassadors’ reports and even medical information. All this is now to be digitised, cross-referenced, and analysed, and all its secrets laid bare to provide a picture in unprecedented richness and detail of the lives of individuals and the development of society over many centuries. Obviously, this is wonderful for historians and indeed anybody with an imagination alive today. One wonders, though, what the Venetians would have made of it, had they known their lives and letters would be so carefully anatomised after their deaths.

Far more is known about us now, though, and in real time. The data in the Venetian archives was unmatched in medieval and even early modern Europe, but it is only legend and scraps of hearsay compared to the knowledge of us accumulated by the giants of the digital economy – Google, Facebook, and Amazon – who all in various ways use the data harvested from their users to make billions of dollars, from advertising or from direct selling, or from some combination of both. Their knowledge of our intimate lives doesn’t wait two centuries or more until we’re dead. They get it live, in real time. Sometimes they know our minds before we know them ourselves. It’s a situation quite unprecedented in history.

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The Guardian view on Bangladesh: the people deserve better | Editorial

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 18:04:30 GMT2017-06-18T18:04:30Z

Bangladesh’s sterile, poisonous politics do a disservice to its people

Bangladesh’s impressive run in the Champions Trophy, though terminated by a thrashing from India in the semi-final last week, highlighted the cricket team’s striking progress and won deserved applause. This relatively young nation – which only won independence from Pakistan in 1971 – usually gets little credit for its triumphs against the odds. Those obstacles have been numerous, including the legacy of colonialism and the war of independence, and the challenges of safeguarding the world’s eighth-largest population when it is crammed into a delta: at least 150 people are thought to have died in floods and landslides last week. Yet the country has slashed cyclone deaths through better shelters and warning systems, and made impressive strides on health, literacy and poverty alleviation.

Its greatest enemy has arguably been the folly of its own politicians who remain locked in a vicious and sterile feud which has claimed too many lives and squandered opportunities to strengthen the country. Since 1991, leadership has swung between the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist party, each led by dynastic leaders, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia. The last elections, in 2014, were scarred by widespread violence and have been followed by further attacks on the opposition. Few believe that politics have not played a part in the legal cases against Ms Zia and her son and heir apparent, Tarique Rahman. Earlier this month the former prime minister Moudud Ahmed and his wife, the poet Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud, were evicted from their home. Mr Ahmed, 77, is not only a BNP party elder – but also a lawyer who defended Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina’s father and the country’s founding leader, when what was then West Pakistan charged him with sedition pre-independence. It says much about how Bangladesh’s leaders have wasted its original hopes as they obsess over divisions and ignore common interests.

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Donald Trump has ditched the world in favor of Big Oil's titans | Jill Abramson

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 22:29:40 GMT2017-06-01T22:29:40Z

To walk away from the Paris agreement is supremely selfish – and only benefits the dirtiest of polluters

Craven, cynical and corrupt: an alliteration that sums up Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris accord on climate change.

He rebuffed the entreaties of everyone from Elon Musk to the pope. He ignored scientific evidence that already shows catastrophic beach erosion, cracking Arctic ice and flooding cities. Instead, he cast in with his climate change-denying EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, and the barons of the world’s dirtiest industries, coal and fossil fuels.

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Police hunt and kill black people like Philando Castile. There's no justice | Steven W Thrasher

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 16:11:06 GMT2017-06-19T16:11:06Z

Police harassment and violence, and the ways the system facilitate and enable it, are not exceptional to the US. They are part of what makes the US what it is

Father’s Day weekend was a grim occasion to remind black parents that they are continuously hunted down by police in the United States. The weekend was bracketed by two stories of black adults killed by police in front of young, black children.

Before our timelines began to be filled with pictures of smiling dads over the weekend, black folks across the nation were accosted by news that Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile. Castile, who had been stopped at least 46 times by police in his short 32 years on this Earth, was shot in front his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter – the entire tragedy being streamed on Facebook Live.

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From rust belt to mill towns: a tale of two voter revolts | Thomas Frank

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 17:43:46 GMT2017-06-07T17:43:46Z

On the eve of Britain’s election, Thomas Frank, who anticipated the rise of Trump among white working-class voters in the US, visited the industrial heartlands of northern England to compare two momentous contests

The Red Shed is a simple, one-storey wooden building in Wakefield that houses a meeting place and a bar. A sign on the front wall informs the world that it has been the meeting place of the Wakefield Labour Club since 1966: “50 Years a Socialist Shed”.

I happened across this unlikely outbuilding in the course of an effort to understand the politics of modern Britain as it hurtles toward the momentous decision it will make on 8 June. Theresa May presents herself as a strong leader who can go toe-to-toe with the big boys in Brussels; if her mandate is big enough, she will be free to seek the most extreme form of Brexit. If her victory is less convincing, she will have to moderate her stance. Either way, the actual details of the deal that will determine the future of this island are anyone’s guess.

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The best new releases to watch during Black History Month

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 12:00:29 GMT2017-02-02T12:00:29Z

With Oscar nominated films such as Fences and Hidden Figures, and a new three-part series on Nelson Mandela, this month has plenty to offer

If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.

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Can black celebrities shake America out of its racial justice slumber? | Syreeta McFadden

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:30:05 GMT2016-07-28T11:30:05Z

African American stars are using their large platform to demand equal protection of black life in America – just as their forbears did

Once again, this is turning out to be a summer marked by prominent police killings of innocent black men. Black popular artists in American culture are complicating things for those fans who would prefer to remain silent or choose not to engage in the most significant civil rights issue of our time. These artists are shaking moderates out of complacency and extending our awareness to this crisis – just as their forebears did during the civil rights struggle in the 1960s.

Black musicians and artists are key partners in dramatizing equality and justice for black citizens. The cynical among us may presume that artists who call for action against systemic, racialized police violence are simply jumping on a cause célèbre – or that their earned privilege no longer affords them the right to be outraged. But that is a selective and ahistorical reading.

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Chelsea Manning: to those who kept me alive all these years, thank you | Chelsea E Manning

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:54:23 GMT2017-02-13T16:54:23Z

When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going. When I was lost, you showed me the way

To those who have kept me alive for the past six years: minutes after President Obama announced the commutation of my sentence, the prison quickly moved me out of general population and into the restrictive housing unit where I am now held. I know that we are now physically separated, but we will never be apart and we are not alone. Recently, one of you asked me “Will you remember me?” I will remember you. How could I possibly forget? You taught me lessons I would have never learned otherwise.

When I was afraid, you taught me how to keep going. When I was lost, you showed me the way. When I was numb, you taught me how to feel. When I was angry, you taught me how to chill out. When I was hateful, you taught me how to be compassionate. When I was distant, you taught me how to be close. When I was selfish, you taught me how to share.

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The new side of Sheryl Sandberg is something to celebrate | Emma Brockes

Wed, 18 May 2016 17:09:06 GMT2016-05-18T17:09:06Z

In a moving post and a commencement address, the Facebook COO showed how her mind has been broadened. Let’s hope this rubs off on Silicon Valley

Sheryl Sandberg gave the commencement speech at UC Berkeley last weekend, during the course of which she said many stirring things about the future awaiting the class of 2016. She also built on her much-commented upon Mothers’ Day Facebook post, in which she spoke for the first time about life in the wake of her husband’s death last year. These two elements, the motivational speaking and the personal reflections on grief, combined to do something that has so far eluded Sandberg and the corporate world generally: the acknowledgement that people are human.

Related: The best commencement speeches: from Jill Abramson to Neil Gaiman

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Did you weep watching Wonder Woman? You weren't alone | Jessica Valenti

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 10:00:24 GMT2017-06-08T10:00:24Z

When so many of us feel powerless, seeing the extraordinary power of one woman feels like a cathartic release

There is a poster that hangs in my six-year-old daughter’s room: it reads “Wonder Woman for President”, the superhero towering over the world she’s doing her best to save. It’s a reproduction of a 1972 Ms magazine cover, the feminist publication’s inaugural issue.

I always found the image lovely, but had no real attachment to Wonder Woman herself. I wasn’t a comic book or superhero fan; and unlike some of my friends who grew up wearing red-and-blue Underoos and watching Lynda Carter play Wonder Woman on television, she wasn’t my go-to feminist icon.

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Ice agents are out of control. And they are only getting worse | Trevor Timm

Wed, 31 May 2017 10:00:21 GMT2017-05-31T10:00:21Z

The agency is so harmful to civil rights, there’s a good argument it should be disbanded altogether. Unfortunately they are only becoming more emboldened

With arrests of non-violent undocumented immigrants exploding across the country, it’s almost as if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agents are having an internal contest to see who can participate in the most cruel and inhumane arrest possible. The agency, emboldened by Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric, is out of control – and Congress is doing little to stop them.

Last week, Ice agents ate breakfast at a Michigan restaurant, complimented the chef on their meal and then proceeded to arrest three members of the restaurants kitchen staff, according to the owner.

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A split supreme court means contraception is more likely to remain a right | Scott Lemieux

Wed, 23 Mar 2016 20:16:31 GMT2016-03-23T20:16:31Z

Some religious employers have railed against including contraceptive coverage in health plans. Without Justice Scalia, though, they’re unlikely to prevail

On Wednesday, the US supreme court heard oral arguments in Zubik v Burwell. The case challenges the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers include contraceptive coverage in taxpayer-subsidized health plans, with potentially negative ramifications for women nationwide should the court rule against the government.

The arguments suggest, however, that the issue will remain unresolved by a shorthanded court likely to split 4-4, which may well be the best-case scenario under the circumstances.

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All-day podcasts and brick-sized books. Or, why 2015 was the year the long form fought back

Sat, 02 Jan 2016 08:00:05 GMT2016-01-02T08:00:05Z

Digital-age culture was meant to be bite-sized. But novels are getting longer, and I have learned to enjoy Wilbur SmithShortly before Christmas, Wilbur Smith, the writer of airport novels, gave an interview to a Sunday newspaper in which he spoke of his four wives in the following tender terms: “Two of them died on me, the first one hates me, and this one loves me, so I’ve covered the whole spectrum.” He no longer saw his children, he added: “They’ve got my sperm, that’s all … it’s sadder for them than it is for me, because they’re not getting any more money.” Perhaps the most charitable response was to observe that at least Smith was being consistent here: the real people in his life seemed as two-dimensional, judging from these descriptions, as the typical Smith hero, who is a rugged outdoorsman with a passion for hunting, hard liquor, and no-strings sex. (Oh, and for avoiding the gaboon adder, the deadly African snake Smith calls upon, with amusing frequency, when a character needs to die.) But my sneering’s a bit hypocritical, really. I only know about Smith’s cardboard-cutout characters because 2015 was the year I read two of his brick-sized novels, along with several similar vast works by Frederick Forsyth and Ken Follett: the kind of books, as one friend put it both succinctly and snobbily, that you find in self-catering holiday cottages. A further confession: mainly, I enjoyed them.In publishing at large, it was a year of very long works: of Franzen and Knausgård and Marlon James, if you have some kind of problem with gaboon adders and prefer literary fiction instead. A survey in December confirmed that novels in general are getting bigger: the average number of pages in a bestseller, it found, had grown by 25% since 1999. This is unexpected. Digital culture was always supposed to fragment our attention spans, eroding our powers of concentration with addictive interruptions and bite-sized stimuli – and it often does. But it’s also the case that e-readers make very long books much more practical: the 400-plus pages of Smith’s Eye of the Tiger (in which, by the way, a killer shark is destroyed by being induced to swallow a stick of gelignite hidden inside the body of a Moray eel) added no weight to my Kindle. Continue reading...[...]


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