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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: Sat, 01 Oct 2016 17:53:51 GMT2016-10-01T17:53:51Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2016
 



Alicia Machado told the truth about Trump, and the backlash is terrifying | Lucia Graves

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 16:20:12 GMT2016-09-30T16:20:12Z

The former Miss Universe has been smeared for speaking out. Gossip about a woman’s past must have no bearing on how we judge the man who attacked her

The story of Alicia Machado is many things but as it pertains to the presidential election, it is a story about the time Donald Trump smeared a woman and riled up a media circus to spread the gossip. That was back in the 1990s and mostly fodder for tabloids. Now it’s happening all over again – only as part of a presidential campaign.

In the first candidates’ debate this week, Hillary Clinton invoked her opponent’s high-profile fat-shaming of Machado after she was crowned Miss Universe in 1996, comments that pushed her into a downward spiral of eating disorders for five years.

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It's time to accept that we will die at the hands of our smartphones

Sat, 01 Oct 2016 11:30:18 GMT2016-10-01T11:30:18Z

What end could be more fitting for the self-respecting modern human than death by a randomly exploding handset?

If you take Benjamin Franklin at his word, death is coming. The good and the bad, the young and the old, the in-the-middle: as far as we know, none will live forever. The idea of an eventual death is something that was widely accepted as “true” long ago, but, like many things, it must be updated to suit the modern day. It’s time to accept that when death does come for us, it will be at the hand of our smartphone.

And isn’t that comforting?

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Facing my fear: I grew up in a broken home. I didn't want my kids to | Jaimie Seaton

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:00:31 GMT2016-09-30T11:00:31Z

The breakup of my parents’ marriage meant I barely saw my father growing up. I was sure things would be different for my children – then my husband left me

On a sunny November day nearly four years ago, as I flipped through a Pottery Barn catalog on our deck, my husband of 14 years revealed that he had been having an affair for the previous 10 months. His revelation was a punch in my gut, and as my mind simultaneously raced for comprehension and was struck numb, he dropped his next bombshell: his mistress was six months pregnant. In that moment, I was faced with my worst fear.

Related: Tell us about a time you faced your fear

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'There is no one I can vote for with a clear conscience': Undecided voters speak out

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:00:39 GMT2016-09-29T11:00:39Z

Huge numbers of voters have yet to make up their mind in the 2016 presidential election. Here, some of them tell us why

The reason I am undecided is because no candidate deserves my vote.

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We celebrate black culture one minute, and crush black lives the next | Rebecca Carroll

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 15:25:01 GMT2016-09-30T15:25:01Z

Poet Claudia Rankine’s ‘genius grant’ win is a victory for African Americans. But there’s something devastating about the context in which it was awarded

Black Americans are in challenging, critical times. We matter enough to sell out concert stadiums and win prestigious awards touting our intellectual prowess – as Claudia Rankine did this week, when she won the MacArthur genius grant. But we don’t matter enough to keep us from being murdered by the police. There is something devastatingly perverse about that fact.

Claudia Rankine’s win is one of the best things to happen to black folks in 2016. Her award, along with those of her fellow black recipients in this year’s MacArthur crop – the art historian and curator Kellie Jones, the film-maker Barry Jacobs-Jenkins and the sculptor Joyce Scott – signals a moment of nationwide reckoning. It is also a reminder that we cannot – and will not – stand for the routine violence or the default dehumanization of black bodies.

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Pepe the Frog: yes, a harmless cartoon can become an alt-right mascot | Oren Segal

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:08:49 GMT2016-09-29T16:08:49Z

The character may have started out as an innocent emblem of slackerdom – but it’s now an icon for racist and antisemitic groups

Pepe the Frog originated as an innocuous cartoon character in 2005. This week, he was added to the Anti-Defamation League’s database of hate symbols. At first glance, it may seem more than a little strange that the image of a cartoon frog could end up alongside such infamous symbols as the Blood Drop Cross of the Ku Klux Klan. But the evolution of Pepe the Frog actually illustrates a key aspect of hate symbols: many such images do not actually begin as hate symbols.

We maintain this database as part of our work to track hate groups and help law enforcement, educators and other members of the public to identify those symbols that serve as potential calling cards of extremists and antisemites. What we have learned is that, often, symbols slowly evolve in that direction or are appropriated by extremists from their original context and assigned a new, more hateful meaning.

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Why does Donald Trump keep talking about Chicago? | Zach Stafford

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 12:00:33 GMT2016-09-30T12:00:33Z

The Republican candidate is fond of quoting the city’s violent crime statistics – but he won’t come and talk to us face to face. I think I know why

Ever since Donald Trump blamed President Obama for the poverty and violence black people face in his “home town” during the Republican National Convention, the GOP candidate has become increasingly obsessed with the city of Chicago.

“We have a situation where we have our inner cities – African Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it’s so dangerous,” Trump said at this week’s presidential debate. “You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1. Thousands of shootings. And I say, where is this? Is this is a war-torn country? What are we doing?”

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Will the internet kill off conspicuous consumption? | Richard Sennett and Carlo Ratti

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 13:30:42 GMT2016-09-29T13:30:42Z

In the pre-digital age, the sharing of services lacked prestige. But if symbolic experiences can be communicated virtually, there’s no point in owning stuff

In 1899, the American sociologist Thorsten Veblen coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption” in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class. The phrase was double-edged: Veblen was critical of the wealthy flaunting their wealth, but he recognised that more ordinary people used goods and services to establish “the reputability of the household and its head”. In short, status matters. Today, conspicuous consumption, which defined much of 20th century material culture, is at a turning point.

Related: Are robots going to steal your job? Probably | Moshe Y Vardi

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Here's my plan to save Twitter: let's buy it | Nathan Schneider

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:37:55 GMT2016-09-29T16:37:55Z

Corporate sharks are circling around the platform we love. But there is another way: shared ownership, where the community takes control

If you ask Wall Street, Twitter is in trouble. The user-base is growing, but not quickly enough. Ad revenue is growing too, but not as quickly as it once did. The only answer to this leveling-out, it seems, is the platform’s acquisition by a bigger corporate bird, which can regurgitate an influx of capital and absorb our tweets into its own data-craving metabolism. Disney, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google’s parent Alphabet are all circling above Twitter’s wobbly stock price, salivating.

For lots of us users, it’s a different story. Twitter is pretty great. We reporters rely on its instant access to the chatter of the world more than we like to admit. The running commentary of friends and celebrities has turned horrible presidential debates and State of the Unions into Mystery Science Theater 3000. And the platform nurtures communities fighting for justice; historian Anthea Butler has argued, for instance, that Black Twitter has come to inherit the mantle of the Black Church. It also delivers us frequent access to Donald Trump’s id, if we want.

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We need small donors to halt the march to plutocracy | Kenneth Pennington

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 11:30:40 GMT2016-09-29T11:30:40Z

Presidential candidates can’t just attend intimate gatherings with America’s richest to raise money. Bernie Sanders showed that another way is possible

Aides to Donald Trump suggested this week that the presidential candidate might self-fund an end-of-campaign advertising blitz to counter Hillary Clinton’s rise in the polls. His contributions should give us serious pause. Is this how we want our republic to function? Do we want to live in a country where candidates can rise or fall based on their pocketbooks or the financial backing of their rich friends?

Wealthy donors like Trump have donated the vast majority of campaign funds for both political parties in 2016. That should scare a lot of Americans. But there’s one bright spot in the 2016 cycle that offers a path forward.

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Forget Gary Johnson. Trump's presidency would be one long 'Aleppo moment' | Dave Schilling

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 19:36:51 GMT2016-09-29T19:36:51Z

The Libertarian is lampooned for gaps in his knowledge, but he looks like an amateur next to the giant ignoramus who actually has a chance of winning

What does Gary Johnson know? After yet another easily avoidable televised blunder in which the Libertarian presidential candidate failed to name even one leader of a foreign country that he was fond of, it’s a fair question.

If, by some miracle, Johnson were able to cobble together enough support to reach the 15% threshold to qualify for the debates, that would be the only question I would want answered. Just two minutes of Johnson rattling off things he does know. How many eggs in a dozen? That’s a snap, Anderson. It’s 12. Where are babies made, Mr Johnson? Well ... something about mommies and daddies loving each other, right? Who let the dogs out? Wow, that’s a tough one, Anderson. Can I get back to you after I consult with my advisors? I happen to be heavily courting the dogcatchers’ union.

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Life is richer when we talk to strangers | David Ferguson

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 19:43:27 GMT2016-09-27T19:43:27Z

Next time you’re in an elevator, strike up a conversation with the person you’re riding with. It could do you good


I think I must have a kind face. People always talk to me. I’m the guy who always gets asked for directions, even in cities where I’m a tourist. When people need help reaching something at the grocery store, they ask me. Something about my expression must say: “I mean you no harm.”

I’m all right with that. When I was younger, I always wanted to be one of those devastatingly good-looking people who stopped strangers in their tracks. I worked at a coffee shop with a guy named Alan who was so beautiful that once when he was wiping down the tables out front, a driver rear-ended another car because she was so distracted by the sight of him.

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Why the mediocre male's days may be numbered | Jessica Valenti

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:58:42 GMT2016-09-28T14:58:42Z

After the debate Clinton was praised for her smarts, and Trump called out as a bloviating buffoon. Maybe now that’ll start happening in everyday life, too

Quite a few of my feminist friends are fond of a tote bag that reads, “Lord, Give Me the Confidence of a Mediocre White Man”. It’s a cheeky nod to a scenario familiar to most women: a bombastic but woefully under-informed man who is convinced of how much smarter he is than you.

That dynamic that was on full display at the first presidential debate; as one Washington Post writer tweeted, “Finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in”. Clinton was knowledgeable and poised; Trump was volatile and at times barely coherent.

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Donald Trump is an American Ahmadinejad | Michael Axworthy

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 20:03:48 GMT2016-09-28T20:03:48Z

Whoever’s president, the future of US-Iran relations isn’t rosy. Trump is populist and unpredictable, but Clinton’s hawkishness could mean a hardline approach

Over the years, Iran has sometimes played a disproportionately large part in US politics. Jimmy Carter blamed the 1979-81 embassy hostage crisis for his failure to secure a second term, and Reagan’s second term was damaged significantly by the Iran-Contra revelations.

The deal secured by the Obama administration with Iran over the nuclear question in July 2015 has proved violently divisive between Democrats and Republicans. So it was no surprise that Iran surfaced again in the debate between the presidential candidates on 26 September.

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If you want millennials to vote for you, here's what you need to understand | Katrina Jorgensen

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:30:00 GMT2016-09-28T11:30:00Z

We are the biggest voting bloc in the United States today, and we want to be heard

If you’re running for office in 2016, it’s time to get serious about reaching millennials. As a down ballot candidate you can’t depend on your presidential nominee to bring in younger voters – in fact, both candidates seems to be driving them away.

Related: 'I don’t like this election': will millennials, the biggest generation, turn out to vote?

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Our kids learn their ABCs in school. But why not climate change? | Mike Honda and Edward J Markey

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:00:57 GMT2016-09-28T11:00:57Z

The classroom is the right place to start educating our citizens about the greatest challenge they will face

The reality of climate change is here, and the science behind our warming planet is clear. July and August 2016 were the hottest months in recorded history. And last year was the hottest on record. Wildfires have scorched California. Thousand-year floods have devastated Louisiana. Temperatures are soaring. Sea levels are rising. Weather is more extreme. Greenhouse gases have been steadily increasing for decades.

But the trove of research and resulting evidence for human-caused climate change still leaves us with questions. Many of us don’t know how climate change will affect us, collectively and individually. We aren’t certain how we are responsible or what can we do about it.

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Imagine if Donald Trump were a woman. You simply can’t | Hadley Freeman

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 14:59:27 GMT2016-09-27T14:59:27Z

Hillary Clinton triumphed in the first presidential debate, but she faces an opponent far more formidable than the absurdist Republican candidate – sexism

Earlier this month Hillary Clinton gave probably her most revealing interview, – not to CNN, not to the New York Times, but to the blog Humans of New York, which posts photos and short interviews with New Yorkers. Clinton’s interview, sui generis as she is, could not really be described as representative of the average New Yorker, but it did sum up the problems faced by high-profile women today, still, and nowhere more so than in politics.

“What works for them [men] won’t work for you [women],” she said. “Women are seen through a different lens. It’s not bad. It’s just a fact.” She then detailed precisely how, if it’s not bad, it’s certainly outrageous: “I’ll go to these events and there will be men speaking before me, and they’ll be pounding the message and screaming about how we need to win the election. And I want to do the same thing. I love to wave my arms, but apparently that’s a little bit scary to people. And I can’t yell too much. It comes across as ‘too loud’ or ‘too shrill’ or ‘too this’ or ‘too that’.”

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Eye contact is good for you. But can you put your phone down for long enough? | Jonathan Shehee

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 10:00:01 GMT2016-09-23T10:00:01Z

There are surprising benefits to locking gazes with another person, but that’s easy to forget in the age of scrolls and swipes

Everyone from early mesmerists to contemporary self-help gurus have understood the power of looking someone deep in the eyes. Now, compelling new research is shedding light on the powerful positive effects of eye contact.

Related: At your next concert: stop filming, start listening | David Sax

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'Clinton weaponized Trump’s words': the reaction to the presidential debate

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 04:14:55 GMT2016-09-27T04:14:55Z

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went head to head tonight in the first of three highly anticipated clashes. Here’s how they performed

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Donald Trump blew it. But will the voters take any notice? | Richard Wolffe

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 06:27:33 GMT2016-09-27T06:27:33Z

At the first presidential debate the Republican candidate behaved like a heckler at a Clinton speech. The problem is, that may be how a lot of Americans feel

Donald Trump walked on to the biggest stage of his life with nothing but upside ahead.

After the most undisciplined campaign in living memory, Trump was always going to look bigger by standing on a presidential debate stage. He could spar with a former secretary of state on an equal footing.

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Fat people, rise up! We could swing this election | Lindy West

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 13:29:30 GMT2016-09-27T13:29:30Z

It’s time white supremacist whoopee cushion Donald Trump was hurled back into obscurity by a coalition of women, Muslims, veterans, LGBT people and fat people

Midway through the first presidential debate, just before snivelling racist air horn Donald Trump assured the US that he’s the only candidate who’s up and ready to cyber, the Republican nominee made this remarkable statement: “Nobody knows that it was Russia that broke into the DNC – she’s saying ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’ – but I don’t, maybe it was! I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don’t know who broke into DNC.”

While I do want to congratulate Trump on one of his few successful deployments of the English language last night – buddy put words in an order that conveyed a vaguely decipherable meaning, much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt! – the phrase “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” raises a vital question.

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If the average woman is 'plus-sized', why doesn't our fashion reflect that? | Erika Nicole Kendall

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:18:01 GMT2016-09-26T18:18:01Z

Americans have much larger body sizes than previously thought, yet you wouldn’t know that by looking at clothes available in your local mall

America’s streets are full of what the fashion industry labels “plus-sized women” – far more than we previously thought. Thanks to a new study, we now know that the average woman is around a size 20. Not, as previously believed, a size 14. That means that the disconnect between the clothes in store windows and the bodies of women walking past them is greater than we had ever assumed.

Despite this, major fashion brands still refuse to accept the bodies of their customers. The only fashion brands that want to acknowledge the size of the newly minted “average woman” are plus-size brands, which are marginalized in the market, as if they catered to a fringe and not, in fact, everyday Americans.

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Looking for a Trump metaphor? He's an autoimmune disease | Lucia Graves

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 11:00:32 GMT2016-09-25T11:00:32Z

The Republican presidential nominee has used civil society’s defenses – the press, the courts, financial regulation – to his own ends, causing untold damage

Donald Trump’s detractors have struggled to define him as long as he’s been on the political scene. But in 2015 it was the famously tongue-tied Rick Perry who landed upon what seemed like the most accurate descriptor to date: he called Trump “a cancer”.
He was speaking in reference to conservatism and, rather amazingly, would later go on to support Trump; he was also on to something. We know how cancer cells evade the body’s natural response by basically disarming the immune system – turning it off or otherwise poisoning it.

But the way this election is shaping up, the better analogy might be an autoimmune disease. Such illnesses result from our body’s natural defenses being marshalled against it with destructive results. Trump is exploiting our political immune system to the detriment and potentially grave peril of the republic. He’s taken what actually makes America great, the systems of government designed to foster public good – the courts, the press, our charity and financial systems – and used them for personal gain at the body politic’s expense.

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Lessons from the environmental front line | John Paul Brammer

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:01:57 GMT2016-09-23T17:01:57Z

The Dakota pipeline protests have drawn indigenous people from across the Americas. But everyone else needs to understand it’s their fight too

“I’m here until January,” said a man sitting with his arms crossed in the backseat. The six of us had piled into an old Ford Taurus, hitching a ride back to camp from a prayer ceremony at the site in North Dakota where protests against the now infamous pipeline project had been met with riot police and attack dogs only days before. “The long haul.”

“Right on,” said a woman in the front. “That’s dedication.”

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Money isn't enough. Medical research needs a cultural revolution | Celine Goudner

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:33:20 GMT2016-09-23T15:33:20Z

If Zuckerberg and Chan want to get some bang for their buck, they’ll need to break down the structures that hold brilliant young scientists back

This week, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan pledged $3bn to “cure, manage and prevent all diseases” by the end of the century. While $3bn sounds like a lot of money, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) spends more than 10 times as much on biomedical research per year. Since 2003, the US has spent more than 20 times as much through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief to end HIV/Aids worldwide. Bill Gates, whose foundation has donated well over $3bn to the fight against HIV alone, recently acknowledged that despite all that’s been done to date, “we have not turned the corner on Aids”. It seems like tremendous hubris for Chan and Zuckerberg to set such a lofty goal.

Zuckerberg made his first major foray into philanthropy in 2010, when he gave $100m to help reform failing schools in Newark, NJ, hoping this would become a model for the nation. But because he didn’t understand the challenges posed by the regulatory environment and culture of the city’s public schools, his gift as well as an additional $100m in matching funds didn’t have the desired impact. But Zuckerberg says he’s learned from some of his initial mistakes. More recently, he invested another $120m in schools in his own backyard where he’s better able to engage with the community and understand the urban education crisis.

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This photo from Charlotte tells you all you need to know about policing in America | Ijeoma Oluo

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 20:55:14 GMT2016-09-21T20:55:14Z

An image from Charlotte, scene of yet another killing, encapsulates the message black people receive daily from the officers who are supposed to protect them

A line of police officers stand in the dark on a Charlotte, North Carolina, highway. They look like an occupying force with their helmets and face shields and various weaponry strapped all over their armored clothing. A large bus illuminates them with its headlights. The front of the bus declares in bright lights: “NOT IN SERVICE”.

It’s as if these police responding to protests of Tuesday’s shooting death of Keith Scott are carrying with them a lighted banner that declares what black Americans already know: they are not in service. Not for us.

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The EpiPen boss tried to defend price hikes to Congress. No one bought it | Liz Richardson Voyles

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 13:24:10 GMT2016-09-22T13:24:10Z

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said she believes the medicine’s cost has struck the balance of profit and access. But my kid depends on EpiPens, and she’s wrong

There are very few issues in Washington that can enthusiastically unite a Republican congressman like Jason Chaffetz and a Democratic one like Elijah Cummings. But this week, one woman has managed to get them both on the same page: Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, maker of the EpiPen, a life-saving drug for those who have severe allergies. Both lawmakers questioned the ethics of Mylan’s pricing and dismissed Bresch’s attempts to defend the company.

Bresch, who made $18.9m in 2015, is weathering some justifiably sharp scrutiny right now due to the fact that her company hiked the cost of EpiPens to $608 a pack, or almost 600%, in a few short years. This despite the fact the product has been on the market for decades and contains an active ingredient that costs about $1. The consequences of the price hikes are very real, restricting access to lifesaving medicine for families like mine, who have a child with a life-threatening allergy.

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Hillary Clinton's problem? We just don't trust women | Jessica Valenti

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:48:23 GMT2016-09-22T20:48:23Z

It’s incredible that voters consider Donald Trump more honest than his opponent. But it’s sadly in line with society’s double standards

Blues legend BB King once sang: “Never trust a woman, until she’s dead and buried.” Sadly, it’s a sentiment that sounds just at home in our current political discourse as it does an old song: while this week’s NBC/WSJ poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump in general support, voters consider Trump more “honest and straightforward” than Clinton by 10 points.

Related: Clinton hasn't won over millennials. And no, sexism isn't to blame | Kate Aronoff

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Want peace between Israel and Palestine? The Iran Deal is a good guide | Wardah Khalid

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 19:01:54 GMT2016-09-21T19:01:54Z

As Obama meets Netanyahu, the world needs to remember that diplomacy and compromise can yield results

President Obama met with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in New York today, with the goal of pressing him to move toward reconciliation with the Palestinians. This comes on the heels of his approval of Israel’s $38bn military aid package, the largest in US history, which many regard as a means to placate Netanyahu over the nuclear agreement the US signed with Iran.

Ironically, it is that very deal, a symbol of the power of international diplomacy, that should serve as an example of how to craft a successful peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

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Terence Crutcher wasn't a 'bad dude' – just a black man in America | Michael Twitty

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:00:11 GMT2016-09-21T12:00:11Z

The shooting of an unarmed father of four in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a reminder that we are viewed as threats by police simply for looking the way we do

Terence Crutcher had his hands up. That didn’t stop him from being shot by Tulsa police on Friday. He was a father, a husband, a churchgoing man, a college student at the age of 40. In a video of the shooting released to the public on Monday, a man can be heard saying: “Time for a Taser,” before adding: “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”

Related: Video in Tulsa police shooting shows black man was unarmed with hands up

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Calling Syrian refugees like me Skittles would be funny if it weren't so cruel | Shadi Martini

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 21:08:10 GMT2016-09-20T21:08:10Z

People who’ve fled war and terror were likened to poisoned candy in a Trump campaign ad. It’s a bizarre image, and carries a message unworthy of America

I am a Syrian refugee who was forced to leave my country. It was discovered that I had created an underground network to provide medical aid and supplies to the sick and wounded. The regime had ruled that what I was doing was against the law, so I fled. I took whatever I could fit in a rolling suitcase and nothing more. I now live in the greatest country in the world, and have just become a US citizen.

In the past year, more than 10,000 Syrian refugees, like me, found refuge in the US. However, there are those who are portraying this great humanitarian deed as a bad thing. They are calling for the United States to shut its doors to Syrians, who are fleeing unspeakable horrors of war and acts of daily terror. Those who would turn their backs on these innocent, desperate victims use scare tactics to gain support.

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Farewell, Brangelina – and the dream that love can last | Mary Valle

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 19:19:44 GMT2016-09-20T19:19:44Z

The Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie union appeared perfect: long-term, fruitful, opposites attracting. Now it’s clear nothing can be trusted

Pack it in, humanity. Love just died.

Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. I know. I am pulling on my oversized cardigan, letting its gigantic cuffs cover the tops of my hands, and holding a gigantic cup of herbal tea. Not drinking it. I hate the stuff.

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Yes, I'll get gender surgery. But I may still be punished for my suicide attempt | Chelsea E Manning

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:00:07 GMT2016-09-20T11:00:07Z

It’s absurd that the military has finally agreed to treatment while preparing to discipline me for the desperation I felt earlier this year

Last week I was given the “good news” that the Department of Defense will grant my request to see a surgeon for treatment related to my gender dysphoria. Although I don’t have anything in writing, I was shown a memorandum with my name on it that confirmed the military is moving forward with my request. Everything that they have presented to me leads me to believe that they are going to provide the care that has been recommended by my doctor. I have requested this for nearly a year. That same week, I was also given “bad news”: I may be punished for a suicide attempt in July.

Related: Chelsea Manning faces solitary confinement and charges after suicide attempt

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If George HW Bush votes against Trump, he'll be in good Republican company | Jamie Weinstein

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 20:31:29 GMT2016-09-20T20:31:29Z

Bush’s opposition can be dismissed as the qualms of a north-eastern moderate. But alongside him are many with unimpeachable conservative credentials

It wouldn’t be surprising if, as one recent visitor to the Bush compound in Kennebunkport reports, former president George HW Bush will be voting for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump this fall.

After all, the elder Bush president is a moderate from the north-east who has in recent years developed a close relationship with the Clintons. His old patrician sensibility is reportedly offended by Trump’s vulgar style. And let’s not forget Bush witnessed Trump ruthlessly and gleefully eviscerate his son Jeb during the Republican primary, often in the most personal of ways, and delve into conspiracy theories to attack the presidential legacy of another son, George W.

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Pop music lured me from west Africa all the way to the United States | Manthia Diawara

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 11:30:08 GMT2016-09-20T11:30:08Z

I’m a Muslim immigrant from Mali. But, Mr Trump, that doesn’t stop me from loving America and all that goes with it: football, basketball and James Brown

I was born in Mali, where more than 95% of the population professes Islam as their religion. When I think of how I got a visa to come to the US 40 years ago, the story seems romantic, especially in light of all the Muslim-hating that’s going on in this presidential election.

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

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Hating Donald Trump isn’t enough – we need to talk about why Hillary Clinton rules | Lindy West

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 06:23:33 GMT2016-09-21T06:23:33Z

If we care about our future as a non-blown-up planet, it’s time to stop treating the Democratic candidate as if she’s barely better than a literal white supremacist

If there’s one thing Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign has taught us it’s to view every depraved moral nadir as a challenge, not a destination. You think this is bad? Wait for the tangy mouth garbage he’s got stewing for tomorrow. Then forget about it instantly – everyone else will! I heard state department employees sometimes email each other!!!

Just this week we’ve seen Trump metabolise the Chelsea bombing into an incoherent anti-Clinton smear before the shrapnel had even settled. I’ve listened to my Muslim friends express their fear of leaving the house after Monday’s unconscionably irresponsible emergency alert, the kind of histrionic racial profiling Trump vows to amplify. We’ve read up on Trump’s alignment with an anti-abortion extremist group, and his avowal to “get very tough” on “thing[s]” apparently including freedom of expression. We’ve clocked Trump’s pin-drop silence on the shooting deaths of Terence Crutcher and Tyre King, though – don’t worry – over the summer he promised to make the streets safer … for police. Trump “joked” (again!) about the assassination of Hillary Clinton. His son compared refugees, who are human beings who need our asylum to live, to Skittles, which are sweets.

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The Washington Post is wrong: Edward Snowden should be pardoned | Trevor Timm

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:28:58 GMT2016-09-19T20:28:58Z

There’s little truth in the five charges most often levelled at the whistleblower. Here’s why he deserves acclaim, not punishment

With the launch of Oliver Stone’s Snowden film this past weekend came a renewed push for a pardon for Edward Snowden from the world’s leading human rights organizations.

But predictably, not everyone agreed that he should be pardoned. On Saturday, the Washington Post editorial board deplorably editorialized against it despite its own paper winning the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on his leaked documents.

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Alcoholics who quit completely do better than those who dabble. I'm not surprised | David Ferguson

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 16:05:59 GMT2016-09-19T16:05:59Z

I tried, and failed, repeatedly to control my intake of intoxicating substances. Eventually I decided total sobriety was the only way

In my last week of using drugs in the summer of 2005, I had a moment of clarity during a binge that combined codeine cough syrup, Ativan pills and ground-up Oxycontin that I was snorting. I was stumbling around the room – I was always a mess of bruises from head to foot in those days – trying to decide whether or not to take all the rest of the Ativan in the bottle when it occurred to me to ask myself, “Why is it that I can never get high enough? What exactly is it I’m trying not to feel?”

Related: Can we all agree to stop Instagramming our cocktails? | David Ferguson

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After the New York bomb, Muslim Americans are braced for a backlash | Faiza Patel

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 00:06:27 GMT2016-09-20T00:06:27Z

Anti-Muslim sentiment, stoked by toxic political rhetoric, is already high. In the coming days, innocent Americans will be targeted simply because of their faith

Terrorism has strained traditional American notions of individual responsibility. While such attacks fortunately remain rare in our country (data shows that out of 14,000 murders in the United States, a few dozen per year are motivated by religious or political ideologies of any persuasion), violence by a Muslim is often attributed to the entire American Muslim community. Sometimes, it is accompanied by calls for sending them home or clamping down on them in various ways. Even before police identified Ahmad Khan Rahami as the person suspected of setting off the bomb that exploded in New York on Saturday night, social media was awash with anti-Muslim slurs and threats. A Twitter campaign launched to support Muslims was hijacked to spread fear and hatred instead.

Already reeling from the divisive and bitter rhetoric that has marked the current presidential campaign, Muslim Americans are bracing for the backlash. My own Facebook page is flooded with warnings not to leave home and tips for staying safe if one does venture out, especially directed to those of us who look “Muslim” – like the two young Brooklyn mothers in headscarves who were attacked earlier this month while out walking their infants in strollers. Their fears are hardly misplaced. According to a recent analysis by California State University, a compilation of official hate crime data from 20 states shows that in 2015 anti-Islam incidents increased by 78.2% and anti-Arab incidents jumped by 219%, “the most precipitous rise since 2001”. Another study shows that mosques have been attacked at rates not seen since the 2010 controversy over building an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero.

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Another one bites the dust: the 'five second rule' has been debunked | Dave Schilling

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 18:58:28 GMT2016-09-19T18:58:28Z

Food can acquire bacteria the moment it falls to the floor, so picking it up really fast doesn’t mean it’s clean in case you were ever taken in by the lies

A report in the journal of the American Society of Microbiology has declared once and for all that the so-called “five second rule” – in which food dropped on the floor does not pick up germs for five seconds – is not real. Hold me, I think I’m going to faint.

For all of you out there who thought that spilled food could be spared the scourge of bacteria, this must be a sobering realization. That slice of pizza, that errant chicken wing or that glazed donut that went tumbling out of your hand are now tainted.

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On terrorism, cooler heads have better policy. But do they win more votes? | Richard Wolffe

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 19:40:12 GMT2016-09-19T19:40:12Z

After the New York and New Jersey attacks, Clinton urges caution while Trump rages. It’s not yet clear which stance will chime better with the popular mood

An explosion on the streets of Manhattan, pipe bombs in New Jersey, and a shootout with a terrorist suspect: a jittery election, filled with hyperbole, just grew more breathless.

Related: Suspect in New York bombing arrested after shootout with police

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It's race and immigration, stupid | Michael Paarlberg

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 13:00:49 GMT2016-09-17T13:00:49Z

The secret of Trump’s success isn’t the ravages of globalisation. It’s that the country is looking less and less like some voters believe it should

Under prevailing theories of economic voting, “Make America Great Again” should not be a good slogan for a time when poverty and unemployment are falling, and household income is rising, as the latest Census report shows. The fact that Trump’s faux-populist appeal resonates at all despite this should be evidence enough that it’s not about the economy. In any case, Trump’s more explicit promises about walls and religious tests should make it clear what American greatness really means to him.

Yet there are many who take Trump’s claims to an economic populist mantle seriously, including some on the left. So eager are they to find any evidence at all of a burgeoning American class consciousness that they project it onto an unlikely source, one who spends more on hair transplants than most Americans make in a year.

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New York and Minnesota show how DIY terrorism is the new normal | Aki Peritz

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:10:15 GMT2016-09-19T17:10:15Z

There is little we can do to keep a determined attacker from striking people on a Saturday night in New York City. Resilience is key

The weekend’s seemingly disjointed events – a bombing in New York City, several unexploded bombs discovered in New Jersey, multiple stabbings in a mall in Minnesota – has set Americans on edge again.

It remains unclear if these acts were part of a grand international conspiracy, or whether a cell or single individuals are behind them. Yet what we do know is that we now inhabit an age in which it’s logistically straightforward to commit attacks designed to kill and create mayhem, and there are clear ideological rationales for doing so. This toxic combination, along with an occasional willingness to die while carrying out the “operation”, makes this new foe – call him a terrorist or a disturbed individual – particularly difficult to thwart.

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Ignore the naysayers. America can handle 110,000 more refugees | Aryeh Neier

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 14:47:22 GMT2016-09-16T14:47:22Z

Republicans are furious about Obama’s modest proposal. But Canada shows that our fears about resettling those fleeing war are overblown

Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States proposes to admit 110,000 refugees over the course of the next year has elicited a furious reaction from some Republican leaders. This was predictable. A spirit of xenophobia has once again taken hold in the United States, as has happened on several previous occasions in American history.

As early as 1798, just a few years after the establishment of the Republic, Congress adopted a Naturalization law that was intended to keep out radicals who could promote sedition. The main targets were the French, who might spread the “Jacobin” ideology of the French Revolution. In the 19th century, a focus of exclusion was the Chinese who were explicitly kept out under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. That law was not repealed until 1943, when it became embarrassing because China was an ally of the United States in the war against Japan. In the early part of the 20th century, a number of measures were adopted to limit the admission of southern Europeans, such as the Italians, ostensibly because they were thought to be more likely to spread the anarchist ideology than fairer-skinned immigrants from northern Europe. And so things have gone.

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I might look country-club rich, but I'm actually drowning in debt | Jaimie Seaton

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:00:01 GMT2016-09-26T11:00:01Z

I spent my summers as a child on a private plane, a luxury home and a yacht – yet my life has been defined by financial disarray

Debt: $16,000

Source: Credit cards

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Facing my fear: to conquer depression, I had to embrace it | Ed Halliwell

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 11:00:56 GMT2016-09-23T11:00:56Z

I didn’t think accepting my symptoms would be helpful. But slowly, it became clear that meditation works for me

I’d been running from or fighting my depression for two and a half years, and neither approach had worked. Relentlessly dogged by self-punishing thoughts, heavy, tensed-up limbs, heart palpitations and a churning gut, I’d done everything I could to shake myself clear of the continuing hell of daily existence.

Related: Tell us about a time you faced your fear

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I was a baby when I came to America without papers. Will Trump kick me out? | Rodrigo Pimentel

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:00:27 GMT2016-09-27T11:00:27Z

Because I am an undocumented immigrant, I fear I will have to leave the only country I have ever known if the Republican candidate is elected

I am an undocumented immigrant living in the age of Trump. In 1998, I was brought to the United States from Portugal at the age of 10 months. I grew up mostly oblivious to the fact that I was undocumented, that I didn’t have the papers necessary to live a normal life.

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

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The good thing about being hit by an SUV? It freed me from debt | Nuala Sawyer

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 11:00:43 GMT2016-09-19T11:00:43Z

My accident set me back by $50,000. But everything changed when I finally received a settlement from the driver’s insurance company

Debt: $75,000

Source: Student loans, medical bills, credit cards

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Facing my fear: I was molested as a child. Would my own kids judge me for it? | Zoe Zolbrod

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 10:00:09 GMT2016-09-16T10:00:09Z

My own background made it crucial that I speak to my children about personal safety. But I was afraid that they’d think less of me if they knew my story

When my son was in first grade, the FBI found evidence that one of his instructors was a potential child sex offender. They’d intercepted letters he’d been sending to prisons, including photographs of the students that he’d annotated with lewd captions, and they’d immediately contacted the school district.

Related: Tell us about a time you faced your fear

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I was a well-paid European expat. Now I am undocumented | Anonymous

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 11:00:58 GMT2016-09-13T11:00:58Z

It’s hard to explain why I don’t want to go back, but I love it here. I have never felt more free

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

I am originally from Sweden. I came to the United States on a management visa with a large international fashion company. I worked as a store planner and interior designer, where I earned $70,000 a year. Then, four years later, I lost my job because my work permit had expired. It wouldn’t take long before I lost my right to stay here, too. Now, I live here without papers.

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I'm in debt to my ex-husband. I pay him $120 a month | Vanessa Garcia

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 11:00:28 GMT2016-09-12T11:00:28Z

He insisted we split everything 50-50, even though he earned much more than me. The monthly payment helps me remember my mistakes

Debt: $16,120

Source: Car loan

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Facing my fear: did I have the cancer mutation that killed my dad? | Jean Hannah Edelstein

Fri, 09 Sep 2016 10:00:59 GMT2016-09-09T10:00:59Z

My father had Lynch syndrome, raising his risk for many cancers. He wanted me to get the test, but I waited until he died

I’ve known for years that my paternal grandmother died of colon cancer in her early 40s. But I didn’t think it had too much to do with me, beyond being a very sad fact in our family history and inspiring a lot of intense – and embarrassing – conversations about how much fiber we were eating.

Related: Tell us about a time you faced your fear

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Yes, I've had cancer, but no, I'm not going to live like a Puritan | Mary Elizabeth Williams

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:43:59 GMT2016-09-07T16:43:59Z

A new study shows that cancer vets don’t take much more care over their lifestyles than anyone else. That’s because we’re only human

This shouldn’t come as a great surprise to those of us who’ve experienced cancer or know someone close who has, but new research on “lifestyle behaviors among US cancer survivors” appears to confirm it anyway: the side effects of surviving the disease do not include suddenly picking up a whole slew of positive new habits.

The expansive University of Oklahoma study, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, drew upon 47,139 adult cancer survivors and 407,191 individuals with no cancer history, from every part of the country. The findings conclude that “US cancer survivors are not more likely than the general population to engage in … healthy lifestyle behaviors.”

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Dick Cheney encouraged my father to defect. Now we are Americans | Mietek Boduzynski

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 11:00:57 GMT2016-09-06T11:00:57Z

Republicans didn’t always spurn immigrants. When we were asylum-seekers from Poland, GOP politicians helped us stay here

I landed in the United States as a child. My father was waiting for us. In a nod to the local western culture, he was wearing this strange thing on his head, a cowboy hat, and not recognizing him at first, I began to cry. My father was in Wyoming – truly the wild west – on a Fulbright fellowship, and my mother and I joined him several months into his tenure.

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

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I brought debt into my marriage. It feels like I've given my husband an STD | Lilly O'Donnell

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 11:00:27 GMT2016-09-05T11:00:27Z

My past financial recklessness will chip away at his accomplishments for the next two decades. I feel such guilt for dumping this burden on him

Debt: $100,000

Source: Student loans

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Facing my fear: when I moved back to America, I felt like a foreigner | Anthony B Iton

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 10:00:37 GMT2016-09-02T10:00:37Z

I grew up in Canada but long dreamed of returning to the states. When I did for medical school, though, my country’s inequality took me by surprise

I was at a red light in east Baltimore when I noticed a cop in my rearview mirror. I thought nothing of it and pulled away when the light changed. Then I saw him start to follow me, flashing the lights on his patrol car.

What did I do, I thought? It was 1985, and I’d just moved from Montreal to start medical school at Johns Hopkins. Puzzled, I pulled my cherry-red BMW to the curb and waited.

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America accepted me – an Algerian Muslim – in a way France never did | Melyssa Haffaf

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:00:08 GMT2016-08-30T11:00:08Z

Though I mastered the French language and most of the cultural codes, people often reminded me that I was not exactly ‘French’. That doesn’t happen here

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

I was born in Algeria in the mid-1980s in a middle-class, secular family deeply attached to democratic values. I grew up speaking French, Arabic and sometimes Berber. My childhood was filled with summers by the beach, simple pleasures like eating fresh watermelon on the sand, Friday visits to the market with my father and the weekly traditional couscous with a glass of leben, a dairy beverage. But the innocence of my childhood was soon disrupted by a civil war.

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Yes, I am in debt. But I won't allow that to make me unhappy | Melanie Buer

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 11:00:04 GMT2016-08-29T11:00:04Z

With debt collectors calling me nonstop, I used to wake up fearful of the future. Then I decided that was no way to live

Debt: $49,000

Source: Credit cards, student loans (deferred until 2017), auto loan, medical expenses

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The transition from summer to fall feels like impending doom | Mary Valle

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 12:00:31 GMT2016-08-28T12:00:31Z

I keep looking at the calendar hoping to see August’s end – let’s just start sweater and pumpkin season already – but the month does not go quickly

Maybe I feel like August won’t let go of me, but maybe I don’t want to let go of August, the Christmas of summer, with its trips to the seashore and ice-cream and deep sighs of nostalgia. I know I will have to do it. August and I need to break up, but it’s hard.

I still need to put my suitcase from summer holidays away, which I don’t want to do because it puts a final stamp on the season, even though the truth about vacations is that the minute they end it almost feels like they never happened.

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Facing my fear: I thought I feared adulthood. It turned out I was manic | Sarah Galvin

Fri, 26 Aug 2016 11:00:17 GMT2016-08-26T11:00:17Z

I swung from one fright to another shortly after my college graduation. A friend said it was ‘adulthood crashing in’, but it was an episode

“I understand you’re frightened, but you need to just go do this,” my dad said after I fled the oral surgeon who was scheduled to pull out my wisdom teeth. I had read a Yelp review by a woman whose entire face went numb from his handiwork.

Related: Tell us about a time you faced your fear

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My American dream led to a trailer park. And I couldn't be happier | Simon McMuller

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 11:00:07 GMT2016-08-23T11:00:07Z

I own guns, drive an ice-cream truck and live with the love of my life: a redhead with steel-grey eyes. What more could I want?

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

My American adventure started in Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire, in the United Kingdom. I was heartbroken after a long, passionate relationship had come to an end. I went on online and there I found Sabrina, a redhead with chromed steel eyes who lived in Ohio. We spent the next six months courting each other in online chatrooms with dark and bloody poetry, philosophical and political conversation. We shared something neither of us ever had before.

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When unemployment hit, I reached for my credit card. I don't regret it | David Ferguson

Mon, 22 Aug 2016 11:00:01 GMT2016-08-22T11:00:01Z

I didn’t have one until I was 47. It helped me through turbulent times – but now it is time for us to part ways


Debt: $5,000 +

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I loved being the mom of young kids, but I'm not sad they're growing up | Mary Elizabeth Williams

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 11:00:02 GMT2016-08-20T11:00:02Z

New parenthood is special, but it’s also tough. When that uninterrupted bathroom break finally comes, you should celebrate

It was a bedraggled summer afternoon more than a decade ago. I was strolling down the street with my two young daughters. Lucy, the preschooler, was whirling around ahead of me, seemingly determined to fall on her face, while Beatrice, the baby, was squirming and giving me back strain in the baby carrier.

I had not experienced a solid five hours of sleep in months. I had mastitis, so I was wearing cabbage leaves in my bra. Because I lived in a beautiful, gentrifying neighborhood that was still populated with a sprinkling of wise old-timers, I daily had some stranger approach me and sagely advise, “Enjoy it now. It goes by so fast.”

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Facing my fear: being in public as a woman for the very first time | Chelsea E Manning

Fri, 19 Aug 2016 10:00:14 GMT2016-08-19T10:00:14Z

I’d long known I was a woman. But it was the height of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, so I hid my true self. Then, one day on leave, I decided enough was enough

The first time I passed as a woman in public was on leave in the US from my deployment to Iraq in February 2010.

I’d long known I was a woman, but I’d been afraid, and a bit embarrassed, to appear publicly as myself before this. Not only was I worried that I could lose my already-tenuous connections with my family, but I was terrified that I could face administrative, or even criminal, charges from the military. It was the height of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and we in the queer and trans community lived in fear on a regular basis.

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Racism drove me from Malaysia. Love brought me to America | Treena Becker

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 12:00:33 GMT2016-08-16T12:00:33Z

There wasn’t a future for me back in Kuala Lumpur. But when I met an American man, I found a country where my background was not an obstacle

I spent my childhood in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s as hot and humid as where I live now – southern Florida – but without the guns and alligators. My hometown was a sleepy, multi-ethnic city of two million people. Still, there was an underlying tension in society. I did not know then that being of the wrong ethnic minority group (Chinese) and the wrong religion (Catholic) I would not be able to easily attend college because of the ethnic quota system that favors ethnic Malays. The fact that I was not a Muslim also meant I faced state-sanctioned discrimination.

Related: Tell us how you got here: share your stories of immigration

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I work at a bank and I'm $86,000 in debt | Andreina Guevara

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 11:30:03 GMT2016-08-15T11:30:03Z

I am not the only one. I know that there are bank workers across the nation who have mortgages, student loans and families, and are struggling every day

Debt: $86,000

Source: Student loans, car loans, credit card

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I was shot at. What saved me was not a gun of my own, but running fast | David Ferguson

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 11:00:34 GMT2016-08-14T11:00:34Z

More people with guns won’t offer protection. Your first – and in my experience, right – instinct is to flee, not fight

It’s a commonly held belief among pro-gun advocates that more guns make us safer. On Friday, it came to light that one of the most famous proponents of this belief – John Lott, author of The War on Guns – had fudged his data. This is no surprise to me. I know that, when you are being shot at, your first thought is to run away – not shoot back. Any claims to the contrary were always bound to be wrong.

When I was 18 years old, a dear friend of mine – we’ll call her Katie – was in the process of breaking up with an ex-soldier who had been sectioned out of the army and was a bartender at a strip club. One night, while he was at work, she asked me to come help her move the last of her things out of his apartment.

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I'm scared of what the estrogen shortage might do to trans women like me | Hannah Simpson

Sat, 13 Aug 2016 11:00:05 GMT2016-08-13T11:00:05Z

I always was a woman, simply one with a hormone deficiency. My being deprived of estrogen injections is like a diabetic prevented from taking insulin

For two years, I took injectable estrogen once every two weeks.

I’d carefully expose the needle and draw out the thick liquid, filling the syringe, and tap out the bubbles. Then I’d enlist a friend to help inject it. It symbolized to me that gender transition is a combination of strength from within and community support.

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Facing my fear: assault was an abstract concept. Then the driver stopped the car | Michelle D Commander

Fri, 12 Aug 2016 10:00:05 GMT2016-08-12T10:00:05Z

I fled, fearing for my life, but he ran faster. Thankfully, a group of men nearby heard me scream

As I ventured by private taxi toward the University of Ghana, where I was living and teaching, I noticed the driver staring at me in his rear-view mirror.

Related: Tell us about a time you faced your fear

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Princesses, pink and 'girly' culture – What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 17 Sep 2016 12:00:48 GMT2016-09-17T12:00:48Z

Girls have not always been pink and boys have not always been blue. This week, Jessica Valenti is joined by Peggy Orenstein to discuss how to better raise kids

Walking down an aisle in any toy store, it would seem that the way children play should be broken down by gender: pink and glitter for girls, blue and superheroes for boys. But has it always been this way?

This week, host Jessica Valenti is joined by Peggy Orenstein, author of many books including Cinderella Ate My Daughter and most recently, Girls and Sex, to tackle the question: how can we break our girls from toys that promote domesticity and hyper-feminization without teaching them that princesses and pink are bad?

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Choosing to live child-free – What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 03 Sep 2016 12:00:31 GMT2016-09-03T12:00:31Z

On this episode, Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti talks with authors Meghan Daum and Danielle Henderson about how society views women without children

This week, host Jessica Valenti talks about the choice to live without having children – and the stigma women face in making that decision.

Valenti is joined by Meghan Daum, author of Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids and author Danielle Henderson, a TV writer for HBO’s Divorce and Hulu’s Difficult People and creator of the Tumblr account Feminist Ryan Gosling.

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Can feminism be bought and sold? Share your perspective

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:26:06 GMT2016-08-25T15:26:06Z

Jessica Valenti’s next What would a feminist do? podcast tackles the buying, selling and branding of feminism. Put your questions to author Andi Zeisler

Each week on the Guardian’s What would a feminist do? podcast, host Jessica Valenti tackles a different issue that women face today.

Coming up, we’re talking about the buying, selling and branding of feminism. We’ll be speaking with Andi Zeisler about her new book, We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement.

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Dealing with workplace sexism – What would a feminist do? – podcast

Sat, 20 Aug 2016 12:00:03 GMT2016-08-20T12:00:03Z

This week, Jessica Valenti is joined by Feminist Fight Club author Jessica Bennett to discuss how to navigate difficult employers and “bropropriator” colleagues

While women have been gaining rights in the past decades, workplace sexism still exists in many insidious forms. Sexism in the workplace is arguably even more difficult to navigate today because it is often subtle and difficult to pinpoint.

This week, host Jessica Valenti is joined by Jessica Bennett, feature writer and columnist at the New York Times and author of Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace.

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Saying the F-word – What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 06 Aug 2016 12:00:06 GMT2016-08-06T12:00:06Z

How do you feel about the word ‘feminist’? On this week’s episode, we dissect our reactions to the F-word

This week, host Jessica Valenti asks: do you call yourself a feminist? Whether you do or don’t, the word evokes thoughts or feelings based on preconceived notions of what feminism means.

Valenti is joined by guests Julia Serano, activist and author of Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive and Dr Brittney Cooper, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University and co-founder of Crunk Feminist Collective to talk about the word “feminism” and some of the complications around it.

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Talking about sexual violence with men – What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 23 Jul 2016 13:00:00 GMT2016-07-23T13:00:00Z

How we can better engage men to prevent gender-based violence? Jessica Valenti talks with Jamil Smith of MTV News and Dr Dorothy Edwards of Green Dot, etc.

This week, host Jessica Valenti asks: how we can better engage men and boys to prevent gender-based violence? Why is it that sexual violence is still, in 2016, talked about as a women’s issue?

When we frame sexual assault, harassment and violence as women’s issues, argues Valenti, we saddle women with the responsibility of fixing the problem. Furthermore, men are cut out of a problem that requires their involvement to be solved.

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Keep your last name or take your spouse’s – What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 25 Jun 2016 12:00:13 GMT2016-06-25T12:00:13Z

Only 7% of American women keep their last names when marrying. Columnist Jessica Valenti and guest Laurie Scheuble discuss why that is

This week, host Jessica Valenti asks why so few American women decide to keep their names when marrying and where the tradition comes from.

“Your wife was part of your possessions – your belongings – and she had absolutely no more say than your cow did,” Laurie Scheuble, sociologist at Pennsylvania State University, tells Valenti. “She belongs to him; she has his last name.”

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Sharing stories of objectification and sexism – What would a feminist do​? podcast

Sat, 11 Jun 2016 12:00:10 GMT2016-06-11T12:00:10Z

Sharing our stories can often make it easier for other women to speak up about sexism. But, how do we balance the responsibility with the potential consequences?

This week, host Jessica Valenti talks about why storytelling itself is a feminist act. Her new book, Sex Object: A Memoir, was just released. In this episode, she considers why she waited to tell these particular stories about personal experiences with objectification and dehumanization.

Sharing our stories, however traumatic and difficult, can often make it easier for other women to speak up. But, how do we balance the responsibility – if there is one – to talk about our stories with the potential consequences?

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Dealing with cyberbullying – What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 28 May 2016 12:30:04 GMT2016-05-28T12:30:04Z

This week, we take a look at online harassment and what women can do about it

What is it about the internet that makes people feel they have the freedom to say criminal, abusive things?

This week, host Jessica Valenti – The Guardian’s most frequently targeted writer – talks about online harassment and what people can do about it.

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Building an equal relationship at home — What would a feminist do? podcast

Sat, 14 May 2016 12:00:02 GMT2016-05-14T12:00:02Z

Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti speaks with Dr BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya about how to craft an equal, egalitarian relationship

In 2016, what does it mean to make our relationships equal? This week, host Jessica Valenti speaks with Dr BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, a writer and feminist psychologist, about how to build a fair and loving partnership.

How a couple divides up domestic responsibilities – whether it’s picking up the kids from school, grocery shopping or paying the bills – is “often about power”, Garrett-Akinsanya tells Valenti.

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The Guardian view on stunting: malnutrition is holding millions of children back

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:47:55 GMT2016-09-30T17:47:55Z

The World Bank’s president should be commended for his new drive. Children deserve a chance to grow, physically and mentallySouth Korean women are neither especially diminutive nor remarkably lofty. With a mean height of 162.3cm, they are 12.5cm taller than their Filipina peers, and 7.5cm shorter than Latvian women. But they stand out from the crowd for one reason: they are a full 20cm taller than their ancestors a century ago. That collective growth spurt tells us something important: that height differences often ascribed to genetics owe a huge amount to nutrition, hygiene and healthcare. South Korea’s rapid development meant women’s growth was no longer hindered as it had been. In contrast, under-nourished Filipinas are still associated with “shortness”. Even within a community, cultural factors – such as an eldest son preference in South Asia – can lead to marked differences in height outcomes.This is not a question of mere vanity. What really matters is not how tall one can grow, but whether one fails to grow as expected. More than 160 million of the world’s under-fives are stunted. In India 39% of children are stunted and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 70%. Though stunting is a physical measure, and is associated with the increased risk of some chronic diseases such as diabetes in future, it is also an important indicator that mental development may have been affected. Their brains are unable to make the neural connections that they should; their cognitive ability does not blossom. Malnourished children also have little energy, further diminishing their ability to learn and escape poverty. Research suggests they are less likely to be enrolled in school, and learn less when they are there. Continue reading...[...]


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The Guardian view on offensive language on TV: remember the viewer | Editorial

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:46:54 GMT2016-09-30T17:46:54Z

Public attitudes to the broadcasting of offensive language have evolved, but most people are carefully liberal not licentious

There are some words that are so offensive and unacceptable that they have never appeared, or so we devoutly hope, in a Guardian editorial. Rest assured that’s not about to change. Yet a newly published Ofcom survey on public attitudes to potentially offensive language and gestures on TV and radio reopens this ageless and evolving issue. Even today the question of where the line should be drawn, or if it should be drawn at all, never goes away. We live in a more liberal and heterogeneous media culture than in the days when, a new documentary reveals, the BBC blocked Sooty the glove puppet from having a girlfriend because “We can’t have sex with Sooty.”

The report, with research by Ipsos-Mori, lists 150 words and terms whose acceptability on the airwaves is sometimes open to question – and in most cases more than that. The most unproblematic of them is “gay”, which reflects arguably the single greatest revolution in social attitudes of the last 50 years. The other 149 words are stronger, and in many cases very much stronger. Yet even gay can sometimes be used in a derogatory way, which is why it is part of the survey. It is also a reminder that the specific context in which a word is used is very often crucial.

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The Guardian view on targeting medics in wartime: protect those who serve | Editorial

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:11:58 GMT2016-09-29T18:11:58Z

Attacks on hospitals and clinics are increasing. But international law is clear: deliberate or reckless assaults are a crimeJust as doctors have a duty of care and respect to their patients, so the rest of us have an obligation to doctors. It is a basic tenet of civilised societies that medics should be allowed to care for the sick and wounded in wartime as well as in peace. The concept of medical neutrality was enshrined in the first Geneva convention more than a century and a half ago, and over those years it has offered countless doctors, nurses and their patients a degree of protection in the cruellest times. Attacking medical facilities, transport and personnel intentionally is outlawed.No one should need to be reminded of that; yet it appears that we must be – repeatedly. In May, the security council adopted a resolution to strengthen protection for healthcare workers, the sick and wounded, and hospitals and clinics in war zones. The measure was prompted by increasing assaults on such facilities; according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 959 people were killed in 600 such attacks in 2014 and 2015 alone. It has proved fruitless. The strikes are now so frequent they are in danger of being normalised. On Wednesday the United Nations secretary general was forced, for the second time in four months, to spell out international law’s protection of medical services and its demand that the wounded and sick, whether civilians or fighters, be spared: “Deliberate attacks on hospitals are war crimes. Denying people access to essential healthcare violates international humanitarian law.” Continue reading...[...]


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The Guardian view of Vogue v the bloggers: business is winning | Editorial

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 18:09:12 GMT2016-09-29T18:09:12Z

Vogue accuses the fashion bloggers of selling out. The fashion bloggers ask how would Vogue know (and why would they care?)

There is a picture on Instagram that perfectly captures the current row about who decides what is fashion. The dispute is between Vogue magazine, fashion’s ultimate arbiter for the last 100 years, and the fashion bloggers regarded by their millions of social media followers as the real deal. The picture, posted by the blogger Caroline Vreeland, was taken during Milan’s fashion week. It shows the editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, timelessly chic, being followed down the street by a much younger woman in a shiny vinyl coat, black shorts and fishnets. She is pointing and laughing at Ms Wintour’s unresponsive back. Street style challenges high fashion; digital unsettles analogue; democracy threatens elite.

Related: Vogue editors accused of hypocrisy after declaring war on fashion bloggers

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The Guardian view on the US presidential debate: Trump fails the test | Editorial

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 11:59:55 GMT2016-09-27T11:59:55Z

If the televised debates matter, then Hillary Clinton clearly did best on Monday night. But American voters may be too angry to care

By traditional standards, the first televised US presidential debate on Monday night produced a clear result. Hillary Clinton’s experience, grasp and temperament proved superior qualities to Donald Trump’s forcefulness, rambling and egotism. Fears that Mrs Clinton’s recent bout of pneumonia would cause her to stumble proved unfounded. Instead, Mr Trump’s sniffing caused more comment on the night. But the question, in this most unpredictable of elections and in a new media world, is how far traditional standards matter any more.

Mrs Clinton repeatedly put Mr Trump under pressure on his finances, his taxes, his climate change denial, Iraq, Russia, Barack Obama’s birth, and race. Mr Trump countered with powerful lines about unfair trade deals and immigration and was both personal and boastful. Mrs Clinton stayed careful but grew more relaxed as the 90 minutes evolved. Mr Trump got angry and repeatedly rose to the bait. To adopt the dismal boxing terminology that tends to be wheeled out on such occasions, neither candidate landed the fabled knockout blow. There were plenty of low punches. But Mrs Clinton obviously won on points.

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The Guardian view on Arnold Palmer: golf’s biggest hitter | Editorial

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 18:27:33 GMT2016-09-26T18:27:33Z

Love it or loathe it, golf is a global game because of the man from PennsylvaniaFew people have transformed any sport – perhaps any human activity – the way Arnold Palmer, who died on Sunday, transformed golf. Before he came along in the 1950s, golf on both sides of the Atlantic was snobby, reactionary and made little effort to broaden its appeal. Though some vestiges of the old exclusiveness still cling on, Mr Palmer threw most of golf’s gates wide open, with lasting consequences. From a modest Pennsylvania background, he played aggressively and, young and good-looking, he pulled in the crowds and rode the wave of the television age. He treated all four “majors” seriously, travelling regularly to Britain and lifting our sometimes parochial Open championship on to the world stage. He spotted the financial potential of image rights; even this year he was still golf’s fifth-highest lifetime earner, though he last won a major in 1964. The working-class, racially diverse, male and female golf champions of the modern world are his legacy. Golf is loved and loathed as few sports. But it was Arnold Palmer, with his skill and his sportsmanship, who made it what is loved and loathed today. Continue reading...[...]


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The Guardian view on an ivory ban: tusk trade rules need teeth | Editorial

Sun, 25 Sep 2016 18:56:58 GMT2016-09-25T18:56:58Z

No markets in elephant ivory should be legalised. They would sustain demand and provide a cover for illegal trading and poaching

The illegal trade in endangered fauna and flora is the world’s fourth biggest, after the trades in drugs, counterfeit goods and people. The difference is that there is no shortage of the other three. Every 15 minutes, an elephant is killed by poachers. A third of Africa’s savannah elephants were slaughtered between 2007 and 2014. On current trends, by the time that today’s children reach adulthood, the African elephant will be extinct in the wild.

This is not inevitable. Governments are about to embark on a three-yearly meeting to discuss the future of international wildlife protection. Cites, the convention on international trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna, brings together nearly every country on Earth in pledges to protect threatened nature.

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The Guardian view on the US presidential debate: Hillary needs a slogan to sum up what she stands for | Editorial

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 18:58:45 GMT2016-09-22T18:58:45Z

Monday’s television debate will be watched by 100 million Americans. The Democratic candidate should seize a chance to show she is motivated by the common goodWhen Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off on television next week it will be the largest audience of their long careers, which both have lived in the glare of limelight. More than 100 million Americans are expected to tune in on the evening of 26 September – an astonishing viewership that would rank the event as among one of the most watched television broadcasts in US history. The rest have been Super Bowls. Monday’s debate, 56 years to the day after the first televised duel between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon, will almost certainly be a turning point in a turbulent election year in America – 12 months that have thrown into sharp relief the country’s deep polarisation and the breakdown of the Republican party. The course of debates can turn on personal defects, such as Richard Nixon’s five o’clock shadow in 1960. The screen can magnify character flaws and highlight a candidate’s competence. Ronald Reagan’s much-quoted putdown of Jimmy Carter – “there you go again” – underlined the fact he was offering not only change, but opened viewers’ eyes to his vision of America. Bill Clinton, then the insurgent outsider, pulled off the same trick in making then president George HW Bush look out of touch in 1992.In this election the TV debate offers a chance for each candidate a chance to reset the narrative of their campaign. Mr Trump, a businessman-demagogue trading in crude economic populism, has less reason to do so. Last week’s terrorist attacks play into his claims that America is under siege. Democrat Hilary C[...]


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Clean up sport: set the world anti-doping agency free | Editorial

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:09:56 GMT2016-09-21T18:09:56Z

Now Rio is over, there is a window of opportunity to build a credible anti-doping regime for world sportThe great Rio sportsfest is over. The Paralympians have arrived home, and they are recovering from their jet lag. The Olympians are already on to the next thing. Memories are fading of the state-sponsored doping scandal that overshadowed the opening of the Games in August and led to around 100 Russian athletes being excluded from the Olympics, and all Russian athletes being banned from the Paralympics. So there is a window of opportunity, a moment to lay the foundations for a genuinely clean 2020 Tokyo Games. There is an obstacle, however. Officially it is denied. But the body that should be most interested in promoting such an outcome, the International Olympic Committee, appears instead to be trying to undermine Wada, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the organisation best placed to police international sport.The IOC is considering setting up its own “integrity unit”, a new body that Wada officials fear would take over its powers to investigate allegations and sanction drug cheats, in retribution for Wada’s independence at Rio. The flaws in such an arrangement were plain for all to see in this summer’s row: Wada, acting on the findings of the McLaren report that it had commissioned into the extent of state support in Russia for cheating, demanded that all Russian athletes should be banned. The IOC, whose president, Thomas Bach, is close to Vladimir Putin, insisted that such a decision was for the IOC to make, and subsequently decided that the 28 international sports federations should be the arbiters of which athletes could compete. The one person banned by the IOC was the whistleblo[...]


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The Guardian view on Syria, the ceasefire and the aid convoy attack: a new low | Editorial

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:08:18 GMT2016-09-20T18:08:18Z

There can be no enthusiasm for a ceasefire that has not even protected humanitarians. But there are few other options

After so many atrocities, it is hard to be as shocked as one should be by the horrors of the war in Syria. Appalled, yes. But surprise is harder to muster. Week after week and month after month, the crimes mount up. Civilians have been attacked with chemical weapons and have learned to fear the roar of government forces’ helicopters bearing barrel bombs, and the deployment of “hell cannons” by rebels. Medical facilities have repeatedly been targeted. The limp body of Alan Kurdi and the dazed, dusty face of Omran Daqneesh have forced us all to recognise again and again that no one is protected from this war. Syria is not the first place where besieged families have faced starvation, but their suffering has been extraordinarily protracted. Five years of civil war has killed half a million citizens and displaced millions more.

Even so, Monday’s airstrike on a UN aid convoy delivering food to a rebel-held area close to Aleppo was another low. This was not only a humanitarian initiative but one that had been agreed by all parties. The convoy was clearly marked, had the necessary permits, and had notified everyone who needed to know of its passage. If the attack was deliberate – and it is hard to believe otherwise – it was a war crime.

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With Trump certain to lose, you can forget about a progressive Clinton | Thomas Frank

Sat, 13 Aug 2016 11:00:05 GMT2016-08-13T11:00:05Z

Come November, Clinton will have won her great victory – not as a champion of working people’s concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all

And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything.

And now the last, ugliest, most fraudulent manifestation is failing so spectacularly that it may discredit populism itself for years to come.

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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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Solitary confinement is 'no touch' torture, and it must be abolished | Chelsea E Manning

Mon, 02 May 2016 06:00:16 GMT2016-05-02T06:00:16Z

I spent about nine months in an isolated cell behind a one-way mirror. It was cruel, degrading and inhumane

Shortly after arriving at a makeshift military jail, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in May 2010, I was placed into the black hole of solitary confinement for the first time. Within two weeks, I was contemplating suicide.

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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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Phyllis Schlafly won some battles, but she lost the war | Jessica Valenti

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 17:05:06 GMT2016-09-06T17:05:06Z

While the conservative crusader helped defeat the ERA, the country has largely embraced the causes she feared most – from working women to LGBT rights

Phyllis Schlafly believed feminism was a losing battle. The conservative icon, who died on Monday aged 92, insisted that the movement for gender equality was “a fight with human nature”, and therefore doomed to fail. Women belonged in the home, she believed, men belonged in the workforce and women didn’t need any more rights than the ones they were already afforded.

But despite Schlafly’s predictions and beliefs, the world she left behind this week is one that largely embraces the issues she most feared. Feminism is more popular than ever, women are in the workforce en masse, LGBT rights are front and center and the country is mostly pro-choice.

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Almost everyone gets Russia wrong – apart from Obama | Trevor Timm

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:00:31 GMT2016-09-08T11:00:31Z

Those itching for conflict like to portray Putin as a grandmaster. In reality, his country is weak and his strategy is one of desperation

These days it is en vogue in Washington DC to be itching for conflict with Russia. Politicians and pundits alike are outdoing each other for how they can describe the supposed threat Putin now poses to the west. To his credit, Barack Obama seems to be the only politician not playing into the cold war 2.0 hysteria.

In little noticed comments last week, Hillary Clinton suggested that the US should start preparing “military” responses to cyber-attacks allegedly perpetrated by Russia on the DNC and voter registration files. And her campaign has also spent the last few weeks ratcheting up the fear-mongering that the Trump campaign is secretly a Russian plant of some sort.

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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[...]


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