Published: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 16:29:47 GMT2017-01-18T16:29:47ZCopyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017
Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:51:41 GMT2017-01-18T00:51:41Z
With a stroke of his pen, the president made up for his draconian record – and, quite literally, saved this heroic whistleblower’s life
There is no one who has suffered more under the US government’s crackdown on leakers and whistleblowers than Chelsea Manning. But now, after President Obama commuted her unjust 35-year jail sentence on Tuesday, she will, amazingly, soon be able to walk free.
Manning, who provided journalists a historic treasure trove of documents and the public an unparalleled window into world diplomacy, will no longer have to spend the rest of her life behind bars. She will be released from prison on 17 May instead of the unconscionable 2045. It’s a cause for celebration, but also a time for reflection – not just about what she has gone through but what her case represents.Continue reading...
Wed, 18 Jan 2017 12:08:32 GMT2017-01-18T12:08:32Z
The president-elect claims Nato isn’t geared up to fight terrorism. But that’s exactly what it’s been doing since article five was invoked after 9/11
When I arrived in Afghanistan in 2011 for the first time, I proudly displayed several patches on my shoulders. One was the flag of the United States, the country I love so much. Another was the 10th Mountain Division insignia, representing the unit with which I had been deployed. But there was also one more: the Isaf patch, signifying participation in Nato’s International Security Assistance Force.
So, when President-elect Donald Trump claimed in a recent interview that Nato is obsolete in part because it “didn’t deal with terrorism,” I was dismayed. Trump’s assertion is patently untrue, and it disrespects the efforts that fellow Nato members have made to combat this threat.Continue reading...
Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:26:03 GMT2017-01-17T16:26:03Z
Though he detested Netanyahu, Obama was the most pro-Israel president since Truman. Trump, on the other hand, will drive a stake through hopes of peace
America has not one but two special relationships: one with Britain and one with Israel. When the two clash, the alliance with Israel usually trumps the one with Britain, as Tony Blair discovered to his cost in 2003. For the sake of the special relationship Blair dragged Britain into a disastrous war in Iraq, but in the aftermath of the war his American allies reneged on their promise to push Israel into a settlement with the Palestinians. Blair was no match to the power of the Israel lobby in the US. With American complicity, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has now reached its 50th year and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.Continue reading...
Tue, 17 Jan 2017 12:30:03 GMT2017-01-17T12:30:03Z
Nearly a third of Americans thought he was one of us. So why not claim it?
For eight years, a black man with a Kenyan father whose middle name was Hussein and who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia ran the US as president and commander-in-chief. And, all this while, nearly one-third of the country thought he was a Muslim. Instead of being a cause for concern, this gives me a small sense of joy.
Barack Obama’s skin color, his Arabic middle name, his alleged Muslim-ness did not deter American voters from making him the second-most powerful, influential person in the nation. (First place is forever occupied by Oprah.) Instead, millions of Americans voluntarily voted for a man who was widely believed to be Muslim.
Tue, 17 Jan 2017 12:00:03 GMT2017-01-17T12:00:03Z
Trump’s speech – redundant, formulaic, aggressive, “post-literate” – is everywhere. The language of resistance, by contrast, doesn’t exist
By May 1945, Nazi Germany lay in ruins. Church domes succumbed to firestorms. The megalomaniacal designs of Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s court architect, caved in under the onslaught of aerial bombs and mortar shells. On this lunar landscape, one period edifice endured: Nazi language.
In his 1947 book Language of the Third Reich, Viktor Klemperer, a German-Jewish philologist, chronicled the way in which fascism had changed the German tongue. All around him tainted officials were being fired, streets renamed, libraries purged. But this language had become so entrenched as to appear indelible. Not the hate-filled speeches, Klemperer felt, that were Hitler’s surest propaganda weapon, but “the individual words, the expressions, the formulations” repeated ad nauseam for citizens to adopt and pass on, mindlessly.Continue reading...
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:21:01 GMT2017-01-16T16:21:01Z
It’s ironic that the alt-right’s insult of the moment applies above all to their hero, president-elect Donald Trump
If you’ve ever sat through a rightwing YouTube rant or spent five minutes on Twitter, you’ve likely heard the word “snowflake”. The term has supplanted the old standby of “social justice warrior” to describe a certain kind of liberal. This is thanks in large part to the far-right blog Breitbart, which lobbed it at anyone who criticized Trump’s incendiary rhetoric. But if you’re unfamiliar with the term, allow me to explain.
We “special snowflakes” are delicate beings obsessed with our own uniqueness. We identify with genders and sexual orientations we made up off the top of our heads in order to confuse people. We demand that everyone at whatever liberal arts college we’re doubtless attending respect these fabricated identities, and we punish our peers with mean words like “bigot” and “racist” when they refuse to comply.Continue reading...
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:21:19 GMT2017-01-16T10:21:19Z
Oxfam’s statistics are beyond belief. Inequality is the biggest threat to the global economy – and it’s getting worse
Today, eight people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Stop and think about this. It is a mind-boggling concept.
Last year we said we would have needed a double-decker bus to transport the 62 people we thought owned the same as the poorest 3.6 billion on the planet. In 2017, thanks to more accurate data, we find that in fact this group would fit in a single golf buggy.Continue reading...
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:00:23 GMT2017-01-16T12:00:23Z
Amid talk of Muslim registries, many of us are being dragged into the fray, whether we believe or not
On a recent return to New York after a short trip to India, I waltzed through immigration with my nice blue US passport. It says “Abdulali”, but nobody seemed to care. Will that be different next time I come back home?
The incoming administration has previously proposed a Muslim registry. I’m not from one of the so-called “high-risk countries”, but the name Abdulali suddenly feels like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter – am I now supposed to justify myself every time I come home? Will I feel the old familiar pre-citizenship nerves and do my best to grovel and look harmless when the officer appraises me before I escape thankfully to baggage claim? What about my Pakistani cousins who might want to visit?Continue reading...
Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:23:43 GMT2017-01-13T12:23:43Z
Donald Trump promised to assemble ‘some of the greatest computer minds’ to address cybersecurity. Instead, he picked the former mayor of New York
At Donald Trump’s now-notorious press conference on Tuesday, lost amidst his threats to news organizations and denunciations of his enemies, the president-elect claimed he would soon assemble “some of the greatest computer minds anywhere in the world” to tackle the US government’s cybersecurity problem. On Thursday, he went the opposite route instead and hired Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani, Trump election surrogate and the disgraced former mayor of New York, is apparently going to head up Trump’s efforts to coordinate “cybersecurity” issues between the federal government and the private sector, the transition team announced Tuesday. But what does Giuliani, last seen on the campaign trail claiming the president can break whatever law he likes in a time of war, know about cybersecurity? From the look and sound of it, not much.Continue reading...
Sat, 14 Jan 2017 07:00:19 GMT2017-01-14T07:00:19Z
From the US Congress to Theresa May, everyone needs to understand that when the next president takes office the usual rules will no longer apply
There is one week to go and all is confusion. Next Friday Donald Trump will take the oath of office and be sworn in as president of the United States. But still no one has the first clue how to handle what’s coming. Politicians, journalists and diplomats, in the US and around the world, are searching for guidance, desperately flicking through the pages of the rulebook, a manual full of past precedents and norms that they have spent their careers mastering – but that Trump burned and shredded months ago.Continue reading...
Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:23:14 GMT2017-01-13T12:23:14Z
Vaccines have been shown safe and effective. When he hints otherwise, the president-elect is gambling with young lives
This week, vaccine skeptic Robert F Kennedy Jr announced that he’d been nominated by President Elect Donald Trump to chair a commission on vaccine safety. A few hours later, the transition team issued a statement saying that that Trump was “exploring the possibility of forming a committee on autism”. Last summer, Trump met with Andrew Wakefield, who lost his medical license and was found to have produced fraudulent research linking vaccines to autism. Whether Trump is creating a commission on vaccine safety or autism, the message is clear. Trump is offering prominent support to the conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism.
The science on vaccines is very clear: they are safe and effective. Vaccines do not cause autism. It’s a waste of our tax dollars to rehash this issue yet again. Vaccines are one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine. Let’s consider measles, just one of many vaccine-preventable diseases. Before 1963, when the measles vaccine became widely available, 3-4 million Americans got measles each year, of whom 48,000 were hospitalized, 4000 developed encephalitis resulting in long-term brain damage, and 4-500 died. The country’s population has almost doubled since that time.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:39:36 GMT2017-01-12T10:39:36Z
The whistleblower’s degrading treatment is likely to worsen under Donald Trump. There are only a few days left to rescue her
Reports suggest that imprisoned transparency advocate Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “shortlist” for a possible commutation.
If true, this move would offer a glimmer of hope during a time when it is in short supply. If President Obama fails to act now, he is condemning Chelsea to a gruesome fate, and his legacy as an advocate for LGBTQ rights will be forever tarnished.Continue reading...
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:39:00 GMT2017-01-16T11:39:00ZMore people are struggling in an insecure world of work contracts. We need a new, revolutionary brand of parliamentarian if fear and Ukip are to be stopped
There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics. Numbers, data and evidence are essential to the evaluation of policies, but they are easily manipulated. Someone with skill at cherrypicking can use figures which are “true” in one narrow sense of the word to give an entirely incorrect impression of reality.
While the government boasts about the lowest unemployment in a decade or some other isolated figure, closer analysis reveals deep systemic problems. What counts as employment has fundamentally changed. Gone are the days of wages that would enable a single earner to support a family. Behind the headline unemployment figures there are deeply troubling trends in underemployment and the growth of the “precariat” – a class of people whose relationship to work is one of insecurity and stress, shuffling between part-time and temporary contracts and unable to plan for the future.Continue reading...
Fri, 13 Jan 2017 19:05:03 GMT2017-01-13T19:05:03Z
Both Biden and Obama have made it easier for women to enter politics by being role models who embrace their feelings
On Thursday, Joe Biden had a very human reaction after Obama surprised him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. At a farewell tribute, the vice-president grabbed a tissue from his back pocket and started to bawl. He took deep breaths, wiped away tears and stared into cameras and smartphones with glistening eyes.
The heartfelt response to being presented the highest civilian award is completely warranted – I’ve shed bigger tears watching dog videos. But Biden’s bawl is noteworthy because it’s rare to see male politicians display “feminine” behavior in public. While it’s important that guys see high-profile depictions of healthy masculinity, the president and vice-president’s emotional vulnerability over the past eight years has made politics a more welcoming place for women.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 18:29:46 GMT2017-01-12T18:29:46Z
The specter of foreign leverage over our incoming president should send a chill down every American’s spine. That’s why we need answers
Our democracy was attacked in 2016’s presidential election. Now it’s up to our country’s leaders to name who was responsible, find out how we were so vulnerable, and stand together – as Democrats and Republicans – to show we will do all we can to ensure we are secure going forward.
This attack came without a shot fired or a bomb dropped; instead, America’s longstanding tradition of having free and fair elections was hacked by a foreign actor, with all evidence indicating Russia’s responsibility. The attack was electronic, almost invisible.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 12:00:27 GMT2017-01-12T12:00:27Z
He must fully divest himself of his interests in Trump Organization and place his assets into a blind trust. Otherwise he will violate the emoluments clause
Besieged with questions about foreign influence and conflicts of interest, President-elect Donald J Trump has insisted that he is free to mingle his private business with the nation’s public policy. As Trump explained in his press conference on Wednesday: “I have a no-conflict situation because I’m president … it’s a nice thing to have.”
Except that this assertion is dead wrong, and none of the reform proposals that Trump announced on Wednesday fixes the problem.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 12:30:27 GMT2017-01-12T12:30:27Z
I was the navy’s chief lawyer when, in 2002, I learned that detainees were unlawfully interrogated. That cannot happen again
Among the flurry of confirmation hearings happening this week in the Senate, one in particular will signal whether President-to-be Donald Trump and his administration are, indeed, serious about restoring the failed and discredited Bush-era torture policy.
Trump’s pick for CIA chief, the US representative Mike Pompeo, will face the Senate intelligence committee and no doubt will be asked about his past support for cruelty. If he fails to renounce torture at his hearing, the Senate should deem Pompeo unfit for the office and vote down his nomination.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 15:12:06 GMT2017-01-12T15:12:06Z
The president-elect’s shutdown of a CNN journalist calls to mind the way tyrants around the world treat the media. It’s a profoundly alarming signal
Trump’s first press conference since July made plenty of news. He acknowledged Russia’s role in the Democratic National Committee hack for the first time, elaborately sidestepped traditional conflict-of-interest rules and announced a new cabinet nomination. Yet the most shocking moments came not with policy pronouncements, but in his handling of the assembled media itself.
His pointed, public attacks on journalists during the press conference were a tactic ripped from the playbook of authoritarian regimes around the world. Their goal is to discredit the media and undermine journalists’ ability to play their crucial role in holding government accountable.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:40:15 GMT2017-01-12T10:40:15Z
It’s safe to say that the Trump administration already looks clueless – and it hasn’t even started yet
Donald Trump is not what he seems. The supposed master of media manipulation stumbled so often at his first press conference, it is hard to recall why anyone thought the TV star was good at this stuff in the first place.Continue reading...
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:00:29 GMT2017-01-10T12:00:29Z
Many on the left like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn advocate greater protectionism. But there are better alternatives to our problems
Rightwing populists from Donald Trump to British Brexiters to French National Front presidential candidate Marine Le Pen are all playing the nationalist card. They are ﬂaying a liberal internationalist world order that has hemorrhaged the jobs of the domestic working class for the proﬁts of a ﬁnancial elite.
In response to the right’s success, many progressives yearn to advance a full-on populist message of their own. This populist left (both in the US and in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party) addresses the same domestic anxieties as the right, holding out hope for a return to a buoyant national economy, diﬀerentiating themselves by promising a fairer distribution of wealth and reduced carbon footprint.Continue reading...
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 18:31:28 GMT2017-01-09T18:31:28Z
The Senate plans to hold confirmation hearings before all nominees’ financial disclosure reports and ethics agreements are finalized. That’s a dangerous move
As the former White House ethics counsels for Presidents Bush and Obama, we were involved in the submission of many presidential nominations to the US Senate for confirmation. We and others worked hard to make sure those nominees’ financial disclosure reports and ethics agreements were finalized and certified by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) before their hearings, so that the Senate and thus the public could explore any conflicts of interest and how they were addressed.
This week’s hearings for the president-elect’s cabinet are flouting that practice, and for that reason, should be postponed.Continue reading...
Wed, 11 Jan 2017 14:44:20 GMT2017-01-11T14:44:20Z
In his farewell speech, the president addressed the danger of the new information age. With the Trump dossier, we have a perfect example of it
George Orwell, no doubt, would have approved of President Obama’s farewell speech. Underneath the hopeful rhetoric of “Yes We (Still) Can” and list of the accomplishments over the past eight years lay a bracing, overarching message: when lies can become truth, democracy is in peril.Continue reading...
Wed, 11 Jan 2017 10:14:08 GMT2017-01-11T10:14:08Z
At hearings today, the potential secretary of state will face tough questions about his past with Vladimir Putin – a relationship that could scupper his chances
Of all Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, none is more at risk of being denied confirmation than would-be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
When the CEO of ExxonMobil faces the senate committee on foreign relations Wednesday, he will not be in for a smooth ride. If the Republican party were united, Tillerson would be able to sail through. But many GOP senators are skeptical of Tillerson’s fitness for the post of the nation’s top diplomat, primarily because of his connection to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.Continue reading...
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:30:29 GMT2017-01-10T12:30:29Z
Also known as the ‘Holman rule’, this arcane procedural quirk was revived last week. We have to wonder if it was to punish troublesome federal workers
Before he even won, Donald Trump had already threatened civil liberties and the central tenets of democracy when he said he wanted to jail his political opponent and sue the New York Times. Now Congress has made it possible for him to undermine something even bigger: government writ large.
An arcane procedural rule allowing lawmakers to slash the pay of specific federal workers down to as low as $1 was quietly revived as part of appropriations negotiations last week. The so-called Holman Rule, named for the congressman who dreamed it up in 1876, is just the latest sign the Trump administration might target members of the civil service – the nation’s single largest employer – for politically motivated reasons.Continue reading...
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 12:00:28 GMT2017-01-10T12:00:28Z
The electoral debacle of 2016 made painfully clear the need for major reforms of how we choose candidates and tally votes. Here are four essential fixes
After a divisive election, with record levels of public distrust for a political system dominated by Super Pacs and lobbyists, ordinary Americans joined together to begin healing our wounded democracy – by verifying the vote in three key states.
For three weeks, a historic recount campaign pushed forward in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, defying political blockades, bureaucratic hurdles, legal maneuvering and financial intimidation.Continue reading...
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:30:17 GMT2017-01-09T12:30:17Z
According to new figures, the US dropped nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day. Dare we think how Donald Trump will continue this legacy?
Most Americans would probably be astounded to realize that the president who has been painted by Washington pundits as a reluctant warrior has actually been a hawk. The Iran nuclear deal, a herculean achievement, and the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba unfortunately stand alone as President Obama’s successful uses of diplomacy over hostility.
While candidate Obama came to office pledging to end George W Bush’s wars, he leaves office having been at war longer than any president in US history. He is also the only president to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.Continue reading...
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:00:16 GMT2017-01-09T12:00:16Z
A new study suggests that liberals have the same confirmation biases as right-wing people. That’s why we all need to do a better job at listening to others
It’s been a year of polarizing decisions. The US election, Brexit: a world of binary choices where everyone who disagrees is a hater, a loser, a deplorable, a fascist or a deplorable loser fascist hater. Worldwide, people – whether that’s “coastal metropolitan elite citizens” or “honest hardworking rural folk” – have retreated into their bubble, an echo chamber where they are only confronted with news which conforms with their existing worldview.
The internet, initially envisioned as a wonderful tool which would bring us all closer together, has unfortunately been instrumental in this. From Senator Daniel Moynihan saying everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts, we’ve come to a world where wildly divergent facts are available, as succinctly shown by the Wall Street Journal’s “Blue Feed, Red Feed,” graphic.
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 10:00:14 GMT2017-01-09T10:00:14Z
Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again. Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility
Eight years ago the world was on the brink of a grand celebration: the inauguration of a brilliant and charismatic black president of the United States of America. Today we are on the edge of an abyss: the installation of a mendacious and cathartic white president who will replace him.Continue reading...
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 09:01:56 GMT2017-01-09T09:01:56Z
The best response to serial irritant Milo Yiannopoulos is not be enraged but to leave his new book on the shelf
For everyone outraged by the rise and rise of Milo Yiannopoulos, it may be some consolation that the British journalist has yet, for all his efforts, to join the list of notables – Madonna, Boris, Adolf, Popeye – who are internationally recognised by their first names.
Most reports of Yiannopoulos’s new book deal with Simon & Schuster have been obliged to include some biographical background, on behalf of the completely baffled, if only to the effect that the Milo byline at Breitbart is the same Milo who, under the name Milo Andreas Wagner, self-published a slim volume of verse, Eskimo Papoose.Continue reading...
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 15:45:48 GMT2017-01-05T15:45:48Z
To protect liberal gains like Obamacare, the Democrats need a more aggressive game. But that is not enough – they need to change their thinking, too
While Republican lawmakers were colluding with the vice-president elect, Mike Pence, about how best to repeal – and probably not replace – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Wednesday, Barack Obama held a meeting of his own. Unlike many previous meetings of his, Republicans were not invited. He did not “reach across the aisle”.
Instead, the outgoing president laid out a strategy to oppose Republican efforts to repeal his signature healthcare legislation, a move that could kick up to 30 million Americans off health insurance. That strategy involves pushing the phrase “Make America Sick Again”, refusing to “rescue” Republicans by helping them pass bound-to-be-Randian replacement measures and referring to the resulting disaster as “Trumpcare”, as in: “I would have gotten my leg set by a doctor, but thanks to Trumpcare, I’m using Scotch tape.” The political fallout, he said, must solely hurt the Republicans. (Sounds like someone is finally jumping on the Bernie “time to admit you lied” Sanders train.)Continue reading...
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 20:32:39 GMT2017-01-09T20:32:39Z
The report is too late – and too unsubstantiated – to fully persuade the American people of the danger we now find ourselves in
On Friday, the director of national intelligence released a report accusing the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of directly interfering in the US presidential election with the aim of undermining Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump. While most of the main conclusions had already been anonymously leaked to journalists either before or after the election, the report represents an open declaration by the CIA, FBI and NSA that a foreign power played a role in securing the president-elect’s victory.
The DNI report has come in for some criticism, and not only from Trump’s defenders. Kevin Rothrock, an editor for the Moscow Times, has a good summary of its shortcomings, which include inaccurate statements about Russian politics and a bizarre overemphasis on the role of RT, the Kremlin-controlled media network. “America’s case against the Kremlin suffers from some major flaws that should be acknowledged,” he writes, “even by individuals who argue reasonably that the Russian government likely used hackers to attack and undermine democratic institutions in the US.”Continue reading...
Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:00:16 GMT2017-01-06T11:00:16Z
The rules imposed on her were constricting. So she expanded them and, in the process, won people over without betraying herself
When Michelle Obama entered the White House, she had to contend with two onerous legacies. The first was a stale clutter of expectations and prohibitions about the proper role of the first lady. The second was a cluster of stereotypes deeming black women unfit for any such role.
A first lady was expected to display gracious manners, wear tasteful clothes and support worthy, uncontroversial causes. Whatever was hers alone – education, expertise, passion – had to be adapted to the needs of her husband’s presidency. She was there to please and enhance. A black woman, by contrast, was the opposite of that. Or that is, at least, what we’d always been told.Continue reading...
Sat, 07 Jan 2017 12:00:18 GMT2017-01-07T12:00:18Z
The president justified the faith of generations who persisted in loving America – even when the nation refused to love us back
Black America’s conception of ourselves was forever changed by Barack Obama’s presidency. For African Americans, the first family helped to unlock the transformational potential that always existed in democracy’s beating heart, but which too often excluded black Americans. Today, that is no longer the case.
Barack and Michelle Obama changed how black folks thought of themselves and the wider nation they lived in. Obama’s attainment of the nation’s highest office illuminated the depth and breadth of black genius in American society, helping to inspire millions of young people to dream bigger dreams.Continue reading...
Fri, 06 Jan 2017 12:00:17 GMT2017-01-06T12:00:17ZA pilot project in a Swedish care home found a shorter working day improved wellbeing among both staff and residents, yet it’s been dismissed in the media
A six-hour working day results in happier and healthier employees. It also leads to a higher quality of welfare services and a more sustainable and equal labour market. Despite what some news reports may have indicated, these are the findings from Sweden’s trial of six-hour working days.
A shorter working day is often portrayed as a utopian dream that would be too costly to realise, much as previous work reforms were portrayed in the past. But what if working less is the key to a more sustainable working life?Continue reading...
Fri, 06 Jan 2017 12:00:18 GMT2017-01-06T12:00:18Z
Senator Dick Durbin handed him a copy to educate the controversial nominee for attorney general about the history of the Voting Rights Act. He clearly needs it
Jeff Sessions makes many people nervous for good reasons. Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general of the United States allegedly called an African American lawyer on his staff “boy” when he was a US attorney in the 1980s. He said the Ku Klux Klan was OK, except that its members smoked marijuana. And he prosecuted storied civil rights legends for registering poor blacks to vote. He is also opposed to voting rights – which is one of the key provisions that the attorney general is entrusted to safeguard and fight for.
No wonder some want to re-educate him.Continue reading...
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 12:00:05 GMT2017-01-05T12:00:05Z
Instead of bending over backwards to bolster the self-esteem of bigots, we must make clear that the country we want is unapologetically progressive
When my father was a young man in Queens, New York, he was friendly with an older man – a neighborhood fixture who sat in a chair in front of my family’s laundromat so he could chat with passersby. One day, this man’s adult children pressured him into putting his apartment under their names; they kicked him out soon after.Continue reading...
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 12:30:05 GMT2017-01-05T12:30:05Z
Ministers in France decided it was time to pass a ‘right to disconnect’ law to free workers from their ‘electronic leashes’. We need that in the US, too
In the sometimes-good old days, you could simply take your phone off the hook and actually shut out the world while you concentrated on your dinner, your book or your lover. Of course, you can unplug now as well, but if you work for a company where everyone else toils around the clock, it’s tough to do. You might even risk damaging your career if you try. But fret not. There is now hope from across the seas.
The French have found a way to free workers from the tyranny of octopus-like bosses and co-workers who send their tentacles through space and into your bedroom or your porch. As of New Year’s Day, they are protected by a new law establishing workers’ “right to disconnect”.Continue reading...
Thu, 05 Jan 2017 06:00:41 GMT2017-01-05T06:00:41ZIf Vladimir Putin intervened to help Donald Trump, that’s an outrage. But then so is the long US record of foreign interference
As I write, president-elect Donald Trump – soon to become the most powerful individual on Earth – is having a tantrum on his Twitter feed. Losing the popular vote can have devastating consequences for a bigoted plutocrat’s ego, and accusations that Vladimir Putin’s regime intervened to his advantage are getting him down. “The ‘intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday,” he claims (falsely, apparently), “perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!”
Did Putin intervene in the US election? It is entirely plausible, although evidence from the CIA (with its dubious record) and the FBI needs to be carefully scrutinised, whatever our feelings on Trump. And if the Democratic establishment pin the supposedly unthinkable calamity of Trump’s triumph on a foreign power, they will fail to learn the real lessons behind their defeat.Continue reading...
Wed, 04 Jan 2017 12:00:19 GMT2017-01-04T12:00:19Z
Many want to put Bill Clinton’s New Democrat principles – which I helped promote – in the scrapheap of history. Here’s why we shouldn’t do that
America’s political map is a sea of Republican red. To change that Democrats need to do better among the forgotten middle class – those hardworking Americans who play by the rules, pay their taxes, and yet feel they’re falling further behind. But how best to do that?
Conventional wisdom among many pundits and Democratic strategists is that to win over more of them, we need to offer a populist agenda – associated with senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – that rails against the wealthy. This thinking would also relegate the growth-oriented New Democrat-Third Way agenda associated with President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, which I played an active part in promoting, to the scrapheap of history.
Tue, 03 Jan 2017 12:00:03 GMT2017-01-03T12:00:03Z
Faced with an existential threat, here are the things they must do to reinvent themselves
What will liberalism do in the new, terrifying world the 2016 election has inaugurated? More than any other presidential election in a century, its outcome turned not on issues but on resentment and alienation. It was a vote in which anger overrode optimism, a corrosive sense of failure overrode hope and in which the very impracticality of a Donald Trump presidency proved one of his strongest drawing cards. He would not improve politics, his core supporters told interviewers. He would blow it up.
Liberals have urgent work to do to block the most reckless, punitive efforts of a Trump presidency. But liberalism must also come to terms with the fact that the base on which it has rested since the 1940s in this election fell almost completely apart. The effectiveness of the Republican party’s Southern Strategy of the late 1960s in peeling off southern white Americans was the beginning of the New Deal coalition’s breakup.
Wed, 04 Jan 2017 12:42:40 GMT2017-01-04T12:42:40ZSimon & Schuster has given the Breitbart writer a $250,000 deal – so I decided the Chicago Review of Books would not cover any of its authors in 2017
Last week, the literary world gasped when one of the largest publishers in the United States, Simon & Schuster, rewarded America’s most infamous internet troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, with a $250,000 book deal. But we probably should have seen it coming. After all, 2016 taught us that ridiculing women, people of colour, Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community can make someone immensely popular.Continue reading...
Sun, 01 Jan 2017 20:13:15 GMT2017-01-01T20:13:15Z
As a movement dedicated to social transformation, the left must reclaim the idea of progess from the reactionaries and demagogues
In 2017, how might progressives win?
Even posing the question feels odd – almost a category error – since “winning” scarcely exists as a referent in so much of progressive practice.Continue reading...
Sun, 25 Dec 2016 13:00:14 GMT2016-12-25T13:00:14Z
As we move through this part of the year, with its darkness and its parade of horrific news, it is an act of defiance to be joyous and hopeful
I’m going to be honest with you: this Christmas I just wanted to wallow.
My country appears to be on the verge of inaugurating a dangerous, emotionally unstable ignoramus to the highest office in the land. And last month, my friend who was hanging by a thread in an ICU in Texas passed away. His death has ripped open a whole host of wounds I still have about my mother’s death in 2014. Oh, also, I have a persistent sinus infection and a booming cough, and my back hurts.Continue reading...
Sun, 18 Dec 2016 13:00:01 GMT2016-12-18T13:00:01Z
Optimists like me read the news and know all the dire things happening in the world. But we also get up each day determined not to accept a bad fate
Here’s what nobody ever tells you about being an optimist: it’s not as much fun as it looks. Especially lately.
I do not come from a happy tribe. I come from depressed Irish people who have anxiety disorders and substance abuse issues. Yet somehow, when they were handing out brain chemistry, I dodged that particular familial bullet.Continue reading...
Mon, 05 Dec 2016 13:00:24 GMT2016-12-05T13:00:24Z
I’m drowning financially for reasons the better-off can’t comprehend. That’s why I gravitate towards those with similar experiences
Debt: $80,000+Continue reading...
Fri, 02 Dec 2016 16:48:27 GMT2016-12-02T16:48:27Z
The rightwing roundup isn’t protecting conservatism – it’s making an Orwellian environment at universities where all ideas should be welcome
The release of the professor watchlist, purporting to expose professors who discriminate against conservative students, is anything but that. I should know: I’m on it.
As one of a handful of religion professors in the US who study, write and teach about conservative Christianity and politics, I am all too aware of the real meaning of the list, and of its purpose. Promoted by Turning Point USA, the list is not simply designed to expose professors who discriminate; it is designed to silence and smear. And it helps feed information and screeds to similar sites like the College Fix and Campus Reform, which states that they are “a watchdog to the nation’s higher education system” to “expose bias and abuse on the nations college campuses”.Continue reading...
Fri, 02 Dec 2016 12:00:15 GMT2016-12-02T12:00:15Z
It’s always hard for parents when their children leave home. But usually they can fend for themselves when they do
Watching the child you once cradled in your arms walk out the door and into their own life always fills a parent with a sense of terror and loss. You raise them as best you can and hope that the adult you created will succeed.
When that child, however, will never truly be an adult in the typical sense of the word, it’s more complicated.Continue reading...
Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:59:47 GMT2016-12-01T16:59:47Z
Donald Trump’s daily assaults on working people are exhausting. His choice for Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, is just the latest example
I live in one of the poorest parts of Virginia, and I’m one of the few members of my family and community who do not support the president-elect. The fact that my own rust-tinged trailer is distinguished by a lack of signs in favor of Trump is a personal point of pride.
Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:30:48 GMT2016-11-29T12:30:48Z
Workers at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and across the country are standing up to support the Fight for $15. We demand a fair minimum wage for all Americans
Since the election, a lot has been written about the widespread anger people feel about the economy. Many think it is rigged in favor of the rich and worry that working Americans put in longer hours for less money. America does not feel fair any more for millions of ordinary people whom the political elites ignore. Working people are slipping behind.
I know all about that. I work a low-wage job at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. I endure long hours of difficult and physically demanding labor. I am about to graduate from college and I help support my parents after my father lost his job at a factory. But even though I work hard and live at home, I barely have enough money to pay my bills.Continue reading...
Mon, 28 Nov 2016 17:09:58 GMT2016-11-28T17:09:58Z
It felt like I was having a bubble bath with a nice glass of wine every time I swiped my little piece of plastic
Sat, 26 Nov 2016 13:00:32 GMT2016-11-26T13:00:32Z
Despite lots of accomplishments, I suffered existential angst. A potentially fatal diagnosis made me realize that we can make each moment meaningful
It was late. I was drunk, nearing my 35th birthday this past May, alone in a dank college dorm room, attending my five-year grad school reunion.
The journal entry I wrote that night was just one line: “I’m not the man I want to be.”Continue reading...
Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:00:03 GMT2016-11-23T12:00:03Z
Donald Trump’s first forays into foreign policy this week have made me not just eager to feign Canadianness again but to go there on a longer-term basis
I began traveling solo as a college student during the Bush years. Before I packed up my backpack and headed to a study abroad program in Madrid, my best friend gave me a gift: a Canadian flag patch.Continue reading...
Fri, 18 Nov 2016 12:00:16 GMT2016-11-18T12:00:16Z
I carried an EpiPen around for years, more as a crutch than a reassurance. Then one day, I forgot it while walking in a field of bee-friendly wildflowers
Twenty-six years ago I almost died. My husband and I had rented a house in a seasonal beach community. I was examining the menu outside the town’s restaurant when I felt a sharp pain in my left earlobe. My vision blurred and my knees buckled.Continue reading...
Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:38:15 GMT2016-11-15T17:38:15Z
Donald Trump came and said he cared. It’s not rocket science: that’s why he won
I come from rural Texas. I am one of the handful of people here who votes blue – and I put up with all kinds of ridicule and rejection because of that. Many of the people who voted for Trump are my friends and family. Yes, some of them are racist but not all of them are. The reason they support Trump is simple: their needs have been thrown aside for years.Continue reading...
Wed, 16 Nov 2016 12:00:18 GMT2016-11-16T12:00:18Z
Four in five of you put perceived injustices and immediate gain ahead of a greater good more in line with Christianity’s teachings
As we enter the era of Donald Trump, I have to confess that I only now understand how purely cruel my fellow Christians are. I find it hard to pray as a result.
White American evangelicals, who produced me, and among whom I must count myself, have thoroughly demonstrated how little we care about our representation of Christ to the world, how gleefully willing we are to put our own interests and grievances above the teachings of Jesus. And we have done that where we always do it: in the voting booth.Continue reading...
Mon, 14 Nov 2016 12:30:47 GMT2016-11-14T12:30:47Z
How did a program designed to help public servants confine me to what feels like indefinite servitude?
Source: Student loansContinue reading...
Sat, 12 Nov 2016 13:00:50 GMT2016-11-12T13:00:50Z
We all dream of being something grander than we seem, making the lure of home DNA kits irresistible. But for the most part, you’re in for disappointment
At first glance the DNA ancestry “craze” may seem like yet another navel-gazing fad cleverly monetized by the tech industry. But personal genetic testing is much more than a kind of Snapchat filter for your family album.
By combining the complex science of DNA testing and the data riches uncovered by the Human Genome Project into an accessible, relatively inexpensive self-testing kit, the genetic heritage industry has created an ingenious product: a consumer must-have that tickles one of the deepest, most ancient and potent of human wishes. This wish is not, as it happens, to have scientific proof of your genetic heritage. The beguiling promise that these ancestry kits offer is the possibility that you just might be someone else.Continue reading...
Fri, 11 Nov 2016 12:00:19 GMT2016-11-11T12:00:19Z
I didn’t realize when I opened my home and my heart that I’d also be opening myself to the type of silence I’d spent the rest of my life avoiding
Once upon a time, several lifetimes ago, I had the hangout apartment. If you were bored or lonely or stoned-and-just-happening-to-be-walking-by, you could appear at my door and be welcomed.
Once upon a time, fewer lifetimes go, I had the party apartment. If a group gathered, you could appear at my door and be welcomed.Continue reading...
Thu, 10 Nov 2016 19:49:00 GMT2016-11-10T19:49:00Z
I joined the protesters outside Trump Tower on Wednesday night because I don’t want to live in a country whose leader wants to roll back our rights
I woke up on 9 November in a state of shock and disbelief. As I tried to go about my day, I found myself suddenly crying when the reality of a Donald Trump presidency started to set in. Thoughts of gay marriage being overturned, Muslims getting humiliated for their beliefs, his denial of climate change, his sexist and misogynistic language permeating our society made me sick to my stomach.Continue reading...
Tue, 08 Nov 2016 14:00:16 GMT2016-11-08T14:00:16Z
After he flew into a vicious rage during a family holiday, I knew I needed to get away for good. My mother helped me flee India and start a new life abroad
One summer morning when I was 17, I begged my mother to get me out of India – where I was born – and out of my helpless situation. We were on a family holiday in Jaipur and my father had gone into another one of his viciously violent rages the day before. We had all had a sleepless night. It wasn’t the first time: we had gone through this so many times before. I don’t know why it was this time that made me snap. Something about the pink city of royals triggered a desperation in me that I didn’t know existed.Continue reading...
Mon, 07 Nov 2016 12:00:44 GMT2016-11-07T12:00:44Z
My husband-to-be insisted on finding out everything I owed. And then he took the debt upon himself
Sun, 06 Nov 2016 13:00:16 GMT2016-11-06T13:00:16Z
We are concerned that the US supreme court will hear a case about which bathrooms trans kids can use. Our daughters and sons’ safety is in the balance
Last week, the US supreme court announced it will hear the transgender bathroom rights case, GG v Gloucester County School Board. Gavin Grimm, a trans senior at Gloucester high school in Virginia, is fighting for his right to use the boys’ bathroom at school, and the school district is appealing to the highest court in the country to keep him out.Continue reading...
Fri, 04 Nov 2016 13:01:53 GMT2016-11-04T13:01:53Z
Trying to live out my upbringing as the perfect wife and mother left me sick, broke and alone. What if I tried all that I’d been afraid of instead?
Growing up in a mentally ill, violent, addiction-riddled home with Catholicism lurking, I was filled with fear. I never learned to look to myself for an opinion, but to monitor the emotions of others to get a sense of how I was doing. Needless to say, this was exhausting and overwhelming.
Tue, 01 Nov 2016 11:30:05 GMT2016-11-01T11:30:05Z
I was lost when I learned that the customs, references, and, most significantly, attitudes of the British class system did not translate across the pond
“And where are you from?” is one of the hardest questions I have to answer on a regular basis. Depending on my mood, I can handle it in many different ways. I usually say “I’m from England, but I’ve lived here for 18 years now”. Recently, I’ve added that I became an American citizen three years ago. I just want them to know I am an equal here.
Fri, 28 Oct 2016 15:15:55 GMT2016-10-28T15:15:55Z
Since adolescence, I associated exercise with the humiliation I felt as a teenager in PE. But I learned that everyone focuses on themselves, not those around them
Did I ever tell you that Frank Thomas was in my high school physical education class? Yes, that Frank Thomas, the major league first baseman known as “The Big Hurt”. Every time we’d play baseball in fourth period and Frank would come up to bat, everybody in the outfield would start walking backwards, because when Frank hit the ball, it was always going over the fence and into the parking lot of the housing projects next to the school.Continue reading...
Thu, 27 Oct 2016 13:48:39 GMT2016-10-27T13:48:39Z
Pigs are smart, loyal, funny creatures, and their suffering should affect us as much as humans or pets in need do
On a scorching hot day in June 2015, I gave water to thirsty pigs on board a transport truck headed for the slaughterhouse. As the (now famous) video of the incident shows, the driver jumped out of the cab, telling me to stop. I replied with a reference to the Bible: “Jesus said, ‘If [they] are thirsty, give them water.’”
The driver shouted back, “These are not humans, you dumb frickin’ broad!”Continue reading...
Wed, 26 Oct 2016 16:23:05 GMT2016-10-26T16:23:05Z
A ‘Blue Lives Matter’ sign appeared instead. Yes, police officers have the right to do their jobs in safety. But the comparison is false, and here’s why
Last winter First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, where I serve as senior minister, voted to hang a Black Lives Matter banner outside our building. Shortly after we hung the banner it mysteriously disappeared. We replaced it and the replacement disappeared as well. This kept happening. For months the thief was silent; there was no inkling of motive. Every Monday we would post a banner or sign, and every Sunday night, it would be removed. Then, last week, we found something new: next to the Black Lives Matter sign appeared a sign that read: “Blue Lives Matter.”
In the history of oppressed groups demanding equality, an equivalent of the 'Blue Lives Matter' sign goes up every timeContinue reading...
Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:00:21 GMT2016-10-25T11:00:21Z
The pain of being split up without knowing whether we would be together again was immense. I don’t think we’ve ever healed from that
I came to America as a 16-year-old boat person from Vietnam in 1980. When we escaped, we were picked up by an oil exploration boat and then brought to a Singapore refugee camp. We stayed there for two months and took a plane to America. Before that, I grew up in Saigon. The aftermath of the war left us stranded.Continue reading...
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:00:21 GMT2016-10-24T11:00:21Z
We never take for granted that our work will see the light of day. Or that we will be paid
Sat, 22 Oct 2016 11:00:15 GMT2016-10-22T11:00:15Z
Last week, I traveled to say goodbye to a close friend I’d never met in person. These relationships might not sound serious, but they are deep and real
“So, what are you headed to Texas for?” asked the woman in the airport lounge last week.
“Well, I’ve got this friend,” I said, and took a deep breath. “We’ve never met, but we were online coworkers for a few years. We talked every day. And now he’s really sick.”Continue reading...
Tue, 03 Jan 2017 15:06:26 GMT2017-01-03T15:06:26Z
In the shadow of the inauguration, host Jessica Valenti talks with Syreeta McFadden, Jaclyn Friedman and Aimee Thorne-Thomsen about what comes next for feminism
Remember a time before 8 November? A woman was a major political party nominee, pussy was grabbing back, and love was going to Trump hate. Feminism was on the offensive. But now, Donald Trump is our president-elect and things have changed.Continue reading...
Thu, 15 Dec 2016 15:23:51 GMT2016-12-15T15:23:51Z
Jessica Valenti’s next What would a feminist do? podcast tackles what comes next for feminism in the face of a Trump presidency. Send us your thoughts
Each week on the Guardian’s podcast What Would a Feminist Do?, host Jessica Valenti tackles a different issue that women face today. Next week, we’re doing a post-election debrief.
As always we want to hear from you: do you have anxieties or concerns about a President Trump? What specifically do you think will change?Continue reading...
Sat, 29 Oct 2016 12:00:19 GMT2016-10-29T12:00:19Z
This week on the podcast, host Jessica Valenti speaks with Hillary Clinton’s Latino outreach director about the realities of being undocumented and female
On this latest episode of What would a feminist do? we talk with Lorella Praeli, Hillary Clinton’s Latino outreach director and Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum about how immigrant women are treated.
The conversation explores the hazards of being undocumented and accessing safe reproductive care, the reality of domestic abuse and the danger of sexual assault. We delve into the myths surrounding immigration and identify racist rhetoric like “anchor babies” and how anti-migrant policy treats women’s bodies as a threat to the nation.Continue reading...
Sat, 15 Oct 2016 13:27:04 GMT2016-10-15T13:27:04Z
This week, Jessica Valenti sits down with Dana Berkowitz, author of Botox Nation, to talk about the aging process and the choices facing modern women
As a society, we are obsessed with youth. Thanks to advances in medical science, there are new procedures popping up every day marketed to women to improve their appearance. While we haven’t yet found the fountain of youth, we have discovered Botox, a de-wrinkling neurotoxin injected millions of times each year, mostly among women.
But why is this particular procedure so appealing?Continue reading...
Mon, 03 Oct 2016 12:24:57 GMT2016-10-03T12:24:57Z
Feminism is everywhere – even Nike and Sarah Palin have jumped on the bandwagon. With author Andi Zeisler, we explore ‘marketplace feminism’
A few weeks ago, we touched on feminism becoming “mainstream.” In this episode, we take a much deeper dive into the issues of buying, selling, branding and consumerism around feminism.
Host Jessica Valenti is joined by Andi Zeisler, co-founder of Bitch Media and author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement.
We explore the progression of so-called “marketplace feminism.” From feminine cigarettes to deodorants preparing women to ask for job raises, what does it mean when a political movement seems more like another consumer choice?
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?Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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?Continue reading...
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 18:38:24 GMT2017-01-16T18:38:24ZSuccess in a caring profession can’t be measured by productivityPhilip Hammond threatened in his interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag to turn Britain into a low-tax offshore sweatshop, although he expressed a personal preference for a European model of social organisation. Just how distant his preference is from his threats is clear from some recent developments in Europe: the French have passed a law limiting the use of email out of hours; the Dutch and Finns are thinking about a universal basic income, and in Sweden the city of Gothenburg is evaluating an experiment that allowed care workers in an old people’s home to work six-hour shifts instead of eight-hour ones for the same full-time pay and benefits.The idea has been tried on a small scale elsewhere in Sweden many times over the last 10 years, but almost always at “creative” or desk-based jobs. Dedicated physical work, as is involved in a care home, seems an entirely different category. Successive scandals at Amazon, Sports Direct, and similar places have accustomed us to the idea that a modern economy is distinguished by the most sophisticated possible exploitation of the workers who actually move things (or even humans) around by those who manipulate algorithms and exhort the rest of us to productivity. Continue reading...[...]
Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:10:48 GMT2017-01-15T19:10:48ZA former abductee’s trial for war crimes highlights the problem of children enlisted or seized by armed forces or groups. But change is possibleDominic Ongwen’s trial, which begins in earnest on Monday, is one of the grimmest and most morally complex that the international criminal court has tackled. The body exists to try the worst offences: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is not the horrifying list of charges, including rape and murder, that makes Mr Ongwen’s case unusual, but that he is believed to be the first former child abductee to be tried. Seized as a 10-year-old, and forced into violence, the former commander of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army has denied all offences and insists that he is the victim.His lawyers have indicated that duress may form part of his defence; others say he must not avoid justice for acts committed as an adult, but acknowledge that his experience may be relevant in mitigation of a sentence. The judges must not only ascertain the evidence against the 40-year-old, but also consider what he first endured and the mind control techniques and sheer brutality that the LRA has used on the 30,000 to 60,000 children it has abducted over its history. The more pressing issue highlighted by the trial is what to do about the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of children still associated with armed forces and armed groups worldwide, used as combatants and in other roles, including as porters and spies. Continue reading...[...]
Sun, 15 Jan 2017 19:10:34 GMT2017-01-15T19:10:34ZMarket-driven Christianity has boomed in the US but now it is beginning to bust
Is Christianity ceasing to matter in the US? The question might seem absurd in the light of statistics that show a country which still publicly respects religion to an extent difficult for a European to imagine. Fewer than a third of all Americans admit that they seldom or never go to church. There is only one member of Congress who claims to have no religion, and every single congressional Republican identifies as a Christian except for two Orthodox Jews. But there are good reasons to suppose that these figures are misleading, and the role of Christianity as part of the social and political convulsions of the country today is changing and diminishing in important ways.
Traditional American Christianity was shaped by British experience in the 17th and 18th centuries: it was Protestant, patriotic, and providential, but not much concerned with doctrine. The rejection of any religious establishment opened the way for competition between individual churches and then produced the extraordinary organisational and theological creativity that distinguished the US from all previous Christian societies. America seemed to some observers to provide the unquestioned future of religion in a globalised world. There was, and is, a church for every possible niche, from Unitarian Universalists to the Westboro Baptists.Continue reading...
Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:04:01 GMT2017-01-15T00:04:01ZNew appointments at the V&A and the Tate can be of benefit to the field as a whole
Tristram Hunt’s decision to resign from parliament to become director of the Victoria and Albert Museum is bad news for Labour, but good news for Britain’s arts sector. Following the recent resignation of his parliamentary colleague Jamie Reed, it is a worrying symptom of the health of the opposition and could send discouraging signals to some voters about how talented Labour MPs see the party’s future.
Hunt’s appointment presents an exciting opportunity for the arts world. Together with the appointment of Maria Balshaw, who is set to become the Tate’s first female director, it marks a new generation of leadership at Britain’s leading cultural institutions.Continue reading...
Sun, 15 Jan 2017 00:04:00 GMT2017-01-15T00:04:00ZAmerica and the world enter the unknown
The inauguration of a US president is normally a moment of great hope. It is a celebration of representative democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. It is an affirmation that the ideals and laws set out in the 1787 US constitution, still a global paradigm for modern-day governance, continue to be honoured and observed. Inauguration confers legitimacy on a head of state in the name of “we, the people”. The incumbent has a duty to respect and uphold the constitution’s central aims, namely “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty”.
The inauguration this Friday of Donald Trump as 45th US president is not a normal moment. Nor for the majority of Americans who did not vote for him, and countless onlookers around the globe, is it a moment of hope. Rather, Trump’s ascent to what is commonly termed the world’s most powerful job is a moment of dread, anxiety and great foreboding. We said, after he won the Republican nomination last summer, that Trump has shown himself unfit to be president. His often-demonstrated ignorance, racial bigotry, misogyny, untruthfulness, hostility to free speech, crude bullying and dangerous, rabble-rousing nationalism utterly disqualify him.Continue reading...
Fri, 13 Jan 2017 18:37:50 GMT2017-01-13T18:37:50Z‘This changes everything’ was a marketing slogan that turned out to be true. So how should we live in the changed world?
For anyone who is really concerned about keeping their thoughts private there is only one piece of reliable technology: write with a pen on paper, and burn what you’ve written when you’re done. For the rest of us, who want to get things done, there is an inevitable trade-off which we still don’t entirely understand. We now carry with us everywhere devices that give us access to all the world’s information, but they can also offer almost all the world vast quantities of information about us. The sense of personal integrity and boundaries that seems self-evident is actually the product of particular social arrangements which are profoundly affected by technology even though it doesn’t determine them. Technological change could move us towards our better selves or our worse ones, but things can’t stay as they are.
To go online is to descend into a world as transparent as an aquarium – and this aquarium is full of sharks. The newly discovered vulnerability in WhatsApp’s procedures is only the latest in an apparently unending succession of moments of unintended transparency.Continue reading...
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 19:17:22 GMT2017-01-12T19:17:22ZThe president-elect’s first press conference in months showed that victory has not tempered him. The media, his own party and ordinary Americans must hold him to accountIf a one-hour press conference is anything to go by, Donald Trump’s manner, style and message after he enters the Oval Office next week will resemble the persona he has enjoyed putting out on Twitter: making shocking or unexpected policy statements, creating confusion, lashing out recklessly and deflecting attention from anything deemed threatening. If anyone thought that president-elect Trump would be a milder, more presentable, or in any way a different version of what his campaign offered up, those hopes will have been disappointed by his performance in New York. If anything, there was more truculence and bluster, aggression and thin-skinned narcissism than ever, in his first press conference for more than six months.With it came the reminder of why Mr Trump had avoided such scrutiny for so long, preferring social media messaging. Having to face questioning by media organisations is tiresome; something to cut as short as possible. Mr Trump’s bullying of journalists on Wednesday came alongside renewed attacks berating US intelligence agencies, which he believes are plotting to undermine him. A preposterous comparison with “Nazi Germany” showed there would be no moderation. But his efforts to fend off controversial allegations of compromising material supposedly compiled by Russian agents showed he was as much on the defensive as the offensive. Whether the whole episode will do anything to damage his popularity ratings remains to be seen. He is after all the great transgressor that many voters wanted, a man whose vulgarity and prov[...]
Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:12:02 GMT2017-01-11T20:12:02ZA radical rightwing government, apparently energised by the incoming US administration, is leading Israel away from the path to peace. When foreign ministers meet this weekend they should all speak out against such movesIn the past few weeks Israel has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. There have been punch-ups with the outgoing Obama administration, which, consistent with decades-old policy on settlements, chose to abstain from a landmark UN vote rather than exercise its veto to block it. There were reportedly threats of war to nations that voted for the resolution. A case of an Israeli soldier who was sentenced for shooting a severely wounded Palestinian attacker saw what Israeli newspapers describe as “hooligans” descend to intimidate judges and the army. While the mob spat and shouted, Israeli politicians sought to inflame rather than cool tempers. Finally in Britain this week the Israeli ambassador had to apologise to foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan after an embassy official was caught on camera in an undercover sting plotting to “take down” MPs – including Sir Alan – regarded as outspoken supporters of a Palestinian state.There is no more serious a charge for a foreign embassy than its staff meddling in British government affairs. A British minister writing anonymously, to protect himself from abuse and character assassination, in the Mail on Sunday claimed that Britain’s politicians had submitted to lobbying, “taken donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers”. Only the week before Theresa May scolded US secretary of state John Kerry for calling out the current government in I[...]
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 19:59:55 GMT2017-01-10T19:59:55ZThe current political debate about press regulation offers no guide of how to deal with power increasingly concentrated in the hands of internet giants and Rupert MurdochIt was this newspaper’s revelations of phone hacking by parts of the tabloid press that led in 2011 to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into the “culture, practices and ethics” of an industry. The judge heard striking testimony from victims of media mistreatment, many of whom had awful tales of prolonged harassment and gross invasions of privacy. The airing of illegal practices carried out by the press over years led to very public criminal trials. Individuals went to jail. This seems the right way to do things: journalists expose wrongdoing; the agitation it produces is submitted to; and existing criminal and civil law processes kicked in to administer justice. There was a twist. Leveson clearly thought that parts of the press were out of control, and unresisted pressure built up for collective punishment.What we have ended up with is a form of press regulation – enabled by a medieval piece of constitutional nonsense, the royal charter – consisting of small carrots and big sticks. Newspapers can sign up to a state-approved regulator. The only one endorsed so far is Impress, which is hardly independent given it is funded by Max Mosley, a wealthy victim of press intrusion into his sex life. Impress has distinctly unimpressed, failing to attract any significant national or local news outlets. The sanction has been smuggled into section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act. Those that refuse to join a system of regulation would be subjected to a form of unnatural justice: non-cooperative newspaper[...]
Mon, 09 Jan 2017 20:46:59 GMT2017-01-09T20:46:59ZThe NHS is doing more than ever. It is great value for money. But without new cash, the nation’s healthcare will be in jeopardyConsistency and calm can be great strengths in a political leader in troubled times. But there is always a risk that they will look simply like a denial of reality. The speech that Theresa May gave to the Charity Commission on Monday morning fell into the latter category. Her failure to talk at all about the winter crisis in the NHS will fuel the damaging sense that the prime minister is insensitive to the mounting roar of anguish from what – as Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said later in the Commons – is Britain’s most precious public service. The omission undermined what she was trying to say about her vision of society. And it amounts to a denial, against all the evidence, of the extent of the crisis – and that could jeopardise her capacity to win the nation’s trust as she sets out on her greatest challenge, negotiating Brexit.Within hours of Mrs May’s speech, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine went public with its view that in the face of unprecedented demand, performance is the worst in more than a decade. The college believes that, in order to protect basic patient safety, at least three-quarters of all A&E patients must be seen within four hours. On its assessment, a “substantial number” are failing to do so. It described a system in a state of acute distress that began some months ago. This view is echoed in every published official assessment, from the weekly analysis of winter pressures compiled for MPs, showing that there were more temporary diverts for ambulances in pla[...]
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:48:47 GMT2017-01-12T17:48:47Z
Amita Swadhin’s moving testimony shows victims of abuse, as well as ethnic and sexual minorities, have much to fear from the likely attorney general
We’ve heard the entreaties not to confirm Jeff Sessions as America’s Attorney General from civil rights advocates and immigrant rights advocates. But as women prepare to march on Washington in the first major protest against the incoming Trump administration, we heard the plea from someone different: a survivor of sexual assault.
In a compelling and deeply personal testimony, Amita Swadhin – herself a victim of child rape – explained why Session’s record on women, minorities and LGBTQ rights makes him an “incredibly worrisome” pick to head the Department of Justice. She also described her own hardship at the hands of a sexually abusive parent.Continue reading...
Fri, 30 Dec 2016 12:00:03 GMT2016-12-30T12:00:03Z
It’s foolhardy to chain your self-worth to the political cycle when we have but this one precious life to enjoy
This is my last column of the year, and I want to reflect on one of the more depressing sentiments I’ve heard friends express since election day: that they can’t wait for the next four years to be over.
But quadrennial presidential cycles are a terrible frame to mark the timing of our lives. Hoping for time to pass swiftly makes our lives seem small and unworthy. We can’t let four-year chunks of time determine our emotions and gloss over the gift of our very own lives, as if presidential politics are more important. So please remember: you are important, every day, much more so than any of the grifters headed to the White House.Continue reading...
Tue, 29 Nov 2016 12:00:48 GMT2016-11-29T12:00:48Z
Labor and economic equality used to be at the heart of liberal politics. Rich professionals expunged these concerns – and have reaped the consequences
What makes 2016 a disaster for Democrats is not merely the party’s epic wipeout in Washington and the state capitals, but that the contest was fought out on a terrain that should have been favorable to them. This was an election about social class –about class-based grievances – and yet the Party of the People blew it. How that happened is the question of the year, just as it has been the question of other disastrous election years before. And just like before, I suspect the Democrats will find all manner of convenient reasons to take no corrective action.
But first let us focus on the good news. Donald Trump has smashed the consensus factions of both parties. Along the way, he has destroyed the core doctrine of Clintonism: that all elections are decided by money and that therefore Democrats must match Republican fundraising dollar for dollar. This is the doctrine on which progressive hopes have been sacrificed for decades, and now it is dead. Clinton outspent Trump two-to-one and it still wasn’t enough.Continue reading...
Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:10:20 GMT2016-10-10T14:10:20Z
The much-hyped slavery drama, steeped in controversy, has underperformed at the box office – but where did it go wrong?
In July of this year, a 25-year-old black army veteran, Micah Johnson, drove to a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, got out of his car with an AK-47 and started shooting at white police officers as retribution for the police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. It’s the kind of retaliatory violence that white Americans have feared for centuries. The kind that the writer and author Ta-Nehisi Coates said we should have seen coming. The kind that is depicted in The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker’s much anticipated and equally maligned slave rebellion film that opened over the weekend. And the kind that, frankly, I’m somewhat astonished we don’t see more often.Continue reading...
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.
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
Fri, 13 Jan 2017 12:00:17 GMT2017-01-13T12:00:17Z
Many are trying to convince themselves that Trump is a good person deep down. But there is too much at stake to gloss over the hatred
I’ve been thinking a lot about Kellyanne Conway’s recent advice on how to make sense of Donald Trump. Conway, one of Trump’s closest advisers and a one-woman spin-machine, told Chris Cuomo this week that the mistake journalists make is that “you always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart”.
I agree with Conway on one count – we can’t go by anything that comes out of Trump’s mouth. That’s because nearly everything he utters is a self-serving lie.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...