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Opinion | The Guardian



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



Published: Tue, 17 Oct 2017 17:21:35 GMT2017-10-17T17:21:35Z

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



#MeToo named the victims. Now, let's list the perpetrators | Jessica Valenti

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 06:00:06 GMT2017-10-17T06:00:06Z

If there’s anyone who deserves to be counted right now, it’s the monsters. So why not do that next? writes the Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti

All weekend, I heard the same two words repeated over and over from friends around the country: me too. I watched as my loved ones, family and colleagues raised their hands online to be counted as victims of sexual assault and harassment – a move, the viral message said, to show the world just how many of us there are.

For women, of course, that meant nearly everyone.

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Half-baked, spurious nationalism is unpatriotic | John McCain

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 14:02:20 GMT2017-10-17T14:02:20Z

At the 2017 Liberty Medal ceremony, Senator John McCain made powerful remarks about America’s place in the world. They are republished in full here

Thank you, Joe, my old, dear friend, for those mostly undeserved kind words. Vice-President Biden and I have known each other for a lot of years now, more than 40, if you’re counting. We knew each other back when we were young and handsome and smarter than everyone else but were too modest to say so.

Joe was already a senator, and I was the navy’s liaison to the Senate. My duties included escorting Senate delegations on overseas trips, and in that capacity, I supervised the disposition of the delegation’s luggage, which could require – now and again – when no one of lower rank was available for the job – that I carry someone worthy’s bag. Once or twice that worthy turned out to be the young senator from Delaware. I’ve resented it ever since.

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The Republican budget is a gift to billionaires: it's Robin Hood in reverse | Bernie Sanders

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:00:02 GMT2017-10-16T10:00:02Z

Donald Trump and Republican leaders claim their plan would provide a ‘big league’ tax cut for the middle class. Nothing could be further from the truth

After failing to pass a “healthcare” bill that would have thrown up to 32 million Americans off of health insurance, a bill that was more unpopular than the Wall Street bailout, Donald Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress are back.

Now, they are pushing one of the most destructive and unfair budget and tax proposals in the modern history of our country – a plan that would do incalculable harm to tens of millions of working families, our kids, the sick, the elderly and the poor.

The Republican budget, which will likely be debated on the floor of the Senate this week, is the Robin Hood principle in reverse. It takes from those in need and gives to those who are already living in incredible opulence.

Donald Trump and Republican leaders claim their plan would provide a “big league” tax cut for the middle class. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, by the end of the decade, nearly 80% of the tax benefits of the Republican plan would go to the top 1% and 40% would go to the top one-tenth of 1%.

Meanwhile, while the Republicans want to give a $1.9tn tax break to the top 1%, they are proposing massive cuts in programs that working-class Americans desperately need.

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Social media bots threaten democracy. But we are not helpless | Samuel Woolley and Marina Gorbis

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:57:39 GMT2017-10-16T14:57:39Z

Ever-more sophisticated Facebook and Twitter bots can sway political opinions. We have the technology to counter this – we need the will to use it

Can social bots – pieces of software that perform automated tasks – influence humans on social media platforms? That’s a question congressional investigators are asking social media companies ever since fears emerged that they were deployed in 2016 to influence the presidential election.

Half a decade ago we were among a handful of researchers who could see the power of relatively simple pieces of software to influence people. Back in 2012, the Institute for the Future, for which we work, ran an experimental contest to see how they might be used to influence people on Twitter.

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End all immigration controls – they’re a sign we value money more than people | Gary Younge

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMT2017-10-16T07:00:00Z

Humans have always travelled, but barriers are lifted for capital while, for the global poor, borders are made ever tougher to cross

When I was a teenager I went to West Berlin with my local youth orchestra to take part in an Anglo-German cultural exchange. It was 1983 and the wall was up. As we toured the city over 10 days, we would keep butting into this grotesque cold war installation blocking our way, and butting up against my 14-year-old’s defence of socialism.

At that age I reflexively rejected most dominant narratives about race, class and nation. During a period of sus laws and anti-union legislation, I already understood there had to be another version of freedom out there that included me, and I was busy piecing together the fragments of my own worldview. And yet no amount of rationalisation could shake my conclusion that people whom I disagreed with about pretty much everything else were right about the wall.

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It’s not just one monster. ‘Me too’ reveals the ubiquity of sexual assault | Suzanne Moore

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:23:35 GMT2017-10-16T12:23:35Z

Is it too much to hope that the revelations about Harvey Weinstein – and the rage they have unleashed – will bring about a shift in the culture?

Me too may be another hashtag. With good intentions. But this time it is showing the ubiquity of sexual assault. “If all women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give everyone a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” said the actor Alyssa Milano. Well, now it’s there all over social media if you choose to see it. Women saying “me too”, often describing their first sexual assault, some when they were not yet 12.

Related: Take it from me - British TV and film are rife with sexual bullying | Arabella Weir

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How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece | Ganesh Sitaraman

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 10:00:29 GMT2017-10-15T10:00:29Z

Ganesh Sitaraman looks at what two recent books – Classical Greek Oligarchy by Matthew Simonton and Oligarchy by Jeffrey Winters – can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs

A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don’t want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out.

The system, in other words, can’t really be “rigged” to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government?

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'You should have been more careful': when doctors shame rape survivors | Annalise Mabe

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:50:15 GMT2017-10-15T15:50:15Z

The gynaecologist rolled her eyes, seemingly exhausted at my naivety. ‘Put your clothes on and come pay,’ she said before walking out of the room

“You should have been more careful,” the gynaecologist said, peeling off her blue latex gloves after I told her about my sexual assault that had happened a week ago. She was in her mid-40s, blonde bangs brushing just above her metal glasses. I was 17, feet still in their stirrups.

“I see this all the time,” she said and sighed, referring to the number of women who come through her office telling her of their histories with sexual assault.

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I am in Guantánamo Bay. The US government is starving me to death | Khalid Qassim

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 06:00:25 GMT2017-10-13T06:00:25Z

I am in so much pain that I know it can’t go on much longer. As each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning writes Khalid Qassim

I haven’t had food in my stomach for 23 days. The 20 September was the day they told us they would no longer feed us. They have decided to leave us to waste away and die instead.

I am in so much pain every minute that I know it can’t go on much longer. Now as each night comes, I wonder if I will wake up in the morning. When will my organs fail? When will my heart stop? I am slowly slipping away and no one notices.

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Anything’s possible in America – even a Harvey Weinstein comeback | Emma Brockes

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 18:10:51 GMT2017-10-12T18:10:51Z

If Hollywood has shown us anything, it’s that powerful white men are always given another chance

The cycle of public transgression, humiliation, apology and rehabilitation is nowhere better exemplified than in the case of Kathy Griffin, the US comedian who got into trouble earlier this year for holding up a model of Donald Trump’s severed head. She had her TV appearances cancelled, apologised profusely, backed away from her apology when it all blew over, and is now back to doing Trump jokes again. So it goes.

The question of whether the joke was acceptable is, of course, beside the point. What mattered was the clockwork predictability of how the “scandal” played out, and the stages through which Griffin moved: from offender (“I went too far”), to victim (“The death threats that I’m getting are constant and detailed”), to defiant survivor in the face of unjustified attacks (“I am no longer sorry”).

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Trump's marriage to the religious right reeks of hypocrisy on both sides | Daniel José Camacho

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 14:36:37 GMT2017-10-14T14:36:37Z

Trump exposes the religious right’s moral pretension for the veneer it’s always been

Donald Trump should be the last person to speak on moral values. Yet, on Friday, he received standing ovations for his speech at the Values Voter Summit in which he claimed that his administration is “stopping, cold, attacks on Judeo-Christian values.” This accentuates the moral hypocrisy of the religious right which has wedded itself to arguably the most immoral president in the history of the United States.

The writing was on the wall. In 2016, white evangelicals went from being the least likely to the most likely group to agree that a candidate’s personal immorality has no bearing on his or her performance in public office. So much for the Moral Majority. Perhaps this explains why religious conservatives have stood by Trump even as a greater number of business leaders and Republicans have abandoned him.

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'I had to defend myself': the night Harvey Weinstein jumped on me | Léa Seydoux

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 19:11:45 GMT2017-10-11T19:11:45Z

All throughout the evening, he flirted and stared at me as if I was a piece of meat. Then he lost control, writes the award-winning actor Léa Seydoux

  • Lire en Français: ‘J’ai dû me défendre’: la nuit où Harvey Weinstein s’est jeté sur moi

I meet men like Harvey Weinstein all the time. I have starred in many films over the last 10 years and have been lucky enough to win awards at festivals like Cannes. Cinema is my life. And I know all of the ways in which the film industry treats women with contempt.

When I first met Harvey Weinstein, it didn’t take me long to figure him out. We were at a fashion show. He was charming, funny, smart – but very domineering. He wanted to meet me for drinks and insisted we had to make an appointment that very night. This was never going to be about work. He had other intentions – I could see that very clearly.

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Trump's biggest enemy isn't the media. It's poor people | Ross Barkan

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 14:56:14 GMT2017-10-14T14:56:14Z

Trump’s most dramatic move yet to dismantle Obamacare will punish many of the poor people who voted for him and the rest who didn’t

Whenever talk turns to Donald Trump’s enemies, the Democrats and the media are always assumed to be at the top of his hit list. This is a man, after all, who cries out “Fake News!” almost as often as he draws breath.

But Trump’s truest enemy isn’t any card-carrying journalist, progressive Democrat, or disgruntled member of the Deep State. It’s any American who doesn’t have much money.

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What you should say to somebody who has miscarried – and what you shouldn’t | Janet Murray

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:03:07 GMT2017-10-12T12:03:07Z

I was saved by a friend who didn’t offer explanations for the loss of my baby or try to ‘fix’ things but listened, and knew that ‘I’m sorry’ was all I needed to hear

“At least you know you can get pregnant,” said my doctor friend when I told her I’d had a miscarriage, 12 weeks into my first pregnancy, and following a painful struggle with infertility. “There was probably something wrong with the baby,” said one relative. “Just think of all the fun you’ll have trying again,” said another.

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The week in patriarchy: we are reaching a turning point | Jessica Valenti

Sat, 14 Oct 2017 14:20:12 GMT2017-10-14T14:20:12Z

Perhaps that’s optimistic of me, but I really do feel like there’s something in the air writes Jessica Valenti in her weekly newsletter

As more women come out with their stories of abuse and harassment by Harvey Weinstein, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. As someone who writes about rape and harassment quite frequently, even I was shook to the core after listening to the audio of Weinstein trying to bully a woman into his hotel room.

The way he vacillated between yelling and shaming, trying to strong-arm her into joining him but then then playing on women’s desire to please by claiming she was making him embarrassed - it was seemed so practiced and easy for him, it was almost eerie.

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ESPN's Jemele Hill is being reduced to an 'angry black woman' | Ameer Hasan Loggins

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 15:02:27 GMT2017-10-12T15:02:27Z

Those who deploy this stereotype do so in an effort to silence black women. Hill’s suspension from ESPN for weighing in on the NFL saga is just the latest example

ESPN host Jemele Hill was suspended on Monday for tweeting, once again, what some would consider to be inflammatory statements. After the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, Jerry Jones, said Sunday that he would bench any of his players who “disrespect the flag” by kneeling during the national anthem, Hill suggested that fans who disagreed with Jones should boycott Cowboys advertisers in order to have their grievances heard.

Hill tweeted “Change happens when advertisers are impacted … If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.” This didn’t sit well with the network or, indeed, with the White House. Donald Trump attacked her on Tuesday, saying in a tweet that it was her fault ESPN’s ratings had “tanked”.

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The fall of Harvey Weinstein should be a moment to rethink masculinity | Rebecca Solnit

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 05:00:32 GMT2017-10-12T05:00:32Z

Too many men seem aroused by their ability to inflict pain and humiliation on women. But now their victims are being listened to

This past week was not a good week for women. In the United States, it was reported that a man who allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl was granted joint custody of the resultant eight-year-old boy being raised by his young mother.

Earlier in the week, the severed head and legs of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who disappeared after entering inventor Peter Madsen’s submarine, were discovered near Copenhagen. A hard drive belonging to Madsen, Danish police said, was loaded with videos showing women being decapitated alive.

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How blurring of fact and comment kicked open the door to fake news Roy Greenslade

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 09:23:43 GMT2017-10-09T09:23:43Z

In seeking to combat mainstream media output, which they regard as a form of fake news, readers have become ready recipients of fake news themselves

Who wants the truth? After the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, millions of people clicked to YouTube videos suggesting that the killing of 58 people and the wounding of another 500 was a hoax.

I am sure – please let it be so – that the overwhelming majority of those viewers realised they were false postings and dismissed them as yet another ridiculous conspiracy theory. But why bother to go there in the first place?

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I am the woman in the 'racist Dove ad'. I am not a victim | Lola Ogunyemi

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 09:11:06 GMT2017-10-10T09:11:06Z

When Dove offered me the chance to be the face of a new body wash campaign, I jumped. I had no idea I would become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising

From a very young age, I’ve been told, “You’re so pretty … for a dark-skinned girl.” I am a Nigerian woman, born in London and raised in Atlanta. I’ve grown up very aware of society’s opinion that dark-skinned people, especially women, would look better if our skin were lighter.

I know that the beauty industry has fueled this opinion with its long history of presenting lighter, mixed-race or white models as the beauty standard. Historically, and in many countries still today, darker models are even used to demonstrate a product’s skin-lightening qualities to help women reach this standard.

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Donald Trump is exposing the contradictions of the elite | David Callahan

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 08:37:27 GMT2017-10-05T08:37:27Z

Will the same elite who protested Trump’s travel ban and support of white supremacists also oppose tax proposals that would make them richer? Unlikely

In recent months, an array of CEOs and billionaires like Apple’s Tim Cook have spoken out against Donald Trump and emerged as surprisingly strong champions of an inclusive US society – at least when it comes to immigration, race and gender.

Since January, though, we’ve also seen a new level of rapaciousness by corporate interests in Washington DC that seem intent on extracting as much wealth as they can from wherever they can: consumers, investors, public lands, student borrowers, the tax code and even the war in Afghanistan.

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After Vegas, why do we still treat the US as a civilised state? | Catherine Bennett

Sat, 07 Oct 2017 23:05:34 GMT2017-10-07T23:05:34Z

In the wake of last week’s slaughter, it’s time to damn America as a rogue state when it comes to arms

For a body of people with manifestly indefensible views, the US gun fraternity continues to enjoy a deferential hearing in Britain, at least on the regular occasions when its principles result in a massacre. The routine attrition, of a mass murder (that is, four or more people) a day, is now so unremarkable, such an entirely expected aspect of American culture, that it can no more warrant sustained foreign coverage than does the violence that afflicts civilians in, say, day-to-day Afghanistan or the lashings allegedly critical to a harmonious Saudi Arabia.

But, as with those countries, when the loss of life in America is big enough to shock, the gun-averse world pauses. In the case of the US, however, our news organisations go further and invite those who facilitate the savagery – firearms enthusiasts – to put the case for more. If this approach ever catches on, we might yet hear, when a car bomb goes off in a crowded market or the Saudis complete a mass execution, impassioned justifications from the implicated terrorists, politicians or clerics. A supporter of the Taliban, or advocate of cutting off adolescents’ heads, would be invited to remind us that a lot more people are killed by unstable fridges and that we should respect, in any case, that such bloodshed necessarily proceeds from his country’s founding principles.

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The Guardian view on the Austrian elections: an old threat in a new guise | Editorial

Mon, 16 Oct 2017 18:18:30 GMT2017-10-16T18:18:30Z

Austria’s coalition between centre-right and far-right parties caused a shock in 2000. A new version of the coalition in 2017 is just as serious but less of a surprise

Back in 2000, when the late Jörg Haider’s far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), which had won 27% of the vote in the general election the previous autumn, joined the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) in government in Vienna, governments in Europe and beyond reacted with shock and outrage. The EU imposed diplomatic sanctions. The European parliament said Austria should be suspended if the new government breached European principles. Israel withdrew its ambassador. The New York Times urged the Clinton administration to do likewise. In the event, the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition survived its pariah status uneasily for five years, then fell apart in 2005.

Today, 17 years on from that first coalition, a second coalition between the two parties of the right now seems likely. In Sunday’s Austrian general election the People’s party and the Freedom party emerged as the big winners, with 32% and 26% of the vote respectively after a campaign in which they vied with one another to attack migration through the Balkans and the perceived threat to Austria from what the ÖVP leader Sebastian Kurz called “political Islam”. Between them, the two parties increased their share of the vote by 13%. Mr Kurz greeted the result as a mandate for change. A new alliance between the two is therefore the most likely outcome, though it is not the only one. The social democratic SPÖ, which held its own on Sunday with 27%, voted today to begin talks with the Freedom party so see if it could thwart Mr Kurz. A renewed centre party coalition between the ÖVP and the SPÖ, of the kind that has ruled since 2006, is not out of the question either.

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The Guardian view on decertifying the Iran deal: full of sound and fury | Editorial

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 18:32:20 GMT2017-10-13T18:32:20Z

Trump rampages in rhetoric. But for all his posturing, the Iran deal still stands – just

Donald Trump has taken a wild swing at his predecessor’s key foreign policy legacy, the milestone 2015 Iran nuclear accord. By refusing to “certify” Iran’s compliance, Mr Trump has set events on an unpredictable course. He had until 15 October to “certify” the deal’s implementation. He had done so twice already since coming to office. But this time, though nothing substantial has changed, he’s noisily refused. Does this matter? He cannot, alone, pull the US out of this deal but he has raised the spectre that this might happen “at any time”. He wants measures taken to counter Iran’s “destabilising actions”, and to “deny all paths to a nuclear weapon”, though without much clarity as to what this might entail. None of this contradicts the agreement formally, but it will all weaken it. Congress now has 60 days in which to decide whether to vote to reimpose sanctions whose lifting was a essential part of the quid pro quo contained in the agreement. Even if that happens, European allies who are party to the nuclear deal, along with Russia and China, have all clearly indicated they will act to preserve it.

The 2015 deal offered the best possible assurances that Iran’s nuclear military activities would be contained for roughly 10 years. It imposed strict international inspections, and provided strong incentives through sanctions relief. By defusing the nuclear crisis, it helped consolidate the more pragmatic or moderate factions within Iran’s power structures. It has deprived Israel’s leader of a pretext to threaten Iran with military strikes. It has helped to prevent the arms race in the Middle East from taking on entirely new proportions.

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The Guardian view on the IMF’s message: yes, tax the super-rich | Editorial

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 18:05:06 GMT2017-10-12T18:05:06Z

The Reagan-Thatcher revolution changed society’s beliefs about taxes for the worse. It’s a good thing the IMF agrees with Labour that we need a rethink if we want economic growth shared fairly

The International Monetary Fund has been on quite a journey from the days when it was seen as the provisional wing of the Washington consensus, an ideology that promoted the false idea that growth was turbo-charged by scrapping welfare policies and pursuing privatisations. These days the IMF is less likely to harp on about the joys of liberalised capital flows than it is to warn of the dangers of ever-greater inequality. The Fund’s latest – and welcome – foray into the realms of progressive economics came this week when it used its half-yearly fiscal monitor – normally a dry-as-dust publication – to make the case for higher taxes on the super-rich. Make no mistake, this is a significant moment.

For almost 40 years, since the arrival of Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street and Ronald Reagan in the White House, the economic orthodoxy on taxation has been that higher taxes for the 1% are self-defeating. Soaking the rich, it was said, would punish initiative and lead to lower levels of innovation, less investment, weaker growth and, therefore, reduced revenue for the state. As last week’s Conservative party conference showed, this line of argument is still popular. Minister after minister took to the stage to warn that Jeremy Corbyn’s tax plans would lead to a 1970s-style brain drain.

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The Guardian view on an energy price cap: a stopgap, not a strategy | Editorial

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 18:04:44 GMT2017-10-12T18:04:44Z

Theresa May wanted this to be the policy that parked a tank on Labour’s lawn. Not like this, it won’t

There is much to be said for a limited cap on energy prices. But the details of the government plan that was published on Thursday, promising lower bills for 11 million households, are so vague and its political purpose so brazen that it needs to be treated with great caution. Buyer, beware.

It is now the stuff of political legend that when Ed Miliband first proposed the idea of a cap in 2013, it was dismissed as a neo-Marxist project. Yet last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) itself came close to making the same recommendation, following an investigation triggered by the record of apparently unjustified price rises in the newly liberalised industry. Between 2004 to 2014, they rose by between 75% (for electricity) and 125% (for gas), for reasons that were impossible for most people to understand or for suppliers to explain. Then at the last election Theresa May poached the idea in a bid to plant the banner of Mayism firmly on Labour territory: the Conservatives would be the new party of the working class. Weakened by election humiliation, she dropped the idea. Last week it was recalled by a prime minister desperate to talk about something other than Brexit.

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The Guardian view on Catalan independence: time to talk | Editorial

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 17:50:11 GMT2017-10-11T17:50:11Z

This is a dangerous and volatile moment for both Madrid and Barcelona. Both sides should keep calm and negotiate

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, is playing hardball with Catalonia’s bid for independence. His first response to the declaration by President Carles Puigdemont that the right to independence was won, but would be suspended in order to create space for “dialogue”, was to challenge Mr Puigdemont to clarify his region’s status. Mr Rajoy has made no secret of his readiness to trigger article 155 of the constitution and suspend the region’s autonomy. Now he has flatly rejected Mr Puigdemont’s call for mediation. He must take care: boxing the Catalan leader into a corner would be a high-risk strategy.

Mr Rajoy did not even apologise (though some of his colleagues have) for the police behaviour on the day of the poll, 1 October, when the rest of Spain and Europe watched aghast as voters were met with truncheons and rubber bullets. He has not budged from his refusal to talk, while the Catalan leader’s hopes rest on some international mediation that the EU has so far resisted for fear of appearing to endorse what Spain’s constitutional court has declared an unlawful vote.

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The Guardian view on Harvey Weinstein: a watershed | Editorial

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:56:47 GMT2017-10-10T18:56:47Z

The titan of cinema is destroyed. Now to destroy the exploitation and abuse that he wreaked across his world

The Harvey Weinstein affair cannot be brushed aside as the culture of the casting couch. It is not one more story from the Hollywood fiction factory. It must not be allowed to be another tawdry milestone. It must be the watershed.

Harvey Weinstein has been one of the most prodigiously successful producers of his generation. He has made some exceptional pictures, from Pulp Fiction and The English Patient to The King’s Speech. He has won five best picture Oscars. But on Sunday he was summarily dismissed by the board of the company he had founded with his brother Bob. His sacking followed the New York Times’s reporting of the shocking claims of his predatory behaviour towards young women, of abusive conduct that revealed him less titan than tyrant, a man with a long and dark history of sexual harassment.

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The Guardian view on Britain’s productive forces: they are not working | Editorial

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 18:55:04 GMT2017-10-10T18:55:04Z

The big economic question now is whether capitalism in the UK is capable of generating enough gains from growth

Productivity isn’t everything, observed the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, but in the long run it is almost everything. For Britons, the worrying news is that the growth in productivity – the amount of stuff we produce every hour – has slowed to a snail’s pace. The Office for Budget Responsibility, after maintaining a sunny disposition in the face of ever darkening clouds of data, now accepts that we are unlikely to return to pre-crash levels of productivity growth. Below the OBR’s seemingly innocuous statement is the “everything” that Mr Krugman alludes to. Before the crash, we would have expected living standards to double every 40 years.

If we were to carry on in the current manner, it would take more than two centuries to do so. Unless something drastic happens we face not just losing a decade, but a future.

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The Observer view on the crisis in Catalonia | Observer editorial

Sat, 07 Oct 2017 23:04:34 GMT2017-10-07T23:04:34Z

With direct rule looming, bloodshed becomes more likely – the separatists and Spanish government can’t afford not to reach a compromise

Is the independence of Catalonia a cause worth dying for? This question appeared hypothetical until voters in Barcelona and other Catalan cities found themselves under police attack during last Sunday’s controversial independence referendum. While separatist leaders say hundreds were injured, fortunately no one was killed. Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s conservative prime minister who oversaw the assault, should count himself lucky. The violence was viewed around the world via social media, turning international opinion against the government. Creating martyrs for the opposition is not the way to win a political argument.

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The Observer view on Theresa May and the need for political courage | Observer editorial

Sat, 07 Oct 2017 20:31:31 GMT2017-10-07T20:31:31Z

The prime minister must come up with bold initiatives to address both Brexit and the pressing domestic agenda

A cloud of political paralysis has enveloped Theresa May’s government since her majority was eroded in June’s general election. She has found herself a hostage to the warring factions within her party, with all the formal power that comes with being prime minister, but none of the authority required to use it.

Her disastrous speech to the Conservative conference in Manchester last week risks deepening this toxic inertia. To the delegates, the personal tragedy will have been most immediately apparent. It was extraordinarily bad luck to be accosted by a protester and stymied by a nasty cough, all against the background of a set that literally fell apart in front of the nation’s eyes. In this modern age of leadership, it not only serves as a metaphor for her shrinking authority, it eats away at it further.

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The Guardian view on Tory splits: doctrinal differences | Editorial

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 18:02:41 GMT2017-10-06T18:02:41Z

MPs in the Tory party have to realise that voters have grown up in a culturally permissive era and are not aroused by the holy anger of the right

Big as the blow was to Theresa May at the general election in June, worse has followed. Not only was the election an unnecessary fight for Mrs May to have picked, she has emerged a diminished figure. Her cabinet is united – but mainly in their desire to succeed her. On the day of Mrs May’s big speech at the Conservative party conference this week, everything that could go wrong, did. Then Grant Shapps, a former party chairman who once led a double life as a “multimillionaire” web guru, was unmasked as a parliamentary general aiming to topple Mrs May for her shortcomings. Despite boasting the backing of 30 MPs, none of Mr Shapps’ troops were prepared to follow their commanding officer over the top. Mrs May is hurt and the consensus is that she will stagger on. But the crisis in the Conservative party is here to stay: a toxic brew of personal ambition, ideological visions and electoral panic.

This at a time when Britain’s productive forces are stagnating and the biggest foreign policy issue of our times – leaving the European Union – is met with the political posturing of a clown wearing the mask of a roaring lion. The Conservative party was once steeped in pragmatism, dominated by the wish to win elections and to be in power. There always were differences of opinion. These differences in dispositions have now curdled into doctrinal differences.

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The New York Times had an anti-Hillary Clinton agenda? That's untrue | Jill Abramson

Mon, 25 Sep 2017 10:00:11 GMT2017-09-25T10:00:11Z

Despite claims made in her recent book, the news editors at the paper were never hostile to Clinton. The only proof I have is that I was there

  • Jill Abramson is the former executive editor of The New York Times

In her book, Hillary Clinton says the news media has not done enough soul-searching about its role in her loss.

Her argument boils down to this: too much firepower was aimed at her emails, part of a long pattern of unfair scandal mongering over the years. Unfair press coverage fueled the “lock her up” frenzy and created doubts in the minds of some undecided voters.

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Streets in St Louis – and everywhere – belong to us. Not brutal cops | Steven W Thrasher

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 19:37:45 GMT2017-09-21T19:37:45Z

When the state fails to address the law enforcement crisis, agitating in the streets is the only way to move forward

America has been rocked by countless protests over the past few years. One chant that has been heard from activists time and time again is: “Whose streets? Our streets!” That’s why it was so jarring when, this week, police in St Louis marched the streets shouting the line as they broke up a legitimate protest and arrested 80 people, including a journalist covering the events.

Sadly, St Louis isn’t the only place plagued by a high-profile police killing this week. A student was killed by campus police in Georgia, and a deaf Hispanic man was killed by police in Oklahoma (despite calls that “he can’t hear”). Still, St Louis has, once again, emerged as the place where the national crisis of American police violence against black people has come into the clearest focus.

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Are those my words coming out of Steve Bannon's mouth? | Thomas Frank

Fri, 06 Oct 2017 10:23:02 GMT2017-10-06T10:23:02Z

My critique of Washington is distinctly from the left, and its astonishing to hear conservatives swiping it. That’s why we need to look at their actions, not words

There’s was a moment in Steve Bannon’s recent 60 Minutes interview when the former presidential advisor was asked what he’s done to drain “the swamp,” the Trumpists’ favorite metaphor for everything they hate about Washington DC. Here was Bannon’s reply: “The swamp is 50 years in the making. Let’s talk about the swamp. The swamp is a business model. It’s a successful business model. It’s a donor, consultant, K Street lobbyist, politician ... 7 of the 9 wealthiest counties in America ring Washington, DC.”

With a shock of recognition I knew immediately what Bannon meant, because what he was talking about was the subject matter of my 2008 book, The Wrecking Crew – the interconnected eco-system of corruption that makes Washington, DC so rich.

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It's easy to take the simplest things for granted | Jessica Valenti

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 13:22:45 GMT2017-09-30T13:22:45Z

I was reminded of this as communities in Puerto Rico, Mexico and beyond struggle with devastation

Today is the seventh anniversary of the day my daughter first breathed without medical assistance. It was six weeks after she was first born, and to be able to see her face – without tubes, without fear that she would stop breathing and turn blue – was one of the best moments of my life as a mother.

I’ve been thinking about this day a lot these last few weeks, as the latest Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare failed, and as communities in Puerto Rico, Mexico and beyond pulled together to try to help each other in the aftermath of devastation.

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

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

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

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

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

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